Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Maybe this year will be better than the last

A while back Fred Clark was collecting Advent songs.  Not Christmas songs.  Advent.  The sense that something is coming, the hope it will be good.  The longing for something better.

"Long December" by counting Crows was one that he picked out.  It's a song I know well.  It's why the second section (three parts to a section except when we reach the last stand alone part) of Life After is called "Long November" the sound of the phrase is in my mind, waiting to be called on for this or that use.

This year was supposed to be the one when things turned around.  Without tuition money wasn't supposed to be a problem.  Then, just before what should have been my first school-free semester, absolute Hell descended upon my sister's family.  Stress is high, hope is hard.  Risks are huge.

But, maybe . . .  Maybe this coming year will be better than the last.

Hope is hard.  It's difficult to find, it's easy to batter, but it's also hardy.  When the flames of hope are extinguished, one is not plunged into darkness because the embers persist.

So, maybe, when I think of 2017 there can be hope that that year will be better than this one.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Things I've been thinking of doing

In the past week two weeks I've had all of one post.  There are reasons for that, but it's still not how I like a week to go.  Especially since the post in question was me asking a question.

So here are things I've been thinking of, to fill the space until I have something else to post here.  Presented in no particular order, mostly as they pop into my head.

- - -

Returning to the deconstructions (.hack//SIGN, Deus Ex, Kim Possible) by starting over from the beginning.  In some cases it'll just mean a post with fewer typos.  In others it might be more akin to rebuilding from the ground up while occasionally glancing at the original.

That way when it comes time to cover new territory I won't feel like I'm jumping into the middle of something with no sense of the beginning

Pretty straightforward.

- - -

Making a god damn fucking left handed gaming mouse.

Gaming mice are a brilliant idea because it's positively absurd to tie up one hand with something that has two to three buttons and, maybe, a scroll wheel.  The same fingers we use to hit half of the keys while typing are assumed to be incapable of doing anything other than pressing down on the thing they happen to be resting on when using a mouse. (And not even all of them.  A mouse with a pinky button is a rare mouse indeed.)

Though more egrigious than the "fingers are useless" attitude toward traditional mouse design is ignoring the thumb.  Since a mouse picks the hand up off of the surface, the thumb is comfortably positioned to be used as a thumb in a way that it isn't when it's on the keyboard.

It isn't uncommon to have twelve thumb buttons because it's a thumb, a mouse naturally puts it in a position to make use of that fact, and it would be downright stupid to leave this absurdly agile thing with nothing to do.

But, alas, gaming mice all seem to be made with the assumption that gamers are 100% right handed.

The lazy solution, and thus a good place to start, would be to rip apart (ok, actually there would be screwdrivers involved) a right handed gaming mouse and build a custom exterior.

In that case the workload is basically reduced to a craft project.  (Though there's some complexity regarding the thumb panel if it isn't vertically symmetrical.)

I've never done a craft project on here.  Maybe it would be of interest to someone.

- - -

Also on the "I've never done it here" front, I've long thought of taking my Official Star Trek Cooking Manual (by Mary Ann Piccard and published in 1978, accept no imitations) and just going through it and, one at a time obviously, making everything.  I love the sandwich of Kirk's that the tribbles ate, and my sister and I used to beg my mother to make the Vulcan apple omelets that, for some reason, everyone in the house mistakenly thought were pancakes.

Outside of those two dishes, and Romulan tangerine lamps (come for the pretty pictures, stay for the Hungarian grammar lesson in the comments), I haven't exactly utilized the cookbook to it's fullest potential.

I also need to get into the habit of cooking more.  Well, that used to be the case, now I need to get into the habit of cooking at all because I've devolved into a creature that can't prepare food beyond: "Put in microwave or oven for X minutes."

This definitely isn't a cooking blog, but maybe writing about it would . . . I'm repeating myself: be of interest to someone.

- - -

More movie posts.  Lonespark and I should do more things like Them or Jane Got A Gun, but it's not like I can't do movie posts on my own.  Anyone remember The Scorpion King 3: Journey Beyond Anachronism?

- - -

Obviously I want to be able to write fiction, and have had various posts with long lists of things to get back to.

Then again there are new things too.  For example, I'd like to do more of the story of the de-petrification of Ge by Des (characters have appeared in "Not Broken" and "Conversation's on Des' demon") because it's a more involved process than "I say magic words and poof: you're flesh and bone again" and because both that and the severely dysfunctional team they belong to are things I've put a fair amount of thought into.

- - -

Going back to experimenting with images.

Going back to experimenting with language.

- - -

It's been a long time since I last did something worthy of note in the arena, but I used to make puzzles.

Here's one:

That one is currently at on the top of my record shelf.  Yes, I have a record shelf.  I'm not even totally sure I have a record player anymore, but I've got a record shelf.

The popular music records were in milk crates that, I think, ended up with my dad, but if you want sonatas and concertos and the "Great Men of Music" series then that's all on the record shelf.  So no Beatles, Hendrix, or Dylan, but a lot of stuff that involves a dead composer, a conductor, and an orchestra.

Anyway, record shelf aside, it has been too long since I've made a puzzle.

- - -

I've thought about sharing photos I've taken (wouldn't know which ones to share, though), and I've wanted to get back into making photos taken from multiple angles into three dimensional point clouds and, perhaps, models.

- - -

It seems likely that there was plenty of other stuff too, but I actually forgot about this post for a while so I have no idea what was on my mind.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Questions about a gaming graphical glitch.

This is the second night in three days that I didn't sleep at all.  This time for a completely different reason than the last.  That's fucked up, annoying, damaging, and so forth.  But let's ignore that for a bit.  It's Three AM I must be . . . something.

As my mind went from thing to thing to thing {really hard to break materials from the outer realms in the Four Realms setting, what if instead of a two neck guitar you made a double wide one neck where the low notes were played underhand (traditional style) while the high notes were played overhand (think someone like Kaki King*} remember that bug from Jedi Knight?) and it was still on a graphical glitch I remember from days of yore when I gave up on trying to sleep.

So, that's where we are.

Jedi Knight, released in 1997 for Windows 95, was hardly the only game to have this going on.  It is, however, the one I remember.

So you'd be playing, you'd alt tab out, and usually everything would be normal when you went back.  Sometimes, though, sometimes you'd get these bright vibrant colors that seemed to have absolutely no relationship to the colors that were actually supposed to be displayed on the screen.

They were the kind of colors that t-shirt sales people describe as "trippy" or "Pychadelic" or "Grateful Dead-esque", ok, maybe not that last one (a lot of their merch wasn't vibrant enough to do the glitch justice anyway), but it gives you some idea of what I'm talking about.

Provided the colors didn't throw you, it didn't mess up the game at all, and you could thus play through for as long as you were willing to stay like that.

And I never knew what caused it.  And I still don't know, nearly 20 years later.  Apparently similar things are still happening if you tube results are anything to go by.

Unlike the recent results I see on youtube it did affect everything and it didn't flicker or change.  There was one way it properly rendered textures, and another way it cartoonist's~interpretation~of~drug~usage rendered textures.  No room for switching colors or only going half way.  So we come to my questions:

What causes that kind of glitch to happen?

Is there any way to intentionally force such a glitch?

Is their a specific name for this kind of glitch?

That is all.


* If you've never heard of her, you should do a search and listen.  In high school she was a drummer, and when you hear her play you'll wish that you knew how to do percussion acoustic guitar too.  Fucking incredible

I've known I wanted to be able to play guitar for ages.  My mom used to play guitar and sing to us when my sister and I were young. But I never really put much thought into how I wanted to play guitar.  In my head at the time people just played guitar or they didn't.  (Steel guitar is an entirely different category in my mind.)

Then I saw a short thing, just a blip of cable news, interviewing her, and I knew.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Conversations on Des' Demon

[Des and Ge previously appeared in Not Broken.]
[The breaks between scenes are massive.  The first scene is the morning after Ge was petrified, the next one is over a month later, the ones after that aren't separated by so much, but it's important to remember that this isn't all taking place at one time.  This is a series of (snippets of) conversations over an extended time frame.]

