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summary judgement - LOLMac
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summary judgement
I haven’t done a weekend post for a while, because I’ve been off in the wilds of darkest Ohio, enjoying the lovely scenery. And on the rare occasions when I could stop looking at my partner, I even glanced out the window at the trees and stuff. Ahem. I did manage to get more reading and research done, and to get the first chapter of the new story fit to post. It’s now out in public here on fanfic.net, and in a spirit of egregious self-promotion I’m also posting the first half of the chapter under a cut here. Just to be a tease.

Macgyver, verb transitive. To improvise a solution, usually to a mechanical or technical problem, using available repurposed found objects.

Reverb

One: Present Imperfect

~

The early sunlight of the spring morning slanted through heavy cedar boughs and threaded its way amongst crowding stands of dense fir and hemlock, delicately reaching down through the drifting mists that cloaked the narrow valley that held the river. During the winter months, the mist resisted any attempts by the weakened sun to pierce the grey depths; but the season had turned again, and the mountains were responding to the change. The last few stubborn patches of snow were retreating to higher altitudes every day, and the thick dark mud that the snowmelt left behind bogged every trail and clung stubbornly to the bootsoles of anyone impatient enough to attempt to intrude upon the forest as it awakened.

The river chattered and roared, swollen with the spring freshet. The jade-green water was cloudy with silt brought down from the heights, as the turning cycle of time pulled one more thin layer of stone from the mountaintops and dragged it down towards the lowlands and the waiting sea. Eventually, it would wear the mountain down – but by that time, another mountain would have grown up, if not here, then somewhere else.

The man who paused at the bend in the trail, knocking his hiking boots free of the latest accumulation of heavy, fertile mud, knew he was close to his goal. He’d been stalking this particular suspect patiently for several days, watching as the target became less nervous and returned to regular habits, growing easier to predict and to follow. This morning, he’d been up since well before dawn, hoping for clear weather and the extra touch of luck that he needed.

Once his boots were more or less free from the dragging weight, he cut away from the path and slipped along the top of the ravine overlooking the river, careful to stay out of the direct line of sight. His feet stepped softly now, the damp moss and fallen needles deadening his steps.

MacGyver lowered himself carefully to a prone position, pulling himself forward as gently as he could across the stone shelf to the vantage point. His right knee complained at the effort, and he set his teeth and tried to pretend that it was just a temporary twinge, not the same recurring pain spike from the old skiing injury. He’d been lying to himself about it for enough years; he ought to be good at it by now. The fingers of sunlight reached through the screen of the cedars and drew sparks of silver from his shaggy hair.

He peered carefully out across the canyon before he fished in his bag for his binoculars. No improvised equipment this time; the high-powered field glasses were a generational leap beyond the pair that Ed Gant had replaced so willingly over twenty years before, and they were, finally, better than the old ones had been.

After such a long pursuit, it could have been anticlimactic when the view through the glasses showed Mac exactly what he’d been hoping to see; but the thrill made his breath catch, and he remained still for several long moments, absorbing every detail. At last, he wriggled back out of sight, stood up again, stashed the field glasses, and reached for his notebook and pen.

A thought struck him before he started to write, and he stuffed the notebook into a pocket and dug into the outer zipped section of his game bag. Yes, the new gadget was there – and a quick check of the display confirmed that he even had a signal strong enough to run a quick field test.

His thumbs flicked over the buttons of the customised Blackberry.

confirm 2 eggs bald eagle nest in standing dead tree N fork Stillaguamish River both adult birds present add 2 log pls Mac

He’d only been ten minutes on the way back before he felt the unit vibrate in his pocket: there was an answer.

@macgyver log entry made confirm pancakes rdy on ur return need ETA luv u grampa

Mac’s grin, proud and sheepish, would have burned away any remaining mist. He thumbed a reply to his granddaughter.

@petra 30 minutes don’t burn ur fingers luv grampa



MacGyver spotted the lights on the indicator panel by the computer as soon as he got back to the cabin, but he ignored the signal while he focused on breakfast, added details to Petra’s log entry, and chased his younger granddaughter, AnnaRose, around the cabin until she was giggling too hard to run, and he was panting with exertion and wondering why he couldn’t have had granddaughters when he was still young enough to keep up with them.

Finally, he bowed to the querulous demands of the indicator alert and sat down at the computer. He’d rigged the panel so that different specific lights went on in combination when emails from particular addresses hit his private server; this one didn’t require immediate attention, no matter what the sender thought. As far as he was concerned, these days none of them did; although he never put off anything from Sam, or from the girls’ mother.

Mac glanced at the email – Hey, mountain man, aren’t you ever going to check in? One of these days? Remember, like you promised? He sighed, pinged the sender, and switched on the webcam.

“Well, good morning, campers.” He beamed at the screen with a smile he knew would annoy the other party. “So what does the Director of Operations for the Phoenix Foundation want with some washed-up quasi-retired personnel at a lowly research outpost on this fine sunny morning?”

Nikki Carpenter Haines glowered at him – actually, due to the webcam, she glowered at a point in space about a foot to his right, which always amused him so much he’d never adjusted it.

“Sunny? I thought it always rained up there.”

“That’s just a wild story we tell the tourists to keep them all from movin’ out here and spoilin’ the place.”

“Are you ever going to get a real phone put in?”

“Not if I can help it.” MacGyver grinned. “Why should I? I mean, look at what we’re doin’ right now. I’ve got a real video phone – how cool is that?”

Nikki tried to hang on to her sense of exasperation as she looked at him, although the sight made it difficult. Mac’s smile still made her breath catch, and she had to hide both the thrill and the annoyance it caused. His face had somehow grown craggier over the years without developing all that many extra wrinkles; and the laugh lines had persisted even when there hadn’t been much reason for laughter.

