The Blog for What to Play Next

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Epsilon 2078

Epsilon 2078

I was on E deck of building 5 when I first met Bashira. I don’t have a photographic memory, but I can still remember every detail of my surroundings in the few seconds before my life went a little crazy (again).
I was leaning against the railing, staring through the thick plexiform walls at the Night Wings of our space station- everyone used the solar panels for a clock since they were the only part of the station that didn’t spin, instead rotating to follow the sun. Judging by their angle it was about 11 hours into the day. Scientist had found that depriving people of a natural rhythm of sunrise and sunset (in addition to making them a little batty) drops them onto a 27 hour waking and sleep cycle.
Nobody knows why. As a result all of Epsilon 2078’s computer driven cycles- from the buildings that ran mock sunrise and sunset programs to the jet propulsion systems that kept us from getting sucked into Earth’s atmosphere and regulated our speed of orbit- were set to a 27 hour day. There was no a.m. or p.m. as my father remembered it.
Memories of my parents were a painful subject. It had been only 3 years since they passed, and while pop psychology told me that the pain would fade to almost nothing with time it seemed like 3 years was nowhere near long enough. Besides, pop psychology was written for normies- and I didn’t dare access any files on the psychology of psychics. It had been over a decade since the witch hunts of the late 60s, but we were still a persecuted bunch. Tagged and monitored, or so everyone liked to believe, our branches in every military disbanded.
It was necessary to keep people at an arms length, or that’s what my parents had drilled into me. It was easy for them to say, they’d had each other, and me. Now I had no one, not another psychic to share a mind with, not even a normie. I stared out into the emptiness beyond the plexiform windows and struggled not to think of the old Earth philosopher my father was so fond of. What did he say? Something about staring too long into the abyss…
I tore my mind away, moving on quickly. Glancing around at the people wandering past, contented looks on the majority of their faces, I wondered what it was like to be a normie. To not have the constant buzz of almost-thought in your head. It was a soothing hum most of the time, your average person thinks half in feelings and half in poorly formed imagery. They don’t project very far out, just brushing gently against you as their owners walk by.


