Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

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Replied by Last_Valk_Standing on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

I'm so glad that this is still on going! :D I've got some catching up to do!
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2 years 11 months ago #26526

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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Last_Valk_Standing wrote: I'm so glad that this is still on going! :D I've got some catching up to do!

Well hey there stranger, glad to see you back! Yes its still ongoing and I try to be more consistent with my updates despite my own body working against me at times but I'm pulling through. I hope you're doing much better these days too <3 Mmuahhh!

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
2 years 11 months ago #26527

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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Chapter 3 is currently in progress so hoping to have that finished by next week some time if not earlier. In the meantime have a sketch of the boys.

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Chapter 3

“Maxwell, Maxwell, Maxwell!” Victoria shouted as she barged into his office, where she found him rummaging through the drawers of his desk.

“Christ’s sake, Miss Thompson!” He snapped in annoyance as he looked up. “What the bloody hell do you want?”

Victoria quickly walked over and dropped the newspaper onto his desk, placing her index finger over one particular article on the front page.

“Read that.” She said.

Maxwell narrowed his eyes at her and then looked down and began reading. “Why it’s nothing more than a story about a couple of bank robbers that got away. Is that not the norm in this city?”

“Of course it’s the norm.” She crossed her arms. “And it’s apparently easy to do.”

Maxwell scoffed. “Like you’d know at all? So what’s all this really about, Miss Thompson, hmm? You come to me with a story about bank robbers, making claims about how easy it is to get away with. Why though? Are you thinking about robbing a bank now?”

“Yes I am.” She answered with seriousness.

“What?” Maxwell suddenly burst out with laughter. “Oh my, y-y-you can’t possibly be serious!” He cackled. “You?”

She furrowed her brow in response. “Yes me and you too. I want you to help me, Maxwell.”

“Oh yes of course!” He replied with laughter. “Right after I stop laughing about how ridiculous this whole idea is in the first place.”

“We need the money.” She reminded him, now standing with her hands on her hips. “We can both benefit from this and you know it. After all aren’t you a former thief yourself? Or was that all just some ruse you’ve used all this time, simply to remind Morane of your usefulness?”

Maxwell looked insulted now. “I am useful in many ways.” He corrected her. “And yes, Miss Thompson. Once upon a time I was a master thief. So what of it?”

“Then you can help me after all.” She said with a smirk.

Maxwell rolled his eyes. “I can hardly even run this god damned establishment with you, now you want us to partner up and start robbing banks? Cor blimey, have you lost your mind!?”

“You’ve never robbed a bank before either, have you?” she countered.

“Of course I haven’t!” He exclaimed angrily. “I was a bloody jewel thief!”

“How long ago?” She asked. “And why did you stop?”

“At least ten years now.” He answered. “And why did I stop? Because of the bloody cops that’s why! You do know that any of kind of robbery is going to put you on their radar once again. Or is murder not already a big enough achievement?”

She glowered at him. “I am serious, Maxwell. And it’s worth it for the money alone. Just think, you can finish the floor and still have enough for other remodeling jobs. Together we can make this place the joint it was meant to be, and the best part? We’ll be rich, Maxwell. We’ll never have to worry about anything ever again for that matter.”

“Nothing except getting caught.” He reminded her. “It’s too risky for my taste, but on the other hand, it would be nice to finally finish the floor. But I don’t know, Miss Thompson. Are you sure you could even handle being a getaway driver?”

“Oh I don’t plan on being the driver.” She replied haughtily. “That’s going to be your job.”

Maxwell laughed again. “Oh so you’re going to be the one holding the gun eh?” He jeered. “Just face it, Miss Thompson. You couldn’t rob a bank even if your life depended on it.”

“And my life does depend on it at this point.” She tossed back. “So you’re either with me in this or you’re not.”

Maxwell uttered a sigh and shook his head. “Fine then, I’m in as well. But need I remind you this isn’t something we can just waltz in and do. It requires a lot of planning, Miss Thompson. A lot.”

“I understand completely.” She replied. “And plan it we shall.”

In the meantime, Brian had been wandering about again, still feeling a bit freaked out by that psychic’s words, while wondering if there was any truth to it at all.

It can’t be real. He thought as he continued on his way down the sidewalk, passing by a bunch of little shops. She’s full of it and just wanted a rise out of me, that’s all.

Brian appeared lost in his thoughts as he made his way past a small gift shop, when all of a sudden, the shop’s door flew open and a young blond boy wearing an oversized green coat walked out, nearly running right into Brian in the process.

“Whoops, sorry!” The blond boy apologized as he stood there holding a medium sized gift basket. “Guess I really need to watch where I’m going these days.”

“I’ll say.” Brian muttered turning his back to the kid.

“Well my name is Justin by the way.” The kid explained. “I’m on my way to the AMF base to drop off this gift basket for a friend you see.”

Too bad I don’t care. Brian was thinking as he listened to this kid ramble on.
But Justin could tell right away that this young man had no interest in anything he had to say.

“Not the talkative type eh?” Justin remarked.

“Not to those I don’t even know.” Brian replied with harshness as he turned back around and glared at Justin.

“Can’t win them all I guess?” Justin gave a quick shrug when he suddenly noticed the charred looking dog tags around Brian’s neck. “Oh my god.” He gasped. “It’s you!”

Brian blinked. “Come again?”

“Your dog tags.” Justin pointed out. “You used to have a brother didn’t you?”

Brian furrowed his brow. “Sorry but I’m not having this conversation with a complete stranger.”

“I know I might be a stranger to you.” Justin explained. “But I also used to be a soldier in the AMF.”

Brian could feel his anger building up inside now and knew he just had to get away and fast. “Leave me alone.” Brian warned him before hurrying away.

“I know how he died!” Justin called after him. “Don’t you at least want to know that?”

But it was no use, Brian had heard enough and didn’t want to be seen as he disappeared around the corner of a building and hid, hoping that kid wouldn’t dare chase after him.
Brian panted as he leaned up against the rough concrete wall filled with cracks. His breathing slowed as he waited, but soon, enough time had passed where he realized the kid wasn’t coming after all.

