Week 89: Silvia vs. The Book

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Week 89: Silvia vs. The Book

Post  Silvia Tsukuda on Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:54 pm

Silvia had found a good spot to stop for the night - here in the Congo the ground wasn't exactly stable and the trees in this area were a bit too stunted to do anything with, but she had found one tree whose roots were sufficiently well established that there was some solid ground between them. She took a nutribar from her pack and began eating mechanically, then slowed and stopped as she looked at the new PDA sitting in the top of her pack.

She swallowed and took another bite, then tucked the half-eaten bar into a pocket and took the PDA out. She delved into the files and found what she was looking for almost instantly. Hugo's Book.

On one level, she didn't want to look at it. To see Hugo's view on Oracle laid bare. To hear his voice again, if only through the written word. On the other hand, she needed to read it. Everyone else would and she would need to be up-to-date when she got back. And...she needed to know about Hugo and Coraline.

Simultaneously hating herself for giving in and knowing she couldn't do anything else, she started to read.
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Re: Week 89: Silvia vs. The Book

Post  Carmen on Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:27 pm

The first page featured a picture of Hugo and Una, done in a painterly style. She was firing an impractical blaze of galvanic energy at a human figure which appeared to be frying, silhouetted in her light.

"Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of the corporate future. Rare and dangerous and expensive and if you wanted the whole truth, you'd need to buy it from Oracle at three times the price we'd expect it to go for on the open market. However, everyone gets a taste for free, and from my perspective, you might be lucky enough to taste the whole thing.
I certainly did.

Here's how it happened.

I was somewhere Da Nang Open City that first day on the job. My commanding officer was nothing like anything I had experienced in the Fed. Her face was in those masks you see in the crowded open cities of the Ai Jinn, and she had more money than I had ever seen. Holding Una in my hands, she gave us ammo, a set of thick galvanic grounded combat armor, and a shit ton of little red pills which I knew would be Equilibrium. They tasted bitter and numbed the back of my throat. I could sense trouble, and Una was already eager to discharge in my hands, the hairs left on my arm standing up just to hold her. Some of you motherfuckers might think that I'm just a gun-humping Federale, but you'd be wrong. I'm not just that. And back then, I was a nuke on the run with the love of his life, ready to make more money, take more drugs, and fuck or fight my way out of any situation. Holding a prototype, reading to make the world taste blood and bile and ozone.

The two news guys were with me, Shi Yukiro agents from before the tsunami. Professionals, I'd only ever talked to them a bit before, but good folk. One of them, you could laugh with, a clone-fucking face-changing sunvabitch who left the Yukiro for having too much personality. I'd get to know them a lot better, later, and my first impression was right. What a sword, what an asshole. I love 'em, I'd take a bullet for them now. The other was a more grim type, professional with the face of a Fed gun instructor. Silent, agile, and I watched her scurry up that building. Somewhere inside were secrets, and she climbed through a little hole to turn off the security so we could get them. There's an Oracle secret for you secret starved bastards; if there's a hole where burning plasma and smoke and poisonous gas comes out of, we'll climb up it. Give us two minutes, and we're there, inside your base, watching you fabricate guns. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
"

Silvia remembered this mission well. The first one. Hugo didn't seem afraid to talk about his own fear, his own worry, the hiding, the guns. The book continued like that; disjointed bits of story, a running tally of the things in Hugo's head, every shot of Una counted. While he did describe getting into the base, it was obvious from the first few pages that he wasn't giving any real details about how they operated that the average corporation wouldn't know. Stealth skin, invis fields, a little ETE paint...

Those words were the only mention of Silvia so far.
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Re: Week 89: Silvia vs. The Book

Post  Silvia Tsukuda on Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:50 pm

So far, what Silvia was feeling was...a mixture of relief and disappointment. He had made no mention of her and he had said she was so important, but on the other hand...it was much better this way. She didn't want her career and her relationship splashed all over a bestseller and seeing the odd reference to her urban scouting skills and nothing else was almost certainly the best way it could go. And he wasn't giving away any corporate secrets.

