Jun 15, 2014

QK Round 2: Can't Keep a Bad Girl Down VS SunnysideUp

Entry Nickname: Can’t Keep a Bad Girl Down
Title: Biohunter
Word count: 82K
Genre: Adult Science Fiction


Niobe is guilty of many things: bar brawls, affairs with married mayors, eyebrow-raising morals, and of swaggering through life like a drunk cavalier. She is also the best biohunter east of the Rockies, a fact that has helped her avoid more serious censure from the Guild of Biohunters.

Orphaned at a young age, Niobe joined the Guild to help other victims of the constant biological warfare over what few resources remain in a North America devastated by climate change.

Biohunters are neutral agents - part paramedic, part microbiologist part CSI - but when Niobe is framed as the source of deadly new weapons wreaking havoc across the north-east, she faces execution or worse: exile from the Guild and from the closest thing to a home and family she has ever known.

As a rising and ruthless new power shows its hand and proves it will commit unthinkable crimes to achieve its goals of controlling what’s left of civilization, Niobe must prove her innocence, finger the baddies and save her friend. If only she wasn’t handcuffed, but you can’t keep a bad girl down … at least not for long.

First 250:

The ambush came as Niobe hauled her dusty turbocycle saddle bags along the dimly-lit motel walkway. It had been a long day on the road, and she really didn’t have the patience for it.

She had to credit their stealth - she didn’t hear a thing until the snub nose of an ultrasound injector pressed into the exposed flesh at the back of her neck, snuck in above the worn leather of her jacket. Her neck hairs rose in ineffectual defense, and she suppressed a shudder at the contrast of cold metal on warm sweaty skin.

Niobe mouthed a silent curse. “For Gaia’s sake, can’t we do this after I’ve had a shower?”

“Shut up.”

She eased her head to one side, hoping for a glimpse of her attackers. One stood just beyond the downward cone of light that lit the door to her room, too far to be holding the weapon to her neck. Two of them, then. There was a whiff of salty, smoky body odor that suggested a long time between washes. She heaved a sigh. “Fine. What do you want?”

Niobe could have answered the question for them. Most likely gold, or her comms unit - something they could sell to buy a meal or some water. Resources were scarce and a biohunter was an obvious target for someone looking for gold, or high-tech comms gear. There was precious little technology around these days, and what did exist was priced sky-high. People would kill for it if enough was at stake, and she had enough.

Entry Nickname: SunnysideUp
Title: If I Promise You the Sun
Word count: 89,000
Genre: YA SciFi


Sixteen-year-old Eve Thomas doesn’t mind that she can’t leave Nova Vita, an Amish-like religious community that rejects most technology and has perfected solar power. Except for the compulsions and tics linked to her photographic memory, life in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains is nothing short of paradise.

But when her little brother shows signs of a genetic disorder the cult won’t treat, Eve questions her religion’s reliance on God and its refusal of the modern world. As she searches frantically for a cure, Eve has no idea that someone is watching her, an eighteen-year-old boy named Mana Aquino. A migrant worker from the garbage slums of Manila, Mana is determined to kill the cult’s leader—the bishop who used his sister as a human sacrifice and treats all laborers like slaves. He just can’t seem to get anywhere near his prey.

After Mana learns about Eve’s unusual memory, he offers to sneak medicine to her brother, if she’ll serve as his human camera, gathering information that could ruin the bishop. If Eve can bring herself to trust Mana and accept his offer, she’ll commit a crime that will destroy the only home she’s ever known. If she says no, her beloved brother’s as good as dead.

Told in alternating points of view, If I Promise You the Sun, is a light science fiction thriller with forbidden romance at its heart.

First 250:

Mama and I pin my six-year-old sister to the kitchen chair so the medics can find a vein and fill a vial with her blood.

“Let me go!” Theresa shouts, twisting crazily under our hands.

I gasp for breath as her bare foot wallops my gut.

All children in Nova Vita are being tested for an illness so rare it has no name, and each one who tests positive will die. Bishop Conner agreed to let researchers study us, as long as they don’t interfere with our beliefs. This year, we’ll know ahead of time who we’re going to lose.

Once the needle’s in, Theresa’s limbs relax and her hazel eyes widen. We’re all mesmerized by the thin red stream shooting up into the glass—it’s too beautiful for anyone to take away.

