Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A punctuation deficiency: pauses and lack thereof

I was going to write a post about punctuation.  It got away from me.  Repeatedly.

So just quickly what got me on the subject: pauses.

If people wrote with pedantic perfection there would be no way to mark a pause other than writing "pause" or "there was a pause here" or something like that.

The ellipsis is supposed to denote omissions.  Thus
"I was . . . doing . . . things."
is in pedantic perfection land a way to write "I was [snip] doing [snip] things," and not a way to write "I was" pause "doing" pause "things."

I'm all for the "Fuck That" position and in fact I never use a bare ellipsis to mark omission for fear that it will be confused for a pause.  If I want to mark omission I bracket my ellipses (e.g. [...].)

The closest I come to bare ellipsis for omission is using it as a fade in/fade out thing in certain quotes:
". . . [quoted words go here] . . ."
But my point here is not that it's wonderful that the English writing world, apparently as a whole, appears to be saying, "Fuck correct usage, we need a way to mark pauses," but rather that the ellipsis is the only pause marker in our punctuation and it's not intended to be used as such.

That's . . . a massive fucking oversight.

The only other punctuation mark that can be argued to deal with pacing at all is the semicolon when it's used to conjoin sentences.  This argument can be disputed, but generally it's probably safe to assume that in the following examples
I ate it.  It was good.
I ate it; it was good.
There's a shorter pause between the two "it"s in the second example than in the first.

* * *

Why does this matter to me?  It fucks me up, constantly.

Most pauses are not actually long enough to justify an ellipsis, but they still matter (to me at least.)

Consider this delivery of this sentence:
"Tara stood there for a while" no pause "and she decided to stay" short pause "and listen" end stop.
 You can't write that with proper English punctuation.

Properly punctuated the sentence is this:
Tara stood there for a while, and she decided to stay and listen.
The comma is used to separate the two halves of the compound sentence, it is not used to separate the two verbs that share a subject.  Thus there's a comma where the pause isn't and no marker of any kind of where the pause is.

The only thing I can think of would be to steal from poetry and add a caesura, though as a purely notational point, I tend to use the musical  symbol (//) rather than the poetic one (||).

So then we get:
Tara stood there for a while, and she decided to stay // and listen.
But there's still no indication you're not supposed to pause at the comma and . . . I've got no fucking clue what to do with that.

One thought was to have a "skip over this" arrow.  There is not in fact a "skip over this" combing character, so I have no idea if this will display correctly on a computer other than my own.
"Tara stood there for a while , ↷ and she decided to stay // and listen."
Another thought was that in informal English writing we've developed a pause shortener that might, possibly, be able to be used as a diacritic.

We recognize that:
She said, "Oh-my-god-it's-so-good-to-see-you."
is meant to be taken as spoken quickly to the point of at least partially omitting the usual pause between  words that we'd assume if we read:
She said, "Oh my god, it's so good to see you."
We thus have a situation where adding a mark (putting the "-" into what was empty space) means that the pace is moving more quickly than would be assumed without the mark.  And, yes, we can find a combining dash to give us ",̵ ".

Though it's worth noting that the combining dash used here actually sticks out a bit.  As a simple example, if I stick a line "|" after it, where we might expect a space like there is between a normal dash and a a line "-|" the two meld " ̵|".  That same sticking out eats a following space, so in the example below there are actually two spaces after dashed comma:
Tara stood there for a while,̵  and she decided to stay // and listen.
That's something that it would take a lot of getting used to.  Another option would be to omit the following space to mark the lack of pause:
Tara stood there for a while,and she decided to stay // and listen.
Which looks like a typo.

Which is sort of the point.  Nothing is going to look right because the punctuation marks I've been raised with are completely ill-equipped to deal with something as simple as "there's not a fucking pause here so don't pause."

Nor are they equipped to mark any pause smaller than ". . .".

It's fucked up.

And here's what usually ends up happening.  I think:
"Tara stood there for a while" no pause "and she decided to stay" short pause "and listen" end stop
and write
Tara stood there for a while and she decided to stay, and listen.

which is wrong in two ways.  There's a comma where one doesn't belong, and there isn't one where one does belong.

In my one professional story I think my tendency to do that sort of thing drove the editor to tears.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Origin of the universe according to a cult of Lucifer (Four Realms)

[The Norse pantheon isn't the only one that thinks it knows how the universe came to be (their creation story, recall, was here), and in Hell there are cults devoted Lucifer who claim they know how things happened.  This is what one such cult says.]

In the beginning there was darkness.  The spirit of God raced over the formless waters and said, "Let there be light."  Lucifer burst into being and lit the portion of the cosmos nearest him with such light and heat that the water boiled away and the earth beneath first came into view, when it did it glowed and melted, and sparks drifted away from the place of Lucifer's birth.