“Between darkness and former soldiers I can’t seem to escape.” Brian muttered. “I don’t want to know anything more. I just want to be left alone.”

I know how he died! Brian heard once more in his head, causing him to grimace as a sudden migraine came over him forcing him to sit down. Brian cradled his head with his hands and shut his eyes tight, begging for the pain to go away. Tears streamed down his face and he opened his eyes again.

“I know how he died too.” Brian said quietly to himself. “Because I was the one who saw it.”
Brian lowered his hands and wiped the tears away using the sleeve of his jacket. He took a few deep breaths as the migraine began to subside, then he stood back up, shaking the dirt off his jacket and pants.

I really need someone to talk to. He sighed deeply as he started walking again. Maybe now wouldn’t be such a bad time to visit that bartender again. But would he even remember me? It’s sure been a while. Still, it beats going back to Madame La Ruse again. I don’t care what that lady knows. I’ve heard enough out of her.

Meanwhile back at the AMF base, Lynne was on her way to visit William when she happened upon a basket of goods sitting outside his door. Wonder how long this has been sitting here? She picked it up and knocked on his door a few times. Or does he even know it’s here?

But when William finally answered the door he didn’t look the least bit happy to see her.

“Someone left this for you.” Lynne showed him the basket.

“Oh.” William replied with disinterest. “I didn’t even know it was there.”

“I figured just as much.” Lynne said, beginning to wonder if coming here was a mistake. “I hope you’re not busy, Corporal. Because I’d really like to talk.”

William looked away from her, wanting very badly to just slam the door and be done with it, but he knew he just didn’t have it in him at the moment. “I suppose we could talk.”He muttered, just audible enough for her to hear.

“Thank you.” She nodded as she walked in and set the basket down on his coffee table, then turned around to look at him.

Without saying a word he closed the door then headed over to the couch and sat down to take a look at the basket and see who it was from.

Lynne looked at him solemnly as she opened her mouth to speak. “I don’t like the way our last conversation ended.” She forced out, reminded of the time she’d said those very same words to Justin. “I don’t like the way it left me feeling.” She continued while noticing how despondent William seemed to be. “I was wrong for the things I said.”

“Glad you can finally admit it.” William replied nonchalantly as he looked through the contents of the basket which included a few bottles of wine, treats, and a note from Justin.

Lynne sighed, dropping her arms at her sides in a defeated manner. “Corporal, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry.”

William looked up from Justin’s note at her. “Sorry for what exactly?”

“The way I treated you.” She frowned. “I was too harsh, I see that now.”

William turned his attention back to the note, reading it as he listened to what else she had to say.

“Well I think that enough time has passed, that we should start to look past it all.” She said. “And having said that, I’m going to release you from your probation.”

William could hardly believe his ears. “You’re willing to do that?”

She nodded. “Yes Corporal, I am.”

In an instant William could feel that sense of relief he’d been longing for all this time. But then he wondered if there was a catch to this, or if she would end up changing her mind again, should he say something she doesn’t agree with.

“Well thank you, I guess.” William replied with utter shock. “But that still doesn’t bring Justin back, and you know you were just as harsh on him as you were on me.”

Lynne couldn’t help but groan now. “Well this isn’t about him, Corporal. This is about you and me wanting to make things right between us, you understand? That’s why I’m willing to do this for you.”

“Fine then.” William accepted. “But can he at least be allowed to visit me?”

Lynne thought about it for a moment and then gave a shrug. “I suppose in your case I could make a few exceptions, but I don’t want him staying overnight either.”

“Sounds reasonable enough.” William said in agreement. “But do you ever think you’ll ever change your mind about him and Atlantech?”

“I don’t know right now.” She answered tiredly rubbing her head. “That’s something I need to think about and I’m sorry but I really don’t want to at this time.”

“So how is he?” William asked then, changing the subject in order to stay on her good side.

“Who?” She looked at him in puzzlement.

“The admiral.” William answered. “How is he?”

“He’s doing better.” Lynne replied with relief. “Still a bit sore from his injury but he’s getting back to normal.”

William’s mouth curved into a slight smile. “I’m glad.”

“Me too.” Lynne smiled back at him.

“And you?” William suddenly asked, catching her completely off guard.

“Oh I’ve been fine too.” She answered quickly when William offered her a seat on the couch. “You can sit and tell me more if you want?” He gestured with his hand.

Lynne immediately declined. “I’m sorry but I’d rather not talk about it at this time. Perhaps another?”

“Well alright then.” William shot her a look of confusion. “Is there something wrong?”

She shook her head as she headed for the door. “Not at all, Corporal Sterling. “I’d just prefer to keep my private affairs to myself. Anyways I must get going now. I’m just glad we could finally talk.”

“You’re seeing someone aren’t you?” William brought up as though he’d known all along.

Lynne felt completely flabbergasted now and demanded to know how he found out. “Who told you?”

“You did.” William replied, triggering a look of complete shock from her.

“But I didn’t honestly.” She crossed her arms. “How did you really find out?”

“I can hear it in your voice.” William explained. “And if you’re happy with this guy, then I’m happy for you.”

“Thanks.” She replied in a hurried manner as she rushed for the door and let herself out.
Once she was gone William turned his attention back to the note from Justin, it read:

Hey Will,
hope you’re doing well I know I am, been making a lot of moolah in Gambler’s Strip lately. Of course I’ve also been kicked out and outright banned from some of the casinos for getting caught but you know how that goes, right? Anyways I thought I would put some of that dough to good use and send you something special since you probably need it more than I do. And I know you ain’t much of a drinker but the wine is the finest you can get in downtown Atlantis. Trust me I’ve sampled some of it myself it’s the good stuff! And I promise it doesn’t taste like piss either.
Also I wanted to see if you’d be willing to sneak out and come to the Card Shack with me for old time’s sake. I’ve seen Victoria around there a lot lately. Seems like that’s where she spends most of her time now, so it’d be the perfect opportunity for you two to meet. Maybe even run away together? Ok scratch that last part cause I don’t even know where you two could go honestly, but it’s fun to dream right? Anyways if you need help getting out of there let me know. Like I said I’ve got a lot of rolls to waste and I could even bribe the guards into letting you out. Trust me they would. I could even pay them to create a diversion to keep Lynne or the admiral from catching you too. Sounds good right?
Anyways just give me a call after you’ve read this and tell me what your answer is so we can set our little plan into motion here.
Your best friend,

“You think of everything don’t you?” William chuckled as he folded the note and tossed it back into the basket, then stood up and walked towards his front door.

