I think this must have been what Frodo & Bilbo felt like after wearing the Ring too much.
With His Need Laid Bare (nsfw), Fire Emblem Fates, Leo/Niles kidnapping roleplay. My recipient had a very open-ended signup, so I figured I would write a story that had themes that were fun for me to work on, and that seemed to go pretty well.
Eyes in the Dark (not explicit), The Magnus Archives, Jonathan Sims/Gerard Kaey. I love the mysterious feel of this canon and the strong sense of voice we get for the characters (as well we should, given the medium!) and Gerard is such a fascinating enigma. So I wrote something in the style of the canon's first-person statements about supernatural encounters. No spoilers for the series, though it's definitely inspired heavily by Episode 12, "First Aid."
Second, I'm dithering over signing up for femslashex -- I'm fairly sure I do want to sign up, but I have eight fandoms in mind and only six request slots, so I'm hesitating. I thiiiink I'm leaning toward using the final slot for Devil Survivor 2; all the options I have in mind are long shots, but I think that's the one I have the most unsatisfied feelings about. Girls surviving the demon apocalypse together, man. It's a thing.
Third: it's really rare for me to watch live action TV but the household has consumed the first four episodes of Wynonna Earp recently and I love it. It's not Quality Entertainment by any discerning measure but it's so much fun, this paranormal romp made of violence and sass, and the actors are having a good time and playing off each other really enjoyably. Dolls is my fave, I think, but the competition is fierce. (Please don't spoil me for future episodes; I've done pretty well at not learning what's up with these characters and I want to find out through watching.)
What are you doing for fun these days?
"Just seven months into his presidency, Trump appears to have achieved a status usually reserved for the final months of a term."
It points out the features of a lame-duck presidency, which is usually reserved for the final handful of months, especially in a second term. (Hey, guess what! POTUS45 has accomplished in 7 months what it took Bush 7 years to do!)
( Quotes )
Recommend something to me! Especially nonfiction - I really don't read much of that, so I can promise that I'll never have read whatever you recommend! (Whereas if you recommend anything kidlit or YA there's better than even odds that I've read it.)
Later I'll post up my own list of random recommendations for everybody, but right now I really must dash.
Smokey, however, is having none of that. When Ruth sits on the sofa, Smokey will get on with her, walk across her, sit next to her (if not quite ON her). When I do it? I get this look of horror and disgust. "UR DOIN IT RONG!" it shrieks. I've tried using the footrest, not using the footrest, knitting, not knitting, reading, watching TV ... nope. I'm sure part of the problem is that I'm a different shape from Ruth, and not as tall, so I'm inclined to slide. But still - "UR DOIN IT RONG!"
No, I don't know either.
Today she has been also disgusted that I didn't have steak, I had smoked haddock risotto, and didn't offer her any, and Felix Tuna flavour cat food with dentibits is no fit substitute. Hard cheddar, Smokey, my lass. She'll get a few more bits of *whisper* Thrive if she comes and asks nicely.
In other Far East news, I arrived this morning, dumped my bags, got my breath back, set the laptop up (for some arcane reason it had forgotten this wifi - probably something to do with the software upgrade earlier this year...), had coffee & a snack, and then went out to Westfield. I returned, somewhat knackered from stairs and a bit infuriated that the signs direct you to Central Line - Eastbound, and not till you GET there do they say 'step-free access via the other corridor' by which time you'd have to turn round and walk twice as far as you already have. So I struggled slowly up the steps, and by the time I'd got down the ones at Leytonstone, my knees were killing me. Also now my right ankle is sulking. However, I got what I went for - another backpack from Claire's, this time in plain beige fabric, a slightly different construction; it's got a stiffened top opening with free ends to the zip, and the front pocket is a full U-shaped opening rather than just a rounded-corner straight-across; also, no detachable pocket inside, just a padded internal pocket. £15, reduced from £35, which is OK. I've transferred everything over, and as far as I can tell, all the pockets are a bit larger, which is good - means I may be able to fit three knitting projects in instead of two! Also I got a bag of soft brown sugar, which is what I like on my morning cereal - I'd been meaning to bring a small jar of it from home, but forgot. That's OK, I'll open this carefully, seal it back into a ziplock bag to go home next week, and it can go off the shopping list for a while longer.
