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Jumpchain RED [Jumpchain]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by ketch117, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. Threadmarks: Prologue

    ketch117 A wicked cricket critic's dinner napkin

    Nov 19, 2018
    Likes Received:
    So, decided to give this a try. This isn't my first time writing, but it is my first attempt at writing a Jumpchain story, so we'll see how it works out. This is a jumpchain, though with a few of the core premisses altered or shifted around. If that sounds like something you'd be interested in, feel free to check it out and let me know what you think.

    Prologue - JUMP 46 (ACE COMBAT)

    The Messerschmitt's cockpit stank of aviation fuel, cigarettes and regrets - all three of which he ignored with a combination of urgency and long practice. The sky spun crazily in and out of focus, the engine coughed and spluttered and rattled away like a thoroughbred whose heart might have no quit in it but whose lungs are shot, and the controls fought at him as well, and fought with everything they had. In a situation like this, thinking in metaphors came easier than grappling directly with what was at hand - namely that the odds of limping back and landing his plane were higher than an entire commune of hippies on a blotterful.

    Dirty black smoke streamed back from the engine, almost blinding him, and one of his ailerons had come loose, forcing him to lean hard on the opposite rudder pedal in order to keep the most up. The Messerschmitt was a stable, dependable, dull-grey plane with twin rudders and engines and wide wings that seemed to almost respond to his directives before he made them. Nobody on either side knew quite what to make of the retrofitted old warhorse of a plane which carried him into battle. It’s classic lines cut a curious and anachronistic silhouette as it glided through the skies, but then, people were fooled by appearances. Incongruous as it was to see a museum-piece in the battle, a fighter which had been a game contender in the wars fought almost a century past and had been left behind - and with it the causes and issues that men had fought and died for, replaced by the innovations and conflicts of a new age.

    When asked about it, he only sighed, and thought better of explaining the paradoxical concept of ‘Theseus’ ship’ to whoever had asked. Regardless of it’s appearance, nobody who’d seen him fly it doubted it’s right to be here. It was the plane he’d learned to fly in essence, if so extensively modified and rebuilt since that the distinction was largely conceptual, and he appreciated the classic design. What was the present? Everything sacrificed for speed, no matter how she flies or handles? No matter how she responds? No thought to grace? The man who designed those Messerschmitt’s, he had stared at a summer sky and dreamed of eagles…

    The sky was empty, but far bellow the antiaircraft guns had swivelled as they took aim and made ready to knock him sprawling into infinite sleep if he gave them anything resembling a chance. He didn’t intend to let them. He wrestled with the controls and watching the gauges. The atomic clock in his skull kept time to the pumping of his heart, a regular seventy-two beats per minute. Sensors indicated that the air had fallen below freezing sometime after dark. Suspended in insulate gel, encased in an armoured exoskeleton, he would have never known - body temperature remained at an ideal 37ºC; breathing rate - had he been breathing rather then sucking oxygen directly into the bloodstream through a tube - would have remained a perfectly calm twelve inhalations per minute. Yet he was agitated regardless, as he used all the automated strength in his arms to keep the wing's level, as he whipped his mortally wounded plane away violently around the ravenous pillars of exploding shells that were far too close for comfort, but still far enough away. He’d taken a pasting from a whole squadron of enemy fighters over the Osea coast, and it wouldn’t take much more than a near miss, much less a glancing hit, to finish him off.

    To the Royal Air Force of Erusea, his codename was ‘Gawain’ - a familiar handle which he'd carried for a long time and which fitted him comfortably, if somewhat at odds with the fashion of the nations usual conventions when it came to codenames, though still far more to their taste than his squadron, which he called ‘Flying Circus’. Miles behind him, his assailants lay smashed and tangled in the smoking, splintered wreckage of their aircraft, which he’d dutifully marked and reported. And behind them, the Allies were caught in a long and bloody battle that had begun months ago and lasted just long enough to demonstrate what cruel folly it was. Tanks ground towards Dinsmark like tracked battleships, their multiple turrets dulling with the fearsome heat rays of the insect-like Belkan tripods which bestrode the Osean countryside, laying waste to every town and village in their path.

    Ahead, through the gunsights and bulletproof glass of the windshield, he could see the gleam of Erusea’s chalky cliffs. Below his wings, the hard, ceramic-blue waters of the Channel. The war was behind him now. He’d beaten the odds just getting this far. Almost home now…

    He saw the pillboxes and machine gun nests on the beach at the foot of the cliff. Lines of white surf broke against the sand, and the cliff towered above him: an immovable wall of white rock, at least three hundred feet in height. He glanced down at his dashboard and tapped the altimeter. The dial wasn’t working. He bared his teeth, and hauled back on the stick. The engine spluttered, threatening to stall. The propellor hacked at the sky.

    He only tugged harder.

    Finally, it responded. The nose rose with aching slowness. For a second, he wasn’t sure if he would make it. For an agonising second, the plane seemed to hang in the air–

    Then the cliff’s grassy lip dropped away beneath his wings, and he saw the countryside spread beneath him like a chequered blanket. He took his right hand off the stick, and rubbed his forehead.

    That had been a whole order of magnitude too close.

    A couple of miles inland, through the engine smoke, he caught sight of the aerodrome, and at long last he allowed himself to relax, at least a little. He’d beaten the odds once again.

    He let the nose drop - though not as much as it wanted, trading his hard-won altitude for a little additional speed, until his wheels almost brushed the tops of the hedgerows lining the fields.

    He cleared the first hedge, scattering a herd of dairy cows, and then the second. A skeletal tree snatched at the tip of his starboard wing. The Aerodome’s perimeter fence appeared, right smack between fat mountains beyond the placid blue sea and white cliffs. He pulled back just enough to clear it, and the airfield yawned open like the arms of an anxious parent, ready to catch him.

    The Messerschmitt’s wheels squeaked as they hit the concrete. The stick juddered in his hand. Somehow he kept the nose straight.

    The mortally injured Messerschmitt bumped to a halt at the far end of the field and the engine burst into flames. By the time the fire crews reached it, the engine wasn’t worth saving. Ammunition popped and sputtered in the flames. Paint blistered. But they knew their work, containing the fire and enough of it to save what could be saved. The whole thing would have to be rebuilt, and not for the first time. Theseus’ ship, he thought ruefully. Hell, he was as out of place here as the plane.

    They found him sitting on the grass at the edge of the runway, with his flying goggles loose around his neck, haggard and wan.

    “I need a drink.” He told them, so they gave him a ride back to the Officer’s Mess, while the technicians made for what had once been his plain. The heavy figure of Brutus, swathed as usual in red robes emblazoned with the cog and skull symbol was arriving just as he departed on the back of an army truck. He lifted a hand tiredly in acknowledgement as he passed, but the gesture was not returned. The Enginseer was still human, despite all the bulky augmentations, but had never really gotten the hang of human interaction, on display as he pushed and shoved mechanics and technicians out of the way and moved over to what was left of the plane.

