Progress Report – November 2013

Progress Report – November 2013

Posted Works

Progress Report – November 2013
Quill

Because of NaNoWriMo, I mainly did not post. However, I did continue spinning Take Back the Night out on Fanfiction.net.

I was also persuaded to answer the monthly challenge on Ad Astra, which was about remembrance. I wrote and posted In Memory of Kelsey Haber, and I responded to a weekly challenge about headlines with the Rona Moran-centric Gossip gossip.

In order to see if it would be a good place for some more of my less-popular works, I decided to add my two related slash stories, Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation and The Way to a Man’s Heart to The G and T Show’s Forums.
Progress Report – November 2013

In order to see if it made any difference, I added three wholly original stories to Wattpad, There is a Road, The Dish and Revved Up. As expected, the first one in particular did better than my Star Trek fan fiction stories. That site is, it seems, better-geared to completely original fiction, mainly because their fanfiction section is so overwhelmingly dominated by One Direction fan fictions and the tweens and teens that write it.

Milestones

For individual read counts, the following stories have 20,000 or more on one URL –

For individual read counts, the following stories have 10,000 or more on one URL –

All of these were accomplished on Ad Astra.

The following stories have between 5,000 and 9,999 reads on one URL –

Combined Read Counts

Apart from the others at over 5,000 reads for just one URL, the following combine to 5,000 – 9,999 reads when all postings’ URLs are taken into consideration –

WIP Corner

Progress Report – November 2013

I worked on Untrustworthy, my NaNoWriMo story, and got to 51,000 words on the fourteenth. I decided to see if I could publish it, so I’ve been keeping it offline for now.

I also worked on a much older wholly original story, The Obolonk Murders, to see if I could get it finished and into publishing shape at some point.

Prep Work

I created and maintained an Untrustworthy wiki.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

NaNoWriMo! Plus I continued looking for work.

Review – Ohio

Ohio Background

Ohio. Richard Daniels‘s second Star Trek: Enterprise adventure in time was put together fairly early and fairly quickly. Ohio coverI loved the idea of a bullet’s changing its trajectory and, as a result, significantly altering history.

I also loved the idea of showing the time period, everything from protesting to drug abuse to even free love. The music was another draw, and the discovery that Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders really had been at Kent State at the time sealed the deal for me.

It was an irresistible combination, and the story was relatively easy to write.

Plot

First of all, as the Temporal Integrity Commission begins hiring new travelers, the first one brought in is a specialist in ancient computer systems, Sheilagh Bernstein. Sheilagh tries to decide whether to take the job, and the first part of the book deals with some of her doubts as it provides exposition. In addition, the military expert, Thomas Grant, is brought in, plus a traveling doctor, Marisol Castillo. All three receive various physical enhancements in order to make it possible for them to perform their jobs at all.

Furthermore, they all then go on training missions. Tom goes, with Kevin O’Connor, to the start of World War III (this mission is further expanded in Multiverse II). Carmen takes Marisol to the canon TOS Captain Kirk era crossover to the Mirror Universe. And finally, Rick takes Sheilagh to Kent State.

For Rick, it is open season on the honeys.

English: Chrissie Hynde in concert. Taken Augu...
English: Chrissie Hynde in concert. Taken August 10, 2007 in Santa Barbara, CA by John Slonaker. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First of all, he ditches Sheilagh and hooks up with Annette Bradley, a student, who calls herself Windy. He behaves more or less despicably, whereas Sheiligh just tries to blend in on campus. However, the party stops when the shooting starts, and Sheilagh’s screams of terror cause a National Guardsman to change the angle of his aim slightly. As a result, instead of Allison B. Krause dying, it’s Chrissie Hynde.

Hence this, and a small incident at the start of the Third World War, throws history into a tizzy. Everything needs repairs, and Sheilagh makes the biggest mistake any professional time traveler can make. She falls in love with the alternate timeline and the good it seems to have done for some people.

Music

Music defines the entire HG Wells series, and very much so in Ohio as the new victim is, of course, a singer. Hence these songs weave throughout the story as follows:

  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Ohio
  • Shocking Blue – Venus
  • John Lennon – Instant Karma
  • Freda Payne – Band of Gold
  • The Jackson Five – The Love You Save
  • Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders – Kid
  • Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders – Talk of the Town
  • Bobbie Gentry – I’ll Never Fall in Love Again

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated T.

