Promise And Peril 11-03 (Heretical Edge 2)

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Our original idea had been that we would fly in, locate Elisabet and Dexamene, then get close enough to teleport them onto the ship and flee before the Fomorians had time to scramble too many of their defenses. Obviously that plan had been completely incinerated thanks to the fact that the fuckers were already in the middle of a pitched battle against… some unknown force. 

That unknown force wasn’t the Seosten, yet was strong enough to send a whole fleet after the Fomorians here on the Meregan world. Why? Who? How? Every possible question was swirling through my head as I simply stared open-mouthed at the screens that showed the battle going on ahead of us. For that moment, I couldn’t think, let alone speak. I had no idea what to do. And from the looks on the faces of Vanessa, Tristan, and the other students around me, neither did they. We’d thought we were ready for just about anything we could’ve run into. We were wrong.

Thankfully, we weren’t the only people here. And the others we had with us were a hell of a lot more experienced than we were. Taken by surprise or not, the real adults around us had been through more than we had (crazy as that might seem), had seen far more surprises and learned to react faster to them. Particularly the Seosten given their lifespans, but Mom and the others too. My friends and I had been through a hell of a lot in a year, but they had been through so much more for so much longer. 

Athena was the first to react, after what had to be barely a second since she had admitted that she had no idea who the other ships belonged to. “Helm, full power on sub-engines, boost forty percent from weapons and reserves split evenly. Take everything you need to do your thing. Guns aren’t going to get us through this today. Navs plot Ah and Bay courses through sector quattuor-sex-septem and feed to Helm, bracing for on-fly adjustments. Jophiel on exterior spellwatch, Haiden and Larissa back her up, you’ve done this before. December and May on secondary spellwatch. Something gets through Jophiel, call it out and intercept with counters. Sachael is on power-watch. Feed energy where it’s needed. Joselyn, Risa, back him up. If he raises a hand, he needs you to feed magic energy to him so he can shift it to the ship’s systems when needed. Helms has full control, feed everything she needs to her and let her work.”

She rattled off those instructions so effortlessly, and everyone immediately moved to follow them. Sariel was apparently Helm, while Apollo was Navs, both of them springing to action as their hands danced across the consoles, blurting words to one another in a rapid series of what had to be half-code and half-intuition from the sheer length of time they’d known each other. No wonder people had considered the two of them to be twins, because they sure communicated like they were right here and now. They were barely speaking English, just blurting sentence fragments or strings of numbers and letters, often finishing one another’s… whatever. 

Meanwhile, the others jumped right to action too. Mom and Kohaku slid closer to Sachael, who had lifted one hand to press against the wall of the ship while his other hand steadied a console and turned it closer to him, his fingers flying over the holographic buttons to make it send reports on the ship’s systems. At the same time, Jophiel (whose magical meditative-state had vanished the instant she was needed) sank in her seat a little while producing two small metal discs, one in each hand. Her eyes drifted half-closed as she began slowly moving the discs around seemingly randomly. They glowed very faintly now and then, and when they did, she would move the discs back to the spot where it had happened and murmur something. My guess was that the discs detected magic that might affect our ship or the people in it and she was ready to block such attempts. With the help of Haiden and Larissa, who had already produced what had to be counterspell-enchanted coins, ready to use them at whatever spot the Seosten woman indicated. 

May did the same as Jophiel, though her movements weren’t quite as smooth. She had December backing her up, one hand on the other Calendar member’s side as though ready to feed energy into her while her other hand held a counterspell coin of her own. 

The rest of us weren’t totally left out of things, obviously. The moment the ship took off, heading what seemed like straight for the battle, Athena turned slightly to call back, “Felicity, be ready to track the moment we’re within the atmosphere. The rest of you, prepare the transport circles just as I showed you!” 

Trying to ignore the fact that we were flying straight into the crossfire between two fleets of warring ships and had no idea whether the people fighting the Fomorians would give a shit about killing us along with them, I reached deep into my pocket, unzipping it. After digging around a bit, I came out with a small vial. A thick, pale blue liquid was visible through it as I clutched the vial tight. It was protected against damage, of course. But still, the contents were entirely too precious to risk losing. Not after we’d come all this way. 

All around me, Avalon and the others were already crouching in the bit of open space where the base of the transport circles had been started before we ever left, drawn in by Athena and Sariel the night before. Vanessa, Tristan, Roxa, and Avalon worked on one while Sands, Sarah, Columbus, and Shiori worked the other. Tabbris helped by moving between both, suggesting improvements or corrections here and there. They couldn’t finish the enchantments because the details had to be saved for when we were actually here. But my friends were quickly sketching in what was needed with a few glances toward a nearby console to get specific coordinate details. Even then, they wouldn’t be able to finish just yet. Not until we had an exact location. And that part was up to me. 

Trying not to think about what would happen if the world-shattering forces around us actually started to pay our relatively little ship too much attention, I focused on staring intently at the planet ahead while gripping the vial tight. I wanted to help the others, I wanted to do anything other than sit there. But I had to be ready. I couldn’t be distracted. Besides, as much as I wanted to contribute, they had enough people drawing in the transport spells. And I sure as hell had no idea what I was doing when it came to actually helping with the ship defense. My need to help wasn’t an excuse to get in the way. 

