coronaviridae: (invisible boyfriend)
Concerning your research article "Simultaneously Mitigating Near-Term Climate Change and Improving Human Health and Food Security,"

if your confidence intervals actually drop as low as 10% for your measurements you might as well not report them because what you're basically saying is "we have no idea what this value is and we're making shit up".

Furthermore, if your error interval includes zero, your value is meaningless.

Seriously this is terrible science and I cannot believe it passed peer review.
coronaviridae: (Default)
Let's see what codes are free.

corpseknight - for Larkspur.
ifightfor - for Rinzler.

And I can probably back all my writing stuff up to this journal so no need for the others.
coronaviridae: (Default)
Seeing two remote users logged on to our VPN at long last makes me happy. C:

coronaviridae: (mutual knowing)
There were Greyspell-aliens in my very extended dreams yesterday/last night.

No, seriously. One of the antagonist races was a group of parasitic aliens who had clouds of (unseen by most humans) psychic "eyes" that followed them about and could be sent here and there to spy. (An interesting turning point in said dreams involved one of these aliens running seriously afoul of airport security by giving a series of Really Bad Answers to the usual gamut of anti-terrorist questions. And then said alien killed the airport security person, stole their clothes, and tried to fake out the rest of airport security. It did not work out so well for the alien, which was fortunate for the protagonists.)

It was a pretty awesome series of dreams, though.

coronaviridae: (Default)
I'm thinking I should register at PoeTV Portal of Evil (proper), if only because the comment community there seems to have both a sense of humor and a functioning brain between them. Skimming through the various nature videos (the bulk of my video consumption on THE INTERWEBS tends to be either nature documentary-ish footage or footage of people's pets; other people don't interest me that much, nor do most of their productions) I found a number of gems that were greatly enhanced by the comments on them. - Clever use of a digital camera screen to show a cuttlefish its own image. The voice narration is especially awesome, as is the cuttlefish going "wtf?" at 1:15. - In fact, if they had been underwater, this is what might have resulted. Note how much the guy's arm moves while the cuttlefish is tugging on it. Youch. - One of the comments suggests that the crab might actually be a parasite species of the jellyfish, but otherwise this seems like one of nature's "whoopslol" moments. Crab + giant jellyfish = ??? - Scallops! Barrel rolls! Underwater cameras! Scallops doing barrel rolls into underwater cameras! You'll need to see it to believe it! (The "bonk" at the end does me in every time.) - And because I need to maintain my street cred as a horrible person, have a Gordian worm video. SFW, but not safe for sanity. Or your lunch. Or small children. The comments on the PoeTV page still crack me up, even if you have to follow an offsite link to get at the video.

ETA: - Oo, oo, bonus horribles! I was wondering where this video of Cordyceps in action had gone.

coronaviridae: (Default)
Things I would rather be doing than working on my WoW Art Exchange piece for this month:

-- Working on Larkspur's extended profile remix.
-- Applying for jobs.
-- Reading eMedicine's Medscape Hotspot on Lyme Disease.
-- Dailies.
-- Wiping on Freya+3.
-- Cleaning up the kitchen.
-- Reading The Urth of the New Sun.
-- Maybe reading Inkspell. (I am having a hard time liking it. I'm trying to figure out why; this may be subject matter for another post.)
-- Stick-figure pornography.
-- Grocery shopping.
-- Cashing checks.
-- Reorganizing my desk.
-- Ripping my entire CD collection. Ever.
-- Trying to beat the Elite Four with a badly designed team ten levels too low for the job. Again.
-- Emptying out the litter boxes.
-- Breaking an ankle. Again.
-- Writing this DW entry. Wait, recursion. TIME PARADOX! DIVIDE BY ZERO! OH SH--

...uh. Anyway. Needless to say I am feeling particularly uninspired and have ranted at length elsewhere about my multitudinous issues with my subject matter. (Which I imagine, in some karmic fashion, to be incredibly unjust of me as somewhere, whoever got ME for this month is doing the same thing. Frown.)

Well, anyway. Some of the things on the above list do actually need to happen (stick-figure porn makes the world go 'round) so it is BACK TO THE GRINDSTONE. Hopefully if I keep reminding myself that this character is someone's beloved chewtoy I'll get up enough inspiration to put out a sketch today. (Not to mention all the doodles I owe people, ararara.)

coronaviridae: (Default)
Is this thing on?

I'm at least glad they don't have the obnoxious corporate placeholder message that Livejournal insists upon now.

Which is a step in the right direction toward convincing me this is FAR SUPERIOR to el-jay.

Also, my brain is made of hurtmeats. Fnrhgrh.

coronaviridae: (arrogant bedo)
AlbedoxShion demismut. Will also have KevinxShion and AlbedoxKevinxShion at...some point.



