|Reviews for Breath of Evil|
| Lalaroxz47 chapter 17 . 2/25
I love this story. It's great how two characters can be taken from a game and be given a deeper history of how they came to be. Rios and Salem are one of my favorite duets and this story represents them in every way. Each character is significant and the story itself has personality. I always get excited when there is a new chap so I can't wait for the next one. Keep the awesome work! ;)
| Mercstouch chapter 17 . 2/13
Wow, this was great. No rush on posting. Just have fun with it and write when you can :). I hope you are feeling better. It's cool you dedicated a chapter to developing your OC, and you did a great job of it. You give us a better understanding of his feelings for Salem and how he has affected him emotionally. I like that the two are so similar, both getting out of prison by joining the army, both suffering great losses and going through a process of psychological transference (Salem with Rios because of his family, and Vasily with Salem because of Ari), bad home life. That just makes them that much closer, I think, because when Rios doesn't understand what exactly is going on with Salem, Vasily probably does and can help him. This was really well written and was an enjoyable read. I think my favorite line was Salem and Rios' call signs being Green Giant and Sprout XD so awesome. It's fine with me if the location isn't exact, I don't think it's hindered the quality of this chapter. Again, awesome and I can't wait to see what happens next!
| More AoT Please chapter 13 . 12/27/2013
Chapter 13 Part 4
“Back in the room Rios felt painfully alone...worried as he'd grown accustomed to doing about where Salem was.”
Hours ago, he'd made a go at nearly choking the life out of the kid, ready to wash his hands of him, now he was worried sick because he didn't know where he was at the moment. It was this constant mental and emotional dichotomy that was a primary source of contention in their relationship.
Rios solution to the current crisis was rather creative although somewhat painful. I think it surprised even Salem. The fact that Rios went out to the wall to wait shows he is learning even if begrudgingly. Low and behold Salem ambles by. Salem's response is both heart-warming but sad. Despite what his feelings are when Rios says 'come sit' he sat. His capacity to forgive is a blessing and a curse because it can be taken advantage of.
“...you can't be drinking this stuff out here this early...Rios, have some common sense.”
It was funny to hear a very tipsy Salem chastise Rios about drinking in public so early. I know he was concerned about getting caught with the contraband, not the drinking but it's still funny.
“Is that my blade you're ruining?” “Yeah” Salem watched wincing with every pass. “You carry a M107 Light Fifty and a nasty well worn Randall fixed blade...you're all of 23 and far too skilled with both of them. Talk...” He hunted me...he was bigger but I won...paid for it though...had to call for extraction didn't finish the whole mission. Failure. Hmph Ain't the way Top and Dalton tell it”
Yeah, I bet he was wincing. I can just see his face. Even after telling Rios he wasn't going to relieve him of his manliness it still didn't get him his blade back, much to his chagrin. Rios is trying to do the math and coming up short. Interesting how when asked about the situation (Sarajevo) Salem sees his mission as a failure, when the officers praised his actions and deemed it an unbelievable success.
Rios pondering his own blade was an interesting comparison. “...it's a little blade, doesn't look like much...but it's saved my ass plenty of times...took me awhile but I grew to trust it...guess it's true looks are deceiving. (take out the word 'blade' and replace 'it' with 'him' and it sounds an awful lot like someone I know.)
They may fight and bicker but one of the things Rios has been blind to is the fact that despite everything Elliot trusts him implicitly. When Rios cut his arm it alarms Salem but when he says now you, give me your arm, Salem does it without hesitation and unquestioningly.
“Let it end here...we'll argue, but no more fighting out of meanness, out of foolish anger...your my partner...my brother...I accept that...I accept you and all your bullshit, now just try and accept mine...” Interesting, although scar inducing, way to build a bond, bury the proverbial hatchet, and start over. Rios seems to be loosening up a bit and thinking a little more outside the box.
“Yo Elliot” “Whaaaaat!” Hahaha this always make me laugh out loud. I get a kick out of it every time.
“Where's around...? When Elliot tells Rios and he jumps up out of bed ranting, Elliot's painfully creative threat when he reminds him of his short memory sends the big man into a fit of genuine laughter instead of a rage induced eruption shows Rios really has learned a little, even if he needs to be reminded from time to time.
“Two days later in horrible weather Rios watched Salem gear up to jump into the LZ...the normally overconfident Ranger seemed timid and unsure of himself...that worried Rios. Giddy had already broached to subject with Top.”
I think Giddy operates with one eye on Elliot most times out of concern, a habit Rios eventually develops out of necessity. I think Elliot ends up being more danger prone than either man anticipated.
It was great to see Rios breech the silence and fret over the Ranger. Asking after him while checking his gear. If he hadn't he'd never have known the level of Salem's inexperience. His concern and determination to talk the boy down may have prevented serious injury or worse. It seems Rios is learning to read between the lines a little bit better where it concerns Salem. An ability Giddy seemed to have from the start.
“How many jumps do you have under your belt, Kermit?...I don't know...How many times do they push you out for jump school?...Not very damn many...shit!” “Top! He's got no experience and in this weather that's not good.” This could have ended so badly.
“Too late hook him up.” And this is where I would guess his stomach dropped. I know mine would have. Looking around he wasn't getting any help with this. Vasily's shrug is pretty much characteristic of him. He can be a bit of a sink or swim type teacher when necessary. Giddy had obvious concerns but as partners it's up to Rios reach out and he does indeed step up to the plate.
“...keep your com open, I'll talk you down, trust me.” It's a lot to ask but Salem will make the reach no question.
“Roger that. If I die and my Fifty lives it's yours.” Snarky response as usual, but he just bequeathed his pride and joy to Rios.
“Then the buzzer screeched and he was tossed from the chopper.” Hair raising way to end a chapter, I have to tell you.
| More AoT Please chapter 13 . 12/27/2013
Chapter 13 Part 3
Tone and mood are written so well, physical actions are flawlessly described and help deliver the perfect emotional punch for the situation.
