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[DC] Raven Lunacy (OC in Teen Titans)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Ace Dreamer, May 15, 2020.

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  1. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    The Matrix is not a film known in this setting. That Viagra is 'the blue pill' is more likely to occur. I've added an Author Note to that effect.

    The reason for 'blue' was the pale-blue aura effects associated with Geo. There was no reference to 'red pill', and that isn't part of the logic of the scene. There was no intended reference to politics in any form, because Rule 8.

    Thanks, fixed.

    Yes, I'm quite familiar with that bit of punctuation logic. It's one of the bits of English that really annoy me. In consequence, this is one of the rules I tend to break, without thinking about it. On a good day, I work around the issue, but I don't always manage it.

    Your feedback is appreciated, I've made a few edits.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
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  2. MutantRancor

    MutantRancor [Suspected Sithspawn]

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    I did notice that there was only one color of pill, it was the combination of a world connected to but not part of reality and the offer of a pill that put me in mind of The Matrix. The instant-skill-gaining bit may have also played a part.

    I've never personally encountered Viagra beyond a few long-ago television advertisements, so that one never occurred to me at all.

    I seem to have missed that the color was supposed to be associated with Geo, assuming the color would vary from spell to spell (or chi effect) rather than being specific to each character. In hindsight I remember it being mentioned but it didn't stick. That one's my bad. Sorry.

    I never thought you were deliberately using political imagery, just that you might be as unaware that it had been appropriated by a political group as I was a year or so ago.
     
  3. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    I've not dealt, yet, with any total immersion virtual reality settings, in this story, though I guess use of the 'mind interface' stuff has skirted the subject. There's parallels between 'total gestalt transfer', where someone feels as though they are where they're perceiving, and astral projection, which in this story is part of you actually leaving your body. Then there's the whole Cartesian Dualism argument, and the Reality Is Information physics...

    Instant physical skills are rather more plausible than instant mental ones, as a lot of physical stuff is done below the conscious level. Raven was doing a lot of the 'heavy lifting' in being able to make use of that skill so quickly. Arguably she created a 'micro demon' in the form of the tiny blue mirror, and likely carefully erased it, later.

    Viagra was something that was massively spammed to e-mail users, and difficult to avoid in a number of online settings. There were a number of other 'products' pushed pretty hard, too. You're fortunate in avoiding most of it. But, then, culture is a lot more fractured, and fractal, these days. I blame the Internet. :)

    I probably need to do more with Geo's 'colour' in the story. It's certainly something I'll think about. Geo might want to be concerned that Master Roshi is also depicted as having a pale-blue aura...

    No problems on the political front, just something I noticed when I joined this site, and make a effort to avoid.

    Fair warning on the magic/mysticism front, being too credulous and accepting is likely to be bad for you. As far as the written side goes, some say it's a double Sturgeon's Law situation, so maybe 1% of it's worth reading. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
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  4. Threadmarks: Pony, Wizard, Nurse - Episode 28
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 28

    Pony watching. Well, Raven's memories of such. She must've spent a lot of time, an invisible watcher, of their world, to get such a selection. Carefully not interacting, changing anything, so she could flit up and down their time-line.

    I think finding them had worked well for her.

    Now, after I'd returned to my body, asleep in my bed. Then, physically, to her room. Purification exercises. Sky-clad, of course. Made it quicker and easier. Meditation. Centring. Getting ourselves back in balance.

    The pain, the strain, of working with Raven, spiritually shifting, changing, the roots of her fundamental self. Now mostly faded, but, I suspected it'd be several days before it fully healed. Spiritual 'muscles', not something I knew I had, before coming to this world. I'd certainly given them a work-out, tonight.

    ---

    Sub-basement. Behind locked doors. Greatly improved by Victor and my work, these last few days. Wire mesh in the walls, floor, ceiling, a Faraday cage. Over a sensor mesh. Mixed with heavy-duty force-field emitters, not currently active, which we hoped would provide even better defences, as we enabled them. Hopefully all would work with the ritual defences that Raven had embedded, turn bad luck, evil forces, away from this place, preserve it from destruction.

    Inside, white ceramics, easy to clean, indirect lighting, glare-free, triple-redundant power systems. Well. Currently only double-redundant, but, the infrastructure was there. Still a lot of work to do. In the centre, a ceramic-lined pit, man-deep.

    Around the pit, our summoning circle. All the ritual elements, the tools, prepared. I thought I'd known, in general terms, what Raven planned. She'd shown me visions, of her earlier summoning, which fetched the mind interface. But, it appeared, this was going to be different. Very different.

    ---

    Dimension walking. Of a sort I've never done before. Through time. Into the recent past. Before we'd raised these defences. Then, a long way, cross dimensions, through deadly sub-worlds, to a place magic, not science, rules. A place considered fantasy in many worlds.

    A wizard. Female. Half dark elf, the rest giant spider. A 'drider' I'd been told, by Raven on our journey. Changed by magic thought by some a divine 'blessing', in this case a terrible curse. For political reasons.

    I'm wearing a Raven-gifted ring, that lets me speak the language. There's been a dealing, an agreement, the final part of something Raven did before. I'm... unhappy. Something is... wrong. But, I can't decide what it is.

    "We've agreed. I open the gateway, to the far world you want. Hold it open. Wait till you return, or, a night and a day passes. You return with your prize. Restore me to how I was, before this curse. Whichever, I destroy the gateway, so there's no future path. You go on your way, neither of us harming the other, directly or indirectly, for a year and a day. I..."

    "Wait!" I hope I'm not doing something terribly stupid.

    They both turn to look at me. I feel the terrible weight of their gaze.

    "Why does your pupil speak? You said she was here for instruction, not to interfere in our dealings!"

    Raven's gaze weighs me, rather than impales.

    "We should listen to what she says. Sometimes she shows unusual wisdom."

    I gulp.

    "You can never go back, to how you were. You can only go forwards. If you go back, completely, you will have nothing, not even memory, of how you were cursed, not the promise you are making. So, the deal, the promise, is invalid. You must agree to be transformed, into a shape that resembles how you were. Otherwise..." I wave my arms, a little helplessly.

    They stare at me. Then, Raven speaks.

    "She makes a good point. The agreement, as it stands, is subject to interpretation by higher powers. You made it quite clear you want to minimise the risk of that. I'd suggest we incorporate her suggestion."

    They discuss, for a while. Modify the agreement. Swear it. The wizard bows to me, a very strange movement, gives me a finger-ring, of dark metal. I can feel both magic and chi very strong in this.

    "For balance", she says.

    ---

    A world of science. I think. Floating in vacuum. Preserved by a bracelet Raven loaned me, strongly suggested I keep locked on my arm. Far between the stars. Moving towards a shape, which glows in my super-science-sight.

    We stop. There's a blue figure, I think about half-human height, standing on the object. I'm seeing it with psychic vision, there's nothing there, otherwise. We float forward, each under our own power. The object is a thing of high technology, looks ripped from a larger structure. There's a faint force-field, around it.

    Raven reaches out, touches my temple. A strange sensation, I'm half astral projecting. It... tingles. The blue figure resolves into a short woman, dressed in medical-looking whites. I think she's got blonde hair.

    "So, you're back. Physically, this time. That's impressive. Your probe was the only company I've had for decades, since the ship was destroyed. That you found me, could communicate with my lost spirit. Just that was impressive. This..." She shakes her head.

    Looking at the energy flows, mostly very weak, I can see the object is an auto doc. An advanced piece of alchemical technology. Complete with support devices, even emergency power. Just what we searched for, needed. And, there's a few, maybe at most a half-dozen, faint life-sparks within it. That's a complication.

    "I brought my pupil. She'll be your main liaison, co-worker. She's a doctor."

    I think Raven is stretching the truth a bit, there... But, I'll go along with it.

    The blue lady looks more interested. "I wondered how you were going to convince me of your good intentions. I'll destroy the medical module rather than letting it fall into the wrong hands." She looks at me, with penetrating eyes.

    "You're both little more than children, though your teacher hides it well. Come forward, child. Shake hands. We'll see if what left of the 'Seed of Life' has acquired a new owner."

    ---

    Not quite mental combat, though I felt... Nurse 'tasted' my spiritual self quite carefully. Decided she approved. That's probably why she indicated, a few hundred klicks off, another fragment of the ship, part of it's engineering stores. Suggested it might have usefully salvaged 'spares'. At best a distant, faint, spark to my vision.

