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Connection (Working title cuz that's boooring)



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fortis says...



connection1.PNG


After 250 million years in stasis, humanity has constructed an underground city to escape the ravaged and radioactive surface of the Earth. Radiation and millions of years in stasis have damaged our DNA, and sometimes individuals develop anomalies in their genetic structure. Most of these anomalies are detrimental or useless: an extra chamber in the heart, sensitivity to magnets, lungs that are too thin, high susceptibility to hypnosis... the list goes on and on.
But identical triplets Everen, Shandi, and Kerra can telepathically share thoughts and emotions with each other even when they're far away.
Now it is 237 years after Everen was put on a spaceship heading toward an earthlike planet, and five years after the triplets and their mother are awakened from a 232-year stasis. Everen's ship draws ever closer to their destination planet, Kerra just wants to live a quiet life, and Shandi's joined a gang that feels more like family than her family ever did.
Things begin to fall apart when the sisters' mother is murdered with no trace of a killer or motive. Will Kerra find the killer before the trail goes cold?
Connection will wrap time travel, space travel, murder mystery, cyborgs, aliens, and the realm of the dead into one work.
Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





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Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:46 am
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fortis says...



Worldbuilding info


This is a big dump from my WFP with no editing, so open/read at your own risk!

Spoiler! :
IN A WORRRLDDDD....

-Faaaaaaar in the future. Like, I mean waaaaaay far. But not so far the sun is about to explode hehe....

HISTORY

20/1XX?? World War 3 Sends the Earth into a Nuclear Winter of some kind. Most average people don't know the details because they're not scientists. Do you know everything about the Permian mass extinction? Yeah, didn't think so. They just know that there was a war, nuclear stuff happened, and humans were forced to hide in underground bunkers. When they realized that the conditions on the surface weren't getting much better, they locked everyone away in stasis for a very, very long time. A verrrry long time.

Then, everyone wakes up feeling like no time has passed, but it has. The surface is still inhospitable and radioactive, but all other life on earth (the life that survived, anyway) has evolved and adapted. It's still mostly a wasteland out there, but there are plants and small animals and bugs and fish that are very different from what people remember.

Most of the life on the surface is too radioactive for human consumption. Thankfully, there were plants and animals that were also put in stasis, so humans still have access to most major crops and domesticated animals. But everyone lives underground now, so the crops require huge big greenhouses full of artificial light.

There's no energy crisis because people no longer care about nuclear energy. They just have the reactors on the surface and leave the waste on the surface. Some of the larger animals like to lick at the waste maybe lol The surface is already completely ruined and inhospitable, so what's a bit more gonna do? not much.

the continents have collided? (that's 250 million years soooooo.... 250 million years is roughly the first vertebrates appear to first mammals appearing, or the first dinosaurs to today. What could happen in that time? Supervolcano for sure. Asteroids. Media Hypothesis (500 million, but.) Unlikely GRB, wandering stars/planets.)

Sure. The continents have collided. All life exists on one continent. Not that this has much bearing on the story. But all humans live in one single underground megacity. There's like, a lot fewer humans now (how many fewer? Heck, I don't know. 100 million? A lot fewer than now. But still way too many to be comfortably crammed into a single city. Where do they get their water? I don't know. But neither do the Main Characters so it's finnnnnne... well there's a gigantic lake now that the continents have collided. Is it freshwater????? uhhh probably not, but it's the ~future~ they have machines for that now.)

So WWIII was... let's say 2070. That doesn't seem too unrealistic, right? By then we have stasis technology. Two countries (that shall remain nameless) are at war and all the other countries decide to start making underground bunkers with stasis chambers (is this basically the plotline of the fallout series? uh oh...) anyway, those two countries blow themselves up, rip. And everyone's frozen for a long time.

And then they wake up, and start to explore the world carefully, but realize that fewer of them survived than expected idk and they all have to band together because there's only one place on current earth that is actually habitable for people and it's underground. So all the humans collect in one single city (but maybe there are some offshoot people who didn't want to go so they have their own tiny villages scattered around.)

PHYSICAL ASPECTS OF THE CITY

And now it's been like... a few centuries and they have this really advanced city that extends like a mile and a half down. It gets pretty dang hot towards the base, but there are a LOT of air systems going. Like, a LOT. it's very important to everyone that they were built so they could never fail, because the most terrifying thing about living underground is the fear of suffocation, I think.

The city itself is about 10 miles square and a mile and a half deep.

Prime real estate is about halfway down. Too close to the surface and it's kind of cold and more radioactive, and too far down and it's too hot all the time, even with air conditioning. But people still live in both places. they're just cheaper locations.

Water comes from underground springs and from the lake which is actually pretty close by. All water goes through a lot of de-radiating procedures, but it's hard to get it all out. Waste is removed too. Don't worry about it. It's not just hanging around. There's plumbing!! I think robots take care of most of the water purification/waste stuff.

Other stuff.

OOH maybe they made robots keep going for like... all that time and build them a city? Or like, they were programmed to wake up 100 years before the humans woke up, scope out the earth, find a place for a city and start building it??? That would work I think! :o

CULTURE AND PEOPLE

Our like 2000s and before stuff becomes a mix of questionable fact and legend. "Yeah, I think Red Riding hood was a real person?" or like "Ahhh don't go telling me those tall tales about Obama again. I know he's not real." that sort of thing.

