Puddles and Whiskers and Stroud, Bringing It All Together 1

A difficult stage is putting different pieces of a large story together in a manner that is coherent, has a flow, and at the same time maintains the direction I would like. Good example, I want Eth introduced as a sentence or two in Puddles and Whiskers, yet he has his own story and plays a part in the stories of several other characters. Do I insert his tale which is the true introduction to Eth between where arc one currently ends (that is another thing altogether) and the conversation over noodles or elsewhere? Same with Talia’s tale and so on. Below is the first attempt at organizing the parts, this does not include the first arc, or Views of Stroud-and none of these segments have been edited/revised yet (I want the order established first, in case I add details relevant to future segments)

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, let me know in the comments.

****

Eth’s Tale…

“We have tried.

We have failed.

A family is only as strong as those who take part. Even a family has to let go of those who refuse to work with the family. With this symbolic act, Eth-il-Liccon is no longer a member of the family. He is free to do as he pleases. He will no longer bring shame upon the rest of us. Aliq-tal-ummar.”

A single flame illuminating the room extinguished with a single, soft breath.

Eth woke up with a start; a momentary panic as he tried to remember where he was; blankets tangled around his feet.

A quick breath.

A glance around.

Kicking the sheets onto the floor, Eth realized he was in his bed, in his apartment.

Damn his father.

Damn his family.

Eth hated that dream.

Standing, Eth walked into the bathroom, mentally vowing today would be the day he showed his family he was worthy. Today, first step towards returning home.

An hour later…

Standing in line, Eth mentally screaming, “Why had the deities cursed him today? If this old herg woman could make up her mind and order her coffee, he would not be running late for a meeting. Why were people always getting in his way, making him late?”

Stuck in traffic…

White knuckle, gripping the steering wheel, mentally cataloging the moment, “Are all of the traffic lights working against me? Red light! Red light! Another red light! And this car, this damn Big One Mouse!”

Hating the car given to him to go to the meeting, cursing those he now knew were against him, Eth looked for a path through the gridlock. Spotting an opening, he pushed the accelerator down, nudging the Big One Mouse deeper into traffic.

Another red light!

The car threatened to stall.

Stuck again, Eth looked up, wishing he had a hover or flying car. An angry horn behind him, a space in front of him. Looking at his skin watch, late for the meeting.

Half-an-hour late…

Fuming about the nature of fairness and life being against him, “Are you serious? Even gang-members had better vehicles than his.”

Pulling into a parking spot outside NiHo’s Noodle Shack next to four heavily modified hover bikes. A moving holo-logo Redhand logo, blood dripping on each bike chassis.

“Their bikes did not matter,” he thought as he checked his pockets, “they were gangers and he was part of the Organization. He would show them.”

A brief spike of panic, he couldn’t find the issta-cred-stick. Entering the alley behind NiHo’s, the panic subsided when he found the cred-stick in a different pocket. The stench of the alley causing him to gag slightly. Water, he hoped, dripped down on his head, cymeans had very sensitive scalps, causing him to flinch. He heard rough laughter of four gromathi down the alley. Adjusting his jacket, his very expensive mem-ware jacket, Eth strutted into the meeting.

Minutes later…

“What?” Eth said in a panic, “I came alone. I don’t hear anything.”

Serrated knife in one hand, Eth watched the youngest gromathi gang-member advance. Eth put his hands up, hoping to keep the situation under control; this deal was going bad fast.

“Just a second, can we make the exchange? There is nobody here. Nobody came with me and nobody followed me here. I promise,” Eth said rapidly trying to control the panic and keep that kid away from him.

A gromathi with an augmented arm at the back of the meeting fell over, clutching at his neck. Eth continued to keep his hands up and back away faster from the ganger with the knife. Without warning Eth’s vision vanished, something wet splashed over his face, and slipped at the same time falling onto his knees.

Please don’t let this be the end, Eth thought.

What felt like an eternity later…

“Looks like you owe me again,” John said to Eth, “Quit sobbing, you can get another suit.”

****

“Who in the hell are you? You’re not militia that’s for sure,” Talia was now standing in front of John her eyes blazing angry, but her voice never got loud, “What did you do, borrow some of your Dad’s old uniform?”

Eth chuckled.

“I..,” John began.