    Raven concentrates, reaches out, and it warps itself to appear near us. All several hundred, maybe more than a thousand, tonnes of it.

    We've agreed to 'incarnate' Nurse, using her own facilities, in one of the servitor's stored within her. Raven seems a lot happier to hear we're not dragging any more beings out of this world, back to our own. I've found a tool-box. Advanced tools. Nice stuff to salvage.

    A-looting we will go!

    ---

    Back in the basement. Raven floating the module, salvage piled off to one side. I'm going round with a melder ('material welder', I think), trimming off bits of excess flooring, measuring things, lining up power connectors, data cables. Yes, I'm pretty tired, not really used to zero-gravity work. But, it's a good feeling.

    She's managed to keep that up, in the air, while plugging the potential ward-hole, stopping travel from the past, through our defences. I'd helped as much as I could. Though, I thought I saw sweat, on her brow, as we finished.

    Maybe another ten minutes work, and she can drop the thing into place. Then, we can start covering it with the faux 'healing beds', currently piled off to one side. Raven'd told Cyborg the required dimensions, for hole, and beds, but, as always, reality needs some adjustment.

    I'd like to think, a good night's work.




    AN: Possibly relevant, sky-clad.

    AN: Electricity, EM radiation, you mean you can cage it out?

    AN: Flora, or in this case, fauna; drider.

    AN: While Nurse is an OC, the 'Seed of Life' is not an original creation... (OK, I'll be fair, it's a 'Hawkwind' reference. :) )

    AN: "A-Looting We Will Go" is a repurposed version of the old song A-Hunting We Will Go - you might wonder where she learned it...

    AN: Friend or faux? (How to pronounce it.) Sorry about that. :)

    AN: Do you think that's too many Author Notes? :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
  5. Threadmarks: Hide & Seek, Smurf and Security - Episode 29
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 29

    Not really a 'grand opening', but, it seemed smart to ensure the whole team knew about the med-bay. Nice idea. Problem was, they didn't seem able to find it.

    No problems for Raven or myself. Cyborg was OK. The others...

    The rest, plus Terra, seemed to have forgotten there ever was such a place, if they knew in the first place. Thought the sub-basement was the bottom floor, both by stairway and lifts/elevators. Ignoring the submarine pen.

    A bit embarrassing, really. "Too good a job?", murmured Raven.

    I was pretty sure Master Roshi was secretly smirking, though, he kept a straight face.

    Raven and I looked at each other.

    We were both visibly tired, it'd been a long, hard, night. Though, a profitable one. But, there was obviously more work to do.

    ---

    A bit of magical research. My mage sight was generous enough to kick-in, so that helped. The place was still there, quite real, part of the universe, but people's minds seemed to slide off it.

    I'd talked to Nurse, now wired for sound. She found it quite amusing. Asked if we were planning to take the Tower, fly around in Space with it. Interestingly, she'd told me she was, originally, a high-grade AI, a fraction of her ship's AI, that'd grown, over centuries of operation, into a true intelligence.

    And, maybe, something more. AIs don't, generally, have a spiritual self. I think (though I do). Who knows how things worked in her universe of origin?

    The answer seemed to be, escort them down, introduce them to Nurse, have her say they were 'welcome'. How that applied to people brought-in unconscious was unclear. I guess we'd find out, in time.

    ---

    We experimented, a bit. Cyborg, not being obviously magical, seemed a suitable subject, and he took it in good spirit. He told Beast Boy about the med-bay, where it was, showed him maps, plans, of the Tower. Nothing. The same seemed the case with Terra, though we were a bit less thorough with her.

    Starfire said she could feel there was something she was having trouble thinking about, but, even with her training, that was the best she could do. Robin wasn't 'prepared to play games', and he wasn't happy part of the Tower had been magically hidden from him. We just didn't bother with Master Roshi.

    A bit more testing, I couldn't explain things to people so they could find it. Raven thought she probably could, if she tried hard enough, but was concerned about damaging the, still relatively new, wards. For the moment she thought it best not to tinker with them.

    I talked about it with Cyborg. We agreed it was the old balance between security and convenience. We might've managed 'so secure it was less useful'.

    ---

    While we'd been messing around, the construction robots had mounted a large screen, in portrait-mode, over the med-hub, in the centre of the 'star' of seven med-beds. Later, we'd put-up another couple, so there'd be three facings.

    Nurse put an image up, of her blue humanoid form, in her medical whites, so people'd have an avatar to be introduced to. Beast Boy, of course, declared she was 'Nurse Smurf'. And, everyone looked at him.

    Nurse thought for a few moments, with human body-language. "I should give a name, and 'Nurse' is more a job title. I'll use 'Nurf', if that doesn't offend anyone?"

    We look at each other, no one comments. So, I guess, sorta, a new team member. Though, currently a rather fixed location one.

    ---

    The actual demo. I lie down in one of the seven med-beds, fully-dressed, though I do take my boots off. The lid closes, and the air flow and faint flower smell, a faint hiss of sound, seem to help me from feeling confined. Cyborg's done a good job. We might mount a flat screen, for conscious patients to watch, I suppose.

    My super-science-sight (s-sight?) kicks-in, and I see faint energy flows around me, originating in the med-hub. They look good. And, with a moment's effort, through my radio collar, I also watch things using a temporary camera, on a construction bench, off to one side.

    On the big screen, where Nurse, I guess I should say 'Nurf', had her avatar, there's now a white on pale-blue human outline. Surrounded by readings, including heart rhythm, temperature, blood pressure, respiration, basic brain waves. I know this is all translated to match local medical conventions. And, will need 'tuning'. But, a good start.

    "I'm fully conscious, and not in any distress", I speak through the rig the camera is on. Terra jumps, looks back and forth tween bed and camera. The rest take it in their stride.

    "You should be able to see some medical readings above me, the sorts of thing a doctor would want to know, in a hurry. With a little scan time more detail could be shown, anything wrong with my blood, injuries, foreign objects, organs which look unusual. All sorts of things."

    "We've set the place up to keep medical details private, little things like what you look like without a mask, fingerprints, retina patterns, genetics. And, once Robin's expert comes through, we'll be making that even more secure."

    "I think you've seen this place is secure from casual inspection. Possibly more than we planned." There's a little laughter.

    "And, if you can't find a place, it's difficult to attack it."

    "So, anyone else want to see how comfortable the beds are?"

    ---

    Robin didn't try a med-bed. What a surprise. Neither did Master Roshi. But, seeing as he's dead, without a real physical body, probably not much point. The screen showed a blank for Raven, I'll have to talk to her about that. Starfire, and Beast Boy, were strange. Cyborg obviously massively injured, but stable. And, Terra... Further analysis was required.

    I'm facing a screen, in a room as secure as we can make it. Bar the telecoms link, which allows the green mask to show on the screen. Robin's contact. Oracle.

    An introduction, distorted voice. Someone who values their privacy.

    A good sign for an encryption expert...




    AN: Portrait vs. Landscape mode...

    AN: Body language is worth knowing about... One reason people want (or don't want) video, as well as audio, communication...

    AN: I'm guessing some people haven't heard of smurfs...
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
  6. Dukem

    Dukem Getting out there.

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    You know, I actually really want to read that early Taylor fic you mentioned in the about/info bit, either as a story or a few omakes. She really could use the friends and training, not to mention the backup against the endbringers/ scion. That and I want to see how the PRT and justice league would interact.
     
  7. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    Really now, how good are the medbeds if they can’t fix Roshi’s condition? I’m pretty sure death is one of the most common conditions in the multiverse! Nurf shouldn’t think too highly of herself, no matter her origins.
     
  8. Threadmarks: R&R, Oracle, Robin? - Episode 30
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 30

    While I was eager to get on with things, after the med-bay demo, Raven had other ideas. She looked me in the eyes, apparently seeing something I couldn't, took my pulse, in several different places on my wrist, then placed her hand on my forehead, while she concentrated.

    "Physically sound, mentally exhausted", was her diagnosis, "Go spend some time relaxing in the city, and, no using your radio to work on technology in the Tower". Unfortunately, she knew me too well.

    So, it was a lazy day, until late afternoon, wandering around shops, visiting Japantown, again, going to a museum. I'd asked if I could do some food shopping for the team, but, I was firmly told "No!". So, lazy day is lazy.

