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Messages - Operative13

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General Manga writer discussions / Re: Tugging At Your Heartstrings
« on: September 20, 2017, 05:32:38 PM »
It ain't murder if it's war  8) Although there are some who would love to scream bloody murder  ;)

General Manga writer discussions / Re: Tugging At Your Heartstrings
« on: September 19, 2017, 04:35:07 AM »
There are many ways to convey that feeling of sadness. Denial, rejection, failure, solitude... yet I find that all of these have one core aspect that defines whether someone finds sadness in something: value.

Value comes in many forms. Could be something physical like a house or favorite trinket; or something abstract, like love, beauty, beliefs, so on and so forth. Depending on which parts of the story you wish to emphasize, the audience will find value to what you want them to become attached to, and learn to care for it when the hitter comes to tear it down. It's important that one instills a sense of value with the audience concerning whatever you wish to emphasize, as without it, the audience will find little to no reason to care for that thing when the sad event does happen.

Value is everything. Major characters will have more impact than minor characters. Characters that the audience adores will have more impact than characters the audience detests. Dynamic, well-rounded characters will have more investment with them than static, flat characters. The more investment an audience puts into something, the more value they see in it.

For example, take Daina Allens's squad from my story. Even though the atmosphere is already grim-dark and there have been squad wipeouts in the past, the readers care more about Daina's squad in particular because of the investment put into them, and therefore they are worth more than all the other squads in the story, despite the fact they suffer the same fate as everyone else. I'm not sure if that's a good example to get by, but hopefully that should set a blueprint for whatever you plan to do  8)

Manga Writer workshop / Re: Characterisation
« on: September 16, 2017, 06:10:00 PM »
For me personally, Realism tends to be my anchor when creating any set of characters in my stories. I forget about trying to fill "archetypes" and instead just focus on creating a character with a distinct set of traits and personalities that fill the role I want to be done. If anything, personality comes second. In my experience, role comes first in the creation of a character. There's nothing more distracting than a character whose entire existence is just to be there.

Say you want a detective... you start with just a silhouette of a detective. Nothing much to it, just a blank canvas of a detective. They detect things. Yatta yatta yatta... now you have to look in the context of the story. Why do you want a detective? What role are they trying to fulfill? Let's assume that for the sake of this example, this is a typical crime story, and that the main focus here is the detective. Now there are two common ways to go about this story (although there are variations, I won't go over them for this) either this is a rookie-to-superstar type or a grizzled-vet-meets-challenge type story. If the story's about progressing through the ranks, then a younger person would be more suitable than an old one. If it's the other, than vice versa. You start filling in the "holes" as you go about exploring your story and scenario, as I'd like to say. Is this person on their own, or are they still learning the ropes? If they're still learning, then they probably have a mentor to guide them. What about the case itself? Is it a small one or is it one the police has put a lot of strain on? If it's the latter, the department would probably assign skilled detectives to that case. You keep going, jotting down whatever comes to mind about the story's scenario and what this person is intended to do, until there is a solid base underneath this character to work on. Personality is secondary.

I find that personality isn't meant to stand alone in the face of the entire story. It's merely a complement to whatever role that character happens to be fulfilling at that moment. A cheerful girl simply is not as interesting or useful as a flowergirl, and it leaves the character rather stranded in the abyss with no real purpose to grow the story. Looking on the outside, you can more-and-less see yourself as a "hiring manager" of sorts. There are occupations your story needs in order for the plot to run well, and it is your job to fill these roles with the necessary people in order for things to work. Depending on who you choose to fulfill the role, things can progress quite differently. A strict sword-smith would probably outright decline the hero trying to buy his wares than a laid-back one. A reckless friend is more likely to get the protagonist into trouble than a caring one. There are other methods to building characters, but this is one I tend to abide by. Remember, you're not looking to hire "the self-righteous guy" or the "cunning girl" or the "squeamish prick", you're hiring "the lone adventurer", "the rogue assassin", the "bookworm", people who have occupations, not personality. Personality is the cream of the crop, but it should not be mistaken as the basis for good characters. Without a good foundation, characters will crumble to the ground against hefty pressure, particularly in the face of the story's complex plot and setting.  :ninja:

break Room / Re: Have you ever been asked out by a teacher?
« on: September 05, 2017, 06:02:05 PM »
Right off the bat, I can say this guy is not a good person. First he asks for time after school for "guidance" - already something misleading - then he begins to go about how he's always looking your way and having "thoughts"... I don't care how many times romance movies show that type of behavior, that act is creepy. If this was a different situation, I would have said otherwise, but this one is not acceptable.

