Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Making of: Icarus & Daedalus: 1st short story, Part 7

This little project is now quite old, so a refresher.  I though I'd post my process in writing a SFF short story, just for the heck of it. I am an amateur and unpublished and so this is sortof self-publishing. 

My method - I write a series of brief scene descriptions in ALL CAPS as an outline to essentially keep me on task.  After that outline is done I try and write that scene, piece by piece. 

I've decided to make it family friendlier and I've replaced all cussing with comic book cusses like #%##*(.  Budd, if you spot any cusses I missed, feel free to edit them into comic cusses. 

More thoughts about my process at the end of the entry. 

Here's my 1st draft. 

_______________________________________________


ICARUS ON THE PHONE W/DAEDALUS. DAEDALUS HAS RESERVATIONS ABOUT THIS JOB, THEY JUST FOUND OUT ABOUT THE MACGUFFIN LAST NIGHT. ICARUS REASSURES AND REMINDS DAEDALUS ONCE IT GETS TO MONDRIAN HQ THEY’VE MISSED THEY’RE OPPORTUNITY TO GET THE MACGUFFIN. “TOO LATE NOW.” ICARUS LEAPS OFF OF A BUILDING AND LANDS ON TRUCK. ICARUS POV.

2:20 AM, January 30th, 2019, Optimus, Tennessee, U.S.A., Earth, Universe 742.


Icarus paced, the air warmer than the heart of the last three women he had slept with. He felt the low caffeine-like levels of adrenaline that usually came at this time. He rechecked his gear when he heard a little voice in his ear.


“I don’t think this is a wise move. We can still call it off you know,” came the mellow tones of Daedalus over the earpiece. Only Icarus and Daed’s family would realize that he was actually worried.


“Are you an old woman?” Icarus pulled out his nightvision goggles, his favorite pair, Owl-360 model, reminded him of old movie Aviator goggles. I’m like a kickass Snoopy he thought to himself. He slipped it onto his forehead.


“Your mother knows otherwise.”


“Nice. Now, that’s my bro who kicked an entire police squad’s @$$es.” Icarus slipped the goggles down where it fit above his black and red menpo. He played with the dials making sure the adjustable nightvision was calibrated correctly. He tested the goggles’ light-adapters by looking from the night sky down to the streetlamped overpass with its minimal traffic. Smooth function.


“That’s an exaggeration and you’re dodging the point. We don’t even know what’s in the case, just that it’s important to Hugo Lamb.”


“And that’s enough for me. We have to take the shots we get.” Icarus spotted a driver speeding and swerving and knew that within twenty minutes Mr. Nascar will have crashed the car.


“Yeah, I know but…”


“But nothing. Mondrian and his estate have higher security, this is a cakewalk in comparison.” He could feel Daed caving in.


“Yeah, but we’ve had no prep time.”


Coming around the corner was the tractor-trailer he’d been waiting for. It looked perfectly ordinary, but Icarus knew the case was there. He thanked Carl in his head for the tip that led them there.

“Prep time is shorter than you think. It’s showtime.” The truck drove past. Timing had to be perfect. Icarus ran and leapt thirty feet down towards the moving truck.


***


FIERY RAIN SEES ICARUS LAND ON TRUCK AND IS TICKED OFF THAT SOMEONE ELSE PICKED THE SAME TIME TO STRIKE. FIERY RAIN POV.

Fiery Rain McGill gritted his teeth, attempting to maintain his composure through a storm of feelings, distorted perceptions and racing tangential thoughts. He sat in a navy electric SUV, engine running, watching someone land on the truck. He turned the old fashioned radio to AM and surfed to a stationless station of white noise, which seemed to help him concentrate. He drove onto the highway and began to follow the truck, hoping the man on top was a hallucination brought on by the Rem Delirium curse he had been enduring this past week.


His mind wandered as he followed the truck. He thought of his kids and his ex-wife. He knew he’d wronged her and while that kind of thing didn’t bother him on the job, she was different and it hurt to think about what he’d done. He wasn’t mad at her for leaving anymore. He regretted sleeping with her sister, but they were drunk and she was hot and he knew his excuses were weak and true at the same time. At least she let him see the kids.


Out of the periphery of his vision he saw the cup holder, slowly travel along the floor and up the passenger side door, stop there, and vibrate with distant church bells he was hearing. The small vid screen near the rear mirror kicked on and showed a recording of his recent betrayal by Milton and Linda. It was soundless and poorly shot like a security camera. Part of him knew it wasn’t real but he kept flicking his eyes back and forth from the road to the vid.


He saw all three of them hovering around a safe, with himself at the safe picking the electronic lock when all of a sudden he saw his body fall back and shake, he saw his body rise up and saw himself talking to things that weren’t there as Milt and Linda slipped around him, took the case and left him there to get caught. His eyes had been locked on the vid too long, he looked up and saw an impending wall, he abruptly turned the wheel, right wheels coming off the ground slightly, but uncrashed.


He dug his nails deep into his left hand drawing blood. He needed concentration somehow. He couldn’t start to think about how the dashed white lines started to look like morse code. He knew the morse code was a message from his ex-wife at the same time as he knew none of this was happening. He turned up the white noise and opened the window to get some cold air. The truck was still there, at least he hoped it was the real truck.


***


ICARUS SETS OFF ECM DEVICE TO BLOCK ALL COMMUNICATIONS WITHIN 100’ AND STARTS CUTTING A HOLE IN THE TOP OF THE TRUCK. SLIPS INTO TRUCK. LOOKS AROUND WITH FLASHLIGHT AND FIND STHE RIGHT BOX, SLIPS IT IN A DUFFLE BAG SLUNG OVER HIS SHOULDER, CLIMBS ON THE ROOF. ICARUS POV.


The wind rushed around Icarus as he clung to the roof of the trailer. He was long practiced in the Spidercrawl spell taught him by master thief Schwa Balice. He pulled out a square black device the size of a one-man-ashtray and attached it to the trailer. The invisible ECM field emitted from the box, preventing awareness of his position.