All the animals are like COMPLETELY different because radioactivity screwed with the genes and also millions of years of evolution, and humans, although they haven't had all that evolutionary time, have gotten pretty screwed up by the radioactivity, as well as SUCH a long time in cryostasis.

Humans now:
-Have kind of weird "super powers"
-ALL have fertility issues. Population decrease is a huge concern.
-Because of the fertility stuff, when humans DO end up giving birth, it's usually to twins or triplets, because of fertility treatment, but also because the cells are more likely to divide and make identical twins as well.
-The fertility treatment is kinda like gattaca, with "designer babies" in a sense. But mostly like, hey, these fertilized eggs have a better chance of surviving than these ones. And because in this sense you can kind of pick genders to an extent, more girl babies are being born. Because girls are more needed because of the population issues. Worried about too much inbreeding? Don't be. All pregnancies these days happen with the facilitation of fertility treatment, and those fertility doctors have extensive bloodline records to prevent issues with inbreeding. Honestly, the kid you have might not be related to you at all, with both sperm and egg donors. /Generally/ it's the own mother's eggs. Anyway, this doesn't really matter that much, does it.

wait!! did you say SUPERPOWERS?!?!
well... sort of.... most of them aren't useful. They're just... anomalies.
-telekinesis
-Hypersensitivity to things i.e. magnetism
-Abnormally low/high body temperature
-extra chamber in heart
-Of course extra any body part, really. Classic.
-

Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





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fortis says...



Characters


The Hope Sisters (feel free to suggest other last names because I feel like this one isn't quite right)

Spoiler! :


When identical triplets Kerra, Everen, and Shandi were born, no one could know what would lie in store for them. When that single fertilized egg split, their consciousnesses retained a bridge through which they can communicate, even lightyears apart.
The government of Abyssus(/Avyssos/Abusso/Abyssa? idk) saw the potential in this. They wanted one of the sisters to travel on the ship that is going to colonize a planet that humans have discovered while the other two stayed behind and communicated with the government. Basically, human walkie-talkies.

So it probably takes some convincing, but when all the girls are like... 18, Everen is put on a spaceship in stasis, and Kerra, Shandi, and their mother are put in stasis on earth.
It takes quite a while for the spaceship to get to earth (because lightspeed travel isn't really possible yet, I guess. I don't know how long it takes yet. Hopefully no more than like... a hundred years or so?)

So like, the fact that they're going to wake up so far in the future might be an issue for the ones on earth. But maybe they get used to it pretty quick? It won't be a big thing.

So Eve is really kinda lonely and bored on the spaceship because they have to stay a couple years and... reasearch idk. Or they didn't quite get there when they thought they would?


Kerra Hope

Spoiler! :

Kerra

She's kinda a homebody. She really just wants to live a normal life. She lives alone in a pretty cheap house near the bottom of the city and... has a cat. And a bunch of plants? maybe. Or maybe not, idk. She longs for the past life of simplicity and few cyber enhancements.
When she was little, she had a lot of medical issues (as a lot of people do because of the radiation and all that sort of stuff) and it was mainly her internal organs. So like, her digestive system and maybe her lungs? Are cybernetic. She was always sickly as a child, so she got a lot of attention from mom.
Because Shandi won't do it, Kerra is the one who talks to the government. The other human walkie talkie

Motivation: loves her family and wants to keep them safe, otherwise wants to live a quiet life and have time for her hobbies like reading.


Everen Hope
Spoiler! :

Everen

Little miss perfect (sort of) but not in like, a bad way. Just always tried to do the right thing and be good. Helped take care of Kerra a lot. She's very pretty, also (I realize they're identical twins, but). Got a lot of praise and thanks from mom. Rather analytical personality. A bit distant, I guess?

Motivation: really just wants to do the right thing. She takes everything into consideration and decides what's right based on that. Despite appearing distant though, she's human, and, being stuck on a space craft, she gets bored easily, and boredom can motivate her too.


Shandi Hope

Spoiler! :
Shandi

The rebellious one. She wasn't sick like Kerra or an angel like Everen so she didn't get a lot of attention as a kid, and as a result she tended to act out. Now she's an adrenaline junkie with a distaste for rules etc. She's a member of a gang, though the gang mostly functions as a family more than a gang. They occasionally steal stuff, but rarely ever hurt anyone or anything. Mostly, they just take care of each other. But they also get up to stuff.
Shandi has had a lot of differenet cybernetic alterations that are just because she wants them. They aren't because she needed them, like Kerra and her Cyborg guts, but Shandi thinks they make her look cool, and they do have useful functions!

Motivation: just wants to have fun, enjoy herself, and make the most of life. Wants to protect her gang, but doesn't care much about her sister/mom because of some strained relationships there. She's gotten better recently, though there was a time when she refused to communicate with Kerra and Everen telepathically or at all. It is better now though.
Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





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Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:53 pm
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BlueAfrica says...



Question: did people expect to be in stasis for that long? Like, wow, I get "in stasis" but...the whole remaining human population was in stasis for 250 million years? Whoa, my dude. That's a p big adjustment. Holy crap.
  





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fortis says...



@BlueAfrica the average person? Probably not.
The scientists? They were pretty sure it would take a LONG, LONNNGGG time.
Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





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Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:23 am
fortis says...



Note that I updated the main characters post up there ^

Minor Characters

Shandi's Gang:

Spoiler! :

This information is on a notebook that I can't access right now but I will soon.


