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Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Now, now, if the two were going up while going down, that would be a descent. By being a decent, or "respectable," up the rails, Woody is clearly just giving our protagonist here a suitable day's workout.

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Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Hey, kiddies! Here's a game you can play at home: see, one of the classic symptoms of amateur writing is the overuse of adverbs, particularly in dialogue. See if you can count just how many adverbs our dear author uses in each segment (and remember, adverbial participles count, too)!

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

You shouldn't bother keeping a count of the typos; I could probably double the number you got from chapter 4 if I were of a mind.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Mercedes posted:

I'm pretty certain that Rodney's new coworkers will throw him for a loopty loop.

I'm sure they'll be launching him into a brand new adventure before long. Hopefully the current situation won't be left standing for very long, or else he might wind up suspended before even starting his first day. That'd be one hell of an inversion, let me tell you.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

JosephWongKS posted:

There aren’t too many roller coasters in my part of the world. Could the American goons confirm whether theme parks and such are typically situated next to agricultural facilities?

Theme parks are generally located well outside of the cities, at the edges of suburbs. Noise pollution issues, you see. So yes, assuming our were-roller-coaster friend went to the nearest bar, the chances are very good that a dairy farm would be within "faster than a car" roaming distance.

Also, I wasn't going to bring it up, but an American ton is actually 2000 pounds, not 1000, and so Railrunner would be a ten-ton monstrosity, not twenty. And since a kilogram is roughly 2.2 pounds, 10 tons is about 9 [metric] tonnes.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.


CLARE HUNGRY.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

It must be really inconvenient to turn into a roller coaster train when you step into a roller coaster train. Just think about those poor restraints!

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

JosephWongKS posted:

I’ve seen “house of mirrors” in Scooby Doo and other American cartoons, but have never actually visited one. Do their operators need to go through the maze themselves every single time there’s a customer? That sounds rather inefficient.

Pretty sure what you're looking at is a misused pronoun: it's supposed to refer to Clare, who is running into the maze, but the last person mentioned was the operator, and so you get confused. And no, mirror maze operators take tickets and watch the crowds (and occasionally pull out people who get too lost to find the exit), but they do not escort each visitor.

And what the heck kind of roller coaster did Clare find that there wasn't a significant line on a crowded evening? Add "wait halfway into the line and duck out for a leak" to the many ways Rodney could have escaped that situation with his credibility intact.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

SSNeoman posted:

I'm guessing that she had some bad experience with the police as well.

Not necessarily. Sometimes you just need some faceless mooks to show off how powerful your main character is, and if generic mobsters or gang members don't make enough sense, it's up to law enforcement to fill the role. This is, rightly or not, something well established in various media, and so it's possible that she got the idea from more than her own very, very odd subconscious. You could also consider the fact that Rodney is supposed to regret his actions at this phase since Miranda is rather mindlessly trying to evoke the tragic figure of the werewolf (who cannot control his savage behavior but is forced to live with the consequences), plus the policeman with a face, Detective Black, has so far not only managed to survive two direct hits from Railrunner, but also produced a rifle and a machete out of absolutely nowhere.

Unfortunately, Miranda is also presenting this plot on the eve of turning him into the Chosen One of the Mystic Realm which really doesn't mesh well with a tragic person vs. self plot.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

SSNeoman posted:

Bobbin, if I may, you're a writer right? Can you tell us what you think of the perspective shifts? I'd really like to hear your opinion.

I got a few things to say about this chapter, actually. But in regards to this, mixing first and third person perspectives is generally frowned upon. First person means committing to a personal take on a single perspective, a perspective that can only expand if the protagonist is "writing" him or herself and can therefore embed an extra layer of narrative ("I heard about the events later, and as I've pieced things together, I believe it went something like this"). The third person perspective has license to move between characters since the point of view is not directly attached to anyone, although you can also choose to limit your focus to one individual. One book which I think does a good job playing with the issue of perspective is Pages of Pain, in which the first person perspective character is the Lady of Pain, literally an omniscient being, and so when it shifts into a third person narrative following another protagonist, it makes sense since she is effectively watching the narrative along with the reader.

Personally, I'm more willing to give a break to Miranda for using nonstandard identifiers; I've always felt that using a good identifier can save a line of description and help provide connotations to dialog that the bare words can't always provide on their own (see: most uses of sarcasm online). That said, there can be a fine line between "adding to a scene" and "Roget approved purple prose;" you really need a good ear for what can fit and what can't. Joseph, I also noted that you highlighted identifiers which your reference considers safe, like "asked" and "replied." On the other hand, focusing on these has led me to notice that she consistently makes a grammatical mistake regarding identifiers:

"This is how complete sentences with identifiers should be punctuated," he began. "When you use an exclamation point or a question mark, it should look similar!" he continued. "But this is how most of Miranda's dialogue ends." He finished.

So it turns out she hasn't been misusing identifiers at all: she's been adding completely unrelated bits of unspoken dialog afterwards instead! :v:

alcharagia posted:

"Whoop dee" is not a phrase.

It's two thirds of a phrase (whoop-dee doo), and the speaker is feeling apathetic; I'd let that one slide.

Two other notes: first, the meeting with Clare is all kinds of head scratching. So her first reaction to seeing her homicidal wolf-roller-coaster-man is to up and stab him in the chest, her second reaction upon seeing his freakish healing factor is to sobbingly forgive him, and then upon hearing his silly roller coaster name she instantly decides to call him only that for the rest of the scene?

Second, I would like to nominate Detective Black as hero of the thread.

Bobbin Threadbare fucked around with this message at 04:43 on Apr 6, 2013

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

my dad posted:

Speculation related to the spoilered stuff: I have this horrible feeling that Clare is the, er, fuckdoll.

That would be my first guess, too. Conservation of characters and all that. Then again, I'm not sure we can trust that any literary technique will be abided by in this book.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.


Because porn.

quote:

But most importantly, and this is the thing that kills me: If were-rollercoaster-dragon-things are the most awesome creatures around; if they are bloodthirsty killing machines that can manipulate the elements, heal from any wound, redefine common phrases, and (enter new power as the plot demands here), why is Shadowtrack "nothing" without her boyfriend?!?!? That isn't just a heartbreaking reminder of how ingrained the "female characters can't be interesting" thing is, even for female writers, it simply does not make any loving sense in the world of this story!?!:cry:

I suppose I've had the benefit of reading the Darkangel trilogy when I was still very young (Meredith Ann Pierce, still extremely good books after I reread them, take a look if you can), so I've never had that notion that female protagonists can't be independent, interesting, or useful. That even some female authors can't understand this strikes me as nothing less than tragic.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

JosephWongKS posted:

This whole section really feels like a bullied child’s fevered revenge fantasy.

Nah, it's not really a revenge fantasy so much as it is the oldest superhero cliché in the book. Some helpless young (or occasionally elderly) woman is being accosted by muggers in a dark alley! It's up to ~our hero~ to beat back the vicious foes and provide a quick demonstration of how his/her powers work in a self-contained crisis where the bad guys are incontrovertibly evil and deserving of punishment!

One thing I will give Miranda credit for: the mugger did not throw his gun once the bullets were spent. He still managed to do disproportional damage with a knife, but even so, points for trying.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

JosephWongKS posted:

Apparently this is a big enough museum to have six or more floors, and a small room filled with jewelry has security cameras, plural.
:stare:

I don't think most major museums have six floors, at least not ones that can be accessed by the public. Usually they're built as sprawling affairs, and if they aren't donated or appropriated mansions, then they're patterned after such. Then again, more modern museums tend to be built more vertically, so what do I know?

quote:

Five sheriffs? From what wikipedia tells there is one sheriff for a county or about so. I guess when a living Roller coaster has attacked the town/city twice, they need to call in everyone nearby, including neighbouring counties.
Sheriffs run county police the way commissioners or chiefs run municipal police. County officers are commonly called deputies, whether full time or brought in for a specific case, like for a manhunt. And now you know more about American police systems than Miranda.