    A few of them asked him what had happened to him, and to the plane. He ignored them.

    The Mess was housed in a canvas marquee at the end of a row of semi-cylindrical steel Nissen huts. Immediately alongside was the abandoned railroad ditch that carried the pipe that carried the aviation gasoline down to the fuel trucks at the airfield. When he pushed through the khaki flap that served as its door, the crowd fell silent. It was a busy night. The bar was busy, the crap table was busy, the ping-gong table was busy. Some young officers - children, really - had been busy at the bar singing old and sentimental favourites which thrummed with patriotic sentiment and nobody ever seemed to get tired of, but they’d paused as well on his arrival.

    Perhaps they were expecting something.

    He just shook the rain from his fleece lined jacket and walked into the room. Nobody said a word, they stopped talking and playing cards, updating social media, checking for updates, fiddling with their phones or computers - all of it. Everyone turned to look at him, tall and dark and bearded (counter to regulations, but he would have shaved if they’d asked and nobody had) - handsome enough even with the discrete but noticeable scars which hinted at extensive surgery and only a few flourishes to his appearance that hinted at how little of him was left (Theseus' ship again), dressed in a greasy flight suit and fleece-lined jacket. His artificial eyes weren’t obvious in the light, and they didn’t miss a detail - they all appeared as grainy, green-tinted holo-images, because his filter needed adjusting. Smoke curled above their heads. Their faces were amused and curious, and he didn’t recognise any of them - save a few old familiar faces that he knew as well as his own, mixed amidst them all like an alloy.

    There were four of them seated together at a table, near the crap table on which Jenny always managed to win. Miranda, as it turned out, wasn’t any good at gambling despite being as close to perfect as science and nature could achieve, but Jenny was just as good at shooting crap as she was at playing ping-pong, and she was just as good at playing ping-pong as she was at everything else. Everything Jenny did, she did well, and everybody who knew her liked her, and people respected Miranda but they mostly didn’t like her very much, and she mostly didn’t give them a reason to. That was the way she liked it, or so she had told him anyway.

    It wasn’t common to see them to sharing a table, since Miranda was a political appointment and was much too far up the chain of command to be involved in the persecution of the war. In practical terms, Miranda was not a political officer, she was a spook, a government appointment. Actually, she was a lot more than that, but she wasn't spreading that little fact around - people were worried enough about her already.

    He should have sat with them, the rest of his squadron who were fighting a war they didn’t have a stake in, sat down and got to figuring things out. Or just found something to talk about, but he didn’t feel up to it. Not right then. He shouldn’t have been flying alone, that’s what he had a squadron for, but he hadn’t done that either. He was becoming erratic, and that should concern him, but it didn't either. Nothing really seemed to be getting through.

    Most of the people gathered, however, were strangers. The men had moustaches and slick-backed hair, the women wore their hair short, and they all wore brand new flying jackets over crisp uniforms. And they were all needed - the war was still going on. Young men and women were going mad and they were getting rewarded with medals. Not just here, all over the world, from Anea to Antarctica, boys and girls on every side of the front-lines were laying down their lives for what they had been told was their country, and no one seemed to mind, least of all the boys and girls who were laying down their young lives. There was no end in sight. The only end in sight was their own.

    Ignoring them all, he loped over to a corner table and climbed onto a chair. After a moment, heads turned away and discussions resumed. Another moment after that, the Mess Officer shuffled over. He looked up at him thoughtfully. The mess officer was a sad, birdlike man, very neat and very clean with the worst combover in the world whose idea of a good time was to have a good sulk while people were likely to notice. But in spite of that, the mess officer was good at his job, and he quite liked him - mostly because he wasn’t expected to.

    As a connoisseur, of sorts, he liked bars and clubs and other places to have a drink best of all when he was the first customer, just after they opened for the evening. When the air inside was still cool and clean and everything shiny and fresh, when the barkeep is giving himself that last look in the mirror to see if his tie is straight and his hair is smooth in the knowledge of how vital a good impression could be.

    He liked the neat bottles on the bar back and the lovely shining glasses and most of all the anticipation. He liked to watch the man mix the first one of the evening and put it down on a crisp mat and put the little folded napkin beside it. He liked to take that drink and to taste it slowly. The first quiet drink of the evening in a quiet bar - that's the sort of simple pleasure that will bring a man back from the dead, in his opinion anyway.

    A long way away from the Officers Mess, in other words. He’d endured worse, of course, but he didn’t see why he should have to.

    “Tea or coffee, squire?”

    “I’ll let you know when I figure it out.” He replied, settling back in his chair and lighting a cigarette. The cigarette helped clear the reek of aviation fuel from his nostrils, and now all he wanted was a rest. He yawned. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been asleep. Not dreaming, just sleeping. He was getting to feel as though it had been forever, flying one sortie after another in an endless string of confused dogfights, fuelled only by nicotine and whiskey and sheer bloody-mindedness, climbing and diving and twisting and turning steeply and sharply with an aching howl of engines, as he wove his way through the filthy barrages of flak.

    It hadn’t been that way when he’d first arrived. It never was, of course, the urgency had to be allowed to build before it could get it's hooks in you. At first it had been exhilarating, but it never lasted. The shrinks called what he was suffering ‘battle-fatigue’ - by which they meant that he was as well balanced as an upturned pyramid. He’d seen it happen before, more times - many more then he could begin to say, in other places and times. He’d seen it happen here as well, to other pilots. They lived too long, lost to many comrades, and withdrew into themselves. Then, one day, they stopped caring altogether. They took mad chances, pushed their luck beyond the ragged limit, and they died.

    Was that what he was doing? Was he finally tired of it all, ready to pick his patch of ground to die on? He wasn’t sure, and that scared him - the idea that his subconscious might have taken a turn to the self-destructive without telling him. He didn’t have a problem with the idea, exactly, but he would like to be kept in the loop of the decision making process.

    He’d gone up against five F117s flying in formation this afternoon, black diamond-shaped fighters straight off the factory lines, said to be invisible to radar, turbofans whirring within their bellies, as they hunted. And he’d chosen to face them, even though they’d had a height advantage on top of everything else. Two he could have handled, had handled plenty of times, but three would have been pushing it, and pushing it hard. An entire formation of five had been asking for it - he should have turned and fled, at least tried to manoeuvre them onto more favourable ground. Called for help. Anything. If one of his companions had been so reckless, he’d have had them confined and put under observation, even given Dr Dax permission to ask his intrusive questions and poke around in their heads for their own good. But there was nobody to do that for him, at least nobody that he’d listen to. That was the burden of command. In spite of everything, he’d carried the day, and skill had played a part, but he’d been fortunate beyond reason to make it home in one piece, and he knew it. Was he pushing his luck until it broke? With a sigh, he reached for his flask, then stopped, as someone firmly placed a bottle between the two of them. He looked up to find Jack standing there, his face as familiar as his own.