There's a reason it is forbidden to have student-teacher relationships and that's because of bias. The moment there is some sort of relationship, it disrupts the academic environment and damages people's ability to learn. Not just yourself, but other people as well. It was stupid of him to even consider asking that question and much more so to use his authority to mislead you about your meeting.

Like I said, had it been any other situation, I would have said otherwise, but if I were the one-in-charge, I'd have the man investigated. Doesn't matter if it's one person out of a thousand teachers asking once, there is a standard that every teacher uphold their pledge on maintaining an academic environment among their pupils. If this idiot can't even keep his mouth shut for that, I have to question his motive for teaching.  :ninja:

Members Workshops / Re: MangaRaiders Artist Marathon Workshop Signup
« on: September 04, 2017, 03:18:00 AM »
Did someone say War...?

This'll be fun  8)

Develop Your Story / Re: Excerpts from Op's Writing Trove
« on: September 02, 2017, 10:05:12 AM »
Now I would have this updated with the current work I'm drafting for Sky's Edge, but since this is a scenario that occurs much too far in the current canon, I'm just stuffing it here in the trove until I can find the appropriate place to put it...  :-\

A Morbid Discussion
“They tried to rape his girl,” I iterated.

“The problem is not about the rape, Major. He killed two of my guards.”

“Colonel Santina wants the man executed as an example to the labourers.”

“What example do you intend to set? That we allow guards to run rampant all over the camp? With no control whatsoever while the labourers are left fearing for their lives? Any man worth his salt would have done the same.”

“Letting him go undermines my authority! I know these people better than you do, Major. They’d turn tail and run the first chance they get. What they need is a reminder.”

“I disagree,” I said. “I think these people should learn to trust us.”

“Are you suggesting we let him go unpunished?” Kollen asked.

“That I do.”

“No! Absolutely not! I refuse to let a pest like him make a fool of me! That man will die, or I’m taking the camp down. No discussion.”

“Director, I strongly suggest we don’t go through with this.”

“The labourers are under Santina’s jurisdiction. Not ours. I’m sorry, but it’s his call to make.”

A dreadful silence lingered the room.

“When will it be done?”

“High noon. Enough time for him to sing his prayers, if he has anything to pray.”

“If there is nothing left to discuss, I’ll be on my way.”

Kollen stood up from his chair and paced along to the door. Just before he could turn the knob, however, I spouted something very impulsive. It probably wasn’t the best thing to do, but what else could I say?

“I’ll do it.”

Everyone paused, their glances suddenly affixed to me.

“I’ll execute the boy.”

Colonel Santina folded his arms, an unsettling frown on his face.

“You’re trying my patience here, Major.”

“If you’re going to do it, best it be by my hand. The people don’t trust your soldiers as much as they are already. Having him executed by them will just fuel their resentment. Better it is done by someone they have no attachment to.”

“The Major does have a point,” Kollen concurred. “We wouldn’t want to unintentionally give reason to revolt now, do we?”

Santina grumbled.

“Fine then. You kill the boy, and that’ll be the end of it.”

“Not just yet,” I continued. “You might want to recheck your men, Colonel.”

“Are you insulting me?” he shot.

“The men killed that night were drunk, Colonel. And if I recall, alcohol is forbidden on these grounds. If I were you, I’d want to run my men down one more time. The rules were very clear, yet your men went ahead and broke them anyways. It’s as much disrespect to your own authority when your own men refuse to obey your own orders. Take them off guard duty for now and get them squared and sorted out. In the meantime, my company will temporarily take over camp authority until your men are fit to operate.”

“This is an isolated incident. My men wouldn’t dare...!”

