The Changing of the Guard – Second Watch

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Oops, I missed scheduling this! Thankfully I’m still up stupid late/stupid early, and can post it manually. Release notes include a diagram of the sectors and walls of the city, by popular request. After release notes comes the chapter itself. Read the chapter before the notes if you don’t want to know anything going in. I have plenty of room to go wild in the release notes, so for now I’ll just say ‘enjoy.’

Release notes, reflections, and wanderings…

Gregg is not our perspective character this chapter. Instead, we follow Liley, his brother-in-arms. “Brother,” “bro.” These terms interest me. “Bro”—frat boys, masculine privilege, dudes drinking booze and making jokes about the kinds of girls they’d like to bang. A problematic culture, to say the least. And the communism of the “bro” is necessarily one that excludes the weakness/uncoolness/unchillness/etc. of the woman. Is it possible to queer (v.) the term?

I like to think of ‘brony’ as a queer identifier applying to My Little Pony fans of all genders. A stubborn progressive, I want “bro” to be an equalizer. I think it was Jay-Z who had some lyric like “ladies is pimps too.” Why can’t girls be bros? Why can’t uncool guys, who maybe don’t buy so much into the backwards-hat-wearing, beer-guzzling misogyny of frat row? It’s an issue of usage, perception, the agreed-upon army of metaphors and metonyms, yada yada.

I’m also fascinated with urban myths commonly found in at least anime (and probably elsewhere, I imagine) along the lines ‘men and women can’t be friends’ — the whole, you’re either romantically involved, or not involved thing. Those kinds of narratives are such bullshit to me. It seems they have to be predicated upon sexual attraction and the tensions it places on relationships, but then what of gays and other non-normative populations? Can a lesbian be friends with another lesbian? What about with a straight man? Friendship is such a weird idea, of course; maybe humans aren’t ‘meant’ to make friends. But when we tell stories about men and women not being friends, it implies a prescription of homosociality: men should be friends with men; women, with women.

Homosciality. Bros. The inevitability of sexual attraction.

These are a few of the things revolving in my head as I deal with the structure of Watch, the culture of Watch, and the relationships of its members. In a basically sex-blind city-state, in which brothels are equal opportunity and men and women serve side by side in the military, what kinds of differences would still exist between the men and the women? Which of those differences would be necessary? Which would be ‘issues’ the culture is actively trying to overcome, and which would go completely unnoticed?

Liley clearly has feelings for Gregg, and Gregg for Liley. They are attracted to each other, despite being “bros.” Does this subvert Watch’s insistence on pure brotherhood? Or does it call for a more radical, no-sex-barred brotherhood?

There is little time for contemplation, however, as the city is plunged into chaos. The explosion from last chapter proves to be significant, and the fallout is not easily contained. Whatever Watch’s sex-dynamic goals, they’re not too relevant when the grimy Sector 5, home to the city’s black markets and crime gangs and less reputable businesses, erupts. As smoke piles high above Citadel, what will become of the meticulous structure Watch strove to maintain? Liley’s thoughts might gravitate toward the man she loves, but in the end she’s alone with her duties and her orders. The city has gone mad. Liley finds herself in what seems a unique position to recreate stability.

Speaking of the city’s stability—Gray is instrumental.

“Eat up,” say the posters.

The city is just a city, and beyond the city is dust. A monotonous city needs a monotonous food source. I don’t want to say too much about Dr. Grace Valence right now, especially since the story decided that exposition regarding her would be forced and out of place at this time, but we’ll see her again. Is it wrong for Liley to notice and appreciate her killer looks? Would beauty have cultural value in the dusk city? Gregg finds Liley pretty; for now, I’ll let Liley find Gray pretty. Of course, Gray isn’t just pretty.

One thing I worry about in this story is a dearth of character descriptions. If that dearth is a problem, please let me know in the comments. It’s something I’m willing to work more on. I thought I’d try something less descriptive and more… whatever this is. But like most everything I do, it’s an experiment, and sometimes experiments fail.

On that note, I hope the chapter is enjoyable, along with these notes, for whatever they’re worth.

Following is a schematic diagram of the city, bird’s eye view, by popular request. It’s kind of crude, but I think you’ll find it does the job. Click for full size!

dusk city schematic

"The Changing of the Guard – Second Watch" was posted by on Sunday, January 22nd 2012. This post is categorized Changing of the Guard and tagged , , , , , , , .

10 thoughts on “The Changing of the Guard – Second Watch

  1. Oooohhh snaaap! Now we just have to find out if what they say is true or not… I hope our valiant friend from Chapter One is okay! If he’s not, it would be interesting to see Flak writing for a female main character.

      • Well, perhaps what Alar is really curious to see is a gender:female main character? We may have here a sex:female main character, but as described in the first few sentences of the release notes* part of the point of the setting is to equalize the sexes by abolishing (sex-tied) gender.
        These first few lines from the Dusk Knights do suggest, though, that they may be less sex-blind/gender-free than the Watch. Perhaps this will turn into one of the central themes of the story: Liley is forced into an identity conflict between her cultural background and values in Watch and a new existence with the DK, where for survival she is forced to adopt a DK-imposed sex-tied gender identity.

        *I haven’t read the rest

        • Should be noted that the Dusk Knight’s comment is more biological than gendered (Liley’s reaction is meant to demonstrate this). But yeah we’ll see where it goes. :)

  2. I’m very much loving the premises of this setting. A dystopian city, thrown in to chaos as the former keepers of the law suddenly find themselves without leadership or even the means to quell the disorder. I can’t help but wonder if Warn suspected Liley’s plan would garner little result for him to pass her an assignment so utterly critical to restore order at this stage. I’m looking forward to see where all the characters’ actions will lead them next.

    The minimal physical descriptions of the characters isn’t hindering me as of yet. I usually visualize characters based around a few pointed features, most notably their age, hairdo and color, and obvious things such as scars or notable clothing. Everything else, like how fit and muscled they may look, can usually be derived quite easily from their actions and general demeanor.

    • Hey! Firstly, thanks much. Glad you’re enjoying it, and that you caught onto the dystopia thing. Part of my thinking with the premise was “semi-post-apocalyptic dystopian city… but not in the future of the present. in the future of fantasy” and so my idiotic ideas are born :P

      As for Warn: he might not have had super high hopes – how he felt is kind of inaccessible – but it’s true that he had little help on hand and few resources at his disposal. At the very least Liley seemed to have a clear head on her shoulders, right? He may have trusted in her, though I doubt anyone could be an optimist at a time like that.

      Regarding descriptions: I rarely talk about things like fitness, seems excessive. But in this story I haven’t even really given you the ‘few pointed features’ for most characters. For instance, I haven’t told you anything about how Gregg looks (though we can assume he’s not hideous). Ages, too, haven’t been given. Is any of that problematic? It seems you’re making the story work for you. That heartens me. :)

      • Scanning over it again you did indeed not give those pointed features. But as you say, I can assume both Gregg and Lilley aren’t bad looking, at least. And Likewise I can assume they are of a similar age, somewhere around their early or mid-twenties. For me personally, that suffices to imagine how they might look, if by proxy.

      • And yes, I’m ver much enjoying these short installments, especially since it’s been ages since I had the opportunity to get into a good book. My last big read was a few months ago, and I still have ‘A Game of Thrones’ awaiting my enjoyment.

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