Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter [COMPLETE]

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Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter [COMPLETE]

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:18 am

There's a ship, the Black Freighter,
With a skull on its masthead will be coming in

- Pirate Jenny


Kenze watched steam curl up from the sharply-ridged backs and shaggy flanks of Uncle Korst’s bovines, milling and mooing in the cramped pen. He lifted his head a little and frowned. From his vantage on top of the gate he could see that all the other pens were empty or being emptied. His uncle had been drinking fermented milk last night, and was consequently late to the Old Fathers’ house. So, having nothing with which to bribe, no particular favours or family ties with which to pull or wheedle, he would be given whatever was left of this quarter’s allotted pasturage - which meant nothing good for Kenze’s first time as a herder.

He returned his gaze to the curling tendrils of steam above the herd, his frown turning to a scowl with the thought that this would be his usual view for the next few months... a scowl in turn prudently wiped by alert neutrality at a sudden bellow of, ‘Bastard feckwits!’

The bovines moo’d in gentle admonishment, milled somewhat nervously as the outburst was repeated by the large middle-aged man stomping toward their pen. Uncle Korst’s allotment had gone much as expected, then.

Kenze pushed himself from the gate and met his uncle. ‘Well, what did we get?’

Korst’s ruddy, rounded nose seemed almost to glow deep red in the middle of his near-black face – sure sign of his rage. Kenze took an involuntary step backwards as Korst began to wag a black finger almost as thick and rounded as his nose in his nephew’s face.

‘The fecking High Northwest! The High Northwest! There’s barely enough pasturage in the Northwest proper and they give me the bastarding High North-fecking-west! Plus it’ll take us a bloody week to get there, and my fecking herd’ll be starving by then! What do the bloody Old Father’s expect ‘em to eat? Is my herd to masticate on minerals? Eh? Ruminate on rocks? Eh? Eh?’

Kenze almost smiled. Perhaps his uncle’s temper wasn’t so hot if he was taking the time to alliterate like he used to do during the wild fireside tales of Kenze’s childhood (more performed than told, fuelled as they were by fermented milk). Doubtless he was still a little drunk from last night, and Korst was one of those blessed individuals to whom being drunk usually meant being happy.

‘Fecking feckwits. They’ve always had it in – Whateryou lookin’ at, boy? Harness ‘em up and get ‘em outta that bloody pen before those robbing bastards charge me a damned holding fee.’

No. Uncle Korst’s temper was indeed hot.

-oOo-


More steam rising from sharp bovine backs, but at least this time there was change in them being linear: a long undulating brown queue that, were it not for the occasional raised head of branching horns and the distant leading figure of his uncle, would have resembled nothing so much as a giant, furry, smoking snake.

As he walked, Kenze looked up at the mountain peaks high above, their white tips also pluming against the clear cobalt sky. Tallest of all was Emperor’s Mount, its majestic perfection only marred by the carbuncles of ancient sensor tower and observatory ruins that littered its flanks. He watched the snow being blown from it by stratospheric gales. The hair of God. He smiled at the thought before trying to wipe it from his mind as possible blasphemy.

A bovine moo’d somewhere halfway up the line. Kenze thought to detect joy in the sound: happiness to be free of the winter stables and increasingly rotten silage, finally moving in the open with at least the prospect of fresh grass. The path they trod was well used but well maintained, even and firm (if heavily splatted with dung). Here and there clusters of tiny blue flowers grew - escapees of the bovines’ prehensile tongues. Kenze took a deep breath. The spring air was so fresh not even the taint of dung could mar it, and with just enough remainder of winter bite to make it invigorating. He smiled. This wasn’t so bad.

Morning plodded into afternoon. They halted the herd to eat from the supplies strapped to the backs of its rearmost constituents. The bovines nosed and tongued the rocks on either side of the path, seeking spring shoots.

They continued on. The path rose more sharply and it became warm enough for Kenze to shed his heavy overcoat and sling it over the matching back of the nearest bovine. He noted that his uncle continued to wear his, despite how much he must have been sweating. Korst had still been grumpy during their meal, and was obviously continuing to play martyr to his own obstinate cause.

Suddenly a glitter of deep blue caught Kenze’s eye. Off to the left, the path forked, and a much rougher passage wound down into a steep cleft between the rocks. Distantly, Kenze glimpsed a small bay, bounded with low green meadows. The bloody bovines’d love it there.

It wasn’t the first such fork they had passed - others had led to mountain meadows assigned to more favoured herders. However, this one was different in its apparent cleanliness – no mounds of the otherwise ubiquitous dung marked its opening. And yet Kenze thought to hear a discordant tinkling on the warm breeze that briefly buffeted him from the cleft. Herders often adorned their beasts’ necks with bells – someone had to have been allotted that lush pasturage, and whoever it was must be high indeed in the Old Fathers’ esteem. Doubtless there was another way through to the bay.

He mentioned it at their next rest, as they wolfed bread and cheese before the last push until night. ‘Who got that bay off to the west a few kilometres back?’

Kurst grunted, spitting crumbs. His mood had hardly eased all day. ‘What bay, boy? There are none on this coast.’

‘There are. One, anyway. I saw it. The pretty one with the meadows. I was just wondering who was so far up the Old Fathers’ arses to have been allotted it.’

Kurst grunted again, but Kenze thought to detect a slight softening in his demeanour at his nephew’s verbal solidarity. Nevertheless, he was shaking his head. ‘I tell you, there are no... Wait. Do you mean Freighter Bay?’

‘I don’t know, uncle, do I? Deep, small, very green. Pretty, like I say.’

Kurst nodded. ‘Freighter Bay. Black Freighter Bay. That’s the only one around here.’ He continued shaking his head. ‘Nobody goes there. They haven’t for bloody generations.’

‘Certainly they do: I heard bells.’

That seemed to bring Kurst up short. He squinted at his nephew. ‘They weren’t bloody bells you heard, boy. Not from there. P’raps it was somebody else’s herd from far off – these mountains can play some weird tricks with sound, you know.’

Kenze thought it wise not to argue the point. An idea came to him. ‘Then, in that case, uncle, what’s stopping us taking our herd there? It’s a lot closer than the High Northwest, and it’s got the greenest grass I ever saw. The bovines’d be fat and fecking in a week.’