“Don’t bother. I will find out soon enough. You just ruined two months of my work,” Talia seethed with a particular emphasis on my.

“Two..,” John started again.

“I had better not cross paths with you again,” Talia said and the threat was plainly evident.

“But..,” John tried to respond again.

Talia had already turned around and was marching out of the alley. Her hovering sencam pet turned around to look at John and Eth one last time before she rounded the corner.

“You are such a smooth talker,” Eth said sarcastically.

“Shut up Eth,” John snarled, “Now how about you tell me about this deal of yours while we get you cleaned up?

****

Standing next to John’s car after having walked four city blocks, Eth was wiping off his face with a wet nap. A small pile of crumpled wet naps lay around his feet.

“This is your idea of cleaning up?” Eth asked.

“It’s all I had,” John responded, “Now how about you start talking before I find some reason to turn you in. I’m sure I can find something.”

“There’s nothing to tell. I give them the money and they give me the case. Then I take the case back and get my payment.”

“That’s it?”

“No more, no less,” Eth said, “Now what am I going to tell my boss?”

“Tell them the truth. A crazy bounty-hunter showed up looking for Red Twist. He shot up the place, caught you, questioned you and since you don’t know anything let you go,” John said with some sarcasm.

“Are you serious? That’s the story you want me to tell them, that I don’t know nothing,” Eth said while making air quotes around I don’t know nothing.

“Yeah, it’s the truth and pretty easy to confirm with the Red Hands.”

“You do have something there. Why are you after Red Twist?” Eth asked, “You know what never mind the less I know the less I have to deal with. I’ll send you a bill for the suit.”

“You do that,” John said to Eth’s departing back.

A conversation over noodles…

“We got screwed?” Puddles asked rhetorically.

Whiskers slurped another chopstick full of noodles while shrugging.

Across the table, Eth looked annoyed, “Where is my bowl? Don’t they know who I am?”

Another slurp. Another shrug.

“How is it nobody knows nothing?” Puddles asked pointing at Eth.

“I know a lot of people, but I don’t know everyone,” Eth responded. “You need corporate contacts.”

“You have corporate contacts,” Whiskers responded around another slurp of noodles.

“I thought you knew everyone?”

“Hot and spicy bowl,” the clashing neon color garbed waitress announced, setting the bowl in front of Eth.

“About time,” he said. Picking up a chopstick full of noodles, returning his attention to Puddles and Whiskers, “I do,” emphasizing do, “know a lot of people. The people you two are interested in are beyond me.”

Another slurp.

A conversation in an office…

Wringing her hands, glancing around the office, and generally behaving twitchy, the human woman sitting on the opposite side of their desk irritated Puddles. Her irritation could be traced to the cloying amount of perfume the woman wore or her annoying whining or well just about anything this potential client did. Ever since the “resolution” of their last case, irritation was her standard mood.

“Gathering evidence of your husband’s infidelities, should take us a week,” Whisker said while consulting his data-pad. Sliding the data-pad across his immaculately clean side of the desk, “Sign at the bottom and once the issta transfer is confirmed we will take the job.”

Puddles stifled an irritated grunt, catching cheating spouses-so low rent.

“Thank you so much,” the woman replied, “I hope I am wrong. I love him so much…”

“But you have a hunch,” Puddles interrupted snatching the data-pad back.

Whiskers grabbed the data-pad out of Puddles paw before the data-pad got lost in the mess of her side of the desk, “Thank you Camile. We will be in touch.”

As soon as the door closed, “What nickname did you give this client?”

Another conversation in an office…

“That’s funny,” Tanx’s laughter rumbled around his office, “Haven’t heard that one before.” Another rumbling laugh, “Spacious office, indeed. Detective Orte sent you to me because I might know something? Did I get that right?”

Until sitting in Officer Tanx’s office, Whiskers thought he was tall, staring up at Tanx’s face brought home lots of uncomfortable memories of sitting at the children’s table for holidays. “He thought you might know someone who could answer some questions of ours.”

“And what questions are those?”

Sitting straighter, Whiskers consulted his data-pad, “Recently, an investigation took us into Tumbledown where we found a well-equipped gang defending a clean room.”

“And you want to know who is providing the equipment and clean room?” Tanx interrupted while manipulating his holo-desk display. “Is this your investigation?” Tanx sarcastically asked, enlarging the holo-display; images of several dead gang members and a demolished clean room.

