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Drop (R100, PG-13)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Blackjack Gabbiani, May 12, 2008.

  1. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    Another one for Rocket100 on LJ. PG-13 for a brief almost-lime and some harsh language (stupid swear filter).

    "Dammit..." Vicious muttered, rolling over with a sigh and punching the mattress offhandedly. "Donno what's wrong."

    "Well, it happens," the woman next to him reassured, but after a moment added "but if we can't, I should probably go." She waited for a few seconds for any reaction from him, but he gave none, so she slid out of bed and pulled her uniform back on.

    "Just go," he told her, halfway between a whisper and a harsh order. As she scurried out the door, he covered his eyes with his hand and let out a deep breath. It didn't happen, not to him. None of this did. But things had changed over the past few weeks. Ever since that damn mission in the woods...

    With a grunt, he forced that thinking to the back of his mind and tried to get some sleep. He had a mission assignment in the morning and he couldn't risk screwing it up.

    He was a tangle of sheets and the topcover when he woke up at six am. He always woke up at six am, but lately his sleep was fitful and his dreams erratic, so he hadn't felt rested in weeks.

    And those dreams often left him sick and anxious, even though he could never remember anything from them but green.

    "No way," he croaked, his throat dry. "I'm not--" He could never finish that, even as a thought, but the very idea haunted him more than those streaks of green in the back of his mind.

    To clear his mind, he took a shower. It had to be cold, that was often the only water he could get out in the field and he had to be used to it, and he was glad that at least something in his life could stay the same.

    He certainly looked the same, once he got past the sleep deprivation lines and bloodshot eyes. But no one would notice those anyway, not with his mask or the sunglasses he wore around headquarters, so those didn't matter. At his mirror he flexed and pulled back a dangerous-looking smirk. No one would have to know that anything was going on, and maybe he could forget it for a while. And hey, it could go away as fast as it came on. "Yeah," he told himself. He'd get his assignment, get his morning workout in, and head to the cafeteria to bask in the usual adoration the lower ranks showered on him, and everything would be back to normal.

    It had to be normal again soon. He couldn't afford to have his life disrupted like this for much longer.

    Usually he wore a more standard uniform when he was just on base, but his unique bodysuit was a trademark of his in the field, identifying him as the fearsome Marauder nearly as much as his mask did. The second he set foot outside his apartment, even though he lived in an area of the base set aside for the upper ranks of the Team, a passing agent who had to be an Elite as well saluted him. And her face showed pure respect, which usually elated him, but today felt like a punch to the gut, like he didn't deserve it. But he did, he knew he did, and there was no reason for him to think otherwise.

    By the time he reached the mission center, he was feeling a little better. His mission would be given for next week, and by then he could get some of his old self back. He hadn't had a mission since that one, and he figured he needed one. So with a smile, he saluted his commander.

    But the commander looked dour. "Marauder," he said, pausing to clear his throat. "You're to report to Giovanni's office for your assignment."

    At the mention of their leader's name, Vicious winced and immediately regretted not wearing his mask. "...did he say why, sir?"

    "You're one of his top officers. You know he checks in with your rank frequently."

    Yeah right. It couldn't be something that mundane. "Yes sir," Vicious said, saluting again and excusing himself from the office.

    Something was wrong. Something was horribly wrong, and Vicious knew what it had to be. Giovanni knew, didn't he? He knew about everything that had been said in the forest, all the boasts of power Vicious had made, and every last traitorous word uttered to that redheaded woman. He'd kill her, track her down and deal with her himself, but that would require getting out of this 'meeting' alive.

    Had the elevator ride to the administrative floor always taken this long? Had the hallway always loomed ahead so menacingly? And had he always been such a wuss? He'd dealt with Giovanni dozens of times; being called to the office was nothing new. He was among the Team's top officers, after all, and regularly heard from the people in charge.

    But his suspicions had to be true. And if they were true, he had very little chance of leaving that room under his own power.

    No way, he decided, he wouldn't let himself be taken prisoner. If it came down to that, if the Boss would have him taken away, he'd fight tooth and nail and force them into icing him. It would be better than wasting away in a prison cell, he figured, but still the thought made him nauseous to the point where he had to steady himself against the wall until the urge to throw up passed. And even then he had to wait once he reached the office until he stopped his hands from shaking.

    Things like this didn't happen to him. He was a hero; everyone looked up to him. And now he was considering getting himself killed, like a coward.

    Just the same, he forced that confident smile back onto his face as he pressed the intercom button. "What is it?" Giovanni's sharp voice demanded.