"You're lucky," Des said when she woke up.

Ge had been awake for a while, not sure what to do, but not overly concerned about it either.  The bed was comfortable, Des's warmth was nice, moving would have surely woken Des up, and going too far away from Des would have brought back that inexplicable coldness at her core.

But now Des was awake, and the fact they'd shared a bed might cause awkwardness.  Ge had never even been to a sleep over, so this was very new, and as for Des . . . impossible to say.

"I was revived after seven years of being a rock," Ge said, "I know I'm lucky."

"I meant about the demon," Des said.

The demon, Ge thought.

Red skin, six black eyes, arms that split at the elbow with one forearm keeping the thumb and two fingers while the other had a mere two fingers at the end.  Goat-like legs, with the ankle so far off the ground it became like a second knee, one that faced backward.  Clawed feet.  Sharp fingers too for that matter.  Hair so black light seemed to sucked into it.  But a familiar face, if one ignored the bat-nose and extra eyes.

"You're the demon, Des," Ge said.

"Yes and no.  I keep her locked away inside.  She only escapes when I lose myself to anger and my control slips away."

"Why?" Ge asked.  "Demon is what you are.  It's not like it's a secret."

"She isn't safe," Des said.  "She's beyond control, beyond limits.  The closest I've come to killing is when she escaped and took over, and I think the reason she didn't kill was because she thought death wasn't painful enough.

"That, and she usually doesn't distinguish between friend and foe."

"She protected me," Ge said.

"That's why I called you lucky," Des said.

* * *

"Her other friends are afraid of me," Des said, her voice different in her demonic form.  Somewhat disconcerting, almost echoed in a way that seemed like what would happen if a voice tried to harmonize with itself but ended up out of tune.  Feeling louder than your ears assured you it actually was.

But still Des's voice, through all the distortion.

"You and Des~in~human~form talk about each other in third person," Ge said.  "Are you--"

"We're not like Elias," Des said, "not really.  We're a single personality, but expressed in such different ways, and in such different states of mind, that it is useful to speak as if we were separate entities the way Elias's personalities are."

"If you're still the same personality, why should it make such a difference whether you're six foot four or five foot ten?" Ge asked. "It's only six inches."

"That's hardly the only difference," Des said.  "I live every moment, and live it with all of my feelings unleashed; I don't hold back, don't fight to maintain some kind of control, don't care what people think, don't limit myself by human standards of propriety, and don't give a single damn about whether I'm a hero or not."

"But you are a hero," Ge said.  "When you unleash all of that stuff and just do what you want, you fight the bad guys and protect the innocent.  Hero's not something you have to try to be Des, it's who you are."

"She doesn't think so," Des said.  "She stopped caring about publicity a some years ago, she stopped caring what the team thought at the same time, and yet she still fights for control every moment of every day to keep me locked up inside of her."

"But you are her," Ge said.

"Yes, but there's a reason that it is useful to speak as though were are different people."

* * *

"What makes you lose control?" Ge asked.  "What makes her come out?"

"Like many demons, my powers are tied to my emotions," Des said.  "I have to keep control of my emotions if I wish to keep control of my powers and myself."

"But you once said it was about anger," Ge said, "that's pretty specific on which emotion, if extremely vague on the process involved."

"It's usually anger when I lose control," Des said.  "Or outright rage.  Sometimes fear, though, which is pretty different.  I've never had her escape due to an overabundance of joy, but if I let myself get too high up, I risk a fall.  Pain and despair can do it too.  Thus even positive emotions represent a risk."

"But you have sex a lot," Ge said.  "I mean, like, all the time."

"Gee, thanks," Des said in monotone.

"I'm just saying that apparently ecstasy or whatever," Ge blushed somewhat, she didn't think that was fair, she'd never even had sex, why should she have to have emotional baggage and awkwardness surrounding it?  in her opinion her relationship to it should be abstract and perhaps a bit clinical, nothing that would bring emotions into the mix, certainly not onto her face.  Anyway, she'd left a sentence unfinished, and that had to be corrected: "doesn't make her come out."

"In spite of what the others may think," Des said, "I do make sure that I know enough about the women I enjoy myself with to know that no horrific fall will come of it."


"Nothing invasive," Des said.  "You'd be surprised how much you can learn about someone when you're one on one, you see auras, and you feel the emotions of others."

After a pause, Des added, "Emotions about intentions make a huge difference.  Someone who wants to use me feels different than someone who wants to have a mutually beneficial night, which in turn feels different than someone who wants to kick start a lasting relationship."

And now Ge was blushing even worse.

"Ok, so that's all nice and stuff," Ge said.

"You brought it up."

"So not the point," Ge said.  "Back on point, she only gets to come out when you're really angry, really scared, or really hurt, I think.  Is that about right?"

"Pretty much," Des said.

"So, then, aren't you teaching her to associate anger, fear, and pain with freedom?" Ge asked.  "Assuming she doesn't like fear and pain, of course she's a being of wrath because that's the only time she's free and not experiencing those things."

"I've never really thought of it that way," Des said.

"You could try releasing control when you're not in a horrible emotional state."

"She's dangerous," Des said.  "I'm not going to just let her out."

"Maybe good experiences would temper her rage."

"My approach has worked for longer than your not-stone lifetime."

"I disagree," Ge said.  "If you've been using it for that long then you started before the age of six and you still haven't reached a point where you're free of the episodes that you consider failures."

* * *

Ge studied the board.  She was winning, but that could change if she wasn't careful.  She took a stone from her bowl, looked over the board again, and placed it.  She wasn't sure that it was the right move, but she was at peace, and that was good.

Then, she had a thought.

"How are you feeling?" she asked Des.

Des looked up, clearly not expecting the question, but it didn't take her long to answer with, "Content."

"Let go," Ge said.

"What?" Des said.

Ge smiled, it wasn't often one was able to utterly befuddle Des.

"Release control.  Let her out," Ge said.  "Right here right now when there's nothing to be angry about, nothing to fear, and no pain."

"Ge," Des said slowly.

"I'm serious."

"It isn't safe."

"You know I can defend myself," Ge said.  "There's no one else around.  It's safe here."

Des took a deep breath, then said, "Ok."  She laid her hand across the board, on the side out of the way of the stones, and Ge took it.

Des closed her eyes.  when she opened them two other sets opened with them, her skin was already starting to turn red.  Two fingers and part of the palm of the hand Ge held fell away as the new arm found a different place to rest.

Once the transformation was complete, Ge asked, "How do you feel."

"Strange," Des said, her voice different yet the same, as it always was when she was in demon form.

"Good strange or bad strange?" Ge asked.

"Good strange, I believe," Des said.  "Though I would rather be playing a game in the chess family."

"Why?" Ge asked.

"It's faster, more violent, captures and killings and battle.  Much more tactical than this, though still with it's share of strategy," Des said.  "Also, I'm much more likely to win a game of chess."

"Isn't a hard earned victory more satisfying than an easy one?"

"Yes, but an easy victory is better than a defeat of any kind."

Des placed a stone on the board, and Ge returned her attention to the game.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The state of things

Ok, so, let's talk about my world.

My world is composed of nouns.  People.  Places.  Things.

People like my family by birth and my family by choice.

Places like the house in South Portland and the farm in Cape Elizabeth that I grew up in and on.

Things like the greenhouse on the farm, or the tractors, things like the computer I'm using to keep me in contact with the world, things like heat, and warmth, and protection from the winter.  (Oil, walls, so forth, not necessarily in that order.

I've talked enough about what having my SSI cut back did.  I finally did the lion's share of the work on trying (again) to get them to reevaluate.  So semi-"Woo!" on that.  I've also seen some help on the whole, "I have mountains of high interest debt because the only things I could use to fill the hole left by the cut to my SSI were credit cards.  Again, semi-"Woo!"  This time "semi" because some of that help needs to be paid back eventually and all of it together still isn't enough to be done with the fucking high interest debt.  Not that I would expect it to.

Regardless, we can move on from that.