Ruth Hope (Their mother)
Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





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Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:27 am
fortis says...



Plot overview:

Not suuuuper spoilery overview (All this will happen toward the beginning of the book. It sets up the questions and doesn't give answers.

Spoiler! :

The story begins about five years after they've all woken up from stasis. They were put in stasis when they were 18, and now they're 25 (physically) or like... ~225 legally.

Things happen normally to show what normal life is like for them, blah blah blah, when suddenly (!!) Ruth (the sister's mom) is killed. Murdered!

Kerra is super disturbed, Shandi isn't. There's where we best see the familial relationships come out. Everen is really sad too, but again, distant.

Kerra takes it upon herself to figure out who killed her mom and why, since the police are having no such luck. Kerra's story: detective.

Meanwhile, Shandi and her gang hatch up some sort of plan. Get rich quick scheme? Maybe they want to find one of the other... outposts? That have people in it. It will involve them going to the surface illegally.

Everen is feeling useless on the ship. Everyone there is busy every day, taking measurements and planning things. Everen is just there to communicate with Earth. She spends her days rereading all the books on the ship and pestering Kerra to watch some TV with her telepathy connection open. When their mother is killed Everen jumps on the opportunity to help out, though there's not much she can do but provide a new perspective with the data Kerra gives her.



MUCHO SPOILEROS. If you want to actually read my book, I recommend you don't read these, because the book is part murder mystery, and this will give things away.
But! to capture your interest and lay bare some broad themes that will be in the book: aliens, time-travel shenanigans, ghosts/the realm of the dead explored.

if you aren't interested but you wanna help me out and give me feedback on just my ideas/plot, feel free to read and give me advice!!

Spoiler! :

Shandi gets in an accident on the surface and dies. Everen and Kerra feel her passing like... you know when you're in a room and the A/C or heater is on, and then it suddenly shuts off? It's like that. But awful and super sad and also like being stabbed in the heart. Shandi has gone silent. Her gang returns her body (and themselves in the process) to the city.

Kerra begins to suspect one of the gang members to be the murderer. She's convinced he did it.

~other stuff happens. Not sure what. Kerra just spending a lot of time finding clues and stuff.~

A little tickle at the sisters' consciousnesses. A little while, a little more. Litte whispers that feel familiar, but they can't figure out what. It's a very slow, gradual process. Eventually, they're hearing words. Their names. Then the phrase "It's me. Your sister' or something. They realize that Shandi is communicating with them from beyond the grave. They're floored.

Shandi is now in the land of shades (I need a good name for that but I don't have one yet). Ghosts that have an unseverable connection to earth still live here. Once their connection is severed, they can move on. Something like that. It's like a mirror image of Earth (rather, the universe. I think she can go bother Everen too), but all blue and black and blurry and wavery and static-y. Details are hard to focus on: faces, words, etc. Other spirits in the realm are easy to see and communicate with, though most of them aren't very pleasant company. I think Shandi needs to make a friend down here, but idk why or who or what this friend should be.

Kerra asks her about this guy in her gang that she suspects (or maybe suspected. Maybe she just now found proof that he didn't do it.) and Shandi is like, "duh, of course he didn't do it! I could've told you that! He wouldn't hurt a fly!" And so they're back to square one.

Shandi agrees to help out, because there's nothing better to do down there, and solving a murder is more interesting than waiting around. She assumes (rightly) that it is her communication connection to Everen and Kerra that is keeping her bound to the mortal plane and preventing her from moving on.

~more stuff happens, more investigating, and Everen has to save her ship or something in the meantime? I'm unsure.~

very vague ideas here:
Eventually, they figure out that it was an alien. It was an alien from the future, from the planet that Everen and her crew are going to colonize? But bad stuff happens in the future, and because Everen saves the ship, the alien figures it would be best to kill her (or her mother perhaps) before Everen ever gets to the planet. But he miscalculates (easy to do when time-travel, long-term stasis, light-years away etc. are taken into count) and kills her mother too late. Perhaps he has some sort of DNA sensing device to find her??? I dunno.

And of course, Shandi and Everen will have to help Kerra figure out who it was, and then.... prevent it from happening? man. Time stuff. Everen will at least try to convince the people in her ship not to... do bad things to the aliens.

Idk the ending is hazy. If you did read this, thoughts are very much appreciated. Thanks!

Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





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Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:58 am
fortis says...



Notes to myself
(also very spoilery)

Spoiler! :

-Alien ghost brother (like, he told the murderer that it was all Everen's fault, but that's not really true, ish. And then he dies, and then the murderer blames Everen, and he like, destroys Everen’s statue, and then goes to destroy Everen’s mom, but miscalculates time. While Kerra is working to figure out who did it, Shandi is talking to the brother who is also in the afterlife and helps figure out the misunderstanding and stuff.)
-Everen can be useful by being social and hearing different people talk about different things and then put it all together and maybe stop some plot from some evil guy from happening. The evil guy wants to have all the power when he (or she!) gets to the planet so he’s doing some undermining in small things in order to kill off or discredit specific people. Everen also saves the day again by her connection to Earth somehow. Maybe the most powerful computers are on earth and they need one for some reason.
Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





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Mon Nov 19, 2018 5:18 am
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fortis says...



note:

there are 132 floors to each "level" (upper crust, lower downs, etc.)

