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In this section I finished preparation for Phoenix’s journey. Unfortunately, the instructions Alex provided became a bit tedious, so I will have to work on that. I am likely revealing too much at this point and should shorten it. The prose is also somewhat mundane, so I will have to add some spark.
In addition, I have written pretty far past this point, and it is clear to me that I will have to return to this portion to add some foreshadowing to set up later events. This is all part of my usual storytelling method. Create the story as I write, knowing that I will return to add, subtract, and polish.
Although this section will change, I think there is value in posting an early draft that still requires quite a bit of work. Those who write by the seat of the pants can relate. I write enough to move the story along, but I know that it is lacking and will need a good deal of polish.
Since I am getting to a portion of the story that needs so much work, this is likely the last section I will post for the Tuesday story development feature on the blog, at least for a while. Maybe when the early portions are at a better stage of polishing, I will continue.
“Me?” I touched my chest. “You want me to take the Gatekeeper’s place?”
“Of course. Did you think I wanted that position?”
“Well … yeah. You’ve been kind of … forceful, I guess.”
She set her hands on her hips, her arms opening her jacket and exposing her sonic gun. “Contrary to my forceful ways, Phoenix, when it comes to being ruler of the world, I prefer to stay behind the scenes. Someone as principled and unassuming as you would make a more suitable figurehead, someone the people are far more likely to find charming, someone they would follow.” She shrugged. “Also, I don’t have your ability to resist the Gatekeeper’s influence, nor did Peter. Only you are able to usurp the seat of power, and only you are able to keep it.”
Shanghai glared at Alex. “You said figurehead. You’re planning to run the show from the shadows.”
“Precisely. Phoenix inherited his grandfather Maxwell’s ability to resist the influence, though the poor man died while facing the same obstacles you will soon encounter. Fortunately for me, Phoenix also exhibits the same weakness.” Alex showed Shanghai her hand and the finger with Misty’s ring. “I control Phoenix. He has no choice but to do what I tell him.”
Shanghai huffed. “What is that? Some sort of daydream concocted by a confirmed man hater? You said Phoenix is strong, but now you’re saying he’ll bow to your every whim.”
Alex chuckled. “Scoff all you wish, dear Shanghai, but you will see. Phoenix will risk death to find the Gatekeeper, destroy him, and take his place. Then he will carry out my wishes as the new Gatekeeper.”
Shanghai crossed her arms. “And what are those wishes?”
Alex offered a condescending smile. “Now don’t you worry yourself about that. You have enough worries of your own. You’ll be busy helping Phoenix locate the souls of two girls he loved more than he loves you. This motivation will spur him on until he reaches the Gatekeeper’s abode.”
Redness flushed Shanghai’s cheeks. “Okay. Keep living in your fantasy world. Just give us a starting point. Where should we go? What are the obstacles that killed Maxwell? How do we get past them?”
Alex zipped her jacket. “Start at the Gateway depot at the train stop and follow the exiting energy line. It will take you to the true Gateway. The line is invisible in most areas, but being Reapers, you should be able to feel its presence. As you advance, if you come to a checkpoint, feel free to tell the attendant who you are. I made a change to your security clearance that should provide access to some areas though not to all. If you are turned back, you will have to come up with alternative ways to go farther.”
“I’m guessing checkpoints aren’t the only obstacles,” I said.
“No. You will run into human opposition, bestial threats, and even ghosts who will try to stop you. I am not familiar with how the Gatekeeper has equipped these ghosts to harm Reapers. I have only heard that they can, so you’ll just have to be ready for anything.”
I blew out a long breath. “Ghost gangs with Reaper repellent. Perfect.”
“How far away is it?” Shanghai asked Alex. “Will we be able to walk? Will we need to find a car?”
“I know only that it is on this continent. You will have to figure out its exact location.”
“This continent? That could be hundreds of miles. Maybe more than a thousand. We can’t walk that far.”
“No, but you can walk to the first checkpoint. At the depot, the energy line runs east-west, and the first checkpoint in either direction is ten miles away. There you can use your elevated status and your ingenuity to acquire alternative transportation.”
“Like what? I learned how to ride a DEO motorcycle in training, but I’ve never driven a car.”
“Necessity is an excellent tutor. I have no concern about your ability to adapt. My primary concern is what you will encounter if you find that you must travel west. The Boundary River and the Western Wilds are not far beyond the first checkpoint.”
“How will you know if we succeed? With taking down the Gatekeeper, I mean.”
“Phoenix will carry out his first duty as the new Gatekeeper. In his abode, you will find a reservoir of energy, similar to the spheres that Erin brought to our portable depot, except this one is much bigger. Release that energy into the atmosphere. It will dissolve the shield that surrounds the world. When it vanishes, the souls of the dead will no longer need a Gateway at all. They will leave our world as they did for millennia before the meltdown. When the shield is gone, I will know you have succeeded. Then I will follow Phoenix’s signal and join you.”
Categories: Story Development