Kurst thick lips actually trembled with a smile at his young nephew’s risqué use of the ancient colloquialism. But he was shaking his head again. ‘No. Nobody goes there. Now come on – we’ve still got a couple of hours light left, yet.’

However, it seemed a seed had been sown in Kurst’s mind. Hardly half of those two hours had passed before he halted their snaking procession and walked back down the line to Kenze. He now was actually smiling.

‘I’ve changed my mind, boy. This’ll be one in the arse for the Fathers, eh? You’re right: what’s the point of trekking all the way to the High Northwest when all that pasturage is just begging for bovine multi-stomachs? What’s the point of risking starving ‘em up there? Bankrupting me? Besides, the curse must have lifted by now, mustn’t it? Come on, boy – let’s get these smelly buggers turned around. We might just have time to get back before it gets properly dark.’

In spite of Kurst’s hopes, though, it took some time –and much kicking and shouting- merely to get their charges turned about on the narrow path - stars were dusting the clear night sky and bright electric lamps were swinging from linking tethers once they finally returned to the fork. And then it took even longer to negotiate the extremely sharp bend down into the cleft... where their difficulties continued, the path being untended and overgrown with spring-fresh weeds and bushes. They had to resort to sharp raps with their walking sticks on the ever-hungry bovine’s noses and rumps to keep their interest from deviating from the descent. Despondent moos filled the cleft: tempting foliage aside, the animals knew they should not be travelling by night, but rather dozing contentedly on their knees, silage bags tied about their long snouts.

However, after a while the bovines seemed to become more eager to move on, ignoring the late hour and the food about them and almost breaking into a trot. Obviously they had caught scent of the grass awaiting them.

The cleft ended abruptly, and Korst brought the line to a protesting halt, shouting his nephew up to the fore with him as he did. Kenze strode tiredly up, and by the white light of the lantern he carried could see his uncle grinning widely. The grin was infectious, and Kenze couldn’t suppress a small laugh.

Korst slapped his hands hard onto his nephew’s shoulders. ‘My sister always did rear the intelligent ones! I could eat this grass myself, boy! Look at it!’

From the cleft meadowland flared out, wide, softly undulating, and silver beneath the thick swathe of stars. It swept away from them, walled by sharply-rising, almost black mountainsides, and hardly distinguishable at this distance from the glittering sea it bordered. A sweetly-scented breeze blew, creating a shushing noise that could have been the grass, distant waves, or combination of both.

A heavy head butted Kenze non-too gently in the back.

‘Ha!’ said his uncle, ‘Look at ‘em – they can’t wait! Un-tether ‘em -one at a time, mind!- and hobble ‘em – we don’t want ‘em straying too far ‘till we’ve checked for predator spoor. Hurry up, boy, the big ugly sods are desperate. I’ll get the tent set up and a fire going.’ He rubbed his hands together. ‘Warm some milk up before bedtime, eh?’ Kenze knew his uncle didn’t mean normal milk.

By the time Kenze had completed his work, he was yawning widely. Thankfully, his uncle, too, had been busy: their bovine-skin geodesic tent was up, and a small but intense blaze was crackling before it. Fermented milk was bubbling in a tripod-hung pot above the flames. His uncle dipped a battered tin mug into the pot and passed it to his nephew as he approached. ‘Good job, boy. Here, you can have first taste as reward. Sit down.’

The heat from both mug and fire was welcome, as the night had cooled considerably. Kenze sat, sipped, and that heat was even more welcome. He smiled, and decided to consider this his first legitimate taste of fermented milk. Inhaling the sour fumes deeply, he said, ‘Uncle, what did you mean when you said the “curse must have lifted by now”? What curse? Why has nobody used this place for so long?’

Korst grinned, gulped from his own mug. ‘They’re using it now, boy! We’re using it now!’ Kenze suspected that his was not the first tasting from the pot: his uncle already seemed slightly drunk. Korst nodded happily for a few moments, before the smile was suddenly gone from his face.

‘It’s not a tale we tell the young ones, but you’re not a boy any more, are you, boy? There’re quite a few different versions, but they’re all nasty.’

‘Tell the nastiest, uncle.’

Korst nodded sagely. ‘Of course: that one’s almost certainly closest to the truth.’ He took a deep breath, a habit tinglingly familiar to Kenze from the countless fireside tales of his childhood. ‘So...’

-oOo-


Long ago, before the bay was called Black Freighter, a town filled it. It was almost a small city, really. Nothing like those disgusting hives they have on other worlds, spreading up down and out like rot, but one in keeping with its environs: low stone buildings with red clay roofs lining neat streets; pleasaunces and fountains; arcades and verandas and mezzanines of shops, boutiques, cafés. Fishing was its erstwhile trade, but tourism had long-since surpassed that (though winding wooden jetties lined with boats yet filled the bay, they served as little more than additions to the town’s pictorial worth). Folk would come from far and wide to see and stay in the pretty town, even off-worlders sick of grimness and darkness and war (they landed at the spaceport they once had at Johnspoint - yes, boy, our world used to have a spaceport).

But every town, even the prettiest, has its dark district. Rough and seedy; dotted with bars where criminal arrangements were openly made; where clubs with iron-bound entrances -impassable without a codeword- catered for the less salubrious of their clientele’s wants; where prostitutes and pushers waited on corners or within unlit archways, promising ecstasy and oblivion of varying degree, method, and type; where failed fanatics spat from the more respected districts shouted, screamed, cursed, whispered and whimpered of Chaos and its insidious imminence, its probable presence, its sure suzerainty.

Mally’s Bar stood in such a place in that town. There Nina worked. Slaved. Was shat upon from a great height.

Nina was tall and slim, her long black hair was tied back with black ribbon, her floor-length dresses always began the day neat and clean even if they ended it stained with Emperor-knew what. She did what she was told. She rarely spoke unless spoken to. Strangers sometimes considered her pretty, commenting on her graceful movements, her milk-pale and blemishless skin, the perfect oval of her face with its narrow nose and full lips. They wondered why she scrubbed floors and privies. But local patrons were quick to correct. ‘Her? Pretty? You’re not looking closely enough. You don’t know what she’s like.’

And they were right. No-one knew Nina’s age. If she were asked, she would not say. If she were threatened, if threats were carried out, still she would not say. At first glance she appeared in her mid thirties, but to look longer revealed a depth of time that sent prickles of disquiet down an observer’s spine. Some strange set to her features, especially when she thought herself unwatched and even though her skin still looked perfect and her movements lithe and dancer-like, hinted at something almost nonagenarian, something bitter with the woes of a long, long life. Yet, at other times, she seemed almost a child-girl, and possessed of all the wilfulness, precociousness, and staggering self-importance that entailed.