People.  On one side of me we have people who I was born into loving.  It doesn't make the love any less real, and it's not a twisted sense of obligation.  I do in fact love these people.  Blood ties aren't guarantee of love (if they were I'd love my evil aunt, but not necessarily her daughters, while in reality I love her daughters and not her) but it's a strong incentive.  My sister was there from the day I was born, we grew up together, we suffered together, we lived together, we adventured together, we got lost in the woods together, we got brought back home by a black lab together, we fucking bonded in a way that wouldn't have happened were we not part of the same family.

And on this side the situation is shit.

I've been telling my sister to go public from the beginning but apparently people keep telling my sister not to go public because the situation is too confusing and people will just assume the police were in the right and-- BULL FUCKING SHIT.

Still not authorized to give all the details but let's go point by point on what I can say and see if it confuses you to the point that your brain throws a "divide by cheese" error and you default to "the police are always right about everything and never make mistakes."
  • According to all involved parties, including the police themselves in their sworn statements, nothing done by my sister or her partner, Cody, leading up to the police being called was remotely illegal.
Is that confusing?  Is that hard to follow?  The police shouldn't have been called in the first place.  Maybe it was a big misunderstanding, maybe it was something darker, but since there was nothing remotely illegal the police shouldn't have even been there that day.
  • The police were called because Cody was trimming rose bushes on my family's land (at the request of a member of my family) but the neighbors claimed that the rose bushes were trees, the trimming was cutting down, and the land was theirs.
Granted this might be a bit confusing.  How could someone think a rose bush was a tree?  How could they think trimming was cutting down when the two process involve entirely different actions?  How could the neighbors think that the land belonged to them when they had just measured (and, according to the police, photocopied) an actual real live boundary survey by an actual real live certified surveyor that showed beyond doubt that their land ended 15 feet before the line of rose bushes started?

This could be confusing.  But the confusion isn't about what happened.  What happened is clear, the neighbors told the police things that weren't true.  The police came to the scene believing someone was chopping down trees without permission.
  • While you might think that an alleged case of "Someone is chopping down trees that don't belong to them," would result in the police calmly explaining that one is only allowed to chop down their own trees and the legal repercussions of chopping down trees that don't belong to you, that is not what happened.
Again, not confusing.  The response wasn't what you'd expect given why the cops were called.
  • Instead of discussing the situation, the first officer on the scene:
    • Put a gun to my sister's six-month pregnant belly
    • Kicked down the door to her house rather than simply ask those inside to come out
    • Dropped her three and a half year old son on the ground
    • Used a taser on her partner, Cody
  • My sister thinks that the police over-reacted.
This seems like a simple narrative: The police were told someone was illegally playing lumberjack, they responded in a massively over the top way that in no way reflects the way one ought to respond to someone illegally playing lumberjack.

My sister, being one of the people on the receiving end of this over the top response, thinks they over reacted.

I don't think it's really all that hard to follow.
  • In the immediate aftermath the police did not see fit to call any outside agencies about anything.
  • When it was discovered that my sister was looking into how to lodge an "excessive force" complaint the police called all and sundry agencies with various stories, no two alike.
Again, pretty straight forward.  They didn't think there was anything wrong initially, but when they found out they could get in trouble they lobbed the entire book, including annotations and appendices, at my sister.

It suggests a lack of good faith.  In particular with regards to the child welfare claim.  They did not make any negative observations about the welfare of the child until after they learned they might be called on to explain why they took the child and dropped him on the ground.

It was only then, when they needed an explanation for why they were even holding the child in the first place, that they claimed they believed the child was in danger in the household.

But we'll get to that.
  • DHHS, which handles child welfare cases in the state of Maine, took away my sister's three and a half year old son, waited three months for her second son to be born, and took him away too.  They tried to send the three and a half year old to New York state, they tried to have the newborn immediately placed in foster care.
  • DHHS did the above solely based on claims allegedly made by a single police officer who has written on the record in his official report of the incident, that those claims are not true.
Ok, lets try to put this all together and see if it's really too confusing for anyone to follow.

When no one was actually committing a crime, the police were called on the incorrect assertion that someone was cutting down trees that didn't belong to them.  When the police arrived they responded in a way that was completely out of proportion to the alleged crime of cutting down trees.

When one of the victims tried to find out how to officially get that "out of proportion"ness labeled excessive force, the police immediately retaliated by calling other agencies that they had originally made no effort to contact in spite of the fact that the reasons to contact or not contact those agencies had not changed.

DHHS, one of the agencies called in, took a three and a half year old child and a newborn infant away from their mother because of the call they received even though the person who made the call indicated that what was said in the call wasn't, actually, true in his official report.

And that, more or less, is where everything stands.  So now that we've walked through it, high level overview style without getting into the gritty details that bring it down to earth, make it seem like dark comedy, and humanize it, we can return to the original question.

Did that confuse you to the point that your brain threw a "divide by cheese" error causing you to default to "the police are always right about everything and never make mistakes."


December 8th isn't just the day John Lennon died.  It also happens to be my sister's birthday.  I wasn't there for it, but I called her up to wish her a happy birthday in spite of the fact I knew that wish wouldn't come true.  I amended it to wishing that she could have a happy day sometime soon that could make up for the lack of a happy birthday.

She didn't have too much to say.  She's not going to be happy until she gets her children back.

The most recent reason for keeping them from her that I've heard is that she hasn't shown remorse for things that no one claims she actually did.  Not just things she didn't do, which would be hard enough to show remorse for, but things no one has even claimed she did.  Fuck, I've probably claimed that she sank the Titanic.  I'd be very surprised if I haven't claimed she ruined the world.  But I've never claimed she did the things she's supposed to be showing remorse for.  Neither have the neighbors.  Neither have the police.  Here's the kicker: Neither has DHHS.

They want her to show remorse for things even they say she didn't do.

Dark.  Fucking.  Comedy.


So that's one side of the people.  What about the other side?

My family by choice.  The people I can go to in order to escape the stress and tribulation associated with my blood family?

Oh my fucking god is the stress turned up to eleven.

Some of it's kids misbehaving as kids are wont to do.  Some of it's an accumulation of irregular things making it difficult to deal with the regular.  Some of it's just life churning onward.

And some of it is money.  Oh my fucking god money.

My mission right now is to get out of high interest debt.  Every penny I have that goes over what I need to survive the month ahead goes straight to paying down the debt with the highest interest.  If I want to have a future, this is the single best thing I can do.

Plus, if I stop paying that off then I can't justify not yet paying back loans that were only given for so far as and so long as they let me escape high interest debt.

Which means I'm not really helping with the money here.  I've got my own money problem.

Dear fucking god do I wish that I could help with the money.  And maybe it isn't a question of could.  Maybe it's should.  Maybe, specifically, it's should have.  I've already made all the payments I can make, the money is already spent except for a certain portion that absolutely no exceptions must be paid but will need to be hand delivered because someone paid those (very important) bills for me to give me time to scrape together money needed to pay the bills but was definitely not doing a longer term loan.

But what if I'd said "Fuck the future" and used the money not to pay down my debt but instead to help out here?

Maybe that would take enough of the stress off that spoons would be left to deal with ordinary problems.

(Maybe it would help if some mentally healthy neurotypical adult-type person were involved in things here.)

- - -

Are we at places?  I think we're at places.

Home is three things to me:
  1. The house in which I grew up
  2. The farm on which I grew up
  3. Maine

The land the house sits on is my family's but it doesn't call to me the way the building does.  The building, flawed and wonderful, is home.  The land is an accident of location.

For the farm it's basically the reverse.

The house is a part of my memories, my past, my family, but it's not home to me.  I don't know how much of my childhood was spent cooped up in the house vs exploring the farm (in which I include the fields, and the woods even though they were not farmed) but the house on the farm isn't home.

Maybe it's because another house already has that spot in my heart, maybe it's because it smelled of grandparents, maybe it's because during the summer my french relatives would more or less take over the house because it saved them money to impose on my grandparents for free, but for whatever reason the house isn't home.  The land is.

