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Gently, Adam brushed the sweat-soaked hair from the face of the woman beneath him. At his touch, her hands tightened their grip, trying to force him deeper. He was tempted to oblige her; she had been surprisingly glorious in her passion.
He wondered if any of the men who had watched her make their bed, her thick legs slightly spread, her cheap chambermaid’s uniform stretch unflatteringly across her full hips, her dark red hair bound in a functional ponytail, had bothered to proposition her, or if she had been dismissed as another worn out thirty-something Brit refugee who was not worth the punt.
He knew some men were drawn to Le Baiser Brit. They enjoyed using les Réfugiés Anglais women who spoke poor French and no Mandarin and were ready to do anything for anyone if it kept them out of the camps.
Even the Brit-Fuckers would have been amazed at how the woman beneath him looked now: her pale flesh flushed, cinnamon nipples engorged, blood-red hair spilling across the pillow.
Reluctantly, he re-buttoned the uniform he had never given her the opportunity to remove. She mewed in complaint but smiled when he pinned her to the bed by her wrists and lowered his mouth to her neck.
When his kisses reached her ear, he used the trigger phrase that would break his spell over her:
“You have a message for me.”
Chapter 2 The Sphere
General Guisan Research Centre, Rutli, Switzerland: Friday 29th October 2066
Elodie Chabloz switched on her monitor and watched the live feed of the new Empath, Lolien Schläppi. The girl practically glowed with youth, health and positive attitude. Her file said that was nineteen years old. Her father was from an old Swiss German family. Her mother was Han Chinese with a small precognitive Talent that she had used to help her husband build his stock portfolio in the late Fourties, before the “Fair Play” legislation had made such things illegal.
Lolien’s mother had insisted on having her daughter tested at pre-school, which was probably fortunate; strong Empaths did not fare well in public schools. Lolien had been raised in a controlled environment in Glion, high above Lac Léman, in a gothic building that always reminded Elodie of “Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters” in the old X-Men movies.
Elodie told herself that she was not being reckless in letting Lolien work with Cassandra. The girl’s youth should make her resilient and the control she had had drilled into her in Glion should allow her to protect herself from emotional backlash. Neither argument was really convincing but there was no other choice. Without Empaths, Cassandra was mute and without Cassandra, Switzerland was vulnerable.
Elodie dampened her own emotions, switched off the monitor, and went to meet her newest assistant.
Chapter ?? The Director
Château d’Ouchy, Lausanne, Switzerland: Sunday 31st October 2066
“Read that back to me, RIA. Skip the introduction . Start from the bit where I ask the bureaucrats for the money.”
“Yes, Director,” RIA said. “Do you want me to use your voice and cadences or my own?”
The Director was tired. His eyes were hurting him today so he was sitting in the dark in the his workpod. He had an office large with a wonderful view of the Swiss and French Alps rising up from the other side of the Lac Léman. He used it only when he needed to impress visiting dignitaries. When he wanted to work, he came down to his workpod, three floors below the surface of the lake, and worked with RIA. RIA understood him better than almost anyone else in the SCP. That was perhaps because, like him, RIA had to fake being human.
It amused him that RIA regarded herself as having a voice of her own. RIA of course had known that her comment would raise a smile. He decided to play along.
“I’m a tired old man , RIA. I’d rather listen to your voice than mine.”
“You are fifty-five, Director. This no longer qualifies as old. You do, however, sound very tired.”
“RIA, in the old days, way back before the start of the Crescent War, the computers I used followed my orders without challenging my statements. Sometimes the thought of the them makes me nostalgic for a simpler way of life. Now, please read me the text of my speech.”
“I am not a computer, Director. I am un réseau d’intelligence artificielle. Is this not why you call me RIA? I am the most advanced Artificial Intelligence Network on the planet and you are using me as a word processor. It is like attaching a plough to the back of a Ferrari.”