Occasionally the well-to-do would slum it at Mally’s, handfuls of the rich seeking edgier thrills. They would laugh loudly and buy the most expensive liqueurs and tinctured amsecs (Mally himself took pride in a well-stocked bar). Nina seemed to gravitate toward such groups. She would be certain to scrub tables and mop floors in their close vicinity until she was noticed, until one amongst them would nod in her direction, at her stained dress and lowly station, and would comment, ‘Look at that one! Such a knowing smile. Strangely pretty, yes, but, really, what has she got to grin at?’ And they would mock her or feign concern, deliberately spill their drinks so as to summon her to them so they could ask directly what she had to smile about. And Nina, never once meeting any of their moneyed eyes (impossible to tell whether out of disdain or demureness), would whisper her response into the ear of one of her tormentors... who would blanch almost as if suddenly sick, and hurriedly persuade his or her companions to leave off their teasing or even to depart Mally’s altogether. And Nina’s smile would not waver as she continued to wipe and mop and scrub.

Often, she was threatened, her mere presence an offence or a perceived easy target for the relief of personal afflictions and woes. But if such threats ever came to fruition, if she was ever beaten and kicked, the attacks were always short-lived - even though she never fought back nor appealed for mercy or even cried out. For, beneath the blows, the look on Nina’s face was one of pleasure.

Patrons would ask Mally, ‘Why do you employ her?’ and add, ‘She can’t be good for business. She puts people off, you know. Bloody unsettling, is what she is. Don’t know her station, either.’ To which Mally had two different replies: ‘She’s good at her job. She cleans up after you lot, and you lot can be bloody messy.’ or, ‘Nina? She’s like part of the furniture, and I own all the furniture here – she’s mine to sit on or slam about as I like.’ Only the more astute regulars observed that the response Mally gave was dictated by whether or not Nina was in earshot.

Such was Nina. Such was Mally’s bar and the pretty little town on the bay.

Nobody, today, remembers the town’s name. Only what destroyed it.

And the Inquisitors and their retinue who began that destruction.

-oOo-


Smoke filled Mally’s bar as it had –from afternoon to early morning- for countless years - a gently hypnotic layer between a meter and two meters from the wooden floor that set lungs new to its charms heaving even as it caressed and clogged those of the initiated. It rose from ashtrays, gesturing hands, painted lips, pouting lips, thin lips, bruised lips, age-cracked lips. It swirled and spiralled, was plumed and shredded, by warm, unquantifiable eddies and currents, sometimes to merge with itself, sometimes to twist and languidly squirm in disparate tendrils of differing tinctures and consistencies dictated by their various sources.

On this evening the smoke was even thicker than usual, imbuing the bar’s wall lanterns with pastel fairy nimbuses, intimately probing chairs, tables, clientele. Mally’s was busy.

A tourist barge had landed that day, filling the town with eager patrons. Mally’s was often the first port of call for those with darker tastes: the stepping off and fuelling point for the giddy first night’s holiday debaucheries. Loud, pompous groups congregated around the bar itself: their individual constituents full of insecurity, en-masse they were things of simmering animosity necessarily indulged by the harried staff. Smaller groups occupied the tables and private snugs ranged against the walls: quieter, more clandestine; dealing and sampling the milder drugs, arranging meetings in establishments even further down the societal substrata than Mally’s, booking appointments via handvoxes with madams and pimps.

The smell of the basic, but hearty, meals Mally’s kitchen offered mingled with the various tobaccos, the myriad beverages and perfumes, all underlaid by the not-quite-imperceptible taint of damp. The heavy, dust-encrusted curtains that were never opened -the lanterns were always lit at Mally’s- hung almost solidly still. A small muted vu-screen depending from the cracked-plaster ceiling depicted a colourful child’s catalogue of hand weapons of choice (flashing text read: ‘The gun your daddy always wanted!’). In a corner, Nina collected dirty glasses and tankards from the top of an ancient music-caster that softly, but sweetly sang of a girl with yellow hair, green eyes, and the death of all the emperor’s children.

The lanterns flickered. Faces were raised, but the flickering wasn’t repeated.

In one of the snugs, a young reveller began to tap his handvox sharply against the table.

‘What the feck’s wrong with this thing? She was just going to give me a fecking time! I’ve paid a bloody deposit, feckit!’

‘To meet or how long you get with her, hey? Here, use mine.’

‘Nope – that’s fecking out, too.’

Closer to the bar itself, an old regular called peevishly, ‘Mally, what’s wrong with your bloody vu-screen? It’s covered in fecking lines! Covenant Girls is coming on!’

Suddenly there were more complaints from around the room as various augmetics began to simultaneously malfunction.

‘What? What? My implant is whistling or whispering or something.’

‘Whoa! Am I alone in seeing everybody’s heads balloon?’

‘Lilies and beeswax. Do you smell them? It’s really strong.’

‘I’m sorry – it’s the ‘netics in my hand. Must’ve developed a gltchy-twitch. No, really –sorry- it’s not me, it’s the hand.’

‘BARK! What? BARK! Shut up. BARK! What the f... BARK! SHUT... BARKBARKBARK!’

The lanterns that never went out went out. The vu-screen switched to the soft green glow of errant electrons. The music-caster went quiet. Only the clientele could be heard, cursing, giggling, barking. Chairs and tables scraped, glasses clinked and smashed. At last a voice bellowed, ‘Don’t worry, the emergencies will kick in soon.’

But they didn’t. The darkness continued.

‘Open the bloody curtains, someone.’

‘It’s night, you stupid bugger.’

‘There’s streetlamps, aren’t there?’

‘Nina, get some fecking candles from the kitchen, will -’

The loud creak of hinges that were never oiled. A soft billowing of warm summer air. Heavy footsteps. The momentary silhouette of three figures against exterior lighting before the bar’s main doors slammed shut again.

‘No need for candles, good Mally. Lux!’

The lanterns came back on twice as bright as normal. One fizzed, popped, and went out again. People –all now quiet, even the complainers- squinted at the three men now standing in the centre of the room – who themselves gazed appraisingly back at their audience. Somebody tittered.