Freedom was just on the other side and it was the real deal. And while William felt appreciative that Justin would’ve gone to so much trouble just to sneak him out of there, he felt much better knowing he could leave on his own now without resorting to subterfuge.

He smiled with relief as he opened the door and stepped out. The air was crisp and cool, even a little bit warm, emulating the season of spring as he breathed deep, taking it all in.
“Freedom.” He sighed with happiness when a Tjatey female suddenly passed by with her young daughter clinging to her arm.

The little teal haired girl in the yellow sundress stopped and waved at William, smiling at him with such innocence that it made him forget about the warlike past of these aliens.
And as he smiled and waved back, the little girl giggled happily which sparked a look of curiosity from her mother as she stopped then and peered over her shoulder.

But upon seeing William, she quickly turned her head the other way and continued walking, behaving as though she’d done something wrong and were feeling too ashamed to face him.

William wondered about this himself, when it suddenly dawned on him. No one trusts them anymore after what happened. Everything has changed and they know this…….

But as of now the only person William really felt sorry for was that little girl. He knew in her world, this sort of prejudice didn’t exist and she wouldn’t learn about it until she was older. And only then would she learn the history of her own people and discover the hatred humans would always harbor towards her.
“Poor child.” William sighed with sadness shaking his head. “She doesn’t deserve that kind of future. Things really need to change, and for all of us.”

And speaking of change, at that very same moment Detective Vince Hayward of the ACPD was having a conversation with his partner regarding the peculiar absence of any new victims ever since they posted the police sketch of their suspect all over the city.

“What do you make of it?” Vince asked his partner as he sipped his coffee. “Do you think that bastard realized we were close to catching him and decided to lay low?”

Marks gave a half shrug as he sat at his desk, looking over a collection of police reports. “Certainly nothing new here either. Almost like he never existed?”

“Or the sketch was way off.” Vince added. “Either way he’s on to us.”

His partner hesitated for a moment before finally asking; “You don’t think Morane was behind any of these murders do you?”

“Ah, Morane.” Vince replied with intrigue, sipping from his cup once more. “Well I certainly wouldn’t doubt it, but he’s more apt to murdering big wigs than common hoboes. That is unless a particular hobo must have known something he shouldn’t? Then again Morane knows better than to murder these men himself so I’d say if he is behind it then he’s got himself some kind of stooge to do the work for him.”

“Like Maxwell Graham?” Marks suggested, causing Vince to chuckle.

“Nah.” He disagreed. “Mr. Graham may indeed be a stooge but he isn’t one that’s dependable. I believe Morane would send someone else, and someone who is stronger than your average man.”

“Or perhaps not even a man at all?” Marks mentioned, referring back to the lack of evidence.

Vince sighed deep. “Now that would be the biggest mystery of all. What sort of man can get away with strangling another to death with his bare hand, and not leave behind a single trace? Sure makes you wonder doesn’t it?”

Marks nodded. “I’ll say.”

Brian soon returned to the one place he thought he’d never venture to again. But the moment he walked through the doors he noticed something different about the place. He stood there wondering to himself when he suddenly looked down. What happened to the floor? The only thing Brian could see now beneath his dark brown loafers was a barren, filthy concrete surface, littered with cracks.

This place has gone to hell since I’ve been gone, Brian thought as he made his way to the bar when he noticed the familiar looking young Latino bartender standing at the sink, rinsing a bunch of glasses and setting them aside.

“What happened here?” Brian managed to ask, causing Enrique to pause and look over his shoulder.

“The floor never got finished.” Enrique replied, looking a bit shocked to see Brian’s face again. “And so you return. Why is that?”

“I needed to get away from someone.” Brian answered plainly as he walked over and took a seat in his old spot at the very end of the counter.

“Oh I see.” Enrique noted, lifting a brow. “And was this person also someone you pissed off with your brooding?”

Brian gave him a blank stare in return. “No. Just someone who was harassing me about my past. Why do you ask, do I need a better reason?”

Enrique shrugged in response. “I was merely curious, that’s all? Anyways can I get you anything? Do you want your usual water?”

Brian shook his head. “I only came to talk that’s all.”

“Ah, que pasa?” Enrique asked as he poured himself a glass.

“Some strange woman told me she can see my darkness.” Brian explained while looking a bit timid. “She claims to be some kind of mystic and says the universe speaks to her. But the most insane part of it? She actually knew my name and I didn’t even get a chance to tell it to her. She just knew it.” Brian shuddered.

“What was her name?” Enrique asked, sounding as though the woman was someone he knew.

“Well she calls herself Madame La Rouge.” Brian answered musingly. “Ring a bell for you?”

“Ay dios mio” Enrique remarked. “That crazy old bat? She’s a local. I’ve heard all kinds of stories about her. She’s apparently trouble.”

“Trouble?” Brian repeated with worry. “What exactly have you heard?”

Enrique finished the last of his water then set the glass down. “I’ve heard she worships the devil and practices all kinds of spells, trying to get revenge on her non-believers. She’s definitely a wacky one.”

“I’ll say.” Brian sighed. “I just want to know how she knew my name?”

Enrique gave a shrug. “Black magic? Who knows? But I’d advise you to steer clear of her, especially if she’s into witchcraft. You never know what that woman could be capable of.”

“Well I did refer to her work as crap.” Brian mentioned. “So maybe she’s already after me?”

“Could be?” Enrique shrugged. “Is she the one you’re running from?”

Brian shook his head. “No there was some obnoxious blond kid claiming to know how my brother died. And I didn’t want to hear it so I ran.”

Enrique’s eyes widened with curiosity. “You had a brother?”

“Uh, yes.” Brian said quietly, lowering his head as his fingers clasped tightly around his dog tags. “He was my older brother, Robert. He’s been gone for six years now.”

A look of sadness clouded Enrique’s face as he listened.

