Friday, February 29, 2008

Nikolas

Nk (elemental)

properties:
2320 amu
800 atomic number
ionization energy = 1 picojoule/mole
atomic radius=200 angstroms (1/50 cell size?)

forms:
Nikolous Acid
H800Nk
Ka = 10^40

conjugate base
Nk800-
Kb = 10^-54

"Like the Death Star of atoms:
- large
-- (smaller than nature)
- powerful
--will melt you
- impractical"

The best thing to come out of chemistry, ever.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nikolas University.

Founded in 2042, with monies from Mr. Z, head of Nikolasco.

1200 faculty, with 388 Nobel laureates.

5 lab buildings, with a hospital and a particle accelerator.

12,000 enrollment.

Median scores:
GPA 3.95/4.65
SAT 2380
ACT 35

Admission 4.2%

Alumni:
356 Nobel Prize winners
82 heads of state

Located in scenic Stockholm.

Nine-hundred Plosts contained within - the Plost being of course the unit of plot, as measured in utils, that is the ratio of plot to utility, for the plot of this blog post, which had no plot, or plosts, but is now naturally reaching the equilibrium point, and gaining plot, and plosts, due to Le Chatelier's Law, which is a principle you will learn if you go to Nikolas University.

Apply today!

Imaginary Conversation

Not sure if this belongs on the blag. There are worse things, I suppose.

1: Oh, I'm terrible at shaving "down there". You know.
2: "Down there".
1: Yes. It's a big problem, very annoying, very unsightly.
2: You know, most men don't shave "down there".
1: Really? Most guys I see - well, if they don't, then they must be just naturally much better groomed than I.
2: ...how many guys do you see "down there?"
1: Well - I'm only in high school, so not SO many, I suppose.
2: SO many? Hasn't your mother taught you better?
1: Taught me better what? She's been against my beard from the beginning, much less FURTHER extension!
2: What?
1: What?
2: ...have you been referring to neck hair for this entire discussion?
1: Why? What have you been talking about?
2: ...I choose to pretend this discussion never happened.

Fin.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Penisgame

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BEGIN


PENISGAME
v 0.01.5
©1989 Nikolas & Co. AG
====

BEGIN

SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:08:23): Welcome to Penisgame
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:08:23): you are in a giant penis
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:08:26): it is dark
Player_1 (23:08:55): >look penis
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:09:44): you see a penis
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:09:47): it is penising
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:09:48): to you
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:09:51): in a soft manner
Player_1 (23:10:00): >talk penis
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:08): suddenly it grows fangs
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:11): and kills you
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:13): with venom
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:14): you die
Player_1 (23:10:16): >penis
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:17): GAME OVER
Player_1 (23:10:21): waugh
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:32): restart?
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:32): 10
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:33): 9
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:34): 8
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:35): 7
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:36): 6
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:37): 5
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:38): 4
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:39): 3
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:41): 2
Player_1 (23:10:42): >y
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:46): WELCOME
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:47): TO
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:52): PENISGAME
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:10:57): insert coin
Player_1 (23:11:06): >ƒ
Player_1 (23:11:18): it is a florin
Player_1 (23:11:20): symbol
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:11:36): due
Player_1 (23:11:37): i will use capital f from now on
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:11:38): so cool
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:11:39): ok
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:11:48): the machine spits out the coin
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:11:54): and says
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:11:57): PLEASE INSERT
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:12:01): GOODER COIN
Player_1 (23:12:12): >F
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:12:24): the machine gets mad at you
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:12:27): and grows fangs
Player_1 (23:12:33): >penis
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:12:34): and starts to attack
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:12:36): you penis
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:12:40): the macine is placated
Player_1 (23:12:40): >penis
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:12:46): but
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:12:50): it is out of power
Player_1 (23:12:58): :(
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:13:08): what do you so
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:13:09): do
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:13:18): dude
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:13:21): it is a meta-game
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:13:34): you are inside an arcade
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:13:38): a broken penisgame machine
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:13:40): stands
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:13:43): before you
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:13:49): it is loud and crowded
Player_1 (23:13:53): >talk penisgame
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:13:57): it is briken
Player_1 (23:14:02): >touch penisgame
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:14:06): nothing happens
Player_1 (23:14:13): >peni penisgame
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:14:17): nothing happens
Player_1 (23:14:20): >penis penisgame
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:14:22): people stare at you
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:14:28): quizacally
Player_1 (23:14:39): >love penisgame
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:14:44): nothing happens
Player_1 (23:14:48): >talk people
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:14:54): they look busy
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:15:00): you'd better not disturb them
Player_1 (23:15:09): >look people
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:15:21): there are stereotypical gamers
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:15:23): and junkies
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:15:25): and like
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:15:26): wasouts
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:15:30): playing
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:15:32): varous games
Player_1 (23:15:44): >look games
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:15:55): it could be dangerous. you'd better not
Player_1 (23:16:10): >look area
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:16:12): it could be dangerous. you'd better not
Player_1 (23:16:25): >exit area
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:16:27): it could be dangerous. you'd better not
Player_1 (23:16:32): >penis
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:16:40): people stare at you
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:16:42): quizicaly
Player_1 (23:16:46): >stare people
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:16:48): it could be dangerous. you'd better not
Player_1 (23:17:04): >penis people
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:17:16): one dude passes by
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:17:19): and you penis him
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:17:25): he stares at you
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:17:28): quizically
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:17:36): he stops in front of you
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:17:38): concerned
Player_1 (23:17:45): >talk dude
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:17:49): he say
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:18:21): hvad læver du?
Player_1 (23:19:04): >touch dude
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:19:20): he withdraws
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:19:22): and he say
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:19:42): nej kommer ikke fra det
Player_1 (23:19:49): >lagom
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:20:04): i dont understand
Player_1 (23:20:11): >say lagom
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:20:19): he goes away
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:20:36): just then
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:20:41): a man comes to you
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:20:42): he say
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:20:54): vilkommen til danmark
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:21:19): vilkommen til kobnhavn aeroport
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:21:30): jeg have a mission for you
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:21:43): i will give you 5000 florins
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:21:54): if you kann get a womon
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:22:04): in fire days
Player_1 (23:22:20): >say lagom
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:22:26): you accept the mission
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:22:32): you have 5 days
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:22:36): starting now
Player_1 (23:22:55): >exit aeroport
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:22:59): you are outside
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:23:08): you see many beautiful tinge
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:23:12): and hot womon
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:23:15): on the streets
Player_1 (23:23:34): >accost womon
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:23:50): she say
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:23:54): hej
Player_1 (23:23:58): >F
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:24:05): i dont understand
Player_1 (23:24:12): >give F
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:24:20): you dont have any F
Player_1 (23:24:37): >say hej
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:24:55): hej
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:25:05): hvor kommer du
Player_1 (23:25:15): >say lagom
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:25:24): nothign happens
Player_1 (23:25:30): >inv
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:25:33): you have
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:25:35): nothing
Player_1 (23:25:48): >touch womon

///////////////////CENSOR////////////////////////

SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:27:23): she says
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:27:24): dude
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:27:27): what are you doing
Player_1 (23:28:27): >say perceiving the world through touch
Player_1 (23:28:37): >say for science
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:28:52): she is creeped out
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:28:54): and about to leave
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:29:00): press h for helpful hints
Player_1 (23:29:06): >h
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:29:13): PROTIP: ask her for sex
Player_1 (23:29:24): >ask for sex
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:29:33): she looks at you disgusted
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:29:34): she say
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:29:38): what is wrong with you
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:29:43): she leaves
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:29:44): in a full
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:29:47): huff
Player_1 (23:30:06): >look area
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:30:11): you see
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:30:14): no hot womons
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:30:16): within
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:30:19): 5 miles
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:30:24): you failed the mission
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:30:29): the guy who offered the money
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:30:33): was a gangster
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:30:34): and he
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:30:36): kill you
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:30:40): GAME OVER
Player_1 (23:30:40): >penis
Player_1 (23:30:43): noooooooooo
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:31:41): dude
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:31:44): you suck
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:31:49): you should not follow
SYSTEM_00129_20 (23:31:52): the PROTIPS


ENDLINE

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Dark Is Rising (in Isselande)

This is the truth.

The King of Isselande, Erik Gustav etc. etc., did travel out to the farthest extent of his lands, to survey their status, and investigate the honesty of their mayors, and hunt for deer, and eat a bit of cheese, because it's really hard to get at the Fortress where the King ruled in those days (the Citadel, they would say, but there are accents), and also to look for traces of the Crow King's influence, who the King much feared and despised, and worried about attack. And lo, for this purpose, the King did bring many coursers, and men, and dogs, and women, so that he might hunt out any enemies of Isselande.

Lo, for five days and five nights did he travel in this manner, and did he find not deer, nor spies, nor cheese, though hard did he look. On the sixth day, he did travel to the small town of Grummthorpenheim, where he did find no sign of treachery; but one of his retinue did point to him the ominous circling crows, waiting to the east. The King readied sword, and watched as the crows approached, alerted by the evil omen.

Then did a creature arise; dark it was, but more none could say, for all averted their eyes, horrified and compelled to look away. Lo, the King's archers did levy shafts at it, firing blindly in fear, but their efforts were in vain; still did the creature reach out to steal away the soul of the King. With courage and determination, the King braced himself, and stared into the eyes of oblivion; and with his sword readied he delivered three swift blows, cutting the shadow with will as much as steel, sending it back whence he came.

Shaken but alert, the King did dispatch his men, telling them to scour the countryside for more evils such as this. No more evils did they find: but on their return, two days hence, they brought him a creature of the Crow King, message in hideous mishappen hand: "To the Barons of Isselande, I offer you wealth, and ask only your fealty," it began.