Another note: most county police don't have the budget for specialty professions, such as CSI or detectives, and so a fellow like Detective Black would most likely be brought in from the nearest city to help with the case, much like these FBI agents. But then the community is evidently big enough to house a six-story museum, so who the hell knows?

quote:

Detective Black has been busy! He has had time to interview every single witness and figure out from their descriptions of the several people that were at the carnival, bar and mall that there was a single person with the same description at all locations, then he figured out who this person was just from descriptions and not plastering a sketch of him on TV and cross his fingers that someone would call in.
Black would actually have a leg up on that, since Rodney's friends were apparently also there that night, and so they'd have a name and could look up a photograph of him to use for identification with later witnesses. As to how they wouldn't get his address since they probably got his driver's license, I have no idea, especially since if he moved after getting it the location wouldn't be in an "old file."

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

SSNeoman posted:

And the over the top "DISSECT HIM" order. Also a dick move but also, you know, Railrunner.

He didn't even say to dissect him, just to bring coaster engineers in to analyze him and run some tests. He's basically bringing in a were-roller-coaster medical team to examine their captive.

I'm kind of curious where the author intends to go with Detective Black; on one hand the narrator pointed out that he thinks he's completely justified in bringing Rodney to justice (leaving aside that, objectively, he is), but on the other the narrator used the adjective "malicious." Black may wind up getting killed off at something resembling a climax, but even if he somehow gets "converted" to Railrunner's side, the Black we know and love may end up just as dead to us as if his torso were shredded apart.

Nyaa posted:

Ohhh, foreign material... How wonderful to have you because other metals just easily get rip apart by railrunner's claw. :allears:

Detective Black's knife must have been made with this foreign material too. :black101:

Apparently, being an all-American designed and built attraction, Railrunner's key weakness is from materials manufactured in China, Mexico, or other foreign nations. I guess that explains why bullets bounce right off while knives can slip right in.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

It's funny when you think about it. A very good author can make the reader empathize with the protagonist and the antagonist, and an average writer can make the reader empathize with the protagonist along, but it takes a special sort of talent to make the reader empathize with the antagonist alone.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Bobbin Threadbare posted:

Black may wind up getting killed off at something resembling a climax, but even if he somehow gets "converted" to Railrunner's side, the Black we know and love may end up just as dead to us as if his torso were shredded apart.

Goddamnit. I knew this would happen, but I didn't expect I'd be so literal about it.

JosephWongKS posted:

In a story featuring were-roller-coasters and a parallel world of living amusement park rides, somehow it’s the notion of prison guards eating cereal in jail that strikes me as being incongruous. Isn’t it a breakfast that you eat at home? Do American workers in general or prison guards in particular typically bring cereal to the workplace to eat?
If our shift demands we eat breakfast at work, we usually don't pack something as potentially messy as cereal. Soup in a thermos, breakfast bars, egg sandwiches, basically anything that packs well and can be eaten standing up is what's standard.

quote:

NO NO NO NO NO! NOW HE GETS loving BLOOD-BENDING ON TOP OF LIGHTNING-BENDING AND METAL-BENDING? THIS IS BULLSHIT! MIGHT AS WELL GIVE HIM ENERGY-BENDING WHILE YOU ARE AT IT!

:argh: :argh: :argh: :argh: :argh: :argh: :argh: :argh: :argh: :argh: :argh:
For crying out loud, even Magneto had to use metal smuggled in by way of poisoning a guard's drink before he could break out of prison.

quote:

This is new to me. Do police officers in America have the power to act as judge, jury and executioner as well?
Ha ha ha ha ha ha

quote:

Bahahaha, how cute, Railrunner. You actually think Detective Black would die from something as minor as a hole in his chest.
At least it means he's out of the story! Time for ~*FanFiction*~ to take over!

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

JosephWongKS posted:

Are wheels typically tipped with nylon? The things I’m learning from this book.

On a roller coaster? It's entirely possible. Roller coaster wheels surround the track on three sides and are made of hard plastic to allow some give while providing a strong grip. Wheel placements usually hold three or six wheels, which is why the illustrations use the wheels as "fingers" rather than hands.

my dad posted:

:psyduck:

Miranda's word choice errors are really weird. They'd make sense if she weren't from an English-speaking country (hell, I made worse on this very forum), but since she's from the US, I'm just... baffled.

I've already alluded to this sort of thing as Roget-approved purple prose; it's common among inexperienced writers who want to sound fancy.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Ah, the perfect, unending, undefeatable love of adolescence. Back when you still think that love is some irresistible force and not more about finding reasons to stand each other.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

quote:

Blood pumped at an abdominal [sic] rate.

Seeing as your heart's in your abdomen, it'll tend to! :v:

quote:

“We need to lose these goons once and for all. They probably have video cameras with them, if they film us as we leave. We will be exposed. By getting rid of them we are safe.”

So your response to the fear that you might be captured on film is to massacre the well-lit police lines and leave behind hundreds of witnesses (along with who knows how many dashboard cameras and distant news crews) instead of laying low until you can discover the portal and sneak in? And that's just leaving aside the fact that Railrunner was caught on the bar's surveillance cameras way back when.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

When the rusty brown compact pulled up alongside the police tape, Officer Coleman couldn't help but laugh. "What's so funny?" asked his partner, Blake.

"Over there." Coleman pointed at the car. "You said Central wouldn't take our report seriously. Well, there's your proof that they did."

Detective Black exited the car with a fast food coffee in one hand and his Marlboros in the other, awkwardly alternating between trying to sip from his still-too-hot coffee and packing his cigarettes against the side of his forearm. Blake's first impression of the detective was of rumpled insomnia; his hair might have been neatly parted on the left if he had bothered to comb it, his shirt and pants were as rumpled as if he had tried to sleep in them, and the badge he kept on a necklace was flipped the wrong way. "Not many folks know him this far out in the suburbs," Coleman whispered, "but those who do..." Blake followed Coleman's subtle nod and noticed how certain of the other officers seemed to maintain a respectful distance away from the detective, eying him warily whenever they thought he wasn't looking.

Black walked straight over to Coleman and Blake where they were maintaining the line. "Either of you fellas can tell me why I got woken up after midnight?" he asked the pair. "Captain mighta told me on the phone, but I was still mostly asleep at the time."

"Sir. We received reports--" Blake began, but Black interrupted by shoving his coffee into Blake's hands. Giving his pack two more solid smacks, he drew out a smoke, put away the rest, and began to pat himself down, hunting for his lighter. He waved for Blake to continue as he searched. "...We received reports that an unknown assailant attacked a group of paramedics as they were tending to two men who hurt their hands when their glass bottles shattered in their hands. One of the men fled out to the street, but the other man and the two paramedics hid in the bar. The assailant then smashed through the windows and began to destroy the interior. The owner attempted to fend him--it--off, but he just made it angry. The assailant then chased him into the basement and almost tore a steel door out of its frame, but by then Officers Jacobs and Rodney, the first responders, managed to distract its attention back outside the building. In response, the--the thing..." Blake began to stutter. He'd never known Jacobs as more than a coworker, but Rodney had been a member of his weekly board gaming club.

Coleman stepped in with the rest of the information. "That's their squad car over there," he said, pointing to an upsided heap of cars two more officers and a tow truck driver were scratching their heads over, "and Jacobs was thrown over there," he added, pointing to another car on the other end of the parking lot with a broken windshield. "After that, the thing ran off into the woods along the back there. Luckily, the paramedics weren't severely injured and got everyone the first aid they needed. No casualties, although we did find a dead cat in a drainage ditch by the parking lot. Jacobs and half the customers are at St. Francis Hospital now, but the rest are waiting inside for witness statements. Bar owner's in there, too; somehow he escaped without a scratch."

"Guess he's got Jacobs to thank for that," Black observed. "I'll see if I can't get someone to give her a medal. Rodney, too." Finally locating his lighter, Black lit his cigarette and pulled a deep drag out of it. Suddenly remembering his coffee, he leaned forward to retrieve it, breathing smoke into Blake's face. "Sorry about that," Black apologized as he ducked under the police tape and walked to the bar.

