Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Setting the Stage for the Susan Era story -- The Matter of Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's, but it would more at home in the now-closed comments to this post.]

First you must understand that this was a unique time in the history of the lands.

Yes, it was during the Golden Age when Peter was High King, but that doesn't bring understanding. To understand you must realize that the Golden Age took time to establish and was fragile from beginning to end.

When the White Witch's regime collapsed so too did the combination of magic and border guards that had kept humans out of Narnia while sealing Animals for a century. The beginning of High Queen Susan's reign was a time of chaos. Aslan had left with the victory that signaled the changing of power from Jadis to four children who knew little of Narnia and less of ruling.

In those early days many humans migrated back into Narnia, the land of their ancestors, a rare few were even old enough to call it the land of their birth. Many Animals left, as to them Narnia had been nothing but memories of pain and cold.

Those who traded in captured Narnian livestock, long reputed to be the best in all realms, were no longer limited to the handful who escaped, or were expelled by the queen --already bound--
along with an ice shipment. They took many Animals who had immigrated into Archenland, and for the first time were able to journey into Narnia itself to capture their living wares.

Of course such practices were forbidden in Archenland, but Calormen had always been all the market the Animal traders had ever needed. Exotic Narnian Animals were highly sought after in Calormen, and the prices they would fetch made the need to transport them through Archenland but a pittance.

Once a satellite state of Narnia, Archenland had spent one hundred years in fear that without their patron, isolationist under Jadis, Calormen would simply take them over. Ignoring the trade in Animals, and not taxing the trade in ice, had been a way to keep Calormen content enough to not bother conquering them. That was how they justified it.

When Narnia reopened the Animal trade was firmly entrenched, had well established routes, and ensured a steady flow of Animals from Narnia to Calormen. By boat and over desert many were delivered into bondage. Those Animals who survived in Calormen had learned quickly to be silent, for fear they be executed as abominations born of unnatural magic.

In these times many Horses and Donkeys were taken, and they would come to ally themselves with many girls, boys, other youngsters, and adults as well, to escape Calormen.

It was only once the Kings and Queens of Narnia could again assert their power, and promise protection to Archenland, that the trade began to fail as old laws were once again enforced.

The kings and queens of Narnia made great efforts to protect their lands by forging alliances with neighboring countries, and Archenland once again became Narnia's closest ally. Sometimes, however, diplomacy failed.

When High King Peter was forced to take Narnia's entire army to the north, High Queen Susan and Low King Edmund took unprecedented measures to ensure peace in the south. They traveled with the Crown Prince of Archenland in their company, and indulged Calormen by immediately accepting an invitation to visit its capital that normally would have required months of diplomatic and logistical coordination.

It was a calculated risk, but for a century Calormen had demonstrated, via its stance toward Archenland, that it was content to allow the continued existence of kingdoms that bowed to its whims.

Only Low Queen Lucy remained to actually administer the country of Narnia, for High King Peter was involved in a war to prevent Narnia from being taken by the north, and High Queen Susan and Low King Edmund were engaged in diplomacy to prevent Narnia from being taken by the south.

It was the most volatile moment in Narnia's Golden Age, the memory of Aslan was fading, a war raged, and the vast empire of Calormen loomed like a cornice ready to bring devastation upon everything in its path if perturbed.

Into the center of this stumbled a party that included not just a boy or girl with a Mare, Stallion, or Donkey, but a Mare with a girl, a Stallion with a boy, and a donkey in tow.

It is true that there was no human child who was neither boy nor girl, nor was there a talking Donkey, but most of the characters from most of the stories could be mapped onto one of the five travelers. This alone might have made it into the story the others were subsumed into, but that it was a story from Narnia's Golden Age in which the fate of not just Archenland, but also Narnia, hung in the balance made the story irresistible.

There had been many Brees before, Bree was a common enough name for a mount, and there had been girls called "aravissa" rather than their actual names, but here there was a Bree, a girl actually named Aravis (after one of the girls from an earlier story) the first Shasta and the first Hwin to appear in such an adventure, and the nameless donkey that somehow seemed to stand for all donkeys and Donkeys alike.

When Bree the Liar combined many existing tales into his own, largely fictitious, adventure some years later, it was this story that he stole the most from.

It was at this time that our story began. While it would affect the fates of Narnia, Calomen, and Archenland between, it started by a stream that was little more than a trickle far to the south of any place or person who might be expected to affect the course of any of those three nations.

For it was in this place that a boy named Shasta would learn that everything he had believed was a lie. Normally such a thing would mean little to anyone but the boy, but that was the pebble that started the rockslide.



The Matter of Aravis -- Index

The idea is that the reason for inconsistencies and non-sequiturs in the source text is that many different stories were combined (bashed together) into the existing The Horse and His Boy narrative because of sexism and racism.

Also because Archenland has a truly horrible history when it comes to their treatment of royal twins, and they'd rather pretend it only happened once, and any additional stories are just corruptions of the one, AND ONLY ONE, time the twin thing happened (which happens to be one of the rare times they're not to blame.)

In theory all of my HHB fic can be adapted into this, and I definitely plan to, for instance, include all three versions of "the comportment of a slave" by modifying them so they're conversations between different people at different points in history that represent the changing nature of slavery in Calormen.

At the moment, though, all I've really written post deciding to go through with the idea is the core story that mostly follows along with the book.


Things written about the conception of the idea well before I decided to actually run with it.

Susan Era story:

Monday, May 22, 2017

When Shasta asked Corin where Susan was -- The Matter of Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

The march was slow as the whole endeavor would be pointless if the cavalry arrived, exhausted, ahead of the, likewise exhausted, infantry, and so Shasta found himself with a lot of time to think about what he'd volunteered for. It had seemed to make sense at the time. Everything, even Aravis' suffering at the claws of a lion they'd foolishly mistaken for Aslan, would be for nothing if Anvard fell.

Sure, they'd started off looking for nothing more than freedom, but they'd become caught up in this larger flow of history and they'd all chosen to deliver Aravis' message to Anvard and warn Queen Susan of the looming danger even though they'd have been safer waiting till the battle was decided and crossing only then.

The message and warning were delivered, but neither would matter much if Anvard fell and the Tisroc were convinced to send more troops to solidify the conflict.

It had seemed to make sense to do everything in his power, including joining this hastily thrown together army, to make sure Anvard survived the assault and the Calmorene troops never had unfettered access to the passage to Narnia and Queen Susan.

As the horse --a magnificent creature that treated him well, but not someone he could possibly talk to; even Hwin would only be able to manage the most basic communication with an ordinary horse-- drew him closer and closer to the inevitable death and bloodshed, he was beginning to doubt the wisdom of volunteering.

Maybe it would have been better to leave the fighting to the other volunteers, like the Badgers and Weasels who had as much intelligence as any person paired with the fighting instincts of their wordless brethren.

Shasta was in need of some kind of reassurance or comfort, and his mind returned to Queen Susan. Not as the person they had to warn about Rabadash's assault, but as the woman who had been kind to him in Tashbaan. It wasn't his place to call on the High Queen of Narnia to quell his fears, but maybe she would anyway.

"Where is Queen Susan?" Shasta asked Corin.

Shasta was confused at the reaction his question provoked. A flury of emotions, none of them good, seemed to contort Corin's face. Just for a moment though. Then, composed, he said, "At Cair Paravel."

Why would she have stayed there? She had as much to lose as anyone. Unless--

"She’s not like Lucy, you know," Corin continued, and didn't give Shasta time to say that he didn't know before adding, "who’s as good as a man, or at any rate as good as a boy."

That made no sense. If anyone preparing for battle were given a choice between Shasta, a boy, and Aravis, a girl, they'd chose Aravis. They'd be right to. Shasta would chose Aravis over himself. Obviously girls could be better than boys, so too could they be worse. It depended on the girl and the boy in question.

Shasta had lived most of his life as a common slave with no education. One who hadn't even realized he was a slave until the end. If he could understand this, how could Corin --prince and heir to an entire well off kingdom-- not?