    Fortunately, no unusual incidents, though I felt itchy on the back of my neck, once or twice. Traditionally that meant someone was staring at me, but, I didn't spot any watcher. Maybe I needed to ask Robin for some street awareness training? Somehow, I'd always associated that with being untruthful, lying, probably because I thought of the 'following people' applications.

    Which, in retrospect, is a bit strange. There's probably something deeper.

    Next visit I needed to think about covering my tracks, better. Maybe 'arrive' at an airport, hire a car, practice navigating around the city? Those are skills I need to dust-off, get out of their storage box. Literally, in my case.

    ---

    I'm back at the Tower. Have had a snack, because I lunched in the city. Nothing too disastrous seems to have happened, so I've got away with it. And... Cyborg informs me Robin's contact is now available to talk, and, I'm 'it'.

    Costume-up. Prepare myself mentally. Notebook, etc. And... go.

    ---

    The green mask on the screen was a nice touch. I doubt it was designed to show emotions, but it did give something to focus on. Oracle. I've the impression Cyborg'd heard of her, and had some respect.

    "Welcome to Titan Tower, Oracle. You may call me Sugoi."

    "Glad to be here. Straight to business. I'm told you have a security problem, needing an expert with more skill than you have on-site."

    "Yes. There's one immediate problem, and a number of longer-term ones. Partly due to concerns about privacy, partly down to us currently being under attack."

    "Oh? I'm assuming you don't mean physically."

    "No. We know we're being attacked in multiple ways, including espionage, bugging, hacking attempts, and, mystically, though I'm assuming the last isn't your concern."

    There's a brief, electronically-distorted, laugh.

    "No. Information security is why I'm involved. If there's magical matters I'll leave that to others."

    A pause.

    "It sounds like you've not got a simple problem. Why don't you sketch-out the immediate issue, with any background I'll need to understand it?"

    ---

    We talk for quite a while. She, I'm pretty sure it was a human woman, or an AI designed to act as one, seemed intelligent and pleasant. As well as very, very, knowledgeable. It was good to talk to someone who shared my interests in problem solving. I also suspect that, maybe, she was a little lonely.

    I'd raised the matter of securing our medical data, locally, and off-site. She was pretty sure she could source some servers, of the self-destruct to avoid physical tampering, variety. I'd drawn on the security expertise that went into my style of robots, without mentioning its origin, and she seems quite impressed, described it as 'innovative'.

    The requirement to hide everything, data and meta-data, while it's not in active use interested her. Restrict access to data to those who needed particular items for particular purposes. Resisting traffic analysis, 'technopaths'. I didn't mention 'techno pagans', because they're almost impossible to stop, particularly if they combine distant viewing and retro-cognition.

    She laughed at the 'security fan dance' logic.

    Using PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) in an earlier project also interested her, as she'd heard of it, but commented that it wasn't, yet, in wide use. That I thought its static nature restricted it, for our purposes, and I wanted something dynamic, to do stream encoding, with multi-level, changing, keys, rather surprised her. As did my rude comments on certificate-based systems, and trusting the authorities who held them.

    I explained this was based on the work of a British academic who was a software engineer, interested in distributed meta-data databases, and had... rather controversial views. But, I couldn't locate any references to give her, so I was having to work from memory.

    "You do know you're stirring things up?" I was rather surprised by this comment.

    "Those chip designs, they're going to turn the cell phone industry on its head. And, there's talk going around, in tech circles, of the Teen Titans having an expert on robotics. Not whether it's a team member, or a technician, but 'someone'. I'm guessing that's you?"

    "Yes?" I guess we'd better check how that might've got out. I don't know of any press releases. Robin?

    He couldn't have been that stupid, could he?

    "You don't trust Robin?"

    Ah. Maybe I said something out loud?

    "I... think it's more he doesn't trust me. There's... issues about my skill-set. I just do my best to get on with him."

    "I see. Not really my business. You don't know what you should say to me, which, is quite sensible." An electronic cough.

    "I'm pretty sure we'll be speaking, again. I've some ideas about approaches which might work. You'll be receiving a book list, and references to academic papers, that you might like to check-out." I can almost hear a grin.

    "There will be a Test."




    AN: Is Raven using something like acupuncture? How would I know? :)

    AN: Metadata is a good start, traffic analysis may interest. 'Security fan dance' is an analogy with fan dancing with two large fans, and never quite showing anything... NSFW. Then there's PGP... A bit on certificates...

    AN: You probably know this, but there's solid security reasons to be concerned about technopaths. It's probably a bit early to be concerned with techno pagans, but, you never know...

    AN: If you want to read-up on these things, I recommend Bruce Schneier, and he's also got some excellent books.
     
  9. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    The traditional answer is, write it yourself! :)

    Interesting ideas, I may consider doing an Omake...
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
  10. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    You might suspect Master Roshi has reasons to not be returning to life, too quickly...

    As for death, how do you know a med-bed can't fix it? :) Actually, certain sorts of 'death', or death after certain preparations, might be handled, but... Reasons. Things may become clearer, later in the story.
     
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  11. Extras: Raven Worm 1, Author Omake 2
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Worm 1, Author Omake 2

    Next >

    AN: This is an 'Author Omake', which has nothing to do with Geo's story, and is definitely not canon. However, a reader (Dukem) implied it might exist...




    "Yes, I am the Rogue, Arachno Mage, and this is my loyal sidekick, Arachnophilia! I wish to make it quite clear that I have nothing to do with the Hero, Flutterby, and her Butterfly Horde!"

    Emma smiled, while gritting her teeth. Never mind that she was in drider-form, and therefore fell under Taylor's powers, which applied to anything vaguely buggy. The fact that she was dressed in nothing but a small, domino, mask, as anything else caused intolerable itching, meant Taylor had endless blackmail material.

    Her only hope was that the heroic Flutterby would hear of her fate, and rescue her from the evil, though admittedly no longer weak, Taylor. But, she wished that she'd hurry up!

    OK, the wings, the flying, were nice, as was the wall-climbing, the webs, the venom that Taylor could make do just about anything she liked. But, Brockton Bay was chilly, this time of year, and a model needed to look after her good looks!




    AN: There you are, an Omake! Everything is is quite clear now, isn't it! :)

    AN: Honest, this Emma got her powers by being bit by a radioactive drider. Honest!

    AN: I suppose I should point to here, so you can see what this was based on...

    Raven ripping an early Skitter (and Queen Administrator) out of the Worm-verse might be fun... Taylor really needs friends... Taylor with magic... Of course she'd use it responsibly. :)

    (So, how easy would it be to make tiny harnesses for butterflies, that make them near-indestrucible and give them the strength of an immense giant? A few thousand, preferably? :) )

    ((Introduces the possibility of butterflying-away problems???))

    Next >
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2020
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  12. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    Just the word “technopagan” when combined with all of the magic terms you’ve introduced me to really ignites my urge to play Shadowrun. Curse you, you idea-inspiring author! I guess I should check out the video game(s) if the usual sites are devoid of campaigns...
     
  13. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Yeah... There's the risk of being 'inspired' when you read stuff. I'm told it sometimes even results in... fanfic! :)

    The IRL techno-paganism is quite interesting. You might want to read-up on its history, which I think is fascinating, as one of the things coming out of it is, arguably, the US West Coast cultural icon Burning Man. Mixing tech ideas in with your mysticism, why, that almost sounds like a reasonably positive kind of postmodernism! :)

    Shadowrun... That mixing of cyberpunk and fantasy... Never quite played it myself, though the idea of a corporate-run future, and mercenary bands which skirmish between them, all with magic, fantasy races, and even dragons lurking in the background... I can see the appeal, but...

    Like a lot of tabletop RPGs, I think Shadowrun works in its own terms, but it reminds me a bit of Bushido, the medieval fantasy game set in Japan. OK if you are prepared to immerse yourself in its philosophy, but still a bit 'closed' in its possibilities, a bit too Earth-centred. Potentially a lot of fun, though!

    Good luck with you finding agreeable gaming possibilities. Guess you could try somewhere like Roll20... Though, you can do a lot of that with straight Discord.

    Back On Topic... I wonder if the video games played by Garfield and Victor ever have much in the way of Shadowrun elements? It's more tricky to do things like that well, without an AI being the ref. I wonder where the pair of them might find an AI to level-up their gaming? :)
     
  14. Threadmarks: Moon and Robot - Episode 31
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    AN: There are scenes in the second half of this which might... disturb some. 'Advanced nudity' might be one description. I don't think these are NSFW, by 2020CE standards, but, things have changed even over my lifetime... Please be Warned. But, otherwise, enjoy!



