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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » The Quest for Survivor (Page 1)

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Author Topic: The Quest for Survivor
MaryRobinette
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The sun shone clear and bright over Hatrack Harbor, as MaryRobinette ran up the gangplank to The Penmanship. The newest crew of newbies waited on shore to begin their basic training, and what better place than on the High Seas of Story.

"Hail, Survivor!"

Seagulls wheeled overhead. The ship rocked restlessly with the tide, but no voice answered her. She turned back to the shore and waved jauntily at the newbies. Good lord, there were so many she had trouble remembering which was which. With any luck, they would distinguish themselves on this voyage.

She ran down the ladder belowships. "Survivor?" The low creak of timbers sounded as if the ship were a live thing champing at a bit. She listened for the sound of keyboard, or any other sign of habitation.

Nothing.

Frowning, MaryRobinette pulled the bosun's whistle from her Hatrack Utility belt. The sound shrilled through her skull, echoing off the inside of The Penmanship and reverberating through the written page. She held her breath, waiting for Survivor's familiar figure to appear.

Her heart rattled in her chest with sudden fear. Where was Survivor?


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HSO
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Someone coughed behind her. MaryRobinette whirled. Her hopes that it would be Survivor were dashed when she saw the pirate. Strangely, he wore patches over both eyes. MaryRobinette waved her hand and to her astonishment the pirate's head followed her movements.

"Wasting your time, lass," the pirate said. "He be gone, your Survivor. Been nearly a fortnight, I reckon it."

"Do you know where?" said Mary, hoping the pirate proved friendly. If not, her HUB would not let her down.

The pirate shook his head. "Perhaps I can assist ye in his place?" A toothless grin formed on his leathery face.

[This message has been edited by HSO (edited March 19, 2005).]


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Isaiah13
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Huddling close, the newbies shuddered. Although most of them knew Survivor by reputation alone, they had been looking forward to his guidance. He was a fair captain, they'd heard. Intimidating, but fair. They doubted the pirate would prove so efficient.
One of them turned to Mary, his eyes beseeching.

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MCameron
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MaryRobinette wanted to reassure him, but she was afraid that her tone would betray just how worried she was. As she contemplated what to say, there was a loud squawk. A scruffy parrot swooped through the air and landed on the pirate's shoulder. It also had patches over both of its eyes.
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onepktjoe
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One brash, impulsive looking newbie swaggered to the fore, chest swollen to match his head.

"I've seen this Survivor of yours in passing," said the fool. "He looks impressive, true, but we are all able-bodied seamen...er, people...er, seathons! What can he possibly impart to us that we cannot learn on our own?"

The old hands merely smiled and nodded indulgently, and the newbie seemed acutely aware that the other newbies had quietly backed away.

Just before he deflated and slunk back in line, he appeared to mumble something in Mary's direction from the corner of his mouth. It sounded like "If you see him, though, I've got this story idea..."


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MaryRobinette
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MaryRobinette ground her teeth. She could already see that this lot would cause her no end of trouble. They weren't even paying attention to basic continuity, since she'd left them on the shore and they'd leapt without transition to the interior of the ship. What's more, the formally empty ship was now peopled with old hands.

All the more reason to find Survivor, and soon.

The sight of the disembodied limbs crawling around the floor made her shudder. She said, "Kitty, kitty, kitty," and Maggie, her radioactive cat, came from page seven to clear the decks of the old hands. She scampered after them like mice.

Which left MaryRobinette free to turn back to the pirate. "We haven't met. How is it you come to be on The Penmanship?"


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TaShaJaRo
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"Oh, I know you, missy," the pirate said. "I've been watching for awhile." He stepped closer and Mary took a step back from the putrid rank of his breath. "A man shouldn't leave a ship as fine as this unguarded."

Mary stiffened. He meant to steal the ship. Great. And she had a crew of newbies who didn't know if they were inside or outside. She forced a laugh and began to rifle through her HUB. Surely there was something in there to deal with a no-eyed, over-zealous pirate. . .