"Queen Susan is more like an ordinary grown-up lady," Corin said as if it meant something.
There was something harsh in his voice, but Shasta couldn't place it. "She doesn’t ride to the wars," after a pause Corin's manner became more pleasant and he said, "though she is an excellent archer.”

The only thing Shasta had learned from that was that Queen Susan was an excellent archer. Still, Shasta thought he'd figured out the answer on his own. Queen Susan was Rabadash's target. If she showed her face on the battlefield she'd be in much greater danger than anyone else. It made sense for her to avoid the battle.


* *

Shasta is actually wrong here. His reasoning is fine, but he reaches the wrong conclusion none the less. He's missing out on some important facts, you see.

Susan stayed because her state of mind wasn't fit for fighting after Corin's violent outburst toward her (because she turned down Corin's offer of marriage), which was what Ana suggested here and what I ran with on the "why Susan stayed and Corin went" fic.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Birds before Battle -- The Matter of Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.  As a reminder from last time, Susan stayed at the castle, Shasta was allowed to join without subterfuge, and Corin was allowed to ride with the army when he might otherwise not have been (since he's theoretically under the protection of Narnia) because he needed to be separated from Susan.]

"What draws your eyes, Shasta?" the horned Rabbit to his right asked.

"All the birds."

"They've been told there is a battle coming," the Rabbit said. "Eagles, Hawks and Vultures can't quite converse with their wordless brethren, but they can get the gist across. It's considered polite to let the wordless, those which resemble you, know about potential feasts."

"He means the dead people and horses," Corin said with a strange and disturbing glee.

"Will they feed on . . . us?" Shasta asked.

"If we die," Corin said.

"Only the wordless would," the Rabbit said. "It's generally considered very rude to dine upon one whom, in life, you could have conversed with."

"But . . ." Shasta was having difficulty figuring out how to communicate this. He knew that some animals ate their own kind, but he didn't wish to sound like he was saying those like this Rabbit did. Finally he settled on, "But wordless eat wordless."

"Their ways are their own," the Rabbit said, "and quite unlike our own."

~ - ~

If Al-mi'raj were a species rather than an individual, the horned rabbit would be one of them.  WanderingUndine thought of a jackalope and I can definitely see where that's coming from.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Going Forward

Ok, so, I need money to pay down debts, that hasn't changed.  What if I didn't?  Where would I go from here if I had money and it weren't spoken for, as it were?

I cannot stress enough how much I need new shoes.  Even if the soles don't come off entirely the current shoes are like begging to sprain an ankle before I've even managed to fully recover from the break.  Most of the seams and other connections are busted, the soles are worn straight through at their centers, the whole thing is a mess.

What with changing seasons and so forth the shoes I was looking at are no longer available online, but these look like they'd work.  Way out of my price range, but this is a "what if" post.  I also need inserts because my feet are weird.  As in I was once having ski-boots fitted and they called everyone in the foot section over to look at my weird feet.  It's nothing terribly debilitating, certainly not deformed, but I do need inserts and not the cheap kind.  They run about $50.

Once damage control on my feet is over we get to more interesting stuff.

I seem to have reconnected to my creativity so hopefully that will mean more fiction, original and derivative in the future.  I cannot stress how much I would like that.

I want to return to the deconstructions (I've got three stalled right now) and I'm thinking of just starting them over from the beginning.  In some cases this will mean minor revisions, in others it will mean total rewrites.

I've never talked much about fabrication here, but it's something that I've done in the past and I want to get back into.  Mostly before I've made puzzles of the style pioneered by Erno Rubik and his cube.  (The technical term for the category is "Twisty Puzzle(s)".)  Definitely have a lot on that front that I've been waiting years, and in some cases over a decade, to do.  But there are also other creation things I'd like to branch out to.  The problem: It's even more expensive than the damned shoes.

Alumilite is what I know and use and while they offer small volume options, if you're going to be doing a lot of stuff you want to buy the large sizes and the prices start to be $90 for this, $165 for that, $85 for that other thing, $98 for yet another, $63.25 for thing N, $42.50 for thing N+1, and so forth.

* * *

All of the above means that I'll probably stay in the ankle sprainer shoes coming apart in every conceivable place with the holes worn straight through the bottom and also never return to making shit.

But, on the plus side, moving forward I'll hopefully have new fic and decon posts and stuff.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Spear of Athena story in general outline

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

It's an idea I'd had before that came back to me when on a long walk yesterday (the longest I've done since breaking my ankle), group of women go on an epic quest that's about a myth whose origin is obscure but seems to be vaguely Amazonian (mythological variety) and definitely Hellenic since it's for the spear of Athena.

As is often the case in these stories they have an evil counterpart.

Complications arise because the good group ends up crossing paths with an assumed male person and eventually is forced to let that person travel with them since the alternative is to leave assumed male person to be killed off by evil counterpart group. Assumed male person is treated as a prisoner, though, and leader of quest is very against person's presence.


They locate the sanctuary in which the spear is located, each member of the group tries to take up the spear but can't.

This seems impossible since destiny was on their side and their quest was definitely foretold to bring the spear's chosen warrior to it.

Evil counterpart group announces their presence by saying that the the quest did, since clearly one of them is chosen and without the good group to follow they'd never have located the spear.

Cue low tech battle. These are people racing --as though the fate of the universe depended on it-- to find a Mycenaean era spear that is assumed to be magic. They're fighting with spears, swords, and knives. Mostly swords since it's easier to get fencing lessons than spear fighting lessons.

Assumed male person manages to get rope binding hands together cut, but the one who does that is immediately forced into a fight and none of the other good people will disobey their leader to arm assumed male person.

Dodging bladed weapons while completely unarmed and unarmored is a short term solution at best, and assumed male person gets backed up against a wall next to the spear no one could budge. In a moment of desperation, assumed male person grabs the magic spear to use its shaft to block an incoming sword blow.

Everything stops.

Quest group leader: That's impossible! You have to be a woman to wield the spear!
Assumed Male Person: Who says I'm not?
*Assumed Male Person says some ancient Greek words (introduced earlier in the story) agreeing to contract the spear offered by allowing itself to be lifted*
*Assumed Male Person gets a makeover including sensible, if Mycenaean era, armor, secondary weapons, skill that ought to require years of training, and results like she'd been on HRT for a year*

Battle is quickly won.

All of primary quest group is accepting except now-deposed leader who insists this is some sort of sacrilegious blasphemy.

Quest Group Member: So, I've felt like there was this thing between us for a while now but didn't say anything because I found you woefully unattractive.
Assumed Male Person: That's interesting, because I've felt like there was this thing between us for a while now but didn't say anything because I found you woefully unattracted.
Quest Group Member: I'm attracted now.
Assumed Male Person: So, you want to go out on Friday?
Quest Group Member: Friday I'm busy, how's Saturday?
Assumed Male Person: Saturday's good.

Spear of Athena is presumably used to do good and noble things.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Why Susan Stayed And Corin Went -- The Matter of Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[Shasta was sent for after his message arrived, so he's at Cair Paravel while the army is mustered and it's determined who will go where.]
[The first scene is set at the end of a scene proposed by Ana: Corin--who is characterized as selfish, violent, and determined to get his way in all things--requests an audience alone with Susan, who grants it as she thinks of him fondly as a child. He puts himself forward as a suitor, explaining that if she marries him she won't need to be afraid of Rabadash anymore. Susan rebuffs him, laughing at the jest; Corin, in a fit of rage, attempts to harm her.]

Corin, glaring up from the floor in a rage, shouted at Susan, "I'm trying to save you, you stupid--"

"You are testing my ability to be gentle," Susan said with such force Corin was stunned into silence. "I've beaten you once, if you don't get out, now, and never attempt anything like this again, you'll see what happens when I stop being Susan the Gentle of Narnia and start being Susan the Pissed Off of Moðrheim,"

* * *

"I'm too . . . distracted by what happened to be of use in battle," Susan said.

"I would be too," Edmund said.

"So you'll just stay here," Lucy said. "We can do without our best archer given that we'll still have our second and third best. Though I do wish I'd convinced Peter to leave the rest of the top ten here as well."