VividCon 2018 interest survey for vidders and panel moderators
If you are interested in moderating panel programming next year, submitting premiering vids, and/or wish to give opinions on streaming-only options on vidshows, please read over the survey. Nothing in here is binding; this is just to gauge interest and take down names/emails so we can follow up with potential moderators and vidders later on.
(Potentially quite a bit later on -- at some point yours truly is going to get in a post-con nap.)
As is mentioned in the survey, the Comet room will be used for panel programming next year. There will be plenty of time and space for panels and many opportunities later on to come up with panel topics and sign up to moderate them. This isn't the one and only chance to volunteer to moderate a panel, or to indicate interest in submitting a vid; we're still in the early stages of planning for next year.
This is likely to be the last about next year's programming for a while, but if you have comments, questions, suggestions, or anything else related to panels and vidshows, you can always email email@example.com. If you need to contact a staff person about the con on a different topic, please use our contact form.
I always worry about tearing it, you know? In the showbiz sense. Breaking credibility, within a context, even if that context is pretty incredible (in the sense of not credible) to begin with, like Overwatch. And I kind of feel like I'm dancing up to that line with that chapter, with Venom as a character.
If people make it through Terrifying in Flight, I think chapter seven ("Is It Good Enough For You, Still?") will clarify some things. Angela thought, in chapter six, "that's a lie," and she was correct. But I can't put that in front of chapter six, I can't say, "trust me here," because, well, y'can't do that, it doesn't make sense.
Questions of identity float around in Old Soldiers, and this is part of that arc, and and and and.
"Letting us take the first shot, then?" Gabriel Reyes asked Venom, eyeing the new intel sent along on sideband. "We got Sombra's location reports - thank you."
The Talon assassin nodded. "Yeh. I..." she frowned. "Gabe, luv, I'm gonna get this out there. I voted no. But I lost, so I'll go along."
"I appreciate that." Reyes gave Oxton a considering look. "You sure, though? The way you stormed out..."
The assassin nodded. "I've got my reasons, and I've made my promises - to Amélie - and I keep 'em." Just ask G/C Henderson, she thought, Oh wait, you can't, he's dead. The memory made her smile, just a little. Small but lasting comforts.
"Glad to hear it. Thank you," replied the tactical advisor. Promises to the Widowmaker? That'd do it. "We collectively - all of us at Overwatch, Tracer possibly excepted - want to bring him to justice, intact. Not just have him disappear again."
Lena "Venom" Oxton snorted, a little. "Might be right about Tracer. But for us - well, it's better than nothing."
Reyes breathed out. Good. "I'm putting together some plans, based upon your intel - and ours." He brought his right hand to his chin, thoughtfully. "I just wish we had a sniper. Closest we've got is Mei, and she's good with that ice pistol of hers, but it's not the same thing."
Venom thought about the problem, and a solution. Would Amélie be okay with it? Yes, she thought so. With the right conditions attached. Maybe even... proud. Let's float it. "You might. Have a sniper, I mean."
Gabriel tilted his head and stared into the screen. "...Amélie's suddenly willing to work with me?"
"No," Venom said. "But I am."
"Since when are you a sniper?"
Another snort. "C'mon, mate, how long have I been with the world's best sniper? Like I've told Winston - she teaches me her tricks."
"I can't see how you have the patience for it. How good are you?"
"I'm good, mate. Not Amélie good, but... good. Very good."
Gabe looked dubiously at her, through the screen. "How very good?"
Venom thought about it. "I keep a list of better snipers than me, right? Amélie's on top, of course; Zhanna Orlov's below her, Shimada Hanzo a few steps down, all that."
She's good enough to keep that list? he thought. But aloud, he kept it to, "Sure."
"Everyone on that list keeps a list like it. Amélie's still on top, but theirs has a question mark, down... maybe below number ten? But on the list."
"And that's you?"
Venom smiled. "Can't confirm that, luv. But."
"You willing to demonstrate that at the embassy?"
"Maybe. There's conditions." She looked thoughtful, glancing down to the side. "I have to check with Amélie. She might veto this."
Gabriel nodded. Talon secret tech, or something like it. Fair enough. "Let me know. It sure would be nice to have a sniper available."
