Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chapter 23.5 Brandon's Revenge

Paula and Alex were gone.

Maria had surprised herself and everyone else with a tap on Aaron. Brandon had turned his head to look at Jimmy who was already laughing, and he’d seen Paula slide around the other corner of the building as if she was being pulled.

In a large group of friends like this, it was difficult to catch clear individual thoughts. It was why he hadn’t noticed Alex decide to take Paula.

Brandon considered meeting them at the front of the building, but the second the thought popped into his head he saw Pat's disapproving look with her knowing smile fighting for a place on her lips. "You're trying to protect her, aren't you?" She'd said after having met Paula at the village. "You know, at some point she will need to face the reality of living out here."

Alex was a good person. Brandon had known him long enough to know that. Paula was in no danger with him. And Alex knew better anyway, especially now.

Aaron was looking down at Maria. She did look very small compared to him, but she stood fiercely in front of him, her thoughts reminding herself that it wasn’t an accident she had tagged him. He had taken her serious, but he hadn’t been fighting at his full ability knowing she was still in training.

“Respectable. Jimmy’s been working with you too, hasn’t he?”

Aaron was not an easy person to like. Brandon had known him for his entire life, and he’d seen how people reacted to him. He heard it in their thoughts. Most people didn’t know him and hadn’t seen him move, but still they were wary of him the same way they were wary around Jimmy. The same way some were becoming wary around Brandon.

“Why do I feel like I was set up?” Aaron glanced over at Jimmy with his lips pulling back in a grin.

Alex didn’t like Aaron. He made him nervous, but if there was a specific reason why, Alex never thought about it strong enough for Brandon to catch it. The only loud thought Brandon could really catch from Alex was that Aaron was dangerous. It was a very clear thought, and it intrigued Brandon. Most people just felt uncomfortable, but Alex had a very complete and clear thought.

“You’re looking a little distracted,” Jimmy said to him pulling him back from his thoughts. Sometimes Brandon swore Jimmy could read his mind. “Why don’t we spar?”

Brandon laughed. “So you can embarrass me in front of everyone?”

“That’s the plan.” Jimmy grinned back at him.

“Asshole.” But Brandon couldn’t help smiling back even as they moved out to take their spots on the grass.

Brandon had to focus. He pushed away his thoughts and focused on his brother. Jimmy moved fast. Brandon teased him about not thinking, but he suspected it was true. Jimmy didn’t think. He moved on instinct in the same way he read people and situations. Even Kyrene and Angel had trouble fighting him as they’d usually end up reacting more than attacking until he finally cornered them.

The trick was making that his strength. Jimmy would come at him, and he’d keep coming.

The corners of Jimmy’s mouth turned up as if he could just see the thoughts in Brandon’s head. The hair on the back of his neck stood up. He was a creepy bastard when he wanted to be, and sometimes when he probably didn’t want to or mean to be.

Brandon waited for Jimmy to make his move. He couldn’t help feeling like a kid again, remembering that more innocent time before the stakes were made so crystal clear for the both of them, before he realized how bad it hurt to lose.

Jimmy lunged at him holding nothing back. Brandon blocked his attacks, taking the defensive and letting himself be herded back a few steps. He was reacting, his mind cleared, watching for his moment.

It appeared. One fraction of a second. Brandon reached out, tapping Jimmy’s throat hard enough to be sure Jimmy would feel it.

Jimmy stopped, a smile of surprise on his face, but there was also something else there. It almost read like a bit of pride even, but Brandon didn’t linger on that thought. The others were very quiet, though Aaron was laughing and Maria looked like she was ready to cheer.

Jimmy laughed too. “Bastard.”

Brandon grinned at him. “That is for fucking with me.”

Next Chapter -->


This one's for Shadey who gave me the idea accidentally over at the VSS forum. Brandon's getting Jimmy back here for this chapter.

Since Brandon was the focus this chapter, I thought it would be interesting to post up the test pictures I took of him and Pat and him and Kyrene over here.

Another post that might be interesting as well (which I said I'd post two chapters back in the comments) would be the one on body shapes.


  1. Interesting that Pat is the one who thinks Paula should be initiated into the realities of being here. I wonder if they're as worried about the same realities? Brandon strikes me as the type to worry more over the cruel and barbarous side of their little tribe than the sexual side. But Brandon is definitely not okay with Alex getting his hands on his little sister.

    I love that Jimmy is proud of Brandon for tagging him. I think I just love Jimmy. *sigh*

    It's also interesting that Brandon is noticing a change in the way people are reacting to him--so is it really related to their perceived rank? The longer they live and the higher they climb in the ranking system, the more bad-ass they must be, so I can understand that reaction...

