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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2022 5:17 am 
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The volcanic clouds shook the sky, forks of orange lightning like claws shredding the peace of the night as ash billowed ever higher into the atmosphere. The eruption was so fierce, the winds and storms were likely to be felt all the way in Skysail, but off the coasts of Raugrin, it was practically a death sentence to be caught in it. Immense waves buckled and crashed in the darkness of the night, storm and catastrophe alike blotting out the heavens, only the distant ominous glow of the titanic eruption on the horizon to see by in the moments the rains permitted.

It was the only light, save the tiny flickering glow of the island far into the deep ocean; a dim mote scarce more than a flicker, but more salvation than could be offered in the other direction.

Ava clung desperately to the helm and steered the Pendrake towards that hope. The boat pitched beneath her and she could hear her companions desperately fighting off the flood below deck. They had been swept into uncharted waters by the volcanic tides and subsequent storms, and it was everything Ava could do to keep the tiny craft on course and save them from the fury of the weather, lest the sharks feed well come the dawn.

A bright flash of lightning illuminating the towering wave was all the warning she got. The boat tilted into the wall of water looming over them and a chill ran down her spine that she could feel through the sluice of frigid seawater. Her breath choked in her throat as she screamed below deck.

"Marcus, Stella, brace yoursel-!"

__________________

Ava felt as if she were floating, swaddled in warmth and limbs heavy. Her head ached, clouded and confused as she began to stir. Everything hurt, but a soothing voice lulled her back into bed, a strong hand pushing her deeper into the quilt. She relaxed and took a deep breath, glad to be alive after the terror upon the sea.

She bolted upright, realizing how wrong it all was, unsure where she was and who was speaking to her, terror ran cold through her, a sharp spike of adrenaline washing away the momentary peace that had held her so closely a minute ago.

"Now, settle back, you're in no condition young lady!" The voice was patriarchal and gentle, though the accent was odd, something Ava had never before heard. She jerked her head towards the voice, trying desperately to make sense of the world around her.

"W-who are you? Where am I? Where's-" she babbled only to be firmly shoved prone once more. She looked up, finally assembling an image of the man sitting upon the edge of her bed next to her. He was large, in most every sense of the word, heavy set and his hand on her shoulder was near twice the size of her own. He wore layers and layers of tubes and coats and glittered with jewelry from every conceivable place to hang something. His head was naught more than a bald pate over small mirthful eyes well lined with laugh lines, but too chubby to show many other signs of age. A small, nearly trimmed beard decorated his mouth, now smiling as Ava calmed down.

"Good." He nodded and cleared his throat, taking his immense hand off her and finding it over his other where it rested in his lap. "My name is Essant Quint and you are on my compound. I would speculate that you came to be here because of that storm last week."

"Last week?!"

"Well, four days ago, to be precise." He answered, scratching his beard and looking thoughtful, oblivious to her renewed distress. He finally noticed her panic, nearing hyperventilation before patting her shoulders. "There now, you should recover. You happen to be very lucky to have washed up here, I doubt you'd have much better treatment elsewhere."

"What about my friends?" She asked, panting as he tended her.

"Your one companion is resting soundly over there against the opposite wall. She was quite worse off than you, my dear, but I've ensured she'll recover. It will require substantial rest though, and as yet she's not awoken."

"H-her name is Stella... And Marcus?" Ava inquired, dread settling in her stomach by his obvious omission.

"Well... Yes. I'm sorry to say that, regretfully..." He trailed off, frowning and lacing his fingers together in front of him.

"...oh." she responded simply in a shockingly small voice, shrinking in on herself. He noticed that far more quickly and nodded, clearing his throat.

"Yes... Well, I'll leave you for the moment. Please take what time you need. I'll be back in the morning to check on you. Rest, for now."

He stood, shockingly quick and adept in his stride as he lumbered away. He paused at the door, looking back towards the women in their beds as Ava buried her face in her hands.

Quote:

Experiment 6617, day three
Subject Two

Subject is recovering from introduction of first stage sample. Serum using undiluted essence MID080 essential for highest potential success of xenograft during this period. Subject is demonstrating heightened aggression and confusion in line with previous observations, as per transformations in successful exposure. High probability of success suggests it prudent to proceed with the next stage, regardless of demonstration prior to fill confirmation of the lunar cycle.


