Author Topic: The Pain of Salvation  (Read 793 times)

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Offline Cotton

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The Pain of Salvation
« on: February 08, 2010, 12:27:14 am »
THE PAIN OF SALVATION

Chapter 1 - Math Bites

“You ready?” Salvati asks, addressing me for the first time in ten minutes. He’d been silent ever since the obnoxiously green, seemingly never-ending forest below came into view.

“Ready,” I reluctantly sigh back through my exopack mask. It’s an obvious lie – there’s no way in hell I could ever be ready for what’s awaiting us – but I’ve grown so adept at deceit that even this probably sounds natural. It’s how I got so far in life… but then, that’s what led to my coming here. A cooperative ground-retrieval mission on Pandora. If they hadn’t promised me the mother of all promotions I’d be on Earth right now, comfortably bored out of my mind.

“No Na’vi detected in the vicinity,” our pilot, Roach, announces. “You’re cleared to drop,” he adds, voice drained of emotion by the static com link.

“Roger,” Salvati nods, standing and rubbing his hands together. “Time to go.” He cocks his head my way when I don’t follow suit. Grins like a jackass as he watches me tremble and take deep breaths in futile attempts to calm myself. I never imagined I’d be doing this. Going down there is the literal equivalent of committing suicide, from what I’ve heard; there’s little chance of getting out alive – or out at all.

“Chickens went extinct a long time ago, y’know,” Salvati mutters through pursed lips.

 “So did eagles,” I retort quietly. Annoying bastard. Sure, he might be living up to his fearless reputation now, but the moment we hit the ground…

Salvati sighs impatiently, as if he’s actually looking forward to it. “Right, well… I’ll go alone, if you want. ‘Course,” he grins sadistically, “if that’s the case, you won’t get that promotion you care so much about.”

“I’ll remember to shoot you before we get back,” I grumble, forcing myself to my feet. If we get back.

Snorting, Salvati grabs the taut rappel line on the right side of the gunship.  “Wouldn’t be war without friendly fire,” he chuckles before descending.

I wait several seconds before stepping forward to follow him, ignoring the age-old saying ‘don’t look down’ only to immediately regret it. Expansive, sickening jungle stretches as far as the horizon and beyond, sporting several trees the size of small mountains and god knows how many animals. It’s nature incarnate. The sight locks my legs in place, paralyzing me with fear.

Back on Earth, the few forests that remain generally mean one of two things: war, or imminent war. I’ve been deployed in ten such conflicts in the past three years, and I can safely say that the treacherous greenery equates to about as much of an enjoyable environment as hell itself – and that’s only partially due to the fact that I was under fire half the time. With all the poisonous plants, ant hordes, snakes, and generally screwy wildlife, luck was a required job skill as far as survival was concerned, even without the added risk of gunfire.

Thing is, a lot of people – on our side, at least – were lucky. More than a quarter of the soldiers enlisted under RDA command over the years endured their stays. A pretty large quantity, considering the average fatality rates of the wars of the early twenty-second century.

Of course, that statistic didn’t translate so well on Pandora. Fourteen years ago, the “best of the best” of these experienced soldiers, hired to serve as the security force for the RDA’s mining operations, were nearly wiped out entirely. Out of fifty-three hundred, a mere three hundred and ten escaped alive… and of those lucky bastards, three hundred were the Marines ordered to stay behind to protect Hell’s Gate.

The math is why I’m now frozen in place, staring downward in terror. Pandora swallowed all but ten out of five-thousand. I’d known the risk I was undertaking when I accepted the offer, but now that I'm here the sheer reality of the odds is overwhelming. That promotion almost doesn’t seem worth it anymore.

“Weaver?” Salvati’s voice, crackling through the com link, startles me out of my petrified state. “The hell are you doing? The longer you wait, the more likely we’re gonna have unwanted company!”

I blink repeatedly, stunned by the harshness of his tone. I should be used to it – it’s the same depreciating military standard I’ve heard for years – but some quality to his  speech demands utter compliancy, the sort that makes drill sergeants seem friendly in comparison. “S-sorry. Coming down now,” I reply shamefully.

The roar of the Samson’s rotors, so easy to ignore when inside it, becomes unbearably loud as soon as I begin the descent.  The thunderous whirring can probably be heard for miles – no wonder Salvati’s anxious.