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keldon02
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...Ah yes! A tube of toothpaste, rum flavored, with a hint of peppermint!
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HSO
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The pirate snarled when he saw the toothpaste. MaryRobinette unscrewed the cap and let it fall to the floor. She gave the tube a gentle squeeze, a small amount green-brown paste oozed out.

"You don't scare me with that. I've got no teeth, remember?"

Dang! He was right. MaryRobinette tossed the tube over her back. Behind her, a minor scuffle between rats broke out as they fought for ownership of the toothpaste.

Stalling for time, MaryRobinette said, "Why don't we start with names. All characters--at least speaking ones, anyway--need names."

"Aye. Can't argue there, princess."

"So? Are you going to tell me?"

"My name is Archibald Antonio Anderson. Some people call me Indigo, but I like to be called Crazy Pete."

Mary sighed. The pirate was a lunatic...

[This message has been edited by HSO (edited March 20, 2005).]


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autumnmuse
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"Well, since your shoulders are covered with mounds of parrot poop and dandruff, I think Snow White is a better title for you." MaryRobinette was not about to yield the upper hand to this foul interloper.

To gain time and distract the nutcase, she pulled a Purple Prose Phial from her HUB, and threw it at Snow White. It smashed against the pirate's lips, streaking violet goo down his chin.

Immediately Snow White began to speak, unable to stop, spewing forth flowery and detailed descriptions of the sun shining off the port bow, yet somehow unable to say anything which actually furthered the story . . .

[This message has been edited by autumnmuse (edited March 20, 2005).]


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Jeraliey
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Out of the corner of her eye, Mary caught a flash of black. When she turned to get a better look, though, it was gone. The newbies were exchanging quizzical gazes, and one was peering over the rail.

"Oh, no," said Mary. "This had better not be what I think it is."

"Arrrr," said Snow White when he recovered. "Running gags never die."

[This message has been edited by Jeraliey (edited March 20, 2005).]


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HSO
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"Crumbs!" MaryRobinette said. "Why me?" She didn't feel she could take yet another story with ninjas.

Hastily, she invoked the Flashback spell. The Penmanship disappeared in a puff of black smoke.

#

"There's something wrong with this passage," MaryRobinette said, as she sat her computer. She considered. After a moment, she said, "Dakota would know what to do."

Mary blasted off a hasty email and waited for the response. In the meantime, she fed Maggie, and built a giant carp out of foam. When she returned to the computer, she read Dakota's reply:

Not sure how to fix this. Did you ask Survivor?

Survivor. Of course. Good idea, Dakota, thought MaryRobinette. She thanked Dakota, then sent an email to Survivor.

When Survivor failed to reply after two days, MaryRobinette knew something was horribly amiss.

Maybe, she thought, he's on the Penmanship. And if so, she could find him there.

Trouble was: The journey to Hatrack Harbour was perilous. If she survived the Valley of Split Infinitives, she would still have to traverse the Desert of Doomed Plotlines. That would take days!

MaryRobinette had no choice. She knew what needed to be done. She retrieved her HUB, kissed her husband goodbye, and left her Oregon home, heading bravely for the Valley of Split Infinitives.


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MaryRobinette
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As she headed down the slope to the Valley of Split Infinitives, MaryRobinette heard voices ahead of her. She went to carefully go around a bend in the trail and saw Jerialey with a group of newbies. Jerialey was trying to desperately get them to totally be quiet.

"Shh...The slightest sound could split an infintive." Jerialey whispered to the group.

One brash, impulsive newbie swaggered to the fore, chest swollen to match his head. "But isn't it time to boldly--"

MaryRobinette wrapped her hand around his mouth, to safely keep the infinitive from dangerously splitting. "You heard the lady."
A newbie raised his hand, "But what's the big deal with infinitives?"

MaryRobinette sighed. There was only one way to safely explain this. She tapped a button on her HUB and opened a footnote.* Then she narrowed her eyes at Jerialey, and thought of a way to neatly ask her question without an infinitive. "Have you finished your med school application?"

