I Needed That Egg

The sun flooded through the observation port, blinding Maurice momentarily until he fumbled for the button that tinted the glass. Sunrise hit about every hour and a half up here and one of these days he’d have to program a small script to automatically trigger the tint. He could leave it tinted all the time, that’s what many of the other egg operators did, but he liked being able to look over and see the blue marble that was home floating there below him. So he manually triggered it each sunrise, the momentary distraction took less time than it would have taken to create the small script to do it. All the data passing through his satellite had to be routed to the right people, sent through to the right computers for analysis, and that meant constantly paying attention. No time to program small comforts, the dumb eggs didn’t have breaks programmed into their algorithms, so he only had time to himself when he was scheduled for his sleep cycle and his egg was taken off the network for six hours.

Only two dozen sleep cycles until one of the skimmers came and scooped his egg up to pull him for a home cycle. He was counting down to seeing Jessica again, had a ring on order for her due to arrive the day after he got out of quarantine; a custom piece with rose gold and black diamonds. He touched her photo as his console lit up with a high alert and he received a personal communique on his encrypted blackLine feed. He touched the red WANTED FUGITIVE headline on the egg control panel as he glanced at his data pod.

From: J. George
To: M. Miller
Subject: I’m So Very Sorry <3

Her picture came up on the egg panel before he could open the personal message.

“Fuck,” he muttered as he skimmed the alert. Data trafficking, running from the law, spreading anti-governmental propaganda. There was nothing he could do for her, especially since he knew she wouldn’t be caught dead sending her data through the WorldNet. He shut off his blackLine pod, dismissed the high alert, and opened a communique to the home office. She wasn’t going to be there when he landed for his home cycle, he might as well put in for an extra couple cycles in the egg to help pay off the useless ring.

Not All Cities That Wander…

The sun sat high in the sky on the vernal equinox as Ronan stood in the shade of the Joshua tree. If he’d decoded the message right, it would be here any time now. Of course, there were so many variables to take into account, so many ways he could have confused his research, that he couldn’t be sure it was coming until—

The ground shook — someone who didn’t know better would attribute it to an earthquake — but Ronan could feel it, he knew what was coming. The desert disappeared in the blink of an eye and as far as he could see there were buildings, people, the bustle of a city. Not just any city, but the city. The Wandering City.

The Joshua tree he’d been standing under had been replaced by something taller, more delicate, bark the color of platinum with translucent rose gold leaves. It was one of many in this park that filled a square block, surrounded by shops that spilled out into the walkways. Ronan’s eyes slid along the overflowing tables and racks, lingering on trinkets and baubles that looked particularly shiny as he wondered if Wendell would appreciate any of them. Perhaps not, they were only things.

It had been so many years; Ronan just freshly 19, Wendell just shy of 23, and their car had broken down on their road trip and they had nowhere to be, so they’d just walked. Nothing for miles until they’d instantly found themselves in the city, surrounded by tall buildings and people… there were so many people. That there were so many may have caught their attention first, but soon they started to notice so much more. Wendell had immediately pulled out his camera and started taking pictures — skin in a rainbow of colors ranging from a nearly translucent pale pink, to a royal purple so deep it was as if staring into the depth of space, earthy russets and mosses, tones the colors of precious stones. Hair and scales, hooves and horns, clothes that ranged from hardware to hardly there. Wendell had gone through all four of his unused rolls of film before he’d realized.

They’d integrated into the society with little effort, everyone welcomed them without a moment’s hesitation, and Wendell was so happy that Ronan couldn’t help but be infected by it. Two years they lived together in a little loft, all their needs met. Wendell spent his days wandering and taking pictures once he’d replaced his camera with one that didn’t need film, sometimes leaving the city in the afternoon to explore wherever it was it had connected with reality today, usually returning in the small hours of the morning to find Ronan pouring over a book. Hundreds of alien worlds covered every inch of the walls, even more prints in galleries and eateries across the city. Ronan had been amazed at the number of cultures and races that were in the city, and he filled his time learning everything he could of all of them. He soon realized that the city existed as a living catalog, collecting a sample from everywhere it visited — people, objects, plants, animals — all kept happy and allowed to just be. So he went looking to find out who ran things.