There are 26*26+26 sections. (you have the whole alphabet, and then the whole alphabet in 2 letters (i.e. HU or NT or PO or EO, etc.)

That means there are about 100 pillars in each section, if each pillar is about 80 feet in diameter and 40 feet away from any other pillar.
Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





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Mon Nov 26, 2018 6:59 am
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fortis says...



Ch 21
Spoiler! :

~1161
Slightly off-put by Markus, Kerra climbed up the stairs. She tried to shake off what he’d said. It sounded like Shandi had really blown Ruth’s treatment of her out of proportion… but yet, Ruth had apparently called her before Shandi had left. Kerra didn’t know what kinds of things her mother might have said. And while she’d seemed calm on the outside when Kerra had told her Shandi was leaving, Kerra did think she’d heard a vase crashing or something. Maybe behind the kind, reserved face that Ruth always showed to Kerra was a emotionally unstable person.
Or maybe Shandi had just been exaggerating everything for drama. It wouldn’t have been the first time she’d done it. Shandi had a flair for the dramatic, which was a two-edged sword. It made her charismatic and fun to be around, but if her anger was directed at you, it made everything twice as bad.
Kerra shook her head, trying to clear it of negative thoughts of Shandi. She was at a celebration for Shandi’s life after all. She’d reached the floor above the one she’d entered into. No Name, Angelface, the Grin, and Blast Boy were gathered around a pool table lined with black velvet. There were only about five balls still on the table, and they were all solid colors. Angelface and the Grin were holding the pool cues. Kerra watched as Angelface lined up a shot and expertly sunk the eight ball.
“Good game, Grin,” she said, offering her hand. “You got a lot more in this time!”
Grin reluctantly shook her hand, the mobile half of his mouth pulled down into a moody scowl. “I still only got three in.”
“Better’n many,” Angel chirped. “We could make it three out of five, if you want.” The Grin’s scowl deepened.
“Kerra!” Blast Boy yelled, running over to her. “You’re here!” As usual, Blast Boy’s hair stood on end, and their face looked scuffed and dirty, though today it looked as if they’d cleaned up a little more than usual.
Kerra smiled. “I am! And you’re all here too! I’m glad. I don’t know anyone else here.”
“I could introduce you!” Blast Boy said, jumping a little.
“Uh, that’s alright. I met your boss already. Markus. I don’t know if I’m up to meeting anyone else yet.”
“Markus is an odd duck,” the Grin said mysteriously. “He’s got some interesting moods. And meeting him for the first time when he’s… well, a bit trashed, if I’m honest, must be an experience.”
“It was,” Kerra agreed.
“He really cared about her,” No Name said quietly. “I mean, there were rumors–”
“Not something to get into right now. It’s a bit of a private matter, don’t you think?” Angelface snapped.
No Name quickly shut their mouth and looked down at the ground.
She sighed. “Sorry, Nonnie, I didn’t mean it. You know how it is.”
No Name nodded, but continued to stare at the floor.
Kerra looked a little closer at Angelface and saw that the dark circles under her eyes were even more prominent than usual, and the whites of her eyes were tinged red as if she’d been crying for days. “You doing okay?” she asked gently.
Angelface shifted. “It’s been rough on all of us,” she said defensively, “but I was wondering something.”
“Oh?” Kerra asked.
“Do you play pool as well as Shandi did? Since she… left… I’ve had no competition! These idiots are about as skilled as a piece of wet corkboard.”
“Hey!” the Grin protested. “I got three in!”
“And you’ve never played against No Name,” Blast Boy added gleefully.
“Not for lack of trying,” Angelface muttered. “But what do you say, Kerra? How are you at pool?”
“Awful,” Kerra admitted. “I can’t count on one hand the number of times I’ve played. I find it just doesn’t suit me.”
“Do you want one of us to coach you?” The Grin asked dubiously. “I don’t think any of us would do a very good job, and I don’t know if Angelface would stoop that low today.”
“You’re right about that,” Angelface said, tossing her limp blonde hair over her shoulder. “Today I play pool for one reason, and one reason only: to thrash all competitors.” She grinned like a maniac.
“That’s alright. I think I’d rather just watch. I think I like No Name’s strategy. If no one sees me play, then my skills remain a mystery, and who knows? Maybe I’m actually amazing. But I don’t want to put that to the test today.”
So Kerra spent the rest of the evening watching Angelface handily beat every comer. Numbers stopped by a few times, to make sure the party was going alright. One time he even agreed to play against Angelface, and she barely beat him. He went back downstairs looking a little smug after that. Angelface looked more satisfied and calm than she had all night, and Kerra guessed that she’d enjoyed the challenge.
Eventually, the party started petering out a little, and Kerra found her eyes growing heavy. It was starting to become difficult to hold back yawns, and so she said her goodbyes to everyone she knew, thanked Numbers for his invitation and hospitality, and left.
She took a longer route home than she would have usually taken, and her detour took her near Ruth’s sector. Kerra wondered if she’d wound up in the area because her subconsciousness was still disturbed by Markus’s ravings about her. It had been quite a while since she’d last talked to Ruth, and Kerra figured it would be good to check up on her. She was pretty sure that Ruth rarely left the apartment, and had little to no contact with anyone besides Kerra.
A bit of guilt suddenly stabbed through her. How lonely must Ruth be every day? And Kerra avoided her just because Ruth made her a little uncomfortable. She altered her course to take her to Ruth’s apartment. It was late to have guests over, but not late enough to be asleep yet. She knew her mother tended to get only a few hours of sleep every night anyway, and she would likely appreciate the company.
She finally got to the right door and knocked. Silence. She knocked again. Not a single sound from inside. She knocked harder this time. Could her mother really already be asleep? This early at night? Something felt off to Kerra. The door was locked tight.
Kerra went up through the pillar’s floors to find the apartment manager’s office. The windows were dark, but when she knocked urgently on the door, a woman with a wrinkled face opened the door and peered out at Kerra through tired, squinting eyes. Kerra told her the situation, and the woman got a key card.
They went back down to Ruth’s apartment. The woman flashed the card at the scanner, the door popped open, and there she was.
Ruth, or what had been Ruth, laid out on the ground in a pool of her own blood, her neck brutally slashed open.
Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