Except that one. My head jerked up and I scanned the hallway, unsure where it was coming from. I had never had the benefit of full military training. My parents had drilled me mercilessly, well aware of how dangerous our ‘talent’ had become, but that was nothing compared to the programs that had previously been available to every nation’s psi-troops. As a result I had to scan the crowd for several seconds before locating her. She was doing a good job keeping her face neutral, and her pace even, but her head twitched slightly as she fought the urge to look over her shoulder.
Three members of Station Security were walking brusquely down the hall, ignoring the vid screens that lined the walls and ceiling advertising everything from shaving cream to body sculpting. Their eyes scanned the crowds, their mouths set in firm lines, and their thoughts ran a checklist every time they examined a new civilian on the promenade.
Chocolate brown hair, right…” the SS moved to where he could see a face and frowned “Blue eyes, wrong.” They were definitely looking for her, and unfortunately she was exotic enough to be easily found.
Her dark brown hair was wavy and caught the light as it poured down over her shoulders and grazed the top of some very interesting curves. Nice. Everything kicked into overdrive as I continued examining her, not even the stray thoughts around me registered anymore. Her eyes were tilted slightly, and though it was hard to see the color from here, the SS was searching for green- a person favorite of mine. Full lips were pursed slightly in fear. Her walk swayed a bit, despite her brisk pace. She was definitely hot- something that would work against her if she was trying to escape notice.
My pulse sped up as I detached myself from the railing and fell into step when she reached my section of the hall. Her thoughts were a jumble of images and expletives. She’d been pulling some sort of shady job and gotten nailed. Blue lights circling indicated some sort of security breach, and every time she remembered them she got another rush of adrenaline. She knew she was being followed and had just enough self control not to panic and run.
By this point we were almost at a maintenance access hallway and I still hadn’t skimmed enough off of her to figure out whether or not to help. In a couple minutes it would be too late, the SS weren’t far behind and the next several blocks of corridor were just that, hallways with no real hiding places. This was the only place that was nearby where we could lose them. I’d been drifting towards her, herding her to the far wall as we approached. The sane part of me argued that this was ridiculous and I should walk away.
Pop psychology says that we cannot survive without human contact- real relationships- that we go crazy. It looks like three years and one good looking girl had done it for me. I casually put my hand onto her elbow and steered her down the short hall to the metal door at it’s end. A fine sheen of sweat broke out over my entire body. If SS had been looking in our direction when we slid away at least one of them would follow. I had thrown in with a girl I knew nothing about, and we were on the run.
Gritting my teeth I blocked out the suddenly fearful whirlwind of her thoughts as she struggled to adjust to this new change in direction, my own emotions were hard enough to push aside, I didn’t need hers crowding on top of them. I punched in the access code and shoved the door open as quickly as possible, pulling her through and shutting it quietly.
You idiot- I thought to myself even as I pictured a schematic of the maintenance hallways, selecting our escape route, never ceasing to move- If you wanted a girl that bad you should be at Madame Cheri’s. My mother would have fits if she knew where parts of my inheritance had gone. With a slight shake of my head I pushed the guilty feelings from my mind, trying to focus on the present.
My father would have fits if he knew I was risking attention from SS this way. Parents- they were impossible to please. What good was all the random crap they’d trained me for if I never used it? Memorizing the blueprints for an entire space station hadn’t been fun, and I’d never found a purpose for them before today.
We had just rounded the first corner when she tore her arm free from my grasp.
“Who are you, where are we going?” Her mind was a mixture of fear and anger, an image popped into her head- a body on the floor. Someone close to her had dropped the ball on their job, and paid the price. She was off balance and it was making her fear worse. I had to keep her moving, but right now asking for trust was going to be completely futile. She’d just had someone she cared about fail her in the worst possible way.
I kept walking, and breathed a silent sigh of relief when she instinctualy followed. We had to get to C deck and into another building- fast. I blessed my parent’s paranoid habits as we reached the first set of stairs, fitness was a major priority. Despite three years without them I had kept myself in good enough shape to take the stairs at a light run and still talk.
“You can call me Zee.” I told her. Giving out my real name never even crossed my mind. Nobody knew it anyways, I was on my third ident card since we’d gotten to the station. Anyone I dealt with on a regular basis just called me Zee.
“We’re headed to C Deck, we can cut across two buildings on that level and lay low.” The exit to C Deck maintenance corridors grew closer even as I spoke and I opened it, turning right down the access halls.
“How do you know I’m in trouble, and why are you helping?” Her thoughts were calmer. Now that the immediate danger was gone she was settling remarkably fast, despite the image of the body that kept cropping up in her thoughts. I glanced back at her, assessing. Whatever shit she was into, she was a pro. Quick on her feet, sexy- I jerked my eyes forward. There was no doubt in my mind why I was helping, not that I would tell her that. She was hot, what guy wouldn’t step up for that?
“Your head kept twitching towards those three SS guys behind you.” I told her, hoping she wouldn’t notice that I had skipped the second question. We went through another door and merged with the crowd walking across the bridge to Building 4, slowing our pace to blend. The bridge was beautiful, made of solid plexiform. As we crossed we were surrounded by stars, only partially blocked by the walls of Buildings 4 and 5. The Earth lay below us, but was quickly shifting position as the station rotated.
Building 4 was much more commercial, and we were quickly bombarded by the sights and smells of a mini mall. My only warning was a quick burst of thoughts, it took me a moment to sort through them, and by the time I realized she had broken away from me she was cloaked by the mass of shoppers. For a moment I considered following her, she would have gone into a shop with multiple floors it was the only way to lose me. With a shrug I left well enough alone.
She’d been thinking about meeting back up with her team, thinking they’d need to recruit another Muscle- probably at the Games. In under two seconds she’d run through all the things she needed to do to get out and figured out an escape route- then acted on it. She was quick.
I followed my original course to building 3 and got some Lo Mein from a Chi-Merican restaurant on D Deck. Chin’s served up good food, it tasted like home to me. As I worked my way quickly through the pint and my orange ElectroBalance I thought of all the reasons that I should go right back to my normal life and forget all about this girl. They were compelling arguments, which didn’t sway me in the least. I knew that two days would find me at the Games, blowing the carefully tailored low profile life I had led for several years now.
Boredom is a bitch, it was going to get me killed.
              It wasn’t my first time at the Games, they were popular with just about everyone on Epsilon 2078. The station’s rotation added (quite literally) a special twist that no athlete could resist testing themselves against, and as a result we wound up with some fairly famous Earthies competing with the local favorites. They inevitably lost. No amount of training could prepare you for the fact that, on a space station, when you dropped something straight down it fell in a curve.
              This was, however, my first time competing. The Jerk had given me a truly skeptical look when I brought him my ident card to modify, asking for a semi-pro sports background. His bright red hair bounced slightly as he shook his head in disbelief. It didn’t stop his long spidery fingers from snatching up the cash chits and shoving the ident card into his Portable. His fingers danced across the touch screen, almost too fast to track as he muttered to himself. I’d never seen him work with a real console, although I had a theory that his Portable must be connected to one in some way. There was no way that little thing could work all the techno-magic I’d seen it pull on its own.              
Shaking the ident card free The Jerk handed it back and stood, towering above everyone at McCarthy’s. He drained his pint of Guinness and shoved in his chair, pausing for just a minute before he left.
              “Be careful about the girl, okay?” Without waiting for an answer he walked away, his long legs carrying him quickly from the Pub. I wasn’t surprised that he’d pegged me right, every stupid move in history had been over a girl. Men are a predictable species, mom used to say- sometimes fondly, sometimes in exasperation.
              The Oreo Sports Center consisted of three floors, the main arena was on the ground level where most of the action took place- football or basketball, or every once in a while hockey. The hockey players did better than most since the puck stayed on the ground. The second floor house the courts for one on one athletics, racquetball or tennis, fencing, wrestling- the works. It also housed the equestrian center. There had been talk of adding a golf course, but I doubted they’d be able to cram it in there, although the craziness that the station’s spin would work on a golf ball would make it a popular draw.