A passing person bumped into him, drawing him out of his memories, and he only caught the wisp of an apology in their wake as they moved on. His hand slid into his pocket, drawing out a folded postcard. On one side was a landscape featuring two suns and three moons, the other was a hand written invitation to a gallery opening. The café hosting was a few blocks from the park he stood in, and the date should be today if he was remembering the conversion between calendars. His feet took him there on memory alone.

“Ronan! You made it.” Hair longer, silver breaking up what was once jet black, laugh lines at the corners of his eyes, but it was Wendell for certain.

“I couldn’t pass up a personal invite from the artist himself.” It was as if the surrounding people had disappeared as they closed the space between them. Ronan’s hands wrapped around Wendell’s, the postcard sandwiched between. There was a long pause as their eyes met.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d get it—” Wendell’s eyes dropped to their hands. “If you’d gotten any of them. And even if you had, if he’d—”

“The other thirty-five that made it are posted on the walls of my RV above my bed.” As he spoke, Ronan moved his hand up to cup Wendell’s jaw, a thumb crossing his lips and silencing him. “It had just taken me time to find my way back.” Another long pause, then Ronan looked over his shoulder at the café. “I think it’s almost time to start, I wouldn’t want keep you from your audience.”

Wendell laughed, shifting so that he could hold Ronan’s hand as he silently lead the way inside. When they let go, and Wendell made his way to the spotlight, Ronan hung at the back of the crowd with his heart in his throat. Just that small exchange had brought everything rushing back as if it was only yesterday when they’d still shared that loft.

“Wendell hasn’t smiled like that in years.” Ronan turned his head toward the strange voice, and the person who seemed to have spoken shifted to stay on the edge of his peripheral. “He thought you should know he’s watching, but as long as you behave, you’re welcome to stay.” And with that, the person quickly left the café, and all Ronan saw was the back of a feathered head. He swallowed hard as he turned to look at Wendell again, and was met with two deep brown eyes staring deep into his own, and a smile that could outshine the sun.

“It’ll be okay, I’ll make this work,” Ronan muttered to himself, smiling back at Wendell. After all, it had been his own fault he’d been chased out of the city without even having the chance to tell Wendell goodbye. Three months of trying to find him, a hint here, a whisper there, and finally an offer for a meeting outside the city. He’d fallen for it and was left alone in the middle of cornfields with nothing but the clothes on his back when the city disappeared early. A letter via a courier arrived some months later telling him that his disruptions had gone too far. It had been a small mercy the city had been connected to his earth at the time.

Rise Up Into the Light

So, in my ever floundering efforts to try to and get myself writing more, I joined a Slack started by a Twitter friend that’s focused on writing. We chatter about all sorts of writing related things, and generally try to cheer on and help each other out. So far I’ve been less than pleased with my results, but it’s the fault of things outside this group such as work and life stress, and everyone’s been pretty awesome so far. One thing we’re going to try out is a weekly writing prompt to encourage the creative juices.

Prompt:
The 4am Breakthrough #162: A Car Wreck In Repose: Write a short scene that takes place entirely inside a vehicle that has been in a serious accident. Let there be a driver and two passengers. All are badly injured, but all are conscious. They cannot escape from the vehicle, but the vehicle is not about to explode. Still, things aren’t good. Write about their perceptions and their fractured conversation in the moments before rescue arrives. 500 words.


The tiger shark paused on the other side of the windshield and met Kathleen’s eye, and she held her breath until it swam off again. Wait, swam?

Drip.
Drip.
Drip.

She turned and looked at the window to her right and saw water pushing its way from under the weather strip she’d been telling Steve to replace for the last three years.

“Kath? Vic?” Steve reached over to lay a hand on Kathleen’s knee, and looked over his shoulder to the backseat. Victoria sat with her head back against her seat, staring up at the growing wet spot in the drooping headliner.

“What the fuck just happened?” The teen finally lifted her head, meeting her mother’s eye through the rear view mirror.