Paths of Desire
She has become so used to his habit of sneaking into her quarters that her first thought is not how he found her or that he's been dead for six months, but what it is he needs from her. )
coronaviridae: (voldo without faith)
For the shop Welcome to Our World on Gaia.


Kanden had been out from Lextose a bare week when he stumbled across fresh sign. At first, from the single set of footprints, he'd assumed it was another lonesome traveller. He'd followed the trail for the better part of a day before he came across a scattered campfire, the site strewn with shed feathers. Large feathers, the biggest longer than his palm and nearly as wide--Kanden was no idiot, and knew very well what those meant.


He supposed he had no reason to be afraid of them. Even when he was still with Lextose, the Angelicani didn't pose a problem unless crossed. You had to worry more about another Monstros putting a knife in your back; the Angelicani at least pretended to have honor. Still, he couldn't escape the cold prickle of fear at the back of his neck; not for their race, but for their number. He was one, and the footprints around the campfire made them at least four, probably six, only one of them grounded.

Letting the feather flutter from his fingers, Kanden traced the lone set of footsteps that departed the campsite. They were headed the same way he was; had been, or otherwise he wouldn't've detoured to follow their backtrail. Angelicani--well, he suspected his own kind might not have him back once word spread from Lextose, nor was he interested in going back. And unless he wanted to run wild with the half-mindless Faemer or become a hermit (the thought made him shudder), it was the Angelicani or the Muses.

Or the Gate and the gods, a part of him murmured. Again, Kanden shuddered. Maybe not that far, not yet (but some of them surely knew a cure for dreams of dead white eyes and squirming black shadows), but some day, if they would have him... Without really thinking about it, he began walking, choosing his cover and staying alert for any sign of the party up ahead.

It wasn't until dusk that he had any sign he was gaining on them: A campfire, twinkling through the gathering gloom. He spotted it first while picking through poor cover, looking for a concealed spot where he could let down his guard long enough to empty his bladder. Finished with that, he beat his way back to the trail to collect his pack and make a more leisurely survey of the journey ahead.

They weren't doing a hell of a lot to conceal themselves, he noted. But, supposing he had wings and could be in the air, out of danger in the blink of an eye, he wouldn't worry quite as much about being spotted.

He still thought it was damn stupid.

That night he came within a few hundred yards of the Angelicani and made a cold camp. Close enough, with the wind in his favor, that he count them by the sound of their voices--which made five, maybe six, given he'd heard a name that didn't attach itself readily to a voice. A mute, maybe, or he was mishearing something. Either way, Kanden thought, he was outnumbered. He settled himself into a watchful doze curled around that comfortable thought, and snapped out of dreams of white eyes before dawn had even pinked the horizon.

His quarry was far more leisurely, waiting until the sun was well above the horizon before breaking camp. Kanden bolted as much breakfast as he dared and refilled his waterskin, checked his weapons and was quite ready to be on his way before the last of the Angelicani had rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Then he waited, damned frustrated at their slowness, and frustrated at himself for being a godrotting coward and not getting any closer.

Finally they were on their way in a flurry of wings, with Kanden trailing behind like a hyena after vultures. He had no concrete idea of what he intended to say when (if) he (ever) caught up to them, pushing the thought to the back of his mind and focusing on trailing them. They made a little more than eight miles that day, moving from scrubby forest to marginal plains. The lack of cover made the space between Kanden's shoulderblades itch fiercely, and he spent the night huddled uncomfortably behind a boulder a third of his size, head between his knees and hair wrapped around his body so he wouldn't give himself away.

The next day, and the day after that, and the day after that were spent in the same way. Each night Kanden moved his camp a little closer to theirs, at a pace that would put him with the Angelicani sometime late the next year. They, in turn, had been drifting from an unhurried east-by-northeast course to true north.

Kanden found, to his disgust, that some part of him was trying to get caught--realizing it only as he discovered himself collecting wood for a campfire. That night he very nearly turned his back on the whole business, but that same traitor part of him made him stay. Even if he did scatter the wood every which direction, as violently as he dared.

The night after that, he realized someone was following him. The instant he did he stopped dead in place, then kicked himself back into motion, then dropped his pack and began building camp right there. There was very little point in running now, and-- Gods! He hated how badly mistreated he'd been by fate, and how poorly his own mind was taking it. It was that--or the constant paranoia had been eating at him, and he had to stop and restart his beginning of a campfire two, three, four times his hands were shaking so badly. White eyes and black shadows seemed everywhere he turned, and--gods, it would be good to get caught if only he wasn't alone with his thoughts!