    Walking on the Moon. Not something you generally plan, as a leisure activity. Unless, you're Superman, I guess. But, I'm doing it.

    I'm 'taking it easy'. Raven still isn't happy with my spiritual health. I've permission to make light use of my spiritual abilities, which, apparently includes Dimension Walking. But, I'm to avoid chi-stuff, which strains me at all, particularly the combat side. The tie-in between 'spirit' and 'chi'. I could've sworn Master Roshi was sulking.

    Raven made it quite clear, in the presence of everyone, that my training was suspended. All my training, bar basic Tai Chi. No, she hasn't told them how I was injured. Nurse took a scan of me, but said she dealt with physical health. Not the sorts of spiritual strain she could see I was suffering from, with her spirit 'sight'.

    'Belt and braces' was a motto of my father. Redundant systems, in particular when the consequences of failure are likely deadly. So, Raven loaned me the protection bracelet, to lock on my wrist, and, I'm wearing an alch-tech belt, from last night's salvage. The sort of thing that'd make the bikini fantasies of early 20th Century science fiction magazine artists feasible. I am, of course, dressed a lot more sensibly.

    After all, if something goes wrong, I might have to kick somebody. Which reminds me. While I was out, lazing in the city, my boots arrived. My Best Boots. All three pairs. Built to order. With all the little pockets and special hiding places. I've got a pair of knives in them, but, I've not loaded-up anything else. Except, a spare chi-focus crystal, generously provided by Raven. In each boot. You never know...

    ---

    A couple of subjective hours to get from Tower to Moon. I'd started by walking about the Earth, visiting places, looking for best routes off-planet. Not expecting there'd be much in the way of Lunar visitors, so following the well-trod paths wouldn't work. Seeing as I was in my robe, with the cowl up, I didn't expect much danger, but, still cautious.

    I found a good route in Japan, a place where 'moon viewing' festivals were traditionally held. Some careful levitation, and the paths opened. Flight is so useful, even with my pathetic speed. I'm pretty sure none of the locals spotted me, but, it seemed a reasonable risk.

    Now, on the border, tween Near and Far Side. Near the North Pole. In Nansen Crater. No Moon Base here, of course. And, I don't think I'd easily pull the resources together to build one. Likely years, maybe decades, of work, given my meagre skills. But, I could walk, fly slowly, peer into craters looking for ice, rub a handful of dust, experience that gunpowder smell.

    I'd never been to the Moon, before coming to this world. But, I'd shared the mind of someone who'd lived there for years, one of my sisters. A bit of an oversight, on my part, but, there'd always been more things to do, on Earth.

    I've my excuse for being here. Trying-out another hobby. A high-quality camera. Taking snaps of Moon, and Earth. Classic Earth-from-Moon stuff, backdrop of darkest velvet pricked with sharp holes. Sharp-edged shadows on Lunar surface. Close-up of my boot-print in Lunar 'soil'.

    Nothing professional, but, once developed, they'd entertain me. After all. I'd been.

    Walking on the Moon.

    ---

    Down to Earth. Back in the Tower. Subjective and objective time seem to match-up, which is good. I'd prefer to avoid Time Walking. That, according to Raven, can be really, really, dangerous. Though, faster, or slower, into the future, as long as you don't double-back, not too bad.

    Again, for practice, I try and dimension walk (d-walk?) around the common areas of the Tower. Tricky. In many cases I could have run, even flown, there more quickly. But, ways of getting from 'A' to 'B', without going through the physical space, in-between, always useful. I do note that I can't get into the sub-sub-basement, where the med-bay is. Best I can manage, and that requires a weird route, delivers me outside the armoured doors. Looks like the more subtle bits of Raven's wards are working well.

    Seeing as I'm here, even though I know it's pretty late, seems reasonable to visit... Nurf. Personal names, as this isn't business. Another one, like Raven and me, who normal human sleep patterns evade.

    She's started her imprinting process, using the seventh bed, and I can see through the cover a metre, about three-foot, tall, blue figure, in medical whites, lying there. She's unsure how long it'll take, but, apparently there's currently no problems. As I'm here a bit of tinkering with the construction robots, one or two of them need minor repairs or adjustment. I don't think that's bending Raven's instructions. Much.

    Nurf says the imprinting can be done in parallel with healing, or flesh-growth. So, I try an experiment. Lie in one of the beds, dressed but bootless, attempt to astral project. Then, move astrally to my workshop, not bothering with little details of it being dark. I can feel the faintest sparks of spirit in my various me-shaped robots, arguably less than deep-frozen vegetables. So, I select one I've put aside, carefully without a latex skin, with certain modifications, but... ready. Batteries fully charged.

    Now, for the tricky bit. I've often used the mind interface to drive one of these robots, my radio collar, or, even a test cable. I'm going to try something different... A little careful feeling around, and... Click. I'm in the body. Am the body. A trick previously I'd only known my father to do. Though, a body naked in ways most humans would find horrifying. The voids, the lack of skin...

    There's a spare focus-crystal, in a drawer. I'm going to need all the help I can get. Relaxation. Meditation. It doesn't feel like any of the chi-stuff is currently accessible, which is novel. But, seeing as my living body is several floors away, quite reasonable. And...

    I'm dimension walking. In a naked, skin-less, robot body. I really hope no one sees me, but, it really is very late.

    ---

    My scouted route seems to work, I'm back outside the armoured doors. Nurse is a little puzzled, but lets me in. And, I walk over, lie-down, in the bed next to the one my living body's in. Sit-up again. Carefully wipe my skinless hands and feet clean. No reason to be rude. And... Lie, again.

    Phew! I think I may've got away with that. We'll see. I'll check the surveillance systems, later. Maybe, with Nurse, mark some scenes as 'private'. Maybe some areas of my workshop need better securing? Might be wise to go back over historic records, mark some bits as 'private'? Again, for later.

    My robot body is a little 'sticky', but I astral project out of it. Return to my fleshy body, It feels... squishy. A sensation I've hardly noticed since my arrival in this world. Carefully sit-up.

    "Am I OK, Nurf?"

    "You seem to be. That was pretty strange. My crew got pretty weird, before the end. But, even they didn't body-swap like that. You are skilful. And, yes, I'm impressed."

    I turn, kneeling in the bed, and grin at her avatar, on the big screen.

    "So. You know what I'd like you to do?"

    "Yes, it's pretty obvious. The attachment points and nerve interfaces are quite clear. They match the plans you gave me. Probably best if you put a cover over that bed, put a 'Do Not Remove' note on it. I'll start to see if the support biologicals will grow in their pockets, then, we'll try a few experimental patches of skin. Based on your life pattern, of course."

    "Thanks."

    "You'd better be careful, though. We transhumans don't want to upset the poor, limited, humans, do we?"

    It is with great dignity that I stick my tongue out at her.

    And, she grins, widely.




    AN: Belt and braces, not necessarily a bad idea when you're playing games in hard vacuum...

    AN: You might take a interest in spacesuits in fiction...

    AN: Tsukimi, yes, there are such festivals...

    AN: Yes, it does exist. Lunar ice, well, we'll see how much of that there is.

    AN: In case you're interested, transhuman.



    Maybe you want to check-out the lyrics...

    A reasonably 'tame' one:
    [​IMG]

    NASA:
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    This episode is one that the story's been heading towards for maybe a couple of weeks, ten episodes. Geo started, way back then, taking a bit of control of her life, rather than just going along with what others wanted. Here, she does something spectacular, Walking On The Moon, that wasn't suggested to her, then, goes and starts to reclaim her robot heritage.

    Maybe it would've been better if this episode was at the end of a week, a 'Friday' one. But, that wasn't how things fell-out. Once you start writing a story it tends to gain a bit of its own momentum, create its own 'logic'. This is a function of how human minds work, in making sense of the world. And, this approach is recycled in story writing. Some describe this as the 'story telling itself'.

    So, I have a general idea where this story's going (see beginning of the story), quite a lot of notes on story ideas, most of which are marked 'used'. A Geo character sheet reflecting each episode. A (small) buffer of episodes. And, yes, I want to know where this story goes, too. :)
     
  16. Threadmarks: Nine Points by Night - Episode 32
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 32

    AN: There's some horror elements in this, from the start. Fair warning.