Also, I have to say, lots of hugs for Giddy and team but especially Giddy. (I don't mean to sound fan-girly) but, although Rios thought he was trying, he still had a tendency to be myopic especially when it concerned Salem, and Giddy was the perfect person to deliver the much needed reality check. There are several instances that stand out over time leading up to the confrontation here.
Guidry, although not initially challenging Rios outright, tried to run interference from time to time and minimize the damage. i.e. when Rios jerked the kid to the floor and kept his hat, Giddy took it and put it away as Rios asked, but told Elliot he'd give it back to him later on, to just go on. Then offered to take Elliot to go get his food in an effort to appease both men. Sadly both men were too hot headed to capitulate. (Chapter 9)
He was one of the first to approach Salem and work with him, teaching hand to hand (aside from Heckler and Pedro). “...the rest of the squad sat around watching the new friends train. Rios especially took interest in the pair's burgeoning friendship.” (Chapter 7)
Guidry set Mendelssohn on his backside promising that Top wouldn't have to end his miserable existence, because 'he' would, if he didn't lay off of the kid. Giddy is observant. He had taken an interest in the boy and took the time, prior to the incident and road march, to find out about Salem, learning that the kid had quite a bit of experience and had lived through some terrible things. (Chapter 6 - the road march) (Kudos have to go to Pedro and Heckler here also as they stood up for the boy during the march.)
The confrontation between Giddy and Rios is written impeccably. I felt like I was watching the scene instead of reading it. Their actions, body language and manner of speech lending a lot of realism to it.
“...the team, (minus Franklin) felt that Rios had been out of line attacking Salem. Giddy was especially hurt by Rios' actions...he'd gotten up and left.”
This is a strong tell. Giddy seems (to me) to be the most level-headed and even-tempered just under Top Bene. The fact that he actually physically put Rios on the ground is further reinforcement on how strongly he feels.
When Giddy harangued Rios it was pure unadulterated bliss (for me). Every word was dead on and something Rios had needed to hear for a long time. When I finally picked my jaw up off the floor I was like 'Yes! Tell him Giddy!' Giddy was done pussyfooting around, this schooling was a long time coming. Rank or no rank, he wasn't going to watch this catastrophy unfold any further. As the man said, he'd “had e-f*ing-nuf!”
“You back off a that boy or so help me...I'll end your fat ass!”
Benedict had tried advising Rios, guiding him in a mature manner and it had worked...to a point. Top was their superior officer and may have been limited in how he approached the situation but Giddy wasn't, and he had no qualms with taking Rios to the mat to make his point. The fact that the normally quiet but observant man had to do so should serve as a major wake-up call.
It's hard to choose a part of Giddy's speech because 'every' word was necessary and right on target.
“….Rios when it comes to loyalty it's all you...He's got, I don't know what's going on. Something's missing in the puzzle...”
This is what I like about Giddy. And Top too I think suspected there was more to the story. (Top will have an advantage though because he's seen the kid's combat record and come Christmas he intercepts the distraught young man and although sworn to secrecy, has seen the letter.) Giddy sesnses that something's happened, something monumentally bad. Beyond the enigma he knows Salem is a good kid not some nut case acting out at random, there's a reason behind what Rios considers 'the madness'
“...he pushes and pushes until I snap and you think it's me...at fault? I'm trying to understand him...”
Rios, although making an effort still doesn't understand or doesn't want to. He's in a slight state of denial. Coupled with his latent mean streak and immaturity (he may be more mature in some things than Salem but less so in others) it's just not happening.
He sees himself as superior to Salem because of the boy's random behavior. Although both men come from rough and poor backgrounds Rios has not had to experience the abuse and devastating events Salem has managed to live through. He's not aware of these events thus as hard as he 'thinks' he tries he doesn't understand what others seem so see. Rios has a rigid 'black and white' way of looking at things and thus is seemingly colorblind to the infinite shades of grey. Unfortunately, real life is never so straight forward, and Salem is trapped in that very same unending grey in between.
“You want to lead men? You can't even read one...You're too dense to see what's right in front of you...this isn't about jealousy...you need to step up, swallow your damned pride and let that boy in a hundred percent or you're going to kill him.
Rios is suffering from a classic case of not being able to see the forest...for the trees.
“I've been there man, I know. I've lost someone to that...and that boy despite his smiles and brave faces has one foot in an early grave...”
Giddy's revelation is necessary but heart-breaking. Things must be getting dire for him to reveal something so personal, that must be painful to think about much less reveal. I wonder who he lost. Like Tyannikov's loss, it's a bit of a shock. (hugs Giddy)
“Hell man, I wish I had someone like him that was so...blindly devoted, so hopelessly attached to me. You've got it made man. A partner, a brother...for life!...You can keep kicking him but you will never drive him away.”
And this is what is ultimately so infuriating. Rios is being handed something most people would love to have, something so rare and he's stepping all over it. Knowing about losses suffered by both Giddy and Tyannikov it's easy to see why they feel so strongly, but the situation has gotten to the point that even the rest of the squad is starting to see it.
“Giddy's words were the truth he'd been hiding from since the first day he and Salem met...Top Bene discussed this with him early on...he needed to learn to read men and he was trying...Salem was his top priority...all that aside he knew he had a mean streak...I'm only human, I'm gonna blow a fuse from time to time...what the hell am I supposed to do?”
Revelations aside, this will still be a learning curve for both men, but now maybe the curve won't be quite so steep.
| More AoT Please chapter 13 . 12/16/2013
Ch 13 p 2 Hope this makes sense I wrote this in tiny pieces over time and lost my though process. Anyway, it's incomplete and I will post part three asap.
“Giddy and Heck are our top docs.” Yes. This fits how I see them! You read my mind. 'Salem has sniper duty, demolition land navigation and translating when necessary'. Looks like most of the team have double duty in some way or other. Medical issues that come up during the mission will be troublesome enough without having to worry about the men coming down with an illness in the middle of nowhere. The weather, terrain, and wildlife are all possible threats as well as running into the enemy.
Ah, here's where we meet Secour. I like Benedict's 'voice' here and his leadership style. He and Tyannikov seem to communicate well enough. Vasily seems to be as 'matter of fact' as the sergeant. Although, I think Vasily is a little heavier-handed than the Ranger.
