Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by SLWatson, Nov 1, 2008.

  1. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons - Distant Horizons

    Title: Distant Horizons
    Rating: G
    Words: 1527
    Timeline: August 2240
    Disclaimer: Paramount's, not mine. Alas.
    Notes: The second 'Basic Training' tale; two months in, Scott starts figuring out a few things. Like what freedom is, when you've earned it rather than gained it by apathy, and what it is to be just a little bit defiant against what was demanded or expected of you. Edited by Teddog. Best read here. Last one currently in this set; there are probably a few more stories yet to be written that fit in here, but this one is a good enough note to leave it on.

    --

    It struck him as somehow ironic that he could look at a piece of equipment and often figure out how it worked within a matter of minutes, but it took him over two months to figure out that the purpose of Basic Training's first phase was conditioning. And not just physical conditioning.

    Scott wasn't a big fan of jogging; before now, he'd never really engaged in it for the sole purpose of exercise. It wasn't that he didn't jog ever, but it was always with a firm destination in mind. The physical training in Basic was pretty rigorous, but he'd had a rather easy time of it, at least compared to a lot of other cadets -- in Aberdeen, walking had been his primary mode of transportation, seconded by the public transit. So, despite it being a work-out for him, he wasn't dropping in a heap when it was over like some of the others.

    He still wasn't a big fan of jogging as exercise, but he was becoming a very big fan of the freedom it afforded.

    San Francisco was temperate; at night, if the fog came in, it was downright cold, but the days were tolerable and even with the sunlight it still wasn't too bad. He didn't know the city very well -- in fact, he hadn't even seen beyond Academy grounds those first two months -- but the climate was all right.

    The trail he was on was more than all right.

    The sun had just come up a bit ago; he'd started jogging before it was even showing light. Stopped off briefly at a small place across the Golden Gate Bridge for breakfast, then headed back out again just as the sky was vaguely starting to lighten, walking for awhile until he felt like picking up pace again. The cadets started getting Sundays off three weeks ago; before that, the days were scheduled twenty-four hours for all seven days in the week. They had to be back in the barracks by 2000 hours on Sundays, but it still seemed like more than a fair deal after two months where there was no freedom whatsoever.

    It was when Scott realized that he really wanted to put some distance between himself and the Academy that he also realized the past two months had been all about the conditioning. Not because he had suddenly turned into an exercise nut, but because when he was actually given some freedom, he felt the overpowering urge to take it and run with it for awhile.

    At the moment, he was jogging on a well-packed dirt path, running shoes making a good steady beat against the ground, breathing a rhythm that fell in line with his footfalls.

    This path was more than all right. Scott wasn't exactly what anyone would call a nature buff, but he'd spent his single digits wandering the woods and trails around the family's home, and had spent an absurd amount of time making himself hideouts there. When he got older and more bold, then he'd gravitated to the city where he could sometimes find discarded mechanical things. But he still ended up taking them back to his hideouts for a couple years more until he realized that no one really noticed all that much where he was or what he was doing, even if he was all over Aberdeen.

    This was nothing like the woods he'd grown up in.

    Aberdeen was an overcast city, which wasn't bad if it was all you knew, and it had its fine days as well. But the area around San Francisco was different -- the sun was shining, still rather golden, and the dew was all over the grasses by the trail. Flowers were starting to open, bright bits of color. There were a few deer, who looked up when he went by but didn't bolt, just watched rather placidly.

    It had been all about the conditioning, so far. By the end of the first week, he couldn't care less how packed the barracks were -- he was so tired at night that he'd drop like a rock into his bunk and hit terminal oblivion, sometimes before he even had a chance to get all that comfortable. He'd learned to sleep through all kinds of people-driven noise, either talking or snoring or what-have-you, mostly because he was just too tired not to.

    It wasn't that he'd decided to like being in a crowd, but when your day consists of getting up, getting cleaned up, squaring away the barracks, doing PT, having breakfast, then various classes, lunch, drill and ceremony, more classes, dinner, more classes, more PT, shower, bed... you quickly and genuinely stop giving a damn about how many people are around you. He had to absorb and become proficient at so many things in those first weeks that there were times when he was just surviving it in ten minute blocks. There sure wasn't time to actually talk himself into any kind of self-doubt.

    The valley he was in was far, far quieter than the barracks, and the quiet was something he didn't take for granted. According to one of the guys in his squad, who grew up in this area, it was a great trail -- Scott had to agree.

    He slowed down a little, falling into a walk. Could feel a bit of the burn from jogging, but he'd paced himself well and it wasn't real fatigue. The path had gotten a bit narrower, and sometimes some overgrown grass would tickle his legs. This path would end at the Pacific; months in San Francisco and spitting distance from the ocean, and he hadn't been to the water's edge yet. Closest so far was going over the bridge.