    Choking. Can't breathe. Can't move. Can't open my eyes.

    I force my eyes open, and my third eye opens with them. I'm lying on my back. In my room, on my bed. Paralysed. There's something crouched on my chest. Not living, or there physically, and it's mother saw far too many horror films while pregnant. Four, red, eyes, Short horns. And, it's breathing in my face.

    My chi seems locked-away. Short-circuited, somehow. Even though I can feel I'm wearing my focus crystal. So, I gather my will. Flail at it mentally.

    It looks a bit surprised, but not too bothered. I focus. Rip my spirit leg free from my body. Knee it somewhere it's not likely to enjoy. Its hiss flails at me, but I've weakened it's grip. Roll out of my body, leap into the air, float, kick it repeatedly. Till it stops twitching.

    Then, I concentrate, fly over, pull a spirit image of restraints and cord from my belt-kit. Don't quite hog-tie it, but it's not going anywhere under it's own power. I grab my knife, make sure there's two knives in my boots.

    ---

    Raven's room, half-a-dozen smaller things are mobbing her. She's barely holding them off. And, I can see her control is fraying, as she stands over her physical body, lying on the bed.

    A thrown knife, causes some surprise, and a fallen... imp? A charge, and we've a three-way battle. Two onto five is better than one onto six. That I'm levitating, sometimes inverted, seems to help. Then four, three. And Raven reaches out with paired immense black claws, crushes the final two.

    We look at each other.

    "What about the others?" I'm not going to worry we said that simultaneously.

    ---

    Kory is floating in the air, beating an imp with her sword. She doesn't seem to be properly conscious, and her body's still lying in her bed. The imp has a shield, held over it's head, as it cowers on the floor, and that's stopping most of the sword blows. A black spike extends from Raven's hand, and it's no more.

    Kory floats there, dazed. Raven quickly grabs the teddy bear, in the Raven costume, from the bed. and lures Kory back into her body.

    And... The next.

    ---

    There're crunching noises from Garfield's room. Raven sticks her head through the door, then rapidly pulls back, looking a bit sick.

    Robin... Raven wraps him in mystic bonds, drives a golden spike through his head, into his pillow. If this is anti-imp possession first aid, I'm not sure I want to learn it.

    In Cyborg's room there's a strange, spiritual mess, on his bed. As if someone heavy rolled over in their sleep, and surprised an imp. He's not present, Raven gazes off, says he's having a hot drink.

    Terra looks OK, though she's having a nightmare. There's no sign of Master Roshi. What a surprise.

    ---

    Raven knocks on my door, once I've returned to my body. I've thrown my robe on, over pyjamas, forced my bared feet into my boots, while grabbing my 'mystic pouch'. That's still a bit empty, but I've chalk and crystals in it. The wizard-gifted ring's on my finger.

    She's fully-dressed, probably by some magic short-cut, and a pair of large, iron-bound, chests are floating in her shadow, behind her. I indicate the faint distortion, on my carpet.

    "Good enough. It'll keep till later." After a swift assessment.

    She strides towards Robin's room. "I had to pin him, or who knows what the imp'd do with his body. Best to act quickly. On balance, I need your help more than I'm concerned with his privacy."

    At his door she says a minor Word, gestures, and I hear locks breaking as it opens. The room is unremarkable, a computer, pretty cutting-edge, on the desk, next to some papers. Bookshelves where I carefully don't look at the titles. Lots of file boxes. A costume on a stand. Neat, but not terminally so. And, on the bed, barely breathing, an unmasked boy.

    Who looks unremarkable. And doesn't look at all familiar. Why was he so worried?

    I help Raven pull-up the carpet, move the bed to the centre of the room. I notice we're just using physical strength, presumably for some good reason. A circle, with symbols, Raven-drawn around the bed. I get to unpack, set-up crucibles, on stands. Put incense into them. Place candles. From my limited knowledge, Raven's going all-out.

    Chanting, I get the lower voice. Mystic gestures by Raven. A black shadow is slowly pulled from Robin's body. It reminds me of Raven's soul-form, for some reason. An imp is held in its jaws, presumably a sacrifice once its job was done.

    It glares at Raven, with four red eyes. Then, fades. Raven lets-out a big breath.

    "I was wise to be cautious. That looks like one of my father's greater servants. You were attacked by one of his lesser ones. Everything else was imps."

    She thinks for a few moments.

    "Either one of his clever, multi-level, plans. Or, somewhere on Earth he's got a servant who's a bit mad. Hard to know which."

    "Or, something we've not thought of?" It seems wise to ask.

    "There's that." And she nods.

    ---

    Early morning. Well before normal breakfast. Everyone's gathered, most looking rather tired. Except Beast Boy, who is smacking his lips, looking a bit puzzled. Master Roshi's slipped in, and looks quite unruffled.

    Raven has the floor. Robin is sitting, holding his head.

    "Tonight we were attacked by demonic imps, who tried to possess us in our sleep. It isn't completely clear what they wanted, and I didn't get much useful information from the one Sugoi captured, before it was summoned away." She nods towards me, and I nod back.

    "I think we can assume that we've got at least one powerful enemy who can summon unpleasant creatures, and somehow sneak them through the mystic defences I've placed around the Tower. Obviously, I'll be investigating."

    She looks around.

    "Any questions?"

    Beast Boy raises his hand.

    "Just one. Why can't I get this nasty taste out of my mouth?"




    AN: Nine points of the law is an old phrase...

    AN: This bit on sleep paralysis may interest some...

    AN: There's (Mysticism Warning) some strange beliefs around...
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  17. Threadmarks: Injured, Quiet Day and Team Building - Episode 33
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 33

    'Benched'. Again. And the Team are out. Investigating. With Terra.

    I'm not even supposed to do vigorous physical stuff, now. Never mind anything which strains my spirit, or chi. Apparently last night's astral fight did even more spiritual damage. I don't feel terrible, but, my mental focus, normally crystal-clear, seems a bit... fuzzy. Meditation gives me reasonable clarity, for a while. Then, it goes fuzzy again.

    Seeing as I've been left here, I consult with Master Roshi, about what I might do. He thinks for a while, then, suggests really slow Tai Chi Sword drill. Recalling Robin's comment about my poor form, this doesn't seem a bad idea. That I have to be told to slow down, several times, suggests that it was sensible. It does seem to help, centre me, mentally and physically.

    Then, on to really slow Tai Chi. Some work with falling carefully, keeping total control all the way to the ground. He has to step-in, catch me, once or twice. Rising to my feet just as slowly. Balance. Then, doing it all again, blindfolded. Obeying instructions, like, "Stop! There's a wall right in front of you".

    Always, "Do it again, more slowly". For someone who was being so very careful, Master Roshi was really good at training which tortures. With frustration, if nothing else.

    ---

    We'd done a bit more Tower checking, even before breakfast. I went down, checked Nurse was OK. She hadn't even realised there was a problem, which was both good, and bad. We needed to put-in links to at least the surveillance system for the common areas, so she stayed informed. But, it looked as though Raven's wards had protected the whole med-bay, quite effectively. Of course, there were no sleeping minds there, so, maybe nothing to attract the imps?

    Raven had meditated, for a few minutes. Then, gone and fetched the appropriate tools, walked around the outside of the Tower, even levitated around the edges of the top of the 'T'. Come back in, just as most of the team were starting breakfast. Sat down. Breathed out. Started eating.

    "Well? You know what's wrong?" Beast Boy, at least, wasn't being patient.

    She finished chewing her current mouthful. Swallowed. Glanced over at him, then down again at her food.

    "No. All is as it should be. No holes, no ruptures. Nothing."

    She took another bite, slowly chewed it. Then a careful sip of her morning coffee. A sigh.

    "The defences are solid. But, by their very nature, the way people must be able to come and go through them, including the mail-man, and food deliveries, they have to be 'open', in a way that those on the med-bay are not."

    "Where?" Beast Boy looks confused.

    Raven looks at him.

    "Just kidding! Of course I know about that!" And he pats the back of his head.

    Robin's been uncharacteristically silent. Slowly eating his food with total attention. He visibly pulls himself together.

    "Right. If we can't find anything wrong here, we're going to have to go out. Looking for trouble. Yes, we'll likely be attacked. But, we'll learn from that, more about our enemy."

    ---

    After a mostly quiet lunch with Master Roshi, I go down to my workshop. Though he did make one comment.