              I rounded the platform for the second floor entrance and continued to the third, unofficially known as ‘The Battleground’. I showed my ident card at the door, I had enough sports in my background to make a good player and they let me in with a minimum of questioning. I’d showed up early to assure myself a spot in the upcoming game. The Battleground was open every three days for a game of Red vs. Blue- some sort of old video game reference. It was fairly simple, two teams started on opposite sides of the immense indoor landscape. Whichever team lost all of its members first was out. The other team won. The two team captains were already in place and were reviewing our profiles as the players entered. They’d come up with a basic plan of attack or defense which would hold for about the first half of the game. After that things tended to descend into anarchy.
              I jogged a circuit around the arena to get the lay of the land. The designers had gone with rolling hills crisscrossed with small creeks. Scraggly trees provided some cover, and a few looked tall enough to climb- if you were bold enough to pin yourself down like that. On my second jog around  I saw her again, selecting a seat near the plexiform windows. There were two men with her, older. One had the look of ex-military, dark brush cut, square jaw, ramrod straight posture. The other was possibly a programmer. Something about the constant movement of his fingers reminded me of The Jerk. He was shorter than The Jerk by a lot, but had the same pasty complexion that implied very little time spent exercising or exploring SunDecks. His hair a mess of unruly blond curls.
              I hadn’t slowed and was past them quickly. I debated whether to work my way over to this section of the arena during play and decided to be safe. They’d be able to see my performance on the vid screens, no need to get close enough to be recognized. The girl might react with suspicion if she saw me again so soon after I’d randomly popped into her life, I’d rather wait until after they approached me with their offer for us to be reintroduced.
              I checked one of the screens as I continued jogging and noted that I’d been picked up by the Reds. The giant time clock in the lower left hand corner sent me flying to the Red’s weapons locker. My team leader, a tough looking little blonde, nodded at me briefly, her fingers flying as she made her final selections at the monitor on the wall. The little cul de sac was only slightly fortified, a few stray boxes giving us cover. There were only four of us there, and so I waited patiently until our remaining six teammates arrived, grabbing a Tag stick and helmet from the wall of our base.
              Within two minutes the last stragglers came in and equipped themselves as well. The blonde surveyed our group, frowning slightly and then sharply gestured us in.
              “I’ve played against the Blue’s captain before, and he’s an aggressive s.o.b.” She told us seriously, “We’re going to play mostly defense, it will leave us in a corner, but it’ll allow us to dig in. I want to snipers on some high ground covering our base, any volunteers?” I paused a moment, deciding whether that would play to my best advantage, then dismissed the idea. They would be looking for a Muscle, so I would do best showing how I handled myself in a tight situation.  Muscle only came into play when things went wrong, they were handiest at covering an escape. By the time I finished my train of thought two of the men had raised there hands. She nodded at them briefly and they picked up their Tag sticks and headed out to find some cover.
              “The rest of us are going to buddy up. Each of you should spread out about thirty feet from the team behind you and position yourself at an angle so you’re watching each other’s blind sides. If it gets hairy, fall back and the team behind you will provide cover fire. Try not to give ground to easily, we don’t want to get boxed into Base.” Anything else she might have said was cut off by a loud buzzer signaling the beginning of the Game. She grabbed my arm and headed forward, hauling me along quickly, trusting in the others to follow her orders.
              We moved forward and to the left about sixty feet, leaving room for a team behind us and one to the side. No sooner had we found decent cover- a small circle of trees behind a smaller hillock- than I felt a buzz of excited thought. I hit the deck with a warning to my partner just ahead of the pulse from my enemy’s Tag stick. I swore softly scooting behind a tree and popping my head out. I yanked it back in quickly feeling the patter of shredded bark- apparently our opponents were working in teams as well.
              Two women were heading towards our position around either side of the hillock in front of us.  Blonde leaned out from cover and took a shot at the brunette on my side of the hill. I took a deep breath, reminding myself that a shot from a Tag only disabled my shields and did likewise for her opponent. We both scored a hit and the cradle of our Tag lit as a ball rolled out of the handle and dropped into the net. I stepped forward and flicked my wrist, hitting the brunette closing on my partner with the energy ball. Blonde missed and I suddenly found myself up close and personal with a tall redhead.
              I dove to my right, hearing the sizzle of a bolt whiz by my head, and flipped to my feet. Instead of attempting to retreat further while my Tag recharged, I closed, dropping my stick to grab hers and flipping her onto her back. She fought me for control, continuously discharging bolts, but I refused to be distracted. I felt the buzz of two more minds approaching just as another ball began to roll down into the cradle of my stick. I didn’t have time to get to it, so I simply rolled onto my back, forcing my enemy between myself and Blonde.
              “Get down!” I screamed as the burst of light faded, but my warning was a second too late. Her shield failed as it was hit with a bolt from the next pair of Blues. A bearded man grinned fiercely at her and lobbed a ball just as my energy bolt hit his shields. She swore fiercely and dove away, falling back towards base. His smile dropped into a grim line as his own shield dissolved, and turned to a look of shock as his partner‘s shield followed. It was good to know our snipers were doing something.
              I lobbed the ball at the bearded man, covering for my partner, before turning my attention to the tiny pixie of a girl he had paired with. In the second it had taken me to dispatch him she’d fired off a bolt and disabled my shield. She grinned fiercely, the glow of the ball lighting her features in a decidedly eerie way. Instead of diving or running I took a deep breath and focused, waiting for the moment before she took her shot, when her thoughts would tell me to dodge.
              She was quick, the time between her taking aim and actually swinging the stick was so small that she would have gotten me if it weren‘t for her aim- clearly an Earthie. She didn’t hesitate at all after she missed- she turned tail and ran. I pursued, grinning fiercely, casting out in front of us for the thoughts of any Blue members. It was rare I got a chance to exercise my gifts and I reveled in the freedom that the Game gave me. My scoop was glowing with another energy ball as she led me into range of one of their snipers, and I got off my shot before he did. I retreated quickly, circling around to his position.
              This guy really knew what he was doing- at least I assumed it was a guy. He was buried so deep in leaves and dirt that I could barely make out that he was a person at all. Great cover for sniping, terrible for dodging. I took down his defenses and tagged him with a ball before he could regain his feet. The buzzer sounded again, letting me know that the match was over, and I jogged to the sidelines, more specifically to Sideline CafĂ©, to re-hydrate and check my stats.
              I grinned fiercely as I pass the status board. In addition to my Kills and Assists had scored the highest for Defense, they gave me a Save and a Cover- no one else had either. I would be exactly what they were looking for.
              As I had anticipated, She was there, along with her two male friends. One of them nodded to me, gesturing towards the stats, and she turned to look. I felt the spike of nervous anxiety in her as she recognized me, and she turned back to her friends shaking her head vigorously. I grabbed an ElectroBalance and sat, keeping my talent focused on them as they fought while letting my body innocently study the screen. Apparently the older ex-military thought that the fact I had already helped out my girl was a plus, not something to be afraid of. I felt the moment he decided to ignore her and caught my breath at the overwhelming sense of relief.
              They might be criminals, I thought as they began walking towards my table, but really where else was I going to fit in? All I knew was that there would be no more days staring out into the vast emptiness of space, wondering had gone insane from isolation- or if not then when I finally would. The old Earth philosopher that my father had a fondness for cropped into my head, and his quote echoed in my mind as they stopped and regarded me.
              “If you gaze too long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back.” I shivered slightly, although not so much that they noticed. Ex-Military assessed me slowly before seating himself at my table. As the other two joined him, he began.
              “I have a proposition for you…”  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Gate to the Hidden City