"That can't be helped now," Susan said. "We have to work with what we have."

"When our new army leaves Cair Paravel," Edmund said, "Rabadash might again try to abduct you in a sneak attack. If we want to save our allies we can only afford to leave a handful of guards."

"I'll survive," Susan said. "The question is what to do with Corin."

Edmund nods. "We don't have time to deal with him and his actions right now."

"We take him with us," Lucy said. "With the regular army in the north, we're taking any volunteer who can fight anyway. He meets that description."

"And he'll jump at the chance to go because he'll see the battle as entertainment," Edmund said.

"Exactly," Lucy said.

"If he accepts that he's lost me," Susan said to Lucy, "he may set his sights on you."

"I'll be surrounded by soldiers, in my own tent with my own chosen guards, and not taking social visits, what with the emergency and all," Lucy said simply.

"There is one problem," Edmund said, "if he falls in battle, how do we explain to King Lune that we got his only son killed?"

"We'll stick him at the back," Lucy said, "and if that doesn't protect him, well accidents do happen in wartime."

"Lune may never forgive us," Susan said, "but he can't afford to alienate Narnia so soon after an attack from Calormen. Besides which, we've no intention of letting him die, and if the worst does happen, even Lune will agree that it would have been cruel of us to prevent Corin from defending his own home when we allowed others who were significantly less qualified join the battle."

"It can't be said to be unfair to let him join the fight," Lucy said. "Consider the messenger, if someone with such obvious similarities, but far less training, is eligible then Corin must be. Fairness dictates that."

"About the messenger," Susan said, "what will we do with him when this is all over?"

"He and his companions were instrumental in warning both Archenland of the impending attack and us of Rabadash's true motives," Edmund said, not because the others didn't know, but because he wanted it at the front of their minds.

"Without his warning," Susan added, "Rabadash's attempt to abduct me may well have succeeded."

"Justice dictates he be rewarded," Edmund said. "Archenland may have use for a body double for their prince, a position in which he would be well taken care of. If Lune does not offer appropriate compensation to the messenger, though, I have already arranged for he and his four* companions to be well taken care of here in Narnia."

"In case we don't survive to give such orders after the battle?" Lucy asked.


"With any luck, the other four should be here by the time you all return alive," Susan said. "I'll make sure they're given every comfort until decisions can be made. I understand it was the girl's message that allowed Archenland to prepare in the face of the attack, if anything she's more of a hero than the messenger who came to us."

"With all of that settled, I must return to the matter at hand," Lucy said. "The Ravens, Crows, Magpies, and Jackdaws have delivered our call, the volunteers are arriving, and I'll need to work on forming them into a serviceable army."

"That I can help with," Susan said.

"I'll look to our provisions," Edmund said.


* They didn't abandon the fucking donkey. I cannot stress this enough. A donkey may not words-think like a human or Animal, but that's no reason to abandon it. The donkey came with them.


Assuming I mashed up the Norse correctly Moðrheim translates to "(the) Home of Wrath".

For those who didn't follow the narrative of Lewis' actual book, Aravis (not Shasta/Cor) was the one who learned about the attack on Anvard.  So it was her message even if he delivered it the last tiny leg of the journey.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Intro to the Susan Era Story - The Matter of Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

By now you know that many tales have been combined to form the story "The Horse and His Boy" commonly told around campfires. I hope you begin to understand why.

How even the great storytellers of old could be moved by prejudice to claim that there was only ever one great maiden who rode a talking Mare on an epic quest that changed the very course of history, how the kingdom of Archenland worked to suppress knowledge of its nigh unbelievably long history of grievously mistreating twins of the royal house, how every mount named "Bree" became a warhorse in retelling even if he were a simple donkey in reality, how after a time any runaway would take up one of the famous names Aravis, Hwin, Shasta, or Bree out of belief that it would bless their journey.

You've heard the tale of the one who left Calormen an Aravis and arrived in the Narnian sphere of influence a Shasta. You also know of some "boys" who became Aravisses.

You know of the king who was deposed when the child he meant to kill rescued the long imprisoned mother that had saved nir, allowing child and mother to lay bare the attempted filicide before all of Anvard while Narnians and Calmorenes were in attendance. You know of a future king callously sold into slavery by his own father simply because he seemed to be female at birth.

But through all of this you must have wondered where the core of the campfire story had come from. Why was it set when it was set? Why did it involve Susan, the High Queen of the Golden Age, who was said to be so gentle that even in battle she made each death she caused painless?

Let us now tell that story, and tell it faithfully.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Monthly Financial Post

I'll make it through the month.  I'm not in immediate danger of losing my home or some such.

That . . . kind of gets rid of most of what I usually talk about in a monthly financial post.

That said, I did want to bring up some things related to, you know, walking again.  My shoes are falling apart.  I very much doubt that's helping the recovery of my left foot (though I can walk at full speed again.)

I want to get good shoes that will last me years, I also need to get inserts without which the very process of walking in shoes damages the back of my foot (ankle height, but I'm not sure that part is really considered ankle) profusely.  The ones I have are old and damaged to the point that, while they prevent the worst damage, they actually cause problems in other areas.

Good shoes plus special inserts would be round about $150.

Unfortunately I'm more focused right now on the fact that I had to make use of deferred interest things a bunch starting about six months ago, most of it deferred for six months.  This is always the problem of kicking things down the road: eventually you catch up to the place you kicked it.

By June first I need $85.09 to avoid retroactively applied interest.  I am, strangely, not on the hook for anything from July, but come August things get bad, September is worse, October is more in the ballpark of catastrophic for reasons that date back even further (one year deferred.)

If not for all of these things, I'd be trying to pay off a $1,484.86 debt because it's where I'm being charged the most real-time interest, but that's sure as fuck not going to be happening right now.


So that's the general financial state of things.  The world isn't ending right now, the future is bleak, and I'd really like to be able to buy decent shoes.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Matter of Aravis -- Conception

It started, I think, almost a year and a half ago.  I certainly don't remember any inkling of this idea before Ana Mardoll said in a post:
It's not that The Horse and His Boy could have been a better story with another author; it's that there's like four better stories in here and all of them would have required Lewis to let go of his virulent sexism and racism in order to get within throwing distance of any of them.
The underlining is something I added to draw attention to the key part of what set off the line of thinking.

Certainly that comment from Ana is what led to me writing:
I would like to put forth the possibility that they're all how it really happened and the problems of the work we have result from the fact that it combines the disparate narratives of various Women and their Horse allies from various points in Narnian (world, not country, who the hell names their country the same word as the word for the whole word?) history because a certain racist and sexist person couldn't believe that more than one brown Girl could possibly have had adventures of note with Talking Horses.

Or indeed that more than one brown girl could have had adventures of note period.

If we could disentangle the various narratives we might be able to piece together the many adventures of Mares and Girls that were had in those lands, with at least one of the Girls being named Aravis.
I never stopped thinking along those lines.  Closer to a year ago, I wrote:
I would like to revive my idea that this is an amalgamation of several stories because our dear narrator couldn't cope with how many female heroes on talking horses there were in wardrobe-world history, much less female people of note.

At least one of them was named Aravis, others might have had similar names, and by the time of the Rillian story we see such shades of in this bizarre forced together text it was just a case of:

Runaway Girl on a talking horse who doesn't want to reveal her real name: I'm Aravis.
Person who knows the stories of old: Oh, ha, ha. And I suppose that's Hwin you're riding.
Runaway Girl on a talking horse: However did you know?
What is the Rillian story?  Go and read Ana's post that started this all.

Anyway, the reason that I bring all of that up now is because I've finally gotten something that takes that interpretation into account written, and I wanted to let people know where it was coming from first.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The time has come again for me to beg you to nominate you for meaningless awards related to Kim Possible fan fiction

One must remember that everything went to shit in August at which point I was already in the midst of a creative dry spell, while that didn't occupy all of my time until the final weeks, it did stress me the fuck out from the start, which didn't help with the whole creativity thing I try to do.

However, at some point last year I did get some shit done.  Including some Kim Possible stuff.