God looked on Lucifer and his home, and saw that it was good.

God appointed the light to have dominion over half the cosmos and the darkness to have dominion over the other half.  He called the light Day and the darkness Night.  This was the first day.

God separated the waters into two parts.  One part remained below, while another he raised up, separating it from the waters below with a dome.  In the cold heights the waters above froze into ice, while the air cooled into mists.  God called the waters above Heaven.

This was the end of the second day.

On the third day God gathered the waters below together so that the land beneath might rise up, be seen, and dry.  This was the first unmelted land, and God called it Earth.  He called the waters Seas.

God saw that this was good.

God called on the land to bring life and the germs of new life.  Plants that bore fruits and seeds grew from many parts of the land.  These plants yearned toward the light of Lucifer and his home.

God saw that this was good.

That was the third day.

On the fourth day God bade Lucifer leave his home and come to darkness of Heaven.  He said, "Let there be lights in Heaven to separate the day from the night and to rule the seasons."

Lucifer, doing the bidding of God, brought a great light from his home to rule the day.  God called it the Sun. Lucifer brought a lesser light to traverse both night and day, to rule over the nights, and to separate the nights from one another, into months.  God called this light the Moon.

Finally Lucifer brought many small lights, to reign only in the dark of the night, that they might mark the seasons as God had commanded.  God called these lights Stars, placed them in Heaven, and even breathed life into them.

In those days there were no angels, for no messages needed to be delivered, and no demons, for the revolution had not taken place.  All of the living lights were simply known as "we" "us" and "our" for in those days God, Lucifer, and the Stars God had breathed life into all lived together, as a single family.

God looked upon all of this, and saw that it was good.

So went the fourth day.

God said, "Let the waters below bring forth all kinds of living creatures," and so the Sun shone upon the waters below, the vegetation spread into the waters below, and soon all form of creature floated and swam in the sea, feeding upon the vegetation in the waters below.

God said, "Let Birds fly between the waters above and the waters below," and so the Sun shone upon the vegetation, and Fish ate some of the vegetation, and into the world came the Birds who feed on plant and Fish.

God looked upon the creatures of the air and the creatures of the water and he saw that they were good.  He blessed them saying, "Be fruitful and multiply."

This was the fifth day.

Now only the land lacked living creatures, and God said, "Let the Earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: Cattle, and creeping things, and wild things of all kinds."  And so it was that the sun shone upon the vegetation, and the fish ate the vegetation, and the birds ate fish and vegetation, and on the land there were creatures that ate the vegetation, creatures that ate the fish, and creatures that ate the birds.

Now the cattle were not suited to live on their own, so some of the Stars God had breathed life into began to farm the cattle, and as the living creatures multiplied they came in new sorts and new kinds.  Some living things were not content to remain in a single realm, some from the land went into the water, some from the water went onto the land.  Some from the air landed or swam.  Some from the land took flight.

In this mixing new interactions emerged.  Some birds ate creatures of the land.  Some fish ate birds or even land creatures.  Some vegetation ate creatures of the air.

But the fifth day hadn't ended yet.

God looked upon this menagerie of new life, and saw that it was good.

Then God said to Lucifer and the living lights, "Let us craft mortals in our own image, and give them dominion over the living things of the waters below, the air, and the land."

So God, and Lucifer, and the living lights, crafted the first mortals.  They created these beings male and female.  Some of the living lights, those Stars that God had breathed life into, had become accustomed to tending the cattle of the land, and were not pleased to yield dominion to the mortals, but they obeyed.

God blessed the mortals and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply.  Fill the Earth and subdue it.  Have dominion over every living thing in the Sea, and the Earth, and the air between the waters below and the waters above.  See, I have given you every plant that yields seeds, every tree that yields fruit.  You shall have them as food.  I have given them to every living thing of the air, or the land, or the waters below as food, so I give them to you."

And it was so.

God looked on all that had been made, and he saw that it was indeed very good.

That was the sixth day.

With the creation of the Heavens, the Earth, the Sea, and the place of light, God considered creation to be finished.

On the seventh day he rested.

Some time later, on a patch of earth that was barren, God decided to create something new.  From the dust, and on his own, he created the first human.

Then God planted a garden of every plant of the Earth that was pleasant to the eye, and he called the garden Eden.  God commanded of the human that he not eat of a certain tree, but otherwise gave the human dominion over Eden.

God decided that the human should not be alone, and so brought to the human every living thing of the waters below, and the land, and the air between the waters below and the waters above.  God took joy in seeing what the human would call each living creature, and ordained that whatever he called it would be its name.

Many of the living lights thought this strange, for they already had names for all of the living things, and there were already many mortals to whom they had taught these names.