"Honest, luv, it's me," came her voice through the door speaker. "Horizon Angle Delta Vector Seventeen Nine Seven Nine Banana Clown."
The gorilla opened the door, still wary, and Lena Oxton stepped inside out of the sunlight. In the office, she looked less blue around the edges, thanks to the warm lighting overhead, but the tint was still there, and her goggles had a fleet of extra red eyes, in mobile plates, along the sides and top. "I wanted to arrive dressed as Tracer, so's nobody'd notice, but..." She pressed buttons on her grapple, now equipped with familiar and frightening extras, and her suit changed to black and green. "Mockingbird reporting for sniper duty."
"Lena, what did you do?!"
She smiled in a broad way, most unlike her spider, and most like herself. It helped, a little. "Nothin' permanent. I swear. This is just what I look like when I'm a sniper."
Gabriel and Angela came up the stairs to the ambassador's office, and froze in their tracks at Winston and Lena. Angela shrieked a little, and Gabriel shuddered. "That... that is... deeply disturbing. Lena, are you still you?" asked the doctor.
Gold-tinted eyes - regular brown still visible underneath, if you looked closely - darted to Dr. Ziegler. "Guess I shoulda warned ya, huh? Yeh, it's still me in here." Her voice was the slightest bit slower and lower than usual, but clearly still hers.
"What have you done to yourself?!" Angela leaned forward, and Mockingbird stepped fluidly back, with an ah-ah-ah finger motion. "Sorry, doc, no scans. That's the rule if I'm gonna be here like this."
"I wasn't going to. Is it, is it..."
"Permanent? Nah. Nothin' to it, really. Some drugs, some other tricks."
That's a lie, thought the doctor. "Why?!"
"All the sniper traits. Night distance vision. Stability, in motion. Patience - well, for me, anyway. Stillness, too - I can stop my heart for three minutes in this mode and be just fine. But I keep my twitch reflex, and the energy I store up is barmy! I won't need to eat for four days. Which is good," she joked, "'cause don't ask me to read a menu in the dark right now."
Gabriel shook his head back and forth. "Your whole organisation is not right in the brain."
Mockingbird laughed, a very Tracer-like laugh, and that, too, helped. "When we're on the range, I'm gonna be even scarier. I'll ramp down my emotions s'more and turn the spider all the way up." She brought up her vizor's extensions, and her goggles' primary field went dark red.
Winston reached out to her, without words, and she took his hand. "Or maybe I won't." She reset the vizor to standard mode. "Didn't think you'd be this fruck out, big guy. It's okay, honest."
"You weren't here when Amélie killed Gérard, you don't..." He felt her hand. "You're cool to the touch," he said, quietly.
"Not that cool. Just enough to avoid bein' picked up on infrared. Won't fool the best models, but it helps."
"Please say you aren't turning into Amélie. I... I don't want you turning into Amélie."
Mockingbird snickered, saying, "Well, they do say married couples start to look alike," and activated the vizor again.
"Lena, no! Be serious! I don't want to lose you."
She smiled, waved the magnifiers away, and held her friend's hand against her face. "Aw, luv, no. I like who I am. This is fun, but not... as fun. It'll all go away later. But right now, you need a sniper." She lowered his hand, and patted his shoulder. "I can shed most of this in about an hour, if I really need to."
"That's all it takes?" asked the Swiss doctor.
"For me? Yeh, in an emergency. I can throw 'bout half of it off in under a minute, if I really gotta - but it hurts like the dickens."
Gabriel shook his head. Crazy people, Talon - all of 'em. "Where's your rifle?"
Mockingbird, it seemed, had Lena Oxton's famous half-grin, and she flashed it, and flipped her pistols. "Right here." She popped them together, they locked, and the barrel extended. From a pouch, she pulled out a surprisingly conventional-looking scope, which snapped right on top. "But: ground rules. One: no scans. Sorry, doc. Two: I'm not Tracer, I'm Mockingbird. Stick to it, I mean it. No "Lena," no "Tracer," not outside this office. Three: nobody, and I mean nobody, touches my tech but me. Anyone does, I walk away completely, and for good. No more Mockingbird, and" - she said this slowly, and clearly - "no. more. Tracer. either."