Jerialey wrapped her hands in her hair and moaned. "I have to--" She stopped, her face paling, at the infinitive and started again. "They need basic training with Survivor."

MaryRobinette nodded. "We're going the same direction. I'll take them. You finish your application."

---
*While infinitives can weaken prose, a split infinitive has explosive power. The Valley of Split Infinitives was caused by the rift between "to" and "go". Since that explosion, the region has been inherently unstable. --Footnote provided by Mr. Bob "As You Know" Exposition.

[This message has been edited by MaryRobinette (edited March 20, 2005).]


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Jeraliey
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Jeraliey sighed and struggled to forcibly remove the enormous packet from her bag.

"Look, Mary," she said. "It's partially done. I also brought a laptop with me so I can submit my primary application when the AMCAS site opens in April. Anyway, I can work on it while we travel, especially now that you've shown up to kindly help me with the newbies..."

Her eyes widened as she realized what she had just said. She clapped her hand to her mouth as a low rumble began to ominously echo from the far end of the valley.

"Jeraliey, you fool!" shouted MaryRobinette over the nervous whimpers of the newbies. "RUN!"

[This message has been edited by Jeraliey (edited March 20, 2005).]


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Monolith
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Just then a young man jumps in front of the oncoming masses and says with a grin,"Run ladies, I can hold them off."

The newbies stop and looked at the new comer and wondered who he was, after all he's wearing black wrap around shades and looks odd in his all black clothes.

"Who are you?" asks MaryRobinette perplexed

The stranger looks back and smiles. "The name is Monolith," as he ducks the first of many punches thrown by a group of newbies.

Monolith grabs the nearest newbie and says,"The first one of you that goes near those two ladies will have to deal with me!"

Throwing the newbie back to the crowd from which he emerged, Monolith turns and walks up the stairs to stand by MaryRobinette and Jerailey.

"As for the one named Survivor, I haven't seen that fellow for some time," Monolith said with a grin.


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HSO
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"How did you know I was looking for Survivor?" MaryRobinette asked. "And more importantly, where the heck did these stairs come from? We're outdoors, for crying out loud. Moreover, we're in mortal danger here after the split inifitive has been let loose. Can't anyone pay attention to continuity?"

Jeraliey frowned, shook her head, and said, "Maybe the narrator knows?"

[No, I have no idea either... You're own your own, ladies.]

"Crap." Perplexed, MaryRobinette looked around for help. The newbies had nothing to say. "All right, fine. So we've got stairs. Where do they go?"

"Only one way to find out," said Monolith.


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jimmyjazz951
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As MaryRobinette and Jeraliey disapear up the stairway with Monolith, the Newbies wonder why they where abandoned here in the Valley of Split Infinitives. Is this some kind of test to see if they can survive on thier own or perhaps a punishment for not waiting patiently on the shore in the first place.
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keldon02
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All was silent as the footsepts of the hardy trio died out.

No one dared speak until Drew, one of the newbies, pointed down the other staircase. "I think someone is coming", he said. All strained to listen for what seemed to be the longest time. It seemed to be as if distant feet were coming closer, ever closer dragging their way exhausted from deep beneath the earth's surface.

Another newbie started to call out but her voice was drowned out by a strange scream, like someone was afraid for their life. Some of the newbies echoed the screams as someone or something approached the last flight beneath them.

Monolith came bursting through the doorway, followed by MaryRobinette and Jeraliey up the staircase and amongst the now terrified newbies, bowling them over like penguins on slippery ice.

For a while nothing could be heard except the jagged breathing of the three and the wimpers of the newbies. Then MaryRobinette sat up and slapped her head in frustration. "Damn! I should have guessed these would be Escher stairs!"

[This message has been edited by keldon02 (edited March 20, 2005).]


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Christine
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They were right back where they had started. MaryRobinette pushed Monolith out of the story along with his useless staircase.

But they still had to traverse the Valley of Split Infinitives -- and it had been angered. MaryRobinette felt the rumbling of the ground and saw snow begin to move on the distant mountaintops. She had to get to the pass to the Desert of Doomed Plotlines before anyone else angered the valley with a split infinitive.

