Thursday, July 19, 2012

Razor's Edge-Part Two

It was a dry, sterile building-full of silent offices. The windows were all dark, on all thirty stories. This building hadn’t been used for anything in ages: or, at least, that was what the people in the dilapidated, crumbling city were led to believe. 
The windows in the building had been darkly tinted before, but now several coats of black paint coated them like thick, impervious scabs from the inside. No one could see out or in, and no one wanted to. The current owners of the building were a powerful mob-like band calling themselves ‘the Snakes’ Head gang.’
The city’s population lived in near-constant fear of Snakes’ Head, except a brave few.
Every inch of the blade-wielding woman un-ironically called ‘Razor’ was covered in black, and her jet hair was drawn smoothly back from her pale face into a tight, efficient bun. She ghosted through a battered door with chipped white paint and mounted the stairs behind it. Her dancers’ shoes made not a sound on the old steps. She climbed fifteen stories, then slipped silently through another door to a long, lightless hall, utterly un-winded.
Razor closed the door quietly behind her and then ceased moving-still as a statue, she listened as muffled shouts met her ears from further down the hall. She turned her head almost imperceptibly, observing an artificial golden light showing from under one of the office doors. Like a shadow she started forward again, listening intently. The shouting had stopped, but the voice was still irate. 
A meeker voice muttered something in response as Razor drew closer to the office door, but the loud guy broke in again. 
“Get the hell out of my office, Gibson.” Commanded the brash tone of her target.
The second man hesitated an instant then complied. He was intent on escaping, walking so fast he didn’t notice her. 
Stalking up behind the retreating man silently, the black-shrouded woman struck like lightning. Drawing closer than his own shadow, she simultaneously slapped a hand over his mouth and stabbed him deftly in the neck, expertly angling her attack so that it killed him instantly, lowering the body silently to the ground.
There she paused, waiting in abject stillness as she strained her senses to their considerable limits to determine whether she’d been detected. After a slow count of twenty, Razor approached the door, making as much noise as a shifting moon-shadow.
In her mind, she went over her plan again. The Snakes’ Head boss would be at his desk, at the far side of the room. He was always accompanied by two guards, one stationed at the door, another at his back to the left. Both would be armed with keen short swords, and comparatively well trained in their use.
Razor rolled her shoulders soundlessly, feeling the comforting weight of the twin twenty-inch kodachi swords resting in their sheaths on either side of her spine. She confirmed the location of her throwing knives with a slow glance to avoid even the sound of faintly rustling fabric; the ten wicked, perfectly weighted blades belted casually to her lower back. Ten more, five on each leg, were bound to the outside of each snugly-clad thigh.
She rested her long fingers delicately on the hilt of her signature long knife and exhaled silently. Then, Razor veritably exploded into the room, barely glancing at the guard who flinched only slightly at her abrupt entrance, and drew his short sword with startling speed. Unfortunately for him, his split-second hesitation was all the time she needed, and the instant before he was able to attack, she thrust her own blade into his heart and ruthlessly twisted it.
A breath, a blink later, the boss completed his spectacular twitch of surprise, and his remaining guard fell dead with one of Razor’s throwing knives buried to the hilt in his eye. The poleaxed boss watched in shock as both guards hit the ground at approximately the same time, while Razor calmly slid the door shut and retrieved her knife from the corpse next to her. She glanced about the small office before approaching the only surviving man in the room with a disturbingly blank expression.
He reflexively licked his lips, the only outward indication of his nervousness besides the light sheen of sweat popping into visibility on his brow.
“Long Knife?” He inquired. Razor inclined her head slightly to indicate an affirmative response, approaching slowly. Not with trepidation, but like a stalking cat lazily anticipating a satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable hunt. The boss shivered, his breathing speeding up as he struggled to sublimate his desperate anxiety and rising panic.
“Who took out the contract? How much are they paying you? I can double it.” He said desperately, transfixed by her easy approach and disconcertingly relaxed posture. Razor didn’t respond at first, just trailed her delicate fingertips along the polished wood of his desk as she started to round it to get to him.
He was well aware that any sudden move on his part would end in his death, so he stayed seated in his chair, but couldn’t help but inch the rolling desk chair away from her slightly as she got closer and closer, her faerie-like features terrifying in their abject blankness. 
“No one’s paying me. I just really don’t like Snakes’ Head.” She said, a strange darkness in her cobalt blue eyes. “I had the night off.”
“You won’t survive this.” He blurted out. Razor shrugged.
“I’m pretty confident you’re wrong about that.” She stated in a calm, mild tone of respectful disagreement. He opened his mouth to yell. She blocked his windpipe with the blade of her knife, hitting its pommel with the palm of her hand to drive its point deeply into the vertebrae of his neck.
Razor turned away from the corpse.

