Tuesday, January 31, 2017

And another thing -- Notes I forgot to stick in about Toner's skin (super people)

I realized that I left something important out about Toner: her skin.

I have a tendency to leave characters largely undescribed, including skin color, and I need to break that.  I also have a problem that comes from growing up almost, but not quite, exclusively surrounded by white people.  If I'd grown up across the river in Portland then racial diversity would likely be my default assumption, but in South Portland . . .  yeah.  So that's something I need to break out of too.

I think I might be doing better on breaking the second habit than the first, one, which doesn't help much because without description no one notices I'm not shoving forward a bunch of white Anglo-Saxon  characters.


It's particularly notable that I fucked up the "remember to describe characters" thing in Toner's case because I put a lot of thought into it given her nature.  Squid skin has some very interesting stuff going on with it.  Not as much as octopus skin, but some very interesting stuff.

So, part of why Toner can pass as total human without covering her body completely is because her skin is not a squid-ish pink.  It's a human-ish brown.  It can do the same dark to light color range as most squids, just in brown instead of pink/red, but one has to remember that squid-white is a color that no human being should ever look.  Toner can totally turn her skin white but it's not “white person” white nor is it what one sees in cases of albinism and similar conditions.  It's more of an “Oh my God!  Are you about to die!?” white.  With possible bits of "Are you already dead!?" thrown in.

Beyond human-ish brown, she can also do some shades of blue, but it's never been that useful to her.

Another thing that's never been very useful is something that I happen to find amazing.

Every part of a human body can pick of vibrations, and thus can “hear” to a certain degree, it's just that the ears are made to be fan-fucking-tastic at it.

Squids have a similar thing going on with vision.  All of their skin is photo-receptive.  It can all, after a fashion, see.  It's not like sight as we know it.  When we see things the light has been passed through an aperture (the pupil) then a lens, then any empty (ok, fuild filled) space, and only then hits the photo-receptive cells.

That's how it gets to be picture-like and not "blah".

Squids have eyes that are remarkably like our own (there was much debate over how the fuck they got that way) but there are key differences.  No color vision, no blind spot, different means of focusing.  Not that much when you consider the complexity involved in an eye like that.  Thus squids can see as we can see, but they've also got this other sense.  The skin-vision that we've really got no common ground to base our understanding on.

Without an eye, any given bit of skin gets hit by photons coming in from all directions.  It's like if instead of exposing film via a camera you just left it out to pick up what it may.  Yes, how exposed it was could tell you if it were dark or light, and you'd have some sense of the average color of everything in the vicinity.  But it's basically junk.

Shadow sensing is, however, really useful if predators tend to swim above you and block out the sun because that tells you when to do evasive maneuvers.

But rewind to the thing about leaving film to be exposed without the help and direction of a camera, that's approximating one photo-receptive cell.  Squid are covered in them and they point in all directions and given the amount of processing done by the decentralized parts of the nervous system . . . it's like nothing we know.

Also, while Toner gets her color-vision from the human influence on her eyes, ordinary squid don't have that going on.  It is believed that unlike their eyes, their skin might be able to sense color.

The reason that this doesn't matter much to Toner is that she keeps her skin mostly covered up.  Her neck and face below where a nose would be are the only parts exposed to much in the way of light.

But she does swim sometimes.  Her life involves more than being the resident tech genius, after all.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Toner - Character sketch (super people)

[A character came to me when I went to get my meds.  Just the one.  Hence "Person A" and "Person B" below.  They didn't come to me and remain largely amorphous though both are anatomical humans and I know their genders.  Person A is male.  Person B usually presents as female but is actually genderqueer.]

Person A: [question about why Toner always wears headphones]
Person B: Same reason she always wears mittens.
*Person A looks at Toner's hands, which are resting above the wheels to her chair*
*Toner is wearing mittens*
*Person A still has a look of non-comprehension*
Person B: (to Toner) Maybe it's time.  Up to you, though. Do you mind showing him?
*Toner shakes her head*

Toner reached up and removed her headset.  While the gear looked like large over ear headphones and an entirely separate VR eyepiece, which [Person A] assumed was for seeing video feeds, it came off of her head as a single unit.

*Person A gasped*
Person B: Don't gawk.

Toner had no face  The front of her head, from the top of her lips --well, the top of her philtrum-- to her hairline was entirely smooth.  She didn't appear to have ears either, instead what the "headphones" had concealed were her giant eyes, one on each side of her head.

She set her headgear on her lap.

Person B: And now you know why I call her 'squidy'.  We're still not sure whether she's more human or squid, but I do think it's lucky she got a human mouth.  Makes it easier to pass.

Toner nodded.  Then there was movement in the vicinity of her right mitten and a moment later her familiar electronic voice said, "I did not, however, receive human vocal cords.

Person A: I'm not sure that "squid" comes to mind.

Toner removed her right mitten with her left hand.  The "thumb" stayed inside of the mitten as it came off.  When it was removed, what remained wasn't a hand.  It was vaguely the right shape for a flat closed hand, but there was no separation, no features, just a smooth sort of leaf shaped protrusion from her wrist.  She flipped it over to show the suction cups on the underside.

Person B: You once said she didn't have super powers, but she's got to have super strength to use her tentacles like human arms.  Normal squid depend on their buoyancy and couldn't lift a sucker in air.

Toner slipped her tentacle club back into her mitten and there was some movement again.

"I'm not strong enough to walk on my own legs," her electronic voice said.

Person B: It's never held you back.  I like the chair.
Person A: So does she have . . .

"Eight legs," came Toner's voice.  "Two tentacles. Show and tell is over for now."

Toner's electronic voice had no emotions, so [Person B] wasn't sure how Toner felt.  Toner simply put her headset back on and wheeled herself toward her room.  [Person B] followed.  Once they were out of earshot, [Person B] said, "You ok?"

"Had to happen sooner or later," Toner said.

"That's not what I asked," [Person B] said.  "I pushed you and I shouldn't have.  Are you ok?"

"I am fine."

"Thank God."

"You are too easily worried."

"I just think you shouldn't have to hide what you are," [Person B] said.  "Your body is amazing."

"I am glad . . . Thank you."

"Do you think his brain would have exploded if he'd learned that your 'breasts' were really just tentacle you folded over and stuck in a bra to shorten your visible tentacle to arm-length?"

Toner breathed strangely for a bit, then said, "If I were capable of laughing, I would."

I have no idea what team Toner would be on.

I do know that she's an aluma of the Parts Store (described in an endnote to this story.)  As such she's the resident tech genius for the team.  Her head-gear does allow her to see video feeds from cameras the team is given access to, cameras she has hacked, and especially from drones she flies over and around any potential battlefield.

She's a regular at the first person drone racing hangout/club/thing on the outskirts of the city.  She's pretty good, but not so much so to be in the top ten or anything.

Her head gear also allows her to have roughly human-equivalent binocular vision.  Generally squid have three brains (one for the left eye, one for the right eye, one in the middle) as well as a highly distributed nervous system which allows for thinking outside of the brain shaped box.  In addition to having these things, ish, Toner also has a human-ish brain that includes a visual cortex.  As such, her mind is entirely set up to interpret binocular vision when the need arises.

When she feels free enough to not hide her nature behind headgear, but does have a reason for having binocular vision, she uses mirrors. (Two basic mirrors epoxied to an Alice band and angled at around 45 degrees so that when she wears the band behind her eyes her vision is redirected forward)

She doesn't limit herself to just visual spectrum feeds.  Her headset has all sorts of cameras (as do her drones) and by converting the data gathered to visual light and polarizations thereof she's able to "see" things that her eyes cannot.  It's gotten pretty natural for her.

Toner can hear people speaking to her, but anything softer than that and she just doesn't pick up on.  And this is with the help of custom made "hearing aids" that detect sound and convert it into vibrations she can hear-feel.

Her color vision is very dull, the human-squid trade off in her eyes left her with the functioning cones needed to see in color (she's not any sort of color-blind) but relatively few of them.  Without enhancements to the light entering her eyes her world is extremely de-saturated.  She can make those enhancements with her headset (as in, she's tested it), but it involves shining so much light into her eyes that it will hurt.  Plus she prefers her minimally saturated view of the world.

As noted, she cannot walk.  She is extremely strong for a squid, but there's a reason you never see them coming out of the water and looking like the martians decided that Octopods were better for taking over earth than tripods.   (Yes, octopods.  Tentacles are a different length than the eight legs.)

Though, on the subject of tentacle and leg length, Toner has an extremely unusual arrangement of parts.  presumably a result of the squid-human push-pull

Her mantel is below the eyes, specifically where a human would have a torso.  Her tentacles do come out of her in a shoulder-ish area, while her legs are at the end of her torso, where she does not have a beak.  When extended to their full length her tentacles actually end at about the same place as her legs.

Her head and neck are definitely the most human parts of her, she even has hair.

He mantel-torso does have those wing-fin things.

Her lungs are . . . unique.  They're very much human lungs in details, but in the overall shape . . . well they're crammed into a very squidish mantel, something that doesn't usually accommodate lungs.

Since she spends most of her time out of the water, her two secondary hearts serve little purpose (they service the gills.)

When she does swim it's usually alone or with [Person B].  Initially she thought [Person B] might be put off since she swims in the nude (no suit would fit her anyway) which was not, Toner thought, normal for humans.  Turns out [Person B] is into skinny-dipping  and Toner was the one who was somewhat uncomfortable the first couple times.

Toner is, so far as she knows, unique.  She entertains various theories about her origin, and the one she gives most credence to is an impatient scientist using magic to create genetic hybrids the actual science wasn't yet advanced enough to make.  She is limited to theories because she doesn't remember that far back.

Her blood is purple.