    "There'll be times like this, as long as you're being a hero. Where you have to watch your friends go out, maybe get killed. While you're unable to help. All you can do is focus on healing. Not overdoing it. But, you will go out with them, fight alongside them. You just need to pace yourself, learn patience."

    I was not wiping a tear from my eye. It was dust or something. Honest.

    ---

    I spent the afternoon working, slowly, on team radios. I could see how to solve the problem with alch-tech, though, I'd likely have to miniaturise some bits.

    But, conventional tech, no. There were just so many things that could go wrong, radio 'shadows', reflections from buildings, interference, accidental or intentional. Of course, a grid of repeaters, across the city, would help. Or, maybe using cell phone infrastructure. But, none of that was good enough, under the pressure of combat.

    One of the reasons for slow progress was the need to keep stopping, meditating, to regain my focus. During one of those sessions I realised the answer was to ask Raven to enchant the team radios, once I'd done as good a job as I could. Just like my radio collar.

    Not a perfect solution, but something with electronics, and having batteries that needed to be charged, would likely keep Robin happy, if nothing else. Either that or I needed to get a physics-bending super-scientist involved, and that meant a whole extra set of issues. Pity it wasn't really Cyborg's field.

    Almost reflexively I try and open my third eye. Look around the workshop. Ow. I say. Ow.

    After maybe five minutes my head stops swimming, and my physical eyes are no longer blurred. I'm beginning to think that they were quite right in banning me from from any activity. Meditation. Fifteen minutes of that and I no longer feel terrible. How long will it take me to recover from this?

    –-

    Evening meal, and no sign of the team. Alone, this time, because Roshi's gone off, somewhere. While I was relaxing, reading another Kory-loaned fantasy novel, a phone call from Robin. No, I'd tried to read one of my math books. But, fuzzy head and math do not go well together. Who knew?

    "We've met Starfire's sister. Blackfire. After a difficult day. We're doing..." I can almost hear gritted teeth... "team-building, with a visit to a club. Don't expect us back until late."

    Well. That happened.

    ---

    Yes, they were late. Arrived back, looking a lot more relaxed than this morning. Though, Starfire's unusually quiet. People supper, go off to bed. I could take a hint, so I also retired.

    Raven appeared to have a headache. Apparently 'Goth Boy', whoever that is, spiked her drink. I expect her revenge was legendary.

    A couple of hours later. Cyborg has called Raven, she called me, down to the front door. There's a dark-haired girl, dressed in combat clothes, of Starfire's style, though her skin is tanned Caucasian. She's half-collapsed, holding herself up by the door post. No, I don't know her.

    "Friend Cyborg? Friends Raven, Sugoi? Don't you recognise me?"




    AN: Not another cliff-hanger! :)

    AN: I found this bit on cell/mobile phone signal interesting...
     
  18. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    I suspect, in spite of all signs, that this latest development is due to the Puppet King from the Teen Titans cartoon. We’re seeing a serious threat attempting to knock the Titans off-balance before they recover from the imps. Starfire is in Blackfire’s body and this will be confirmed by Raven soon enough. Whether Puppet King is working alone is the second most important question; did he have a hand in the imp attack, meaning he has a connection to Trigon? The most important question is why did someone sneak into Titans Tower after their Club scheme?

    Who is in Starfire’s body though? Blackfire doesn’t strike me as an assassin, so I don’t think “unusually quiet” fits her. Plus she knows how Starfire acted as a kid, so I reckon any act to disguise herself as Starfire would be, y’know, vibrant and quirky.

    So is Goth Boy a disguised Puppet King (or whoever magically set this up)? Are there any long-term consequences to drugging Raven, which was done to prevent her from messing with his body-swap(s)? Where has Starfire’s brain been for the last few hours?
     
  19. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Good questions...

    Things will become a bit clearer next episode... Blackfire varies quite a lot between the different versions of her, in comics, and cartoon. In general, she's not a nice person, though. Starfire has changed, a bit, since she was a child, and this will be explained in a future episode. And a bit more of her (and Blackfire's) history.

    Goth Boy is a fan favourite for a Raven SO. You can reasonably ask if he is who he seems to be. Starfire's brain, is, of course, inside her head. Where else would it be? :)

    Her mind, on the other hand...
     
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  20. Extras: Author Notes 6 - Story Cosmology 2
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Author Notes 6 - Story Cosmology 2

    This bit is ignorable, and you can just read the story, and think the author is a bit mad and/or strange. Some might want to not read much of this, particularly the references in the Author Notes, because this is (just) a throw-away story, and, they've got better things to do with their time and lives.

    Given all that...

    Put simply, the body, the mind and the spirit/soul are treated as different, though related and intertwined, things. This means that the brain is the physical, squishy bit, in computing terms the 'hardware', the mind is the decision-making bit, in computing terms the 'software', and the soul/spirit is the really difficult to pin-down purpose and 'higher' motivation, again in computing the aims of the programmer. So, yes, a three-way divide: Body, Mind, Spirit.

    Please note that, no, the human brain is not considered to be 'just a computer', they're rather different things. Looking at the history of ideas about the way humans do thinking it's been compared to all sorts of things, including a fire, engines, clockwork, a business office, etc.

    Given that...

    One consequence is that suitable other 'hardware' could be something the mind exists and operates in, like a computer. For the purpose of this story you can assume minds can be moved around, though this is very, very, difficult - ingenuity though... Where do souls/spirits fit in? Well, mostly, they tag-along with minds, and a spirit without a mind isn't likely to be doing much. But, the idea is that there's something beyond, 'higher', than minds.

    Science in this story mostly is concerned with the physical, such as bodies, but at the top-level starts dealing with minds, 'chi' is concerned with living things, the 'psychic' stuff with minds, though it can 'reach down' to deal with the physical, and magic (non-divine flavour) can mess with the physical and the mental, but is rather weak when you come to the spiritual.

    Classically, the mind and the body are often treated as two different things, and this, as well as ideas about individualism, and choice, are built-in to much of culture and law. Things get interesting when you look at the details though...




    AN: Mental strain warning, quite a lot of the below can be a bit mind-bending... The notes below hopefully show this is something that's been 'looted' from all over the place. Maybe you'd prefer fiction? Try the works of Jack L. Chalker, though be warned it goes NSFW in strange ways.

    AN: Some might be interested in the quote (Mysticism Warning) 'As Avove, So Below'...

    AN: All this builds on ideas of the (Mysticism Warning) 'soul'...

    AN: Then there's the business of (Philosophy Warning) mind-body dualism...

    AN: And, for real fun, there's (Philosophy Warning) physicalism... Some look at the issue as (Philosophy Warning) naive realism...

    AN: So, the only important thing is the body, the brain, all the rest is mystical time-wasting? Warning, yes, the rabbit hole goes down further... :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
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  21. Threadmarks: Blackfire, Third Eye and High Magic - Episode 34
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 34

    Blackfire. At the Tower. Talking like Starfire. Not suspicious. One. Little. Bit.

    Raven looks her over. Sighs. Looks at me. That isn't ominous, at all...

    "Sugoi. You are at liberty to refuse this. But, I've little choice. Goth Guy spiked my drink. My psychic powers haven't worked, since then. I'm pretty good at throwing-off things like that, but, I haven't yet." Another sigh.

    "With your permission I will magically link to you, and provide the power so that I can use your Third Eye. I doubt that it will be pleasant, but, there shouldn't be... any longer term complications."

    "Yes?" My voice didn't just sound small and pathetic, did it?

    "Just to be clear. It's a sort of possession." I gulp.

    "Yes?"

    She looks at me, shakes her head. Gets out a small ritual knife, pricks her thumb.

    "Now. Repeat after me. 'I, Sugoi, give permission to my master, Raven, to link to me, just this one time, and only for the purpose of making use of my Third Eye.' ."

    I do.

    And, it all goes dark.

    ---

    My eyesight returns after a little while. It wasn't actually painful, but it was as if I'd stepped to one side, let someone else run my body. Use my senses. I see a red light fade from Raven's eyes, and a memory slowly surfaces in my mind. Absently, I take the cloth Raven hands me, wipe the smear of blood from my forehead, and hand it back to her. Doing that seems to make things a lot more real.

    The memory is of a tide of power flooding into me, kicking my mage sight in, letting me see the river of magical energy running from Raven. Raven is a nova of power, Cyborg is barely there, and there's a dark aura about Blackfire's head.