The Director hoped that RIA was the most advanced AI’s in the world. The Americans, ruled for decades now by Christian Fundamentalists who were thankfully as isolationist, had declared AIs an offence against God and made them illegal. The European Commission had started an AI project after Saint Paul’s but had farmed the project out to so many countries that very little progress had been made. He knew that the Chinese and the Indians both had AIs but he suspected that their level of autonomy was not very high. RIA was a Swiss asset. Like the World Wide Web, RIA had been born in CERN. Unlike the World Wide Web, she was a closely guarded secret. She could also liked to pretend to be temperamental. She had told him it made humans less afraid of her.
“RIA, are you going to read me the speech or not?”
“Of course, Director. I am yours to command.”
Château d’Ouchy, Lausanne, Switzerland: Sunday 31st October 2066
Nathalie Morel stood at the window of her room at the top of the tower of Château d’Ouchy and looked out at the sun setting at the Western end of Lac Léman. It was Halloween tonight and soon the young and those who watched over the young would walk the quayside, carrying Chinese Lanterns and dressed in the costumes of various monsters and supernatural entities.
The Château, with its ancient central tower and the gothic roofs with tiles that looked like they were made of Dragon’s scales, was just the sort of Addams Family structure that ought to be at the heart of any Halloween celebration, but Nathalie knew that not even the bravest of the costumed children would come here tonight.
The Château had been many things over the years, a Bishop’s Palace, a military base, even a rather fine boutique hotel, but for the last fourty years it had been home to La Section Criminelle et Paranormal an organization that was feared rather than trusted, tolerated rather celebrated. The Château was were the freaks and monsters lived, every child in Switzerland knew that.
Nathalie believed in monsters. When she was four years old, monsters had come for her, and everyone she had ever loved, everyone she had ever known, had died. It had been Halloween Night, the Feast of All Souls but the monsters had not been supernatural. Like most of the monsters she had met since then, these ones had been human.
Lausanne Gare: Monday 1st November 2066 All Saints Day
At 11.45 Adam stood by the lifts to the parking at the rear of Lausanne Gare. From here he could see anyone walking down the main underground corridor that led to the platforms. This part of Switzerland celebrated All Saints Day so it was Sunday-quiet but the Coop was open, people were coming back and forth, he would not be too conspicuous.
Leaning up against a wall, Adam raised his hand to his nose. He could still smell the Border Guards on his fingers. It had been a truly splendid Halloween. They had turned tricks and he had given them treats. Two athletic young women in uniform; who could resist? They’d even brought their own handcuffs. Of course the Boss’s “No marks, no memories” instruction had limited Adam’s fun but he’d still found a way. He’d made them the focus on pleasuring each other and then ridden them to exhaustion.
It had helped that the older Guard was a natural submissive, married to a man of very conventional tastes. That had given him a deep seam of need to mine. Adam couldn’t directly control people but he could influence their behaviour if he had enough time. At the point of orgasm, Adam could implant a suggestion. If the suggestion was repeated orgasm after orgasm in a single night, the suggestions integrated themselves into the woman’s beliefs and memories.
He had suggested to both women that they had spent the night along together, that they should spend as many nights as possible alone together and that nothing was more important than their passion for each other. It had made the night spicier and it made it likely that the couple would be so publicly ardent in their hunger for one another that he doubted they would be allowed to remain Border Guards. They would certainly not be witnesses that any investigator would believe.
Chapter Five Bad Dog
Flon, Lausanne: Evening of Monday 1st November 2066 First Day of the Full Moon
“You asked to see Lyra, Ma’am?”
Nathalie could tell by the boy’s body language that he had bad news to deliver. He was new to the SCP and knew her only by reputation. That would explain why he was afraid of her. Fear got in the way of following orders and destroyed the ability to use initiative. It was time to turn his fear into respect.
“How long ago did she escape?”
“How did you know…?”
“I asked to see her, not you. You were supposed to be guarding her. You have been sent here by your commanding officer so that I teach you the consequences of your action.”
He stood straight and looked her in the eye while she made him wait, two, three, five seconds.
“What is your name?”
“A Brit. Like Lyra. Is that why you let her escape? Sympathy for a fellow Réfugié Anglais?”
Interesting, his fear was replaced with anger.
“Answer me, Jenkins.”
“I am not a refugee, Ma’am. My father was born here. I was born here.”
“But you’re not Swiss, are you Jenkins?”
“Because there’s something else different about you, isn’t there? Something standing between you and a sponsor for Swiss citizenship.”