“He was a soldier.” Brian continued. “But he wasn’t killed during a war or anything, rather he was killed after volunteering to be one of the AMF’s test dummies.”

Enrique frowned. “Sorry to hear that, mi amigo. So is that why you carry such a grudge against the military?”

Brian nodded. “Foolish isn’t it? But it feels like they didn’t care, they just sent him to his death. He was really all the family I had left and he was taken from me.”

“That could explain all that darkness.” Enrique brought up again. “Maybe Madame La Rouge was onto something?”

“No, no.” Brian disagreed curtly. “She’s just a crazy old lady, nothing more. Doesn’t even matter if she knows my name or not. She knows nothing about me.”

Enrique said nothing more. He didn’t want this little reunion of sorts to take a turn for the worst, especially when it came to such a sensitive topic as loss. Still Enrique couldn’t deny that the mystery of this kid had been finally solved at last.

Meanwhile in Maxwell’s office, he and Victoria were already planning for their first heist as Maxwell sat at his desk, overlooking a detailed map of the city while circling potential targets with his ink pen as Victoria looked on.

She felt an odd combination of anxiousness and excitement as she watched him. This city owes us, she thought to herself, overwhelmed by the desire for revenge. And now we’re going to take everything and anything we want from it. Nothing is going to stop us.

“If we’re going to do this right we need to start out small.” Maxwell finally said, interrupting her thoughts. “As you can see so far, I’ve gone ahead and circled a bunch of the smaller banks right here in downtown Atlantis.” He pointed out. “This first bank here is located behind an alleyway, which would be the perfect spot to park the car. That way you can get in and out quickly and make it back to me in time to get the bloody hell out of there.”

“This all sounds so exciting.” Victoria commented with elation, rubbing her hands together. “My very first heist, can you imagine?”

Maxwell shot her an awkward look as he drummed his fingers on the map’s surface. “Oh yes, absolutely thrilling, Miss Thompson. Now let’s resume our plans, shall we?”

“Certainly.” She nodded.

“Very well then.” He rolled his eyes and continued. “You’re going to need some kind of disguise, that way you won’t be the least bit recognizable. So wear something you normally wouldn’t, understand?”

“Oh of course.” She replied in annoyance. “But I’d still like to look good doing it, understood?”

“Fine, whatever.” He quipped. “Just make sure you hide your bloody face at least!”

Victoria snapped her fingers. “A hat with a veil, that’s it! That should work, right?”

Maxwell sighed exasperatedly, rubbing the bridge of his long, beak like nose. “I suppose. Now what about your weapon? Or are you just going to use that little pistol of yours?”

“Of course I am.” She answered humbly. “I’m a good shot with it so why not? Or did you have something bigger in mind?”

Maxwell rolled his eyes as he suddenly got up from his chair and straightened his back. “No it’s better to start out small since this will be our first time. Only once we get the hang of things should we go for something more intimidating than your pea shooter. A gun is a gun after all. So what’s not to fear?”

“So when do we start?” Victoria asked excitedly as she hopped up onto his desk.

“Why, we start tonight of course.” Maxwell replied with a smirk which immediately dissipated into a frown once he noticed her sitting on his desk, and he promptly shooed her off with his hand. “Get off my desk!” He hissed.

“Well sorry.” She quipped as she slid back off and landed on her heels.

“As I was going to say….” Maxwell crossed his arms over his chest and glared at her through his beady eyes. “We start tonight. Therefore I’ll need you to find yourself a decent disguise while I see about finding us a working jalopy. Do keep in mind that everything we have talked about is strictly confidential and is not to leave my office, understood, Miss Thompson?”

“Yes I got it.” She huffed in annoyance.

“There is but one more tiny little thing to consider.” Maxwell said. “Not one word of this is to reach Morane’s ears either, because if he does find out, things won’t end so well for either of us, Miss Thompson. So you’d better think twice before you even think about bragging to anyone about this.”

“I know, I know.” She rolled her eyes and pursed her lips. “Who’d you think I was going to tell anyway?”

Maxwell gave her a blank stare. “Well for one you’ve got quite a big mouth when it comes to Enrique.”

She furrowed her brow. “I’m not going to tell a soul about this, Maxwell. You can trust me on this. You think I don’t know how serious this all is? Well think again. I’m not as foolish as you make me out to be.”

He scoffed. “Then you’d better do your best to prove me wrong. And you can start by moving your arse!”

“Okay, I’m going, I’m going.” She muttered as she headed for the door. “Just call me when you’re ready, alright?”

Maxwell sighed. “Fine. I’ll call you when it’s time. But you had better pick up or so help m—“

“I’ll pick up don’t worry.” She cut him off just before she opened the door then walked out.

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
Last edit: 2 years 10 months ago by LadyGrimes.
2 years 11 months ago #26531

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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

More sketch madness



Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Chapter 4 is in the works among other things. Also working on a couple paintings, two of the sketches posted before actually. I didn't realize its been over a month but that's how long it takes me to work on paintings, sometimes longer depending on the size and amount of detail required.

Also a friend of mine has expressed to me interest in seeing some type of webcomic so I didn't make any promises but I am looking into doing something. Maybe a kind of side story series, something that takes place in between the prequels or something., I don't know yet, still working out the details on that. Can't make promises anymore since I'm not exactly as healthy as I used to be, so I have good days and bad days. Hopefully on those good days that's when I can make a lot of progress as far as getting anything done.

I've more or less earned the title of crazy bird lady so I also have to devote a lot of time to a spoiled rotten parrot before I can focus on my work. But luckily he is kind enough some times to let me work without him screeching for my attention the entire time.

Anywho that's my little update for now, I'll hopefully post again later in the week with a new sketch or something. I know this site isn't active much but I do see this thread gets quite a lot views so I suppose I have some kind of audience right? LOL

mmmuuwaahhh! <3 Love for all!

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
2 years 10 months ago #26543

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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Will try to finish chapter 4 already , been going through hell with health crap lately so when things get bad I'm forced to take a break from everything. I hate it but it is what it is. Got some artwork I'm trying to finish up as well. Hope to update with something soon.