    "It's the Marauder, sir," he replied, his words as even as they would normally be.

    There was a buzzing sound, and the door clicked to unlock. "I've been expecting you. Come in."

    This was it. A shiver went through Vicious as he opened the door. It creaked on its hinges, something he'd never known them to do before. "Sir!" he addressed with deliberate force, bringing his hand to his forehead in a stiff salute.

    Giovanni was at his desk as usual, but something was bizarre. He was *smiling*; not his intimidating smirk, but as though he was genuinely pleased. Vicious had seen that look before, while being lauded for success in the field. Which just served to make him more suspicious. "Lord Vicious, you've done it again!" the Boss crowed, leaning back in his chair.

    Vicious was struck into silence for a moment. What the hell was going on? "...sir?" he asked, watching the man alertly for any signs that anything was amiss.

    "Your mission!" The Boss stood, picking up a piece of paper and waving it before pushing it back down onto the desk. "This report is exactly what we needed. The water from that lake will serve us well, and it's all thanks to you."

    So that was it, the healing lake. Of course that was important, but the other shoe was going to drop, so he wasn't about to let his guard down for a second. Giovanni would never forgive the failure to capture a Legendary. This was a ruse, it had to be. Giovanni was a sadistic man, and Vicious could feel those hard eyes boring into him, looking him up and down and inside and out and oh damn he was talking.

    "When I address you, I expect a reply," Giovanni snapped, standing directly in front of the agent. The mirth was gone from his face and voice, and he glowered at the Marauder. He was a very tall man, but Vicious was taller by several inches, and yet even having to direct his venomous gaze upwards did nothing to diminish the contempt. This was when it had to happen. He was mad, and when he was mad he was dangerous, and when he was dangerous, it always ended badly. "Have you suddenly gone deaf?"

    "I fucking heard you the first time, old man!" Vicious blurted out without thinking.

    There was dead silence in the room for a moment, and both men stood still, the only movement being the large Persian at the side of the desk raising its head.

    And then Vicious clapped a hand to his mouth. He'd really said it. He'd said it and he could never un-say it.

    Giovanni folded his arms, looking for all the world like he was addressing a petulant child. "What the hell did you just say?"

    Vicious tried to answer, but even through parted fingers he couldn't manage a sound. This was the man he hated more than anything, the man who he'd sworn to overthrow, but at the moment the very thought of betraying him turned the agent's stomach. Even the idea, the knowledge that he'd spoken back to him was enough to make the hardened Marauder physically ill.

    Things were bad enough in there. He turned and ran out of the office before he could be sick and make things worse, but even that made him sicker because he was leaving without being dismissed.

    He barely had time to dash to the floor's restroom before losing the contents of his stomach in the first stall. This couldn't be happening, not to him, not to the star of the Team. How could someone like him become so weak?

    After dry heaving for some time, he was certain that nothing else was going to come out, and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. The action of sullying his uniform sent a jolt of sickness to his stomach, but it was more of a dull ache. He flushed the evidence of his body's betrayal and staggered to the sink, having to steady himself against the wall all the while.

    His sunglasses dropped off into the sink as he bent his face down to wash. How they had stayed on all that time, he didn't know, and the thought didn't provide near enough of a distraction as he needed. Peeling his gloves off and tossing them aside, he drenched his face with water and let out a low hissing breath. This was the sickest he'd been in ages and he couldn't escape the nagging doubt that it was his own fault.

    No, it couldn't be his fault! It was those kids, it had to be! It had to be, there was no other way to see it. The kids didn't know about what he'd told the redheaded agent, they only saw him pursue Celebi, which had been his order. He stuck with his order as far as they knew, and there was nothing he had done wrong in the outline of the mission. He'd get over this, he'd get back on his feet, and he'd take on the world again. Forcing a smile back on his face, he looked up at his reflection, hoping to regain some of his old self.

    But he saw nothing but a hollow man, a washed-up agent with an empty grin staring back at him. He wasn't even thirty yet, and physically looked it, but something aged him beyond his years. He looked weak and worn out, even pathetic, and the smile faded as quickly as it had appeared.

    A sharp pain seared through his gut, and he keeled over with a cry. It felt for all the world like he'd been stabbed, but there was no one else in the room. No, this was all the work of his mind, his body. It was all betraying him.

    It didn't matter, he realized as he wrenched his eyes shut, whose fault his failure had been. It happened in the end, and he couldn't deal with it. The top officer, the infamous Iron Mask Marauder, couldn't cope. He had the thought that if his fans or anyone found out, he would be ruined, but it was followed by the realization that he was ruined already. Ruined by himself, by his hubris, by his expectations of perfection.