“Last thing I remember, something hit us. It was moving too fast, I only saw a blur and then we were through the guardrail on the side of the bridge.” Steve pushed aside the deflated airbag that covered the steering wheel, searching for the horn. When he found it, a sickly muffled meep was all the reward he got. “Hopefully someone saw us go.”

“Rescue equipment is going to take a while to get here, even if they did. How much air do we even have?” Kathleen unbuckled her seatbelt and pressed her face against the window trying to look up. A water drop hit her in the eye and she pulled away from the window with a start as she furiously blinked the brackish water out. “It’s not that deep here, is it? Couldn’t we just swim up?”

“Oh my gawd, Mom. Do you even know how much force that water will roll in here with if we open a window to get out? And we’ll lose all our air when we do it.” Victoria unbuckled her seatbelt and dug into her pocket to pull out her phone. She poked at the touchscreen for a long minute, flicking and biting her lip. “Fuck. No signal. Nothing.”

“We have to do something.” Steve jabbed the window controls, and there was a small jerk and then nothing. Water started to trickle through the top of his window as he unbuckled his seatbelt and leaned over to yank open the glove box. “Be ready to move, I’m going to break this window. Ready?” He pulled out an orange tool with a small cone shaped hammer top on one end.

“Right behind you, dear,” Kathleen said, leaning in to give Steve a kiss on the cheek.

WAIT!” Victoria yelled, throwing herself forward, grabbing her fathers arm. “We need to wait for someone to come get us. We won’t make it. We won’t.”

“It could take hours, and we probably don’t have that much air. Hush now, take deep breaths and be ready to go as soon as your father breaks the glass.” Kathleen gently pulled Victoria’s grip from Steve’s arm, awkwardly putting her arm around Victoria’s shoulder.

“On three…” Steve raised the tool as he turned towards the window. “One. Two.”

CRASH.

The water rushed in.

Unicorn Softserve

So, I recently gave in and bought a new laptop. I was long overdue, my old one was seven and a half years old, a machine that had been a gift and was admitted by the gift giver to be the cheapest model in stock at the Best Buy on his way home from work on my birthday. Yeah. It was a Toshiba Satellite that survived a drop on concrete and a drop on tile, yet somehow continued to mostly work despite damage to the power jack so that the power cord couldn’t reliably maintain contact to power it unless it was sitting just so… and the battery had long given up the ghost by the time it hit that point. Somehow, despite all that, I still managed to milk seven and a half years out of it before it reached a point where I couldn’t make it reliably work anymore and had to dig into the savings account that I’m trying desperately to accumulate enough money in so I can buy a reliable car.

I mean, even though internet and computer access is pretty key for daily life these days, I guess I feel a little guilty buying myself a new machine knowing the mess we’re staring down right now. So I guess I’m trying to justify it to myself, and using this blog post to verbalize it? The thing is, I am barely hanging on in the bay area right now, so I gotta figure something out that’ll enable me to pay the bills… or I may need to give in and look at moving out of the area. I would really hate to move, because I love it so much here, cost of living aside. At least, I seem to have lined up some part time freelance work to get a little extra money coming in. Waiting on the final details to gel, and I’m not sure how long it’ll last or if it has a chance to pan out into more work later, but for now… a little extra money isn’t a bad thing, even if it doesn’t directly extend into something else.

I’m not even sure why I’m writing about this, but I set up this blog to try and make myself write regularly, so let’s just focus on that goal. I got burnt out because the last election cycle was just that draining… and now that the idiot in chief has been in office for a month, it’s pretty clear that it’s not going to let up unless he’s impeached, and even then… Pence is a pretty scary too, but he at least plays by the conventional rules. It doesn’t help that the GOP still thinks they can control the Cheeto faced idiot, so they’re ignoring and stomping out every effort by the Democrats to try to get the impeachment ball rolling. I can’t help but wonder if they’re trying to hold off on the impeachment until the midterm, in hopes that Pence will have less than half of idiot’s term to serve, leaving him open to two reelections. Scariness.