'Salem was set up on the lane furthest away from Rios.' Yeah, totally understandable. 'Vasily had other plans though. “Move down there...next to fat one.” Oh boy, this made me cringe. Nothing like setting a sweating stick of nitro next to a working jackhammer. Sigh. You know that tiny little package that explodes with devastating force when mishandled, set right next to a machine that pulverises anything it's set onto. So Vasily doesn't fool around, he plays hardball.
Since DBA had a lot more field experience, Salem knew they could learn from them, turns out Vasily was just as eager to learn from Salem about his Light 50. Nice detail to the story. Not all weapons, sniper rifles in particular, are created equal and they would need to learn the abilities, strengths and weaknesses of new partners and or weapons. The '50 being much more capable in the hands of a skilled user. When Vasily asked to fire it, (the fact that Salem hadn't considered he'd want to) I could 'see' the look on Elliot's face. Men can be very possessive of a favored weapon almost obsessively so. It surprised me a little when he agreed, but this was the perfect opportunity to (passive aggressively) stick it to Rios. At times, Salem is mature beyond his years, but others...This is when Salem's immaturity peaks out. (Outwardly, it's a juvenile thing to do, inwardly, it's a much deserved counter-point)
“Well done Old Bear, a clean miss.” Hahaha Salem. They seemed to be working well together and Vasily recognized early on, 'Salem's uniquely mature and insightful spotter's skill' He trusted the young man's instructions completely in this regard, and it's a high complement from another skilled soldier.
“Yes! Dead center. Chew on that...” 'The disdain in Vasily's eyes was clear and Salem was immediately ashamed...he knew there was no excuse for his shallow behavior.' Oh, Salem, poor kid, his youth really shows here.
“There is no room for such behavior among brothers...He hurt you, keeps hurting you maybe...” And this is the meat of the problem. Even Vasily can see how deeply Rios' mistreatment affects Salem. But, as justified as Elliot may be in his feelings, Tyannikov's insistence of making them practice in close proximity has proven his point. Salem is having difficulty focusing and needs to learn to tune out everything but the task at hand. “...it is a distraction and distractions kill men...kill brothers. Let go the fight from morning. Focus on here and now. See them working? Minds focused and on task.” Fortunately, the two were able to continue successfully...well, for a time.
This whole section is just...wow! A lot of revealing things here. Some realizations about themselves and their teammates starting to sink in.
Rios Laughter distracted Salem. He's done well up to this point but with emotions still close to the surface from the recent confrontation, his mind is not at rest. He can't let go and concentrate completely. A fact that Vasily instantly recognizes. “The scolding galled him” It's a bit humiliating. Even though Tyannikov has a valid point his method of correction seems to be overly harsh until Elliot finds out Vasily learned this lesson himself in the worst way.
“Listen to yourself you sound like silly boy...words laughter these hurt but they can not kill! Distraction kills! His laughter distracts!”
“...you don't understand...!” “Oh but I do...So sadly I do (my friend)” This is the first time I can think of that he's refered to the boy as 'my friend' instead of a call sign or pet name. Elliot realizes then that Vasily suffered a similar devastating loss and it may be why they understand each other so well. Rios doesn't even know about Salem's pain much less experienced anything like it. It's part of the friction between the two. (Proverbially, Rios is reading a book (Salem) that's missing a whole lot of chapters. In his defense, Elliot has been unable to completely open up for numerous reasons. It's been a perfect storm of circumstances that's lead to the boy being an island unto himself. In total isolation. He tried before, but got burned. He's still unsure of his place so he keeps it to himself.)
Vasily has experienced a similar tragedy so he's recognized it in another. I wonder if his professional curiosity about Salem lead to his researching the boy and finding the personal information, due to his performance on missions, if Salem reminds him of the person he lost, or if he just recognizes the look of another suffering soul.
Lots of great detail on the description of the confrontation. I love the way you wrote from both Salem and Vasily's point of view and then Rios and Dmitri. It's so much more vivid.
Despite their earlier fight, Rios' protective streak is triggered when Tyannikov treats Salem roughly. He's finding it difficult to watch the young Ranger being treated in such a manner. “Easy friend. It is lesson only...trust me.” “Better be I won't let him hurt Salem again.” “...yet you beat him just this morning over bad joke...it is hard lesson yes; but needed.” Dmitri makes a very valid point here. Reminding Rios of his behavior makes him consider his own treatment of the boy.
“Rios accepted that he had a mean streak...he liked to believe he was the better man...better at controlling his anger and emotions...but now once more Salem was paying for Rios' inability to restrain himself.” Rios is a good man, but so is Salem. Salem may be much more trigger happy and volatile, (it's usually a fleeting anger that dissipates as quickly as it ignited.) but Rios has a wicked mean streak. The older man has more patience and calm, but he can snap with a viciousness that exceeds Salem's own. Due to the fact that his outburst are fewer and farther between I think he does think of himself as being a bit superior to Salem.
Later in life: Rios is older and a little more mature and he does seem to have the patience of a saint when dealing with the boy. Salem seems so much like the baby brother who's always into trouble, following around the big brother he looks up to and being the standard pest in the process. It's a dynamic that mentally set Rios above his partner at least in his own eyes. But as Rios takes the time to look past the tip of his nose and really 'see' Salem he begins to learn (and sadly is surprised) by how competent and responsible he can be and has been when you show a little faith and caring.
| Mercstouch chapter 16 . 12/11/2013
Oh, God, I am literally tearing up. Very well written and dramatic chapter. You're description of Salem's "game" with the coin was heart renching. The build up was amazing and very suspenseful. When Rios was yelling at Salem and said, "Find yourself your own wife and have yourself your own daughter," I was like STOP! SHUTUP! NO! Again, a very good read that will probably keep me up thinking haha. Cant wait for more.
| More AoT Please chapter 13 . 12/3/2013
Part 1 (Again because I'm fail - I ramble. Just hope it makes sense)
Oh Team, how good it is to see you again! First Sergeant Benedict rolls out the start of another great chapter.