By the time the Angelican swaggered into his camp, Kanden had at least managed to get a fire going. Between that and the fact his tail was alone, he gathered courage enough to feel a little like his old self. "Took you long enough," he rasped. His voice was faring poorly for want of use.

Hardly waiting for an invitation, the Angelican took a seat by the fire and smirked handsomely. Was nothing those people did not handsome? "Oh, we knew you were following us since you got on our trail two days ago." The smile turned smug, as he folded his wings behind him. He wasn't the one who'd been shedding feathers, Kanden noted--his wings were little more than airy structures of light.

They looked ridiculous on a man his size, but he probably was much more intimidating sweeping around with a flaming sword or whatever it was they did. "Six."

"Excuse me?"

"I've been following you six days."

A look of surprise, then disbelief, knocked the smirk of the other man's face. "And I'm to believe a Monstros on that?" he spit out.

Kanden heaved a great sigh, somewhat against his own will, and offered his empty palms to the Angelican. "You're to do whatever pleases you. I'm in no position to stop you either way."

The look of surprise was back. That also looked ridiculous on a man his size, and Kanden said as much: "And stop gaping. You'll catch a flying pizzle and choke to death."

Surprise contorted to anger. "Why were you following us, dog? And why shouldn't I kill you before you report back to your masters!"

"If I had masters, they would have ordered you dead before you caught me." Some things never seemed to change. "I was following you because I have nothing else to do." Now that Kanden had started in on the truth, it seemed to flow from him, unfolding itself before he could check his tongue.

"I have nothing else. Either you kill me here, or you set me loose, or you take me with you wherever you're going to be killed or set loose or let alone, and whatever way you choose I won't be the worse for it." A pause, and he added: "I don't ask that you care."

Anger to wariness. At least wariness meant Kanden had gotten him to think, and perhaps if he were thinking, this big Angelican with the ridiculous wings would be a little more pleasant. Or he would kill Kanden before the Monstros could say much else. Either option would be acceptable. "You're lying," he said.

"What would I gain? If I am lying, I've also talked long enough you could kill me before I could report back to the masters I don't have. If I'm not, the truth can't hurt me any." Kanden leaned back, folding his arms across his chest and staring at the Angelican. "Do they not teach you this kind of thing in your cities? It seems too important to neglect."

This won a full thirty seconds of silence from the man across the fire. He folded his arms across his chest as well, but remained sitting up painfully straight, staring back at the Monstros as if seeing him for the first time. Perhaps, Kanden thought, he was, since he was certainly not making all that bluster and threat at someone who posed no apparent danger. It was enough to make him wonder if his own people and the Angelicani might not be fighting for the same thing in the end--black shadows and white eyes... Kanden swallowed his shudder, unwilling to look any weaker before this stranger.

"A truthful Monstros." A log in the fire popped, showering sparks. The Angelican placed his hands on his thighs, leaning forward and squinting at Kanden.

"There does seem to be something different about you, yes. Even if it is slight--tell me, why would you bother saying all this?"

Perhaps there was a brain, albeit a small one, in that thick skull after all. "I don't want to be Monstros any longer, Angelican. I have seen the end of the road my people are walking down, and I want nothing of it."

"Then what do you want?"

What DID he want? Kanden thought about this, tapping his fingers against his upper arms--looking away from the Angelican at length, out into the gathering night around them. "I want to go to the Gate. Take me to Sviit, and I'll make certain no one else follows you. You could use the help."
coronaviridae: (voldo without faith)
Faceless demon creation story, as I wrote it up for an RP on Gaia.


"This is the story of our beginning as it was told to me; I was not there to see it, being at that time unimagined and not yet made of a human's blood. This is the story of the beginning of we who are called faceless; the beginning is written, but no one knows the way it will end.

"The Nameless created the world long before It created thinking things to people it. Given enough time, the world would go the way of all lonely things and create something to keep it company; until then, the Nameless was content to watch the egg It had spun out from Its heart: Perfect, shining, orderly. It isn't for us to know what It saw in the jewel It had created, or why that jewel took so long as it did to hatch.

"But it did hatch, and in due time, creatures that could think about more than food and shelter and mating arose from the world. The world was old by then, old and so accustomed to silence that it had no voice with which to speak to the things that had grown out of its loneliness. So it abided for a time, and the thinking things--mankind--abided for a time, and as they lived from day to day they would sometimes lay their heads down and begin to dream.

"The world, which knew a great deal about dreaming, found it could lean close to these human sleepers and whisper in their ears. It gave them nightmares at first, nightmares that oftimes carried over into waking. Human minds were fragile, the world found; but worlds are slow to learn and it realized its mistake only when most of the humans had run mad from their nightmares and turned to killing each other. Most of them were gone, burned out, by the time the world recognized what it had done. In turn, humanity had done it equally great harm, with their weapons of war and the unchecked force of their nightmares.