In better news, I am trying to push myself to take more pictures again. I need to do something creative that gets me out of the house. Now that I have the new laptop, I’ll try to make an effort to post the pictures for people to see if they come out well enough. I do have a site set up for it, brassfrog.net, though I need to do some work on the theme, probably add a child theme to it. We shall see. I also use the heck out of VSCO on my phone, adjusting pictures with filters and snapping interesting things when I spot them when I have time to stop and snap the picture. I’ll try to get those posts on the photo site, but some of them have been posted to VSCO’s site or twitter. So they’re out there.

I used to write these stream of consciousness posts on LiveJournal back in the day, and while I don’t know if anyone will read it (not even sure if I care if anyone does), I do miss writing whatever comes to mind like this. So I’ll try to do this, even if I don’t have something a little more conventional to write.

Lobes For Business Run In The Family

With all the hot topics being political lately, I’m having a hard time coming up with a topic that isn’t politics for this week. I don’t want this to turn into a political blog. Fuck knows, there’s a lot to say, a lot that needs doing, so if I wanted to make this a political blog, I certainly would have enough fodder. I’d also feel obligated to spend a whole hell of a lot more time reading up on political stuff, and I just don’t have the energy to do that. Particularly the emotional energy because so much of what’s going on lately is so frustrating or heartbreaking. So, let’s talk about something a lot more light hearted today. As I mentioned in Time and Divergence, I run a Star Trek RPG online called The USS Joshua Norton. We use a content management system called Nova, and the game is very much a collaborative writing project. For the most part, players come up with a character they wish to play within the setting, and craft a bio, then they either write by themselves or with others about events that happen in the setting. The command team function similar to how the Game Master (Dungeon Master, Storyteller, whatever) does in a tabletop game, but without dice involved, we focus more on the overarching plot and the bulk of the NPCs, though the players can, and often do, write some of these too!

Currently, we have a murder mystery on the side of our official mission. The official mission is pretty simple: we have a visiting Romulan Delegation on Earth, and the crew’s job is to keep an eye on them and see if any useful information comes up. Nothing unexpected has come up, which is why when the CO’s brother, Noah, shows up asking for help because some strangers are trying to kill his friend who saw the strangers kill a retired intel agent, Amelia picks a few of her crew to look into it. So far it smells of a cover up, and one of the mysterious men killed himself rather than be interrogated. A Ferengi overheard some information, which he sold to the Romulan delegation, and now we’ve got a race between them and the crew to reach evidence hidden by the dead retired intel officer. To add to the stakes, the crew has reason to believe that the big secret the retired intel officer was murdered over was the true story of how Captain Sisko brought the Romulans into the Dominion war — something that even though Starfleet HQ knew some of the story, they didn’t know the whole of it, and even the partial story could be enough to unravel the delicate peace between the Romulan people and the Federation.

Here’s a sample of one of our recent mission logs: “Want Some Whiskey In Your Water?” I like to use song lyrics for log titles, that one comes from Three Dog Night’s Mama Told Me (Not To Come).

Zola settled down at her terminal in her quarters, and opened the secure channel with the Latinum Star. She knew Catalina was off the Emperor, and guessed she wouldn’t be back for a while, but she’d set up a notification in the computer in case her roommate beamed back. Negotiations were delicate work, and though her brother was better than some of their species, someone he didn’t know, particularly a female, would put him on the defensive. Also, he’d spend more time leering than talking. Zola needed information, so it was a risk she couldn’t take.

“Ah, Zola, my favorite little sister,” he cooed at her as the channel connected, his wrists pressed together and his fingers curled in front of his chin as he nodded his head in greeting.

“Ah, Nug, my doddering senile younger brother. I am still the eldest, even if I found a shortcut you didn’t,” she returned in kind, extending the same gesture of greeting. He bared his teeth at her with a growl, and she smiled wide. “How’s business?”

“None of yours.”

“Funny you should say that, as Broq apparently did make it my business,” she returned. A frown passed Nug’s face, and Zola lifted her hand within view of the screen. She slowly let the gold pressed latinum tumble from her fist. “My friend acquired this from Broq, or at least I assume it was Broq, since he’s usually not stupidly aggressive unless there’s latinum already involved. I was told he was spitting in my friend’s face.”

