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swaps pt 3

by scarborough 

Posted: 23 August 2005
Word Count: 1425
Summary: our two heroes settle in. and some exposition. gotta have that exposition...
Related Works: Swaps • Swaps pt 2 • 

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

And that was that; we'd found our new resistance movement to join. Considering we now knew the alternative to joining was summary execution, it seemed like a good idea to try and settle in. We all know how good I am at keeping my head down, don't we? Whilst that persistent voice in my head kept telling me that we were in over our heads with this group of slick professionals, I did my best to ignore it, and to fit in.

That was quite a job in itself; to call this bunch of revolutionaries odd didn't quite cover it. For a bunch of idealists, rebelling against the grand fucked nature of society, and building something new, they were worse than everybody else. No-one seemed to talk to anybody else, unless it was some matter of the grand purpose. It was a workplace, not a home. What made things worse was the sheer size of the place. Safe house was huge, sprawling, and capable of holding far more people than they actually had. And the decor! All white walls and impersonal functionality. Going down to the kitchen from the dorm rooms felt like wandering through a maze. It was oddly isolating, too; even if you did bump into someone in those lonely corridors, they'd just grunt at you, before rushing on, always in more of a hurry than you. Everyone was working to a schedule. It was like being back at work in the outside, the way the Copyrights wanted.
The thing that started to get to me was the number of meetings they had, and how little was actually said or done. Every one of them had their specific areas of expertise, and spent pretty much all of their time telling everybody else that things were very promising. At least, that's what I think the meetings were about. Being new and as yet unknown quantities, Me and Sarah didn't get invited to many. No-one knew what we were good at. There was probably a regular brainstorming session held to discuss what should be done with us. They did lay one on for us, though. Thought that was kind of nice.

It was chaired by the grey-haired woman that had driven me part of the way. That was when I learned her name was Natasha.
"The purpose of this comittee," she began, "is twofold. First off, it is an opportunity for formal induction, for newcomers such as Simon and Sarah here. It is also intended to provide an open forum for general discourse as to the overall aims of this resistance movement, and our progress towards this objective. As most of you are aware, we are making steady progress, and have grown significantly over the last six months, with numerous electronic infiltrations, and two sabotage operations going successfully in the lower Thames Valley, which as of yet have not been traced back to ourselves. We have also begun pro-active recruitment; Simon and Sarah, you are the latest to join us, but prior to our mission to rescue you, we have also liberated seven people held in Copyright facilities, and marked as potential threats. They sit around this table with you."

At this, the grizzled-looking man with the cropped hair next to me nodded in response, and smiled at me, as did several others. He frightened me, I have to admit. He seemed more like hired muscle than one of those slick technicians who had rescued me. I wondered where they were finding these people, what their criteria was. Being a mouthy type, I couldn't help but stick my hand up.
"Yes, Simon?" she said with a hint of impatience.

"Where are you getting us from? How do you know where to find your recruits?"

She smiled, thinly. "Good question. At the moment, we are recruiting from other resistance movements, as and when they become significant enough to come to the Copyrights' notice. The main difficulty faced by any opposition to the Copyright scheme, as identified by Matthew, has been the sheer impossibility of finding potential allies, when human interaction is so closely monitored. Our primary advantage, however, is our knowledge of the Social Index technology. It allows us to monitor potential Revolutionaries, as they monitor the population for utility. We are using their technology against them."

I have to admit, I was impressed.

"So you pick us on our capabilities? What are we here for?" It was a genuine enough question; I was wondering what the hell I could contribute to this slick, professional operation.

"At the moment, we don't know what you are good for," came the reply. The grizzled man sniggered. I'm sure I saw that Natasha. Sarah seemed a little taken aback, too.

"But you must have some idea how we can help?" she asked, in a small voice.