There had been that scare about his heart two years earlier, which had blessedly come to nothing; but the strain of the long months of forced inactivity had taken their own toll. This past year, he’d returned with a vengeance to a physically rigourous life, and the added flesh had melted away. He’d stopped letting his hair grow long several years back, although it tended to look unkempt and shaggy at the best of times, and this wasn’t the best – the mop was mostly silver-grey now, rapidly heading for white, and it looked as if he’d been cutting it himself with his pocketknife, on random whims, without a mirror.

“It’s not at all ‘cool’ when you miss your regular radio check-in. Eighteen hours of silence past your scheduled time, and then all the poor guy got was a nice breezy, ‘All well, same time next week, same bat-channel’ – what the hell were you thinking, Mac?”

MacGyver shrugged. He picked up a small plasticine figure that was perched on top of the computer monitor and began to turn it idly over in his fingers. “Look, I didn’t think anyone would get that stressed out over a late check-in. We had a little trouble with the radio is all – it took some time to fix.”

“Trouble with the radio? Are you kidding? I’d have thought you could fix a radio in your sleep.”

Mac looked sheepish. “Well, the truth is, AnnaRose took the radio apart to see how it worked, and I made her put it back together herself. I figured she’d learn more that way.” He peered at the screen; Nikki’s face had vanished. “Nikki?”

The dark blur on the webcam resolved itself as Nikki lifted her head back up from her arms and gave Mac a long-suffering look. “MacGyver, can someone please explain to me why anyone thought it would be a good idea to breed more of you? The radio? Last I heard, she was just taking apart the toaster.”

“She upgraded.”

Mac – ” Nikki interrupted herself and peered at the figurine he was fiddling with. “What is that, anyway?”

Mac held it up. “AnnaRose made it. It’s supposed to be an eagle.”

Nikki raised an eyebrow. “I hope she’s better at engineering than she is at sculpture.”

Mac looked at her severely. “Are you criticising my granddaughter’s aesthetic achievements now? I’ll have you know this is a fine imitation of, um, early Haida totemic art. From the Tukwila period.”

“Right. So how much longer are your evil geniuses going to be up there with you?”

“Spring break’s almost over. Their mom’s coming out for them tomorrow.”

“She’s coming out on the chopper herself?”

“Yeah. She likes me to be there when she inspects them for damage.”

“And how about you? Any plans to come back to civilisation someday?”

MacGyver set down the figurine, his face firmly neutral. “Nope. No plans. Period.”




When I was a kid, it seemed that the Minnesota woods just went on forever . . . more than enough room for anything, and plenty of room for a kid to go with all his childhood anger and frustration and grief, and keep going until the endless peace and silence just soaked it up. At first, it was pretty small stuff, though I didn’t think so at the time – a reprimand from my dad, a bad day at school, an experiment that had resulted in another big mess instead of a great discovery.

Later on, after we lost dad and grandma, I had to go farther out into the woods and stay longer. I always came back, of course . . . my mom needed me, and there was stuff I had to do.

After I lost Pete, it felt like there couldn’t possibly be a forest big enough and deep enough to make a difference . . . there wasn’t enough silence anywhere to soak up what I felt.

I went anyway.

I just didn’t figure on coming back this time.


click here to continue . . . .
~

And I’m in a quandary. I hate writing blurbs and summaries. I’m lousy at it. And this one is a particular dilemma: the whole opening sequence is basically one long reveal, leading up to what should be an unexpected situation (well, unexpected based on the usual range of Macfic, anyway). I’m chafing at the need to include a summary at all, but it’s expected and necessary for readership in the wild, heartless jungle of ff.net.  (Or, as some apparently call it, The Pit.)

My first attempt at a summary came across, at least to me, as gruesomely pretentious. I’m not much keener on my second.  Ack.

So anyone who’d be willing to read the first chapter and make summary suggestions would be doing me a monumental favour! I’ll even offer custom iconification to anyone who can help . . .

'Beth
September 2009

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Comments
lothithil From: lothithil Date: 12th September 2009 21:42 (UTC) (Link)
It is 2009, and MacGyver is still MacGyver... though his life has turned in some interesting directions. No matter how many years or miles have gone by, the past can catch up with even the fastest and most clever of troubleshooters.

or,

Fatherhood is a reward that MacGyver had never dreamed of before his son SAM dropped suddenly into his lap in 1992. 17 years later, Mac is disturbed to learn that the past isn't so far behind as he had hoped.


Those are just to go on for now. Cogs still turning... (((Beth)))

:-)
wanderingsmith From: wanderingsmith Date: 12th September 2009 23:34 (UTC) (Link)
just popping in to offer sympathy on summaries. hate those. to reveal all and avoid bad surprises to reader.. or to follow instead to be mysterious.. but then both turn away many readers and piss off others.. ugh decisions
idlewild_ From: idlewild_ Date: 13th September 2009 15:38 (UTC) (Link)
Ugh... yeah. Summaries are painful. I actually like the one you have up - brief, slightly cryptic, but to the point. But will it make the heathens read? I can't say. I always feel like the word limitation leaves me writing blurbs that better belong on dime store novels to generate enough excitement to lure people in.

Oh, damn, and I just commented on your chapter and forgot to mention how much I liked/adored the stuff about grief and so forth - don't want to spoil too much by being too specific in this comment. But it was very well handled. The older I get, (um, which is still pretty much a baby...) the more I am interested in how all our inevitable human losses as well as the gains of friendship and family shape us.

Pondering summary suggestions...
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