Thursday, September 18, 2014

Meta

So I've got various posts I want to write and it was never my intention to leave two posts about money as the most recent things for any length of time.  It was never my intention to have two posts about money in a row.

Although I do need money, if I promised to write if you paid me, would you pay me?

Not that it matters; if I could make myself write posts on command, I'd do it without getting paid.

Random dump of things I've been meaning to do:

Any of that particularly interest anyone?

(That list is in now particular order, by the way.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monthly Donation Reminder

So it's time for my monthly post reminding people that I do have a donate button.  If you want to know more about where the money is going, or what parasites are trying to suck my blood this week, do look at the previous post.

There's not all that much to say about September.  It's one of the number months which means that since January and February were added to the front of the calendar it has been two months off (the name suggests that it's the seventh month but it's actually the ninth.)  It's a short month, which means that it originally had 30 days, then the number of days was dropped to 29, then raised back to 30 with the Julian calendar (which is where it remains today.)

As a short month September has its ides on the 13th making today two days after the ides, but since the Romans counted backward from fixed dates instead of forward today would be marked from the Kalends of October, thus XVII Kal. Oct. or ante diem septimum decimum Kalendas Octobres.

Friday, September 12, 2014

School, oil, money, food, stuff

So I'm back at school, this semester the only thing I'm doing is retaking classes I failed when the depression was really bad.  Cost $3,671 (though I think there's a mistake which if corrected could save me a lot, specifically dropping it to $2,729.)

Before the cost of heating oil shoots up I filled the tank,  $553.

Do I have money for this?  No.

I ran out of food before I got more food money.  Spent too weeks without a decent meal (I have food money as of today.)

While the fleas are, in theory, on the verge of being eradicated, I probably picked up lice today.  Lived 29 years and 40 days without ever getting the vermin, if that streak didn't end today it will in the next two.

I'm not exactly happy with my finances right now, and so long as there is a blood sucking vermin situation in my life I will not be happy with the blood sucking vermin situation.

And that's where things stand at the moment.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Kim Possible -- Forgotten Seeds, Chapter 1: Awakening

[I found about 30 pages of this on my computer, comprising the first 2.something chapters.  It's inspired by the fanfic "Fallen Heroes" though it starts at about where Chapter 4 of that starts and should start diverging pretty significantly after a few chapters.  If I have world enough and time, I was thinking this would actually be the middle story of a 5 story arc.]

Shego woke up and, as she usually did, tried to go back to sleep.

Then she realized three things:
1 The last thing she remembered was Kimmie injecting her with something
2 She was completely naked,
3 She was vertical instead of horizontal.

Upon opening her eyes she found that she seemed to be in a glass tube, and beyond it she saw a plain metal hallway that was too generic to place. She pushed on the glass in front of her and found that it gave easily. It moved out of her way lightly on hinges she hadn't noticed were there.

When she stepped free she found that things were very, very wrong.

She was too light. Much too light. Her first thought was to wonder what Kim had done to her but a quick look showed that she hadn't been starved and there was no way that that could account for how light she was anyway.

Almost all of her weight was gone. Walking was … odd. She fell on her face more than once before she got the hang of it.

In spite of what people thought, Shego did pay attention and she did study. She knew she was too light to be on the surface of any planet. There were, however, multiple moons she might be on. Just what the hell had Kimmie done after injecting her?

Examining her surroundings was very, very unpleasant.

The glass tube was the front of the contraption she'd been in, the back was a near vertical “bed” built into a strange metal machine. Next to it was a similar device, this one closed and frost evident on the surface. Inside of it was a very still DNAmy, recognizable in spite of being somewhat obscured by the frost build-up on the glass.

It was what was next to that that was the problem. Another “bed” whose occupant was dead. And another one just like it next to it. And another, and another, and another. The chamber Shego was in was very large and had multiple levels, it was full of the devices each of which had someone in it, and it seemed that everyone was dead.

Everyone save herself and Amy.

Shego found an unlocked supply closet, it didn't contain much of interest but it did, mercifully, contain clothing--plain white clothing that she deemed a fashion disaster--but clothing she put on none the less.

She found a computer and was able to look up a map of the facility.

The devices were called “cryo beds” and it seemed that most of them had gone offline. She didn't bother finding out how many there were, she didn't want to know. She instead found out how many other survivors there were: nine.

Hers was the only one that had opened.

The computer gave brief descriptions of each:

Name: AMY HALL
Alias: DNAmy
Reason for Suspension: Deemed a threat to global security
Notes: Rouge geneticist
Authorization for Suspension: Dr. Elizabeth Director

Shego laughed at 'Rouge' instead of 'Rogue'.

Name: DREW LIPSKY
Alias: Doctor Drakken
Reason for Suspension: Multiple attempts at world domination
--Deemed a threat to global security
Notes: Brilliant inventor; inept in all other areas
Authorization for Suspension: Dr. Elizabeth Director

Again Shego got a giggle out of the notes.

Name: SARAH ANDERSON
Alias: Surge
Reason for Suspension: Member of Sonique's organization.
Notes: Able psychically manipulate electronics
Authorization for Suspension: Dr. Elizabeth Director

This gave Shego pause. She quickly cross-referenced “Reason for Suspension” with dates. There were too many records to read them all and Shego didn't want to read about any of the dead people anyway. She didn't want to know their names.

Regardless it seemed that between Drakken's “Suspension” in 2013 and Surge's in 2018 the reason necessary had gone from “threat to global security” to simply being a lackey. Digging deeper into Surge's file than the surface summary mentioned something called the Sander's Act.

Quick glances at other records seemed to show that it was invoked every time someone had been put into cryo-statis for no defensible reason.

Shego didn't know what the Sander's Act was, or why it mattered, but she was guessing it wasn't good. She returned to looking at records of survivors.