"Time to awaken and greet the day, my dear!"

Ava jerked awake, mind muddled as she glanced around at the unfamiliar surroundings before it all came back to her. She glanced to where Stella laid, turning at least to her host. Quint strode towards her with a large bowl in hand and a larger smile on his face. He clearly was a morning person.

"I brought a bit of egg soup for you, nothing too harsh for your stomach. But of an odd breakfast, but very healthy, build up your strength again." He settled at the foot of her bed and held the bowl towards her. Only once she'd taken the bowl from him did she realize how famished she was, immediately slurping the broth greedily. "There we are, a good appetite. An excellent sign of recovery, but otherwise how are you feeling?"

She had to pause her consumption as he took hold her wrist and measured her pulse before she could answer.

"I feel shipwrecked." She responded with a sigh. "How is Stella, has she woken up?"

"Thus far, I'm afraid not, my dear." She squirmed as he repeated the term, feeling patronized and then guilty for feeling that way.

"My name is Ava." She stated, clearing her throat as she tried to draw herself up to full height, a woefully poor attempt next to Quint's tremendous frame. Realizing how petty it was, she sighed and avoided his gaze. "Thank you, by the way."

"Think nothing of it, my d-... Ava. It's only soup after all." He chuckled.

"No. That's not wha-, I mean, yes, thank you for the soup, but I meant thank you for saving us."

"Ah, again, think nothing of it. I could hardly leave you too waste away on my beach. Really, it's fortuitous for me, one can grow quite lonely and a little fresh company does wonders for my peace of mind."

"I... That's a good point, where are we?"

"Why, this is my island, something of a nature preserve for me and my assorted pets and companions. We don't get many visitors this far out. We are fairly out of the way after all, only see a ship about once a season to replenish our amenities and the little joys of civilization."

"What do you do here?"

"That's..." He paused, looking thoughtful. "Well, it's a complicated answer, but in simplest terms I'm attempting to improve life where I can."

She sat silently, trying to unravel that answer. On it's surface, there was nothing untoward about the response, but as he'd stated, it was complicated and the exact phrasing he'd chosen left her uneasy. She covered her momentary silence by finishing the soup while considering her next question.

"How exactly do you do that? What do you mean by improve life?" She asked hesitantly, aware at once that he'd saved her and her crew mate, but that he was also a stranger, living on an uncharted island. She'd been a captain long enough to learn to listen to her instincts and despite his magnanimous demeanor, there was something mildly wrong about him that had slowly dawned on her.

"A fair question... If you don't mind my answering your question with a question, I'll ask you, when you see the cruelty of the world, does it cause you to feel pity? The injustice of seeing the weak trod beneath the boots of the strong? When I say I'm trying to improve life, I'm attempting to correct those imbalances, to remove the weakness in people and creatures, create a more equitable future. I mostly do so medically, deriving what treatments and cures I can from the results of my studies."

"Medicine? You make medicine? Potions and the like?"

"Quite often, yes. There's many lessons to be learned if you're willing to experiment a bit with nature." He nodded and she eased a bit, having something to latch on to that could coexist with her world view. Her stomach abruptly rumbled and her cheeks flared with embarrassment.

"There's plenty more." He said with a laugh. "I could get you that, though I imagine you would perhaps care to take a bit of a walk if you're up to it."

He rose and held out one enormous hand to her, housing her up onto shaky legs with surprising strength. She wobbled for a moment, trying her best to support herself after such a prolonged rest. She nodded and he let go, slowly walking towards the door and giving her ample time to trail in his wake.