Upshot

Overall, some areas could have used better exposition. In addition, I should have better explored the look and feel of the campus. Furthermore, some things, for sure, happened too quickly. At some point, I’ll probably expand it. It’s on my radar of things to do/fix.


You can find me on .

Starts

Boldly Reading asks us, now, about Beginnings.

First sentences, first kisses, first missions, etc. – what are some of your favorite ‘firsts’ on Ad Astra? What sorts of openings and firsts and premieres get you to keep reading?

I enjoy a good beginning as much as anyone else does, I suppose. Crafting the perfect opening line is a challenge, and some writers do a better job of it than others, just like anything else. Here’s a great one.

“I was sure I was going to die, but was so afraid I wouldn’t in time.”

Little Black Dog’s Aftermath cuts right in, immediately, and you realize that something awful has happened, and is being (maybe) recovered from.

Here’s another.

He spoke flawless Federation Standard, possessed perfect visual acuity and hearing abilities unmatched by human ears.

kes7’s Year One opens not necessarily with a bang, but it’s obvious that whoever this is, he’s physically superior to humans. Is he an Augment, perhaps?

DHA Molecule
DHA Molecule (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And here’s one more, if you’ll indulge me.

“I … I think … I need to see a doctor.”

trekfan’s While You Were Unconscious pulls two people together, although the details are a little … tricky. Yeah, there’s a good word for it.

Bonus questions!

How do you convert blank pages and blank computer documents into works of art? How do you get first ideas? What gets you started, or re-started?

I find that, for me, getting a story started is difficult but of course it’s necessary. Otherwise, nothing is ever produced! But sometimes the ideal opening is elusive. When that happens, I try to write the middle, or even the end. And I will go over and over again, in my mind, when it comes to the opening line of a story. I want the reader to continue, of course, but what I also want is to set the tone.

Reversal‘s opening line was written on the fly (as was nearly all of that story). It is, simply, this –

It didn’t hurt.

I really, really hope the reader’s question is – what didn’t hurt?

It is, possibly, the best opening I have ever written, and it colored the remainder of the story. Other stories have had good openings. I particularly like the ones for Paving Stones (“He’s too young.”) and for Brown (They were both pregnant at the same time.). Both of these opening lines defined the stories that followed, and shaped them.

The Week Never Starts Round Here
The Week Never Starts Round Here (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often a good opening line can get me going, and can really sustain me. However, sometimes I need to get restarted, especially after I’ve had to leave a story for a while, for some reason or another.

One thing I try to do is to keep writing (this includes blogging). More or less continually getting ideas onto paper or pixels means that it takes a while for all ideas to dry up. But sometimes that’s not feasible. When it isn’t, I also like to just reread my work, and not necessarily the work I’m trying to finish. I just need to, I feel, review past successes, at times, to remind myself that I can still do it.

Here’s to new beginnings for us all.

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Portrait of a Character – Thomas Grant

Portrait of a Character – Thomas Grant

Origins

When I was first writing a series of original murder mysteries back in the 1980s, I wanted a character who would essentially be the perfect guy. Now, of course, I know that better characters have flaws. But no matter; that’s how Tom was born, and ended up in my Star Trek fanfiction.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Thomas Grant
Josh Duhamel as Thomas Grant

Tom is played by actor Josh Duhamel.

I like his look although I confess I was thinking of Tom as being darker when I first pictured him. But I like this clearly very good-looking man who is also extremely intense.

Personality

Straight-laced and methodical, Tom is ex-military, and it shows in almost everything he does and says. He does not pursue any of the women at work, as he feels it would be improper. He is there to do a job, and nothing more.

Portrait of a Character – Thomas Grant

But he still wants someone so, when he is introduced to, he feels, the perfect woman, he hems and haws and frets but eventually they are able to get together.

Tom is another distant descendant of Doug and Melissa, and is a very distant cousin of Kevin O’Connor and Rick Daniels.