I try not to pay attention to my surroundings as I descend, instead focusing only on the rope. As I reach the ground, however, I realize I might’ve made a crucial mistake in doing so; I’m still completely oblivious to my surroundings. Sh*t. Should’ve taken advantage of the bird’s-eye view while I had the chance.

I don’t have time to worry about it, as I learn the moment I let go of the rappel. “Large IR signature detected, three hundred meters, heading your way fast,” Roach announces from the Samson. “Air support on standby.”

I roll my eyes and shift to a defensive position, shouldering my assault rifle. “Already?”

“Roger,” Salvati replies from… somewhere. He’s nowhere in my line of sight – where the hell’d he go?

“Target approaching from your six-o’clock, Weaver,” Roach mutters.

“Figures,” I grunt back, whirling to face the threat. Of course, all I find are trees, dense underbrush, and every form of natural camouflage I can imagine. Great. “Salvati, where are you?”

“I’m… well, actually, I dunno where I am,” he answers unhelpfully. “Seems I got lost already,” he chuckles. “Looks like you’re on your own.”

I can’t believe it. I’m about to be attacked by god-knows-what, and he’s playing some stupid game with me?

“Ten seconds till, Weaver.”

“Where the fu*k are you, Salvati?” I growl, glancing frantically from side to side. Still nowhere to be seen. No answer, either.

He’s deserted me, I realize. The thought is ridiculous – why would he run off so quickly? – but I can’t shake it. Panicking, I shout, “Roach, where is he?!”

“Dunno,” the pilot sighs distractedly, obviously more focused on the emerging threat. “Contact in three… two… one…”

Aside from Roach’s countdown, there’s no warning. No roar, no sudden parting of the underbrush, no panicked animals fleeing… just a sudden streak of purple hide and black teeth. Like a behemoth phantom, it pounces from the trees to land roughly ten feet in front of me. Opens its mouth soundlessly, displaying fangs more than two meters long. I’ve seen this thing before, in an encyclopedia... “The Thanator,” it read, “is the most dangerous predator discovered on Pandora to date.”

Even as I raise my rifle, I know it’s too late. I’m looking death in the eyes. And even as I am, I can’t help but be grateful – grateful that it ends now, rather than several hours of pointless struggle later.

In one fluid motion, the Thanator arches its back, crouches on its six legs, and lunges forward at a speed comparable to that of a bullet, jaws wide enough to engulf me entirely. It’s all over in an instant – or it would’ve been, had I still been standing there.
_________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _____

AN: Cliffhanger ending, sorry. I would've liked to keep going, but I wasn't satisfied with how it turned out. It seems mediocre, imo.. but oh well. Just re-watched Avatar today and noticed some key detail conflicts (for one, the Samsons touch-down in the forest, rather than send their occupants down via rappels), so I think I'll just re-do this chapter to make it more accurate. ...And yes, that's just my excuse to do it over again lol.

Anyway, feel free to let me know what you think of what I've got so far.. which isn't much. I lazy.  :P

Edit: okay, I figured out my only real problem with this is that the flow isn't quite as good as I'd like it to be. Guess I won't be rewriting it after all. And just to reiterate, feedback is greatly appreciated
« Last Edit: February 13, 2010, 11:43:20 pm by Cotton »
Too late we see the warnings; too late we learn...
~ Daniel Gildenlöw: Pain of Salvation - A Trace of Blood

Offline Nume fpi sänume

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Re: Pains of Salvation
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2010, 01:22:26 am »
There is nothing saying they cant rappel out of a Samson (gotta make sure you use the right class of chopper). I think the story is pretty good so far, but i wouldnt rewrite, I would just make it better through the next post :)

Offline Cotton

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Re: Pains of Salvation
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2010, 01:32:56 am »
Hm, true. I'll try rewriting it at school and see if the product turns out any better; if not, I'll stick with this and aim to improve as I go along. Thanks  :)

Edit: Oh, and thanks for reminding me about the chopper class. Fix'd.

Another edit: To avoid posting just to comment on southerncoyote's feedback, I'll just respond here.
Huh. I really did use way too many ellipses, lol. Good point with the "back on earth" bit; I agree with pretty much everything you said. Irayo for the great feedback. Edited the first chapter to fix the flaws you pointed out, and I like it more now.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2010, 10:53:42 pm by Cotton »
Too late we see the warnings; too late we learn...
~ Daniel Gildenlöw: Pain of Salvation - A Trace of Blood

Offline Technowraith

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Re: Pains of Salvation
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2010, 06:20:34 pm »
Good so far.  :)
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Offline southerncoyote

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Re: The Pain of Salvation
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2010, 09:46:55 pm »
My commentary is in RED! hope it helps!