Gate to the Hidden City:

He wasn't a princess, but then- I certainly wasn't a prince. I'm five seven and in the winter you can't tell if I'm a boy or a girl, unless I feel like putting on make-up. But shoveling six feet of snow to go anywhere kind of makes you a little more casual about your appearance and so I wasn't winning any beauty pageants this year. Even though it was past snowmelt and into summer.

My neighbors will tell you I'm a bit odd- believe me, they'll tell you. I swear they never talk about anything else, so I'm guessing you'd hear about it if you came within ten square miles of my apartment complex (I own the whole thing, a little Christian school, with a statue of the Virgin Mary holding down one side and my mixed bag Unitarian beliefs anchoring the other).

And we're into the odd part. I'm barely Irish, although I speak Gaelic- an all American mutt, I'm the product of six bloodlines and it shows. My hair changes color depending on what I'm doing, red one year, almost blonde the last time I saw him. The boy from England. He was a boy when he got lost wandering places I warned him not to go. You don't just walk into and out of Tir na Og.

But he was him, blue hair and all. A dye job of course, even my hair didn't just turn blue. I'd go to the doctor if it did. I might be part gypsy, part Irish, part Brit, part Polish singer, part Czech and even some Rom, but I definitely wasn't a naiad. They exist, or at least I assume they do - I ran into a satyr once at the Noco… I'll spare you some of the details. I had to give him some advice on wearing a seeming… some bits and bobs didn't fit in with the human environment.

By now everyone pretty much "has their eyes" as my great great great etc would say, so they noticed. They've gotten bold, now that they can see myths and fairie tales. Enter little Domhnall. I got an emergency call one day, he'd found some people who knew some people and, being who he is, wandered off with me as his only tether. Right on into a High Court.

I'd explain the difference between the High Courts and the Lower, but it's the difference between explaining the carefully colored shrubberies of the Botanicals and the great Baboa that dominates Animal Kingdom. What he was doing there was beyond me (until this week), all I knew was that he was wandering around and some of the Greater Fae had taken an interest. He hadn't brought salt, or a cross, or his guitar- practical to a T, that was Domhnall.

I'm a truth teller, it's a confusing term, which is fine with us. Usually if something is confusing it's because you're not supposed to know about it. The short version is that it makes me uniquely suited to dealing with elves, who never lie and view all sorts of things as oddly binding.