Name: HORATIO SYSKA
Alias: None
Reason for Suspension: Espionage
Notes: It has never been determined how he accomplishes his spying.
Suspected mutant
Authorization for Suspension: Dr. Elizabeth Director

Name: NOLAN ROBERTS
Alias: Hawk
Reason for Suspension: Sheltering Sander's Act fugitives
Notes: Able to form viable wings at will
Authorization for Suspension: Dr. Elizabeth Director

Name: RYAN SMITH
Alias: None
Reason for Suspension: Deemed a threat to global security
Notes: Prefers targeting civilian populations with explosives.
Authorization for Suspension: Dr Elizabeth Director

That was the first of the incarcerations Shego agreed with. “If the 'Notes' section is accurate,” she mentally amended.

Name: WILLIAM TAYLOR
Alias: Blok
--Bill
Reason for Suspension: Gang activity.
Notes: Can turn into “stone”
Authorization for Suspension: Dr. Elizabeth Director

Name: HENRY SANDERS
Alias: Janus
Reason for suspension: Impersonating World Leader
Notes: Limited shape shifting ability
Authorization for suspension: Dr. Elizabeth Director

The last survivor seemed to be separated from the others, when Shego found out who it was she gasped.

Name: KIMBERLY POSSIBLE
Alias: Kim, KP
Reason for Suspension: Deemed a threat to global security
Notes: Former Hero
--Inventor
--Nascent villain
--High risk of attempted rescue; removed from gen-pop
--Designed cryogenic bed; hers can only be opened manually as a precaution
Authorization for Suspension: Dr. Elizabeth Director

Shego attempted to access Kim's file but found it highly encrypted, far beyond her own skill to crack.

Six hours later she had discovered several distressing things.

She wasn't all that surprised by the lack of guards. If people had been left to die when their cryo bed went offline then she figured this wasn't really a prison, it was a method of execution that allowed those who implemented it to tell themselves they weren't actually executing people. She was surprised by the state of repair.

The facility was immaculate, but low on power. Heavy doors wouldn't open, light ones did so lethargically. The security systems to prevent escape, the very things that should be stopping her from having free reign, were entirely useless. State of the art lasers couldn't fire and could only manage to twitch when they should have tracked her every move. Force fields didn't operate. Half of the computers running the place had recently fried when their cooling system lost power. The heat was gone but the smell lingered. The other half didn't look like they'd last long.

From what she could access on the computer terminals that were working, she found that she couldn't open the cryo beds. Hers had opened as a safety precaution when it ran out of power. The ones that hadn't opened when they lost power, more than ten thousand of them, had been prevented from opening by some override system that had been running on the now fried computer banks.

There was no food.

The water that there was she had to collect from anti-condensation chambers designed to keep the electronics from getting wet by removing moisture from the air.

The air itself wasn't going to last long, at least it wouldn't if she wanted to get out. Environmental systems were keeping the CO2 levels safe, but the oxygen wasn't being replenished. Something, the computer wasn't sure what, had used up most of it long before Shego had woken up. What there was had been collected into the chambers with living prisoners. If that air was shared with the places she needed to use to reach the nearest exit the O2 would be too thin to breathe for long.

She had no idea where she was. While a map of the interior was available and easy to access, information on the outside was in a computer that had powered down. It was, fortunately, not on one of the ones that had melted, but there wasn't enough power to turn it back on. If she tried to boot it up the power drain would short the system and knock out all the computers.

When looking into this she happened to notice the date displayed on the computer she was using: 6/22/2529. Checking various other things confirmed that it wasn't a mistake. The last time a human being had interacted with the computers of the prison was almost five hundred years earlier. The last entries were fairly routine and then centuries of nothing but automated log updates.

They'd been abandoned. All of the prisoners, thousands of them, had simply been abandoned. They'd been left to die when the power ran out without so much as a note saying why.

No guard had set foot in the facility for centuries. Apart from the “centuries” part she had assumed as much, but somehow it finally hit home for her. No one had been there to witness the passing of most of her fellow prisoners. No one had cared enough to save them. No one was there now.

She was completely alone.

There was one person she could wake. Kim's cryo bed had been set to manual. Shego was pacing back and forth outside of it when the intercom tried to announce something. It did very little other than crackle and spurt, but it was enough to send Shego running to a computer terminal.

--

The last thing Amy Hall remembered was trying to force a Ninja school into releasing her beloved Monty.

Now she was naked in some sort of tube.

She got out of it and found white clothing laid out for her. She was putting it on when a door lurched open.

“Oh god; I wish I hadn't seen that,” Shego said as she backed out of the room she'd just entered.

“Shego?”

“Welcome to the prison of the future,” Shego said in a sarcastic imitation of a tour guide. “No guards, thinning air, way more nudity than you'd ever want, and … oh yeah, almost all of the inmates are dead.”

“What's going on?”

“Finish dressing, then we have to meet Dr. D.”

“I'm finished,” Amy said. “Now, what's going on?”

“Apparently Kimmie designed cryogenic stasis technology, then she was interred here herself.”

“Where is here?”

“Here is where Global Justice sticks everyone they don't like,” Shego said. “Stuck,” She she amended. “They stuck us here, then left.”

“Left?”

“A long time ago.”

“How long?” Amy asked.

“Five hundred years give or take. My last memory is from 2010. Yours?”

“Early 2011.”

“They nabbed Drakken in 2013. Surge in 2018. I didn't recognize the rest of the survivor's names, didn't check the dates either.”

“You said they had Possible.”

“She's got her own room. Apparently she's a 'nascent villain'.”

“Always thought she had it in her.”

“I have my doubts,” Shego said. “Anyway, let's find Drakken before he blows something up.” Shego led the way.

--

Drakken had put on the white clothing that had been laid out in front of his cryo bed.

He'd also managed to stop his utter panic that had commenced when he noticed that he was surrounded by dead bodies.

He recognized the technology immediately, it was Kim Possible's tech. Supposedly abandoned shortly before the retired hero's untimely demise, it had obviously been taken and mass produced.

He had little doubt as to who was responsible. Global Justice stepped up their efforts after Possible died. In truth they'd been cracking down since her retirement and his short lived pardon. Possible's death just accelerated things. The five years between her retirement and death didn't see anything like the downward spiral he witnessed in the two years after her death.

When he was finally captured it was almost a relief. That meant he wouldn't be killed. Sure, GJ never abandoned the taser as their primary weapon, but there had been more than a few 'accidents'. Accidents that were never subject to inquiry, explanation, or reprimand.

