Should I stay or Should I go?

I haven’t posted for a while, because I have been considering the future of this blog. I came to the decision that while I enjoy commenting on Snooker, doing reviews and all the rest, I have to focus my piece of the internet on one particular area. And that is writing.

Writing is my one true release. It is the place in which I can keep my mind active, and embrace my creative side while having an outlet to express it at the same time. So if you want my Snooker reviews, I apologise, but am considering starting another blog dedicated to that. And I am open to doing game reviews in the future.

So that’s all for this post. I will continue to write my fanfiction stories, and I will not only update you on the progress of my storytelling and the joy and art of writing, I will also keep updating you on my new secret project: Project Spire. If you want to know what Project Spire is, I’m going to tell you now.

Because I write fanfiction (which I am mighty proud about), I am taking the next step, and looking to self-publish my own commercial novel. This will take shape in stages.

Stage 1: Basic plan – throw ideas at a wall (word document),  and see what sticks. Start with the basic ideas (who is the main character(s), what are they trying to achieve, how do they look to achieve this).

Stage 2: Framework: Build a plot around the basic plan. Fill in the blanks and work out who the supporting characters are, as well as finalising the aims of the characters.

Stage 3:  Fill in the Details:  Give everyone characteristics. Put faces to the names.  What makes them important.  Why do you care about them? What is the desired reaction?

Stage 4:  Write the novel:  Once the plan is complete, write the story itself. Draft and redraft, change any details which necessitate change, but stick to the plan where possible and update the plan where not.

Stage 5: Proof-read: Once the novel is complete,  read over it to check it makes sense. is everything spelt correctly? Are all character details consistent? Is there progress in the plot? If the answer to all this is yes, go to publishing.

Stage 6:  Aesthetics: Design the front and back covers. They have to be eye-catching, while reflecting the content. Make people interested enough to want to buy it. People buy with their eyes:  they will not buy unless they like the look.  Design the blurb, making sure that it is a synopsis of the plot, while not giving away much, keep people intrigued without telegraphing the end result.

Stage 7:  Dummy Run:  Have a few copies published for myself and a few trusted friends. Ask for their honest opinion: does the story flow, what do they feel reading it,  is the content easy enough to read while being engaging? Is it suitable for the target audience? This is the chance to get active feedback and change anything which is “imperfect”.

Stage 8: Publish: Make a final (certain) draft,  and then have it published, and hope people read and enjoy. And then get the next chapter ready, going through the same format.

I will keep people updated on Project Spire (hopefully every week!), so everyone can see how events are progressing. If you have any questions, find me on Twitter @PhiltheRenegade. Until next time, remember: the sky is the limit of your ambitions. It’s up to you how far away the sky is.

Snooker Predictions: Round 2

Right, so I did predictions for Round 1 of the World Snooker Championship last week, and I hope you read it. If you didn’t, why are you reading this? Anyway, I will now give predictions for Round 2, which is like Round 1, except with half the players, and even more snooker to be played (probably).

Firstly, I did quite well in the predictions for Round 1. As I write this, Judd Trump leads Chris Wakelin 8-7, so I cannot say if I got that prediction correct. However, I got 10/15 for the others. Therefore, I will only be predicting 7 matches, as oppose to 8. Here we go:

Joe Perry vs. Mark Allen: I have deliberately not seen the score of this match thus far. Perry was impressive against Mark Selby in Round 1, and Mark Allen had to fight to beat Liam Highfield, so both players will be up for this.

Joe is a very classy player, but hasn’t had the greatest of results since reaching the final of the Top 16 shootout the Masters in 2017. Mark on the other hand won the Masters this year, and I have him edging this one.

Prediction: Mark Allen, 13-11

Kyren Wilson vs. Jamie Jones

One of those which is pretty much an open and shut case for me. Jamie looked ambitious against Shaun Murphy, and knocked in a lot of chances that were left for him, hence him scraping through.

And therein lies the reason I don’t have him winning: Kyren is a different kettle of fish. He is very good tactically, and I’m not convinced Jamie will get 13 chances to win. Jamie may be better from long-range, but Kyren won’t leave him the chances.

Prediction: Kyren Wilson, 13-6

John Higgins vs. Jack Lisowski

Are you surprised about LIsowski winning? I’m not. He played very well and scored extremely heavily against a former World Champion. And now he faces another one.

Higgins had to work VERY hard against Thepchiya (sorry if I spelt his name wrong) Un-Nooh, and that is the worst thing that Lisowski could have wanted. Higgins has his game where he needs it. I see a similar match to Higgins and Un-Nooh, maybe without the planking on the table.

Winner: John Higgins, 13-9

Ding Junhui vs. Anthony McGill: How Ant beat Ryan Day I will never know. He was the worse player for a majority of the match, but the fact he won will give him confidence.

Ding’s never lost to McGill in 3 meetings, but this is a much longer format. However, Ant will have to really up his game to even challenge Ding, the way he played in Sess 2 against Xiao.

WInner: Ding Junhui, 13-6

Lyu Haotian vs. Barry Hawkins: Never back against Barry Hawkins in Round 2. Lyu played well against Marco Fu, but how well did he need to play?  Barry beat Stuart Carrington, but the standard was pretty dreadful in the second session. As I say though, don’t back against Barry.

Winner: Barry Hawkins, 13-4

Mark Williams vs. Robert Milkins: It’s the “we don’t like the surname Robertson” society. They met in the World Championships before. It ended very badly for Milkins. Willo was generally pretty good against Jimmy Robertson, who did give him a degree of help.

Milkins was his scrappy self against Neil Robertson, but Neil was frankly dreadful and deserved to lose. Williams is too good tactically to let Milkins in close enough for significant breaks.

Winner: Mark Williams, 13-3

Ronnie O’Sullivan vs. Ali Carter: Carter has an abysmal record against Ronnie (who doesn’t? Other than Elliot Slessor!), and even though he showed his graft against Dott, and however nice it would be to see Carter win again, I just don’t believe it will happen.

Winner: Ronnie O’Sullivan, 13-7

I’ll be back in a few days for the Last 8

 

 

“What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool? You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.”

Right, so a disclaimer: I know I missed the boat, Autism Awareness Week is over. But I’ve been extremely busy and am only getting chance to update now. So here we go: a view of Autism from a person who knows first-hand what exactly it means.

I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 7 years old. Well that’s when I was DIAGNOSED anyway. My actual condition was clear from a young age though. My physical limitations (poor balance, lack of running speed, being heavier than average) were offset by my mental strengths.

I remember Primary school being a real toughie. By the time we were learning to count to 10, I was able to count to 100 and back again, due to watching Countdown and Ready Steady Cook.

My mental age was way above what you’d expect. My reading age was double my physical age by 7 years. My vocabulary was something you would never expect from somebody so young.

But that didn’t matter. People don’t like “different”. They stick to like groups, shun those who are unable to conform or refuse to do so. I was not in one of these cliques, and that was because of my condition.

