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By Jodo
#149513
Click Here for the Era of Darkness: Prologue
Click Here for Era of Darkness: Chapter 1
Click Here for Era of Darkness: Chapter 2

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"Clear," shouts Lieutenant Kane. "Comm. check?"

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"Still reading you Able Squad," says Captain Brior as his voice crackles in the troopers' helmets.

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"Copy. Alright, we're still three clicks out. Let's hustle." yells the lieutenant to his men.

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"Can we reduce static in the signal?" asks Brior. "I want a clear transmission."

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"I can try sir," replies the crewman. "There's a lot of interference down there."

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"Sir!" yells Meade as he grips his blaster tight.

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"A crashed recon droid!"

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"One of ours," shouts Kane. "We must be getting close."

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The men continue their trek through the frozen tundra, walking up several steep inclines. The frigid wind cuts through their heated suits as the lieutenant walks ahead of the squad.

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"Well," shouts Kane as he reaches the top of the ridge. "I think this is it-"

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"-I'd say we're here."

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"What is that?" asks Darr as he walks ahead of Kane.

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"Not sure," Kane says considering the structure. "The Emperor says 'jump', and that's what we do. Let's fall back, figure something out"

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The team moves back to cover as Kane formulates his strategy. He thinks for a few moments until he finally breaks the silence of their redoubt. "Alright," he says looking up. "We're keeping it simple. Haas will cover the door from the ridge. Nothing in or out behind us, hollar if you see anything."

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"Gotchya covered," replies Haas.

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"Rest of us will go in. Keep tight, watch your corners," Kane says as he looks at his men. "Kalin, you have point, Darr bring up the rear."

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The squad members nod their heads as they receive their orders.

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"Sir, they've located a temple. They're making entry now," says a crewman.

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The captain watches the displays intently, his hands shaking slightly as his eyes move back and forth looking at the screens.

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"The Emperor will want a full report. Can you maintain the connection?" asks Brior. "After they've gone in?"

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"Yes sir," he replies. "There's still some interference, but we should still have them."

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The men make their way into the temple cautiously.

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Only their foot steps echo as they move, quiet, yet seemingly ready to bring them doom at any point.

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The men continue down several vast halls.

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"Sir, look," says Meade rounding another corner.

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As Lieutenant Sumner approaches the console he flips a few switches and the screens come to life filling the empty room with light. He hits several keys and smiles to himself. "Alright Kane", the lieutenant says slyly, "Let's see what you're up to down there."

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"Well, which way?" asks Kalin. "This place is a maze."

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"Orders sir?" asks Meade.

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"Not sure," replies Kane. "We'll get lost in here if we lose connection."

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He thinks for a moment. "This way," says Kane as he leads the men down a large hall.

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"Sir, we're deep scanning the area and I'm getting something near their position," says the crewman as he studies the screen's readings.
"Right," says Captain Brior as he leans forward to speak into the transmitter.

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"Squad, we're reading a heat signature near your current position," he says. "Be advised."

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"Copy sir," says Kane. "Squad, keep moving."

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Haas breathes out as the wind continues to blow the frigid air around him.

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"I knew I should have brought something to do," he says to himself as he shakes his head.

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Kane raises his hand to stop the squad as he spots a doorway ahead, which opens up into a large room.

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The men get ready to clear the room, they grip their blasters tight and prepare themselves.

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Kane nods his head and suddenly the troops jump into action.

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Kane and his men eyeball the giant hall, watching for any movement.

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"Corners, watch the corners," Kane whispers, almost as if to himself.

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"What is this place?" asks Kane as he turns to look at the giant room.

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"I think we're clear sir," reports Kalin.

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"Careful now," says Sumner sarcastically, the console lights blinking in his face as he listens to the squad.

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Suddenly a noise of falling ice echos throughout the large chamber, bringing the men to attention.

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"Check it," snaps Kane.

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Their heavy foot steps echo beneath them as the men rush towards where the noise came from.

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"Steady," whispers Kane.

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The men suddenly lunge over the pit, their fingers on their triggers ready to fire.

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"Nothing," says Kane. "Nothing at all."

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"Yeah," says a voice from behind them. "I wouldn't count on that."
By Lance Quazar
#149554
CURSE YOU AND YOUR TANTALIZING CLIFFHANGERS!


WOW, I just loved this chapter. Excellent job!!! Really terrific photos, great sets/dioramas.

A truly great piece of writing that kept me hooked all the way through.

You did a MASTERFUL job of amping up the tension. Had a real "Aliens" kind of vibe as the troopers slowly and carefully explored a creepy, mysterious space. I was really on the edge of my seat reading the chapter, wondering just what Kane and his men were going to find.

Cutting back to the ship also really helped ramp up the suspense. As did the discovery of the droid - that was a particularly excellent shot, by the way.



I do think it was a good job to spend so much time introducing the characters in those early chapters, as it paid off here, knowing the characters a bit (even though they are in identical uniforms and impossible to distinguish visually.) To that point, I wonder (and it's too late now) if there was something you could have done to have make Kane just a little unique - a custom flourish like an extra badge or rank bar or something. It's a very minor point. The writing was generally quite clear, so I was never confused as to what was going on.