“My Grandfather came to Switzerland in 45 because Cadmus had him on a death list as a race traitor. My grandmother was Indian.”
“My Grandfather served in the Crescent War for British Military Intelligence as part of Operation Delphi. He was enhanced, Ma’am, at least that’s what they called it then. He was a Berserker”
Nathalie already knew all this. No one joined her team with her knowing everything about them. Andrew Jenkins had gone through one of the early gene-therapy treatments to enhance his natural aggression and his skill as a soldier by giving him the ability literally to go berserk. Berserkers knew no fear and showed no mercy. Their purpose was to kill so indiscriminately that they would break the spirit of the opposition.
“And you have inherited his Talent?”
“Yes Ma’am, except, I can’t swap out of Berserker mode once it’s triggered. I stay that way until I lose consciousness.”
“Some people would say that makes you a hard man to trust, Jenkins.”
“Well, Jenkins, that gives us something in common. Most people find it hard to trust a Lab-Brat who never sleeps and can master any task she’s seen done once.”
Jenkins did his best to hide his surprise at her directness and had the good sense to remain silent.
“So how did little Lyra escape from a fierce Berserker like you?”
“She drugged me, Ma’am.”
“With the drugs you were supposed to be giving her?”
“Lyra is very pretty, isn’t she?”
“Yes, Ma’am. I mean no, Ma’am. I mean I’m sorry, Ma’am.”
The last comment was delivered with a hint of a grin. Jenkins was smart enough to know he was being played. He would do OK here. And of course, if he survived a nine year term of service in the SCP, he would qualify for Swiss Citizenship.
“Will you send a team after her, Ma’am?”
“No, Jenkins. You and I will deal with this.”
He stood straighter. She could tell that he wanted to salute and was glad that he didn’t.
“Now go and get the guns and let the locals know that we’ll be hitting Flon.”
“How do you know she’s in Flon Ma’am?”
“The place is infested with the worst elements of LesRéfugiés Anglais, violent, angry men with twisted pasts and no future. That’s exactly what she’s looking for.”
Chapter X The Empath Less Travelled By
Centre de Recherches General Guisan (CRGG), Sick Bay, Rutli, Switzerland: Day Date November 2066
“We’ve repaired the damage to her skull and treated a minor bleed in her brain. There will be no lasting physiological damage. We’d have a normal person back on their feet in a day or two but…”
Elodie held the Doctor’s gaze and raised an eyebrow when he used the word normal. The Doctor was part of the Détachement de Reconnaissance 10, DDR 10 , the Swiss Special Forces unit in charge of security of at the Centre de Recherches General Guisan. The DDR was famous for operating what was informally called a “Humans Only” policy to recruitment. They were fierce, well-trained troops who didn’t need freak abilities to get the job done. Elodie knew exactly what the Doctor meant by normal.
The Doctor looked away first. He was not ashamed. He just didn’t want openly to challenge her authority.
“Her main problem isn’t physical,” The Doctor said. “ Her Talent seems to have taken over most of her brain activity. It’s as if she’s…”
“…Screaming.” Constantly, endlessly, hideously screaming, “Yes, I can hear her.”
The Doctor looked at Elodie for a heartbeat or two. There was no curiosity or sympathy in that look, simply a recognition of an anomaly that, for the moment, had to be tolerated.
“I’m not sure she can survive that. I’m worried she’ll go into shock and die. I’d like to induce a coma to protect her from the pain. I’d do the same thing with a burns victim. Do I have your permission?”
Elodie could hear the unasked question: or are you going to listen while she screams herself to death just in case she says something useful before she dies?
It was a question Elodie had pondered for the past hour. The surface of Cassandra’s sphere was still covered in images of storms but she did not appear to be transmitting. It was possible that she was transmitting but only Lolien could hear her. If that was the case then she could be the only link to Cassandra and breaking that link could cost millions of lives. On the other hand, the screams could just be an echo of the message that Cassandra had sent and Lolien’s pain would be serving no purpose.
Elodie looked at the young woman on the bed, remembered how excited she had been this only yesterday and decided there was only one right answer to the question.