But, valid as that point was, it didn’t really help me feel any better. I couldn’t contribute right now. All I could do was sit there, tensely watching the battle going on ahead and all around us. Lasers, missiles, random spells, tentacles, fang-filled monstrosities, and more exploded, shot, and swarmed everywhere I looked. Our ship barrelled right on through, spinning, diving, and rolling just to get a little bit closer to the planet with each passing second. Several spells came close, but Jophiel and May, with help from the others near them, dispelled and countered them before they could do too much. Meanwhile, Athena was snapping orders back and forth between Sachael, Sariel, and Apollo. She was clearly using a mix of watching the screens and her own power to keep track of any immediate dangers, telling them where to go and when to transfer power between the shields and engines just for that little bit of a boost at the exact right time.

There was no way we could’ve made it through with this array of forces against us, on either side. The plan, again, had been to get to the planet and out before they could assemble everything we were already seeing. This ship was a prototype, intended to test the transport system, not to win (or even survive) a battle like this. And here we were, flying directly into the middle of a fight between two incredibly powerful fleets who were intent on utterly destroying one another. We were a very small bird flying through a hailstorm of lasers, missiles, and worse. 

The fact was, we probably still would’ve been destroyed if we didn’t have Athena, Sachael, Jophiel, Sariel, and Apollo. They knew what they were doing, and had fallen right back into working together as if no time had passed since they were part of the same crew. It was kind of amazing to behold, terrified as I was about the whole situation. 

And yet, above and beyond all the others, it was Sariel who got us through it. I watched her at the controls as she seemed to sit in total relaxation. She wasn’t stiff, wasn’t hunched over in her seat. Instead, she sat back, breathing calmly in and out while carefully yet coolly putting her hands up against the holographic display. Then? Then she went to work. 

When it came down to it, flying this ship through this battlefield amounted to driving a dump truck through a field full of tanks, artillery, and racecars armed with machine guns. But impossible had apparently never met Sariel’s piloting. 

A very slight touch with one hand sent the ship spinning upside down (well, relative to how we were before), while her other hand slowed our speed fractionally and touched the nose of the craft downward by maybe a meter. In that same instant, while the ship was in mid-spin, two massive laser-blasts passed through the space where it had just been. They came in at an upward angle, spaced apart just enough they passed above and below the ship itself. The fact that it was already spinning and thus at a diagonal angle was the only reason the shots missed. And, given the ship was basically a tube aside from having a flat bottom and rounded top meant the shots came really close indeed. 

No sooner had those two shots skimmed past us than we were fully upside-down, and in that instant, a flailing Fomorian tentacle passed just barely above the now-upward facing belly of the ship, while some kind of glowing ball of… something bad went sailing just above the nose of the ship that Sariel had nudged down enough to avoid that very thing. 

That was just the first half-second. Three different attacks, all avoided with a single maneuver. And then? Then it got really nuts. Sariel flew that ship like it was an extension of her own body. I’d seen her in physical action, I’d heard and seen how her power amounted to more than just being able to hit things really well. It gave her perfect accuracy. Anything whose path and motion she was capable of controlling, including herself and things she drove or piloted, she did with that same perfect accuracy. She threw and shot things like a goddess, true. But she also moved and piloted like one. If she controlled where and how something moved, it did so utterly flawlessly. 

It should have been impossible to make it through the battlefield before us. Yet Sariel made it look easy. Every motion of her hands, every control she touched, every slight adjustment of the ship’s trajectory, speed, and more made dozens of attacks miss. Some of them (mostly from the Fomorian side) were intended for us, some were just attacks we happened to pass through on our way. But between Sariel’s piloting and the magic defenses from Jophiel, December, and May we avoided all of them. This little, flimsy, dump truck of a shuttle danced through the entire battlefield like it was nothing. 

Through it all, with each passing minute, we drew closer and closer to the planet. Yet it didn’t seem to be enough. No matter how close we got, the world seemed eternally far away. It was like staring at a pot of water while you were trying to make food, willing it to start boiling and all it would do was steam forever. Except in this case, instead of a few hunger pangs there were blindingly bright, six-meter-wide laser blasts that would have obliterated our entire ship and everyone on it if they got too close. And all I could do, the only thing I was capable of in that moment, was rocking my body back and forth in the seat, silently willing us to please go just a little bit faster. Which was about as helpful as… well, about as helpful as rocking back and forth on a spaceship to make it go faster. With the vial clutched tight in one hand, I swallowed hard past the lump in my throat. Please. Please get there. Please let us make it in time. We were so close. After everything that had happened, if Elisabet and Dexamene ended up dying anyway, or worse, I wasn’t sure how I would live with myself. To say nothing of what would happen if I managed to get myself and everyone on this ship killed by dragging them into this in the first place. 

We had just beaten Fossor. He was dead. And now I had to pull basically half the people I cared about in the world into a situation like this? Yet, what choice did I have? I owed Dexamene and Elisabet everything, everything. I owed them my life, my freedom, the lives and freedom of basically everyone I knew, everyone in the entire world if Fossor had had his way. 

We had to get there. We had to save them. 