    Jack - the other Jack - was a moustached man in his early forties like always, habitually contemptuous of any uniform and dressed in mufti - western chic as were his preferences. He looked the part of a true all-American male - not that anyone here had ever heard of such a place: a black ranchers hat, black denim jacket, black denim jeans, black tie and black boots and the crowning touch: a silver flask belt buckle. All well tailored, and comfortable on his lean frame as a second skin. “You’re not going to get very far drinking that - it’s the good stuff today. You know what this is?” He asked, something about the way he drawled it suggesting it was a trick question.

    He looked up. Wafer thin lenses in his artificial eyes turned. “A bottle of Statesman reserve?”

    Jack - Agent Whiskey shook his head. He had a good-ole-boy attitude combined with a no-nonsense professionalism, and exuded the calm confidence of a man who could handle himself in any situation, whatever it might be. “Missed, but close enough. It’s actually the last bottle of the Statesman Reserve. After this, it’s all used up - who knows what we’ll do for lubrication then?”

    “The last.” He repeated, as though he couldn’t believe it and picked it up gently, almost reverently. It had been bottled in 1969 - whenever that was, relative to him and to now - a question he couldn’t begin to untangle, time was a thing that happened to other people, or so it seemed. They’d taken a dozen barrels, and worked their way through it all. He sighed. Men weren’t meant to live this long. Sometimes he wondered how the gods could stand it.

    “That’s what I said.” Jack replied. "The last."

    “So what’s the occasion? Why are we opening it, rather then holding it back and waiting?”

    “Well it’s another day when we’re all alive. Seems reason enough to celebrate, now don’t it?”

    “Better than many.” He allowed. Again, he wonders about ‘Battle Fatigue’. He thinks about the war, though not this one. In his mind, they’re all one, one endless conflict stretching behind and in front of him. Sometimes he feels as though a million voices are crying out to him from where they were left in no-man's-land, all pleading only for a release from pain. Help me, help me, help me. He hears them in English. French. German. Russian. Other languages, many no longer spoken. He hears the whispers of a dozen disparate empires lost and forgotten by time, and the alien sounds of those dying beneath an unknown sky. Voices which screamed at the sight of their own exposed organs and ruined limbs. Which implored the heavens to take away their pain. To bless them with death. Voices which could soon be his - which nearly had been, countless times.

    When it is as bad as it gets, he begins to feel as though he's the only human being alive, that it’s just him and the voices of the dead, all haunting him. Bodies move around him, talking, eating in the officer’s mess, sometimes talking to him and then waiting as if they expect a dialogue. There are bodies everywhere he looks, men and some women chatting, military and some civilians - but no people. One of the bodies who he talks to in order to save Dr Dax the trouble - an army surgeon - took the time to explain to him that he's suffering from what's actually a common stress disorder, survivor's guilt. This may be so, he admits, but it doesn't change anything.

    Jack nodded, still following the conversation he's barely aware of but sensing the direction of his thoughts, and placed a pair of tumblers beside the bottle, then opened it and poured them both a generous measure. The amber liquid rolled seductively in the glass. His nostrils flared as took in the scent. As Sir Winston Churchill (or perhaps it was it Oscar Wilde) once said, ‘my tastes are simple: I am easily satisfied with the best.’

    “Absent friends.” Jack said, raising his glass.

    They drained their glasses, and he refilled them. This time they didn't toast, they just drank.

    “So who’s worried about me?” He asked, swirling the liquid around in the glass thoughtfully.

    Jack nodded, telling him his assumption was the correct one - someone had put him up to this. Jack wouldn’t have himself, he was of the belief that talking it though did not good, men should suffer in silence. Jack’s codename was as out of place as his own, of course, but it fit him, somehow. Better than his real name, even. “We all are. But it’s my turn to make sure you’re alright.”

    He let out a small chuckle. “Well don’t ask me. I’m not an expert. I’m… coping.” The voices that he imagines do not leave him when he dreams. They all come at once. They twist and turn in their unheeded millions, little difference between them - or at least there seemed to be. His dreams did not confine themselves to the current conflict but embraced every war man had instigated - he’d seen them all, or enough of them, at least. Vividly, he remembered huge battles. Some of them he recognised, others were only dry history and imagination. Some had never existed at all. Most, however, were merely the repetition, with different costumes, of the obscenity he had witnessed again and yet again, each as painful as the socket of a missing tooth. He has a mouthful of emptiness, bitter and aching, out here in the skies.

    “Are you?”

    He puffed on his cigarette to avoid answering the question, or at least buy him some time. Was he? What is it that they were doing, exactly? Every day, they climbed as high and as far as their machines could take them. To the very limits of human achievement. To the gates of heaven itself. And then tried to kill each other. They stained the sky, in order to fight a war in heaven.

    Jack could be irritatingly perceptive at times. Or maybe he was just a lot more transparent than he liked to believe. “Must be a reason we’re here.”

    “Must there be? I’m starting to wonder.”

    “There always has been. So far, anyway.”

    “Or at least, that’s what we decided. Afterwards. Do you ever wonder if that’s all it is?”

    Jack finished his glass. “No.” He told him. “You do the job in front of you, then you do the next one. That’s… life. That’s just how it works. In my experience, which is extensive.” 'Even before I met you' went unsaid.

    “Maybe I just need some perspective.”

    “Maybe you need some time to get your head straight.”

    He sighed. He’d been here for six years now, and this was the second war he’d fought in, during that time. And, unlike the previous battle, which had started and finished so quickly the world had barely noticed, this one would be fought all the way to the bitter end - whenever that might arrive. No war could last forever - something always gave out.

    His name was Jack Mitchell, Graf of the nation of Erusea and the last of his earthly line. And this, it seemed, was his fate.

    “I guess that’s it. The secret.” He told his old comrade. “Don’t stop and think about it. Don’t stop and ask why. Just go on, because the only way out is getting through. And don’t think of what’s waiting for you on the other end. Because it’s only more of the same.”

    “That’s a way to look at it.” Jack Daniels allowed. “But you know, in three words, I can sum up everything I have learned about life. It goes on. Shall we drink to that?”

    He inclined his head, acknowledging the point. “We’d better.”
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
    Lord Greyscale, Trek and Cap'nSmurfy like this.
  2. Trek

    Trek I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Oct 19, 2018
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    Too confusing, where is the build? current jump? who is the mc, what special rules are you using for jumpchain.
    I couldn't bring myself to care at all about this guy, I know nothing about him, he is a battle-scarred soldier who flies planes. That's it. Why should I care about him? Is he going to go on a jumpchain? what are his ambitions? desires?
    ketch117 likes this.
  3. ketch117

    ketch117 A wicked cricket critic's dinner napkin

    Nov 19, 2018
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    Well, those are all very good questions. Firstly, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it.

    There isn't a main character as such, though the Jumper is the POV character, Jack Mitchell. That's not his real name, like everything else about him it's been replaced as the jumps proceeded. Infact, the current Jump and the number proceeding are in the title (JUMP 46 (ACE COMBAT)).