So off I went, entering through stories rather than Gates, because half of the duo that occasionally makes up Danno and I, is smart enough not to Walk there. Tracking him down that time was easy. He was just getting to know the place, because he was about to die. That would have been nice to know at the time.

He died a couple of months later, in April, and off his spirit went, as though it had wings. Straight back to the fairy courts. I knew he wasn't in love with me, he trended towards people like himself, but we had signed a binding agreement the last time we were together. There are so few of us left in the world, and contracts are an odd sort of fun. I'll run you through some of the highlights.

I shall be as married to another psychic, who shall be merry
I shall use only as protection, those dark of skin
I shall work against myself, while working towards my ends
I shall not use any of my resources to achieve any ends
I shall find the claws and bring them (no clue, to this day what those were)

The I shalls went on at length, but he'd brought me a lovely bouquet of baby's breath which had been arranged so I could see not only how different cultures were affecting my current project (comms systems), but also the problems affecting cultures in general (not all psychics are nice) and a lovely marriage proposal (see above). And after our last meeting I was pregnant.

So off I went, I shalling away when he disappeared into the gate between worlds. Great. I found out about the baby two months later when I had checked off clause one and gotten pregnant again - or more, that is, I now have fraternal twins. Believe it or not, it's possible. If it were anyone but him there would be some explaining to do.

My newest ground was an older version of him, nothing but trouble, and a telepath to top it off. Telepaths are the biggest gossips in the free world, they keep the little spiders in spinning silk for months. We're talking social capital here, interesting things in a dull world. I was never going to New York City again. The subway alone had put me too far into the underworld, and at the airport I wound up trapped in between worlds, due to a double bounce.

That's how these things happen. And they happen to me an awful lot. So there I was, rooting around in my various and sundry oddities for something that would help, because Danno had gone off and my newest ground was old enough to not know what a computer was and was addicted to his blackberry. Which are tools of the Devil.

A worn Fedora was actually a favor from an old friend. Friends actually, and more of an invitation than a favor. They called us all generators or batteries, the movers and the shakers- a throwback to old England when the gaslights got you a bit jolly and they thought that messing with someone's head was a fun part of society. I didn't love the title, but I was an activist. My friends were hardly generators, they were businessmen, and only a little bit of trouble.

The golden tassle necklace was fake gold, but half of the Fae had gotten half of their life stories from the Wegians and their little numbers games (who uses a comma instead of a period in currency? Someone shady, that's who). So it did for fairy gold. I had a House Name, although I didn't use it often. Being the product of six psychic bloodlines does that for you, so I used my marker for that as well, a terrarium that I used as a mini diorama. Safer than grounding it in a real world location, but now I'm getting into a bit of witchcraft.

Thankfully I also had a favor from the Chinese, who excelled at thresholds (I didn't have the heart to tell them they were just Omega bridges) and was in the middle of an argument with the Catholic Church. I don't know if the Church thought the in between was evil because of, or in spite of, all of the Irish Catholics. My guess is because of- they had some fairly real practices back in the day that helped keep the veil closed. They tended to blame the Brits, but they'd never been up the seventh mountain on the northwestern side of Bergen.

I'm trying to decide if I should make a long story short, the fedora I gave to my son. I can't keep shoes on his feet and certainly can't keep him inside the house most days. That's the kind of parents we are, kids fall out of trees, bike around, and have a life. My ground and I ran around with the same Italian psychics from back in the day and they introduced me to the wonders of gelato. Apparently that was a go sign.

I don't know what they did overseas, I can only assume it involved the dream I once had of white flowers drifting from trees like warm snow. It's rare I talk to God, but I had when that happened, and he'd smiled. I'm, obviously a precognitive, which is about the same as being an artist, and we tend to record those things. I hadn't found anything that had matched it so far- not that you cross it off your list when you do- so I'm guessing that was it.

The short version being my son wandered off down South and I had to use a major working to keep us from winding up in two different places entirely and Danno wandered out in LA, brought over by some Pikeys I'd done tarot with- which is exactly where he disappeared. Blue hair disheveled, a list of complaints, and a set of stories brought back from the otherworld.

Ask him for them if you see him… the little bugger owes me one…

For starters we're married, and his daughter is already asking after him (psychics are intrepid little things, even while we're carrying them). For second I could use a hand collecting my son. And for third he owes me the money for two plane tickets, and a set of stories. 

Not much for a romance, huh? You've clearly never watched British TV, it reeks of love.

In all seriousness though, the bits we don't talk about happened in the in between... it's where art comes from...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How to Archer

Spycraft is all fiction, right?

Not according to Sterling Archer, in his latest book- How to Archer. As some of my reads are- this is definitely NSFW. I'll repeat that. Don't bring the book to work, because the nosy, cardigan wearing HR pita mentioned on page 134 will definitely thumb through it (violation of personal space? Gasp you should) and you'll be out the fantastic tip on that page- as well as your job.

Archer gives you the basic rundown on all things spycraft, how to make drinks, bilk casinos, pad expense accounts and - most importantly- how to dress. Priorities, people, priorities.

If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

(Editor's Note: If you haven't seen the TV Show, don't buy the book first, it's funny partly because you read the entire thing to yourself in his voice... I actually just started narrating this sentence that way... fantastic. *I'm* in the Danger Zone...)