“So they were Starfleet,” Nug said, and Zola laughed.

“Bold assumption.”

“Return Broq’s property.”

“Rule of Acquisition number one, brother,” she chastised, waving her finger at him. “We could negotiate what the return of his latinum and other property is worth to you though.” She settled back in her chair, crossing her arms as she waited for his response. He frowned and chewed his lip as he considered. “Though I’d be happy to give you what was his if you just push him out the airlock instead.”

For a little context: Zola and Nug are twins, with their Moogie having raised Zola, and their father having raised Nug. Presently, Zola has lived fewer year, despite having been born first, due to an unexpected one-way trip through a time traveling worm hole. Their Moogie had collected on Zola’s life insurance and bribed her way into the divine treasury long before Zola’s reappearance, so in order to avoid being brought up on fraud charges, she continues to act as if Zola truly is dead. The only family who acknowledges her as alive are her brother and father. She doesn’t really miss Ferengi society, because she’s never understood the drive to collect profit, so she’s been just fine continuing her career in Starfleet since the wormhole incident.

Finding Words

I’ll have had DeathKitten.net for 12 years coming up on the 24th of May, and SaturnGirl.net (which is currently set to mirror DeathKitten.net) since December 31st 2000. Over the years I’ve had various projects hanging off subdirectories and subdomains, but the main page on the site has always been intended to be a portfolio. I’ve been horrible about maintaining my efforts on that front, often times going years between updates and leaving things languishing even when broken (the style switcher *cough*), leaving really crappy old pieces of writing that dated back to high school up for everyone to see, and having a bio page that was old as sin.

I’ve found lately that the only writing I do is half-cocked rants on diaspora*, little quips on Twitter that mean nothing and seem to only gather notice when I’ve at-mentioned someone, or my writing for my Star Trek role play game (USS Joshua Norton because shameless plug). Even though the quality was pretty bad, there was a time where I carried around multiple notebooks and an accordion folder full of various fiction writings and random musings. That all seemed to die off after I had my backpack stolen with all my rough drafts and works in progress in it, and I never really sprung back from it.

Recently I had an opportunity come up in my twitter feed that I would have liked to try for. An editor was looking for writers for her site and other projects, because a couple of her existing writers had moved onto bigger things. When I followed up, she asked for writing samples in addition to some personal information… and I absolutely dropped the ball because I didn’t have anything already written that I felt was usable, and the suggested prompts she offered when we’d talked about it failed to resonate with me. It particularly bothered me that none of the prompts got me anywhere, because one of the pieces of advice I kept seeing from various authors and writers I admired seemed to boil down to the same thing: Just write. Don’t wait for the muse, don’t second guess yourself, just get your thoughts down until they’re all out. Once they’re down, you can go back and edit, clean them up, turn them into the finished work you’ll eventually show to others, but you can’t do that until such time as you’ve gotten them written out to start.

I feel like I’ve lost something of myself in not doing this long form writing anymore. I constantly feel like I have things to say, and if someone gives me their attention for any length of time, I’ll start ranting about whatever has me fired up lately — usually politics and the downward spiral it feels like the USA is on right now. But in the end, I feel like this ranting gets me nowhere and it feels like it rings hollow. I’ve never been particularly good at speaking off the top of my head, I’m too crass and hot headed for many people to take me seriously, and I feel very disorganized when speaking aloud. Public speaking is a skill, and it’s an especially difficult one to master without preparation before hand, and since I’m usually stumbling into conversations when I find a willing partner for conversation, I don’t often find myself well prepared.

My goal here is to try to get myself in the habit of writing regularly again. I’m not particular about if I’m writing fiction or non-fiction, I just want to get in the habit of getting words out. I want to get better at sharing my thoughts, and I want to make sure that when I’m expressing myself I am doing so in an articulate manner. To that end, I am aiming to post something on a weekly basis. I suppose if any of you want to help out, if anyone is reading this thing, feel free to ether harass me if you don’t see me posting stuff, or offer me topic suggestions. I really need to figure out this self motivation thing though, so I really hope I can keep myself on task with this.