The sun seared her vision as she stepped through the door and the warm ocean winds, familiar from decades upon the sea, greeted her once more. As they left the squat stone building where they're been, she got her first look at the compound as they made their short sojourn to the kitchen. Comprised of Dark wood and hewn granite, the facility was composed of a multitude of buildings, though two loomed far larger than the rest, making up the bulk of the campus. Cobbled pathways connected the various buildings and awnings provided a bit of protection above. Fist sized crystals the color of coral dotted the paths and she immediately recognized them as warning stones, that would light when creatures drew near. To the north, there was an unobstructed view of the beach and the lone dock house far out in the surf, but otherwise, they seemed to be on the utmost edge of her host's property. She avoided staring at the wooden wreckage washed along the dock, knowing it must be the remnants of her ship, saying a silent goodbye to her seafaring home. Instead she focused on the elaborate estate and frowned. It seemed a bit... Much, for just only one man. Recalling something he said, she coughed and he glanced towards her.

"Forgive me, but I'm a bit confused. You said you were lonely, but didn't you mention companions earlier?"

"Ah, yes. I do suppose that would be confusing." He responded while scratching his chin, nodding as he approached the next door. "I am not strictly alone, as my pets and subjects do give me a bit of company, but they make for poor conversationalists, particularly my assistants."

One such 'assistant' was standing on the kitchen counter and stirred the soup. It was scarcely taller than her knee and was flabby, pink and bald. A curly tail poked through his trousers and the thing seemed to have no neck to speak of, just a large blue eye in the lump of its head.

"This is one of my Fetches, homunculi that help with my experiments. Say hello Fetch." The squat little creature excitedly waved to Ava and went back to stirring the soup as Quint got another two bowls from the cabinets, spooning a healthy serving into each. "As you can see, he's friendly but they don't make for much sterling discussion."

"I... See." She cautiously took the bowl from Quint, and jumped out of the way as Fetch jumped off the counter and scampered away further into the building.

"Go on, feel free to keep eating." He urged her as he began to gobble up his soup in the least dignified fashion she'd seen of him. Ava sipped on her own, not quite as hungry as moments ago.

"Once we're finished, I can give you a more thorough tour and we can discuss the tenure until the next ship comes. I must insist, while you're alone, that there are certain rules you follow if I'm not in your company."

"It's your Island, I'll abide by what you say." Ava said with an edge of sarcasm which Quint seemed not to detect.

"First rule: Stay away from the forest. It is no place for the unprepared.
Second rule: You may travel where you will unescorted, but if a place is locked, do not attempt entry. I have experiments that require exact conditions.
Third rule: do not remove anything from a room unless you have express permission.
Follow those three rules and your stay should be pleasant."

Quote:

Experiment 6617, day twelve
Subject two

After further observation, subject had become more docile and symptoms of the procedure are more apparent. Appetite has increased by a linear factor and subject experiences cognitive obfuscation during the hours between twilight and dawn. The nearer the full moon we draw, the less focus subject displays, often losing entire hours with little conscious activity and a noticable glazed expression.

Projected behavior suggests, following established patterns, that the listlessness will continue until the peak of the lunar cycle, where aggression will be magnified exponentially during those nights.

Adjustments are to be made to the next draught as previous exposure of xenograft is evidently more successful than initial estimates presume, and several doses likely to yield more consistent outcomes once the lunar cycle reaches apex.

Prepare a week's worth of blood samples IKO151 and EMA191 suspended in a solution equal parts water of Velis Vel and Pentafjord.

Aside: The more I work on this project, the more I find I'm dissatisfied with the method, but as this was purely an opportunistic endeavor, proper preparations were inevitability unavailable. Regardless, xenograft on fully developed subject undesirable. Colloquially, it is a... "Messy" procedure.


Ava cast her line off the dock and watched the waves carry it further out. The otters lounging on the far rocks being the bay glanced her way for the fifteenth time before returning to their frolicking. At the moment she envied those furry little tossers, at least they were having fun. It could be she was just jealous they had others to be with.

It had been nearly twenty days since the shipwreck and the time seemed to be slipping her grasp. The first few days, she'd stayed by Stella's bedside, but depression and ennui began to take their toll as Stella laid there. Quint assured her Stella was stable, but she wouldn't wake up. The Fetches fed her and cared for her, but there was little other sign of activity. After a week, Ava was near to breaking and had to get out of the building.

She'd spent some time afterwards exploring the compound, but it was clearly a bastion of scholarly pursuit, or at least the parts she could access. There were portions that she could tell were not meant for her, arcane and foreboding places like the Time Vault.