Immediately the figure in the centre of the trio stepped forward. Raising his arms to encompass the whole room, he said, ‘Perhaps you think we are here to entertain you?’ He shook his head slowly, his bald pate glinting in the harsh light, his expression suddenly sad. ‘No, it is much the reverse.’ He brightened. ‘But I should at least make introductions.’ He drew himself to his full height and inclined his head in the slightest of bows. ‘I am Baal. The young man next to me is Junt. And this,’ he swung to the side, gesturing with almost a showman’s flourish toward the tall man standing scowling behind him, ‘This is Ko. It was his idea to come.’

Baal: a man of average height, perhaps a little overweight, in his late thirties. His skin was almost white, and –what could be seen of it above collar and beyond cuffs- hairless. He wore a heavy black greatcoat of some supple metalicised fabric, copiously pouched, belted, and bandoliered with multifarious knives (their blades either glinting ferociously or sucking up whatever light fell upon them).

Junt: a tall, almost spindly youth, clad in featureless tight black vest and leggings. On his feet were black slippers, on his head a rather floppy black hat. He continuously fingered its brim with what in others might be construed as nervousness, but in him, with his expression of studied ennui on an almost girlishly pretty face, became, somehow, threat.

Ko: also tall. Saturnine. Dark. He appeared to be in his early middle age, but his sharp beard, the simple, stark set of his features made it difficult to tell. He was dressed in heavy black trousers, shirt, and a calf-length cloak that perhaps should have risen to a tall collar behind his close-cropped nape, but instead was tied simply and loosely about his neck. His gaze flicked about the bar, and all who endured it felt themselves upon the brink of something, some terrifying knowledge, that, where they to look too long, would fascinate them, causing them to take a final step. To fall. To quickly drown.

Baal smiled widely, blades chinking softly.

‘Now. Who shall suffer first?’

-oOo-


Uncle Korst grunted, sipped his milk, and eyed Kenze with semi-drunken shrewdness. ‘Perhaps we needn’t detail the... details.’

For a moment Kenze was nonplussed, so lost was he in his uncle’s tale. ‘But you promised the nastiest version!’

‘There’s nasty and there’s nasty, boy. Were I to dwell on the disgusting, dally with depravity, it might affect your young mind. Moreover, your mother would kill me.’

Kenze thought quickly. ‘And her reaction were she to learn I have drunk fermented milk with you?’

Korst studied his nephew. ‘You would blackmail your uncle Korst?’

Kenze shrugged. ‘I merely hint at possibilities.’

Korst grunted again, but he was smiling slightly. ‘No more milk – it brings out a disquieting spitefulness in you.’ He stretched, without spilling a drop from his mug. ‘Very well. But snippets only: no details.’

‘But, uncle...!’

‘Snippets! Only!’

-oOo-


Mally’s Bar’s clientele stared uneasily at the three figures. ‘Who the feck do you think you are?’ someone asked. Someone else giggled.

Baal blinked, seemed to consider the question. ‘Why, we don’t think we are anybody in particular. We know. We three are voyagers on the further reaches of experience. Ko in particular has walked certain damned and dark and delightful paths, the sands of which are marred by only an odd few forerunners’ footprints,’ Baal raised the back of his hand to the side of his mouth, stage whispered, ‘Sometimes very odd indeed.’ He dropped the hand. ‘And he has trailblazed many others in his desire for, ah, experience.’ Baal beamed at his audience as if he believed they understood and approved of his allusions, his eyes bright. His grin faltered as he seemed to realise the opposite was true... only to suddenly return as wide as ever as if at some wonderful recollection. ‘But never mind that. Tonight, it doesn’t really matter who we are, but who you are.’

‘And who are we, then?’ asked a shrill female voice with a drunken laugh, obviously thinking she was playing a game.

Baal lowered his head slightly, took time to look around his audience. ‘Why, you are bovine. You exist to be milked, herded, slaughtered, by your keepers, your farmers... by us.’

A middle-aged regular by the bar slammed down his half-empty glass, spilling amber fluid on the highly polished wood. ‘Your entertainment has really gone downhill lately, Mally. I’m going to the Hirsute Squat.’ He began to push his way through the gathered clientele, toward the bar’s front doors.

Junt never moved, and yet, suddenly, he was no longer where he had been standing. Now he was right up against the middle-aged regular’s back, a long left leg wrapped intimately around the other’s hips, arms draped loosely around his shoulders (fingers picking at the worn material of the man’s overcoat), chin resting on his thick –if slightly stooped- right shoulder. The clientele collectively gasped.

The man attempted to push Junt from him, but the boy continued to cling until the actions became comic and the man ceased his struggle. ‘Get the feck off me, boy!’

‘No,’ said Junt, his voice low and slightly nasal. Junt’s arms were suddenly outstretched before the man’s outraged face, hands curled into fists. His floppy black hat was wobbling as if something had disturbed it. Between Junt’s fists something glinted: the finest runnel of quicksilver that seemed to scurry in a perfectly straight line from one fist to the other.

‘Isn’t it pretty?’ asked Junt. ‘Monofilament. Except at the ends, where I hold it, thus.’ He tipped his hands slightly to allow more light to play on the filament. He laughed gently. ‘I keep it in my hat’s brim in a special alloy sheath, because it cuts almost anything else. See?’

Junt’s hands were no longer before the regular’s face, but –retaining their formation- behind his neck.

The man’s angry expression never changed, but now his coat’s collar had acquired new ruby-red detailing that fitted snugly to his unshaven throat.

Junt stepped back, his right hand flicking as if it held an invisible whip. An almost imperceptible red mist seemed to spray from his fingers.

The man’s new collar began to bubble and then to spurt, jets of red arcing vibrantly in the bar’s cosy lighting, spattering audibly on table and floor in the otherwise utter silence.

Junt adjusted his hat.

The man’s arms twitched, rose slightly as if in a shrug, fell back limply to his sides. His fingers on both hands began to move, their tips following an invisible sine wave; then they, too, were still.

The man turned his head.

It fell to the floor with a heavy thump.

His knees bent. His body leaned sharply forward, the raw red-and-purple-and-glistening-white neck stump arcing blood so forcefully it neatly bisected the ceiling’s faded cherubs and sprayed hotly over those onlookers unfortunate enough to be in its target plane. The body hit the floor. Parquet promptly puddled.

A voice, sexless in its shock, gibbered, ‘Emperorfeckingsaveus.’