Relationships

Eleanor Daniels

That perfect woman is Rick’s sister, Eleanor. They meet at the end of Ohio, when the department goes out together. But he hesitates, and she wants him to make the first move. It takes him a few books to get his act in gear enough. He also tells her he loves her under what, to him, are the least favorable circumstances, but it’s even more endearing. When he proposes, she gives him the Cuff of Lo, meaning that their love will endure.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Thomas Grant
Mirror Tom (Josh Duhamel)

With little discipline, but a lot of intelligence and will, I can see Tom in the Mirror Universe as being, potentially, an emotionless psychopath. He would almost be the reverse of Marisol.

He would certainly be a far cry from the moral, upstanding hero he is in the prime universe.

Quote

“You were; it was supposed to be, we would go out for a nice dinner. And you’d look beau – uh, more beautiful than you usually do. I would be, uh, wearing a, a suit. And we’d go walking some, some place pretty. And I, I would tell you. But it, it’s not like that. The conditions are, they’re all wrong.”

Upshot

Stories need heroes, and Tom is definitely one. He will return.

Focus – The Earth-Romulan War

Focus – The Earth-Romulan War

A focus magnifying glass (unlike a spotlight) is an in-depth look at a Star Trek fanfiction canon item and my twist(s) on it.

Of course, all of fan fiction is like that, but the idea here is to provide a window into how a single canon concept can be used in fan fiction.

Background

Focus – The Earth-Romulan War

The Earth-Romulan War is talked about in canon but it has never actually been shown on screen. For a lot of fans, it is an opportunity that was sorely missed in Star Trek: Enterprise. If the series had gone onto seven seasons instead of just four, undoubtedly the war would have finally been shown.

Occurrences

Dispatches from the Romulan War

A few years ago, I became part of a project called Dispatches from the Romulan War. Dispatches has been posted in a lot of locations. My two contributions are Soldiers’ Marriage Project, which introduced character Rona Moran, and Prison Break, which was intended to give some hope that some people thought dead at the start of the war were actually alive. Further, it showcased a prison called Gemara, at Berren Five, which I have used on several occasions and was first mentioned in The Puzzle.

Before the War

As a run-up to the war, in The Further Adventures of Porthos – The Stilton Fulfillment, the NX-01 hosts the Caitian ambassador and his family. However, the ship is attacked in a quick hit and run, much like hostilities can ramp up in prelude to a real war.

The Beginning of Hostilities

After some more leisurely exploratory moments, such as are in The Light, Intolerance and Reversal, things begin to get down to business in Together. While the ship speeds toward Earth to deliver Jennifer Crossman to her wedding to Frank Ramirez, things are at a bit of a lull. But when ten people are kidnapped off the ship, T’Pol needs to work with her allies in order to find them again. There isn’t a lot of time to spend diverted in this manner, but she still needs to try.

Breaks in the Action

Broken Seal follows a few short incidents of hijinks even as the hostilities are going on. The same is true of first contact with the Daranaeans, which occurs in The Cure is Worse Than the Disease. Another case of hijinks, but this time they are remembered as a story is told, is in Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before. But all is not right, and the reason why Chip and Deb are alone in his quarters at all is because Aidan has been injured enough that Phlox keeps him in Sick Bay overnight. In Temper, the war is again interrupted as Malcolm, Jonathan and Tripp need to work to protect the NX-01 from damage that could be incurred from an errant pulse shot.

Aftermath

Achieving Peace shows the last of the treaty negotiations, as Laura Hayes is there. And in Shell Shock, protesters are angered by Starfleet’s involvement in two wars in such a short period of time. A part of Malcolm’s problems during that story are his memories of the war, including the particularly brutal death of an unnamed crew member.

Upshot

For this huge gap in canon, into which a truck could be driven through, there was no reason to not cover it. Hell, it’s the elephant in the room, when it comes to the ENT era.

Why not show it?

It will be back in my writing; I guarantee it.

Review – Equinox

Review – Equinox

Background

Review – Equinox
Equinox

For a monthly prompt about sacrifice, I wanted (as I often do) to turn it on its head.  This was not to be a story about noble sacrifices for idealistic causes, with Starfleet cheering all the way. Instead, it was to be a story about personal human sacrifices, and how Starfleet can, I suspect, chew people up and spit them out.