Chapter 1 - Math Bites ---OK, chapter titles...

“You ready?” Salvati asks, addressing me for the first time in ten minutes. He’d been silent ever since the obnoxiously green, seemingly never-ending forest below came into view. good opening, catches the readers interest. Its almost choppy though, but it works in a fast paced situation.

“Ready,” I reluctantly sigh back through my exopack mask. It’s an obvious lie – there’s no way in hell I could ever be ready for what’s awaiting us – but I’ve grown so adept at deceit that even this probably sounds natural. It’s how I got so far in life… but then, that’s what led to my coming here. A cooperative ground-retrieval mission on Pandora. If they hadn’t promised me the mother of all promotions…the ellipses...get old fast. but still a good look at your character's psyche.

“No Na’vi detected in the vicinity,” our pilot, Roach, announces. “You’re cleared to drop,” he adds, voice drained of emotion by the static com link.

“Roger,” Salvati nods, standing and rubbing his hands together. “Time to go.” He cocks his head my way when I don’t follow suit. Grins like a jackass as he watches me tremble and take deep breaths in futile attempts to calm myself. I never imagined I’d be doing this. Going down there is the literal equivalent of committing suicide, from what I’ve heard; there’s little chance of getting out alive – or out at all. 10/10 on this section

“Chickens went extinct a long time ago, y’know,” Salvati mutters through pursed lips.Extinct Chickens? Really? Pretty essential food source there, but the Survival Guide does say that the human diet mainly consists of enriched algal protein.

 “So did eagles,” I retort quietly. Annoying bastard. Sure, he might be living up to his fearless reputation now, but the moment we hit the ground…

Salvati sighs impatiently, as if he’s actually looking forward to it. “Right, well… I’ll go alone, if you want. ‘Course,” he grins sadistically, “if that’s the case, you won’t get that promotion you care so much about.”

“I’ll remember to shoot you before we get back,” I grumble, forcing myself to my feet. If we get back.

Snorting, Salvati grabs the taut rappel line on the right side of the gunship.  “Wouldn’t be war without friendly fire,” he chuckles before descending.

I wait several seconds before stepping forward to follow him. I ignore the age-old saying – don’t look down – and immediately regret it. Expansive, sickening jungle stretches as far as the horizon and beyond, sporting several trees the size of small mountains, and god knows how many animals… It’s nature incarnate. The sight locks my legs in place, paralyzing me with fear. dashes are good for flow here, but to eliminate confusion with hyphens you could have used single quotation marks 'as such' and the ellipsis doesn't do any more than just a period would.

Back on Earth, forests – the few that remain, anyway – generally mean one of two things: war, or imminent war. I’ve been deployed in ten such conflicts in the past three years, and I can safely say that the treacherous greenery equates to about as much of an enjoyable environment as hell itself – and that’s only partially due to the fact that I was under fire half the time. With all the poisonous plants, ant hordes, snakes, and generally screwy wildlife, luck was a required job skill as far as survival was concerned, even without the added risk of gunfire. Opening statement I would write as: "Back on Earth, the few forests that remain generally mean one of two things: war or imminent war." eliminate unnecessary choppiness. be careful to discriminate between choppiness that contributes to the feeling of stream of conciseness and unneeded grammatical choppiness which interrupts flow.

Thing is, a lot of people – on our side, at least – were lucky. More than a quarter of the soldiers enlisted under RDA command over the years endured their stays. A pretty large quantity, considering the average fatality rates of the wars of the early twenty-second century…PERIOD the other two are not needed.

Of course, that statistic didn’t translate so well on Pandora. Fourteen years ago, the “best of the best” of these experienced soldiers, hired to serve as the security force for the RDA’s mining operations, were nearly wiped out entirely. Out of fifty-three hundred, a mere three-ten escaped alive… and of those lucky bastards, three hundred were the Marines ordered to stay behind to protect Hell’s Gate. "three-ten" just say three hundred-ten for clarity's sake.