The King studied the missive carefully, and sent his own to his Barons, who he had himself raised to power, and watched as they succeeded and failed over the last years (from rich to poor, poor to rich), which began:

"It is time for war."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nikôlas

"Nikolas!" cried Kelsey. "Nikólas?"

"Nikôlas." replied Nikolas. "Nikólas?"

"Nikolas," said Kelsey. "Nikolas, nikolas, nikolas." Then he shoved Nikolas, crying "Nikolas, nikòlas!"

Nikolas arose slowly. "Nikólas," Nikolas said. "Nikòlas!"

Kelsey and Nikolas stared.

"Nikolas, nikôlas," a voice said. "Nikôlas! Nikôlas!"

Nikolas felt nikôlas. And itte wasse goode.

(nikôlas.)

Chronicles of Desmond, Chapter 179, Part Thracia

sex. The sixth one this month. One day desmond moved to the plains of Gronthos where he harvested the organs of dragons. They were delicious grilled and fried and served in canapés. And then Nikolas came, with his 25 concubines, and he offered them to desmond for meat, for he was hongrie. But Desmond refused, for he was righteous, and also saw through to Nikolas (the Ratte-kinge)'s true identity, whom he struck down instantly. Then they had sex: the end.


(Two persons alternated sentences in the writing of this post.)

The Maths and a Nikolas

there was a nikolas in the field and he took the lives of many men
and then they came together and tied him up
and they ran him around

one day a Nikolas came into the room, whereupon at least 10 womons surrounded him and accosted him with many fine gifts and bartered for him with sticks, and one by one he went up to them and violated them

on the next day the Nikolas created the world

On a monday night a Nikolas and his company came upon the maths club, where there were many bustling activities, and they did cram into a small room, such that the men and the womoen were touching in very embarrasing ways, such that the room measured no longer than 10 cubits across, and the depth was the same, and the height taller by ony 3 cubits, and reserving room for the professor, each man was pressed up against at least 3 omeons, and they were indeed pleased, and satisifted, and pleasured, and it was good.

And then the maths commenced, and there was much rejoicing, and celebrating, and crying about, and wailing, and Nikodim came up to the front and drew obsecne likenesses of the paritcipants on the white-board, and they were very much insulted, such that they took revenges upon him by copulating many times, in his sight, yet without his participation, such that he was very much tempted, though, being a gentle-man, did not intrude upon them, for the was the way of an educated man, and it was good.

And it came to pass, that the Nikolas, after the fiasco, resumed his seat, in the heat of the den, and they did the maths some more, and then had a ploughman's lunch, and cold pickles, and mead, and rum, and they did take a siesta, and after this, they did take more maths, and it was good.

And it came to pas, that the Nikolas, seeing many wonderful mathes structures, did merrily come, and do good things to them, and bad things, and he did violate them, and he did derive much pleasuyre from them, and it was good.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Something


Illustration first, post later, for once.

(I may have a more finished version for the text-post. Or, I may not.)

The Enemy of All Parrots

The enemy of all parrots - their antithesis, of a sort - lurks in the dark corners of the world. He is not evil. He is not good. He merely - is.

He is not a friend of many things. The cat - no. He shuns her. The dog - no. He despises the dog. (Though with good reason.) The fish, the frogs - these he will tolerate, though with merely intermittent affection.

But it is the parrot who earned his undying hatred - and thereby, equal hatred earned from.

It was a terrible time. The rain poured down on the roof-top. The snow showered down the chimney, melting in the flames. The sun shone brightly, baking all who went out-of-doors. The land was neither hospitable to man nor beast. So it was that the Enemy - though not such yet - arrived at the house of the Parrot. He asked, and gained entry, and respite from the hostility of the clime. But with this he was not content - he ate of the parrot's food, and drank of her water, and even devoured those treats which were given her for her greatest feats.

The parrot was astonished at this behavior, and told him, "If you so abuse my hospitality further, I shall bite you!" - this of course being said in the parrot-tongue. But the Enemy (still not yet) knew only a trifling of that tongue, enough to gain entry, but not enough to understand the warning. He ate - and was bitten - and, agonized, driven from the house and into the terrible clime, found within himself hatred for the parrot, and, indeed, all parrots. So it was that he became the Enemy - and, through plotting and vile schemes laid against Parrotkind, did he earn equal enmity in turn.

The end has not yet come. Before total destruction of Parrot or Enemy, there is still some chance of peace - but only Parrot even looks toward it, and the Enemy of All Parrots considers it not at all.

That, perhaps, being the saddest result of all.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nikolaus og den Trylleri Leg

Igår den Nikolaus og kompagni blev hen til den hus i den bandit, og de legede mange mystisk idræt, og de sang, og indeværende er at handling.

Først, den Nikolaus var i hans hus, der hvor han forsøgt hen til hidkalde den Kessler mangedobbelt, men han var i en vand-skab, og han var afvaskning hans legeme, og han var ligeledes overdækket i adskilligt og lidelse, og han lægge i en warm påstå, og han til sidst , den Nikolaus kom hen til den hus i den Kessler, og han gjorde afsynge magisk sang hen til den Kessler, og den Kessler, fristelse, kom hen til den automobil i den Nikolaus, og de jage af, og den var artig.

Og så er der ikke mere de kom hen til den hus i den bandit, og så er der ikke mere de blev hen til den parlor, og de snakkede slut kaffe og noget cigar, og de legede oven på den computer boks, og de sad nede og Kessler fik en ringe stol fordi han var en ringe menneskene, og de legede hos den terning og den stor papirer i den magisk sager, og den var artig.

Og så er der ikke mere den Kessler igen, og den Nikolaus i glæde sang ud, nemlig han kan ikke lide den Kessler, og så er der ikke mere han dræbt den bandit, nemlig han kan ikke lide sig, og den var artig.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Audiosurf

This is pretty cool. From independent developers, distributed through a tool named STEAM. I will explain.

The notion is that... well, the tagline is something like "play your music," which is right, but unhelpful. I guess I'll go through it with these screenshots, helpfully placed throughout. First, you go through a tutorial. (Optional, not shown.) Then you choose one of several characters, at various difficulties. They're shown above, as well as some achievements that one may earn. The sharp-eyed may notice something wrong. This is because the game is odd.

Then you choose from music - I mostly play my own, but the game comes with some - to play on. The game converts music - mp3, flac, m4a, wma, the works - into what it unhelpfully calls "tracks". Fast bits are "downhill", faster, worth more points, and harder. Slow bits, the converse: Uphill, slower, worth fewer points, on average. The conversion process is quite swift, and entirely painless. Once it's done:

You play.

This is one of the standard modes. In the standard modes, a series of blocks, roughly corresponding to notes (and, inexplicably, referred to as "cars" in the game") proceed along a track. So does your craft, and it is your responsibility to, through intersecting with the "cars", cause them to rest in the grid (shown above) congruent to other blocks of the same colour, such that they will explode into a lovely shower of shimmery things and points. Various point values give you "medals", and there is also an online scoreboard for every song which tracks performance. One needn't compete, but the option is there. Also, there are modifiers - weird things that paint the entire grid one hue (allowing massive combos), give a point multiplier, spawn blocks into the grid, etc. But they're not the point.

This was a poor choice on my part. It's hard to see in the screenshot, but I'm failing miserably. Whoops! (This is "mono" mode, not to be confused with the disease, in which one must only collect one colour, and avoid the gray. It is the hardest difficulty mono mode; thus my troubles.)

The point is that it is all to the music. The blocks are roughly synced, both in speed and value; on "jerkier" tracks, especially ones heavy on percussion, I have noted the track to almost lurch forward with the music. (It's cool.) The ship vibrates and bounces up and down; strange and alien shapes in the background spin and wind as the music plays. It is very strange but entirely integrated.

Flaws. Always some. Occasional bugs. Has problems with a few songs. (Not many.) Point values for medals are rather too high on shorter songs, too low on longer ones; three to four minutes is the sweetspot.

No real major flaw that I've found, though.

Anyway, the whole thing's $10. Also, there's a demo. Have a shot at it! You probably won't regret it.

Rocket Church

Richard turned to the pilot. "Tell me we can get this thing off the ground in five," he pleaded.

The pilot, dressed in a somber suit and wearing a cross around his neck, shook his head. "Sorry, Rich. The dilithium tanks are nearly dry, and the trilinear capacitators take a full five minutes to run up to spin, unless you want them to overheat and cook the whole east wing. I'm going to need at least eight minutes to get enough fuel to get us off the ground - fifteen, if you want us to get to Westland in one piece, and not as a pile of masonry."

"I don't have fifteen minutes," Richard told the pilot, desperation in his voice. "I don't have ten minutes! Every minute is another dozen Christians lost. Isn't there anything you can do?" he begged.

The pilot shook his head, his face impassive. "Sorry, Father. You'll have to manage this one on your own. I've got my own fish to fry." An indicator turned amber; the pilot pressed a few buttons, sending tones ringing out through the church "organ", and it went out again.

Distantly, Richard heard a crash from beyond the great wooden doors of the church's innermost sanctuary/engine room. The distinctive spit of energy bolts swelled in volume and number; churchgoers outside began to scream and cry out. Richard covered his head with his hands; then, as the noise died down, he moved to a side room. Quickly, scrabbling in the dark, he found the church's deepest secret. Then, knees trembling, he went before the engine organ, facing the door.

"How long has it been?" he asked.

"Five minutes," the pilot told him.

Richard had no time to fret over this latest revelation; the doors, gilted and covered in ivory carvings, crashed open. People filed in; some armed, some not. Some were children. Richards, aghast, gazed at the assembled masses. "Maria," he whispered. "Erich. Lawson. St-John. You were mine. What happened to you?" he cried out, anguished. "Why have you turned against me, the prelate of the Church of the Corner of Miller and Bollinger?"

