The original plan for this chapter was to have Tarn and Tranton walking around Aviar, so that the dialogue and exposition are surrounded by action. I shifted away from that approach towards having them stuck in a fairly static scene in Tarn’s apartment for a couple of reasons:
1. Having them confined to that one location mirrors the situation that they’re both feeling: of being trapped and short of options, even though they’re theoretically free to leave at any point.
2. We’ve already had a few ‘sight seeing’ chapters in Aviar. Having another one could have felt rather indulgent. Having this chapter be quieter and less grandiose in its presentation shifts things up a bit.
That was the thinking, anyway. I’m not 100% sure it was the right decision, but hopefully it worked.
Of course, the challenge then was to still have action in the chapter, even while the characters are relatively static. Hence we have Tranton pouring himself a drink, then both of them moving to the window, and details of how they are interacting physically with each other. It lends the proceedings an awkward, slightly claustrophobic feel as these two very different people navigate around their conversation.
It’s unusual to get Tranton speaking about what’s going on in his head. It’s also unusual to have Tarn vocalise his feelings. Having both of those things happen in the same chapter was fun – especially as there are no other characters in this one. It’s very much a double act between Tarn and Tranton, neither of whom have had a huge amount of page time together.
These are also characters that have often been involved in the bigger, more bombastic chapters. They get into fights, make big statements. In this chapter, they have a quiet and surprisingly raw chat.
Some of the dialogue in this chapter is referencing notes I’ve had in my ‘Random ideas’ file inside Scrivener for years. If a good line of dialogue or theme occurs to me, I often write it down in there for future use. Tranton’s line about all the ways those you love can die is one such line and a variant of it has actually already been used, in a much earlier chapter from King Guijus’ POV. That Tranton echoes the sentiment here is especially interesting, when you compare their reactions to the thought. For Guijus, that knowledge of all the things that could go wrong shackles him and stops him from acting; for Tranton, it gives him the motivation to live.
Oh, also, turns out this is the 100th chapter of The Mechanical Crown. Crazy, right? Irritatingly, the 100th episode of the show Babylon 5 was called ‘The ragged edge’, which is what I named the PREVIOUS chapter of The Mechanical Crown.
Really didn’t think that one through, did I?