As someone with Autism, I was never one to particulary socialise. My interests were very different to those of others, with them being related to certain themes which changed occasionally (something which stays with me to this day).

I used to see my condition as a curse. A damned curse which was ruining my life. I saw it that way all the time until I got to college. Then I learned that people can accept you for who you really are, they can accept your limitations and embrace them.

Now I am 21 years old, and things have changed. I no longer see Autism as a curse blighting my life. I see it as a gift, a tremendous honour which I will happily embrace. Because what it taketh away from me, it also giveth in great regard.

My creativity is not physical, it cannot be embraced within a mere canvas, nor is it expressed on a field of blades. My creativity is not visible in architecture, nor in the tools we use every day. My creativity cannot be sewn, nor crafted. My creativity does not create programs for the online world, nor does it create a system for believers to fledge.

No, for my creativity is expressed primarily in words. I create stories, using characters, some borrowed, some crafted. Like a beloved poet, a la the individuals I reference in these titles, my creativity brings together words and turns them into something greater than the some of it’s parts.

You may think I have gone off topic, do you not? Fear not though, because my point is that all the gifts I have been given within my brain, the one thing I put my hat on as my top skill, is all down to Autism.

People may tell you that people with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) are stupid, they are anti-social losers, on the fringes of society, dangers and meanaces to the neurotypicals who we share a world with.

But there’s only one response to that. Yes, we may be anti-social, and yes, we may be on the fringes of society. But you’re the ones who put us there. And you’re the ones who can bring us back. We’re only dangerous if you let us be dangerous.

So this day, this week, this month, this year, why not find that shy autistic kid who everyone laughs at because of his obsessions and his lack of talking? And when you do, don’t stay in the shadows and laugh. Talk. Say hello, ask how they are, try and understand what they are doing. If you’re interested in that, they are likely to be interested in you. We’re not monsters, we’re just wired up differently with our neural circuits.

20 years ago, Dr. Andrew Wakefield tried to make a link between the MMR vaccine and Autism. There has always been calls to find a cure for Autism, this “disease”, this “disorder”, this “disaster”.

But why cure the greatest thing ever? Do you really understand Autism? Because if you’re calling for this abhorrent condition to be cured, for the “sufferers” to be “normalised”, then you clearly don’t.

Did Albert Einstein need “curing” when he formulated the theories of General and Special Relativity? Did Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have a deadly disease when he composed his Requiem in D minor? Did Thomas Jefferson get laughed at and teased when he drafter the American Declaration of Independence? I’ve had Autism my entire life, and I’ll be damned if I lose it… ever. My name is Phillip Joseph Robinson, and I have Autism. And I am f***ing proud of it!

Thank you

 

SPECIAL EDITION: Don’t let the Wars End

Robot Wars. A program which has been in my heart for as long as I remember. The first series was commissioned in the year I was born (1996). Ever since I first saw it, I was hooked. But in 2005, it vanished.

So you can imagine how excited I was on a cold January evening in 2016 when I read on BBC News that Robot Wars had been recommissioned by BBC. I was thrilled.

And it lasted beautifully, with another 3 series (for a total of 10), arguably better than ever. But now, it appears to have gone west again. In this Special Edition, I will look at why it has left our screens again, and what options there are for a potential future.

Why has it been decommissioned?

Let’s run through the possibilities:

Ratings: Rating information for Robot Wars (like most BBC shows) is difficult to find. However, it isn’t difficult to think that the ratings for Series 10 may be lower than those for other series. Is this to do with the program itself? Maybe, but if this is the case, it could easily be related to competition.

You see, Series 10 had some friendly fire from BBC, as Blue Planet 2 was on BBC. This was a massive program, and people of all ages were watching it. So this could impact on ratings.

Overall though, I don’t think it is ratings that were the problem. I doubt the ratings fluctuated too much: in fact, I think it would be more likely that ratings went up. The series has really been hitting it’s stride (despite the pants International specials around the new year). So it’s unlikely that it would be that.

Safety: In recent times (particulary Series 10), the safety of the combat arena itself has come under scrutiny, with panels coming off of the side walls, the pop-up arena floor spikes turning into missile launchers on a weekly basis, and competitor Apex’s spinning bar destroying the bullet-proof protective screens protecting the crowd from the competitors.

This could be a valid reason to temporaliry cancel the program, and fuel on this particular theory fire is that there was issues with the safety of the arena before it’s first cancellation in ’05.

This is, in my opinion, the most likely reason. If it is the case, then it hopefully will be back when they have developed a safer arena. In that case, perhaps a new series late next year?

Cost: Another strong possibility. Make no bones about it, Robot Wars is not a cheap filler program. It takes dedication not only from the competitors, but also from the TV company.

With growing uncertainty around the economy, it is possible that they (BBC) either a. don’t have the money for the program, or b. would rather make cheaper filler programs and concentrate more on their more *established* (*: Yes, I know Robot Wars is established as I have mentioned and is one of the older programs on BBC in terms of original start date, but it spent a decade off-air and is not among the higher profile programs around).

This is a strong possibility, but there is likely to be other programs with big budgets which have lower ratings. If this is the case, Robot Wars is perhaps just BBC bosses picking what they want to watch, rather than being the channel of the people like it should be.

What options does the program have for future broadcast? 

In this section, I will handpick a number of channels which I think hypothetically could be a home for Robot Wars going into the future.

BBC2: Yes, I know, this is the channel I have just been criticising for not being of the people. But there has been no official statement from the beeb. Therefore, is it too much to consider that there is a chance of it’s return to BBC? I think not, particulary as a strong groundswell of public opinion could be enough to turn the proverbial worm.

However, there are issues. Firstly, any production values are limited by what the government are willing to put into the BBC, and ultimately are responsible for it’s future. Also, there are inconsistencies in terms of acknowledgment of the past. It is important to decide whether the “new” series is the same as the “old” series, and stick to one decision.

Overall, my preference is for the series to stay on BBC. While RW has not been treated in the greatest way at times, if they are going to decide that the history is all one rather than altering history, anywhere else having a go could result in disputes over footage from previous series. Plus, I don’t much like adverts.

Dave: The quote unquote “men’s channel” of UKTV, Dave has shown Robot Wars Extreme in the past, though not for a number of years. The laid back and comedic nature of the channel would fit in nicely with the vibe of the program.

Adding to that is history. UKTV themselves have not only shown RW on Dave in the past, they also repeated early series on UKTV Horizons, and the two companies have had a relationship in the past, with BBC having a 50% stake in some older UKTV channels through commercial arm BBC Worldwide (including Horizons).

The main issue is timing. In recent times, Dave has been undergoing a little bit of a change, focusing more and more on sitcoms and stand-up comedy. While a lot of this is BBC original programming, Robot Wars is too serious to really fit in with a vast majority of Dave’s current programming.