Right away I see Benedict, Giddy, Heckler, Salem, Rios...you've got my attention for sure. As always, I love the way you write the dialog and describe the scenes and actions. You include good details and settings. It's well balanced and makes it feel so much more real.
The start of the mission brief sounds realistic. From Benedict's dialog, Rios' rundown on team readiness and Salem's (ahem) interruption and doodling. The oh snap feeling of zoning out, then being called on. (lol Salem.) Unfortunately it looks like the atmosphere quickly takes a turn for the worse.
“Franklin's got one foot out the door for OCS but not before we mobilize.” I Bet that chafes.
Salem: “Being short isn't a crime.” No Salem, indeed it isn't but please tell me you didn't just mention being short before going out on a mission! That's about the equivalent of saying “What else could go wrong?” (cringe) Poor Elliot, Murphy's (Law) already likes him a lot but I guess Salem wouldn't be Salem without tempting fate, even if he doesn't really mean to do it half the time. The boy just can't help himself which is probably where Tyson's exasperation comes in most of the time.
I feel bad for Fry or anyone suffering with the stuff that settles in the chest. Nasty is a good word for it. That kind of thing can turn on you real quick. It also, doesn't bode well for the rest of the team if it's going around, especially if the medical community doesn't have a good handle on it.
Good for you Heckler. Nice to see him voice his displeasure and concern about the situation after what happened to 'Fifty', and Benedict prompting Salem for where he stands on the subject.
“Benedict and seven men were all looking his way” His team (save Franklin I'm sure) are genuinely concerned for his well being and angered by his mistreatment. They're all looking to him for his feelings on the matter. I like that they still seem to be protective of him even after Salem's reminder of their own treatment of him and his willingness to let the incident go in order to learn from the mercs.
Benedict may not know everything about how the boy ticks but he can read him, like the rest of his men, well. He also appears to be a little more observant than Salem realized. He knows Salem is a good judge of character but he also knows Elliot spent time with DBA so he believes Elliot when he says he's capable of working with them despite the incident.
(The next section has so many facets to it I don't know where to start! I know I'm going to ramble and still miss something important I wanted to elaborate on. Sigh.)
Tyannikov not only verbally defined but lived the very things Salem has been seeking. His definition of brotherhood embodied all that the boy had been looking for since birth. He spent his life being abused; kicked, beaten, pushed away and made to feel worthless. All he'd ever wanted was a family, a brother who would care for him the way he cared for them. To return the same level of friendship caring, trust and loyalty that he gave freely. He wanted Tyson to be as devoted as he was but the man seemed to fight it every step of the way. They had made a lot of progress, but the big man still seemed to keep him at arms length and it hurt. So Salem did what Salem does best. Deflect. Make a joke, shrug it off, pretend his heart isn't in pieces. Elliot is loyal to a fault, on the negative side of the coin the only other thing he did better than 'deflect' was 'fight' when he needed to.
Benedict was experienced enough to understand the sentiment Tyannikov was trying to convey, even if some of his younger men in the unit didn't. He was also wise enough to notice Rios' envy and jealousy over Salem. Benedict knew Rios was also feeling guilty about abandoning Elliot in the infirmary. The tension in the room and obvious jealousy coming off of Tyson was indeed becoming an explosive situation. He intended to diffuse it but wasn't fast enough. I guess he hadn't counted on Salem thinking about the same incident and calling the big man out on it. To the boy it was just another joke. The same kind he'd been slinging Tyson's way the whole briefing. It seemed to be how he dealt with uncomfortable situations. Salem however hadn't seemed to notice the same giant neon flashing warning signs that Top had. (Face-palm. That boy's mouth gets him in so much trouble)
Two things surprised me; That Salem actually did call Rios out in front of DBA and the viciousness of Tyson's attack in retalliation. (Not the 'they wouldn't do that' kind of surprise, the 'oh no, tell me you didn't just do that' kind of suprise. Am I making sense?)
Apparently it's still a sore spot and although Salem may have actually been making another joke (although it was a bad one), he grossly underestimated Tyson's reaction. Anger and jealousy are powerful emotions and paired with Rios' mean streak the results are frightening. Salem was surprised by the brutal attack but instead of being cowed, I don't think Rios expected the level of hostility that was returned in kind.
Up to this point Rios had taunted, badgered, physically beaten the kid and wounded him emotionally at various times. Salem had never been afraid to give some back to the big man by taking a few swings himself and was always mouthing off in defense. (Of course, Rios only knows a tiny piece of the hell Elliot has endured.) The young man has been tormented beyond measure but even he has a line beyond which he'll no longer be pushed and Rios just crossed it. Salem told Pedro 'I'm a mean s.o.b. Besides I don't know how to go down.' It's that persistence and will that's enabled the poor kid to survive this long. Being on the wrong side of that kind of determination is scary and a bit of an eye opener for Rios. However, he still won't understand the boy's reaction fully because he isn't aware of the magnitude of devastation that's been wreaked on Elliot's life. The few things Tyson is aware of already keeps him up at night or gives him nightmares.
This is a new position for Rios. He's used to being a dominant force. His mistake: Never corner a wounded animal. The fact that Elliot used his blade may have unnerved Rios but I think it was Elliot's way of warning him to back off or maybe snap him out of his state of rage. He nicked him to get his attention at the point of being choked. It had the desired effect as Rios backed off slightly finally noting the kid's lips were turning blue. Still not a good feeling to have one pulled on you. If Salem truly wanted to do him harm, he could have easily done so. This I think may be what truly scared Tyson; not what Salem was doing but what he could do to him if he let himself. (Reminds me of how Rios is in DM when he thinks he has to give up his gf because of the scar. He didn't care any more, he became extremely aggressive, shoot first don't bother asking later etc. Elliot had to be the voice of reason...ah but I digress. This isn't DM it's BOE!)