An explosion of blue light and what appeared to be a rapidly expanding mushroom (not a mushroom cloud, a literal mushroom in the middle of space) appeared just to our left, while a beam of energy wide enough to encompass an entire football field blasted through the space to the right. But Athena had been ahead of things, snapping orders two seconds earlier that made Sariel twist the ship to fly right through the relatively narrow space between the two attacks. Immediately, the woman called out another order to Sachael to shove all the power he could to engines for the boost, and the ship sped up to narrowly avoid some kind of gravitational anomaly spell that burst to life right where we had just been. The engines strained against the force of its pull, but with the added power were barely able to pull us through. 

It went on like that, chaotic and insane. Anything Sariel herself couldn’t avoid with her expertise and power, Athena was on top of with her own. Sitting where I was, unable to actually help, I saw all of it while most of the others only seemed to be able to focus on the one thing they were trying to do. Lucky them. I sat, eyes snapping from person to person, from near-hit to near-total-destruction. I saw Apollo calculating the best approach through the dazzling array of attacks passing back and forth between the two fleets, saw my mother and Kohaku next to Sachael, feeding power to him so he could keep the ship’s systems running properly, saw my friends frantically yet carefully trying to finish the transport spells. All of this, everything around me, was happening all at the same time, throughout this chaotic battle. And through all of it, I could do nothing to actually help. I had to sit there, waiting and hoping we would get close soon. Tempting as it might have been to try to aid my friends, not only was getting in the way a bad idea, but if I ended up getting distracted with that and missed the fact that we were in the atmosphere I’d end up making the whole situation worse by dragging everything out. 

So, I waited, tensely watching throughout the fight. If it hadn’t been so terrifying and the situation so critical, I might’ve enjoyed the show. Between all the lasers, the monsters literally swimming through space with their tentacles waving out to grab passing ships, the way various spell effects triggered here and there, it was the sort of spectacle that would take a hundred million or so to make a movie of. 

Gripping the vial tight in one hand, I stared as the fighters and smaller vessels swooped here and there, or looming above and below like enormous whales in the case of the capital ships. I could hear my own breathing over the sound of everyone else calling back and forth, and forced myself to breathe. Calm. Listen. Watch. If it came down to it, knowing everything possible about these people who were fighting the Fomorians might end up being really important. So I took in everything I could, just in case. I didn’t understand much of it, to say the least. But I took it in.

Ten minutes. It took ten minutes of this, one of the longest ten minutes of my life, and our ship was a bit singed, the shields heavily damaged from a couple near-misses. But we made it. We finally penetrated the atmosphere, dropping quickly toward the world below while Athena called out for me to do my part. 

Immediately, I popped the top off the vial and poured some of the contents out into my hand. The pale blue liquid pooled in my palm. It was blood. Specifically, Dexamene’s. Yeah, we weren’t just blindly hoping I’d be able to find her when the time came. I had my harpy blood-tracking power from the last time I’d been here, fighting against Nicholas’s forces. It clearly required we be at least somewhat nearby, but I could use it as the ship skimmed through the atmosphere and point out when we were close, getting us to them through a game of hot and cold. At least, that was the idea. 

The real question was, would the fact that there was an all-out war going on just above help or hinder us? The Fomorians were already out in force rather than having to scramble the way we’d expected, but they were also busy at the moment. I supposed it really depended on how well the unknown forces did at keeping them occupied. 

But seriously, how the hell was there an entire fleet powerful enough to stand up against the Fomorians this way and none of the several very well-informed Seosten here had any idea who they were? How was that even possible? Was it just a case of space being really fucking big and therefore the Seosten simply didn’t know every force that was out there? That seemed too simple, and yet I couldn’t think of any other explanation. Especially if these people were relatively new to the scene. That made sense, sort of. I’d just spent the past year being conditioned to believe the Seosten knew basically everything about the universe, so it was a weird awakening. 

In any case, wondering about all of that could come later. Right now, I was going to hope that, whoever they were, they managed to keep the Fomorians off us. Meanwhile, I closed my eyes, focusing on the blood pooling in my palm. Dexamene… Dexamene… where was she? Please. God, please, I had to find her. I wasn’t positive of how far away I could be and still use the Harpy’s power. Hopefully not too far, or this could take a long time. 

Now it was everyone else’s turn to anxiously watch me. There were a few tense words about staying low and keeping an eye on any incoming threats, but for the most part the other people onboard simply stared and waited. I could feel their eyes on me, clearly silently urging the power to trigger just as much as I was. Please… Dexamene… please… How much time had passed? How many minutes? How much longer could we stay here? How long would it–

“There!” Without warning, and while barely consciously realizing what I was doing, my hand snapped out toward the right. “A hundred miles that way!” It was right on the edge of my senses, barely a blip, yet I was absolutely certain it was her. 

The ship instantly turned, heading the way I pointed out. As we got closer, I was able to guide them more specifically, all while praying that what I was leading us to was a living, free Dexamene and not a body. Nearby, I could see Tristan clasp his hands, staring ahead anxiously while Sarah put a hand on his shoulder. Jophiel, on the other hand, had her gaze fixated solidly on me as she waited tensely. We were close, so close. Within a few seconds of my pointing out where to go, the distance had dropped from a hundred miles to practically nothing. 

Then we were there. My power said Dexamene was directly below, and the ‘window’ at the front of the ship adjusted to show a view of what was down there. 