The crowds said nothing, merely staring at him silently, swaying and shuffling as more and more filled the front of the sanctum to bursting. One whispered, at the edge of hearing, "He is coming. He is coming." A woman took up the chant; then another. It spread, echoing and rippling back and forth.

"Who is coming?" Johnson asked, despairing. "Who? The Cardinal of the Catholics, here to turn the congregation to his filthy popish deviltry? The Rabbis of the Jews, come to steal the New Testament from us? The Smith of the Mormons, shambling yet in some hideous unliving travesty of evil? Or that danged Father Sam from down the street, jealous of my success? Who?" he cried. "Who?"

The crowd fell silent, as the organ played ever more ominous chords, the engine warming to life. A gap formed, spontaneously, in the tight-packed crowd. And then, from the two vast double doors, a shape appeared, floating in the air.

Johnson cried out. "No!" he shouted, falling to his knees, clutching his head. He rocked back and forth, crying out: "No! No! Not you, not you, anything but!" He gave forth one last wail, then rose, transformed. Bowing, he spoke, saying "Of course, O Lord. I live for thine service." He paused. "Yes." Another pause. "It shall be done." He turned to the pilot. "Are you ready?"

The pilot, unperturbed throughout the battle, finally turned. His face blanched. "No," he said. "Hell no. I ain't helpin' no Kraft quick-cook dinner! I'm outta here!" He rose to leave; then screamed. Grasping feelers lifted him up, cast him down; and there he lay, breathing, but unmoving. Other feelers reached out, played the organ with inhuman skill.

In minutes, a rumbling arose; a trembling; a shaking, and with a burst of brilliant flame, lighting the dark Cupertino sky, the rocket church lifted unto the heavens. Strands of spaghetti twined out the windows, embracing the building, enveloping it from within; and so did the Flying Spaghetti Monster ascend once more unto heaven.

(37.310682,-122.013136)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Fatal Irony

Lo, there was once a David, and a Nikolas. And lo, the Nikolas did tell the David many stories, of his life, and those around him, and he did disclose secrets unto him, and valuable information, and wisdom, and corporate documents, and espionage, and sabotage, and explosives in the enemy base, and the David did dance, and cavort, so filled was he with joy, and frolicksomeness, and general pleasure, for he did love no thing more than to listen to the stories and the wisdom of the Nikolas, for he was rad.

But then the David did decide that the Nikolas's knowledge ought be written of; so he did, and made many a blag post of these disclosures. And it was so.

But the Nikolas was surprised. "O David!" he cried. "These things are false, and slanderous, and not true at all! Also, some of that was secret, and not true, except for the parts that were!"

And it was good.

The Nikolaus party

On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in Nikolaus Place and walked toward the centre for Nikolaus-parties, whereupon he disembarked on his horse-drawn carriage, and (though he was sharply dressed, with garters and coulettes, and a waistcoat, and a cravat, and a top-hat) was quite boorish, and churlish, and a philistine, and a Visigoth, and he knocked on the front door of the summer palace of the Rat-King's good friends and wartime comrades, and he came into the grand anteroom, and it was great in size, for it was at least 300 cubits long, and the same wide, and the same high, and there were chandeliers, and oil-lamps on the walls, in sconces, and the whole room was decorated in the manner of the baroque style, and there were frescoes painted on every wall, such that Mr. Nikolaus felt immersed in the scenes which they depicted, and there were many tables laden with white linens, and atop all of them were serving plates of gold, and there were many delicacies from all the world, such that one need only traverse from one table to another table, so that one may move from one continent to another, and there were at least 75 varieties of grass-jelly, and the floor was marbled, and his boots (freshly polished) shone in the opalescence that came from it, and he was very impressed at the settings for this Nikolaus-party.

And upon his entrance it came to pass that ten valets, and ten maids, and ten virgins came to accost him, and accuse him, and aggress him, and they were pleasant in their manner, such that Mr. Nikolaus was greatly pleased, and they showed him into the drawing-room, and then into the parlour, each more wonderful than the last, and when he had reached the parlour, the host, Mr. Nikolaus, he came and played card-games with him, and smoked cigars, and drank brandy, and it was good.

And then, it being a party of good Russian men, a brawl occurred, on the dance floor, Mr. Nikolaus being severely outmatched by his comrades, for they had much experience at these parties, and were indeed operating at a higher level then Mr. Nikolaus, and yet, it was good, and Mr. Nikolaus declared that it was "Fun", and he aspired to invite more people to the festivities the next time, and it was good.

And, being lost amid the merriment and the drunken swagger of the populace, the men did sing a traditional Russian Christmas carol:

Услыхав судьбы призыв,
Не трусь, пока ты жив!
Пусть трепещет стадион:
Играет чемпион!
В путь смелее, пробил час,
Недруг пусть боится нас,
Ведь победный светит знак,
Друг другу брату брат!

Покемон, мы сможем всё: ты и я!
Весь мир спасенья ждёт
Покемон, о приятель мой,
Мы вступаем в ратный бой
Покемон, ведь в этот миг,
Послужит отвага нам,
В путь со мной ты с дружбою,
Покемон! Ты всех собрал, ты всех собрал...
По-ке-мон!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Nikolaus and the grand opera

Yea, the Nikolaus was in the land far and away, where there were dragones, and fyrefoxes, and lyssardes, and baboons, and homosexuals (San Francisco), whereupon seeing the manour of his great ancestor, Pyotr Petrovich Ivanovich Romanovich the Conqueror, and as he was wont to do he stopped in for tea and biuscuits, for he was well-tired from his jourrnes up and down the hills, and needing to recharge his bodice, and the cuttles, he stopped in the front door-jamb, whereupon he was shown in by the valet, Mr. Razumikhin, whereupon he was seated in the parlour, whereupon there were displayed on the tables and the chairs and the ledgers and the sconces all manner of fine imported cigars, and they had been clipped and good to smoke, on a blustry night, and the heath was warm and roaring with life, and cracking with a lovely pops, and sausages were roasting over it, and there was many spirits on the benches, for the guests to enjoy, and bourbon, and scotch, and whiskey, and whisky, and vodka, for it was traditonal, and whereupon Mr. Nikolaus disembarked his woes, and his worries, and his strifes, and his passions of worldly affaires, and he sat and drinked and smoked and had a very merry time, and there was festive music, by Mr. Beethoven, and it was dignified was to spend one cold blustry night.

But Mr. Nikolaus, upon making himself comfortable, and occupying his yournger sibling with games, and japes, and gambols, and jigs, and torture, and then he did set upon his snifter, and took out his silver cigarette case, and smoked 2 of them, and then ventured to look over towards the other side of the parlour, and he noticed an older lady, who was behaving most immodestly, and he said to her, Ms. Katherine Ivanova , why do you behave so immodestly in a public vestibule? And she did not reply, for she was consumed, with consumption, and though Mr. Nikolus was a gentlemen, he did become too excited at the exposure of the lady, and he did become aroused and soiled her petticoat, and she was very upset, and later, when Mr. Nikolaus retired to his palace, he did mourn it, and it was good.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Little Rabbit

Little rabbits
having fun
in the sun
killing someone

they prance
and they leap
souls they reap
for tasty meat

little bunnies
backs get burned
love they scorned
world will be mourned

little bunnies!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kelsey and the Abjad

The Nikolas ran nimbly across the stairs. A waterfall thundered to his left; ahead of him fled a Kelsey with his Abjad, scrabbling across mist-slicked marble tiles. To his right was only empty space, straight down for a mile.

The Nikolas stopped. Extending his arm, he aligned the rod he held with the fleeing Kelsey. Lightning crackled forward, missing and smashing the stairs above into rubble. The Kelsey stumbled backwards, then recovered himself and charged past the broken stone even as it crumbled. He looked behind. The Nikolas had gained ground.

Quickly the Kelsey ran; but the Nikolas ran faster. Soon the Kelsey was cornered. He turned, faced the Nikolas; inched backwards; stumbled. For a moment there was nothing but air beneath the Kelsey; but he reached, and grabbed, and held onto the edge.

The Nikolas stepped to the edge of the stairs. He looked at the Kelsey, holding on for dear life; then he raised his spellbinder and his rod.

"Wait!" the Kelsey cried. "Have you no heart?" This said, he reached up in one convulsive lunge, grabbing at the Nikolas's shirt. It tore; revealing metal beneath.

"I sold it," the Nikolas said. "For science." Then he intoned three words. With the first, the Kelsey's magic was bound away. With the second, the Kelsey was electrified, and was no more. With the third, he shot the Abjad.

There was a great thunder, and flashes of colour danced through the mists for long seconds. When the dust cleared, the Nikolas saw what he had wrought. There were amino acids, and bowels, and vowels (ironically perhaps!). The Nikolas worked his ways, and made bowls of vowel bowels. Then he consumed them, with poison sumac; and he wasse dead.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Kronnickoelses of Desmoundde, Chappterre Fourre-houndredde-and-fyfe

Yea, this Chroonickle shall contayne a great appendum of many occurrences that occurred in the tyme.

In the tyme of the Nikolaus, of the seconde era, whence the snow-stormes o'ertook the cobblèd roades, and the drifting haile flew and swyrled around our bodies, the Matthewe, in the spyrite of the fesstive season, for it was also on the feaste of Sainte Valemtime, a daye of great celebrations, and debaucherie, and bacchanaliae, and womon-hunting, and the pursuite of goode thynges, and it occur'd thusly on this daye, and it was goode. And, being a goode and woorshipfull adherent of the Church, we did gather around the country manour of the Matthewe, and engage in lustfull activities, and games, and gamboles, and jygs, and japes, and jocularities. However before that occurrence, there was indeed a great deal of stryfe, and disconcorde, and disquietude, and disenfranchisement, and disembowelment, among othere thynges, for because the celebrations requirèd the taking of a virgyne, and the consummation of the love between a man and a womon who was beautaceous, and faire, and fyne, and cleane, we were in quite a troubled state of affaires. And so it came to passe, that, being goode and woorshipfull, the Timmeracke did descend upon us, and he did spake unto us thusly: "The mourtal men must come forth and honour the great feaste of the Desmonde, and the holy Trynitie, and the Quadrangel, and for this ye men must take a womon, and know her by lieing with her, and perform lewd acts upon her personhoode." And it was goode.