Discovery Science: On the flip side, there is Discovery Science. A channel which is well known for engineering programs, this would seem like an ideal place for the new-look Robot Wars, with an increasing emphasis on education and encouraging people into engineering.

Also, Disc. Science already shows The Gadget Show, which has a more laid back feel, so the program would be unlikely to get bogged down in being too serious is Discovery took it up. And with a net income of over 1 Billion US Dollars, they would certainly have the money to build the ultimate arena.

The main issues for me revolve around visibility. While BBC and Dave are available on all TV packages in the United Kingdom, the same is not true for Discovery. Even on Sattelite TV, not all carriers carry the Discovery Network on their packages. Therefore, a portion of the loyal fanbase would potentially be unable to see the program, due to having the incorrect TV package.

Overall, Discovery Science is an appealing possibility, but the issues with it being unavailable on some TV packages makes it an outside bet, even if they would be able to dedicate money to it like others cannot.

5Spike: A slightly further out suggestion, 5 Spike is the UK version of the recently renamed Paramount Network (formally Spike TV), and is owned by Viacom, who own Channel 5 as well. Like all others on this list (except for Disc. Science), this is on all TV network packages.

The main advantage (and logic) for this move is that 5Spike has lots of high-octane programming, including Battlebots, the American cousin of Robot Wars. This could lead to some cool specials, including a Battlebots vs. Robot Wars special. Additionally, that knowledge could lead to building a better arena which won’t get destroyed.

The main issue with this is that while Viacom have Battlebots, that is not to say they would appreciate a British *version* of it. (I know they are unrelated strictly speaking, but they are similar concepts). Also, it cannot be guaranteed that Viacom have the spare finance with running several channels, to run another robotic combat show.

I don’t see RW moving to Viacom, mainly because they already have Battlebots, and may not have an interest in running two programs like that. Additionally, the American style of programming is a lot different from the British style, which is a lot quieter and more educational, as oppose to the brash and bombastic American style.

So this is just a suggestion of the future of Robot Wars. I will likely be reviewing more Robot Wars in the future, and I have no doubt that Robot Wars will be brought back again sooner rather than later, whether it is by BBC or by another company I suggested. Perhaps a name I didn’t think of will come forward even. For now though, peace out Roboteers, and All for the Renegades.

“We have to be continually jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down”: Kurt Vonnegut

One of the joys of being an author is when you get to write something, and then you read through it. A lesser person, perhaps, may get disheartened if at first, the story written is not a literary masterpiece.

Not true authors though. True, experienced authors understand not everything is right first time. Also, there is no such thing as the “perfect story”. Few things in the world are perfect.

The key to enjoying writing is that you write something, and then when you look back and see an aspect which can be improved, you smile. You relish the challenge. You don’t moan or complain (much!), you simply get on with it, you correct the aspect you feel can be improved.

There is no “perfect story”, as noted above. Because perfect is in the eye of the beholder. In this case, if you, the author, are happy, then that is the important aspect. Because the perfect story is a story you read back, and are happy with. A story you can say you are proud of, a piece which you believe to be a story you would want to read.

What is the purpose of this entry then? What am I trying to say? What I am trying to say is that if people give you feedback, take it on board. Sometimes, you will look back and agree with the criticism, and use that to make yourself a better writer. At other times however, you look back and decide that your preference is to keep things how they are.

Also, if the writing starts feeling like hard work, don’t think about it as a chore. Think of how good you will feel when it is published, when it is a success. If you’re not enjoying it, then take a step back, and think about whether you are writing for the right reasons. The only person who can force you to write is yourself.

Fanfiction Advertisement 

Right then, time for Chapter 3 of What Makes an Army. Same rules apply, I will advertise the start of the chapter, then leave the link if you want to read the rest. This is Purest Evil.

What Makes An Army

Chapter Three: Purest Evil

Point of View: Phil

After Hannah’s sacrifice, I took her up to the converter, and turned the intensity up, with the totality reduced from 90% to 60%.

Mollie: ‘So why are you turning the intensity up?’

Phil: ‘Her will is on a whole new level of strong.’

Mollie: ‘She asked for it.’

Phil: ‘Doesn’t mean she won’t resist. The subconscious can be even stronger than the conscious mind.’

Mollie: ‘And the amount reduced?’

Phil: ‘There’s a lot I need from her still.’

Mollie: ‘I take it you know what you’re doing?’

Phil: ‘Trust me on this one- instinct is one thing you can’t explain. Now let’s fire this baby up. I suggest you leave the room.’

Mollie: ‘Why?

Phil: ‘This could be painful to watch. That’s why I have to stay.’

Mollie: ‘I’ll go then. See you later.’ Mollie then left the room, and I had a moment to reflect.

Phil: ‘Hannah, this is for your own good. One day, you’ll thank me for this.’ I then stroked the side of her face, and pulled out a photo of us two from professional card duelling, celebrating a world title. I then switched the machine on. A piercing scream filled the room. Then another one. Then crying. Then one last massive scream. Then nothing. So, I left the room and went to consult everyone else.

When I came down, Lydia came up to me.

Lydia: ‘Did I do it?’ I just stroked the top of her hair.

Phil: ‘You did.’ I then addressed everyone. ‘Everybody, thank you for your help. Hannah has now been liberated. That’s just the start of the story though. More to follow. Freja, have you got that propaganda?’ Freja then produced a poster, which showed all of us (including Hannah) standing around, with a tagline saying “Liberation for the gifted. All for” there was no ending.

Freja: ‘Our club hasn’t been named, so there is no name there.’

Phil: ‘How about we find a name later? Then we can complete that. You come up with anything different Lydia?’

Lydia: ‘You suggested uniform, so I designed uniform.’ It was a black jacket, with an empty space above the heart region for the club logo, and red trim.

Phil: ‘I love it Lydia- you have both done an excellent job. Jodi, how’s the head?’

Jodi: ‘Don’t worry about me master- I am nothing.’

Phil: ‘You’re very important- you all are.’ About 2 hours later, Hannah’s conversion was complete. When I extracted her, she looked serene and asleep. But I knew that in reality, she was evil, having been completely corrupted like everyone else. ‘Sean, I want you and Jodi to stay on security- enough people have broken in here.’ They then did that, and I called over to Freja.

‘Freja, come here and sit in front of me.’ She then walked over, red hairband on, and gracefully placed herself on the seat. I then locked her into the seat (double seatbelt), and started running my fingers through her hair (purely pleasure, a perk of the job). ‘Now Freja, you are a slave. You do whatever I want, whenever I want you to.’

Freja: ‘I will obey.’

Phil: ‘I know you will. You all will. You are part of my new world. You are buoyant, a young girl. Turned evil, completely corrupted, by me.’

Freja: ‘I will obey.’

Phil: ‘Good girl.’

After Hannah woke up, it was time for the reveal.

Phil: ‘You ok there Hannah?’ Hannah stood up, and immediately looked completely empty, hair parted to the side.

Hannah: ‘Must obey master.’