When you turn thirteen, your parents finally explain that there’s no cure, maybe not even outside of Nova Vita. The cause may be genetic, which means it’s in God’s hands. The Book of Healing reminds us that illness is part of Nature and Nature doesn’t make mistakes. Every year, three or four kids from our settlement start showing the signs. It can take months for them to die, as muscle control, then eyesight, then breathing fail.

After we release Theresa, I avoid Mama’s eyes while mouthing a prayer, then tap the back of the chair four times. Not because I want to, but because I can’t stop myself. That way it won’t be my fault if the unthinkable happens.


  1. Judges, reply here with your comment and vote.


      Query: Nice opening line. However, I would suggest trimming the list down to three to avoid making it too long. (I’d ditch the “eyebrow-raising morals” because it’s the least specific and probably already covered by the other things you mention.) I’m confused by the “more serious” censure because it implies she’s been in trouble – this creates some loose ends you might not want in your query. I would include the definition of biohunters earlier to avoid frustrating your reader. I’m not sure we need anything in the second paragraph except the climate change, and it would be easy to add that bit in somewhere else.

      250: Fantastic voice. I’m definitely intrigued. My only suggestion is that the last paragraph basically repeats the gold and comms information twice. I think you could reword this to avoid that.


      Query: Nicely done. The stakes are clear, and I get a sense of the voice. I’m not sure you need to specify the cult rejects technology and has perfected solar power – the Amish-like reference implies the technology issue and the solar power doesn’t seem to come up anywhere else in the query. I got a little confused once we switched to talking about Mana. I would suggest rearranging your paragraphs so the first paragraph is all about Eve and the second paragraph is about Mana. Then leave your third paragraph as is with both of them.

      250: You have some great stuff here and a nice opening line. However, I found the backstory – paragraphs four and six – to be confusing. If you can find a way to work these into the story in a more natural way, I think it will work better. I think you could also find a way to add in some more setting and description in this first page. Right now I don’t have any sense of where they are or what their surroundings look like, whether the researchers are dressed like them or differently, etc.

      Judging round two is ridiculously hard, but I’ve gotta go with the voice on this one. Victory to CAN’T KEEP A BAD GIRL DOWN.

    2. BIOHUNTER --
      The query has plenty of voice and your premise is intriguing. I think you could condense a bit, though -- remove the "eyebrow" phrase from the first sentence, for example. I'd think about dropping "more" before "serious censure" so the reader isn't wondering about "more than what?" Also, for brevity and to get to the meat of the query -- I believe the second paragraph info. could be cut and the required info. condensed and woven into the remaining paragraphs.
      First 250 Words:
      Great opening, action-filled but also offers a good introduction to your MC. Not sure if that first sentence is the best phrasing for the concept -- "The ambush came" seems somewhat passive for what's actually happening.
      I think you a comma between "warm" and "sweaty". Also, this sentence: "Resources were scarce and a biohunter was an obvious target for someone looking for gold, or high-tech comms gear" -- I think you can simply stop after "target", since you already mentioned the gold and comms gear before. Also, this sentence is a little confusing -- " People would kill for it if enough was at stake, and she had enough." It sounds like what's at stake has something to do with the thieves' survival, so not sure what that end phrase is referring to. (I guess it references Niobe having stuff worth stealing, but those two concepts don't really work together the way it's written.
      Very solid query, with good stakes. I think it's a trifle wordy Still not sure the Amish reference is needed when you go on to state their rejection of modern technology, etc. A specific reference like that brings to mind lots of questions (How are they like the Amish? How are they different? Etc.) Not sure that helps here. I also wonder, since your book is an alternating POV, if you could do specific POV paragraphs for the two MC's (right now Mana's is a bit mixed in with Eve's.
      First 250 Words:
      Well-written, with a strong beginning. I do feel as if I want a touch more setting -- if this is a more rustic locale, perhaps reference (briefly) the heat (or cold) or something else sensory -- scents from cooking, bugs flying about, etc. Something to establish the specific nature of this setting.
      I feel as if the info. presented in paragraphs 4 and 6 (the expository info.) might be better place elsewhere -- perhaps woven into following paragraphs. In this first 250, I'd rather read more about how Eve FEELS (or what she's thinking) rather than the background info. on the disease.
      Another strong match-up. Both are certainly worthy of agent interest (and will undoubtedly get some). But since I must vote, I will go with the one that presented more voice in the query and the firs 250 words --

