Marysue Shaw Marysue Shaw
Recommendations: 1

Try to condense this a bit..for e.g.: I opened my eyes to an off-white ceiling and matching walls. Even the desk to my right was off-white. The brightness brought my headache back with a vengence. Where was I? Probably in the Citadel infirmary.

Marysue Shaw Marysue Shaw
Recommendations: 1

How do you know it's Dixon's voice? What about it made you recognize it? Rasp? Growl? Deep?

Marysue Shaw Marysue Shaw
Recommendations: 1

|bare, off-white" once is enough. Say "similar" or something like that to describe the rest of the place.

Marysue Shaw Marysue Shaw
Recommendations: 1

Maybe "I wasn't sure which" would be better?

Beck Day Beck Day
Recommendations: 3

the repetition of "bare off-white" is meant to be sarcastic and is part of Julia's character and how she speaks, but you're right about the tense

Marysue Shaw Marysue Shaw
Recommendations: 1

OK, to bring about a acollapse, the head injury hs to be somewhat profound, so if you want his head OK, give him 3 broken ribs and make shortness of breath his reason for collapsing. Otherwise, make the head injury more severe than a nasty cut on the face. Just a thought;).

Beck Day Beck Day
Recommendations: 3

I'm not sure why you're saying "his" all the time as the main character is a girl... and if you want to know the reason behind her collapsing you have to read the other chapters. She's just sustained brutal torture at the hands of their enemy, that would tend to make one exhausted to the point of collapse...

Marysue Shaw Marysue Shaw
Recommendations: 1

OK, Dixon would have mentioned this earlier, and there could have been enough exsanguination for a collapse from that alone, as well as 2 fractured ribs:) He would have said this earlier, too. This is almost comedic, putting it here.

Beck Day Beck Day
Recommendations: 3

Again, I cannot stress how important it is to read the previous chapters before giving an opinion, as everything you're questioning was already explained. The reason he asks this is because she just managed to fight off several soldiers with the bullet in her arm in the previous chapter.

Marysue Shaw Marysue Shaw
Recommendations: 1

I know people say "cudda" and "shudda" in real life, but it may make it hard for some people to read that too often. But what do I know? See what others say before changing it. If no one says anything, just leave it as it is. I tend to be a little grammatically anal in the early AM. The piece holds my interest, which is the main thing:). Keep it up!

Marysue Shaw Marysue Shaw
Recommendations: 1

Work on the dialogue a bit. Show us what they are doing while they talk and make it obvious who's talking, by either giving them speech characteristics or, in some other way, ID for your readers who's talking without having to say she said, he said:) Looks like a lively story with plots within plots--my fave:) Keep it going! Looking forward to more:)

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Beck Day Beck Day
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SUDEKI: The Prophet Child, Chapter Seven

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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

This chapter is still in the final editing process, so any pointers or noticed errors would be appreciated :)

7. A Secret, A Burden

I opened my eyes slowly and found I was staring at a bare, off-white ceiling. I looked around a bit at the bare off-white walls and off-white desk to my left. It soon occurred to me that I was in the infirmary in the Citadel. My eyes adjusted to the light and my headache instantly came back. 1 comment

“Oh!” I gripped my head, shut my eyes and mashed my eyebrows together.

Someone grabbed my hand and replaced it on the mattress.

“Try not to move too much,” Dixon’s voice sounded to my right. “You collapsed on the way here.” 1 comment

I sighed. “Yeah I guess I did.” I looked down at myself – I had a few bandages here and there. “What’s the verdict?”

“Well, your ankle is not broken, just badly sprained. You do have two broken ribs and a cracked one, though. And your nose is broken and your left index finger is fractured.” He looked grave, or serious, I’m wasn't sure which. “You also have a pretty nasty cut on your face, there. How did that happen?” 5 comments

“Daegonn,” I cringed. “He had a ring on.”

Dixon nodded. “I thought so. Also, did you realise you had a bullet in your upper left arm?” 2 comments

“Hm? Yes, I did.” I vaguely recalled being shot outside the Stronghold.

“Was it Daegonn?”

Cringe. “No, one of the pursuing soldiers. Point blank.”

“I’m amazed you could withstand the pain.”

“I had other things on my mind.”

“Yes, which brings me to the other thing I was going to ask you.”

Uh-oh. I wondered if Sage or Jason, or both, had told him.

“Julia, what happened back there? What did he do to you?”

I was not prepared to discuss this with him. With anyone for that matter. I was silent for a moment.


“It’s nothing. I’m fine.” I replied, sounding anything but.

“Julia,” Dr. Dixon was back again. “If there is something else I need to know...”

“I’m alright.” I said, slightly harshly.

Dixon looked unconvinced, but he left it alone. At least he knew not to get on my bad side.

I held up my left hand and examined my index finger; it was badly swollen and ached like hell. My ribs were worse, though – every time I breathed it was like Daegonn was slamming them into a wall and then kicking them all over again. My ankle hurt a bit, my nose was sore, my face stung and my left arm was burning; but all in all – believe it or not – it wasn’t the worst I’d had.