Now. looking at what was so obviously Possible's stolen technology, he was confused. The cryo beds were a marvel of technology, one that he totally understood GJ's desire to steal, and they should never have failed. The ones around his had obviously failed.

When Possible had turned from famous hero to reclusive inventor he followed her career with interest. When Shego disappeared he made the mistake of trying to force the reason out of Possible. When he heard the news of her cryo beds he had a feeling that that was what had become of Shego. No prison could hold her, but if she had been asleep the whole time...

But Possible's technology was better than this. She had failsafes on her failsafes. There was no way that she'd make the death chambers that he was now surrounded by.

He had to find a computer terminal, he was missing something.

--

Shego and Amy found Drakken in front of a computer screen, studying.

He noticed them enter the room and said, “Ah, Shego,” absently.

“Doc,” Shego said, “do you realize that--”

“Five hundred twenty-six years have passed while we've been in cryostasis and we're being held in a failing Global Justice facility on the moon? Yes.”

“Do you know which moon?” Amy asked him.

“The moon,” he said. “Earth's moon.”

“So it could be worse,” Shego said.

“It could also be better,” Drakken said. “I see no records of food being stored anywhere within this facility and most of it isn't functioning regardless. We're trapped here.”

“I was hoping you could come up with some kind of a plan to get us out,” Shego said.

--

Drakken was surprised at Shego's lack of abuse. He did notice that his long rest seemed to have calmed himself, perhaps the same had happened to her. He hoped that was it, because if things were really so hopeless that Shego had lost her sarcasm he knew there was a very real chance they were going to die.

Only parts of the schematics were open to him, not enough to form a plan, and of what he could see there wasn't enough power to accomplish anything.

The intercom system tried to say something and he saw a flashing on the monitor. Two more cryo beds would open because of imminent power loss.

Drakken told Shego and Amy and the three headed toward hold seven, where the two waking prisoners were located.

--

Sarah woke up and decided that if they were going to treat her like a criminal regardless of what she did she'd damn well start acting like one. Her attempts to put “Surge” behind her had obviously failed, so she would be Surge.

She'd take vengeance on those sanctimonious jerks who--

And that was when she fell --agonizingly slowly-- on her face, learning the hard way that attempting to move in the lunar gravity they way one would on earth simply did not work.

She bounced, something she hadn’t expected, and thanked whatever gods may be for the railing that stopped her from tumbling into empty air. As she slowly got on her feet she realized that the room she was in was four stories tall and she was on the third story of it.

She clung to the railing for fear of falling, still not quite realizing why she was having trouble moving around.

When she turned around she was so surprised she collapsed to the metal walkway again.

There were bodies. Seemingly endless bodies. All dead.

--

Horatio pushed open his cryo bed, smelled the stale air, and closed his eyes for a moment.

Then he picked up the white clothes laid out in front of his cry bed, carefully unfolded them, and put them on.

He made his way to a ladder that gave access to all four levels of the room her was in, climbed down from his place on level four to level three, and walked to Sarah, still huddled in shock.

He picked up the clothes that had been left in front of her cryo bed and handed them to her. Then he returned to the ladder and climbed to the ground level.

--

Drakken, Shego, and Amy waited expectantly for the door to hold seven to open enough to walk through. When it didn't do so quickly Shego helped the door along with brute force.

They found two people dressed in the clothes Shego had laid out for them when she had surveyed the facility alone earlier.

“Surge,” Shego said nodding to the pink-haired woman. “Horatio, I presume,” she said to the man with wild brown hair. The man nodded.

“We're in a deteriorating Global Justice facility on the moon,” Drakken said. “We don't have access to the full systems and we don't have enough power to use most of the systems we do have access to. Can either of you help?”

Horatio shook his head.

Surge gestured to the bodies in the cryo beds and asked, “What about them?”

“There's nothing we can do for them,” Drakken said.

“Right now we need to think about the people who are still alive,” Amy told Surge.

“There are ten of us, we're,” Shego gestured to the entire group, “the first five wake up.”

“Why are we alive if the others died?” Surge asked.

“The cryo bed's original designer--” Shego started

“Kim Possible,” Drakken added.

“The original designer,” Shego said, obviously annoyed, “made fail safes so that a power failure would never injure, much less kill, the occupant. The ones who actually used them decided they'd rather see us die. Their override system was clunky at best and apparently required some computers that recently failed. Now we're waking up as the power runs out.”

“It's running out fast,” Drakken said. “All of the survivors will be awake within 24 hours. We just have to hope that at least one of them can help us.”

“Which brings us back to the original question,” Amy said. “Is there anything you can do to help?”

“Well...” Surge said, “I could use my power to interface with the compu--”

“No!” Drakken and Shego shouted in unison.

“We've met,” Surge sheepishly explained to a befuddled Amy.

“Though you were younger then,” Shego said, “Have your powers improved?”

“I've been retired,” Surge admitted. “I haven't had a lot of practice.”

“So, what now?” Amy asked.

“We wait for the next batch to wake up,” Drakken said.

“I hate waiting,” Shego said.

--

Drakken had been able to predict that the prisoner in Holding Area Thirteen would be the next to awaken and so they'd been waiting there for Nolan Roberts to wake up. The five sat in a circle, all angled at least slightly away from Robert's cryo bed to give him some modesty when he woke up.

Shego and Amy knew the least about the state of the world, Drakken's knowledge only got them two years closer to understanding. Surge was able to share what happened all the way into 2018. Horatio never said a word.

--

Hawk blinked awake and found himself in some kind of glass tube. It wasn't the first time. The ability to spontaneously generate limbs was reason enough for people to want to poke and prod him. That those limbs were ones that no mammal had any right to have in the first place was even more. The fact that he was able to fly on the wings, and even able to carry other people, when the wings were too small to provide the necessary lift was just the icing on the cake.

More than once he'd escaped only because the people planning to vivisect him couldn't agree on who got first cut.

He'd never seen the ones who captured him this time, but he had a good guess. He'd finally annoyed the big dogs. There had been warning that Global Justice was on to him, but there was only so much he could do. Marcella's Free Zone was nearly impossible to locate and travel to Japan was restricted. Trapped within GJ allied countries there was simply no secure hiding place.