    He was no longer the best. He was no longer anyone.
  2. purple_drake

    purple_drake E/GL obsessed

    Yus, that swear filter is a thing of annoyance, isn’t it? :p

    Sorry it’s taken a while. I know I called it, but it was two-parts laziness and only one-part Real Life, so it still makes me feel guilty. >.< Ugh.

    Anyway! I have to admit it’s been a while since I’ve seen the fourth movie, and while watching it Vicious never really struck me as anything other than a rather cardboard attempt at a 3D villain, your perspective of him has certainly deepened his characterisation for me. I do remember feeling sorry for him by the end of the film, but that was at least partly just because, by then, I was a little annoyed by the way the anime kept having elite criminals get pwned by a bunch of brats. You worked with that habit and managed to give it if not a nice new spin then at least a new perspective. I like. ^^

    I also liked the reflections on Jessie—I am assuming a little, here, that his references to ‘the redheaded woman’ were Jessie, it’s been that long since I’ve seen it—simply because of the irony. I mean, in their first episodes of the entire series, the Jessie-James team are portrayed as menacing and pretty high-class criminals but by the time of the fourth movie they’ve pretty much hit the bottom of the slope that Vicious is only now sliding down (more’s the pity; I loved their first entry…). Nice comparison.

    I think, aside from a few little nitpicks, the only big complaint I had was Giovanni’s characterisation—although this could also just be because my portrayal differs to yours, so keep a grain of salt handy.

    He just seemed… I dunno, too happy? I can see him being pleased for what the mission yielded, but he seemed less like a focussed, intelligent businessman and more like… I think it’s the enthusiasm. I can see him being enthusiastic, I suppose, but there’s enthusiasm and then there’s enthusiasm, and his first line seems a little happy-go-lucky, while his ‘have you suddenly gone deaf’ line sounds… kind of like he’s in the dark as to Vicious’s reasons for not answering—which he could be—but is actually admitting it—which I’m not sure he would, since it’s an indication he’s not in control/as knowledgeable as he pretends to be. It just sounds… curious, almost, or reprimanding (which he is, I suppose, but the wrong kind of reprimanding), rather than the menacing I’d imagined considering you just said he’s peeved and when he’s peeved he’s dangerous.

    So uhm… yeah. ^^; Hope that made some sense, considering I wasn’t sure how I was saying things.

    The nitpicks:

    This could just be me and the fact that in Australia it sounds more like a ‘u’ than an ‘o’, but I’m fairly sure it’s spelt ‘dunno’. Considering that it’s slang and probably not in the dictionary, however, that’s fairly flexible. XP

    Comma after ‘added’.

    I think there should be an ‘in’ in-between ‘was’ and ‘a’; I mean, he’s not made of sheets and topcover, is he? :p

    Repetition of ‘like’… although that could be deliberate.

    I’m not sure if there should be a comma there or not…

    …you probably don’t need the comma there, though.

    Repetition of ‘one’. This time I’m sure it’s not deliberate, though. :p Also maybe you can emphasise ‘that one’ in some ay, just to reinforce which one you’re talking about.

    And the use of the word ‘commander’ seemed a bit weird to me; I mean, Vicious is the cream of the crop, and the following conversation makes it sound like the guy doesn’t have a whole lotta power over Vicious’ rank. It just struck me as a little odd that he had a commander… a handler, maybe, to keep track of his missions, but an outright superior other than Giovanni…

    Just thinking maybe you should use the forum italics tags for the emphasis.

    The ‘Lord’ got me here… I couldn’t imagine Giovanni calling anyone ‘Lord’, let alone someone who’s under him. Unless it’s a direct translation from some kind of interaction in the Japanese version, which makes it interesting and me want to know more. :p

    I thought the word ‘pushing’ sounded a bit tame considering how excited he seems to be. Maybe ‘pressing’, to indicate a little more weight behind the motion?

    I love this line. :3 The whole ‘looking him up and down and inside and…’ it’s the ‘and’ repetition. I love it when it’s used like this. XD Weird, I know.

    Another example of good repetition. :3

    Iono, ‘blurted’ just seemed like the wrong word to use considering the force behind what he said, but considering he didn’t mean to say it, it works too. Oh, and you probably don’t need the ‘out’, especially ‘cos you go on to say ‘without’, and it kinda repeats anyway.

    Comma after ‘knowledge’.

