May 04, 2004

Tinker Two -- Work In Progress


So I'm pushing forward on T2, although forward isn't the best descriptor. Back and forth and up and down and around and around is more like it.

After lots of consideration, I've decided that I have to soften the reader's opinion of Riki and the tengu. Two days of trying to write Oilcan being the "understanding" one of the conversation, I realize I'm completely blocked. This is one of those "character's decided that they weren't going to do…" moments; actually it's your little writer instinct trying to get your notice. I thought about it longer. Would Oilcan actually be all that sympathetic to someone that kidnapped Tinker away? Hell no!

A quick rewrite nailed that problem.

A second problem immediately cropped up. I had planned for Riki to kidnap Tinker again. Bleah. That just wouldn't do, so it now becomes a rescue mission. This means I have to fiddle with other parts of the story to have the parts of the "kidnap" that I liked - basically the descriptions of the flying over Pittsburgh - work with the part where Tinker needed rescued…

Ummm still working on that. In the meantime, here's the first fix:


Tinker delegated moving the black willow to her cousin, Oilcan; his years of experience of working at the scrapyard would make him able to juggle the willow onto something that a forklift could then handle without having her supervise. She focused on getting the magic siphoned out of the cooler; if anything would revive the tree, surely it would be a mega dose of magic.

The , she had noticed, was directly under the compressor; the cooler was merely a pool of overflow. She set up four jury-rigged pumps that used electromagnets to siphon magic into steel drums of magnetized iron fillings. Unfortunately, the drums would slowly leak magic back out, so they would have to rotate them out, letting them sit someplace until inert. While the siphons were inside the cooler, she sat the drums outside, so whoever changed them didn't need to enter the locked room. The walls seemed solid enough - she would have to check the architectural drawings to be sure, but certainly reinforcing the door wouldn't hurt.

The more she considered safety procedures, the less sure she was this was a good idea. The project, however, was already rampaging out of her control. The Reinholds' employees were searching out drawings and adding bars to the door, the EIA had already loaned her a tractor-trailer truck, a dozen hastily drafted elves were helping Oilcan move the willow, and she'd given out her promises like Halloween candy.

Doubt circled her back to what to tell Lain about the colonist. Should she believe what Riki told her? What benefit would he gain by lying to her? She struggled to remember the full conversation; it had been a turning point for her -- afterwards she knew that she could act without endangering the colonists. They were already lost. But what had she and Riki been talking about that brought up the subject? If Riki lied, it might have been to cover something else up. She worked backwards through the conversation: oni were diverting the supplies because all the colony reports were lies because the ships were gone without a trace because they didn't go to Onihida or Elfhome as planned. They were talking about the oni building and controlling the gate…

Ah, yes, she had been poking holes in the oni tactics in an attempt to find out what they planned. She had pointed out that if the gate shut down during the invasion, all the oni in Pittsburgh would end up on Earth, having to deal with humans and their superior technology. Riki claimed that the oni would merely keep the gate on until their invasion was complete.
At the time, she couldn't risk Elfhome on the slim hope that he was lying, and certainly, with the gate gone, there was no way of knowing now. If left plenty of wiggle room in what he could have been covering up. Unfortunately, it didn't help her decide if she should tell Lain or not.

She was sitting on the loading dock, making decision trees when Oilcan arrived with the black willow. He blasted a greeting on the truck's air horn, swung it in a wide arc, and then backed the trailer expertly up, square with the door.

"Hey!" He called as he swung down out of the cab.

"Hey yourself. How did it go?"

"Easy peasy." He leaned against the chest high dock. Wood sprites was what Tooloo had called them as kids - small, nut brown from head to bare toes, and fey in the way people used to think elves would look. Beneath his easy smile and summer stain of walnut, though, he seemed drawn.

"You okay?" She nudged him in the ribs with her toe.

"Me?" He scoffed. "I'm not the one being attacked by monsters every other day."

"Bleah." She poked him again to cover the guilty feeling of making him so worried about her. "Where's Lain?"

"She had samples she wanted to put on ice back at her lab." He glanced at the papers in her lap and made a face. "Ugh! What's driving you to decision trees?"

"Nothing." She folded the paper, hiding the labels to the branches.

Hurt flashed across his face. "Tink, let me help you if something is wrong. We're still family."

He said it as a statement but there was question lingering in the air.

"Yes we are! It's just - argh!" She flopped back. Thick white clouds steamed overhead, through the same kind of sky that Riki had once called perfect. At the time she didn't understand his fascination, hadn't known about his bird ancestry. The clouds passed; no longer obscured, the sun blazed, making her eyes tear, so she covered them with her arm.

Oilcan nudged against her foot, as if seeking the closeness they had just moments before.

"You spent time with Riki. The whole time I was at he worked with you - didn't he?"

The nudging stopped. "Yes."

"And you got to know him, right?"


She lifted her arm to look at him in surprise; he sounded suddenly so cold and distant. He stood taking deep, cleansing breaths that shook with his anger. He stared at the ground, refusing his anger a focus outside of himself. Afraid that he might have inherited his father's murderous rage, Oilcan worked hard to keep his laid back outlook; it been years since she last saw him truly angry.

"Forget it." She crumbled the paper.

He caught her hands, stilling them. "Tell me! What did that lying little bastard do to you now?" His eyes suddenly went wide. "Did he - did he - hurt you?"

He said 'hurt' but he meant 'rape.'

"Nooo!" She smacked him. "Hell, I'm the one that beat the snot of out of him!"


"Yes! With a crowbar."


"No, it wasn't good. I broke his nose and his foot. I was so angry, I wanted to kill him."

"I know how you feel." Oilcan whispered. "I've never hated someone so much. He came into our home, and lied to our faces. You trusted him, and he used that trust against you."

"Yeah, he did."

"I liked him. I thought we were friends. While you were at , I told him things about my mother I've only told you." He was shaking now. "Gods, I thought he was just like me; that he knew what it was like to lose your mother when you're just a kid. I just want to hit him until there's nothing left."

"Speaking from experience, it really doesn't help." She could see that it was hurting him to hate so much. "He really didn't have much of a choice, if he didn't help the oni they would have killed him."

"How can you defend him?"

"Because I saw what Lord Tomtom did to those that failed him - and it scared the living shit out of me." She shuddered with the memory of the torture; the flash of bright blades and white of bone stripped clean of flesh. "I was willing to do almost anything to keep the knives away from me."

"I can't believe you can just forgive Riki."

"No, I don't forgive him. I'm still angry at him. But I was with the oni for nearly a month -- I can understand why he did it and don't think I can hate him for it."

"He acted like he liked us." Oilcan shook his head. "I trusted him."

"I think that he did honestly like us. He took my shit and never complained, and when he could, he'd protected me."

Oilcan took a deep breath and sighed it out. "Do you think - was anything he told us the truth?"

That is the question of the day, isn't it?

"I don't know."

Posted by wen at May 4, 2004 10:57 AM