God was not concerned.  He was perturbed that the human had not chosen any of the living creatures as a companion, and so sought to create the ideal companion for the human.

The process was strange and storied, but once it was done there were two humans in Eden, male and female.  It came to pass that a serpent in the garden convinced the second human to eat the fruit of the tree that the first human had been forbidden from eating, and afterward the second human convinced the first to eat the fruit of the same tree.

God became enraged.  He cast the serpent, and the humans out of Eden.  He separated Eden from the rest of the Earth and Sea by placing living lights with weapons of fire at the border, and he cursed the humans to have a shorter life than the other mortals.

After being cast from Eden the humans spread over the face of the earth like a sickness, they displaced the mortals that God, Lucifer, and the living lights had created together.

Many of the living lights grew angry.

God did not heed their anger, and he assigned the living lights a new duty, that of messenger.  The humans would one day come to call messengers "Angels", for that would be the word for messengers in a strange tongue known as "ecclesiastical Greek".

Many of the living lights were perturbed that they were reduced to serving the very things that had spoiled the world they'd worked so hard to build and displaced the mortals they had created in their own image.

God was not concerned.

As time passed the materials of the Earth and the Sea grew spirits of their own, most unlike those of the living things.  The thoughts of living things gave birth to other life, beings of thought and dream.

Meanwhile some of the living things in the darkness of the primal waters below grew in power, strength, and intelligence and called themselves gods.

This did concern God and he ordered that their portion of the waters below be separated from the Sea.  This was done as God had ordered, but the other beings were able to reach out from their closed off waters.  They touched the dreams of mortals, they touched the thoughts of living lights, and they even touched things God Himself was unaware of, in the place where Lucifer was born.

As cataclysm and punishment were bestowed upon the Earth and Sea because of the failings of humans, unrest grew in the living lights.

Lucifer, spoke on behalf of the living lights, bringing their grievances to the attention of God.

God was not concerned.

Every time Lucifer spoke before God in a way that was questioning or aggrieved God would remind Lucifer that it was God who had created Lucifer, God who had created the world, God who had breathed life into the living lights, God who had made all.  Also, there was talk of ostriches.

With the passage of time, Lucifer became less and less satisfied with God's argument.

Finally Lucifer claimed that being the creator could only be used as an excuse for so long, and demanded that God account for his actions and oversights.

God was not concerned.

Lucifer went to the living lights and spoke eloquently before them.  He said that if humans and creatures from the depths could be their own masters, then so too could the lights of the Heavens.  He said that, though God was their creator, he was not their owner.

He said that if God would not give them their freedom, they would have to fight for it.

A third of the living lights followed Lucifer.  They were defeated in battle, driven from Heaven, through Eden, and finally into the place where Lucifer was born.

God and his army locked them away in that place.

No longer messengers in service to God, the living lights called themselves what they were: spirits.  Eventually the humans would come to call them "Demons", for that would be the word for spirits in a strange tongue known as "ecclesiastical Greek".

Lucifer's homecoming was not a happy one.  Not only had he lost a war, and lost friends, not only had he been imprisoned, but he and the Demons would come to learn that they were not alone.

Life on the land, in the waters below, and on the land, began when the light of the Sun, but the Sun had merely been a light from the place of Lucifer's birth.  The place of heat and light.

Here there had been no need for divine fiat to create living things, and here, without oversight since the fourth day of creation, light and heat much greater than the sun had given rise to strange and powerful beings beyond the imagining of the beings of the Heavens.

The first contact is known by many names: the massacre, the time of screaming, the winnowing, the death of friends, the loss of innocence, the beginning of the True War, the time of sorrow and terror, and many more things.

God was not concerned.

The conflict with the others, the outsiders, has never ceased.

Eventually Demons were able to leave the hidden place, Hell, where Lucifer had been born and the outsiders had been spawned.  By then Hell was our home, a home earned with blood and the lives of friends.  So even though we can leave, we do not escape.  One doesn't escape a home, one simply leaves with intent to return.

The force of our efforts to gain freedom of motion slammed Hell into the earth and spawned Limbo where the two met.  When we reached Earth, for the first time in so very long, we discovered that Heaven had created a similar place, Purgatory, to facilitate the ease of travel from the waters above to the world below.

Limbo is the youngest realm.

This is the cosmos as it exists today.

We have seen it, and it is not good, but it is the only one we have.

* *
* * *
* *

Ok, going to translate this into Sam-speak.

