Feedback welcome on the big finale.
In thanks for your patience with the slow progress on this story, let me detail exactly why it went so slow. I suggest reading the story completely before proceeding.
Go ahead, we’ll wait. Read up and then come back.
I had one major goal for this chapter: The heroes learn that Essence Capacitors are storing sacrificed souls. Also, I wanted to take this opportunity to fire a salvo at that d-bag who was sniping me on TV Tropes. Yes, I am petty, but for a good cause — in the process I could do some quality world-building and explore Orbital culture, particularly how it relates to sexuality and relationships. That’s something I’d honestly been wanting to do for some time.
But I had no other ideas, beyond “Sooouls!” and “Gay people?”. That meant I had to iron out a lot of details as I went. For instance:
* Originally, Jon was going to be very cheerful and outspoken, then one day he asked the wrong question and got Total Social Conversion, and was suddenly suspiciously sullen. Chu would then defect in order to find a way to help him / find a way to defeat the ones who destroyed Jon. This didn’t work I wanted to compress the timetable (a single day) and I had a better idea for the final confrontation.
* Originally, Maria was indeed going to escape the Quantum Mermaid and become Queen of the Zombies, rallying behind their cause. She’d later show up during the final chapter. I decided though that it’d be too depressing to simply lose her, and I had no way of getting her back. Also, no way she’d voluntarily run off and join the zombies when she’d been living an ordinary life all this time. Also ALSO, how the heck could she escape the Mermaid with so many people on hand to stop her?
* Once I had the idea for the final confrontation and the end results, it came down to who was going to betray the Ascendancy, Jon or Chu? But I needed someone ready to cast the Sacrifice spell, AND someone ready to leave with knowledge of the Sacrifice spell. So, I had to make sure Chu had familiarity with it, even though he wasn’t slated to be the defecting specialist.
* Some of my early ideas for “How do Nel and Una get the magic back to Emily?” involved things like stealing ceremonial robes with runes sewn into them — connecting this to the London’s Fog retail bonus chapter, and connecting it to Chu’s laundry duty. But I felt it’d be better if the spell was directly tied to a person, and so I made it tattoo based.
There were a lot of hurdles to jump, events to chain together, decisions to make about who was who and what and why. In the end, I think I got a working story put together, but it was a long slog to get there.
Now, we have sf03. I have very few ideas, other than “Jesse and Gilbert rescue Chloe” and some other things I don’t want to tell you about yet. We’ll see where that goes. I doubt I’ll have an update posted on Monday since I need to do a LOT of thinking, outlining, and considering of things.
So, sf02. The day is saved, the mission is a success, the heroes got away with it… almost cleanly.