    3. Can't Keep a Bad Girl Down:
      Query: Your second paragraph is backstory, taking up vital space in the spot where we should be starting in on the plot itself. I think you could take most of this out entirely and just find another spot to slide in the biological warfare/climate change angle. You need a comma after "microbiologist" (and also, this combo of jobs sounds amazing!). I think that your conflict with the unnamed new power would be much stronger here if you did two things: first, be a bit more specific about the evil force (how exactly do they show their hand? What unthinkable crime?), and second, be a bit more specific about what exactly she's going to have to do/face to overcome them. On the same note (this one is subjective), "finger the baddies" made the stakes sound not as high for me--it's a phrase I'd expect to hear in a comedy or old-timey crime book/movie.
      First 250: Boom! You instantly create a clear picture and inject some awesome voice into it to boot. I don't really have anything to add here. Nicely done!

      Sunnyside Up:
      Query: LOVE the big choice/stakes in the last paragraph--clearly stated, well defined, and we can tell just how impossible this choice is going to be. I did feel like the query got a little muddled when you switch back and forth between characters. You might try having a paragraph for each character, and then one that combines their stories and the plot/stakes.
      First 250: I like the line about the blood being too beautiful for anyone to take away--nice voice. The chair-tapping interested me--does she have OCD, or a similar mental illness? If she does, that might be an interesting thing to note in the query, especially if it plays any kind of role in the character/plot development. I wish this scene wouldn't have switched back and forth between the scene and backstory/explanation--it steals the power of both. You may consider opening with the scene and little hints of why it's happening, then go into more backstory once you have us hooked.

      My decision: agh, this is so hard! Both of these have really cool concepts, but I'm going to go with the one that showed more voice and felt more polished overall. VICTORY TO CAN'T KEEP A BAD GIRL DOWN!

    4. Can't Keep a Good Girl Down
      I LOOOVE that last line. I'd read it based on that alone. I love the way you pull the handcuffs into the query.
      Really my only problem was that I didn't quite understand the guild. At first you make it seem like she only joined them so she could help other people, then you make it out like they're her family and very important to her. I didn't really get that the first time around.

      SunnySide Up
      The switch to Mana's perspective is a bit abrupt to me. I'd end the one paragraph with "She has no idea someone is watching her." this will leave just a tiny bit of intrigue there and we can start a new paragraph about the boy and it won't feel to weird to all of the sudden be talking about what HE wants and not who we'd need talking about before.

      Victory goes to : Can't Keep a Good Girl Down

    5. Allusion AssassinJune 17, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      First, both of these opening 250 are terrific to me. Unlike the other judges, liked the alternating info and action in Sunnyside. So I have nothing to offer there.

      That said, I thought both of these queries had issues. With your great stories and writing, I hope you'll both dive in an polish up these queries so that your terrific novel's get the agent love they deserve.

      CAN'T KEEP - This query is dense and spends a lot of time explaining the world instead of drawing us into the stakes. But even with all that explaining, we have no idea what a biohunter is when we read your query until midway through, and even then, it's a weak description. The censure line is confusing and we don't get any of your MC's great voice with the one exception of "fingering the baddies". We don't know what the conflict is except some nameless faceless villain and we don't know anything about how the plot unfolds. Right now the MC of your query is the world and her job, not Niobe.

      I think you need to do a fairly hefty rewrite of this query from Niobe's point of view - start your hook with the mess she's in, not background on her character. That (and hopefully more of her voice) you can weave in as you unfold the plot, conflict and stakes.

      Your opening is solid, but the introduction of Mano still isn't working for me. Part of it's the phrasing "has no idea someone is watching her, an 18 yr old..." That sentence doesn't work. Neither does the follow on about him being a migrant worker (why do we care?) from the slums of Manila (again, irrelevant). Then there are plot issues - how does he discover her memory prowess and why does he think that can help him? Seems like a stretch. Also, if it's such a rare, incurable disease, how does Mana (slum boy) have medicine that would help that she doesn't have access?

      I did like your POV sentence, but it's way at the end, so we don't know that when we read it. To better showcase that it is alternating POV, I recommend you completely separate the Eve paragraph from Mana. He needs to be standalone with his own stakes and conflict. It would be a standard romance query set up - P1 Eve, her conflict and stakes P2 Mana, his conflict and stakes P3 The intersection and their joint stakes.