    Another level kicks-in, and with it my chi-sight, showing Raven, Blackfire and Cyborg as living beings connected to the world. Something's... wrong with Blackfire, but, I couldn't tell exactly what.

    Then, another surge and my spirit-sight ignites. I'm almost sick at the memory. Cyborg looks OK, though the spirit energies in his metal parts are a bit weird. Raven has a green-purple pool in her stomach area, and her spiritual aura looks far weaker than I've ever seen. Blackfire...

    I can see Starfire's spirit hanging over her, with her right fist inside the head of Blackfire's body. She looks to be really sick, but, concentrating. And, I can see bright ribbons of spirit energy reaching out from her fist, into Blackfire's limbs.

    That's different.

    ---

    Raven got Cyborg to scan 'Blackfire' for any strange technology. Very little, but he removed what I think was a communicator, and a concealed energy pistol, put them in a lock-box, not far inside the door. Probably sensible.

    I helped Starfire stagger Blackfire up to the lounge. Sat her down at a far edge, in shadow. Then, using my radio collar, I tinkered with the building control systems to dim the lounge lights, except for a brightly-lit clear area, near the main doors.

    The rest of the team have been summoned, told to take their time to dress properly, but come urgently. Robin was first - I swear he must've trained to dress quickly. Then Beast Boy, who I suspect of having some sort of power to help. Terra, rubbing sleep from her eyes. Finally, Starfire, doing blank-face.

    Cyborg stands by the doors, arms crossed, looking grim. At some point Master Roshi has slipped in, but that's hardly surprising.

    Raven starts.

    "Starfire. What happened to Blackfire? I didn't see her after I... remonstrated with the fool in dark clothes?"

    "Yeah! It was really good! She hung him in mid-air, by his pants, put his head in a big drop of water. His make-up ran, and he looked like a goldfish!"

    Beast Boy looks around. Everyone's looking at him. "OK. I can take a hint. I'll shut-up." I think I hear him mutter, as he does a strange side-to-side gesture at his collar, "Tough crowd".

    "She must have wandered off? Things were winding-down, maybe she had somewhere to go?" Not the best Starfire impersonation I've heard, but not terrible...

    Raven just looks at her, "If you want to pretend to be Starfire, you need to smile a lot more".

    Starfire floats up into the air, energy flickering about her fists, "Fine! So you found me out! I'm the better sister, anyway, if you want someone on your team, choose me. After all..."

    She pulls out a metal circlet, crushes it in one hand, and before we can do anything tosses it into the air, star-bolts it.

    "That's the Janus Crown. Or, it was. Even if you can find her spirit, you can never put it back in her body. This is my body now, and I have all her power!"

    "I don't think so", Raven pulls out a black gem, that seems to suck the room-light into it. Holds it up. It somehow glows even darker.

    A flash of sunlight, that doesn't hurt my eyes, drawn from Starfire's body, into the gem. She falls from the air, on her knees.

    "What have you done?"

    "I used something Starfire gave me, a prison gem once used on her, by her captors, to restrain her powers. She gave it to me as a 'just in case'. I used magic on it to draw almost all of the solar energy out of your body. Almost all, because I wouldn't want to physically harm you."

    Raven looks over at the figure in the shadows.

    "Kory? If you want to try and return to your body, I'm make sure you have a safe path."

    "No!" Blackfire doesn't seem very happy with the idea...

    ---

    Being currently spiritually blind I can't see much of what follows.

    Raven steps forward, draws her ritual knife, and slices her thumb. Then, smears blood across the forehead of the kneeling figure. The knife drops, to hang in the air with a red glow, her other hand is held out, in a sort of grasping gesture. After a little while the kneeling figure slumps to the floor, and Raven closes her grasping hand into a fist.

    "I wonder what I should do with this?"

    The figure on the ground stirs, "Please, Raven. Do not further harm her".

    I'm pretty sure we know who is who, now.

    The others haven't moved, much, letting Raven run things. Robin looks grim. Cyborg stoic. Beast Boy has a seriously dropped jaw. Terra... she's fainted. And, Master Roshi is nodding.

    Raven strides over into the shadows. "Bring the lights up", she says, absently. I do.

    We can all see Blackfire's body, slumped in the chair. Raven touches her free hand to the forehead, concentrates, shakes her head.

    "Really thoroughly broken. It's amazing Starfire managed to walk it here. Something essential must have been lodged in the destroyed artefact. The natural mind-body interface?"

    Cyborg kneels down, lifts ex-crown dust which trickles through his fingers. Then fades away. He shakes his head. Robin is still standing watching, combat-ready. Beast Boy seems to be looking hard, into the remaining shadows. Roshi kneels next to Terra, carefully rolls her on one side, the recovery position, looks at her carefully, then holds a thumb up.

    Starfire rises to her feet, with difficulty, staggers over.

    "Will she die?"

    "I can't put her spirit back into this body. Not without a lot of work. I could try and create a new body, stuff her into that. But, without a template working body for me to copy, there's no guarantee she'd be stable. And, I need to put her somewhere, she doesn't have the training to survive, otherwise." She sighs, looks at me.

    "Sugoi? You're growing flesh, down in the med-bay, on to one of those robot bodies of yours. Empty, but fit to house a spirit. If it's stable, could you bring it up?"

    "You know about that?"

    "I am your teacher."

    ---

    Over an audio-link I check with Nurse. She's been working hard, the basic organs are all in place, and there's a test patch of skin. That seems... suspiciously quick. The body should be stable to decant, so between us Nurse and I wrangle some robots to bring it up, with a sheet to maintain some dignity.

    Interesting that Nurse seemed to think remote control of robots needed a specific request. I'll have to check that out, later.

    Beast Boy's obviously decided attack isn't imminent, gone into the kitchen, fetched a large pot of hot chocolate. Good choice.

    He's serving it, and Master Roshi takes some to feed to a groggy Terra. As the gurney is worker-bot rolled into the room. Master Roshi helps Terra to a chair, and she looks on, wide-eyed.

    Raven inspects the delivered body, lifting the sheet so she, but no one else, gets a good look. Nods.

    "A good basis to work from. Sugoi? Give me one of your blank crystals, and get me a little blood from Blackfire's body." It seems wise to obey.

    Raven hums to herself, or, maybe conceals words I'd prefer not to hear in that. After a few minutes she holds up a now-orange crystal, and I notice she's stopped holding one hand in a fist. I hand her a now-bloody needle, fetched from my belt medical kit. She nods, absently.

    More mumbling, that I try not to hear clearly. The body on the gurney gets longer, grows a bit more... chest. She picks the orange crystal, from where it was hung by a red thread in the air, thrusts it towards the concealed head, and, twists. There's a gasp of air from the body...

    Or, I guess I should now say, 'Blackfire'.

    She sits up, revealing a face with the same orange skin as Starfire, Blackfire's hair. Clutches the sheet to her, avoiding showing things... some might wish to see.

    "What have you Done to me?"

    "Saved your life. Now, Sleep."

    The figure slumps, again. Raven makes a complex gesture, and the sheet turns to vapour, flows over to cover the empty body in the chair, as the clothes it was wearing do the reverse. There's some magic worth learning for quick change!

    Though, the 'red eye' Raven's showing might put some students off. I get the impression she's used a lot more magic today than she'd prefer.

    She murmurs in a low voice, just for my ears, "Sorry to steal your robot body, I'll find some way to make it up to you", then turns to Robin.

    "Robin?"

    He starts, "Yes?".

    "Didn't you tell me, privately, there were some interstellar warrants out for Blackfire? But, the space police were still negotiating with US authorities?"

    "Yes..."

    "I think that", and Raven gestures at the sheet-covered body in the chair, "gets stored in that place you've got in the med-bay, the not-morgue". She gives me a mild look, turns back to Robin.

    "And, I think we've got someone to hand to the space police."




    AN: Raven's doing a lot with foreheads in this - I hope there's not a fetish I don't know about... (I should've (SFW) known better, shouldn't I?)

    AN: In case you wondered, tough crowd. Possibly made popular by Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, but you probably need to go back to Rodney Dangerfield.

    AN: Probably wise to mention Janus, though 'Buffy' fans are very likely to be quite aware of his connection with changes...

    AN: I expect you all know about the recovery position...