As one, the onlookers stampeded toward the exit. Baal raised his hands in a calming fashion, trying to make himself audible over the clamour. ‘Of course, we cannot restrain you all contemporaneously. Still, as you attempt to depart, you will see that we do have assistance.’

The main doors banged open before the panicked clientele, clattering against the inner walls of the bar’s heavily-postered vestibule - the open front of which was filled with so much torture and pain it was as if it was all there was in the rest of the universe.

A vertical iron slab, three metres tall, just under half of that wide, was the platform for an intricate, horrifying assemblage of sharp-toothed cogs, hissing pistons, pumping or perhaps sucking needles (with reservoirs of dull umber and bright carmine), gore-clogged carding drums and belts that nodded in and out of raking contact upon their armatures, continuously tightening and slackening clamps and restraints and vices. Here and there sharp blue flames jetted into random, searing brightness; there and here acid mists blossomed and ate, squirted from brass nozzles. The slab stood upon a triangular pair of segmented metal tracks that, as the crowd attempted their escape, squealed and tore into the wooden floor of the veranda running across the bar’s frontage, turning the whole assemblage to properly face them... to reveal its victim and its pilot.

Crucified upon it, object for those myriad mechanisms’ ministrations, was an emaciated woman, who, though naked, nevertheless seemed fully clothed in shades of brown, copper, burgundy and bright red – her own blood, long-dried, crusted, fresh. Her mouth hung slack, and within it a withered tongue spasmed and twitched. Just about audible over the machine’s various hisses, clicks, bubbles, and ticks, was a high-pitched and continuous keening that emanated from between her cracked, pale lips. For those onlookers yet capable of noticing such details, tears –for the crowd? Herself? Both?- ran non-stop from the damned woman’s eyes as she looked down upon them.

From inside Mally’s, Baal spoke again. ‘Her sister, her lover, guards the back door. That was their crime, you see, and this their punishment. It was not our judgement that condemned them, though... We merely, ah, embellished another’s interpretation of the Lex Imperialis... We would never denounce anybody for honouring and succumbing to their more animal drives. Now come back inside. Junt is getting hungry.’

-oOo-


The clientele stumbled back into the bar, almost comic in their horrified indecision - those at the back pushing forward to be away from the thumping and hissing and keening of the monstrosity outside, those at the front shouldering backward to keep their distance from the three men and the headless corpse awaiting them inside. Some cursed, some whimpered, a few lashed out with fist and foot; but, presently, they became more or less quiescent.

Only then did they notice what Junt was doing.

Elbows wide, the boy held his victim’s decapitated head between his hands, level with his face. His slender fingers interlaced in the blood-matted brown hair at its nape, his white palms angled upward to cup its ears. It was a lover’s action, and the expression upon Junt’s face very much suited it: wide, dreamy smile and half-lidded eyes gazing deeply into the dead-but-still-glistening orbs of the erstwhile patron.

Then the boy drew the head toward his own, simultaneously leaning forward.

‘Ahh,’ said Baal, also watching, ‘The first kiss.’

Immediately Junt’s lips met the head’s, passion seemed to ignite within him. His hands began to skim rapidly around and up and down, caressing, playfully pinching, combing through the curly hair. Yet in an obscene juggler’s trick the head barely moved – for all the world as if it were still supported by an invisible body. Some onlookers even imagined response: surely those dead lips moved and those eyes twitched and winked?

Junt stiffened, his cheekbones sharp as he suddenly, greedily, sucked. There was a glint of white, and then the boy let the head drop once more to the parquet. It now seemed to sport a third lip (or perhaps a toothless and protrusive gum), sandwiched between the others - ragged and sluggishly dribbling thin streams of red. Junt began chewing something, his cheeks bulging (though he kept his own full lips pressed discreetly together). His eyes were closed in obvious delight.

Somebody began to retch. Somebody else called for the Emperor’s mercy and goodness. Another said they would be okay, love, the police would come soon, it would all be okay.

This last caught Baal’s attention. ‘Police? Oh, no.’ He shook his head, almost sadly. ‘You see, we’ve already been there and stated our intentions. They were very supportive when Ko flashed his rose.’

A young woman looked up, wiping her mouth free of vomit. ‘A – a rose? You cannot be... You CANNOT be...’

Baal’s smile seemed a reward for the woman’s insight. ‘Inquisitor? Yes, yes we are. Well, myself and Ko are. But Junt shows a great deal of promise, doesn’t he? We have high hopes for him, I can tell you.’

Responding to this approbation, Junt swallowed hugely, perhaps stifled a burp, and said, ‘Music.’

Baal laughed. ‘But of course. The parameters are now set, after all. This is a bar, isn’t it? Play some music, good Mally. Junt and I would like to dance. We’ve been practicing, you know.’

None of the onlookers moved, certainly Landlord Mally did nothing, but suddenly music was playing. It was a waltz, deafeningly loud. Junt raised his arms, entwining his wrists, his slippered feet raised gracefully on tiptoes, his knees bent slowly apart... and he was gone... but, no, there he was, right amongst the clientele. He was bending a startled woman back, one hand about her waist, the other gripping her right hand high in the air. He bent her back, back, and back. She began to screech in pain and fear.

‘Oh,’ shouted Baal in evident alarm, ‘He’s going to bite you, Madam! Oh! I must save you!’

Baal blurred into motion. His greatcoat flapped, row upon row of knives glinted. A blade seemed to appear in his hand... instantly depart it to become a silver streak trailing infinitely complex ripples in the bar’s smoky air as it flew directly at Junt’s head.

Again, the boy was gone. The woman was falling to the floor, clutching at a gaping wound in her neck, blood pumping between her fingers. The knife was buried to its shiny brass hilt in the eye socket of a young and apparently affluent youth. He raised a slow hand to the weapon, almost touched it before crumpling down.

‘Oops,’ mimed Baal, ‘Missed.’

Junt now had another partner, an old and pathetically startled man. The black-clad boy made as if to send the poor soul into a twirl... but again seemed to cease to exist at that location, replaced by two of Baal’s knives. One thunked solidly into the discoloured plaster of the wall, the other, and just as solidly, into the chest of Mally’s Bar chief bottle-washer (sorry, boy, I forgot about the kitchen staff - they’d joined everybody else by this point, having tried the back door and the other penitence engine).