But any place was better than the forests deeper inland. There were times when she peered into the darkness of the trees and could swear she felt eyes gazing back. She didn't like the feeling of being watched, and at least in the compound, the only things watching her were the Fetches. They seemed friendly enough.

For his part, Quint tried to play the quintessential host for her, but his manners were seemingly as arcane as his manor. He hadn't done anything overtly odd, but he was a healer first and foremost. He insisted on gathering blood samples every few days to ensure her health. Despite herself, she was feeling more... robust than she could remember having felt for some time.

But in some ways, that simply made everything worse. She had energy and nothing to do, and the tomes, scrolls, and journals offered little to keep her occupied. Luckily she'd found the fishing rod, but she felt she might go mad if this was to be her life for the next six weeks.

"Drawn back to the sea?"

Ava jumped as she swiveled back to Quint, heart hammering at his sudden appearance. For such a big man, he moved with an eerie silence. He displayed nothing but calm curiosity, seemingly having had no intention to scare her, but she began reeling in the line to cover how shaken she was.

"Well, you spend three decades fishing, it becomes a hard habit to break. Of course, we used nets aboard the Pendrake but that only really works with a crew."

"Only three to crew a ship?"

"No, we had more in our crew. The three of us were just going to scout that day when the volcano blew. Got knocked off course... Lost in the storm." Ava sighed and set aside her pole, folding her hands in her lap and worrying her fingers.

"Three decades... Quite some time to be dedicated to your craft. What made you take up fishing?"

"My pa was a sailor. Is a sailor, a captain just like me. But fishing got too hard for him so he passed on all the equipment to me and I paid just about everything I owned to buy the Pendrake from him. He sails a merchant vessel now. Guess I'll have to dip into my savings to replace my boat now. Least I'll be able to name the new one." She chuckled morosely before shaking her head and looking up at the horizon. "What about you, Quint? How long have you been an apothecary?"

"Well, that's a fairly reductive way to look at my work, but I suppose not entirely inaccurate. For how long, many many years, longer than you could likely imagine."

"You sound like pa did, always complaining about getting old."

"There's no greatness in aging, but it is far preferable to the most common alternative." Quint stroked his beard and she shrugged. He had a point.

Quote:

Experiment 6617, day 26
Subject 2

Subject has run the full course of treatment. Initial rejection rendered subject debilitated, a state that lasted for several days as fever escalated. Condition passed and left the subject drained and lethargic, regardless of treatment to mitigate those factors for more precise observation.

Tertiary blood samples collected in case of subject instability, comparison of original blood samples can be used to purge outside contaminants and leave the essence of the new strain for further development and adjustment.

Update: subject is once more active, again and restlessness spiking as nightfall approaches. Corroborating calendar confirms the first night of the full moon is tonight, transformation expected, final judgement on successful bridging to be observed


Ava wasn't sleeping well. She hadn't for some time and despite how seemingly shortly she'd been here, the days bled together and it all seemed one hazy dream. She had sweat through her night shirt again and even the sheets were soaked.

She stirred, dragging herself up from bed, body and head aching worse than they had since the vague recollection she had of that first night she'd found herself on the island. She was parched and needed water badly. Sadly her pitcher was dry and there were no Fetches to ask for more. She rose and stumbled her way to the door, sluggishly pushing it open to walk the short distance to the kitchen.

And stopped.

She wasn't sure why, at first, but some instinct inside get told her that something was more amiss than she thought. Despite her thirst she knew she should go no further until the problem was solved. Even this late at night it was bright out, unusual save for the easy explanation of the full moon in the sky.

And yet, that was the problem. Not the moon, but the brightness. The path was lit on each side by the crystals, that would glow when a creature was near.

Her mouth grew suddenly dry, a feat she hadn't thought possible moments ago. Eyes darting to the darkness, she sped along the path, intent on first quenching her thirst and only then making plans.

The cool water slaked her thirst, but the cool night air had chilled the sweat in her clothes, a sweat turned cold itself by the notion that a predator was afoot, close enough to trip the warning crystals.

As close to the beach as they were, it might be a shore shark, or one of the beasts from the forest. She felt unsafe considering going to bed and simply pulling the sheets over her head.