Beyond Excited? Buy it Here.

For more reviews, check Anne's Channel.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Heat Stroke

She's hot, he's hot, the car is ridiculous. I'm seriously, it's a Viper, with a 10 Cylinder engine- turns out that's a thing. But Mona aside (oh yeah, the car has a name, she's the hottest thing since Kitt... Your moment of Zen...) what's really changed with Joanne since the last book is that she's dead. Or well, deadish.

When a team of Weather Wardens chased her across the US, it ended in a misguided deathmatch of epic proportions. Much to the dismay of her old, hot, dead sexy Italian teacher, the team got her. Her Djinn, David, had other things to say. He brought her across to the other side and now she's experiencing the world, and Weather Warding, as a djinn.

Unfortunately, despite being all powerful, she can get claimed by another Warden, so she has to fly under the radar while she tracks down the schism in the Wardens and clears herself. If it weren't for David, and the car, she might call it quits.

The future was looking stormy.

Love it? Buy it Here.

Laugh cry and drive, on Anne's Channel.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

D23 Throws Some Curveballs

Disney has been in video games for a while- I could barely pry Mickey and his magic paintbrush out of my dear sweet child's grubby little hands- but it's throwing in some serious flavor lately.

While it's still child friendly (despite the uber scandalous allegations of sexual images as well as connotations) it seems to be giving a nod to middle America (where satire has officially died) and expanding it's panels.

It used to be that to even sing the Mickey Mouse Club theme you had to be so clean that you squeaked, but one too many starlet faceplants has caused the company to ease off (Editor's Note: I have no insider info, despite having cousins who perform at Disney).

This D23, Kingdom Hearts III was presented by Jack Septic Eye. If you don't know who that is, I personally pictured him taking the stage with the theme "It's my Croc in a Box" playing in the background. I, as a liberal minded American, am extremely amused.

Other parents may be holding their breath- wondering can they really include a more adult audience without turning into Ren and Stimpy (your moment of Zen). I'll just take the last of your innocence and give you the heads up that Nick is run out of Canada. That's right. Canada.

Obviously my guess is yes, they certainly can- and it's about time. Not that racing pegasi won't prepare my kid for college (I had a friend in a sorority- I don't want to talk about it... ittt's a smalll world afffter alll...), and they've been expanding into celebrity appearances for years (love you Tim Gunn), but their safe place theory is starting to get outpaced by real world branding.

Princess there won't be doing herself any favors if she acts like Sophia in real life, something she probably realized really quickly in First Grade. I, personally, love that they added flavor.

Want more reviews that make you laugh, cry and game on? Link through to Anne's Channel. And yes, two full playlists are child friendly, and clearly labelled.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Kitty and the Midnight Hour

A little bit fluffy, a little bit rock and roll, Kitty is a step away from normal. A werewolf in Denver, she took a late night gig and turned it into a successful radio show for the paranormal. After years of hiding her identity and using doublespeak to talk to her listeners, she's finally confronted by her other life. An assassin bent on ending her calls in and starts a stalk and chase around the city.

Not all of the paranormal are as cuddly as Kitty, and the vamps want her taken down. For all that she likes the human world, and her very human identity, Kitty's still a werewolf and isn't going to give up everything she built. She takes the case to the cops and, with their help, tracks down the reason for the hit...

Curious? Try it Here.

Want to hear more crave reviews? Try Anne's Channel.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Mixed Up Mother Goose: Tommy Tucker

So in cut 5 we skip right on past the serial killer rhyme (that's right, Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater couldn't keep his wives for a reason- God Save England), and on to Tommy Tucker- because who doesn't love making fun of the homeless?

Little Tommy Tucker
Little Tommy Tucker sings for his supper,
What shall we give him? Brown bread and butter.
How shall he cut it without a knife?
How shall he marry without a wife?

Brown bread was the cheapest and hard to chew, and the peasants mock little Tommy for not being able to afford a wife. Redundancy is the greatest of the wicked British tools used to mock their culture into shape.

Don't get poor, kids. Don't get poor.

Want to hear more crave reviews? Try Anne's Channel.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Prose Edda: Snorri Sturlson (Yes- this is a real thing)

War and Peace, Strife and Intrigue in the Warneedgen court.

As a save from my last explicit entry I decided to go old school historico-mythology. In the same way that the bible is affected by the meetings of the cardinals who decide cannon, our understanding of mythology is affected by those historical figures who take the time out of their busy days to collect, collate, and write down the various stories and oral traditions of their times. Generally they're imprisoned (Le Morte D;Artur, Maurice's Strategikon, the Whole Royal Society), but in this case Snorri was experiencing the glory of all that was the Norwegian Court.

Shortly after the Dutch withdrew (they left their royal family in charge of all of the Scand's royals, a note the editor missed, but which is of key political importance) Snorri the Icelander decided to go bounce around Norway and see if he could unseat every other House by betraying the Icelanders to the Weegians and selling out the whole country whole cloth. He didn't wind up going that route and instead explore the royal libraries, collecting various and sundry myths and updating them.