He rose up on his knees and pulled out a suction cup with a handle. He slapped the suction cup down. He then pulled from his pack a small tube with a nozzle and he lit it. He worked the torch in a smooth circle around the suction cup with his left hand, holding the handle of the suction cup with his right. Circle completed, he lifted the piece of the trailer roof, pulled it back and set it aside. He pulled another small tube and sprayed a clear liquid around the edge of the hole and the removed disc of metal. Successfully cooled he leaned over and peered in, nightvision on autoadjust.


He saw a black and white collection of cardboard boxes. Luckily for him most of them were too large and he knew the importance and delicacy of the case would require a safer position than the bottom of a pile.


He pushed up, grabbed the disc and suctioned handle, leaned back in the hole and carefully tossed it on a rather high box quietly. He then rolled in face first, flipped and landed on his feet. He thanked his lucky stars the truck hadn’t decided to turn at that moment. He then began to search.


Within a few minutes he found the box with the strip of black and yellow striped tape. He grabbed the box, put it in his sack and slung it over his shoulder. He climbed over the boxes and underneath the hole he had carved in the roof. He leapt, grabbed the edge of the hole and pulled himself onto the roof.


***


FIERY RAIN WITNESSES ICARUS LEAP ONTO OVERPASS WITH A NEW BULKINESS. HE CUSSES AND IS ABLE TO GET OFF AT THE RIGHT EXIT. FIERY RAIN POV.


Fiery Rain has the taste of blood in his mouth. He had bitten his tongue repeatedly in order to maintain concentration. He had let the truck get several car lengths ahead of him and regained enough sense to try and close the gap. He then saw a figure emerge from the roof of the truck. The thin dark figure looked around him and as he approached a cross street overpass he leapt and landed on the overpass and got into a small gray sedan.


“Son of a #*^*&!” He gripped the wheel and quickly changed lanes, cutting off a red pickup truck, trying to get to the exit. Blood dripped out if his mouth and he wiped it away with his sleeve as he crossed the white hatching on the street and exited the highway.


***


DAEDALUS POV, WORRYING ABOUT HIS PARTNER, WHEN HE SPOTS HIM IN THE REAR VIEW. ICARUS SLIPS IN SHOTGUN SEAT AND THEY PULL OFF. HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY. DAEDALUS POV.


Daedalus’ eyes flickered from the mirrors, to the clock and out the tinted windows of the small silver sedan they had liberated from a particularly slimy used car dealership. Daedalus filled the car with his burly form, dressed in black carbyn brigandine, blue and black menpo down around his neck, and Owl-360s on his forehead lost in thought. His conscience was unsure of the fairness of this car’s liberation. He had let Icarus talk him into this action, but he still wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do. They needed an untraceable escape vehicle and they now had one, but as he sat scratching his goatee, waiting for Icarus’ return he wondered if the target was sufficiently deserving of the theft. He wondered if perhaps a more criminal or working class enemy would have been better. He scolded himself for not pursuing right action diligently enough, carefully enough.


He turned and looked in all directions. The streets were still dead quiet. He spotted some cats down the block around some garbage cans, but otherwise relative stillness. He slipped the Owl-360s down and it was about the same, but more visible and grayer. He checked the clock again, slipping the Owl-360s back up on his head.


He then thought of his parents and knew they would be disappointed in his illegal political militancy, if they knew about it. They played it relatively safe and they had hoped similarly for him. He had even hoped for a more classically non-violent approach, but after the Prime Square Riot and his incarceration he felt his role in life had been permanently shifted. He wasn’t sure if he believed in fate, but that riot was definitely a social-time-space node that had created the likelihood of this timeline. His old teacher had emphasized this way of thinking, and Daedalus still had some of his architecture in his thought processes.


A flicker of motion appeared in the passenger side mirror, stirring Daedalus out of his distracted stare. Icarus appeared reversed, running towards the car. Daedalus started the car with its electric hum.


The passenger door opened and in slid Icarus, slinging the small duffle into his lap as he sat. His face still covered the satisfied smirking voice of Icarus said, “Let’s burn rubber.”


Daedalus nodded and they drove off.


***


INTERNAL MONOLOGUE OF FIERY RAIN AND SERIES OF BIZARRE CONSPIRACY THEORIES HE HATCHES AS TO WHO ICARUS AND DAEDALUS ARE AS HE TAILS THEM. FIERY RAIN POV.


Fiery Rain saw the small silver sedan with the tinted windows turning a corner as he finally exited the highway and hit the city streets. He began to experience another wave of time distortion, the last was yesterday morning. Breakfast at The Waffle House had been bizarre. Now everything felt like it happened now, in the future and in the past all at once. Intellectually he knew it was that damn Rem Delirium curse, interacting with his consciousness. He had read about the curse, the basics, but never learned its secrets.


He felt relief as he saw and felt his body perform the motions required to turn the car and follow the silver sedan. He felt like he was sending messages to his body via snail mail and felt lucky that his body had agreed to perform his suggestions in a timely manner. Then came the mini-blackouts. It was like watching a movie with 24 frames of blackness inserted every two to three seconds throughout the entire film. Nothing was cut out, time merely stopped, blacked out and restarted at precisely the same place. It was like relearning where and when you were every two to three seconds. Like waking from a dream.


The time distortions eased and Fiery Rain began to wonder what faction these two were from? They were certainly not Supernaturalists. Starry Wisdom? Siblinghood of the Red Circle? Order if Id? Shaolin Kwei? Perhaps just mercenaries like himself. It didn’t matter he needed the case.