An outstanding cliffhanger, but I almost think it might have been MORE scary without the guy in it. If we saw just that scary tentacle....as it is, we know that a monster isn't going to just grab them and eat them willy-nilly, since there's a human standing comfortably right next to it.

However, it is still super intriguing.

again, really great work with the visuals. I think there is only one shot, really, where you can tell that the "snow" is really a blanket. Whatever you did with your pictures to keep the snow looking just slightly defocused really helped sell the look of the frozen, snowy planet. And really great job with the diorama. Even though it was a pretty antiseptic space, I think that look really worked for a mystery structure on an icy planet.

Excellent job using the textures for the ship interiors, too. They looked fantastically crisp and clean.

Awesome job, but you MUST release the next chapter within a reasonable amount of time!!! The suspense is too much!! Aaaargh!!

:)
User avatar
By Jodo
#149593
Thanks for the feedback Lance, I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed this chapter!!! It was honestly really tough to draw out those first few chapters, and develop the characters because even I wanted to get them down on the planet and set things in motion! :mrgreen:

I actually took a ton of variations of that last frame, but finally settled on the one above. Having the next few chapters sorted out kind of led me to chose this one, so that way there wouldn't be a ton of time spent meeting both the monster and this new character. Without spoiling anything, events will happen rapidly in the next few chapters that will set up the rest of the series, so it should be exciting! Right now I'm just trying to balance how convoluted the story can get while still being enjoyable/viable from chapter to chapter.

And I agree on the Kane figure. At the time I thought his rank bars might be enough to distinguish him, but I wish I would have given each character a pauldron or something.
User avatar
By The Professor
#149595
Great cliffhanger! I really, really like your sets. I used to use sheets for snow or sand environments, and your photography and effects really sell the look. Your interior set is simple, but the angles and lighting really sell it. Good work!
By Lance Quazar
#149643
Jodo wrote:And I agree on the Kane figure. At the time I thought his rank bars might be enough to distinguish him, but I wish I would have given each character a pauldron or something.


Oh, yeah. Kane does have rank bars that the others lack. Sorry for not paying closer attention!! That one's on me!

Now stop wasting time and get to work on Chapter 4!!!!
User avatar
By Jodo
#149660
Thanks again for reading Professor!!!

Lance, that's why I think the pauldron would have worked well. The rank bars are easy to miss! :P

I honestly may have time tomorrow to shoot chapter 4 already, and then edit it at my own convenience between classes in the next few weeks.
User avatar
By CloneCrazy
#149700
Another excellent chapter! The suspense was really drawn out nicely, with the the cut backs to the ship and camera angles. In fact, I think your camera angles in general are magnificent and incredibly cinematic. Enjoyed the mystery a great deal, as Lance said, it has a very Alien feel to it. Your dialog and writing style are very tight, making it easy for the reader to follow along.
Great work, cant wait for more!
User avatar
By Jodo
#149712
Thanks for the awesome feedback! I had wondered if the Star Destroyer shots would interrupt the flow or disrupt the suspense,etc. I'm glad everyone seems to think they worked!


Aaaaaaaand good news guys...................Chapter 4 is FINISHED. Just needs to be edited, which I'll do over the next few weeks a little at a time. :mrgreen:
User avatar
By Trooper31
#149731
This was a really good one. I love the snow effects and the snow in front of the temple (I assume it was a White blanket with folds for snow drifts, except it looked real). I love how we get some great interaction between the squad members and how slowly this is all building up in each chapter. The cliffhanger ending was great,except that we have to wait for the next installment.
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By CloneCrazy
#150100
Wow that was a thriller! Your timing, framing, and editing all contribute to what I would argue is the most cinematic series in our hobby. You feel like you're watching a movie, and a damn good one, when reading this. With frames like this: Image
and numerous others, you demonstrate your mastery of cinematography and framing. Truly outstanding job!

My only small nitpick would be that some of the pictures are a little grainy. I don't know if this is due to your camera or the lighting. If it is the latter, I would simply keep it the way it is, as I found the lighting to be remarkably compelling!

Once again, excellent job! Looking forward to more!!!
User avatar
By Jodo
#150119
Thanks man for the great feedback!!! It's a constant thought that I want the frames to flow well, and feel uninterrupted, as if it were more of a film than a graphic novel, comic,etc. This next chapter I've taken out 5 frames so far; hopefully the pace feels as good as this chapter's did. I'm always afraid I'm dragging my feet or skipping over something. :P

I'll keep an eye on the graininess for sure. I think it's a combination between user error (I just take pictures with my phone, and have no real clue what I'm doing), lighting, and then at one point I had a certain fog over a few shots because I had touched the camera lens. :lol: I did reshoot those though, I think. :lol:

Edit - and chapter 4 will be up in the next few weeks. I'm still editing the photos when I have time....
User avatar
By YAK_Chewie
#150331
I actually provided feedback for Chapter 4 before Chapter 3, lol

On any note, this was a great "setup" chapter, really liked the environment you made for this. It's very believable outdoors snow scene and the temple is really well done. Nice dialogue and intrigue between the troops. You've really got a fun thing going on with this series and I hope you continue it!

:wink:
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