The math is why I’m now frozen in place, staring downward in terror. Pandora swallowed all but ten out of five-thousand… I’d known the risk I was undertaking when I accepted the offer, but now that I'm here the sheer reality of the odds is overwhelming. That promotion almost doesn’t seem worth it anymore…again too many dots. but this does an excellent job of explaining part of the chapter title.

“Weaver?” Salvati’s voice, crackling through the com link, startles me out of my petrified state. “The hell are you doing? The longer you wait, the more likely we’re gonna have unwanted company!”

I blink repeatedly, stunned by the harshness of his tone. I should be used to it – it’s the same depreciating military standard I’ve heard for years – but some quality to his  speech demands utter compliancy, the sort that makes drill sergeants seem friendly in comparison. “S-sorry. Coming down now,” I reply shamefully.

The roar of the Samson’s rotors, so easy to ignore when inside it, becomes unbearably loud as soon as I begin the descent.  The thunderous whirring can probably be heard for miles – no wonder Salvati’s anxious.

I try not to pay attention to my surroundings as I descend, instead focusing only on the rope. As I reach the ground, however, I realize I might’ve made a crucial mistake in doing so; I’m still completely unaware of my surroundings. Sh*t. Should’ve taken advantage of the bird’s-eye view while I had the chance.

I don’t have time to worry about it, as I learn the moment I let go of the rappel. “Large IR signature detected, three hundred meters, heading your way fast,” Roach announces from the Samson. “Air support on standby.”

I roll my eyes and shift to a defensive position, shouldering my assault rifle. “Already?”

“Roger,” Salvati replies from… somewhere. He’s nowhere in my line of sight – where the hell’d he go?

“Target approaching from your six-o’clock, Weaver,” Roach mutters.

“Figures,” I grunt back, whirling to face the threat. Of course, all I find are trees, dense underbrush, and every form of natural camouflage I can imagine. Great. “Salvati, where are you?”

“I’m… well, actually, I dunno where I am,” he answers unhelpfully. “Seems I got lost already,” he chuckles. “Looks like you’re on your own.”

I can’t believe it. I’m about to be attacked by god-knows-what, and he’s playing some stupid game with me?

“Ten seconds till, Weaver.” arguably flawless from my last comment to here.

“Where the fu*k are you, Salvati?” I growl, glancing frantically from side to side. Still nowhere to be seen. No answer, either…ending the line with just "No answer." would be more dramatic I feel.

He’s deserted me, I realize. The thought is ridiculous – why would he run off so quickly? – but I can’t shake it. Panicking, I shout, “Roach, where is he?!”

“Dunno,” the pilot sighs distractedly, obviously more focused on the emerging threat. “Contact in three… two… one…”

Aside from Roach’s countdown, there’s no warning. No roar, no sudden parting of the underbrush, no panicked animals fleeing… just a sudden streak of purple hide and black teeth. Like a behemoth phantom, it pounces from the trees to land roughly ten feet in front of me. Opens its mouth soundlessly, displaying fangs more than two meters long. I’ve seen this thing before, in an encyclopedia... “The Thanator,” it read, “is the most dangerous predator discovered on Pandora to date.”

Even as I raise my rifle, I know it’s too late. I’m looking death in the eyes. And even as I am, I can’t help but be grateful – grateful that it ends now, rather than several hours of pointless struggle later.

In one fluid motion, the Thanator arches its back, crouches on its six legs, and lunges forward at a speed comparable to that of a bullet, jaws wide enough to engulf me entirely. It’s all over in an instant – or it would’ve been, had I still been standing there. great ending!
« Last Edit: February 09, 2010, 09:48:42 pm by southerncoyote »

Offline bagget00

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Re: The Pain of Salvation
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2010, 01:00:34 am »
Well southern pretty much coverd most of it for me. I just want to say that it's a good story and I can't wait for the next but why does every single fan fic writer nowadays need a huge cliff hanger. So far, all of the fan fics on Fanfiction.net are cliffs that we have to wait precariously on till the next one is released, but then that one has a cliff hanger as well. Don't feel you need a cliff hanger all of the time and trust that your story is interesting enough without it.

Side note: It was confusing at first when I read the name Salvati. I thought he was Na'vi and then you started taling about being in a Samson. I guess Salvati just sounds Na'vi to me.

Good start tho. Can't wait for your next post.
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