After a few moments, Blake turned to his partner. "Wait, how'd he know Jacobs was a she?" he asked.

Coleman only answered with a warning shake of his head.



Detective Black entered the tavern with an appreciative whistle. Not only were two wide windows completely smashed, their steel frames warped from a sudden impact, but the walls beneath them were nearly demolished to the foundation. The interior walls and furniture seemed to be scattered about at random, although paths had been cleared out and intact furniture found for the witnesses to use. The bar owner himself sat on a stool behind his bar, or rather what was left of it; Black was able to appreciate the pure quartz countertop thanks to the deep, wide claw marks that bit straight through the stone and halfway into the wood beneath it. Most of the taps had been smashed and were still leaking onto the ground, mingling with a number of liquor bottles that got too close to the action and gave the whole room a thick alcoholic stench. The owner sat unmoving, staring at a glass of what Black could only guess was water; far too much booze had spilled on the floor for him to be certain.

"Mr. Calloway? Detective Black." Glancing down, Black finally noticed his badge and flipped it the right side out, then extended his hand. Calloway, only registering the policeman after a full two seconds of staring, took the man's hand in what the detective noted was a very wet and timid handshake. "I understand this may be a hard time for you, but I do need to know what happened here tonight."

The overweight owner shook his head sadly. "You'd never believe me."

"You might be surprised," Black replied.

Calloway sighed, then spoke: "A roller coaster did it."

Black got a sudden mental image of a tall, green amusement park attraction and falling down a steep hill into a pair of loop-the-loops. "So you mean, like, a roller coaster train? You're saying one of those things got up off its tracks, scared the living daylights out of a pair of medics, tore down that wall over there, gouged out your bar, tore up a steel door, and tossed a car like it was trying to hit milk bottles at the midway?"

Calloway nodded and sighed once more, and Black scoffed. Internally, however, the detective was furiously correlating everything he'd seen so far. As many years as he'd spent in the paranatural department, living amusement rides were a new one on him, and he'd need to know as much as he could about the new creature as fast as he figure it out. Still, most people didn't expect authority figures to take them seriously after a brush with the supernatural, and defying that expectation usually created more unease and panic than it relieved.

All of a sudden, the bar owner perked up. "I just had a thought--if it's still safe--it should still be safe..." The middle-aged man hopped off his stool and hustled into the kitchen whose door had been forcibly widened by a very stocky figure. Stocky enough to seat two adults side by side? Black wondered. He followed close behind Calloway as the latter rattled off an explanation: "Security cameras...had 'em installed after a couple customers gave me trouble for 'throwing them out too early,' hmph...but if they lasted long enough...if the computer's still intact..." The bar owner led the detective down into a basement full of steel kegs, crates of liquor, stacks of wine, and bottles of beer. At the other end sat what remained of the steel door: the metal was merely hollow, but this time the claw marks were unmistakable. "Aha!" Calloway exclaimed, rushing to the computer. "I've got two angles for you to pick from, officer."

Detective Black waited as Calloway muddled his way through the recording software, and his patience was rewarded when what could only be a red roller coaster train burst in through the wall, destroyed half the furniture, leaped across the bar, and then surged back out the hole it created, following the police responders who briefly appeared on one camera. Black had the bar owner pause the video on the creature's profile and took a good, long look. The monster appeared to have an almost lizard-like facial profile, with disturbingly human-like arms and dozens of legs which all ended in three wheel-tipped fingers with massive metallic claws for spokes.

Black had never known such a thing could even exist, but he knew trouble when he saw it. He turned to Calloway. "I'm going to have to borrow your computer."

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

JosephWongKS posted:

Merrylegs chuckled a little. “A roller coaster can live forever if it plays its cards right.”

“Really? How old is Thunderbark?”

“He is an older coaster.” Merrylegs began “Thunderbark is nearly ninety.”

drat. A possible lifespan between zero and infinity and "old" is still in double digits? Roller coasters must tear each other apart constantly.

quote:

“Well, if a roller coaster could run on land and rails, then it can swim,” I said quietly to myself.

Perfect logic! After all, a regular train runs on land and rails, and it can swim, right?



...Oh.

quote:

Miranda Leek has serious issues with the apostrophe, doesn’t she?

Sadly prevalent.

quote:

Why is a place with “technology far more advanced than any humans” still using potions and candles and books? Where are the pills and electric lighting and Kindles?

You tell me how you're supposed to have a wise Jamaican voodoo lady who lives in a swamp without potions, candles, and books. :colbert:

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

The rest of the night passed slowly. After securing Calloway's computer, Detective Black recorded statements from all the witnesses still present, then headed to the hospital and got another set from those who could manage a conversation. Black couldn't help but cringe at the state some of the customers were left in, and that was simply from wood and glass shrapnel. What would happen to these people if the roller coaster monster intended to kill them? Then, as if to answer his question, the detective was sent to respond to another call several miles beyond the metro area where a farm hand had reported seeing a giant red monster eat one of the farm's bulls. Black knew the roller coaster train had struck again the moment he arrived, even before he saw the red-stained ground speckled with viscera where a bull had once stood, and before the farm hand explained how he had unloaded three shells of buckshot to no effect.

The sun was rising when Detective Black finally headed home, much to his irritation. Sleepless nights were hardly foreign to anyone in the Paranatural Department, but it had been months since the last vampirism outbreak and Black's recent caseload had been nothing but psychics and sorcerers with sense enough to sleep at night, and so the detective had had time to appreciate a diurnal sleep schedule of his own. His wife had appreciated it, too, although his teenage daughter was at the stage where she could care less where her father was at any given time.

Still, the footwork had definitely been worth it. Black reviewed the creature attributes in his head as he tried to sleep through the morning light and then again when he returned to the main office that afternoon. First, the roller coaster train was extremely strong, as strong as a few tons of steel would lead one to believe, but it was also agile and silent when it needed to be ("well oiled," as Black put it). Second, the creature obviously needed to eat meat, meaning it had enough organic parts under the steel skin that it might just be vulnerable if they could find something to penetrate; buckshot, as the farm hand had proven, simply wasn't enough. Fourth, the thing was fast; putting together the timing of incidents and dividing by the distance of the farm to the bar, Black found that it must have run over a hundred miles an hour cross-country to be in both places at once.

The remaining facts were unconfirmed. The train was likely connected somehow to amusement parks; Black had noticed when checking his map that the bar was actually just a few miles away from Mystic Park, the city's only such attraction, and the farm attack hadn't been much farther. Better by far, however, was the name Black had. The two men whose bottles had burst and shredded their hands were speaking with a third at the time, a man named Rodney who had only just gotten a job of roller coaster engineer at the park earlier that day. In fact, the pair were jokingly disparaging the attraction when the bottles broke, and Rodney claimed to feel sick and left shortly afterward; even more damning, the monster only appeared after he had left. Black thought it all too coincidental that an unregistered psychic with a connection to Mystic Park just happened to miss seeing a previously unknown monster attack a bar where he had been insulted.

Sadly, neither victim could remember Rodney's last name, and the officers Black had set to trace license plates from the cars in the bar parking lot had yet to turn anything up, leaving the detective feeling ineffective as he sat staring at his computer screen.

Suddenly, a new thought occurred to him, and he pulled up Mystic Park's website. Sure enough, their grand opening for the year just happened to be today. It was only a hunch, but Detective Black had a feeling that if a roller coaster beast was going to turn up anywhere that evening, it would be at Mystic Park.

Bobbin Threadbare fucked around with this message at 18:48 on Apr 28, 2013

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Iced Cocoa posted:

Too bad I am going to have to point out that the next incident was at a carnival, not at Mystic Park. Despite being just a carnival they still managed to have a portable roller coaster with them.

There may be some changes from the base material. Railrunner didn't murder five officers in the first portion, for instance.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Detective Black entered Mystic Park loaded for bear. The Captain wouldn't allow Black to reassign any police officers based on a hunch, but he did promise to keep a few SWAT teams on high alert just in case, plus he couldn't stop him from following up in person, so the detective made sure to arm himself for a worst-case scenario.