***


DAEDALUS SPOTS TAILING CAR (FIERY RAIN) & TRIES TO LOSE IT. WHILE ICARUS COMPLAINS THAT HE’S A BETTER DRIVER AND THEY SHOULD SWITCH PLACES. DAEDALUS ADMITS HE’S NO NASCAR MAN, NOTES THAT IT ISN’T REALLY POSSIBLE TO SWITCH DRIVER/PASSENGER IN A HIGH SPEED CHASE. THEY ARGUE AND DAEDALUS DOESN’T QUITE CLEAR ANOTHER CAR, TOTALING BOTH CARS IN THE PROCESS. AT LEAST IT’S A STOLEN CAR (SILVER LINING). DAEDALUS POV.


Daedalus drove, feeling controlled. He knew to drive calmly and safely to avoid attention. He knew the tinted windows were a draw for cops, but no more than driving while black, which would have been a risk without the tinting. Of course, the combat armor and weaponry without the tinting would have been even worse than DWB he mused to himself. His daydream was interrupted by fast movement in his rearview mirror. There he saw a car take a corner very hard. He watched it gain on them, and worried a little.


"Icarus, do you think this lunatic behind us is coming for us or something else altogether?"


Icarus peeked at the mirrors he could see and turned in his seat. "Let's test. Make your next left and then another right a block or two down."


Daedalus followed the instructions and just before he made the second right the lunatic's tires squealed as he followed them, He even ran onto the sidewalk for a minute. A mailbox's life ended loudly and the front left headlight and fender of the lunatic's car gained a new signifcant scar.


"Okay, yeahhhhh, gun it, "said Icarus as he slipped the case into his floor board and readied his gun. "I think he might be drunk too."


Daedalus hit the gas as Icarus slipped into the back seat with his gun and kneeled on the couch-lie seat. Daedalus said, "We have to lose him before we get near home right? So, I'm going to drive around kinda randomly away from our neighborhood, right?"


"Yeah, I forget how new you are to this kinda thing. Imma see if I can shoot him." Icarus rolled down the back passenger seat window and leaned out. The car was gaining and after a turn Daedalus heard Icarus' slightly muffled shots.


"I don't think I hit him. You know car to car fire fights ain't easy."


"I'll take your word for it. Hey he's doing something."


Icarus turned around and Daedalus' eyes moved back and forth between the road and the image in the mirror. The pursuer was closer and he could see him driving with his right hand as his left hand hung out the window, although it looked reversed in the mirrors. A pinpoint of yellow orange light formed in his open palm. It roiled and grew somewhat flame-like. All of a sudden a number of small flaming pellets burst forth from the sphere and riddled the street, shot past their car and finally hit the trunk of their car. Smoke trailed from the points it hit.


"$#!# $#!# $#!#. Are you trying to get us killed! Drive faster!"


"I'm driving as fast I can. Who is this guy?"


"I don't know, but he's got mojo like us." Icarus leaned out the window again and started firing again, hitting the windshield of the lunatic's car.


Daedalus checked the rear view and saw the lunatic was unperturbed by the broken glass. This time Daedalus saw the orange sphere form inside the car behind the windshield. Another barrage issued forth eventually taking out the back window of their car, causing Daedalus to panic a bit and zig and zag on the road, almost skidding out.


"What the %&$@ are you doing? That's it I'm driving." Icarus slinked back up the middle to the passenger seat.


"Dude, you can't switch drivers in the middle of a high speed chase. It's impossible."


"It ain't impossible. Look first you push the seat back pretty far--," Icarus demonstrating on the passenger seat.


"It's against the rules of high speed chasing. You can't switch without slowing down and getting shot." Daedalus frustration showed in a slight tension in his voice.


"Listen, listen. I've done this before. First you push the seat back. Then I get in your lap."


"Yeah, this doesn't sound right."


"Listen, then you climb out from behind me. Done dada, son," finished Icarus with a smile.


"This is bull--," started Daedalus, but was drowned out be a barrage of the fiery bullets strafing the left rear fender, trunk and rear tire. "$#!#! Buckle, buckle, buckle!"


The next few seconds didn't slow down for either Icarus or Daedalus, they were as fast as they ever were and the adrenaline didn't help them as much as the movies make you think. The shiny purple old caddie rolled on its big rims, almost looking like shiny wagon wheels, out of the side street and straight into their path. Icarus inserted the buckle and Daedalus braked and whipped the wheel as best he could, but they still nailed the front of the car and stopped more suddenly than they'd ever wished.


Daedalus looked around at the sudden stillness. Icarus slung the bag over his shoulder and slipped out the shotgun window. The driver's door was stuck and after Icarus slipped out, Daedalus leaned towards the passenger seat, grabbed what he could and kicked with both his feet sending the door slamming open, breaking the hinges.


***


The locked gold toothed driver of the caddie said, "Mutha#%$(," and scrambled trying to open the glove compartment. He got it open and turned towards Icarus. Icarus had suspected trouble from the small fish in the caddie, had drawn his black carbyn katana and as the pistol aimed his way he cut it in half. He then proceeded to cut the driver's door off it's hinges and said, "Run," and turned away from him. (NOTE TO MYSELF - breaks limited 3rd person, is that horribly wrong?)


***


As Daedalus reached back in the car for his favorite weapon and pulled it to the front seat, when he spotted something wonderful near the gas pedal and picked it up. Daedalus heard a car screech behind him, peered over his shoulder and saw the lunatic spin out sideways and hop out the car.


Daedalus stood up as the lunatic said, "I only want the case. I'll let you live if you give it to me." He stood behind his car with glowing sphere in his right hand.


In his peripheral vision Daedalus saw the driver of the caddie run off and Icarus aiming his pistol over the hood of the car towards the lunatic.


"How can we trust you?" yelled Icarus.


"You can't, but otherwise I'll kill you."


"Icarus, I've got a pineapple, cause a distraction," said Daedalus in a low voice barely moving his lips.


Icarus smiled and opened fire and made a break towards the purple caddie behind him. The lunatic ducked but still was able to unleash fiery bullets shot from the sphere towards Icarus demolishing the back of their stolen silver sedan with it's lovely tinted windows. Daedalus, pulled the pin on his grenade and threw it under the lunatics car, pulled out his favorite weapon and leapt over the front of his car towards the purple caddie.