“Yes!” Tristan suddenly thrust his fists in the air. And I didn’t blame him, because they were there. Dexamene and Elisabet both. The two stood below, staring up at the ship. We’d made it. They were safe, they were–

Brace!” Athena abruptly shouted, an instant before… something hit us. I had no idea what it was. All I knew was that there was a bright flash, a loud bang, and the ship suddenly started spinning wildly. The view went wild, the ground coming up far too quickly. 

Then we hit, and my vision went black.

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17 comments

  1. And now they’ve crashed on the planet. That’s…. probably not the best, huh? Oh well, I’m sure it’s fine. It’ll be fine. Yup. Tune in next time to find out how fine it is! Until then, you can boost the story on Top Web Fiction right here and your tags are: Avalon Sinclaire, Columbus Porter, December, Deveron Adams, Felicity Chambers, Flick, Haiden Moon, Jophiel, Larissa Mason, Lillian Patters, May, Now I Kinda Want To See How The Originally Olympus Handled A Naval Battle With Everyone At Their Positions And Working Together, Pace, Risa Kohaku, Roxa Pittman, Sachael, Sandoval Lucas, Sarah Lucas, Sariel, Shiori Porter, Spark Says If You People Would Figure Out How To Shift Her Ship Out Of Landing Mode You’d Have A Much Easier Time Maneuvering, Tabbris, Theia, Tristan Moon, Vanessa Moon

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  2. -sigh- I really wish they had just found the two of them and nothing actually happened. Their ship, their small, non-combative ship being hit when there are so many other better targets is just Narrative Causality that something has to go wrong for the main character to make dramatic tension.

    It is unneeded, the main character doesn’t have to be the focus of everything when they are on screen. Flick did her part and found the two they were looking for and it could have just ended there without some big event happening to Make Things Worse ™. I wish more stories would just allow things to work out on screen and not have something go wrong first.

    And especially here, and now. Because you’re asking me to believe that Athena could pilot them through the open fighting without taking a major hit but once they are out of it and not forced to focus on everyone that something sneaks up on her enough that all she can do is give a short warning to “Brace” and not, you know “Dodge”? You’re asking me to believe that she’d allow herself to relax enough to be snuck up on while not out of danger. Sure, maybe she’s stretched her power a bit already but there’s no signs of her having trouble before this moment. And then you add in everyone else who all just happen to also fail at their tasks at the same time so this one attack can get through and make the ship crash.

    I understand there are mitigating factors and the characters aren’t flawless but the timing of it is just a very, very very blatant case of Make Things Worse ™ that I find it to be extremally disappointing.

    They made it! They found them! Oh no! Now everyone is stranded! Who could have seen this coming?! I wish I had a sarcasm font.

    I said it before, I’m just tired of action, action, action all the time. I’m tired of things having to go wrong before they work out. There were so many other ways of making narrative tension, so many more creative ways of doing it than just “Last second attack that crashes the ship.”
    The rest of the rant is more about narrative tropes in general but this part is directly to you Cerulean: I’m disappointed. You’re a really great author, and you have really great ideas and do really great stories and while you do follow some known beats you tend to put a unique spin on things. This is the first time I’ve felt you did exactly what I expected you to do: The last second crushing of the Hope Spot due to Diabolus Ex Machina. No unique spin, nothing original, no real twist. Just straight up Make Things Worse ™ so we have a cliffhanger for the chapter’s end and next time can see how our heroes fight their way out of it to get back home.

    This isn’t a “I can no longer read this story.” post, and there are various ways I can think of that next chapter can go that would be “unexpected” but, well, I don’t expect any of those ways to happen.

    I hate how I’m going to have to wait so long to see how things resole because while I don’t tend to mind cliffhangers or even get overly frustrated with them (even if the joke is that you use them too much) this one just leaves me dissatisfied. I don’t really care what happens next, I just want to move on so we can get the Required Action Sequence ™ over with and get to the actually interesting stuff.

    So thanks for most of the chapter, everything but for the last two paragraphs was great. It’s just those last two paragraphs really soured the whole thing for me.

    P.S.: Two typos:

    touch one one hand

    “with one”

    touched, ever slight

    “every”

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    1. Why don’t you wait and see what hit them…because of all you just said, my first thought wasn’t that this was from the ongoing battle they’d already dodged but some other cause. Could it be Elizabet? She has no way of knowing this is a friendly ship coming to rescue.

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    2. Hey thanks for the typo corrections first, those have been fixed.

      As for the rest, a lot of it is down to personal taste. To me, here’s my thing… I cannot establish the Fomorians as the be-all end all intergalactic threat and then make it EASY to run in, grab two people off a world the Fomorians have had all this time to secure, and escape with no issues whatsoever. Narratively, that does not work. It hurts the credibility of them as being incredibly dangerous. There are of course arguments to be made that there’s been enough fighting and action, and I am totally onboard with you. But the way that I set up the situation demanded that they be rescued ASAP, and as I just said, an easy, no-problems rescue would hurt the credibility of the Fomorians as enemies. If the Fomorians are easily punked by a small group, no matter how strong and quick, it hurts the storyline overall.

      That said, let me address a couple specifics.

      “Because you’re asking me to believe that Athena could pilot them through the open fighting without taking a major hit but once they are out of it and not forced to focus on everyone that something sneaks up on her enough that all she can do is give a short warning to “Brace” and not, you know “Dodge”?”