That hadn't even been the worst part. The worst part was that he was supposed to be a criminal, he was supposed to be as far from altruistic as possible, but he'd somehow found himself guardian of a growing flock of genetic outcasts.

Some had been subjected to the same kind of experimentation as him. Some had seen worse. Some were lucky in that they only lived in fear of it. He was their protector, their guardian, the one who promised, against every impulse, to keep them safe.

Even if he could find a way out for himself, they were not so easy to move in a hurry.

So he'd held back. He'd slowly gone in one direction leaving a trail of bread crumbs that was just a little too obvious to ignore but not conspicuous enough to be an obvious false trail. Meanwhile his charges had fled in a different direction as fast as they could without leaving a trail.

Sure enough someone caught up with him. The last thing he remembered was a pain in his back.

Surveying the room beyond the glass was … odd. It was an empty room. Not a lab like he expected. The occupants were wearing matching white clothes, which could indicate a “science” team, but rather than examining him or readouts they were sitting in a circle talking to each other.

He tested the glass in front of him and was surprised to find it freely gave.

--

At the sound of the cryo bed opening Amy said, “Mind the low gravity,” without turning.

“Put on the clothes and tell us when you're dressed,” Shego added.

Soon they explained the situation to him and it turned out he had nothing new to contribute to an escape attempt.

Sprouting wings and flying, while impressive, wouldn't help them much while trapped indoors.

For the first time Shego raised the possibility of waking Kim Possible.

--

Smith woke up and immediately started a threat assessment. Glass in front of him, a protective railing beyond that. No matter how clean it was he recognized a prison when he saw one.

The glass was different, it implied the small chamber he occupied was a cryo bed. A cell. That might be a good thing. He was awake and there were no armed guards. Probably a glitch.

The benefit of a cryo prison was that it didn't need guards. Sleeping convicts couldn't attempt to escape. No prison violence, no riots, no escape attempts. Keep the location a secret and there would be no outsiders trying to break the incarcerated out. That meant a skeleton crew at most. With the exception of moving prisoners, prisons like this didn't actually need anyone working at them. The guards were purely there for public relations reasons. It made the tax payers feel safer knowing there was someone with a gun around their con-sicles.

When there wasn't a press visit, which itself was very rare considering that cryo prisons were uniformly secret prisons, the actual guard posted at the facility would be almost non-existent.

Automated defenses, on the other hand, could be expected in droves.

Still, he knew what to expect.

Testing the weight of his arms and legs he knew exactly where he was. Luna-1. The first and largest cryo-prison, Global Justice's favorite place to stick the undesirables of the world, and never officially acknowledged to exist.

The handful of earthbound cryo-prisons had their locations kept secret, but Luna-1 had its entire existence firmly and repeatedly denied. There was never a press presence here. There was never a need to station guards for show.

There would probably be almost no one to stop him.

He pushed the glass in front of him and smiled as his cryo-bed opened. He was definitely right, some kind of glitch had set him free.

He was sure he could catch the guards off guard and be out of here in a hurry.

When he saw the white clothing neatly laid out in front of his cryo bed, his and no other in sight, he was forced to reevaluate everything.

--

The first thing Blok noticed was his mass. It was way too low. He was much more used to changes in mass than most people. In his stone form he weighed more than half a ton. In human form he weighed almost exactly two hundred pounds. Changing between the two forms repeatedly left him intimately familiar with what it felt like for his body to have a different mass.

What he wasn't used to was weighing less than his human form. Much less.

He estimated he weighed about thirty pounds, give or take.

When he opened his eyes and saw his surroundings he had some idea of what was going on.

Years ago Kim Possible had reentered the public eye to propose the use of cryogenic technology in prisoner storage. He'd only paid enough attention to note that she wasn't returning to the hero business. Later that month she apparently died.

Over the next few years information came out implicating Global Justice in her demise. Then political hell broke loose when Ron Stoppable went public with information indicating that Global Justice had stolen Kim's cryo technology, built a secret lunar prison, and made her the first inmate.

The lunar prison was never located, which meant that rescue was impossible. It was beyond all jurisdictions so no national agency could bring Global Justice to task for what it did there. All that could be done was withdrawing from the UN and Global Justice's power.

Japan had done so before Stoppable even went public. In theory it should have meant nothing more than Global Justice no longer operating in Japan. In practice it looked like Global Justice was preparing for war with Japan, but that never came to pass.

Once there was proof more nations left the fold while Global Justice became closer and closer to the Dark UN Enforcers of the nightmares of people who thought in capital letters.

They cracked down on every country they still had a foothold in. Not that they hadn't been doing that before, but once the truth was out they did it openly. Before people disappeared without any proof as to who did it; after GJ started operating in broad daylight in the streets and didn't care who knew.

That's when he was nabbed.

The Lunar cryo prison had never been found.

Everyone assumed that it was where the disappeared people were sent.

It's where he must have been sent. It wasn't his mass that was off, it was gravity. He wasn't less massive, as he had originally assumed, he weighed less.

He phased into stone form and then felt silly. His transformation destroyed the cryobed, but the glass cover that served as the door had apparently been unlocked. He phased back into human form and surveyed his surroundings. A pile of white clothes was in front of his cryo tube and he heard movement above him.

He quickly got dressed. A few minutes after he'd finished a voice called out, “Ryan! Blok! Get down here; we have an escape to plan.”

--

They'd decided to sleep, there was nothing else to do. It would be a while before new prisoners were released. Holding Area 23 would lose power next. Two new prisoners, but not for more than eight hours.

Hawk, having just woken up, didn't need sleep just then. Surge said she hadn't been awake long enough. Horatio curled up in a ball, covered his eyes with an arm, and seemed to go to sleep immediately.

By the time eight hours had passed they'd all been sleeping. Some simply because it was better than boredom.

That was why they were late for the opening of the cryo beds in Holding Area 23.

When they arrived Shego noted two figures in white on the upper levels. She shouted, “Ryan! Blok! Get down here; we have an escape to plan.”