“I’d take the Major’s advice, Colonel,” Kollen interrupted. “It is imperative that there be no. Loose. Ends. Even with you and your men. The Guild will see to that. Not one day is to be wasted. Execute the man and change the guards. We resume operations the moment that is done. Gentlemen.”

Kollen nodded to each one of us before departing the room, leaving only myself and Santina to wallow in the office’s silence. Santina shuffled his pockets to find a thick cigar and lighter. He flicked the lighter, emitting a small flame that he held close to the cigar’s end, before stuffing it in his mouth and inhaling, the cigar’s small end smoldering to dust. He pulled the cigar out from his mouth, and looking up at the spinning fan above him, exhaled the gray smoke into it.

“You know war better than I do, huh?” he said, jostling his cigar at me.

“Only what life’s thrown at me,” I replied.

“You may think you know everything. You may think you’re better than me.” He chuckled. “Heck, you probably think you own this camp already.” He leaned in closer, a deathly stare in his eye. “You’re going to find out that whatever you may have learned over there... whatever thoughts they might have put through your head... it doesn’t work here. Over here, you play by my rules. Mines. Alone. You remember that, and we’ll have nothing to worry about, eh?”

I cleared my throat. This man clearly does not understand the situation.

“Colonel, do you want to know how I survived ten years out on the frontlines without losing a single limb?”

He simply stared.

“Every campaign I went... no matter how many I did, there was already this one nutcase who believed everything had to be done his way. Didn’t matter what everyone else said, he just did what he wanted because he thought his idea was the best, and that everyone else was either an incompetent fool or a gutless coward.” I leaned in. “Those people never lasted long.”

I walked over the door behind Santina.

“At the end of the day, status, power, prestige, influence... none of that matters in the face of Reality. Common Sense tends to trump those. That’s how I lived through it.”

And with that, I opened the door... and left the room, leaving Santina alone to smoke his cigar.

Develop Your Story / Re: Chelderan Chronicles: Sky's Edge
« on: September 01, 2017, 10:23:01 AM »
Part 3
“David Harrowind, I presume?”

The deep voice that spoke from behind caught us by surprise. I was too occupied spectating my own men that my situational awareness had failed. That had never happened before. I suppose knowing I wouldn’t get shot in the back anytime soon lessened the normal tensions I’d have.

We turned face to see who had called, and before us stood two distinct men in matching black suits. On their left lapel, a round pin embellished with a four-pointed golden star with a deep-blue center and streaks jutting out from each corner: the Guild’s symbol. The Legion’s own symbol held the same design, although it opted to remove the flashy streaks and place a blue ring around it instead. The man on the left had gray hair, combed back well and a fine, bushy mustache to go with it. He seemed quite a gentleman the first time I laid eyes on him. In fact, I just about mistook him for the facility’s Chief Director.

“That’s Major Harrowind,” James quickly corrected.

“My apologies,” the old man said. “I’m not all too familiar with how you soldiering men address one another as.”

“I take it you must be the Chief Director,” I assumed. Incorrectly that is.

“Oh, I’m afraid not!” he jested. “I wish I was, but I’m merely a superintendent. Patrick Messier.”
He extended an open hand.

“David Harrowind,” I greeted, shaking his palm. “And over here is my second-in-command Captain James Freiger.”

“A pleasure,” Messier acknowledged. James nodded silently as he returned the gesture.

And then we turned to the young blonde man to the right.

“And this is Smith Kollen, Chief Director of Paradesia.”

We were stunned. This young man? A Chief Director? This is the first I’ve ever heard of it. In my experience, Chief Directors ranged from the mid-thirties to late-sixties. They’ve had time and experience under their belt to lead such a massive operation as maintaining a highly-complex Guild facility. The Guild takes no gamble in ensuring only the best and well-qualified are suited to this position. This man here barely looked as if he broke through his twenties. I’m not certain what kind of experience this young man might have had to qualify for a position as high-ranking as Chief Director, but whatever they were, it’s clear the Guild had their eyes on him for awhile. They wouldn’t have given the spot otherwise.

“I look forward to working with you gentlemen,” he said in a calm, smooth voice, lending his hand.