And yea, we, being students of the lyceum, and the gymnasium, did come unto the Wailing-Walle, whereupon there were deckorated many hearte-shaped confecktions, whereupon we proceeded to locate the confecktions which were scarr'd with the marke of our naymes, in large and fancie lettres, and devour them in a vouracious mannere. However, in the hayste to disckover the hidden lockations, we happen'd upon the hearte of a womon, and knowing from many epick questes, that this was the sign of a rare and powerfull artifackt, we did become enthrall'd at the sight of it, and thusly, determined to return it to the womon of rightfull heir, and thusly, seek to copulate with her many tymes, as a rewarde, and we did thusly steal her confecktion from the Wailing-Walle, and it was goode.

Thusly, being retirèd to the country manour of the Matthewe, with the hearte safely in stowage, we did coommence upon the debauchery of which was describ'd earlier, and after the wearyness had manifested itself in wayes that were great, and large, and many, and manifold, we were plaguèd with the dilemmas of the womon-hearte, for if we did return it to her, and she did not copulate with us many tymes, it would be a terrible wayste, for the oppoortunitie-coste was large, and great, and thusly, we ponder'd in solicitude. And after many sicke, and dysturbing scenarioes, we decided to carry out the planne, though it would cost us greatly, it was worthe the ryske.

However, as the womon was not to be found in the lyceum the next daye, for she was of mysterious magick, and often vanish'd, it was quite distressfull, and after the daye of wirke, we retired to the country manour of the Nikolaus, and did partake of sweetes, and breades, and egges of rare byrdes, and it was goode.

The Crow King

(At the end of the second year of the Barons of Isselunde.)

The Crow King sat in his iron throne, deep within his ill-lit stronghold. His chest was bare, and marked with a dozen scars, one circling the heart. The rest of him was armoured; even here, in his darkest stronghold. Minions surrounded him, cloaked in shadow.

A servant approached with wine. The Crow King seized the glass and smashed it to the ground, sending the servant fleeing.

The Crow King was not pleased.

Seemingly to himself, the Crow King began to rant. "That king. Fool king. Stupid king. Makes barons. No good. Will fail. Ruin himself."

A whisper came from the shadows behind the throne. "No."

The Crow King corrected himself, suddenly, violently. "No. Stupid. Will not fail. Barons will profit Isseland. Make it strong. Make it powerful. I must - invade. Now. Before it is. Strong."

One of the Crow King's minions moved his lips. "No."

The Crow King froze. Then, slowly, he said, "No. Can't invade now. Isselande still - too strong. Kill barons. Assassins. Poisons. Knives. Secret."

Another whisper came. "Corrupt."

The Crow King froze again. Then, seizing his head in his hands, the Crow King banged his head against the arm of the throne, thrashing. Slowly, he subsided. "Killing them - wasteful. Won't kill. Will corrupt. Offer money. Land. Power. Turn against king. His most loyal men against him. Yes."He straightened. Blood trickled from the side of his head. He ignored it. "Yesss... and what a blow. What a blow. It is the only way. I should have... thought of it first. Ahh."

Without warning, the Crow King stood. "Minions!" he cried. They emerged from the shadows, bowing before the King. "You will go. Find the Barons of Isselunde. Promise them what you need to. Wealth. Power. Turn them to Our side. Win a great victory for Our realm."

Obediently, the minions vanished; all but one, who vanished back into the shadows, whispering dark lullabies to the Crow King, far below the light of the sun.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Frontier

Lo, it was a time of change, and many people did travel to the land of the Matthias, wherein lurked that fellow. Lo, did the Kelsey travel, and the David, and the Roland, and the Nikolaus, and the Lyndis, who did not have a sword. And it wasse goode.

And they did prance, and cavort, and whirl about merrily. And it wasse good.

And Picard did draw a smiley face on a warp core breach. And it wasse goode.

And wasse the air filled with the venoms, and the fumes, and the acids, and the bases, and the baseballs, of misogyny, and the Nikolaus was muchly sickened, and he did explode, and was no more. And it wasse goode.

And the David did behold the Son of God, and there was light, and avacados. All celebrated, and pranced about in song and joy. And the David did explode, and was no more. And it wasse goode.

And there was an interview, and the Nikolaus was the Matthew, and the Matthew was the Nikolaus, and he was a she, and the David did explode, and did seclude himself. Then did the Nikolaus become as a ghost, and make noises, and sometimes be seen, so I guess perhaps he was a poltergeist, or not a ghost at all, and he did leave in dark of night.

So was the departure of Matthias from the lands of Men known, and all did weep bitter tears at his passing. And it wasse goode.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Anniversary Prime

Today is the three-hundredth and sixty-sixth day of the blag.

One year.

It's been a while. A lot has happened. People move. Things change. The blag has changed with the times, somewhat: fewer webcomics and histories and chronicles, more generic fiction and illustrations and video games. It's not a bad thing, necessarily. It's just avrage.

It seems likely that things will change further. I have a few things I'm considering changing in my own attitude toward the blag, my approach. I post most of the stuff on here - always have, though it's more true now than ever before - but that doesn't mean that everyone else who posts on here shouldn't consider doing something different - and everyone who's reading this has posted something at least once, I think. So shake things up. Experiment! Post more often. Post different things. Think of a new way to contribute, or try something that's been on your mind a while. There's no better excuse than an arbitrary date like a one-year anniversary.

Me, I'm thinking it's going to be all fluffy bunnies, all the time, here on out.

Nifty Books

All of the below are cool.

Vernor Vinge, A Fire in the Deep. The thinking man's science fiction.

Garth Nix, Sabriel. Younger but still quite clever fantasy.

Michael A. Stackpole, X-Wing: Rogue Squadron. Excellent characters.

Glen Cook, The Black Company. Somewhat dark, but very human.

Diane Duane, So You Want To Be A Wizard?. At fault for all my strange morality.

Naomi Novik, His Majesty's Dragon. Unusual but well-thought-out dragons.

Larry Niven, The Integral Trees. The title is a pun!

Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic. Different style than his later ones, but a good intro.

Harry Turtledove, The Misplaced Legion. The Byzantine Empire, with magic, and Romans.

Abridged Backstory

For the Barons of Isselande game: a speech by King Erik Gustav Soren Sorensson, the first of his name, later named the Foresighted, just before the game begins.

Isse-Lande is troubled. The wars of Our succession were but the latest - there has been nothing but strife in this land for generations. The ground is ash beneath Our boots. To the east is desert, to the west is wilderness. We are impoverished.

And this peace will not last long - perhaps not even until Our son, the Prince Henrik Gustav Ibsen Kessler, gains the crown. The land is still filled with mercenaries, eagerly anticipating the plunder of another war, some turning to banditry as they wait. To the north lurks a subtle foe, the Crow King Galgamoth, who will stoop to anything to wreak Isselande's destruction. Even the Church is a threat to the peace - Bishop Matthias the Elder is a man of fierce convictions, and hungers to launch an inquisition against any who he feels threatens the word of the Timmaraque - even at the price of civil war.

And that is not the worst. We have had visions - dreams of prophesy. There is a scourge coming - vermin, of some kind, possessed of a terrible cunning and a greater malevolence. Whether man, beast, or worse, the vermin will pose a greater threat to Our son - and Isselande - than any other. We must prepare.

And that is why We appointed you. You are Our most trusted servants. It is in no little part due to your support that We gained the throne, and have held it this long. So it is that We reward you with new posts. You are now Barons of Isselande. It is your duty to your soverign to rebuild Isse-Lande - turn ash into fertile soil, desert and forests into gold mines. In the times to come, if Isse-Lande is not strong, it will be dragged into the depths. Fill your storerooms with well-earned lucre, and ensure that does not happen.

We will help as we can. The Crown, too, is weakened by the wars, as is all Isselande. But there is land that We can sell, services We may yet provide. Vow only this - to never practice treachery against Us, or war within this land. Do this, and Isselande may yet triumph.

Isselande today! Isselande tomorrow! Isselande forever.

A Dream Gone Wrong

It was a golden age for Man. In a thousand silver-hulled starships, Earth's children left her, suspended on tails of fire. With most of them gone, Earth became tranquil; peaceful. For a time, there was no war.

Then something happened. The Bee came; an engine of destruction and slavery. It was named so for its shape, that of a honeycomb, filled with a false honey. But it was far more powerful - and malevolent - than any bee that had been before.

The war against it lasted generations. Humanity was all but annihilated. When the final blow was struck against the last, pathetic remnants of the Bee, less than a score of humans were left.

Those that could abandoned ancient Terra, seizing the few starships left on Earth to follow the rest of Man to the stars. But there were not enough for everyone; two stayed behind, a man and a woman. As the scene zooms out, leaving them standing in the lush lands outside the Bee's last fortress, they kiss.

The scene turns to the Moon, where some of the survivors stand, inside an encampment that dates to before the war with the Bee. They are either resting before their final journey, or have had their craft fail (for lack of fuel or parts), and were forced here. Either way, they seem at peace as they watch their brethren glide majestically outwards, into the blackness of night. One by one, they vanish.