      Athena’s power demands she focus on it repeatedly, over and over again, as it gives her the results of several actions she could take over the next few seconds. In this case, in the moment she used her power, the attack was coming in the next second. There wasn’t time to react. Put simply, she took a breath as they focused on the two below them. Because you’re right, they were *out of combat*. They were away from the biggest immediate threats. So she took a breath, used her power again, and caught the attack at the last instant. And at that point, what is she going to say? You’re right, she could say ‘dodge’ instead of ‘Brace’, but there wasn’t time to dodge anywhere. Her power isn’t perfect, especially when she has to use it over and over and over again over ten minutes in an incredibly high-stress situation. She took a second to breathe once they were out of what seemed to be the worst danger and saw the people they were rescuing.

      “And then you add in everyone else who all just happen to also fail at their tasks at the same time so this one attack can get through and make the ship crash.”

      Who failed at their tasks? Everyone was focused on the people they came to rescue and the attack came out of nowhere unexpectedly. There wasn’t time for them to succeed OR fail. There isn’t a task they were supposed to be doing in that moment that would have helped.

      “They made it! They found them! Oh no! Now everyone is stranded! Who could have seen this coming?!”

      Who says they’re stranded? They have some incredibly powerful magic-users who can fix that ship up, and knew they were going into danger. Not having repair spells handy would be pretty dumb. That’s making assumptions based entirely around the ship crashing, which isn’t a great thing to do when magic is involved.

      “The rest of the rant is more about narrative tropes in general but this part is directly to you Cerulean: I’m disappointed. You’re a really great author, and you have really great ideas and do really great stories and while you do follow some known beats you tend to put a unique spin on things. This is the first time I’ve felt you did exactly what I expected you to do: The last second crushing of the Hope Spot due to Diabolus Ex Machina. No unique spin, nothing original, no real twist. Just straight up Make Things Worse ™”

      Last second crushing of hope? This isn’t about crushing hope, it’s about making the rescue slightly more complicated in that they have to physically go get them while others defend and repair the ship so they can escape. So yes, it does involve more action, but as I stated above, I feel that allowing an easy in-and-out rescue and escape would hurt the Fomorians as antagonists. It’s about maintaining the level of dread and threat that they have as enemies and making it clear that not allowing them anywhere near Earth is worth Dare’s continued sacrifice.

      To summarize, none of this is about crushing hope or being edgy and dark. It’s about making the rescue slightly more complicated and providing reason why so many people came along with this. It’s about narratively maintaining the threat level of the Fomorians as a whole and making Flick and company work to rescue Jophiel and Dexamene. It’s about a lot of things beyond just ‘make things bad.’

      None of this response was about dismissing your feelings or opinion. I respect and understand that. But I also disagree and I ask that you wait to see what happens. Because yes, there will be more actions. Throwing Flick in the direction of the Fomorians could hardly result in anything less. But we will get back to non-action things soon, and we’ll do it without making the Fomorians weaker as a threat. We will deal with this rescue in a way that is believable and maintains the narrative, then get to other things. And I promise, there are very good moments and an excellent payoff coming to those who stick with the arc through the upcoming action.

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  3. Well, if The Doctor can pilot a six-person Tardis solo, with the parking break on, this crew should be able to manoeuvre a Spark designed ship in landing mode.

    Adding to my growing list of unlikely origins for the other force, I’ll add Impatient Douche and his bid for universal domination, Tiras and the Akharu, and time displaced remnants of the species who created the dragons.

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  4. “Now I Kinda Want To See How The Originally Olympus Handled A Naval Battle With Everyone At Their Positions And Working Together,”

    Hey, I don’t know how he is going to know to be there yet, (More time shenanigans?) but I’ve already called Puriel bringing the Olympus in to save the day, so … an approximation of this may happen fairly soon.

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  5. I’d just put in that I fully and wholly support vladspellbinders post, this was an unnecessary and unlikely end to a otherwise well written chapter.

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  6. Here’s the way I see it: yes, Athena and Sariel were able to get them through the battle. While they were moving.

    Then they got to the planet. They thought they were (relatively) safe. And, they had to remain stationary for a little bit (with respect to the planet) in order to pull Elisabet and Dexamine (I keep wanting to write dexmethasone there, but that’s a steroid) off the planet.

    So, while they were stationary and focused on the two people they came to rescue, something unexpected hit them. Maybe from the battle above, but probably more likely from the planet below; we don’t know yet.

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  7. I’m making a new top level reply because WordPress is dumb and I while I do have the “reply” option on Cerluean’s response above I’d not be able to reply to anything after that.

    My main problem here is that it has been joked about before how you have “an addiction to cliffhangers”, in that there were a lot of end-of-chapter cliffhangers in a short amount of time that people actually noticed there were end-of-chapter cliffhangers.

    Cliffhangers are one of many writer’s tools that if overused get very tiresome very fast. They have to be used at the right time or they feel cheap, nothing more than a “Tune in next time to find out what happens!” grab. They come from a time when you had to do something to get people to buy your next comic or paper or tune in to your radio show or whatever.
    They aren’t needed so much now-a-days, and especially not so much in web serial novels. We’re already giving you our time to read what you produce, we’ll be here next time you post because we enjoy reading it. I’m not saying never use cliffhangers, I’m saying know when they add to the narrative.

