Friday 23 July 2010

How They Met

Here's my attempt for this week's Fiction Friday challenge on the Write Anything blog, also submitted to the Friday Flash collection. The prompt was;

Pick two established characters, either from your own work or others’. Now write the scene/story of their meeting.

I decided to go with Commander Melissa Hunt and Dawkins, from my current web serial, The First Tale, which is part of the ongoing Tales From Vertigo City project. You don't need to have read it to read this flash, as it takes place outside of the scope of the serial, but in a nutshell, Dawkins is an inventor, and founder of the Vertigo City Resistance, and Liss is his prize commander. This, dear friends, is how they met.

* * *

Pounding footsteps rang out in the street. One pair of scuffed boots, followed by six pairs of brand new leather shoes. Her breath came hard and ragged, her muscles screaming in protest. No amount of training could prepare her for a chase on foot. Not when she’d run the last two miles through Vertigo City’s antiques district, and her pursuers had been in a car. Their car now sat idling on the main street as they followed her through the maze of back streets.

She swerved to avoid an old woman carrying a wicker basket of carriage clocks. Judging by the thuds and shouts behind her, at least one of her pursuers failed to follow her example. 

An alleyway opened between an antiques bazaar and a junk shop so full its wares spilled out onto the street. Liss threw herself around the corner, diving into the cool darkness between the buildings. Shots rang out behind her as bullets slammed into brickwork. Cement dust showered her back.

“Shit! Shit shit shit shit shit!”

The back wall of a building blocked the end of the alleyway. She whirled round to see five Weimar Corporation thugs advancing toward her. Panic gripped her gut. Two men tapped hammers against their open palms. Two more carried knives, while the fifth held a revolver. All five wore crisp black suits, Weimar armbands around their upper left arms.

“Ah, cornered at last,” said the gun-toting heavy. Comb tracks ran through the styling cream that plastered his hair to his head.

“What are you going to do, shoot me? That would be a bit anti-climactic, wouldn’t it? All this chasing me around just to gun me down in an alleyway. Hardly heroic, is it?” Liss tried to inject bravado into her words.

She glanced around the dead end; she saw only a rusty door to her right, and piles of damp boxes to her left. Bars covered the few windows that looked down into the alley.

“Oh shut up, Hunt. We’ve been after you for weeks and now we’ve got you. We know it’s you that’s been attacking our cars all over town,” said the heavy.

“Someone has to stand up to you lot. Might as well be me,” replied Liss. She hoped they couldn’t hear the tremor in her voice.

“Kurt, we have to take her in. I mean, she’s not even Resistance,” said one of the other thugs. His knife wavered.

“Maybe not now, but she could be,” replied Kurt. His thumb caressed the hammer of the revolver.

The door to Liss' right burst open. Rust flaked off the handle when it hit the wall. An elderly gentlemen in a tweed waistcoat and trousers sauntered into the alley. He held an impressive hand cannon, trained on Kurt. An automaton followed, its copper body glinting in the fading light. Liss thought it held a pair of hand cannons, until she looked again and realised the cannons were actually its hands.

"I'd drop the gun if I were you, dear boy," said the gentleman. He consulted a gleaming gold pocket watch. Liss felt a wave of awe at his cool, leisurely manner.

"What the hell are you doing here?" asked Kurt.

"I am here to lend my aid to this rather pretty young lady," replied the gentleman.

He nodded at Liss, gesturing to the open doorway behind him. The hammer-wielding thugs started forward. The automaton fired a blast into the ground in front of them. The spray of stone dust forced them back.

Liss ducked into the door. A set of rough steps led downwards, lit sporadically by flickering torches. The stairs must lead into the tunnels beneath the city, and only the Resistance lived underground. She gazed at the gentleman's back, wondering if if could be true.

He darted back inside the door, and shots rang out in the alley as the automaton closed the door behind them. The gentlemen slipped past her and headed down the stairs, beckoning her to follow.

"You, I do believe, are the notorious Melissa Hunt!" he said. His voice echoed in the darkness.

"How do you know who I am?" asked Liss.

