Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Synopsis 11: The Green Tower

[This synopsis clocks in at 998 words; yet another one just squeaking in under word count max ;o) (Confession: I am usually guilty of using the full allotment of words granted, too.)]

Lianne Stracker, professional assassin for the Winged Empire, is enjoying the first vacation she’s been able to afford. Problem is, her airship’s engines fail unexpectedly, forcing the airship to crash-land near its destination. Refusing to accept the airline’s excuse thanks to the healthy paranoia that comes with her job, she breaks into the airship’s engine room and learns the true cause of the crash--that the airship’s new converter-powered engines have failed and exploded for no apparent reason.

Concerned that someone might have taken one of her previous contracts a little too personally, Lianne starts looking into the matter. However, it soon turns out that she was merely collateral damage: more and more pieces of state-of-the-art machinery start failing in the same manner about the small mountain town that’s her chosen vacation spot. The local watch is too underfunded, understaffed and tied up in rescue work to conduct a proper investigation, and Lianne resigns herself to a little work on her own time. After all, she does have a responsibility to the Empire, even on her off-day, and she’s not about to let someone ruin both her getaway and her reputation.

Brudik, a local mechanic, has shown an interest in the explosive disasters, and offers to help Lianne in her investigation. While she’s willing to take all the help she can get, she also needs someone safe to talk to, and calls in a favour on one of the colleagues: Arus, an imperial sorcerer. Together, they try and figure out the nature of the explosions and get some concrete evidence before alerting their superiors; Arus discovers that the recent disasters are tied to magical converters, a recent and highly addition to the Empire’s energy infrastructure thanks to the cheap, clean energy, they promise. However, the whys and wherefores continue to stump them, especially when the scrap samples Lianne’s collected wrecks Arus’ diagnostic equipment. During the lulls in their investigation, Brudik introduces Lianne and Arus to his adopted daughter Elpe, a local and rather well-received songstress who has chosen to live in an ancient green tower out in the countryside, ostensibly for her health.

However, their efforts are brought short when Brudik is attacked in the night by unknown assailants, resulting in much of his workshop being burnt down. Lianne and Arus save him from the flames, and he confesses the reason for his interest in the explosions: that he used to be the chief engineer in charge of the converters’ development, and that there is a significant flaw in the converters’ design that causes them to malfunction randomly and explode after some time. However, when Brudik brought this up with his employers--a firm with links to the Empire’s most influential families--he was ignored due to them rushing the converters to market; a subsequent attempt to rally the development team into stopping work led to him being dismissed.

With nothing left to his name, Brudik went into hiding in the countryside with his daughter. Now that his predictions are coming true, he fears that his former colleagues intend to silence him permanently, and begs Lianne and Arus to draw imperial attention to the problem now that they’ve proven themselves to be on his side. To that extent, he provides Lianne and Arus with his copy of the converters’ blueprints that highlight the flaw; perhaps they can succeed where he, an ordinary citizen, has failed.

Now that they have the evidence they require, Lianne and Arus decide to hide Brudik in the green tower under Elpe’s care while witness protection is arranged for him. Surprisingly, their request is denied and subsequently ignored; Brudik jumps to the conclusion that his former employers are pulling strings even in law enforcement--which would explain the authorities’ disinterest in such disasters--and bemoans the corruption he sees everywhere in the government. Lianne isn’t about to give up, though, and plans to travel to the capital to petition the Emperor directly. However, a tearful Elpe comes to her on the day of her intended departure with the news that Brudik’s vanished.

Fearing the worst for Brudik, Lianne and Arus scour the town for clues as to his whereabouts. However, something far more sinister emerges: that by using Elpe’s singing, Brudik has been deliberately triggering the converters’ flaws all this while in order to draw attention to the imminent danger the Empire faces.

Realising the stakes that have been laid out, Lianne and Arus pursue Brudik’s trail to the provincial airfield. Unfortunately, they are unable to convince security of what is about to befall the place, and are forced watch helplessly as the airships berthed there detonate all at once, levelling the entire facility and turning it into a charred mess.

Lianne figures that while collapse of civilisation under its own greed might be ugly, Brudik’s way of warning others about it isn’t too much better. Working back from the clues from the airfield--and a little sympathetic augury as well--Lianne and Arus chase Brudik to his next intended target: a trade show at the provincial capital that the Emperor’s scheduled to attend.

While they are unable to prevent Brudik from causing destruction, thanks to their warning much of the citizenry and the Emperor are evacuated barely in time. Lianne braves the still-smoking wreckage of the city centre and corners Brudik within; he claims violence is the only way to unseat the deep-rooted corruption in the Empire, and asks why a good person like her would support a regime willing to sacrifice its own people for personal gain. Lianne admits while the Empire isn’t perfect, terrorism isn’t the answer either, and arrests Brudik after a fierce struggle.