Black's first stop at the park was to alert their security personnel to be on the lookout for someone suspicious. "Your guards will not be able to handle this one themselves," Black warned their chief. "Tasers and pepper spray are unlikely to work at all, and should not be attempted. Instead, have them radio in and I will personally evaluate whether it's the man we're looking for. If I say it is, call Central; they'll know what to send." He then provided them with Rodney's description: an unkempt man in his mid twenties with dark hair, average build and height, and several gold piercings in his ears, lip, and left eyebrow. Feeling a bit too old to patrol the park on foot, Detective Black settled in at the security station and waited.

Still, the detective was kept on edge thanks to the anxious security staff's constant false alarms. "I'm sorry about them, detective," Chief Lugo apologized as he drove the pair back to the office after the fifth false positive. "We're always a bit nervous on Opening Day; we always figure something will happen when the crowds are thickest, so when you showed up and told us there really might be someone..."

"No, I understand," Black responded. "Your men have every right to be nervous. I'd tell you what my guy's suspected of doing, but it'd only make things worse. Besides, he's only wanted for questioning at the moment." He paused to wipe some of the drizzling rain off his face. "At least the weather's keeping most folks at home today."

Lugo nodded. "The crowds are about as light as I've seen them on Opening Day, although they're still a pretty good size for any other time. I just hope for your sake it keeps up like this."

Unfortunately, as the day advanced, the clouds thinned out and broke up, providing the detective with a brilliant sunset he only wished he could properly appreciate. Sure enough, despite the approach of evening, the crowds began to grow in size and with them the reports of "suspicious individuals," eventually forcing Detective Black to demand a positive ID on the gold piercings before he would bother to leave the station. Finally, it came.

"Confirmed on the gold left eyebrow stud," the guard's voice crackled over the radio. "Suspect is with a woman, looks to be on a date. Suspect is acting mighty uncomfortable, the woman is just about dragging him along. They're under the southern loop of the Twist & Spin, looks like she wants him to get in line."

"That's the roller coaster in the middle of the park," Lugo explained. "We can get there on foot in under a minute if we hustle. Keep us updated, Mags," he added into his walkie-talkie.

Before long, the two men joined the security guard just outside the blue steel beams and watched as a personal drama unfolded between the suspect and his girlfriend. "You sure we shouldn't intervene? Looks like he might be sick with something," Mags whispered.

Detective Black's eyes never wavered from the man he now knew for certain was named Rodney Philips. "If he's sick with something, then you really don't want to get close," he warned. "Call Central. Tell them I found the guy we're looking for, and they need to send everything they can right here, right now." Lugo hesitated, but as Rodney began to grow and tear his way out of his clothes, bones audibly popping as he screamed in pain from the transformation, Mags and the security chief turned and ran as fast as their legs would take them. Black only hoped one of them would have enough sense left to make the call.

In the meantime, Rodney's screams became a terrible, mindless laugh as the beast within him took over. Although the crowd noise had prevented him from hearing the man argue with his girlfriend, Clare, the other patrons were now shocked into total silence, leaving nothing beyond the eerily clattering roller coaster above to compete with the monster's booming voice: "It's Railrunner now." The train let loose a mad howl at the moon and lunged at his former companion.

Fortunately for her, Detective Black had been busy. As Rodney was transforming, Black pulled a tiny rifle out of an inner pocket. On its own it would never have been confused with a real firearm, being a perfect replica of a Browning BLR no bigger than the length of his hand. By slapping on a patch produced from another pocket, however, the weapon grew in size until it reached full scale. Black levered in the first round: steel cored, silver tipped, and several calibers bigger than the barrel's width would normally allow; fudging such details was just one advantage to working with magic-users.

Realizing what would be coming after the howl, Black charged forward and knocked Clare out of the way just before the crazed roller coaster train could strike. As it turned its attention to the detective, Black brought his rifle up to his shoulder and fired. However, the bullet which could bring a werewolf to a dead stop from a hundred yards failed to even scratch the creature's red paint, leaving only a momentary spark to show where it had deflected harmlessly. Too close to dodge, the train sent Black flying with a single swipe, knocking him into one of the roller coaster support struts. Loosing another metallic screech, Railrunner again approached Clare, but as the detective watched, barely conscious, a colorful yellow pony ran in and shouted for Clare to get on. Looking as amazed as Black was, Clare clambered on and held tight to the tall brass pole that emerged from the animal's midsection. As soon as it knew she was on, the horse galloped off, faster even than the red roller coaster train could follow.

As the beast's cries grew dimmer, Black came back to his senses. Luckily his magically reinforced coat had taken the brunt of the damage, but it was now shredded beyond use, taking with it most of the remaining patches Black had brought with him; even his cigarettes had been torn to pieces. All that remained was a patch for the machete he kept as a backup, now the only weapon he had with any real chance of harming the lumbering machine. Checking his surroundings, the detective could now hear screams coming from the crowd as the security guards did their best to evacuate the park. Far in the distance, Black could also make out the welcome wail of police sirens; evidently either Lugo or Mags had managed to do their job after all. Deciding discretion was the better part of valor, Black limped to the nearest electric security car and had the driver get him back to his personal vehicle so he could call in and describe what he had seen.

For a while, Detective Black was content to sit back in his car, pull some cigarettes from the pack in his glove compartment, and listen to the scanner as the police and SWAT teams took up positions around the park and then began to sweep through the center, following Railrunner's wake of destruction through the darkened rides and food shops throughout the park.

"Unit eight, checking in. All clear."

"Unit nine here. All clear by the carousel."

"Unit ten, we may have...poo poo, it's him! It's him! We're on the north side, by the--grk!"

"poo poo, gently caress! He got Harry!"

The rapid popping of a distant gunfight rolled over the parking lot, and Black found that he could no longer sit still and listen to fellow police officers die. He slapped his last patch on his machete, growing it to its proper size as he ran full tilt back into Mystic Park, a surge of adrenaline erasing his thoughts of all previous injuries. A SWAT officer objected as he crossed the police perimeter, but by that point the only thing the detective could hear was the blood pumping through his veins.

Black caught up with Railrunner in a cul-de-sac of food merchants. Bodies, some uniformed and some not, were scattered across the pavement, and the train was gorging itself on a freezer full of turkey legs torn from behind a wooden stand. The heavy steel stove had been thrown twenty feet to one side, the still-warm burners lighting the thin, dry grass just beneath a stand of trees. Wasting no time, Detective Black crept over to the relative cover of a row of pillars and moved as quietly as he could to the gluttonous monster. However, before he could get close enough to strike, Railrunner's head snapped up and spun around, turning to stare directly into Black's eyes. "You smell angry," it rumbled, an insane grin displaying all the various bits of fractured bone and frozen meat that covered the creature's lips and teeth. Black lifted his weapon to attack anyway, but the train's arm shot forward, too fast to follow, and gripped his wrist between its hard plastic wheels. Railrunner lifted the detective off the ground and laughed once again, sprinkling his face with raw meat and flecks of burning hot spittle, and then tossed him casually away. Black flew into a pillar head first, and knew no more.

Bobbin Threadbare fucked around with this message at 03:31 on Apr 30, 2013

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

paragon1 posted:

See if you can spot the spelling error in Bobbin's post.

Found it! :v:

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Detective Black awoke in a fit of painful coughing. When it finally subsided into a pitiful moan, he opened his eyes and found himself lying in a hospital bed, an IV dripping into his arm and an oxygen tube stuck up his nose. Taking stock of himself, Black gingerly touched his chest and recoiled at the arc of pain that shot straight up his spine. The spike subsided into a numb ache that matched the one in his head after only a few tense breaths, leaving the detective to wonder how potent the drugs swimming through his veins had to be. Black groped along the steel bars surrounding his bed until he found a call button, and pushed it.

A nurse came in before long. "Oh, good, you're awake," Jenny said, visibly relieved. "Be careful not to move, sir. You sustained a moderate concussion."