While her exterior anatomy is dominated by squidiness (except for her head and neck, and even there squid eyes, no nose, no ears) she's got a lot of human on the inside.  Her primary heart is of largely human design, her lungs certainly came from no squid, and her digestive system is almost entirely mammalian.

She spends a lot of time in a human head-space.

Raptor's State (super universe)

[Raptor's team, less Raptor herself, previously appeared here.]

In theory you can't outlaw an entire class of people within the United States.  In practice there are ways and the federal government doesn't know whether it's coming or going, so the the states tend to get free reign.

On the premise that powers can be at least as dangerous as firearms, the state passed a law that powers must be registered.  (No, the state does not require firearms to be registered.)  The state also made registration effectively impossible.  You can try, but it will work out badly for you.  Especially given that, until the process is complete, you're unregistered and thus in violation of the law.

The result is that anyone who is discovered to have powers is breaking the law, and the penalties are harsh.

The prisons and youth detention centers they face are entirely different from those "ordinary" people are sent to because people with powers can't be disarmed.  With the exception of a few model detention facilities that exist so the system can be shown off as humane, use of force by guards is never questioned, there is hardly any oversight, no one blinks at years being added to a sentence without good reason, and if an inmate "disappears" there will be no investigation.

The prisons are a mix of state run and private facilities, and the persistent rumors that inmates are being experimented on are never subject to investigation.

After prison, assuming one gets out, the very lucky ones (powerful family connections help) are eventually allowed to roam, sort of, freely but restricted from a great many public areas, constantly tracked, and forced to wear identification that they have powers because, even registered, concealed powers are illegal.

The rest of those who got to be discharged are sent to power-only communities that they are not allowed to leave without proper permits (which are usually impossible to get.)  It sort of goes without saying that public services in these communities tend to be extremely underfunded.  The places also tend to be overcrowded, with any open areas converted to shanty towns.

- - -

Hate crimes against those with powers generally go unreported (since reporting would mean admitting, to the police, that you have powers) and even when they are reported tend to go unsolved.  When solved, most don't result in convictions.  What few convictions there are tend to carry with them very light sentences.

In essence, just about anyone can do whatever they want to someone with powers and be almost entirely sure they'll get away with it.  And they generally don't need to fear reprisal because that would bring the powered individual into the notice of law enforcement.

- - -

"Community Service" is the only way to escape all of this.  What it means is, basically, "Why don't you get yourself shot so normal people don't have to?  It's not like your life is worth as much as a police officer's."

The exact details vary based on who it is conscripting individuals, but the general arrangement is that those who are offered (or forced to take) this option are provided food and lodging (not pay) and are required to fight the fights the police don't want to fight.  Supervillains obviously make that list, but so do situations where it's simply more dangerous than the authorities wish to deal with.

Some of the service groups are left to regulate themselves, others have strict oversight.  Some jurisdictions like to "recruit" their disposal powered individual unit members young, so that they can be thoroughly indoctrinated.  Some don't give a damn what the individuals think, so long as they get the job done and stay away from "normal" people.

Forcing these individuals to work without pay is considered morally fine.  Calling it slavery is considered extremely morally objectionable.

For a city or country to have child soldiers fight their fights for them is perfectly reasonable.  Saying that child soldiers are child soldiers is simply beyond the pale.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Reasons for Supervillainy (comment dump)

I wrote some things in conversation at Ana Mardoll's that are not without merit for inclusion here.

~ Comment One ~

[Winged Beast wrote:] Applause for the Evil Has Standards story. I quite enjoyed it. On that vain, and because I'm vain, I'll throw in this little scenelet I did a couple years ago and hope it amuses.

So Lonespark and I were somewhere trying to have the necessary calories to face the day and my food money couldn't pay for it because they didn't take that there. (Assholes.) And this caused me to expound on a theory I have on how supervillains are born.

You see, it starts with, "What the fuck? They already give me too little to actually stay alive on, the system is deeply fucked up when it comes to the whole 'prepared food' thing. Do you realize that if they let me buy fountain drinks I could get seventeen gallons of this same fucking drink, brand name and all, for the price of the 2 liter they will let me buy? Is the government trying to lose money?

"Then, after red tape, jumping through hoops, being demeaned, and having to beg just to not starve to death, you don't take fucking EBT food money!

"That's it!

"When I rule the world I'm making it so that everyone, from the richest to the poorest person, automatically gets enough food money to live on [and everyone has to accept it as money]. Not just keep from dying, eat so as to allow proper fucking living."

Like you'd ever rule the world.

"Just you wait."

*Villainous career begins.*
*possibly with that hand clasp of evil thing*


Also the villain's response to, "You'd never get that through committee," is, "I plan to rule by fiat."

~ Comment Two ~

Also, WingedBeast, should I ever reach the point where I have a company with which to showcase my super person universe --I envision both graphic novels (comic books) and prose-- I think you definitely have what it takes to come up with some villains for it.

I mean, some people are traditionally evil in an, "I've read Callicles, Nietzsche, and Rand, and the strong imposing their will on the weak is the natural order of the world. The constructs of good and evil are psychological traps to prevent us from reaching our true potential and mine is to rule the world/this country/the tri-city area! All who oppose me will get a hard lesson in what happens in nature when the weak pick fights with the strong!" because that's totally a thing, but it seems at least as likely to have villains with goals more like:
  • As God is my witness, no one will ever be hungry again!
  • When I have swept away this government, I will create a world where there is no poverty.
  • I will do whatever it takes to make sure what happened to me never happens to anyone ever else.
  • I want to stop oppression and the standard means aren't working, we need to get rid of the current system and build a new one from scratch.
  • Then I looked at my student loans and I realized: by drowning an entire generation in debt they're trying to make those who might rise to greatness into the progenitors of a well educated permanent underclass to augment the existing underclass that is denied a decent education.
  • There are 32 states where you can legally be fired for being trans* and only three fewer where you can legally be fired for being non-straight.  This is to say nothing about the violent crime rates.  The US isn't working and it needs to go.  Every day we don't replace it more people are hurt.
And so forth.

Then again, back on the evil side, we have callous capitalists.  The ones who don't care who they hurt or kill so long as the bottom line looks good.  Some use villainy to help profit along, some aren't classed as villain and so can't very well have law abiding heroes take them down.  (So the job falls to criminals.)

And when you go down these roads you get interesting villains instead of boring ones.


Marvel example of boring vs interesting villainy:

Original Magneto was a boring villain:
 - I do evil for evil's sake alone.

Retconned Magneto was an interesting villain:
 - I will do whatever it takes to make sure it never happens again.
 - 'Whatever it takes' includes a lot of morally questionable actions.
 - What.  Ever.  It.  Fucking.  Takes.

~ Comment Three ~

On the DC side, Teen TItans (cartoon version) Jinx is an interesting case of what seems like a boring motivation "I'm bad, I do bad things," that got more complex and almost tragic (if not for her redemption arc) when you found out how she arrived at it, "I'm bad luck; good was never an option."

She honestly thought she had no choice, so embraced bad (which, generally, was a restrained kind of bad regardless) because it seemed the only thing she could do other than live a life of self-loathing.

Terra was just plain tragic.  She thought that good had betrayed her (which was pretty easy to believe considering that everyone she met prior to the good guys in her life had done just that.)  Switched sides, and then when she tried to turn around at least some of what she'd set in motion, good rejected her (for real, no misunderstanding) in the most painful fashion possible.  She kind of broke at that point, and put herself back together using hate as the glue.  (And still didn't manage to hold onto evil in the end because she'd never really wanted that.)

Hardly something you could write volumes on the intricacy of, but for the format it was pretty decent.

Teen Titans Go [TV series] presents an entirely different reason to be evil: the heroes are complete and utter assholes.

~ Comment Four ~

And to continue spamming the thread, Jacob in my Kim Possible work (and possibly future entirely original work) is a card carrying (he's unionized, damn it) villain who totally sees the Possible clan as emblematic of what's wrong with the world because they're always fighting to protect the status quo.

Yeah, they stop [insert bad guy here] from taking over the world, but what do they do to actually make the world better?  In contrast, when his boss (Jacob is a second, and happy in that position) takes over the world there are going to be massive social reforms that will improve, sometimes dramatically, the lives of ordinary people.

HHII: sharing

[Lots of notes at the end.  I'm posting this because there's been some discussion of how many things are built on never even considering the poly-amorous solution.  This is NOT Life After.  Look to the notes at the end if you want more detail on that.]

Kieran looked at Jacob warily.  She didn't actively dislike him, but right now he brought up way too many unpleasant feelings.  She wanted him to disappear from her sight, not be walking toward her.

"I think we have to talk," he said when he reached her.

"About what?" Kieran asked, not meaning to put so much venom in her voice.

"So, I love Shin," Jacob said.  Of course he wanted to talk about the thing that made her hurt.  "And Shin loves me."

"Are you here to rub it in?" Kieran snapped.

"And you love Shin," he continued, "and Shin loves you."

"You are here to rub it in," Kieran said.  "That never seemed your style."

"So she keeps on bouncing between us because she can't bear to ditch either of us, not forever," Jacob said.  "I've put a lot of thought into this and . . .  I think I don't mind sharing."

Kieran's brain stopped.  "What?"

"As long as you're not making out with her in front of me or something," Jacob said, "I don't think I'd really have a problem with my girlfriend being yours too."  He paused. "There would probably be bumps, maybe spikes of jealousy, but I think between the three of us we could make it work."

"Are you serious?"


"What does Shin think?" Kieran asked.

"I don't know," Jacob said.  "I didn't want to bring up the idea with her unless it was ok with you.  I just know that when she's with me she pines for you."

"And when she's with me she pines for you," Kieran said.

There was a long silence.

