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CHAPTER 20:
"Pandora…"

My voice came out as nothing more than a whisper as the dust cleared and the tall figure's identity made itself apparent. When the dust finally settled enough to a point where we could all breathe more easily, I looked around expecting to see a gaping hole in the cave wall or maybe even the entire side of the mountain wiped away. Instead, I saw the same thing I'd been seeing: rocks of all sizes surrounding us on every side.

I'd forgotten that Pandora was able to materialize like that. It's a strange thing to watch. It really seems like the walls were falling down on us once more and we would be crushed. But as time happened to go on we just ended up covered in more dust.
Pandora broke the stunned silence with a slight cough.

"So this is where you two ran off to."

"How…" my voice trailed off as I tried to make sense of the situation.

"How did I find you?"

"Yes."

"It was simple really. You're both very easy to track, if I may say so myself. You two are like wild animals trapped in a small room. I just had to follow the path of destruction."

"We couldn't have been that bad!"

"No. But between you and the Soldiers you have following you, it is pretty bad, Juilliard."

Pip interrupted with a sudden inquiry, "We… We were being followed?"

"Are being followed. I can't say for exactly how long they have been following you, but it's been quite a while. They're still out there in the forest around the mountain. I believe you've caught them off guard with your abrupt disappearance into the mountain, but it could also be the Superiors that have left them with orders not to attack. Of course, it could also be them that have you now trapped in this wretched mess."

"You mean to say that we've had Soldiers tracking us for some time now? We haven't even been here in Deff for long. Why would they want to harm the people here?"

"Oh Juilliard… You have yet to accept that you are very much wanted by the Superiors—dead or alive. Once they realized who you are, you became their top priority. Anyone who comes to your aide is a criminal, someone who shouldn't even be on Earth according to their belief system."

"So you're saying that because Deff helped me the people are all in danger, even if they all had no real say in the matter?"

"I'm saying that the Superiors aren't fair people. The simple fact that they are after you should have proven that already."

At that we all left the conversation with an awkward silence; me trying to process everything Pandora had said, Pandora waiting for me to process the situation, and Pip waiting for something to happen. And something did happen.

We all heard it. It was like a very synchronized march, but clearly it wasn't marching. From behind the barricade separating us from Mige we could hear people working toward something. Like the band of dwarves in that old story my mother used to tell me, their synchronized sounds seemed to be no more than their whistling and whittling away at something. I called to Mige but no response emanated from his side of the barricade. I looked at Pip and we looked at Pandora.

"Please," I begged. "You came in here for us; you can go over there to check on Mige. There's no telling if the others are good. Mige took us in with almost no questions; we can't let him go so easily."

"You don't understand my powers do you, Juilliard?"

"You materialize from point A to point B, right?"

"Essentially, yes. But it's not that simple. I can't do it as often as I'd like to. I only have so much energy… I can't just use it as I please. I'm not in complete control of what I can do. You see, if I overuse my power I could potentially lose it. It's one of the 'gifts' the Superiors left me with."

"Pandora, I'm sorry. I didn't know any of that. I just assumed…"

"Oh Juilliard, you mustn't assume things—especially not in this world. Not everything is as it seems. Not anymore at least."

"She's right, Juilliard. Assuming things will get you into more problems than you want." Pip's typically jovial tone gained its abnormal seriousness as he joined in on the conversation once again.

"Is there any way for you to calculate how much of your power you have left? Or how much you'll use in one teleportation?"

"Not that I have encountered. That's why I rarely teleport anywhere. I make exceptions for things like this, where there isn't any other way in. Occasionally I may need to teleport long distances in a small time period. That's rare, however."

"Have you ever come close to losing your power? Or is it something that you can't feel coming until your power is already gone?"

"It's something that gradually weakens as I use it. It takes me longer to reach my destination and I lose my physical strength as well as my teleportation strength. I have come close to losing my power once. That's why I take such caution with the use. I need to be safe."

"That's understandable. May I ask you one last question?"

"Of course."

"Can you teleport others as well?"

Pandora paused briefly and her reply was short, "No."

It was clear that something horrible had occurred in her past, but what exactly it was remained a mystery.

At that moment screams erupted from the other side of the barricade. They sounded close enough to be where Mige was trapped. There was no other noise though, which led us all to wonder what caused such a panic. I looked at Pandora but she simply shook her head. Clearly she wouldn't help whoever was on the other side.