"What's the rest of the damage?" Black asked, his lips thick and slurring the words. Still, the nurse seemed to understand him.

"Four broken ribs, mild to moderate contusions--bruises--along the back, arms, and legs, and a grade 1 sprained ankle. I know it sounds like a lot, sir, but considering your age, you should consider yourself lucky. Do you remember what happened last night?"

"Yes. Used a machete and got knocked out. Stupid of me. What about the others?"

The nurse's expression darkened. "You should get some rest, sir. You still have some amnesia if you don't remember the trip here. Just take it easy and let your body heal, alright?"

Jenny turned to leave the detective's bed, but Black grabbed her wrist. "How many?" he asked.

The nurse looked down at her arm and hesitated, but finally said, "Five dead. Seventeen in serious or critical condition, counting you. Over forty more with injuries."

"Cops?"

"Some of them. Four of the dead. The fifth was park security. Listen, sir, it doesn't matter right now, you've done all you can. Your family will be back before long--"

Detective Black shook his head, despite the way it made the room swim. "Get Hugo. Dr. Hugo DuLac. He'll know what I need."

Jenny hesitated again, but Black refused to let go until she promised to find the doctor. Satisfied, he closed his eyes. When they opened again, a tall black man with a shaved head in lilac purple scrubs stood at the foot of his bed.

"Jesus, Black. Looks like you got hit by a truck," DuLac commented, his Cajun accent still strong despite the years he'd spent away from Louisiana.

"Yep. Twice," Black chuckled, pain stabbing through his chest with each laugh. "You got the stuff, Hugo?"

The doctor frowned. "You know the powder is only a temporary fix. Everything will come back once it wears off, and if you get injured again..."

"They need me, Hugo. I know who he is. I know who his girlfriend is. I'll do all the healing I have to, but not until that thing is ours."

DuLac sighed and pulled a leather pouch off of his belt and opened it, revealing a dark, glittering dust. "God have mercy on us fools," he muttered as he sprinkled the powder over the length of Detective Black's body.

Black felt an instant wave of relief as the powder spread up from his toes. His ankle shrank back to its proper size, bruises vanished, ribs knit themselves into place, and all his nausea and drowsiness fell away, leaving his head perfectly clear. The detective pulled off the oxygen tube, sat up, and took a deep, satisfying breath.

"You now have twenty four hours until your injuries return," the doctor explained as he carefully removed the IV needle and various sensors from Black's body. "I'll get you some fresh bandages you can apply for when they do, but make sure you hold onto any braces you find when you take these off. I'll also let the hospital know why you're being discharged, and to expect you back before too long. And stay away from drugs, even caffeine and nicotine. The powder suppresses their effects, too, and everything will come crashing down on you once the it's done."

"Great time to quit smoking," Black muttered as he pulled on his pants. Still, DuLac's magic seemed to keep his tobacco cravings at bay, as well, and so he wasn't too worried that this occasion would go as poorly as his usual attempts to quit.

"Anything else you need?" the doctor asked as Black tied up his shoes.

"Yeah," the detective responded. "Gimmie some of that Hoodoo stuff to go. I got a feeling I'm gonna need it."

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

JosephWongKS posted:

Can someone with knowledge in materials science or construction advise on whether it’s feasible to use steel as the primary material for buildings which are “ten times the size” of the “real world”?

As an outer covering, which is the only part a visitor would ever really see? Absolutely. Industrial steel alloys also form the backbone of every skyscraper ever built; the real trick is designing the structure's shape to withstand whatever forces nature may apply to it. Ten-story buildings are fairly easy to construct using modern building methods and materials, but I get the feeling that what Miranda meant was to say that the buildings are "roller coaster" sized as opposed to human-sized. That is, of course, considerably less than ten times the scale of a human, but that's my best guess.

quote:

“Constrained” by what?

"Concerned," maybe?

quote:

Wait, Railrunner is titled a “tyrant”? So Amusement Park Between is trading a “dictator” for a “tyrant” and that’s supposed to improve their lives because?

Or does Miranda Leek simply not understand what “tyrant” means? Admittedly, in the original ancient Greek, “tyrant” referred to anyone who obtained supreme leadership of a city and did not carry any ethical or moral judgment, but I seriously doubt Miranda Leek is making reference to that interpretation of the word.

While this is technically true, even the ancient Greeks had developed a negative connotation to tyranny before the end. So no, no excuses.

quote:

If this guy is a “Mayor”, isn’t he elected? Why then are the residents of Trenzon his “subjects”?

Mayors can be appointed. The title of "mayor" is older than the idea of electing them, for that matter.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Detective Black encountered his family on his way out of the hospital. His wife and daughter were both shocked to see him up and about, particularly since they had seen him earlier that morning, and neither were happy to hear what he had done to get discharged, nor why. Still, Mrs. Black knew he had to go back out and help, knew it as well as she knew that he was a police officer on the day she met him. Black was also pleased to see his daughter finally show some concern for her family, although he couldn't resist teasing her about how it took him landing in the ER to get her attention.

The police station fell silent as Detective Black walked in. Everyone present knew exactly what had happened to him, what had happened to every officer on duty the night before, and seeing one of those casualties pass through the building, grim-faced and intent, was like watching a ghost on the hunt for its murderer.

The captain jumped up from his desk as Black stepped into his office. "Jesus, God in Heaven! Black, I--we heard what happened to you..."

"You know it's hard to stop us Paranaturals, Captain," the detective responded. "I'm working on borrowed time, though, so if you could give me the short version?"

"Yes...yes, of course. Well, you know, we thought you were out of commission, so when the FBI showed up, well..." Black turned and noticed for the first time the second person in the captain's office. The man sat straight up, both feet flat on the ground, toes pointed forward, hands clasped on his lap in a neutral pose. He wore a regulation black suit, shoulders cut regulation wide to conceal his regulation underarm holster. His black hair was slicked straight back, although from the pale roots hinted at above his brow, the detective suspected the man's natural hair color more closely matched his light brown eyes, demonstrating a rather non-regulation vanity. "Detective Black, meet Agent Captain."

The agent stood and presented his badge, ignoring Black's outstretched hand. "Special Agent Victor Captain, Paranormal Activities Section. I understand you were the detective in charge of this case before it became a Federal matter."

"I got word straight from the commissioner on this, Black," the captain explained, his eyes pleading forgiveness. "We're to give the Feds every cooperation we can, but it's their case now. I was going to get him in touch with a couple of the others in Paranatural...We didn't even know you were awake yet, Black!"

"It's quite alright, captain," the federal agent interrupted. "I've liaised with local police before, and like you said, we'll need every resource we can muster if we don't want last night to happen again." Victor turned to the detective. "Having you up and moving again should help considerably. Do you have a place where we can speak in private?"

"You can use my office; I'll go make the rounds," the police captain insisted, carefully closing the door behind him.

"So what happened while I was out?" Detective Black asked, reaching for his cigarettes before remembering mid-motion.

"Not much after the massacre last night. Once you and the other officers and civilians on the spot were either knocked out or killed, there was a bright flash of light along with a thunderclap, and then nothing. When reinforcements reached the location, the roller coaster was gone. No eyes were on the ground to see what happened, the chopper hadn't reached the park yet, and whatever happened shorted out the security cameras and even burned out the hard drives."

"Do you at least know where the hell this thing came from?"

Agent Captain nodded. "We call it the Park Beyond. Dead amusement rides are...reincarnated there, and although they remain there for the most part, there is some occasional traffic between our two dimensions. It's unknown what they come for."

"Murder sprees?"

"No. Never before. I've heard certain rides can get unruly when they're young, but they normally police themselves, and there's never been call for a government response until now."

"That might explain the carousel horse I saw...What's the media saying?"

"They're as reluctant as ever to cover the supernatural, but this is too big to keep quiet; even the internationals are listening in. Right now the AP's calling it a domestic terrorist armed with explosives and a pickax. The public wants us to get Rodney as badly as we do."

