So, I decided to go with the first test I wrote. I modified it slightly (a couple of words), but it’s essentially the same.
What can I say, I wanted to know more about Raven, and Mechs in general. I am not counting the 638 words from that first test as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge, so I still have 50,000 words to write, or roughly 1,667 per day (today, rather, last night as this is going out Sunday morning, I wrote 1,793). Actually, I’ll be shooting for 60,000, but the challenge is for 50,000, so that’s what I will track.
That 1,793 total might change tomorrow because I will re-read what I wrote before writing more. I’m not doing extensive edits, but some words might be added, others dropped; nothing major.
After I have a few days under my belt, I will be posting the progress tracking spreadsheet, much like I did last year.
I am also going to share the first two chapters the day after I write them, but the rest will be shared on a two days delay in case I scrap anything.
After the first two chapters, the remainder of the novel will be shared via posts protected with a password, you know, in case I ever want to publish what is sure to be a jumbled mess of ideas poorly transcribed into virtual paper. Then again, this might turn out to be the greatest literary masterpieces in the history of haman written language.
. . . but, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that. Anyway, here’s the first chapter of my second untitled NaNoWriMo novel. Once I enact the password policy, interested readers can e-mail me for the password.
NaNoWriMo Second Year (NaNoWriMo2)
Copyright E. J. D’Alise – 2014
“Next!” I yelled out the word toward the open door as I reached for the next resume in the pile.
Even before she walked through the door I knew what she was. The resume had only a few words on it: “Mech with extensive training”
Mechs had won their independence just last year after more than fifteen years of legal battles and many clashes with people who did not think they deserved a place in society. Some people still thought they did not deserve a place in society, but the courts had spoken.
I looked up, and she was already in the room. I had not heard anything, and she was only five feet away. Spooky. Spooky, and pretty. Spooky, pretty, and tall. Had I been standing, she would have cleared my five-foot-eight by at least another half a foot, and that’s with flats on.
I motioned toward the chair. She sat, and I was struck by the fluidity of her movements. Think liquid cat.
I looked at the face because I did not want to look at the form below it. Well, that’s not true. I wanted very much to look at what supported that face, but Mech or not, I had been taught not to stare. I started to wonder if she had been an entertainment model. They were the most screwed up of all the models, still struggling to find their identity and self-worth.
Holy cow. I stared at her with what in retrospect I’m sure was an open mouth. Military. That meant a number of things. She had already served at least two tours against the Russian-Chinese alliance, and she had been in service for at least fifteen years.
I had never seen a model older than ten service years look anywhere near as good. Or move as fluidly. Or be as intuitive.
“Discharged two months ago.”
I closed my mouth, gathering my wits in the process.
“Uh . . . are you reading my mind?”
She did not smile. Quite the opposite. Her neutral expression gave a little, showing instead . . . well, I could not quite read it. Perhaps sorrow? Perhaps frustration? A little resignation?
“No. It’s just that everyone has the same questions.” She stood as she continued. “I understand your reluctance. I appreciate you seeing me.”
She made to turn just as I spoke.
“Sit, please, Miss . . . there’s no name on your data sheet.”
She stopped in mid-fluid stride, looking back at me. She hesitated for a few seconds before returning to the chair.
“Raven . . . 17”
I regarded her for a few of my own seconds, and then stood.
I went to the door, looked out at the waiting room, and told the rest they could go home. I did not wait for responses; I closed the door and went back to my desk.
Raven looked at me, no emotion showing.
“How do you know I’ll take the job,” she asked.
“I haven’t offered the job,” I answered.
“I see.” She stood once more.
“My training did not include any entertainment functions.” Her tone had taken an icy quality.
“Well, don’t expect me to teach you. I’m kind of way out of practice.”
I leaned back into the chair as I spoke, used one foot to pull out the lower desk drawer, and rested the same foot on it. It felt good taking the weight of of it.
She hesitated, then sat back down.
“Is this the interview?” Her question was formed as she straightened her shoulders, composing herself in preparation to questions she assumed I would ask.
We sat there looking at each other for a good two minutes. Enjoyable minutes I used to memorize her face.
“I’m ready,” she finally said.
“Great,” I answered, “ask away.”
“What?” Confusion just made her look prettier.
“You applied for this job, yes?”
“Yes, I . . .” She stopped.
Mechs can’t really blush; well, some of the entertainment models can, but it’s not a real blush. Raven sort of sat there, looking lost, searching for what to say.
“You’ve either been turned down for jobs you wanted,” I said, taking pity on her, “or were offered jobs that you did not want, and turned those down.”
The printer waking up had us both look at it. We both waited, and a few seconds later, a single sheet came out. I reached over, foot still on the desk drawer, and plucked the sheet from the printer. I did not look at it, laying it, instead, face down on the middle of the desk.
I leaned back, and continued.
“You’ve been out a few months, and whatever savings you had are disappearing fast. You are at the stage where you’re applying for any and all jobs.”
I could see her face harden a bit. She had an independent streak in her, and proud too. She did not like having her current vulnerabilities paraded in the open. She almost said something, but opted to remain quiet, her eyes narrowing a bit.