She waited a moment to make sure all that had sunk in. "These are the terms. Otherwise, I leave now, no harm done, and Tracer comes back tomorrow wondering if she missed anything. Agreed?"
"Le... Mockingbird, this cannot be good for you," said Angela. "I promise, just a circulatory..."
"No," the sniper said firmly. "None."
The doctor sighed. "You are not the only one here who experiments with her body in extreme ways. You are stressing it more than I think you know. I want to help."
"We do this before breakfast, luv. But, y'know, if you ever want to switch teams, you could do all the scans you..."
"I don't think so," the doctor interrupted. "But how am I going to know how to treat you in the field, if necessary?"
Mockingbird tipped her head, and smiled. "I'll give you this." She held up a small memory card. "Complete treatment protocols for anything that has to happen faster than a Talon extraction team can reach me. You can have it once everything's settled."
"I insist that I be allowed to practice these protocols. At least the physicality of them. In battle," she did not really have to say, "it matters."
"Ah, yeah! As long as your nanos aren't taking samples, that's fine."
"And may I please, at least, examine you later? When this is over? To be sure you've handled this well? Your own doctors may want that data."
Mockingbird thought about it. The compassion was genuine, she was pretty sure, but so was the desperate curiosity to know how all this worked. There would be things for her to find, later, but little she wouldn't've had a chance to see before, and she'd be looking in all the wrong places... good enough, she decided. "They'll already have it, but - deal."
"Thank you." The doctor looked a little bit relieved, if still more than a little concerned. "I accept."
"Winston? How 'bout it?"
"Gabriel, are you willing to work under these conditions?"
The former Blackwatch head nodded. "I've worked under way worse than this. I'm good. Uh, I... accept the terms?"
"Oh, right," said the assassin, "This has to be for the whole organisation." She switched to Tracer colours, and said, "On behalf of Overwatch, I, Lena "Tracer" Oxton, agree to the terms of Mockingbird's service," before switching back. "Sounds like a bloody software license, don't it? That just leaves you, Winston. And Mei, but she's not here yet."
"I don't like it," said the gorilla. "But... deal. No scans, no handling, no anything."
Mockingbird smiled. "Brilliant!" She tossed Angela the memory card. "Have fun with that. The rest of us - let's go shoot some wings off mosquitoes!"
"We've been over this," responded Gabriel, watching as she took the head off a second target on the way down, before even landing on her cliffside perch. "We want him alive." He took notes that started with 'Terrifying in flight.'
"And we want him dead," she retorted. "I want him dead. Don't get me wrong, Gabe, I'm here, I'm goin' along with your plan, but alive's not the sniper's job." From that upper perch, she hit three for four on moving ground targets. Two headshots, one ricochet shot that missed, a follow-up direct shot leaving a grazed neck. That last one would walk away, with medical aid. "Damn."
'Never really stops moving,' the new Overwatch tactics expert added to his notes. 'Highly mobile.' "We just want the tactical visor gone."
She spun around from her nest and ticked a faceplate off the sixth target dummy. "And that's a headshot."
"Tracer's not here, luv."
"Hiya!" She triggered reload, and launched herself to the second perch. He noted she wasn't jinking at all, no teleports, no rewinds, just running, moving with the grapple, and nothing else. Still all about movement, though.
Bang, target down. "No additional shots after the visor's gone." He could almost feel her dirty look from the ground. Bang, another ricochet shot, target missed.
She landed, swore, and took a second shot on the second target, moving within her section's perch point for a direct shot, taking the dummy down. "Not even to save another agent?" She ran a strafe pattern against moving dummies, bang, bang, bang. Four for three, including a domino shot. All perfect.
Jesus, she's good, Gabriel thought. Maybe not Amari good, those ricochet shots aren't working, but... Aloud, he said, "Except to save another agent."
"Short day for me, then." Another reload, and she launched herself into the air, diving to the final shooting perch. Gabriel surprised her with three airborne targets. Bang, down, bang, down, bang, bang, down. "Seems a shame if I have to get all gussied up." She landed and rolled to the third sighting point.
"A short day would be very, very good indeed."