      To me this was a toss up round. Both queries need work to shine as much as their great stories they represent. Opening pages were both great, but Biohunter's had the better voice. Ultimately though, I understand the story and stakes behind Sunnyside more.


      Not loving the opening sentence. It seems to start out with a bang "The ambush!" and then suddenly slows to a near-halt with talk of "dusty turbocycle saddle bags" and "dimly-lit motel walkway"s.

      "she really didn’t have the patience for it." - This phrase bugs me, I think b/c an ambush isn't really something you need patience for. Enthusiasm, energy, time? Sure. Patience just doesn't seem to make sense.

      "too far to be holding the weapon to her neck" - I'm not sure I get this... isn't he in front of her? Or did she actually turn her head around to look behind her? Or is she looking in a reflection?

      Overall, I'm intrigued.

      Pretty intense opening sentences.

      "All children in Nova Vita..." - This whole paragraph seems rather info-dumpy. I think this info could be worked into the "When you turn thirteen" paragraph without interrupting the action so much. (Though I'm not overly fond of the second-person "you" there)

      I like the hint at her tics in the last paragraph. I'd keep reading.

      Victory to SUNNYSIDEUP


      QUERY: This seems solid. I have no suggestions. You were able to convey the world-building aspects and clearly define the stakes.

      First 250: Very nice. I WANT THIS right now.

      My only suggestion is in the last paragraph. You have an echo on the previous sentence that can be deleted: Resources were scarce and a biohunter was an obvious target (delete- for someone looking for gold, or high-tech comms gear).


      QUERY: Solid query. I don’t have any suggestions.

      First 250: I was with you until you started to talk about the disease. Is there a way to convey this without it feeling like an info dump? It took away from the moment. Maybe layer this information in through dialogue.

      Both seem like amazing books. And I love SciFi. I’ll be all over both of these when they’re available. But I can only choose one. And I really enjoyed the voice in the first 250 of Can’t Keep a Bad Girl Down. Good luck to you both.


    8. DivaDeconstructedJune 17, 2014 at 7:50 PM


      Query: So you use the term "Biohunter" a lot, but don't explain what one is until the 3rd paragraph. I'd recommend letting us know earlier, since it is so important. You also mention in the final paragraph that Niobe must save her friend, but I'm not sure we knew her friend was missing/in peril. You've definitely got an interesting plot, but I feel it's a bit lost in the details. In order for Biohunters and stuff to matter, we need to know more about Niobe. She's the person who we are seeing this world through. So I think the query should focus more on her and less on the plot. It seems like you're trying to explain too much, whereas you just need to give the Agent enough an idea of what the novel is about. Also...just curious. What is she handcuffed to?

      First 250: I really love the action of this scene. I do wish we got a bit more of Niobe's personality, how she feels about these things. However, you certainly start in a place that will instantly get the reader invested.



      Query: I generally like this query. I'm a little confused what this means "Except for the compulsions and tics linked to her photographic memory," Since the photographic memory is so important, I feel like this needs to be explained more. I also would recommend a little restructuring of the 2nd paragraph the section that reads "As she searches frantically for a cure, Eve has no idea that someone is watching her, an eighteen-year-old boy named Mana Aquino. A migrant worker from the garbage slums of Manila, Mana is determined to kill the cult’s leader—the bishop who used his sister as a human sacrifice and treats all laborers like slaves." is a bit odd. For a second I thought the slums of Manila where in some place called Mana (instead of the Phillippines) in this world. I like that this query ends by giving me the stakes. After that, I'm ready to dive into the pages.

      First 250: You do a good job of establishing Eve's character here. I thought the bit about the Book of Healing was particularly interesting. I have no real complaints or concerns.


      Verdict: Both of these are good, but I felt SUNNY SIDE UP had a slightly stronger query/writing sample.

  2. Can't Keep a Bad Girl Down
    I really like the premise and your MC. I'm wondering if you need to mention the friend somewhere in here--briefly--other than just at the end of the query. "If only she wasn't handcuffed," feels like it should be a standalone sentence. It would have a little more punch that way. LOVE the 250. I have a good sense of Niobe, and I like starting right in the action. And the last paragraph gives me a quick sense of the world. Good job.