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
Last edit: 2 years 9 months ago by LadyGrimes.
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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Chapter 4

Back at Atlantech Dendera stood behind one of the lab tables sorting through a folder composed of Justin’s old notes while Sebak was seated at the main computer going over files. Both of the former Tjatey warriors had been silent for the time being, but then as Sebak happened to glance over, he noticed the sullen expression on his partner’s face.

“Dendera, are you alright?” He asked her.

“No I am not.” She answered honestly as she sighed deep. “It has been a long time since the young corporal was here. I still have his notes but they are hard for me to understand. I just feel so frustrated. I also can’t help but miss his company. Things aren’t the same, is there something wrong with me?”

Sebak shook his head in response. “There is nothing wrong with you, Dendera. Just as there is nothing wrong with me. And though we might be different, we still feel emotions as the humans do. It is neither right or wrong, it just is.”

Dendera frowned. “The humans don’t trust us anymore, Sebak. You know that, right? And I can’t help but feel like I am to blame for that. I was the one who kept Naeem’s attack from the others.” She paused suddenly as her bottom lip began to quiver as tears filled her eyes. “All because I was foolish to believe Onuris would have been spared.” She looked over at Sebak. “I should have known better!” She began sobbing into her hands.

“Dendera! Sebak called out as he jumped from his seat and rushed over to her where he embraced her tightly in his arms.

“What are you doing?” Dendera pulled back, staring up at him with confusion.

“I’m expressing my emotions.” He answered softly which made her to smile and return the embrace.

“You weren’t foolish, Dendera.” Sebak explained, comforting her. “You were fooled, the same as I was. You also told those you believed could stop him, and they did. You still gave the humans a fighting chance and I know one day they will realize that and be grateful.”

“I hope you are right.” Dendera replied as she broke away from him and wiped her eyes.

Sebak frowned. “They will forgive you more than they could forgive me. After all, I was on his side and I am responsible for some of those deaths. But it was you who gave me back the courage and strength when I was ready to give up. You saw the good left in me, the part that was human and you saved me.”

Dendera suddenly reached up and gently caressed the side of his face. He looked a lot different than he used to now since his long navy blue colored hair had been cut short like the style of the human males. She also couldn’t help but think he looked quite handsome in his new lab attire; the same white and gray uniform as her own with a long sleeved top and matching pair of pants.

“I am honored to hear such words.” She smiled slightly as she looked into his dark eyes. And I am also sorry for your brother’s loss.”

“And I am sorry you lost Onuris.” Sebak replied as the two of them gazed into each other’s eyes lovingly before Sebak suddenly leaned in and pressed his lips against hers.

“Uh, am I interrupting something?” Artis asked nervously then as he had just walked in and found his two assistants locking lips.

“Not at all, Sir!” Sebak answered in a startled manner as he and Dendera quickly broke apart and turned to face their chief. “I was merely demonstrating to Dendera what human kissing is like.”

Dendera blushed and glanced down at the floor.

“I see?” Artis replied, stroking his chin. “Well anyway, I was wondering if either of you have had any success in deciphering that chicken scratch Corporal Church left for us yet?”

“Afraid not, Sir.” Dendera replied, straightening her posture. “It’s far too complicated to understand and believe me I have tried.”

“Well that’s not good at all.” Artis sighed with disappointment. “Sounds like we’re going to need him back if we ever hope to move forward with his ideas. Guess I’ll see about working something out with Vice Admiral Williams. Something’s got to give, right?”

“Right, Sir.” Dendera nodded, with her face still a bit red from embarrassment.

“Well that’s all I needed, you’re both free to return to your demonstration now.” Artis chuckled before walking back out.

In the meantime, Justin was sitting on his bed in his room waiting around by the phone for William to call him already and let him know if he had made up his mind yet. It had already been half a day since Justin dropped off the gift basket and he began to wonder if William even got it at all.

“She probably saw it and confiscated it or something.” Justin groaned to himself. “She had to know it was from me even though it was one of the guards who delivered it. I might have been kicked out but she’s still out to get me it seems.”

Justin then got up and began pacing back and forth when out of the corner of his eye he spotted that vial of glowing liquid sitting atop his dresser and walked over and picked it up.

“I still need to get access to a lab or something to analyze this stuff,” he sighed. “It’s been a month already. I hope it’s not contaminated.”

Just then he heard a light knock on his door.

“Yes?” He answered, not expecting his father to open the door and barge right in, drunk as could be.

“Son, if you’re gonna be out all night could you at least have the decency to lock the front door?”

Justin rolled his eyes. “I did lock it the last time I was out. You must have gone out and forgot or something.”

“Don’t get smart with me, young man!” His father snapped back. “You know as well as I that I’ve been inside the whole night and you’re just making up stories, cause that’s what you’re best at!”

“Yep, that’s me.” Justin replied sarcastically. “So are you out of booze or something huh? Is that why you’re bothering me again?”

“No, I’m just wondering how you can afford all this without a job.” His father replied. “And I can’t believe you went and got yourself kicked out of the military, what’s wrong with you? I know I didn’t raise a screw-up!”

Justin groaned as he turned away from him. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“Well that’s because you never talk to me!” His father raised his voice. “I’m here all the time and you never say a word. You just go in and out all day, pretending like I’m not even here. So what good does that do us?”

“Because you’re not easy to talk to!” Justin snapped back. “You’re always here but you’re always drunk, so what good does that do me? You can’t even remember half the shit I tell you anyway.”

His father felt deeply insulted by his words. “Did it ever occur to you that I drink because you don’t talk to me?”

Justin shook his head in response and crossed his arms. “Just go. I’m not happy about what happened and I’d like to be alone, please.”

“Fine.” His father replied curtly as he showed himself out, slamming the door behind him.

“Asshole.” Justin muttered under his breath.

Just then his phone began to ring and he hurried over and picked it up.
“Yes?” Justin answered, hoping it was William on the other end.

“Hey it’s me.” William replied. “Thanks for the gift basket…….and the letter too.”

Justin sighed with relief. “About time you called, too bad you didn’t call a few minutes earlier when the old man was in here picking another fight.”

“Oh Jesus, I’m sorry.” William apologized. “Believe me I would have if I’d known.”