"Human imagination was more powerful than the world the Nameless had made for it to grow in, and so the world retreated, frightened, and withdrew its energies to heal, leaving the last thinking things to wander its crust with no succor and no relief from the forces they had unleashed.

"The Nameless does not listen to prayers; if It did, Its time would be filled with endless beseechings and half-meant promises that go as quickly as their owners perished. But there was one among those few remaining humans with a will strong enough to shake the heavens and tear them asunder, and a voice loud enough to summon even the Nameless to see the plight of her people. For the love of her children, Hawwah--for that was her name--took herself to the highest promentory of world's dying surface, and she called out for the Nameless, and that call became a song that filled the whole world and made it ring like a bell.

"And, for once in Its eternal existence, the Nameless heard and bent low to ascertain what It had heard, ringing out from Its world. It heard Hawwah and her wordless supplication to anything that would listen, and It heard beneath that song the world's muttering and dismay at its loneliness. And the Nameless was moved to pity for Its creation, and the creations of Its creation, and came to Hawwah in the form of a hummingbird.

"'What is it you want, woman and mother?' the hummingbird asked the singer.

"'I want,' she said, and paused, for her voice was raw from singing. 'I want for the world that used to be, the world before our imaginings became nightmares that walked the Earth. I want the world to hear us. I want gods that answer the prayers of my children, so even if they go hungry, they don't go unheard.'

"The Nameless-in-the-hummingbird listened to what Hawwah said, and considered the wisdom of it. At length, It made a decision. 'Woman and mother,' It said, 'I will give you what you ask: Someone to listen, and someone to be intermediary between your children and the world. No more will your imaginings turn to nightmares, and no more will the void be empty of someone to listen. Do you accept?'

"In her relief, Hawwah didn't stop the consider what might be meant by the hummingbird's offer. 'I accept, for myself and my children, for as long as humans may be,' she replied.

"'Then My gift will always be with you, for as long as you may be,' the hummingbird said.

"That night as Hawwah and her children spread their blankets out under a sky that seemed less empty, to await the dawn, they slept--and the distant rumble of thunder under the leaden clouds became the voice of their first god."
coronaviridae: (Default)
"Okay. When enough members of a species get to the point where they know they're alive, and they know they can think--when they start to understand the world around them, and they realize they can do something about it one way or another--then they're offered the Choice. As a species, they can elect to slow down the Great Death, or at least try to slow it down. Or else they can just give in and decide to do nothing about it. They can even go over to Its side, the Lone Power's side, and help make the worlds die faster..."

Ponch shuddered. How can they do that?!

"I've never been real clear about that myself," Kit said. How can they do it? How can someone be angry enough, or crazy enough, to say, "Sure, if things are going to hell anyway, let's have them go there faster"?

(Diane Duane. Kit & Ponch, "Travel-Related Stress," Wizard's Holiday, pg. 293.)
coronaviridae: (Default) I said I wanted to write another piece like "Doubt"?


Here goes nothing. )
coronaviridae: (Default)
So I've been doing some serious worldbuilding in the combined Seraphim/Icarus-Sung Li-Boomer world. I really like it so far--it's far future sci-fi fantasy, and so far I think it's pretty coherent.

Anyway, I would like to spit in Mercedes Lackey's eye put this out here, as I now have my requisite emo!magic hero who gets raped by a bunch of other men and then dies while thinking of his lover has a Totally Sweet death.

The Very Very Brief Adventures of Kimber Willis of House Sagittarius )
coronaviridae: (Default)
I don't know how spooky this story is, but here you guys go. I'll probably end up fleshing the narrator out and doing some art of it.



They said that God created the heavens and the earth, in a space and time that took less than a man might to blink an eye or scratch an itch. The stories make it out to be just as easy, like all it took was a "fiat lux" and the earth and heavens appeared out of nothing. I was there at the beginning--I can tell you it wasn't.

Most people who repeat those old stories don't know much about physics. Nature abhors a vacuum, right--but a vacuum abhors nature. Ever thought about the fact that all that space between the atoms that make you up would rather you weren't there in the way? Sounds silly, doesn't it. They always laugh at me when I tell them about the Void. About how much it hates all of us. About how it's always waiting to make life miserable. About how it would rather we just didn't exist.

They always laugh. Then I tell them this story.