Phil: ‘Good girl. Now you and me, we are a team, just like we always were. Time for a little makeover next.’ I then sat Hannah down in the chair that Freja had been sat in earlier. ‘Mollie, time for Hannah’s makeover. This is how I’d like it- not too much, but enough to make her the new her.’ Mollie then got to work.

20 minutes later, she was done- Hannah’s once wild hair was now tied tight in a very corporate ponytail, with a black leather strap keeping it in place, and smoky black and purple eye make-up. She was also wearing the same uniform as everyone else. ‘How do you feel Hannah?’ She then grinned.

Hannah: ‘I am your obedient slave master.’

Phil: ‘Good. You will soon learn that you made the right decision.’ I then ran my fingers through her hair. A couple of hours later, I addressed everyone again. ‘Today is a good day- a good day to be a revolutionary. We have a purpose- we punish the outside world for failing us, for never believing, for treating us like we are an alien species. We are all gifted in our own special ways. Some of us know how we’re gifted, others perhaps haven’t found their niche yet. But we are all important here- those who do not conform are against us.’

‘We need an identity though- a name that will resonate with those of the outside world and make them tremble with fear.’

Lydia: ‘We’re all outcasts, so outcasts.’

Hannah: ‘Renegades- we’re outcasts. That makes us rebels and outlaws.’

Right, to read the rest, follow the lovely little link down here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9036873/3/What-Makes-An-Army

 

 

“We write to taste life twice: in the moment and in retrospect”: Anais Nin

Hi, back having been unable to update on Saturday due to… personal issues. But I’m back now.

The joy of being an author is that it is a way to express yourself. If somebody has annoyed you, or you have an opinion which is unpopular in the outside world, then you can include it in a story, and then you can express it without being victim to more popular opinion.

Having forms of expression is a vital part of life. It allows you, if only for a brief, fleeting moment, to see the situation clearly. Sometimes when you have an argument, you are correct and must stick to your guns, stand by your flag. At others, it is you who is in the wrong and must compromise to make the situation good again.

And really, that’s what writing is. It’s the art of expressing yourself in words, without hurting the ones you love. You are telling people “this is my story, this is what I want to tell, these are the ideas cultivated in my head, like a seed growing into a mighty oak”.

I think what I’m trying to say is if you have an opinion, stick to it. If you change your min, change it. I (and I am not the only one) have had tragedy in my life. I look back every day and see things I wish I could do differently, wish I had a time machine to magically fly back and change the world.

But that’s life isn’t it? You live twice: you live in the moment, and you live in retrospect. Actions have consequences, you act and then you have hindsight. Whether it’s writing or life, you have to learn how to look back and use your mistakes to empower you, have hope for the future.

STORY LINK

Right then, time for the second chapter of my story. Again, I will provide the start, and then you can read on further through the link I provide. In this chapter, Phil has his club running, and his love enters the fray. This is Chapter 2: Enter Hannah, the Glass Princess

 


What Makes An Army

Chapter Two: Enter Hannah, the Glass Princess

Point of View- Phil

The next morning, Lydia, Jodi, and Freja stood before me, all awaiting orders having been converted, wearing plain black shirts, plain black skirts, and looking absolutely devoid of any emotion or mind.

Phil: ‘Look at this- 3 servants when I started the day looking for just 1. Now I can enjoy this, but you have a mission. You have been rescued by me. Special people with extraordinary abilities that need unlocking. People of the outside world would be scared of you, which is why you are here. This is your chance to be you.’

‘Now we have a job to do. You all know Hannah Cummings in some respect. Your job is to rescue her from the life that she currently endures.’

Lydia: ‘How do we do that master?’

Phil: ‘She is more special and important than she ever could know. Jodi, you will keep an eye on Hannah from College. Lydia, Freja, you will be my lookout team. I will communicate with you all through your earpieces, and you will communicate back with me.’ The 3 of them then nodded, and left.

A couple of hours later, I received correspondence from Jodi.

Jodi: ‘Master, target spotted.’

Phil: ‘Tonight, guide her to the Grand Park in Greenock. When she’s there, recruit her and Sean will pick you up, bringing you here. Do you understand?’

Jodi: ‘Completely master. I won’t let you down.’ While they were there, we were making sure the machine was working properly. About 10 minutes later though, I got a call from Lydia.

Phil: ‘Lydia, update.’

Lydia: ‘The situation might be more complicated than we thought.’

Phil: ‘What kind of more complicated?’

Lydia: ‘Hannah isn’t alone. Allyx is with her.’

Phil: ‘Take them both in if necessary, aim to just get Hannah though. Allyx is not the target, take her if there is no other option.’

Lydia: ‘Understood.’ They then continued their job.

Sean: ‘Yo Phil, what are you gonna do when they have Hannah in that park?’

Phil: ‘They will trap Hannah, and I’ve given Freja a special crest to restrict Hannah and knock her out. You’re then going to pick them up and deliver them back here.’

Sean: ‘Why me?’

Phil: ‘I’ve never driven an automatic. And my car’s having a service today.’

Sean: ‘Fine. But you owe me now.’

Phil: ‘Don’t forget who bailed you out after that fight a few weeks ago Sean. I did that as a mate- that’s what mates do for each other.’

Sean: ‘I thought your Impreza was invincible- tough as old boots.’

Phil: ‘It’s in for it’s yearly service. It’s only been in outside of it’s yearly service twice in 9 years.’

Sean: ‘So go on, did you cast your spell on Mollie?’

Phil: ‘I did, but it was her request. She liked the idea and agreed to me testing on her. I released her from it when I remembered.’

Sean: ‘Which was?’

Phil: ‘A month later. She didn’t complain too much.’ Mollie then came back down, her high ponytail swaying in the slight breeze coming from the broken window (Mollie + Alcohol = Broken window).

Mollie: ‘So I’ll be part of your club when it’s fully set-up?’

Phil: ‘Yeah. You can be as well Sean.’

Sean: ‘I’m alright thanks- if things go wrong, you might need someone on the outside to back you up man.’

Point of View- Mollie

Phil then left.

Sean: ‘You want Phil to be with Hannah?’

Mollie: ‘Totally. You?’

Sean: ‘They were made for each other.’ We then toasted, as we got another update.

Mollie: ‘This is Mollie, come in.’

Jodi: ‘Target is on the way to Grand Park.’

Mollie: ‘Good. We’ll send Sean out immediately. He’ll signal you with a flashlight when he’s ready. Until then, keep her busy. Is she alone?’

Jodi: ‘Her sister’s with her. I’ll try and lose her.’

Mollie: ‘Don’t- it’ll look suspicious. If you can lose her, do, but if not, we can take them both.’

Jodi: ‘Understood.’ Jodi then signed off, and I got in contact with Lydia.

Mollie: ‘Lydia, come in.’

Lydia: ‘Jodi and Hannah have just passed with Allyx.’ Phil then came back and took over.