    Sunnyside Up
    The query sounds great, but I would suggest maybe trying a paragraph for each POV, and have the last paragraph stand as it is, with them working together. I was a little surprised when I read at the bottom that it would be dual POV, since the query sounds like the story is all from Eve's POV. I like the 250, I was just a little confused because only a brother was mentioned in the query, and here there's a sister but no brother? At least not in this scene? It just threw me off a little. It's still a very intriguing opening. Tension right from the start. Great.

    Both of these stories sound great and I'm impressed by both opening pages. REALLY glad I'm not a judge on this matchup. Good luck to both of you!

  3. Can’t Keep a Bad Girl Down


    You should drop “of” before “swaggering” (breaks the parallel structure). You can also drop “more” before “serious censure,” as others have mentioned. You can eliminate the second paragraph by incorporating the definition of biohunter the first time you use the word.

    I’d also like more detail of how the rising new power shows its hand and what unspeakable crimes it will commit, just so I’ll know how truly desperate the situation is. But these are nitpicks in a strong, well-written query.


    I think the first line would be stronger with some trimming. Drop “dusty” and “turbocycle,” and it will have more punch. I’d also trim “One stood just beyond the downward cone of light that lit the door to her room, too far to be holding the weapon to her neck” down to “One stood too far behind her to be holding the weapon to her neck.” The cleaner sentences seem to fit Niobe’s voice better.

    You don’t need the repetition of gold and comms gear. Again, I’m nitpicking to make it a little more sleek, but your writing is very powerful, and the voice comes through loud and clear. Well done.

    Sunnyside Up


    I’m intrigued by the premise, but a little confused by the details. The first paragraph paints a picture of a small, isolated group. I wouldn’t expect the bishop’s power to extend any farther than the Blue Ridge Mountains. But then he’s sacrificed a girl from Manila and has laborers he treats like slaves who also seem to be from there. Does he have some kind of empire or is he part of a network of human traffickers? Do his followers know about the human sacrifices and the slaves? Does Eve?

    All these questions make me think the world of this story isn’t the same as our world, so I’d like some clarification about the differences.


    I really like this. It’s easy for me to picture. I understand what’s happening. I like the hint of Eve’s compulsion and also the subtle introduction of their beliefs along with the understanding that something is seriously wrong in their world. I would definitely keep reading.

  4. Bad Girl: I already like Niobe -- she sounds awesome! A fun character to read about. A few nitpicks in the query: you don't need "of" before "swaggering;" the second paragraph is confusing -- is there a way to make this into either a clearer sentence, or two sentences?; you need a comma after "microbiologist." Your 250 are fun! Love the first paragraph. A few nitpicks: I would suggest you don't need "in ineffectual defense." Just clutters up the writing. Need a comma between "warm, sweaty skin." Great stuff! I would love to read this.

    Sunnyside: An interesting idea! I like it. A couple nitpicks about the query: you equate the cult to the Amish, but the Amish are not a cult. That put my hackles up a bit (being part of a church that is distantly related to the Amish), so you might want to think about that detail. I would suggest you shorten "As she searches frantically for a cure, Eve has no idea that someone is watching her, an eighteen-year-old boy named Mana Aquino." to "As she searches frantically for a cure, Eve has no idea eighteen-year-old Mana Aquino is watching her." Also, you don't need commas after "to her brother" in the 3rd para, or after the title in the last. Your 250 are really strong. I get a great feel for Theresa. I do have a question about what "It's too beautiful to take away" means. Wasn't quite sure. Great job, and good luck!

  5. These are two very strong entries. I do not envy the judges.

    Can't Keep A Bad Girl Down: Love the first 250. Just a few suggestions for the query. (1) Personally I would find execution more upsetting than exile from the guild - but that may just be me. (2) You could drop "rising and" from the last paragraph as it is somewhat redundant with "new". (3) In the last paragraph you introduce "saving her friend" as part of the stakes, but we have no idea who this friend. If this relationship is at the heart of the story I would introduce it earlier in the query and provide more details. You could also drop it entirely from the query since saving her life and saving civilization is plenty of high stakes already.

