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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-18-12, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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Default Blood on Metal

As mentioned in my Member of the Month interview I have been working on a 40K novel for a while. My technique of writing has always been to expand the idea into a synopsis, write an entire draft then edit the whole story at the end, and I was intending to do the same for this. However, I find it hard to read longer pieces in one sitting, or find my place, on a computer screen and I am trying to expand my repertoire, so I have decided to try serialising it.

______

3/927/825M41 - The depths of Vixus III

Sharp pain tore through Brak's guts, wrenching him from sleep. The press of bodies huddled in the vent threatened to hold him down before fear pushed him free.

Lashing out instinctively into the semi-darkness with the crude shank experience kept grasped even in sleep he was shocked to find no target, before the agony of thousands of teeth shredded his reason. His free hand wrapped around the wound, feeling plates slick with blood lash across his palm then twist. He desperately grabbed over and over, forcing himself to tear deeper and deeper into his own chest before frantically stabbing down with the shank.

A clean pain followed by a slight relief. It paid to keep your shank sharp. Then the ground came up to meet his head. A smooth face gazed down at him and clean robes waved in the stuttering breath of the air-vent. He started falling upward into pools of infinite care before the pain dragged him down. As the pain slipped away a crisp click undercut his last rasped breath.

The scent of copper mingled with rotting cloth and damp iron as the first hands slid across his cooling body.


* * *


3/928/825M41 - Restricted Airspace, Vixus III

Venria ran her fingers slowly across the new pip on her coat. Not only a move up in rank but a move up within the Spires. Her work in bringing down Allistun Verek and his Spinners had been noticed and now she was to replace Intelligencer Sorih as head of Variant Recidivism.

Keeping her face set in the impassive mask appropriate for His Justice, she watched Spire Tercius start to appear through the smog. At first she could only make out the roughest shapes, but soon buttresses, each with their statue of a mighty hero, cleft the murk. As the flyer passed the nearest statue she noticed tiny figures moving across it, minor recidivists working off their sins by cleaning the outside of the Hive. Washing memorials to those whose legacy they had sullied was, she thought, a most suitable punishment.

Returning her eyes to the dataslate she sipped her recaff as she scrolled through personnel appointments again. It appeared her predecessor had run a tight watch, although she suspected that not everything had made it into the files. Arbitrator (First Class) Douglass Fisger possessed a material-to-resolution ratio that was the highest in the department and his performance reports were excellent, yet he had never been promoted to Intelligencer.

Chastising herself for seeking answers without sufficient evidence, she closed the files and returned to her introductory briefing for the new team:

"...His death is not only an affront to the Emperor's Divine Justice, it is also a personal affront to his family and colleagues. I never had the honour of meeting him. However, I did have the pleasure of working closely with more than one of the fine Arbitrators who had trained under him and so I share in your feelings of loss. It is all too easy to fall victim to anger, and to surrender to calls for a swift conclusion. However he would not want his last case to receive anything other than our best efforts, and so I will ensure that our investigation is a testament to the impartial, righteous, and unavoidable justice that is our duty. The duty that Intelligencer Sorih championed throughout his many years of service...."


* * *


Arbites Section House Primus, Section 3

Striding along the corridor while crisply returning the salutes of each person she passed, Venria was pleased that none ceased their activity to offer assistance. The identical nature of all node Section Houses was another clear advantage of uniform procedures as it removed entirely the need for current staff to divert their time into guiding new staff. Turning sharply whilst taking a swift breath to kill her irrelevant thoughts, she walked through the door into the office of Variant Recidivism and over to the far wall, instructing the team to keep their seats as she went.

A small table stood just to the left of her position with a full pot of recaff resting on a warming plate. Folding her hands behind her back, she faced the room. The overwhelming impression was that it was small, made smaller by the boards arranged around and even out from the walls, each covered in copies of evidence. Stacked boxes of evidence added to the sense of a sub-room for each open case. Regulation desks were slotted in and around the alcoves, each stacked with more copies of evidence, cogitators and the various charms and mementos of a team. Her new squad, some she noted still in plain clothes, had arranged themselves wherever there was space. As the seconds stretched, the lack of order rendered her silent before training marched her tongue into action.

"As you are aware I am your new supervising officer, Intelligencer (First Class) Venria Atella. Intelligencer Sorih has provided me with dossiers on each of the investigations ongoing and current processes...."