    And I'm sorry that you couldn't bring yourself to care about him, but in my defence this is only the first chapter, there's only so much I can be expected to do as far as that. While perhaps not obvious, the idea was to start in the middle and work my way up to that, to an extent - with the prologue (the above chapter) working as a taste of what's to come. That's also why I didn't post the build - that, and I didn't want to post forty six jumps worth on the first page - I figured I'd post them as they came.

    As for what have I changed from the 'conventional Jumpchain Experience (if such a thing exists)… well, you'll have to wait and see.
    Trek likes this.
  4. Trek

    Trek I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Oct 19, 2018
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    The problem with that is your jumper does not look like someone with 46 jumps under his belt. There is simply no way for someone with 100s of perks from 46 jumps to end up in MCs miserable condition. Not to mention 460 years of experience and wisdom.
  5. ketch117

    ketch117 A wicked cricket critic's dinner napkin

    Nov 19, 2018
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    Well, let me assure you, this is forty six jumps in, and over the course of that he's had considerably more that 460 years of experience (not so much wisdom), and that's what got him into this mess - his experiences have turned him into a shell of a human being unable to relate to his own companions anymore, much less other people. Yes there are perks to fix that, however he hasn't acquired them yet (and by the time he does, his outlook will be so alien that really that's the least of it).

    If it bothers you that the jumps I've chosen haven't left him able to be endangered by something so pedestrian as a shooting war in a setting designed around crazy experimental weapons, then I'm sorry you feel that way, but it suited the narrative better and so that's what I went with as far as design. The intention here was never to create an all powerful character, and so he reflects that. As a character, he owes more to 'Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever' than Silver-Age Superman. There's nothing wrong with writing about Superman (Silver-Age or otherwise), it's just not what I'm going with.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
    Lord Greyscale likes this.
  6. Trek

    Trek I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Oct 19, 2018
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    If he can't relate to humans why is he helping them and risking his own life and his chain while doing so? If he is a shell of a human being where is his alien, ruthless mindset? But really you would never get were mc was with even just the body mod because of the resolve augment. If you did the generic first jump you would have the therapy couch which would fix you right up.

    Mc could have easily dropped by a jump which did provide a mental self healing power, it would have been trivial, cost what 10 years? 200-100cp? So what mc went though 46 jumps, never bothering to pick up a mental buff even though he could see his own mind become mush?

    Jumpers are not mundane, brain dead characters, there are too many ways to fix that even for a jumper with just 5 jumps under his belt much less 46. You don't even need a cp backed item/perk, there are many many hyper-efficient therapist type software in tons of jump worlds.

    If your jumpers goal was to kill the other side why is he wasting time flying a metal box which shoots pellets? Why hasn't he simply snapped his fingers and disintegrated them all? If your jumpers does not have any loyalty to either side of the war why is he helping them and destroying his own mind in the process, more so why is he helping whatever side he wants in such a useless manner when he probably has millions of better ways to win the war in days, hour, hell maybe even seconds.

    Idk, your mc can pick his own jumps yes? so why is he so desperately trying to self-sabotage? If he cant pick his own jumps did you force low power, useless jumps on him such that 46 jumps all were so useless that mc couldn't even get some power, protection and mental help? So many mental fortitude and willpower perks exist that you would have to go out of your way to avoid them.

    Even if you had no cp backed items from the 46 worlds, you went to them, you had the chance to copy their tech, their magics, their unique elements, better yourself. In short even with no perks, with access to 46 different fictional worlds, you could have acquired close to planet busing level easily.

    Now maybe you have mc under some kind of permanent power loss and amnesia drawbacks which is why he ended up here but in that case please let the readers know now because reading a mc with powerless is not fun.

    Now don't let this discourage you from writing more, I am simply trying to figure out mcs motivations and how he could have possibly ended up in this position because I see no way it could have happened. So even we disagree on some aspects I still look forward to more chapters.
    Ergoan and ketch117 like this.
  7. ketch117

    ketch117 A wicked cricket critic's dinner napkin

    Nov 19, 2018
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    Well, I'm glad that I've got you thinking so much.

    True. Fortunately for this story, I didn't. I started him up on Great Detective, for what it's worth, because I didn't want to start him up with training wheels.

    That's one preconception you want to move away from. The MC has absolutely no control where he ends up - none whatsoever. He is a leaf on the wind. That's actually mentioned in the chapter - Jack tells him that 'there must be a reason they're here', and he replies that he doesn't know what to believe. This guy never got a helpful cosmic being who explained things to him, and while he does get perks the process isn't the form you describe - he doesn't get a useful list of options before entering into a jump either. If I may make a tired Star Wars reference, there are no Midiclorians in his experience.

    That's pretty clearly not his intention, I made a great effort to show that he's going through the motions, which I'm sure you must have noticed. Could he destroy the other side more effectively? Sure, if he cared one way or another about the resolution of the war. Could he say 'fuck this' and go and hide in space for ten years? Well within his abilities. The fact that Enginseer Brutus is hanging around pretty much states that he has access to a very powerful spaceship. The fact that he's not, he's just letting himself be pushed along with the tide, is indicative of his unstable mental state, rather than lack of ability to resort to the nuclear option.

    No he cannot.

    Well, that's a good question. Obviously you feel it can't be the trauma, so you're looking for e a bigger and better answer. Human nature, perhaps? A reflection of my own tendency to be a miserable self-defeatist blown up in proportion, in the way that so often such things are reflected? Disassociation with himself and his existence? An existential cry for help in an overwhelmingly complicated universe in which he cannot fit himself into? A family tendency towards depression?

    Most mental fortitude perks are for resisting outside influences, actually, and the ones that aren't tend to be very unhelpful - a bit like how all luck perks come with a caveat 'if you rely on this it'll stop working'. This is an internal thing. And he's got an excellent psychologist - Dr Darius Dax, who isn't with him on this jump, but is very good at that.

    So what? Feeling the blues, blow up a planet? You seem to have missed a logical step or two along the way there, comrade. And power is a very relative thing - what it is and what it is not power often depends on 'where' you happen to be.

    Incidentally, outside tech only works if it's CP backed. Otherwise the differences in the laws of physics means it either doesn't do anything, or fails spectacularly.

    Well, his cybernetics are still working, so it's safe to guess that the rest of him is as well.

    Don't worry about that - I'm happy to see you take such an interest. It might help to let go of your preconceptions about bestriding the world as a god a little, but it's all good.
    Lord Greyscale likes this.
  8. Trek

    Trek I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Oct 19, 2018
    Likes Received:
    So he cant even pick his own builds?
    Even if he had nothing explained to him too many jumps are available that are set in the modern world, mc could have easily copied over all jumpdocs and explanations from there if no one explained anything to him.
    A family tendency towards depression would get fixed instantly as soon as he got a altform or bodymod. Its impossible for all your altforms to have inbuilt depression from their genes. Plus unless you are constantly picking drop in you will get years of memories and personalities of people who are not depressed merged with you. Every 10 years you get to see how amazing life is, how a healthy person thinks like as such its trivial for you to see that and get yourself fixed up.