October 31 is Halloween. All Hallows Eve, if you want to be Catholic about it. The fact you get thirteen from thirty-one is something most people think is pretty trivial. Numbers do have significance, though--sigils, if you will. Same with hollowing out pumpkins, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Halloween, that's all about celebrating the Void. It spits out monsters, devils. It's the reality behind every myth humanity makes. It gets its strongest here in America when you've got kids out trick-or-treating, dressed up like ghosts...cutting the hearts out of pumpkins, just like it wants to cut into everything else. Some places draw it more than others, even on Halloween...big, empty places. Mass graves. The place where the Twin Towers fell. Auschwitz.

Not all of them are that obvious. Consider something I saw last Halloween. It still scares the piss out of me whenever I think about it. Yeah, even me--I know the Void better than anything, but whenever I see it open its yawning mouth to eat us all alive, I can't help it but my bones go to jelly.

It's like the fabric of the world is coming unstitched. God's own seam-ripper comes down out of heaven and things start to peel away. Like the old house on Second and Market. You've seen it before, the haunted place. Kids run up to touch the doorbell on Halloween. No one lives there. It seems almost like no one ever had, like that great big house with its flying buttresses and windows like broken eyes settled itself down in smug contentment right on that very spot.

Bunch of people killed there, by the by. Maintenance men, just trying to make a buck down in the sewers. Gas main gave way, someone lit up a cigarette. They were crispy-fried from the inside out before any of them even had time to scream. The rescue team pulled out people-shaped cinders that fell apart when you touched them. I know. I was there.

Picture three days before Halloween. Single mother, group of kids who followed her like little blond chicks after a hen. They're looking for a place to stay, so they buy up the Old House like it was about to go out of style. If I'd been in my right mind I would have told her not to go there, to live off the kindness of strangers for a little while, wait for something else to open up. I was drunk off my ass the night she blew in, and by the time I checked in on the Old House, she'd settled in, kids and all.

Not much to be done about that except hope she went out with the kids on Halloween, I told myself. That was the last dangerous time with the equinox gone past. Still, I stuck around. Watching.

Turned out she was some kind of religious nutcase on top of being single. Didn't believe in Halloween or much of anything. Had no truck with pagan holidays, so her kids were going to sit inside with her and sing hymns until bedtime at eight o'clock sharp. She didn't believe in sugar, either, did that woman--didn't believe in much of anything except God's goodness and the cleansing properties of cod liver oil. That's no way to raise kids in my opinion, but then I've never had kids myself.

Halloween rolled around. I think the woman up in Old House had gotten sick of kids ding-dong-ditching, thinking there still wasn't anyone at home and it was fair game to scare the ghosts. Think she was also getting sick of her kids waking up every time someone did and whining to go out and have candy. She moved her car in front of the door, turned off all the lights, shuttered all the windows.

Didn't stop me, though. I admit to still having a soft heart despite all I've seen humans go through and do to each other. Religious nutcase or not, that woman and her kids didn't deserve the evil I could smell in the Old House. I went up to the door, knocked, waited for an answer. She came down frazzled.

"No solicitors, can't you read?" she says to me.

"Fact of the matter, ma'am, I can't," I say, holding my hat in front of me.

Her nose scrunches up. "We don't give out handouts, either. There's a soup kitchen three streets over you can go to, if you need a meal."

"Actually, I'd like to share God's good word with you," I say, figuring it can't hurt.

It does hurt when she slams the door closed on my foot. "We're good Christians, and we don't need any more nonsense from proselyters!"

Good Christians. I'm sure the Man Jesus would have put his foot in the door too instead of letting this "good Christian" go about her own damnation. He was a good person. Pity no one listened to him, either. (I was there when they nailed him up on the cross.)

"Ma'am, I've brought with me the words of salvation," I say, just like dear old Billy Graham waving his arms around on public TV. "If you'd bring your children down, I'm sure they could use this, too. God's word isn't just for the old, but the young--why, the Man Jesus himself--"

"I said go away, or I'm calling the police!" she shrieks right in my face.

"Well, all right, ma'am, if you insist," I say. So much for being a good Samaritan. At that point I'm afraid I sort of wished for the Old House to up and eat her, Good Christian and all. "I do think you should let your children out--"

That's when I first heard it: that high thin screech you get when you pinch a balloon's neck closed and let the air out. A breeze tickled the hairs on the back of my neck as it slipped around us into the door. Funny thing was at the time I didn't think it was coming from the outside and going in, but that the Old House was taking a big deep breath. Smelling us.

I didn't have too much time to think about this. All of a sudden upstairs one of the kids started screaming bloody murder, the way only little kids can. She jerked like a puppet on a string, went all pale, and ran away from the door.

"Mommy, Mommy!" I don't sleep, but I'm sure if I did I'd still hear that shrieking in my dreams. This wasn't play. This was the way rabbits scream when a hawk's on them, knowing screaming won't do any good but hoping for something, anything to come deliver them from evil.