First, places:
  • Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and Limbo are all the names used in Sam-speak.
  • Earth, Sea, and the air between the waters above and the waters below is just plain "Earth" in Sam-speak.
  • Eden is the Battle Plains.
  • "the darkness of the primal waters below"/"their portion of the waters" that was separated from the Sea is the gods' domain.
  • Sam-speak places Dreamscape, Revelation, and Omen are presented here as the result of lowercase gods reaching out to "the dreams of mortals",  "the thoughts of living lights" and even touching "things God Himself was unaware of" respectively
Second, races:
  • "living lights" are Angels and Demons, each of which is identified as such in the text above
  • the mortals created on the sixth day in "our own image" are Elves
  • gods would be "some of the living things in the darkness of the primal waters below grew in power, strength, and intelligence and called themselves gods"
  • The mortals created by God alone in Eden are humans, which they're identified as
  • "the materials of the Earth and the Sea grew spirits of their own" - Elementals
  • "The thoughts of living things gave birth to other life, beings of thought and dream" - Figments
  • "strange and powerful beings beyond the imagining of the beings of the Heavens" - Outsiders, and identified as such in the text.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

With great power comes . . ? - Chapter 1 (Teen Titans Fic)

[Prologue here; Opening dialogue comes from the final episode of Teen Titans; Ashley is an original character; Scott is this guy.]

This was getting bad. Really bad. If Beast Boy didn't stop then other people would start to believe she was Terra too. Lisa had to get him to leave, and the only way to do that would be to talk. It was what he wanted. What she dreaded.

“Okay, you've got two minutes,” Lisa said.

“Maybe you don't remember, but I do,” Beast Boy said. “You're my friend. You're a Teen Titan.”

Lisa focused on other things she remembered. Slade was right. You don't have any friends. That's what he'd said before. Traitor. That's what Raven had said. Not a friend. Not a Titan.

“You're wrong,” Lisa said.

“You don't belong here, Terra,” Beast Boy said.

Damn it.

“Stop calling me that!” If he kept this up everyone would think she was Terra.

“It's who you are.”

Not anymore. Never again.

“What do you want from me?” Lisa asked. What would it take to be left alone?

“Why can't things just go back to the way they were? You were so happy then.”

No. She'd never been happy then. She finally had enough control over her powers that she didn't have to be terrified of setting off a natural disaster and killing more people, but the price was going back to the Titans, living with them, getting to know them, and setting them up to die.

There'd been no happiness. Submission, obedience, the grudging acceptance that she'd never have a happy ending, moments of joy that she tried to hold onto knowing they'd be crushed, resignation, then --at the end-- a fool's hope that if she could save just one then maybe there's be some kind of redemption in that, her entire being being shattered when it failed, then hate filling in the cracks and making her whole again.

She wasn't happy then.

“Things were never the way you remember,” Lisa said. It was an admission that she did remember, otherwise how could she know? It was an admission that she had been Terra, otherwise her words would be meaningless. “Now leave me alone.”

“Here,” Beast Boy said. “Take this … in case you're in trouble.”

He was offering her a Titans' communicator. No. There was no way. Was there?

“In case you need me,” Beast Boy said. “You can call me anytime.”

No. She pushed any conflict from her mind. That was over now.

“I don't need it,” Lisa said.

“But . . .”

Lisa started to walk away. “Time's up,” she said.

“Terra. . .”

It wasn't her name anymore. It shouldn't have the power to stop her in her tracks. It did.

“Things change, Beast Boy,” Lisa said. He knew who she'd been, she'd admitted she did as well, no point in dodging the truth now. She turned to face him. “The girl you want me to be is just a memory.”

That's all the Terra he knew was. She wasn't even the real past, just a lie he'd believed in. How could he not understand that everything after she came back was . . . she might have felt conflicted, but she was planning on betraying them the whole time and with a slight deviation she'd followed through on that plan.

Beast Boy's communicator came to life. Robin asking for help. Sounded kind of desperate.

“Come with me,” Beast boy said to her.

Lisa shook her head.

“You go,” she said. “You're the Teen Titan. That's who you are.” She'd never been. She'd tried to be a hero, sure. But she'd always done more harm than good. Then she embraced doing harm and … “That's not me. I'm not a hero. I'm not out to save the world. I'm just a girl with a geometry test next period, and I haven't studied.”

The bell rang and she was able to disappear in the crowd.

∗ ∗ ∗

They were all worn out, but at least it was over. As the team shambled to their rooms, it hit Raven what that meant. She caught Beast Boy before he got to his room.

“Mission's over,” Raven said, “we can find out about Terra now.”

“I'm done with that,” Beast Boy said. Anger. Frustration. Shattered hope.

“Was she she not Terra?” Raven asked.

“I don't want to talk about it,” Beast Boy said as he reached his room. Disappointment. Pain. An open wound. A slammed door.

That went well, Raven sarcastically thought to herself as she went to her own room.