Daedalus heard the explosion as he ran down the block following Icarus.


***


FIERY RAIN THIEF FLIES FOLLOWING ICARUS AND DAEDALUS DOWN A NARROW STREET AND DAEDALUS PUSHES A GARBAGE DUMPSTER IN FRONT OF FIERY RAIN’S CAR. CRASH! FIERY RAIN POV.


Fiery Rain thought everything was under control. He had made the thieves crash. He had seen that the smaller one was quick and definitely knew some magics, but they had only returned fire with an ordinary pistol. The crash had raised his morale massively. He felt he had all the advantages. Then the little one started shooting and the big one did something he couldn't see. The next thing he knew, Fiery Rain felt his car explode in front of him. He had barely time to raise his aetheric force shield before he was thrown several feet back. His breath came back to him, his ears rang, the world came back into focus. It was still night. He was bruised, battered, but not severely injured unless the adrenaline was covering it up. His car was on fire. The flames started to form laughing demons. He heard them making fun of his failure. He raised two orange spheres and unleashed a barrage of his fiery rain upon the imaginary demons. He then saw a glimpse of the two thieves down the street. He did a quick complicated hand gesture and floated into the air and flew after them.


They were running very quickly, faster than normal men. The exploding car trick and their speed made him raise his estimation of them. Muttering voices rose around him, indistinct, a rain of white feathers began and he knew it was the curse getting in his way, but he couldn't concentrate away the illusions around him. His targets turned a corner and he heard a strange screeching rattle from their direction so he generated a new orange sphere and turned the corner. WHAM! A wall from nowhere, he turned his body fast enough so that he didn't hit the object head first and took most of the brunt on his shoulders and upper back. His orange sphere dissipated and he crumpled to the ground, stunned. He looked up and saw a dumpster dented by his impact. The feathers still fell and the muttering sounded more and more like laughing.


***


ICARUS & DAEDALUS NOD AT EACH OTHER AND SMILE AND ICARUS TELLS DAEDALUS, 3 BLOCKS TO A PARTICULAR OPTIMUS CITY METRO (TRAIN/SUBWAY) STATION. ICARUS POV.


"$@&*ing aces, man, aces. He face planted beautifully," sad Icarus as they ran down the side street. He still heard the beautiful thunking clang of the impact and the squeaks as the wheels rolled on the dirty old and stinky dumpster.


"Where are we going?" said Daedalus with that heavy-@$$ weapon he loved.


"C train."


"Metro, nice."


"He'll never find us."


***


METRO STATION IN SIGHT, FIERY RAIN COMES FLYING OUT OF NOWHERE AND LANDS IN FRONT OF THEM. CHOREOGRAPH YUEN WOO-PING STYLE BATTLE WITH FIERY RAIN SPOUTING OFF VERY ODD ACCUSATIONS AND OUT LOUD THOUGHTS WHILE ICARUS AND DAEDALUS ARE QUITE CONFUSED. ICARUS POV.


They ran several more blocks, their training paying off with controlled breathing and fatigue. And there appeared the C Metro station. Icarus thanked Optimus City for funding public transportation as it was saving his ass this glorious day. Icarus had a lead on Daedalus as he was leading them to safety and he made to the opening of the Metro station and made it down a flight of stairs when he heard something akin to gunfire and Daedalus yelling out. Icarus looked around and stashed the duffle with the case behind a garbage can in the station and ran back up the stairs. He heard more fire.


Icarus reached the top and saw smoking holes riddled the street and leaning against a lamppost with obvious smoking holes in his armor was Daedalus. He ran to the edge of the doorway and looked around and he saw the lunatic fly by strafing Daedalus with a fiery rain. Icarus reloaded his pistol and fired, but the lunatic was already flying away and circling back around. Icarus ran out and unloaded the clip, realized he was out of bullets and holstered his gun during the oncoming attack, barely leaping out of the way of the barrage with an acrobatic flip.


As the lunatic circle around, Icarus pulled out a stack of shuriken and began to use his numen to channel aetheria into the stars, charging them with deadly energy. And as the first blasts started to land he unleashed his own barrage in return. Icarus felt the hot forceful impact on his left shoulder as he saw two of the shurikens hit their mark and sent the lunatic spinning off to the right.


Icarus grabbed his shoulder and fell to the ground from the impact. He was able to keep his attention enough and saw the lunatic arc around in the sky and spin on his axis for a low charge. He saw the @%#$&&# creating two spheres and merged them as Icarus realized he didn't have time to charge any more shuriken and drew his katana with his right hand. His mind raced trying to find a tactic that would save his @$$. He could see the anger on the lunatic's face.


That's when he remembered Daedalus, which was clearly not on the lunatic's mind, but it should have been. He must have written Daedalus off. Daed wasn't as quick as Icarus and so he had been hit more, but Daed was a tank. A tank running perpendicular to and directly at the unwary lunatic. Icarus watched Daedalus with his peripheral vision, not moving his eyes to give away the attack. He planted his feet to feint as if he was going to use his katana to defend himself, but actually he was preparing to leap away at the last second.


The lunatic unleashed a single glowing orange blast the size of a football. Icarus leapt forward over the oncoming lunatic and watched as Daedalus leapt swinging his 500 plus pound black iron custom made tetsubo down on the back of the low flying lunatic. The lunatic hit the ground very hard and fast, skidded, rolled and flopped to a stop at least fifty feet away. Icarus landed to see the last of the roll.


Daedalus and Icarus made their way to each other. Smoke coming from holes all over the place. Icarus could see over Daed's shoulder that football sized blast had taken out a floor of a skyscraper down the block and there was fire and smoke coming out.


THEY DEFEAT FIERY RAIN AND GET ON A TRAIN. DAEDALUS IS VERY INJURED. ICARUS POV.


They look down the block and the lump of a body isn't moving.