The beginning of the Edda explores the effects of Christianity. While Paganism tends to precede the concept of the One or Oneness, as evidenced in almost every religion except for Hinduism, in Snorri's tale it's woven in to the beginning with an introduction through a shortened version of Genesis. The Gods are placed as Greeks and are told as descendants from that region. Given that Norse runes (which preceded the Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet) are markers and attributed to the gods, this order and ordinal are unlikely, but as a historical text it has it's placement perfectly in the romantic style that is given as the setting for the collection.

As a historical text About historical texts it's rich and full of context, much like both the Warneedgan and Icelandic languages- as a history it's thin. But that's normal in an oral tradition- it's questionable whether all the begatting and knowing in the Bible was just a political way for the Jewish people to trace peoples of power, and their Talmud still continues orally. It's the difference between a religion and a history and is epic in the same way as the Odyssey, a way for a man to leave his mark other than leaving behind his children. Both the author and the subject achieve immortality that echoes through the ages (The Edda was written in 1220).

That's the setting for a book about Gods and Goddesses and their petty grievances and pettier affairs. Politics at its best.

Curious? Check it out Here.

Want to hear more crave reviews? Try Anne's Channel.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fifth Quarter : Tanya Huff

Took a walk on the wild side and went in for another one of LGBT author, Tanya Huff's novels. They're passionate, they're powerful, and holy shit are they ever adult.

Bannon and Vree were raised to be the best assassins since the time they were six. Never allowed to love or care about anyone else they shared a psychic link that was unbreakable. Assassins were never allowed to train together, but the Empire made an exception and they turned out to be the best. The course was brutal, the other was punished when one failed, but they survived- and now they ran missions and were allowed almost as much freedom as the average soldier.

Everything changed when Bannon died on a mission and Vree refused to let go. Sharing a body, with a botched assassination, they were forced to flee, and headed straight to the home of the Kai, the forbidden lands. Desertion earned you a death sentence and a team was dispatched to take them out immediately, after the job was finished the hard way. Magic was turning and the psychic pair didn't know how to handle it- magic was forbidden, but now it was being used to raise the dead.

Zombies and magic and love, oh my.

Morbidly Curious? Buy it Here.

Want to hear more crave reviews? Try Anne's Channel.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Nobunaga's Ambition

If your life sucks as much as every other thirty-something whose kids are home for the summer, their minds are education free, their little darling feet pounding around the house and outside, then you need a trip in the wayback machine. Before first person perspective induced a barf worthy experience while watching your sibling play PC Games, kids used to laugh and play and grow together.

Grow. With wholesome, yet educational experiences, such as conquering feudal japan and differentiating between samurai and the rogue ronin. Overtaxing peasants and throwing them rice because it's more efficient. Great parenting fell off the wagon in the year 2000 with Morrowind and Ultima IX.

So park your kid on and pull up the old greats. Believe it or not, a crash course in tactics, polysci and waste management actually better prepares them to be a responsible citizen then the newest crap from Disney- whatever the rando guitar playing princess with the pegasus has to impart, it's certainly not practicality.

Bonus: They also pick up boss catch phrases like "The enemy has turned tail and run, Ha ha ha, Yuk yuk yuk" to console you in your adage, and for use in estranging them from their annoying friends who refuse to be politely disinvited from visiting again. Ever.

Want to hear more crave reviews? Try Anne's Channel.

Play it Here

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bo Peep and Her Sheep: The NSFW Brit Rhymes (2)

Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
and doesn't know where to find them;
leave them alone, And they'll come home,
wagging their tails behind them.

Little Bo Peeping was, back in the day, a reference to being stuck in the stocks. You've seen them at Disney (odd reference, right?) where your head and arms are locked in and small children use you for a stumping point.

Returning your sheep to Bo was just herding the little boogers back to their parents so that they no longer innocently tortured the victims of slightly more than Facebook shaming.

South of the Border it had more to do with returning things (and stories) to their rightful place and less to do with the Brit version that was sung in the streets to herd the avenging little angels back home (or to the square if it was a child) as it was adopted into a novel.

The things you learn when you study Brit Lit.

To keep things even with the mudslinging- A Fun Fact:
When the cult formed to drink the Kool-Aid and guide the brilliants who partook to the Mother Ship behind the Hale Bop Comet (still couldn't make up stuff this good) the guide was named Bo and his invisible counterpart (I'll repeat that, as it bears repeating) his INVISIBLE counterpart, was named Peep. God Bless America as well :)

Want to hear more crave reviews? Try Anne's Channel.

Friday, June 9, 2017

All of the Nursery Rhymes Explained (NSFW - Couldn't make up stuff this good)

So in the interest of explaining how modern mythology blends through Christian mythology, the Bible and Politics, I took on Mixed Up Mother Goosed.

That's right, Mixed Up Mother Goose. The 80s Sierra PC Game. The level of NSFW should make you laugh hysterically as you slowly comprehend all that is Brit and how they used to pass the news (Newsies and Horatio Alger, move Over, we are talking social capital here).