Justin huffed. “Don’t worry about it. It’s done and he’s out of my hair again. So did you make your decision or not?”

“Well as it turns out, you won’t have to bail me out of here after all.” William explained.

“What?” Justin went slack-jawed. “You mean you’re finally off the hook now?”

“Yeah looks to be that way.” William answered. “Believe me I’m as stunned as you are.”

Justin felt even more relief now. “Phew.” He sighed deep. “I gotta admit, Will. That does make me a bit glad I don’t have to put my ass in the crosshairs again. Believe me I would have but I also like the choice of not having to, ya feel me?”

“Of course.” William rolled his eyes. “Anyways I’ve given it a lot of thought and I decided that maybe it would do me some good to get out, but I’m not ready to visit the Card Shack yet.”

“Again with this?” Justin groaned. “What’s your excuse this time?”

“There isn’t an excuse.” William replied. “Stan has already been by there a few times and he said he hasn’t seen her around lately. He thinks she’s already found another man and I’m starting to believe it’s true.”

Justin couldn’t help but frown. “I’m sorry, Will. If that’s what happened I really am sorry. I won’t rub it in either.”

“She thinks I’m dead, Church.” William sighed. “For me to write her another letter and suddenly reappear in her life might shake her up, and I don’t want to do that if there’s a chance she might be happy now, you know?”

“So what are you gonna do then?” Justin wondered.

“I guess the only thing to do is move on.” William shrugged. “There are far more important things to worry about now, and I’ll explain what I’m talking about later, just meet me at the Petite Café in an hour. My treat.”

“Okay sounds good, buddy.” Justin replied. “See you then.” He hung up.

Glad to know he’s not going to mope around anymore, Justin thought. But man I do feel sorry for him if that’s the case. Perhaps I should investigate the matter myself?

But while William had suspected that Victoria might have a new man in her life, he couldn’t be far more from the truth, as the bitter, washed up celebrity now stood in front of a tall mirror in her bedroom wearing a dark green summer frock inlaid with a pattern of pastel green roses and a matching bow that tied around her small waist. She also wore a matching dark green bucket cloche hat adorned with a pale green ribbon and a short black lacey veil which she had sewn on herself after removing and utilizing fabric from one of her old evening dresses.

She smirked back at her reflection as she lifted the veil above her eyes, feeling proud that she was no longer the same scared and weak woman that Morane had been drawn to. Instead, she finally felt as though she were taking back control over her life, despite the fact that what she was about to do was considered morally wrong, but it wasn’t about right or wrong anymore, now it was about surviving in Atlantis City just as the other criminals had.

And after all those times of playing the role of a damsel in distress in her films, she now found herself stepping into the shoes of an actual villain, the exact type of character her adoring fans would boo and get outraged over, as though the line between fiction and reality had been blurred.
Still, she wondered what she was getting herself into, but then the moment she stared back at that grinning face all those feelings of doubt soon vanished.

“He’d better hurry it up.” She muttered to herself then walked over to her purse and pulled out her pistol then returned to her position in front of the mirror.

“In the meantime a little practice never killed anyone.” She mused as she aimed the gun at the mirror, carefully curling her finger around the trigger.

“This is a stickup!” She said in the most exaggerated serious tone she could muster.

“No that’s no good.” She shook her head. “I need to sound like I mean it, not like I’ve been taking bad acting lessons for crying out loud. Do over.”

She glared back at her reflection while resuming the same stance with her pistol. “This is a stickup!” She snarled. “Drop what you’re doing and put the money in the bag!”

She paused again. “Okay good there’s more anger but I still feel something is missing……..”

Once more she took a deep breath and then smirked as she aimed the gun at the mirror, glaring back at herself once more with a soulless expression unlike anything she had ever seen before.
“This is a stickup!” She growled with ferocity. “Drop what you’re doing and fill it up! Now!”

But before she could determine whether or not she had finally passed, her finger squeezed the pistol’s trigger and a single bullet fired out of it, hitting the top right corner of the mirror as it went right through and into the wall behind it.

Victoria shrieked as pieces of shattered glass fell onto the salmon colored carpet.

“Oh my lord!” She gasped, wide-eyed and shocked beyond comprehension.

“I thought the safety was on?” She panicked, while hoping that the bullet didn’t do any further damage to her neighbor or their property next door.

“Oh dear me, what if someone else heard the shot?” She began to fret. “If they did they’ll be calling the cops for sure! Oh Maxwell hurry it up and call already, I’ve got to get out of here!”

Meanwhile, William was seated inside the café sipping from a nice hot cup of coffee while reading through a newspaper that a previous customer had left behind.
Nothing interesting at all, William thought when he noticed the police sketch of a wanted man towards the bottom and studied it for a moment.

“Hey stranger!” William heard then as he lowered the newspaper and saw Justin and Stan looking back at him.

“Hello to you guys too.” William said with surprise. “I was only expecting one of you honestly, so this comes as quite a shock.”

“I was on my way here when I ran into him.” Justin explained as he and Stan took a seat across from their best friend. “So I said I’m going to meet William at the café, care to tag along? And he said sure, so there you have it!”

William chuckled and smiled. “No it’s good to see you both honestly. It feels like just the kind of reunion we’ve all needed for a long time now.”

Justin nodded. “I’ll say. So what’s new with you?”

William shrugged and sighed. “Nothing much. I was just reading the paper to pass the time. There’s nothing of interest in there either, except for this sketch of a wanted man.” William held up the paper for his friends to see.

“Hey wait a minute.” Justin mentioned. “I’ve seen that picture before too. It was on the wall of the last casino I was at the other night. Thought I recognized the face but can’t recall when or where?”

Stan’s eyes immediately locked onto the image, putting him on high alert when he suddenly reached over and snatched the paper right out of William’s hand.

“Something wrong, Stan?” William asked then.

“No.” Stan replied nonchalantly. “I just wanted a better look for myself that’s all.”

William blinked. “Well okay. In that case you can keep the paper. I’m already done with it.”

“Wow this feels like déjà vu doesn’t it?” Justin commented. “The three amigos here at the same café where Stan joined our duo.”

Stan recollected those fond memories once more. “Yes it’s nice to be back here.”