Only one or two ships are still visible when, without warning, a great flotilla of new ships appear, startlingly close. Many of them appear nearly identical to the ships of the Diaspora; others are remarkably different in design. The hearts of the survivors' leap. Could it be that the children of Earth return at last to help their brothers?

Then beams of a dozen colours lash out, ripping the stragglers' ships apart, then turning to those on the moon. As the moon-bound survivors scream and panic, metal pods land, cracking open to reveal robots with deadly armament. They slaughter under a blue sky as the survivors attempt to fight back (largely in vain) and the camera turns away. Earth above is pristine, untouched by the attacks.




And there it ends. This is somewhat edited - in particular, I forgot most of the details of the war with the Bee, and in fact had to make up that name for this post - but that was my latest dream. It was odd enough that I just had to share it with you.

Also note that the whole thing was super "campy", reminiscent of older sci-fi. The space-ships were long and drawn out with cylinders on the end, very much an older style. (Brief investigation finds that the ships looked sort of like longer Atlases.) Also, there were visible beams in space, the robots were unintentionally ridiculous, and for no apparent reason, the moon's atmosphere turned blue in the middle of the fight. (Even as I dreamed, I noticed that, commenting to myself that whoever was directing this must have forgotten where it was taking place.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Valentines Story

At the request of David, I will be writing a story about:
"valemtimes day"
"ppl-x" (which I have no idea what that is, so I'll ignore it)
and "economics"
and I think hitting on womons.

I'm just going to start writing, and see how it goes. No promises about decent quality.

One day, which was valentines day, David decided to hit on many womons, to see if any would date him. The idea was to increase demand for him from possible womons, while keeping his supply stable, so the price for him would go up to the point that someone would commit to going out with him.

And so, the night before, David made a love potion, and he bathed himself in it.
This would increase the demand also.

And the next morning, he went out, and began to hit on many womons.

And the womons smelled his pharamones from the love potion.
And so they wanted David.
And so they demanded him.
And David hit on many womons.
And so they wanted him more.
And so, in this economic situation, normally the smart thing for a company to do would be to increase the supply.
But there was only one David. Such is the cruel curse of love.
So David had to reproduce. But, being human, he could only reproduce sexually.
So he picked a womon, and mated, and accelerated time so within 10 minutes, David had reproduced and had created children who were the same age.
But they were not David. They were David's children. Because David was human and reproduced sexually. Such is the cruel curse of love.
And so, David saw only one option.

So David began to eat a lot. Until he got very big.
Then he closed his eyes...and concentrated...very hard...
it took all of his focus...
it felt as though he was being ripped in half...
perhaps, because, he was...
slowly, each half of David becoming one...
ripping...pulling...
until...
there were two Davids.

And so, David ate more.
and he went through mitosis once more.
And again.
And again.
And again.
So now there were 32 Davids.

And each of these Davids took a womon, and asked her out.
And each of these 32 womons, said yes.

But there were 34 womons.
So two of the Davids split into two.
creating a total of 34 davids, as represented by the following binary number:
00100010
And so, Davids used their powers of Bio AP, and Econ AP, and Comp Sci AP
to create 34 successful relationships with Davids and womons.

And so, it was a happy valentines day.
And Davids were pleased.
And Womons were pleased.
And Miss Ujifusa was pleased.
And Miss Cakes, and her husband Nickoulasse were pleased.
And the Ferrante was pleased.
But most of all, The Mighty Timmeraque, who's knowledge of these subjects was extensive and without bound, was much pleased.
And it wasse goode.

The Petato

He lacks - testicles.

Surpire.

Thin.

What is the connection?

THE PETATO.
Much like the Divel, the Petato decieves and deludes.

Web browsers are undone by it.

Vampires cannot interview it.

It is the scourge of Man.

Its eternal companion in sin, the surpires of Normandy, ooze pus and bubbles noxious ryoma.

Beware!

Beware!





Reference:
David: the kessler
is in the libvm
Nicholas: As he suggested.
David: he is
a petato
Nicholas: Excellent.
What properties hath the petato?
David: he lacks
testicles
Nicholas: Hmm.

The Brothers Karamazov

olo olo olo

they are
the penis brothers
they sing a song
to you
"ooooooooo
"kelsey
"we have come
"to wassail you
"to a restful slumber
"harken to this tale
"of an epic adventure
"it started in the woodlands
"they were inhabited by wood-elves
"and they danced and gamboled around in the night
"and they were indeed good
"and beautaceous
"and wonderful and fair
"and fine, and wearing revelaing outfits
"and one day the rat king galgamoth came
"and he said,
"the woodlands shall be all mine,
"and mine alone
"so that i may frolick in them
"and do joyful leaps
"and gambol around the campfire
"when no-one is looking
"and he came in his aeroplane
"and the he said,
"hear me o sexacous wood-elves
"though you may be hot
"and beautaceous
"and fair and gentle and kind, and full of merry-making
"i will proclaim myslef gouverner of the lands
"and evict you immediately henceforth
"and then the wood-elves, fearful of the rat-king
"scattered into the nearby lands
"and one of them was particulalry hot
"and clever and quick
"and this one crossed over the rivers
"until the town was in sight
"and she said
"yea, this shall be my new towne
"until the rat-king is slain
"and then she went
"and fornicated with many peoples
"as a prostitute
"but that life was unfufilling
"so she settled down with the money she had made
"and found a man who loved her
"and was devoted, and loyal, and good
"and full of merry-making
"and they lived in a town by the sea
"and one day,
"after the sun had set
"and the night vapours carried the secents of love
"and romance, and mystique
"they had sex
"and it was goode
"because it was the most passionate
"and beautaceous, and consummate
"sex
"in the history of the world
"at least to them it was
"for it enveloped them
"in bliss
"and joy, and mirth, and satisafction
"and when they were through
"the light peaked over the mountains
"and you could see the birds
"chirping and the townsfolk even happier"
"and
"they were full of merry making
"for they knew some good thing had happened last night
"and they were blissful for nearly a year
"and that is how you were born!
"the end"

olo olo olo

and then
the penis brothers danced out
and the kelsey slept a great sleep
and the next morning he awoke
and he found a hot womon
and he had sex
THE END

In the Dark, Part Eight: Calculations

I expected to have some trouble entering the Councilman Mario's dungeons. I was right. It was hard to find. Asking questions would have raised suspicions, but wandering aimlessly was just as dangerous. After a few minutes of searching, I found a pair of district policemen, going to relieve the last shift. I figured that the only thing down here that warranted even one policeman was either the dungeon or the treasury, and I remembered passing that a few minutes ago. I followed the police, keeping a safe distance. Turned out I was right.

They were suspicious of me. I was a new face, though thankfully they hadn't seen me enter. (They wouldn't have seen me in the newspapers. I keep a low profile.) They didn't want to let me enter. I presented them with the chief sheriff's badge, spun them a story about being delegated for a check-up on the prisoners while the chief sheriff was detained. Quickly figured out that the police didn't know he was imprisoned - didn't tell them.

Needed some luck here. If they didn't buy it, things could get nasty. Fingered my flechette gun.

They weren't taking the bait. One of them was going off on a tangent, while the other one watched me. Needed an opportunity to get my gun out.

Ah! No. They wanted a bribe! Never a more oblique request I'd ever heard.

Paid them in forged coin. It might spread a bit of confusion to get that circulating. One bit it to test purity, then they let me in.

The dungeons of the Councilman were the same as the others I'd been in. Dark. Dank. Noisy. Generally unpleasant. This one was deep enough that you could hear the gears of the city grinding away, probably no more than two hundred feet down. Constantly. A bonus for interrogation, probably. I didn't want to stay any longer than I had to.

Most of the cells were empty. No common criminals here - the aboveground jails held those. These were political criminals, disloyal to the Councilman, or loyal to his enemies. The same thing, really. I looked for the chief sheriff - stepped in something en route. Euch. Vowed to take another route out.

Found him. He seemed mostly intact. Mario probably didn't want any marks on him, just in case he needed to show off to the Council. The sheriff was hung up on the wall, in chains, behind bars. His eyes were closed. I shouted at him a little, woke him up. He didn't seem inclined to talk much. Shocking. I managed to get what he'd already confessed to, though. He'd carefully overlooked the thugs, destroying any reports of their presence. Been paid through an intermediary. He wanted promises before he'd say anything about the go-between, which I gave him after a suitable display of reluctance. Wasn't anything useful. Average height, average complexion, average voice. Worthless.

I asked the sheriff if he'd thought anything was unusual about the currency. He shook his head. Not as though he intended to get caught. Idiot. The least he could have done was to ensure that when he got caught, he dragged his employer down with him. Some people just aren't cut out to betray.

Took another route out. Found a surprise on the way out. Alex Brandon, the thug who I'd questioned briefly before he vanished. No qualms here about leaving marks. I prodded him. He jerked, whispered "It wasn't real! I told you! We wouldn't have blown up the city! It was a trick!" He didn't seem to recognize me. His eyes were fevered, didn't focus. I left.

Spotted three policemen on the way out. They were searching for someone. Questioning people, watching. I ducked around a corner just in time. Didn't want them to see me. Too many awkward questions were I found here. Managed to get to the front entrance without more trouble. Got some looks, but no-one stopped me. Just as well. After the last encounter, I had my flechette gun aimed beneath my coat. Anyone who tried to stop me from less than fifteen feet away would have gotten a shower of razors for their trouble.

Stopped by at the Tyrant's Palace, to see if the night staff had anything new for me. They did. Some industrious fellow had found some information on Alex Brandon. He was registered as a taxi driver in District Five. Adrianus's. Not incriminating, but interesting.

I asked if there was any news of the Franks. Had they taken any stance on the bomb? No. The head ambassador was gone. He'd left after a phone call in the afternoon, earlier today.

The time of the call was after Adrianus had assured me that the ambassador had already left.