"Come quickly and don't say a word!" MaryRobinette cautioned. Judging from their expressions, she doubted they would remain silent for long. She broke into a run.

[This message has been edited by Christine (edited March 20, 2005).]


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MaryRobinette
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The Newbies trailed after her like a flock of flightless birds, squawking in ill-defined fear. Jerialy followed them to quickly herd the stragglers into line with swats of her giant packet of med school applications.

A rumble started to loudly thunder above them. "Look!" Keldon02 pointed at a boulder that rolled toward them as if in an attempt to painfully squash them. "That boulder is going to slammingly hit us!"

The infinitive split with a percussive explosion, hurling writers in the air. Keldon02 fell screaming in the chasm.

As the dust started to slowly settle. MaryRobinette extricated herself from a heap of the newbies. Jerialy lay on the ground a little away from them. Her fall had been safely cushioned by her application packet. "Whew!" She wiped her brow. "Thank heavens I had something to fall back on."


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djvdakota
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But an echo reverberated through the valley.

"I am splitting just for the hell of it infinitives..infinitives...infinitives!"

Rumble rumble rumble!

"I love splitting since it's such a poor way to write infinitives...infinitives...infinitives!"

Boom! Rumble rumble!

MaryRobinette peered into the distance. She could see the path she had already traversed snaking its way across the valley floor. And on that path, skipping along, flinging flower petals from a white basket, her golden hair tossing across her shoulders, the very earth cracking and crumbling beneath each fall of her feet, came...

[This message has been edited by djvdakota (edited March 21, 2005).]


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djvdakota
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...the dreaded Simultaneous Post!

[This message has been edited by djvdakota (edited March 20, 2005).]


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onepktjoe
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The brash, but somewhat-less-impulsive-now newbie, who'd been absolutely sure of a decisive action before the plot quake, checked with MaryRobinette to make sure she was unhurt, lest the quest be lost.

Satisfied, he helped Jerialy up, and attempted to help with her voluminous tome. But she clung to it dearly now, as if suddenly realizing its true value.

The newbie had been quiet for a time, and not just because it had taken a split infinitive detonation to peel MaryRobinette's hand from his mouth. He'd been staring at the moral compass he'd found in his freshly issued HUB. For a time it had pointed dead on "hush and listen!", but a little fumbling uncovered that it also had a GPS (Grand Plot Synchronizer).

"MaryRobinette," said the newbie, "I thought I'd found something, but..." he glanced fearfully at the roiling approach of the flower flinger.

"If it's another split infinitive..." MaryRobinette said, raising her hand in a gesture that looked dangerously like something she'd learned from a ninja.

"No, no! It's the GPS on my moral compass. It says...oh damn it's spinning again. Here, somebody take this thing. I'm gonna go check out Goldilocks..."


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onepktjoe
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(I spent an hour fighting an insane ferret and loud-music loving roommate to get that down, and I wasn't about to let Goldilocks' plot quake get in the way--Hi dakota, no offense, just looked in at the wrong time, I did.

Hope the GPS makes up for this oops.

Yeah, I know...back to hush and listen, newbie!)


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Jeraliey
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MaryRobinette watched him go, shaking her head. He would learn.

She turned to comment to Jeraliey...or Jerialey...or Jerialy...or however you spelled her thrice-damned name, but Jer...whatever...was standing with her free hand to her temple, an expression of pain upon her face.

She wondered if the girl's sudden headache was due to her HORRENDOUSLY bad pun, or to the explosion which had felled her moments before.

It must have been the explosion.


[This message has been edited by Jeraliey (edited March 21, 2005).]


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HSO
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Jeraliey collapsed, unconscious, and MaryRobinette rushed to her aid.

#

"We've got trouble, Master," said Agent Dread. Sweat poured from his brow. "That woman who plays with puppets is looking for him."

Master Munsil laughed. "Of course she is. She is doing precisely what I want her to do."

"But she's got help this time, and... newbies."