The one on the second level hurdled over the railing and transformed to a bulkier figure made of stone as he fell. The landing was too light for Shego's taste. A hard reminder that even if they found a way out of this prison they were still on the moon.

The stone creature, which looked like a caricature of a large man that had been carved out of granite, transformed back into a dark haired man in white clothes.

“Blok, at your service,” he said.

Ryan Smith took longer to reach the ground floor.

“What's the situation?” he asked.

“This facility has been abandoned,” Hawk said. “We're lucky that the fail safes finally kicked in otherwise we'd be like them,” he gestured to all of the cryo beds in the room that didn't open.

Apparently Ryan and Blok hadn't looked back before. They both had a moment of shock, but Ryan's moment was much shorter.

“The functioning cryo beds are opening as the power failure becomes too much for them to keep running,” Drakken said. “That power failure is also stopping us from moving the larger doors and providing annoyances left and right.”

“Most of the still functioning computers are open to us,” Surge said. “But some parts we haven't been able to get to because none of us are good enough hackers.”

“The people who built this place didn't expect prisoners to be awake and accessing the computers.” Amy said. “They were lazy with them, but not completely stupid. There's a chance that the parts they were afraid we might access are parts that would help us get out.”

“We're on the moon,” Nolan said.

“I know,” Ryan snapped.

“I'd guessed as much,” Blok added.

“And that pretty much covers it,” Shego said. “Other than the fact that we've all been asleep around five hundred years.”

That shocked Ryan and Blok.

Once it became clear that neither of them had much to contribute to an escape attempt Shego brought up Possible again.

“The same person who designed these cages,” she gestured to the cryo beds, “Is a prisoner here too. Except her cryo bed will only open manually.”

“Leave Possible to rot,” Ryan said.

“She'd do just that,” Shego spat back. “Not only can hers be opened manually, it can only be opened manually. She'll end up like one of them,” Shego gestured to the dead bodies who had never been released from their cryo beds, “if we do nothing.”

“So what?” Ryan asked.

“That would be murder,” Surge said. “We'd be no better than the ones who left us to die.”

“I'm not in favor of leaving her to die,” Hawk said, “but I'd rather wait on letting a hero loose in here. She was on GJ's side.”

“And betrayed by that side,” Blok said.

“Do you know what happened to her?” Amy asked.

“It doesn't matter,” Ryan spat.

“What does matter,” Shego said, “is that if she worked on the cryo beds she may have also worked on the prison itself. She might be able to get us out of here.”

“It'll be another hour, two at most, before the last prisoner is freed,” Drakken said. “Why don't we wait on decisions about Kim Possible until we see if he can help us?”

--

Henry knew where he was when he woke. After what he tried there was only one place they might send him. Luna-1. The 'secret' prison on the moon. It had never been located or officially admitted to, but everyone knew about it. In fact, it had become so famous that whenever someone disappeared there would be whispers about Luna-1. Usually the whispers meant nothing, but in his case he must have been sent there.

What he didn't understand was why he woke up. In spite of Luna-1 being a cryo prison, something that was never intended for life sentences, no one had ever returned from Luna-1.

Stranger still was the lack of guards. Henry had never been a physical threat to anyone, but it wasn't like Global Justice to leave anyone without armed guards. Especially considering how much he had annoyed them.

Try to change the world, end up being turned into a popsicle.

That was the price of trying to be a hero, he decided. Pranks and small time crimes were much safer.

He cautiously pushed the cryo bed open. It was only when he saw the clothing laid out in front of it that he realized he was naked. He put it on and then turned back toward his prison.

--

“Oh my god!” came a shout from above the eight survivors.

“He's awake,” Ryan said.

“He's awake,” Shego repeated. Then she shouted in Henry's direction, “Get over here. We need to find out if you're useful.”

--

Henry quickly confirmed what Shego had feared and suspected. He was no more help in escaping the dying Lunar prison than any of the others.

“That settles it,” Shego said. “We have to wake Kimmie.”

“I thought you said you couldn't--” Henry said.

“We couldn't open anyone else's,” Shego said. “It seems that Global Justice never really understood the technology. They could duplicate it, but a lot of the programming was hardwired into the circuits themselves. They weren't able to isolate the parts they didn't like, and were always afraid that Kim had hidden a feature to save herself in it. They made sure that hers could only be opened manually.”

“That doesn't change the fact that we should leave her to die,” Ryan said, “or kill her ourselves.”

“Ok,” Shego said while green plasma erupted from her hands. “You don't get to talk anymore.”

“Releasing her would be a risk,” Amy said.

“Red is always a risk,” Blok said, “But having her on our side would be something to behold.”

“We're out of options,” Hawk said. “We let her out.”

“I'd like to see her save me instead of stop me for a change,” Drakken said, quickly adding, “even if she was downright scary toward the end. If we want to live we have to let her out.”

“I want to live,” Surge said.

“Then let's let her out,” Henry said.

--

Given that Kim's last memory was a taser in the back while Will Du and Elizabeth Director lectured her about how her taking the law into her own hands was a threat to the world while them doing the same was totally peachy she had a pretty good idea where she was.

What she didn't expect was who she saw.

Nine people all wearing white clothing. Shego, DNAmy, Drakken and Block she recognized. The five others not so much.

Shego opened her cryo bed and said, “Princess, you had better have a plan.”

“What's the sitch?” Kim asked.

“Well first off you're naked. Put on clothes.” Shego shoved a bundle of white clothes that matched her own into Kim's arms. The eight others turned away to give her a least a modicum of privacy. Shego simply stared.

“Do you mind?” Kim asked as she pulled on pants.

“Well I figure you saw me naked enough, now it's my turn.”

“It's not like I had much of a choice,” Kim snapped. “They were going to kill you if I didn't come up with another solution.”

“And that makes everything better,” Shego sneered.

“If it makes you happy, you're part of the reason I was locked up here.” Kim said.

“She's decent,” Shego announced. “How was I a part of it?”

“You, Amy, and Dementor were the stated reasons for locking me up.”

“Dementor?”

“You and Amy were thrown in my lap by Ron who wanted to find a way to deal with you without killing you.”

“How is what you did different from killing?

