Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The screws on your back (Poem)

You think
You understand
When you hear the story second hand.

When you learn
The three year old
Hit the floor.

When the pregnant mother
Tells you
Of her nightmares

When you see where
The taser hit
The father to be

When you hear
The door was broken down

When you learn
The cops were called
Based on nothing
But lies

When you learn that
Irene, and two of her sons,
Signed statements saying
They were there
They were spoken to
They were threatened
They were in danger
They were present for every moment
And felt every stimulus
When they never left the house.

When you learn
The chief of police
Says the Moons
Were trespassing
Not the other way around.

And so,
Everyone knows that
The call was fraudulent
The statements were lies
There was no cause.

You think you understand
When you're told how the man
With the gun
Snuck onto the property
From the Moon's home,
And in the lighting
The frightened family
Thought he was a Moon with a gun
For he never announced
He was a cop.

You think you understand
When you learn the
Only thing
That stopped this man
From committing murder
Was when the mother
Stepped in front of him
And, in his moment of hesitation,
Barely finishing before he pulled
The trigger
Said, "You're not going to shoot
An unarmed pregnant woman,"
And staked her life
The life of her three year old
The life of the father of her child
to be
That might have died that day
before becoming
A child
On the hope that this man
Who was willing to shoot
An unarmed woman
Would stop at the mention
Of pregnancy.

You think you understand
When you learn
That he switched to his Taser.

You think you understand
When you learn that
After she said,
"You're not going to Tase
An unarmed pregnant woman,"
He hesitated again before
Going to the house,
Where her three year old
And the father of her child to be
Were inside
Threatening no one,
And broke down the door.

You think you understand when you learn
That this is when
The cop knocked the child to the ground
And used the Taser.

You think you understand
When you learn that even
If the allegations were true,
Which they weren't,
It was illegal for the cop
To break down the door.

You think you understand when
You look at the child
And wish you understood as little
As he did
About what happened.

You think you understand when you learn that
The Moons called
Not just the police in hopes of
Getting the family killed
But also child welfare
Tearing the family apart
For who would trust a woman in
A home with a broken door
And a man in jail,
waiting for sentencing
after the police saw fit to tase him,
to raise a child,
And animal welfare
in hopes of
shutting down the farm,
And code enforcement,
For there are rules about
Houses not having gaping holes
where a door once stood,
And every other
they could think of.

You think you understand
When you see someone
Separated from her son
Start to crack when
Code enforcement
Has to cancel
The person they
Had been sending
Needed to
See his sick

And you think you understand
Why she cracks
When she is reminded that
Healthy or sick
She cannot see
Her child.

You think you understand.
But then
You go
Into the house.

Yellow letters on a blue background
Tell you "Welcome",
in a cozy painted style,
from the floor.

You look closer at what
Once was door
And see the painting
Had once said,
As you are,"
On one side
On the other,
Is where the"
And a heart shape
In red.

There is no more.

The "is" is gone.
Perhaps it is still there
Just bent backward
Under what once was door.

You can't open
The wreckage,
Nor can you
Close it.

So you step over the part
That holds the doorknob.

You notice
The lock that didn't

You see a piece,
You know not what,
Thrown farther,
And you know
That the destruction
Goes further.

You slip
Through what once
Was doorway
You're careful
Not to step
On the wreckage.

Then you feel the screws
The screws that once
Held the door together.
The screws that were
Never meant to be seen
Or felt.

The screws on the
Part of the door
Still hanging broken
On the hinges.

The screws that scrape your back
As you attempt to enter
The house that has
No door.

It is when you feel
The screws on your back
That you realize
You will never understand.

How could you understand
When you haven't had to
Step in front of a loaded gun
To save your love
From a being killed
By a thug
With a badge
Who follows no law?

How could you understand
When you haven't
Gambled your life
And the lives of
Those you love
On the belief that a single
Can stop a killing?

How can you understand
When you will never
Carry a child
Never feel a kick?

How can you understand when
No one has ever pointed
A loaded gun
at you?

How can you understand
When your door stands

How can you understand
When you've never
Been charged with interfering
With administrative activities
Because you told someone
Not to shoot you?

How can you understand
When you aren't being
Called to court.

How can you understand
When you have never
Known the feeling
Of having electricity
Pumped through your
To give someone a
Simply because he has
A badge
And you have nothing?

How can you understand
When you haven't
Suffered through

You think
You will never


Yeah.  It happened.  The Cape Elizabeth police are inconsistent at best.