For Rios the kid has many names each with their own meaning behind them. Fifty is team. “Salem was for working, Elliot for play, Kermit for toying with a little brother, but Ellie was the key to Salem's heart.” For Rios to know this shows they have made a deepening connection. The other telling thing is how adept Elliot seems to be at pushing Tyson's buttons. Maybe, the fact that Salem is able to get to him so easily is because, despite himself, Rios does care.
| Guest chapter 15 . 11/27/2013
Yes! Chapter 15! This was a really nice story. Heckler is finally warming up to Salem. As usual your dialogue is really good, especially the dialogue where Rios is giving Salem instructions or when Heck is trying to get Salem to calm down. Your description of the fall was really nice too.
| More AoT Please chapter 12 . 9/10/2013
When Elliot revealed his training and Hunter inadvertently hurt the boy by seeming to prejudge, it could have all ended right there. The fact that it didn't was down to how much both men had grown and changed and how badly they both wanted this to work. Elliot's realizing some things about himself, or maybe just no longer burying or ignoring the things he should face in order to avoid pain. Something that has been a constant in the poor man's life for as long as he can remember.
It wasn't so much the order, although it halted Elliot long enough to think, but a maturity level he has reached to be able to take a breath, disengage his automatic defenses as it were, and discuss the issue like intelligent adults. He had after all done it before.
"You speak Russian!”
The more Hunter learns about his 'son' the more impressed he seems to be, and with good reason. Russian is not an easy language to master. How he learned it, ahem, is another matter.
Telling Hunter about that horrifying mission had to be one of the most difficult things Elliot's had to do in a long time. The man had already shown disdain for his profession, how would he feel about something Elliot himself can't come to terms with? It's another burden Salem shouldn't have had to carry. The kid has good instincts but because of one hardheaded and inflexible individual, Elliot had to make an impossible choice. One he feels he should have died for.
Thankfully Hunter sees it for what it is. It was indeed an impossible situation. Hunter points out to Salem how many lives he saved by his actions. If he had not done it, those two children would have died anyway, but they would have taken the lives of the rest of the children and Salem's entire team too. Elliot being who he is would have felt responsible for all of those lives. Still, no one but Elliot has to live with the pain of having to pull the trigger.
“It was me who started us all down the path we've traveled for all these miserable years. Me who tipped that very first Domino."
I don't envy Hunter's turn on the chopping block. His own confession couldn't have been an easy one to make. He claims he couldn't or wouldn't see the evidence that was right in front of him. After all, nobody wants to believe the worst of their own child. It had to have been difficult to see his daughter with someone of little to no means who was frequently in trouble. Being a lawyer though may have made it easy to ignore or exclude certain evidence, after all, he did it for a living. But really it was more than that, he knew. He knew his daughter was messed up before Elliot even met her.
“Hunter had left him twisting in the wind and because of that Jenny and Ellie were dead and his own soul was tainted...it came at a high cost.”
All this time Elliot had suspected or even known but to hear Hunter confess it... He'd only ever had himself to blame and even though he has every right to be angry he just can't. Seeing the man break down and cry broke his heart. Even with his heart in pieces Elliot still manages to make room for someone who has only ever caused him nothing but misery. It's what makes him such a remarkable individual.
“..if I'd come home, we wouldn't have made it for long together. I was changed and I wouldn't have been able to manage her habits. I'm loyal but for Ellie I'd have walked away...so she'd be safe not have to grow up like I did around that shit.”
Elliot was definitely changed. He wanted to make more of himself. All he needed was the opportunity and the judge could see it too. He has overcome a great deal. Becoming a Ranger is no easy task. He's been trained in an unusually large number of areas and is very, very good. But you need more than good to get you through a lot of it. You have to want it. You have to want to succeed, to make it. Elliot worked hard and was proud of himself with good reason. Thankfully, Hunter agrees and understands. For all that he loved his daughter, he can see now what she had done. The unimaginable pain these two men share is a commonality that has allowed them to bond, and hopefully begin a relationship that will strengthen over time.
"Can an old man ask a young man for a hug?"
"Can a young man, grown old before his time, tell him no?"
“Hunter had reclaimed a lost and wounded son, and Elliot had found a father and a home.”
This make me happy for Elliot. He's had so much loss it's about time he got to have something in his life other than just existing to watch his friend's back.
“he just needed to figure out a way to keep them without losing Rios”
This worries me. It's heartbreaking that Elliot has to feel like he can't have one without losing the other. His other friends have relationships and families, but Salem has been made to feel as though he can't have any of those things. Not without a painful sacrifice. The kid just can't seem to win for losing.
This is a well balanced and emotionally powerful chapter. The pacing, circumstances and emotional states all seemed relative to a realistic cycle of grief and loss.
We get a lot of answers in this chapter as to why Salem reacts and feels the way he does. We already know he feels deeply, but isn't acknowledged most of the time. He suffers alone and when he can't take any more he reaches out, frequently to be rebuffed. So he stuffs it away or lashes out in a short-lived fit of anger. Rios' life hasn't been all that easy either, but he's not had the level of grief and loss that Salem has and although he can sympathize, Tyse will never understand the kind of pain his friend lives with every day.
Once again, well done! Another amazing chapter! I can't wait to get into the next one.
| More AoT Please chapter 12 . 9/10/2013
Okay, this is another review that will be posted in two parts because I ramble and I'm fail. Also, I'm not really happy with this post as I wrote it at 3 a.m. But I need to get something up now before another week or two passes!
This is a very difficult chapter for both Salem and Hunter emotionally, but something that definitely needed to happen. It's also evidence of just how bad things have gotten for Elliot. He's reached the emotional end of his proverbial rope, however, in contrast, it seems he's also grown a great deal in a short time.
"Can an old man join you?"
"Can a young man, grown old before his time, tell him no?" '…after twenty years of silence a dozen words of hope.'
This and the Psalm you found fits here so well. It suits the two men and their situation perfectly. Although the words once shared by someone who cared deeply for Elliot as a child (Vivian) used to comfort him, are later tied to a well meaning, but misguided priest. A priest who tore out the young soldier's heart, then used the psalm like a band-aid to try to repair the soul he just finished rending. It's reassuring that although Salem was anything but healed, the Psalm at least brought him some semblance of relief.