“I want to know if you do any research for the jobs you apply for. My guess is ‘yes’; you seem like the thorough type.”
She did not answer, and I took that to mean I was still on-target.
“Let’s begin with the easy stuff . . . What do you know about me?”
Raven sat there, her expression no longer giving anything away. She recited my public Gov-profile with a flat tone.
“Assumed Name: Remo Wolf. Original Name: Sealed. Age:51. Profession: Private Investigator, Global License. Weapon Classification Marksman, current concealed carry permit under probation, pending review.”
She stopped. I just continued looking at her. After a half a minute or so, she resumed.
“Rumored ex-military, rumored unbribable, rumored unforgiving, rumored partial Mech, . . .” I raised my hand stopping her.
“So, you saw an opening for assistant, did some research, and decided to apply. But the ad did not specify the job beyond saying ‘assistant’. Again, ask away.”
She eyed me, her expression still a neutral mask.
“Why is your weapon permit under review?”
“I shot my last assistant.”
“I caught him trying to have sex with the daughter of a client.”
“Was she willing?”
“It doesn’t matter; she was underage.”
“Is he dead?”
“What does your assistant do?”
“What I do.”
“That’s not very helpful.”
“I’m a Private Investigator.”
“I see. Do we work on our own cases, or the same case.”
“I only take one case at a time.”
“What’s the pay?”
“Half of the net after expenses, same as me.”
She paused slightly before the next question. Only it wasn’t a question.
“That sounds like a partner.”
“A partner shares in any liability. An assistant does not.”
“Are there a lot of liabilities?”
“Don’t they affect the net?”
“Liabilities come out of my share.”
She stopped. For the first time she relaxed, sitting back on the chair. This was not something Mechs needed to do. They could hold any pose for an indefinite amount of time. Not only was it a conscious movement, but one typically employed to make humans forget they were in the presence of a Mech.
“Sounds like a dream job, yet you dismissed a lot of candidates before me.”
I did not answer. Instead, I leaned forward, slid the piece of paper toward her, and leaned back.
“Read that out loud.”
She hesitated only briefly before reaching for the paper. She sat back, and held the paper in front of her. She became unnaturally still. I knew she scanned the whole sheet in one go, reading it in a fraction of a second. Now she was processing both what she read, and the implications of it.
“How did you get this information?” Only her eyes shifted to meet mine; the rest of her seemed frozen in place.
“Read it out loud.”
“I want to hear it from you.”
She put the paper down on my desk standing as she did so.
Her icy tone had returned, perhaps tinged with sadness.
“Have a good day, Mr. Wolf.” She turned and walked to the door.
She opened it, and was halfway through when she stopped. I could not see her face, but heard her question.
“Why did you lead me on?”
“I wasn’t leading you on. The job is yours if you want it.”
She stood there for a full minute before stepping back in, closing the door in front of her. She did not turn to face me.
“Name: Raven Prototype17. Assignment: Covert Operations. Graduated from CovertMech Training Facility, Highest Ranking. LCK (Lifetime Confirmed Kills): Human 389, Mechs 1,017.” Raven paused, turned toward me, standing in attention, looking somewhere above my head.
“Became self-aware during Third Tour. Went rogue, refusing kill orders. Successfully avoided capture for three years. Captured two years years before Mech Emancipation. Escaped three times.” She stopped briefly again before continuing.
“Unsuccessful mind wipes: 11. CovertMech attempts to destroy subject: 6. Subject requested tribunal regarding status when Mech Emancipation enacted. Honorably discharged. Deemed dangerous, possibly unstable.”
This time she looked straight at me as she spoke the last line.
Her voice had not wavered, but then no Mech’s would unless they wanted it to.
She stood there, looking at me. She looked gorgeous. Not that I had any feelings toward her, either as a being or an object, but one had to admire fine craftsmanship.
I grabbed the sheet as I stood, and fed it to the liquefier. No one would read that again.
“Still unknown.” I walked up to her, stopping well within her reach. I wasn’t worried.
“I am curious as to why. No offense, but you are not exactly inconspicuous.”
“The last attempt to destroy me occurred after I was discharged. Mechs have their own separate and private facilities to handle transitions for many Mechs who might be in danger because of their former owners. New bodies, new faces, new identities.”
It made sense; almost all civilian departments had transitioned to Mech personnel years before the Mech Emancipation. Mechs were the first species to completely and totally control their identities, and not being subject to human failings, were as secure as could only be dreamed of by human organizations.
Military departments were another matter; they never quite trusted Mechs, and consequently were still subject to breeches, leaked information, and as was the case with the information I obtained, information that could be bought.
“You should have changed your name,” I said, “someone will eventually get wind of you. They might decide to come and see.”
She smiled. It looked good on her face.
“There are currently a little over three hundred thousand ‘Ravens’, and a shade over eleven thousand ‘Ravens 17’. It’s unlikely.”
“Hide in plain sight; smart.”
We stood there looking at each other.
Her hand shot out, reaching for my throat. I could have blocked it, but I played a hunch, and did not move.
To be continued
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.