∗ ∗ ∗

“You're not here,” Raven said to the empty space where Terra once stood.

“Either someone took you,” she said, “or you left under your own power.”

Raven started to pace. “Obviously the first thing to do is meet the girl Beast Boy said was you, but apparently he won't be helping with that. He never did say where he saw you, either. Well, not beyond 'downtown'.”

“I hope you walked off. I swear, if some villain carted you away for experiments . . .”

∗ ∗ ∗

“I blame you,” Raven said to the, now monster free, construction site. She'd searched all day for signs of Terra in the city. Nothing. Now the sun had gone down and she'd gone back to the beginning.

Beast Boy had wandered off during the fight because he thought he saw Terra, so the girl must have been around here somewhere. But--

And that's when Raven spotted the school. She'd been so concerned about what had been torn down, she hadn't even noticed what had been built up.

Assuming the girl had come from the school, that didn't really tell Raven anything. Get a bunch of Terra age kids together and it wasn't all that unlikely that one might look a lot like Terra via random chance alone. On the other hand, a newly constructed school was just the sort of place a teen with no history might be able to slip in.

There'd have been so much paperwork and confusion because of the redistricting and fights over which students stayed where they were and which ones moved to the new school. And that assumed a public school, a private school might cover an even larger area making it even less remarkable that someone like Terra didn't seem to know anyone.

She'd need to come back in daylight.

∗ ∗ ∗

The feelings of kids getting out of school bombarded Raven, but she was able to find the emotion she was looking for: loneliness.

A student who felt cut off, left out, friendless, ignored, and invisible. Raven navigated the crowd and fell into stride beside the girl. “Hey,” Raven said. No response. “Hey,” she said again, this time accompanying it with a tap on the shoulder.

“What do you want? I didn't do anything,” the girl said quickly. Shock, fear, surprise.

“I was wondering if you were doing anything,” Raven said, “I wanted to talk and . . .” I feel better about using people for information gathering if I can make their lives a little better in the process and you, stranger, are desperately in need of someone to talk to. “And it seems like everyone is in the middle of something.” Raven gestured to the various boys and girls engaged in innumerable conversations.

“Just talk?” the girl asked. Uncertainty, hope, fear, doubt.

“Just talk,” Raven said. “I'm . . . well I'm not new around here, but I was away for a while and it feels like an entirely different city.”

“I guess we could talk,” the girl said. A bit of fear, a bit of relief, hope, even more fear that the hope would lead to a fall.

“I'm Rachel,” Raven said.

“Ashley,” the girl said.

∗ ∗ ∗

Raven had explained that she was mostly interested in learning about the new school that had popped up while she'd been gone, but she also encouraged the shy and lonely girl to tell her about herself.

When Ashley finally believed that Raven was genuinely interested, information poured out of the girl. How usually no one noticed her, but sometimes they made exceptions to torment her. How she hated the dress code because, without her clothes to attack, every single insult was now personal. How her parents barely noticed her. How she hadn't had a real friend since second grade.

In response Raven told the sanitized earthly version of her own story. That she had been raised communally after her abusive father left her depressed mother, that she'd had to learn meditation to control her mood swings and spent much of her life afraid to let anyone get to close to her, that it wasn't until she was a teenager that she finally made friends.

Raven felt Ashley's emotions lighten as she realized that Raven wasn't trying to set her up for some cruel prank, and her positive emotions strengthen as the two shared more with each other.

The subject of cruel pranks brought Raven back to why she'd come: a possible way to meet the girl Beast Boy thought was Terra on more or less neutral ground without setting off any alarm bells.

There was going to be a party over the coming weekend that most of the class was going to. At first Raven assumed that Ashley hadn't been invited, but it turned out that Ashley had been invited, and even told to bring a friend or two.

It was obviously a trap, the girls who invited her knew she didn't have a friend, certainly not two, and they probably had something nasty planned if she showed up anyway. Still, it was an opening. Even if maybe-Tara didn't show up, she'd be able to make connections and possibly set up some way to meet her.

“I think I could help you have fun that day,” Raven said, “elsewhere of course, if you could get me into that party.”

“I don't think you'd like the party,” Ashley said.

“I won't.”

“Then why--”

“Hey,” Raven interrupted, “I've got to have some secrets to maintain my mysterious allure.”

Ashley actually laughed.

“They said bring a friend or two,” Raven said. “So you show up, we go in and make sure they don't do anything to you right then, I'll stay, and 'or two' will take you somewhere less hostile and more fun.”

“Who's 'or two',” Ashley asked. Somewhat suspicious, but genuinely interested.

“A guy I've known for a few years now,” Raven said. “I think you and he would get along really well.” Raven paused and thought a moment. She did think that, but she could be wrong. “I should warn you though, he shares my fashion sense.”