"Shut up, fool!" Munsil felt his face flush. Why didn't people trust him? He knew about the newbies; he had sent them there deliberately to foul up the plot and POV. "Dread, go fetch me a can of diet soda and be quick about it. The heat here is abominable."

"Yes, Master." Dread ran outside the tent, into the stifling heat of the Desert of Doomed Plotlines.

Master Munsil rubbed his hands together, then powered up his laptop. There was little time, the battery was low.

"Now, let's see how MaryRobinette deals with this." He pressed a key and let loose the next twist in the plot. He giggled. She would never find her Survivor now. The Spectre he loosed would see to that. Oh, yes. She wouldn't see it coming -- which was a nice thing about invisible monsters, when he thought more about it. It would steal her HUB, and Jeraliey's too, and then what would puppet girl and her silly friend do? Eh?

"Bwahahahahaahahahah!"

#

"Jer? Can you hear me? Please wake up." MaryRobinette fretted over her friend. She had been unconscious for an hour. What was wrong with her?


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Christine
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Suddenly, MaryRobinette sensed something in the air. She stood and whirled around, trying to pinpoint the pheonomenon but she could not. Perhaps she was imagining things. She looked through her HUB for something to help her but for once the plot seemed to be in order. There was a point of view character, a protagonist motivated by the search for Survivor, an antagonist, and several supporting characters. The flashback might have been a little shaky, but they were well past that by now.

MaryRboinette was about to go back to Jerailey's side when she realized something. "An antagonist!" she said aloud. Where did he come from?

She went to look back through her HUB for some help but her hand brushed against empty air at her side. Her precious HUB was gone.

[This message has been edited by Christine (edited March 21, 2005).]


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Keeley
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Mary heard a whimper and realized some of the newbies had disappeared. Where had they gone and why? In spite of their ignorance, she'd been hoping they would stick around for at least a few more scenes.

Apparently alone except for a handful of newbies and an unconscious Jeraliey, Mary turned her attention back to her newbie friend and had to stifle a gasp. Jeraliey's HUB was gone as well.

She heard a faint slurp and the sound of something liquid plop on the leaf-strewn ground.

#

Master Munsil growled. Somebody had given his perfect monster sound effects.

[This message has been edited by Keeley (edited March 21, 2005).]


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Christine
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He began to pound furiously on the keys of his laptop but before he could undo the damage, his laptop battery died.

########

Sitting alone in her home office, Christine shook her head in disgust. What kind of self-respecting antagonist let something like a laptop battery keep him from his fiendish plans? Everyone knew how proper antagonists were foiled. FIrst, they had to capture the protagonist, then they had to reveal their dastardly plan, and then they had to put the hero into an easily-escapable dangerous situation while they left the room, certain of their victory.

The spectre brought MaryRboinette and Jerailey's HUBs to Christine, who smiled in satisfaction, but she barely had time to sort through the items within when the cliche alarm sounded in her ears.

It hurt, but sometimes pain is just what a really good antagonist needs to get back on track. They would have a time stopping Christine now. In fact, she realized she may not even need to act at all. First, she would see how these Survivor-seeking fools fared against the Desert of Doomed Plotlines. If the desert ate them then fine, she could sit back and relax. But if they got through she would be on the other side, waiting to keep them from their ultimate goal.

Christine sat back in her chair, stroked her orange tabby cat, and watched.

########

[This message has been edited by Christine (edited March 21, 2005).]


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Robyn_Hood
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MaryRobinette, Jeraliey and the smaller group of newbies finally came to the edge of the Desert of Doomed Plotlines. Thankfully the newbies had been suffieciently frigtened by the quake, set off by the split inifitives, that they remained silent. This gave MaryRobinette time to think.

She had a strange forboding that the plot was being manipulated by some unseen puppetmaster, especially since the cliche alarm had gone off, nearly bursting her eardrums.

Oh well. At least with clichés, I have a general idea what will happen. That doesn't mean it will be easy, but at least I have something to go on. Mary sighed, I really must find Survivor, and fast...

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited March 21, 2005).]


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HSO
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MaryRobinette's arms and back ached. She needed to sit down after carrying an unconscious Jeraliey across the Valley of Split Infinitives.

"Darn newbies wouldn't even help me," she muttered to herself.


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Jeraliey
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The worst part was that without their HUBs, they all had to act within the confines of reality. The as-yet-unrevealed thief had not left them even their disbelief suspenders!

This would be difficult indeed.


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Christine
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Jerailey woke as MaryRobinette, still unaided by the wide-eyed newbies, carried her into the Desert of Doomed Plotlines. MaryRobinette breathed a sigh of relief and set the barely-conscious figure on the ground.

"Glad to see you coming around; I could really use your help," MaryRobinette said.

Jerailey blinked a few times and trained her eyes on MaryRobinette's face. "Who are you?" she asked. She blinked again. "Who am I?"


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Ray
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And then wandered Ray, one of the foolish newbies who had disappeared. After becoming lost, he had found a door and rashly stepped through. It had been a portal to the Desert of Doomed Plotlines. Without any protection from the horrors, he walked with his brains addled. Fortunately for him, he made it to the edge of the Desert exactly where MaryRobinette and her party rested.

Little did he realize in his condition, a cliche storm had been following him like fleas to a dog. The storm would swarm the group like locusts.


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Robyn_Hood
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[Damn simulposting...Editting in progress...Fixed it!]
#####
MaryRobinette and her crew had stopped near a cave part way into the Desert; ever since the cliché alarm had sounded she had been wary of the potential for chaos at any moment -- especially with mirages of doomed plotlines popping up all over the place. They had nearly been attacked ninja bots a dozen times since striking out across the Desert.

Just inside the cave was a well with a hand pump. A sign next to the pump said, "Next Well ... 40 miles".

"Would somebody give me a hand with Jeraliey? Please!" MaryRobinette demanded of the newbies, as none of them had helped even after Jeraliey had sort of come to. "Maybe we can fully revive her with some water."

A couple of the newbies dragged Jeraliey over to the well, while MaryRobinette started pumping. The cold blast of water jolted Jeraliey and she sat up quickly, sputtering.

"What happened? Where are we? Hey, where's my HUB?"

"Long story short, an infinitive was split, you got knocked out and now we're in the Desert of Doomed Plotlines," MaryRobinette explained. "Oh, and somehow our HUBs mysteriously disappeared."

"What about my med-school package?"

One of the newbies stepped forward and handed it to her. Relieved to see the nap-sack, Jeraliey immeadiately started rummaging through it.

MaryRobinette was puzzled, "Are you looking for something? Because I could really use your help to come up with a plan for crossing the Desert."

Jeraliey ignored Mary. "Ahem! Now isn't really the time for that! Jeraliey, I need your help!"

Suddenly Jeraliey gave a squeal of glee as she pulled out a box of pens from the bottom of her bag. "I knew it! I knew I packed them! MaryRobinette, you wanted help, well here you are."

"How is a box of pens going to help us?"

"These aren't just any pens, these are the Blade of Words pens I'm supposed to give to the newbies when they graduate from our adventure! It's not as good as having our HUBs, but it's better than nothing...At the very least they'll help defend us against the mirages of doomed plots out in the Desert."

"Jeraliey, I could kiss you." MaryRobinette grinned as she pulled a pen out of the box. Perhaps there was hope after all...

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited March 21, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited March 21, 2005).]


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Christine
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Amazingly, despite the simultaneous posting the two worked relatively well together. Therefore, the radioactive cat from earlier in the story reappeared to eat the previous segment.

Now, a swarming cliche storm approahces on the horizon, Jerailey has lost her memory, and MaryRobinette notices the storm with dawning horror...

[This message has been edited by Christine (edited March 21, 2005).]


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djvdakota
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The sky loomed dark. The wind raged, extending its fingers into the cave and sending wisps of MaryRobinette's hair dancing around her careworn face.

"There's no place like home," she heard herself whisper.