In the aftermath of Brudik’s destruction, the Emperor announces new initiatives to let the citizenry make their grievances heard without fear of repercussions, orders Brudik’s former employers executed for endangering the Empire, and gives Lianne and Arus a promotion, a raise--and of course, a vacation to make up for the one she missed out on.

Comments

Lianne Stracker, professional assassin for the Winged Empire, is enjoying the first vacation she’s been able to afford. Problem is, her airship’s engines fail unexpectedly, forcing the airship to crash-land near its destination. Refusing to accept the airline’s excuse thanks to the healthy paranoia that comes with her job, she breaks into the airship’s engine room and learns the true cause of the crash--that the airship’s new converter-powered engines have failed and exploded for no apparent reason.

What was the airline’s excuse? Generally it’s equipment failure, pilot error, or a natural phenomenon such as birds in the engine, engine icing, or lightning strikes. What would send her paranoia into overdrive?

I think we can infer failure from the explosion and “no apparent reason” isn’t quite the true cause. So you can simplify that last to conserve a few words: “…she breaks into the engine room and learns the airship’s new converter-powered engines simply exploded – with no apparent cause.

Concerned that someone might have taken one of her previous contracts a little too personally, Lianne starts looking into the matter. However, it Soon turns out that she discovers she was merely collateral damage: as more and more pieces of state-of-the-art machinery in the small mountain town start failings in the same manner about the small mountain town that’s her chosen vacation spot. The local watch is too underfunded, understaffed and tied up in rescue work to conduct a proper investigation, and Lianne resigns herself to a little more work on her own time. After all, she does have a responsibility to the Empire, even on her off-day, and she’s not about to let someone ruin both her getaway and her reputation.

For that last sentence, since "getaway" could be read wrong here, I'd change it to "vacation" or "holiday". I'm not quite sure how any of this could ruin her reputation, though. Maybe just: "...her off-day; and besides, she's not about to let someone ruin her holiday."

Brudik, a local mechanic, has shown an interested in the explosive disasters, and offers to help Lianne in her investigation. While she’s willing to take all the help she can get, she Also needings someone safe to talk to, and Lianne calls in a favour on from one of the her colleagues: Arus, an imperial sorcerer. Together, they try and work to figure out the nature of the explosions and get some concrete evidence before alerting their superiors;. Arus discovers that the recent disasters are tied to magical converters, a recent and highly popular addition to the Empire’s energy infrastructure thanks to the cheap, clean energy, they promise. However, the whys and wherefores continue to stump them, especially when the scrap samples Lianne’s collected wrecks Arus’ diagnostic equipment. During the lulls in their investigation, Brudik introduces Lianne and Arus to his adopted daughter Elpe, a local and rather well-received songstress who has chosen to live in an ancient green tower out in the countryside, ostensibly for her health.

I think Elpe can be intro'd later. We don't need to actually see that they've met her and this bit intrudes too much on the narrative here, imo.

However, tTheir efforts are brought short entirely when Brudik is attacked in the night by unknown assailants, resulting in and much of his workshop being is burnt down. Lianne and Arus save him from the flames, and he confesses the reason for his interest in the explosions: that he used to be the chief engineer in charge of the converters’ development, and that there is a significant flaw in the converters’ design that causes them to malfunction randomly and explode after some time. However, when Brudik brought this up with his employers--a firm with links to the Empire’s most influential families--he was ignored due to them rushing the converters to market; a subsequent attempt to rally the development team into stopping work led to him being dismissed.

Those last thoughts can be tightened some: When he discovered a significant flaw in the converters' design that causes them to randomly malfunction and explode, his employers -- a firm with links to the Empire's most influential families -- first ignored him as they rushed the converters to market, then dismissed him when he rallied the development team into stopping work.

With nothing left to his name, Brudik went into hiding in the countryside with his adopted daughter Elpe, a rather well-received songstress living in a secluded ancient green tower. Now, though, after the attack on his workshop, that his predictions are coming true, he fears that his former colleagues intend to silence him permanently,. and begs Lianne and Arus to draw imperial attention to the problem now that they’ve proven themselves to be on his side. To that extent, he provides Lianne and Arus with his copy of the converters’ blueprints that highlight the flaw; perhaps they can succeed where he, an ordinary citizen, has failed.

Handing over a copy of the converters’ blueprints that highlight the flaw, he begs Lianne and Arus to draw imperial attention to the problem now that he knows he can trust them.

Now that they have the evidence they require, Lianne and Arus decide to hide Brudik in the green tower under Elpe’s care while witness protection is arranged for him. Surprisingly, their request is denied and subsequently ignored; Brudik jumps to the conclusion that his former employers are pulling strings even in law enforcement--which would explain the authorities’ disinterest in such disasters--and bemoans the corruption he sees everywhere in the government. Lianne isn’t about to give up, though, and plans to travel to the capital to petition the Emperor directly. However, a tearful Elpe comes to her on the day of her intended departure with the news that Brudik’s vanished.