"I'm coming, baby, I'm coming!" She started around the corner. I stepped inside, reaching to haul her back, but she got around my hand. "I'm coming!"

"Mommmmyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..." The screaming stretched out real long, dying away into another of those balloon-neck shrieks. I remember how time seemed to fold into itself as she ran. I could see the tears standing on her face before the breeze--wind--pulled them off. Her hands were the first to start going, pulled out like taffy before starting to peel away in long thin ropes of skin and muscle and bone.

Watching the priests skin a sinner alive didn't compare. All the while she was shrieking, "I'm coming, baby, I'm coming!" The whole time. The whole damn time as she started coming unstitched in the arms, the shoulders, then her neck started to peel off like dead tree bark. The words got all wet as her face went, and then it started to eat her chest. It ripped her clothes off too, like some kind of sick strip tease.

When it grabbed the corner of my coat and started pulling threads out, I slammed the door on the train wreck and ran for it. I didn't stop until I was nearly six blocks away. Then I fell down on my knees and retched until I couldn't retch anymore. I have never felt so scared in my life as I did then, watching the edge of my coat unravel itself as the Void reached out to take me back.

Now, you better hope and pray you never see something like that. That Old House is still there, with her rusty old car parked out front. If you really want you can open the door and watch the Void still peeling strips out of her legs and feet, but don't get too close and if it starts unravelling you, you run out of there like your ass was on fire.

And get drunk first. Only way a little fragile thing like you would make through seeing that kind of thing is if you were bloody smashed first. The Void made me, after all.

And it still scares the piss out of me.
coronaviridae: (Default)
Another original short--also for a Gaia writing contest, but a good standalone, IMNSHO.

Been having more weird dreams lately.

China Dolls

The note had come written on the crisp periwinkle-blue paper her mother preferred. When she pressed it to her nose, Sung Li could still smell the faint scent of ambergris and sandalwood that clung to it. Exotic scents, scents of home, luxuries that a Peacekeeper's salary couldn't afford her. At least, she thought ruefully as she unfolded the note, not at her rank.

She thought of the lacquered nails that had put these creases into the fine blue paper even as she smoothed the page out on her desk. Her mother's hands had been her earliest memory--the hands of a lady of the Ts'ao Imperium, unworn by anything except the ladylike art of calligraphy, delicate nails unsuited to manual labor.

Li's own hands had been robbed of that peach-blossom softness and fine dexterity by years of weapons-work. She couldn't even dream of crafting the perfect ebony letters that spilled across the surface of the paper.

"The honored lady Sung Jia cordially requests the presence of her daughter Sung Li at a ball to honor the betrothal of her cousin, Ts'ao Yin...," Li read sotto voce, tracing the characters with her fingers. It went on in that vein for a while, but she saw little except her cousin's name.

Li and Yin had never been close. House Sung was a distaff line to the true royal blood of Ts'ao, but even the least cousins of the Shining Empress were expected to send their children to the Celestial Palace on Xiangtu for a month in the summer. Li remembered Yin as a distant porcelain-doll figure, doted on hand and foot by the older girls while Li herself hid in the corners and read.

Her fingers brushed the surface of the note again, as if looking for some indication of treachery. Despite the differences, it appeared that Yin had still remembered her, enough to offer an invitation through Li's mother to the event... An honor, Li knew, to be so invited.

She laid the note aside for a moment, rising from her cushion to seek the tiny personal dispensary in the corner of the room. It was more than an honor--it was an opportunity. The Ts'ao Imperium was known across the stars for its beauty and wisdom, from the furthest backwaters of the spiral arms to the Galactic capitol Hohenheim. An invitation to one of its rare public events--like the balls to celebrate the engagement of its heirs to heirs of other stellar nations--was a chance to see and be seen by a veritable who's who of galactic celebrities.

Old habit guided Li's fingers as she dialed in white tea. There were also ample opportunities at such an event to find a spouse of one's own and make a valuable alliance for one's house. Parading around in brocaded silks with her feet bound like an Asiatic Cinderella had never appealed to Li, but she had to admit--as she claimed her steaming mug of tea and breathed deeply of the fragrance--that a week at home, her mother and aunts fawning over her before putting her on display for all to see, would be a delight. She was a third daughter, had never been made much of as a child, but if Mother wanted her back to attend this, surely Li could expect to be pampered even for a little while.

Returning to the desk, she folded her legs beneath her and settled on the cushion, taking a shallow sip of her tea and savoring the acrid taste. It wouldn't be too bad, she reassured herself. She could leave this pretense of being a "civil officer", the endless charade of paperwork and ceremonial duty while the real crimes took place out of their reach. Find a husband from another House, marry decently and quietly as his first wife, and spend her time in passive observance of her Confucian duty to raise her children as obedient, orderly members of society.