    Awesome! I'm so glad Shadey inspired this. :)

  2. Rachel, I think Pat just knows Brandon too well. His protectiveness is a part of his character, but that isn't always a good thing.

    But you bring up an interesting point about their different realities. I think Pat would be very aware of the reality Paula faces, which is probably why she'd push for honesty with Paula. The more you know, the better prepared you can be after all. Especially since it's not easy to join the village with its limited resources.

    Also, I love that you love Jimmy. :D It definitely makes me happy. I've always had a soft spot for him especially. (Why do I feel like I say that a lot and about pretty much any character I like?)

    It is a bit of that. I seriously think that old men or women here would make a person weary. You don't come of age easily here. But Brandon has other reasons people are starting to look at him differently.

    I will point out that I've also said that people generally think that Brandon earned his rank within the tribe thanks to Henri and Jimmy. That sounds like a contradiction, but it's not. This ties back into what Brandon actually does for the tribe.

    I know, thanks Shadey, lol.

  3. Brandon's revenge yes, and so wonderful, the detail about Jimmy's pride that he tagged him! I kept wondering if this was some kind of deliberate distraction but that didn't fit.

    Pat would see the difficulty in Paula's situation, how she's feeling her way around, working blind. The male female relationship/social contract you've created is hard to work through. Warrior women are accepted apparently, and even indulged. The rest of them?

  4. SB, Jimmy is genuinely proud. And he trained Brandon, so he should be.

    The male-female relationship/social contract is probably difficult because there is none. It's really very dependent on individuals. Someone like Aaron has issues with women, but that's not a social thing, that's his own hang up probably based on his past. Meanwhile someone like Brandon doesn't indulge someone like Pat. As far as he's concerned, she's his equal, she just has a different job. (But is that how Pat sees it?)

    I don't mean to make it seem like all the men fight and all the women are pets or in the village. But there is a heavy weight of men to women, and that I think has to do more with the past and who exactly was experimented on. I think more men were worked on than women, but the people who were working in the labs and for the labs were evenly split. So in this generation things are unbalanced. There are more men with powers which means more men in power. It is a disadvantage for many women, but that's changing as the second generation is growing up.

    I hope that all makes sense. I'm not always very logical, just sort of feeling my way through the story, lol.

  5. Oh, I loved this! No, Brandon and Jimmy sparring, this one was definitely written just for me... maybe for different reasons, lol! *heart-farts*

    Back off y'all - I loved Jimmy first! ;)

    And now seriously... I think he would be a little proud of his little brother tapping him out. I get that.

    And this: "before the stakes were made so crystal clear for the both of them, before he realized how bad it hurt to lose"

    I always wondered if Brandon felt jealous or passed over that Henri and Jimmy are so close. This kind of sounds like he does. It's a very complex and realistic relationship these two brothers have.

    Hearing what Pat said surprised me too, but then I think I totally agree with her. Paula has had her time to adapt, and she can't be kept protected forever. If this is where she lives now, maybe it's time he lets go a little...

    Just a little though. Man, Killer's still out there! Oooh, now I'm still on edge to find out what Paula and Alex are up to!

  6. "And Alex knew better anyway, especially now."

    It's almost as if Brandon is daring Alex to make a move on his sister - interesting!

    I loved the insight we got into Brandon here, his internal thought processes are quite different to the attitude of self he portrays to others.

    Or is it the attitude of self he thinks he portrays? If the others are becoming wary of him then perhaps they are starting to realise Brandon is a lot more than he seems and maybe, just maybe, his blood had less to do with his rank than his abilities and actions.

    Being able to best Jimmy even in a "friendly" would be no mean feat I would imagine.

    So Aaron makes Alex nervous? Once again we see that Alex isn't as self-assured as he makes out - in the last chapter it was hinted that he feels like he is at the bottom of the pecking order (well, amongst the top ranks, that is). I can't remember his age ever being mentioned but I get the impression that, although he is physically impressive, he is quite young.

    More please!

  7. Interesting that Alex seems the most wary about Aaron. I think his caution is almost certainly justified but I wonder what it is about Aaron that stands out to Alex, yet not to so many others?

    I loved Brandon and Jimmy sparring (for multiple reasons...ahem). But seriously, I really like the back and forth between those two.

    Brandon certainly doesn't seem thrilled about it, so I want to know what Paula and Alex are up to! Or rather, what Alex is up to. It kind of seemed to me like Paula was dragged along before she knew what was what.

  8. Laura, LOL! That's true. You'd called him by the first appearance in his blazer with the hoodie.

    That is a very interesting reading of that line. I have to admit I didn't see that interpretation coming. I'd bet that Brandon did go through a bitter stage for various reasons in his young life. His relationship to his brother is complicated.