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Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:56 am
AmadeusW says...



Hey there fortis!

I'm new to this site, so I'm just looking around a bit, getting a lay of the land.

I'm also intrigued by the overview of your story! I like how you plan to genre-blend murder mystery with sci-fi fantasy and supernatural and aliens and whatnot - quite the elaborate background for a novel!

I'm pretty dang good at coming up with blockbuster-like titles, so I would definitely like to learn more about your story so I can embark on the hunt for the perfect title along with you!
"The dead look so terribly dead when they're dead." - Larry Darrell, The Razor's Edge
  





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Mon Dec 03, 2018 5:22 am
fortis says...



@AmadeusW hey! Welcome to the site! Thanks for reading through my overview! It's kind of a mess, and quite a bit has changed since I started writing! If you are interested in reading through the chapters I have published, they're in my portfolio (if you don't know quite how to find that, I'll send you the link to the first chapter :) ) But I still wouldn't mind help with a title! I think the title has become a little less boring as I've gotten deeper into writing, but I still don't feel like it's perfect. I've never been good at titles at all haha
I'm glad that you're intrigued by the genre-blending. I hope it works! I'm just now digging into the murder-mystery part I think!
Thanks again for your thoughtful response! :D
Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





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Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:46 am
fortis says...



Chapter 22
~1714 words

Spoiler! :