"I don't hate you," Kieran said.  "I don't particularly like you, but I don't hate you.  And the only thing I hate about you being with her is that she's not with me."  Kieran took a pause.  She closed her eyes, took a breath, and slowly let it out.  "Do you really think it could work?"

"I think it's worth a try."

"Would have thought you'd be telling her 'you know you better make up your mind // And pick up on one and leave the other one behind,'" Kieran said.

"The 60's had great music, but some fucked up ideas about relationships," Jacob said.  "Even the song says, 'It's not often easy and not often kind.'  Why should pain and tears and unkindness need to happen when there's an obvious third option?"

"It's possible that I might one day like actually like you," Kieran said, "maybe even see you as a friend."

"Not like it's a done deal," Jacob said.

Kieran nodded, "It's never really come up how Shin feels about polyamory."


Shin Possible and Kieran Stevens are the creations of Blackbird, used with permission.  I've only asked for a handful of characters, not giant swaths of plot, so their origins, Kieran's parentage, and various other things do not remotely match Blackbird's presentation of them.

In Blackbird's work Shin is exclusively interested in women and Kieran is, if I'm remembering correctly, the one who is almost exclusively interested in them.  I've swapped that for my version, which is how Shin/Jacob is even possible.

If I ever get around to starting it, the Here's how it is 'verse will be built around me giving the same treatment to Kim Possible that I've given to things like Twilight, Narnia, and Left Behind: rewriting rather than accepting existing canon and telling new stories.  It won't, however, end when Kim graduates from high school.  Jacob, Shin, and Kieran are all second generation characters, and this takes place when they're adults.

The way Life After ties into all of this is that Life After is set off when an individual in the HHII 'verse changes the past and knocks everything wildly off course.  The beginning of Life After Part I Chapter 1 takes place in the HHII 'verse, after that everything's been changed.

It should be noted that Kieran has pretty much the same requirements as Jacob: totally fine sharing, if you get excessively affectionate right in front of me, my jealousy is probably going to be triggered.  Note that Jacob said "making out" not mere "kissing".

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Attending Church (super people)

[Part of A Family Matter.]

Enzie knew that, when it was possible, the cult operated out of disused christian churches.  They'd take down the crosses, replace the stained glass windows with their own designs, and pretty much move in without changing much.

It didn't surprise Enzie that Corv brought them to a church, the size of it did though.  Impossible to tell whether or not it had been a cathedral in it's previous life, but it certainly lived up to Ezie's associations with the word "cathedral."

Corv led Enzie through the building, to a side door, which opened into a room with more a business setting.  Chairs to wait in, a receptionist behind a desk.

"We're here to meet with Thomas, we don't have an appointment," Corv said.

"There's an opening at--"

Enzie took a look at Corv to see what had stopped the receptionist.  Her skin had taken on a green tinge, her eyes had turned an inky black that made made it seem there was nothing but void behind her eyelids, and she'd somehow managed to grow impala horns in a real hurry, even though Enzie was pretty sure those things were male-only.

The receptionist found nir voice and said, "Goddess!  You grace us with your presence."

"Why does she get to be a god?" Enzie asked.

The receptionist looked to Corv for guidance.  Corv nodded.

"When the Lady Corvida triumphed over our old god --her father-- she proved herself a more worthy deity," the receptionist told Enzie.  After a pause she added, "Also, she does not demand human sacrifice of us."

"I can see how that would be a plus," Enzie said.

"I do not particularly like being called a god or a goddess," Corv said, her form returned to normal, "but their schism with the main cult has earned respect in my eyes, and I allow them their terminology."

"If you are willing to wait a few moments, Lady Corvida" the receptionist said in a way that made clear not waiting was an option, "I will tell brother Thomas to end his current meeting."

"That will be quite sufficient," Corv said.

* * *

"Lady Corvida," Brother Thomas said with a bow, "what brings you to me?"

"First," Corv said, "let me take a moment to admit that I was wrong.  You have done a great amount of good with this organization.  I was incorrect to tell you to disband your sect."

Brother Thomas looked shocked, humbled, intensely grateful, proud, and also completely speechless. Enzie guessed that that was probably a fairly standard response to having one's god say, "You were right and I was wrong; good work," to one.

When he found his voice, or at least partially found it, Brother Thomas used it to say a breathless, "Thank you."

"As to what brings me here," Corv said. "this is Enzie.  For some months Enzie has been seeking their half sister and half niece.  It has recently come to light that Enzie's half niece is my half sister.

"I want to know everything you know about the girl."

There was a pause, Brother Thomas blinked.  Then he said, "Nothing."

"Do you have any suspicions?" Corv asked.

"We didn't even suspect she existed," Brother Thomas said.

"The loyalists are hunting her," Corv said.  "It is imperative that I locate my sister first."

"I understand," Brother Thomas said.

"The prohibition I placed upon contacting me has been lifted with regard to this matter," Corv said as she placed her team's standard business card on Brother Thomas' desk.  "I want to be informed of everything you learn as soon as you have learned it, with only concerns for personal safety and moral action constituting a valid delay.

"If I am unavailable, any member of my team, or Enzie, is an authorized proxy."

"I understand," Brother Thomas said.  "Is there anything else?"

"When you begged me for a command," Corv said, "I commanded that you do good.  You have done well in that endeavor.  Continue to do so.  Keeping my sister safe from my father's followers is of great personal importance to me, however keeping any child safe from them would be of equal objective importance."

Corv turned to leave, then sighed.  "Aster and I are romantically engaged.  I assume your church will find that fact to be of interest.  Make of that what you will, but do not bother her."

Corv walked to the door.

"So we're going now?" Enzie asked.  "And we're no closer to--"

"We came here first because Brother Thomas is my most agreeable contact," Corv said.  "He is far from my only contact.  He is extremely far from my most up to date contact, given the schism."

Instead of opening the door, Corv extended her hand forward. From it and darkness began to engulf the door.  At first it was just a small amount, and only slightly darker than the area had been, but soon there was an inky circle, as tall as the room, which completely obscured the door.

Corv stepped through.

Enzie wondered if Corv could create darkness that wasn't inky, then stepped through.

So, I didn't want Corv's demon side to have remotely the same heritage as Desdemona and I wanted that to be visibly true.

Part of that is in the eyes.

Seraphim (fiery serpent angels) have six wings and I feel like if the wings get multiplied by three then other two part things could as well (e.g. six eyes, six nostrils, six ears...)  Somewhere, way back in Desdemona's family tree, there was at least one seraph (probably fallen), the only thing she retains from that distant ancestor is her six eyes.

Corv, by contrast, has only two eyes.  I had forgotten that I gave Des black eyes too, but hers would be a matte black that in no way were evocative of ink.

Skin color is also a big deal.  I had Des be red, so for differentiation I wanted Corv to be anything but.  The pallet traditionally assigned to (Christian) demon skin is very limited.  Black was most common.  So that's all "Woo! Unfortunate implications."

Chaucer associated green, not red, with the devil.  While deuteranomaly and protanomaly are definitely things, green feels like a good contrast with Des' red.

Des has no horns at all and does have a leaf-nose-bat style nose.  Corv has large horns, and her nose doesn't change (to the point Enzie isn't even thinking about her nose as he surveys her face.)


The earthly cult of Corv's father is more or less divided into two organizations (which cooperate with each other, just not openly.)

One is secret, thus has no public face, and is free to do whatever advances the cult's aims.

The other is a religion (tax exempt) that openly operates like more or less any charitable church and, besides the fact that they have different iconography, could easily be mistaken for a Christian denomination.  This is not an accident.  Casting themselves in the image of Christianity is seen as a little, "Fuck you," to God et alia.

From the outside, and from the lower levels, it looks like a good organization that helps people and . . . stuff.

Only when you are initiated into the first of the inner circles do you start to learn the truth.

A lot of the good works are for publicity, others serve specific agendas. The end goal is for Corv's father, whose philosophy is that the weak exist to do what the strong command, to rule earth by proxy.  There's a fair amount of death and violence involved in laying the groundwork for that.

When Corv utterly failed to be that proxy, and (temporarily) killed her father, that kind of threw the leadership into chaos.

What's a high priest to do when their God just died?

Most of the church stayed loyal.  Corv's father is a kind of being that simply doesn't stay dead.  Having a dead god, thus, was only a temporary thing.

On the other hand, Corv trashed their prophecy and, by defeating her father (with some help from her friends), proved in the eyes of some that she was stronger than the God they had been following.  So by her father's own rules, she got to impose her will on him and his followers.  That her will was a hell of a lot nicer factored in a bit too.

So Brother Thomas argued that they should stop worshiping Corv's father and start worshiping Corv herself.  This led to a schism.

When Brother Thomas came to Corv with his new sect dedicated to her, she basically told him to fuck off.  He refused to disband his religion and followers, but insisted that, other than that, he was totally ready to follow her commands.  She gave him fairly generic orders to do good (feed the hungry, help the oppressed, give shelter and clothing to those who need it, protect those who cannot protect themselves, respect self-determination and consent, stop the fucking human sacrifice.)

For those outside of the inner circle, the main difference between the splinter group and the old group is that the original group was working toward something.  They focused on a coming age in which their God would rule the world via his daughter and wash away all wrongs (which meant they didn't have to.)  The splinter group, on the other hand, is just plain working.  They follow said-God's daughter who chose not to rule the world and instead commands that it be made a better place, by its inhabitants, in the here and now.

Stuff at Patreon

So, I've got a few posts over there.  Three at the moment.

This will only be of interest to people who are actually patrons as they're behind the scary pay wall.  Don't worry, they'll come here, where they're completely free, eventually.  But the thing is, people who are paying me, you're paying me.  So you might want to go over there and have a look at the posts that you get to see before anyone else on account of you paying me.