The greenhouse too.  Poor fucking greenhouse that's become target practice for the neighbors.  They break the glass with baseballs, the break the glass with softballs, the break the glass with golf balls, they break the glass with hockey pucks, and they break the glass with the apples that the previous owners of their property shared with us in kindness and in peace.  Apples that come from the tree that had seemed like magic to children that had not yet learned of "grafting" because it produced not one or two but THREE types of apples.

The apples are the only naturally renewable thing they break the glass with, which might explain why when I look around I see more of them than any of the other things.

I'm, going to fix that fucking greenhouse.  I'm going to make it as wonderful as it once was, and once it's done I'm going to call the cops every damned time the neighbors break the glass again.  (Where as now they break the glass and then try to get the cops and code enforcement to be pissed because there's broken glass on the property.)


So, let us talk about the places.  My house is what I constantly skate on the edge of losing because of money problems.  The farm hangs in the balance right fucking now, with the shit the neighbors decided to pull only complicating already difficult talks between my mother and her sister (my evil aunt) about finally settling the matter of ownership of the property.

Stress.  Yay.


There are many things.  In my basement there is a Commodore 64 with so many peripherals.  A reel to reel player.  A TI.  A cheap as far as they go but none the less not cheap as my budget is concerned pool table.  A work bench covered in the disgusting detritus of my earliest attempts at making silicone molds and plastic parts.  It has a sort of organic cancerous look.  In terms of shape, that is.  In color it's blue and white.  Mostly.

Lego sets.  Game figures.  Industrial looking fluorescent lighting.  Lots of books.  Rotting remains of childhood.  Mine and my sister's.

Recipes for non-traditional but still-kosher dishes that my dad made when the kids at the school he was chef for that time wanted more variety.

The biggest things, in terms of importance, though, are computers.  (Not the ones in the basement.)  Dead computers, salvaged hard drives.  External drives used to back shit up.  My writing.  My ideas.  My past.

Also my present and future for a computer that does work and does connect to the internet is necessary for me to connect to the rest of the world.  To be told that my writing means something, that it's somehow worthwhile.  To ask for help and say thanks when I get it (by the way, thanks, seriously, I'm only making it through 2016 because of you) to not be a hermit.  To have human contact.

To be, to see and to be seen.

Oh, and you know what I did.  I let my primary computer, the new primary that I haven't had for very long, slide.

This was a while back, I don't remember the details.  At first it seemed nothing went wrong.  In fact the cord was mildy broken.  Without treatment mildly became majorly and then BOOM.  Ok, no explosion.

I cut, I spliced, and I'm here now, but I did not fix.  Not completely.  I can run this computer off of the cord, but something in the process was lost or changed and it's not working in a fashion that's close enough to right to have the battery charge.  I'm constantly tethered, never really at ease, sometimes forced into uncomfortable positions because length of cord and distance to outlet and . . . fuck.

Yeah, I got a new one on the way.  42 dollars.  At another time I might note the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything popping up in jovial spirits.

$42, that's almost a month worth of electricity.  Gone because I stupidly let the computer slide and land on the plugged in power cord.


So that's the state of things, at the moment.

Have you noticed they're always fallout shelters?

It took me a long time to understand.  All of high school I knew that it was a fallout shelter, walked by the sign with the three yellow triangles in the black circle God knows how many times, and I never once had an inkling.

You might think I figured it out in university.  I went to a good school, and they didn't even try to destroy it until after I'd earned enough credits for one degree.  There were people who could have told me, I suppose.

Nope.  Didn't catch on.

I was twice as old as when I'd graduated high school.  No idea.  Never forgot that my high school was a fallout shelter, but neither did I dwell on it.

Finally I found myself in another place at another time, and there were those yellow triangles on a black circle and it finally clicked.

Try to get the money to build a school and you're more or less fucked.  Ditto for a courthouse.  Public building of any kind.  The money's not there, the people are overtaxed already, how the fuck can we afford to do it?

Try to get the money to build a shelter so we can survive a war that will never happen against an enemy that's averted World War III more times than we have?  You're set.

We spend money on war.

So you don't say you need a new school, or a new courthouse, or a new town hall, or a new . . . you say, "We're gonna build the best damned bomb shelter you can imagine so that when our pilots get back from bombing the ever-loving shit out of them Ruskies they'll come back to find their families safe and sound."

You don't dwell on the fact that the shelter will be a basement and on top of it you'll place a high school.  If you did that then people might think it was education spending, and they wouldn't pay for it.

No.  This is fucking WAR people and war spending gets approved and if the fallout shelter just happens to have a really nice public building on top of it then that's . . . collateral or some such.  It's not like we set out to make the world a better place.  You can't hold it against us if it just kind of happened as part of our totally legitimate military spending.

And so they're fallout shelters.

But we're not worried about being nuked anymore.  We're not building fallout shelters with useful buildings on top anymore.  We no longer need to use the interstate highway system to connect America in a way that's good for commerce and civilian use move a tank anywhere in the country at 50mph and/or evacuate our nuked cities and set up new communities by the roadside.

So our roads and bridges suck and we've stopped building useful buildings.

I don't really have a good solution.

Certainly spending money on things like healthcare, education, infrastructure, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, comforting the afflicted, and so forth is something that would never make it through committee, much less pass in a floor vote.  But how does one re-frame those things as war spending in an era when Americans are afraid that FEMA will take them away (in boxcars with shackles; REX-84 people!) rather than being bombed into non-existence by people they'll never meet.

Yes, we could maybe increase funding of fighting diseases by claiming that we were trying to prepare the population for a bio-terrorist attack while noting that those already ill are those most at risk, but people would just assume that the funding was really going to creating diseases that could be released into the population via chem-trails and flu shots.

It's certainly true that the best way to get America fighting against global warming would be to invent some oily menace in which the gas you're putting in your car is actually specially treated liquid evil that will poison you with mumble-mumble and as for your heating oil, you don't even want to know, and the only way to be absolutely safe is to not use any oil or coal products but instead switch over to self sufficient off the grid 'Murican individualism with a windmill in every yard and solar panels on every roof, BUT

That doesn't really work when the horrible threat we must defend ourselves against are our neighbors.

Of course, another solution might be to cut the bullshit and just argue that necessary things are necessary and thus should be funded.  But that never works.  Necessary things are always fallout shelters (or a means to transport tanks and troops, or ...) for a reason.

Ask for money for something that's useful and you'll be shot down.  Ask for money for war and, provided you underplay the useful thing that you actually want to get out of it, you've got decent odds.

There's a reason that my state, home to the last American shoe manufacturer, was so proud of its people in congress getting a law passed saying soldiers equipment, including their shoes, should be American made.

If we'd pointed out that a shoe industry is a useful thing to have and maybe the government should pitch in a bit to keep it alive we'd have been laughed out of congress.  So we made it into a defense issue.  Do we really want our troops going into battle wearing foreign made shoes?  What if they trip and fall because of horrible shoe sabotage?  No.  For the good of our troops, for the good of our ability to wage war, we must have locally made shoes.  The fact that that will dump money into the shoe industry is a side effect.  Surely not the entire point of the convoluted exercise.

And that'll do for shoes.  But it's not building buildings, or bridges, or repairing roads, or fixing leaky pipes, or giving people educations, or healing the sick and injured, or feeding the hungry, or . . . any of the many other things we ought to be doing.

I don't know about the way forward.  But I know this much: if you look at the good things the US government has built in the nuclear age, they're all fallout shelters.  Sometimes that statement is metaphorical, but a lot of the time it's really damned literal.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Pieces of Truth (another super thing)

[So it's not uncommon in fan writing to pair heroes up with villains and if either is on a team, and not the team leader, it's often the case that the team leader gets the role of the bad guy trying to break up the one true pair.]
[I figured I'd give that a shot.]

"Labdiela," Caster said, "we found this when we raided the Colony server farm." Caster handed her a number of loose pages.  "You should read it."

* * *

At first she thought that it had to be a lie.  Caster had never approved, Caster would never approve, so it had to be . . . but in the end there was just too much.

The entire plan was laid out with the cold impersonal efficiency and clinical detail to be expected in any Colony mission proposal.  Somehow that made it all the more personal, all the more painful.