Why would he lie about that?

Two more loose ends I could think of to investigate.

The staff could help me with one. They had a forging expert. She told me she'd already looked at the coins. They were forgeries, all right, and pretty poor quality ones. The only way someone who was familiar with the original coins could miss it was if they weren't looking, or just didn't care. She also gave me a list of known mints in the city that could have produced the coins.

Mario's was not on the list. I asked why.

She told me that his mint was set up differently. It could only produce coins of a different thickness and width. There was some flexibility, but the forged coins fell well outside the parameters. It would take weeks to reconfigure the mint, and there was no sign that such a reconfiguration had ever taken place.

I asked her if there could be other mints.

She gave me a lecture. Price, size, complexity. I won't repeat it. But: probably not.

I fled. There was one last thing I could think of. I went to the nearest library. Closed! Damn. I presented my badge. They opened.

Newspaper archives. Why would the Councilman of District Two have "a great deal of money coming in?" Properties, investments... what would make him so certain? He had rights to geothermal vents, the type that powered the City...

Including the nearest ones currently active.

Aha. If he had inside knowledge that the geothermal vents beneath the City were giving out, he would be indeed in a position to make a great deal of money, by owning the site of the City's likely next destination. And, of course, were that so, he would have no interest in destroying the City.

I checked Adrianus's public holdings. Did a little map-work, exercised my long-forgotten trig. He owned the rights to the second-nearest geothermal vents.

And, with that, I had the information I needed to crack the case open.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Sleeper

The Jagermonster turned to his companion. "How long haz he been like diz?" he asked.

"Oh, a few generations, give or take."

The Jagermonster did a double take. "Vot? Und he's still jusht here? He loooks fine."

"You'd hardly think it to look at him, would you? But he's been here longer than the walls, the floor, or the mechanical autonomous chain-gun defenses, even."

Leaning over the sleeper, the Jagermonster licked his lips. "He looks pritty tasty. Hyu tink he'd mind if Hy took a leedle bite?"

"The defenses here were set up to protect him." Somewhat menacingly: "If you so much as touch a hair on his head, you will be full of more holes than a sponge."

"All right, all right! No need to gets snippy," the Jagermonster said, standing upright. "Zo vot do hyu vant de leedle guy for, anyvay?"

"We want to figure out how to make him stop sleeping." Enthusiastically: "If we could, it would have untold value - people in comas, maybe the terminally withdrawn - they could all be safely be brought back to life!"

"And hyu could maybe be putting pipple to diz sleep," the Jagermonster suggested cannily.

Silence.

"I vill not be helpink hyu wit diz," the Jagermonster declared, taking a moral stand. "Iz not right."

"You eat people!" the disembodied voice complained.

There was a long pause as the Jagermonster processed this.

"So?" he asked. "Vot's vrong vit dot?"

There was nothing more to be said.

The sleeper continued his slumber.

(due credit)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

In the Dark, Part Seven: Badgering the Witness

Councilman Mario snarled. "For the last time, I had nothing to do with this - any of this. I don't know about the thugs at Oxy and Ring, I don't know about the gunmen or the bomb-thrower or anything. I did not forge that god-damned coin. And I have no more time for an interfering pawn of the Tyrant. Out!"

I had a feeling that there was nothing more I was going to get out of him. I'd headed to his mansion just after I left the hospital, on the hunch that Mario, Councilman in charge of the area where the bomb had been planted, had answers to give me. If nothing else, he certainly owed some explanation for its presence in the part of the city it was his responsibility to steward. But he wasn't, and here, in the center of his power, I hadn't the will to press him. I rose.

Furious, he gestured for a servant to open the great gold doors at the entrance of his sanctum. I took the hint and bowed out through them. Councilman Mario had one last thing to say, though. Spitting as he spoke, he told me, "And of all insults, you'd suspect me to blow up the city. I've more than anyone else to gain from keeping it intact - as you'd know if you paid any attention, I've got a lot of money coming in, dependent on this city staying intact." He slammed the doors.

I spent a moment in thought. Then I noticed something: there was no-one around. Infuriated beyond reason, Mario had sent me out without calling for his guards. Everyone outside the room thought that I was still meeting with him.

There was an opportunity here. It was a little dangerous, to go wandering around a Councilman's palace without permission. But I wasn't paid to stand around and look pretty, and the matter of the bomb, I thought, outweighed most minor qualms.

The Councilman's palace was sprawling, in a city ever pressed for space. The dozens of servants, guards, and functionaries passing through its halls, much more cramped once I left the Councilman's immediate presence, paid me little heed. I found it easy to make my way to my two quickly decided destinations. The first was the office of Mario's chief sheriff, his right hand. My suspicions were first aroused by the absence of the secretary from his outer office. Proceeding inside, I found the security officer equally absent. There was blood on the wall. His desk was locked; I picked it. Inside was more of the forged gold.

Interesting. Looked like he was in on the bomb plot, too. And from the blood, it seemed he'd been found out.

Before I left the palace, there was one more place I wanted to go. It would require either guile or firepower to get in. I pocketed the chief sheriff's badge, left on his desk, and confirmed that my flechette gun was still safely concealed in my coat. I was ready either way.

(too tired to finish post)
(will be continued)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Jason Jones, Compressed

Because I will never finish it otherwise, and I'd really like to. So: a tenth the normal verbiage!

The story so far, compressed:
PART I
Jason Jones kills people and drives from Quebec to Iowa, not in that order. Also, there's a blue bird, and an old man.

PART II
Jason Jones goes to karate, then kills centaurs. It turns out there's a herd. They came from China twenty or thirty years ago. Policemen are surprised. Then they get killed by invisible floating slicing things. So do the centaurs. Jason Jones is unharmed. He kills the slicers, talks to his dad, and goes to China. The bird shows up a lot. Watching.

PART III
Jason Jones doesn't speak Chinese. It's okay. Within six hours of landing, his taxi is hijacked by centaurs. They're bad with English. Jason Jones escapes, then finds their hangout, and persuades them to take him to their boss. They do! Turns out the boss is responsible for killing some people and stuff. Jason Jones objects, with fists, and is taken captive again. Oops.

The boss is called the Great One. He, in turn, is under the control of the Maker, who's in some really cold mountains. Of course, Jason Jones gets taken there. He gets some backstory - the Maker says that it (and the centaurs) come from "another world", transported here by an experiment that would happen in the present. It's a bit confusing. An oracle came, too - told the Maker some of this, and that Jason Jones would return them to whence they came when he completed his role in the experiment, and that he couldn't be killed by earth, fire, water or air. The Maker wants to stay on Earth, so he imprisons Jason to keep him from finishing the experiment. Then Jason Jones freezes in a meatlocker.

Also, the bird from the other parts watched for a bit, then showed up dead on the ground. The Maker has a bunch more but they're not the same. Bit of a rough deal.

PART IIII:
Jason Jones is rescued rather spectacularly by a wide assortment of strangers - some apparently human, some not. Jason Jones is rather surprised but he goes along. They flee down the mountain in trucks, pursued by the Maker's creatures. The Great One, in their path, sets up an ambush, killing some of the rescuers and forcing the rest to divert from their planned escape to a seaport. They stow away on a gigantic cargo ship, in the process gaining enough time to get a little more information to Jason.

Turns out that the rescuers are from the same event that brought the centaurs and the Maker to our world. They tell Jason that they all showed up at once, high in the mountains. There were a number of nonsentient creatures summoned as well, many of which were quite aggressive. Most of the sentient creatures banded together to fight the monsters, taking casualties in so doing. Among them were the two oracles, Wan Chu and Wan Ming - one of whom died in the battles. Another was the Maker. The centaurs weren't involved - they ran away instead. This worked out pretty well for them.

After the fighting, the oracle Wan Chu, pressed by the others, delivered a prophecy, pretty much as the Maker told it - they were summoned by a great event that would occur 33+ years later, Jason Jones did it, he couldn't be killed by fire, water, earth, air, etc. Then the Maker asked if they had to return, and finding otherwise, it took the most logical action (considering the general sentiment among those gathered) - it tried to kill everyone. The oracle died, as did about half of the other survivors of the previous battle. The rest fled. Some never re-united, but those that did formed a sort of cabal - they'd hunt for Jason Jones and watch them, trying to find the one mentioned in the prophecy.

Jason Jones stumbled into their way in Canada. The bird, a defector from the Maker's forces (and the reason that he created the Great One - to extend his range), was sent out on a hunch after Jason Jones ran into the old man on the way south. Later events supported the old man's hunch, and when Jason headed out to China, the survivors - they call themselves the Exiles - scrambled to intercept him before he fell into the Maker's hands.

They were a little late.

Anyway, they'd already managed to figure out where the experiment was - it was in the underground labs of UC-Berkeley - a prototype massively networked quantum computer. So that's where they headed as soon as they got back to America.

Other Exiles, who weren't able to move fast enough to get to China, joined them. Jason Jones spent a week in training and spying on the labs, then he goes in on the day of the prophecy. Oddly, when a guard confronts him, he finds he lacks his old bloodlust - but when the Maker's creatures show up (slicers, among other things), he's able to summon it up against them. With belated help from the Exiles, Jason makes it into the building, and is told that he has support coming his way. He manages to, through a combination of luck and... luck, find the component he needs to sabotage to cause the experiment to cascade backwards through the past. Then his support arrives and promptly shoots his leg off.

Ow.

Turns out they're traitors - Exiles who are pretty sure that when the prophecy says "return to whence they came", it means a sort of conceptual nothingness, not a full reality. This means nothing to Jason either way but for them it is the difference between life and death. They figured, correctly, that the best way to stop Jason was to accompany the Exiles right up to the last minute. Jason Jones is, once more, a captive audience.