For everyone who has pledges (so one dollar a month and up) I released an episode of my A Family Matter plot-line with Corv, Enzie, and the rest.  It's actually the first thing I wrote, but the story hasn't caught up to it yet.


Then I remembered that I promised to let people who donated $5 a month and up to get first crack at things.  So, here's what happened:

I set out to write an overview of the various hero teams I've introduced.  I failed.  Utterly.  This is even considering the fact that what I was going for was merely a draft so rough that I wouldn't post it here until it had seen serious revision.  And you've all seen how much revision some of the stuff I post here needs.

So it was a very low bar and I tripped over it.  But I tripped over it into something.  I ended up writing a character bio for Corv.  I'll want to clean it up some before it migrates over here.  I'll probably also want to just have one post that includes character bios for her entire team.

That could be difficult because my post here that introduced them presented them through Enzie's rather incurious eyes.  That means that I haven't had to really tackle things that Enzie didn't consider interesting.

For just one example: Icelos, real name Sam.  How does he feel about being able to pass for (Census Bureau term) non-Hispanic-white.  How does he deal with people who are jerks (intentionally or not) regarding his dwarfism.  (Proportionate, probably the result of untreated HGH deficiency, but never had a proper diagnosis.)  How has being a Pagan in a community that's 93% Christian (70% Roman Catholic) shaped his life?

On that last point, for comparison the US at large is only about 70% Christian and no denomination dominates that 70%.  Also, non-Christian religions, while 6% of the overall population, account for only 1% of the Hispanic/Latino population.


Finally, also following the $5 dollar mark gets first view style, I did a shared character bio for the Knights Errant and Erratic (members of Page's superhero team) and this time I did the character bio on purpose.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A kid is dead (bad government hurts animals too)

Her body was smaller and there were signs of afterbirth on her rear end.

We searched the fields.  We looked in barns.  We looked in the woods.  I crawled through so many thorn bushes only to find that the footprints in the snow I was following hit a dead end and turned back.

When nothing came of that the sense of foreboding got worse.  Babies make noise.

We kept on searching.  My sister followed to dog to she if she would pick up a scent.

I searched the play area.

A quick search revealed no body.  I'd have to look closer.

Then I saw it.

A chicken with an entrail in its beak.

Sheep had been slaughtered both for meat and to thin the herd.  I prayed that this was a byproduct of that.

I fucked up.  I looked left when I should have looked right.

I my attention was fixated on the snow.  Where another entrail lay, where I found a tuft of fur.

Bones came out next to me.  She was never supposed to be in this area, but she's Bones.  And she was the mother.  I hoped she'd give me direction.

Instead she stood near me, rooted herself to the ground, and gave a soft bleating.  Again and again.

She was obviously calling to her child or children.  At one part I let my hope lie to me, trick me into thinking there was a response.

It was a chicken.

Distorted by an echo or something, but a chicken.

Bones just stood there.  Calling.

I wanted her to move.  I desperately wanted this not to be the place, and if I could get a better look at her hoof print in the snow maybe it would give me some insight into where the place was.  My sister had been skeptical of my pronouncement that I was so sure I'd seen only deer tracks down the path I didn't take because, she said, Bones' tracks looked like deer tracks.

Bones just stood there.  Calling.

Eventually Bones moved.  Her tracks did not look like the deer tracks I'd seen.

My sister returned with no kid, alive or dead, in tow.  She told me that nothing had been slaughtered here.

It was all but certain Bones' kid (or kids, goats usually have twins) was dead.  But there was a missing piece.  Birth is not clean.  It is not spotless.  There should have been traces.

My sister found the answer later.

Like I said, I fucked up.  I looked left when I should have looked right, I fixated on the area where I did find evidence rather than looking to see if there might be evidence in other areas.

A bit up the hill, a bit around the tree, in shade, on mud, where from a distance everything looked like mud, mud, and more mud.  My sister found the scant remains.  Tiny hooves and such.

Picked clean.  Devoured.

I don't know if you can truly describe what you feel like when a part of you dies.

I won't try.

When I told my mother what we'd found I don't think I had any emotions left.

I spent a lot of time sitting the floor, leaning against a door.  My head drooped.

The best we can hope for is that the kid was born dead.  It would be tragic, but there'd have been no alternatives.

DHHS forced my sister to leave her farm.  If she didn't, then they were very clear that they'd take away her baby and put him in foster care.

A farm without a farmer.  I've said it before.  Cody is a great help, a great assistant, even a great partner, but he's no farmer.

My sister is the farmer.  Cody didn't even notice the birth had taken place until the next day.  My sister would have been on top of that shit.  Which given that it was a night birth away from the herd in an area that was good for birthing but terrible for evading predators, could have made all the difference.  Even if there had been something wrong with the kid(s) there's a very good chance that my sister being on site would have made a difference.

My sister can work miracles with animals and has kept alive things the textbooks say will be inavertably dead in no time flat.

If the fucking farmer had been at the farm and that kid/those kids were born live, then they'd still be fucking alive.

As is.  To think too much about it is the stuff of nightmares.

And oh my God, Bones.  She was standing there, yards at most from the remains of her kids, calling out again, and again, and again.  To no response.  Because dead goats don't bleat.

I've never even heard Bones make noise before.

It's a farm, and most of the animals are just livestock, but Bones . . . Bones is Bones.  She's part friend and part family.  That's to me, and I don't even life at the farm.

Baby animals dying needlessly would have hurt me regardless, but the dead kid(s) was/were Bones' kid(s).  She was the one who lost her children.



Everything else can be fixed.  It's horrible, but there are solutions.  Work is being done to get my sister's family legally reunited.  (Which would have the added bonus of returning her to the farm.)  The newborn won't remember any of this, the child (now 3.75) probably won't and if he does it'll be dim hazy memories without much meaning.  Hell, he's already starting to forget the events that kicked the whole thing off and it's only been five months.

Scars heal.  My sister's family will mend given time.  The kicked in door has long since been replaced.  The evil neighbors have the facts stacked against them.

But we can't resurrect newborn goats.

Life After: Types of Traps

[I've had this idea for a bit, it's well in advance of where things stand in the linear telling of Life After.]

"But that's exactly what everyone thinks is at Area 51!" Tara said.

"Yeah, it's . . . what's the generalization of a trap-trap?" Wade asked.

"Sith Lie," Shin and Jacob said as one.

"Right," Wade said.

Kim and Ron apparently felt the need to get on the speaking in unison train, and asked, "What's a trap-trap?" together.

Jacob was visibly shocked at the question and said, "This really is early in their career."

"I've been telling you that for ages," Shin said.

"So what is a trap-trap?" Tara asked.

"Ok," Shin said, "all traps --well most traps at any rate- can be placed into four categories.  Category one: the simple trap.

"It's exactly what it sounds like.  Jacob puts a trap in the front hall in hopes that, one way or another, I'll end up in the front hall and be caught in the trap.  A simple trap depends on concealment because if I knew there was a trap, I'd just avoid it."

Jacob took over, "That brings us to category two: the bluff trap.  If Shin knows the front hall is a trap she won't use the front hall, which defeats the entire purpose of putting a trap in the front hall.  Resources are finite and it's hard enough trying to defend every point of entry, so why put a trap in a room she's not even going to be in?

"It's better if I let her 'discover'," Jacob used air quotes, "that I've put a trap in the front hall when there really isn't one.  Then she'll avoid the front hall which saves me the resources that would otherwise go into defending it.

"The worry here is that if I make it too easy for her to 'discover' the trap, she might realize what I'm up to, call the bluff, and waltz right through the front hall because she knows that's the one entrance I'm not expecting her to use."

Shin resumed the lecture, "Which brings us to category three: the trap-trap.  Jacob puts an actual trap in the front hall, but is so obvious in letting us all--"

"Seriously?" Jacob asked.  "All of you?  It's bad enough when there's just one of you."

Shin continued, "He's so obvious in leaving clues that there's a trap in the front hall that we just assume it's a bluff trap.  We think he's trying to trick us into avoiding the front hall, when in reality he's trying to make us over think things to the point that we ignore all evidence there is a real trap, try to call his 'bluff'," Shin used air quotes, "when he's really got a royal flush, and walk right into the front hall trap.

"This requires that he let us know there's a trap, which is true, in such a way that we assume he's trying to trick us.  If we don't assume the trap is a bluff, then we'd think it was a simple trap, avoid it, and thus defeat the entire purpose of him setting up a trap-trap.  We have to think the truth is really a deception for it to work."

"Thus the generalization to things that aren't traps," Jacob said.  "A Sith Lie is when you tell the truth in such a way that people think you're lying.  You have no real control over what they do think the truth is, but you've managed to control what they definitely don't think the truth is: the actual truth.

"The name," Shin said, "comes from the trope Jedi Truth, which is a lie that can be seen as true from a dubious point of view.  A Sith Lie is something just as true as a Jedi Truth is false, but since the delivery of that truth is specifically designed to be disbelieved it serves the same function as a lie from a rational point of view."

"All of these mind games bring us to the last type of trap," Jacob said.  "Category four: the thought trap.  You've discovered evidence of a trap, or you think you have, but is it real evidence of a simple trap, planted evidence of a bluff trap, planted yet real evidence of a trap-trap?

"The question becomes, 'Do I know that you know that I know that you know that I know that I know that you know that you know--' and your brain explodes.  Divide by cheese, blue screen of death, snow crash, out of memory.

"At this stage it doesn't really matter whether there's a trap in the front hall or not because I've got you second guessing your third guesses while fighting shadows in your mind.  Traps have a tendency to be, at best, temporary solutions anyway, so throwing you into a spiral of self doubt is actually a better outcome than you falling into the trap, if it exists.