Specifically I got this done:
Any story that was updated in 2016 is eligible for awards.  How much of it is eligible depends on common sense.

If a category is about the whole story, then decisions should take the whole story, even parts written before 2016, into account.

If a category is about only part of a story (one character, one relationship, one line, so forth, so on) then a) that part of the story had better have appeared in the written-in-2016 section(s) of the work and b) only that part of the story should be taken into account (but still do include any pre-2016 portions of that part of the story.)

Also, I'm not eligible for these categories as there's a rule to prevent the same author from winning the same category two years in a row:

  • 1) Best KP Style Name
  • 15) Best Drama Story

That's my general non-specific pick-your-own-favorites version of my self promotion.  I'll be more "Here's what I think should be nominated" in the moment, but first let me get to the actual mechanics of the nomination process.

The way you nominate, and I can't nominate myself which is why I do this begging of you, is basically to copy the category list (can be found at bottom of this post, under the really big break) into something that can edit text, put in zero, one, or two nominations per category, and then emailing the resulting filled out list to:
sharper1988 [at] aim [dot] com.

For those looking for other authors to nominate, meet the self promotion thread at fanfiction.net.

What follows are:

  • After the first break: my own recommendations of my work to nominate, though some might be stretches (looking at you best comedy)
  • After the second break: those recommendations put into a complete but otherwise blank form
  • After the third break (the big one): a completely blank form

Obviously I'd like you to send an email with any of those nominations you think worthy to the address listed above.

* * *

2) Best Original Character (include the story/series and author they're from):
          - Leela Place Possible (Place) from Being more than a Simulacrum by chris the cynic

3) Best Minor Character (include the story/series and author they're from):
          - Joss Possible from Being more than a Simulacrum by chris the cynic

6) Best AU Story (include the author they're from):
          - Life After by chris the cynic

11) Best Comedy Story (include the author):
          - Life After: Terminology by chris the cynic
          - Life After: Dancing by chris the cynic

13) Best Friendship Story (include the author and it might be good to indicate the people involved to give context for voters later on):
          - Being more than a Simulacrum (Place and Joss) by chris the cynic

14) Best Action/Adventure Story (include the author):
          - Bent, not Broken by chris the cynic

16) Best Unlikely/Unique Story (include the author):
          - Life After by chris the cynic

18) Best Novel-Sized Story (include the author):
          - Being more than a Simulacrum by chris the cynic

24) Best Single Line (say what story it appears in and who the author is, and please provide some context on this line to help people understand why it's cool):
          - "The dogs were big, the dogs were scary, the dogs were fast, but they were incapable of changing direction as quickly as a human being who could reach out, grab onto something, and pivot around it as if they hated their shoulder with a fiery passion and were just begging it to become dislocated." from Life After (Part I, Chapter 3) by chris the cynic

28) Best Story Overall (say who the author is):
          - Forgotten Seeds by chris the cynic

29) Best Writer:
          - chris the cynic

* * *

1) Best KP Style Name (include the story/series and author they're from):

2) Best Original Character (include the story/series and author they're from):
          - Leela Place Possible (Place) from Being more than a Simulacrum by chris the cynic

3) Best Minor Character (include the story/series and author they're from):
          - Joss Possible from Being more than a Simulacrum by chris the cynic

4) Best Villain (include the story/series and author they're from):

5) Best Songfic (include who the author is):

6) Best AU Story (include the author they're from):
          - Life After by chris the cynic

7) Best Crossover/Fusion (include mention of what is getting crossed over or fused and who the author is):

8) Best Alternate Pairing (include the story/series it shows in and the author):

9) Best KiGo Story (include the author):

10) Best Kim/Ron Story (include the author):

11) Best Comedy Story (include the author):
          - Life After: Terminology by chris the cynic
          - Life After: Dancing by chris the cynic

12) Best Romance Story (include the author and it might be good to indicate who is focused on romantically to give context for voters later on):

13) Best Friendship Story (include the author and it might be good to indicate the people involved to give context for voters later on):
          - Being more than a Simulacrum (Place and Joss) by chris the cynic

14) Best Action/Adventure Story (include the author):
          - Bent, not Broken by chris the cynic

15) Best Drama Story (include the author):

16) Best Unlikely/Unique Story (include the author):
          - Life After by chris the cynic

17) Best One-Shot Overall (include the author):

18) Best Novel-Sized Story (include the author):
          - Being more than a Simulacrum by chris the cynic

19) Best Short Story (include the author):

20) Best Series Overall (include the author):

21) Best Writing Team (clarify who the members are as well as providing their combined nickname):

22) Best Young Author:

23) Best New Author:

24) Best Single Line (say what story it appears in and who the author is, and please provide some context on this line to help people understand why it's cool):
          - "The dogs were big, the dogs were scary, the dogs were fast, but they were incapable of changing direction as quickly as a human being who could reach out, grab onto something, and pivot around it as if they hated their shoulder with a fiery passion and were just begging it to become dislocated." from Life After (Part I, Chapter 3) by chris the cynic

25) Best Reviewer (and tell us why you like them, whether it's number of reviews, insightful reviews, funny reviews, or something else):

26) CPNeb Kimmunity Award (who, and try to say why just in case people aren't familiar with them):

27) Kimmunity Achievement Award (Who? Doesn't need to have necessarily published in 2016):

28) Best Story Overall (say who the author is):
          - Forgotten Seeds by chris the cynic

29) Best Writer:
          - chris the cynic

* *
* * *
* *

1) Best KP Style Name (include the story/series and author they're from):

2) Best Original Character (include the story/series and author they're from):

3) Best Minor Character (include the story/series and author they're from):

4) Best Villain (include the story/series and author they're from):

5) Best Songfic (include who the author is):

6) Best AU Story (include the author they're from):

7) Best Crossover/Fusion (include mention of what is getting crossed over or fused and who the author is):

8) Best Alternate Pairing (include the story/series it shows in and the author):

9) Best KiGo Story (include the author):

10) Best Kim/Ron Story (include the author):

11) Best Comedy Story (include the author):

12) Best Romance Story (include the author and it might be good to indicate who is focused on romantically to give context for voters later on):

13) Best Friendship Story (include the author and it might be good to indicate the people involved to give context for voters later on):

14) Best Action/Adventure Story (include the author):

15) Best Drama Story (include the author):

16) Best Unlikely/Unique Story (include the author):

17) Best One-Shot Overall (include the author):

18) Best Novel-Sized Story (include the author):

19) Best Short Story (include the author):

20) Best Series Overall (include the author):

21) Best Writing Team (clarify who the members are as well as providing their combined nickname):

22) Best Young Author:

23) Best New Author:

24) Best Single Line (say what story it appears in and who the author is, and please provide some context on this line to help people understand why it's cool):

25) Best Reviewer (and tell us why you like them, whether it's number of reviews, insightful reviews, funny reviews, or something else):

26) CPNeb Kimmunity Award (who, and try to say why just in case people aren't familiar with them):

27) Kimmunity Achievement Award (Who? Doesn't need to have necessarily published in 2016):

28) Best Story Overall (say who the author is):

29) Best Writer:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

And then my computer languished for three days

So, malware got passed my security and promptly did what I always figured malware should do (for a value of "should" that comes from the perspective of the malware maker, not common decency or such) but have never previously seen malware do.  It put the kibosh on anything that could possibly get rid of it.

I mean, if the shit actually makes it where it's going then it bypassed the current security, so the current security is unprepared for it or the user gave it permission to ignore the current security pretty much by definition.  In either case the logical thing to do would be to take steps to keep it safe from the current security and prevent the installation or running of any different security programs.

That's where whoever made it was smart.

Where they were annoyingly unsubtle was in completely fucking over any attempt to run the internet by making the fact that there was malware installed completely unmissable.  If they'd limited it to those self embedding link-ads it might have been a while before I knew it was there because lots of pages do have links and links generally look like links, if they'd limited it to quietly stealing my information while giving no overt indications of existence I might not have noticed until the next time I tried to install computer security software which could have been a long time indeed.

Anyway: unmissable.

So I knew not to do important shit with the computer until it was dealt with, which because of the anti-anti-malware stuff took a while.