    He'd figured out that he had the potential to be a worryingly good soldier, too. Maybe too good. While Starfleet drill instructors weren't nearly so harsh as military drill sergeants in the past, Scott still reacted instantly to the tones they used, and followed orders in that same instant just so that they wouldn't go barking at him. So far, it had certainly worked out -- while he wasn't the shining star of his group, he wasn't reprimanded once yet, either.

    Logically, he knew that the ability to follow orders swiftly was pretty important, especially in a crisis situation. There was a reason that Basic started with drilling and ceremony and repetition and strict routines -- while Starfleet didn't want robots or people who couldn't do their own thinking, they needed people who could follow the chain of command. Later, they would learn to think more independently; for now, they were expected to jump when told and not quibble.

    Scott was a worryingly good soldier, and a fairly good marksman, too. Above average with a phaser rifle, and not shabby with a hand phaser. It had kind of hit him, while he was taking out the targets with relative ease, that he could someday have to do this with living beings. That was where the 'too good' part came in. Despite reacting instantly to orders, including orders to fire on targets that were a wee bit too humanoid, he held some part in reserve that refused to like it, or seek approval for it, or want it.

    Engineering didn't often require that sort of thing.

    Command School, on the other hand...

    He'd dutifully filed the application, and prayed quietly in the back of his mind that it would be rejected. Filed it because his Mum wanted him to, because he said he would; there had been a long moment, though, staring at the papers that he had nearly decided not to. Where something tickled in the back of his mind that said this was his life, his decision.

    But the patterns of a lifetime held in the end; he signed the application with a resigned heart.

    Now, he took his freedom, freedom he'd genuinely earned maybe for the first time in his life, and ran. Maybe in some silent hope that if he ran far enough, he would know how to change things. To buck off the expectations, to get away from the disapproval enough that he was no longer willing to do anything to avoid it.

    He only stopped walking when he saw the end of the world.

    No San Francisco Bay. No North Sea. The Pacific proper; it was a blue he'd never seen before, broken only by the whitecaps rolling in, thunder pounding against the rock formations on either side of the secluded little beach at the end of the trail.

    That much eternity demanded reverence. Something too big for man to tackle without the aid of mechanics; something one person could never hope to conquer without some artificial help. It demanded a quiet respect, this unsoundable amount of water.

    He stood for long moments, breath falling automatically in line with the distant thunder of the waves.

    Eternity demanded reverence.

    He answered defiance.

    Without a thought about the cold water, the fierce waves, the long trip back to the Academy, his shoes or anything else, he ran headlong into the end of the world.
     
  2. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons - Distant Horizons

    Wow. Scotty decked the dentist? And didn't get in trouble for it? Again: wow.

    Don't take this the wrong way, but the more I see--the more I start to think your version of him is quite the messed-up individual.
     
  3. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons - Distant Horizons

    Nah, why would I take it the wrong way? He is screwed up at this age. Not in any 'evil, crazy' ways, but just has a whole slew of half-wild instincts and not a whole lot of more normal, well-adjusted coping mechanisms. Though, he didn't deck the dentist. ;-) At worst, he probably snagged the guys wrist in self-defense (not because the guy was a real threat, but because instinct took over) and accidentally twisted it while he was bolting. It does make sense in broad context, though it takes a very long time before a full portrait of the hows, whys and 'what happeneds?' comes together.

    But, I figured that the dentist probably had to deal with twitchy people just by virtue of his job, even if it is a much kinder profession in that century, and some eighteen-year-old kid who was visibly spooked would one: Not be a surprise and two: Obviously didn't mean it in any malice. Why ruin a potential career over a mistake?

    Thanks for the comment! And, no worries. Scott does start settling down. ;-) It just takes a bit, given how far he started behind the curve.
     
  4. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, as you’ve presented him, I almost wonder if Scotty doesn’t have a mild and undiagnosed form of Asperger’s Syndrome or autism? His reaction to new and unfamiliar situations (the dental exam foremost among them) would seem to indicate that he’s wired differently than most others.

    Continued excellence in your writing, making this character a joy to read about. :bolian:
     
  5. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    First: That's a wicked awesome observation! Honestly, I'd never even considered that angle! I've written this more with psychology in mind, and that one hadn't crossed my mind, but it's a neat thought.

    And now, a discourse on psychology! Time for me to ramble again. ;) Sorry.