"And if it does and you do, some much the better because with all of the distraction I've placed in your mind it'll take you longer to escape the trap and when you do you'll be trying to figure out what it means that the trap was really real, and trying to stop thinking such thoughts is pretty much a lost cause because it's like, 'Don't think of a naked mole rat,' but more pervasive and less cute."

Bonnie broke her silence to say, "A naked mole rat is not cute."

Rufus popped his head out of Ron's pocket and blew a raspberry at Bonnie.

"Made you think of it though," Jacob said, "didn't I?"

"And now you are familiar with the four categories of trap," Shin said.

"Use them wisely," Jacob said, "use them well."

This comes from a variety of places.  "Trap-trap" is a term from Kim Possible but it isn't used until after the point at which the timeline changed, so Kim and Ron likely wouldn't be familiar with it.  It's a little bit serious, a little bit silly, and so forth.

Also Shin knowing "Sith Lie" off the top of her head shows that she doesn't take after Kim in shunning all things in geekdom.  In fact, one of the things she and Jacob have in common is that they're both uber-geeks.

Plus, having not gotten nearly there yet in my linear writing, it's an opportunity to have them interacting with the 2004 heroes.  Even if this has them doing most of the talking.

I've been thinking increasingly of the role of Tara and how she fits into the team from a relationship point of view.  Until Kim is recovered she's running the team, which places her significantly out of her element.  If the timeline hadn't changed she and Josh would have dated for a while, implying they probably have some level of chemistry and the opportunity for non-romantic friendship in this timeline.

Canonically she's the most romantically active of the characters on the Life After team, possibly in all of Kim Possible, but it's definitely the case that she has a serious interest in Ron (he'd reciprocate if not for the fact he's totally oblivious.)

The interest in Ron sets her apart from almost, but not quite, every other female character in the show.  Ron can clean up, fame up, or money up into someone who gains superficial attraction, but Tara is (almost) the only one who sees normal-Ron as desirable.  This has . . . implications.

Specifically it implies serious spurning of the high school food chain that Bonnie lives by and Kim occasionally buys into.  It implies that her reaction to geekdom is not the revulsion or a Kim or Bonnie, it implies broader standards for who is to be accepted as an equal, it implies being ok with a lack of social conformance.

Based on Ron's lack of really to expected male norms, Tara is the only character who even hints at being pansexual.  This in a show that has no lesbian, gay male, or bisexual characters.

But more and more I see her and Jacob as potentially being co-foils to each other.  The extremely similar, get along well, but still contrast kind of foil.

There's a significant problem with a lack of non-romantic male-female pairings in general, in Kim Possible this problem skyrocketed when their one example imploded as a result of Kim/Ron becoming canon at the end of season three.  (Of course, that was supposed to be the end of the series as a whole, but still.)

I definitely see Tara-Jacob as being a potential, very strong, non-romantic friendship pairing.

Shin-Josh can probably end up the same way.

Ron-Kim will remain one because Kim/Ron does not come to pass, and doesn't even get considered, in this timeline.

I'm . . . not sure who Bonnie might have.  Josh is definitely friends with everyone, but generally in a laid back kind of way.  Bonnie and Jacob would not get along and Bonnie and Ron canonically don't get along.

Anyway, lots of rambling thoughts.

Things I need or want

Sometimes I feel like making a (non-exhaustive) list of things I am lacking.  Not sure why.  This is such a time.

Shoes without holes worn through the soles.  Preferably waterproof.

Inserts for the shoes so I don't fuck up my feet.

Mason jars.



A decent surface to work on.

Shirts that fit right so Lonespark doesn't get mad at me for being all indecent and such.

Faith.  Hope.  A belief that things will get better.

Socks.  Always, always socks.

A sewing kit.

Some sort of flea banishment ritual since the usual methods, at the absolute best, put them in remission a bit before their inevitable comeback.

Something to store my jewelry so that the nice things I have, and I do have some nice things, don't disappear into a black hole soon after being acquired.

Spiritual guidance on whether or not creating some ritual that involved the five tiny stone animals I have would constitute idol worship.

Ritual guidance on how to create the above it it won't get me whammied by some god or other.

A tarot deck where the imagery mostly features people with wings (angels if you like) who are fucking poor and just trying to survive.  (Bonus points if "The Lovers" are female-Gabriel and Mary.)

That notebook that I lost.

The ability to understand what my cat actually wants rather than being forced to go through every possible thing she might be interested in until one resonates with her.

Folding tray tables (so that I can put plants too large to fit on the windowsill right next to the fucking window because otherwise I fear they won't get enough light to survive the winter.)

Extremely resilient cups that hold at least 30ish oz of water/juice/[life sustaining fluid].

A scale model of 1953 Chevy pickup.

Us not to beat our plowshares into swords for this tired old man who was elected king.

Potatoes.  Instant mashed potatoes would be just fine.  So would ones that haven't been modified since they were yanked from the ground.  Just: potatoes.

The belief that there's some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for.
Faith that Rohan will answer
Something, don't know what, that makes it easier to face the world.

Laywers, guns, and money.  Except for the guns.  Unless they're Nerf guns.  Nerf guns would be good.




Orange Juice.

Faith in humanity as a whole, rather than just subsets of it.

Shorts, that my legs might not rub together until raw.

Yoga pants, ditto.

Some place where I can lay my head.

The ability to finish what I start.

The ability to start.


Strawberry yogurt.

A donkey.

The resources with which to care for the donkey.

A wagon, as in the size a child can pull, to put my food in for the long trek home from the food store (since I don't have the donkey yet and am therefore my own pack animal.)

Peace of mind.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Fight or Flight when you can't fight and there's nowhere to run

(Content notes: police behaving badly, those tasked with protecting children doing anything but their job, the use of government authority to bully, having a child and an infant taken away, being subjected to another person's problems with such force it hurts, and all of the rest of the shit that's been going on.)

A few days ago it was officially five months.

Five months since asshole neighbors made a demonstrably fake call and the police responded not by reprimanding them for fucking around with the police department but instead by attacking people, physically and psychologically, who everyone agrees ("everyone" has now expanded to not just include all witnesses and investigators, but also members of the judicial branch of the government) were innocent.

First there was threatening to shoot my sister, then six months pregnant, through her pregnancy, and made this threat by putting the loaded gun to her pregnant belly.  When she called the bluff --in hopes that saying out loud that he'd be shooting an unarmed pregnant woman would turn it into a bluff-- he switched to threatening to tase her pregnant belly.  Again emphasized by holding the weapon in question to said-belly.

Then there was breaking down the door without even asking the people inside to come out.

Then using the taser on Cody, my sister's partner, because he obeyed their (for by this point there were multiple officers) commands.  Why did they attack him for obeying?  "Oops, we meant lay on your belly," when they'd been saying, "Lay on your back."

With the taser wires still in-him, and also wrapped around a convenient bush, they had him walk away and charged him with resisting when the wires --anchored on one end to the bush and on the other end inside of him-- went taut, hindering his forward motion.

In all of this they still found time to mistreat the already born child.  First handcuffing my sister (behind the back) and then pretending to hand the child to her and acting surprised when she wasn't able to magically pass her hands through the cuffs, bring them to her front, and catch the three and a half year old before he hit the ground.

Five months since my sister asked about filing an excessive force complaint.  Five months since the police responded by calling all and sundry agencies with various spurious accusations.  Five months since DHHS, which handles child welfare in the state of Maine, was the only agency to take the bait.

They've lost when it comes to the child they opened the case about.  The case was thrown out the moment it hit court because no one anywhere could find any possible reason that anything my sister or Cody did was in any way a danger to the child.

But my sister was six months pregnant when it happened.

Now, as I've mentioned, the DHHS workers didn't even care enough to find out if the baby was alive or stillborn when he was actually born.  They actually pretended the entire agency had ceased to exist.  In their defense, it was Black Friday so they were probably shopping.

But come Monday they took him away, starved him for hours, tried to send him to foster care, and finally conceded that since there was no evidence whatsoever the baby was in danger (and no claims to that effect), my sister could have custody provided that the baby never come near his father Cody.

Now, my sister runs a farm.  Goats are consummate escape artists and where they blaze a path sheep and pigs will follow.  Combine this with trespassing neighbors on dirt-bikes in the warm months and snowmobiles in the cold months (different trespassing neighbors, it must be said, the dirt-bikers prefer knocking down walls in the winter time to riding around on snowmobiles) and various other things, and she really really needs to be at home to manage things.

Unfortunately so does Cody because he's only got the one home and he can't exactly crash with family since they all live in Cali-fucking-fornia and we're in Maine.

Meaning that the options presented were, "Evict Cody from his home in the last days of November in Maine thus probably dooming him to death of exposure because he's not a native and doesn't know how to survive homeless on these particular streets," or, "Kneel before Zod, admit we control you, and evict yourself from your home, because otherwise we will take your newborn away."

That means that for almost, but not quite, two months my sister has been forced to stay away from her home except when she can hand her baby off to someone else for a short time.

Wait?  Can't the baby stay with the people looking after the three and a half year old for as long as needed?

No.  That was deemed to be too much work for a single human being to handle.

Put that on the "I shit you not" list.

Apparently every parent with more than one child in the greater Portland area had better watch out because if DHHS finds out they'll take all but one away because no human being could possibly take care of two kids.

Also, people with PTSD be warned, you've all been deemed unfit.  PTSD is the only mental hang up Cody has.  But what if . . . I get ahead of myself.

So, anyway, only short trips back home to the farm.  Cody is useful on the farm.  Extremely useful when given proper direction.  But he's not a farmer.  You know what you call a farmer who can't farm?  Broke.