Phil: ‘Lydia, you and Freja get in position. Make sure you’re not seen until you see the flashlight.’

Lydia: ‘Understood master.’

Phil: ‘Good. Update me when you’re in position.’ Lydia then signed off, and Sean left.

Mollie: ‘Sure we can trust Sean?’

Phil: ‘Absolutely. He’ll deliver.’

TBC

To read this to the end, click on the following link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9036873/2/What-Makes-An-Army

 

Renegade’s Review: “A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander”: Roman Payne

Ah, the joy of exploration. That feeling of freedom, the feeling of limitless borders, the sense that for once, you truly are one with the earth. But exploring takes a really long time. And it’s kinda expensive. But then, in 2014, Little Orbit released a game which allows us to explore, without having to put up with the cost or the time or angry tribes of people who just want to eat you. That game was How To Train Your Dragon 2.

It’s basically a game where you fly around, fly around a bit more, you’re probably getting the message. That’s basically what it is: a game where you spend a lot of time flying around. But, seeing as I said I would (and because I kind of have a massive crush on Astrid!), I will review it fully.

Each game I review will be measured on five categories: Gameplay, Graphics, Character(s), Replay Value and Soundtrack, as well as the Overall Impressions. Right, here we go!

Gameplay (out of 10): At first, you think “wow, this land is vast”. And… well it is. The gameplay mainly involves flying around finding collectable tokens (50 for each character), and flying through, into, around, and onto the scenery to complete objectives.

That’s all well and good. But alas, it’s also just text. The gameplay you see, has issues. The tokens are easy to find at first, but slowly become scarcer and scarcer. The controls feel stiff, unless you alter the sensitivity on the menu, when they feel completely uncontrollable.

The camera is never where you want it to be, meaning that you’re too busy moving the camera to concentrate. The racing is fun, but the stiff controls and the targeting system which doesn’t seem to work just make it a bit too awkward.

But, the mini-games are a lot of fun. Games include Sweep the Sheep, where you have to use your dragon to pick up sheep and put them in their respective coloured pens, and one where you have to shoot pop-up Vikings.

Overall: The gameplay is mixed. The main game itself suffers from a lack of attention, possibly related to time pressures to release the game in line with the film (which will be reviewed at a later date), and feels slightly unfinished in places. However, it is a lot of fun to play the mini-games, and flying around is really very nice and peaceful. 7/10

Graphics: I cannot heap enough praise on the graphics. The most beautiful game I’ve ever played, and that’s not even a difficult statement. All the textures feel beautiful, and it feels like you’re flying in the film. Not a lot else I can say without you seeing the graphics. 10/10 (give more if I could)

Characters: The six main protagonists from the film (Hiccup, Astrid 😀 , Snotlout, Ruffnut, Tuffnut, and Fishlegs) are the playable characters… at the start at least. Hiccup’s mother and father (Valka and Stoick) are unlockable, either by being very good, or by using  a cheat combo.

All the characters are voiced by the same actors who voiced them in the films (Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, TJ Miller, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Cate Blanchett and Gerard Butler), apart from Astrid, who is voiced by Angela Bartys in the games instead of America Ferrera (not that I knew originally, must be related or something).

All of the characters’ dragons are back as well, and the characters are… ok. They look as they did in film 2, sound like they did there. Sadly, the actors presumably were brought in on a day off, as none of them say more than about 5 lines in the entire game. It’s not bad, it just feels a little predictable. 6/10.

Replay Value: Every time you play the game it feels slightly different. It isn’t any different, but you approach it in a different way. And there’s plenty of room to do so. There’s a million different ways you can go, whether you want to explore first, or just run through the game. 9/10

Soundtrack: The soundtrack for the games was composed by John Powell. And it is an absolute masterpiece. Classical strings and instruments, it has to be heard to be truly embraced. It sounds beautiful and feels beautiful. One of the strengths of the films(among many others) is the music. It’s given me a new love for classical music. 10/10

Overall Impressions: How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a game with a lot of flaws. But when you’re playing it, you don’t really notice them that much. What you notice is a beautiful game with a beautiful soundtrack, and it is everything you would want a game based on such a wonderful film to be really. 42/50.

Final Score: 84/100.

Scoreboard:

How To Train Your Dragon 2         84/100

 

“Whoever called Snooker “Chess with balls” is rude… but right”: Clive James

Right, I cover a fair number of things on here: writing, Autism, game reviews. But there’s one thing I have never covered on here: my favourite sport of all. Now most people would think my favourite sport is football, and yes, I do like football, and am a supporter of all Greater Manchester teams, but especially my local team, Abbey Hey (seriously, can see their ground out of my bedroom window!).

But it’s not: My favourite sport is something a lot more… sedentary. Or at least that’s the perception. It’s a sport which is growing quickly, and if you bother reading the titles to these, you will know: it’s Snooker. So without further ado, the Snooker World Championships.

Here’s the deal: 144 players. The world’s top 16 ranked players go straight to the Round of 32 at the Cruicble Theatre in Sheffield, England. The rest of the pros do battle with the best amateurs at the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield, to join them.

I will quickly run through the runners and riders, before giving full match predictions, and will do this after every round as well.

Seed 1: Mark Selby. Age: 34. From: Leicester, England (born Wordsley, England). World Ranking: 1. Personal Best: World Champion (2014, 2016, 2017)

Seed 2: Ronnie O’Sullivan. Age: 42. From: Chigwell, England. World Ranking: 2. Personal Best: World Champion (2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013)

Seed 3: Ding Junhui. Age: 31. From: Sheffield, England (born Yixing, China). World Ranking: 3. Personal Best: Finalist (2016).

Seed 4: Judd Trump. Age: 28. From: Whitchurch, England. World Ranking: 4. Personal Best: Finalist (2011).

Seed 5: John Higgins. Age: 42. From: Wishaw, Scotland. World Ranking: 5. Personal Best: Winner (1998, 2007, 2009, 2011).

Seed 6: Barry Hawkins. Age: 38. From: Ditton, England. World Ranking: 6. Personal Best: Finalist (2013).

Seed 7: Mark WIlliams. Age: 42. From: Ebbw Vale, Wales. World Ranking: 7. Personal Best: World Champion (2000, 2003).

Seed 8: Shaun Murphy. Age: 35. From: Nottingham, England. World Ranking: 8. Personal Best: World Champion (2005).

Seed 9: Neil Robertson. Age: 36. From: Melbourne, Australia. World Ranking: 9. Personal Best: World Champion (2010).

Seed 10: Kyren Wilson. Age: 26. From: Kettering, England. World Ranking: 10. Personal Best: Quarter-Finals (2016, 2017).

Seed 11: Marco Fu. Age: 40. From: Happy Valley, Hong Kong. World Ranking: 11. Personal Best: Semi-Final (2006, 2016).

Seed 12: Stuart Bingham. Age: 41. From: Basildon, England. World Ranking: 12. Personal Best: Winner (2015).