    ‘dry heaving’ needs to be hyphenated. Also, this sentence just seemed a bit oddly structured. I think it’s the commas, it makes the flow a little strange. If you deleted the second one it should be okay…

    All done! :3 Hopefully I won’t take as long with the others. >.<

    And I don’t think I PMed you back about it, but I probably won’t review your Final Fantasy one-shot; I don’t know anything about that particular branch of the fandom and wouldn’t feel confident about the quality of the review.

    But n’ways. Hope this helped, and g’luck with your other stories!
  3. asperger1981

    asperger1981 good reader

    The image of a character like the Marauder being destroyed by his own guilt and fear makes his punishment after the first and only canon appearance of himself looks like a minor inch in the head; though the off camera punishment creates one of the few acceptable plotholes in the entire franchise, which is saying something that too many people may consider a capital heressy.

    Congratulations on a magnificently well done fic.
  4. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    Thanks you guys!

    I'll address some points here:

    You know, that hadn't even occured to me, but that's very true. Although on the other hand, their Wanted poster in that episode wasn't even showing a full picture of them, wheras someone like Vicious would probably insist on it. Of course, he's a gratutious egomaniac, but hey.
    Also yes, that was Jesse he was talking about, since she was the one who got taken captive in the "twig monster".

    Well, it *is* a healing spring that will no doubt prove invaluable to them, and which could make agents nearly invincible since they could heal from severe injuries in a short amount of time. And it's coming from an agent who's served the Team outstandingly in the past.
    And the "have you suddenly gone deaf" line is basically a "Why the HELL aren't you answering, you IDIOT" than anything like that.

    I think in the US it's interchangable, but "donno" makes more sense to me since it's a short form of "don't know" and there's no "u"s in that.

    That may be another difference then, because I think that would break up the line rather than having it as a single thought. It's not "after a moment, added the following:", it's "after a moment added". Maybe "after a moment, added", but that would be before and not after.

    Simile is what I was going for.

    Someone has to hand out the missions and keep track of the agents. They have an entire administrative wing (even if we haven't seen much of that on the show) to run the agents. And part of what I got from the movie is that he's at the top of the ranks of agents and that's as far as he can go, and that frustrates him, so when he got power of his *own* rather than dependant on the rest of the Team, that's what made him turn once and for all.

    Yeah probably, but I write these in Notepad which doesn't have those and I keep forgetting to change that.

    They aren't shown to interact in the movie at all, but the one time Vicious is addressed by his full title, it's "Lord Vicious the Mask". Yeah, I know there's a few ways to translate "Vicious-sama no Kamen", but that's what my fansub says and it sounds cool.
    Hahahaha, yes yes.

    Again, not sure how. "The knowledge, that he'd spoken back" doesn't work at all, unless it was "the knowledge, knowing that he'd" etc.

    It's not hyphenated in American English. Also, the second comma is before another action and thereby the comma is there to seperate it.

    Hahaha, that's fine, I don't mind.

    Minor inch in the head?

    I also don't know what you mean by "acceptable plothole" considering that anything could have happened to him after the movie and thereby he'll probably never factor into the plot again, but I like the way that phrase comes off.
    (also good to meet more Aspies around)

    Anyway, thank you both! Keep your eyes peeled for a new fic soon...or rather a new part of a fic. And given that I have exactly one chaptered fic, that means you'll be able to tell which one.
  5. purple_drake

    purple_drake E/GL obsessed

    Yeah, I figured that's what it was supposed to be, but iono, it just didn't sound that way in my head when I read it. XP Oh well.

    True true, that does make sense. I'll admit it twigged to me because of personal preference, but I hadn't ever seen it spelt with an 'o' until I read this, so I was making an assumption too. :p

    Okay, this one confused me a bit. XD I said the comma should be after 'added', but in your examples there you've only ever used it before 'added' and after 'moment'.

    The main reason I said that is because there's direct speech right after it, and as far as I'm aware it's appropriate to put punctuation there in those circumstances. I looked in my style guide back to front and while I found examples which indicated that putting a comma there is indeed correct, I couldn't find anything which explained why.

    Then again, as you said, it could just be a difference in house styles, so it might be easier if you looked at an American guide to find the details. XP

    Fair enough. Actually, I think that one was something I picked up on a second/third read-through, and the more I looked at it the wronger it looked (yanno, like when you look at a word too long it starts to feel like it's spelt wrong even though it's not?), even though I knew what you meant and creatively speaking there's nothing wrong with it. >.< Yach, clearly I thought way too much about that one.