Every aspect planned out, an explanation for every decision.

Why target her?  Because she was the most controversial.  Quote from an op-ed:

A handful of demons have become champions of Justice, and they all share a common trait: they were born demons.  Born in darkness, and creatures of darkness, their striving toward the light is made all the more noble.  To compare them to Labdiela, a fallen angel, is to insult them.  A fallen angel must consciously turn away from the light.

References to over thirty other articles making more or less the same argument, also interviews in which other heroes had expressed doubts about her.

Why trick her into a fake romance instead of going the easier route of establishing a compromising friendship?  Again her species, again quotations from popular articles:

. . . furthermore her decision to dress provocatively brings to mind the lesson of Genesis 6; she is an abomination that could bring ruin upon the whole world.

She still remembered the pain of reading that the first time.

Analysis about how the public would likely react, more popular media about her.

In a recent poll, Labdiela was found to be the least trusted . . .

We will be repugnant in the eyes of God if we continue to harbor the traitor, Labdiela.

She swore in a language no human had ever been allowed to learn and smashed her bed against the ceiling with a flick of her wrist.

Once the why finished and the proposal moved into the land of "how" things got worse.  Their early meetings were described in the future tense.  Their first date planned out move for move and word for word.

When her rage ended, the only unscathed things left in her room were those protected by magical means.

She found herself in the corner sitting on the ground, back against the wall, knees pulled into her chest by shaking arms, sobbing.

* * *

The planning room was in some ways indistinguishable from Router's own space as the one organically flowed into the other with wires, cables and conduits connecting the spaces like the vessels of a living thing or the web of a spider.  Screens at angles that seemed odd to the others would illustrate points to be made or information to be communicated based on voice recognition, heuristic linguistic processing, and a bit of clunky but necessary code of Router's own design.

Router could move through the two story room in twisting ways some of the others claimed were inhuman, even though he could prove his DNA was nothing but ordinary, mundane, human and not in the least bit snake.

At the moment he was curled around a cable midway up the room, listening to an increasingly stupid idea from their leader, who always stayed on the ground floor and seldom paid attention to the array of monitors.

When he had finally reached the breaking point, Router said, "Uh, Tuesday is a horrible day.  This mission would be nearly impossible under optimal conditions, doing it without 'Diela is so unwise as to cause textbooks to be rewritten just so it can be the canonical textbook example of 'Stupid.'"

"Why would we be going without Lab?" Caster asked.  Over smug.  Under informed.

Router sighed.  There was a reason that even in their home they used code names.  Caster was an asshole.  There were some secondary reasons too, but it was mostly that Caster was an asshole.  A point made more salient by the fact that he'd just called Labdiela "Lab" when the only shortening of her name she didn't dislike was "'Diela".  Sure, she used "Delia" when pretending to be an ordinary civilian, but absent subterfuge the only name a non-asshole would call her other than "Labdiela" was "'Diela".

Router sighed then explained in tones reserved for tutorials made for those who couldn't understand the painfully obvious without a PowerPoint presentation.  "'Diela is not going to be here on Tuesday because she is taking a civilian day on Tuesday.  You could have found this out if you had bothered to look at the schedule any time in the past two weeks.

"I know you don't approve of the choices she's made in her personal life, but that doesn't mean that you can ignore when she is and is not available for a mission.  Given that 'Delia' and 'Anne' will be--"

"We don't have to worry about that," Caster said in that smug, superior, Caster-type way.

Router had a sinking feeling.  Well, Router felt like almost his entire body went in one direction and his stomach when in the opposite.  Whether it was sinking or rising depended on one's frame of reference.

"What did you do?"

* * *

Labdiela heard a knock.

She ignored it.  She was busy sobbing.

There was more knocking.

She ignored it.

There was pounding.


"If you don't open up, I'm coming in."

She heard the words, but didn't really process them.

Router was in front of her --kneeling to meet her eye level.

"Caster didn't give you all the information," he said.

There was silence for a long time.

Router didn't move.

Labdeila said, "I know enough."

"You're smarter than that," Router said.  "You've just been manipulated into not seeing it."

"What's to see?" Labdeila asked.  "It was all a lie."

"Back when I was still at The Parts Store, Eprom once told me that when someone gave you one part of the truth while holding back other parts it meant that they were trying to lie without lying," Router said.  "Someone can present carefully chosen bits of the truth in such a way that it make you believe a lie they never actually said."

"Do you have a point?"

"When a Colony mission reaches completion, the final report is a short five part summary.  Part one is a high level overview of why it succeeded or failed, none of the details.  Parts two through four are the objectives, operation, and outcome.  Part five is recommendations for future actions related to the mission."

"I cannot begin to describe how little I care about Colony record keeping right now," Labdiela said.  Besides, what did it matter?  She'd read the proposal, the mission hadn't reached its terminus yet.

"You should care.  The final report is the first thing someone sees when accessing mission records, so that a reader can use it to decide if they need the details," Router said.  "This is the first thing Caster saw," Router held out a paper.  It smelled of fresh toner.

"If he wanted you to know the truth, this is what he would have shown you."

Labdiela looked at the document she was being offered.

"I think I've had enough reading material for one . . ." she'd intended to say, "day" but it didn't feel right so she eventually settled on, "lifetime."

"Please," Router said, "you have to read this."

"What would I/O think of a Parts Store alumnus begging someone to read a piece of paper?" Labdiela asked, finishing with a small, sad, smile.

"Ok, N things," Router said.  "First, it's 'I/O Port'; Input/Output would be way too abstract for a Parts Store name.  It's not like the names 'Baud' and 'Parse' were our fault, after all.  Second, I don't think your computer will be up for displaying anything right now."  Labdiela looked at her computer, and was somewhat surprised that the main body had held up so well.  It was dented, dinged, and singed, but it was in one piece.  The monitor was definitely kaput though.

"Third, ditto for your Kindle."

Labdiela didn't even bother following the accompanying gestures with her eyes.

"N minus three, reading it will change your life," Router said.

"You can't say it that way," Labdiela said, her voice still depressed, but perhaps a little bit better.  "Not if you want to keep your tech cred."

"Fine," Router said.  "Thing N minus three: five things your boss does not want you to know, number three will change your life."


"N minus two," Router said, "I've never given you a reason not to trust me so when I tell you that you need to read this --by the way, you need to read this-- you should listen.  N minus one, I seriously will beg if that's what it takes, and no one wants to see that."

There was a silence.

"And thing N?" Labdiela asked.


"You're not going to leave my room unless I read it."

"Well," Router said, "I was more thinking that I wouldn't leave until you give me your word you'll read it."

"And if I do, you will?"

Router nodded.

"You have it." She took the document. "Get out of my room."

Router left.

* * *

It took a bit.  She had to set up her desk.  She had to partially reassemble her chair.  She had to repeatedly dry the tears from her eyes.  But she always kept her word, and so she read it.

She just took it in in one go, she'd process it later.

After some boilerplate, the actual description began.

- - -
General notes

The failure of this operation was not unforeseen.  It was known to be a high risk / high reward endeavor and several objections were logged (see Appendix C) because the risk was seen as too great.  Nonetheless, the potential gains of the plan were eventually deemed to be worth the risk (see Appendix A).

Complications and warning signs that would normally have resulted in the mission being cancelled were overshadowed by mounting evidence that, if successful, the results would be far beyond the original intended scope.  With the possibility of national, or even global, gains, the increasing risk of the mission was considered acceptable.  This decision was not that of the lead agent alone, but also supported by her entire team (Appendix D, Section 7) once the full scale of the operation's potential effects was understood.

- - -
Mission Description

Agent 3-121-01, Antic, was to seduce CA2-24, Labdiela, with the intent of creating a lasting romantic relationship.  Once sufficiently established, news of this relationship would be leaked to the public in a way that did not implicate 3-121-01 in the leaking.