"No, not yet." came the answer. "But initially, the primary quality we are looking for is the fact that you do not fit in. The methods we use are complex, as you will learn, but our guiding principles- well, they're hardly rocket science. We are simply looking for those people who for whatever reason, reject the status quo. Take Darius here," she said, gesturing towards my overly cheerful neighbour. "He's here because the Social Index doesn't understand him."
Darius grinned. "I'm a genuine freak."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"It means, that my behaviour, my motivational patterns, do not make sense when subjected to statistical analysis." he said, his face impassive. "They kept moving me around, taking me from place to place, identity to identity. Never did much good. They just didn't know If I was doing good or not."
Natasha smiled. "He's a genuine one-off. The only individual that the Social Index couldn't compute. It was causing the Copyright group that owned him all kinds of headaches."
"Maybe you should have left him where he was," I snorted.
He smiled at me. A big, wide smile that seemed full of warmth. Made my skin crawl.
"Of course, this lot don't know what to make of me either" he said. "It isn't easy being complicated." he leaned in towards me, a little closer than I like. Well, no way I was having some freak get under my skin.
"Maybe you're just simple," I replied. "nothing for their algorithms to assess? You put junk in, you get junk out, I always heard."

Now, normally when I'm blatantly rude to someone's face, I can tell how they're going to react. Take Sarah; if I'd just called her an idiot, her smile would have vanished, then she'd have tried hard to show she wasn't bothered, and scowled at me for being an ass. Maybe she'd punch me. Natasha, well, she was seeming like more of an icy stare type of girl. Darius, however, he just- didn't respond. There was no expression on his face, it was like it froze solid. He sat back in his chair, out of my personal space again. Was he angry, amused, what? Guess Natasha was right. I found myself edging away from him.

"If you've quite finished," she continued, "We anticipate an increasing number of these missions as and when the opportunity arises. Information will come from the Networking committee. For the benefit of newcomers, again, the networking committee has responsibility for hacking into the Copyright database, and monitoring trends in the Social Index, looking for anything we can exploit. They are also our primary form of cover. They can erase records, cause localised problems in the Copyrights' monitoring equipment, even use the Electronics they use for crowd control on Copyright agents, or the public if needs be. In time, we expect to expand this area of our operations. We will continue to piggy-back along within the Social Index, and through our interventions, subvert the Copyrights' network to such an extent that its efficacy is entirely compromised. We can then make our move, overtly, against the individuals who control the copyrights, and destroy the heads of that organisation. At that point, our operation will wither away, and society will revert to its previous, free-form state."
"that's your plan?" I said.
"yes, Simon. That is the plan."
I had to admit, this was a bit more than the petty bombing campaigns, pointless symbolic gestures of defiance like Natasha had tried. I had this ominous feeling, however; something was going to lead to trouble. The life I've led, and the things I've done, you need to trust that feeling for trouble.
"It's glorious!" said Sarah.
Once again, I held back a sigh.

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Comments by other Members

paul53 [for I am he] at 15:22 on 24 August 2005  Report this post
I went to upload comment for Swaps 3, then deleted it and wrote this instead.
I will let others comment on the work first, because I am unsure whether my comments will be an accurate and helpful appraisal or a reflection of my current mindset.
A neighbour is growing extremely schizophrenic and violent, and what with the ensuing police, court, housing social service and firearms issues, I am loth to leave comment for anyone at present.

Nelly at 16:56 on 24 August 2005  Report this post
I enjoyed reading through this, it adds some more to the world and keeps the pace flowing along. So the resistance group isnít everything the protagonist wants and could there be some future conflicts with the other characters introduced.

It keeps with the other dark nature of your previous uploads, which as I've said before is my favourite type of story.

Some points on the way,

Whilst that persistent voice in my head kept telling me that me and Sarah were in over our heads with this group of slick professionals, I did my best to ignore it, and to fit in.

Perhaps remove 'that me and Sarah' and replace with 'we were'.


Space in-between the two words.

"what do you mean?" I asked.

Capital when starting speech unless its a continuation of a sentence.

I have to admit, I was impressed.

Replace 'have' with 'had'.

Looking forward to the next part.