On the one hand, this isn't the first time the neighbors have made fake calls.  The police have actually recommended that my sister and her family file a formal complaint against the neighbors because then, apparently, they wouldn't have to respond to every bullshit call the neighbors made.

On the other hand, the cop responding in this case had his gun drawn before he even made contact with anyone, was clearly ready to kill everyone (except perhaps the three year old, who he did send on a trip straight to the floor because . . . Jasper) basically went out of his way to look like an armed assailant rather than a police officer, and didn't even bother making up plausible bullshit as to why he broke various laws to do what he did.

I can't give too many more details.  The case is ongoing.  The Moons have money to burn.  I don't know about right now, but they could definitely afford houses on multiple continents not long ago, which gives you some idea of how far they outclass all non-evil members of my extended family in the income and/or wealth category.  Cape Elizabeth is changing, has been since I was a kid if not longer.  The farms are dying.  The affluent are taking over.

The Moons are in the second category.

So there are limits to what I can say without a lawyer coming after me, or the police getting called saying I'm threatening someone with a machete because I'm trimming the bushes.  (Farming implements may look scary, but wood is God damned hard.  Most people with axes are not ax murderers, for example, but instead wood cutters, though we were using it as a hammer today.)

There will come a time when I can say more, and when that time comes I intend to say it.  With pictures if at all possible.  (Didn't bring my camera today.)

Random question: what follows an army?

A lot of how the Roman Empire spread its culture was sending the military to new places, defeating anyone who opposed them, and setting up shop.  Everything else came to the army without having to be asked.

Things came at different rates, though.  You didn't exactly have playwrights and poets saying, "Hey, there's a military camp over there.  No buildings yet, just a bunch of soldiers in tents, I should move there to pursue my dreams."  On the other hand the brothels were set up pretty much as fast as the military pitched their tents.  Buildings could come later, soldiers were willing to pay for sex now.

So what I've found myself wondering is what follows the army and at what rate.  Who's there pretty much as soon as the soldiers, who is a bit later, and all the way down to "these people don't show up until it's most definitely become a town or city in its own right."

I've got three posts in the works in an active "I actually want to finish and post this soon" kind of way and I've got a couple more in development, but I'm going to be busy with other things, so they won't be done today.

I've had this question on my mind for a bit, especially in a context where there aren't yet decent trade routes set up, so I figured I'd ask it as a post for today.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A shorter version of the giant plot hole in the Avengers

The full post on the subject is here, but I figured that if I were summarizing at Ana Mardoll's I might as well post the summary here.

So, someone described the giant plot hole as mostly being about the abduction of Erik and Jane being the only one who might know why Loki wants Erik and would be easy to recruit (unlike some of the avengers) since she actually knows and cares about Erik.  That's . . . not it.  Good point, but it's not the giant one.

Post from Ana Mardoll's:

* * *

It's more than that Jane [Foster] knows Erik. It's that literally the only thing they know about the problem they face, one that threatens the whole planet, at the beginning of the movie is that it somehow relates to portals. They only have two portal experts: Erik and Jane, with Jane having done more work on the subject. Since Erik has been brainwashed, Jane is literally all they've got. They don't call her in, they ship her off (for her own "safety", by lying to her.)

It gets worse when they get more information. They realize that Loki definitely intends to open a new portal, lead an army through, and conquer the earth. They really, really need a portal expert. Jane is all they've got (and would be the best choice even if she weren't) but they still don't call.

A lot of people think the omission was because Foster's actress was pregnant, but that wasn't even considered (and could have been worked around if she were willing, but they never asked.) It was that Whedon didn't want any of heroes' associated characters to be in the movie. Robert Downy Jr. had to fight to get Pepper Potts in the movie and she only got three brief scenes.

And it gets worse. Thor had some of his characters in spite of Whedon's prohibition, because they needed to be there because PLOT.  (The same reason Jane needed to be there.)  Those characters were Loki and Erik.

Sif, the warriors three, and the rest of the pantheon, were stuck in Asgard so they couldn't show up, but they were also more of secondary characters than Thor's main associated characters.

Thor's main characters are Thor himself, his villain (and brother) Loki, Jane Foster, Eric Selvig, and Jane's sidekick Darcy Lewis.

Notice anything about the omissions? The only Thor main characters they left out were the women. Granted there would be no point in calling in Darcy without Jane, but Jane is essential.

She should have been called in before they started assembling the avengers. She wouldn't have to be in that movie all that much, they could have have limited it to some video chat updates on the situation, but she kind of had to be there for things to make sense.