    You can be in a spiral into depression for years, yes, but in the end you will hit rock bottom and reach out for help or die. When help is so easily available with mental perks, sifi therapist software, even your companions! Its simply impossible for mc to be in a depressive spiral for 460 years. At most 10 years, at best 5 years of this sort of thing could have happened.
    Mate, I don't know what mental fortitude perks you have been looking at but most of them are a flat increase to your mental resilience and willpower the protection against outside influences are just a bonus. The chain is littered with these perks, you can easily find them, I bet in your 46 jumps there are at least 5 of perks like this.
    In addition, if you had help and counseling for 450 years from one of the best psychologists than there is simply no way you would instantly sprial into your mcs position even if you didn't have access to your companion for the jump.
    There is no logic skip, if you had access to 46 fictions worlds of varied sort its inevitable you can easily, trivially enhance your mind to be more resilient even without perks. With perks its almost a guarantee.
    Even your first jump has LockJaw perk, the hat item, which would have boosted mcs mental resilience to 10x, no conditional turn off, its permanent. The hat item gives full clear-headedness which means "alert and thinking logically and coherently.".
    I dont know where you got that idea, its jumpchain canon that you can take non cp backed items into your warehouse/personal really and they keep working like normal. Same with self genetic modification and cybernetics, they don't just stop working once go to a new jump. Your jumper fiat makes them work even under different physics. There are literally drawbacks that make this not work, so it's safe to assume that they work normally. Read the warehouse document, it clearly states that you can collect in jump stuff and that it will work.

    Like I said, with just your first jump I found 2 things which would help mc instantly and stop his current position form ever happening so this is why I find it pretty much impossible that a jumper on his 46th jump is having mental problems.

    Jumpers are nascent gods, hell they can become literal gods in some jumps. Why do you want to forcefully push them down when you know their potential? You dont need to bestriding the world, you just need to see that its harming you mentally and retreating from that position.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
    Ergoan and ketch117 like this.
  9. ketch117

    ketch117 A wicked cricket critic's dinner napkin

    Nov 19, 2018
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    Nope. They are selected for him. From a Doyleist perspective, they are selected by me for the sake of the narrative, from a Watsonist perspective by his subconscious which selects the tools he needs for the jump ahead (and which doesn't see a tendency towards depression as something to shore up it's defences for, since it's more concerned with survival in the immediate sense).

    Also, since you ask, Jumps set in the modern world (or an approximation of it) are different worlds with broad similarities to our own - different faces on the money, different names in history, different events. I don't know if you've ever read 'The Gunslinger' by Stephen King, but it's a lot like that. Even if it did, copying all the jump docs is of little use, since he's got no ability to control where he's sent, and while it might help him figure out what's changed about him from jump to jump, he doesn't get to make the choices.

    I don't use Altforms. He keeps the same body from jump to jump. So do all my companions (so those who aren't human don't get human freebies). And while I am aware that you can keep stuff in your warehouse in the wider Jumpchain canon, this is the way I see things - CP backed items and skills work out of their universe of origin, others will not necessarily. I am aware that there are options to write it in other ways. I have not.

    Finally, as you have pointed out, if I wanted to build a guy with no tendencies towards self-reflection or depression, it is well within my power to do so. So logically, the reason he's that way inclined is because that's the story I want to tell, and I'm not trapped, forced by my own incomprehension of the Jump Build documents, into writing him the way I have. You're misapprehension is I want to write him that way - a character who covers all his bases and goes about getting as powerful as possible is not the character at the heart of this narrative. I want to write him the way that I am. If it breaks your suspension of disbelief that I would take that direction, rather than shore him up as a 'nascent god' (as you put it), then that's your business.
    Lord Greyscale likes this.
  10. Threadmarks: Great Detective 1.1

    ketch117 A wicked cricket critic's dinner napkin

    Nov 19, 2018
    Likes Received:

    Rough and Tumble
    Barfights were where he cut his knuckles, and he’s had more than his fair share of dust ups. Tough enough to put down a drunk gorilla, and strong enough to haul it out onto the street.
    Trust Me I'm A Detective
    Project an aura of confidence and competence. The crowd will part around him, the red tape is cut, and the police give him a knowing nod.
    Time in the Army
    Or that's what he claims. He’s had more than his knuckles dusted in alley touch ups, and can claim true lethality. Also grants a reputation for strength:
    1st is combat knowledge, enough to hold him over any sudden encounter.
    2nd is deadly knowledge, better bring more than ten men to warmup.
    3rd purchase: One of the world's top ten deadliest fighters, easily.
    Undying determination granted to the human will. Should there be a task or goal he sets himself towards, nothing will distract or deter him from it. Not obstacles, not enemies, not even injury. Mental aspects and sheer bloody stubborness increase up to ten times. Post-jump lets him grant this effect to others up to a day. If only his body could keep up with his will.
    Temp Noir
    The ultimate sharpening of animal instinct and the subconscious. Threats, clues and cues are highlit in his monochrome world. Reaction times up to ten times faster and take more than double his usual amount of damage. He also hears himself narrate in a gravelly voice. Activated by the smell of blood or danger. Post-jump removes this limit. Paired with a strong will, he could be virtually unstoppable.
    Written on Their Face
    He has a sixth sense for other people's discomfort. He can, with a glance, see their subconscious and if they feel like lying, what they believe is true, or if they killed recently. Better not blurt this out, mixing messages makes monitoring muddier.
    Detectives Notebook
    Never gets permanently lost, damaged or out of pages and ink (somehow). A place to write down thoughts almost perfectly that's always on hand, when facing blackouts or out of tape. Organise thoughts and clues! Comes with an Index that updates like magic!
    The Badge
    To protect and to serve, it says when it is read. Keeps it on his belt, pocket, wallet or collar, this is proof of authority in near any jurisdiction or plane of existence. Allows him to freely interrogate anything once a day.
    The Hip-Flask
    This silver engraved flask was given to him after his first successful case. It keeps an unlimited amount of one fluid, and at the same temperature. Somehow manages to catch a fatal blow once wherever it comes from. Repairs after a week. Liquids sold separately.
    Forensics Kit
    Enough litmus papers, slides, tweezers, droppers and swabs for any crime scene. Do in minutes what would take a full team hours. Good for break-ins, beheadings and birthday parties. About the size of a shoebox.
    Worthy Opponent
    Perhaps it’s Inmate 24601, a world-class jewel thief, a doctor with a taste for white meat or even a humble clerk? No, it’s Don Toletti, old school gangster. The Don will keep him on his toes his entire stay, but he can earn their respect and cause a change of heart.
    Jimmy the Shoeshiner
    His friend Jimmy here is the man to ask about anything from the recent bakery theft to how to perform open heart rocketry, for a price. The only problem is finding him and getting a place in line. Does not count towards the companion limit, and can still be found wherever he goes.
    You've Got Murder
    A depressingly large portion of his cases end up being murder. He can't just write everything off as death though, but he will gain a reputation for having things die around him. He can't even go on holiday without solving ‘the Affair of the Drowned Concierge’.
    Smokin' Aces
    Some of the best Assassins in the world, or ‘Aces’ will come sniffing for a price that's on his head. These aren't your blade and bullet types, they're a bit weird. They'll give him a run for his money once a year, and pose a threat to nearby collat-, er, bystanders. Somehow, they have counters for his counters, how odd.
    He has a fixation with alcohol. He needs it. Whenever he is idle, he will seek this out to distract himself, and enemies can use it to distract or blackmail him should they have the opportunity.
    Not Playing by Knox
    There is a group out there dedicated to mayhem and disorder. No tell hostels that ensnare young travellers, themed serial killers manufactured by the dozens, housewives and postmen purchasing locked room murder kits. Find them. Solve them. Destroy them. He will not rest until they are brought to justice for their crimes.