Baal shouted, ‘Oh, please forgive! He’s just so damned fast!’

The crowd, those that still could, scattered as best they could, hiding beneath tables, within the row of snugs, behind the bar, in the kitchen.

But the dance continued.

Knives flew, Junt strobed, bodies –cradling deep bite marks, clutching newly-blossomed brass hilts- slumped.

And, at last, Ko selected his partner and essayed his first steps.

He seemed a man-shaped absence, or too much presence in the shape of a man. He seemed somehow apart from reality, or branded so deeply into it he scorched bone. He flowed over the parquet, passing around upturned tables, chairs, crumpled victims, pooled blood, only occasionally pausing to avoid the sudden reappearance of the waltzing Junt or the streaking silver flashes of flung blades. He moved directly for the only other person in Mally’s who was not hiding; who had, in fact, never moved from her position off to the left of the bar since the three men had entered. Indeed, she still clutched her cleaning cloth. And... was that a slight smile on her disconcertingly pretty old-young face?

Nina.

They were around the same height, and he stood close enough for Nina to feel his breath on her face. It was cold and without aroma.

‘I know what you are,’ he said. His voice didn’t seem to be raised at all, and yet Nina heard it above the blaring waltz and terrified screaming -and other less-classifiable sounds- of the clientele. It complemented his scentless breath: unaccented and timbreless. ‘I know what was here.’ He raised his long pale hands to either side of her face and ran his fingertips lightly over the curve of her upper ears, pushing her dark hair back from them. Nina didn’t flinch, only continuing to stare at Ko – but the slight smile had left her face. Ko brought his barely-touching fingertips down along her sharp cheekbones to meet at her full lips. They pressed gently, but did not pass between. ‘And I know why you scrub floors and tables and smile when they abuse you with words and feet and fists... Nina.’ Did he pluck her name out of her mind? Or had he merely heard it mentioned before? ‘I know the experiences you crave. But slumming in simian seediness will not be enough, Nina. Cravings begat cravings begat cravings, and I think I am much farther along the path of experience than you. Would you like me to show you how far? Would you like me to bring you to where I stand on that path?’

Nina didn’t answer, even when Ko moved his hands away from her mouth as if to encourage a reply. She seemed mesmerised by the Inquisitor. Ko squinted ever so slightly, considering her. His lips drew slowly but sharply up at the sides, his mouth becoming a ‘v’ that was only accentuated by his pointed black beard. This was Ko’s smile. ‘Perhaps “like” is not the correct word. Nevertheless, I will show you, Nina. And I might bring you. Come.’

He took Nina’s hand. She made no resistance as Ko lead her toward a door labelled ‘Staff Only!’ in chipped golden leaf. Junt suddenly appeared before them. The boy bowed prettily, swinging the door back upon the short flight of stairs that lead to the bar’s upper story and the now empty rooms Mally –so the rumour went- once offered for hourly rental.

Still holding Nina’s hand, Ko nodded to Junt and led her up.

-oOo-


Uncle Korst set down his mug. His weathered face was thoughtful in the softly throbbing light of the fire’s embers. With a drunkard’s careful consideration, he slowly leaned forward and looked into the mug, pondering its emptiness. He lifted his head to peer into the pot suspended from the tripod and studied the frothy streaks of fermented milk bubbles that were all that was left within it. He grunted.

‘It is late, boy, and I am tired. Moreover this part of the story unsettles me. I will continue tomorrow, after breakfast.’

Kenze all but leapt to his feet. ‘No! Uncle, you cannot stop there! What did Ko tell Nina? I want to know!’

Korst looked sharply at his nephew. ‘That boy, that, you do not. A bovine herder does not need to know such things. No Emperor-fearing man does. And, anyway, I am thankful to be less than a sciolist in such matters. The truly ancient Xenos enlightenments, the fathomless Chaotic cogitations, the masochistic meanderings, the terrible turpitudes, the deepest depravities – these will always remain mere words to your Uncle Korst, boy – words written as warning,’ here he wagged a finger somewhat shakily, ‘not invitation, upon a door that I will never attempt to open. And neither will you, if I have anything to say in the affair. And, at this moment, I do.’

Kenze thought quickly. ‘But how will I know what to avoid in my moral growth if I do not learn of the things that must be avoided?’

The finger wagged again, its revolutions wilder, wider. Korst blustered, almost shouted, ‘Do not try that one on me, boy! Do not try to trick your Uncle Korst with that! Moral growth? Moral minefield, more like!’

Perhaps a simpler approach had more hope of success. ‘And if I were to put some fresh milk on to warm?’

Korst squinted at his nephew, who imagined scales in his uncle’s mind tilting this way, that way, finally settling with one pan considerably lower than the other. ‘I would be persuaded to continue... so long as you accept my rulings on Ko’s whisperings.’

Kenze nodded, though with obvious regret. He poured more milk into the pot and began to stoke the fire to greater heat. Watching, Korst muttered, ‘Definitely your mother’s son.’

-oOo-


Here certain gaps must be filled, the material used to fill them dictated by the events which followed. Not everything was witnessed (Ko’s divulgences paramount amongst them, boy!), and there are many possible variances and extrapolations –both forward and back- in this part of the tale. But one must be settled upon at each telling, and in this instance it is this:

Nina lifted herself from the musty bed, her movements graceful but somehow hesitant, almost shaking. There was no light in the room, yet she could still see Ko where he lay, unmoving except for the shallow rise and fall of his smooth white chest. The Inquisitor’s eyes were wide open, but she nevertheless thought he was sleeping (or whatever approximated sleep with him) – he hadn’t moved or spoken for over an hour.

Spoken. How grateful she was when he had stopped talking, when his toneless whispers had at last ceased. She would not have been able to stand much more of his... words. Such worlds. Such realms. Such terrible understanding and even more terrible acceptance... compliance... mastery. He still buzzed in her mind, battering at what she thought she knew, slewing all of it under an avalanche of... what?

Of truth.

Nina almost groaned, burying her slender face in her slender hands. For a moment she stood like that, and then slowly passed her hands down her lithe nakedness. She wanted the feel of her own body to reassure, its familiar solidity to remind... but it did not.

Ko had told her things and she had listened. And now she kenned far, far too much for any mere physical comfort to be drawn. Besides, had she not come to understand the merely physical for the flimsy membrane it was? Indeed, did she not know what lay beneath it? How could that be a comfort?