At this point things get crazy. The 'loyal' Exiles show up, without a great deal of subtlety, and with a great deal of firepower. Civilian casualties mount. A tanker filled with Maker-spawned monstrosities beaches itself and starts spewing out nastiness, forcing the Exiles to withdraw. The National Guard arrives. Dusk approaches.

Jason Jones considers his motivation. He started out basically wanting to kill everyone until things got fixed but at this point is uncertain that this was the correct approach. Now, he decides, it is probably better to go for a minimal casualty approach. Also, he feels vaguely guilty about the bird, though he's not sure what he could have done differently there. Mustering a burst of persuasive ability, he attempts to persuade his captors, the traitor Exiles, to share his feelings. This backfires rather a bit and ends in an Exile, enraged beyond reason, lunging at him with a very sharp knife.

Jason Jones, trained in martial arts, uses this to his advantage, twisting and maneuvering such that the knife severs his bonds instead. Then he flips the switch, and within minutes (of Jason Jones being trapped in a room with very angry armed people) the experiment, automated, triggers and sends the Exiles, centaurs, and Maker alike home.

Québécois terrorist assassins show up entirely too late to do any good for anyone.

There are a number of unresolved questions. Mainly: why Jason Jones? What's he going to do now? Why can't he be killed by fire, water, earth, or air? And how does a planned second series involving an older, reformed, mostly pacifistic Jason Jones squaring off against a race of morally dubious robots factor into it all?

But, with or without the answers to those questions: that's the complete Jason Jones.

Hooray, it's finally done!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Another Game Idea

This one is sort of easily slotted into an existing genre, but that's not how I thought about it. So I'll talk about it from another angle.

The basic concept is that the player finds themselves in sole possession of a gigantic, utterly nonfunctional tank the size of a house. Maybe it blows things up, turning a beautiful, bucolic landscape into a sea of fire and craters. Maybe it launches a biowar campaign, turning a blasted, barren landscape into a sea of flowers and trees! Either way is pretty nifty, and the gameplay doesn't really care which you choose. (Maybe the game lets you do both!)

The main gameplay is centred around reactivating the tank. When you start, everything in the tank is offline and nonworking. The player reactivates systems by completing puzzles of various sorts; the range would be from turning a wheel (to open the door to the save room or the exit) to completing electrical circuits to (in one of the most complex puzzles) correctly calculating a trajectory, aligning the main cannon, then loading and firing it. Some of the puzzles, especially the earlier/simpler ones of a 'type' (electrical/mechanical/etc.) would have hints of some sort built in, but others would be trickier. Perhaps one or two would have just enough hints to get you half-way, then leave you in the dark - forcing you to realize that the solution was exactly the same as for another puzzle, translated into a different context.

The game's structure wouldn't be excessively linear. It would be more in the shape of a tree - unlocking a door gives access to this, fueling an engine inside lets you do that, reactivating the main generator powers this and that and the other thing... Thus, you wouldn't have to, say, assemble the miniature aerocraft or activate the internal greenhouse or manufacture the fuel-air explosives in any particular order - there would be a significant degree of freedom and exploration.

This is an optional component, but... possibly, after some number of puzzles were solved, a saboteur would enter the tank, and begin throwing a wrench in the works - disable already activated systems, requiring a more difficult variant of their puzzles to repair them. One would have to deal with the saboteur - by confronting them, trapping them (with traps that one builds by using the same principles one already learned from the tank-reactivation puzzles), and dealing with them. "Dealing with them" giving a great deal of leeway for the designer, or, perhaps, the player.

(Example traps would be perhaps triggered by sensors constructed by using electrical engineering puzzle-things, snaring/tranquilizing/poisoning plants built through the biological engineering puzzles, launchers built with the mechanical engineering puzzles...)

The final goal of the game would be to get to some final area - I'm imagining a crater at the peak of a mountain - and transforming it, in fire or in greenery. Before then, perhaps needed parts and hints/manuals would be gained by using lesser tank capabilities to access nearby areas - but that's not necessary. In any case, the end would just be a capper - most of the gameplay would center, simply, on the tank. I'm imagining that the whole thing would take maybe 4-6 hours to play. Also, for some reason, I was visualizing it as a 3D game, but it could very easily be a 2D one instead, either isometric or side-view based. (Top-down wouldn't work as well - too many important things on the walls!)

The trick would be to get the puzzles just right. Get them intuitive enough that players feel smart when they beat them, not like they had to read your mind - but not so "intuitive" that they're too easy. You could make fantastical puzzles or down-to-earth ones - fantastical ones would be less likely to be boring, but they would be much harder to make properly intuitive.

This, as with all my suggestions (with the sort-of exception of the "aggro" game), will never be made, but I liked the idea enough to share it with you fine people.

List of possible puzzles/goals
reactivate main cannon (as above)
open doors
-exit
-load
-save
-observation
-engines
-steering
-hangar
-armory
-greenhouse
-plans
activate periscope
fuel engines
activate treads
use treads
repair breakers
activate generator
activate external cameras
power side cannon (short range)
create munitions (explosives/biological) (there are a lot of puzzles here probably)
reactivate miniaerocraft (remote controlled)
arm miniaerocraft (bombers!) (one of the harder/later puzzles - ~= to main cannon)
activate rovers?
track saboteur
trap saboteur
program internal network (out there)

That's just some thoughts. These are mostly down-to-earth, so far as anything in a doom-tank is, but there are a lot of options.

I'm going to stop now.

the nikolas goat

I was in the laboratory of the Chymistry one day, and we were examinating some pipits, of the serological variety, whenceforth a Nikolas directed my attention to the language of the Jewes, which was widely spoken in those circles, and yea, being a man of multi-cultural fascinations, and I did attempt to form many coherent and utterly fascinating and thought-provoking statements of the life of the Jewes, in the Jew-language, and I did speak them heartily.

Then, some Jewes told me that it was quite wrong.

Then I spoke the languages of the Iberians, and the Aragonians, and the Castillians, yea, I was corrected by the Jew.

Then I spoke the language of sex, to a womon, who was beautaceous, and fine, and fair, and pleasant in all manners, and yea, it was ripe, and receptive, and all was good, and it caused quite a stir.

Then a Nikolas-goat came and charged up his particle-beam between the horns, and fired it at us.

And it was good.

(I had no idea how to title this so I add the goat part after the fact)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Noncanon

Jeremiah walked along the road, whistling a merry tune.

Out in front of him jumped a band of vicious bandits!

Jeremiah seemed unperturbed.

The bandits growled and waved weapons menacingly. "Give us all your stuff!" their leader demanded.

"Nope, you're noncanon now," Jeremiah told them.

Okay, pretend that you didn't read anything before this.

Jeremiah walked along the streets of Sandia City.

A gang of ninjas ambushed him!

Jeremiah awoke to find himself bound, gagged and tied to a chair in a pitch-black room.

He thought, this really isn't canon.

Okay, pretend you didn't read anything before this.

Jeremiah floated in a featureless void.

An avatar appeared before him. It told him, "Look, the author's having a really hard time coming up with a plot or a challenge for you. You just declare everything you dislike noncanon! It's really tricky to do anything-"

"This is noncanon, too," Jeremiah told him decisively.

Okay, pretend you didn't read anything before this.

Now everything is great!

L.G.L.F.BOTS (also (sex)); // haha this is a comment

look man
once I was a robot
in the lawn gnome liberation front
but
then
I was liberated
by Asimov
it was cool
he had rockets
and roosters
and he liked to wake up early
and try to eat the eggs
still in the shell
and then he touched at least 20 hot womons
in the sensitive parts
but then
he was old
and old
so he wrote books
saying the old dudes were attractive
it was weird
dudes talked about it
super weird
but
he was still cool
on a good foundation
and his robots
were metal
mostly
and his name
was
Nikolas
and he liked
to touch the womons
and roblts
and he mated
with robots
and he had children
that were half robot
and one of them became a poet
and another became an artist
and another became a pianist
but none of them
became garbage truck drivers
except for the youngest
and it was lame
so lame
and he was bored
so
he joined
the garden gnome liberation front
and he said
look man
once I was a robot
in the lawn gnome liberation fron
t





AND IT WAS GOODE
SIGNED:
JOHN HANCOCK
WASHINGTON IRVING

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

organ

penis is a singular noun. Penises, penes, etc., could all be taken for the plural. It is an organ which is in the human body. But what is that not relevant to? This.



Nikolas has many meanings. It means the way, the message, the rules, the standards, the technic. Here, one Nikolas attempts to record a few.

But wait! As he writes, beard valaintly outstrectched, he is assailed by marine creatures. Oh no! And look what they did to what he wrote!Nikolas is an organ, also in the human body.

sex


llamas are relatives of camels
it is true

also

not the alpaca

|| your mother

&&your
mother

!your mothjerre


This is god
he loves you
he gives you
a
finger
love

Nikolas ponders.

He comes to a conclusion.


sex

THE END

Monday, February 04, 2008

War on the Highest Scale

Jameson stalked into the Federal Express office. "I've had quite enough," he hissed to the man behind the desk. "You undercut our prices and insult us behind our back. I'll have no more! No more, I say!"

"Well, what'll you do of it?" the man behind the desk responded with equal vitrol and greater condescension. "You UPS men - you haven't the spine to do a thing, not without triple-signed authorization from headquarters." His nametag identified him as Williams.

"You think THAT?" screamed Jameson. His face had turned dark with blood. "I'll send you a message, then, I will!" Drawing himself up, he spat straight in Williams' face, then turned and strode out of the building.

Williams, deliberately, pulled on a glove and wiped the spit off his face. His manager, Robert (by the nametag) walked up from the back room. "This means war, you know," he told Williams.