“Because I was going to let you out,” Kim said. “You weren't frozen, just in a deep, deep sleep. I developed a way to have the equivalent of therapy going on and was hoping for rehabilitation.”

“Mind control,” Shego spat.

“No!” Kim shouted. “Why does everyone assume mind control? It's no more mind control than a court order to see a therapist.”

“And Dementor?”

“He attacked one of my students. I lost my temper but his injuries shouldn't have been fatal.”

“Shouldn't?”

“Instead of getting medical help he ran for eleven blocks. The stress made the injuries much worse and the police were more interested in stopping me than helping him. By the time anyone actually bothered to look for him they found that he'd decided hiding in a subway tunnel was better than getting help. That decision cost him his life.”

“Damn,” Shego said.

“While this is all very interesting,” said woman with pink hair who Kim guessed to be a pacific islander in her twenties, “it doesn't really help us.” She turned to Shego. “You said she could help. She doesn't look like much.”

“Kimmie, meet Surge,” Shego said. “You know Drakken and Amy--”

“And Blok,” Kim interjected.

“Right, he mentioned something about knowing you,” Shego said. “The others are Hawk,” she gestured to a lean black man with short black hair, “Horatio,” she gestured to a Caucasian with wild dark hair and, “Ryan,” another Caucasian, this one with well groomed sandy blond hair, “and Henry,” a wiry Hispanic man, his hair of uniform length--about four inches. “We're all that's left. Apparently Global Justice overrode your safety features, but couldn't figure out how to do it in the cryo beds themselves. When some of their computers crashed we started getting let out as the power died. The rest weren't so lucky.”

“The rest?” Kim asked.

“This facility had well over ten thousand prisoners,” Drakken said. “Then ten of us are all that remain.”

“Ten … thousand?” Kim asked in shock.

“Ten,” Hawk said. “Ten people who --right here, right now-- need a way out. The power is dying, the air is stale. We have no information on what might be outside these walls. Some of the computers are dead, some offline, others have security we can't crack. Can you help us?”

“The power's failing?” Kim asked, confused.

Henry was reading the information displayed on her cryo bed. When he finished he said, “It's been five hundred eighteen years since you were captured.”

“That can't be … I mean...” Kim sputtered.

“I'm afraid so sweetie,” Amy told her.

“And the guards?” Kim asked.

“Haven't checked in in centuries,” Shego said.

Kim walked to the nearest computer terminal. “Give me a minute,” she said.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Random thoughts on Kim Possible

As I may have mentioned at some point or other, I have no TV.  This is not something that was unforeseen, I knew I wouldn't be able to afford TV forever and thus built up a video library, mostly of movies, when I did have it.

That said, sometimes one isn't in the mood for a movie.

I know that I mentioned that during a time when I had no properly working computer I ended up reading a lot of fan fiction because text is something that goes really well with intermittent internet connection.  All you need is a connection for the less than a second it takes to load web page with nothing but text and you're set for however long it takes to read, which can be quite long.

That led to me writing Being more than a Simulacrum which currently has three installments (One, Two, Three) and in writing it I found out the very useful fact that Disney has released the series, in its entirety, for free online.

That was really important for writing part two, linked to above, because if I hadn't re-watched the somewhat infamous tower scene the story would have gone completely differently.  (There's seriously dramatic choir music that I tend to associate with religious apocalypses playing while Kim smiles at having electrocuted* and dropped a building on her foe, in the rain, as ominous lightning flashes behind Kim.)

Anyway, I've been watching Kim Possible.  I'm going to be trying to watch more of the show, probably in chronological order though I haven't quite started with that effort, because in addition to Being more than a Simulacrum I've got another thing I recently rediscovered on my computer that already has 30 pages in it and, you know, stuff.

The first Kim Possible episode I ever saw was the first one ever released, for all I know it could have been the first time an episode of Kim Possible was ever shown.  I didn't think much of it, then again I was in pretty deep depression at the time and I didn't think much of anything.

I'm not entirely sure which other ones I caught before sort of stumbling into the middle of the fan fiction.  I know I saw Sink or Swim in which Ron gets to be the hero on the basis of having awesome arts and crafts skills and--RTCs shudder at this--a willingness to lie.  (Which was much better than the eventual series finale in which Ron gets to be the hero on the basis of being the messianic chosen one of mystical magical mojo.)  Beyond having seen that and the first one, Crush, I have no idea what I'd seen previously.  Well, I think I saw at least parts of the first movie.  But other than that no idea.

It's a weird experience to go from being immersed in the fandom to dealing with the source material.  The fandom, of course, has utter crap, but it also has stuff that's much much better than the original.  Also, the parts that I bumped into had a habit of taking themselves more seriously.

Dr. Director is the Kim Possible version of Nick Fury.  That's why she has an eyepatch, for example.  But the fandom tends to make her much more like Nick Fury than the show does.  In the show she's played almost entirely for laughs.  Read a fan fic with her in it and whether she's good or evil she'll almost certainly be formidable.  It can be somewhat jarring to go from that to the show's version where she's uninformed (in her first appearance the "classified" information she's trying to protect was declassified decades prior and is legally available on the web) and downright childish (see her argument with her twin brother.)

The biggest thing that I've noticed, though, is how hostile the show could be to consent.

Two shows end with someone (Ron's cousin in one, the villain in another) being mind-controlled into being good.  One ends with Shego being left unattended in a place where she's completely incapacitated and any command given to her will bypass her senses and go directly to mind control, in that episode a fictional version of Simon Cowell is known to be under mind control and no one makes any attempt to free him.  Still on the subject of Shego, one episode ends with her under the influence of a device that completely controls her emotions and, since it currently has her in a rage and pointed at Kim's arch-foe (Shego's boss) the heroes see it as a matter for mirth.

There's an episode that ends with one of the characters being forced to love someone against his will via a love ray device.  (I think we're meant to feel that it's poetic justice because he used one on someone earlier in the episode.  You know, Poetic Justice: proof that two wrongs do make a right.)