It was only the soft rhythmic drip off the water for the spigot that made her pay attention to the sounds of the night, rather than the sights, and she realized abruptly the distant cacophony she'd missed earlier. Something was thrashing about in the compound, punctuated by a roar.

But there was something else, even more unsettling, something she was so close to convincing herself was her imagination.

A voice, one she hadn't heard in a month, thought lost in the shipwreck. Confusion mounted, hope struggling against common sense. Is it...

Was Marcus alive? Had he found his way here? Was the sound because he was being chased?

Abruptly Ava realized she'd never actually asked if Marcus was dead. She'd assumed and Quint hadn't actually said. It might be possible and that tiny spark of hope left her feeling more alive than she had since her first week here.

Looking around, she grabbed a butcher's cleaver, armed better than not, and set of into the night in search off her missing crew mate. She crept through the night, the sound growing louder and unmistakably she heard Marcus shouting for help. It took every mote of willpower for her not to dash off.

The sudden shriek of metal caused her to jump, the clangorous crash of steel and stone followed shortly by a deafening roar that reached deep into her mind and gripped her by some latent primal instinct and she froze. She could hear its progress as it drew closer, but every fiber of her being screamed to run and her body simply would not comply.

More commotion around her, but her eyes locked to the towering shadow cast against the wall. The thing's terrifying hand clapped against the corner, claws like blackened meat hooks scoring the walls as it lumbered into view, practically pulling itself through the courtyard.

Ava's terror pooled around her feet as she stared at the beast. It seemed an amalgamation of a wolfbear with the proportions of an ape. Long awkward limbs that moved with an unfitting sinewy grace, shoulders hunched and mountained with muscle and a broad skull that seemed impenetrable as a shield. Its snout was long and packed with razored teeth and even as she watched, its wet black nose twitched, catching her scent.

An eye swiveled in her direction, insane with a fury she couldn't describe and she twitched involuntarily. It had moved faster than she could see and she fell, only then realizing it had cut her night shirt down the middle. Her head grew foggy trying to make sense of what she saw, but as her senses failed she heard it rumble once, just a simple phrase.

"No, Ava. What have I-?"

She didn't hear the mournful howl that came after.

Quote:

Experiment 6617, day 27
Subject two

Treatment: successful
Experiment: failed

Subject was under close observation during transformation, but broke free shortly afterwards. By strictest definition, the experiment to hybridize a werewolf and werebear by bridging the gap introducing wolfbear samples into the secondary conditioning was successful. It also underscored the practically supernatural vitality of the werewolf lineage. Subject was dying of massive trauma when found and primary introduction saw tremendous increase of survivability.

Project, however, must ultimately be deemed a failure. First miscalculation that the strength increase of the subject was multiplicative rather than additive.
Second, after breaking free, subject could not control instinctual drive to violence.
Third, subject fled to the forest. Without proper introduction to environment, survival unlikely after encountering previous experiments.

It is a shame the experiment failed, but of a greater loss is the companionship I had come to enjoy with Ava. I had looked forward to her presence a little longer.


Quint watched as the three survivors walked along the dock towards the crew boat moored at its edge. It had been a tragedy that whatever trauma they'd suffered at sea had seemingly afflicted them with memory loss, but their names and port of call were known. It had simply been lucky they'd washed ashore on Quint's Island.

He had thanked the captain and included a little extra for their fare home as the rest of the ship worked to offload it's cargo onto the island. Quint passed a new list to the first mate in exchange for the manifest and as the sun crawled towards the horizon, they said their goodbyes.

Ava stood at the railing and waved an anxious goodbye to Quint. He sighed with a sad smile and waved his farewell back to the woman. Marcus and Stella joined in, waving, for all intents and purposes, at the only person they had ever known.

It had been a busy few weeks prior to the ship's arrival and with their departure, it seemed it would grow sadly quiet once again. There remained only one loose end.

Quint strolled through his campus and entered the isolation wing. He'd been monitoring her condition for some time now, but there had been little change. He had drawn blood at first, just for the fresh samples they offered, but if he were to clone Ava and Marcus, it was just as easy to clone her as well, instead of sending her back in this sorry state.