The Somalian priest, like so many others, have taken the idea of an 'Eye for and Eye' literally. It was meant as a guide for punishment in mostly civil wrongs to prevent punishment from being either too severe or lenient for the crime. It has been misused by many over the centuries as an excuse to take revenge on someone who has wronged them. It was not meant for use as a literal punishment. Hunter seems to understand this and I'm glad he tried to make Elliot see that he understands what an impossible situation the boy was placed in.
'It was broken...How similar was he to that cast off branch?'
Powerful imagery and sadly fitting his current emotional state.
'He was tired of running though, tired of most everything about his life. ….He felt old; he was dying from un-slakeable thirst and drowning in year upon year of lonely despair and silent, secret self-recrimination.'
This is so sad. You can't help but ache for him here, but at the same time be relieved that he has come to the point he can hopefully face the 'monsters in the closet' and maybe finally get some relief. Because of the impossible situation he was in, he never really got the chance to fully grieve and move past his loss.
Hunter claims to be religious and most likely attended church every Sunday. Yet he had no qualms helping people he knew were guilty of vile things avoid punishment for money while hardening his heart against a child seeking help. A child floundering in the mire of poverty and bad influence, yet trying to do the right thing. Hunter, by his own admission, sent a 'child' into “hell on earth” (Not trying to vilify him just a point)
While Elliot claims not to be especially religious and is certainly no choir-boy, he does believe. Despite the tragedy and despair that has defined his life, he is perpetually hopeful. With so much grief and sadness piled on his shoulders he still finds room in his heart for others and continues to reach out. He's disturbed by the things they have to do and it's weighing on him more and more. The worst part is, as much as he wants and needs absolution, he feels he is unworthy. This is the most telling thing about him and the reason he is in fact the most deserving of it.
"It does fit and I am ashamed, Elliot...What I did to you is unforgivable”
It's good to see Hunter's willing to face his own 'monsters' for the sake of reaching out to Elliot, a boy still so desperately in need. Both men each hoping for acceptance and fearing rejection. Hunter seems to have learned the difference over the years between what it means to be 'religious' and what it means to 'believe'
Hunter has had years to deal with his losses save one. Elliot. He's also grown a great deal and realized that although Elliot hasn't always made the best choices, it was Hunter's own decisions and treatment of the boy that wrought such devastation in his life. Hunter is a man that has changed as much as Elliot has, fortunately for the better. He could have continued to live in bitterness and denial. It would have been so easy to continue to blame the missing boy. Much easier than facing his own misdeeds. But as he told Tyson the day before, they've all made mistakes. Bad ones. But they are all good men, and if they try, they can be better men and move past this.
“you aren't alone in this anymore, Elliot.”
How different things could have been if only he'd heard those words back in '93. It's unfortunate that they were unable to connect that Christmas, although Hunter had tried, Elliot was too distraught to actually hear the man, for the brief moment they spoke.
“you sound like my old Top, First Sergeant Benedict. If anyone tried to be a dad to me it was that crazy bastard."
Yes! He seemed so much like a father figure to Salem then, just as Rios seems like Elliot's big brother, now. Benedict and Guidry are my favorites along with Heckler. Can't say how much I love these guys.
“Little early for beer, no? That's not very good parenting, dad." Elliot quipped...Hunter burst out laughing. The comment and the wry, impish smirk on Elliot's face touched him in a way nothing had in a very long time.”
Elliot has a knack for this, given the opportunity he's got a very likeable personality. (Erm, when he can stay out of trouble that is)
“Good lord son relax.”
Poor Elliot. His reaction to Judge (Quentin) being in the house is comical but sad at the same time. Poor kid is always expecting trouble, just like when he was walking on the grass. It must be a shock to find out the person he thought hated him, is actually responsible for his chance at a new start. (Army deal)
Rios might not know all the horrible things Elliot's had to overcome prior to the Army, but he does know how important it was to his friend. Having the document matted and framed for his birthday was a thoughtful and heartfelt gift. Maybe Rios was proud for Elliot too.
| Rothalion chapter 11 . 7/15/2013
Oh yea, I have truly dug myself into a deep hole! I just think that Rios... well forget all that, I just love Vasily so I need to write him! It really stinks when characters wiggle their way into a tale. Thanks for the comments; I love the feed back! But more importantly I love that you are enjoying the story. But I am sorry to make you cry...
| More AoT Please chapter 11 . 7/15/2013
Oh nonononononononono Elliot... and you were doing so well. Don't do yourself in over a few beers and steak. *cringe* This scares me more than the combat. Hopefully he steers clear of any more criminal mischief. He's got way too much to lose and now maybe a new enemy to watch out for. Lt Swift seems like the type to hold a grudge. Franklin is already a lose canon on that front. And now, Swift knows about Salem's past.
I thought it was kind of nice that Mendelssohn felt a little bad about taking Salem's last 15 dollars. But Elliot paid up. I don't think he likes to owe anyone.
Despite the seriousness of the situation, I enjoyed the exchange between Benedict and Salem.
"Benedict finally looked up and shook his head when he saw the young man all stiff and mannerly.
"What are you doing?"
"Reporting, reporting, since fucking when do you or anyone else report to me in here alone at attention?"
"Sounded serious, just like to cover my bases First Sergeant."
"First Sergeant…Are you kissing my ass corporal?"
"No First Sergeant, well maybe a little but mostly just being military."
"Stand the fuck at ease, Elliot! God boy you try my patience."
LOL its how I imagine a Sergeant would sound, especially one that's worried for someone, peeved, or both.
Dalton is learning what Elliot's team and Tyannikov already know.
"The young man was tough as nails, a fantastic shot, highly motivated and uncannily clever. He made up for his size with a brutish toughness fueled by a nasty mean streak. If he could learn to tamp his temper down Dalton knew that Salem would be a gem on any squad." At least Dalton is letting Salem keep his cap.