    Yeah, Brandon slips into the protective bit much too easy. I think at some point any of our strengths can become weaknesses. I could easily see him continuing to try and shield her and that's very much not what she needs.

    And wow... interesting thought. :X

    Illandrya, maybe Brandon is a little more vicious than I've ever given him credit for? He just wants Alex to give him an excuse, lol.

    His thought process is very different from what we see of him from the POV of others. As for the people who're wary of him-- there are groups of people he only has a "buisiness" type relationship with. Those are the ones who most likely are wary of him.

    Also, very insightful of you. I haven't said Alex's age in the text, but he is young. He's about 19, which of the group here is one of the youngest excluding Paula and Maria who're both around 16. So though he's physically impressive, smart and watchful, he still knows his limitations when faced with opponents who may possibly have more experience.

    Carla, that's a very good question. Alex is very wary about Aaron. The others are his friends, but Aaron is not. His reaction is interesting, and proof that everyone has a weakness.

    Thank you. I love those two, and can only hope that I'm getting something close to a brotherly relationship down. My house was all sisters, one brother who moved out when I was little.

    Brandon wouldn't be thrilled about Alex tugging Paula off with his protective streak, lol. And yeah, Paula didn't really get much say in it before Alex tugged her off!

  9. I just stumbled upon your story this afternoon, and sat reading the whole thing for 3 hours :)
    I am hooked, the characters, the story line, your writing, everything about it is perfect. Alex is definitely my favourite though *drools* :p Where did you get his hair?

    I feel so bad for Jimmy, he has been through so much and just puts on a tough guy act when he's really a big softie :)

    Looking forward to the next instalment :)

  10. This just gets more interesting. That Aaron affects Alex differently than the others ... it makes me think something happened between them, something bad that neither Jimmy nor Brandon know about. Give that Brandon can skim the thoughts of others, the very act of Alex not thinking hard enough about Aaron shows that he's definitely hiding something. I wonder if it has to do with a female. I mean he did hurry Paula out of there pretty quick, like he was protecting her or trying to shield her presence from Aaron.

    What dark little secret lies at the heart of this enemity between Aaron and Alex I wonder.

  11. Strelitzia, thank you very much! And welcome.

    Normally, I know where I get most everything, but Alex's hair was not from the site I thought it was from. I am pretty sure that it is from Savio, one of his conversions. I found the preview for it and oddly couldn't find the actual download. Since it's not retextured, just a straight conversion, I'm pretty sure Savio is the one who did it.

    Jimmy a big softie! That is something no one would say to his face.

    Carnaxa, oh insightful as always. I think the fact that Paula is female is very important.

    I have to admit I wonder too. I don't see a particular incident happening. Alex will speak for himself next chapter though!

  12. Electric. Loving the sparring chapters, and Brandon/Jimmy's dynamic is interesting as always. Love Maria holding her own lately, too.

    I don't think this has come up in the story, but if so, remind me where... what happens to gay people in this world? I assume it's not good to be gay but are they beaten, accepted, ignored, pushed into a ghetto?

  13. Thanks Rad. That's a really good question.

    I don't believe that it's an issue in this world. There will certainly be some people and some groups who have issues to someone being homosexual (Alex is one of those people and his tribe is one of those groups, but I don't see a way of working it into Paula's story, and, anyway, by the time she comes along I think Angel has appropriately earned his respect-- I feel like there should be a *cough cough* there because that sounds easier than I'm sure it was), but over all, I don't see it being an issue.

    When Mary tells the story of the two brothers here, Moondaisy noticed that I had left the spouse of the second brother genderless. It came out that way and I liked leaving it in there because it suggests that they don't hold a bias. Though, I would wonder if Paula was told the story in the same way, or perhaps she'd just assume that the second spouse was female.

    I've also been thinking about this a lot, and I'm not sure where to put it, but it shouldn't be assumed that any character is 100% hetero unless I say so somewhere (like Jimmy). I figure most of these characters are on a scale, probably leaning one way or another.

    And of course with all that being said, I can still think of ways for even something I might consider a "non-issue" to still be an issue. Like maybe no one would look down on Angel, but there might be people who look down on Mitchell. But that could be for all the other reasons they have to look down on someone like Mitchell (human, weak, dependent, useless, etc.)

  14. Although I am commenting here in hindsight, I think that whatever happened between Alex and Aaron must have involved a woman. Given Alex's discomfort around Aaron and Aaron's dislike of women I feel like this is definitely a thorn.

    And Aaron is older and more experienced. Even if Alex can handle himself, it is smart to know you limits and wait.

  15. I think that's a very good guess. I think in both Aaron and Alex's case women are something of a spot for the both of them. Aaron has issues and for Alex, where he's from men and women do have an interesting relation.

    Also, very true.