    ‘We cannot choose what we are - yet what are we, but the sum of our choices?’

    There are times in a guy's life when he finds himself floating facedown in a sea of troubles, and as hope bubbles away he thinks, How the hell did I get here? But hindsight is always unhelpful like that - once you're there it’s too late for it to matter.

    It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, late in the year, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain on offer, and I didn’t feel bad about showing up so late on account of the big fee I’d earned the night before. I hadn’t slept well, but I drank an extra cup of coffee, smoked an extra cigarette, ate an extra slice of Canadian bacon, and that made me more or less fit for company. Well, the office had been locked when I got there, and I still hadn’t gotten my key replaced. All I could do was kick on the door a few times and eventually Effie roused herself to click the lock back. When she saw who it was all she had to say for herself was “Oh, it’s you.”

    “What do you mean ‘Oh, it’s you’! You’d think you’d remember me - Jack Mitchell, your boss.”

    “Well, you haven’t been here in so long I can’t tell you from another bill collector. So who’s at fault, I ask you?” Well, that was probably fair. I closed the door, hung my topcoat and my snap-brim fedora on the rack by the door just for the purpose, and followed her into my sanctum sanctorum. I plunked myself in the old swivel chair, then swung around facing the window. It had already been a lean season, but this was something else altogether - the kind of day where you begin to wonder if the earth has stopped revolving. The clunky telephone on my desk had the look of something that knows it's being watched. Traffic trickled by in the street below, and there were a few pedestrians, too, men in hats going nowhere, mostly. I’m paid to notice things, but there wasn’t a thing to see.

    Of course, if you’re hearing this, it probably all feels very abrupt, and missing something fundamental. I wish I could clear that up for you in a satisfactory manner, but in all honesty, I was too busy living my new life to wonder much about how it had come to be, or what had happened to my old one - Life is short, time is luck, or so somebody I hadn’t met yet would one day impress on me, and I have come to see the attractions of it as a philosophy.

    For those who desire a more complete picture for book-keeping purposes, I will say that I didn’t miss my old life all that much, all things considered. Oh, there were elements that I missed - the conveniences of modern life seem like small things until you have to get used to getting by without them, but I hadn’t spend much time dwelling on any of it. I’ve never been the kind of guy who’s afraid of change, and I wasn’t doing too bad so far, or so I thought anyway.

    But perhaps that’s not enough. Maybe I should be crying about now about how I'm never going to see my family again? That’s how these stories tend to begin, an ode to one's family and friends left behind in reality - or wherever it was that I came from. Perhaps I should be mopey as to only be worth skimming the emotional melodrama that will have very little impact on what happens next. Should I feel that way?

    Well, if so I can't account for it. I suppose I’ve never been very good at feeling the way I’m supposed to. Of course I miss my family, and a few of my friends as well… but that’s life. I miss people every day, no matter where I happen to be, and throwing a temper tantrum and indulging in some angst at being uprooted by circumstances beyond my control seemed (and still does) kind of pointless, particularly after you've already lost your mother eight years ago… well, eight years ago in my first life, now long behind me. I mean, of course I was going to feel sad and depressed, some of the time - but that is just the human condition. It hits you from time to time, sometimes hard enough to completely paralyse you when it does, but life continues, just like it always does.

    Anyway, stop and think about it for a moment. 2018 wasn’t much of a year to be alive - if it wasn't my 73 year old father's health acting up and needing to be tended to, my younger brothers twenty two years of self-neglect and alcoholism leaving him briefly institutionalised and ultimately in my care suffering crippling anxiety and depression which could set him into a spiral at a moment’s notice and no possibility of holding down a job, the crappy job market, the houses issues, my left over debt and extended families’ drama, dealing with a crappy work environment and feeling like the only one to give a damn at my job… I could go on, but that’s really only scratching the surface. All things considered, this was the perfect way to end 2018 - a fresh start, completely ending my old life and starting a new one. And you know what - considering where that old life was going, why not? Why not trade that in for a new life? It hadn't been so bad - not so far, anyway. My problems were of a different nature, problems that I could resolve by taking action, rather than problems that sapped away at my resolve, wringing me out until I was hollow and devoid of feeling. At least I didn’t have to satisfy any readers' expectations of how I was supposed to behave… or maybe I was supposed to? But at the time I didn’t think it was my problem, and the life that followed has done little to make me see it differently - my problem was making the most of this opportunity.

    And that was easier said then done.

    I’d arrived at my office, but now that I was there, there wasn’t much to do save kill time. I’d picked up some odds and ends of mail, so I slit the envelopes and let the stuff lie on the desk. I opened the windows wide to let out the stale air. I recall distinctly opening my desk-drawer and searching around around until I found an old airlines timetable, and started looking up flights to Paris. There was no chance of my going there, but it was a nice thing to dream about.

    The tappity-tap-tap and the thin bell and muffled whir of Effie Page’s typewriting came through the closed door. Somewhere in a neighbouring office a power-driven machine vibrated dully. A limp cigarette smouldered in a brass tray filled with the remains of limp cigarettes. Ragged grey flakes of cigarette-ash dotted the yellow top of my desk and the green blotter and the papers that were there. A buff-curtained window, eight or ten inches open, let a current of air faintly scented with ammonia through the Venetian Blinds. The ashes on the desk twitched and crawled in the current.