While the intent of the operation was originally to use existing faults within the local opposition team, 3-121-O-∅, and the negative media environment surrounding CA2-24 to fracture the local opposition team, it soon became clear that the exploitable weaknesses spread far beyond the local opposition team as a result of the particularly controversial nature of CA2-24 and, in particular, certain religious interpretations of the relationship between her species, sexuality, and natural disaster.

The original intended outcome was to render team 3-121-O-∅ ineffective or defunct, with a best case outcome resulting in 3-121-O-∅ splitting into two hostile factions and CA2-24 herself defecting to the Colony.

As new information became available the best case outcome expanded to creating cracks, rifts, and other exploitable weaknesses in the opposition in general.

- - -
Mission Operation

The initial stages of the operation went as planned.  Agent 3-121-01 was able to establish off the record ties with CA2-24 and utilize them to create the intended relationship.

While not, strictly speaking, undercover, 3-121-01 was subject to many of the same pressures as an undercover agent.  In particular it is not uncommon for undercover operatives to come to sympathize with their purported cause and comrades.  Given sufficient time undercover operatives may begin to internalize aspects of their cover's personality.

Though falling in love with one's mark is a great deal more rare than simple sympathy, this was an extraordinary situation, and 3-121-01 should not be faulted for her emotions.

It is impossible to tell precisely when the romantic relationship with CA2-24 became "real" for 3-121-01 as the possibility of self-deception was present for as long as the actual relationship and the mission were not at odds.

When 3-121-01 was no longer able to deny that her feelings for CA2-24 were preventing her from carrying out the mission and impeding her ability to be an effective Colony agent, she immediately stepped down as leader of team 3-121 and resigned as a Colony agent.

- - -

The possibility that establishing a relationship between 3-121-01 and CA2-24 would influence 3-121-01 more than CA2-24 was considered before the mission began.  While it represented a failure it was not the worst case scenario as 3-121-01 has merely become a neutral party and not turned against the Colony.

CA2-24 is a unique case, and the role of her lover is already filled, so the design of this mission cannot be salvaged for reuse under more favorable conditions.

- - -

3-121-01 has proven that, while no longer an ally, she is not our enemy.  She could have done significant damage to Colony operations by remaining leader of team 3-121 after being compromised.  Instead she chose to step down and isolate the team and the Colony from any adverse effects of her shifted priorities.

This agent, 3-121-02, strongly recommends that she be left to her own devices and suffer no reprisal for her abrupt resignation.

In addition to the fact that turning 3-121-01 into an enemy --as any action against her is likely to do-- would be extremely ill advised, it must be noted that the relationship between her and CA2-24 is both real and quite strong.  Attacking CA2-24's partner would be inviting wrath like unto that of God's own.

It would be best to focus future efforts against 3-121-O-∅ on team members other than CA2-24 as any action targeting CA2-24 might be interpreted by 3-121-01 as a personal attack and thus push her toward being our enemy.

In other words: let Antic retire in peace --she has more than earned it-- and don't mess with her girlfriend.  Any other course of action will be opposed by the members of team 3-121 on both personal and professional grounds.

All that followed was boilerplate.

* * *

At first the words were little more than squiggles on paper and echoes in her mind, but as Labdiela allowed the meaning to sink in certain things stood out.
The failure of this operation . . .
While it represented a failure . . .
If the Colony considered the mission a failure then her relationship with Antic couldn't be what the papers Caster had given her implied it was.  This was further supported by things such as:
. . . falling in love with one's mark . . .
. . . the romantic relationship with CA2-24 became "real" for 3-121-01 . . .
. . .the relationship between her and CA2-24 is both real and quite strong.
and the use of the word "girlfriend" in the less formal note at the end.

Was it possible . ? .

* Three Hours Later *

Labdiela burst out of her room, nearly crashed into Router in the hall, said the words, "Thank you; right about life changing; bye," in a single breath, gave him the final operation report, now covered with the ink of underlines, marginalia, circles and arrows, inline glossing of terms, and some notes in a script no human had ever recorded, continued down the hall at a running pace, and jumped through the open window at the end.

Router walked to the window, noted Labdiela flying above the lower buildings on cyan wings, and said, "I guess she read it," to himself.

* * *

Antic was sitting on a park bench contemplating various things that would result in her death without seriously considering any of them.  She wasn't suicidal and she never would be, but at times like this she thought a lot about death.

She'd given up everything and it had seemed completely worth it, but now . . .

She opened her phone, looked at the text she'd received from Caster again, decided she didn't really care how he got her number, and was about to consider how hard it would really be to swim straight out into the ocean until she lacked the energy to keep her head above water, when a voice she didn't expect to hear in a tone she definitely didn't expect said, "He always was an asshole."

Antic looked up and back to see Labdiela reading the text over her shoulder.

"Is the seat next to you taken?"

Antic couldn't find any words, and finally just patted the bench to her right.

"So," Labdiela said as she sat next to Antic, "why me, why you, and why the hell does three dash one twenty one get used in three different contexts?"

"Uhh . . ." Antic said.  "First, you're the most powerful person on your team, and really beautiful, and the media narratives were against you, and . . . stuff.

"Second, because if someone on my team was going to get to kiss you I wanted it to be me.

"Third, the first number is general location: null for roaming, 1 for global, 2 for Europe, 3 for North America.  Second number is the number of the Colony team.  We were the one hundred and twenty first North American Colony Team.  If it stops there then it's the team.  If it's followed by a number then it indicates a team member, numbers assigned in order of joining or, for members who joined at the same time, highest ranking first.

"If it's followed by a letter then it indicates a thing within that team's territory.  I'm guessing you saw 'O'." Labdiela nodded.  "That means opposition.  If there's only one opposition team then it's followed by a null, if there is more than one then they're numbered."

"So why wasn't I 3-121-O-∅-[two digit number]?" Labdiela asked.

"Alphabet codes supersede team member codes," Antic said.

"Do I want to know what it stands for?"

"Maybe.  Does the fact you're not trying to kill me mean we still have a future?"

"I think so, but there's something I really need to know," Labdiela said.  "No lies."


"Were you really going to use me like you said in your mission proposal?"

"I . . . I told myself I was," Antic said.  "Maybe I believed it, I'm not even sure.  I think I just wanted an excuse to be with you.  The mission practically wrote itself, then I could try to get you to date me without feeling like I was betraying the Colony."

"You're fucked up," Labdiela said.  "You know that?"

"Of course I know that," Antic said.

"My girlfriend needs therapy," Labdiela said.

"So-- so I am still your girlfriend?" Antic asked.  The mixture of fear and hope was almost heartbreaking.  Almost.

"Yeah," Labdiela said.  "You and I both have Router to thank for that."


* * *

Router was hanging by his knees from a conduit near the ceiling when an anonymous email arrived with a massive amount of baggage.  He ordered the email moved to an isolated disk, and only opened it once he'd cut that disk off from the rest of his network.

The text read:
Heard you're the reason I'm not suddenly single.  Thanks.  Thought you could use these.
-- A
Router looked at the attached files.  Each began with the words, "Competition Technology" and what followed were the strings of digits and dashes one expected from Colony record keeping.

He opened the first file and hoped it wasn't a trick.  True, the most a virus could do would be to wreak havoc on the isolated drive, but it could still make a mess with the tricks some people had discovered.

Instead his screens were flooded with diagrams and technical specifications.

Hours later the scope of what he'd been given was still sinking in.  It was everything the Colony knew about the technology employed by every criminal organization other than the Colony itself.



Random notes:

"Labdiela" is a very basic bashing together of word parts to create something that might, possibly, translate to "not God's servant" + "a" because focus groups said that superheroes with names ending in vowels . . .

Ok, I wanted something that made sense for a fallen angel.  A self-chosen name that expressed how big of a deal it is to say, "Fuck off," to God and then go down to earth and try to do a better job of creating a better world.

"The Parts Store" was basically my idea of a place from which piles of tech people with really boring, downright stupid, names could come from.  "Why would you name yourself Transistor?" "I'm a former member of The Parts Store.  I studied under Capacitor."

Caster gets his name because his powers are light based.  He casts rays.  Unlike Router, he has no excuse for his name.

The Colony is an organization that takes super-villainy seriously.  Reports must be filled out correctly.