When Kim gets amnesia (because that gets used on every show ever) her dad takes the opportunity to try to condition her into liking his favorite show.  Because when someone gets (temporary in this case) brain damage the appropriate response is totally to try to rebuild their personality the way you want it to be.  And getting her to like a TV show is totally a legitimate reason to try to rewire your daughter (though, it should be remembered, with conditioning rather than invasive techniques.  It's not a moral distinction, you understand, but this is a show where he probably could rewire her in a closer to literal fashion so it's worth being clear.)

It's not just mind control, of course, but I do have one more point before I quickly list some other things and then close on a high note.  The episode where Kim loses her memory is one where there's an attempt to use mind control that ultimately fails.  In it Drakken uses the word "zombie" and that threw me for a bit until I realized that he was going old school.  Specifically Béla Lugosi old.

In 1929 William Seabrook introduced the word "zombie" to US English, in 1932 the film White Zombie starring Béla Lugosi came out.  It's the first zombie film ever and was based on Seabrook's work.  The concept does involve dead people walking around, but it's not brain-eating dead hoards.  It's slaves with no will of their own.

By the time you get into the modern world, the audience to whom Drakken's lines are speaking, that particular form of slavery has become inextricably linked with the ideas of Wade Davis.  Davis' work isn't scientifically supported, and most people have probably never heard of him, but while the specifics don't get around the general idea does.

General idea goes like this: Zombies are not reanimated corpses, in fact there's no magic involved, instead they are people who have been drugged in such a way that they have basically no will of their own and thus are extremely open to suggestion.  The perfect slave labor force.

And this leads to a weird sort of dichotomy.  If you say "zombie" in a setting with monsters it calls to mind the fantastical.  Zombie apocalypses are many things, but they're not really that realistic.  On the other hand if you say the exact same word in a mind control setting it serves to ground things.  Mind control is an idea that's pretty fantastical and it can be a difficult thing to get a mental grip on.

Not caring is a real thing.  In some cases this does lead to people who will do whatever they're told provided that the thing isn't too complex and doesn't require motivation.

Mood altering drugs are a real thing.

Using the second to cause the first in an effort to create a workforce of unskilled laborers who don't demand compensation or good working conditions is much more believable than most forms of sci-fi/fantasy mind control and so it passes the, "Yeah, I guess that could work," test.

If you're dealing with a far fetched concept but you want it to pass suspension of disbelief calling people's attention to a similar thing that passes the, "Yeah, I guess that could work," test is helpful.

Anyway, I was going to give non-mind control related examples of the show not exactly being consent-friendly.  Just examples, not in depth discussions.  Obviously the bad guys do bad things--that's why I didn't have things like the mind control chip or mind controlling people into being evil in the part where I talked about mind control--but the good guys kind of trample consent too.  So we have things like Kim signing up Ron for a job against his stated wishes and without his knowledge, we have Wade a) hacking into Kim's bank account, b) reading her diary, c) putting tracking technology on Ron and presumably Kim as well without their knowledge, d) still doing that after they've talked about the ethical ramifications of it... and I honestly don't know if I can top Wade.  I had other examples but Wade-as-creepy-techno-stalker sort of forced them out of my head.

Anyway, high note:

Shego.  Shego, Shego, Shego.

While some things can't really live up to their fandom-selves when you view the real thing, Shego is fucking awesome.  Better than I remembered her.

Watching Kim Possible makes one wish there were a Shego Show.  It's like having one of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys inside the movie interacting with the characters and generally being awesome.  Shego can never win because she's on the antagonist's team, but good God is she fun.

Nicole Sullivan, Shego's voice actor, deserves enormous credit.

-

* Pedantically, "electrocuted" is supposed to mean "executed by means of electricity" but a) we don't use the word that way, and, b)what happened to Shego should have ended her life.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What we know about Steve (Theology)

Lonespark and I often say the traditional prayer to Steve, taught to us by the great prophet Eddie Izzard:
I was on the moon... with Steve.
The full prayer is actually, "I was dead at the time.  I was on the moon... with Steve."  This gives us some information on Steve, though not a lot.  Steve resides on the moon.  Steve is somehow associated with the afterlife.  Steve tends to be involved in cases where someone was dead but got better.

In the same sermon Izzard mentions Jeff the god of biscuits and Simon the god of hairdos.  Steve and Simon are conflated in many Izzardian traditions that don't check their facts often enough, leading to the belief that Steve is the god of hairdos who lives on the moon.

Fred Clark points out that Steve figures prominently in American religion in this post from 2004:
"Steve" has emerged as a central figure in American theology. He even played a significant role in the recent national elections. Yet despite his enormous influence, we know little about Steve aside from a single reference to him in our holy texts. This reference is, like the catechism, extra-canonical but considered authoritative:
"God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."
The catechism he mentions begins with these three questions:
Q: Who made you?
A: God made me.
Q: What else did God make?
A: God made me and all things — except Steve.
Q: Why did God make all things except Steve?
A: God made all things except Steve for His own glory.
Fred's post, which is worth reading in its entirety, goes on to speculate as to the nature of Steve.  Is Steve a little known fourth member of the trinity?  Fred thinks, "No."  He concludes with:
Thus again we come to mystery. Steve was neither made nor begotten; yet Steve is.
What can we do in the face of such mystery? It is beyond our ken. We cannot hope to understand, we can only drop to our knees to sing a bewildered hymn of praise to the Creator of all things except Steve.
The scholia to Fred's exploration of Steve contains some more hints of a Steveian tradition now lost to us.

John S Costello shares this:
SAT: Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
B, concurrently: Except Steve.
SAT: Praise him all ye creatures here below;
B: Not you, Steve.
SAT: Praise him above ye heavn’ly host;
B: Stay silent, Steve.
SAT: Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
B: And Holy Steve.
Tico asks:
So, if Steve is one of Satan’s minions, would that make all Steves evil (or stevil, as the case may be)?
Danil claims that Steve evolved.

lespool shares this bit of poetry:
Our Lord appears to lack ubiquity
(— obsessed with homosexuality)
and never knew the devil made his rounds
cajoling Eve inside the garden grounds.
Her ignorance was awful hard to take,
for poor ole thing starts talking to a snake.
But lost potential caused insanity
and she sought knowledge from an apple tree!
Whilst Adam had libidinous pursuits
till Eve seduced and tempted him with fruits.
Yet knowledge came with little aptitude
except to notice — God preferred them nude!
Hence, Eve and Adam drest in figs and leaves
concealing nudity as thick as thieves.
But disobedience shalt bear the blame
(— for modesty twas such a naked shame)!
And while Steve is never mentioned one must assume that it is somehow related for it is in the scholia to Fred's article about Steve.