My sister has lost her livelihood.  Cody has lost his health insurance because he's not longer part of the same household as my sister and the kids.  This doesn't even get into the effects caused by DHHS changing my sister's listed address without telling her, and creating a health plan for the infant that didn't list the person with custody as having custody.

And this is what it comes down to.

DHHS decided, based on no evidence, that Cody mentally unfit when it came to taking care of a child or infant.  How do I know they had no evidence?  They said it.

They never evaluted his mental fitness, and while having PTSD is, in their eyes, grounds to take away your child, it apparently isn't enough to keep your child away from you.  They needed another reason.

So they said he was mentally unfit.  When the question, "You base this on what, exactly?" was asked they responded that they based it on nothing because Cody hadn't had a mental evaluation.  He'd need to have a mental evaluation for them to change their minds.

So Cody tried to get a mental evaluation.

As soon as it was cleared that the insurance would pay for it, they said, "No, not that doctor."

He couldn't get the insurance to clear two of them, and the process of switching the clearance from the one doctor to the other took long enough that before it was finished the baby was born, Jen was forced out of the house, and thus Cody had no insurance to pay for a mental evaluation from any doctor.

So they took him into a closed room.  Just him and them.  Not my sister who is less naive, not a lawyer, just him and them.

They said that if he signed over the right for them to look at all of his medical records, they'd be able to use those to declare that he was fit and he'd be able to be reunited with his baby and the child that he's been a father to.

Upon looking through those records they found a single twenty minute session from years ago.  They said it proved he was incurably insane.  Set aside the all of the warning bells going off in your mind about making a difficult diagnosis in 20 minutes.  Make a glockenspiel out of them or something.

Done that?  Good.  Now ponder this: How the fuck could someone be determined to be incurable in that time?

Of course it had to be incurable because otherwise the question would arise, "That was years ago, what if he got better?"

And that's where things stand right now.  The reasons they were called in have been tossed out.  All that they have is the miracle of the 20 minute session that somehow proves he was incurably insane.  Doesn't matter.  It'll be another two months before there's even a chance to challenge that.

We're already two months into My sister having to crash at my mom's home and my dad's home because DHHS has made it emphatically clear that they will take away her baby if she goes to her home.

Tempers are frayed.  My dad has problems.  Not the kinds of problems that DHHS thinks are problems.  They may not particularly like him as a person, but he was one of only two people in the state of Maine that they trusted enough to take care of the three and a half year old while they were arguing my sister was unfit.

They originally wanted to send the three and a half year old to live with two guys who never showed an interest in the child and had never raised any child in the state of New York, but then they found my dad and they were wowed with his perfection as a care giver for a child.

I call extreme bullshit on this, but given that the two guys in New York do in fact make my dad look like Mary Poppins in comparison, I haven't called said bullshit to DHHS lest they twist it into a way to dump my nephew into an abusive household he has no means of escaping.

The fact that the people who are tasked with protecting children from abuse have been trying to place a child into an abusive situation from day one is kind of symbolic of the larger problems at work here.

But anyway, in spite of being a paragon of parenting perfection in the eyes of DHHS, my dad has problems.  Two months is plenty of time for those problems to boil over.  Honestly it's kind of surprising things haven't gotten apocalyptic given the stress DHHS has been putting my dad, with his problems, under.

But something broke today.

So when I was annoyed with myself for being an hour late to get to sleep, but at least taking comfort in the fact that it was only an hour, I got a call.

My dad kicked my sister and her children out.

They didn't have enough gas to make it to my mom's place.  They couldn't go to their own home without getting the baby taken away.

Could I buy gas?

I had to look up my debts, and I found a card with 28 dollars on it, and I spent that on gas for her.  Then she asked to use my microwave.  Sure.  Fine.  Why not?  I wish I could do more so it seems entirely reasonable.

I didn't count on the talking.

All of the stress of the past five months.  Memories of being a child in the house of my dad with his problems that aren't problematic in the eyes of DHHS.  Everything.

By the time she left . . .

Fight or flight.  Why the fuck do we have that?  Why not deer in headlights?

There was no one to fight, and I can't run away from my own home, so I just stayed there as it got worse and worse and worse.

When she left I screamed, ran from one room to the next and bounded through the god damned air.  Too much fucking energy.

Way too much fucking energy.

Had to come out somehow.

God only knows how long I've been angrily typing this trying to get the energy out.  Maybe I can sleep now.

It's almost tomorrow, I have a post scheduled for tomorrow morning, barely over five hours from now.

Marching Orders (super people)

[This plotline now has an index.]
[Last installment left off with Enzie asking about the giant robotic pangolin.  You know, I don't think that I ever mentioned it was giant in the text.  Anyway, that's where we start here.]

"Did you not see the robotic armadillo?" Icelos asked.

"Robotic armadillos are a dime a dozen," Enzie said, "the pangolin was more interesting."

"Focus on the matter at hand," Java said.  Enzie definitely got the impression that the statement was focused at Icelos.

"But I took down the armadillo," Icelos said.  "I deserve credit."

"We just found out the world might end again," Java said.

"If the kid's six that gives us a dozen years to prepare," Map said.

Enzie nodded at that.

"The issue that faces us in the present moment is that there is a child who is being sought out by a cult that wants to make her into a monster," Corv said.  "This is most definitely not about the fate of the world right now."

"I wouldn't be here if it were," Enzie said.  "I don't give a damn who collects taxes, I do care about the fact I have family who seem to be in danger."

"I thought that you did not like your family," Aster said to Enzie.

"I don't like my father," Enzie said.  "I have no reason to think that my sister or her daughter are anything like him.  I'm not."

Java said, "I'll try to find out if regular law enforcement has been doing anything that might be related. Map, Icelos, there's a good chance we'll be dealing with demons again.  Anything you can whip up to help would be appreciated.

"Aster, go to the main computer, familiarize yourself with every location we've found that has significance to the cult of Corv's father.  Go to each, patrol around them for as long as you deem fit --look for anything remotely magical-- and then move on to the next.  Surveillance only; unless you actually locate the girl and she's in immediate danger, do not engage.

"If you do locate her, regardless of whether you're forced to engage, contact us over the coms immediately.

"Corv, Enzie, find a way to track down your relative."

* * *

"Exactly what does Archipelago expect us do?"

"The island of Java is part of the Indonesian archipelago," Corv said, "and I believe you are aware that that is not the thing to which Java's name refers."

"Point.  The question still stands though."

"You are not merely a half angel; you are also an archer," Corv said.  "I have skills that do not come from my biology as well."

Enzie knew what Corv was talking about and said, "Somehow I think being demonic gives you a bit of a leg up over fully human magicians."

"Perhaps, but it is none the less true that I am well versed in human magic," Corv said.

"Your father has many followers, of them some are likewise magic," Enzie said.  "What do you expect to do that they cannot?"

"They can likely call upon my father for spells of locating," Corv said, "but any such spells will be limited by the fact they can only call upon her paternal heritage."

"Not much of a limitation considering how seldom he reproduces," Enzie said.

"There are more powerful spells that require the cooperation of individuals from both sides of the subject's family," Corv said.  "I can serve as the individual from the paternal side, you can serve as the individual from the maternal side."

"Powerful enough to break through whatever's been keeping child and mother out of the cult's reach for nearly six months?"

"Perhaps not," Corv said, "but with such force seeking them, concealment magic should be hard to maintain continuously."

* * *

Inside of a magic circle, Enzie sat back to back with Corv.

"What happens if this works?" Enzie asked.

"I have never had the opportunity to test this spell before," Corv said.

A moment later they were standing nowhere.

Then they were somewhere in the world, but it was so hazy it was impossible to make out.  Another place became overlapped with it, then a third.

Then the places shot apart and they were high in the air above all three, a pulsing, though very dim, light marking each.  More lights came into being, each time they were forced farther from the surface of the earth, so that they could view them all.

In the end they stood in void.  The earth before them, spotted with dim lights, too many to count, spread across North America, Europe, and Western Africa.

"I'm no mage," Enzie said, "but I'd class this as a failure."

"None of these results are strong enough for a relative as close as my sister and your niece," Corv said.  "These must be relations we share through our mothers."

Enzie nodded.  "Which wouldn't be very close relations."

There was a pause.

"Is my body blinking?" Enzie asked.

"I do not know," Corv said.

"Well you'd better get us back in ourselves before our eyes get all dried out and itchy or something."

"I did not realize that the spell would be so immersive," Corv said.  "I suggest that next time we close our eyes before beginning."

A moment later they were seated back to back within the magic circle.

"So . . ." Enzie said, "that accomplished nothing."

"On the contrary, now we know that the spell will work for us," Corv said.  "We shall need to repeat it continually at pseudo-random intervals to have the best chance of detecting our relative."

"So that's it?" Enzie asked.  "Spam the spell in hopes that at some point random chance dictates that we use it when their concealment has lapsed."

"That is merely one part of it," Corv said.  "I have contacts within my father's cult and intend to use them to locate my sister.  For me, that will be the next part of it.  What you do is up to you."

"Of course I'm coming with," Enzie said.

People don't say the name of Corv's father.  I honestly haven't figured out why that is yet, but it's just not done.  Demons might use his name, but only in Hell itself.  Even his earthly cult doesn't call him by name, instead calling him "our god".

It could be as simple as it being hard for humans to pronounce, it could be something with vast metaphysical implications, all that I've got so far is that no one in this is going to call him by name without a very good reason.

A Family Matter Index (super people)

A Family Matter is a plotline in my super person universe focusing on Corv and Enzie's newly discovered shared relation and the events surrounding the discovery.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Evil has standards (super people)

[Ok, first off, this is entirely unrelated to the plot-line I've had a string of posts on involving Corv and Enzie.  Different heroes, different villains, probably a different part of the world.]