    I dunno if I'd go so far as to say that he's even mildly autistic, if only because there's a lot more psychology to it than physiology. Think about it: It's already established by now that he was left to fend for himself quite a bit of the time. Neglected, really, though not to a degree where he didn't learn language or that sort of thing. But he definitely wasn't socialized terribly well -- the very first people that babies and children learn about interaction from are their parents and family members. And in order to really start reaching out into the world and not being afraid of things, you have to first have the certainty that you have support behind you and a stable home base to retreat to. Curiosity is innate in children, and he's no different, but if you're constantly wondering if the people who should be caring for you and protecting you are even home, it creates a messy tangle in the supposed-to-be-simple mind of a child.

    It's a bit like Maslow's Hierarchy -- the pyramid of survival. Physiological needs always come first, because while you're worrying about those, you can't worry about much else. He got pretty adept at watching his own back fast; one of the things going for him that might not pretain to others being that he's extremely adaptable (a good and bad trait, depending) -- he's a survivor, and by this point it's still a pretty prominent part of how he views the world. What's a threat, what isn't, how to potentially deal with those threats. Except, because he was left to learn all this by the school of hard knocks, he handles it all very primitively. Never was taught that there are better ways to handle a scary situation, or something new, he automatically defaults to instincts and those instincts are feral instincts.

    Still, though, he's got a lot going for him, too -- he's very smart. And he's very hard-wired for mechanics, not just in the sense of understanding how things go together and work, but also being able to really get things in a full-sensory way. Pretty much his whole world, he views with all of his senses.

    You can see pieces of this early psychology even much later on in TOS canon. One: Scotty's hyper-responsible, which he learned early when his basic survival was pretty much in his own hands. He takes threats to his ship and crew seriously, and is very vocal about it when he thinks his Captain's about to do something ill-advised, regardless of the mission objective. Two: He's not exactly all that good at expressing himself; That Which Survives is a good example of him not being able to find the right words to convey this 'something's not right' feeling to Spock. It's also a good example of instinct, being sensory and being very aware of how all those things come together -- he knows something's wrong, he KNOWS it, even though almost all of the instrumentation disagrees with him, and even though Spock (who has literally heightened senses) can't feel it. And he's right. And he's proven right.

    There's a whole lot more there... I could spend hours talking about the psychology of this one character, nevermind any others. :lol: If you haven't guessed, I have a pretty keen interest in how nature and nurture works to make people who they are, and fanfic is a great way to explore that.

    But for now, I'll spare you more rambling. I've gone on longer than some of my fics are by now. Thanks again for a really interesting notion, as well as commenting and reading!
     
  6. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^It's really a shame you haven't put more thought into Scotty's character! :lol: :techman:
     
  7. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    I know, isn't it?! I've totally been slacking off on it.

    :guffaw:
     
  8. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    4me Junkyard Dogs is next. So far, i'd have to say that you have a singular voice. I like what I've read so far but don't have time to read so much at once-so I'll be back.
     
  9. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Take all the time you want! ;-) The stories aren't going anywhere.
     
  10. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Done! And, well done! Now on to the next! This was a lot of fun and brought a lot to Scotty-I can still see how what you are portraying can end up as Doohan's character. Great work!
     
  11. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Thanks much! I actually drew a whole lot of the inspiration from Doohan himself -- the rough childhood, and the early and overpowering need to get out, some quirks. Different means and methods, but he was definitely a major source of inspiration.
     
  12. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons - Random Artwork

    All right, random artwork that goes along with Distant Horizons. In case anyone's curious, I work in Photoshop CS2 on a Wacom Bamboo.

    Sketch of Jay, from Junkyard Dogs.

    Four panels in color, from Junkyard Dogs. I'm still not happy with this one, but it's not bad -- I do think the coloring on it is pretty good.
     
  13. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons - Random Artwork

    Very nice! It's great to put some 'faces' to the story. :)

    Just one question, though... did they have a sudden shortage of hair product in the 23rd century? ;)
     
  14. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons - Random Artwork

    ::blinks:: Hair product?
     
  15. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons - Random Artwork

    I get that it's a windy day in the panels displayed, but damn... beam those guys down some mousse! :lol:
     
  16. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons - Random Artwork

    Do any of them strike you as the mousse type? :hugegrin: You've got one scientist, one junkyard owner and one barely civilized kid. I'm pretty sure none of 'em spend a ton of time preening.

    Well, Scott probably did when he actually managed to get a date, but that was short lived.
     
  17. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons - Random Artwork

    Look, Scottyville has to be young and hip and fresh! I want those guys in designer 23rd century clothing (think McCoy from ST: III/IV) and big 90210 sideburns and perfectly sculpted hair that wouldn't move in gale-force winds! :D
     
  18. SLWatson

    SLWatson Captain Captain

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    Re: Arc of the Wolf: Distant Horizons - Random Artwork

    You're real damn lucky I wasn't taking a sip of my coffee when I read this. :guffaw: