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Old 10-28-2004, 07:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
Character Description and Prologue to a SciFi story I'm writing...

She walked down the hallway with a cat-like grace, swinging one long, slender leg around the other, her hips swaying slightly with each step she took. Her stunningly green eyes scanned the hallway ahead of her, constantly alert and always looking for anything noteworthy. She was both intelligent and confident; you could practically see it in the way she looked at people, and it was even more apparent in the way she talked and carried herself. She was five foot ten inches tall, extremely athletic, and had a wonderful body; that was to be expected of someone in Special Forces, but she took better care of herself than the majority of the base. She had nicely curved hips leading up into a trim, smooth stomach showing just a hint of a six-pack that continued up into a generous bust and strong, swimmer-like shoulders. She had black hair with deep scarlet highlights, cut to almost-shoulder length and generally left tousled and tangled. She occasionally pulled it back into a braid when she needed it out of her way, but usually, like now, it was left to hang freely and framed her beautiful facial features, accented by her high cheekbones. She had full, pouty lips that were usually glistening with the sheen of her favorite cherry-flavored lipstick in either deep scarlet or, when she felt like it, neon green lined with black. Years of living in enclosed bases and rarely going out into the daytime left her with a pale, though smooth, complexion that was almost ivory in tone.
She had lots of jewelry and several piercings, for reasons both aesthetic and personal. She had a total of thirteen earrings, her lucky number, one for each person she assassinated before being drafted into the Marines’ Special Forces division—seven studs for low-ranking officers, five cuffs for officers Colonel or higher, and one custom-made earring with a black Jolly Roger charm suspended by an ultra-fine chain. That had been made for her as a gift, after her assassination of the Captain in Chief of an entire pirate fleet, the target that essentially solidified her selection for this assignment. She had two solid platinum barbells through her left eyebrow and one through her right, one for each special commendation she’d received on Special Forces missions. She also had a black ring through her bottom lip on the right side, a black barbell through her tongue, a small steel stud in her nose set with a black opal, and a curved barbell through her navel with a black diamond set into the top and a talon charm hanging from the bottom. She had a studded leather collar as well as a thin silver chain necklace with a charm she’d gotten as a gift: a small silver tube containing an enchantment written on papyrus that an old witch doctor had given her, back during her final exam mission to graduate the Special Forces academy.
She was wearing her usual attire for leisure time around the base, clothes that were selected mostly for comfort and ease of motion but were attractive nonetheless. She was wearing her jetboard boots that she herself had designed, bulky metal boots that could deploy into a full-functioned jetboard when triggered. Above those she was wearing her favorite pair of pants, a loose-fitting pair of black cargo jeans with a toxic-green smoke design curling up the left leg. They were covered in pockets from top to bottom, most of which also had toxic-green detailing on them either with piping around the edges, smoke designs on the outside, or mesh overlaying the pocket. Since they were so loose and oversized, they were held up by a thick, chrome-studded, black leather belt fastened with a massive steel buckle. Occasionally when the belt wasn’t doing its job her jeans would dip and her favorite thong would be exposed for a moment, a simple black piece with the same toxic-green edging as everything else she was wearing. Above that, past her toned stomach, she was wearing a zip-front halter top; it was a skintight, solid black shirt with the collar and fishnet overscreen in green, which ended just below her breasts. The jacket was black also, covered in pockets and lots of steel clasps and fasteners with a green inner lining, and the bottom reached to just below navel height.
Firearms weren’t allowed around the residential areas of the base, but she carried her shockstaff and her daggers with her at all times. The staff was a carbon-fiber telescoping rod eight feet long that could deliver a devastating electrical shock to anything it touched, but collapsed to just under a foot long for carrying. She kept this clasped to her belt at the small of her back, just below the bottom edge of her jacket, ready to draw at an instant. She also carried her daggers with her, two long, slender, slightly curved stilettos. These were rarely used as she preferred her shockstaff for most situations, but occasionally necessity dictated that less ‘elegant’ methodology be used in combat. The sheaths for the knives were black carbon fiber and fastened to her belt at either hip, parallel to the ground with the handles facing forward, so they were drawn by reaching across the body to the opposite side.

Dusk stepped off the dropship, all of her equipment over her shoulder in a satchel, and looked around the site she’d been delivered to. Damn backwater planets and their stupid little problems… What the Hell did I do to get this pathetic rookie assignment? She thought. She adjusted her gear bag on her shoulder and started walking across the scorching blacktop her dropship had delivered her to, watching as the light rippled across its surface in waves from the heat. She gazed at the landscape around her as she walked, looking at the low, rolling hills around her, and the short, rounded, purple trees. At least it’s a scenic place to get shipped off to… she thought. She eventually made her way to the spaceport’s terminal building and walked inside.
“Ah! Yes! You have finally arrived!” an older man, that Dusk guessed to be 60 or more, exclaimed as he ran towards her. He was short, barely to Dusk’s shoulder, with a bald head and a full beard. Some welcoming committee she thought. As the man reached her, he practically jumped into her and wrapped her in a bear hug that seemed to use all the muscles in his body.
“Whoa there, sir,” she said. I hope I don’t offend at all, but I’m not much for hugging.”
“Oh, I am so sorry! It is just… We have waited for so long for the Marines to send help, and now that you are here, well… I am sorry; I just lost myself for a moment.” He kneeled momentarily and bowed his head in apology, then returned to his feet in front of her. “Do you need any help with your equipment? I can find someone to carry your things for you. Living arrangements have already been made for you and your team at the… wait, where is the rest of your team?” the man looked across the blacktop expectantly, waiting for a sign of anyone else getting off of the dropship.
“There is no ‘team,’ sir. I was sent alone, the administration didn’t deem any more operatives necessary for this particular mission. Don’t worry, sir, it will be taken care of.”
“Oh… well… how could they know? They never even got any information from us on the problem; they wouldn’t listen to us long enough for us to give details, all they did was… well, nonetheless, you are here now, so we are happy! Come, come, I will show you to where you will be staying; there should be plenty of room for you, since we had prepared for as many as eight.” He started walking towards the exit, where a small hovercar waited outside. “Just come this way… umm… what was your name again, miss?”
“Dusk.” She replied as she again shifted her equipment, then followed the man to the door. The front doors opened, passenger and driver’s side, and Dusk walked around to the back and tapped on the trunk with her free hand. It opened and she dropped her bag inside, then walked back around to the front and sat down in the passenger seat. She drew her feet inside and the door closed, followed shortly by the driver’s side door as the old man got into the car, then tapped a button on the dashboard.
“To the boarding house,” he told the car, and it immediately pulled away from the curb and took off along the dirt path leading from the spaceport.
“I don’t believe I caught your name, either, sir,” Dusk said, turning to the man.
“Oh, forgive me! As I said, I’m not exactly myself at the moment; I’ve totally forgotten my manners it would seem. I am Joseph Smith… a horribly plain name, I know, but mine nonetheless. Most of the people around here just call me Old Joe or Uncle Joe anymore. You are welcome to call me whatever you wish.” He extended his hand to shake, and Dusk took it in her own. His hand dwarfed her own, rough and worn from years of hard work, and he had a strong, firm handshake. Dusk was actually rather surprised at the man’s strong grip, after his seemingly frail appearance. Maybe he’s not too bad a guy after all… she thought, as she gazed out the window at the landscape blurring by. Streaks of green, purple, and yellow flew by as they headed for their destination. That reminds me…
“Where exactly are we going?” she asked the man, turning away from the window.
“We’re headed to Parksville, the primary settlement here on the planet. It’s the only self-sufficient one, and the few other communities scattered about are all at least partly dependant on it, if not wholly. It was the first settlement here, named after the captain of the homesteader ship that first landed here, Reginald Parks. It has everything you might need, and a lot of stuff you probably don’t. The last population figure I heard was a hair over a thousand, as I recall…”
“Ok, that works. I don’t need the whole history, just the basics,” she said, smiling at him so he knew she wasn’t too serious.
“Sorry, miss. As the director for the spaceport, I’m generally in charge of acclimatizing new residents. Basically a glorified tour guide, but nonetheless, I’m just used to rattling off the usual spiel to everyone who lands here.”
“Don’t worry, I understand. I’m getting too curious to wait any more, though, with the big question; what is it that I’m here for? What exactly is this problem you’ve been having, and why does it require help from the Corps?”
“Ah, yes, that’s the question of the hour isn’t it… and honestly, I wish I knew more about it myself. It’s all been rather hush-hush and need-to-know, all that bureaucratic nonsense. All I can really share with you is the rumors I’ve heard, the rest you’ll have to just wait until later to know, once whoever’s in charge of you tells you what they expect you to do.”
“That’s fair enough. So what are the rumors?”