It felt very hollow, but it's what she had been raised to aspire to. Li chided herself for vanity, setting the mug aside and picking the note up once more. Her fingernails had been chewed to rags, she noted with a wince; that was a habit she'd need to kick before returning home for the ball. Her mother would scold. She began to skim the note again, looking for a date and a time--and a location. The Summer Palace was Li's favorite by far, but it was hardly suitable for a young princess's debut, or engagement, as the case might be.

A line of text caught her attention above the scarlet of her mother's signature. You would do us all a great honor, it read, if you would come in your capacity as a Peacekeeper, to see that the event is a safe and pacific one.

Li's mouth went dry in a way the tea wouldn't help. She set the note down on the table as carefully as she could, rereading that one traitor line over as she did. A Peacekeeper, in the gray and blue uniform. Her own family wanted her to serve as a glorified bodyguard, not as a painted marriageable catch to secure House Sung's position.

She felt with numb fingers for the mug of tea, picking it up and taking a deep draught of the pale brew. It burned going down, and did nothing to ease the way her throat tightened. Nor the relief that knotted in the pit of her stomach, sick cowardly emotion that it was. No primping. No foot-binding. No...notice, of her aristocratic cheekbones and clear eyes and good breeding above the collar pips of a Peacekeeper lieutenant.

"Well," she murmured ruefully into her tea. "At least I won't have to stop chewing my nails."

She had the good sense to set the mug down and retire to her pillow before the tears came. Good calligraphy was a woman's art, after all. It would be a shame to ruin Mother's note with water stains.


coronaviridae: (iseraph)
So, on the writing agenda before I forget and so I can sleep:

--"Molting Season" -- already about half-written; post I, Alone in my novelverse. I know where I'm going with this, I just need to force myself to finish the piece, much like many authors.

--A Child's Book of Names -- okay, I cannot continue to shamefully neglect my poor novel. Must also work on this, as I'm sure I will be on the plane to Hawaii on Saturday. (Especially since I've already got the two sequels [Mother's Milk, Father's Blood and I, Alone] half-plotted, and I'm already writing a postscript to one of them!)

--"Assemblage" -- thirty or so Xenosaga or other fandom drabbles based on A23's obras completas. Hooray! I'm not sure whether to start with Storm and assign the songs individually to characters (esp. since I'm thinking of switching Ziggy over to "Human" and giving Albedo "Let the Wind Erase Me"; "Regret" is for Jr., "30KFT" is Cherenkov, "Skin" is Shion, "Apart" is Gaignun/Yuriev, "Complacent" is Margulis, "Infinite" is Wilhelm, "Ground" is chaos, "You Haven't Earned It" is...I dunno; I think I'd given it to Albedo originally, but it doesn't quite fit him. I mean, it does, and yet it doesn't really.), or just do it alphabetically, beginning with (I think) "Anthem" and working down the list. Man, I need to get Addendum and Contempt so I can finish filling out my collection! (And the Disappoint single. Can't forget that.)

--"Waiting for the Sky to Fall" -- well, first, I need to get another copy of "Somewhere Out There" (the Our Lady Peace song, not the one from American Tale) from [ profile] big_daddy_shaun, and then the adventures with lunatic!Jr. can begin in earnest! The super-short summary is that it's post XS!EpII, wherein Junior is stable for approximately two days after the ending sequence, then gradually goes insane and starts looking for his missing little brother.

--"How Mistakes Are Made" -- tentative title, but this is the loose story I've sketched up around some of [ profile] limyaael's complaining about demons in fantasy stories not being realistic enough (or whatever). Introduces the narrator Silke, explains loosely the College of Cantors and the role demon summoning plays in the (need a name for a Germanic/Easter European society here!) culture, sees Silke get horribly mauled by a series of stupid mistakes prior to her final exam, film at eleven.

--"Commencement" -- I want to revise this into a longer and publishable form -- it's at something like four thousand words right now. (Correction: 3350. Word's Master Document [i.e., how it will look published] format says this is sixteen pages, so maybe it's long enough to submit to something like Writers of the Future. The ending, however, seems far too abrupt and really needs some serious expansion.)

--I also have the vague urge to write another long introspective Albedopiece like "Doubt" ended up being, and really get down into the meat and guts of the character. Mwr. If circumstances continue to conspire against my RP moxy, I will damn well find SOME way to express him.