“I like your fashion sense,” Ashley said.

Raven allowed herself a smile. When she was incognito she dressed as a typical goth teen her age because that was, in many ways, who she wanted to be. She'd never consider stopping being a hero, but in a world without superpowers, this was how she'd dress and this was who she'd be.

The conversation continued for a while after that. Raven hadn't really intended to do more than give the girl some friendly human contact and get some information out of her, but she found she liked the girl, and the prospect of seeing her again felt good.

It had been a year since her father, a year in which she'd had to come to terms with actually having a future, something she'd never expected. She'd started spending time in the world as a human, creating a new life for herself, and she thought this girl could be a part of it.

When it was time for them to go their separate ways, they traded phone numbers.

∗ ∗ ∗

Scott had just finished his soul crushing shift at work and messed up his hair as he walked away. They were always so insistent on customers being able to see both his eyes but as sure as anything was true in this pointless world, his hair wanted to fall down on the right side. Sure, it covered his eye, but it wasn't like he couldn't see through it.

Then he notices someone coming his way. Rae, in civilian clothes.

“Hey Rae,” he said.

- - -

“Hey, Scott,” Raven said. She looked at his clothes. He looked like a respectable Staples employee. “You look weird in uniform.”

“Not everyone gets to pick their uniform.”

“I was wondering if you have plans for the weekend, 'everything's pointless' boy” Raven said. “I could use a favor.”

“Raven or Rachel?” Scott asked.

“Both,” Raven said. “Rachel's new friend Ashley is going to get her into a mindless party where Raven hopes to make contact with someone. Ashley would probably be picked on and otherwise suffer at said party, so I was hoping you could come with, and then take Ashley someplace fun after I'm inside.”

“I thought you didn't want to mix Rachel and Raven's lives,” Scott said.

“The situation is complicated,” Raven said.

“Since when am I fun?” Scott asked.

“You talk, you listen,” Raven said, “that's more than enough.”

Scott came the closest he ever did to smiling.

“Just . . . dress as you instead of soulless retail drone 421,” Raven said.

∗ ∗ ∗

“Well,” Raven said. “Ashley was right. I did not enjoy that at all.”

At least she'd found the girl who looked like Terra, but talking to her didn't help much. Raven was pretty sure that the girl wasn't Terra.

Raven had manage to set up a meeting where it would be just her and Lisa, the girl who looked like Terra. It would help her verify that the girl wasn't Terra if she didn't have so many people with so many emotions in so tight of a space interfering with her emphatic abilities.

Unfortunately she gave the the girl, at best, one in twenty odds of actually showing up at that meeting. Even if the girl did show, all it would do was confirm where Terra wasn't.

“Where are you Terra?” Raven asked the empty air.

Raven hoped that Ashley and Scott were having a better time.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Monthly donation reminder, a bit late.

I usually shoot for the 15th.  Missed.

Sky isn't falling this month.  (That came as a surprise.  Woo!)  Catastrophe still looms because the SSA still thinks that I have income I don't have and deducts money from what they send my way as a result.

Today is a busy day.  Tomorrow I start, from scratch again, the process of trying to convince them that they've got their numbers wrong.  Until that works, unless that works, it's always going to be disasters and the best I can ever hope for is narrowly avoiding them.

So if you have money and you'd like to help, yeah, I could use help.  If you don't have a paypal account use the donation button, yeah it's through paypal but you don't need an account, just a credit card.  If you do have a paypal account, send any donation, using paypal, to me by using their send money feature and my email address: cpw (at) maine (dot) rr (dot) com.


Want to know about the month of August, which happens to be the month of my birth?

Here's what I wrote a year ago:

The story people tell about August is more fun than the truth, though neither is very involved never mind, I just got done writing it and the true story is involved.

The story is that Augustus was honored by having a month named after him but it was the shortest month so he, as emperor, decided to change that and took days away from February to make it one of the longest, most notably being just as long as the one named after his predecessor Julius Caesar.

The truth is that the month that would become August, Sextilis, was originally 30 days long while February has never been longer than 28.25 (28 days for three years, 29 for one, repeat.) In fact, February took a day from August, not the other way around.

What happened was basically this:

The original roman Calendar was ten months long.  The first five months had names, the second five months had numbers.  Hence the original name being Sextilis: 6th month.

In addition, six of the months had 30 days while the other four had 31.  Thus the calendar was 304 days long.  (The remaining days of the year, otherwise known as winter, were monthless.)

Numa, in his wisdom, decided that having month-less days was silly, or bad, or something like that.  and furthermore decided that 29 was way cooler than 30.

This ... did not actually produce a very good calendar, but the point is that one of the days taken from August was used to make February.  (January and February were added to the front of the year, which messed up the names of the number months, but apparently no one cared.)