    To me this cliffhanger feels like it is just here to be a cliffhanger. Now that’s some “crocodile shaped crocodiles” level of tautology but a cliffhanger can server many functions, the main one being of course to set something up to pay off in the next chapter but they can also add to the over all narrative as well. This particular cliffhanger does nothing to really add to the narrative other than the set up for danger. We already know the group is in a dangerous area! Pretty much the whole chapter was telling us how much danger they are in!
    The whole “Brace!” and crash could have been used as a start-of-chapter upset and we get right into solving the problem instead of having to wait and see the resolution. If you really must end on some kind of tension then a simple statement of “We found them, and they were in trouble.” probably work much better. It tells the readers things are not going to be easy but doesn’t give any information on just how bad things really are. Whereas with the direct crash we already know what went wrong and the only thing left to find out if how it gets resolved. To me the former sets up a positive sort of anticipation while the later is negative anticipation.

    Now that’s about the cliffhanger overall. Another problem I have with this particular cliffhanger is when I said it “Was exactly what I expected to happen”. And I mean that. I was quite literally expecting the ship to crash. I was thinking it’d be a hit from the huge battle they had to go through and not a blindside but it was still what I thought the most likely thing to happen. Because of the narrative and how I knew things would have to Go Wrong.
    It’s not a unique spin on things like other Things Going Wrong you’ve done before Cerulean. It’s one of the most oldest tropes of “ship crashes leaving heroes stranded”. I can think of so many other ways of Making Things Worse that don’t involve a crash. It is the crash itself that is so disappointing because it’s the most obvious one and as such cuts out all of the other potentially more interesting and innovative ideas that could have happened.

    Now to be somewhat fair about it if their enemy isn’t being overly fancy a crash if what’s going to happen. You hit something flying with a rock and the thing flying will probably crash, and it has been shown that the Fomorians aren’t adverse to doing the simple solution when needed. So overall it’s not really so much the result of the attack or that the attack hit or anything. I’m failing at the words thing.

    I think my main problem with this cliffhanger is that the chapter is nothing but “We are in so much danger right now!” with how often Flick goes on and one and on about what’s happening around them and how hard everyone has to work to keep them alive and then we get a very short amount of time where they are safe before “LOL! IT WAS ALL A LIE! They were never safe! HAHAHAHA” levels of cheap drama.
    That’s what it feels like, just a cheap diabolus ex machina to end the chapter on.

    I understand that things will get more explanation next chapter. That we’ll see what knocked the ship down and how bad it is and so on but that will be later. I am talking about how a single paragraph plus one other sentence just basically soured the whole chapter for me now. And I know myself well enough to know that I’d have the same reaction even if the next chapter was already available to me.
    If I had been reading this as a published book, physical copy in my hands, I’d have put the book down after this chapter. I wouldn’t care enough to find out what happens next because of how cheap and blatant this “Turn the page!” cliffhanger is. I’d come back later, sure, but I’d not keep reading right away.

    As for some other points: Everyone on spell defense had to be slacking off, Apollo had to not be watching what was going on at nav. I get that people can make mistakes, but everyone making a mistake at the same time is stretching it a bit. Them “:focusing on who they were there to recuse” is a rookie mistake and the people I’m talking about are not rookies.
    I guess I’m just too tied up on how the cliffhanger itself is a very bad cliffhanger to me as both a reader and a writer so it detracts from the chapter and the story overall.

    On my “The Heroes are stranded comment”, that was me aping on how older drams would show the main protagonist trapped in a car going over the edge of the cliff and the car falling into the water only for next episode for the protagonist to jump out of the car at the last moment, something which clearly didn’t happen on the previous one.
    Yes I know they are not totally stranded and the ship totally busted and what have you. But with the chapter ending where it does that’s the impression you are giving off. “Oh no! How will they ever survive this one! Find out next time!”

    As for the fomorians being a “true threat”, for the part with the ship being brought down, I’m going to admit that I can’t dissociate their level of threat with my distaste of the cliffhanger. The more I think about it it is all about the cliffhanger being here, and how if this had been a start-of-chapter upset instead I’d not have any problems with it.
    That said there are so many other ways the rescue could have been impeded without having to crash the ship. Maybe there is something blocking direct teleportation down so instead they have to “land” elsewhere and fight their way through to kill the disruptor. Yes that’s basically the same thing that happened in the future with Petan’s people but at least rehashing the scenario in a slightly different way would be unexpected. And Flick could have even lampshaded it!
    Or may they do manage the rescue then something goes wrong. It’s all about the timing of the cliffhanger. I’ve said it enough, but that’s my core problem so I don’t know what else to say.

    There are a lot of things I could to say about the fomorians being a “true threat” over all but I don’t know if me saying them is actually going to change things or not. I’m rather sure you’re not the type of author who would change their plan on the fly because of what the readers say but once words have been put out there they can’t be taken back and have a way of sneaking in at times. It’s often why creators are not allowed to look at fan works, lest they accidentally take something from one and use it in the canon content.
    I will say that I’m just wanting the upcoming fight scene to be over with for the reasons I’m not saying.

    I have a lot of respect for you Cerulean, it’s not easy pumping out content the way you do. I also really do enjoy your work. That said this one little bit, and it is indeed a very little bit, just feels like a huge misstep to me. Because it brings the “addiction to cliffhangers” joke back to mind and continues the precedent that was set to make the joke a thing in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate you taking the time to explain your feelings so throughly. Again, nothing I’ve said before or what I will say now is meant to detract from your own opinions, which are absolutely understandable and your own to have. That’s absolutely fine and I respect you for being able to explain everything you feel. So thanks.