"Now, Stella... What are we to do with you? Hrm... Waste not, want not, I suppose. Fetch, begin notes."

Quote:

Experiment 6618, day 1
Subject one...

_________________
At twilight's end, the shadow's crossed / a new world birthed, the elder lost.
Yet on the morn we wake to find / that mem'ry left so far behind.
To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2022 9:12 am 
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To be honest, I have ambivalent feelings about this piece. There are pretty cool things and stuff that leaves me perplexed both on a structural and detailing level.

From a structural level, characters that use dark and... debatably ethical methods to forward Good, or that are both egregiously callous and soft-spoken bordering on kindly, appeal to me, and Quint qualifies in the broad vicinity of both those categories. The journal entries work well, encouraging the reader to fit what are clearly Quint's notes with Ava's discoveries to piece together what is really happening, and they kept me guessing just fine. The tone of Quint's appearances walks the fine line of being well-meaning in outward behavior while having Ava bridging (heh) the unsaid between his explanations in clearly deliberate goodwill, as she's not eager to entertain the fact her host might lead an... unsavory way of life.

On the other hand, the Mad Scientist Island theme had me often thinking about Tevish' Dr. Carmine, trying to remember how different him and Quint actually are beyond their personal vibe; the fact we see him dabble with the same kind of... weaponized biology that Carmine works on for Ellia is... not great. The exact mechanics of the resolution also puzzle me, as there is no clear indicator about how much of his work is actually well-intentioned and how much of his good intentions are just a compulsory facade he pulls up, not even a ballpark about where the grey zone is - at least for me.

The nitpicky stuff, good and bad


Thank you for sharing!

_________________
Johann the Bard (The Adventure Zone) wrote:

To anybody reading this, including my future selves: have a good life!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2022 1:35 pm 
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Pretty good story overall. I enjoyed watching Quint operate throughout it, as even if he is monstrous at the core, he has a civility to him that seems at least slightly more genuine than we usually see in these types of characters. As you mentioned in the other thread, this definitely has some strong Dr. Moreau vibes, not just in the solitary island-owning mad scientist way, but even with things like his rules (which mirror Moreau's "laws) and the name of the ship, which I assume is a reference to Prendick. These are the sorts of connections that I make in my stories to the things that inspired them, so naturally I approve. :)

There were a couple of places where I got a little lost, most specifically the climactic night when Ava staggers from her room. You say that she rises and pushes open the door "to walk the short distance to the kitchen" and then you immediately say, "And stopped." So when I read that, I assumed she stopped at her own door. Then you describe the path and how she was feeling, and you do say she sped along the path, but you never actually say she arrived in the kitchen. So, when you say, "the cool water slaked her thirst" and latter that she picked up a cleaver, I figured she must have arrived, but it threw me off when I was reading.

I agree with Huey about Ava's death. I get that you were going for the shock she was feeling, but it did feel a little sudden to me. Likewise, the final segment was odd. Because of the mention of the Time Vault earlier in the story (which Ava didn't find odd?) I assumed that Quint ran his experiment and then rewound time or something, until the comment about him being "the only person they had ever known," at which point I assumed it was a Clone of some kind. I don't know if that was an intentional misdirection or not, but it was odd to me.

I did really like the narrative being broken up by the research notes, and while I guessed correctly who the subject was, I felt they were written in such a way that it could have been any of the three of them, which I liked. It would be interesting to know how I would have read this story had I not already known about the character's general concept, but I think the notes help underscore that something is seriously wrong with Quint (two quick asides: 1. I appreciate that Quint's physicality is atypical of most 'walkers, and 2. I can't hear the name Quint without thinking of Jaws...)

One very tiny nitpick I have with the notes, though, is the inconsistency with numbers. This might just be the English professor in my, but for the first two notes, both the day and the subject were written as words. For the third one, both are written in numerals. For the fourth and fifth, the day is a numeral but the subject is a number. I feel like a highly scientific person like Quint would be consistent with that.

Overall, though, I like the story. Thank you for posting it!


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2022 7:03 pm 
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First off, thanks both of you for reading!