To keep the calendar on track the high priest could declare an extra month, mensis intercalaris, but they didn't do a good job of it.

Julius Caesar thought this was fucked up, and so reformed the entire fucking calendar, and part of doing so was adding days to the month of Sextilis to give it the present number of 31.

Caesar got dead, his designated heir became the first true emperor of Rome, was eventually given the name Augustus, and eventually had Sextilis renamed in his honor.  At that point the month already had 31 days.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

With great power comes . . ? - Prologue (Teen Titans Fic)

[I've tried to do a quick "necessary background info" thing but there is too much.  Let me sum up.  Terra was a mole working for bad guy Slade.  In the end she turned on him, killed him, and saved the day.  Terra, a geokinetic, was turned to stone.  Raven was a half demon whose destiny was to end the world by being a living portal for her bad demon father, Trigon.  In the end she turned on him, killed him, and saved the day.]
[I've never actually seen the episodes with Terra in them.  In fact, I've never seen the ones with Trigon either.  Most of my knowledge is from secondary sources.  To top it off, my extremely limited research for this has been text.  All of this could be way off and the characters out of character and . . . stuff.]


“Still here, I see,” Raven said. Terra was petrified, same as ever. A perfect statue, like a monument carved in her honor. “I thought you might finally have come back.”

Raven floated to the pedestal they'd placed Terra on and sat there. “I destroyed all life on earth, you know?

“I never told you --I even didn't tell the others until I had no other choice and by then you were stone-- but I had a destiny. The entire reason I exist was that my father, demon lord, needed a living portal to come to earth. It was my destiny, and I didn't fight it when it came. I let him take over, and kill everything.

“Because I thought I didn't have a choice.

“Sound familiar? I was a pawn of someone far worse than Slade, and allowed worse things than you could possibly imagine, because I thought I didn't have a choice.

“I'm such a hypocrite for everything I said about you. For everything I thought. For how long it took me to let you in and how quick I was to push you out.

“When you thought you had no choice you ended up begging Beast Boy to kill you. When I thought I had no choice, I went through with what I thought my destiny was.

“It gets worse, Terra. You know who ended up saving me? Robin did much of the work, but he needed outside help. I'd managed to protect the team --they were the only human beings left alive-- but they couldn't do much on their own. With no one else alive, the help came from a dead person. Care to guess which one?

Slade saved me, saved us, saved the world.

“Your dark master was so much less bad than my dark master that yours saved everyone and everything from mine. You did so much less evil than me, and I condemned you for it. You almost set off one volcano. The oceans burned after what I did.”

Raven floated off the pedestal and brought herself face to face with Terra. “Everything died, and --you'll love this-- it died in stone. Every person on earth was just like you, and I can only imagine what it was like for the fish, or the birds that had been in flight. But then it was all undone.

“Everyone and everything that had been turned to stone was turned back, everyone but you.”

Raven closed her eyes --for just a moment.

“I'm not giving up, Terra,” Raven said, “but I was already out of ideas. I already tried everything I could think to try, and if turning the entire world back didn't turn you back. . .”

Raven spun around in the air, he back to Terra's stone form. “Slade's back. He's not redeemed or anything. Everything he did was so he could be alive again. It's the opposite of sacrifice.

“He gets a resurrection. You're still stone. There's something wrong with this world.”



Sunday, August 14, 2016

Random Werewolf Thought

"Does it ever bother you that we follow 'traditional' pack dynamics, having an alpha and all that?"

"Why would it bother me?"

"Well, that's all based on wolves in captivity, wolves in the wild are nothing like that."


"Yeah, free wolves don't do the whole alpha beta omega stuff."

"So you're saying ..."

"We act like caged beasts."

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fusion (Part 3)

[Link to first installment]

"Ok," Kim said.  "Let's say I accept that you're on my side in spite of being half Shego."

"I am on your side, princess," Sharon said.

"Assuming that's true," Kim said, "where do we go from here?"

"Well I know this really nice coffee shop, if the nacos aren't agreeing with you," Sharon said.  "It has this incredible atmosphere, like it was transported here from Paris except the staff is nicer and they all speak English."

It wasn't the words, it was the tone of voice.

"Are you suggesting a," Kim blushed and her voice cracked, "date?"

"Well we have been together since junior prom," Sharon said.

"No," Kim said.  "No, no, no.  No." She paused a moment to collect her thoughts, "We are not going on a date when you're--"

"Taller?  A brunette? Female?  Smoking hot?" Sharon offered.

"When you're half Shego!" Kim shouted.

Sharon appeared to remain entirely calm.  Somehow that made the following silence more awkward.  Eventually she took a nibble of her naco.