I have to give credit where it’s due: his presentation and demeanour showed a great sense of care and professionalism. Everything he did, well-crafted and well-timed. Nothing let slip. His suit, straight and shiny. His hair, freshly done. His movement, calm and fluid. And all the while, his dead-eyed stare and straight facial expression from his dark-blue eyes and pale-white face kept still. He was like a doll.

“As to you, Chief Director,” I said, shaking his soft hand. James went ahead and did the same.

“I’m certain you all have plenty of questions you want answered after your long journey,” Kollen said.

“That, we do,” James replied.

“Rest assured, we will answer everything we can in due time. Our staff will take personal care of your luggage and men in the meanwhile.”

“Our men?” I quizzically asked.

“We need to get you up to speed ahead of time while your company stays here with the staff to run down basic protocols,” Messier mentioned. “Don’t worry... we’ve made the appropriate accommodations for you and Captain Freiger to rejoin your soldiers at dinner. But for now, you will need to come with us to discuss your intended duties at this facility.”

“Are there any questions you might have at the moment?” Kollen inquired.

I could not help but ask. “Yes. I hope you do not mind me asking, but how old are you exactly, Chief Director?”

Kollen and Messier glanced at one another. I suppose that wasn’t a very good question...

“Twenty-Five,” he answered. “You know it is quite rude to ask for one’s age, Major. One might take offense and assume you are implying something. Especially your peers.”

“My apologizes, Chief Director. I’m just simply perplexed by how young you seem, to be honest. It’s not everyday I meet someone such as yourself in such a high position.”

“I am flattered by your comments. Perhaps at a later time, we can discuss this in greater detail. However, we must carry on. If you would please follow us...”

Kollen and Messier turned and began strolling to one of the guarded blast doors. James and I promptly followed to, not knowing what awaited us inside. I could only imagine what it was based on my knowledge of Guild facilities, but I’ve never gotten as far as the inner sanctums, as those parts are closed off to anyone without the proper security clearance. As a Legionnaire, you’d be lucky to even visit any parts of their facilities. That only about strengthens the Outsider mentality the Guild and Legion has between themselves... yet here we were. Inside an actual facility. And not just one or two visitors. An entire company, stationed as permanent guards just as if we were any other Guild employee. I assumed they would only show us what they needed to show, and tell us what they needed to tell. The typical Guild briefing. Only I would soon find out, this was no ordinary briefing. And this was no typical assignment.

“I hope you and your men enjoy your stay here,” Messier said. “Quite a place to spend the New Year’s Day, don’t you agree?”

Develop Your Story / Re: Chelderan Chronicles: Sky's Edge
« on: August 31, 2017, 09:22:35 AM »
Part 2
Approaching from the island at each ship’s flank, the patrol boats zoomed across the waters, leaving large wakes in their midst. With machine-guns and rifles ready, they turned their boats, blasting jets of water near the ship’s hull as they signaled to the captain’s nest above. A shipman waved back with bright patterned flags, each stiff movement a series of precise answers given to the men in blue before the patrol boats revved forward to escort the ship.

Special Defense, those men were. The Guild’s elite security force. Only once have I met those people during the campaign in Dao. Never quite the talkative bunch: Always kept to themselves, minding their own business, doing whatever odd jobs the Guild had in mind. They never seemed to take kindly to us Legionnaires. Probably because they see us more like outsiders than fellow colleagues. I’ve been in this business for ten years and I still don’t know how my own employers operate. What little I do know was that the Guild dabbled in a lot of experiments. Experiments that would turn the eyes of just about any head of state willing to invest a fortune in them. The Guild grew their business and connections through these secretive projects, gaining more clients and even more influence as each successful endeavour led to another. The Legion was just another aside the Guild had invested in to strengthen their influence in the world market. So the question remained: Why Us?