I think the end process took three separate antivirus programs, which it was hard to verify were real and not just what the malware wanted me to do what with it hijacking the fucking internet.

First I had to get a special stripped-down just-for-this-purpose thing that the malware wouldn't notice was an anti-malware thing because that was the only such thing that could be installed and run at that stage.

That, by the way, is what took the longest damned time to verify was bona fide.  Part of making it slip under the malware's radar was ripping out the things usually used to certifiably demonstrate "yes, this is really anti-malware, not malware disguised as anti-malware."

And the internet wasn't working right, and kept on getting hijacked and redirected and . . . it was god damned hard to make sure that wouldn't make things worse.

That only did enough work to let likewise stripped down to slip under the radar, but not as stripped down as the previous thing because the previous thing opened up additional possibilities, software be installed and run.

Which in turn made more things possible so at that point I had enough freedom to install any damn security I felt like.  And then I had to scan the full computer.

And then I had to realize that certain programs were internally borked to the point of needing to be reinstalled, and the fact things were still wrong wasn't actually an indication that there was independent malware still on the system but instead because they'd been borked.

That last bit took me way too long to realize, and involved trying multiple full system scans with a menagerie of programs before I did.  Full system scans take for-fucking-ever.

Honestly it was probably less than 48 hours, but it started one day, went through the next day, and was resolved the day after that (today), which was enough for people to say Jesus was dead for three days, so I figure it counts as three days of computer fucked-up-ness.

So for those days my computer has been sitting doing nothing but staring at its figurative navel going, "Is that an infection?  Can I think these thoughts?  How can I think these thoughts?  Why am I thinking those thoughts that I don't want to think?"

Thus: languishing.

So, yeah, that happened.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

I'm free -- (followed rambling update and recap and such)

So, pizza existed and thus I am no longer a hostage.  I am home.  Woo!

There are still some things to be officially closed, there's a lot of paperwork to do, and some of the stuff that was resolved was in that, "We're not going to go to trial on account of you being clearly and unmistakably innocent, but if you get arrested any time in the next six months we'll totally bring this up again in hopes that by then you will have lost the proof that you're innocent," way that District Attorneys do.

That said, the things that required me to put my entire life on hold, not live in my own house, and so forth if I didn't want my sister's family to be torn apart, are over.  I can return to my life, assuming I remember what that consists of.  The great stress is over, so hopefully I can be creative again, so on, so forth.

It took eight months, two weeks, and one day.

~ ~ ~

There are lasting damages, and I don't just mean trauma to my sister's whole family and the fact my four year old nephew is terrified of police now.  The neighbors tried to trick the police into shooting my sister (through her six month developed fetus, for fuck's sake) during fence repair and expansion.

I have previously said that it was a rose bush, I was wrong.  All of this started over cutting a single branch off of a lilac bush that had been illegally planted on my families land (years ago) after the neighbors illegally cut down the trees my grandfather had planted at the property boundary.  It's difficult to say, but I think they were trying to move the property boundary some 15 feet in their favor.

It's called usucapion.  The idea that if you use something for long enough, and no one disputes it, it becomes yours.  The idea is in fact about property boundaries.  You don't want to have to tear down all the walls and rebuild them three steps to the left just because someone found a 500 year old map proving that your triple great grandparents were slightly wrong about where they built stuff.

The thing is, it was always subject to abuse which is why Justinian (yes, we're talking Eastern Roman Empire, Vandals and Ostrogoths here) reformed that shit.

Anyway, my sister wasn't trying to make waves, so the fence in question was being erected well onto our property.  It required removing a solitary lilac branch from one of the illegal plants.

That's when the neighbors went apoplectic.  Interestingly, in spite of going off and giving justifiable cause for a combative response, according to the witness statement he filled out, the paterfamilias of the family thought my sister responded to him quite calmly.  It was only after he took (and copied) a boundary survey he had only ever been given permission to measure that he felt . . . well, the various conflicting accounts get a bit distorted at that point.

It is definitely the case that after taking the boundary survey, which wasn't just a boundary survey, by the way --more value than a mere boundary survey-- but for our purposes the fact that it was a bona fide boundary survey is what matters, went into his house, closed the door, and gave no indications he'd return things got heated.  It did, after all, appear that he was stealing the boundary survey.  It's not as if he said, "Instead of bringing a ruler out here, I'd like to bring it in there," and got a response of, "Well well taking it out of our sight and camping out with it is in no way implied by measuring, but sure, you can do that."

The various statements the neighbors gave to the police indicate that he never actually measured it.  He copied it which is probably eventually going to mean hostilities between himself and my aunt.  She was the one who paid for the survey, non-boundary parts included, and she has very strict rules about what is allowed to be done with it.  Mostly she wants to be paid before anyone is allowed to get a copy.  Her stance is that she paid for it to be done, and if anyone else is going to benefit from her investment she wants compensation.

If said paterfamilias had asked if he could make a copy he likely would have been told about my aunt's stance and thus avoided the almost inevitable showdown.  He's got time though, my aunt's taking a break from all this right now, so her wrath will not descend upon the neighbors for at least a few months.

As a frequent recipient of her wrath myself, I don't envy the guy.  This is the woman who made her eldest daughter homeless in winter in fucking Maine and justified it as tough love.  She's scary.

But, anyway, a single lilac branch.

* * *

That got off track, didn't it?

This started on August 20th of last year during fence repair and expansion.

For a while we tried to keep that up in spite of the omnipresent threat of the neighbors trying to have us killed.  Also worries about what might happen if they decided to indulge in their hobby of lobbing things (golf balls, baseballs, hockey pucks, apples, I'm pretty sure there was one softball which kind of surprised me since I don't think they play it, so forth) through the glass greenhouse while we were on the shrapnel side of the equation.

And we know for a fact that they were trespassing onto the property by going through the woods so we couldn't see them coming, at the time.

But four hours after the August 20th incident was over and statements were being given to police (as in, if the police record keeping is to be believed, four hours to the minute after the first written statement, but I personally think they were rounding), after my sister had inquired about how to lodge an excessive force complaint, the first officer on scene (the one who put a gun, then taser, to my sister's pregnant belly) decided to call DHHS and say that he had just realized my then three-year-old nephew had been unsafe more than four hours prior when the whole thing went down.

Just so everyone is clear, according to his own written statement, the stuff he told them wasn't true.

Unfortunately we can't line up what he said to DHHS with what he said in his incident report because DHHS usually only paraphrases him in the documents they have shared.  There are a couple of direct quotations, but it's mostly paraphrase.

That's not important right now.  Various things happened when DHHS got involved.

This including my older nephew's father finally admitting he was the father and dropping the whole "I think god did it to her, like he did with Mary" routine he had been doing for three and a half years at that point as part of his, "I will only ever pay zero dollars and zero cents in child support," ploy.

When going through papers an official report on the child support stood out to me because instead of saying "none" or something to that effect, it broke the nothing he had paid down by month.  Just so you know which part of zero was in this month as opposed to that month.  That's probably why what he paid will likely never be a simple "nothing" in my mind.  It's monthly installments of $0.00 and you can look up each month to see what the $0.00 paid in that month looked like.

For a time DHHS considered awarding full custody to that guy, who had no home in which to keep a child and repeatedly un-potty-trained the kid because it was easier to stick him in diapers and walk him around town until he shit himself, then keep walking, than it would have been to let the child use bathrooms (which were, in fact, available in the places he was walking.)

As things eventually worked toward their ends the full custody to Mr. un-potty-trainer was dropped (but he does have partial custody now) and DHHS forced my sister from her home via the threat of taking away her child for good.

Then they claimed she was currently married to someone she'd never married, which for a while seemed impossible to disprove because while there is such a thing as a divorce certificate there is no such thing as a "never married in the first place" certificate.  They also altered her recorded address which still manages to cause lasting trouble.

Their reasoning was that any time you sleep in a place other than your house (a couch in a friend's house, a mattress or bed in relative's house, a desk in a Calculus C class) that place automatically becomes your legal address and doesn't stop becoming your legal address ever.