    Yeah, the guy did seem like he was administrator, which is part of the reason the word 'commander' got to me, because 'commander' seems to me to indicate someone who gives orders to others in the field (or at least partly in the field, not just handing out assignments and such). It's not so much the guy's existence that got me as the word you used to describe him.

    Ahahaha, it does sound cool. XD

    The thing is, if it wasn't Giovanni calling him that or it wasn't implied that Giovanni also calls him that, I dunno if there's a basis for Giovanni actually calling him that, if yanno what I mean. Maybe it's something the lower/equal ranks call him, but the Boss Rocket...?

    Eh, anyway.

    While I see where you're coming from, the sentence doesn't begin with 'the knowledge'. The basic sentence is: 'Even the idea that he'd spoken back to him was enough to make the hardened Marauder physically ill.' The phrase 'the knowledge' is present for emphasis, but is essentially unnecessary to the sentence being complete; it could easily be taken out without any problems, so it should be enclosed in commas.

    Well, since 'dry' and 'heaving' are technically two separate words, but 'dry-heaving' is one complete action, they need to be joined together somehow. At least, that's how I learned it, and it makes sense... you're right though, it could be different over there.

    As for the commas, we're probably looking at them in different ways. XD The second part of the sentence is composed of two coordinate clauses, but since they're both fairly short there's no reason to have a comma in-between them, especially because the word 'and' represents a pause in itself. I do remember my tutor mentioning that using commas before 'and' is on the way out for that reason (though I think there are merits to using them in certain circumstances), but that could just be an Australian thing (although the way she said it made it sound like an everywhere thing). Then again, I'm still going by an Aussie style guide for this, so you could be right in looking at it the way you are.

    Sorry I didn't try to explain further before, but there are times when my instincts twig that there might be something wrong without me being able to figure out exactly what it is... that'll teach me to post without attempting to double-check. >.<
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2008
  6. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    See, my problem is that I tend to write it and read it, y'know? Like aloud. And comma placement determines when you pause when you do a read, so your mind stops briefly when you see one, and so when I want to continue a thought fluidly I don't put one even if one would go there.

    ...kinda like that sentence there, actually.

    Come to think of it, I'm not actually sure what the puncuation rules are in some of those cases. But about the hyphenation, that's done very rarely in American English, even with words that, like you said, are seperate.

    I'm also wondering if there's not a different definition of "commander" because here it's the general "one who commands", a broader term than you seem to be using since you seem to connect it with being a field officer. Or that could just be because I'm reading this at 4 am.

    Anyway, thanks for getting back with me!
  7. purple_drake

    purple_drake E/GL obsessed

    Yeah, I can understand wanting to break rules for a purpose; I've left out/added commas where they probably should/shouldn't be just to achieve a certain effect.

    The problem is that writing for reading out loud and writing for reading silently aren't always the same things, so even though something might make sense when you're going by what's spoken, it's not correct in grammatical terms. Which is a little silly when you consider that spoken language came first... but I guess having one semi-standard set of rules is preferable to having God-knows how many different ways of placing punctuation according to how it's spoken (because people will say things differently). XD Iono; something to mull over, at any rate.

    As for the commander thing, it's entirely possible that I've read too many war fantasy books/watched too many crime shows/played too many war games, and now the word has very specific connotations to me. XD

    No problem. ^^ Hope I've been somewhat of a help, at least.
  8. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    Hey, no problem, thanks for the help. Although I'll probably have to look that stuff up to see what's different between the regions.
  9. Blackjack Gabbiani

    Blackjack Gabbiani Clearly we're great!

    Well with Vicious, he's more of a typical villian than someone like Jirarudan. Jiri was greedy but had no truly evil intent, while Vicious was more the "punch someone's face in for fun" sort.

    I don't touch on it here because he wouldn't think of it (even in a fic where his mindset is like this, this event is beneath his notice), but he has four pokemon in the movie...and when three of them get beaten, he abandons them, saying something like "it is as it should be". Vicious has severe power issues, considering the second he gets power of his own--ie, Celebi (which isn't a spoiler at all, btw, I think it's on the back of the video)--he turns against the Rockets and swears to overthrow Giovanni.

    And, as is said in the fic, only one person knows about it, and it's (you could figure this out) Jesse. And who's going to believe her? Unfortunately for Vicious (and leading to the majority of events in this fic), he doesn't know about that agent's track record.

    But I love taking characters who have one stellar appearence and are never touched on again and filling them out. Domino is another favorite of mine. For some reason I tend to gravitate towards the villians/bad guys/opposing forces.

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