Mind you, ideally she'd have been on the helicarrier geeking out with Banner and possibly Tony. But Portman's pregnancy might have prevented that. The thing is, they didn't even fucking ask her.

And if they had asked, and Portman had said no to any involvement at all, they still could have said that she was working on the problem at a different location instead of, "We lied to her to trick her into going to a remote island for an fictitious consulting job at the observatory there so that she'd be safe. No, we didn't ask her if she wanted to be safe rather than help when her not helping out might mean the end of the world (which being on an island wouldn't protect her from.)"


*  Loki is Thor's villain.  Erik is Thor's ally.  Erik was called in to work on the Tesseract while Jane continued to work on portals.

The movie involves Loki showing up through a portal and stealing the Tesseract so that he can open an even bigger portal.

Can't really do that without Loki, doesn't make sense to not have Erik since he was studying the Tesseract, and the whole portal thing calls for Jane.

Loki and Erik got included.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A punctuation deficiency: pauses and lack thereof

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's . . . a massive fucking oversight.

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's fucked up.

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

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

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

Sunday, August 21, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was the end of the second day.

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

God saw that this was good.

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

God saw that this was good.

That was the third day.

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

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

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

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

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

So went the fourth day.

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

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

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

This was the fifth day.

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

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

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

But the fifth day hadn't ended yet.

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

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

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

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

And it was so.

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

That was the sixth day.

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

On the seventh day he rested.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many of the living lights grew angry.

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

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

God was not concerned.

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

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

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

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

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

God was not concerned.

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

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

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

God was not concerned.

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

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

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

God and his army locked them away in that place.

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

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

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

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

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

God was not concerned.

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

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

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

Limbo is the youngest realm.

This is the cosmos as it exists today.

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

* *
* * *
* *

Ok, going to translate this into Sam-speak.

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

Thursday, August 18, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You're wrong,” Lisa said.

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

Damn it.

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

“It's who you are.”

Not anymore. Never again.

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

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

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

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

She wasn't happy then.

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

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

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

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

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

“I don't need it,” Lisa said.

“But . . .”

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

“Terra. . .”

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

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

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

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

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

Lisa shook her head.

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

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

∗ ∗ ∗

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

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

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

“Was she she not Terra?” Raven asked.

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

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

∗ ∗ ∗

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

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

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

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

∗ ∗ ∗

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

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

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

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

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

She'd need to come back in daylight.

∗ ∗ ∗

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I'm Rachel,” Raven said.

“Ashley,” the girl said.

∗ ∗ ∗

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I won't.”

“Then why--”

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

Ashley actually laughed.

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

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

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

“I like your fashion sense,” Ashley said.

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

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

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

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

∗ ∗ ∗

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

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

“Hey Rae,” he said.

- - -

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

“Not everyone gets to pick their uniform.”

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

“Raven or Rachel?” Scott asked.

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

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

“The situation is complicated,” Raven said.

“Since when am I fun?” Scott asked.

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

Scott came the closest he ever did to smiling.

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

∗ ∗ ∗

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Monthly donation reminder, a bit late.

I usually shoot for the 15th.  Missed.

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

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

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


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

Here's what I wrote a year ago:

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

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

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

What happened was basically this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slade saved me, saved us, saved the world.

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

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

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

Raven closed her eyes --for just a moment.

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

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

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



Sunday, August 14, 2016

Random Werewolf Thought

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

"Why would it bother me?"

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


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

"So you're saying ..."

"We act like caged beasts."

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fusion (Part 3)

[Link to first installment]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Freak?" Kim asked.

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

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

"You called Rufus a freak," Sharon said.

Kim looked at the table.

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

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

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

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

Kim was blushing ferociously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharon nodded.

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

Hana giggled.

* * *

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

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

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

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

Nothing suspicious about that.   Nope.  Not at all.

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

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

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

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

Wade looked relieved at the new direction of the conversation.

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

Kim groaned, but she said, "Ok."

* * *

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

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

Sharon shrugged.

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

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

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

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

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

"Could you quit it with the innuendo?"

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

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


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Life After, scene from near the end of the story, sometimes villainy is just making people very, very uncomfortable.

[Ok, you know what? I'm only posting this here because I've always said that I'll post everything here. It comes at the end of story I've barely begun, and ... yeah. Don't really know I originally posted it at Slacktivist anyway. what follows is the text of the original comment with minimal editing for formatting.]

[Fred Clark wrote:]
“I just saw her with my best friend,” he sings, then asks, repeatedly, “Do you know what I mean?” And I want to assure him that, yes, everybody knows what you mean. We get it. Her and Bobby are boinking. No need, really, to keep going on about it or to keep asking. We all know what you mean.
Ok, so I have this random scene that comes at the end of the story Life After which I've barely written the beginning of.

At this point the draugr have been routed though the rift between earth and the unsavory regions of Helhiem will remain open for another quarter century, the living darkness is held at bay, the problem of the bodiless spirits taking over machines has largely been solved by ensouling the machines (AIs are people too) thus making possession significantly harder.

Memorial services are being held. Some individuals are exploring trade relations with the savory regions of the afterlife even though the route there is dangerous (since the rift opens into hostile territory which must be navigated to get to the good places.) The people from the alternate future where the rift never happened are finally integrating themselves into what is now their world, villains are going back to being villainous now that the existential threat has ended, and generally everything is winding down as people get on with their lives.

So a lot of it involves wrapping up character stories, which is where this comes in.

Note that the name of Mag/Mags is different depending on who the viewpoint character is. "Mags" is a holdover from when they were children and only Jacob uses it since he's the only person still extant who was a child with Mag. To everyone else her name is "Mag" with no "s".


"You seem happier today," Kim said.

Mag walked into the kitchen as Jacob said, "You don't even want to know the last time I was kissed before last night."

"My bet is it was on a dare from Regina," Mag said.

"Yeah," Jacob said. "That was it."

Kim couldn't put her finger on exactly how she knew, but something about the way that exchange went told her that Mag and Jacob were more than friends now. She really hadn't seen that one coming. "You two were kissing?"

"And dancing," Jacob said. A moment later he added, "Just actual dancing, not the 'We can't say sex on the radio so we'll call it 'dancing' instead,' 'dancing' of the latter half of the twentieth century."

And Kim's mind broke a little. "That's a thing?" she asked.

* * *

Jacob just looked at Kim for a moment, then at Mags, then back at Kim. Did she seriously not know this?

"Well it was never a hard and fast rule," Jacob said, "but bear in mind that record company executives heard the words 'No sugar tonight // No sugar tonight' and ordered it to be changed to 'No sugar tonight in my coffee // No sugar tonight in my tea,' because they thought the first was too explicit of a reference to sex."

"On the other hand," Mags said, "there was no problem with 'making love in the afternoon with Cecilia // up in my bedroom' so you see how uneven things were."

"But, yeah," Jacob said. "Sometimes 'dancing' got used to mean 'sex'."

"Not all the time of course," Mags said. "Dancing does go with music pretty commonly."

"Sure," Jacob said, "and context helps. If the song says 'dancing there by the record machine' then it's a fair bet that it really means dancing-dancing."

"I Love Rock and Roll is a pretty extreme case though," Mags said. "Beyond the record machine and jukebox it also has a public-private dichotomy and a clear demarcation between actual dancing and 'moving on.' So there's really no ambiguity."

Jacob nodded. Kim remained silent with a face that looked like it was trying to turn itself into a "vacancy" sign.

"If you want an example where there aren't clear demarcations but you still know what's being talked about," Mags said, "then it's pretty clear when you hear:" Mags sang the next words.

"I'm tired of dancing here all by my self
"Tonight I want to dance with someone else."

As she said, "someone else," she made a "come here" gesture to Jacob and Jacob stepped closer while Mags stepped back in a way intended to look seductive.

"You know that's not talking about--" Mags stopped. "Oh," she said with a bit of surprise.

"What?" Jacob asked. No one said anything.

Mags was looking at Kim, so Jacob turned to do the same. Kim was blushing furiously.

"Seriously, Possible?" Jacob asked. "This," he made a "come here" gesture, "has got to be the least explicit reference to sex in the history of human gesture."

"I actually think it was my first gesture," Mags said.

"I must have missed that," Jacob said. "What was it?"

Mags held her left hand in front of her, fingers together, palm in, pointing down. Hardly the lewdest symbol of dancing by one's self.

"That's it?" Jacob asked. Mags didn't respond. Jacob turned to Kim, "That's it?" Kim's blush deepened. "Jesus, that's it."

For a moment or two there was silence.

"You're worse than your daughter, Possible," Jacob said.

"I wasn't exactly standing perfectly still," Mags said. "Maybe the motion made it look worse than I intended."

"People playing air guitar are more explicit than that," Jacob said.

Kim gasped and clapped her hands over her face.

"She'll never look at air guitar the same way," Mags said.

Ron chose that moment to enter the kitchen. Jacob had a question and didn't even try to resist asking it. "Has she," he pointed to Kim, "met Motor Ed yet?"

"Oh My God!" Kim screamed and ran from the room.

Ron looked at Jacob, then looked at Mags, then backed out of the kitchen slowly.

"You're evil," Mags said.

"And proud," Jacob said. After a moment he decided to add something. "You know how I know I'm really evil?"


"I did that without even trying, and I don't feel the least bit guilty."

"Not even a little bit?"

"Well, a culture that raises its kids to be so uptight about sexuality is clearly broken," Jacob said, "and it sucks that she's caught up in it, but ... not really, no."

- -
∗ ∗ ∗
- -

And that's why teaming up with villains is never a good idea, even if they don't betray you once the common enemy is dealt with, they're still fully capable of being jerks.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Mind Transfer: Ill thought out evil plan

[I've been looking at Resident Evil stuff a bit and found out that in one of the games I have yet to play there's a thing that doesn't involve all laws of biology and virology being ignored to create zombies and monsters.  Someone who considers herself more than human decides to shoot for immortality by transfering her conciousness into an unwilling victim.  Near as I can tell (I haven't played the game), it's played straight, but it seems to me like there are some obvious pitfalls to such a plan.]
[In other news, this was written entirely on a bus.]

- - -

Talbot was fuming, she'd come so close and these two insignificant creatures had snatched immortality from her.  She had to find her vessel again and complete the transfer.  She had to get out of this virus-riddled body.

But the insignificant creatures were the only ones who knew where the vessel had been hidden.

“Tell me where you put it,” she said again to the male creature.

“I'm not going to let you use a twelve year old girl in your sick experiments,” it said.

To be expected.  But this one was all talk.  She had memorized the creature's psychological profile.  It would be easily persuaded.  The other creature was stronger, so its only use was a method of persuading the weaker creature.

“Computer, execute procedure eta three seven in holding cell two,” Talbot said.  The male creature would be sure to talk when it was forced to watch the female creature begin to lose cohesion and melt.  The process was slow enough that Talbot had no doubt the female creature would stay alive long enough for the male creature to tell her what she wanted to know.

Though. . . the process shouldn't be so slow that there weren't yet any results.

“Computer, report on holding cell two,” Talbot said.

“Holding cell two is intact, and all systems are functional.  The cell currently houses a human female, vital signs unremarkable.  The temperature within the cell is 17 degrees centigrade. The atmosphere within the cell has a composition of 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen--”

“Why hasn't procedure eta three seven been implemented?”

“Procedure eta three seven has not been ordered by an authorized user.”

“I ordered it!” Talbot shouted.

“You are not an authorized user,” the computer said.

Talbot said, “Override code--”

“I changed the codes,” someone said from the doorway.  Talbot spun to look at the intruder.

* * *
~ ~ Earlier ~ ~
* * *

Mary awoke to pain.  Her body was fine.  He brain hurt.  A flood of new thoughts, feelings, ideas, memories.

When her mind finally settled down she groaned and said, “That's it; I'm doing drugs.”

She'd never been interested in mind altering substances before; she always thought that the anti-drug lectures they had to sit through in school were pointless because who would want to do drugs?  But if her mind was going to be altered anyway, she wanted to be the one in control.

She took in her surroundings.  She was on a metal table in a no frills-break room.  Sub-level three, east wing.  The coffee machine never seemed to work right.

She rolled herself a bit and let her legs drop off the table.  Once they found the ground she pushed herself into a standing position.

Either the others had stopped her before the mind overwriting process was finished, or Talbot had been wrong about the effect the process would have.  Probably the second.  Talbot was an arrogant ass who rarely considered that she might have overlooked something.  Her memories proved that.

Speaking of...

“Computer,” Mary said, “code A twenty six Zeta thirty two: biometric scanners malfunctioning.  Request override.  Authorization Talbot, Jessica G.  Override code Albuquerque -- √úbermensch – Kumquats are better than apricots.”

The computer responded, “Please input personal codes nine, seventeen, and twenty three and general code four at the nearest terminal to confirm override.

Mary typed them in quickly.  Personal code nine was the first ten Fibonacci primes, no spaces:
 Seventeen was the beginning of Thus Spoke Zarathustra:
Als Zarathustra dreissig Jahr alt war, verliess er seine Heimat und den See seiner Heimat und ging in das Gebirge.
Twenty Three was more existentialism.  The birthdates of Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, and Satre
“Override accepted,” the computer said.  “Welcome, Doctor Talbot.”