"I know I called in his last name before the attack. Anything come of it?"

"We found his place, but he wasn't there. Posters and books indicate a fascination with roller coasters, but nothing to say he knew what he really was."

"That matches what I felt off of him before the change," Black nodded thoughtfully. "Did you check on his girlfriend? Clare Miller?"

"Dispatcher didn't get a clear read. I'll make sure to post someone at her house and workplace immediately. By the way, do you mind if I ask how you got her name? Park security said you went nowhere near her."

Detective Black smiled. "Same reason I'm stuck in Paranatural. I'm a mild psychic: when I meet someone in person, I can get the name they call themselves, a few basic personality traits, who they consider close to them. I can even get some identifiers like tattoos and natural hair color." Black wryly noted how the federal agent unconsciously glanced up at his own hair when he brought it up. "It's not too useful in most professions, but it's drat helpful as a detective."

"Or a con artist," Captain retorted.

"Oh, I'll admit I had a few interesting years growing up. I like to think I sided with the good guys, though."

Before the two could continue, a desk officer knocked on the door and poked his head inside. "Detective Black, Agent. We just got a call from the impound lot. I thought you'd want to hear this. Line five."

Black moved around the desk and hit the blinking line button, then speakerphone. "This is Detective Black. Please repeat to me what you told Ted."

"Detective Black?! Um, t-this is Officer Buckley at the impound lot. The suspect from yesterday, Rodney Philips, just showed up. He's asking for his car back. I'm...not sure what to do."

The detective pressed the mute button. "How stupid is this guy?" he asked, turning to Captain. "We got all the cars from the bar incident in as crime scene evidence. We could get every cop in the city down there in a twinkling."

Victor shook his head. "We believe the Park Beyond residents can change form at any time. It'd be another massacre."

"Do they have any weaknesses?"

"None on record. It hasn't come up before."

Black frowned as though he'd eaten a rotten apple, but he unmuted the line. "I need you to listen to me very carefully, Officer Buckley. Pretend that you don't know who he is. Act normally. Let him have his car. We'll send someone from our end to tail him."

"Hold on," the speaker said. "He's, er...he's asked about you, sir."

The blood froze in the detective's veins, but Black didn't skip a beat. "Tell him I'm still at the hospital. Now get off the phone or he'll get suspicious." Hanging up, he looked up at his new partner. "Looks like this just got personal."

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Oh dear lord, he was raised as a changeling? That means he wasn't "adopted" as such, but instead Ironbark stole a human baby out of his crib and replaced him with Railrunner. I imagine it's too much to ask that the real Rodney was taken to be raised in the Amusement Park Between? Or was he sacrificed to the despot to throw him off the scent? Chalk another one up to Ironbark's tally, I suppose.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Phummus posted:

This sounds like a challenge. So lets all list our top 5 things we think couldn't possibly happen in the story.

"Couldn't possibly happen," you say?

1. Detective Black rides into coaster world on a ferris wheel to save the day.
2. Rodney genuinely admits that killing police officers is wrong.
3. Ironbark neither dies, becomes too injured to finish the climactic fight, nor turns traitor by the end of the story.
4. The Last Starfighter swoops in and presses the turbo spinny button to wipe out everything present.
5. Ironwheel is revealed to literally be Darth Vader.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

JosephWongKS posted:

Is water supposed to smell “sweet”? I… I just don’t know any more.

I wouldn't describe the smell of water as "sweet." Fresh water is more heavy and cool, like a fresh breeze on a humid day. Salt water carries more of a dry, dusty scent, the smell of salted sand baking in a noonday sun. Marshes, bogs, and swamps layer the freshwater smell with green decay, the smell of wet leaves and inviting flowers and rotting moss, the smell of life packed close together and competing for existence.

Nothing terribly "sweet," though.

quote:

Make up your mind. Is the river “glittering” or “murky”?


Where I come from, there are no “murky” crystals. Perhaps things are different in Miranda Leek’s part of the world.

Murky water can glitter. Glittering is more a function of wind than of clarity; the river in my city is a solid brown, but it can glitter like a barren field sown with the dust of a thousand diamonds same as any body of water. Crystals can be murky, too, although you don't usually refer to such when using "crystal" as an adjective.

Sorry about that. Nature always brings out the poet in me.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Dreggon posted:

It's about as understandable as Shakespeare, albeit for an entirely different reason

I wouldn't say that. Once you read enough Shakespeare, it becomes easier and starts making sense. There isn't enough Twisted in the world to manage that.

JosephWongKS posted:

35th sigh of the book.

You really ought to let these sighs go for your own sanity, man.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

The FBI van parked across from Clare's home was painted with the same logo as the city's public utility company so as to appear as inconspicuous as possible. The agents inside were consummate professionals; you had to have the patience of a saint to draw stakeout duty, and everyone was focused fully on their jobs after the disaster at Mystic Park.

However, not more than a few minutes after setting up their equipment, the agents were startled by a broadcast on the encrypted police channel: "Agents Paterson and Mendez, be aware that Rodney Philips is moving to your position." After acknowledging the message, the two federal agents hurriedly split their time between calibrating their equipment and setting everything to record. Just as Mendez was bringing the infrared camera online, a black Mustang GT turned into the target's driveway and the prime suspect of the current investigation stepped out. "Suspect is in sight," Paterson dutifully informed the radio.

As Mendez watched the feeds, the powder blue compact that was following the suspect's car slowed slightly as it passed the van so the plainclothes officer behind the wheel could give it a significant look, all but shouting, "Don't gently caress this one up." The agent couldn't help but nod slightly, even though she knew the cop could never see her.

"Your orders at this time are still to observe, record, and report," Special Agent Captain's voice crackled over the scanner. "You are not cleared to move in regardless of what happens."

"Understood," Paterson responded before moving over to the listening equipment. Seeing that Rodney had reached the front door, he toggled on the audio feed.

"--Are? It's me, Rodney. I want to talk to you. Come on, Clare, I know you're home. Could you please answer?" After a moderate wait and several more knocks, the door finally opened and Clare let her boyfriend inside. Mendez switched the large monitors to the cameras zoomed in on the main window and front door's side windows while silently thanking the mild weather for convincing Clare to leave her windows open.

As Rodney bent down to untie his shoes, Mendez noted a suspicious glint near Clare's midsection. When the suspect straightened, she noticed him stagger back, looking puzzled at his own torso before dropping to the ground. "I think she just stabbed him," Mendez said, hardly believing her eyes.

"Good," Paterson muttered, moving back to the radio. "Agent Paterson reporting. We believe Clare Miller has just stabbed Rodney Philips. Repeat, Clare has stabbed Rodney. Permission to intervene?"

After a long pause, Agent Captain responded: "Negative. Negative. Continue observation."

"Jim, Jim! He's getting up!" Mendez called from the monitors. Dropping the receiver, Paterson hurried over and watched in shock as Rodney pulled the knife from his chest and stood back up, acting nothing like how a man with a life-threatening injury should.

"I'm--I'm so sorry," the agents heard Clare apologize through the open window.

"That's alright, I've been through worse," Rodney replied.

"Like...like last night?"

"Yeah, like last night. Listen, I've come to explain myself, to explain what happened to me. So unless you have any more knives you'd like to try?"

The agents couldn't see Clare's response, but the two moved into the living room and sat across from each other, both clearly visible to the van parked across the street. Both agents gasped as Rodney stepped into view, a massive blood stain sticking most of the front of his shirt to his skin. Mendez couldn't help but notice that Clare's eyes never strayed from Rodney's missing wound as he began his explanation. "I'm not human, Clare. I never was. I was born in another world, the Park Beyond, as a roller coaster train. All amusement rides are living creatures there."

"The horse said something like that..." Clare said, still paying only half attention.

"Her name is Merrylegs, Clare, and she's a carousel horse. She's part of a group who found me when I came to Mystic Park for the first time. Rides can all take human form when they have to, but I've been stuck in mine until a few days ago when they activated me. My real name is Railrunner. I've been a roller coaster train this whole time, Clare! It's--it's who I was always meant to be!"