Icarus says, "Let's go."


Daedalus nods and they walk down the stairs, the speed being beaten out of them. Icarus grabbed the duffle, checks to make sure the case is still there, they hop the turnstiles and get on the metro station. A train comes, they get on and the homeless man occupying the car sees them, masked, armored, weaponed, smoking and bleeding and decides the next car might be a better idea.


***


THEY GET HOME TO A WAREHOUSE THEY ARE RENTING AND LIVING OUT OF WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE OFFICES IN AN INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT OF OPTIMUS. THEY CALL STREET DOCTOR. ICARUS POV


They get off at their home stop after a transfer and the relatively dark streets of the early morning in a warehouse district. They hear the hooting and hollering of a few drunks and the bass of some music from down the road, the usual strip club noise. Icarus looked at Daedalus and was a little worried. Daedalus was wincing and bleeding more than is healthy for a human, even magi like themselves. Daedalus hobbled on his own, but it wasn't pretty. Icarus wasn't feeling too grand himself, but they were almost home.


"Hey. I'm gonna call Doc Peggy," said Icarus, taking out his cell. Doc Peggy was a street doctor. She worked off the books, black market. She sounded country as *$%#, but she knew her job. She was up to date on biotech and cybernetics, but Icarus hoped neither of them would need any of that.


He reached her voicemail and said, "Hey Doc Peggy, this is Icarus, need a little help at the house. Hit me up." He texted her a similar message just in case.


They made it to their warehouse. As with all Optimus buildings the base was a gray faux stone. The ritzier part of town used real stone, but not here. Although it looked yellow orange, Icarus knew the walls above were a regulation off-white, or at least the parts of it untouched by graffiti. He noticed new piece of a robot popping a squat and crapping a shark. It was pretty well done. Daedalus had slowed to a near crawl and Icarus moved closer to lend him a shoulder.


"Almost there, bud," said Icarus smiling under the weight of Daedalus.


Daedalus silently nodded.


Icarus hit a button on his phone and the dark steel gate rolled into the ceiling, the lights flickered on and revealed wide and spacious warehouse. Struts exposed near the ceiling. On the right Daedalus' silk screenings depicting a scene of modern street life done in a very traditional Asian Wood block style. Hood rat meets Hokusai. Icarus had met the Dominican sister and brother team who made these things. The screen blocked off Daedalus' combat mat for the floor and his large array of medieval weaponry, mostly in black carbyn the material of choice of the day. On the left was a small array of motorcycles and various stages of repair. Once inside he hit the phone again, closing the gate.


The second floor was an enclosed U-shaped affair with metal walkway around it and double stairs at the far end of the warehouse. The stairs entered near what Icarus called the office. It's where he kept the computer and small physical library/file system and smaller equipment. It's where he'd bring clients and make his criminal plans. The left side was his living quarters. The right side had been storage and half under construction when Daedalus had joined the picture. It had been converted to a smaller apartment. It was decently equipped but far less lavish than his own. He wondered how Daedalus could deal with such a spartan room, but Daedalus just said he preferred it that way, something about a bare room keeps his mind less cluttered. Icarus admitted to himself he didn't remember exactly, mostly due to the fact that he didn't get it. Although, he didn't relate was probably the more accurate term.


***


STREET DOCTOR WORKS ON DAEDALUS, WHILE ICARUS DISCOVERS THE CARDBOARD BOX CONTAINS A BLACK CARBON FIBER BOX THAT HE CAN’T GET OPEN OR DAMAGE. ICARUS POV.


Icarus had tried to put on a brave face, but he had to admit he the gurgling in his stomach had other opinions of Daedalus. Icarus had gotten a fold-away table and thrown one of Daedalus' older sleeping mats on top of it near the large rough sink behind his motorcycles. It was gray and mottled by age. It was some old industrial model. It worked and although it didn't look it, it was relatively clean. He put Daedalus on top of it, got him to strip and did some quick first aid and bandaging of wounds and laid him down. His hands were steady but he was sweating some and the wound on his shoulder was killing him. Considering the number of wounds Daedalus had, he must have been holding in a lot.


Icarus had walked away and now stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked around the place. He saw Daed's martial arts area and smiled. He remembered hearing about Daed's family and although everything wasn't great currently he could sense they were good people from the man they raised and the little pieces he'd told Icarus. He didn't want to have been the one to have gotten their son killed. He was one of most decent men he'd ever met in prison or the street for that matter. Part of him had wanted to tell Daed to go back to being a social worker or something, but he didn't. A buddy you can trust is something you don't want to lose in the game. Icarus started walking up the stairs and chuckled. Daed had said that the system had forced him into the jianghu, and he would play his part. He had always said that kind of weird stuff, stuff you'd have to look up later. Daed realized his dallying was not helping his friend remain alive and went up to the storage area. There he found a bright standing light with reflectors he had kept when this photographer chick had decided to leave him. He grabbed that, an extension cord and made note to grab a stack of towels.


A few minutes later was a very jury rigged operating table. Daedalus was grimacing, but awake. Doc Peggy arrived, issued a howdy, asked for her cash card, checked it, and after some minor adjustments, kicked Icarus out of the way. She had made him turn Daed's silk screens around and told him to stay in that "little karate movie area" until she called for him. He could hear her muttering comforting words as she doped Daed up and even narrated him through the whole process. Listening was driving him a bit crazy and so he distracted himself by attack the box that caused this whole mess. He tore the cardboard apart with his bare hands out of frustration, but when he realized he had nearly hurt himself, he breathed and worked more slowly. The box was no biggie. Inside was a carbyn briefcase, light, mostly matte with intricate etchings of geometric shapes on it. He tried to open it, then looked for the lock in the usual place and there was none. No keyhole, no combination, no obvious electronic sensor.


As he got up to go up to his office he told Doc Peggy, "I'll be up there if you need me." He proceeded with the case, leaving the cardboard scattered where it was, up the stairs and into his office.