Why your address doesn't revert back to your actual home when you return there and sleep in your own bed has never been adequately explained.

But, for a time, she wasn't sleeping in her own home and instead had to crash in our parents' homes.  Given the location of the one she spent the most time in, it was impossible to do real farm work of any kind.

At this point I want you to think back.  What started all this?  A solitary lilac branch being trimmed as part of fence repair and expansion.

Focus on fence repair.

Do you know what happens to farm animals if fence repair is stopped?  They go wherever the fuck they damn well please.

Oh, sure, you can hold off on necessary repairs for a little bit, but for that long?

My sister was forced to get rid of all of the animals except the chickens.  Even Bones.

I talked about lasting harm.  That's thing one.

For almost three quarters of a year there has been no farm work done, the livestock is all gone save chickens.  Free-range fox-ready chickens.  (There are five at the moment.)

No livestock.  No plants.  No livelihood.

My sister is beyond broke because of all of this.

* * *

Other problems include relationships.  Some may never mend.

Even for the ones that do, it's been a lot of time under incredible stress.  The fractures that causes don't go away overnight.

The four year old may be afraid of cops, the man who raised him with my sister, father of his brother, is afraid of the entire state of Maine.  My sister's home is her boyfriends trauma.  That's a god damned mess.

* * *

Random note about cops.

When my sister was telling part of the story to someone the person said, "Fuck cops" it turned out there were a lot of cops behind him.  Estimates place it at around a dozen.

This awkward situation was defused when the cops, Portland cops, were told that the discussion was about Cape Elizabeth.  Portland cops gave nods and sounds of understanding.

* * *

It could be argued that this means my sister should leave Cape.

We were there first.  My mother was a child when my grandfather built that house, greenhouse, and so forth.  I grew up on that farm at least as much as my house because my parents both worked and someone had to watch us kids, the horrible neighbors weren't there yet (their house was actually owned by a good friend), neither were the bad cops in the department (not sure about the town.)

They're neophytes, and it might be arrogant, it might be narcissistic or stupid, but fucking asshole newcomers won't drive us from our land.  Our home.  I can say "our" because my sister feels the same way.  She's not going to let some random new-on-the-scene jerks who have twisted ideas about what Cape Elizabeth means to them drive her from her home.  We may only have three generations at the farm, but that's the immigrant side of my family.  That side of my family only has four generations in America (the United States, the continents, the hemisphere, whatever you want to define it as, only four generations here on that side.)

The possibility still remains that my aunt can drive my sister from the farm, turn it into a housing development, and finally make the transition from "tippity top of the middle class" to "actually fucking rich" (the very, very bottom of rich, but actually fucking in the category none the less.)

My aunt has the potential to do that because she owns half of every molecule of the property.  As for any others, my generation of the Witham family (Witham-Rose family I guess, since my sister dropped her last name and upgraded her middle to her new last) will no more be driven from our homes than we will be driven from America.  Fuck the neighbors, fuck bad cops, fuck Trump; but we will not be moved.

My house and the farm are the homes my sister and I grew up with.  She's as attached to home as I am.

When we were children we had serious conversations about which of us would go on to live in our house, and which would live at the farm, because the idea of either stopping being ours was unthinkable.  None of those conversations ever reached a conclusion, and they didn't matter anyway.  It just sort of happened that I ended up with the house in South Portland and she ended up with the Farm in Cape Elizabeth.

I don't know if she remembers those conversations, I barely do, but it's always been a given that we'd do everything we could to keep home.  The fact home was two places didn't change that.

* * *

I broke my ankle in the very first steps of cleaning my home.  Cleaning being a necessary prerequisite to repairing and maintaining.

Now that I have free time again, I think I'll get back on that.  While my ankle had me out of commission I got the news that will actually allow me to really make a difference: my mother and father have both renounced all property that remains in my house.  I can keep it, move it, or trash it as I see fit.

It's going to take a long time, but this place will again become a place where people, not just me, can live.  More than that, a place where thriving is possible.

* * *

So that's where we are.  The horror has passed, but there's a lot of work to do.  Now that work can start being done.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Help me I am a hostage and they demand pizza

Or at least that's what I have been asked to post.

Anyway, I'm officially, unofficially, and in all other ways broke.

Good things have happened, but in light of the new developments I'm staying away from home longer than planned which fucking sucks, that's the hostage bit.

Specifically I'm staying until the good things that have happened become official.

Anyway, pizza.

My sister wanted to celebrate by getting something "hot" to eat with the example being pizza.  Note the fact that I am completely broke.

The example of Pizza was reiterated repeatedly.

When my sister was double checking that we really have to wait until tomorrow for the good things that happened to become official she referred to me needing to be here (lest the family be legally forced to break up) as holding me hostage, and noted that I don't like being held hostage.  (This is true.)

And that's when the pizza became a demand of my captors.

So, I am being held hostage and my captors demand pizza.

If you send enough money for pizza to my paypal account (donate button in upper right hand corner or using my email address, cpw [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com, with the send money feature in your own paypal account) I can use my debit card to buy pizza.

Thus: Help me!  I am a hostage, and they demand pizza.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Pink Paladin

For a long time I've had this idea in my head, set in a power rangers type setting.

This is rough.  Note, for instance, how it starts off in first person and then drops first person forever after.  And, more or less anything else.  It really is lacking in any kind of polish.

- - -

You live in this city and you know how to hide, how to cower, and above all else you know to run like hell when the fighting starts.  Knowing these things, however, doesn't necessarily mean you actually do them.

I was behind cover, but as close as I could get without being damaged.  A second floor bathroom had landed in pieces and made for a good spot.  A positively beautiful tile floor was now a short wall that kept me hidden from the action, and a bathtub on its side could be used as a more enclosed hide-spot if any of the fighters decided to take a look, which they likely wouldn't.

I had a good view.  The paladins were outmatched, but that was hardly unusual.  They tended to start off weak, have absurdly long fights, and win by having greater stamina.

Then everything changed.  A lucky blow, badly placed rubble, a building that just needed one more --insignificantly tiny-- nudge for another piece of fall off.  Put it all together and the pink paladin dropped like a rock.

By the time I got there here opponents had moved on.

"Are you o-- April!?" is what I said.  The armor had receded in the way that sufficiently advanced technological and/or magical armor is wont to do after someone is out of the fight.  It was definitely April.

She even raised a hand in a weak wave and and gave an equally lackluster, "Hi."

I pushed the surprise from my mind as I knelt down beside her and tried to start assessing her injuries.  "How are you feeling?" I asked.

The assessment proved damned impossible.  The armor had protected her clothing, meaning I couldn't actually see her injuries, whatever they might be.

"I've been better," she said, sounded pained, "but I'll live."

"Your unprofessional opinion as a non-doctor brings me great joy," was my response.  "Where hurts?"

"You're no more a doctor than me," she shot back, which was true.

"Whatever, tell me day of the week, where you are, president of the united states, and wiggle your fingers and your toes."

"Thursday, in a partially collapsed building, I'd rather not, and," she showed me her fingers wiggling, but then looked distracted, a moment of fear, some concentration, and finally she said, "I can't feel my toes."

Her shoes were pink and white converse, I took her right foot and felt her toes through the shoe, "Wiggle." I said.

They definitely moved.

"Well, something's getting through, whatever that means," I said.  "We need to get you to someone who actually knows what they're doing."

I really didn't see the, "No!" she shouted at me coming.

"How are the others doing?" she asked at a normal volume.

I had to move around a bit to get a good look.  When I did, I saw about what you'd expect when a team of six that was already losing became a team of five.

"They're getting trounced," I said.  I'm almost positive that's the correct usage of the word "trounced".

"We've got to help them somehow."

"You cant feel your toes," I said, "I don't have mystical magical power armor from an alien planet."

"Alternate dimension."

"Something that's not from this dimension seems pretty alien to me."

"Not really the point," she said.

"You brought it up."

"My team needs help."

I brought myself so we were face to face, said, "Look--" realized how badly I was invading her personal space, backed the Hell off, said, "Sorry," and was about to make a really good point, when she surprised me and made the really good point get forgotten.