    Like I said, it had been a leaner season than I’d expected it to be. I had done.a week playing bodyguard to a guy who had flown in from New York on the clipper, all in a funk. He had a long blue jaw and wore a gold watch and a pinkie ring with a sapphire on it as a big as a boysenberry. He said he was a businessman and I decided that there wasn’t any reason not to believe him, but kept an eye out for one just in case. Well, his funk only got worse, he worked his lips, glanced at the windows and sweated a lot, but nothing happened and I got paid when he headed back to New York. Bernie Gilks in the sheriff’s office put me in touch with a nice old lady whose hophead son had pinched her late husband’s rare coin collection. Well, I had to apply a little muscle to get the goods back there, but nothing worth getting all that worked-up about. It was a fascinating collection - I admired it myself after I’d gotten it back before returning it - there was a coin in that collection with a head of Alexander the Great on it, and another one showing Cleopatra in profile, with that big nose of hers and that self-satisfied expression to go with it - what did they all see in her, again? But other than that, it had been pretty quiet - missing persons and divorces, which were my bread and butter.

    Well, they used to be, anyway. They implemented a no-fault divorce here a couple of years back after the war that really screwed things up. A lot of private cops folded. A lot of people complained about loose morals, and that sort of thing. Hypocrites, most of them, but that’s hardly a surprise. People are the same more or less everywhere.

    The day that took shape was the sort of day that comes around, now and then, where the wind picks up the strays and deposits them all in your lap.

    The first guy who showed up was a big roughneck with a buzzcut, named Modjeski or something Polish like that. I’ve got a chair for customers, but he wouldn’t have been able to fit on a couch much less the chair - he barely fit into my office - and anyway it seemed that he preferred to loom, planting his wide and horny knuckles on my desk and leaning over like a fridge about to topple. He told me that he was a power-shovel operator - although I hadn’t asked, that he lived in Culver City - which was good information to have if I ever needed a power-shovel operator, and that the ‘goddarn’ woman who lived next door to him was trying to poison his dog. That, it seemed, was where I came in.

    It added up like this (and I’m the detective, I’m usually the one who does the adding up): every morning before he let the dog out for a run in the back yard he had to search the place from fence to fence for poisoned meat that had been thrown from next door, over the fence separating the two yards. He'd found them twice now - left over meatloaf, that had been dusted with a powder that he knew had a lead base, though how he knew this he hadn’t elaborated.

    "How much to watch out and catch her at it?" He demanded, glowering down at me when I didn’t leap to the defence of his pet.

    "Well,” I replied, making my first contribution to the interesting case of the dog in the back yard “since you got it all figured out, why not do it yourself?"

    He let out a harsh bark of laughter. “I got to work for a living, mister. I'm losing four twenty-five an hour just coming up here to ask."

    "Try the police?”

    Clearly all these questions were frustrating him. Having laid it out so cleanly, he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t doing my bit. “I try the police. Goddarn useless. They might - might - get around to it some time next year."

    He hadn’t contacted them, if I’m any judge, but what could you do? "It says on the door you're an investigator," he said truculently, feeling that I was confusing the issue to much by asking all my questions. “This is your office? Okay, go the hell out and investigate. Fifty bucks if you catch her."

    "Sorry," I said. "I'm tied up. Spending a couple of weeks staking out your back yard with my camera would set me back anyway - even for fifty bucks."

    He leaned further forward, and I sear the desk creaked in protest, turning his head so as to glower at me sideways with one eye. I didn’t care for the effect, myself. "Big shot, is it?” he said. “My dough not good enough for you, big shot? Beneath your dignity, saving the life of my dog? To hell with you, big shot."

    "I've got troubles of my own, Mr. Modjeski." I replied calmly.

    He stood up, making a dismissive noise that sounded like he was clearing his throat. For a moment, I figured he was planning to spit on me. “I’ll wring her goddam neck for her if I catch her, see if I don’t.“ he said, and I believed he could too. Hell, with shoulders like that he could have twisted the neck of a dinosaur. “What did he ever do to her, that’s what I want to know? My dog never hurt anyone, and that’s a fact. Sour-faced old bitch."

    He stomped around, and headed for the door. It was a bit like watching an avalanche turn around and leave in a huff. "Are you sure it's the dog she's trying to poison?" I asked his back, unable to resist.

    “I told you, didn’t I?” He snapped back. He wrenched the door open before the nickel dropped, and swung around fast there and then. “Care to repeat that, mister?“

    I snorted, but I just shook my head. I didn't want to fight him. All he’d need to do would be fall on top of me, and that would be that. He snorted and went out, almost taking the door with him. I rolled my eyes, and fumbled around for the travel brochure. Paris again - I’m a romantic, and it was also a long way away from Mr Modjeski, which sounded good around then.

    And the world was good enough to leave me like that for a little while.

    “There’s a woman who wants to see you. Her name’s Grace.” Effie told me an hour later.

    I looked up from my busywork. Even on a day like that day, you can only fantasise about Paris for so long. “A client?”

    “I guess so. You’d want to see her anyway: she’s a knockout.”

    “Well, I’ve got nothing better to be doing.” I said. “Why don’t you shoo her in?”

    Effie Perine opened the door again, following it back into the outer office, standing with a hand on the knob. “Come on in, Grace.” Still in my swivel-chair, I made a quarter-turn to face her, and smiled politely. I smiled without separating my lips.

    True to advertising, Grace had a lot going for her in the looks department, she was tall and pliantly slender, without angularity anywhere. She had dark hair and green eyes, and looked ready to make trouble for someone. “You’re the investigator?” She asked.

    "I'm Mitch." It wasn’t the name I was born with, but it was the name that I answered to. “The Investigator.”

    "Mitch? That's a kid's name."

    "Yeah well, where I grew up the neighbourhood was run by a bunch of old Italian guys who think anyone under sixty is a kid, so blame them."

    She laughed. She’d grown up on a neighbourhood not too dissimilar. As it happened, she was an actress, or at least she had aspirations in that profession, and had a steady gig in a vaudeville routine in some shabby theatre on Broadway. She didn’t like her job much, and wasn’t afraid to say so, but what had prompted this was that one of her costars - she wasn’t sure which one, but she hadn’t a kind word for any of them - was taking money out of her purse. A dollar here, four bits there, but it added up. She figured she was out close to twenty dollars in all. Well, she couldn't afford it. She couldn't find another job - not if she wanted to make the rent. She certainly couldn't afford a detective. Still, she thought I ought to be willing to throw them a scare - just on the telephone like, not mentioning any names.

    By the end, I felt the beginnings of a headache. “Anybody you know could do that," I told her.

    "Yeah, but you being a dick and all."

    I fetched out my cigarette case. I didn’t ask if she minded if I smoked; I didn’t feel like being polite. "I don't have a license to threaten people I know nothing about. Not really my line of trade.”

    She didn’t take that well at all. “I’m going to tell them all that I’ve been in to see you.” She snapped at me. “I don't have to say they’re suspects. Just that you're working on it."

    I let out a plume of smoke. “Well, I wouldn't if I were you. If you mention my name, someone might check it up with me. And if that happens, I'll stick to the facts."

    She stood up and slammed her purse closed. "You're no gentleman," she said with a poisonous look.

    “It says investigator on the door. Where does it say gentleman as well?”

    She flounced out. Much as her looks suited my taste a whole sight better than Cleopatra's, I wasn’t sorry to see her go.