"Of course," Williams replied. "Naturally, this will result in steady escalation of hostilities, from subtle sabotage from outright attack. A normal sequence, relenting only when one party loses its will to fight - or dies, of course."

"Is there any reason to go through the charade instead of just skipping to the end?" Robert asked.

Williams considered. "Nah," he decided.

"Then let's break out the heavy artillery," Robert ordered. "And lets send those UPS scum a mail bomb they won't be catching in standard screening!"

Around a corner and two hundred feet away, the ground shook in the UPS office. Jameson instinctively ducked under a doorway; his superior, Leah, dropped under the counter. When no further tremors followed, they both eased themselves carefully up.

Jameson checked the sensors. "We've been hit with an explosive shell - from some sort of heavy artillery, by the extent of the damage. Nearby stores are damaged but we're holding at nominal structural strength."

Leah considered this. "You know your suggestion to reinforce the building with a concrete ceiling and titanium support beams, a few months back?"

"Yeah?" Jameson asked, uncertain.

"I think you just earned yourself a 10% bonus," Leah told him.

They paused.

"Now what?" Jameson asked.

"We have the advantage now," Leah told him. "Our attackers won't know that we weren't destroyed for a little while. We'll have to make the most of it."

"It's those damn Fedex boys," Jameson complained. "I'm sure of it!"

Leah shook her head. "We've no proof of them. It could be anyone - I know that the Footwear Etc. owners have been more than a little envious of our parking space, and those little men in the Pizza My Heart are fearful of anyone who's been here longer than them - that is, everyone. No," she said, shaking her head, "We'll just have to send them all a message."

Jameson looked uncharacteristically doubtful. "Collateral damage?" he offered.

"Bah," Leah dismissed with a wave of one hand. "At this hour, anyone in the shops is up to no good in any case."

"All right, then," Jameson said with a slowly widening grin. "Time to prepare a mass mailing - of doom!"

Rockets burst out of the UPS building in vast numbers; launching themselves hundreds of feet into the air before executing a graceful flip and shooting toward the strip mall below. Darkened stores and restaurants were blown each alike into piles of blackened timber and ash. Only the UPS store was left intact of buildings within five-hundred feet of the Fedex office - rockets aimed at it veered away suddenly as they neared, guided seemingly by an unseen force. The Footwear Etc. next to the UPS took much of the brunt - reduced, tragically, to a mere Etc.

"Curses!" Leah declared as the smoke cleared over the failure of her efforts. "Jameson, prepare a second volley! We'll give them brimstone this time!"

"No time," Jameson said. "I think they have their own ideas."

Across the ruins of the strip mall, Williams was busy in the rear room, busily adjusting switches and knobs on an array of panels. "How did they survive our first strike?" he wondered to himself.

Robert, appearing suddenly at Williams' side, shook his head. "Doesn't matter. They underestimated our integrated anti-missile electronic countermeasure system. They've no way to harm us - so they'll die soon enough." he told Williams.

"Time for an expedited delivery," Williams agreed, twisting a final knob. "Of death!"

Appearing from the rear of the smoke-blackened Fedex building, five high-powered lasers caused the air to shimmer as they blasted the UPS building. The top five inches of the store vanished; then, suddenly, a subtle glow surrounded the UPS store, and the destruction ceased.

Jameson tapped a few keys on the keyboard, frowning and sweating. "Shields at 70% and holding," he told Leah. "We should have at least ten more minutes before service degrades further."

Leah looked at Jameson. "You know how you said we wouldn't need the shield generators to power up in less than five seconds?" she asked.

"...yes?" Jameson said, uncertain.

Leah pointed at the conspicuously absent ceiling. "You just lost that 10% bonus," she told him.

Jameson sighed.

"This has gone on far too long," he admitted sadly. "Well, let's bring this to its Final Destination."

"Wait!" Leah said.

Jameson waited.

"Nah, okay, forget it, it's good," she told him. "I'd forgotten about the integrated power generator for the shields, that's all."

Jameson entered a password. With a subsonic rumble, the ground shook once more. Slowly, the devastated strip mall lifted into the sky, carried by an underground platform festooned with futuristic machinery.

The UPS and Fedex employees met in the middle, by unspoken agreement. The rubble was gone, sliding off as the platform rose; now all that was left was bare metal. Each gave another the nod; Jameson and Leah on one side, Williams and Robert on the other. Then they charged.

Williams moved fastest, moving in sudden stops and starts faster than seemed possible. Jameson cursed him, calling, "Cheater! Wavedasher! Abuser!" Williams flickered toward him, throwing a mighty punch; but a glowing sphere blinked into existence around Jameson, absorbing the blow and vanishing. Robert moved into assist; Leah intercepted him.

The combatants exchanged blows, darting across the battleground and flickering with coloured light as their technological guardians protected them. Pieces of undelivered mail fell from the sky, some usable as weapons; disregarding federal law, the packages were opened and used with glee. It was nearly a stall; then Jameson darted too close to the edge, and Robert took the opportunity to topple him. Williams, shouting a warning, was too late; Leah wavedashed to the edge in the blink of an eye, and pushed Robert over.

The two survivors stared at each-other. Fedex versus UPS - here, on the Final Destination of all mail, it would be decided. With the wind whipping about them, they walked, matching each-other step for step, to the middle. Then, quickly, both jumped into the air; then jumped again, propelling themselves to the height of a building. Time seemed to freeze as Leah and Williams stared one another down.

That day, their hearts grew three sizes.

And that's why the postal employees over there are always nice - even to this day!

(Probably!)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

In the Dark, Part Six: Personal Endangerment

I hurt all over. I was in a hospital bed, unmistakably. The metal bed I lay in and the harsh white-lit room meant I was either there or jail, and most jails didn't have scalpels and other tools lying within reach of the prisoners.

I looked at the door. On the back was my undershirt. My bulletproof undershirt. Cost me a fortune, but it was probably the only reason I was still alive...

Wait.

There were several bloodstained holes in my undershirt.

I probed my torso beneath the bedcovers, feeling stiches in several places.

What were those guards firing to blow through bulletproof fabric like that? Elephant guns?

I felt disgruntled, and a little bit nauseous. I'd been in my current occupation for years, but this was the closest I'd come to checking out. I looked around the room further, noting the bedside table to my right. It held my flechette gun, unloaded, and a note.

"Sam. Adrianus's guards fired only at you. They vanished shortly after you were shot. Adrianus claims he was not responsible. I am watching his estate closely," the note began. Who WAS responsible? And who was hiding them?

"I've stationed my own men around the hospital. One of them caught a woman carrying a bomb under her shirt - looked pregnant. She ran for it; guard dealt with the bomb first. Who wanted me dead enough to try to blow up the hospital? If they were even after me...

"Beware District 4 - Rafiel has invoked the Right of Protection." That was bad. My house was in District 4, and if Rafiel, the ruling Councilman, had invoked his Right, the Tyrant would be unable to send her men in without urgent and obvious cause. Rafiel was in the group Adrianus named as being linked to the Franks. If he didn't want the Tyrant's men about, he was probably plotting something against her interests - which, at the moment, probably meant he was plotting against me, directly or indirectly. Guess I'd have to do without a change of clothes for a while.

"No results so far on the investigation into the thugs. Expect more attacks." And that clinched it.

Creaky hinges alerted me to the door opening. An orderly walked in, and began to fill a small needle with liquid from a rolling table near the door. I asked him, "What are you doing?"

He froze for a moment, then answered, "I'm preparing some medicine for you - vitamins, a few other things. It's standard treatment."

After reading the note, I felt entirely paranoid. I told him, "I'm sorry, I really don't think I need that right now. I want to talk to a doctor before I take anything." My hand crept toward the flechette gun.

The orderly froze again. "Ah, I'm working under doctors' orders now. Please, don't make a fuss."

I grasped the flechette gun. "Do you have a note?" I asked.

The orderly hesitated; then, brandishing the hypodermic needle, he lunged at me.

I brought up the flechette gun. Panicking, the orderly stared at it, then fled, dropping the needle.

I didn't know what the (phony?) orderly would do next, but I wanted to get out of the hospital first. Half naked and armed with an unloaded flechette gun, another assassination attempt would probably kill me. Dressing in my bloodstained, damaged clothes (piled near the bed), I walked briskly out of the halls. No one questioned me; I'd managed to adopt enough of an air of purpose that my presence didn't appear out of place, despite my clothes and frequent winces of pain as my stiches caught.

Leaving the hospital, I breathed a sigh of relief to be in the dim citylight once more. It was night, so the overhead lights were turned low. In the darkness, I spotted a dismounted carabineri, watching me. I started towards him.

Who was attacking me? If my meeting had proven Adrianus's guilt, it would have made perfect sense for him to try to kill me, to kill the one person who knew the most about the plot, besides him. But, if anything, the meeting had proven his innocence, as far as I could tell. So... what if someone had tried to kill me to conceal just that? Some sort of bizarre double game, trying to conceal the fact that Adrianus didn't need to conceal anything, and pin the blame on him...

So far, it was working. All suspicion was on Adrianus, because mine had been, and I hadn't gotten a chance to talk to anyone after I talked to Adrianus. Once I did, hopefully, there'd be no more profit in killing me. But the fog of secrets was thick enough to drown me. Actually, that would be more of a soup - filled with creamy intrigue and chunky murder attempts. And poison. Who was trying to throw attention off himself? Was it a conspiracy, or the treachery of a single person? And whatever happened to the thug I'd interrogated, Alex Brandon?

I didn't know. But I had only one lead left, and that meant it was time to finish the trip I'd begun yesterday.

I talked to the carabineri on the corner for a few minutes, filling him in on all I knew or suspected. He lent me his pistol and ran off, and I walked towards the nearest trolley stop. Time to pay the Councilman of District Two a visit, and find out why someone had assembled a city-buster bomb in his land.