Three fast targets, running along the ground, zagging, all with faceplates - the most human of them all. Three shots, three faceplates off, all targets down. "My way would be even shorter."
"Mockingbird. Please. I know what you are. Don't make it harder."
Lena Oxton breathed in, carefully. She wondered, occasionally, how long she could make this Talon-Overwatch joint arrangement last, and this was one of those times. It's for the best, she reminded herself. If, occasionally, a right pain in the arse. "Sorry, Gabe. I'm workin' so hard to remind everyone it's me in here, maybe I overdid it a bit. Is that it for the first round?"
"Yeah, that's the first set. What'd you think?"
"I liked the surprise skeet, that was fun! But I was sloppy. I can do better, if I drop the banter. And nothin' returned fire!"
"This is a target range, not a combat simulator, what'd you expect?"
"Might fix that."
"If we had the money. You're supposed to know that."
"Maybe Tracer's supposed to know that - I'm not."
Right, he thought. "Mockingbird, secure weapon, and return to start. We'll reset the range for another round."
At last, I know what a childhood of X-Men reading prepared me for: coping with the severe cognitive dissonance when different components of/perspectives on a fictional world are staggeringly different from each other in tone.
Except that, where X-Men (and similar) comics have passed through countless creative teams over several decades (and are a big enough thing to have all kinds of quirky sideline projects), in this case, said staggeringly-different aspects are written by the same person.
I'm now mostly caught up on K.B. Spangler's work in the A Girl and Her Fed (AGAHF) universe, which consists of the ongoing A Girl and Her Fed webcomic and five novels (so far), one of which is Not Like The Others. Oh, and the first of a planned series of novellas cheerfully (and accurately) codenamed "Joshsmut".
I came at this world...out of order, I guess, in that I started with the novels. I'd heard of the AGAHF comic and had been meaning to read it, but I do better with novels...and I didn't really realize how intertwined the projects are. Here's an io9 review of Digital Divide, the first Rachel Peng novel. (Four of the five novels currently available focus on Rachel.)
(Note: I'd heard of A Girl and Her Fed off and on for at least a few years, and had it on my to-read list before I mentally connected it to the Rachel books, but I never really looked into what it is...even though I always tripped, and still trip, over the title because I always parse it wrong. My instinct is still to read the "fed" as a conjugation of "feed", not as "federal agent", which makes no sense at all. How am I STILL DOING THAT?)
So Rachel was my gateway. Rachel as we meet her is a smart, driven, ex-military federal employee who's working as the liaison between the D.C. police force and her own federal agency, OACET, which is made up entirely of a large group of cyborgs. More specifically, a large group of cyborgs created in a catastrophically flawed project that took some of the best and brightest young civil servants from across the federal government, put chips in their heads, and left them collectively traumatized and disturbingly overpowered.
Emphasis on the "collectively". The (functionally nonexistent) "So You're A Cyborg" manual didn't have a chapter for "Welcome to Your New Hivemind! (Please stop screaming! Everyone can hear you!)"
Rachel's books start several years after all that, and several months after she's joined the above-mentioned police force, for the express purpose of helping to ease the public into the idea that Cyborgs Are People Too!, and super-useful to boot! And guys, I love Rachel dearly, so she was a great gateway for me. I kept going with her books until I discovered that the sole (so far) Hope Blackwell novel is set before Rachel's fourth book, so I opted to both read that book and finally backtrack to read AGAHF...
And it turns out that my X-Men experience is only barely up to this whole experience. ( cut for length; there's about as much text under here as there is above )
Two things of note:
1) Spangler is in the process of redrawing the first chunk of AGAHF. I don't know when she started doing that, or how quickly it's progressing, but the result is that the first 90-100 strips or so have been redrawn (each one linking to its original version) and have had some dialogue tightened and some plot holes smoothed out, but then you run out of redrawn art and get dropped into the original art style for a while, and it's...well, it's pretty jarring. (Here is the current/redrawn first comic; here is the original version. So you see.)
2) I'm not great at picking up things that call for content notes/warnings, unless they're pretty obvious. But one thing that bothered me, and recurred often enough that I feel like I ought to mention it, is the frequent use of "psychopath" (plus some instances of "sociopath") as a descriptor. ( briefly expanding on that; not very spoilery )