***


ICARUS STRUGGLES TO GET THE BRIEFCASE OPEN WITHOUT DAMAGING WHAT IS INSIDE. HE NEARLY BORROWS A WEAPON FROM DAEDALUS TO START HACKING IT IN FRUSTRATION. ICARUS POV.


Once in the office Icarus performed a minute inspection of the briefcase. It seemed normal except for his inability to open thing even though no locking mechanism was apparent. He proceeded to try and pry it open but it slipped repeatedly and if he hadn't still been wearing his armored gloves he'd have surely cut himself on one attempt. That mode of attack was over when he snapped the head off of that mini crowbar.


He peeked out of the window and saw the Doc still hunched over Daed. He returned and rifled through his electronics closet and found his electrical scanner. He attached it to his phone and started up the app. He scanned the device and found the main body shielded and no apparent detectable electronic lock. Shielding was fairly typical, particularly if something inside needed possible protection from EMPs. But the electronic key plate couldn't be shielded as it wouldn't respond to it's key. He ditched that scanner and ran and grabbed his X-ray scanner, attached it to his phone, started the app and somehow it was shielded again. He had a hunch and looked for a tool he hadn't used very often. It was a magical tool, very and rare and expensive like all magical tools.


People learned how to channel magic with some facility, but inanimate objects lacked the requisite consciousness to consistently work magic. Those few aethineers who could actually maintain a proper stable flow of aetheria into a matrix that would function consistently over time were rare and amazing and amazingly well paid. Long functioning magical items were the exception, not the rule. But he had one and rifled through his closet to find it.


After several minutes of desperation, he found it and it's instructions. He took it to his desk, set in his rolling chair and looked at the long tedious instructions. He thought about Daedalus and went to the windows again. He saw her work long liquid patterns of golden energy over his body. He'd seen this before, she'd used all her science and was now helping him heal with delicate magics. Icarus' hopes increased slightly and he turned away with a new thought.


Before struggling with the instructions he procrastinated and thought perhaps the patterns meant something. He took a photo with his phone and scanned the net for matching patterns. Simple searches matched the patterns most closely to Islamic geometric decorative motifs, but it wasn't quite right. On finer examination the borders looked like Celtic and there were sporadic ravens done in a style he'd seen in Native American art of up around Oregon and Washington.


He settled down and read the instructions a few times through. It actually reminded him of his Owl-360 night vision goggles, except horribly archaic. They were a bizarre set of brass and leather goggles with strange little dials all over the head piece. He imagined Sherlock Holmes messing about with something like this. He strapped it around his head referred to the instructions and set the dials. He adjusted the settings and as he adjusted the binoculars he began to see different layers of flowing aetheria. Different settings showed different patterns. This case had three layers of permanent enchantments flowing through it, directed by the designs. The second layer had streamed like little blood vessels or ley lines around the seam of the case and was undoubtedly the primary sealing aetheric pattern. Icarus pulled off the contraption and rubbed his chin in thought. He had no idea how to break this.


HE GETS IT OPEN AND IT IS A COMPUTER. HE TRIES TO HACK IN WITH HIS MEAGER SKILLS AND CANNOT AND HAS TO CALL IN A HACKER FRIEND. ICARUS POV.


Magical locking mechanisms were incredibly rare considering how expensive they were to make and maintain. One could buy a state of the art science based security system with trained security and even hire a small team of combat mages to protect something for the price of something this complex. He knew only one person this adept at magical locks, Helena Plunkett. She was an obsessive about the area of magical locks and had become absurdly rich designing complex magical locking systems for wealthy paranoids. She would enjoy looking at this for the sheer uniqueness of it. She'd probably just crack it for the challenge. He sent her a text with the photo of the case and went to check on Daed.


He looked out of the window of his office and looked and saw Doc Peggy. She wiped her brow, walked over to the sink and drank some water, straight out the faucet. She put her hands on her hips, checked her watch and pulled off her rubber gloves. She looked up and met eyes with Icarus. She waved him down. He left the case and went down the stairs. She walked towards the stairs to meet him. She had a tired mild smile on her face.


"What's the verdict?" said Icarus.


"Let's go on over to your kung fu corner for a second, darling." She put a hand on his back and nodded towards the silk screen and mat. Once there she proceeded to the far end of the mat and sat down, legs Indian style on the floor, ran her hands through her hair and pulled out an old style liquor flask and took a swig.


"Your friend over there is one sturdy sonova#$%*&. He must have been hit with some serious mojo."


"He is and he was," said Icarus as he sat down Indian style as well.


"Well, I think he'll be alright. Get him to his bed and keep him there is much as you can for the next week or so. I've left some pain meds over there, instructions on the bottle. Do not let him exert himself too much otherwise he may start bleeding like water coming through a colander."


"Is he awake?"


"No not yet and don't wake him up. Just leave him on the table for awhile and when he starts to stir enough to be coherent get him to his bed."


"Alright then," said Doc Peggy as she slapped her legs and stood. "Well, I reckon I'll be off."


"Great. I really appreciate the speed you got over here."


"Yeah, well, you're welcome. Have a good'un." Doc Peggy gathered up her things, gave a little salute and made her way out the service door next to the big corrugated steel front doors.


Icarus was exhausted. He realized he was still wearing full armor and hadn't had Doc Peggy check out his shoulder. It was aching and burning, but even though he still hadn't inspected it, he felt it was minor. He walked over to Daedalus. He was bandaged up rather heavily and dead to the world. He put a hand in front of his mouth and felt his breath. Then some snores started and Icarus smiled and walked away. He went up the stairs, past the office to his apartment and to his bedroom. There he stripped down to his skivvies and walked slowly to the bathroom. He checked out the various bruises and gashes on his body, but the left shoulder wound was clearly the worst. There was a thin slice surrounded by scorched skin. Sadly he had received such wounds before and broke out the first aid kit. It wasn't a deep wound. Just as he was wincing during the cleaning he heard a Gabby Hayesesque voice coming from the other room saying "Textsh dadgummit, textsh!" Icarus' Uncle Clinton did a great Gabby Hayes and one day he got him drunk and recorded him saying that and made it his text tone.