“Well it started some time ago, almost a year by Earth time, two and a half for us here. Around the outlying settlements, livestock started disappearing from pens, pets started going missing… at first, we just assumed they were running away. However, you can only write off so many consecutive disappearances to chance, and finally we started to wonder whether there was something more to this than just a bunch of runaways. Finally, we sent a group of hunters out beyond the settled areas to see if they could find anything. They spent two weeks out searching, and found nothing. However, the disappearances started becoming more common, and more frequent, and they were no longer just in the distant farms and settlements. Animals were starting to disappear in some of the larger towns, and from farms and ranches closer and closer to Parksville itself. People started panicking, and there was a rush to build defenses around all the towns and settlements. Walls and parapets and even emplaced guns were set up, ‘just in case’ according to the government around here. Then the first person disappeared, a farmer’s wife who’d gone out to gather some fruit from the woods around their house and never came back. Everyone went into a frenzy. The ranches and farms were almost all abandoned and everyone swarmed for the apparent safety of the newly-fortified towns and settlements. A few holdouts stayed, but they didn’t last long. They started disappearing almost daily, and finally everyone just packed up and moved within their nearest walled haven. That was a month and a half ago, Earth time, and things really haven’t changed since. Everyone’s living within the towns; food’s getting scarcer now that all the farms and ranches are abandoned. We’ve got enough stores to last a while longer, so long as we keep it rationed and no-one’s too picky about what they eat. Missions are sent out once in a while to gather what they can, but they never bring everyone back. No-one knows what happens, either. No-one sees anything happen, no-one hears anything, they just get back minus one or two people, and wonder where the Hell they went. Plus, some people think that apparently even the towns aren’t safe anymore. A lot of people have stopped coming out of their houses lately, but the official reason—or excuse, more like—is that there’s a bug circulating now that everyone’s packed in so tight. I don’t even know what to believe and what not to, anymore. I’ll tell ya, though, that spaceport job is not a real fun one with this stuff all going on. I’m the only person out there, most days, and I tell you what, you sure won’t catch me napping on the job; I’m way too afraid I won’t wake up afterwards.”
“Wow… that’s some story.” Dusk said, running through what she’d just heard in her mind. “So does anyone have any theories as to what’s causing it?”
“Are you kidding? Everyone has a theory for what’s happening. Does anyone have a practical one, or a good idea of what’s happening? Hell if I know, although the powers-that-be seem to have something up their sleeve that they’re not sharing. Personally, I think something intelligent lived here before we did, and that we made them mad moving into their territory some decades ago. Only problem with that is, I don’t know why they’d wait until just recently to try to scare us off. Oh well, though, who knows… that’s why you’re here, after all, isn’t it? Figure out just what all this is caused by?”
“Yeah, so I’m told. I’ll do my best, at least, to find out what’s behind all this.” Dusk started contemplating what she’d brought, and wondered whether she might not need reinforcements for this, after all.
“You seem rather young, if you don’t mind me saying, miss…” Joseph started to say.
“Why would I mind?” she asked.
“Well—and I mean no offense, of course, I’m sure you’re very qualified—but how long have you been in the Corps? When did you graduate?”
“You’re probably not going to like the answer to that, sir. If you must know, though…” she trailed off. Joseph motioned for her to continue. “You see, I’m technically not in the Corps yet. I graduate this year. This mission is, essentially, my final exam.”
“Oh… Oh dear… Why would they send a recruit on a mission like this? We’ve been begging for aid for the longest time, and they finally end up sending a lone trainee to help us? Oh dear… I’m sorry miss, I don’t mean to demean you in any way, it just seems… I don’t know. It just feels as though we’ve been cheated, almost. Our entire planet is under this scare, and they send us but one person, and not even a full operative yet.”
“I understand, sir, and I take no offense,” Ha, right. “However, I assure you that I am highly qualified, and will do everything within my power to solve your problem. Should it be beyond my abilities, I will send for assistance, and reinforcements will be here as fast as possible to continue where I leave off. If nothing else, fear of the liability incurred by losing a recruit will make them get here full speed. Does that alleviate your doubts, at least somewhat?”
“Yes… yes, it does. Again, I am sorry if I offended you. I simply expected… well, more. You are here, though, and for that, I’m sure everyone will be grateful! Just a bit of advice, though, from me to you, which you can take if you wish, or ignore if you prefer; don’t tell anyone else you’re still a recruit. People here need something to latch onto, and I’m afraid that if you tell everyone here that their lives and livelihood are nothing more than a school test for you, it would do more harm than good.”
“I understand, and you’re right, that would probably be for the best. Thank you, Joseph, for your advice. You seem to have your finger pretty much on the pulse of things around here, I might make use of that fairly often, depending on how this mission goes.”
“Please, please, Uncle Joe is best. I am always glad to help, though, and anytime you want an old man’s opinion, I’m always willing to give one, whether it’s useful or not.” He grinned, and from the look of his face, Dusk thought it had been a long time since he’d last been able to smile at all.
She leaned her head against the side of the car, gazing out at the landscape but not really seeing it. Hopefully I can bring everyone a little more chance to smile when this is all over.