"Then why did you try to kill me?" Clare asked, her eyes snapping up to meet his. "If that man hadn't jumped in the way..."

"I didn't mean to," Rodney apologized, reaching out to take Clare's hand in his. "I--Thunderbark told me that I wouldn't have control over myself at first, but it'll get better soon, I promise. I'll be myself forever then!"

"But who will you be? Rodney? Or Railrunner?"

"I was always Railrunner, Clare. I just hadn't known it yet."

Clare stood up. "Well, I never fell in love with 'Railrunner.' 'Railrunner' murdered five people last night, and would have murdered six if that man and your 'friend' Merrylegs hadn't gotten in your way. I think 'Railrunner' should get out of my house. Right now." Rodney sputtered and pleaded, but Clare refused to move beyond pointing at the door. Finally, Rodney gave up, gathered his shoes without putting them on, and slammed the front door behind him. Mendez couldn't help but smile and had to work to resist the urge to clap.

"Why me?!" Rodney shouted at the sky. Inside, Clare sat back down and began to weep.

"What a loving dork," Paterson muttered as he watched Rodney pull away. Professionalism could only extend so far.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

quote:

“What’s that?” I said with my memory returning.

“Every so often, usually about three weeks after you gain control, a coaster will sometimes experience some sudden spells where they lose control again. This could go on for about one week.”

What an oddly specific way to get around having the protagonist get his rear end beaten in a fair fight.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

The squad car of Officers Donnelly and Harrison was unusually quiet that evening. On a normal day, the two partners would be swapping sports scores, theorizing about the weather, and gossiping about the other cops at their station. Donnelly would be complaining about his ex-wife and bragging about his children's accomplishments, and Harrison would be describing the latest trouble his two-year-old twins had gotten themselves into. But normal days don't happen after four officers die in the line of duty. Normal days don't occur while entire SWAT teams share a room at the hospital.

Instead, the two policemen were too caught within their own thoughts to make conversation. Each was thinking about what he might say or do at the mass funeral coming up. Each was wondering what he might have to tell his partner's loved ones if the worst happened. Mostly, however, each was considering what to do if the man they were following turned back into the monster that demolished so much of Mystic Park the night before.

Donnelly and Harrison were in one of three cars ordered to follow Rodney. The three coordinated their movements to keep the suspect in constant view without appearing too suspicious, using a police frequency cleared for the purpose. Their job was made more difficult when, after leaving his apartment, Rodney decided to go for a jog that headed downtown, but so far as they could tell, their target had not grown suspicious.

As evening fell, Rodney was still far from his home but appeared to be in no hurry to return. Instead, he began to veer off the main roads and down alleys and side streets, his motivation a mystery to the officers following him. Although the three cars did their best to cover all possible exits from every alley Rodney entered, there came a time--only minutes from sunset--when he simply did not emerge. "We need eyes on the suspect," the dispatcher responded when the cops explained the situation. "Can one of you reach a rooftop?"

"This is Jensen in Car 107. I've got some binoculars and one of the buildings here is a hotel. Give me a few and I'll find a good spot for you."

"Make it quick, Adam," the dispatcher replied.

Tense minutes passed as Donnelly and Harrison sat in their car, eyes peeled for any glimpse of Rodney in the darkening alley. They nearly jumped when Jensen came back on the line. "I'm in place. Looks like our man interrupted a gentlemen's dice game just off a rear parking lot. Looks to be a half dozen of them down there. Hard to tell with how dark it's getting."

"Copy that."

"So who do we root for here? The back alley scum or the evil roller coaster monster?" Donnelly asked, a slight grin playing across his face. Harrison responded with a glare. Donnelly dropped his smile, shifted in his seat, and checked his pistol.

"Looks like they're arguing about something. I can hear shouting, but no words...I think the gentlemen are pulling out weapons now, I can't make out what--oh poo poo! He's turning! He's turning!"

"Get out of there, Adam! Reinforcements will be incoming!" the dispatcher nearly screamed.

Donnelly's heart pounded as a metallic screech came from the alley's entrance, followed by several gunshots and all-too-human screams of pain. His hand shaking, he picked up the receiver. "Officer Donnelly here. P-permission to draw the roller coaster out, dispatch?"

"Negative! It's too dangerous. Wait for reinforcements, Rob."

Donnelly's mind went back to the night before. He had been standing on the cordon then, and had watched as better armed and armored men went past him into Mystic Park, leaving behind only screams and gunfire that were much too similar to the sounds coming from the alleyway now. He turned to his partner.

"gently caress it," Harrison said, pulling out his sidearm and flipping the safety off.

Donnelly would never call himself brave or heroic for what he did next. He preferred to think of himself as a coward of a different sort: one who could not listen to the cries of the damned and sit back, listening. Not again. Not ever again. He flicked on the police car's low-profile lights, pulsed the siren twice, and slowly drove the car down the street.

Everything had become eerily quiet in the time it took Donnelly to make his decision. Creeping towards the parking lot, the two officers could not see anything that moved, although the twisting shadows cast by the flashing police lights kept them both on the very edge of their nerves. "I think that's...what's left of one of the gamblers," Harrison observed, pointing to a dark lump slumped under an even darker stain on the side of a building. "There's another...and two more..."

"It's like a loving war zone," Donnelly whispered.

"But no giant red roller coaster. Where the gently caress did it go?"

Donnelly's heart skipped a beat as he realized. "It's waiting for us."

With a giant crash, the car's roof nearly caved in as something heavy landed on it, bucking the vehicle off its front tires. "Drive! Drive! Drive!" Harrison shouted as Donnelly dropped the gas pedal to the floor, leaving two heavy skid marks as the car leaped forward and sent the massive roller coaster train spinning to the ground.

Donnelly sent the car skidding into a right turn as it flew out of the alley, only remembering to turn on the siren after he ran the second red light. The creature was right on their tail, its impressive array of wheels keeping it steady even as it wove back and forth across the street, an ecstatic, unthinking grin on its parody of a face. "Where are we going?" Harrison yelled.

"We need to get it out of the city! Keep its attention so it'll follow us!" Donnelly shouted back. Harrison smashed what was left of the passenger side window with the butt of his gun, then leaned out to take a few shots at their pursuer. Once the magazine ran out, he dropped back into the cabin and noticed the scanner going crazy. Grabbing the receiver with one hand, he did his best to reload with the other.

"Harrison here! It's on our tail!"

"We know, Jim! Where are you going?!"

"Rob, where are we going?" Harrison repeated.

"Jefferson," Donnelly answered, honking his horn at a van that refused to pull to the side. "Once we get there, we can tear straight out of the city without using the highways."

"Clear Jefferson Street from here to the suburbs," Harrison spoke into the radio. "We're getting this shitter away from anyone it could hurt."

"Copy that, clear all of Jefferson Street of traffic to lure the roller coaster out of the city."

Aggressive driving was a standard part of police training, but Donnelly had considered it a mostly useless skill. Perhaps the highway patrol could get some regular use out of it, but as a city cop Donnelly knew that the majority of "high speed" urban car chases happened in movies and video games, not in real life. For the most part, those who fled from the police did so on foot or else obeyed traffic laws, and those who didn't wrecked their vehicles inside of a minute. Still, the training itself was fun and Donnelly found himself thanking every minute he spent on the practice course as he sped through intersections, wove through oncoming traffic, and took sharp turns without fishtailing out of control. All the while Railrunner chased after them, sometimes coming nearer, sometimes drifting farther, flowing across the street and banking off of cars and buildings as though it was traveling along the longest coaster track in the world, and always bearing a hungry, empty smile on its face.

At last, as the hunted patrol car neared the edge of the city, the effort of the other officers paid off and Jefferson Street became clear of obstacles, giving Donnelly the space to push his vehicle to its limits. Harrison, however, watched in horror as the roller coaster train, evidently growing bored with the lack of turns and cars to run into, easily caught up to its prey and began to playfully collide with it, the car's overheated tires slipping for heart-stopping seconds with each jolt. Harrison did his best to fend it off, but his bullets did no better than his comrades' had the night before, and even after switching to his partner's weapon he eventually ran out.