"Pip, Juilliard, I need to get you two out of here as fast as possible. I'm going back out to warn the others. I don't know how deep this mass of rocks is so you may want to stand as far back as possible. And shield yourselves as best as possible. We're going to get you out of here before whatever is on the other side gets here. There is one thing I must warn you of, though. There's no telling how thick this wall is, but to get you out quickly we have no other option than to blow it up. Because we can only estimate, there is a fair chance you may be seriously injured or even killed in the process. I believe it's a risk we must take if you want out, but I can't make the choice for you…"

Without a moment of hesitation I answered. "We'll do it."

And with that she was gone, as if she just evaporated into thin air.

It felt like half a lifetime before anything happened, but we finally heard a somewhat distant rumbling as the explosion finally occurred and rocks began to tumble. Without warning, the cave itself began to crumble and the explosion carried itself through the wall barricading us from the outside. Rocks flew toward us and against our better judgment we took cover behind a boulder. Just as everything goes dark, I hear Pip scream my name and then there's silence. Just deafening silence.
Credit me. Cranberry413.

It's been a while, and this is insanely short compared to previous chapters BUT I'm working on more. It wasn't originally meant to be this short but I kinda liked the end as it is so I figured that would be a good place to stop temporarily. I'm hoping to have another chapter up by my birthday. :D

Critiques are nice.
Comments are nice.
Feedback is amazing.

Whatever you have to say is always appreciated. I don't really have any questions in particular at the moment... Maybe I'll update it later with some. Otherwise just give me your opinions on whatever you happen to have an opinion on. :shrug:
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:iconlaeneris:
Yes, a new chapter! I was waiting for this, so I tried to write a critique as soon as possible. :aww: I hope you don't mind, but for your story chapters, I'll give everything 4 stars from now on to avoid having to bother with the ratings.


Storyline and plot
Although I'm not surprised at the appearance of Pandora, it was still pleasant to actually read it. It's a bit hard having to keep re-reading the chapters because I can't remember what happened exactly in the one before this if I read it a few weeks ago. Therefore I can't talk about the story as a whole a lot until I read it all in one go. I had to go back to chapter 19 to refresh my memory of why there was so much dust settling on them! A rock fell down from the ceiling, correct?
But for now, it seems to fit the previous parts reasonably well. Good job! :clap: I do have a few small things, but I'll mention those later. For now I'm mainly interested in knowing if Juilliard & co get caught, and how exactly they will manage to get out of this quite literal mess. Minus the explanation about Pandora's powers (I'll give arguments below) this chapter definitely kept my attention.

To be honest, while I was curious and genuinely interested in Pandora's teleportation power, it felt like you were (not so) subtly trying to feed information to the reader. Something is trying to catch Juilliard & co. - I would skip the explanation and ask her straight away if she could teleport me out. She could explain herself at a more appropriate time, when they're not in danger of dying or worse.

I thought this was one of your best chapter endings so far, because there's no way of knowing whether they will end up injured or not!

Characters
I like the ease with which Pandora has tracked them down. It gives the impression that she's capable of more than she shows, and it also shows how painfully easy it would be for the Soldiers to find them.

I also like the added aspect of humanity Pandora received here, even if she might not truly be human. The fact that she tires and isn't in full control of her power made me feel a bit more sympathy for her. As if she's not only a mighty creature with strong powers, but someone who struggles. :) So great job on that! I did think that she seemed different from when they first met her. Somehow she seemed kinder before? More compassionate? She even took Juilliard into her arms and tried to comfort him, but here she has kind of lost her reassuring attitude. I also think a little mention of her strange voice due to her flaw would help remind the reader who she is, in case anyone forgot.

I thought the way even Pip lost his usual cheery attitude was very fitting here as well.

So I liked Pandora and Pip, but I'm a little bit less sure about Juilliard. He seemed to play a weak role in this part, by mostly asking questions instead of actually doing something. I'm wondering why Juilliard has no further questions to Pandora when she mentions the Superiors realized who he is and how wanted he is. I would ask her why they wanted me and why I was so important. He must be curious, right? It feels as if he's somewhat turned into a puppet to dispense plot information here, rather than a person with feeling (wow, for once,I have actually captured exactly what I wanted to say).

Spelling, grammar and style
As usual, I could not catch any grammar or spelling mistakes! :meow: And I don't think I should need to pay attention to those since you've proven yourself more than capable of writing in clean, neat English. Therefore my only complaints are about the style and use of certain words.