Seed 13: Luca Brecel. Age: 23. From: Dilsen-Stokkem, Belgium. World Ranking: 13. Personal Best: Last 32 (2012, 2017, 2018).

Seed 14: Anthony McGill. Age: 27. From: Glasgow, Scotland. World Ranking: 14. Personal Best: Quarter-Finals (2015).

Seed 15: Ali Carter. Age: 38. From: Chelmsford, England. World Ranking: 15. Personal Best: Final (2008, 2012).

Seed 16: Mark Allen. Age: 32. From: Antrim, Northern Ireland. World Ranking: 16. Personal Best: Semi-Final (2009).

Qualifier 1: Ryan Day. Age: 38. From: Bridgend, Wales. World Ranking: 17. Personal Best: Quarter-Final (2008, 2009, 2012).

Qualifier 2: Stephen Maguire. Age: 37. From: Glasgow, Scotland. World Ranking: 18. Personal Best: Semi-Final (2007, 2012).

Qualifier 3: Graeme Dott. Age: 40. From: Larkhall, Scotland. World Ranking: 21. Personal Best: World Champion (2006).

Qualifier 4: Joe Perry. Age: 43. From: Wisbech, England. World Ranking: 22. Personal Best: Semi-Final (2008).

Qualifier 5: Xiao Guodong. Age: 29. From: Chongqing, China. World Ranking: 25. Personal Best: Last 16 (2017).

Qualifier 6: Ricky Walden. Age: 35. From: Baglitt, Wales. World Ranking: 27. Personal Best: Semi-Final (2012).

Qualifier 7: Jack Lisowski. Age: 26. From: Cheltenham, England. World Ranking: 30. Personal Best: Last 32 (2013, 2018).

Qualifier 8: Jimmy Robertson. Age: 31. From: Bexhill-On-Sea, England. World Ranking: 34. Personal Best: Last 32 (2011, 2015, 2017, 2018).

Qualifier 9:  Robert Milkins. Age: 42. From: Bedminister Down, England. World Ranking: 37. Personal Best: Last 16 (2002, 2013).

Qualifier 10: Jamie Jones. Age: 30. From: Neath, Wales. World Ranking: 51. Personal Best: Quarter-Finals (2012).

Qualifier 11: Matthew Stevens. Age: 40. From: Camarthen, Wales. World Ranking: 52. Personal Best: Finalist (2003, 2005).

Qualifier 12: Chris Wakelin. Age: 26. From: Rugby, England. World Ranking: 55. Personal Best: N/A (debut).

Qualifier 13: Stuart Carrington. Age: 27. From: Grimsby, England. World Ranking: 56. Personal Best: Last 32 (2015, 2017, 2018).

Qualifier 14: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. Age: 33. From: Bangkok, Thailand. World Ranking: 58. Personal Best: N/A (debut).

Qualifier 15: Liam Highfield. Age: 27. From: Swindon, England. World Ranking: 64. Personal Best: N/A (debut).

Qualifier 16: Lyu Haotian. Age: 20. From: Tongzhou, China. World Ranking: 68. Personal Best: N/A (DEBUT).

And with that cleared up, on with the predictions, starting (as is traditional) with the defending champion.

Mark Selby vs. Joe Perry: Granite vs. Granite. This isn’t going to be a pretty match mostly, but it will be close. VERY close. Joe Perry is vastly experienced, and will relish getting his teeth into a battle against Selby with little expectation on him.

Selby has had a poor season only by his enormous standards, but has only a single win in the two majors this season. He did, however, win in the China Open, and he broke that curse last year. Do I think Selby will go all the way to title 4? No. But he’ll be hard to stop nonetheless, and I think he just edges this one.
Prediction: Mark Selby, 10-9.

Mark Allen vs. Liam Highfield: Liam Highfield is a player who has been a diamond in the rough for what feels like an age now. Only his ability to kill off frames consistently separates him from being in the Top 32 I feel.

But he has a nasty draw against the Masters Champion. Mark Allen sneaked in through the back door if you will, and has a bit to prove. But it’s a long time since he lost in Round 1 here, and his experience will prove critical I feel.
Prediction: Mark Allen, 10-4

Kyren Wilson vs. Matthew Stevens: Matthew Stevens needs no introduction to snooker fans, as a two time world finalist. His fortunes, however, have dipped in recent years, with him now being ranked among the dead men so to speak in the 50s. And he would have fancied his chances…

Unless he was facing someone like Kyren Wilson. Kyren has improved leaps and bounds in recent years, and seems to have a strong love for the longer format. He beat Stevens over this format in 2016 as well, and even though MS’ fortunes are looking up again now, I have the man known as the Warrior battling through to fight on. Keep an eye on Kyren Wilson in the next 12-18 months.
Predition: Kyren Wilson, 10-6

Shaun Murphy vs. Jamie Jones: It’s 6 years now since Jones beat Murphy at this stage of the Crucible. He reached the Last 8 that year, but has failed to really kick on since, developing a habit in recent years of throwing away comfortable leads. But having defeated former Top 16 player Liang Wenbo 10-0 in qualifying, he will be ultra-confident.

As for the Magician, it feels like his time is running out to be remembered as one of the best of all time. Few players have been more influential behind the scenes for snooker, Murphy is a great ambassador. He may have neck and back issues currently, not helped by Chris Wakelin battering him in China 6-0, but I never back against Murphy in Round 1 – he nearly always finds enough.
Prediction: Shaun Murphy, 10-8                 Predicted Quarter Winner: Kyren Wilson

John Higgins vs. Thepchiya Un-Nooh: Un-Nooh is one of the most explosive players on tour, but somehow, this is his first appearance beyond the qualifiers. He has a dubious honour of (I believe) the only player to miss the final black on a maximum attempt twice in the same season. However he did show battling qualities in qualifying.

And my lord does he need those. John Higgins is playing like a new man the past 12-18 months. Gone is the “journeyman”, in has come a ruthless opponent who can do everything better than most others. Still prone to the odd shock result, but another man who is a strong contender. Thepchiya will never be allowed to settle for long enough to get into the match.
Prediction: John Higgins, 10-3

Stuart Bingham vs. Jack Lisowski: Difficult to know who the favourite is here. Lisowski making only a second appearance at the Crucible, but is a very dangerous opponent, and looks to have matured a lot this season. He’s like best mate Judd Trump, just without any of the downside.

As for Bingham, this is the only BBC major he’s appearing in this season, after a ban for breach of betting rules. He’s bounced back well, but that has hurt his ranking. A close match, but Jumping Jack will be jumping for joy after the match.
Prediction: Jack Lisowski, 10-7

Luca Brecel vs. Ricky Walden: A rare occasion where the seeded player is clearly the underdog. Brecel was magical early in the season, and despite a terrible second half of the season, finds himself in the Top 16 still. On his day, can pot anything from anywhere, Brecel is a nightmare when the pressure’s not on him.

