momebie: (NNoD Caleb smoke)

[Source.]


I've started working on re-writing the WWII AU so that it's real. No one tell Em, I don't want her to get her hopes up.

. . .

With all of the national delegates convening in one place to discuss the growing alien crisis, the district had anticipated some sort of terrorist attack. Attempts had been made to create safe lighting zones with gas lamps erected in the streets. They were meant to help people get out of the city more safely in case of a technological attack. They made the men uneasy. The men were used to diffused electric and halogen glows that set a person's features in stone, not the mercurial shadow play that cast a person's demons across their skin as the light flickered with the fuel.

Heeden stepped out the front door of the hotel like she was leaving a bar and tilted her hat back, giving the signal to the boys hiding in the dark room across the street. With any luck it would be at least fifteen minutes before someone discovered the dead men upstairs. She lit a cigarette and pushed off the porch, expecting to see her men armed and in the alley in less than five.

Behind her, a familiar voice shot out of the shadows. "Still inflicting your bad habits on young men, I see," Aed said.

"If you're here to save them, you're too late," she sad.

"I don't suppose it matters whether you're talking about my superiors or the lost boys you've collected over the last year."

"No boy was ever more lost than you. Did the army ever give you a working compass?"

"My compass works fine," he said. "But it's hard to read, when access to a True North has been obscured."

"Fuck with the planet, it fucks back." She could see the glint of the guns across from her, waiting for her order. She took three quick sips of the cigarette, giving a signal with the burning tip to hold on. She stood stone still as his boots slapped across the concrete behind her.

"Did you bring him?" Aed whispered into her ear and wrapped his fingers around her hip. "Did we come all this way just so he could save you from me again? Does he know that this time you really need it?"
momebie: (NNoD Caleb smoke)
On the ground in New York City it was 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Where Grant was standing, with his toes over the edge of a 51st floor apartment, shoes crunching in the broken glass of the shattered floor to ceiling windows, it was much colder. The wind whistled through the empty spaces around him. He pulled up the collar on his black military jacket, huffed warm air over his chin, and looked down into the remains of what used to be Times Square. Or maybe it still was. Just because one civilization had left it behind didn’t mean that its characteristics would change until some other group came along and made it their own. It was going to be a while before the plants took the cities over so completely from neglect.

It would be the plants. The people of Earth had tried, no one else was coming.

And because Grant lived the kind of life that could never, ever depend on his conjecture, someone chose that exact moment to enter the apartment, tripping his makeshift alarm and causing an unholy racket along with ruining his poetic train of thought. “For the love of all that’s holy,” he said, turning around. “Can’t anyone ever, oh, it’s you.”

Nell was caught in a shadow box, the dark door frame she was standing in surrounded her as the golden doors of the elevator across the hall behind her caused her silhouette to pop in the near dark. She was wearing a grey peacoat and black pants, and had a semi-automatic rifle trained on him. He slowly pulled his hands from his pockets and spread his arms outward like broken wings.

“I killed you,” she said.

“You tried. It was a commendable effort, since I not only had to recover from the bullets, but also from the infection and dry socket I got when you removed my three gold teeth.” Out of habit, he ran his tongue over the empty spaces where his back left molars had been.

“I needed proof. It was that or your hand.” She stepped forward, lifting her foot over the spent trip wire.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “You can’t prove the teeth were mine, but fingerprints are unique. I wouldn’t need a hand if I was dead. Why the sudden swell of sympathy for the nearly dispatched?”

Nell lowered her gun and threw the strap over her shoulder. “I’m soft on ya, Gee, always have been.”

Grant relaxed, dropped his arms, and took a few steps toward the center of the room. It was for safety, just in case she decided to rush him and fling him from the window. “Always were a crazy bitch,” he said.

“You know any sane people in our line of work?”

“Touche.”

“You got anything to drink?” she said. “I’ve damn near climbed a million stairs to find you. My lips are chapped to bleeding and my throat feels like I’ve swallowed the oysters, shell and all.”

“No water. I’ve been rationing a bottle of top shelf whiskey for a week now.”

“That’ll do.”

He could feel Nell’s eyes on him as he crossed the room to the small apartment kitchen. Grant turned his back on her to pull the whiskey bottle from the over-the-stove cabinet. He poured the makeshift water into the bottle’s cap and turned to hand it to her.

“Didn’t these people have any real glasses?”

“Rationing means small sips.”

“Selfish prick.” She upended the cap in her mouth and hummed low in her throat as she swallowed. “That hurts all the way down.”