The door opened then and in came the one person I really needed right at that moment.



He rushed over to me and held my arms. “Are you okay?”

I just shook my head and lowered it. He put his hands on either side of my face and lifted my head up again.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” He had worried creases on his forehead.

“It’s nothing, really.” I tried to soothe him. “I’ll be okay.” I ran my fingers along the creases, trying to somehow smooth them out.

He just looked more grave than Dixon. He mashed his eyebrows together and stared into my eyes. I looked away – I didn’t want to meet his gaze for fear of what I would find there.

“Dixon?” Vaughn turned to him, as he wasn’t getting an answer from me.

“Physically, she’ll be fine,” Dixon explained. “But I’m worried about the long-term psychological effects this could have on her.”

“Really, I’m fine.” I said again, trying to sound stronger.

“That’s not for you to say.” Dixon stated.

“We’ll see about that...” I whispered to myself.

“What?” Vaughn looked at me again.

“Nothing,” I racked my brain for a way to get off this subject. “Dixon, when can I go home?”

“Later today, I want to run a few more tests.”

I nodded and slumped my head back against the pillow. This was going to be a long day.

Once Dixon finally did release me, Vaughn took me back to my apartment across the gardens. I was totally silent the whole way; I never looked at him, either. As soon as we had entered the apartment and Vaughn had shut the door behind us, he turned around to me.

“Alright,” He said, backing me up against the wall, leaning over me. “That’s it.”

“What?” I looked straight into his eyes.

“I’m dyin’ over here, Jules. Gimme a hint, somethin’.” He stared straight back at me.

“I don’t know what you mean.” I took evasive action and ducked under his arm too fast for him to grab me.

“Sure you do,” He let me go, but followed me across the room. “Julia, what do you think I’m here for? To annoy the living crap out of ya?”

“Coulda fooled me...” I mumbled.

“I heard that. Look... look at me!” He grabbed my arm and spun me around to face him. “Do you wanna tell me what happened at the Stronghold?”

I looked at him sternly. “No, actually, I don’t.”

I turned then and walked upstairs to my room, shutting the door behind me. I made it halfway across the room, and then it happened – everything came crashing down on me all at once. I felt the weight of the last 24 hours, the impact shattering every bone in my body, every fibre of my being. I fell onto my hands and knees and gasped for breath. I clutched my stomach, hugging myself, trying to hold myself together. I hadn’t realised I was sobbing uncontrollably; Vaughn came in and rushed over to me. He didn’t say anything, just held me until I recovered.

When at last I could move, Vaughn helped me over to the bed and sat us down on it. He continued to hold me, the two of us rocked from side to side gently. It comforted me greatly to have him there; we had always shared everything with each other. We had known each other for so long now that we trusted each other completely. We never kept secrets from each other, no matter what it was, because we never judged each other. So why should it be any different this time?

“Julia?” He said suddenly.

I’d calmed down by that point. “Yes, Vaughn?”

“Are you ready to tell me what’s wrong?” 1 comment

I paused. “Yes.”

It was two days later that Sage and Jasonali returned. To be honest, I didn’t know they’d even left; I was so out of it the week after the Stronghold. Vaughn told me that afternoon, when we were on our way to the Dining Hall for a briefing, that they had gone out to retrieve Subject 620 from the Cardinal.

‘Subject 620’ was the code name for a very important part of the Citadel’s internal network, and ‘Cardinal’ was the code name for the SCOO, the Stronghold Covert Observational Office, in the mountains.

The SCOO was built about two and a half years ago, as a means to keep an eye on our enemy. From the SCOO, we were able to spy on the exterior of the Stronghold. It was very useful for keeping an eye on the guards’ round changing procedures – as Daegonn changed them every week – and also any new construction that might be happening.

We entered the briefing room, the last ones to arrive, all but the subject in question and its postal boys. We took up our usual places, me feeling more out of place than I had in my whole short life. Reily smiled at me, and I managed a kind of lopsided, half-hearted grin back. Sage and Jasonali came in then, Sage carrying Subject 620. They both nodded at me subtly with knowing expressions, their way of asking me if I was alright. I just stared back at them, my expression empty. They got the message.

Jason headed to the opposite end of the table to Caprine, while Sage walked over to the console in the corner behind Jason. Sage grabbed the big metal thing with one hand and dragged it swiftly over to the left of his place with ease. I saw Vaughn shake his head out of the corner of my eye. I knew what he was thinking: ‘Show off.’ Sage smiled and shot Vaughn a teasing glance.

“I take it you acquired her then.” Caprine stated.

“Yep,” Jason replied. “And, as usual, she was a pain in the ass the whole way here.”

I looked at Reily and saw the confused and curious expression I expected. Sage hooked up the console to the Citadel network and inserted Subject 620, a memory chip, into a slot on the side of it. And right before our eyes, a small, holographic, semi-transparent figure resembling a woman popped up. She was a kind of blue-ish colour and looked like a bunch of circuits in the shape of a human. There were numbers constantly rushing across her surface.

“I am not a pain in the ass!” she retorted as soon as we could hear her.