Chewing on another nutribar, she kept reading, feeling slightly better.
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Re: Week 89: Silvia vs. The Book

Post  Carmen on Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:11 pm

Silvia was mentioned again a little further on during the mission; it has to be her, she remembered taking those shots, but she's not mentioned by name. The rest of the mission went off without a hitch. Hugo describes being shot down and how invigorating it is to be unleashed in combat with little thought for collateral damage. There's a bit about some crazy laser guns, but nothing major...

The book skips around a bit. There's a scene where Hugo is playing weltball for a local team. It was only a season, and there's a bit about feeling pain and how he doesn't mind, getting injured fucking a fellow weltball player who practically broke his wrist during an.. energetic move in the middle of it, and she didn't want to stop. The sex scenes are incredibly explicit that at least Silvia can confirm is not all fiction. There's a lot of emphasis put on how Hugo is used to being gentle, since he's so strong, and not in the good way. You can only break so many guns, be hit by so many teachers, injure so many friends before it takes a toll on you. The book skips to meeting Oracle at the Liberty Black expo, and there's descriptions of a suspicious looking bland man, an augmented giant of a man with a short temper, the woman who would be his commanding officer.. He describes them as a good natured lot, but worried and rich, incredibly rich.

There's another bit about hiding from AMS and the Fed and Oracle reaching out to him via email, and how he spent those first few weeks in his 'office', getting to know the new recruits. Again, where one would expect Silvia to be mentioned, she isn't really. Some time is lovingly spent on Shinobu, renamed Minami for the book. Despite the profanity, there's a sense that Hinami is honorable but still free, not bound by SY law. Hugo describes his connection to him, using flipped genders and taking a rant to explain that everyone seems to want to know what's in Hinami's pants so you can guess how hot they are.

"Strange feelings in my heart as I pull up to the door. It feels good to have a home so far away from my little border town. Hina has a beautiful house that costs more than my whole village in the shadow of the Interchange. I pick a room and sit there hoping, hoping that it's not some kind of dream and I wake up. Those first few days I look at my phone over and over. Two million, one hundred fifty thousand credits. I buy a bibimbap there, a new phone here, a new bed, upgrades for my gun. The glowing numbers of my bank balance barely tick down. After a week the dams of restraint break and I find myself senseless with no idea how to spend the money. I can feel spittle pooling at the sends of my lips. I transfer it to my town. Back home, there is someone crying and weeping at my generosity and all I want is it gone, because it seems to ridiculous to have so much money. A twenty-two year old kid with so much money, who spent years of his life on a space station? My screen cracks from the pressure in my hands. Chunks of it, broken up, to the school, to my family, for the new gun range, to install a soil cleaning plant. Now I'm poor again and happy. And I want more."
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Re: Week 89: Silvia vs. The Book

Post  Silvia Tsukuda on Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:21 pm

Silvia nodded as she read that particular passage. She could remember well the feeling after the first mission - all that money just sitting there. The feeling of having huge amounts of money and no idea what to do with it - she still got that feeling on a regular basis. At least Hugo had a family to send it back to.

Hugo seemed to have edited her out. She was glad about that - also very guilty, but glad. Maybe it wasn't quite the book that Hugo had wanted to write, but at least it was better for her.

It was probably a good thing that she was reading this - it was a lot better than she had feared. Although part of her noted that she was still yet to run across Coraline's literary alter-ego.
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Re: Week 89: Silvia vs. The Book

Post  Carmen on Tue Mar 24, 2015 11:46 am

The book takes turns; each chapter is a mission, sliced with little bits of his life. The first was the first mission Hugo and Silvia ever went on complete with descriptions of his co-workers and the layout of Oracle HQ. CEO Lee is referred to as the "Table-obsessed Jefe", where Ace appears merely to be some sort of rich and terrifying commanding officer, way more than the CEO is.