Any comments or criticism is much appreciated, it's still very much a work in progress. Ummm... That is all for now.

Edit: Why don't my indents show? Everything's left-aligned, and it looks horrible... and makes it hard to read, too...

Last edited by El_Pato; 10-28-2004 at 07:26 PM..
El_Pato is offline  
Old 11-14-2004, 01:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
Location: Burton-on-Trent, England
Hi. I see no-one else has commented and as this happened to me I hope you will appreciate feedback. I like sci fi and would like to know what is happening to the animals etc. I have to confess i found some parts a bit lengthy i.e. lots of words, not much action. Maybe it needs more detail, more hints as to what is happening? I'm an amateur so feel free to dismiss my comments. Good Luck.

One of my stories looked really bunched up too but my other story was double-spaced and looked much better.
heather99 is offline  
Old 11-25-2004, 03:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
Hi there.
No qualified writer myself, but from a joy of reading I would venture the following comment.

Your opening description of her is too long and detailed. It sounds as though I should be expecting a screenplay format after it. It's kind of like you are setting out a blueprint for an artist about to do illustrations for the book or film.

Don't mean to be harsh but that's my take on it.

How about cutting it down and intertwining the description with what' she's doing. As she's walking down the hall, what motions does she make?
Does she twirl her staff or fiddle with any other kit? Does anything make her look uncomfortable or look unique in the way she sets it, to a function maybe?

I know you tried to get it into the opening line, but there's a lot of detail right up front. Does a reader NEED to know everything about a chracter that must have a lot of issues and convictions? Why not have her touch a piece of clothing or jewellery after some kind of thought, leaving enough up to the reader to make the guess at what it means to her or why she does it? Like the earrings. To me a book's character unfolds well throughout the book. The story shows us (usually) a chracter of X traits and uses those to show us how they respond to the events that unfold and how that character adapts to or fights what happens to them.
If you set a character in stone on page one, there's no surprise or mystery. A reader doesn't feel the need to find out more about them, it's all there. And a chracter set in granite is very hard to adapt later.
WillyPete is offline  

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