“Being selfish is one of my charms. Another one is that I’m not shooting you in the head right now. I’m a gentleman that way.”

“You wouldn’t expend the energy without an order and pay upfront.”

“For you I might make an exception, one of these days.”

Nell held out the cap and smiled, stretching the skin tight over her chin and cheek bones. He remembered her as a beauty with a glow in her eyes. The last time he saw her she had been fuller in the cheeks and chest, her dark hair flowing around her shoulders instead of cropped to above her ears. Living was treating her worse than death ever would, but that didn’t quell the urge to run his knife across her tan, ropey throat.

“More,” she said.

Grant nodded and poured again, and again, and again. She took shot after shot and tossed them back like she was trying to extinguish the flame in her gut. He thought about how vulnerable he felt with his toes sticking out into the air. He’d spent an hour that way every day, just contemplating jumping, but not being able to.

He was afraid death wouldn’t take him. He was afraid Nell would. He was afraid of the morning light. He was afraid of his next job, which was the only one of the four that he could successfully hide from, as long as he had a stable supply of forgotten booze to claim.

The last drop dribbled into the cap and Nell had to practically lick it out with her white, dehydrated tongue. “What else have you got for me?”

“I think there’s a mini bar on the next floor up,” he said. “A cavalry line of cheap vodka just waiting to be taken.”

“So let’s walk the plank.” She tossed the cap toward the open window and frowned when it fell just short of it.

“Let’s, mate,” he said. He moved past her, then spun around and snatched the rifle from her shoulder. Before she could grab for it he brought the butt of the gun up into her nose and knocked her out cold across the once-white carpet, now grey with mildew. She had been right about not being worth the energy, but that didn’t mean he didn’t always catch exactly what he was after.

This post was written in response to [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol Exhibit A, Week Two Topic: Throw back the little ones. Concrit and comments are welcome.
momebie: (NNoD Caleb smoke)
TITLE: Still, Life After
AUTHOR: [livejournal.com profile] momebie
RATING: PG
WORD COUNT: 691
FEEDBACK: On || FEEDBACK TYPE: Tactful
WARNING: Character injury.
SUMMARY: Aed doesn't depend on others and he doesn't know why they depend on him.
PROMPTS: "write a still-life"
A/N: This was really hard to pull out once I settled on the scenario, which is unusual for me. I don't know if that works for or against it. Also, in case Snow In Florida is confusing: it's the future! Weather patterns be damned!

Every time two men stand toe-to-toe there should be seconds at their sides. Rajin has brought one. From fifty paces their long black coats appear to hang on them like Spanish moss clinging heavy to dead trees. Aed has tried his damnedest to come alone. )
momebie: (Mighty Boosh Vince Still My Heart)
So, it happened. I was voted off in the Second Round poll. But I feel like placing 18 (based on the vote tally at the closing of the poll) in an original pack of 250 or so is a pretty awesome thing. It's definitely better than I thought I'd do by, ooooooh, 200 or so. That's not a unique feeling for the competition though, and since I don't feel like I have a lot of unique feelings I'm just going to focus on myself for the time being.

Here are some numbers that I find interesting, because sometimes Em rubs off on me (oh baby):
Entries: 23
Fiction: 20
Entries in the BDESFN 'verse: 3
Entries in the Steampunk 'verse: 3
Entries in new 'verses: 14

That's a lot of new head canon, guys. When I go back and look at the last several years of writing--the three since I started working with the Steampunk characters in particular*--I look at a lot of empty space. I look at a lot of time spent feeling inadequate and unable to relay the worlds in my head to people outside of it. I look at a lot of time sat in front of blank documents and a lot of half finished stories that I just lost passion for before I got to the editing stage.

The bottom line is that I LOVE creating worlds and I love research and I love getting to know my characters, but I have a hard time carving out which parts of the story to keep or not keep and actually sitting my ass down to FINISH things. Teaching myself to do that was one of my goals for this year and I think that's the greatest thing I've taken away from all of this. For twenty some odd weeks (roughly) in a row I sat down and made something happen. I tugged at my brain and things actually came out of it. Sometimes things I liked quite a bit. And that bit is invaluable. I'm going to try and take that training and run with it as I complete that first draft of The Steampunk this year (if it kills me) and get working on the BDESFN in earnest.