With the rehearsed words needing little attention, she used the appropriate pattern of shifting eye contact to conceal a more thorough review of the room. Someone had fixed hooks into the walls to support a hammock, currently stowed. She tentatively classified this as existing for moments when leaving an investigation to go to the barracks would take too long. It was unorthodox but demonstrated a commendable dedication to duty; no doubt improvements in process would remove the need. Surroundings memorised, she commenced comparing personnel dossiers to seating locations; the natural spread and postures indicated that team cohesion was strong but she was not part of it. Arbitrator Fisger, however, did not appear to be present.

Reminding herself that it would give an unsuitably relaxed impression to take the helm while holding a cup of recaff she attempted to strong-arm her mind into focussing only on her prepared speech and the team; however the scent was drifting across the room and taking her concentration with it. Finally, the elusive piece of the disorder succumbed to her analysis. There was a gap in the seating pattern that lead back to a desk surrounded almost entirely with stacked evidence boxes. Boxes with indices of different colour and sequence. Fisger's file indicated he would not miss a meeting and a stable team would instinctively leave each other's sight lines open, so Fisger was at the centre of the disorder.

She filed away an initial hypothesis on his delayed promotion and, deciding upon the correct starting point to her improvements, refocused entirely on her speech to deliver the appropriate of the several optional endings.

"... and so as my first step I am instituting a clear desk policy...."

Venria tried to keep note of which faces fell as she made the announcement; however, with the most likely facilitator concealed she resigned herself to reanalysing the heirarchy later.


* * *


3/932/825M41 - Chapel of St Vigor, Section 4

Daniel Grish sneezed as a cloud of cinders gusted into his face. The priest had added a lock to the censer. Wiping ash from his tunic he decided to try the vestry.

Turning toward the altar he struck his right knee on a pew. Not only had the tight-fisted bastard locked the censer, he seemed to have taken away the candles. How was a humble pardoner supposed to spread the crumbs of the Emperor's mercy to the sinful but affluent if it was locked away. He could see why the actual sacraments needed to be protected, but candles and incense were blessed by being close to the blessed transmutation so surely they were intended vessels of mercy. Sealing them away was more than not charitable it was positively irreligious. And what about the example it set? How could ordinary people, mired as they were in the slough of commerce, see the unity of Man if their priest did not demonstrate trust? It was almost a duty to recover the items from their bondage.

Rubbing his knee he began to move down the aisle. A gutter of flame revealed one candle still present, but took the beginnings of his night sight. However it did remind him of the suffrage candelabrum, so he considered the trade a fair one. Making his way forward almost by memory he was pleased to see that flickers of light illuminating other candles. Peering at the box welded to the stand he was overjoyed to find even more. Suffrage candles were always popular for bringing travellers back safely.

A sharp click came from behind him, pausing his hand in the act of reaching for his prize. Puzzled he started to turn before a blow knocked him forward into the candelabrum, upsetting it and dousing the flame. Attempting to stand and untangle himself he achieved neither and ended up on his back. The small spill of light from the votive window revealed a robed figure diving toward him.

Flailing desperately backward his right knee accidentally made contact with his attacker, knocking the figure sideways but jarring the already bruised joint. Even as the pain subsided a new more brutal pain tore through his chest. Curling instinctively into a ball he felt something slip out, followed by his blood and will.

Vague hands uncurled him and he felt the flags slide beneath him before being propped against something. Something pressed against his right hand and an odd tearing sound caught his ear before blood loss took his interest away forever.

* * *

Last edited by Dave T Hobbit; 05-30-12 at 05:26 PM.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-18-12, 08:36 PM
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i'd buy it
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-18-12, 08:51 PM
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Are you interested in comment & criticism? I think it is good but there are some places it could be improved - I can't help it, the editor in me whips out the red pen whenever I read things.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-19-12, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gothik View Post
i'd buy it
High praise indeed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LazyG View Post
Are you interested in comment & criticism? I think it is good but there are some places it could be improved - I can't help it, the editor in me whips out the red pen whenever I read things.
I am always interested in what people think of my work. As I am trying serialising for the first time instead of editing it all at once I am especially interested in how it is going.

Last edited by Dave T Hobbit; 04-19-12 at 02:05 PM.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-19-12, 01:49 PM
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I very much like the work and the detail that you have placed into the story so far, I really hope that you expand upon this solid start and look forward to this being a regular subscribed thread
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-12, 01:34 PM
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The story does not flow very well, but it does flow well. The sentence structure is set in such a way that it takes more careful attention; to slow down, if you will for me to read it. But the story and detail is such that I would enjoy the whole of the book once it is completed. I love the investigative side that you have presented as well. Keep up the great work and I look forward to reading more.