Kelley and Dee dropped from the conveniently sized air duct into the main chamber of Doctor Galvah's lair.  Various henchpeople took notice and activated their staves, ordinary walking-sticks transforming into conduits for crackling orange energy.

Aspirant looked up from his book.  There was a hint of annoyance on his face, as if Kelley and Dee were nothing more than a distraction from what he had been doing: reading a book while leaning so far back in his chair that it balanced precariously on two legs and was only kept from flipping backward because his legs were braced under the table in front of him.

Aspirant slowly lowered his chair so all four legs were on the ground, then stood up, marked his place in the book and closed it, set the book on the table, and focused his attention on Kelley.

Purple energy engulfed his hands.  Unlike the staves, it didn't crackle.  It flowed, it licked, it even occasionally flickered, but it did not crackle.

Kelley said to Dee --quietly, as though it weren't the case that everyone in the room already knew her one-note never-changing game-plan-- "Distract the mooks while I take care of Aspirant.  The doctor can wait until we've dealt with the immediate threats."

Dee nodded and said, "Got it," for good measure.

With the usual pre-fight activities over, Doctor Galvah sighed.  Then she said, "Well stop them, of course."

With that the fight commenced.  Aspirant and Kelley knew their parts well, and so they met halfway between where they'd started.  Then the dance began for them.  While others fought prominently with blows and blocks, their fights were always about dodges, feints, the occasional handspring, and generally both sides failing to land a blow.  Once a connection was finally made, it always meant the end of the fight was near.

Dee and the henches had an entirely different style of combat.  The henches lacked the practice and magic needed to fight like Aspirant or Kelley.  They tried to land hits without the subterfuge of frequent feints, they blocked rather than dodged, and they never engaged in acrobatics.

Dee used a mixture of fighting and running like Hell.  Fighting to get their attention or, if she had too much of their attention, make an opening to get away; running like Hell to not get the shit kicked out of her.

It usually worked well.  She could fight well enough and long enough to make the necessary openings to run like Hell, she could run fast enough to stay ahead, and pace herself enough to make sure that attention stayed focused on her, rather than risk loosing attention when she gained too much of a lead.

It usually worked.  Today something was off.  Maybe it was the particular arrangement of random junk in the lair, maybe it was because she was a bit tired from the start, maybe the henches were just having a good day.  Maybe it was nothing but random chance.

Whatever the reason she was finding her running continually cut off, forcing her to fight for longer than she was comfortable, especially against crackling magic sticks, and she was increasingly on the defensive, and increasingly forced into the open, away from obstacles she could use to her advantage.

In fact the obstacles that were at hand all seemed to be conspiring to work to her disadvantage.

A high blow was so hard that her block hurt her arms, she'd used both, and forced her to take a step back.  Something on the floor made that step back fail, and she ended up in a backwards spin that left her on the floor.

Before she could even think about getting back up, she felt someone walk into her and fall on her.  From the opposite direction as the henches.  That meant it was either Aspirant or Kelley.

Dee knew this would be bad either way.

Kelley roughly got off of her, and then shouted, "Damn it, Dee, why are you always so utterly useless!?"

All activity in the lair stopped.  The henches fell silent.  Doctor Galvah's shouted orders ceased.  Aspirant let his arms drop to his sides and the purple light that danced around them shut down.

Everyone evil was staring, many wide-eyed, at the heroes.  As for the side of good, Kelley stood over Dee glowering at her.  Dee scrambled into a sitting position and looked up at Kelley.

Dee said, "Sorry," in a small voice.

"Sorry doesn't cut it when you screw everything up," Kelley said.  "We've been doing this how long,? and you still managed to fuck up the simplest task.  Distract them," Kelley pointed at the henches, "and keep them away from me so I can beat Aspirant.

"I don't know what the Hell is wrong with you, but you're a sorry excuse for a sidekick.  I don't even know why I've kept you around this long.  Maybe it was because I had pity on you for being a friendless loser, but I--"

"Enough!" Doctor Galvah shouted.  She punched a few buttons and the evil device of the week powered down.  Then she started walking away from her usual position, protected from the fighting by being well behind the fray, and toward Kelley and Dee.

Doctor Galvah made eye contact with Kelley and said, "You are no longer welcome here."

"What!?" Kelley shouted.

"Get out, Kelley," Aspirant said.

"I was never welcome here to begin with," Kelly said, loudly, to Doctor Galvah, "and I'm not leaving until I've stopped you from taking over the world."

"With what?" Doctor Galvah asked.  "I came up with that, she pointed with a thumb to the evil device of the week, "while daydreaming and I only built it because insomnia is incredibly boring and I had nothing better to do last night.  It could never take over the world."

"Just before the fight I got word from the pharmacy, doc," one of the henches said.  "Your prescription came through and your sleeping medication should be ready for pick up by noon."

"Thank god," Doctor Galvah said.  Then she returned her attention to her Kelley.  "I invited you here today because I worry that if I always wait until I actually have a viable take-over-the-world scheme you'd have too much time to spend on self-improvement and it would be harder to beat you when it counted.

"You have worn out that invitation," Doctor Galvah said to Kelley, now as close to face to face with her as she could be without stepping on Dee.  "Get out of my home.  Assholes are not welcome here."

Kelley looked down at Dee, who was still sitting; staring up at her --in what looked to be some level of shock.  Then she looked back to Galvah, then to the henches.  They started taking up fighting stances.  Then she looked to Aspirant.

Aspirant said, "Go, now," settled into a fighting stance of his own, and made the purple magic return to encase his fists.

Kelley was still a moment, then looked down at Dee and said, "You're fired," before spinning around and running out of the lair.

After a door closed, with a woosh, behind Kelley, Dee finally registered that she was now alone in a a lair with a villain, the villain's magical fighter, and a whole lot of henchpeople.

She looked around in fear, but found that, while everyone looked tense, no one was prepared for combat anymore.  The purple had again receded from Aspirant's hands.  The staves of the hench people were no longer crackling with orange energy.  Doctor Galvah was directly behind her, so she wasn't sure what was going on there.

Aspirant offered Dee a hand.

Dee just looked at it.

"It doesn't bite without the magic," Aspirant said.

Dee took the offered hand and allowed herself to be helped to her feet.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, kid," Aspirant said, "but isn't that the first time you fucked up in a year and a half?"

"I haven't been keeping track," Dee said softly.

"Well, Kelley screws up all the time," Aspirant said, "and usually a lot worse than falling over backward, so I wouldn't put too much stock in what she said today."

"Have you had food?" Doctor Galvah asked.

"Um, what?" Dee said.

"Breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, whatever," Doctor Galvah said.  "If you're hungry, the kitchen is this way.

Dee followed, it seemed the path of least resistance.

"I'm not going to pretend I know how you feel," Aspirant said, falling into step beside her, "but I have had similar experiences.  However bad things seem right now, it will get better.  You just have to hold on until it does."

Dee had a sudden thought, and let, "I'm not going to be a villain," slip out without considering if it was a good thing to say.

"I'm not giving my recruitment speech," Aspirant said.

"Though we do have cookies," Doctor Galvah said.

"Just make sure you tell us about any food allergies so we can make sure we don't poison you," Aspirant said.  "We've got good options for anyone, but they're very definitely different options depending on your individual needs."

"Why are you being nice to me?" Dee asked.

"Seems like what you need right now," Aspirant said.

"Because we're decent human beings," Doctor Galvah said.

"We can focus on making the world better on a global scale, to which world domination is a first step, later," Aspirant said.  "We wouldn't exactly be qualified to run the world if we didn't recognize that the people in it matter.

"You matter," Aspirant said.  "That's all the reason that there ever need be."

When they reached the kitchen Dee was stunned by the scope of the dark side's cookie supply.



John Dee and Edward Kelley are the originators of Enochian magic and mythos, an angelic system.  In that world view the trinity was part of a slightly larger construct.  One person larger.  The fourth person was not, in fact, Steve.  Rather it was the divine feminine who was known as Galvah.

As with any decent Hero-Villain nemesis relationship, everyone's on the same page.  Kelley and Dee are adherents to a modified Encohian system, Doctor Galvah's inventions are always at least as much Encohian-esque magic as they are technology.  Usually more so.

Aspirant considered the handle "Seeker" but decided it was too sectarian.


The henchpeople's staves are all made of found, rather than carved, wood.  The kind of makeshift walking-stick you often locate or create on a hike through a wooded area.  They get their magical energy from various sigils and scripts carved into them.  The carvings aren't designed to be particularly visible, so from a distance the staves just look like tree bits with various amounts of bark (some are stripped, some have all the original bark.)

The use of staves supposedly comes from Galvah having learned great mysteries of the universe when she was a shepherd who used found materials rather than a traditional crook.  This is a lie.  She was a goatherd.

Whenever she finds herself herding goats now (generally to help a friend from the old days) she brings a pool cue to be her staff.  She is adamant, however, that a pool cue would not be a good magical conduit unless it were used for the purposes of herding Caprinae over a period of years.

Apparently she believes that any Caprinae will do.  Except Markhor.  It is still a mystery why markhor would not, in fact, lead to the correct properties in manufactured sticks.  Given that they're a wild species, investigation into the matter will likely not be forthcoming.

Galvah's own pool cue is in fact carved with appropriate marks, but --since she's a non-combatant-- whether it would work as a magical conduit like the henches' staves has never come up in public.  If she has tested it in private, she has not shared the results.

Really, she finds the whole question of pool cues beside the point since any naturally occurring staff sized branch that's sturdy enough will work even when it has not been used to herd anything.  The only requirement is that the branch have died a natural death rather than having been cut off of the tree by humans (or, one supposes, flying beavers.)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

What's going on OR Why Enzie should never be allowed to explain things (super people)

[Enzie met Corv in this bit, and the rest of the team in this bit.  If I ever revise this I'll try to make it clear in the text that Enzie is speaking fast and generally being frenetic while delivering this info dump.]