The second chapter talks about Seoul and learning Mandarin along with the mission to disrupt a terrible New Dawn cult in Shanghai. There's actually a very clever bit comparing the Ai Jinn territory and the people he's found in it with the horrors he's forced to relive when possessed by the sword of Ai Jinn slaying. You could read it as the Ai Jinn having a responsible, hard-working, down to earth populace made of all kind of people... Or see the Ai Jinn as a fetid pool which sucks at and drowns even the more gentle of souls, working the poor folk to the bone and inspiring the kind of rage that would haunt a sword. There's a case there for the quiet life of the Federation, a hint that EI is above it all, Comoros may actually care, and most of his new friends are proof of the SY work ethic proving humanity's resilience. But it's all subtle, an undercurrent over the fast paced, profanity filled, rather dramatic retelling of his life. The writer? He's captured Hugo well, but he's good, too.

From a personal standpoint, Hugo seems to have made dozens of friends that even Silvia never knew about. Some, like the gardener and computer programmer--the ones that added the beauty and AI to their house--she heard about, but the loving way which Hugo responds to their parental musings is... fitting. There's an EI nurse and her mercenary husband who Hugo befriends with shared language, drawing a line between mundane soldiering and what he does. The Comoros bureaucrat, a few working folk from poor parts of the Ai Jinn. Some of them are only present for a sentence, or maybe hinted at, but it gives the reader a clear impression that Hugo doesn't just have friends, but he remembers and cares about all kinds of people. It may even be offensively charming. The chapter ends with a discussion of the items they retrieved, and his own thoughts on selling that kind of thing. Most chapters appear to end with this.

The next chapter talks a break from the established tradition and appears to take place in a series of nightclubs. Silvia immediately recognizes the set up, from Hugo's outfit to the excitement of being ridiculously wealthy in Seoul. Coraline shows up, and she's the same on the page as she is in real life; flirtatious, bubbly, funny, charismatic, a darling of the EI. Her skill with fashion is mentioned, the details of her dress and.. body lovingly discussed. The chapter skips back to various contrasting elements of Hugo's life; being the oldest and largest of three brothers, growing up being a little 'too into guns', even for the Fed, the lack of luxury as a child. He talks about his aunt and uncle, his dead grandparents... It's obvious how much he cares about them, how they shaped his life, and how his aunt became a primary caretaker when they moved from Mexico City to her struggling border town. There's even a picture of a very chubby, unruly child Hugo, no more than ten, with two younger brothers in tow. They are carrying a piece of corroded metal to make a hastily and poorly constructed home shooting range.

When the books cuts back to the nightclub, with drugs and drink and dancing, it becomes obvious that Silvia will not show up at all. It's her dare that causes him to sing to the talented superhero that could only be Shap, with a little playable Hugo-sung cover of the song that is set to autoplay when Silvia turns the page. Hugo is obviously protective of and delighted by Coraline, and towards the end of the chapter, it's obvious she's going to be going home with him at the end of the night. Graphically.

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Re: Week 89: Silvia vs. The Book

Post  Silvia Tsukuda on Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:52 pm

Silvia put the PDA down, a number of feelings churning inside her. Possibly the largest was relief that Hugo hadn't included her and seemed to have just...merged her with Coraline. On the other hand...she wasn't entirely certain about how she felt about Hugo combining them. Particularly considering Coraline's recent...revelations. Part of her wondered how much actual combining there had been and how muchwas simply how Hugo felt about Coraline. Taking a deep breath, she plunged on.
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Re: Week 89: Silvia vs. The Book

Post  Hugo on Tue Mar 24, 2015 10:08 pm

Sex followed, predictably, and probably to Silvia's relief, it wasn't exactly a reproduction of her first night with Hugo. Of course, there were... details that suggested it wasn't a complete fabrication, but Silvia knew that... That they had hooked up. So...

If Silvia was reading to, say, figure out what Hugo had written about Coraline, about her, about what was real and what was not.. That was a trickier question.

