Watched “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” last night and quite enjoyed it. It’s pretty much everything you’d expect from a Terminator series. I’m not totally sure how much story there is to tell that wasn’t covered by the first two movies (I never saw the third), but we’ll see if they can pull it off.
Plus, Summer Glau. She could be in “Hee Haw: The Next Generation” and I’d watch it.
Anyway, writing exercise!
Exercise: Use these words in your piece: fastidious, esoteric, spiffy, cat, retro, slippery, synthesizer, record, vinyl, rice cake, chocolate, red, bald, chopstick, tiger, British, proper, chicken
This turned into a dialogue exercise as much as anything. It was running a little long, so I wrapped it up kinda quickly, but this is something I might come back to and expand. 1200 words!
The first thing I noticed about Aias the Esoteric was his posture. When you see pictures of him, whether in combat or flying away or whatever, he stands rigid and tall, shoulders back, chin up, very proud. However, sitting by himself, in this retro ‘60s diner, he lets it slip, slumps a little bit. On the polished table in front of him is a plate of cashew chicken, half eaten. A rice cake lies untouched. He looks up as the diner’s owner lets me in. It’s well after hours.
Aias stands as I approach, a rare, nervous grin briefly splitting his face. He’s wearing his signature black, hooded costume. His gloves are folded fastidiously on the table. The hood is down, and I realize for the first time that he is bald. He keeps his small black mask in place, however. Up close, and without the hood, I estimate him to be in his mid-thirties. The costume isn’t form-fitting, like the Chicago Defender’s, but he’s stocky and broad-shouldered. There is a quiet power to every graceful movement.
“Thanks for coming,” he says, and he motions for me to sit across. The bright red vinyl benches are slippery and cold, and after I sit down I realize the air conditioning is aimed full blast at our booth.
“Sorry for the cold, but…” he trails off and never finishes his apology. I place my recorder on the table and flip it on, then retreat into my coat. He fidgets with a chopstick, then with a glance shuts off the recorder.
“Sorry, I’d prefer you not record my voice,” he says. “So, I…where do you want to start?”
I get out my notepad and pen and repress a shiver. “How about the accent?”
“Oh, yeah,” he looks embarrassed. “I’m not really British. I’m, well, I’d prefer you keep my actual accent a secret. But it’s nice to let it drop for a little while, not be so proper.”
“So ‘Aias’ is an act? Everything?”
“Well, not everything. But there are concerns, you know, of identity. Of image.”
“All the black? The mystery? It protects my, my people, but it also helps in the work. Adopt a certain, well, you know, the whole Esoteric mystique. It can be intimidating to my enemies. But it’s problematic, too. I mean, you never see the Scarlet Ranger accused of robbing a bank or whatever. Normal people see her spiffy red outfit and the long hair and fall in love. They see my…my black outfit, they see me affecting things without touching them, it scares them. They assume I’m a bad guy. Half the time I can’t stick around after a rescue, the victim is so hysterical.”
“And you’re not worried this interview will render you less effective in the field?”
He shrugs. “Maybe. I’m guessing most of them will never read this. The ones who will probably don’t fall for it anyway.”
“Let’s talk about your powers.”
“It’s been proposed that they’re sound based. Sonics. Others say you are psychokinetic. Any truth to any of it?”
He smiles. “There’s sort of an inside joke my friends…we like to say I was bitten by a radioactive synthesizer.”
He nods. “Sort of. There are some electromagnetic aspects, too. I don’t really want to go into detail. Too many people who can use that sort of information against you, you know?”
“Did you ever have trouble with your powers? Difficulty controlling them?”
“No, no, never.” He is adamant on this point. “I know there were some stories out there, that I hurt some people. But that wasn’t me. For the longest time, I didn’t even realize I had these powers. They don’t just go off on accident. It took years of training to appear as effortless as it does.”
“That seems to happen a lot.”
“Mistaken identity? Yeah. I think people need to really look at my costume. This isn’t exactly the hardest outfit to imitate. That’s how Tiger Fist started out.”
“Tiger Fist? Your, pardon the expression, arch-nemesis, correct?”
“Yeah, it’s silly, right?” Aias pauses as the diner owner removes his plate and drops a plate of chocolate mints down for each of us. I ask for coffee.
“But, yeah, he runs around in his little kitty cat suit now, but back then? Just a thug trying to get off framing me. The first one, in fact.”
“The incident at the Capes Hall of Fame?”
“Yes. He was trying to steal, I forget…”
“Right. One of Heinrich’s old enemies wanted it, to show it off at the retirement home I guess, so he hired a bunch of guys to attack the place. First one who could get it out would get some free genetic enhancements. Tiger…listen to me, ‘Tiger,’ his name was Columba. Columba thought it’d be easier to just walk in, dressed as a hero, than to try and break in at night. He was right, he got a lot closer than the other guys. We didn’t know each other back then, he just picked me because of the image. We already talked about that. I stopped him, but I guess he impressed the boss-man enough to get the enhancements anyway. And now here we are.”
“How often do you have to fight him?”
“Every few months I guess. I’ve put him away for as long as a year, but he always gets out, you know. It’s how things work I guess. In a way I’m lucky.”
“Well, he doesn’t hate me.” Aias frowns. “I hear about some of these, like that nut job the Defender has to fight? No thanks. I like keeping my villains on a professional level only. Never let it get personal. He tries to rob valuable X, I stop him. He tries to overthrow third world Y, I stop him. I think, yeah, I think if Columba ever found out about me, I wouldn’t have to worry that much, you know? He’s not the type to go after my family. Sometimes I wonder if he’d even keep going if I retired.”
“Do you feel responsible for that? Ever think you do more harm than good?”
“I think that occurs to all of us at some point, you know? But, uh, at some point you have to acknowledge that people make their own choices. It’s entirely up to them what they do with these talents they have. If anything, it’s important for us to keep going, to set an example for people still trying to make that choice. I guess that brings us back to the image thing again.”
Our discussion is interrupted by sirens. We see red and blue lights reflecting off the walls of nearby buildings. Aias glances at the diner owner, who nods. Aias the Esoteric rises to his full height, shoulders stretching. He carefully pulls on his gloves.
“Hey, sorry,” he says, and he slips into his public, Londoner accent. “Seems I’ve got to take this. Maybe we can continue this some other time?”
I nod and he rushes out the door. Two young women walking by on the sidewalk yelp and jump aside as he flits past them before he vanishes into the shadows.