With the introductions over, Enzie wasn't sure exactly what was supposed to happen.

"The reason for this meeting, along with Enzie's presence here, is that Enzie claims my father has sired another child," Corv said to her team.  "I believe you are all aware of the potential ramifications, if that is in fact true."

Everyone turned their attention to Enzie, and Enzie felt uncomfortable under the scrutiny.  "Look, I came to Corv, she was the one who insisted the matter be brought to the lot of you, so it's not like I have a wondrous mission briefing or PowerPoint presentation all prepared.

"Truth is, I don't even know where to start."

"I find that the beginning is often a useful place," Java said.

"Even if it does sometimes make for a longer story," Aster added.

"Ok, let's see, the beginning . . ." Enzie said.  "Right.  So . . . you may have noticed that the world has not, in fact, ended.  Well, not ended as such.  More restructured.  We are not living in a Hellscape with our necks bowed in submission to demons because a new age in which compassion is laid by the wayside and morality reduced to the ideas of proper conduct the powerful impose upon those weaker than themselves.  That whole thing didn't happen.

"It not happening is what started all of this.  You see, there was this whole prophecy thing, and Corv was supposed to bring it about and . . . not so much.  But when people have held onto a belief for as long as Corv's father and his followers have held onto that whole prophecy-thing . . . well, a dose of reality is seldom cause for paradigm shift, and so instead of abandoning the prophecy they hit the books to see what they did wrong, and if there was still time for them to do it right.

"Whether or not there was still time: yes.  Totally.  Plenty of time.  The prophecy places great emphasis on things coming some multiple of a thousand years after a given date, but it's very hazy on what the start date is.  It could arguably come to fulfillment in the late 2030s and still fit, so it'll be a bit before they have to give up on this go round and wait a millennium-ish for the next opening.

"So, seeing that their opening hadn't passed, they attempted to determine what went wrong with Corv so they could make sure they'd get it right on try two."

"So you just used a lot of words to say: after Corv failed to bring about the apocalypse the bad guys tried for a do over?" Java asked.

"That I did; that I did," Enzie said.  "So I'm guessing you know the gist of the prophecy.  Salient points being that Corv's father will have a half demon offspring born to a mortal mother who will be indwelt by his power and will when she reaches the age at which the Emperor Who Never Was was first married, measured in years, rounded down.  Because when I decide how old someone should be before they become Antichrist, I always ask myself, 'How old was Julius Caesar when he was first married, again?'

"Apart from the positively bizarre last requirement, that's pretty straightforward and basically covers it.  There is, however, a lot of boilerplate, a bit of Latin poetry in epic meter, mystical trappings, and a lot of Christianity.  I mean, you wouldn't think that demons would be Christian, but damn do those in the vicinity of the Cursed Dome really, really frame everything they do in terms of, 'Christianity says this, and we hates it.'

"The Christianity is where they found their supposed error with Corv.  See, the subject of the prophecy is supposed to be a sort of mirror Jesus.

"Jesus taught that oppression was kind of a bad thing, she will teach that the oppression is the right an proper way to do things.  Jesus' followers largely ignored his actual teachings and instead re-purposed elements of them as they saw fit, her followers will obey her completely and without hesitation.  Jesus was killed, she will live.  Jesus didn't want to rule the world and certainly didn't take it over, she'll want it and get it.  So on, so forth.

"In modern English translations, commentaries, and exegeses, the actual word 'Antichrist' is sometimes used."

It was around this point that Enzie noticed Icelos had tuned them out and was now playing a 3DS.  Enzie sighed.

"Ever hear of immaculate conception?" they asked.

"It is a Catholic doctrine regarding Mary, daughter of Joachim and Anne," Corv said. "It states that, because of her miraculously immaculate conception, she was the first human being since Adam and Eve, in their prelapsarian states, to be free of Original Sin."

"The idea being that the Incarnated form of God could only be produced from a womb untainted by Original Sin," Java added.

"Yup," Enzie said, "that's the one.  So after going over all of their notes, the followers of Corv's father decided that the problem had not, in fact, been Corv.  Instead they thought they chose the wrong kind of mother to birth their little Antichrist."

"Did the fact that I was raised by principled individuals who taught me common decency and basic morality never occur to them as a possible confounding factor?" Corv asked.

"Yes and no," Enzie said.  "They definitely want to raise the new child themselves and in line with their worldview and teachings, just in case, but for the most part they were of the opinion that it didn't really matter.  Thus it being 'just in case' rather than 'so this time doesn't fail like last time.

"Instead their foucs was all on the immaculate conception.  If Jesus was born to a mother massively less stained by sin than the rest of humanity, then the subject of their prophecy ought to be one who was equally different from ordinary humanity on the sin scale, but in the opposite direction.  Mary was born lacking the great defining sin of humanity, they reasoned, thus the mother of their champion must be born with some great defining sin beyond that of humanity."

"One cannot be born morally stained," Aster said.

"That depends on whose worldview you subscribe to," Enzie said.  "Here on earth being born already tainted by sin is a lynch-pin of a great many religious sects."

"If they subscribed to the doctrine of original sin," Corv said, "then they would naturally believe that it was a singular sin.  In their minds it would be the only sin so great as to be inherited from the parent at the inception of life."

Enzie shrugged.

"It therefore follows that it would be impossible to find there equal and opposite Mary," Corv said.

"Think harder," Enzie said.  "If you're not smart enough and knowledgeable enough to get this on your first try, I'm going to conclude that coming to you was a waste of time."

Map made a groan of protest.  Java looked angry.  Aster looked confused.  Corv looked like she was indeed thinking harder.

"There are some reminders that might help you on your way," Enzie said.  "Well, two.  First, on the day they ate the fruit~that~probably~wasn't~an~apple they did not --in fact-- surely die, but there is a part of the Bible that does have an 'all fall down' story.

"Second, let me reiterate the point about Christian demons.  Well, anti-Christian, same foundation, opposite beliefs.  They wouldn't do anything so heathen as, say, involve the daughters of Loki."

Enzie thought about their own words for a bit.  They produced interesting ideas.  From the offhand comment came a world of imagined possibility.  Enzie said, "Which is kind of too bad because if they did the daughters of Loki would beat them without any of us having to get involved, set the organization back centuries if not millennia, and do it all in a way that was simultaneously agonizing and hilarious.

"I'd get popcorn."

"Have you quite finished amusing yourself?" Corv asked.

"Probably," Enzie said.  "You have an answer?"

"Not only do I have an answer, I am also fully capable of showing my work," Corv said.  "I could have arrived at the answer without your heavy-handed hinting."

"Well tell us," Icelos said, though his attention was still on the 3DS.

"I did not need to be told that my father's followers would not look to things outside of their dualistic worldview," Corv said. "That leaves them with very few options for a mother, namely angels, demons, humans, and combinations thereof.

"The only direct mention of the mother in the prophecy is the note that she is to be mortal.  That means that she must be at least partially human.  That said, if she is to be set apart from humanity via exceptionally maculate conception, she can't be fully human.  Even the most terrible things humans do to other humans don't result in condemnation on the level of Original Sin," Corv turned to Aster, "which, for the record, I do not believe exists."

"As my father is a full demon and the child is to be half, the mother cannot have any demonic heritage.  This leaves a human angel crossbreed as the only possibility. Since it is the mother's conception that is supposed to be stained by sin, she would have to be a first generation member of the nephilim."

"Yup," Enzie said.  "Told you that if you'd thought about it you'd see it wasn't impossible in their mindset.  Rainbows and all."

There was silence for a bit.

Aster broke it by asking, "What you said, what does it mean?"

"My half-sister is a quarter angel," Corv said to her.

"My half-niece," Enzie said.

That got everyone's attention.

"It's not like it's the same half," Enzie said.

"Assuming any of this is true," Java said in a long suffering kind of way, "how did you find out?"

"Right.  So.  My dad: asshole," Enzie said.  "I've been looking for him --on the side of course; I've gotta make money for food and such-- for positively ages.  Trouble is, he's got some kind of a magical filter thingy that makes it hard to track where he's been, what he's done, who he's done, and how many half-relatives I have out there.

"Best I can figure, not long after Antichrist 1.0 over there," Enzie gestured to Corv, "failed to work out her dad's followers started looking for nephilim in likewise magical ways that started to break down his filter, and presumably any similar filters a bit.  This was a while ago, though.  Traces might have been easier to pick up on, but they still weren't enough for me to follow."

"How long ago was this?" Corv asked.

"I'm not sure precisely," Enzie said.  "I only realized the change took place in retrospect; that made it hard to pinpoint.  Still, easy to make an educated guess.  As soon as you beat your father his followers would have hit the books.  It'd take a year or two, maybe even close to three, for him to recover enough to be able to even attempt impregnating anyone."

"Which would indicate that our family member should be five to seven years old," Corv said.

Enzie nodded.  "Something went wrong for the cult a little less than six months ago.  I know now that they lost the child and they think the mother is responsible, but at the time all I knew was that something blew a hole in the obfuscating magic keeping me from getting leads on any of my family members, but only for two of them.

"I can't find where they are, whatever they're using to stay hidden from the Cursed Dome et alia is keeping them hidden from me too, but I have been able to track down some of the places they've been.  It's what's allowed me to put all of this together.

"Once I found out you were their previous attempt at prophecy fulfillment, I came to you," Enzie said to Corv.

"Which is how we all got to be here," Enzie said to everyone.  "Now, why was there a robotic pangolin on a rampage?"