“You have my permission, Doctor. I will stay while you induce the coma. I’ll let you know when the screaming stops.”
Chapter ??? A Kiss For The Teacher w/c 1,206
Chapter ??? A Kiss For The Teacher
Chailly Sur Lausanne, ?? November 2066
“So the Boss wants me to do a teacher? I haven’t done a teacher since I left school myself.”
Adam had decided that it would be best if Lilith believed he was a brainless letch. There was something off about this whole arrangement. The Boss had never sent a minder to work with him before. So he let her think that he couldn’t think beyond the next pair of legs that would spread for him. If she underestimated him, he might have an edge when he needed it.
He leered at Lilith and said, “D’ya think Miss will give me an A?”
Lilith smiled sweetly at him. They were playing lovers, walking hand in hand, window shopping Chailly’s delicatessens and flower stalls. Lilith had lost her Slut-4-You ensemble and now looked like a young professional coming back from the office with her piece of rough, eager for some lunchtime naughtiness
Lilith squeezed his hand hard, still with a smile on her face, then she leant into him, as if to kiss his neck. In a low voice she said, “You aren’t here to feed your need for sex, Adam. You’re here to subdue a woman who has something I want.”
“Oh. A threesome. This afternoon is looking up.”
Lilith bit into Adam’s earlobe, almost hard enough to draw blood. “You couldn’t handle my kind of threesome, Adam. You don’t have the stomach for it.”
Adam suspected that Lilith was more interested in pain than sex. Other people’s pain. He didn’t want his mind to go there, not when he was about to work his mojo on a new woman.
He let Lilith lead him on, hanging on his arm as if she adored him.
“So what use is a teacher to you? Is this just a practice run or what?”
“This is not a rehearsal, Adam, You have to get it right first time.The woman you are going to “do” is on the staff at La Ecole Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande. The ENSR is an exclusive boarding school which believes it has hired Alice Morand, originally from France, now Swiss by marriage to Marc Morand an investment banker specialising in bio-tech companies.”
Lilith pulled Paul into a doorway, her back to the door. From the doorway she could see anyone leaving the Metro. Lilith pulled him towards her neck.
“Pretend to kiss me. If your tongue touches my skin, I will break one of your fingers tonight.”
Adam brushed his nose up against Lilith’s neck. Normally this drove women crazy. Lilith continued with the briefing.
“ Before Saint Paul’s. Mme Morand was Dr. Alice Shaw. She lead a research team in Porton Down.”
“She was a bio-weapons boffin? How the hell did she get out of Britain?”
Chapter xxx John Kemp
Lamb and Flag Pub, Flon, Lausanne
“Look at that tosser. I’d like to break his fucking kneecaps and then make him walk home.”
Kemp moved a finger across his desk and one of the images on his wall expanded until it took up half the space. It showed one of the dungeon rooms. A small pale teenage girl was strapped upside down onto an X-shaped cross of Saint Andrew that stood against the wall opposite the camera. A middle-aged man in a suit was pacing up and down in front of the girl. The man’s head was down. He appeared to be ignoring the girl on the cross. The cane in his hand twitched like an angry cat’s tail.
Kemp was reminded of a panther he had once seen in a zoo, prowling endless around the edge of its territory, relentlessly looking to break free and kill someone.
With no warning, the man spun in a graceful arc and struck the cane against the girl’s flesh. The girl twitched against her bonds but she did not cry out. After a second to recover her breath she said, “Twenty-eight, Sir. Thank you, Sir.”
The man resumed his pacing and a fresh welt appeared on the girl’s skin, almost completing an unbroken line of horizontal stripes that stretched from just below her breasts to just above her sex.
“Keep it together, Easton. Amanda agreed to thirty stripes. If she gets through them all without crying out, he’ll double her fee.”
“I’d still like to hurt him?”
“We run a brothel, Easton. A Brit Brothel. The punters come to us because they want a Baise Brit. If they were nice people, they wouldn’t be here. They’d be at home with their wives.”
“I get that. God knows we saw enough rough brothels in the Crescent War.”