Basically, thank you Idol, you've given me a lot. I'm glad I let [livejournal.com profile] bewize convince me to try this crazy thing. I'm glad I let [livejournal.com profile] theemdash talk me out of quitting weeks ago. I'm glad to have gotten to know all of you. I think most of you who want to be friends with me have probably already asked, but if you do and you're feeling hesitant, please go ahead and just let me know. I don't bite until the third date. I like biting! It's like kissing but with a winner!


* My god, it's been three years since I started working on The Steampunk. And look what I have to show for it. This is my whole point.

In news altogether unrelated to writing, Brendon Urie is still in the universe being REALLY FREAKING ADORABLE and I almost can't take it. Like, just seeing him smile fills me to the brim with joy and I wish I knew why because it makes me feel seriously predatory and creepy when I think about it. BUT I MEAN, JUST LOOK AT HIM.

momebie: (NNoD Caleb smoke)
Original fiction.
1033 words.



Caleb's cup was empty again. He stood up on loose legs and swayed in front of his cot, looking around for the bottle of vodka. It was a small room that he and Rajin shared on the compound. Clean and bare with hardwood floors and white walls that reflected the light from their battery powered lanterns. Rajin was hunched over the small table between the beds, clutching the bottle close to him. It was almost empty. Caleb fell back onto his cot and kicked his legs out. "The first," he said softly, just to feel his lips move.

"What?" Rajin looked up at him, his eyelids and mouth both drooping. Some people looked interesting when they were drinking, Caleb thought. Rajin looked like a sleeping basset hound.

Caleb cleared his throat. "I said, the first messages we sent into space were so clumsy. It's a wonder they granted us audience with the counsel at all."

In Caleb's life before, when he was working to build robotic ambassadors to send to the newly found life in space, the main problem had been automated reasoning. The problem with automated reasoning was that they could never figure out how to make machines think in ways that were 100% predictable.

In Caleb's life now, the main problem was with human reasoning, because humans did tend to think in ways that were 100% predictable.

Rajin said, "oh right, Beethoven."

With machines there was always a theorem that couldn't be proven. There was always an algorithm that needed to be looked at again. Caleb really missed working with machines. "Not just, but yeah, Beethoven. How arrogant was that? Like our infantile attempts at what we call music could possibly mean anything to another form of life."

"Who's to say they wouldn't?" Rajin cocked his head. "If you were going to receive a transmission from another form of life, having no previous knowledge of that life's existence, what would you want?"

"What do you mean?"

"All I'm saying is," Rajin paused to tip the bottle back and lick at the final drops of alcohol as they trickled down the neck. He wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve. "There was nothing that was going to make sense, so we might as well have sent the music. It's important to us, anyway."

Caleb had spent a solid month and a half going over the primitive recursive functions used in the Alien Speech Mode Shift program before he found the cause of the redundant cycle. Now he was lucky if he got a radio that worked for an hour. It was funny the way things worked out. Funny. It was the word she had used. It's what his commander had said when Caleb joined the rebelling ranks. Yeah. Fucking hilarious.

"What good is it showing them the most important parts of us first? It's rash, leaving our hands in the open like that." And immature, which was one of the first words the robotic ambassador had brought back with it. In Caleb's former life, if a machine couldn't perform a task 100% of the time, then it really wasn't any more useful than a person. If that was the most damning statement you could apply to a machine, how did it reflect the worth of humans?

"Do you not consider that to be one of our most defining characteristics?"

"Should have just stayed out of the whole mess." Caleb could feel his eyelids getting heavy. He was thirsty. He swallowed and it stung.

"Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda." Rajin stood up and kicked his chair toward the wall. "Do you want any water? We've got early reveille, and you're an absolute bitch when you're hung over."

To Caleb, algorithms were beautiful because you could break them down into their components and each piece meant something, even when it was divorced from the whole. People were something else entirely, and even after six months on the compound it was still hard for him to share space with another person without resenting them. He'd lucked out with Rajin, who was actually quite intelligent, despite looking like he'd been born and raised in the state pen.

When Caleb broke Rajin down into parts he still made sense. As a military defect. As a college drop out. As a person who valued freedom of thought. As being slightly gullible enough to believe in a cause. Every part of Rajin carried the beauty of sense. This confused Caleb, who had always seen all people, even himself, as inferior to the possibility of pure automated reasoning.

"You're looking at me funny again," Rajin said.

Caleb shook his head and looked down at his feet. "Yeah, water please." He held his glass out for Rajin to collect and take away. Alone now, he let himself fall sideways. He curled up on top of the rough blanket that was draped over his bed.