CA2-24 = Celestial, Angelic, State 2 (fallen) - 24.  The Colony has had cause to give identification codes to 23 fallen angels before Labdiela.

Antic isn't redeemed to the side of good by love.  She's a neutral party who still considers members of her old team somewhere between friend and family.  The info dump she sent to Router was entirely about other groups' technology.

Router moves around his technology in three ways: like a xenomorph from Aliens moves around the hive, like a child moves around a playground, some combination of the previous two.

There might have been other notes I meant to write at some point.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

I'm not dead yet

I'm having trouble getting anything to postable completion.

Additionally I am suffering from computer problems (well, power cord problems, but the computer doesn't work without power.)

Finally, my left arm is currently being held captive by a child who is 15 days short of 8 years old.

Also: my sister's situation is stressing the hell out of me.

But I'm here and not dead yet,

Sunday, December 4, 2016

My shared super person universe - Index

It seemed like it was time for an index.

The Public History of Super Powers

Some version of superhero prevention squads exist in this universe, but things are made more complex and difficult than the post in question suggests as a result of wildly varying laws that range from, "All people are full people with all of the rights that implies," to "Those are things and they have no rights."  So whether a local squad is an official law enforcement organization or an underground railroad terminal that smuggles people out of harsh regimes depends on where that location happens to be.

Corv's team Des and Ge's team:
  • The Petrification Chronicles - Ge -- The story of Ge returning to flesh and blood life after being turned to stone for seven years
    • Prologue: Quake - Des observes an attempt to depetrify someone else (Quake) in hopes of learning how to depetrify Ge
  • Not Broken
  • Conversation's on Des' demon
Melissa and Rose's Team Mishap's former team (villains): Labdiela and Router's team: Solo heroes and villains: Ordinary People: -

Most recently updated January 22nd, 2017

Friday, December 2, 2016

A public history of the shared super-person universe

A public history because it leaves out things happening behind the scenes or in secret.



Who is in this universe anyway?

Not every superhero thing I write is part of a shared universe.  This story, for example, takes place in a world where the hero in the story is the only superhero (so far.)

That said, I definitely like the idea of an expansive and populated super-person universe.

Corv's team (elements of which are seen in Bunking Together, A confrontation in Hell, and Jailbreak) is definitely part of a setting where superheroes are more common place.  The first linked to post involves Corv talking to a hero higher in the hero hierarchy (a member of an international association with agreements from multiple countries allowing them to operate freely) the third involves a then-former member of her team imprisoned with other superpowered people.

Not Broken showcases two members, Des and Ge, of a copycat hero team (copying Corv's team.)  While not written yet, Des called on Page (the only story she's appeared in is being a background character in Schism) for help when she was initially unable to depetrify Ge and again when there were unexpected side effects from the eventual success.

Where Not Broken showcases an unauthorized knockoff team, Getting the Girl shows a team that was probably an official franchisee of Corv's team.  In something more important than winning Podarke and Downdraft both exist as solo people, but Podarke has access to things, like focus group data, from the larger hero community.

Not entirely sure whether the superhero prevention squad exists in this universe or not.

Super Artisans and Super People Get Together show glimpses into the lives of normal people who happen to have super powers.



It is said that superpowers have always existed.  That people with powers were hunted as demons and witches.  That by the modern age they had developed an almost instinctive drive to hide what made them different.

What is known is that before the 1970s, no generally accepted record confirming the existence of superpowers existed.

The first superhero

In the early 1970s a superhero emerged.  Super strong, flying without wings, allegedly fast enough to dodge bullets, definitely impervious enough he didn't have to.  He, briefly, seemed like he could save the world from itself.

He never got a chance to work on anything like that.  He was an ally when he could be, he would denounce apartheid whenever the opportunity arose, he'd gone on record as supporting the rioters at Stonewall over the police, and his stance on nuclear disarmament would have been considered downright treasonous if he'd had the opportunity to expound upon it, but his time was taken up with problems that seemed to be of his own creation.

With the escalation he represented in crime fighting, a counter escalation occurred in crime itself.  The emergence of the superhero begat the supervillain.  With supervillains, more every year, he didn't have time to fight ordinary crime, and certainly not an opportunity to fight the injustice he saw in the mundane world.

Some of the villains had powers like his own, others had immense resources and used them to build machines that drew upon aspects of science well beyond conventional understanding.  Some even used magic, something long dismissed as myth or superstition.

By then he was firmly located in New York City and most villains realized that for their plans to succeed they had to deal with him first.  Thus the first superhero and the supervillains he fought, were largely considered a New York thing that much of the country could ignore, and certainly an American thing that the rest of the world could take minimal interest in.

Various scientists from all over the world relocated to New York in hopes of being able to refine their understanding of the universe by studying the seemingly impossible things going on there.  The prospect was made difficult by the nature of the encounters (unpredictable, never the same thing twice, never in a laboratory setting, so forth.)  Still, many groups set up many sensors throughout the city in hopes of making world altering breakthroughs.

It only took a few years before the hero and the villains he fought rarely made the news outside of New York based publications.  They'd captured the world's attention for longer than moon landings, but not much longer.

Then, in 1986, he died.

Those who were present placed great emphasis on the fact that he could have survived.  He could have easily dodged the ray that killed him if he'd allowed an I-beam to hit a medium sized crowed of bystanders.  He chose to save those people, and that was why he died.

Those that killed him were so focused on his corpse that they forgot about the onlookers entirely.  The crowd that had been held at bay via the threat of their high tech weapons was forgotten.  That proved to be a nearly fatal mistake.

The villains were in the midst of self congratulations when the crowd rushed them and overpowered them.  The resulting mob would have beaten the villains to death if not for the fact that someone had the presence of mind to scream that the hero wouldn't have wanted them killed.

After the villains were taken away by the police, and the injured were driven off in ambulances, one question loomed large, large enough that the world's attention was captured for the first time in a decade:

What now?

The Age of Heroes begins

The hero had been singular.  He'd just been called: "the hero", or "hero".  Many acted as though "Hero" were his actual name.  All because he'd been unique.

The villains were not.  The encounter that killed the hero had resulted in the capture of only one group from his extensive list of enemies.  Most of them remained free.

Some expressed worry that there would be no one to stop the other super villains.  Some put forth the same idea with outright terror.  They needn't have bothered.

A new generation of heroes stepped into the light and filled the void left by the hero's death.

Immediately there were comparisons between the old hero and the new heroes.

No one had really cared about the gender, race, sexuality, nationality, religion, legality, or birthplace of the hero before.  Now it seemed to matter a great deal.

An innocent explanation was that it was because, as the only hero, there was no one to compare him to.  A more cynical explanation was that it was because he fit perfectly into the mindset of the dominant culture in the United States, which was where he operated.

He'd been accepted, if somewhat controversial, during his lifetime, but now that he was dead the fallen hero was revered.  He could no longer say unpopular things, and so he could be appropriated however one desired.

He was a presumed straight (actually asexual) white protestant male from Nebraska.  (Never mind that he preferred New York City to his original hometown.)  The kind of hero that America was clearly supposed to have.  Not like this new crop who included women, people of color, women of color *shock. gasp. fetch the fainting couch*, some openly gay people, naturalized immigrants, outright foreigners, and so forth.  And as for religion, they seemed to come from all of them, and some were even atheists.

The fact that the hero was born on a farm even led to the rumor that he'd been born in a manger (no, he'd been born in a house, not a feeding troth.)

The fact that when asked about his hero he'd always talked about Bayard Rustin was quietly pushed aside, forgotten, and ignored any time anyone tried to remind people of it.

So the dawn of the age of heroes was also the true beginning of criticizing and mistrusting heroes.  The new heroes seemed to come from everywhere and that shocked and dismayed the comfortable masses.

They came in all colors.  They came from all places.  They came from all income levels.  They came from all religions.

At first they were at least (US) American, or Canadian which could be passed off as "almost American", but where before supervillainy had been centered on stopping a single hero who had seemed the only impediment in the way of world domination, and thus come to him in the US, now it was as decentralized as the heroes, and soon the entire world had heroes and villains.