Reily made a startled ‘oh’ sound and jumped about a foot in the air. Jason laughed and Vaughn grinned.

“Nice to see you too, Corlina.” Jason replied cheekily.

“Yes, yes, yes, whatever.” She always talked too fast, Corlina. I would constantly have to tell her to slow down.

“Corlina is a construct,” Vaughn explained to Reily. “She keeps the technological side of this place from falling apart. She also oversees a lot of the surveillance and observation.”

“Oh, I see. Like in Halo.” Reily said.

The others all raised an eyebrow in confusion (except for Nico, because no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t raise one eyebrow) and then corrected their expressions.

Corlina looked at Reily then. “Oh, I did not see you there. We have a new recruit. Since when? Why did no one inform me of this?”

“Corlina?” Vaughn said.

“Yes, Kazel?”

“If you shut up for two seconds, we’ll explain it to you.”

“Oh, well, fire away.”

“Her name is Reily Adams. She’s from Earth; she stumbled upon us a little over a month ago. She was transported here by Tetsu.”

“Tetsu? Why?”

“We don’t know, and unfortunately we haven’t had time to look into it. She has spent the last month training with us and has offered her assistance in the efforts against the enemy.”

“Oh, well, in that case, welcome aboard.” She smiled.

Reily smiled meekly back and seemed to relax by a degree.


“Yes, Sage?”

“Perhaps you would like to share with us the information you acquired at the SCOO.”

“Oh, yes, of course.” Corlina pulled up a hologram of the Stronghold building schematics. “According to what I’ve observed over the past five weeks, the Stronghold has had a significant increase in its external activities.”

“Meaning?” Vaughn raised one eyebrow.

“Namely,” She pulled up the file of one of the men from my personal hell the other night. “A Mr Julian Sark has been frequently meeting with Daegonn.”

“Yes, we know.” Sage mumbled.

“Oh, do you? This is what happens when nobody keeps me informed. Now, would you like me to continue? I’m a very busy perso--construct... thing.”

Vaughn was grinning so widely he was in danger of dislocating his own jaw. I must admit, I cracked a smirk myself, if only briefly.

“My apologies, Corlina,” Sage bowed his head, grinning also. “Please, continue.”

“Thank you. Now, where was I?” Numbers flashed across her surface and she mumbled to herself for a moment.

“Sark?” Dixon prompted after a minute’s silence.

“Oh, yes, thank you. Well, I believe the reason Sark has been meeting with Daegonn so regularly might have something to do with your latest adventure at the Stronghold.”

I threw my hands up exasperatedly. Hadn’t everyone already figured that out?

Corlina noticed and shot me a look. “You have something to add, Julia?”

I shook my head. She had her eyes fixated on me, and I realised that everyone else did too. Tetsu, all I’d done was throw my hands up. If I’d known it would trigger such a phenomenal reaction, I wouldn’t have bothered.

“Would everyone please stop staring at me?” I said.

They all looked away quickly, back at Corlina, who seemed to remember she was supposed to be telling us something.

“Right, well I believe that Daegonn has been forwarding more of his power to Sark as of late. I think it has something to do with some sort of construction plans.”

“What kind of construction plans?” Vaughn asked.

“Well, namely, a new wing of the Stronghold. It is my understanding,” She zoomed in on a sector north of the west wing. “That this new wing is to be controlled completely by Sark.”

“So you don’t know what it’s for?” Caprine piped up.

“No, I am afraid not. I was not able to acquire much Intel from the distance which I was placed. Would you like me to pull up the Stronghold’s security feed?”

My eyes bulged in my sockets and I almost went into cardiac arrest. I might have objected if Vaughn hadn’t beaten me to it.

“Ah, no, I would advise against that!” He said suddenly.

“And why is that, Agent Vaughn?” Corlina looked confused.

“No reason. Well, there is obviously a reason, but just don’t pull up the surveillance footage.”

Corlina shrugged. “Very well.”

Vaughn looked at me subtly out of his right eye. I mouthed ‘Thank you’ at him and he mouthed back ‘No problem’ and winked at me.

“No matter, Corlina," Caprine closed the subject. "We can gather intelligence on this matter ourselves. This news about Sark is most disturbing, and I believe it would be in our best interests to act upon this as soon as possible.” 1 comment

“I agree,” Vaughn said. “Corlina? Any suggestions?”

“Yes, in fact,” She pulled up another person’s file. “Lieutenant Khul Lilith may have some useful input on this matter.”

“Excuse me,” I said. “I think it would be reckless to involve Khul in this now. Especially after what happened at the Stronghold, he’s gonna have a red flag on his name the size of Durani-Mo.”

“That’s true,” Vaughn nodded. “But, still, what choice do we have?”

“There are not many other options.” Corlina agreed. “I am not suggesting you pull him out of his deep cover assignment, but simply that you contact him by whatever means.”

“I suppose.” I surrendered.

“There are ways we could go about it without Khul being in any danger.” Nico said.

“Then I suggest that you contact him and find out what he knows.” Caprine concluded.

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