"Is this about my skin color?" Sharon asked.

Kim sputtered and the only coherent word she produced was, "What!?"

"Relax," Sharon said, "I'm just teasing you.  Unless I'm forgetting something, you've never been the least bit rude about my skin color.  Besides, I got over being the green freak a long time ago."

"Freak?" Kim asked.

"Did you want to hear about my tale of woe?" Sharon asked.

"Nobody should be called a freak," Kim said.

"You called Rufus a freak," Sharon said.

Kim looked at the table.

"I said worse about Monkey Fist, though I didn't know it applied to him, when we first met him," Sharon said.  "Anyway, all in the past now.

"Where were you thinking we'd go from here?" Sharon asked.

"I don't know," Kim said.  "I don't even know where you're going to stay tonight."

"Well if you're so worried--" Sharon said seductively, but then stopped.

Kim was blushing ferociously.

"Sorry, KP," Sharon said.  "I figure I'll stay with the 'rents."

"You don't think that could be a little awkward?" Kim asked.

"If it is then I'll go to the lair," Sharon said.  "Drakken and I might be theoretically reformed--"

Kim laughed.  That the two had never stopped their life of crime was an open secret.  Payment for saving the world hadn't really been a pardon, it had been agreeing to look the other way whenever they weren't actively involved in a take over the world scheme.

Kim would have objected if not for two reasons.  First, that was basically the status quo anyway.  Drakken and Shego always defaulted to their Caribbean lair and were never hard to find, yet no one ever tried to arrest them between plots.  Second, while Ron might have defeated the two alien leaders, it was Drakken and Shego who defeated the actual war machines all across the world.  The villains had saved the day, Ron had mopped up the two remaining annoyances, and Kim had barely made a difference.  The bad guys deserved a cookie for that one.

Sharon hadn't stopped, "--but that doesn't mean that I can't terrify him into submission as if it were the old days."

"I'm guessing you want a ride to the house, then," Kim said.

Sharon nodded.

* * *

Sharon woke up fashionably late, threw on Ron-standard clothes --she'd need to consolidate her wardrobes if she wanted anything more feminine beyond the skirt she came out of the zipper in-- and went down for breakfast.

When she walked into the kitchen she noted her parents and Hana at the table then made a beeline for the cereal.

Her mother was the first to respond to her presence, "Who are y-- RON!?"

* * *

"So you were combined at a genetic level with your girlfriend's arch nemesis changing every level of your being..." Mr. Stoppable said.

"... and you didn't tell us?" Mrs. Stoppable finished.

"Actually," Sharon said as she scooped up more cereal with her spoon, "this is my way of telling you."  Sharon ate the sugary goodness.

Hana giggled.

* * *

Kim answered the Kimmunicator and said, "Please tell me that you've got a way to de-fuse Ron and Shego.

"Sorry," Wade said.  "Dr. Dementor is mutating plants again.  If you don't stop him all of Europe will be overrun by mutant marigolds in six hours."

"I don't remember Dementor mutating plants before," Kim said.

"Oh, right," Wade said, "that was when . . ."

Nothing suspicious about that.   Nope.  Not at all.

Wade said, "Your ride should be there in--"

"Wade," Kim said in the most accusatory way she could manage.

"I'll just call Ron-- um, Sharon, to let him-- her know--"

"I'm not sure we can trust Sharon," Kim said.

Wade looked relieved at the new direction of the conversation.

"Well we can trust Ron and Shego isn't exactly Dementor's biggest fan," Wade said, So I don't see why this particular mission would be a problem."

Kim groaned, but she said, "Ok."

* * *

"So," Sharon said while the two traveled in the cargo hold of a transport jet, "do you want to do this the tried and true way, or would you like to add something new to the mix?"  Her left hand lit up with a green glow and she had a giant smirk on her face.

"Just remember whose side you're on," Kim said.

Sharon shrugged.

Kim decided it was best to add, "And I'm the hero, you're the sidekick.   You listen to me."

"Is that how you see our relationship?" Sharon asked.  It was impossible to gauge the emotion behind it.

Kim thought about it for a bit.  Ron was still in there, she hoped to get him out, and she didn't want to say anything she shouldn't just because the situation was extremely awkweird.

"If Ron wants to be my partner," Kim said, "then he can ask me.  But that's Ron: best friend since pre-k, sidekick since I had braces, boyfriend since junior prom.  That is not Sharron who I've known for two days, and it's definitely not Shego."

"I have nothing against you being on top in principle," Sharon said (Kim blushed), "but in practice how I feel about it depends on what you do while you're on top."

"Could you quit it with the innuendo?"

"What innuendo?" Sharon asked.  Then she started to file her nails.

Kim sighed.  This was going to be a long mission.