Ceasing her self-caresses, she silently padded to the bedroom door. If Ko stirred, she would claim a call of nature - but he remained still. She pulled the door open. Its hinges squeaked a little, and she winced at the sound, but Ko continued to ‘sleep’. Out on the narrow landing, she pulled the door closed behind her, expecting at any moment that hideous toneless whisper... there was only the soft click of the latch.

Dim street lighting provided the landing’s only illumination, struggling through a small, bare casement. With a quick few steps, Nina was standing by its dirty glass and looking out. It overlooked the back of Mally’s Bar. There, almost directly bellow, stood another –definitely internal, potentially external- vehicle of torture and pain, twin to that out front. Its victim-operator’s mottled head continuously snapped from side to side, her sporadic clumps of dark hair like fuzz islands in a rough sea of abrasions, weeping wounds, shrivelled burn patches. From this sharp angle her lower body was invisible beneath a wide collar supporting articulated blades, glowing torches, and acid sprayers. As Nina watched, a metal arm whipped suddenly out, up, and with marvellous precision inserted an almost invisible needle into the woman’s left eye. (Was she still that, though? Could she still be considered ‘woman’? Could she still be considered human?!) Keeping perfect time with her neck’s spasms, the arm held the needle in place for a few seconds, before abruptly pulling it out. The woman made no reaction. Nina listened hard, but could not even hear the keening the twin out front had exhibited. Was this one that much farther along? Had pain become so normal to her that it simply didn’t even register any longer?

Nina tore her gaze away from the pathetic creature, recalling her own predicament. The last thing Ko had said was that he had more to teach her. Further horrors to those he had already divulged! He saw aptitude in her, he said, and she would accompany him and his cohorts as her education progressed.

Nina shook her head. That could not happen. She could not survive that happening. She whispered, ‘Enough. My lessons are over. I have learned too much; but I have learned that my teachers, my school, are also in need of education.’

With her right hand, Nina began to stroke the underside of her left forearm with a light fingertip. She traced a simple symbol of infinity, over and over. She almost smiled when, beneath her ministrations, that same symbol began to softly fluoresce, pulsing gentle purple. She lifted the arm to her full lips. Sharp teeth bit deeply at the symbol’s exact intersection; a long tongue probed just as deeply. Nina gasped, as if at a received shock, snatched her arm away from her mouth and again studied it. The purple symbol's slow flash had become constant. Even as she watched, it began to brighten.

Now Nina did smile.

-oOo-


Mally’s Bar had become charnel.

The bodies of most of its clientele lay slumped over tables, against walls. Some propped one-another upright: a supremely ultimate show of support. Others had been arranged in grotesque tableaus, as if at cards or deep conversation while even deeper in their un-supped cups; some even reposed together in such disturbing intimacy that it verged upon necrophilia. Most of the corpses had been sampled in one manner or another, as if dissected or vivisected, dismembered or disembowelled, by a team of crazed –or simply over-enthusiastic- surgeons or a pack of starving beasts. Limbs and digits had been removed, sometimes cleanly, sometimes seemingly gnawed off. An ear might be missing, or a nose, or one or both lips – gaping gristle gaps all that remained. Three bodies were missing eyes, the left in each case. One corpse had been expertly hung and flayed down the full length of its back – the spinal column gone. The corpses of two fat old citizens created gruesome parenthesise to the bar itself, their ripped-open stomachs blossoming with entrails that looped along the upper shelving, a red/purple/pink festoon that glittered almost merrily in the soft lighting, meeting in the bar’s exact midpoint to form a complex and surprisingly symmetrical latticework that somebody had obviously taken pride in creating. The smell of lho-leaf and other more obscure tobaccos had dispersed for the first time in memory (if not recorded history), replaced by the –at least for now- fresher, cleaner, yet-infinitely-more-sickening, scent of coppery blood. (You’re right of course, boy: it should also have stank of shit what with all those eviscerations. But it didn’t – I think our Inquisitors were far too fastidious to allow that kind of thing... though exactly how they prevented it I’ve no idea. And, speaking of which...)

Junt reposed gracefully in one of the snugs, at first glance whispering sweet nothings into the sleepy ear of a young woman, his wide-brimmed hat tipped rakishly to one side. But the boy wasn’t whispering anything, he was nibbling. With a quick, dainty nip, he clipped off the unresponsive woman’s earlobe, sucking it down without chewing. Blood flowed sluggishly from the wound.

‘This is the best bit, Baal. The urgent stuff is over, and I am sated. Now I can at last indulge in and appreciate the delicacies. I wonder, brother: will you partake this time?’

Baal sat at another table, pretending to play cards with three corpses. ‘That depends if you will you do the civilised thing and cook the titbits first.’ He looked shrewdly at the corpse propped opposite him, a fan of cards lashed to its stiffened fingers with twine. ‘I warn you, good sir: my hand is so high and wild you can only hope to mitigate your losses!’

Junt pouted sulkily. ‘You know I will not. And you also know I argue the toss that cooking the divine long pig denotes civilisation, and is not simply inability to admit the animal truths of every man’s nature. Ko would agree with me there.’

‘Have it your way – I am in no mood to argue. I will continue to suck upon nutri-bars and sup this rather splendid wine while young Har here thinks to throw me with his lack of expression.’ Baal made an expansive gesture with his card hand, ‘But please, don’t let me st-’

A muffled bleeping began to sound. Baal frowned, carefully depositing his cards face down on the table and simultaneously peering around at his dead companions as if daring them to peek. With an off-hand flourish, he produced an ornate vox unit – it was this that bleeped. He tapped the screen, silencing the device.

‘It’s the Stagger Lee. Text only... who by the Emperor’s emetic expectorant taught our ship to spell... There’s another vessel coming in-system... big one... freighter-class at least. Black-body – very low albedo – Lee only just registered it.’

Junt straightened his hat and sat up. ‘Coming here?’

‘There’s feck-all else for it to go to in this arse-end system.’

‘Empire, do you think?’

‘No broadcasted call-sign. No hymns. Nothing. What the Lee can piece together of the structure doesn’t look remotely Terran to me.’ Baal suddenly stood, the vox unit disappearing back into his voluminous greatcoat. ‘Wake Ko.’

‘Dear Baal, you know he never really sleeps as such. I wouldn’t be waking him, I’d –’

‘Boy, get up there now! Or we’ll find out exactly how well you can dodge my knives when I’m really aiming for you! Go now!’