The panic and adrenaline which had pushed Donnelly forward through the inner city streets drained, quite suddenly, as he came to realize that he was going to die and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Recovering from another skid, he looked over at a sign that flashed past. "Do you know where we're headed?" he asked.

"Where's that?" Harrison responded, staring at his empty and useless firearm.

"Mystic Park." The two policemen spared a glance at each other, then began to laugh hysterically, uncontrollably.

Their laugh was cut short as their pursuer let out a deafening scream, the sound of a thousand worn-out trucks braking at once. Donnelly let go of the wheel to cover his ears and the car spun out, flipping sideways and rolling into the ditch.

Thankfully, the squad car's safety measures kept it from becoming a steel coffin, although Donnelly could feel an uncomfortable pressure on his legs as he struggled past the deflating air bags. Peering out the ruin where the windshield once sat, he watched as a pair of helicopters shot past, followed close behind by a fleet of police vehicles, every siren together wailing a discordant symphony.

Donnelly hoped the ambulances wouldn't be too far behind them.

(Rereading chapter 11 I noticed that Railrunner managed to go from 20,000 lbs (10 tons) to 8.5 tons. Must be on one hell of a diet.)

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

TombsGrave posted:

Maybe coasters that are destroyed by natural causes (i.e. tornadoes, hurricanes, floods) or abandoned count as "vandalized" for the purposes of making crazies? I'm thinking about abandoned amusement park photos here.

The villain's chief lieutenant has been described as somehow being made of a Frankensteinian blend of steel and wooden roller coaster parts (even though I'm pretty sure that's more impossible than it is illegal) and was then tortured just for the hell of it. I'm fairly sure the real-world fate of roller coasters has little to do with this distinction.

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

quote:

I was getting nearer to the portal, I could feel it. It would only be a matter of time then. One good thing on my timing was that I would arrive in the real world by early morning, and I would be human. The downside was that I had to leave before nightfall, or else everyone would witness what I truly am.

I thought his Necklace of MacGuffin meant he can transform when and however he wants to now?

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

Talking his way past the nurse wasn't terribly easy given the state of the patient, but Detective Black managed it thanks to a bit of fast talking and swearing up and down that nothing he did would harm the patient. Even so, Nurse Connor made a point of remaining in the room as the detective took a seat by the hospital bed.

When Black pulled out the bag of powder, Connor crossed his arms and asked, "What've you got there?"

"Oh, this? Completely harmless. It's mostly just ginseng and ashes." Connor's eyes narrowed, but he didn't move as the detective carefully removed a pinch and sprinkled it across the patient's mouth, neck, and chest. However, he did start when the unconscious man's remaining eye snapped open and he took in a deep gasp.

"Aw, gently caress," he managed through his wired jaw. "What the--the pain is--how--"

"Just a little Voodoo magic," Black answered with a smile, unconcerned as to whether or not he'd be taken seriously. The patient raised his hand, but Black gently held it down. "Now don't go thanking me yet. All you got was a temporary fix. I need to talk to you. I need to know what happened earlier tonight."

The man on the bed blinked several times before he managed to focus on the detective sitting next to him. "You're a cop," he spat.

Black nodded. "And you're a member of the Long Street Kings. Tyler Benedict, 'T-Bone' to your friends. Listen, I need to know everything that happened to you before you came to this hospital. Everything you saw, heard, and did, anything could be useful--"

"I'm not talking to a loving pig."

Detective Black took a deep breath. Gang members were hard to talk to at the best of times, but T-Bone needed to understand just what was at stake. "Let me explain something to you, T-Bone. Nobody is going to care what you and your friends were doing in that alleyway. Nobody is going to care what you were planning on doing or what you were armed with or even who you really are.

"You and I aren't exactly on the same side most times. I understand that. But two days ago, four of my crew were killed by Railrunner. Yesterday, four of your crew died at its hands."

"poo poo..."

"Yeah. The only reason you're still alive right now is because two more of my crew came in and distracted it. One of them is in a coma right now, and the other might be losing both his legs. So we may not see eye to eye on things, but today you and I are brothers. Brothers in arms. Brothers in vengeance. And since you're in no condition to fight it yourself, I need you to help me by telling me everything that happened so that I can make sure that son of a bitch gets what's coming to him."

Black surprised himself with how angry he got. Looking down, he saw his hands were gripped so hard on the bed rails that his knuckles were white. Taking a deep breath, he relaxed his hands and placed them in his lap. T-Bone watched the detective for a while longer, then closed his eye. When he opened it again, he began his story.



"Seven more are confirmed dead and well over a hundred are now in the hospital after what some are calling the worst domestic terrorism incident since the World Trade Center attacks. Damage is still being assessed following the high-speed chase down Jefferson Street, but initial estimates place the damages in the tens of millions, perhaps even more. According to our latest reports, despite the efforts of the city police and the FBI, Rodney Philips, nicknamed 'the Railrunner,' has apparently slipped into a forest and evaded pursuit. However, sheriffs from neighboring counties are now organizing search parties and the governor has told the media that she is dispatching National Guard elements to assist what is quickly becoming the largest manhunt in U.S. history. Meanwhile, the city's mayor, Samuel Luego, has issued an ultimatum, demanding that the Railrunner be captured before--"

Detective Black switched off the TV. He'd heard it all before, particularly the bit about the ultimatum thanks to phone calls from both the captain and the commissioner. He had to chuckle at calling it a "manhunt," though, considering the true nature of the suspect.

Black returned his attention to the two plastic bags set on the table in front of him. Something about their contents was held in common, and that something was the key to ending Rodney's mad reign of destruction.

It wasn't the fact that they were both knives, but rather that both had pierced Railrunner's skin. The kitchen knife had been confiscated from Clare's home after she was brought into protective custody and still bore some of Rodney's blood; the switchblade was found in the alley Railrunner attacked, and according to T-Bone it managed to slip right in through the roller coaster train's steel skin even after a number of bullets had failed to leave a mark.

It couldn't be that they were both knives. Anything able to deflect bullets would be able to turn a blade, at least if that was the only issue. It didn't even matter that Railrunner had regenerated from both wounds; Black knew from personal experience that any regenerator could be overwhelmed, especially when wounded in critical areas.

So what was it about these two knives that bullets couldn't match? There wasn't anything unique that leaped out. The detective read the evidence tags once again: bog standard switchblade, black handle, made in China, worn-out spring, carbon steel blade chipped and dulled from overuse and poor maintenance, only fingerprints match the owner, as-yet unidentified blood on both handle and blade. Standard kitchen chef's knife from a matched set, generic manufacturer, serrated stainless steel, "hecho en Mexico," barely used, found in the front hallway where Clare had dropped it after stabbing Rodney in the chest. After thinking for a minute, Black read the tags one more time.

Wait. That can't be it.

Couldn't it?

Well, my silver bullets were special-made locally, after all, and if there's one thing America still knows how to make in bulk, it's ammunition. And after all, why do werewolves care about silver? Why is the only effective way to destroy a vampire to stake its heart, cut off its head, and fill its mouth with holy wafers? Magic works in mysterious ways.

And there's only one good way to find out if I'm right.


Detective Black pulled out his cell phone and dialed Special Agent Captain's number. "Hello? Black here. I've got an idea what we can use to stop Railrunner. First, get a hold of the biggest fishing net you can find, so long as you can make sure it was harvested, woven, and manufactured outside the USA. Next, get in contact with the National Guard and find out where their bullets come from. If they can, have 'em switch to any foreign make they've got; I'll have a talk with the local elements myself. If we can figure this out quick enough, we'll catch this bastard yet!" The detective hung up and grabbed his coat, running out of the room and forgetting completely to bring the knives back to the evidence locker.

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Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.

JosephWongKS posted:

Chapter 28 - Tempers Flare and Fizzle

"In which something happens and then immediately unhappens."

Pretty apt description, I will admit.

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