"NO!" Jeraliey screamed. "You have to hold it together, MaryRobinette! A chain is only as strong as its weakest l..." She clasped her hands to her mouth as the newbies began to surge forward. They were mesmerized by the storm, by the swirling cliches carried on its icy winds, calling them, calling them.

"Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater," she heard one mumble.

"Grasping at straws," another said.

"MaryRobinette! We have to do something!" Jeraliey shrieked.

But, alas, MaryRobinette did not answer. She too had become entranced by the vortex of trite phrases.

"There's no place like home!" Jeraliey screamed. "There's no place like home! There's no place like home!"


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jimmyjazz951
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Bewildered by the fast pace of the plotline, Jimmy, one of the newbies who has been quietly tagging along, suddenly snaps out of his haze. Reaching past MaryRobinette, he grabs a pen form Jeraliey's box and begins to write. . .

"If the other all newbies jumped off a cliff would you jump too?"

NO! the vortex is too strong! The danger of simultaneous posting scares him off and he crumbles like a house of straw.


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HSO
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#

Master Mike Munsil cursed like an Irish navvy. Dread stood there looking like a deer caught in the headlights. What a moron. "Dread! Get me a battery for my laptop. Now!"

Dread bolted out of the tent.

He had a nasty suspicion that someone had interfered with his plan. The Spectre had not returned with the HUBs. He swigged hard from his can of diet soda.

"So, now I've got two enemies, hmm..." He rubbed his chin. "Fine, then. I'll make whoever it was that messed up my scheme rue the day. Rue the cockadoodle day!"

Dread returned. He held out the battery with trembling hands. "Master?"

"What!"

"There's..."

"What you imbecile! Spit it out."

"There's been talk."

"And?"

"The other agents think you aren't doing a good job. Not that I--" Master Munsil slapped Dread.

"I don't care what anyone thinks. Now get out!"

Alone, Master Munsil paced inside his tent. He had to stop MaryRobinette from finding out the truth. But first, he had to find out who had commandeered his Spectre. Whoever it was, he or she would pay.

He replaced the battery in his laptop. "All right. Who is responsible.... for my ruining my cockadoodle day!"

#

[This message has been edited by HSO (edited March 21, 2005).]


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Christine
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Christine cackled, shaking her body so violently that the kitten jumped off her lap.

"Oh Munsil. Munsil. Munsil Munsil. Rue the day?" Fortunately, she had muffled the cliche alarm with a pillow.

Still, Christine knew she would have to take action and fast. MaryRobinette and her gang of newbies might be preoccupied with the bad plots, but Munsil now had a new battery and would soon know that she had stolen the HUBs from under his over-large nose.

The HUB! Christine had the HUB and therefore a great advanatge. She dug through it and pulled out a proximity alarm for POV shifts. That would at least warn her the instant Munsil began plotting again. She turned it on and sensatized it to Munsil.

Then she found something else in the belt -- something she could not use, should not use. The Deus Ex Machine attachment. She could do anything with that, Christine realized with awe. She began to cackle again as she realized that she was now God in this story.

#

[This message has been edited by Christine (edited March 21, 2005).]


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MaryRobinette
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MaryRobinette shook herself like a wet dog, and held her hand to her eyes, trying to shield her sight from the cliches swirling around her. She tripped over a newbie sprawled on the ground like a fish out of water. When she hit the ground, something sharp dug into her hip like a knife.

"Ow." She rubbed her hip and discovered that she had something in her pocket. It was onepktjoe's moral compass.

The needle pointed steadily due east, away from the sunset. It was showing them the way out of the cloud of cliches by avoiding the cliche of riding into the sunset. "Come on!" She grabbed jimmyjazz's hand. "Jimmyjazz, grab the next newbie. The only chance is if we all stick together."

It was like the blind leading the blind...which meant they weren't out of the cliches yet.

[This message has been edited by MaryRobinette (edited March 21, 2005).]


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Robyn_Hood
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Post deleted.

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited March 21, 2005).]


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jimmyjazz951
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Jimmy grabbed the next newbies hand and yelled for him to do the same. Soon they were all stung out like a... like a...
"MaryRobinette!", Jimmy shouted over the fading sounds of the storm. "I think the storm is dieing down!"