Kerra whipped her head around, looking for the building manager, but the old woman had disappeared. It was if she had been able to sense the horror that awaited inside the room and had wanted nothing to do with it.
Seeing her mother’s body, Kerra felt strangely devoid of the emotion he was expecting. Shandi having died so recently, it made no sense to Kerra why the feeling wasn’t the same. Why didn’t her head and heart hurt? Ruth had become a bit strange, but Kerra still loved her. Why didn’t this hurt as much?
It must be the connection, Kerra thought. The connection being severed had hurt her physically, but she had no such link with her mother. Of course. Of course. She shook her head to clear it of a useless train of thought. It didn’t matter if it hurt her or not: what mattered right now was that her mother was dead and Kerra needed to do something about it.
The police came quickly after Kerra’s call. The police central station was fairly close to Ruth’s apartment, so Kerra only had to sit alone in silence with the body for just a few minutes before they arrived, decked out from head to foot in cybernetics and technology. They’d brought in what looked like a whole mobile science lab because Kerra had told them that she suspected foul play. But it must have been—her mother never would have done something like this.
The police bustled around, taking samples, scanning the floors and walls with special lights, checking for fingerprints or anything that wouldn’t have belonged to Ruth. As Kerra watched them, she was reminded of film footage that she’d seen of bees buzzing around a hive. Then she remembered that the footage had been from a documentary about old customs surrounding bees, and how, when someone in the household died, it was bad luck not to “tell the bees” and perform one of various customs to put the bees properly into mourning. Kerra wondered if the greenhouses used bees to pollinate. She didn’t think she’d ever seen real honey at the store before. Maybe all the bees were gone. Had they died out before the disaster had even occurred?
Kerra shook her head again. She was realizing that her mind was prone to wander whenever there was something painful she was supposed to be thinking about. She looked around. The police had stopped their frantic work, and most had gone home. One of the three who were left, Officer Kinghorn, was swiping through something on a tablet and shaking her head. She looked up and, when she realized Kerra was looking in her direction, walked over.
She said in a clear emotionless voice, “Our team was quite thorough, and for better or for worse, we can conclude that this was not a homicide. All signs point to suicide. I’m sorry.” She reached out and placed a heavy hand on Kerra’s shoulder.
Kerra yelped in pain and quickly stepped back.
“Oh no! Do you have a pulled muscle or something?” Officer Kinghorn asked, her eyes suddenly full of sympathy. Where was that sympathy before? Kerra cared more about her dead mother than about some momentary pain.
“Something like that,” Kerra muttered. “Please don’t touch me.”
“I won’t,” Kinghorn said solemnly, holding up a hand like she was getting sworn into court.
“It couldn’t have been suicide though,” Kerra said. “I would have… she wouldn’t have… She couldn’t have…”
Kinghorn sighed. “Listen, Ms. Hope. All signs point to suicide. There has been no sign of anyone coming in or out of this apartment in a very long time, much less using any kind of force to break in. This place is also scrupulously clean, which you told us yourself is perfectly normal. But she couldn’t have cleaned up all of the skin cells of anyone who’d stepped foot inside. But despite that, we could not find a trace of a single other person having been here, not even you.” Kinghorn gave Kerra a quizzical look.
Kerra rolled her eyes. For a detective, this woman sure was dense. She lifted her hand and pointed at it. “I don’t have real skin. I don’t leave skin cells around. I also don’t have fingerprints. Or real hair.”
“Why then, I think you’ve just become our prime suspect,” she said, eyes serious. Just as Kerra opened her mouth to adamantly protest against the absurd accusation, Kinghorn smiled. “I’m just joking. It’s still clear that Ruth Hope died by her own hand. There is a specific angle and cut pattern in the injury, and… well, I won’t get too specific. But we have a lot of technology made to figure out just this kind of thing. There was no way that someone else would have been able to inflict this specific injury on someone besides themselves. I’m sorry for your loss, Ms. Hope, but this was not a homicide. A lamentable death, but there’s nothing more we can do here.”
Kerra was silent, gears turning. It didn’t make sense. Kerra knew that while Ruth might have changed, might have been a little abnormal in the way her brain functioned, and sure, maybe she had been sad and angry, especially after Shandi had left… Kerra’s heart suddenly plummeted.
She had never actually told Ruth that Shandi had died. She was going to, of course, but she hadn’t. Ruth had died not knowing that one of her daughters had passed on as well. This for some reason was what made Kerra break her calm outward demeanor. A few hot tears dropped down her face, heavy and sudden. “I know it wasn’t suicide. I know it,” she managed, speaking between clenched teeth. “I can feel it.”
“Alright, Ms. Hope, I believe you,” Kinghorn said placatingly. “But unfortunately, without evidence, we can’t do anything more. According to the law, Ruth Hope committed suicide.”
One of the other officers snorted. “Don’t feed her fantasies, Kinghorn. There’s no way anyone could have gotten into this apartment unless the lady let them in. The girl told us that she was the only one who ever came anyway and that Ruth here never even communicated with anyone else except for occasional failed attempts to contact her other daughter. Who would even have the motive? Nothing has been stolen, there’s no DNA evidence whatsoever, and the lady was clearly unhappy. It’s the cleanest case of suicide I’ve ever seen, and to entertain any other thoughts would be delusional.”
Kinghorn shot the officer the dirtiest look Kerra had ever seen on an official’s face. Then she turned back to Kerra. “Don’t listen to my Officer Tregas. Think whatever helps comfort you. There’s nothing we can do, but you are free to come to whatever conclusions you like, and if you get evidence for them, we’ll help you out.” She smiled kindly.
“Why are you being so suddenly nice to me?” Kerra asked, suspicion growing, though she had no idea what she would even have to be suspicious about.
“Can’t I be nice to people whose loved ones just died?” Kinghorn responded.
“Um, you weren’t very nice when you told me the first time,” Kerra pointed out.
Kinghorn shrugged and looked a little uncomfortable. “It’s just that… now I recognize you.”
“What do you mean?” Kerra asked, certain that she’d never talked to Kinghorn before in her life.
“When you pointed out your skin, I remembered that I saw you going into the government building one time. When I asked about you—being a detective, you tend to be pretty curious about people you see sometimes—the guy at the front desk told me that you were the speaker for, the connection to our space colony!” Kinghorn’s eyes were sparkling now.
“Okay…?” Kerra said, unsure why someone would care so much about her weird job.
“My great, great grandmother is on that ship! They really needed her, so they asked her to leave her children behind to live with her sister. I think about her a lot. It’s strange to think that she’s awake now, and we’re about the same age. I was named after her, you know!”
“Oh?”
“Her name’s Haven Kinghorn. Have you heard anything about her?” Kinghorn was bouncing giddily like a child on Christmas morning. Kerra thought it was rather unprofessional.
“Haven? I don’t think I…” It was then that Kerra remembered. She did know of a Haven Kinghorn. It had been one of the murders that had occurred on board Everen’s ship after Shandi had died. But how could she tell Officer Kinghorn that her great, great grandmother had been murdered? And so recently! Why hadn’t she been informed in the first place? “I… er… I have heard of her actually,” Kerra edged.
Officer Kinghorn gasped. “Really? Did she do something so important?”
Kerra waffled between telling the officer or keeping the information secret. Eventually, she rationalized that Kinghorn dealt with horrible deaths all the time. She should be able to handle it. “Um, no. Well, kind of? Um, she actually… uh… died.”
“What? How? They said everyone there was in great physical shape and that they had top-of-the-line medicine if anyone got sick, which they shouldn’t have.” Kinghorn looked genuinely confused.
“She was murdered. I thought the government would have informed everyone who were descendants. I’m… really sorry.” Kerra felt the absurdity of that sentence as soon as she said it. Here she was, consoling the officer who had just told her that her mother had committed suicide. Kerra supposed it was a time for grief. Death seemed to be following her somehow.
“It’s… it’s alright,” Kinghorn said. “I’m just… I just thought that she would, you know… go on to do great things. They really needed her, you know. Had to leave her children and everything. I thought we could live our lives simultaneously. We could both do great things together, lightyears apart. It’s just something I would think about sometimes. Sorry, I’m blubbering. If you’d give me a moment.” Kinghorn practically fled the room.
“Thanks for that,” Officer Tregas said derisively. “She really needed to hear that while she was on the job. Come on,” he said, addressing the third officer, an android, “Let’s bag up this body and go home.”

Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





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Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:56 am
fortis says...



Chapter 32
~1041 words

Spoiler! :

The Captain? Kerra asked, aghast. But… why? Why would she do something like that?
I’ve been asking myself the same question over and over again, Everen admitted.
Kerra scrambled for ideas, but the thought that the captain that Everen had always described as amazing and inspiring could do something like this was absurd. Can’t the motes tell you anything?
They can only tell that she’s feeling massively guilty right now, more so than anyone else on the ship. But they can’t read her mind, and any other emotions she’s feeling that might hint at a motive are being obscured by the amount of guilt she feels. Everen sent a feeling of helplessness. She was getting a lot better at sending clear, strong emotions. The motes must have been giving her a lot of practice with it.
Kerra didn’t know what to say anymore. She only wished she had the motes to tell her who killed her mother. That would make everything a lot easier. Or would it? Do you have any proof other than these aliens’ word that it was her?
No! And that’s the most difficult part about it! I know who it is, but I don’t know how to prove it! Without even a motive, I’m lost.
Kerra considered this as she began to pace around her apartment. It was a habit that she’d picked up ever since she’d had stacks of fertilizer in her home. Even if she did magically know who’d killed her mother, it would still be nigh impossible to prove it to the police. All the evidence would still point to suicide, no matter what Kerra said. Maybe you’ll just have to poke around some more and find some, Kerra suggested. She knew it was unhelpful, but she was just as stuck on this problem as Everen.
You’re probably right. Ugh. I’d better get back to work. Please don’t tell Abyssia about this conversation or anything.
Of course not. I’m only supposed to pass on messages from the captain, not from my sister. Kerra grinned. She’d never have believed that she was capable of so much intrigue and mischief. If only Shandi could see her now.
I’m sorry to hear about your dead-end lead. I hope you find a new one soon! Everen sent a feeling of hope, and then closed the connection.
Just before Kerra was about to do the same, she felt a brief something. It was the feeling you get when you know you’ve forgotten something important but can’t remember for the life of you what it is. Kerra had been getting this feeling for a while now, but she’d always brushed it off. But this time, it came stronger. It almost felt like déjà vu: there was a familiarity to it. When she closed the connection, the feeling went away.
Kerra was about to shrug it off and start coming through the list of Abyssians again, but something stopped her. Maybe it was Everen talking nonstop about these weird aliens that talked to her through the connection when she wasn’t focused on anything in particular that made her do it. Maybe she thought that the motes were somehow trying to contact her too, from hundreds of lightyears away.
Maybe she recognized what it was on a subconscious level.
But regardless of what made her do it, Kerra reopened the connection. The feeling came back almost at once. She tried to focus on it, and while it didn’t seem to get any clearer, it did get stronger. Whatever it was, it was impossible to think about.
Hello? She sent to the nothingness. Motes? Is that you?
But the thing didn’t respond like Everen had said the motes did.
Kerra didn’t know what to do, so she sat down on the floor to look at the tablet with the list of Abyssians. She kept the connection open, and the feeling thrummed in the background of her mind. She poured over it for a while, trying to find another lead, someone who could have possibly done it.
The feeling grew and grew as she worked. At a point, she realized that it was so powerful, she was having trouble seeing clearly, so she closed her eyes and tried to figure out what was nagging at her from the connection. Soon her vision was completely gone. She could only see blue. She briefly wondered if this was because of her circuitry, but she pushed that thought aside when she saw two shadowy figures emerging from the blueness.
One of the figures stopped where it was, so Kerra couldn’t make out much more than a vaguely person-shaped shadow, but the other figure came closer, becoming clearer. The feeling of forgetting something, of déjà vu, was so powerful that Kerra could hardly feel anything else.
She did feel her stomach drop though, when she suddenly recognized who was walking toward her.
Shandi.
It was her. Kerra could tell from the way she walked, and then from the way she held herself, and finally, she was looking straight into her dead sister’s face. It was as if she were seeing her through a blue haze, but it was Shandi alright.
Shandi? Kerra sent into the void of the connection.
The ghost in front of her broke into a grin. The feeling all around her coalesced into a single word. Kerra. The sound and feeling of the word echoed all around her.
I’m going crazy, Kerra sent, but it was more of a thought to herself.
Shandi, or the thing that looked like Shandi, shook her head with a sad smile.
You can’t be real, Kerra insisted.
Shandi shrugged. I am here, came Shandi’s voice. It remained echoey and distant.
It felt weird to talk to her this way. Kerra could still sense that the direct connection that she’d had to her sister was still severed, but here they were, able to communicate anyway.
I’ve been trying to talk to you for so long. The ghost of Shandi looked worn out, lacking Shandi’s usual zeal. I’m stuck. It’s hard… to talk. I’ve… missed you.
A tear streaked down Kerra’s cheek, and suddenly she didn’t care if it was just a dream brought on by stress. I’ve missed you too.
Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  





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Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:47 am
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fortis says...