Don't know what to think about Vasily taking an interest in Salem. Being friendly. I'm a little leery of the big Russian and his group. They may turn out okay but I think I'm with Rios on this one. Don't trust them with anything important Salem Tyannikov is a perfectionist who has taken a keen interest in Salem. He's trying to figure the boy out. I'm worried he's gonna try something dirty to force Salem to his side. (man I hope I'm wrong) but Vasily doesn't strike me as the type to give in so easily.
"I cannot believe you trust Tyannikov." "Ellie, he broke your wrist." Rios does have a point here Elliot.
"Right and you greeted me with open fucking arms asshole." Um okay, Elliot does have a point here Rios. Gah, I'm so confused! I still say don't trust them Elliot.
"I saw you talking to Tyannikov. That's good Salem, because Dalton just informed me that in an effort to get us working together, DBA is going out with us next week. It's gonna be you shooting for Vasily and Rios paired with Vasily's shooter, Dmitri." Oh boy, this is going to be, er, interesting. Okay so, be nice but watch your back.
"No fucking way!" Rios snapped. "After what that son of a bitch did to Salem, you can't put them together!
"Yea way. Orders are orders. They will start working with us tomorrow.
"Look, I am not happy about sending you with that fucking Russian, Elliot. I've gotten kind a used to watching your back and damned spoiled about having you watch mine." Well said Rios, well said. :)
"first platoon's stuck with SSC; they are fucked." hahaha Elliot.
Can't wait to see how all of this goes down when they go out together 'next week'
Even though they were only unloading boxes getting supplies to fix the room and or standing in formation it was nice to see Giddy and Heckler around. And Major V and Sully got a nod. :) NICE
| Rothalion chapter 10 . 7/15/2013
For now just a huge thanks! I was about to go to bed then this! I just feel that these guys have so much depth...ugh can anyone blame me for searching for it! Eleven is awkward transitionally, but we need to move on...
| More AoT Please chapter 10 . 7/15/2013
Part 2 chapter 10 review
The scene on the helicopter during extraction was heartbreaking. Salem being despondent and refusing to communicate had a lot to do with his mental and emotional state as well as physical. He was injured, shot twice, (the vest may have taken the brunt of it but) there was still blunt force trauma. When he coughed up blood it must have scared his friends. Rios and Heckler had to hold him down and Giddy strip off his vest so the medic could check him. The reason he was so combative made me tear up.
“Benedict took the vest, saw Giddy's discovery and sighed. Corporal Elliot Salem, this scrawny, wayward, hot headed kid who'd blown into their lives after surviving an experience that would have killed many a more skilled soldier...Despite his years in the service, despite his tough outer facade First Sergeant Gabe Benedict found himself crying as he ran a calloused thumb back and forth across the nine Ranger tabs carefully sewn into the lining of Elliot's vest over his heart.” Made me cry too.
The next section with Benedict is outstanding! Gabe Benedict is a very brilliant and insightful man. Gabe, whether he thinks he'll ever understand Salem or not, does know how to read him most of the time. Interesting way he handled the situation. There were several things going on here that all had to be addressed. Everything Benedict said was right on. Elliot's self imposed punishment, misplaced guilt, anger at himself for not pushing and anger at Top for not heading his warnings. Fear of retaliation if he did push. The boy had so many emotions pulling at him it's amazing he's functional. Elliot's situation led him to do something he hadn't intended. Hurt someone he deeply respected.
I like the way Rios was angry about the way Elliot was being treated remembering his own mistreatment of the boy. Enjoyed Rios thoughts on the situation and his protective feelings coming out.
Benedict was pushing the boy. Pushing hard. He wanted so badly for Salem to stand up for himself, and to see if what he suspected was true. That Salem was afraid of what could happen to him if he did. Something that Salem hadn't considered, was that Benedict was hurt by it. “What hurts me Salem...what burns my ass is that you didn't trust me son. That you thought I'd fuck you like that. Punish you by sending you back, sending you away.” I don't think Elliot saw that one coming at all. He'd been screwed over so many times in his life, lost so much, he was finally making a success of himself and he was scared to death of losing what he'd fought so hard to gain. It kept him from seeing the obvious. As much as he cared for his team, they actually cared for him as well, at least most of them.
Gabe knew. As much of an enigma as Salem was, Benedict seemed to be good at figuring out the particular puzzle called Elliot Salem. "It's this file, this threat...those sick fuckers have hung around your neck...It keeps you off balance...You worried that if you stood your ground I'd pull this pile of horseshit out and send you packing...never again feel afraid to question me or anyone else reasonably when you are concerned during a mission. What went down's on me”
Burning the file in front of Salem was an extreme gesture of trust. What he said to Elliot as it burned hit all the feel good buttons. "You are going to make mistakes...regret decisions, Elliot, but the gravest error you can make is to think that the boy you were in that pile of ashes still exists; because he's dead and in his place is a strong, loyal, wonderfully skilled man, a soldier who I am proud to serve with and have absolutely no fear of trusting with my life and the lives of my men. Dismissed."
“Hey, Fifty. Salem looked up and smiled he liked the pet name the older man (Heckler) gave him.” (I do too.) It's a little more dignified than kermit lol. I know why Rios called him that, but I can't help it 'Fifty' is definitely more manly. :)
"Luck today and keep my ass safe, bro."
“Then he reached out and tapped his fist three times firmly over Salem's heart and the coveted Ranger tabs. After him the rest of the team followed suit and from then on out it was squad protocol before any op.” This part is made of AWESOME! Go Heckler!
Feel free to ignore my rambling below it kind of veers off onto a tangent...
“Benedict knew how to manage him...I thought I could too.” It's different. Rios is Salem's partner for one, and more of a peer, closer in age. Benedict has a lot more knowledge and experience as an advantage. Given Benedict's age and ability I think Salem respected him as not just his CO and friend but he may have subconsciously viewed him as a fatherly figure, whereas Rios is more like big bro. Everyone knows parental guidance trumps eldest sibling control. Salem is little brother. You know, the one that always seems to find trouble no matter how innocent the intention. Danger prone, follows big bro everywhere, looks up to him while irritating the crap out of him at the same time little brother. Conversely, as the 'baby' of the family big bro may have trouble thinking of little bro as all grown up. Big bro also has a tendency to torment the little one.