      That said, it is *my feeling* that you’re being a bit unfair about the whole situation and going with your worst possible interpretation. Let me go through things.

      “Cliffhangers are one of many writer’s tools that if overused get very tiresome very fast. They have to be used at the right time or they feel cheap, nothing more than a “Tune in next time to find out what happens!” grab. They come from a time when you had to do something to get people to buy your next comic or paper or tune in to your radio show or whatever.
      They aren’t needed so much now-a-days, and especially not so much in web serial novels. We’re already giving you our time to read what you produce, we’ll be here next time you post because we enjoy reading it. I’m not saying never use cliffhangers, I’m saying know when they add to the narrative.”

      Whether this cliffhanger and action was needed or not is personal interpretation and opinion. Whether it adds to the narrative, same deal. Personal opinion and interpretation, which is probably better decided later.

      “To me this cliffhanger feels like it is just here to be a cliffhanger. Now that’s some “crocodile shaped crocodiles” level of tautology but a cliffhanger can server many functions, the main one being of course to set something up to pay off in the next chapter but they can also add to the over all narrative as well. This particular cliffhanger does nothing to really add to the narrative other than the set up for danger. We already know the group is in a dangerous area! Pretty much the whole chapter was telling us how much danger they are in!”

      To be perfectly fair, you don’t know what them crashing contributes to the narrative yet. To say ‘it does nothing to add to the narrative’ is kind of jumping the gun before you have any idea how the rest of the arc plays out and why it might’ve been for the narrative good that the ship be damaged and force them to play out the next bit the way it goes. They planned on simply teleporting the targets onto the ship and leaving. Narratively, forcing them to go collect them while protecting the ship adds a LOT of differences and potentially interesting moments. So again, to say that it adds nothing is both premature and, I would say, untrue.

      “The whole “Brace!” and crash could have been used as a start-of-chapter upset and we get right into solving the problem instead of having to wait and see the resolution. If you really must end on some kind of tension then a simple statement of “We found them, and they were in trouble.” probably work much better. It tells the readers things are not going to be easy but doesn’t give any information on just how bad things really are. Whereas with the direct crash we already know what went wrong and the only thing left to find out if how it gets resolved. To me the former sets up a positive sort of anticipation while the later is negative anticipation.”

      That’s a very valid opinion, and a fair thought. But basically it’s just… a personal choice. Perhaps yours would have been better. But mine is the way I chose to go, specifically to end the chapter on the ship being damaged.

      “Now that’s about the cliffhanger overall. Another problem I have with this particular cliffhanger is when I said it “Was exactly what I expected to happen”. And I mean that. I was quite literally expecting the ship to crash. I was thinking it’d be a hit from the huge battle they had to go through and not a blindside but it was still what I thought the most likely thing to happen. Because of the narrative and how I knew things would have to Go Wrong.
      It’s not a unique spin on things like other Things Going Wrong you’ve done before Cerulean. It’s one of the most oldest tropes of “ship crashes leaving heroes stranded”. I can think of so many other ways of Making Things Worse that don’t involve a crash. It is the crash itself that is so disappointing because it’s the most obvious one and as such cuts out all of the other potentially more interesting and innovative ideas that could have happened.”

      I have no problem with people guessing that certain things will happen, particularly when they get twisted up on how/when exactly it will. I think part of what makes a good story is when you CAN guess some things and not guess others. And again, the ship being damaged isn’t an incidental thing, it’s important for other narrative things. Splitting the group up, seeing a bit of action from them dealing with Fomorians, having some defend the ship while others go collect Dexamene and Elisabet whiles still others work to repair their ride, it’s all important.

      “I think my main problem with this cliffhanger is that the chapter is nothing but “We are in so much danger right now!” with how often Flick goes on and one and on about what’s happening around them and how hard everyone has to work to keep them alive and then we get a very short amount of time where they are safe before “LOL! IT WAS ALL A LIE! They were never safe! HAHAHAHA” levels of cheap drama.
      That’s what it feels like, just a cheap diabolus ex machina to end the chapter on.”

      This is one of those things that make me think you’re maybe taking it a bit more harshly than I ever intended it. The entire point is simply supposedly to be, ‘damn, they’re down, what do they do next?’ not some kind of huge dramatic moment. It was never intended to be portrayed as some huge problem, just a natural breaking point leading to the next chapter. That’s why I think I’m a little confused by your dramatic reaction, as if you think it was supposed to be a LOT worse of a thing than it was intended as. My only intention was to inspire, ‘well shit, what will they do now?’ You seem to be taking it as a much bigger thing than that, for which I apologize.

      “I understand that things will get more explanation next chapter. That we’ll see what knocked the ship down and how bad it is and so on but that will be later. I am talking about how a single paragraph plus one other sentence just basically soured the whole chapter for me now. And I know myself well enough to know that I’d have the same reaction even if the next chapter was already available to me.
      If I had been reading this as a published book, physical copy in my hands, I’d have put the book down after this chapter. I wouldn’t care enough to find out what happens next because of how cheap and blatant this “Turn the page!” cliffhanger is. I’d come back later, sure, but I’d not keep reading right away.”