Chapter 37

1225 words

Spoiler! :

Kerra found her way back home, letting her mind wander as she walked. She wondered if she had to wait for Shandi to contact her, or if she could call on her dead sister by herself. It had sounded like Shandi had worked at getting Kerra’s attention for a long time, but now that they were both aware of each other, it should be simpler, right?
The elevator she had found filled in behind her pretty tightly, so she tried to make herself as small and unseen as possible, pressing herself against the glass wall. There would be quite a few stops before her own: she was going from the very topmost section of Abyssia to the very bottommost. One of the best things about the Upper Crust was that Kerra could look down and see all of Abyssia, and above her were only a couple floors and then total blackness. But below her, the lights dazzled her in their blinding daytime colors.
Kerra’s only scheduled part of the day was going to the Council meetings for an hour at most. Sometimes she was surprised to look at the colors of the lights around her and discover that it was day when she thought it was night or vice-versa. She didn’t keep track of the time for the most part, and just went to bed when she was tired, so it almost felt like day and night were just something the city made up to keep people working within a system.
The elevator descended in short bursts of speed, interrupted by people getting on and off, their shoes making a soft patter against the metal floors of the walkways and the glass floor of the elevator. No one bothered her, which was just the way she wanted it.
At last it reached Lower Downings, and Kerra stepped lightly off, the only one getting off at this level. She wiped a sheen of sweat off of her forehead and reminded herself of the other best part of the Upper Crust – it had actually been chilly up there. Cold enough for her trench coat, hat, and long pants to make sense anyway. She watched the elevator pull away from her, repeating the same trip she had just made in reverse. It went up several levels, looking like a shiny, transparent pill, until Kerra couldn’t see it anymore.
She found her way across the grated metal walkways to the Drowned Goliath pub. When the doors slid open at the flash her chip at the scanner, she saw Zak sitting alone at the bar, drawing something again. Kerra idly wondered when he slept, since the bar was open all night.
“Hey Zak,” she said, giving him a small wave.
Zak grunted.
“What are you drawing this time?” she asked, standing on her tip toes to try to catch a glimpse of the page, but Zak snapped the book shut before she could see anything.
“None of your business,” he grumbled.
“True, true,” she said, holding up her hands as a sign for non-offensiveness. “I just really like your art is all. You ever think about making a bigger piece and hanging it up on the wall here?” Kerra eyed the walls around the pub, which were plastered in pictures that Kerra didn’t find too tasteful herself. She wasn’t a big fan of seeing a lot of skin in general though.
Zak looked confused. “Why would I do that?”
“Because your art is really good! You have a talent, and it should be seen.”
Zak gave his small smile again, looking around at the wall of his pub as if seeing them in a new light.
“Also, because it might class up the place a little,” Kerra continued.
Zak met her eye again and laughed. “We can’t have that though. It’s decided then, definitely not.” He nodded seriously.
Kerra laughed with him before leaving him to his drawing. Soon she was up the spiral staircase and alone in her apartment, with nothing to do except for think about Shandi.
So she did. She tried to remember how it felt to focus on Shandi before. Then, she had had that nagging feeling of forgetting something, and she didn’t have that now, but if she could focus in just the right way…
Kerra took a break when she realized that she was trying so hard that she’d forgotten to breathe. She went to her fridge, pulled out a strawberry fizzy and relaxed on the couch. She let her mind wander as she enjoyed the sharp carbonation, aching sweetness, and teeth-chilling cold of the drink.
And it was her relaxation somehow that did it. It was like her mind new the path it needed to take back to Shandi, and all it needed was to be left alone to find it. Kerra’s mind slipped slowly sideways into that blue light that filled what she thought of as the afterlife.
Looking around, she couldn’t find Shandi in the haze of blue, though she knew that her sister had to be close by. She could just feel her presence. Shandi? Kerra called.
Slowly, as if watching a bubble rise from the very bottom of the ocean – Kerra loved watching old documentaries that featured the ocean – Shandi’s shade emerged from the haze. As her features became clearer, Kerra saw that she looked amazed.
You called me, Shandi said. It’s hard for me to call you, but you called me just fine.
Well, it wasn’t super easy, Kerra admitted, but yeah, I guess so.
Shandi clapped her hands, but Kerra didn’t hear any sound from them. Well then let’s talk! This place is dreadfully boring, though at least I get to watch you go around and be your boring self. Thanks for visiting Angelface by the way. It was nice that I got to see her face, though I couldn’t really hear what you guys were saying.
Kerra raised her eyebrows. She didn’t know that Shandi had been watching her. It felt odd to have a spectator for her life, though she figured there wasn’t much she did that she really minded her sister seeing. You didn’t see me with the tablet, did you? Kerra asked, cringing a little.
The one with all the top-secret government records? You bet I did! I could tell from your face that you felt guilty about having them too, which meant you did something illegal to get them. I’m so proud of you, Shandi said. Her face was glowing with pride.
Then you saw me go to No Name too, she said, covering her eyes with her hand.
Yep. Still don’t know why you did that. What were you looking for in that tablet anyway?
Kerra looked back up at Shandi. I’m sure you’ve had to wade through a billion dead spirits where you are or whatever, so-
No, Shandi interrupted. This place is empty. I’ve only met one dude. Weird fellow. Like, really weird. She shrugged. But he taught me how to get your attention, and he’s been my only source of entertainment here besides watching you live your life.
Kerra shook her head. Wait, what? There’s no one else?
Nope.
Then you haven’t run into her.
Who?
Kerra took a breath, even though she didn’t need breath to speak through the connection like this. You haven’t run into Mom.
Instead, he said, Brother! I know your hunger.
To this, the Wolf answered, Lo!

-Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
  








Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.
— Kyle Chandler