Angelia Sparrow speculates:
Maybe Steve was one of those kids Mama Lilith had after she left Adam and went out to fornicate on the banks of the Euphrates with fallen angels?
though that would make Steve begotten.

ako gives us our best insight in to the lost Steveian tradition:
The real secret? God didn’t create Steve.
Steve created God.
Way back, before the beginning of the universe and time and everything, there was just Steve, his easy chair, and a fridge full of beer. It wasn’t a bad life (no linear time meant the beer never ran out), but it was a bit dull.
One night, old Steve got a bit drunk, and created an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent deity (he says he doesn’t remember if he made it omnibenevolent or not; there was a lot of beer). It took Steve awhile to realize what he’d done, but as soon as he figured it out, he made the obvious request.
Being bored, lonely, and also gay, Steve said, “God, make me a boyfriend.”
God said “Okay,” and whipped up Adam. And it was good.
Things worked out for a while, but Adam got bored. There was nowhere to go, nothing to do, and the sex just wasn’t…fun. Steve liked it, but it wasn’t really Adam’s cup of tea. He wanted to go places, do things, meet other people who had curves, and more interestingly concave bits.
“I’d like a universe,” Adam sighed.
“What do we need a universe for?” Steve asked. “We’ve got cold beer and a recliner. That’s better than a universe!”
“How about a universe that contains cold beer and recliners?” God offered.
“No,” said Steve. “I’ve got sex and beer. I’m happy, and you don’t count. God just made you so I could have sex. I should have told him to make you less whiny.”
Well, that was the end of it. Adam walked off, and asked God to whip up a universe for him to stay in. He left Steve, and ducked off into the universe, in hopes of meeting the interestingly curvy and concave person God promised.
Sure enough, Eve turned up, and her and Adam hit it off like a house on fire. But Steve kept hollering and throwing beer bottles from outside the universe, and messing up the Garden of Eden. Even worse, he’d sneak over for drunken booty calls with Adam that upset Eve no end. Eventually God had to step in.
“Look, Adam. I made you two Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Steve was there when I showed up. So you should stick with Eve. She makes you happy, you make her happy, and you two don’t leave broken glass all over the universe. So don’t date Steve. No Adam and Steve. Got that?”
Adam got the point, and that was the end of it. Unfortunately, future generations got a bit muddled, and somehow concluded that the warning also applied to couples named Bill and Kevin, John and Karl, or even Melissa and Penelope; despite the complete and total absence of Steve.
However this version of the Steveian tradition was clearly not universal as lespool almost immediately argued it was incorrect:
ako … That doesn’t make any sense — because you left out Lilith. Lilith existed long before Steve’s cosmic alcoholic haze evolved and in a drunken stupor created god to make Adam but not Eve even though God disobeyed Steve and created her anyway. You may have all the answers as to why the earth was created before the universe — BUT YOU CAN’T JUST IGNORE LILITH simply because she’s an inconvenient truth fer crying out loud!
And a further obvious challenge to ako's version of the myth of Steve is that the introduction claims it's a secret, which implies that what follows is an account of the Steveian Mysteries but the Steveian Mysteries, like the rules of Mao, must never be transmitted to outsiders.  We have an apparent contradiction: Since it is written down it cannot be the thing it seems to claim to be.

In the end we are left to grasp at the few scraps we know for sure and attempt to make sense of them:
  • God did not create Steve
  • Steve exists
  • Steve was on the moon (with Eddie Izzard) during at which his companion was dead but would not stay dead
  • God made all things except for Steve

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Planning for failure

[Been reading Kim Possible fan fiction.  Has me thinking about exploding lairs and such.  Entirely original, though.]

-

"Why are the ventilation ducts big enough to crawl through anyway?" a man in a short suede jacket asked.

"I have pondered that myself," the older man in the lab coat asked.  "I believe I know the answer."

"Yes?"

"Yes, but I don't think you'll like it," he said while walking over to exposed ductwork.  "Follow me."

When the two arrived, the older man pointed at a symbol on one of the ducts.

For a moment it meant nothing to the man in the suede jacket and then his eyes opened wide in recognition.  He double checked the name of the company and said, "It's one of her friends."

"Indeed.  Regrettably, they're the best."

"So the company that makes our ventilation systems is owned by a personal friend of the person most likely to use said ventilation systems to bypass our security and break into our lairs?"

The other nodded.

"Why don't we just blow the place up ourselves?"

"Would you prefer to go without air conditioning?"

"No."  There was a moment of silence.  "Well, we could--"

"The last time we used anything other than the best was when--"

"Let me guess," the man in the suede jacket said, a palm connecting with his forehead, "it was when the climate control broke down and somehow the fresh desert air being pumped in didn't get any cooler and the aquifer-tapped lair didn't get any less moist.  As I recall it was muggy as hell and north of 120 degrees."

The other man nodded again.

"You're right.  I'd rather blow up the building myself than go through that again."

After a somber pause, he resumed, "It's just that I can't send sentries into the suspiciously person-sized ventilation system because then they wouldn't show up when we need to do a head count to make sure everyone gets out safely when the lair explodes, which it inevitably will."

"You don't like that the lairs have a self destruct."  It wasn't a question, it wasn't even disguised as one.

Nonetheless, the young man in the suede jacket answered. "No, no," he said quickly. "The self destruct has served us well.  I've lost count of the number of times cases against us have had to be thrown out because all of the physical evidence was destroyed by the self destruct."

After a pause he resumed, "I just think we could save a lot of time and money if we just blew the place up ourselves rather than waiting for her to get here and do it for us."

"We hope for success; we plan for failure."

"And you don't see any causal relationship between what we plan for and what we always seem to achieve?"

"Jacob?"

"Yes, boss?"

"Take a few days off."

"Thanks, boss."

-