But it is here, and Ricky, while doing very little at the Crucible outside of his sole Semi-Final, is a reliable hand. Struggled with injury himself in recent years, seems to be on the right side of that though, and narrowly missed out on a maximum in the qualifiers. He came through some wars in the quals, and will be laser-sharp and too steady for the mad Belgian Bullet.
Prediction: Ricky Walden, 10-5

Judd Trump vs. Chris Wakelin: Wakelin is a somewhat surprise qualifier after what could generously be described as a modest career so far. Was very impressive in qualifying though, and practicing with Wilson and Selby is only a good thing.

Ah, Judd, were just talking about you. Possibly the best player in the world when playing well, but has scars from stinging defeats. I have him winning here easily against a newcomer in Wakelin, but I don’t think he’s recovered mentally from the Masters, where he lost 6-5 to Kyren, having lead 5-2.
Prediction: Judd Trump, 10-3.                            Predicted Quarter Winner: John Higgins

Ding Junhui vs. Xiao Guodong: It seems that wherever Xiao goes, controversy follows. First was the Snooker Shootout 2017, where he got away with a seemingly-blatant time fowl against David Gilbert, then in these qualifiers, benefitted from a ghost fowl from Adam Duffy, where it was difficult to see where the fowl came. That detracts though from him being a very solid player and a handful for anybody.

Ding must be fed-up of drawing his fellow countrymen by now, having done so in the first two rounds 12 months ago. It feels like he should be World Champion by now: the fact he isn’t is very telling as to the strength of snooker these days. Ding has a great record against anybody from China, and I don’t see that changing here.
Prediction: Ding Junhui, 10-5

Anthony McGill vs. Ryan Day: How the hell do you call this one? Ryan Day has had the best season of his career, and the fact he’s not in the Top 16 is an absolute travesty. And he’ll be ready, having had a tough warm-up in the shape of Peter Ebdon in the last qualifying round.

McGill is very well liked, and is one of the best safety players on tour. He’s also very good potting wise, but the latter part of the season hasn’t seen much success for him. You may as well toss a coin on this one, you’re just as likely to get it right as if you use logic. Here we go then: Heads for Ryan Day, Tails for McGill.
Prediction: Ryan Day, 10-9.

Marco Fu vs. Lyu Haotian: Difficult to call for different reasons. Lyu has had a great first season back on tour, and impressed in qualifying, but lacks experience, and may be overawed by the big stage.

Usually you would pick Marco without thinking here, but it’s difficult this time, with him having not played since January due to eye surgery. It’s nearly impossible to predict, but Marco always finds a way to survive.
Winner: Marco Fu, 10-8

Barry Hawkins vs. Stuart Carrington: Carrington is a bit of an enigma to me honestly. I have seen him play at times this season, and I can’t work out how he made three successive centuries in Round 1 last year. He’s still never won here though, but is making progress slowly.

Nasty draw though, as Hawkins hasn’t failed to make the Last 8 here in recent times. Always a dangerous player, had a poor start to the season, but has got going since. Carrington is clearly better than his ranking, but Hawkins is durable and can soak up punishment.
Prediction: Barry Hawkins, 10-6.                          Quarter Prediction: Ryan Day

Mark Williams vs. Jimmy Robertson: Jimmy Robertson has never won a the Crucible, but gets closer each year, being just two frames away 12 months ago. Off the best season of his career, you would expect him to provide a stiff challenge.

The only problem is his opponent. Mark Williams is playing better now than he has done in many years. Simply put, he has been brilliant at times this season, and is better one-handed than half the tour are with two hands, as well as having added two ranking titles to his name. Willo will be very hard to stop, as he chases an unlikely 3rd title, to smash the record for the longest wait between titles (15 years, current record is Alex Higgins who won in 1972 and ’82).
Prediction: Mark Williams, 10-6

Neil Robertson vs. Robert Milkins: Or as I call it, Fosters vs. Cider. Milkins has had a far from great season as he continues to slide down the rankings having been in the Top 16 a couple of years ago. However he showed flair in qualifying, crushing Crucible regular Michael Holt 10-3.

Neil Robertson hasn’t had a great season either, dropping out of the Top 16 for… oh, must have been a week or so. Sadly, that week was the cut-off point for the Masters, so, oops!  He hasn’t looked like the same player we know is amazing and won in 2010, but Milkins is not the player of 5 years ago either, and I don’t see him winning here.
Prediction: Neil Robertson,

Ali Carter vs. Graeme Dott: Wash, rince, repeat, this happened 12 months ago. And Dott won. Dott has been good all season and hasn’t got the rewards he deserves, with a sole ranking final to his name. He won 12 years ago, was last in the final 8 years ago, but is still fighting and playing well again.

For whatever reason, it’s just not happened for Ali this season. He is a much better player than he’s shown, but is in real danger of dropping away from the elite.  On his day Carter is an excellent player, a twice World Finalist, and lives for the big occasion. But all the pressure’s on the Captain here to correct the nosedive his form’s in.
Prediction: Graeme Dott, 10-7.

Ronnie O’Sullivan vs. Stephen Maguire: Anybody who’s followed snooker long enough knows that Maguire is much respected by his opponent here. And Maguire is now playing like the player who was labelled as a future world champion in 2003 by Ronnie again, having had some lean years. Another ranking title mustn’t be far away.

Ronnie beat Maguire in the Semi-Final of the UK Championship 6-4, but I feel he got lucky, being outscored by Maguire overall I think. Ronnie has had a wonderful season with five more ranking titles on his shelf, and is after a 6th world title, to tie Steve Davis and Ray Reardon. Just don’t think it’s this year.
Prediction: Stephen Maguire, 10-9.                          Quarter Winner: Mark Williams

Eventual World Champion Prediction: Mark Williams.

 

 

 

 

 

“Every great love begins with a great story”: Nicholas Sparks

Hi everybody, this is my first official post. I know, I said it would be Saturday, and it’s technically Friday (unless you live in Fiji, in which case I’m doing it on the right day). Anyway, I want to talk about storytelling.

Many people have asked me “Renegade, why do you write your stories?” (Actually, that’s a lie: nobody’s ever asked me that, and now they don’t have to.)

It’s all about having a story to tell. I started because I had a story in my head which I wanted to share. It’s a way of showing my creativity, something all creative people need. SOme choose textiles, some choose drawing, some just can’t be bothered. But I wanted to express it through words.

So I wrote a couple of chapters, just as a laugh. I didn’t expect that 6 years later, I would still be writing it and still be loving it.

Fanfiction writing has a sometimes unsavoury reputation for being “a load of fangirls writing their sexual fantasies”. No, really, that is an actual quote from an actual person, who for many reasons (not least their embarrassment) will remain anon.

Fanfiction writing is a way of embracing the culture of a show. We’ve all been there, watching a program we love, and something happens which we didn’t agree with. They killed off a character we liked. Or maybe they left a cliffhanger and we think we know how it should be written next.