Clearing his throat, thankful Puddles was not there, “Yes. That looks like our investigation.”

“The gangers were members of Black Myst. Nothing special about them, another Tumbledown gang. The personal shield is an Oakenshield model. Again, nothing special. The clean room, by the time investigations arrived, was no longer clean.”

“Let me guess,” Whiskers began, “Nothing special.”

A conversation over…

“Nothing at all?”

“Nothing,” Whiskers replied lazily stirring his bowl of noodles with a single chopstick.

“Some investigators we are,” Puddles said.

“You don’t have the right connections.”

“Shut up Chuck,” Puddles snapped at a black and white cat sitting third.

Setting his chopstick down, “Unfortunately, Chuck is right. We do not have the right connections,” Whiskers interjected.

“Whatever,” Puddles mumbled around a mouthful of noodles.

Ignoring Puddles, Whiskers continued, “We have a few cases to work. I suggest we move on from this and get back to work.”

“I like that idea,” Chuck said.

“Shut up Chuck.”

Talia’s Tale

A pale, elderly man staring out, “I don’t have a problem with criminals getting punished. In fact, I’m all for their punishment.”

“That is the tonight’s final word. This is Talia Knox, signing off. See you tomorrow Stroud.”

“That’s a wrap,” her producer said her ear.

Pushing back from the news desk, Talia mentally summoned her pet, as she walked off stage to her dressing room. Her pet, a small hovering gray ball with the station’s logo on one side, and a blue eye met her at the dressing room.

“Have a good rest?” addressing her pet.

Pet, dipped a bit; a sign she always took as yes.

An evening meeting…

“I need to get out into the city,” Talia announced to the room of managers, producers, and more assistants than she cared to count.

“Do you have a story to pitch?” A producer whose name she did not know asked.

Another producer jumped in, “Your numbers are up. People like you.”

“People love you,” someone else interjected.

And another person and another person; each one louder and more insistent behind the news desk was here future because people loved her now. Maddening. Her pet dipped, touching her shoulder in sympathy from the waves of frustration she was emanating. Shoving the pile of notes aside, Talia grabbed her coffee, sipping slowly eyeballing everyone as they continued to shout her praises over each other.

Pet resting on her shoulder the clamor and din died down, everyone looking at her.

“I need to investigate real stories, not read the news. I know people love me,” sarcasm lacing her words, “but anyone can be a talking head.”

“But…”

“Yes, I do have a few stories to pitch, an investigative series of reports on the gangs of the city,” Talia started holding up her hand stalling everyone from responding, “We have covered a lot of crime and gang news recently. I am positive the people who love me will love me reporting about gangs and criminal organizations.”

“Criminal organizations?” Someone voiced.

“Which gangs?” Another voice.

“Why not focus on something else, more…what’s the word I’m looking for?” an assistant producer asked.

“The word you are looking for is safe,” Talia replied, edge to her voice, “I do not want safe,” enunciating each word.

“Talia,” her long time producer began, “How much time will you need to bring me a proposal so we have a better idea what you have in mind?”

Pet perked up, hovering above her right ear; sipping her coffee slowly, “Two weeks. Give me two weeks for research.”

Assistant producers conferred with producers who conferred with managers, all of the conversation in hushed tones finally centering on her producer.

“Two weeks,” she said without any emotion.

Looking down…

Establishing shot, panoramic view of Middle Stroud; make sure to get a shot of “The Cloud” and convergence of the elevated highways and flight lanes passing above and below “The Cloud.” On her retina screen, Talia watched her pet take the requested footage; directing her attention down to an alley behind a noodle shop, neon lights from the shop’s sign causing difficulty with the shot. Her pet, a baseball sized grey ball with the channel 18 logo on the side, hovering a few feet to her right, floated further away from her at her mental command. Looking around the ledge, Talia spotted a better location to continue her investigation. Checking her retina screen, between her vantage point and the pet’s completely covering the meeting. Two weeks of investigative working finally paying off; an opportunity to record a Red Hand’s exchange.

Sometime later…

Adjusting her position to relieve the strain from being in one position for so long, Talia’s retina screen flashed; her pet recording four hover bikes entering from the back of the alley. Finally, she thought, watching the bikers park and spread out along the back of the alley, she wondered who they were waiting for.

 

 

 

 

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