Plot

The story begins with Malcolm telling Travis and Hoshi that

Review – Equinox

he’s going to miss them. Hoshi is looking forward to spending more time with her family. Travis is trying to salvage his marriage. They are both retiring. It’s 2181, and they are the last three left of the original seven senior officers on the NX-01. T’Pol has returned to Vulcan and Phlox is back on Denobula. Tucker is dead, and Archer is pursuing a political career, which dovetails with Star Trek: Enterprise canon. With Hoshi and Travis’s retirements, Malcolm will be the last one standing.

Review – Equinox
Southern continent of Lafa II

And then he gets a call from Leonora Digiorno, and learns that Doug Beckett has died in the forests of the southern continent of Lafa II, a scene from Fortune.

Malcolm knows that, no matter what, he’s got to get home and be with Lili. He will have to set aside everything and, potentially, jeopardize his standing and his command, things he has worked very, very hard for.

But there is no question.

Review – Equinox

He will go to Lili.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I like how it turned out, as it wove the themes of sacrifice and familial duty, crossing them with duties to Starfleet. It was a chance to fill in a few gaps left in Fortune, and to bring in the bench characters and give them great roles, people like Aidan, Chip, Deb, José, and Jennifer. The story acts as a bridge to the deeper future and continues the process of tying In Between Days to the Times of the HG Wells. I think it fulfilled its purpose well.

Portrait of a Character – Marisol Castillo

Portrait of a Character – Marisol Castillo

Origins

I wanted a Star Trek fanfiction character who would be a femme fatale. From the very beginning, Marisol was meant to be a villain.

Portrayal

Marisol is played by actress Vanessa Marcil. I like the actress’s air of practicality.

Vanessa Marcil as Marisol Castillo
Vanessa Marcil as Marisol Castillo

Marisol is ruthlessly efficient and has few feelings. Why not?

‘Cause she’s a psychopath.

With no qualms against taking what she needs, the actress’s air of practicality works for the character.

Personality

Brilliant and beautiful, Marisol should have it all. But there’s something a little bit off about her, and Carmen does not initially want to hire her. Instead, Carmen looks to hire Helen Walker to be the time traveling doctor on the team. When Walker is apparently killed, Carmen turns to her second choice, Marisol, particularly because Boris Yarin is pushing for her to be hired.

Efficient, but with little bedside manner, Marisol even jokes about disabling Polly Porter while Porter is undergoing surgery. Boris is, of course, horrified, and so she does nothing. But he begins to have some doubts.

When the Perfectionists need for her to be an assassin, she eagerly does her job, or tries to, consequences be damned. A major timeline change even occurs, during You Mixed-Up Siciliano, because she is too busy wreaking havoc that she does not bother to protect the timeline. For Marisol, that’s a job for someone other than her.

Relationships

Boris Yarin

Boris is less of a relationship than he is a job for her to do. Marisol has already been hired by the Perfectionists, and so her task is to seduce Boris. This she does at a medical conference. Soon enough, he’s wrapped around her little finger. All she has to do is allude to the idea of sleeping with him and he’ll come running. Despite his marriage, he does not care about anyone else.

As for Marisol, she behaves a lot more like a hooker and does not care for Boris one whit. Her mistake, as she blackmails him, is telling him so. And he makes sure that that’s the last mistake she ever makes.

Theme Music

Marisol’s theme is Venus. There is every reason why, one of the first times she’s seen, Shocking Blue‘s version is being played. And one of the last times she’s seen, Bananarama’s version is played.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Marisol Castillo
Mirror Marisol (Vanessa Marcil)

There are no impediments to Marisol’s existence on the other side of a proverbial pond.

I like to think that she could find a way to be and do good. She would be smart enough to have a life and a career beyond pleasing men, and would be independent enough to maybe even make it.

Marisol in the mirror, I feel, would be like Doug – one of the few people to really have a conscience and a soul.

Quote

“That timeline is tyrannical, all we ever do is follow it. What if it isn’t the correct one, after all?”