He hated thinking of himself as lost and misunderstood. It was a phase he didn't go through in his teens because he'd been too busy with work, and it would be ridiculous for him to pick up the habit now when there was still so much work to do. But the truth was, Caleb was going to fail his mission. Even though Rajin was intelligent and thoughtful, there was no way Caleb could make him understand about the machines. Not short of figuring out how to implant his knowledge right into Rajin's brain anyway. This, as far as Caleb knew, was a technology that was still in the testing stages and didn’t always go well. He needed to, though, if either of them were going to make it to the end of the war alive. There was something he was still missing.

Caleb believed that human thought was predictable 100% of the time. You just had to know which parts of the algorithm were present. If he could break Rajin into components, maybe he could break down the others too. Maybe then his world view would make sense again. Maybe then he could figure out what he was missing in the machines and make that right as well. Maybe. Sometimes it was just funny how things turned out.


This entry was written for Topic 13: Inside Baseball at [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. All comments and questions are welcome.
momebie: (Angel Sanctuary setsuna torn)
Original fiction.
795 words.


Diary excerpts relating to a certain preoccupation held by Private First Class Aed ______ prior to his change in field duty.

Psychological treatment requested by Dr. Whitman Farrar.

Cataloged by Mille Ernst, psychiatric assistant.



Feb 13, 2066 – 13:45

I have been assigned a new bunk mate. It's been nearly a month that I've been on my own, and I've gotten used to being left to my idiosyncrasies, so I regret that you seem to have found someone who doesn't know of my reputation. He's barely more than a child, so it's no wonder I had a dream about shooting him. You will no doubt try to analyze my subconscious’s motives in this choice of scenario, but I don't really feel there is anything to find by doing that. A dream is merely a thing of great inconsequence. The thing I find most puzzling about the dream was the snow. It was fresh and new. All snow here turns to muddy slush within hours.


Feb 27, 2066 – 09:10

R____'s foot locker is a disaster. He has failed inspection five times since he arrived. He talks incessantly. I do not see the wisdom that wishes to treat my so-called sociopathic tendencies by essentially leaving me in the charge of a pet. If it will end this experiment quickly I will share with you that from the ages of seven through sixteen every pet I was given care of ended up dead within a month. I will indulge your scenario for another week before I appeal to the Military Medical Board for a ruling of DTO.

I also do not see the wisdom in taking down these mundane occurrences.


Mar 15, 2066 – 01:00

R____ laughs too loudly. He draws attention to himself that I find to be a hindrance to the operation of our unit.


Mar 16, 2066 – 12:35

I have noted in R____ a tendency to misplace affection. He appears to be blissfully unaware of the fact that in most cases, the bigger the smile, the sharper the knife. She has a very wide smile. If she ever turns it on me, I will slit her throat.


April 1, 2066 – 00:13

This evening he asked me if I thought the means with which the military explored new technology needed to be justified in the end. I told him that if I had wanted to fritter away my time pondering irrelevancies I would have become a philosopher and not a soldier.


April 4, 2066 – 15:00

He disappeared yesterday evening after dinner. When he returned he was visibly shaken. I did not ask about the business he had so urgently needed to attend to and he did not offer up any information.


April 10, 2066 – 07:45

R____ has not laughed in days. It's a strange bit of information that weighs on my thoughts. I used to think him foolish, now to think of him at all is confusing. I hate everything about him, and yet I feel a certain jealousy when I see the two of them together. Her talk of Change is distracting and dangerous. Soldiers should be solutions, not catalysts. All the same, I find I admire his naivete, even as I condemn him for it.


April 30, 2066 – 03:30

I dreamt that we fit together like two pieces broken from the same statue. When I awoke it was the act of breaking off that stuck with me.


May 5, 2066 – 18:12

By now you will no doubt have heard what happened.


June 8, 2066 – 23:40

I took her from him, just as she had taken him from me. She would not tell me what it was that she had him steal from our base that night he went AWOL. She would not admit that she had coerced him into throwing away his future. She would not concede that the military has a responsibility to control the people for the good of the people.

I killed her with her own knife and then wiped it off on her jacket. I'm keeping the blade as a souvenir.


July 4, 2066 – 07:00

It has been nearly two months that I've been on my own. I sometimes wake in the night, feeling his hands on me, roughly shaking me. Demanding that I come with him. In my mind I've told him to leave a hundred times. To get out and never come back. Last night I had a dream that I shot him. The snow was crisp and new and the blood congealed in it. The thing that bothers me the most about it was the surprise in his eyes. It shouldn't have been a surprise that I would shoot a traitor, and he knows my reputation.