Overall, the book wasn't just a tell-all memoir, but had a bunch of coherent plots in between the missions, the freelancing, the training, the pages and pages of Una love. The first human on human romantic plotline appears to be a conflict between Hugo's growing fuckfriendship with Coraline and his lusty nuke trysts with the only other galvanic nuke Hugo has ever met, Alessandro. (While everyone else has psuedonyms, Silvia immediately notices Alessandro does not.) There's a direct contrast between Alessandro and Hugo's story; violent, two nukes shooting each other and doing no damage, powering up guns until they fall on each other in a pile of furious manflesh... And Coraline's, which comes from a deep friendship and mutually protecting each other on the job. While Alessandro has experience, he gets increasingly more objectifying of Hugo. The sex gets weirder, and in the bathtub-of-real-oranges-while-a-clown-watches way, not in the more mundane flavors of kink. Where Alessandro is all guns and sex, Hugo and Coraline's scenes are talking, going to parties, eating chocolate covered strawberries--wait, why are those familiar? Oh, Coraline had sent some to to Hugo, and they, Hugo and Silvia, had eaten them. In bed. Oh.

Besides the chocolate covered strawberries which they ate together, after he ate them with her, licking sweet strawberry syrup form her hands and neck under the glow of Saturn on a romantic yacht, the book continues with it's.. subtle messages. There's an un-Hugo undercurrent here, in that nukes might not always understand other nukes, and maybe the objectifying of a gun could lead to the objectifying of a person in a way that is not healthy for anyone. It's nuke-phobic, really, and there's little doubt that the writer was putting that in. His own views or ones to make the book more marketable, it's unknown.

Another conflict of a romantic nature seems to be within Hugo. Hugo mentions many times wanting to be famous, to share his music with people (and this is evident in the book, where a few songs are played as pages are turned), to do drugs and fuck people and take care of his friends. However, at the beginning of the story, there's a lot of emphasis on Hugo wanting to do right by other people. About spending his time helping out other people. Hours making new contacts, hiring help, finding lost family, and generally caring for... his.. friends, in Oracle mostly. It's not until Oracle gets into heavy shit, it's not until he remembers how much he wants it when he becomes depersonalized, that he sees the path ahead of him. Cue Hugo singing Impossi-brew theme.

There may have been other friends, but the hesitation, the happiness with Oracle and freelancing, with putting his wants for fame on hold... That can't be anything other than Silvia, right?

Eventually, during the pictures section, there's a snap of Hugo dead on Varstaag, with the EI hunting party over him like a dead buck. Silvia has been removed from this image completely, and is only mentioned once, in passing, as a survivalist friend.

Also of note, there's a lot of time dedicated to how he went to Taiwan, and saw the horrible things they were going through, that he knew that the people just wanted to be free. He'd grown up in the Free State, and lawless as it was, maybe that could have been an option. He wishes it was. There's a lot of bile for everyone there; the UIG, the Fed, the Ai Jinn, the Shi Yukiro... And though he had never met Silvia's brother, there was a lot of understanding for the Resistance. Not subtly. Not unambiguously. Maybe it's some way to drum up controversy but... Hugo's voice is so obvious there. She can almost hear it.
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Re: Week 89: Silvia vs. The Book

Post  Silvia Tsukuda on Tue Mar 24, 2015 10:42 pm

It took most of the night for Silvia to read the whole thing, in between spells on watch and sleeping. And by the time she had...she was mostly glad. In the aftermath of the breakup and Coraline's revelations, she'd lost sight of a lot of what she had really loved about Hugo and in many ways, the book was bringing back happier memories. They were heavily flavoured with sadness, naturally, and made a little odd by the way the book didn't mention her. But that in itself was a sign of his affection.

It worried her as well, though, particularly as it came close to the end. As Hugo began to drift away from Oracle, from doing the best for his corporation into doing what he wanted to do for himself. And the parts with Coraline were still...very, very weird to read. As were the parts with Alessandro. And both made her a little angry about how little Hugo had talked with her about any of this.

But overall...it was a lot better than she had feared it might be. And maybe...maybe it was even helping her come to terms with everything. She'd have to think on it.
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