Upshot

Stories need bad guys, and Marisol can provide quite a wallop in that area. She’s even restored to life in He Stays a Stranger, although she is taken into custody. Will she be back? Not unless it’s in something earlier than that story.

What’s Star Trek?

Boldly Reading‘s got another interesting set of questions for me!

Lucky prompt #13 asks –

To go along with this month’s AOS selection, here are some questions to chew on, since so many people feel that the JJ Abrams universe somehow is not Star Trek.

What does it mean to you when a story is described as being Star Trek? What are the characteristics? Is there a bright line between Trek and not-Trek?

What Does it Mean When We Call It Star Trek?

Gene Roddenberry
Cover of Gene Roddenberry

I think it’s mainly about Roddenberry’s general values. It isn’t ships, because people get off the ships (and who’s the say that they won’t stay off the ships for a while longer than just a quickie mission?). It isn’t just phasers and Vulcans and shuttles, because the time of Colonel Green could easily fit into Trek (hell, it’s canon!) and none of those things exist yet.

But maybe not … too much. After all, Roddenberry also, at times, had some ridiculous notions, such as that humanity would somehow be ‘advanced’ enough that mourning the dead wouldn’t happen, or at least not for long, and that trauma would be minimized.

WTF???!!?!?!?

So I think there are some limits there. I think repairing older and antiquated ideas, too –  I have no problem with doing that and still calling it Trek. For example, our current smartphones and tablets are far more sophisticated than they ever dreamed of in the 1960s. Why not have the technology reflect that? I have characters sending and receiving email, and performing what are essentially Google-style searches. I do not imagine those behaviors ending any time soon, and I do not believe that Star Trek loses anything by slipping those bits of reality into the mix. Hell, I think it makes the stories stronger.

Bonus questions!

What are some of your favorite explorations of AOS on Ad Astra? How do you think these stories would change if they took place in TOS or one of the other series?

I like Niobium‘s take on the AOS, and I also enjoyed ErinJean‘s take. I’d love for her to continue in her explorations.

I believe many of us also grab bits and pieces of AOS and dovetail them into ENT or TOS

Original Captian Pike
Original Captian Pike (Photo credit: Dallas1200am)

writings. Captain Pike, certainly, got considerably more depth in the new films. Personally, I now see and hear Bruce Greenwood far more than Jeffrey Hunter in that role. I’ve tried to reconcile the two timelines, at least in part. Melissa and Doug‘s middle son, Tommy, dies in the service of his captain, George Kirk, on the Kelvin, a direct nod to Star Trek 2009.

Upshot

I find questions of what is and isn’t Star Trek to sometimes be a bit disingenuous. People said that ENT wasn’t Trek. They said that DS9 wasn’t. I think a lot of them will come around to AOS being Trek. As for me, the distinction is fairly clear albeit not perfectly. I know, for a fact, that Jane Eyre is not Star Trek. After that, though, sometimes, I’m not so sure.

 

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Spotlight – Stem Cell Growth Accelerator

Spotlight – Stem Cell Growth Accelerator

Background

As I began to write the HG Wells Star Trek fanfiction stories and conceive of them, I kept butting up against one unfortunate problem – how do you handle medical care?

After all, throughout the ages, medical care has, mainly, been abhorrent. Was I to show people undergoing bloodletting, being given leeches for treatments, or dunked in wells in order to drive out the evil spirits? Hell, even surgery was denounced as butchery by Leonard McCoy in TOS. What’s a time traveler to do?

Enter stem cell growth accelerator.

The Thought Experiment

Spotlight – Stem Cell Growth Accelerator

My initial inspiration came from, of all things, how I understand HIV to spread through the body. My understanding is that the retrovirus enters into a cell that becomes a host and essentially converts that cell into an HIV factory. The body does not recognize this as a problem for a long time, as the HIV is sitting within what, to the body, seems to be a normal, healthy cell.

And so I thought – what if, instead of making a horrible virus, a host cell was, instead, making some sort of cure cells. And what if it could make them at a phenomenal rate?

If a chemical like that could be introduced into a person, and it could self-replicate, and it would be healing rather than harming, the possibilities were very nearly endless.