      I’m sorry

      “As for some other points: Everyone on spell defense had to be slacking off, Apollo had to not be watching what was going on at nav. I get that people can make mistakes, but everyone making a mistake at the same time is stretching it a bit. Them “:focusing on who they were there to recuse” is a rookie mistake and the people I’m talking about are not rookies.”

      Sorry, but no. Apollo was navigating in the sense of plotting the course through the battlefield, and they were already there. His navigation job would not have changed things. Beyond that, what hit them was not magic so no one was slacking off on spell defense. What happened doesn’t require ANYONE to be slacking off. Sometimes you just get hit, regardless of how careful you are. Particularly where the Fomorians and their obsession with creating monstrous horrors that can do all kinds of nasty things. The Fomorians are bad news, particularly when they’ve had time to fortify a planet. It’s not a rookie mistake to get hit by something when you have to stop to identify and teleport your targets up to where you are, particularly when dealing with monsters like these.

      “On my “The Heroes are stranded comment”, that was me aping on how older drams would show the main protagonist trapped in a car going over the edge of the cliff and the car falling into the water only for next episode for the protagonist to jump out of the car at the last moment, something which clearly didn’t happen on the previous one.
      Yes I know they are not totally stranded and the ship totally busted and what have you. But with the chapter ending where it does that’s the impression you are giving off. “Oh no! How will they ever survive this one! Find out next time!””

      Again, not intended that way. Obviously you know Flick will be fine, it was just a way of ending the chapter leading to the next one at a natural breaking point that established the ship being damaged and the alternative rescue mission being put into play next time.

      “As for the fomorians being a “true threat”, for the part with the ship being brought down, I’m going to admit that I can’t dissociate their level of threat with my distaste of the cliffhanger. The more I think about it it is all about the cliffhanger being here, and how if this had been a start-of-chapter upset instead I’d not have any problems with it.
      That said there are so many other ways the rescue could have been impeded without having to crash the ship. Maybe there is something blocking direct teleportation down so instead they have to “land” elsewhere and fight their way through to kill the disruptor. Yes that’s basically the same thing that happened in the future with Petan’s people but at least rehashing the scenario in a slightly different way would be unexpected. And Flick could have even lampshaded it!
      Or may they do manage the rescue then something goes wrong. It’s all about the timing of the cliffhanger. I’ve said it enough, but that’s my core problem so I don’t know what else to say.”

      If your sole problem is *where the event is*, it seems a little unfair to have this much of an issue with it happening, particularly when you know it will be resolved soon enough anyway. It seems more like you’re taking it being the end of the chapter to end on a cliff somewhat personally. Like, I honestly can’t tell if your main issue is just that you wish it happened at the start of the chapter, or the fact that the ship crashed at all. You’ve written another way for the ship to need to land, yes, and without the dramatic ending. Which is perfectly fair if that’s how you would write it. Perhaps it would be better that way. It’s not what I chose to do and I stick by my choice.

      “I have a lot of respect for you Cerulean, it’s not easy pumping out content the way you do. I also really do enjoy your work. That said this one little bit, and it is indeed a very little bit, just feels like a huge misstep to me. Because it brings the “addiction to cliffhangers” joke back to mind and continues the precedent that was set to make the joke a thing in the first place.”

      I appreciate that as well as your willingness to speak up and explain yourself, truly. I may not agree on all your points, as a lot of it is personal choices and opinion. As I said, however, I think you’re seeing it as far more of a dramatic and terrible thing than it was ever intended to be. Again, it was only ever meant to inspire ‘damn, what now?’ before moving on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. To add one more point to this, I will flat out state that the ship being damaged is actually important to the narrative in a way that other solutions you’ve pointed out would not cover.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Another top level comment because WordPress:

    My main issues is indeed this happening at the end of the chapter, thus making it a cliffhanger. I don’t particularly care about the ship crashing, no matter how it happens. Needing the ship out of active service via a crash in particular to help the narrative is fine, it is the timing of it that makes it feel worse than it is.

    This whole chapter is tension, “We need to run this gauntlet to get to the other side.” Constant tension, just tension, tension, tension the whole way through. Then they are through, they made it, tension gone. They have their moment to breathe and then go find who they are looking for and find them! Then you smack the reader in the face with a crash out of no where. That’s what I meant by “crushing hope”. We get out Hope Spot of them finding who they are looking for and it is immediately countered.
    Maybe if there had been a bit more of a pause after finding them, a bit more time where it looks like they may actually get the rescue without something Going Wrong it wouldn’t be so bad.
    It is the whole chapter taken together that makes the crash seem like a larger deal than just a “what now?” situation.

    I guess another factor in this is that in the past you’ve done more unique and compelling cliffhangers and this one just feel like a cheap cash-in cliffhanger. There is just something wrong with this one that makes it a bad cliffhanger instead of a good one. And I know that is going to be subjective, you can’t please everyone after all. But I also know that just as some will disagree with me others will agree so I’m putting it out there.
    I also can’t really describe why I’m reacting so strongly to it, because from a subjective logical standpoint it doesn’t matter if it happens now or at the start of the next chapter. But it’s not an intellectual logical reason it rubs me the wrong way like it does.
    Sometimes you just can’t find the right words.

    Like

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