(Aside from their basic personality differences, it might contribute to why they argue so much and why Salem gets ignored or blown off at times. Salem was really young when they met. (yeah and maybe I'm off my mental rocker lol) But meh, it's the way I see them in the game.)
“He suffered so much abandonment and cruelty...it makes sense.” It does seem like Hunter and Quentin understand the score a little better now. Maybe with Rios' help they can find a way to connect with the boy.
“after nearly twenty years of what, friendship? What we have is a step or two beyond friendship. He's Salem. He's as Top also said 'one pain in the fucking ass walking enigma.' I think I'll go check on him." Maybe so, Rios, but you know you'd be lost without Salem around. :)
| More AoT Please chapter 10 . 7/15/2013
Had to divide my post because it's way to big even though I limited what I commented on. I'm fail at this I guess lol.
Another awesome chapter! Chapter nine brought me to tears in more than one place, Chapter ten is just as awesome. You are doing a fantastic job of weaving an intricate and highly addictive story.
AN "This parallel story line is a pain and now I see gaps that need to be filled." This can't be an easy thing to do, I remember you mentioned adjusting some of the dates or time line, but so far it seems minor. I've thoroughly enjoyed every chapter and it's not anything I find glaring. That being said...I'll be more than happy to read any and all 'gap-filling' you wish to do. In fact, I'll be anxiously anticipating the additional content!
I don't mean to sound obsessive, but have you ever read a novel, played a game, watched a movie/series/mini-series etc and get immediately sucked in? Where you eat up current content and just can't wait for more? This story is one of those...
"Rios talks and I think Salem listens. Salem talks and I have the idea he gets tuned out" *nods* My thoughts exactly! Sadly, sometimes Rios treats Salem like background noise.
Poor Elliot, he's worried about his behavior while he was in shock. He may not realize it but he was (in shock). It's sad that he recognized that feeling, “the sensation of a deep deathlike sleep borne or complete physical and emotional exhaustion.” It indicates he's had reason to be familiar with the situation before. The fact that Salem constantly feels like he's screwing stuff up makes me feel like Tyson is too heavy handed too often. Elliot's lost so many people he's cared for I think he's terrified of doing something wrong to lose anyone else. Even if it's just walking on the grass.
He's quite stealthy your, Elliot." "Stealth doesn't even begin to describe, Salem. He's a damned ghost when he wants to be." *nods* Agreed. The boy is multi-talented.
"So he still follows you blindly;" Elliot is loyal to a fault. "for all his bluster and rebellion Salem hates to disappoint someone he cares for or cares for him and he hates to be in trouble with them despite always seeming to find some." Exactly! Poor Elliot, this is right on target!
"they'd tried very hard to do missions that were positive, steering clear of outright assassinations, and the murky dirty work...The young man just bottled up the grim realities of the job and marched forward in whatever direction Rios aimed him. It was that containment of anxiety, guilt and grief that...was tearing Salem up. The man needed to vent and after enough emotional strain...he'd do just that, often with disastrous results. Rios, conversely, simply spooned the gray onto Salem's plate and kept pretending his was sparkly clean." YES! THIS! Exactly this!
“I put that boy through holy hell” Yes, yes you did Rios, and I'm still mad at you for that. Although you are slowly redeeming yourself lol.
I don't think I mentioned it before, but I like the way you put in meaning for their names in the story.
“step easy around him or trust me he will shut down." “I do not want to be the one mucking this up, embracing him means too much to me." This is really good to hear. Elliot doesn't seem to want to mess up this second chance either.
“Gabe Benedict. Gabe had a way of managing Salem through the good stuff and the bad.” I'm glad Rios recognized this. IMHO, Benedict can read men very well and would have been a great father to Salem. (at least surrogate if nothing else) I think Benedict cares about the kid and I think Salem respects the hell out of Benedict. He's stern, disciplined, and fair. He gives his men some latitude but will call them to the carpet if necessary.
FOB Somalia...Ah what can I say except I really, really LOVE the way you write their past as Rangers. Seeing how they met and grew into friends. I love revisiting your OC s Benedict, Giddy, Heckler, Vickery, Sully etc. The action scenes are very well written and exciting. The patrol was a true gem! I could quote just about this entire section to rave about.
Poor Salem, he feels like he's being put on the spot. It's not a good feeling. Plus his gut is screaming at him to listen and he's trying so hard not to screw things up. Unsure of exactly how far to push Benedict. On the other hand I think Benedict knows Salem is capable of more than the boy gives himself credit for. Salem does have really good tactical instincts.
I like the way you set up the formation. Salem's confusion and doubt. Then his gut feeling that things weren't right. The inner struggle to figure out just what was expected of him, and how to handle what seemed like a no win situation. He could feel it. They were walking into a set-up he just didn't know how far to push Top. The kid had a tenuous new family he'd die trying to protect. He didn't want to let anyone down but he didn't want to screw himself over with his CO either. How far is too far? Poor kid.
Outstanding descriptions on troop movements and positions. I like how well you described the action. Nice details. I could visualize exactly what it looked like when all hell broke loose. i.e. the way Salem was spun around and fell when he was shot and the horror he felt when he saw his team being rushed by the ambush...etc.
Salem kept his head, assessed the situation decided on the best course of action and took it. He eliminated the threat coming at his team from the village. Then stayed alone facing mortar fire to protect them. If he had retreated, Giddy and his team would have been left up there alone and both sections of the unit would have been left open for unimpeded mortar fire.
I could almost hear the terror in Rios' voice calling out for Elliot's position, when he looked around and couldn't find his partner in the retreat. Things seemed to turn around after Salem made contact. Mortar fire eliminated, Salem defended his position alone through retreating enemy forces, noted the new threat of RPG's tracked Giddy's position warning him off of moving too far ahead of the second group and kept Top apprised of all movement and the current situation. The kid kept his head, and performed admirably, but of course, Elliot only saw failure. Failure to heed his gut instinct, to find another solution to meeting their timetable, or make anyone else see the impending danger.