Icarus put down the wound cleaning supplies and moseyed over there, the soreness catching up to his body. He checked the phone, text from Helena and it said, "This i s very exciting. I will be there immediately. Immediately meaning maybe half an hour."


Icarus smiled and went back to the painful task of wound cleaning.


***


SHE CRACKS IT AND IT IS A DEDICATED SUPERNATURALISTS ALMANAC. ICARUS SHOWS IT TO DAEDALUS. BOTH SMILE. ICARUS POV.


Despite, Doc Peggy's orders Icarus felt Daedalus would be more comfortable in his bed and so he moved him there and tidied up the downstairs. He didn't want Helena to feel like she was in too much danger. He felt things needed to look more normal. She could be finicky at times, psychiatrists might have called it mildly OCD, but she called it trusting her intuition. Icarus didn't care, his curiosity about the case had made him try to make things receptive for Helena. He thought he'd done right.


Icarus paced the main hall to make sure all was well. It was. He thought about the wet bar upstairs and remembered Helena wasn't much of a drinker. His collection of hard liquor wouldn't impress. Then Icarus remembered Daed's Japanese iron tea set. She would love some of Daed's real tea. His instincts said she'd lean Earl Grey. He'd have to test that theory later. He contemplated Daed. He was the oddest big burly black dude he'd ever met, at least odd in a good way. Rakeem Leadhead Johnson was the weirdest bad burly black dude he met. He'd met Rakeem in jail, dude was clearly paranoid flavored crazy, but had ended up in jail instead of a nuthouse and it made him worse. But, Icarus thought, Daed was good and weird. Educated, overly political, drank hot tea fairly often, kung fu magic style, didn't like desserts, tough, naive, but wise in his way. Daed confused the heck out of Icarus.


The doorbell rang, this month it was a tune recorded by The Dead Profits, a Spookhouse band, "You're mama ate my corpse." He went to the door and there was Helena Plunkett, looked thirtyish, short, dyed blond long hair pulled up, round, John Lennon glasses, top hat, steampunky Victorianish women's suit in shades of gray and charcoal.


"I'm glad you could come. You look lovely as usual," said Icarus with a devilish smile and a slightly sarcastic bow.


"Hush up. You knew I'd come. Knew it. Keep your smile and show me the case," said Helena as she bustled in, wide eyed, surveying the ground floor of the warehouse.


"Right, right. Just follow me. Stairs or freight elevator?"


"Stairs are fine. You know this place is real 20th century industrial. I like it, but I don't. Hard to put a finger on it."


They reached Icarus' office and he opened the door for her. She walked in first and saw the case on his table and her rambling narration about his decor quieted as she made a beeline to his desk and sat in his chair.


"Help yourself. Sit wherever you like." Icarus closed the door and turned to find Helena turning the case over and over as she stared at it.


"Fascinating, really fascinating. If the etchings and symbologies are any indication we may have some really unique cross-cultural aetheric work. Really interesting."


Helena put the case down, rifled through her bag and pulled out a datapad. She unclipped a stylus from the pad and began scribbling notes with diagrams and formulae that looked like math to Icarus, but wasn't quite right. He watched her flip between her notes and the net, lost in her work.


"Helena, would you want anything to drink or eat?"


Helena didn't respond for a good thirty seconds before responding, "Ah, no, not right now, thanks," and lapsed back into her work.


Icarus watched her go for awhile, and was completely lost. Icarus' and Daed's styles of magics were largely extensions of primarily physical skills and so were much more about practicing physical maneuvers and channeling aetheric energies in a mind-body way. It took a great deal of complicated and sometimes very difficult concepts and training to learn things, but Helena did something very different. Daed had more academic aetheric training than himself, but he doubted Daed could keep up with Helena here. She was deep in the arena of theoretical pure aetherics.


Suddenly, she closed her eyes change, did a strange hand motion and opened her eyes. They glowed a bright white light. She looked at the case again, "Look at this work. The layers and flow, very nice, elegant even. Oh yeah, you can't see it, that's right otherwise you'd not need me. Silly of me. Very silly."


As curious as he was, Icarus grew bored after hours of her analysis, and actually fell asleep in a comfy chair in a corner of his office. He awoke to find Helena nudging him.


"Hey, hey. I'm a bit thirsty now, what do you have?" said Helena, inches from his face.


"Uh, yeah. Hold on," said Icarus shook his head, sat up out of his slouch, and stared at his office as his memories slowly rebooted and reminded him what as going on. "Uh, I have some liquor, I make decent mixed drinks."


"No that won't do at all. I need to be sharp, alcohol would be bad."


"How about tea? My roommate has an excellent tea set and collection."


"Yes, very nice, may I see it."


"Yeah, I'll be right back." Icarus turned and went to Daedalus' kitchenette, grabbed his tea set and all the teas he could grab and dropped it on a tray and went back to Helena.


Helena had moved back to Icarus' office chair and sat back staring at the case. Icarus moved in and showed the tea set and arrayed the variety of teas at the edge of the desk.


"Oh very good, very good. Ahmad Earl Grey, good. Be a dear and start this up and bring some cream and sugar. Then we must talk."

Icarus left again and after some fuddling around Daed's kitchenette gathered everything together and started up the the kettle. He splashed some water in his face to wake up a bit and went over to Daed's bedroom to look in on him. He looked okay and still dead asleep. He headed back to the kitchenette and in a few minutes, the water boiled, he poured it in the pot and made his way back over to his office.


He entered the room saying, "I just poured it so you'll have to let it steep as long as you like." Icarus saw Helena lost on her data pad again, rifling through her notes certainly.


"Good, good. Have a seat." She didn't bother to look up at him.