While the narration is totally kid friendly we are talking a Ren and Stimpy level of adult entertainment, and I'll spend the next couple weeks walking you through it. Mother Goose's collection of nursery rhymes were some of the best compiled (arguably) by Newbury.

And here they are in Hi Def (j/k we're talking 16Bits of love).

We kick it off by returning to Mary Mary her watering can. I don't even want to KNOW what that signifies in semiotics, because Mary Mary Quite Contrary was Mary I o'England, a devout Catholic and the political party responsible for the beheadings of many a Heugenot. Beheadings weren't her only method of religious dissuasion, the diplomatic girl loved crucifixion, complete with immolation. That's right, M I o E was so thug as f--- that she not only crucified those who chose religious freedom and reflexive thought on prayer (didn't Jesus give us that?) she pulled a Guy Fawkes on them.

Her reasons? Her dad dumped her mom, and when the Holy Roman church talked back he kicked them out of their own party and started the Anglicans (this, incidentally led to the KJV Bible, but not for decades). She got disowned. And apparently resented that. Psychology in the 1500s? Not on point.

So what's up with her silver bells, her cockleshells and her pretty maids all in a row?
Believe it or not, that's a toned down version of history. Silver Bells were "putting the screws to people" (real thing, there goes your ability to give a thumbs up) Cockleshells are pretty self explanatory (and you thought Aaron and Moses went at it over the golden calf), and pretty maids... well lets just say there was a long line for the two blade guillotine... Maybe they just didn't have euphemisms for non-spontaneous human combustion involving holy symbols. Creative.

So there you have it, we're aiding and abetting by helping Mary water her "garden" (see also: graveyards). Ladies and Gentlemen, Mixed Up Mother Goose, a walk on the wild side that your kids won't notice and you'll never forget.

Want to hear more crave reviews? Try Anne's Channel.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Origin of Love Someone who Makes you the Best Version of Yourself?

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I love you not only for what you are,
but for what I am when I am with you.
I love you not only for what you have made of yourself,
but for what you are making of me.
I love you for the part of me that you bring ou

Saturday, June 3, 2017

SAS - At the Warehouse

Yegor drummed his fingers heavily on the steering wheel of the van. Ba-da-dump. Ba-da-dump. It was one thing to find himself suddenly in the middle of a street fight, but this couldn’t be called anything other than a shadowrun. His first real shadowrun.

The Amerindian sat calmly in the seat next to him, his shotgun resting across his lap, the barrel pointed toward the passenger door. Yegor went through a checklist in his head. It was a nervous habit, but it passed the time, and helped to reassure him that he hadn’t missed anything. Changed our commlink access IDs. Spoofed our comm numbers. Registered the Flash-Paks. Registered the commlinks. Registered my drones. Doberman in the back of the van. Lynx in the back of Smith’s pickup. Mossberg loaded and calibrated. Magazines in my jacket.

Ba-da-dump. Ba-da-dump. Ba-da-dump.

He looked at the glowing amber clock in the corner of his AR display. 4:12 AM. He was glad he went to bed early. He was feeling well rested, at least. Hopefully most of the punks in this hideout would be passed out drunk right now.

There was going to be shooting tonight, there was no doubt about that. There were too many guys inside for there not to be. Even if they were tired, they were going to know they were under attack soon enough. Lokk was creeping up to the warehouse even now.

Lokk was a pro – despite his propensity for extreme violence, he was a skilled infiltrator. The old warehouse had an external power connection. Lokk cuts the fence, disables the power, and opens the main garage door manually. Everyone slips in nice and quiet. From there, take out as many people as possible while they are still groggy, grab the bossman, and get out before Lone Star shows up. Simple.

Yegor’s ear twitched. His drumming fingers stopped.

He heard something.

“Faaack! They facking saw me!” Lokk’s voice rang through the teams’ commlinks. Automatic weapon fire rang out, creating an odd echo as it rang loudly through the commlink  and was also heard a few hundred meters away.

Yegor threw the van into gear, chirping the tires as the van lurched out of the alleyway and roared out into the street. The warehouse was the only prominent structure on the street, and it loomed ominously in the darkness ahead. Muzzle flashes from the second floor flared brightly in Yegor’s thermographic vision. He could see the heat of other figures rousing themselves through the windows as the van hurtled down the street. The parking lot of the warehouse was blocked by a tall chain-link fence and gate, which they were rapidly approaching.

“Hang on!” he barked to Joe.

Cutting the tires sharply, Yegor felt the van lean heavily onto the driver’s side tires as he whipped it into the chain-link gate. Spinning the wheel sharply in the opposite direction, Yegor maintained the perfect balance of speed and control as he brought the van to bear on the rickety metal garage door. He squared his shoulders and braced himself as well as he could.

With a cacophonous crash, the van punched through the metal strips of the garage door and into the warehouse. Yegor’s eyes darted around the room, but didn’t see any warmth in the main garage. Good. We should have a few seconds.

In the rearview mirror, Yegor saw Smith’s pickup pull into the lot behind him. Smith jumped out and whipped the tarp off of the flatbed of his truck.

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