Happy Independence Day, fellow USians, and happy Wednesday to everyone else.
Didn’t write today… did some thinking, and some staring at the file, but something’s not quite right and I didn’t have enough brain to figure it out by the time I sat down to.
I think it might be point of view. Going off into the forest with Nile, Tonly would be entirely cut off from the action going on back at the colony… and Sephilla will be up to stuff that I want to show. So I could do some Sephilla POV, except that doesn’t quite gel for me either. I *think* what I might wind up doing is having Tonly stick with Sephilla as the Earthcorp goons slide down ropes into the clearing. Not sure if I’ll keep the fire or just have the goons be what sends Nile running. Maybe goons with flamethrowers on the ground instead of flame from the sky…
Anyway, that way I can keep the POV where it is, and get some interesting interaction between Tonly and Sephilla about what just happened, and keep the governor as a fairly immediate antagonist. I think that might work… we’ll see.
Today was interesting. I got moving fast enough that I had some time to write in the morning before work, but the scene went astray at the very end. I defused every bit of tension I had built up by making my characters talk things out like reasonable people who all just want to get along…
This isn’t the first time I’ve done this. It’s kind of a thing I do, that I have to watch out for.
So I present to you two versions of today’s scene, second one first:
On other topics, I’m very much enjoying “The Secret World” MMORPG. It’s probably taking up some time and energy I should be spending on other things, but I think I’m ok with that, as long as I keep writing too! I’m definitely ready for this heat to go away, though – I’ve had a headache since Friday, and I think that’s probably the reason…
“We are Verdant,” Tonly whispered. It felt like if he could hold those words in his mind just right, they would unlock his memories. He looked around again, seeing the flow of juvenile sky-krill filling the dead trees with life, and felt the sense of the memories tickling at his mind, just out of reach. “That’s right,” he said, a little louder. “We are Verdant, and this is his heart.”
“Her heart,” Nile corrected.
Tony shrugged. “Its heart. Verdant is not limited to one gender, or even two. It’s just a question of how we see it.”
“And why did you bring these three back with you? One day you were here, the next you were gone. We assumed you had gone to commune with the forest and didn’t bother to track you. What were you thinking?”
Tony shook his head, but Sephilla stepped up to defend him. “He doesn’t remember any of what happened. He disappeared from the settlement during the spawning, and showed back up three weeks later, no idea of where he’d been or how he’d gotten there. We came along when he wanted to track down those memories.”
“Dangerous, going back there,” Nile said to Tonly. “Their Governor hates us.”
Tonly looked at his feet, feeling ashamed again even if his actions hadn’t been volitional.
“Nile? Do you remember me?” Lily stepped between them, but a quick glance was enough to tell Tonly it wasn’t for his benefit.
“The lily, a decorative plant with no practical use,” Nile said dismissively. “What does it want?”
“I want what Tonly has. To be able to sense this planet like I’m a part of it, not a stranger in a foreign land.”
A surprised grin crossed Nile’s face. “Maybe it does have some practical use after all. We shall have to give you a better name!”
“Whatever it takes,” said Lily. “Just tell me what to do.”
The walk in, while fraught with nerves on all sides, was uneventful and quick. After the long slog around the perimeter of the grove, even Tonly felt surprised to tell the others, “It’s safe now. We’re past the last of the tendrils.”
“Seriously?” asked Lily. She tensed a moment, then stepped out of the path he had made. When her feet stayed firmly on the ground, she walked up next to him to peer ahead.
The forest looked much like the lasher-ridden growth they had just walked through, at least at first glance. On closer examination, though, it was clear that the blue-green trees here were dead, hollow and leafless.
“Did the lashers do this?” Lily asked, laying a hand gently against the nearest trunk. A flood of tiny crawlers covered her hand and she jerked back with a cry, shaking and swatting to get them all off.
“Lily?” Sephilla and Cavish kept their distance, waiting for her to ask for help or warn them off.
Tonly, though, stepped forward to take her hand in his, hushing her even as he blocked her frantic swats.
“Shh…” A moment later, the tiny orange bugs gathered in the palm of his hand, and he poured them gently back onto their tree. “Sky-krill,” he said, almost lost in the wonder of feeling them all around him, in their millions. Now that he knew, it was easy to feel the difference, but they flowed through the husks of the trees just like the sap of healthy growth, mimicking it so closely that it had fooled him.
“She should let them take her.” The voice that had haunted them before was back. “All of them should. That’s the why we let you bring them in.”
A human form dropped to the ground in front of them, landing in an easy squat. Her skin was almost the same color as the blue-green’s bark. “Welcome back.” She grinned lasciviously at Tonly, then looked past him, her eyes locking on Sephilla.
“Nile,” Sephilla growled. “How…” She walked forward, and the stranger rose to meet her standing.
As they faced off, neither one speaking or looking away, it dawned on Tonly how alike they looked in spite of Sephilla’s darker skin, and why the stranger’s voice had seemed so familiar.
Then Sephilla’s hand moved, and the sound of a slap rang out. “How could you?” she snarled. “How could you abandon us? How could you let me think you were dead? What have you been doing for the past six months?”
The other woman laughed, grinning mockingly. “And what should I have done, sister? Cowered in a cave while aliens took over my world? Aided the enemy? I think only one of us is in the wrong here.” She reached a hand out, pausing when Sephilla flinched, and then gently laying skin against skin. “But all can be forgiven. Will you join us?”
“Who is us?” Sephilla asked, warring emotions making her voice hoarse.
Nile’s face seemed to glow with joy. “We are Verdant.”
Oh cat… why must we wage this battle every few months, where you decide we have to get up when you want us to, and we argue that you don’t have the right to be our alarm?
But, got a little writing in this morning, at least. Only a little, though, because *TIRED.*
Good to get some writing in early, since The Secret World launches today for pre-orders, and I promised myself I’d write first on any day that I play.
Sephilla sighed, staring back toward the lasher grove. “All right then, let’s go see what’s in there.”
Lily starled her with a boisterous hug, grinning fit to burst.
“You’re all insane,” Sephilla said again, but she was smiling as she said it.
Tonly took the lead, trying to go slowly enough for each of them to step only in his own footprints. The trail was still as clear as day, pulling him forward. Fortunately, the trek around the perimeter of the lasher grove had given him practice balancing his mind between that strange, intoxicating sense of the life all around him, and acting as an aware, rational human.
Now that they were on the path forward again, his emotional hyper-awareness of his companions faded, and he realized something odd.
The humans behind him were fainter to his new life-sense than anything else in the forest. He could tell where they were, but not clearly. Not like the spoat, above and to the left, which lay quiet in the maw of the lasher that had captured it. He could tell that it had struggled, and that now it was resigned, exhausted, and waiting for death.
Its emotional state was as clear as its physical presence, once he turned his attention to it, but his fellow humans were simply there, and barely that.
Were they blocking him somehow? He decided not to mention it for now.