I think this is all that's currently on my plate, discounting a possible commissioned (with fake money, haha) piece of writing for another Gaian, and the absent bits of Half-Life (vortigaunts 4 evar!) and Star Wars fanfiction I've been contemplating. More, I think, the latter than the former--rereading all my SW novels (and I have a lot!) is getting me back into my squeaky Jedi fangirlism.

I also deny the existence of the New Jedi Order series. Actively. WHY, JAPAN

Aaaaaand I need to read back entries on this journal and see if there are any neglected ideas I can stir up into fruition from there. But I think at this point I've got enough to work on.

coronaviridae: (Default)
Considering I created this journal to cater to them, it's a real shame I haven't written more about them. Anyway, this was for a Gaia writing contest, but I think it's an excellent sketch of the two characters interacting.


"Li," Icarus piped, reaching for a leaf with trembling claws. "The trees are crying." Her clumsy hands made grabbing the colorful prize difficult in the extreme; she batted at it ineffectually until a lucky snatch ended with it between her fingers.

The woman to whom the chimera spoke seemed to be in another world entirely. Ashy breezes tangled fingers in her long black hair as she surveyed the gaping hole in the earth before them. People lived down there once, the wind whispered. People, Sung Li, and you and yours did nothing to save them, said the sickish-sweet scent of rot the wind carried. "It wasn't my responsibility," she mumbled numbly, unaware she'd given voice to the thought.

Bemused, Icarus was nibbling on the yellow leaf. It wasn't usual for her guardian to ignore her queries, so after she'd finished with her prize, she loosed it from her claws and tugged on one sleeve of Li's tabard. "Li," she repeated, urgently. "The trees are crying."

"I heard you the first time, Icarus!" the woman snapped, rounding on the chimera. Icarus cringed away by instinct, raising her arms over her head and shaking so hard the beads on her skeletal wings jangled. Li instantly regretted the harsh words, along with the memories of inaction that haunted her. She knelt down before her charge, reaching to take Icarus's furry head in her hands.

Characteristically, the chimera didn't even try to pull away, though she whimpered. "I din't mean to, honest I din't," she muttered to the ground, big dark eyes going misty. Li shook her head.

"Icarus--Ick. You just...startled me, that's all. I'm not mad at you."

The chimera's wings jangled uncertainly as she looked up. She sniffed once, before nodding slowly. "Wh...why are the trees crying, Li?"

Li sucked in a breath. It wasn't the question she'd been dreading, but she knew once Icarus got on a line of questioning, the chimera would doggedly continue until her childish curiosity was satisfied. "Because it's autumn, Ick. It happens every year. The trees lose their leaves."

"Are they sad? The trees?" Icarus looked away from Li, watching a bright red leaf swirl past, skating down into the valley. "I'm sad when I lose things."

Li smoothed a hand over her charge's fur, smiling ruefully. I'm sad when I lose things... And who'd lost more than Icarus? Those people down in the valley. Selfish, Sung Li. Selfish for everyone like them who never got as much of a chance as Icarus did.

Shut up! she thought ferociously. Aloud: "I don't know if trees can be sad like people can, Icarus. They always grow new leaves in spring." The voice of memory chuckled nastily at this.

"Oh." The way Icarus shaped the sound freighted it with meaning. Li closed her eyes, the feel of an impending migraine knotting between her temples. "Did we come to watch the trees crying?"

The stress headache blossomed like a malignant black flower. "No--we came so I could see what was down in the valley."

"They had a war there," Icarus said mournfully. Li looked up, startled. "They had a war there and everyone is gone now. They talked about it in the village when they thought I couldn't hear them. They said the pee-kays didn't come to make things right, just let people kill each other until the valley was empty."

The chimera's gaze, when she looked at Li, was black and depthless as the scarred valley that stretched out beneath their feet. "They said there was crazy gas in there, that made everyone into crazies that fought and fought and fought until everyone was dead. Then someone else said that there was no gas, it's just people being people to fight and to fight..."

Her child's voice dissolved into nothing, and she looked up as another shower of leaves drifted down. Li swallowed her gorge and stood up. The pee-kays, Peacekeeper. Where were you when these people were just being people, and fought and fought until everyone was dead? Where was she? Attending some diplomatic function as an honorguard? Doing paperwork? Certainly not here in this little unnamed valley, or a hundred like it. Selfish, Sung Li, very selfish...

"Maybe," Icarus said quietly, "that's why the trees cry every year."

The thought was so childlike and impossible and Icarus that Li could scarce contain a laugh--or a sob--and instead picked a red leaf out of her daughter's fur.

"Maybe, Ick. Maybe that's why."


coronaviridae: (Default)
For some reason, the style and tone here make me think of [ profile] canemex's writing; I'm not totally sure why.


Yup. Pretty successful for a second-person, present-tense peice, IMNSHO.