That is what fanfiction writing is. It isn’t telling the writers that we think we know better than them, or they’re doing a terrible job. Quite the opposite in fact: I believe that it is a subconscious message to the creators and writers, saying “well done, we are invested”. Because we are investing.

Even if it isn’t a financial investment, we are investing ourselves. Our thoughts, our feelings, our time, that is our investment. And they are more valuable than any coin or note. Because we can’t get that time back. By investing it in this universe, we are creating our own little universe where we decide what happens. And sometimes, it’s just nicer than being in our real universe.

And to celebrate storytelling, I will share with you the first chapter I ever wrote. I will share the first 1000words as a preview, and then if you want to read on, I will provide the link. This chapter has since been rewritten and re-mastered several times, but the genesis premise remains the same. This is What Makes an Army Chapter 1: Evil Born

Chapter One- Evil Born

Point of View- Phil

The year: 2014

The date: 1st February

The location: Greenock College, Greenock, Scotland

The temperature: Cold (isn’t it always in Scotland)?

It was the usual temperature in Scotland (probably minus figures). My plan was about to commence.

Now I must explain who I am for you. I’m Phil Robinson. I’m at this college on business. But I’m not a school inspector. Or a taxi driver. Or a parent (yet). No- I’m a hypnotist. Not trained, not approved, self taught, hypnotist… probably. I’ve not actually tried it yet, but I found a course online teaching me. Only cost £100. Anyway…

The reason I’m here is because I have a target. She doesn’t study here, but she’s visiting here. So my target is the person she’s visiting- her pen pal. Then, running as fast as her legs would go, she arrived. Her name? Jodi ‘Scout’ Allen. I followed her in, then tapped her on the shoulder.

Phil: ‘Can you tell me where Hannah Cummings is?’

Jodi: ‘Dunno- I’m meeting her for the first time today. Who are you anyway?’

Phil: ‘I’m an old friend of hers. My name’s Phil Robinson. Can I have a word a moment?’

Jodi: ‘Sure. I’m Jodi Allen by the way.’

Phil: ‘Thanks.’ I then took her to one side, and immediately handcuffed her to a rail.

Jodi: ‘What are you doing?’

Phil: ‘Short or long answer required?’

Jodi: ‘Short.’

Phil: ‘Hypnotising you.’

Jodi: ‘Ok, rewind, why?’

Phil: ‘You want the long answer now? Geez- teenagers these days, can never make their minds up. Fine- I want Hannah under my control. And I need someone to help me do it. So that’s where you come in- I heard from a friend of mine that you are spending time with Hannah. So you can get Hannah for me, and I get 2 slaves instead of 1. Explanation enough? Or you want me to write it down for you?’

Jodi: ‘Please- I’ll do that for you, just let me go, ok?’

Phil: ‘Fine- you have 48 hours. You will wear this camera tie so I know exactly what’s going on. If you even try to tell her, or you don’t do it, or try to run away, the tie will tell me and a siren will start wailing, knocking you out.’

Jodi: ‘Fine- just untie me you freak.’ I then untied her.

Phil: ‘Clock’s ticking.’

Jodi: ‘I know.’ Jodi then left, and I kept an eye on her and Hannah. After the first 24 hours, nothing seemed to be happening. So as Jodi left for the day, I took her to one side. ’24 hours left- I’ll get there.’

Phil: ‘I’ve decided to extend the time limit.’

Jodi: ‘Really?’

Phil: ‘Yes- you’ll have forever to repay me.’ I then handcuffed her to the post again. ‘This time it’s not a threat.’

Jodi: ‘I don’t have to look.’

Phil: ‘Once it’s started, you won’t be able to look away. Now watch the pretty coin of gold, and you will do as you are told. You will obey only me.’ Jodi couldn’t look away, no matter how much she tried to resist. ‘Good girl- you’re there now. Now keep your focus. When I click my fingers, you will be in a hypnotic trance, unable to resist my word.’ I then clicked my fingers and it worked- she was in an entranced state.

‘Now Jodi, listen to my words, read them well. I will shortly click my fingers for a second time. You will then awaken. But your heart will be tainted and dark- you will no longer be bound to the laws of this world. You will be deep under my spell, determined to follow my every word. You are stronger than you would think, but your strength along with your heart and mind are now mine.’ I then clicked my fingers a second time, and Jodi awakened, deep under my spell.

‘Jodi, I will drive you home, and you will pack your bags, before leaving. You will then get back in my car, and you will move in to our base of operations. You refer to me now as your master.’

Jodi: ‘I will obey master.’

Phil: ‘Good girl Jodi. Let’s go.’ Jodi then got in my car, and we left for her house. When we got there, I briefed her again. ‘Jodi, you will go and pack all of your belongings into suitcases. If anybody asks, you’re moving, you tell them nothing else. Once everything is packed up, you come with me to the base.’

Jodi: ‘Yes master.’ Jodi then got out of the car, and walked to the front door at a quick and determined pace. When the door was opened for her, she walked straight through the woman at the door, and walked straight upstairs. She then re-emerged about 5 minutes later, the woman shouting at her. She bunged the two suitcases into the back of the car, and then got back into the car, before leaving with me.

We drove south, for nearly 7 hours. When we got there, I opened the door, and she walked straight in, surprising Sean.

Sean: ‘Yo Phil, that’s not Hannah. What’s going on?’

Phil: ‘Slight hitch in the plan- this is the one I hired to get her. Didn’t co-operate.’

Sean: ‘Plan still on?’

Phil: ‘Advance the plan as agreed.’

Sean: ‘Gotcha man. What about the girl?’

Phil: ‘I’ll deal with her for now. Her name’s Jodi. Actually, could you set up the Cyber lab?’

Sean: ‘Sure.’ Sean then went up the stairs to set up the Cyber lab. A few minutes later, he called from upstairs. ‘All set up.’

Phil: ‘Jodi, come with me.’ Jodi then followed me up the stairs to the Cyber lab, where I took her hair down, and lay her down on a bed. ‘Now relax Jodi- the conversion will shortly take place. When you are awakened, you will remember little, just what you need.’ The bed that Jodi was on was then wheeled under the machine, which was long, cylindrical, and very, very hot. Me and Sean followed that up by going down, where we met up with another friend- Mollie.

Mollie: ‘So you’ve got the messenger.’

Phil: ‘Yeah- I do.’

Mollie: ‘Bet when you have Hannah, she’ll fall in love with you.’

Phil: ‘She won’t.’ We were then interrupted by a muffled screech from upstairs. ‘That’ll be the mind-wiping taking effect. Can’t have everything in life- mind-wiping is painful.’

If you want to read the rest of this inaugural chapter, you can find it here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9036873/1/What-Makes-An-Army

Thank you for reading, enjoy the chapter. On my next post, I will deliver my first game review, and it’s a beauty: How to Train Your Dragon 2 for Xbox 360. Until next time my fellow Renegades, All for the Renegades!