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HSO
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[HSO's Helpful Hints, #874 -- To avoid the dreaded double posting, I recommend the following solution:

Make a quick post that says "Writing... don't post." Then edit it, secure in the knowledge that your post will be next.

Alternatively, have this topic open in two different browser windows. Use one to write your scene. Use the other to refresh and see if anyone has posted. Personally, I like the first recommendation. It's like marking your territory.

End Helpful Hint.]


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jimmyjazz951
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"Did you here that?" asked Jimmy looking up in the direction of words from above. "Something about double posting."

"It sounds like someone has Deus Ex Machine attachment on his HUB", MaryRobinette said.
"It looks like not everyone has lost thier HUBs. Hummm..."


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jimmyjazz951
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MaryRobinette was pointing at something. She called back, "Do you see it!? Do you see it!?"

Jimmy looked in the direction MaryRobinette was pointing but nothing was there.

"My God", he thought, "I think she sees a mirage". "Jeraliey!" he called back but Jeraliey was the other end of the chain of newbies and too far off to hear.

Then something caught his eye in the direction MaryRobinette was pointing. Oh No! NINJAS!!!


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Elan
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Elan spoke up from the corner she had hidden in after sneaking aboard unnoticed as a stowaway.

"Look out! The NINJAS are MARKING THEIR TERRITORY!"

And indeed, the dread Ninjas were swiftly approaching, Red Pens in hand and intentions of editing on their minds.


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jimmyjazz951
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Jeraliey saw MaryRobinette and some of the newbies had stopped and were stairing at something.

Then she saw Elan was jumping up and down yelling something about ninjas.

"Oh no!" exclaimed Jeraliey, "A mirage... with those persistent ninjas!"

She rummaged through her bag and whipped out one of her Blade of Word pens and charged the nearest ninja, parrying his trust of banter and slashing through the veil of illusion. The ninjas were gone.

"Whew, that was close", she said.

[This message has been edited by jimmyjazz951 (edited March 21, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by jimmyjazz951 (edited March 22, 2005).]


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MaryRobinette
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The newbies burst into applause at Jeraliey's skilled editing. She sheathed her blade of words with a flourish and turned to the newbies.

"And that, is what you should do with your own prose. Cut out all the things that don't drive the plot forward."

MaryRobinette looked down at Joe's moral compass and grinned. "Speaking of driving the plot forward..." She dropped Jimmy's hand and ran followed the arrow on the compass past the spot where the ninjas had appeared, to a small wagon. "Here's our way out of the Desert of Doomed Plotlines."

Elan said, "But it doesn't have a horse."

Bounding onto the seat of the wagon, MaryRobinette shook her head. "It doesn't have to. This is Character-driven. A mileau or event-driven plot would just have us circling forever, but a character with a firm motivation can get drive through any plot holes."

The newbies and Jerialey clambered aboard. In moments they were driving through the desert focused on finding Survivor.

#

[This message has been edited by MaryRobinette (edited March 21, 2005).]


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Jaina
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They were so focused on finding Survivor, in fact, that they nearly drove directly over Jaina, who was lying unconscious on the ground in front of them. MaryRobinette stopped the wagon just in time, and jumped out, hurrying to Jaina's side.

"Jaina? Wake up, Jaina!"

With a groan, Jaina did as she was told. "MaryRobinette? What are you doing here? I thought I was in Arizona... it was awful... I couldn't write!"

"That would be unusual, how?" Jerialey asked as she knelt down on Jaina's other side.

Jaina grinned. Ah, how she'd missed their causal banter! "It wouldn't. But now that you're here, maybe I can actually get something done!"

A sudden thought hit Jerialey, and she gasped. "You wouldn't happen to have your HUB with you, Jaina, would you?"

Jaina frowned and pulled out her battered HUB. "It's right here. Why?" But she didn't get her answer; MaryRobinette and Jerialey were too busy giving her a bear hug.

[This message has been edited by Jaina (edited March 21, 2005).]


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