This entry was written for Topic 9: Marching Orders at [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. All comments and questions are welcome.
momebie: (FOB Pete Hide)
Original fiction.
~750 words.


“I should be dead,” Heeden said. To living people death was often no more than a theory. Everyone around them could die, but as long as they were alive there was still hope. They might still have some quality the others had lacked. They might be able to survive forever. Knowing that she had died and could probably die again made Heeden feel vulnerable and small. It was not a feeling she had time for. She focused on the rage instead. She focused on the fire that had once burned inside of her.

With her fingertip, she traced the scar that ran across the side of her neck. The knife blade had been cold against her skin. On that night the whole world had been cold. She remembered her murderer’s face, the sarcastic little smile and the way the alley shadows had darkened his eyes. When he told her he was going to kill her, his breath had come out in puffs of vapor that danced around his chin and then floated away. Her soul should have followed.

Would you rather be dead?

That was going to take some getting used to, the way the words just cut across her thoughts. “I don’t know.”

Before her death, Heeden hadn’t known about the experiments the government had been running on captured alien consciousnesses. She wished she had. It would have added so much fuel for her little rebel cause. That’s what Aed had always called it. Her little rebel cause. As if the people didn’t stand a chance against the military. The fucker. She was going to kill him.

But for now she needed to figure out how to work with the alien consciousness they’d planted inside her. From what she could tell she was the only human to survive the transplant with her mind intact. Of course, the bodies they’d been working with had generally been longer dead than hers. Perhaps it was just that her soul had still been in the area, had been called back when it sensed life. Two weeks ago she hadn’t believed in souls.

“And what about you?” All she knew about it was that it was called Bravd and that it had been a prisoner on its home planet. That was before they’d shipped it all the way out here in case the humans became a problem. Why dirty the hands of innocents when you could take advantage of those that had already taken advantage of others? Life was the same everywhere. It was knowledge that disappointed Heeden. “I got my life back, but trapped in here with me you’ve just gone from one prison to another. You’ve gotten the raw end of the deal.”

At least here I am afforded some sense of freedom. It is your freedom, but it is freedom nonetheless. I will not be contained in blackness for long stretches of time.

“Maybe,” she said. “We don’t know what happens to you when I die. Again.”

I will simply have to learn to manipulate your limbs.

“That’s probably not a bad idea anyway. Two in a fight is better than one, even if they are sharing the weapon. We’ll work on it.” And then, lightly, as if she’d just thought of it she asked, “How did you keep from going insane?”

I did not. I lost track of everything while I was in the prison. My time there was an uphill battle.

“What did you do? To get you landed there, I mean.”

Does it matter?

“Not really.” She shook her head out of habit. She was going to have to learn to communicate with it more subtly if she was going to use it to her advantage. “How do I keep from going insane? No offense, but I’m still not quite comfortable with the extra conscience. I’ve made it this far without a cricket on my shoulder.”

Maybe insanity is the only option.

That wasn’t good enough. “They need me. All of me.”

Everyone has someone who needs them. But you have to allow yourself to break if you are ever to be strong enough to do what they need you to do. If you do not, you will stay brittle. In your current state you are of use to no one.

She sighed. “An interlude then.”

An interlude.

“Lord, give me strength.” They were empty words. Another habit she’d picked up from the people around her. She never expected an answer. Not knowing this, Bravd gave her one anyway.

Only you can do that, little one.


This entry was written for Topic 6: Not of Your World at [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. For those with no context, it's part of a larger work I often call the Big Damn Existential Scifi Novel. All comments are welcome.
momebie: (NNoD Caleb smoke)
Before I get started in on the panel I just want to say that the Psycho City Roller Derby season opener was awesome and everyone in Orlando should go out to at least one date this season. You can find the info here. My favorite derby name from last night was Erin Gobrawl. Roller derby looks like a lot of fun to be involved in. Too bad I can't stand up on anything more unstable than a kitten heel.


The Military in Science Fiction panel was interesting, to say the least. The topic had promise, but the panel itself was kind of a train wreck after the final panelist showed up. He came in late and tried to set up a sign that said "War Is Not the Answer" before another panelist made him put it away. He then introduced himself with a long speech, the basic gist of which was that we need to be able to peacefully prevent deadly conflict. As unorganized as the panel was after that, the pacifist point of view was interesting to have in the discussion amongst the voices of ex-military folk sitting on the panel and in the room.

Whether or not the military is a crutch in science fiction and the Big Damn Existential Scifi Novel. )

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