Sunday, July 31, 2011

Origins III

"Hey, hot shot."

Zanli Ivano didn't look up. His gaze was fixed to the wall opposite him, as stubborn as the scowl on his face. When the guard rapped his stun stick across the bars, Zanli didn't flinch. He might not have even heard it.

"I'm gonna miss you kid," his guard was standard guard fare; broad chest, broader stomach. Too little time on the beat, chasing down young ruffians. Far too much time watching people sit behind bars. Wasn't much by way of high speed pursuits when you were in a five foot cell. The only thing this man had pursued in a while was the last slice of cake in the break room. The man he knew only as Guard banged against the bars again, a bit louder this time, "You were always a quiet bastard. Never whined like the others. Ya got a visitor, here to post bail."

The only sign of acknowledgement was his shoulders growing tense. Father? He knew word would have gotten home by now but didn't expect him to show up in person. When his custodian turned away from his cell, Zanli scrambled to his feet and stood before his door. Guard was standing at the front desk, further down the hall, speaking to a very tall man who was shaking the water from his umbrella. Zanli's shoulders slumped, all excitement fleeing his body like shadows at dawn. It was Len, his father's car driver and Zanli's first tutor. A tall man, too tall to be mistaken for Father, with a smooth shaved head with decorative tattoos adorning it, traditional symbols from a time long past.

The tall man spoke in hushed tones to Guard, but there wasn't much else to occupy the ears, so Zanli caught little pieces of their conversation. A few pieces from Guard, "...troubling to see such promising youth so misguided...took care of him quite well, yes I did..."

A few spare lines from Len, "...very hard to identify some of these kids from the streets...could surely use the Ivano name to try to hide from the law...I'm sure we understand each other...I'll be sure to mention your name..."

Guard stepped around the desk, shaking hands with Len. He approached Zanli's cell, one hand reaching for the key ring at his belt, the other tucking something into his breast pocket, "Well son, that was a clever ruse, trying to pass yerself as an Ivano. Thankfully, this man has cleared it all up. You'll be on yer way now."

It was all for show, they knew. For the rest of the occupants of the dozen holding cells in this wing. When Guard approached the cell, he winked as Zanli, and pretended to fumble with the lock and the door. Under his breath Zanli caught a few words, "See you again, Z. You'll be back soon."

Zanli's fists clenched and as the door slid open, he was sorely tempted to charge into the man and ram him into the cell behind him. A flutter of movement caught his eye, and to the side he saw Len staring at him, and just slightly shook his head.

Guard grinned, "And you'll be no more of a man then than you were today."

Zanli drew himself up to his full height, and his hot anger turned cold. He opened his mouth to speak when suddenly Len's voice cut in between them like a wall, "Outside, boy. Now."

He thought he could taste the acid in his mouth as he swallowed his words, halting them from passing his lips. He stepped past Guard, trying to get some participation points in the measure of manliness by stepping past him, roughly shoving him away with his shoulder. It was a noble effort but with little effect. Guard just laughed, and went back to his desk as Zanli was lead by an invisible leash out into the night.

Len stepped out first, raised the umbrella and held it over Zanli as he stepped through the door. For two full minutes, they just stood there. The rain pattered on the umbrella, trying desperately to dive through the resistant fabric and assault the unsuspecting victim it protected. It eagerly soaked Len, who had given up his own protection to keep his charge dry. After those few minutes, Zanli looked up at Len, and opened his mouth to talk. Then he stopped, and looked away again.

Len's stoic demeanor cracked, allowing some concern to peak through, "Help me here, young master. Why are you doing this? This is the sort of thing an attention-starved juvenile does to attract the affection of his parents. You have no reason to be unhappy at home; you have two wonderful parents who love and care for you. What is going on here?"

Finally, Zanli spoke, "Master Len Sarai, you are a credit to our household and family name. You have served the Ivano family most impeccably and I am sincerely grateful for your assistance in relieving me from this confinement. On such a dreary day as this and under such questionable conditions, it is an honor that you should come to my aid. You have been a stalwart companion and instructor for as long as I can recollect, and have always been there for me. In this last capacity, I ask only one thing of you this eve. Take me home, and don't question me further." He stepped out into the rain and made his way to the unmarked luxury car that was waiting for them; the more recognizable Ivano limousine would have given everything away.

Len watched him go, a slow sigh deflating the tall guardian. Closing the umbrella, he walked to the vehicle and got inside.

It was a quiet drive home.


[Reflections]

Funny, I meant to work on Kain's background, but Kain is undergoing a rather extensive rework, and I haven't gotten enough figured out to write his Origins yet.

So instead I started with Zanli. I don't know about the name yet. I love the surname Ivano, and I wanted his name to be exotic sounding, something that would sound foreign. Originally his name was Zansli, but the transition from an an- to -s sound was awkward. Its meant to have some kind of asian influence to it, but one of the problems with dealing with my own planet (remember this story doesn't take place on Earth, its my own made-up world) is there is no "China" but there would be an analog culture that would have some similar traits. Though if it were China I imagine his name might look like Xanli or Xan-li, or something of the sort, but I like having a Z name.

Zanli is very well educated, but constantly feels like he is living in the shadow of his family name, and a father who doesn't want him to get into any kind of trouble, at risk of damaging the family. The problem with all this is its all been done.. its very cliche, I know. And as far as prose go, this is a very rough draft. I'm debating how to give the whole setup more flavor. Perhaps the Ivano family isn't as legitimate as it appears, and Zanli's involvement with the law could bring some of the less favorable portions of their business to light? It would also provide a jumping off point for Zanli's criminal background - maybe he met with some of his father's business partners, and they tried to take advantage of him. Which, again, has been done, but hasn't everything? Everything is a cliche somewhere or at some time. There is too much raw material out in the world to have a new concept. Its not that the concept has to be entirely original - thats simply not possible - but I need to have the right characters and depth to make it feel real, or interesting.

I dunno, I'm still working on this whole thing.. Any thoughts? If nothing else I just needed to get something written. I've been behind on my schedule and even with this short piece it was already becoming more difficult to write than it was when I was writing regularly. Truly, practice and routine will be the key here..