A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep! Check out the H.O.E.S. short story competition.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-24-12, 12:32 AM
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OK finally with some feedback, sorry it took a while, work crises take up too much time .

I kinda agree with Adrian I guess, I like lots about it but there are some flow/styling issues. I think the opening hook is a good idea but doesn't _quite_ work. It is perhaps a shade too mysterious - I mean we know someone gets cut open and dies and i guess we won't know by whom yet but maybe a few more details to make us relate to him a bit more before you kill him off. The 'shaft mates' sentence just has to go though, it took me 3 readings to work out i wasn't reading the start of 40k porn

The Venria sections are better, I think you get into character more effectively, but there are a few writing issues. A lot of word repetition (her/she/her/she all through sentences etc) and some long sentences. It is getting there, just needs some polish. There are a few cases where you need to use the most common bit of writing advice I have ever had - show don't tell. Better to show something and let people understand it than tell them it is happening.

The best bit of writing is the end section in the Chapel of St Vigor. You get the pardoner very vividly very quickly. A really three dimensional character. If you can get the rest to this quality I'd pay for it, plot permitting etc.

I will PM you as have an edited doc too with more details.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-24-12, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
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Useful feedback so far.

I am holding off posting the next part until I complete reviewing the email feedback so I (hopefully) only make new mistakes.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-29-12, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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Based on this feedback and that of non-Heretics I have made a few amendments. As opinions differed strongly about whether the first section would be improved or weakened by more exposition, I have mostly left it as is; although I did edit the second sentence to save LazyG's delicate sensibilities (I draw no conclusion from none of my external readers understanding why it seemed like porn ).
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-08-12, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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Slightly later than intended I have finished the next chunk.

______

3/933/825M41 - Chapel of St Vigor

Douglass gritted his teeth. "So where is the body now?"

"On a pallet in the vestry. Where else would we have the cleaner place it? Outside the rear entrance with the rubbish, eh?" chortled Cleric Archibrand Lesp.

"Cleaner? You allowed the cleaner to interfere with an active crime scene!" spat Douglass. Part of him knew that shouting at the Ecclesiarchy Liaison would not fix the problem and might even cause more in the long term, but it was a touchy subject.

"Clearly the first priority was to resanctify the chapel so it could be returned to use. You must see that the mere temporal punishment of a recidivist comes second to serving the Divine Emperor?" said Lesp smiling beatifically.

Punishing recidivism is serving the Divine Emperor you pompous bureaucrat seethed Douglass internally. "Can one of my men have permission to go through the Chapel's rubbish?"

"Go through the rubbish?" Lesp quirked an eyebrow, "If you think it will help. But I must insist your man wears gloves and does not remove anything. There have been instances of people stealing church property to sell as false relics."

Gloves, thought Douglass, would anyone choose not to wear gloves when going through waste? At least he was not insisting everyone take confession before they touch anything. Deaths on Ecclesiarchy soil were a jurisdictional nightmare. If he were not almost certain Intelligencer Atella viewed bias as sinful he would think this assignment was punishment. "I can assure you my men will treat everything with the appropriate respect. However, if you have any concerns you are welcome to observe the search."

"No, no. That will not be necessary," replied Lesp quickly.

Smiling inwardly at the image of a portly Cleric Lesp picking carefully through a waste container, Douglass waved his assistants over. "DePre, interview Deacon Boreas. Try to get some answers but remember that we have to treat him with soft gloves. Carlsen, I need you to handle something with soft gloves too, check the rubbish to see if anything helpful survived cleaning. If anyone needs me I will be inspecting the scene in a respectful manner."


* * *


Douglass' immediate impression of the vestry was how cramped it was. Two wardrobes had been placed against the left wall with a table partially blocking their doors. A pallet was pressed along the right wall leaving a narrow corridor down the centre of the room to the side exit. Sidling past the table he crouched down next to Doctor Hinely to view the body.

A blanket was bundled up at the foot of the pallet. Maybe they covered him out of respect. There was blood covering the victim's tunic but nothing immediately obvious on the pallet or blanket which fitted with him being dead for a while before he was moved here.

"So what can you tell me Doc?"

"He has a jagged wound to the chest just below the ribs. The fingers are missing from his right hand but the stumps are not healed so that could be perimortem. Some of the joints show signs of fracture but the body was supposedly moved so it could be due to that. I will know more once I have the opportunity to carry out a proper autopsy. However, the preliminary cause of death is exsanguination from the chest wound," replied Doctor Hinely, "Any issue with me taking the body now?"