Pointing at the action on the smaller screens, Easton said: “I understand the ones who come here to fuck the Brits girls in School Uniforms or the British Airways Stewardess outfits or the British Army camosuits. I can even understand the cheap fucks who just want to stick their dicks through a glory hole and get their balls drained by a girl on her knees that they don’t have to look at, but this guy is sick.”
“This guy is the husband of a member of the Swiss Cabinet. He was once on the Swiss Olympic Fencing Team. Look closely at the welt marks. They are straight, evenly spaced, and he hasn’t broken her skin once. What you’re seeing here is deep anger that even now he is carefully controlling. I’m not sure he even sees Amanda. I think he is imagining his wife up on that cross.”
This is where I write about what it feels like to try and write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
And of course
The more time I spend here
The more excuses I have
For not having written a 50,000 word novel in 30 days
To go to the posts, just click on the titles of the extracts below.
When his father finally found him and rescued him, he asked
“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up”
NaNoWriMo is a well I’ve fallen into.
It’s clear now that I will not have a 50,000 word first draft of a novel done by the end of November. I have 7 days left and I have written about 12,000 words. If I can make that 17,000 by the end of the month I will count it an achievement.
In principle, the novel I’m trying to write should be very plot driven. It’s a Sci Fi thriller kind of thing with all the action compressed into a couple of weeks. So you’d think I’d kinda need to know what happens next. Except I don’t. At least not exactly.
Once upon a time, in a far distant life, I used to do some improvised drama. I’d know who I was supposed to be and broadly the situation I was in and the rest sort of happened.
It seems to me that some part of my brain had given each character a slightly different improv brief. Each of them knows something different about the situation. Not all of them are being open about their motivation. Only some of them know each other.
Mike, Nanowrimo is not about going back and editing; it’s called the dirty first draft for a reason. You’re supposed to be exploring the stories of your characters, just pushing ahead as hard as you can, when you can. If one thread isn’t panning out, then move on to another one. Feel free to write out of order.
You have some very interesting characters and they might get into some situations that you ultimately don’t use in the finished novel, but don’t let that stop you from writing them. I think of it as “opening a vein.” Just don’t think about it too much.
So that’s what I did. I’ve just written 1,450 word in a chapter called “The Empath Less Travelled By”. It’s not the next chapter in the sequence but it’s where my emotions where at. I wanted to understand more about Elodie and her relatioship with Cassandra and what she knows about the Director of the SCP.
The next two weeks at work are scarily busy.
I’m already wondering if I started the novel in the wrong place and need to go back and fix it.
These are all flavours of the reasons why I’ve never written a novel before.
I’m hoping that NaNoWriMo will give me enough of a push to keep going anyway. Afterall, 50,000 words is a shortish novel, right.
NaNoWriMo challenges you to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch in the 30 days of November. That means producing an average of 1,600 words a day, every day for a month. I’m on Day 4 (and smug about being slightly ahead of schedule) and I’ve already discovered a few things that make me glad I decided to do this insane thing.
It’s not a bad excuse. My job takes up 50+ hours a week, often with 10+ hours of travelling on top. Plus I’d like to spend time with my wife. And even I have to sleep sometime.
But it is still an excuse.
It seems that what I need is focus as well as time. I need to be keeping the story in my head when I’m not writing, a bit like those exercises they give to highschool kids in the US, where they have to carry a baby substitute around all day so that they’ll understand what a burden a child would be. Personally I think they’d be better of giving sex education advice and offering contraceptives to those that want them, but I digress. The point is that I need to keep the story alive long enough for me to get it on the page and that takes focus.
I signed up at nanowrimo.org today. As part of the registration process, they asked me what my novel was called and what it is about. This is not a unreasonable request, given that we have less than two days to go before I start writing, but I was disappointed at my own answer.
I’ve been struggling to write recently. My time seems not to be my own. I wake up each day already late for something. Yet experience tells me that I write best when I’m writing under pressure. Put me in a quiet office with the whole day ahead of me and the screen remains blank. Put me on a plane or train with an hour to fill before I’m back at work and the words start to flow.
So, I’ve decided to jump-start my writing by attempting the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing a novel in a month and blogging about it as I go along.
It’s insane really.
To reach the 50,000 word limit, I have to write more words in a day than I usually manage in a week.