Icarus set the tray down and sat in the chair normally reserved for guests to his office, their places reversed from the natural order. "So, what's up?"


"This my dear friend is a work of art," she said as she caressed the case. "It is brilliant but luckily for you I am more brilliant. It took me all night but I can open it."


"Can you? That's sweet. You are the most amazing..." started Icarus only to be interrupted mid-sentence by Helena.


"Not so fast. I require that you share with me the knowledge of what is in this case and if you don't mind I'd lie to keep the case as a payment of sorts."


"I suppose. I wasn't really after the case. You can have the case. But as for what's inside, you have to promise you'll keep the contents to yourself."


"Oh certainly, yes, yes yes."


"I'll hold you to that."


"Certainly."


"Well get to it."


Helena proceeded to meditate, and then cough up a gooey ball of floating bluish energy which she netted with her hands above the case into a complex glowing array of string energy and slowly she dipped different strings into the case. It flowed and slapped into it in an ebbing and flowing rhythm of complex movements as complicated as a classical pianist's finger work. It took a half hour of this dancing gooey strand ing light and then they both heard a click.


Icarus sat forwards as she caused the aetheric energies to dissipate in mid air. She moved to open the case and Icarus, hopped up and moved quickly to her side of the desk and revealed was a simple black shiny laptop and in relief the symbol of Seurat Systems, a silhouette of the profiled couple to the right of Georges Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." Daed had pointed that out to him one day.


"It's a computer," said Helena, "How dull." Helena proceeded to pour herself a cup of earl grey and proceeded to curl up on the comfy chair in the corner.


Icarus pulled it carefully from the case. Pulled out it's power cord, plugged it in and punched the power button. It took a few seconds to boot up and a password prompt appeared. Icarus scratched his head for a slit second, clapped and ran to his storeroom attached to the office and rifled through things until he found the small data stick he wanted. He plugged it into his phone, came out to the computer and ran the hacking program. Surprisingly, it worked within fifteen minutes. Much easier to crack. He thought that whoever owned this had banked on the case's impenetrability.


"It's working," Icarus said to Helena, sitting down in his office chair and checking out what was in this computer that was so important. He checked over and again and found it to be filled with self-contained database. Not connected to the net at all. It also had the most dense data-compression he had ever seen. The memory and drive capacity on this thing was enormous. As he wandered through the database he couldn't believe his eyes. It was incredible.


Helena, clearly became curious and wandered over with her third cup of tea to look over his shoulders. She watched him flip. "This can't be what I think it is. It can't be."


"But it is. This Helena, is the most extensive and comprehensive database of famous, obscure and dangerous magical items and locations ever devised by mankind. Not only that, it appears to have discussions of the debunked hokum and the secret blinds that keep most folk away."


"That's incredible. Who could have devised such a thing? It's amazing."


Icarus flipped through a few screen to some introductory text and re-skimmed it for a moment. "Apparently it's some group called the Supernaturalists. Ever heard of them?"


"No, not ever. Bizarre."


"It's a treasure map to Atlantis, Shangri La, Avalon, and every obscure magical treasure you could ever desire. Daed's gonna love this."


"Who's dead?"


THE END.

____________________


What I noticed was how much I varied off of my literal plan, but found places I liked that fulfilled similar roles.  The end's a bit of teaser, but this is my first short story since college [class of '95] so I'm cutting myself some slack. 

I plan on running through multiple drafts, but necessarily posting them all. 

Planned drafts:
  • General tightening draft - Continuity, 3rd person limited POV, basic spelling/grammar, pacing, increase fear for the main characters a bit.  I want to focus on really defining characters well so they are very distinguishable.  It's a bit bare bones now.  I'm especially unhappy w/Helena Plunkett's visual.   Daedalus is minimally explored compared to Icarus and I find too expository.  I need Daed to show more and be talked about less. 
  • Sci-fi draft - Step up focus on gadgets, technology and how it changes options for characters.  Developing tighter jargon.
  • Magic draft - Develop and tighten magical terminology, styles, methods, appearances and effects on society as shown in this tiny window.
Feel free to give constructive criticisms, but it's not why I did it.  I just thought it might be mildly interesting to see someone's (a.k.a. my) process thus far. 

Otherwise it's been pretty good and relatively painless except for making the time to write.  Most publishers would generally consider this piece published, so I won't bother to try and sell it when it's done.  It'll be an extremely low prestige (as I have no writing resume) SciFiMedia original. 

No one may give a crap, but that's okay, I'm having fun with this experiment. 

Next draft will be the final draft without ALL CAPS scene descriptions.  It will be the final draft and will just be the story itself basically. It will be the end of my little behind the scenes project.   

This won't be until May sometimes, as I'm trying out scriptfrenzy in April for the 1st time.  This is me on there if you care - http://www.scriptfrenzy.org/eng/user/532373

See ya

Nick. 

4 comments:

Budd said...

wow you have been busy on this thing. were you making it kid friendly or Mary friendly?

Nick said...

It isn't geared to kids, but I wanted to get rid of cusses in case a kid came across it. There's no sex and the violence isn't very graphic.

So I'd guess it's as kid and/or Mary safe as it's gonna get.

J.C. Martin said...

Very interesting to get an insight into your drafting process. And retelling the story of Icarus and Daedalus in a modern setting sounds refreshing.

Nick said...

I just stole their names. Icarus Sneed and Daedalus Scott sounded cool to me so I just went with it.

It's more of an urban fantasy Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser except with some Robin Hoodish motivations.

As I wrote I realized Icarus isn't all that politically conscious and will pull for crime for fun and profit. Daedalus is more serious and much more L-wing political and is the source of the Robin Hoodery.

Yesterday, I read some reviews of Terry Goodkind's works and the hamhanded levels of political commentary, particularly in his later novels and realized I need to dial down the political aspects in my head and just have the characters be themselves.

Daed will pull one way, Icarus the other and maybe they'll change each other a little bit along the way.