"The body was moved and the scene cleaned before we arrived. The autopsy might provide the only definite evidence we can recover so, the sooner we get that, the sooner we know what to look for in here." Douglass remained crouching, continuing his study of the room until he realised Doctor Hinely was standing silently with one eyebrow quirked. Smiling sheepishly he sidled back out of the room to allow her to pass before turning back with a puzzled look. "Wouldn't it be easier to use that door?"

"Would be, but it's locked and bolted."

"Right." Douglass tapped his comm, "DePre, ask the Deacon to give the side door key to Doc Hinely."

Studying the floor more closely, Douglass noticed scratch marks next to the table. Looked as if they needed move it if they wanted the door fully open. From the small pile of crumbs by the door the cleaner had not been in here, so it was even more likely that the victim bled out somewhere else.


* * *


"And was it you that reported the incident, Deacon?"

"No. Mr Kara found the body when he came in to set the altar for Matins. There have been thefts so we keep everything locked away you see. I expect that was what happened here. Grish and one of his colleagues came here hoping to steal something and they argued and he was stabbed, replied Deacon Boreas, turning an empty cup over and over, "He had just called you when I arrived. I came into the Vestry and noticed that the plate locker was still closed so I went through into the chapel before robing. Mr Kara was just standing there holding a comm-unit. I asked him why the altar was not set and he just pointed at the ground. It was then I saw the body."

"And Mr Kara is the Verger?" queried DePre making a note.

"Yes. Lhari Kara. He has been Verger here for years. I asked him what had happened and he said he found the body just lying there. I saw he had his comm-unit out so I asked him if he had called someone. He said he had called you. I know the diocese needed to know straight away so I borrowed his comm-unit and was told to wait for Cleric Lesp. I asked Mr Kara to stand at the main door to stop people coming in but he was babbling so I sent him home to rest. We do not get much gang violence around here so are not used to death by violence."

"Perfectly understandable, Deacon," said DePre smiling, "So you stood there until Cleric Lesp arrived and then he says you helped him reconsecrate the Chapel. Did you recognise the victim straight away or only as you were moving him?"

"Pardon", gulped Boreas.

"You said that you thought Grish and a colleague were intending to steal something. So you recognised the victim."

"Oh... um, yes. I think his first name was Daniel. He came to services sometimes but I think it was more to find victims rather than out of piety. He claimed to be a Pardoner. I sometimes saw him talking to parishioners after services and sometimes something changed hands. That is why I thought he was here to steal. After I called him I just stared at the body. That was when I recognised him. I did not really pay attention to anything else. When Cleric Lesp arrived with a cleaner he reminded me to check to see if anything was missing. The suffrage candelabrum was knocked over and there were candles on the floor but apart from that nothing was damaged or missing. Actually, wait, there were dead coals on the floor by the censer as well."

"So you came into the Chapel via the Vestry and saw Mr Kara. Went over to him, at which point you saw the body. You sent him to the front door to keep people out and stayed with the body until Cleric Lesp arrived. When he arrived you checked the Chapel while the cleaner moved the body and cleaned the floor? And nothing stood out apart from the candelabrum and the ashes?"

"Yes... that is it."

"Thank you Deacon, you have been most helpful. If you remember anything else, even if it seems trivial or irrelevant please contact us."


* * *


The cleaner had been thorough, thought Douglass, maybe I should take their details in case Intelligencer Atella decided to upgrade to a sterile desk policy. No, that was unfair. He was just mad at Lesp for destroying evidence. A clean desk policy could work well in less intuitive departments. Maybe if he tried a different view he would get a fresh perspective.

He had just started jogging down the side of the Chapel he found himself facing Doc Hinely's eyebrow again at the head of the pallet. Pressing against the wall he watched her guide it past.

"Doc. You forgot the blanket. The Intelligencer wants everything by the regulations and a temporary body covering is supposed to travel with a body."

"Douglass. You might claim that investigation needs randomness because people are random, but I have always followed the regulations. The blanket was not on the body when I arrived so is contents of the scene and not a body covering."

Returning to his plan he entered the now open Vestry door and continued into the Chapel. The pews blocked sight of the aisle and nothing stood out along the side wall. Moving to the front and along to where the body was supposedly found, it continued to stand out. Something did not quite feel right but - without something to give context - he was in danger of focusing on irrelevancies. So interview the Verger, review the autopsy, then look for something that did not fit. Ironically what regulations indicated the senior investigator should do. Well apart from personally carrying out the initial interview of a witness.
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