I wasn’t so sure about the answer to that. At least not yet. I didn’t know when I’d ever have that question answered, but whatever the answer might be, I was afraid to find out. Me. A veteran of ten years. Afraid of something trivial? It’s unheard of. But it wasn’t so much as the near-death experiences or the traumatizing horrors I faced on the battlefield that shook me: it was this sense of peace. This eerie sense of peace. Out here, in the middle of nowhere. Hundreds of miles away from what could be called civilization. What is there to protect? What possible threat could be so dangerous they needed a hundred of us from the Legion to guard it? It all felt surreal. Out of place. Just like this one island in a plain of ocean. For the first time in my ten years, I was sent on an assignment that didn’t involve putting someone in a casket. For the first time, I felt no need to ready my weapons before the start of a big mission. For the first time in ten years, I felt peace. And I was afraid of it.

Following the two boats inland, the ship steered its way around the island. Everyone watched in anticipation, waiting to see the magnificent base the Guild had in store this time. The Guild’s facilities never let up with their grandeur. Research labs, manufacturing plants, spacious living quarters... they even grew their own food. I remember someone said to me a few years back that the facilities were meant to be self-sufficient in case of disasters. Like their own little cities, he said. I suppose even when disaster strikes, the Guild can’t afford to halt operations. Not when so much is at stake. So it came as a bit of a shock for everyone to find that the base we had been looking so forward to was nothing but a small opening at the side of the island, built into the island’s cave. What used to be the rocky walls of this gigantic cavern had now been replaced by solid concrete. The floor had been deepened and expanded to make room for a single large ship, and a smaller expansion to the side of this interior port held the much small watercrafts, particularly the patrol boats that guided us in. Taken off guard by the lackluster display, the men began to jamber away, speculating on the purposes of the base design and what awaited them next.

“I bet they’re hiding something special in there!” One said.

“Maybe they haven’t finished building the place...” another mentioned.

“Or maybe they don’t want to blow everyone up when something goes wrong.”

Whatever the reason may be, it didn’t matter in the end. We were there to do a job. Simple as that. Guard the facility, and do whatever the Chief Director told us to do. The instructions could never be clearer. It was natural for the men to be excited this time around. They haven’t set foot on land for over a week, bored out of their minds with no radio and outdated newspapers and magazines to occupy their time. Some were smart enough to bring along their own books or cards to kill time, but they didn’t tend to mix well with bad weather and a rocking ship. For them, this was a sign of relief. For the moment at least. I still needed to prepare the work routine once we settled in and got acquainted with our new associates.

For what seemed like an agonizing half-hour, the ship finally docked within the Guild’s port, reeled in by special tethers on the docksides. The massive steel door rolled down behind us, and all around, bright lights filled the interior, exposing the overhanging catwalks above us. More Special Defense Guards occupied the railings, submachine-guns in hand and dark field caps concealing their eyes behind shadows as they watched us depart the ship with our oversized luggage. Just a few meters away from the boarding ramp, two guards stood asking for identification as my company lined up before them. One-by-one, we presented our yellow Guild Papers to the men in black uniforms and stood by the dock loading area, patiently awaiting the rest of the company to pass through security. It was then that Captain Freiger and I, watching some distance away, were greeted by two men in black suits.


Develop Your Story / Re: Chelderan Chronicles: Sky's Edge
« on: August 31, 2017, 01:04:26 AM »
I'll be updating daily as much as I can. The next part will come in a few hours.

That's gonna give me nightmares...  :ninja:

Manga Writer workshop / Re: Writers Novel Workshop 2.0
« on: August 30, 2017, 07:47:55 AM »
Operative13 Portfolio

Develop Your Story / Chelderan Chronicles: Sky's Edge
« on: August 30, 2017, 07:43:27 AM »
Part 1
“Give me my orders, and I’ll see it done.”

That’s what it was supposed to be. That’s what it was only meant to be. I never intended for things to get out of hand so quickly. If only I knew beforehand what I had got myself into...

They never said anything about what we were dealing with. Not a word. Anything they did say, they were careful to pick their words. But that’s how things worked between the Guild and our Legion. We were a mercenary army first and foremost. A Guild asset second. We operated under a strict code of conduct. We followed rules, guidelines, procedures. Everything that had to do with the Rules of War, we followed to the letter. Anything else was merely a tack to the endless requisites we were obligated to. So it appeared nothing special when the Guild had set us up with another assignment. Guard duty on a remote island for who-knows-how-long. It was certainly an easier task than any other contract we had taken before: Fighting wars and quelling unrest on behalf of regimes across the world was our typical duty. If not fighting, then training and supervising. And if it wasn’t that either, then guard duty usually came after. Rarely do people like us get hired as guards. Our specialty as combat soldiers goes to waste sitting around and looking after mundane items or people. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but when it does, there’s usually a very good reason for it.