    Sunnyside-Up: I've seen this entry in other contests and have to say both the query and 250 are stronger than ever. My main comment is in relation to the new final line about "forbidden romance at its heart." This took me by surprise. I assume the romance is between Eve and Mana, but nothing in the rest of the query even hints at a romantic attraction b/t them. Also based on the query I would have guessed the heart of the story was the choice between letting her brother die and destroying her own society. Those stakes feel more fresh and compelling then forbidden romance. Other than that a few small things: (1) I'm not an SF person, but I think you want "soft SF" rather than "light". Light would imply humorous and breezy to me and that's not the tone of the query or 250. (2) I think you can remove "garbage" before "slums". (3) I found myself wondering a bit about the "human sacrifice" - is this a literal religious ceremony or are you being metaphorical. Since human sacrifices are traditionally public affairs, its tough to envision Eve thinking of her home as "paradise" if this is common (if she accepts this as the norm, it might be worth saying that to show how embedded she is in this belief system).

    For the 250, I would suggest dropping the "it’s too beautiful for anyone to take away" line. I also found myself wondering about the significance of explaining the disease at age 13. Does that mean they wouldn't explain anything to a younger child who asked? Also, I felt psychologically parents would probably start by explaining their religious beliefs and then add "and besides there probably isn't a cure even outside Nova Vita" rather than the other way around. I also wondered why only genetic diseases were in God's hands (the highlighting of genetic implies that infectious diseases could be treated). Perhaps those things are explained thoroughly later, but the questions distracted me a little bit from the story. Still a really great opening.


    Query: I wonder why she can't leave. Rephrasing it along the lines of "doesn't mind that no one is allowed to leave" or something like that would help.

    I strongly suggest you cut "Amish-like". The cult is not Amish-like at all, it merely rejects most technology, and the Amish aren't a cult.

    The second and third paragraphs are very strong. You set up her internal conflict, the stakes, and the choices she must make very well.

    My only concern there is that "light science fiction thriller with romance" might be too many genres. I often see agents complain about queries with multiple genres because they are difficult to pitch and sell. Maybe narrow it down?

    250: I like the opening with the test. Medical tests are always stressful and full of suspense. We can all immediately relate to this.

    If an illness is common enough to be tested for, then it has a name. If for no other reason than so that the scientists can label the test results. Furthermore, if three or four kids die every year in this community, then you can be sure the community has a vernacular name for it as well.

    The blood mesmerizing them would fit better if we knew why they're mesmerized. Have they never seen a needle before? At first, I thought Theresa had been sedated.

    Why do parents withhold the info about the disease until age 13? If kids die of this every year, then kids are asking questions. This seems pointlessly cruel and requires an explanation.

    I suggest "may be genetic" to be resolved as yes or no. I think the adults would tell the kids that it definitely is, so as to silence their complaints. Otherwise, they'll be hearing no end of "but what if it isn't genetic?"

    On the whole, I would try moving as much of this world-building off the first page as you can. I think you can leave a lot of it for page 2 or later. I'm interested in Theresa and her family, and the history feels like an interruption; I want to get back to her! I bet you could incorporate some of this info into dialogue or narration, too, which would be even better.

    I like her compulsive behavior, as well as the hint that she is ashamed or embarrassed by it as she avoids her mother's eyes. I've seen OCD in fiction before, but I've never seen the aspect of prevention that so commonly accompanies it (doing the ritual to prevent something bad from happening).You've already sold me on your ability to empathetically portray this disorder. That's tough to do, you deserve to be proud :)

    Best of luck, there's a ton of heart in this concept!


    Query: I like the intro to Niobe. I want to read her book so I can write fanfic shipping her with my demon-hunter MC. I do think you can cut "eyebrow-raising morals" since we get that already from the other three examples, and the sentence will be smoother without it.

    I think paragraph 2 would be easier to read if you broke it into two sentences.

    You set up the stakes well in paragraphs 3 and 4. I did get hung up on "save her friend" since there has been no mention of a friend before now. Also, you want a comma after "microbiologist" and I second the earlier commenter's advice to end the query after "handcuffed." That's a good twist and a punchy cliffhanger to end on.

    250: I'm immediately engaged. The details, many of them sensory, that you include make the scene come alive.

    I do think you can trim the last paragraph aggressively. Let me show you what I mean:

    "Niobe already knew. A biohunter was an obvious target for someone looking for high-tech gear to sell for his next meal. Tech was rare now; people would kill if enough of it was at stake, and she had enough."

    I hope that wasn't too presumptuous! it's just been a long day and I doubted my ability to explain what I meant intelligibly.

    This is an exciting character and scene and I hope to see more someday :)