Justin slapped his hands together. “Well why don’t we all have some coffee to celebrate? Will’s treat of course!” Justin winked, causing William to roll his eyes.

“Help yourselves.” Stan insisted. “I don’t much feel like having coffee right now.”

Justin shrugged. “Okay your loss. By the way Will, you mentioned on the phone that you had something you wanted to talk about? I mean can you still talk about it with Stan here?”

Stan turned his head and looked right at William, putting him on the spot.

Great, William thought in annoyance. “I don’t mind if Stan knows. It’s nothing personal.”

“Okay good, you two chat while I go get myself a cup of Joe.” Justin replied, gesturing with his hand for Stan to scoot over and let him out. “I’ll be back in a flash.” Justin promised before he walked off.

“If you ask me I don’t think that boy needs any more caffeine right now.” William joked with Stan while also noticing that something seemed off about him today.

“What’s wrong?” William asked him. “You seem a lot more quiet than normal.”

“I’ve had a lot on my mind.” Stan replied. “I’m still recovering I suppose.”

William frowned. “Yeah it hasn’t been easy has it? I was finally let off the hook today. Only took a month I guess. You end up with any scars too? I know you fought quite a lot of them.”

“Barely.” Stan said. “Most of those scars are mental anyway. How is the Admiral?”

“Doing well I hear.” William answered, looking very happy. “It’s horrible to think we almost lost him that day, but he made it.”

“Horrible indeed.” Stan commented when Justin soon returned.

“Just scoot over, Stan.” Justin said. “After this I’m just gonna end up racing to the lavatory anyway.”

“Sure.” Stan replied as he moved over and Justin sat back down and began slurping his coffee.

“Mmmm French vanilla.” He sighed happily. “So what’d I miss?”

“Not much.” William said, sipping from his own mug again. “We were just talking about Admiral Grant and how that man is lucky to be alive.”

Justin listened as William rambled on when all of a sudden a pretty faced brunette flapper passed right by their table. Well hello there…. Justin thought to himself as he turned around and watched as the woman sat down at her own booth, paying him no attention while he ogled her.

“It’s not polite to stare at women you know?” William remarked, causing Justin to turn back around and make a disgruntled face.

“You’re one to talk.” Justin shot back. “How many times have you stared at Victoria huh?”

William shook his head in disbelief. “Okay so you got me there.”

“Touché.” Justin smirked at him. “So when do you think you’re going to start looking around for your new future Mrs. Sterling, huh?”

“When I’m ready for it.” William answered. “Right now we’ve got to work on changing the way the people of this city view us and the Tjatey.”

Justin couldn’t believe his ears. “Uh color me shocked, but since when do you give a crap about the Tjatey?”

“Since I saw a young child who reminded me of myself.” William explained, remembering the sweet little girl he’d seen earlier. “She looked so happy, Church. Just like I was back then. Happy and carefree, unaware of the human’s hatred for me.”

Justin’s grin faded. “Yeah I can understand how hard that must be. But despite all that you turned out fine didn’t you?”

“That isn’t the point.” William shook his head at Justin as Stan just sat there listening. “I don’t want the same future for her. I don’t want her growing up on that base just to be told she’s stuck there and will never be able to follow her dreams. It isn’t right, don’t you see? We need to set things right and make that change.”

Justin sighed. “It’s great and all that you finally see the light but did you forget that, that attack on our base made front page news? Everyone saw it, and sorry to say but news like that only proves Morane right. It doesn’t matter that Naeem was just an evil jackass and so were his followers. Every single citizen in this city knows what happened, and once again the Tjatey have human blood on their hands. It’s not a good look for them or the AMF.”

William frowned at him. “Are you telling me there’s no hope at all?”

“I’m telling you the truth, Will.” Justin replied. “Maybe it isn’t what you want to hear but it’s what you need to hear. What happened is done and we can’t undo it.”

“You’ve turned against them too haven’t you?” William asked then, a hint of hostility in his voice.

Justin furrowed his brow. “Oh now you’re accusing me?”

William crossed his arms. “Just answer me already, and be honest once more.”

“Alright fine.” Justin narrowed his eyes. “Sergeant Dickerson died right in front of me, Will. And before that I had to witness one of those traitors stab Admiral Grant, and before that I had to see all those bodies of men and women who were slaughtered by those savages, so yeah you’re right. I really don’t know if they can be trusted anymore after that. What are you going to do? Sue me over it? I’m out of the AMF anyway, so don’t worry yourself over nothing.”

Then as Stan continued listening to them he soon realized he’d heard enough and decided to intervene before things got even more tense.

“Stop it.” Stan spoke up, prompting his two best friends to look at him. “I understand there are hard feelings about the past, but now isn’t the time to bring it up. We are here together again at last so why not make the most of it?”

William sighed. “You’re right, this isn’t worth fighting over. I’m sorry, Church. I guess I just forgot how traumatizing it was for you.”

“Yeah.” Justin acknowledged as his eyes lowered to the table’s surface, as though he were trying to block out the bad memories. “I haven’t felt the same.”

“Me either.” Stan added. “What happened really changed us all, but still we survived it and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives.”

Justin looked at William again. “It’s not that I don’t trust them anymore,” he explained. “I just feel like we have to do a better job of watching our backs from now on, that’s all.”

William nodded his understanding. “I know what you mean.”

“In the meantime I should pay the Sergeant a visit.” Justin said. “I’ve been meaning to, but just haven’t felt welcome, almost like going there would feel like desecrating his grave or something, you know?”

William couldn’t help but frown. “Don’t talk like that, c’mon now. You weren’t the one who stabbed him, Church so stop acting like you were. I mean, is your father the one putting this crap inside your head now?”

Justin sighed. “Of course he blames me, Will. He keeps talking about how he didn’t raise a screw-up.”

“Forget him.” William replied with harshness. “I’m getting you out of there once and for all.”

Justin’s eyes widened. “How are you going to do that?”

“I’m going to talk to her about reinstating you.” William answered. “It’s not fair that I’m suddenly off the hook but you’re not. It’s not right so I’m going to make it right.”

“Wow.” Justin remarked in awe. “You’d really do that for me?”