You'll have to forgive how I'm having to do responses, my platform I used for more nested responses decided to stop connecting to the net, so I'm stuck on my phone.
Which, fun fact, is how I had to write this piece!

To be honest, I have ambivalent feelings about this piece. There are pretty cool things and stuff that leaves me perplexed both on a structural and detailing level.

From a structural level, characters that use dark and... debatably ethical methods to forward Good, or that are both egregiously callous and soft-spoken bordering on kindly, appeal to me, and Quint qualifies in the broad vicinity of both those categories. The journal entries work well, encouraging the reader to fit what are clearly Quint's notes with Ava's discoveries to piece together what is really happening, and they kept me guessing just fine. The tone of Quint's appearances walks the fine line of being well-meaning in outward behavior while having Ava bridging (heh) the unsaid between his explanations in clearly deliberate goodwill, as she's not eager to entertain the fact her host might lead an... unsavory way of life.

I'll chalk all those aspects up to success then!

Quote:
The exact mechanics of the resolution also puzzle me, as there is no clear indicator about how much of his work is actually well-intentioned and how much of his good intentions are just a compulsory facade he pulls up, not even a ballpark about where the grey zone is - at least for me

So, this might be frustrating to you, but that is by design. The idea of walking a moral line or being ethically compromised for good intentions is left vague because Quint is unquestionably insane and so far detached from a normal perspective that his ethos is nebulous at best.
There's clues here about his age, but a little number crunching and presumption would confirm he's an oldwalker several hundred years old, so his morality is further skewed by having had God like ability over mortal folks before.

The nitpicky stuff, good and bad

_________________
At twilight's end, the shadow's crossed / a new world birthed, the elder lost.
Yet on the morn we wake to find / that mem'ry left so far behind.
To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2022 7:32 pm 
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Pretty good story overall. I enjoyed watching Quint operate throughout it, as even if he is monstrous at the core, he has a civility to him that seems at least slightly more genuine than we usually see in these types of characters. As you mentioned in the other thread, this definitely has some strong Dr. Moreau vibes, not just in the solitary island-owning mad scientist way, but even with things like his rules (which mirror Moreau's "laws) and the name of the ship, which I assume is a reference to Prendick. These are the sorts of connections that I make in my stories to the things that inspired them, so naturally I approve. :)

Indeed, there was a lot of that DNA in the story, to be punny about it, but the other major inspiration actually probably played a bigger part in its synthesis:
Bluebeard.
All told, though, I'm glad to have snuck in the references I had.
Which for an additional fun fact about the references, the sample designations were not chosen at random, but actually do have a hidden meaning that directly references cards.

Quote:
There were a couple of places where I got a little lost, most specifically the climactic night when Ava staggers from her room. You say that she rises and pushes open the door "to walk the short distance to the kitchen" and then you immediately say, "And stopped." So when I read that, I assumed she stopped at her own door. Then you describe the path and how she was feeling, and you do say she sped along the path, but you never actually say she arrived in the kitchen. So, when you say, "the cool water slaked her thirst" and latter that she picked up a cleaver, I figured she must have arrived, but it threw me off when I was reading.
that's more than likely a case of authorial blindness and being too close to the story. I just naturally filled in the assumptions necessary, so want as explicit about the sequence of events as I should have been.

But also, to the above, writing on the phone sucks, so you reach a point where you just want to be done and I probably got sloppy for that.

Quote:
I did really like the narrative being broken up by the research notes, and while I guessed correctly who the subject was, I felt they were written in such a way that it could have been any of the three of them, which I liked. It would be interesting to know how I would have read this story had I not already known about the character's general concept, but I think the notes help underscore that something is seriously wrong with Quint

I thought you would probably like those parts, was I very much borrowed the idea from Donagut's stories.

Quote:
(two quick asides: 1. I appreciate that Quint's physicality is atypical of most 'walkers, and 2. I can't hear the name Quint without thinking of Jaws...)

I genuinely tried to think of as many ways to add sharks as possible, but the inclusion felt clunkier than I'd be satisfied with.
I'm also pleased that his silhouette is so distinct from the average as well.