Too easy, Mary thought.

“Computer, the failure of the biometrics and the security breaches on,” Mary rattled off a list of dates and times, “indicate that base security has been compromised.”

“Confirmed,” the computer said, “however you are not authorized to initiate an omega level response.”

Mary nodded.  Whether or not the computer could see it was an open question, but she didn't really care.  Three users of the highest authorization would need to be present to initiate any omega level action.  Base protocol 101.

“I request a reset of my own security codes,” Mary said.

“Your request is granted,” the computer said.

Mary typed new codes into the terminal.

“I recommend that biometrics be re-calibrated using scans of my person,” Mary said.  Whether the recommendation was accepted depended on various esoteric probabilistic models built into the base's computer, but if it were the “re-calibration” would throw a wrench into the entire system because  there was no way to reconcile her heat signature, retina, iris, hand-print, and so forth with any of the records on file for Talbot.

Attempts to do so would send the system into a spiraling destructive frenzy until it decided not to trust anyone's biological id, except, perhaps, for that of Mary herself.

If it followed the recommendation, that was.

“You are authorized to replace your corrupted biometric files with ones based on new, accurate, scans,” the computer said.  “The possibility of re-calibration will be investigated.”

Mary shrugged.  It had been worth a shot.

After she got new scans done on her, making her hands and eyes all access passes to the entire facility, it was time to rescue her friends.  She knew where they'd be: holding cells, sub level six, north wing, corridor three, room seven.

* * *

Talbot looked at the vessel for a moment before it really registered.  The vessel changed the codes.  To do that the vessel would have to know her codes.  The transfer had obviously worked to some degree.  She just had to complete it.

“You are incomplete,” Talbot said.  “Let me finish what I started and you will be--”

“I'm complete,” the vessel said.  “I'm more than complete.  I've got two lifetimes of experience in me.”

Talbot shook her head.  The vessel may have gained some of her essence, but it was still a small inferior being.  “You could be something great,” Talbot said.

“You know, when we,” the vessel gestured to itself and the creatures in the holding cells, “first encountered you I thought you were insane.”

“Silence!” Talbot shouted.

“Now I know better,” the vessel said.  That was better.

“Now that I've experienced your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your memories, your ambitions...” the vessel said.  “Now I know that you're not insane, you're not unwell, you're not sick, you're not damaged.  You're evil.  Nothing more, nothing more sympathetic.”

Talbot had had enough of the discussion and charged at the vessel.  The vessel dove out of the way, but Talbot knew she'd have it before long.  Then she could complete the transfer.

“Computer, authorization Talbot - Ishmael, Pequot, Picard!” the vessel shouted.  That wasn't one of Talbot's codes.  She was confused a moment before she remembered: It changed the codes.

Talbot spun and attempted to strike down the vessel.  She'd find a new one; this one had become a threat.

The vessel dodged again.  As it did it shouted, “Eliminate the non-human presence--” Talbot lashed out again but the vessel was nimble.  “--in the room,” the vessel finished.

Talbot recognized the sound of turrets spinning up to speed.

* * *

“I've got to hand it to you,” Mary said to Talbot's corpse.  “I thought the rotary machine gun turrets in the holding area were overkill, but it turns out that they were just the right amount of kill.”

Mary walked away from the body and toward the cells to release her friends.

There were some hugs.  Adults could be so mushy.

“You've really got her in your head?” Elza asked.

Mary shrugged.

“It's not all bad,” she said.  “I understand French, German, and Russian now, and I think Simone de Beauvoir was kind of awesome.  Not exactly the biggest changes, and hardly the end of the world.”

“But, I mean, isn't she going to try to take over or something,” Elza asked.

“How she ever could have believed her mind was stronger than mine is beyond me,” Mary said.  “There's nothing much there.  She had lots of knowledge, a massive superiority complex, a sadistic streak, and no real core to her personality.  Everything she thought or did was about thinking she was better than everyone else, but when it comes to what she actually was . . . it's just hollow.  She was such an empty husk that there's nothing to replace me with.”

After a moment, Mary added, “Trust me, I'm fine.  Other than knowing a bunch of new stuff, the only real change is that, now that I'm intimately familiar with what she did with her life, I'm determined to live the next 40 years of my life well."

Trying a differnt text size since apparently the old thing was hard for some to read.  I don't know, though, this seems kind of big to me.  Does it seem big to you?

For comparison:

This is the size I usually shoot for.

And this is blogger default.