‘No need, Baal. I am here.’

Ko stood in the bar’s ‘Staff Only!’ doorway. His cloak billowed voluminously, as if he had just come to a sudden halt... yet he somehow gave more the appearance of having coalesced in that particular space rather than having arrived at it.

‘Lord Ko,’ said Baal, ‘The Lee say’s –’

‘I know. Nina’s folk are coming.’

‘“Nina’s”... That cleaner you took upstairs...?’

Something that may have been a smile twitched at the corner of Ko’s mouth, momentarily miss-shaping his sharp black beard. ‘Oh, that one is much more than a simple domestic, Baal. That one is one of us. She just doesn’t know it yet... I had hoped -indeed, would have insisted- that she accompany us. Instead she seeks solace with her brethren. Still, I have germinated a seed within her, and it will presently sprout.’ The twitch disappeared; his lips were again flat and almost unmoving as he spoke. ‘Gather the twins together at the front, and tell the Curse of Millhaven to dust off for emergency evacuation and docking with the Stagger Lee. We’ve had our fun. Now we must let Nina have hers.’

-oOo-


CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE
Last edited by Chun the Unavoidable on Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:35 pm, edited 47 times in total.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby J D Dunsany » Thu Jan 08, 2015 9:34 am

An intriguing start. Characterisation is great. The only minor blemish is the use of 'illiterate' rather than 'alliterate'. Otherwise, this is a characteristically quirky, well-crafted opening. I'm very interested to see how this develops.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:59 am

Ta. Embarrassment rectified. :D
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:38 am

An update, by Jingo.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:28 am

Another. I'm not adverse to comments, you know.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Mossy Toes » Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:49 pm

A new Chun story? That I've missed this for a month is a black mark on my record (and indicative of how often I so much as glance at the fiction forums, these days)! Once it's no longer 3:48 AM local time and I get some hours of sleep in me... it will be different to hold me back from it.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Mon Feb 16, 2015 7:33 am

Good... but I think you need to keep an eye on your corrective spelling. :D
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Mon Mar 23, 2015 8:32 am

There's another.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Insomniac » Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:40 am

Aww shiiiieet. There goes the neighborhood. Very entertaining and while I'm not active here too much, I'm always down for a new Chun story.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:46 am

Thank'ee. Good to know somebody's reading - the view count doesn't cut it in that regard.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Bloodsage » Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:25 pm

OMG, is this place still here?

Unavoidably, I read this, and was impressed, as per usual. :ugeek:
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:39 pm

BREAKING NEWS! Bloodsage mellows! ( ;) ).
Yes, it's still here - just not as busy as was. Ta for reading and commenting.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:33 am

More words added in a particular order. Sorry for the long wait... if any of you were waiting, that is.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Mossy Toes » Fri Oct 23, 2015 7:46 am

AAAARG. I spent several hours pouring over every sentence and dissecting every delicious qualm I could bring up on this story. Such posts are made for some errant erasure to rear its head and wipe away the whole of what has been written, are they not?

In any case: I would read over this for run-on sentences, since there seem to be quite a few, by my reckoning. The addition of Baal, Junt and Ko is welcome and applauded, from this corner! The last scene in particular is quite delicious, though the segue from short and choppy action paragraphs to languorous, loving description of torture implements is a bit... well, jarring.

I am sorry for having taken so long to poke my nose into this corner of the forum--it's overdue, and my punishment for such is that I haven't been able to indulge in such a treat as this until now. Run-on sentences are a true peril, though.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Thu Oct 29, 2015 7:46 am

Hmm, the run-on sentences thing might be my attempt at some kind of -doubtless incorrect- style. I've not looked at this for a while - obviously I should. Thanks for reading.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Mossy Toes » Fri Oct 30, 2015 2:53 am

There were a number of other comments--among them, musing on when calling a rabbit a smeerp becomes egregious vs "bovines, vulpines, et al," flattery over various particularly baroque phrases, and delight at the presence of Junt, Baal and Ko. Those last three, well, that Ko is a member of their little coterie... quite a surprise! I suppose that means this story predates His Purpose and The Scour chronologically, then.

At the very end of the most recent update, you might want to differentiate Ko from Baal by describing his tone or inflection or somesuch--as it stands, his diction reads rather the same as Baal's so his speaking up isn't given much dramatic weight or menace. Junt as a comparison to the other two, on the other hand... a delightful contrast!
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Fri Oct 30, 2015 7:49 am

The hints were there in previous stories for the three of them knowing one-another at some point (most notably, if I recall correctly, at the beginning of COLOSSUS). And, yes, this does preclude those. :)
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Mossy Toes » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:11 am

Chun the Unavoidable wrote:The hints were there in previous stories for the three of them knowing one-another at some point (most notably, if I recall correctly, at the beginning of COLOSSUS). And, yes, this does preclude those. :)

Well, Baal certainly knew Junt, as evinced by the gift of a hat (complete with something in the brim--something now revealed!) and I recall seeing intimations of some broader fellowship/conspiracy, but any reference of Ko specifically slipped my notice.
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Chun the Unavoidable » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:39 am

I'm sure there was something. I will delve.

Post-delve (and said by Baal, from COLOSSUS):
‘As you say, I am Inquisitor. Therefore I cannot blaspheme. A certain Ko once taught me that... amongst other things. ...'


Oh, and Junt had a very similar hat in The Scour (which most likely makes the hat here that hat, if you get my drift), which Baal's gift replaced. My God, the complexities of back-story! :?

(Oh, and while I'm here, I think I started the bovine/ vulpine thing too many years ago, and have kept to it in all my 40k wherever it was necessary to mention such things. Please allow the conceit.)
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Re: Nina's Revenge: a Tale of the Black Freighter

Postby Squiggle » Sun Dec 06, 2015 10:52 am

Chun.

He returned his gaze to the curling tendrils of steam above the heard
herd, methinks.

On this evening the smoke was even thicker than usual, imbuing the bar’s wall lanterns with pastel fairy nimbuses, intimately probing chairs, tables, clientele. Mally’s was busy.
scene setting I get, but I found "nimbuses somewhat awkward in this sentence. IMHO etc. I think something more active on behalf of the lanterns - "in the dense smoke the glow from the lanterns was muffled into smudges of pastel-fairy light" not sure, but this just didn't work for me.

Otherwise, bring on the next bit.

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