(About bloody time I posted part 2, eh? Yeah. Sorry about that. Anyways, here ya go. Part 3 to follow. ...Hopefully to follow sooner than part 2 did. hahaha. As usual, please comment! It helps motivate me to write more, and boy oh boy do I need the practice!:->)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mass Effect 3 rant

howdy. haven't been on for that's an understatement.
in any case, unrelated to any stories i might post here, i need to vent a bit when it comes to the incredibly controversial (read: badly written, plot-hole-filled, and continuity-breaking) ending of ME3.
now, just typing 'Mass Effect 3' into Google will get you many, many articles detailing EXACTLY why the endings are simply and quantifiably sub-par, so i see no need to detail that here. (note; "A Logical Breakdown of Why the Mass Effect Ending Makes No Sense" Googledoc is particularly good if you're curious as to what exactly the fan's main points of contention are.)
i, personally, have posted the following to FaceBook to help summarize this viewpoint;
"Mass Effect 3--especially if you've played all three games--is like ~30 hours of "Braveheart" with 10 minutes of "Sucker Punch" or "The Fountain" for an ending. The result is, understandably, the fan backlash you've been hearing so much about lately."
Yup. That's pretty much how it is. If "LotR; The Return of the King" ended with Frodo and Sam trapped on the side of Mount Doom as it explodes, about to be killed by molten lava, you'd be upset. That's what it's like for die-hard Mass Effect fans right now.
The worst thing is how AMAZING the story is right up until the end. Then you go from a hearty and boisterous "Yippie-Kai-Yay, M*****f*****" to a depressed and utterly confused "WHAT THE F**K?!""

now, i consider myself to be a certifiable, hardcore, never-sees-the-sunlight gamer. to my husbands' great confusion, i find the ending of ME3 is SO terrible and--(dare i say it,) traumatizing--that i have hardly touched ANY video games since beating it.
compare this to my usual 2-3 hours of daily gaming before i beat ME3. so, not only have i only beat ME3 once (when normally i finish a play-through of a new game and immediately upon beating it begin another run to re-experience the joy of the storytelling again,) but the ending was SUCH a literary, conceptual, and self-implosive DIS-pleasure to experience, i have hardly touched ANY game since.
for me, this is unprecedented. in a month, i have gotten more useful, practical things done than i have in the past six. (hahaha, #yesihaveaproblem)
i LOVE stories. i love to experience them, meditate upon them, and play that great philosophical game of 'what if' with myself while i read them. the only video games i play--with very few exceptions--are the ones with a good and thought-provoking storyline to them. i like to pick them apart, learn the internal rules governing the different 'universes', (theoretical physics, anyone? :->) and enjoy a good yarn coming to a logical and internally cohesive--yet innovative--ending.
Mass Effects 1 and 2 did this with flying colors. they were internally cohesive, respected the 'laws of physics' attributed to them--which, scientifically speaking, are theoretically plausible and therefore all the more enjoyable--and did not skimp on the ethos and pathos of their respective characters.
technically, Mass Effect 3 did this too, all the way through--but not continuing past--the last 10 minutes of the game.
then it suddenly goes from 'Star Trek'-style exposition, character development, and logical techno-babble to unexplained and arbitrary philosophical nonsense which has no bearing on the larger story arc, and even contradicts well-established universal 'laws' stated clearly and repeatedly throughout all three games in the series.
this is ignoring many other problems with the ending, not the least of which is character choice, the primary modus operandi of the entire series. to quote a Bioware Social Network forums;

"ME1: Shepard is told Saren is loyal. Shepard proves otherwise. He is told that Sovereign is just a ship. He proves otherwise.
ME2: Shepard is ignored. He fights on. Shepard is alienated. He fights on. He is told that the Reapers are coming. He fights on.
ME3: Shepard is told that he has 2-3 choices of how to change the cycle. He says ‘ok’ and mindlessly goes along with the nonsensical options without questioning it.
...Am I the only one confused by this?"
To make things worse, in response to the fans' non-assailable and entirely reasonable problems with the ending, Bioware has essentially stated (paraphrase) "The endings will not be changed. We will clarify the endings since no one seems to understand them"--(implying that we're idiots for not seeing sense in their well-documented self-contradictary nonsense)--"and will not address the obvious plot-holes or continuity-breaking errors."
worst of all, Bioware used to be a company which listened to their customers, often changing game mechanics or story aspects which were unenjoyable to large portions of their fanbase. now that we have well-documented, substantially game-breaking grievances, they choose to ignore us?
...yeah. it really is that bad. i'm more depressed now.
but at least i got out some frustration.
be back soon with angsty fanfic to help assuage my sorrow. :)