    I had lunch. And so passed the morning in the life of a P.I. Not exactly a typical day but far from atypical, all things considered. It’s a calling, perhaps - but it’s not a rewarding one. You don't get rich, and you don't often have much fun. Mostly, you see people at their worst - murder, and murder done by little people with big dreams, little people getting out of their depth in criminality and over their heads in trouble, lies and death. Sometimes you get beaten up or shot at or tossed into the jailhouse. Other days, it passes so slowly that those are the things you look forward to. Every other month you decide to give it up and find some sensible occupation while you can still walk without shaking your head. Then the door buzzer rings and Effie leads another lost soul to your office, a new soul and a new problem, a new load of grief, and a small piece of money.

    And, somehow, it's my life now.

    Well, that’s who I was that day. You have me pictured by now. Jack Mitchell, twenty-nine years of age, private detective. I am tall and broad at the shoulders, I am physically strong and I am resolute. My character? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions to that as you get to know me - just now what you have seen is perhaps enough. What else is there? Am I clean-shaven? I am not, I favour a short beard I keep well cropped. My eyes are dark, my hair darker and thick. These things scarcely matter, in the scheme of things.

    A telephone-bell rang. When it had rung three times I picked it up. And before I realised it, my entire world changed.

    * * * * *

    My office was just three miles from the Station House, on the edge of Broadway, so the drive didn’t give me much of a chance to ponder why Lieutenant Gilks might be calling me over during hours. Not that there was any sort of lack of possibilities - Gilks was an old friend, the two of us had been doing favours for each other… well, it felt like forever, though it couldn’t have been since I’ve only lived this life for a few months, and he’d recently been getting grief in the department for busting a burglary ring that included the teenage son of a police commander. Some old-timers thought he should have let the case file disappear. Well, he hadn’t.

    And yet, I had a feeling things would work out alright for Bernie Gilks. It always seemed to.

    The uniformed officer at the front desk was carefully filling out a report. He waved me through to the squad room with barely a second look - I took it for granted that he was expecting me. Eighteen men had been gathered in the squad room, and many of them were enormous, the largest cops I’d ever seen. The whole room seemed to be straining at the seems with them all in there, and it led me to reassess a few things. I'd assumed this was about the burglary case, but unless someone had made off with the Crown Jewels of England, I didn't think that was what was happening here.

    Gilks was waiting at the far end of the squad room. He was the smallest guy in the room, even smaller than me, but he didn’t let that bother him. He was a tough little fellow who had been shot early in his police career and had served as a gunnery officer in the Marines in the war. And no matter how big a guy might be, Gilks would take him on. He kept his hat pulled down low, over his eyes, like the bad guys do, and stood behind his desk, where a Thompson submachine gun rested.

    “Find the place alright?” He asked me.

    “I followed the screams.” I replied. The bit of lip wasn’t appreciated, but only prompted an amount of grumbling and eye-rolling. These guys were all here to listen, not to venture opinions of their own, and so that was what they were going to do. "Always seem to be plenty of them about, wherever you lot are."

    "I’ll take that as a compliment."

    “Yeah. Don’t.” I found a place that nobody was using, and got myself as comfortable as I could.

    “I’ve been asked by the chief to form a special detail,” He told me - and by extension everyone else in the room, as his hands effortlessly took apart the Tommy gun and reassembled the pieces. “Your name came up. As a consultant, of course. As did a number of others, too.”

    I didn’t argue, or protest that I wasn’t a cop. I just sat down, and listened. Because of course I wasn’t a cop - they knew that as well as I did. And strictly speaking, nothing made it my business at all, unless you counted curiosity. But strictly speaking, I hadn’t had any business in a month, Gilks was an old friend, and he'd asked me to be here - and probably put my name in consideration, as well.

    "A special detail?"

    "That's right." And that was all he called it then, the special detail. One day, he would have to limp his way up to the stand, and tell a grand jury that ‘My primary duties were to keep down the gangster killings and to try to keep some of these rough guys under control,’ but that was years away, and he hadn’t had time to work it out to such a concise explanation yet for the kind of work he wanted us to do. He hadn't set a trap for Big Chris Johns yet; using his own guns to prove he was a killer. He hadn't forged an alliance with Philip Tattaglia, Frankie's budding rival. Back then, we didn't know just what he was capable of.

    And so I sat and listened as he gave these eighteen men the particulars: if they joined up, they’d be taking the fight to people the law usually didn't touch - who the law usually couldn't touch. Well, most of the men in that room recognised a few of the names, at least - we’d all heard of Jack, because Jack ‘The Enforcer’ Toletti had killed a man a few weeks ago - a fat bookie. Jack was a local boy, a powerhouse of a man who took pride in never needing a gun - his fists were enough - who as a young man had had dreams of making it in Hollywood. He gravitated to running dice games and sticking up joints around Cleveland and Chicago until he drew the attention of the old Capone mob, who’d put him to work, and once they’d found out that he could think as well as be the muscle they couldn’t get enough of him.

    And there were other ‘persons of interest’ who Gilks rattled off. Big Chris Johns, a London east-ender who quietly lorded over the money-lending business and related rackets, or Tommy Hagen, the playboy refugee from New York’s Murder, Inc, and Frankie Pentangeli. Most of the cops had never heard of Hagen, the man they were told ran the rackets in their city, or Frankie either, who Tom worked for.

    “You’ll be working with these,” Gilks continued, as he hoisted the Tommy gun and slid in its circular 50-round drum. The men who he'd invited all inspected the weapon, with the avid interest of a man who may be soon be entrusting his life to the object he is studying.

    The deal was: those who took the job would continue to be listed on the rosters of their old stations while operating out of two rusted old Fords. They would not make arrests. If someone had to be booked, they’d call in Homicide, Vice, or Robbery. They would also be available for other quiet jobs, as the Chief who’d put this whole thing together saw fit. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, they would have cash at their disposal, a Secret Service Fund to pay informants who might help them gather intelligence on the likes of those men. But they would have no office. They’d be meeting on street corners, in parking lots, and up in the hills. In effect, they would not exist.

    Gilks didn’t hang around for question time, he gave the eighteen men - and myself, by implication - a week to ponder his usual job offer and some advice from an old lieutenant at the 77th who said an assignment like that could get you in good with the chief, or even make you a hero.

    I looked around at the tough guys, and wondered how many of them would go for it. Then I sighed. “I’ll sleep on it.” I told him.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
  11. Trek

    Trek I trust you know where the happy button is?

    Oct 19, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Hardly man, there are many perks which are not obvious in their effect or use. If you don't have the discriptions you might never realise or use some of the perks you have. Thus it's well worth it to grab all the jumpdocs when you have the chance.
    ketch117 likes this.
  12. ketch117

    ketch117 A wicked cricket critic's dinner napkin

    Nov 19, 2018
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    Fair enough. Not applicable here, since this jump takes place in a non definitive '40's world, but a clever work around.
    Trek likes this.