In the beginning there is a repetance of the dust - first clearing, then settling. This made the sentence seem a little bit awkward to me. Also, first they notice the figure, which is apparently easier to see than their surroundings. That just felt a bit off to me. :)

Moving on to the second paragraph. It starts with Juilliard wondering about Pandora, then immediately switches to descriptions of the room. I have 2 problems with this part:
1. The way it's written makes it unclear if It's a strange thing to watch refers to Pandora materializing or the walls coming down (although I would guess it was about Pandora).
2. There has already been a mention of the rocks around them and how it seems that they might fall down and crush the party. No need to do so twice.

That part read a bit difficult for me.

This line:
But between you and the Soldiers you have following you, doesn't flow very well in my opinion. I would recommend changing it into 'But between you and the soldiers following you,' but that's just an idea.

The last line is suddenly in present tense, while the rest of the piece isn't. Just thought I'd point that out.

Miscellaneous
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall there ever being a mention of a forest before? I thought they went straight from the Underground into the mountain cabin. I checked previous chapters but couldn't find a mention. This is what they say:

It took us about twenty minutes to find the hidden entrance to the outside and as soon as we crawled our way through we blocked it off with logs and whatever else we could find, just to be sure no one else would be able to track us down as quickly as they wished.


I think just a simple mention of them actually entering a forest in the earlier chapters would do. :D Describe the trees, the fresh air, just to give us an idea of their surroundings. Looking back, I realize there is actually barely any description on where they end up after leaving the Underground, unless I missed it (in that case, please refresh my memory!).

I don't know if this was described anywhere, but how dark is the part of the cave that they're trapped in, exactly? Pandora would have to see their mouths move to understand the words, and in the current circumstances, it seems like it'd be very dark in the cave.

Summary
Overall while I didn't think it was your best chapter up to now, I still liked it. :D There are some minor logic/consistency flaws, at least in my opinion, but nothing drastic. Keep going - you're doing an excellent job! :tighthug:

I think I've managed to squeeze all my thoughts onto the paper about this chapter. I'm sorry about the length, I just can't seem to help it! Hopefully this critique helped you out. Time for the usual stuff - feel free to disagree with me on anything. :aww:

Peace out! :peace:
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:iconshadowofnifaris:
ShadowOfNifaris Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
EEEEEEEEE!! :squee:

Omg Pandora is greeaat! I can't imagine how cool it would be to teleport...but it sucks that it can disappear at almost any time =\ booty I says.

I kinda like the shortness of the chapter to be honest. It makes it seem quite fast paced and it suits what's going on at the moment. Also, I like that Pandora has limits to to her abilities. Too many characters have some wild ability that they can just use to swoop in and save the day with. I'm glad you didn't do that ^_^ it makes the character more believable.

When is your birthday (if you don't mind my prying O.O)? I sooooo look forward to the next part of this ^_^
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:iconcranberry413:
Cranberry413 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
You like it? :excited:

I agree with you on the crazy powers, though. Although it wasn't really my intention to make her more believable, it was more of "I wanna make her more complicated".

It's January 5, so in like.. 3 days :)
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:iconshadowofnifaris:
ShadowOfNifaris Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Yes! I'm glad you continued ^_^

well, regardless you succeeded in making her more badass to me xD

That's insane! My best friends birthday is the same day o.O
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:iconcranberry413:
Cranberry413 Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
:iconglomp2plz: <--- I love that. Anyway. Thanks!

Yes! I'm happy ^_^

What? NO way. That's cool! I've never heard of anyone with my birthday.. I know people on January 1,2,4,6,8,13,18,& 25. But no 5. :tears:
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:iconshadowofnifaris:
ShadowOfNifaris Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That is an EPIC emote! WHAT IS IT?!

Yeah it's insane right? Him and his brother have birthdays in January but they are the only people aside from you now that I have ever met with January birthdays ^_^
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:iconcranberry413:
Cranberry413 Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
: iconglomp2plz : Without the spaces ^_^

It's funny when siblings have the same birth month. Well, it is to me at least.. :blushes: Unless they're twins of course- that's kind of necessary. :P It took me 14 years to find someone else with a January birthday, but then all of a sudden I was overrun with January people xD But still no January 5. :grump:
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:iconshadowofnifaris:
ShadowOfNifaris Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Great ^_^ I already used it xD

That would suck though lol except for twins, like you said
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:iconcranberry413:
Cranberry413 Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
haha awesome :D

Whyyyy would it suck?
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