Still, it was not my place to question the nature of the assignment. Only that we fulfilled the objectives laid out to the best of our abilities and nothing more. At the time, I couldn’t be anymore exalted at finding some peace and quiet after the long years I’ve spent serving under the Legion. I’ve traveled quite a bit during my time: the islands of Saint Else, the deserts of Eretus, the bustling cities of Dao... I’ve been to almost every corner of the Old World in my journey. But never to the New World.

I never understood why they sent me and my men to that forsaken island. They simply said they needed bodies to protect a valuable asset, and that was the end of the story. If they had told me what we were dealing with... the things we’d do... the things we’d have seen, I would have said no right then and there. I would have quit my job and retire from the world, never to see the Guild and their business again. But by the time I did, it was already too late.

It was a calm morning the day we arrived at the island. A cool breeze swept across the ship with a clear sunrise across the empty horizon. For almost the entire journey, it was nothing but rough seas and stormy clouds. Miserable and sleepless those nights were, especially for some of the unfortunate lads suffering from seasickness who could only string themselves up in their hammocks, counting the days and hours down. Frustrating it was for me to simply wait there alongside them, watching over their stiff bodies and feverish faces knowing I could do nothing for them but wait out the storm. Some of these men have been with me since the beginning. We’ve been through many hard-fought campaigns together. The wounds we bore and the losses we suffered then were a testament to the deep bond our company held, and as their superior officer, they looked to me for guidance. They’d run through hell and back knowing I’d do the same for them. So it came as no surprise that as soon as the helmsman shouted for land, everyone came dashing up the deck to lay eyes on their new home-away-from-home. A hundred-some men stacked the port side of the ship, even dragging the poor, sick buggers out from bed to squeeze a glance. Anymore and I swear the ship would have tilted right there and we’d have to swim the rest of the way! Everyone cheered and broke into celebration, knowing the long, perilous journey across the ocean had finally ended. This was only the start of our journey, however, and the beginning of our misfortunes.

From the onset, nothing spectacular stood out from the island: a simple mountain covered in trees jutting out from the surrounding waters. The only thing of note was the rather cold air in what was assumedly a tropical zone. From the ship’s bow, I watched as we approached this seemingly mundane island; cutting through the waves; blasting through the wind; the dry, salty air whisking through my face. Our new home, I thought. Our new life.

“Major Harrowind,” a soft voice called out from behind.

I glanced over to see my Captain, James Freiger, standing with his hands behind his back.

“We’ll be docking in half an hour, Sir,” he said.

I nodded in acknowledgement before turning my gaze back to the sea ahead. His heavy boots thumped its way to my side before James grabbed hold of the railings and gazed out too.

It was then that a burning thought I had held in the back of my mind crept out and emerged from its hiding. Now would be a good time to ask.

“Why do you think the Guild would have us sail halfway across the world for a place like this?”

James glanced back, an eyebrow raised.

“A hundred men,” I continued. “Stuck here in the middle of nowhere. They could have easily sent a hundred of their private guards instead and it wouldn’t make a difference.”

“Perhaps they have something in mind for men like us,” James replied. “Something none of their usual grunts can’t handle.” He turned and gazed back at the island. “Whatever it is, we’ll soon find out.”

“I’d be happy to speculate about that theory of yours,” I joked. He scoffed and shook his head at the sly grin I had.

Our smiling faces soon dropped the moment we spotted the two patrol boats heading our way.

Manga Writer workshop / Re: Writers Novel Workshop 2.0
« on: August 28, 2017, 07:44:31 PM »
Just a quick reminder, you must complete at least one review following the format given in the OP before your stories are included in the community vote.  :ninja: Members of the original Novel Marathon Workshop will not be required to complete this task.


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