"Do that again," she said.

"Um," I said with full on eloquence, "what?"

"Come closer," she said.

I did, and she held up a necklace that I'd never seen before.  The chain looked normal enough, the rock, however, did not.  It was pink, sort of an uneven triangular bipyramid, and might have been reminiscent of bog standard rose quartz if not for the fact it was glowing.

"It likes you," she said.

"You've lost me."

She took off the necklace and offered it to me with her left hand, "Put it on, hold the gem in one hand on your chest," she made her right hand into a fist and held it to her chest just below the neck, "then just close your eyes."

"Are you sure you don't have a head injury?"

"You said you needed mystical magical power armor."

"Actually, I said--"

"Not the point," she said.  "Help my friends."

So I did what she said.

* * *

The change in the fight was unmistakable, but at first none of them were sure what caused it.  Things just got . . . easier.  It wasn't really until a small group of the attackers broke away to face away from from them that it became clear a new combatant had entered the fight on their side.

It was the purple paladin who got the first good look at the person helping them.  Unmistakable pink and white armor.

"April!?" she shouted even though the coms would have made a whisper sufficient, "You're ok?"

"Not April," a male voice replied.  "One word about the color, I leave.  You can go back to getting your asses kicked."

"Got it."

* * *

"What the fuck!?"

Fight over, everyone shut down their armor.  Five of the paladins were used to the changes that could mean, wearing colors that matched their armor was done to minimize it.

The replacement pink paladin, however, was completely unprepared and had taken no steps to cope.

There were a few snickers as the others looked at him in a pink tank top and white skirt with pink trim.  Given his outburst, it was obviously not what he'd been wearing before.

Susan, whose purple and black outfit had remained unchanged laid a hand on the replacement's shoulder.  "It always sucks the first time," she said in a way that was clearly meant to be reassuring.

"If you wear clothing that roughly matches the gem's preferences or expectations or whatever it is that the gem has in mind," Wendy, the green and black paladin, said, "then it usually doesn't make changes."

"It's why we all wear our colors," Matthew, the yellow and white paladin said, "in spite of it kind of screwing with the whole anonymity thing."

Jason, the peach and white paladin said, "Just trying not to laugh," when attention was turned to him.

"Anyway, if you've got something you really don't want to lose, you should take it off like Tim does with his coat," Susan said, pointing to the Blue and Black paladin.

"My coat," the replacement pink paladin said, walking to Tim, snatching the ankle length brown duster, and putting it on.

Tim said, "I want--"

"I saved your life, price was one coat," the replacement pink paladin said, "if you're unhappy with the deal, forfeit your life and I'll make sure the coat finds its way to your casket."

Susan laughed.

"I am not walking around looking like this," the replacement paladin said before closing the coat to hide what the gem had left him wearing.  "April is over there," he pointed, "and needs and ambulance.  I'm going home to change into something less absurd."

As he started to walk away, Wendy asked, "What was your name again?"


* * *

"Hey," April said from her hospital bed as Zach entered.

"Hey," Zach said back.  He looked around the room, found a chair, moved it next to the bed, and plopped into it.  "Couldn't have warned me about the clothes thing?"

"What would you have done?" April asked.

"I have no idea, but --"

"I heard you were in a dress."

"Skirt and tank top," Zach said.  "Still not an experience I have any desire to repeat."  Zach started to take off the necklace.

"What are you doing?"

"I figured you'd want your inter-dimensional trinket back."

"You haven't heard my prognosis, have you?"

"Unless it involved a prohibition on dealing with alien battle armor--"

"If I'm lucky I'll eventually be able to walk short distances," April said.

"Ok," Zach said, "I'm not sure whether I should be reacting with, 'That's great,' or, 'That sucks,' but either way, I'm less than clear on how it relates to the whole battle armor thing."

"The armor was made for someone who could do the whole 'running jumping climbing trees--'"

"--putting on make-up while your up there'," Zach finished the quotation.

". . . thing.  I can't do that, so I won't be able to use the armor properly.  It needs a new host."

"So we'll just hold auditions, 'Do you want to be a super secret warrior?  Try out here, don't think too hard about how we relate to the super secret thing."

"It's already found a new host."

Wasn't hard to figure out what that meant.

"If it wanted to work with me it shouldn't have dumped me in a skirt with no warning."

"You won, didn't you?" April asked.

"I have no intention of becoming a super hero," Zach said.  "Helping out was a special circumstances one-time thing."

"Would you just hear me out?"

~ - ~ - ~
~ Time Passes ~
~ - ~ - ~

"It looked pretty brutal out there," April said.

"If things keep up like this," Zach said, "Tim is never getting his coat back."

"Did it again?"

"It does it always," Zach grumbled.

"Want to talk about something else?

"What's the agenda for today?"

~ - ~ - ~
~ Time Passes ~
~ - ~ - ~

"The others never want to spend time with me anymore," April said, "and whenever they do get stuck talking to me it's like I'm already dead or will be soon.  'Remember those things we used to do?'  I'm trapped in past tense.  We could do those things again if they'd just fucking think of me as a human being!"

There was some silence.

"Done?"  Zach asked.

"I think so."

"Think it over," Zach said.  "Be sure."

"I'm done."

"Ok," Zach said.  "That is the stupidest fucking shit I've ever heard!  You're in a wheelchair not a hearse for fuck's sake!  You can do all kinds of things and if they'd just pull their heads out of their asses and be actual friends they'd realize that."

"I know, right?" April said.

"That's a really shitty way for them to act," Zach said, "but I guess 'hero' is more of a profession than a state of mind."

"I don't care if they're noble or anything, I just wish I still had more than one friend," April said.  "At least you treat me like a person."

"I don't think that speaks highly of me so much as it condemns the rest of the world," Zach said.

~ - ~ - ~
~ Time Passes ~
~ - ~ - ~

For most intents and purposes Zach had dropped off the face of the earth.  That no one else had thought to actually go to his home and check on him spoke volumes for exactly how screwed up things were these days.

The good news was that the temporary ramp they'd set up had managed to be rather permanent in the persistent absence of its oft-delayed replacement.  There was no response to a knock at the door, but April hadn't really expected one.  If you can open a door you can pick up a phone.

The problem was that, in spite of best efforts, Zach's home was very much not wheelchair accessible.

Twice April had to get out of the chair, fold it slightly, push it through a too-small doorway, and then drag herself across the floor, using only her arms, to reach the chair again.  She really, really wished the point when she could walk a step or two would hurry up and arrive.

Still, nothing she couldn't handle.

As she progressed further she began to notice white and pink clothing, likely what the gem had been sticking Zach with, strewn about.

For some reason she didn't feel like calling out to Zach again.  She felt like going to the center of the mess, so she steered herself to where the clothing littering the floor was most dense and went that way.

When she was finally able to see Zach, she found him standing in front of his bathroom mirror pulling on a gray tee-shirt.

He used the gem to transform into the pink paladin armor and back again.  He was left in a strapless pink and white dress.  He spun around and looked at himself in the mirror from all angles.

No part of this made sense to April, but if the pile of pink and white clothes on the floor were any indication he'd been transforming a lot.

"What are you doing?" April asked.

Zach spun to face her, for a moment looked at her in shock, and then slowly let himself collapse to the ground.  He seemed on the verge of tears.

"Are you ok?" April asked as she wheeled herself closer.

"I think it's mocking me," Zach said.


"It gives me all of these clothes," Zach gestured all around.  "All of them would look great, but not on me.  It's like it's trying to remind me that no matter how I feel I'll never be a real girl and these things will never fit."

There was a very long silence.

"Ok," April said.  And then she didn't say anything for a bit.  "Let's just make sure I've got this right." She paused again.  "You want to be a girl?"

Zach nodded.

"And you think you don't look good right now?"

"How could I?" Zach asked.

"Ok, you know what?" April then stalled out.

More awkward silence.

"Um, let me start over," April said.  She took a breath.  "I've only found you attractive once.  Just one time.  In all of the time that I've known you only the one time.  You know when?"

Zach shook her head.