In order to prevent things from becoming too good to be true, I further decided that, while the healing process would be fast, all pain would remain. Hence, a year’s worth of pain could be easily crammed into an hour.

Ow.

Upshot

Stem cell growth accelerator has turned out to be one of the easiest inventions for me to explain. Exposition is generally a snap, as I often have a character break an arm or suffer a cut or a gunshot and, voila! They are suddenly healed, but they cringe and nearly pass out while the healing process is occurring. I will definitely use this idea more, and may even at some point write something showing how it was developed.

Review – On the Radio

Review – On the Radio

On the Radio Background

Review – On the Radio
On the Radio

Radio.  It can bring back a memory in a snap. A friend passed away earlier in 2013, and I was having some trouble processing it.  I decided to attempt to process it through art.

As a result, I worked in my own feelings by trying to tease out Hoshi and T’Pol‘s feelings about Tripp‘s passing.

And, the reason why I call this canon character Tripp instead of Trip is because of this very man who, in real life, is no more.

Plot

As Tucker has died, the two women who knew him best mourn him in different ways. T’Pol’s canon relationship is well-known. She ends up breaking down in front of Jay Hayes‘s replacement, Major Strong Bear Dawson, who everybody calls Bud. Bud is the sole eyewitness to her breakdown, and he tells her he won’t say anything to anyone. She asks how she can repay his kindness and he tells her to just go and have a good life.

Hoshi’s relationship with Tripp is outlined in Together. But the song that is the title of the piece, and is woven throughout this songfic, was played during the party outlined in More, More, More! Hoshi reveals that she and Tripp danced to it. She comes to the realization that it served as a prelude to their time together, and that Tucker may have liked her before then. For her, the music, and a dance with Travis, are how she feels she can cope.

Review – On the Radio

When she and T’Pol are alone together, she passes the music from the party to the Vulcan, urging her to listen so that she can, in a way, understand another facet of Tripp’s personality, something she may not have already known. It is a final act of generosity between women who were not exactly romantic rivals, but rather were romantic steps or links in the chain that was Tripp’s life.

Music

Apart from the Donna Summer song, the entire playlist from More, More, More! is listed, as follows –

  • Alicia Bridges – I Love the Night Life
  • The Trammps – Disco Inferno
  • The Bee GeesMore Than a Woman
  • Andrea True Connection – More, More, More!
  • Silver Convention – Fly, Robin, Fly
  • Patrick Hernandez – Born To Be Alive
  • Thelma Houston – Don’t Leave Me This Way
  • Lipps Inc. – Funky Town
  • Van McCoyThe Hustle
  • The Bee Gees – Night Fever
  • Kool & the Gang – Celebration
  • Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
  • The Weather GirlsIt’s Raining Men
  • Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
  • Lobo – Me and You and a Dog named Boo
  • Melanie – Brand New Key
  • The Captain and TennilleLove Will Keep Us Together
  • Commodores – Brick House
  • Tavares – It Only Takes a Minute
  • Donna Summer – On the Radio
  • La Flavour – Mandolay
  • Earth Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove
  • K.C. & the Sunshine BandThat’s the Way I Like It
  • Village People – YMCA
  • The Bee Gees – Stayin’ Alive
  • Chic – Le Freak
  • Rick James – Super Freak
  • Tavares – Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel
  • Vicki Sue RobinsonTurn the Beat Around
  • Barry White – Can’t Get Enough of Your Love
  • Hues Corporation – Rock the Boat
  • Sister Sledge – We Are Family
  • Diana Ross – Love Hangover
  • Kool & the Gang – Ladies Night
  • A Taste of Honey – Boogie Oogie Oogie
  • Donna Summer – Last Dance

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

As a story, I think it works pretty well. Reactions have been mixed; some critics have said they thought T’Pol would not act as forcefully as she does, but Star Trek: Enterprise canon dictates that this is a former trellium addict and so her emotions are still not fully under control, even years later.

In this story, I am probably more like the Hoshi character. Removed but mournful, and saddened by the wasted potential more than anything else. I have no problem with Tucker being killed off in canon. People die and they should die in space. Space is far from safe, particularly during that era. But I wanted to see a lot more of the aftermath. I hope this aftermath/afterimage type of story can work for readers.