The first hero had, in any legal sense, been a vigilante, but he'd never been treated as such.

Now things started to be looked at from a legal sense.

Laws varied by country.  In some merely being suspected of having "unnatural" abilities was grounds for imprisonment or, in some cases, conscription.  In others the fact that human rights applied to human+ individuals was enshrined in law.  At least two went so far as to create a definition of "person" that was sure to include human-level (or above) members of other species, artificial species such as AIs included.

Within the United States, the place the whole mess had been born, laws varied widely by state and sometimes even by city.

The time of Consolidation

It was only a matter of time before heroes started to band together.  Teams, sometimes underground, were not uncommon, but an official transnational organization of heroes had never been attempted.

Many heroes tried to stay out of the light, so creating a public organization was something they wouldn't even consider doing.

The Public Face

Building blocks were being put in place as early as 1995, but it wasn't until the year 2000 that the League of Heroes (which was hoped to be more useful than the League of Nations) was created.  It it worked with governments to have heroes registered with them (which required extensive vetting) to be authorized to work within their countries, sometimes in general, sometimes only under special circumstances.

It created an apprenticeship program so that that young heroes could learn the trade without having to resort to trial and error.  It worked to advance superhuman rights as much as it could without losing the hard won legal transnational jurisdiction it had achieved.  (In other words, it worked for rights, but not much.)

It aimed to be spotless and beyond reproach, which was of course impossible.  Even so it came close.  Connections to any less than legal organizations have never been proven despite frequent audits.

Yet, somehow, when they meet superhumans in danger who they can't protect themselves for whatever reason, those superhumans always seem to safely make it to underground organizations dedicated to protecting ones such as themselves.

The Underground

All of the hero groups I've written about so far are in places where the laws are fairly super-person positive.  That is not representative of the whole of the world in which these characters live.  Not at all.

There are organizations dedicated to hiding super powered individuals or smuggling them into jurisdictions where they'll have more rights.  Some are able to create entirely new identities for those they help.  These organizations have managed to largely stay under the radar.  Many people are aware of their existence in a vague general sense, but they work to keep themselves out of the public eye and off the public's mind.

There are also other organizations.

Within the United States there are four underground organizations, not all of them very organized, that rose to the level of making headlines.

The headline makers, and others of note:

The Resistance
The Resistance had begun organizing early in the first hero's career, believing that his actions would inevitably lead to the persecution of people with powers.  Their first members were drawn specifically from groups that had experienced other forms of oppression.

Someone ten years old when Auschwitz closed was in their twenties when the first hero appeared on the scene.  World War II had seen American interment camps as well.  While they weren't death camps, they obviously weren't right and individuals from them knew that such things could happen within the United States because they'd lived through it.

Likewise Martin Luther King Jr. had not been long assassinated when the first hero started his work.

Indeed history seemed to create an unending supply of people who were oppressed, and The Resistance was at work recruiting any powered members of those groups who were willing to fight against it ever happening again.

Some of those members dropped out when they learned how The Resistance planed to fight, but enough stayed with the organization.

When the world awoke to the fact that there wasn't just one hero and a handful of villains, but people with powers all over The Resistance was ready to stage counter attacks against oppressive reactions.

The Resistance is an unabashed terrorist organization, and as oppression spread throughout the globe, so too did they.  They consider any government that treats individuals with powers differently from those without as occupying forces.  They believe that any registration is a prelude to internment camps and, perhaps, worse.

They believe that any powered individuals who work with such governments are collaborators.

They back these beliefs with assassination, bombings, sabotage, violence in the streets, and whatever else they can do to strike against their oppressors (real or perceived.)

The Outlaws
The Outlaws were, at first, the only other underground organization of note.  They're unregistered heroes who fight both villains and The Resistance.  They believe that the only way they'll ever gain full rights is if people like those in The Resistance stop providing excuses to mistrust individuals with powers, hence fighting The Resistance, and if currently oppressed individuals prove their worth, hence fighting villains.  Their choice of name was specifically to remind anyone they help or save outright that they're criminals under existing law, law that if obeyed would stop them from helping and/or saving those people.

The Outlaws are primarily based in the United States, though they do have some smaller cells in other nations.

Smaller groups with similar operations
The Resistance and the Outlaws are run by, as one onlooker put it, "A couple of old white guys."  While the general membership The Resistance was very diverse from the outset, that doesn't change the leadership.  The Outlaws started off overwhelmingly white and have been slowly becoming more diverse.

This has led to a variety of smaller groups with similar goals that didn't particularly like the idea of their only options in the fight for their civil rights being the organizations of . . . a couple of old white guys.

The Protectors
The Protectors were formed as an alternative to the terrorism of The Resistance and the inaction of The Outlaws.  Sometimes The Resistance and The Protectors find themselves working together, but it's always uneasy.  The Protectors chose their name because they are an entirely defensive organization.  They will fight tooth and nail, but only to protect victims.  Assassinations, bombings, sabotage, and so forth are beyond the scope of what they're willing to do.

They never go on the offensive, and never actively strike against the governments that oppress powered individuals.  Instead they step in to protect those individuals when one of those governments is actively striking against them.

If someone has been violating the Geneva Conventions against powered individuals for ages, and will continue to do so in the future, but isn't doing it right now, The Resistance would respond by assassinating them, The Outlaws would denounce them but not act against them, The Protectors would wait until the individual was doing, or about to do something, and act only then.

If an operation doesn't involve the other side currently in the process of doing something wrong, The Protectors want no part of it.  That's seen as the path toward the outright terrorism of The Resistance.  It's not quite that The Protectors never strike first, it is the case that they never strike unless the other side is trying to strike first.

In theory at least.  Mistakes happen.  Individuals become jaded and go too far.  So on, so forth.  The policy, though, is to be defensive only.

The Marchers
They didn't name themselves and are easily the least organized of the four major groups.

Since each of the other three groups were "The [blank]" news sources wanted to put them into a similar format and "Marchers" sounded better than "Sit Iners, Strikers, Occupiers, Blockaders, Marchers, and such."

The Resistance, The Outlaws, and The Protectors are all groups that use violence.  The Marchers are a non-violent group, or coalition of like-minded non-violent groups, that believe civil rights can be gained by non-violent direct action.

The Resistance are terrorists, The Outlaws don't even work for rights, instead hoping that their oppressors will reward them with rights if they're useful enough, The Protectors are the only other group that some of the Marchers support, but they themselves do not believe violence, even in defense of the oppressed, is the answer.

The Letter from Birmingham Jail is required reading in most cells.  Those who are illerate will have it read to them.  This this passage, in particular, is often cited as their goal:
Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.

They don't really make the news.  Some people know about them, some people don't.  They aren't an organization.  Some people with powers have responded to hostile societies by simply dropping off the radar.  From transients to groups that have set up entire under-cites in sewers, maintenance tunnels, abandoned subways, and such, some individuals simply want to be left alone and are willing to abandon conventional society to achieve that end.

There are thus communities of super powered individuals that are off the map . . . in hiding.

Child Soldiers?

While groups like them had existed for at least twenty years, Corv's team was the first official, legally recognized, team of heroes in their teens.  And they were in the younger part of the their teens.  They came together quite by accident in about 2007 and were accepted as an arm of law enforcement in their city soon after.  They quickly established ties to the league of heroes.  Within a year they were famous.  Not long after they initiated a pilot program in which they set up another team in their . . . franchise in another willing city.

With the second team's success teenage and young adult teams began to spread, though (obviously) only in places where super individuals were accepted.

While the team has no part of it, and has officially denounced the practice, teams built on their model have also been created in places hostile to super individuals as a sort of perpetual community service that allows individuals who would otherwise be imprisoned, or at least in hiding, a measure of freedom.

In 2009 the fame of Corv's team led to a copycat team, which Desdemona and Ge belonged to.  Ge was petrified two years later.

In the present day (2016) teenage superheroes, and supervillains, hardly raise an eyebrow.  A ten year old probably won't get much reaction provided that their service is as sidekick to an older individual.