I think this paragraph is digging too deep into the details and leaves open too many questions. Maybe abbreviate it to:

When the local authorities stonewall their efforts, Lianne decides to bypass the corrupt local government and petition the Emperor directly. The day she's to leave for the capital, though, a tearful Elpe comes to her with news that Brudik's vanished. Fearing the worst for Brudik, Lianne and Arus scour the town for clues as to his whereabouts. However, something far more sinister emerges: that by using Elpe’s singing, Brudik has been deliberately triggering the converters’ flaws all this while in order as a way to draw attention to the imminent danger the Empire faces.

Realising the stakes that have been laid out, Lianne and Arus pursue Brudik’s trail to the provincial airfield. Unfortunately, they are unable to convince security of what is about to befall the place, they are forced watch helplessly as the airships berthed there detonate all at once, levelling the entire facility and turning it into a charred mess.

I don't get how they jump from learning the secret of Elpe's singing to figuring out the airfield is in danger. So far, the explosions have all seemed random. Is Elpe going along with Brudik of her own volition? Can she simply not sing and the airfield be saved? If she's the trigger, wouldn't silencing her make more sense rather than telling security "Hey, your planes are in danger, their engines are about to explode, and you've got to stop it." Because what could anyone really do about it by then anyway?

Lianne figures that while collapse of civilisation under its own greed might be ugly, Brudik’s use of violence to unseat deep-rooted corruption way of warning others about it isn’t too much better. Working back from the clues from the airfield--and a little sympathetic augury as well--Lianne and Arus chase Brudik to his next intended target: a trade show at the provincial capital that the Emperor’s scheduled to attend.

While they are unable to prevent Brudik from causing destruction, thanks to their warning much of the citizenry and the Emperor are evacuated barely in time.

They can't convince airfield security of impending disaster but they can convince the people in the capital?

Lianne braves the still-smoking wreckage of the city centre and corners Brudik within; he claims violence is the only way to unseat the deep-rooted corruption in the Empire, and asks why a good person like her would support a regime willing to sacrifice its own people for personal gain. Lianne admits while the Empire isn’t perfect, terrorism isn’t the answer either, and arrests Brudik after a fierce struggle.

I'm not really in favor of the "he said, she said" climax here. I would turn this paragraph around and put it all in Lianne's PO. You'll see I suggest putting Brudik's claim in the paragraph above to avoid the he said/she said setup here.

In the aftermath of Brudik’s destruction, the Emperor announces new initiatives to let the citizenry make their grievances heard without fear of repercussions, orders Brudik’s former employers executed for endangering the Empire, and gives Lianne and Arus a promotion, a raise--, and -- of course -- a vacation to make up for the one she missed out on.

Overall, some of the things I'd like to see strengthened:

  • Does Lianne's profession come into play here somehow? As written, it seems to be just a career du jour.
  • Arus being a sorcerer foreshadows Elpe's abilities, but really I don't get a feel for how magic plays into this world. Arus' abilities, especially, don't seem particularly inspiring.
  • I think we need a little more insight into Elpe. Why would she allow Brudik to manipulate her? Why does she continue to help him after his work and life are threatened? How does her magic work if she can't stop the attacks on the airfield or in the capital? Why don't Lianne and Arus try to stop the attacks through Elpe? Also, she seems to be a loose end.

3 comments:

Lccorp2 said...

Always a bitter pill to swallow, but it's got to be done sometime.

Thanks. Will think on it for a few days and come up with a revision.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

she breaks into the airship’s engine room and learns the true cause of the crash--that the airship’s new converter-powered engines have failed and exploded for no apparent reason

I was going to point out this reason is a non reason but Divine Miss Phoenix took it out.

You did a very good job. This is a complicated process and complicated synopsis.

You've got the bones, you've just had them aligned a little.

I'd say congrats are in order. You're rounding third base. The hard part has to be behind you.

Not a bad way to start the New Year.
Mac

Lccorp2 said...

A few of the concerns addressed, which I'll have to fit in the revision:

-Elpe is simple-minded, partially because she's not quite human. Not exactly mentally handicapped, but she does have a very simple way of looking at the world and probably wouldn't have been able to survive if not for Brudik and the birds (which were mtnioned in the query).

-Her singing isn't in person; people have the ability to make voice recordings. Magic is of the "sufficiently explained" sort, which makes people in this particular world treat it rather life technology. Arus' job is pretty much the equivalent of computer nerd, which might seem quite mundane to most.

-The first attempt was aimed more at evacuating people from the airfield and minimising losses. Political problems between the major influential families do pose a problem, but the Emperor really is interested in doing what good he can.

Still working on it.