Patsy at 01:45 on 29 August 2005  Report this post
Hi Scarborough,

Sorry this took me so long, things have been a bit nuts at work :(

Some things to consider:

Whilst that persistent voice in my head kept (telling me that me and Sarah) were in over our heads with this group of slick professionals, I did my best to ignore it, and to fit in.
Try: . . .voice in my head kept (telling me that we) were in over . . .

That was quite a job in itself; to call this bunch of revolutionaries odd didn't quite cover it. For a bunch of idealists, . . . There was probably a regular brainstorming session held to discuss what should be done with us. (I don't really know.) They did lay one on for us, though. Thought that was kind of nice.
Cut the (I don't really know.) part for a strong sentence. Also,
you might try extending this entire paragraph into dialogue, and action rather than exposition -- even if he's talking to a bug, or a rat, or a sock puppet! It would help show how lonely and isolated he feels, thus adding strength to your story.

"At the moment, we don't know what you are good for," came the reply. The grizzled man sniggered. I'm sure I saw (that bitch) stifle a grin.
Not clear, who is the bitch? Add a little description, ie. gray-haired bitch?

(I saw)Sarah was a little taken aback, too.
Try: Sarah (seemed) a little taken aback (as well).

That out of the way, this section nicely fills in about the group that they have gotten mixed up with. Feel free to add even more about how your main character feels about this situation. I like his smart-mouth attitude :) He and Sarah contrast and conflict well, with him as the hold out, and her as the kiss up, putting them nicely at odds.

Looking forward to the next bit.
Patsy :)

Argyle at 09:47 on 31 August 2005  Report this post
Sorry for taking so long getting to this! Been having alot of work done on my house and haven't had much time for other things!

Right, onto the critique :)

I liked it. It's very easy to get into, it flows nicely and there's a very obvious style of writing to it. All of these (to me) are essential to keep the reader reading!

The one thing I will say, is that you seem to do things like me and, while this is neither write nor wrong, I think it might be detracting from your story (I know it does mine!).

What I mean is, there is obviously alot of depth in your story, your characters are developed and relationships have been, and still are being, forged. Like me, you seem to want to rush through the story. It is probably my worst trait in writing, but sometimes it can be what a story needs; rapid plot development, little descriptive text, fast dialogue, no distractions.

Now, on your story, I think it could really really benefit from some nice descriptive paragraphs. As an example, the safe house, you begin describing, could really be brought to life. I was left wondering more about what it looked like, what style of decor, you said white and impersonal... what like? A Roman Palace? A mental asylum? What I do in these situations is write a free flowing passage describing everything I know about the <insertobjectnamehere> and make it as long as I can. Then take the best bits, which don't give too much away to detract from the reader's imagination, and use them to build the paragraph.

This isn't really a criticism of the work, more a suggestion of how I think you can really draw your reader in. You might disagree with me, but I hope the comment helps a little :)

However, I did really enjoy the upload :)

paul53 [for I am he] at 11:50 on 01 September 2005  Report this post
What I am finding is that there is a slight disparity between the story and the flashbacks. Not that the writing is in any way bad or inconsistent, but that with the flashbacks I am taken there, whereas with the ongoing story I am one step removed. As no one else has mentioned this, it might just be me, or it might be along the lines of Argyle's comment about padding it with more description.
If you don't see any disparity, then I'll hold my peace. It could be no more than the reflection of the hero's inner feelings: hurt by the past, so living the present behind invisible armour.

scarborough at 20:58 on 01 September 2005  Report this post
Cheers for the feedback. I do appreciate that people are reading my stuff, especially as you've all got far more interesting and important things to do.... :}

I think that your assorted comments have hit the nail on the head ; for this bit, I've been struggling with the sense that it's not the most interesting part of the story, but that it needs to be got through to set up what happens next; the general impression that being part of this slick little group is actually kind of dull, can come across as, well, a bit dull. More description clearly needed, and more conversation, more of them bouncing responses to this place off each other. that said, I love the idea of the lonely man with the sock puppet, Patsy! might deflate the mood somewhat though :)

I think, too, that you might have made a part of Simon's character a bit more explicit to me, with that comment about living in the past, Paul. I might have to re-write large chunks of what I already had down at the end! all to the good...

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