"When you were modeling for yourself in the mirror before I let you know I was here," April said.

Zach moved to look April in the eyes so fast April was afraid Zach would get whiplash.

"The thing is," April said, "I'm not attracted to boys, and despondency isn't exactly a turn on either."

"You mean . . ."

"If you weren't so sad right now," April said, "you'd be a really sexy girl."

~ ~
-  -  -
~ ~

The idea, being, basically, the magic sci-fi armor leaves you in clothing it feels is appropriate, hence the traditional color-coding of even civilian clothes, but it's also trying to work with the user.  The problem it has is that it can't really work out the second half of, "My user would love to wear this, but that's a secret desire."

Thus, with total absence of malice, it's severely fucking with Zach because, since Zach is passing as cis-male, the costume changes end up being both humiliating and also hurtful at a deeper level because Zach would love to wear such things, it's just that everyone looks at the clothing and Zach's body and sees a joke.

It, however, eventually works out in the end, starting with April finding out Zach is really a trans-girl and working outward from there.

April's recovery will eventually take her to a point where she has dull feeling in her lower extremities and the ability to walk a step or two, but no more.  She does not magically revert to a running, jumping, climbing trees capable person.

The five other paladins eventually come around both with respect to accepting Zach as female and recognizing that April is still a full person (even though her mobility has changed.)

Character Bio: Corv, from Patreon

[Originally posted at my Patreon Page in a patron only post on Jan 24th of this year, as noted, I have no intention of stuff there remaining exclusive forever.  This is actually overdue to be posted here.]
[Corv first appeared in the only extant chapter of Bunking Together, and her team first appeared in the second chapter of A Family Matter.]

I was trying to start doing an overview of the teams I've introduced so far in super person universe, but instead this popped out:


Corvida of the Outland Reach is a half-demon who was intended to be an Antichrist figure but was taken in and raised by some of the nicer inhabitants of Hell.

Between her 12th and 13th birthdays her power started to manifest in significantly greater force than it had before.  If she remained in Hell she would have been a beacon that drew her full-demon father and his forces not just to her but also to those who raised and protected her.  She fled to earth where the power of her father and his followers was significantly weaker.

Initially she tried to find heroes who would help her in the inevitable fight against her father.  That failed.  Many were wary of of joining forces with a demon while others who would have helped were unable to do so for reasons of politics.  Also, she was a kid talking about apocalyptic prophecies.  There were quite a few (ones who couldn't sense her nature or the truth of her words) who just didn't take her seriously.

She wandered the United States for more than a year.

When she was 14 she found herself in the middle of a citywide disaster.  She did what she could to help, which was when she met Java --a former sidekick who was about her age.  When adults in authority came to the area she and Java were working in, they shunted the two aside "children" aside.

Corv and Java were placed with three other would-be heroes in the same age group.  The group would later refer to this event as, "Being put at the kiddie table."  Rather than sit idly by, all five slipped away and ended up solving the problem on their own.

Their effectiveness, as well as Java's fame from his sidekicking days, caused the city to officially recognize them as a legitimate team of heroes, one that would step in when others super powered threats arose.

A few of the heroes that Corv had previously written off had some hand in this, behind the scenes, as getting Corv her own team was seen as a potentially viable compromise solution.

Those who didn't want to work with demons or children could be comfortable knowing that she was in a provincial minor league team.  Those who thought that Corv deserved help could be comfortable knowing she had found it.

Corv's team became the model on which various subsequent young adult teams were based, and the flagship of a franchise of such teams.

The moment Corv turned 18 the inevitable battle with her father began.  It was a confusing and complex thing as Corv, someone who never wanted the role, was intended to be the instrument of her father's will, and the executor of his power, on earth.  Much of the battle involved the fight for Corv's mind and soul itself.

After the eventual victory, Corv and her team returned to being guardians of a single city and fighting the lesser threats that presented themselves.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tried and didn't die -- The Wishgiver

[Ana Mardoll wrote The Wish Giver wish you should read, before writing it she described the idea on twitter which included this "Ugh, now I wanna write a fantasy narrative where the local dragon can grant wishes but only to people who defeat her.  If you're coming with intent to become world-king or wev, she will CRUSH you but SOMEHOW the folk who come for body alterations always win."]
[Someone asked "what would happen to those who had a wish that was morally very sympathetic but ultimately wrong?"  This non-canonical (I'm not Ana), but I maintain that it is, at least, a possible outcome.  Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

Every part of me ached, I tried to push it away and return to the unfeeling darkness I'd been in, but the ache called me back to my body and soon I was mostly awake. I let my eyes stay closed and held on to the last pain dulling vestiges of sleep as I tried to call forth where I was, what had happened, and why I ached so much.

Things came to me slowly. I was on a quest to the wish-giver. I'd finally reached my destination but my horses were both exhausted. I'd hired a local and her donkey to carry my armor as I walked to the great dragon's den, and help me don it when I arrived.

The fight began, it seemed impossible to touch the beast, such was her skill in combat, the battle dragged on and then . . . nothing.

How could there be nothing? Any fight must end. Had I injured my head? My whole body ached, but I didn't sense the kind of pain that such an injury would create.

I allowed myself to cross the final threshold into wakefulness, and I groaned.

"It took you long enough," I heard someone say. The voice was familiar.

I opened my eyes to see the donkey-having local. I'd never seen the room before, but I guessed I was in an inn.

"What happened?" I asked.

"You collapsed from exhaustion," she said. "I warned you about using such heavy armor."

"Exhaustion?" I asked.

"The wish-giver was playful today, it seems," she said. "You should count yourself lucky and return whence you came; I doubt she'll be as kind if you challenge her again after she spared you injury when she could have easily killed you."

I wanted to protest, but she was right. I'd been hopelessly outmatched. If the dragon had wished it, she could have simply devoured me and I wouldn't have even been able to scratch the inside of her mouth as she did.

I would return to my village in failure. The only outcome I'd been unprepared for. I'd been prepared to die, I'd been prepared to succeed, but how would I explain that I hadn't even managed to die trying?

"How did I get here?" I asked. "And why are you with me when your job is done?"

"I brought you here," she said, "and I have stayed to make sure you will not speak ill of me for raiding your coin purse to pay for the room you now rest in."

I smiled. I'm not sure why.

"Raid it again," I said. "Buy something nice for you or your donkey."

She gave me a strange look.

"Consider it payment for bringing me back from the wish-giver's den," I said. Our arrangement had included no such provision. "Such kindness deserves to be reciprocated."

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Things are bad

It hurts too much.  I can't write it up.

The situation in question will turn out perfectly, more or less on its own, if people can keep their shit together and not be assholes for two to three weeks.  After more than eight god damned months.

So it seems like everyone is trying to break all the things as much as possible.

And that's not even the problem.  There's something that should have been obvious for a long time, but I've either missed it or been in denial.  I've been confronted with it now and it has me in an emotional state that's almost indescribable.  Things are really fucking bad.  It hurts so much.

The things I have to do to keep things from falling apart even as others take this last little home stretch as the sign they should ruin everything, mean that I'm not able to help out where I would otherwise.

I am not the Kwisatz Haderach, I cannot be in many places at once.  If I drop everything to help out in Place B then that means that I can't be helping out in Place A the way I originally planned.

Fred Clark once pointed out that 
You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running . . . to see you again
is untenable when more than one person is counting on you.  You've got to prioritize, and I am.

Doesn't change the fact that I'm not in Place A, helping like I planned to.  I'm doing more than missing out on time spent with people I love, and who love me.  If there's someone to watch the kids, work can be done.  It's not steady work, it's unpredictable, but figure a loss of $280 to $560 dollars.  (I said it was unpredictable.)  That's damaging.

Another month I might be able to help offset that, though never afford enough for it to be a gift rather than a loan, but this month I'm totally cleaned out.  Bills are paid, sky won't fall on me and make me homeless, money is gone.  I've got nothing but the minimum needed to keep my bank account open and some stuff I already owe someone but don't want to take out until I'm sure everything went through.  (Overdraft fees are evil.)

Things are bad.

Everything hurts and nothing is beautiful.