“Of course I would.” William replied earnestly. “But in the meantime I need you to do something for me.”

“Sure thing, Will!” Justin nodded in return. “Anything, just name it.”

Stan looked at William, wondering what he was going to ask of Justin.

“I need you to visit Sergeant Dickerson’s grave.” William said, causing Justin to frown again. “And I need you to tell him that you will stop blaming yourself for his death, and you will make peace with the past and go on as he would want you to. That’s all I’m asking for in return. So are you capable of doing this one thing, yes or no?”

Justin groaned as he hung his head. “Yes, I’ll do it.”

“Good.” William replied, sipping from his mug. “But really you should be doing this for yourself and not because I asked you to.”

“He is right.” Stan agreed. “Making peace with the past is the only way we can move forward.”

“Okay, so when do you expect me to do this exactly?” Justin asked William. “Now? Tomorrow? Next week sometime? When?”

William rolled his eyes at him. “Just do it when you’re ready to.”

“Fine.” Justin replied. “Sounds like I need to do it now actually. In fact, after I finish my coffee I’ll go and take care of it, sound good?”

“Only if you’re ready to.” William said again, hoping his best friend would take the matter seriously instead of treating it like some kind of chore he was forced to do.

While in the meantime, Victoria was standing on the curb in front of her building, waiting impatiently when all of a sudden the ugliest vehicle she had ever seen came sputtering around the corner and pulled right up in front of her.
She looked absolutely disgusted staring right at the bullet riddled rusted green motor car with Maxwell seated right in the driver’s seat.

“What’re you waiting for, Miss Thompson?” Maxwell snapped in annoyance. “Do I need to get out and open the door for you too?”

“No.” She pulled a face as she opened the back door and climbed in. “I was merely wondering why in the universe you would pick such a hideous looking car. You said you were going to get us a working jalopy not a piece of garbage.”

Maxwell rolled his eyes as he slowly pulled away from the curb and back onto the main street. “It was the only bloody thing available to us. Trust me I hate this piece of junk as much as you do, but it’ll get the job done and that’s what matters.”

Victoria pulled her compact mirror out of her purse and began checking her makeup. “This thing is riddled with bullet holes, Maxwell. We’re practically a moving target. We can’t be seen in this thing, you should know that.”

“I do!” He quipped. “And believe me we’re going to have to stay hidden for now, but are you at least ready for this or not?”

She closed the mirror and dropped it back into her purse. “I am. Just get us there already so we can get it over with.”

After Justin had finished his coffee, William and Stan decided they’d accompany him to the city’s mausoleum so he wouldn’t have to go alone. However they only agreed to walk with him to the gate and told him they would stand outside and wait for him. Justin accepted but once he started walking up the steps to the building, a cold, nervous feeling swept over him and he began to hesitate.

Once he came up to the two large doors of the entrance, he glanced over his shoulder to see his two friends still waiting where they said they would.
I have to do this. Justin told himself as he pulled open one of the heavy ornate looking doors and stepped inside. It’s now or never.

There was always very little light inside the building, especially since it was the final resting place for all the deceased humans and Tjatey. The whole place was like one giant morgue, with long tall walls, lined with grave markers. Thankfully it was all listed in alphabetical order and it didn’t take Justin too long to find Chris’s grave.

He swallowed the lump in his throat as he walked up to the marker and read the epigraph written beneath Chris’s name, it read; May you take your place among the stars with the rest of our fallen heroes.

Justin’s eyes began to water a little but he quickly wiped them dry with the sleeve of his shirt. “Sorry I haven’t been here.” Justin explained to his deceased friend.

“I just didn’t feel like I deserved it, but earlier Will talked some sense into me and so here I am. I know we didn’t always see eye to eye but you were one of the most, nicest, laid back soldiers I’ve ever known, and watching you die that day has just felt inescapable, like I’m doomed to never forget, and I know I won’t. But I also know that I can’t continue to blame myself for what happened either. Will is right, I’m not the one who stabbed you but I still feel like I could have done more to prevent it.” He sighed deep, wondering if Chris could even hear him.

“You told me you forgave me just before you passed.” Justin continued. “But I honestly didn’t feel like I deserved it, but now that I think about it, you were telling me not to blame myself weren’t you? Cause you didn’t want to die with the thought of knowing that I couldn’t go on. Well fear not because I’ve finally seen the light and I am going to do the best I can with my future. My father thinks I’m a screw-up, but I’m going to prove him wrong. I’m going to prove all of them wrong, even you.”

Justin suddenly placed his hand up against Chris’s grave. “I killed that son of a bitch Naeem, and I know there might be others just like him later down the road, but you know what? I’m going to kill them too. We’re not going to end up like we did before, cause I won’t allow it.” He took his hand off the marker then stepped back and gave Chris a salute. “So rest in peace, Sergeant.”

Then he walked back out of the building and headed out the gate where William and Stan were still waiting.

“How’d it go?” William asked.

“It went.” Justin answered.

William looked a bit perturbed. “Does that mean you made your peace or not?”

“I did.” Justin replied reassuringly. “And I think the future’s looking pretty bright.”

“Glad to hear.” William commented. “Well I guess all I need to do now is convince the commander to let you back in the AMF.”

“Good luck with that.” Justin remarked as the three of them started walking away. “Cause she hates my guts.”

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
Last edit: 2 years 8 months ago by LadyGrimes.
2 years 8 months ago #26599

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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Originally I was going to wait to post an art update once I finished both the paintings I've been working on these past few months, but then I figured posting both at the same time would be a little crowded, so one at a time it is.

So here's the finished painting of Victoria for now.

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
Last edit: 2 years 8 months ago by LadyGrimes.
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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Still trying to finish two other paintings as well as working on chapter 5 of DOD. In the meantime here's a sketch of Stan Winston I hope to paint later on as his character portrait.

The title is unironically called "Human" which he is not.
I'm planning on doing individual portraits of most of the main cast. It all depends on if I'm able to produce a sketch that is worthy, as I seem to go through many over time. I've also had a lot of false starts with paintings so I always save the original sketches so I can start all over if I end up hating the results.

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
2 years 8 months ago #26849

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