"I keep tabs on all noble Vertigo citizens who take a stand against Weimar. Your efforts have been most impressive, dear girl! One could hardly not take notice."

"Then who are you?"

The old man stopped beside a torch and looked up at her. The light flickered in his watery blue eyes.

"My assistant here is my automaton bodyguard, Two. I am Dawkins".

"THE Dawkins?"

"Yes, my dear. Welcome to the Resistance."


Sam said...

Well that's just great! There I am thinking, I'll just have a quick read of Icy's FridayFlash then I really must get on, and you chuck this story at me... *clears diary* Now I'm going to have to spend the whole day reading Tales From Vertigo City... "Somebody bring me a sandwich and some coffee, this could take a while!

Excellent story BTW, as soon as that door opened I knew we were in for something special.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I'm glad you liked it, Sam! There's a whole world of back story that I want to examine in future flashes - it'll all be going in the e-book when I collect the serial together!

Anonymous said...

Icy, you've got to keep building on this. I love it.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Oh don't worry, there will be a whole host of 'bonus' flashes in the e-book!

John Wiswell said...

I read it like, "THE Batman?" which made it so amusing.

Marisa Birns said...

Oh, what a great story! Absolutely captivating. And descriptions were fantastic. Especially loved this: "Comb tracks ran through the styling cream that plastered his hair to his head." Can see it vividly!

Well, well done. :)

Eric J. Krause said...

Excellent story! The dialog in this was great!

Birdie said...

I loved it. In fact, I think I'm going to have to read the entire serial now.

Icy Sedgwick said...

@Marisa - Thank you! I don't know why but I always see Kurt as being obsessed with Brylcreem.

@Eric - Thank you! I always used to struggle with dialogue so I try extra hard with it now.

@Carly - Oh I am glad - I hope you enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

W00t! Action aplenty. Robots. Robots with guns for hands, even. Having read all of Vertigo City, this is a nice intro to the MC's.
Can't wait for the ebook.
Adam B

Icy Sedgwick said...

I've got so much planned for the e-book - including a flash SOLELY about the automatons! Keep that quiet though. *winks*

Anonymous said...

Actually, I want to know more about the automatons and their development.
Adam B

Icy Sedgwick said...

They're my favourite part of the serial, really. Especially Five! He's badass mecha though. Don't worry though, I'll definitely be including more info about them.

Unknown said...

Exciting story. I like the feel. I must return to read more about Vertigo City.

Walt said...

I love this type of stuff. The resistance, underground tunnels, hand cannons, how could anyone not love this type of story!

I don't have any experience with your Vertigo City serial but this piece has inspired me to add it to my things to read list.

Well done

Icy Sedgwick said...

@Draco - Please do - this is just the first of nine incarnations of the City!

@Walt - I guess it's all the kind of stuff I like, hence the automatons! I like good old-fashioned adventures...and I hope you do check out my serial...and I hope you like it!

Valerie said...

Very fun, but over way too fast! Way to leave me wanting more. Well, go on, write the rest... I'll wait.

Icy Sedgwick said...

There will be a few more flashes, but in the mean time, my serial will hopefully fill the gap!

Laura Eno said...

I'm so glad you're going to keep exploring backstory in flashes, but like Sam, now I need food and coffee sent up while I check out the serial!

Pamila Payne said...

That was roaring good time! I love it!

Shelli said...

Nice action, enough hooks to keep me asking for more. Very well done. I enjoyed it.

Scott said...

I liked it. Definitely need to set aside time to read the serial.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I'm glad everyone is enjoying it - and I hope everyone likes the serial too.

I just thought the flashes would be a good way of exploring instances in Vertigo City backstory, without weighing the serial down with it.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Intrigued about the Resistance and Weimar! I could see it all unfolding like a film - and it's definitely my kind of film :-D

Icy Sedgwick said...

@Mazzz - I'm really getting into writing action scenes!

Alan W. Davidson said...

Great use of dialogue, Icy. I would also like to hear more about this copper body automaton.

Icy Sedgwick said...

@Alan - Dialogue is something I'm trying to work on! I love the automatons so they'll definitely make another appearance.

Stacey said...

Yep another fan here, loved it!

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