Quote:
One very tiny nitpick I have with the notes, though, is the inconsistency with numbers. This might just be the English professor in my, but for the first two notes, both the day and the subject were written as words. For the third one, both are written in numerals. For the fourth and fifth, the day is a numeral but the subject is a number. I feel like a highly scientific person like Quint would be consistent with that.

Yeah, that is 100% because I wrote this in batches on my phone and had relatively little gestalt sight of the thing.
I'll just blame Fetch taking notes.
(It's something I'd fix in a final draft)

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To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2022 3:54 am 
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Barinellos wrote:
So, this might be frustrating to you, but that is by design. The idea of walking a moral line or being ethically compromised for good intentions is left vague because Quint is unquestionably insane and so far detached from a normal perspective that his ethos is nebulous at best.

My issue isn't that his priorities are skewed/inhuman (a trait I tend to find interesting, on the contrary) or that he's not consistent, is that none of his previously motivations, stated or otherwise, are clearly applicable to his decision at the end, and we all know "because he's crazy" ain't a great explanation. Raven is welcome to reply if he doesn't agree with me, another point of reference would do me good. I'll go into more detail in the spoiler.

nitpick

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2022 4:24 am 
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Ah, okay, I think I better understand some of the friction now, in part because it's a bit I more than likely did not fully elaborate on given authorial intent, largely because my own logic connected the dots so that I felt it could be left unsaid.

I'll explain, to some degree at least.
With Ava dead, he's left with one fewer loose ends, but an additional conundrum. So long as there was a survivor that could pacify inquiry, it meant he would be more likely left to his own devices. With only Stella left, there could be questions since she's in a coma, so no point in giving her over.

So, to avoid inquiry on the fate of the wreck, he cloned the survivors and sent them back so there wouldn't be anyone to come looking. I had very very lightly hinted at that by having him direct the names and port so they could be dropped off and taken care of by family/friends and everyone would put it out of mind, but I can certainly see where that wasn't enough to follow my thought process.

If I elaborated, I think that might also add a little more chilling effect when the original Stella is revealed to still be in his custody as well

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To deafened ears we ask, unseen / "Which is life and which the dream?"


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2022 8:06 am 
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(skimming the piece again, I realize it's explicitly said that there are multiple cute homunculi called Fetch, my mistake)

Barinellos wrote:
I'll explain, to some degree at least.
With Ava dead, he's left with one fewer loose ends, but an additional conundrum. So long as there was a survivor that could pacify inquiry, it meant he would be more likely left to his own devices. With only Stella left, there could be questions since she's in a coma, so no point in giving her over.

So, to avoid inquiry on the fate of the wreck, he cloned the survivors and sent them back so there wouldn't be anyone to come looking. I had very very lightly hinted at that by having him direct the names and port so they could be dropped off and taken care of by family/friends and everyone would put it out of mind, but I can certainly see where that wasn't enough to follow my thought process.

If I elaborated, I think that might also add a little more chilling effect when the original Stella is revealed to still be in his custody as well

Ok, so placating suspicions was the main inner motivation behind the cloning. Admittedly, the fact it wasn't immediately clear to me that the crew boat you mention at the end was not Ava's ship probably made it harder to get the subtext. (speaking of which, I don't think it'd be a bad idea to give the crew boat's captain (or the vessel itself) a name in Quint's earlier explanation so that it can directly called back at the end, making the final exposition a bit cleaner maybe)

I think the ending could benefit from a few extra details, but I don't think it needs much. Something like "so everybody could put this unfortunate incident behind them", an ambiguous turn of phrase that could imply Quint cares about the sailors and made everything better at his own expense, but really means he wants the incident out of everybody's attention/memory as soon as possible.

...that ending would be undermined from the exact wording of the previous note, though. I'm thinking about this line above all:
Quote:
Third, subject fled to the forest. Without proper introduction to environment, survival unlikely after encountering previous experiments.

This implies that retrieving him is out of the question from the start. Swapping in or adding something like "Barring [my] direct intervention [or proper introduction to environment]" would explicitly leave the possibility of Quint "redeeming himself" by going out of his way to save Marco, bringing about an happy ending... which is subverted later when the cloning is brought up.

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