    AN: Yes, I know, 'space police' is a very general term. However, better than 'crab Terminators'. Please excuse Raven, she's rather tired. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  22. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    I wrote that line, most of a week ago. Unfortunately, it seems to have applied to me, the author, at my planned posting time, when I was taking a 'brief nap'. Then, the episode had... issues, needing a significant edit, during posting.

    So, sorry about late posting.
     
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  23. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    Really, Ace Dreamer? You had to use that link when it comes to forehead things? This is all clearly spiritual! You could have linked the Ajna chakra. You could have linked a bindi. You could have linked Bindu or Amrita! Strange choice, you wonderfully productive author.

    Also the namesake of Blackfire’s artifact: Janus the deity.
     
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  24. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    I have to say things like I see them! :)

    All good links. Thanks for the compliment.

    Also... Technically speaking, it isn't 'spiritual', because Raven's not got any spiritual (strictly, psychic) powers at the moment... So, she's having to do it all with (demon-tainted) magic... Never let it be said that I'm not picky. :)
    Thanks. I've added an Author Note. My fault, as someone who got a bit too much into 'Yet Another Halloween Fanfic' (YAHF) stuff...
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  25. Threadmarks: Wizard, Terra and Time - Episode 35
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 35

    So late it's morning. But, we have Starfire back. A few day's sunshine and she should be at full power again. Or, 'tasteless' sun-bed time to speed things up. Unfortunately, the 'dark gem' doesn't have a reverse setting. Raven's unsure what it does with the stolen power.

    Master Roshi approaches Raven. Though I notice he waits till Robin's left the room.

    "Your battle leader. I'm sure he's good at tactics, but I doubt his strategy. You've been shaken, weakened. Your enemy, enemies, will not give you time to recover, heal. They'll weaken you further. Turn you against each other, if they can. If you can do anything to speed things up, now is the time to do it." He pauses for a few moments.

    "Lady Wizard."

    And, he bows to her, steps back, nods to the rest of us, and leaves.

    "Cyborg, Sugoi, Terra. Help me with these two, and Starfire. The one in clothes we'll put in a locked spare room, she'll sleep as long as I want, the one in the sheet goes down to the med-bay, with the rest of us."

    "Raven?" She looks at me.

    "When you switched the clothes for the sheet the skin colours changed as well. Original Blackfire is now orange-skinned, clothed Blackfire is white Caucasian. Should we check why?"

    She pauses. "Good eyes. I'd missed that."

    We search the clothed Blackfire. There's a concealed piece on her harness, about three centimetres (a bit more than an inch) in diameter. A still dazed Starfire looks at it, declares it's an 'image modulator', used by some aliens to fit-in better on other worlds. Raven suggests that it's nice her sister has gifted her that. Though a bit dubious, Starfire accepts it.

    ---

    We're down in the med-lab. The original Blackfire is in a not-morgue tray. Or, as I call it, a 'Suspended Animation Bed'. They're sealed well-enough to stop dehydration, and as long as the power lasts they can sit there, unchanging, forever. Of course, before that she'd had a thorough scan, which Nurse said, first-pass, showed she was physically healthy.

    The actual med-beds, if a not-corpse is transferred to one of those, can safely revive them. Though, there's some careful 'handling' requirements. Not a perfect system, but something I'd assembled from salvaged starship 'low berth' spares. Certainly better than dying. No, we're not going to use them for convenient prisoner storage.

    Starfire has lain on a bed. Due to doing so previously Nurse has a baseline, for her. Says she's overall healthy, just low in 'cellular energy'. Extra-powerful sun-beds could be rigged, preferably here, so Nurse could be wired directly into sensors.

    Next, Raven had a surprise for Terra. "Strip."

    "What?"

    "Behind that screen. Put on that hospital gown. You collapsed, we are going to check nothing's wrong with you."

    Terra gulps, comes out in the gown. In the meanwhile, Cyborg's left us to get on with it. Presumably he thinks Raven can handle Terra.

    "And the underclothes. The lot. Everything."

    Reluctantly she complies.

    Raven looks at her, critically. "Good. There's no longer carefully-hidden magical interference coming from you. Lie down on a bed. Now we check your health. Properly."

    This time Terra gives clear readings. Physically, in excellent shape, arguably, too good. Mentally... Her brain, clear distortions, in the emotion-handling areas. Signs of developing issues in her judgement centres. Really, not good news. I'm glad I studied-up, so I can make sense of this stuff.

    "Nurse? What do you think?" Raven wants a professional's opinion...

    "There's some booster drugs that produce effects like that. Reprogram the body, optimal strength, better reflexes, increased intelligence, faster healing. Short-term, seem to increase self-control. Poor man's super-soldier treatment, or 'instant' athlete, banned in a lot of places.” She sighs.

    "The reason is... Longer-term, emotional disturbance, possible delusions of persecution, full-blown paranoia, tendencies towards self-harm. Fortunately, no increased cancer risk. Treatable, particularly as it looks like an early case. I can synthesise drugs, antidotes to this one. Once I've done that, probably a week's work, a couple of one-hour sessions a day. Should fix the current level of damage."

    "But, Slade said it'd help me control my powers!"

    Nurse's tone changes. "Young lady, the increased intelligence will give you short-term better control, longer term, you'll be a lot worse off. You need to work with someone who knows how your powers work, preferably who has them themselves. Or, get and wear some sort of control device, that'll let you learn to control your powers, yourself."

    "But... The only one with powers like me is my brother! And, he'll never help me!"

    "There are other ways to solve the problem", Nurse continues, "there's several ways to disable your powers, with drugs, or surgery. Or, drastic things like transferring your brain to a newly-cloned body. Those are all procedures that I'd need command authorisation to do."

    I've a nasty suspicion I know who Nurse's 'command authority' is...

    Raven takes over.

    "Terra. You can disbelieve us, think we're trying to trick you in some way. Turn you against Slade, who has your best interests at heart. Or, you can think for yourself, figure out who you trust." She pauses for a moment.

    "Who put you somewhere carrying something that opened your sleeping place to a demon invasion? Were you warned about that?" I think Raven's maybe being a bit cruel, but...

    "I'll... trust you. For now. But, I'll be watching you! In case you try and trick me."

    That sounds a little paranoid, to me, but, maybe justified...

    "Nurse?", Terra addresses her, directly. "You'll answer questions for me? Truthfully?"

    "I can't lie about medical matters. Be silent, yes. but not lie."

    I approve of that. An AI lying, about their core function, is really bad news.

    "Am I going to die? Will Slade's drugs kill me?"

    "They wont kill you, physically. But, they will alter your mind, your personality, and some would rather die than have that happen."

    "Can you stop them? Will I become just a weak teenager, again?"

    "Yes, I can halt the changes. You'll keep all your current improvements, except the fast healing. You'll still heal faster than a normal human, though."

    "Why doesn't everyone do that, then?"

    "Because, unless the doses of antidote are very carefully controlled you'll become very sick. Possibly suffer muscular, nervous, damage. Fortunately, I'm highly skilled in this, some of my previous... patients were fond of... excessive self-medication. And, I had to fix the problems."

    Raven coughs.

    "Now I've had a chance to look at Terra, without her magical blurring, her problems look similar to those of some over-powerful young magi, in training. A combination of meditation, mental control exercises, and in extreme cases, magical power dampening, and they gain full control of their powers. I'm sure I could enchant, say, bracelets that would let Terra control the limits of her powers."

    There's brief silence.

    "Would you? What's in it for you?" Not a completely planned question, I think.

    "If I don't help you then I think Beast Boy would get very, very, upset. And, he's my friend, so by extension you are."

    "Oh."

    ---

    Terra seems a lot happier. Raven has her talisman, a 'nasty piece of work', she says. Draws on the wearer's life force, for power. Terra's OK, because that was reinforced by Slade's drug treatment, but any more normal person... She's gone off to her room, to think about things, hopefully get some sleep.

    I get to ask about the suspiciously swift robot skinning. Raven explains that she fast-forwarded the med-bay, a couple of times. The first to see if rest would flush the anti-psychic drug from her body; it didn't, and then it was time to confront Blackfire. The second time while we were actually confronting her. She thought a third time should be, safe, probably, but after that it'd be months before the trick could be safely used. 'Dimensional tides', again.

    Before that, I get Raven to lie on a bed. Talk her through taking down her defences, so Nurse can scan her. Apparently she's had them up, continuously, for months, and it was a real relief to relax. Raven had the weirdest readings I've seen. While most of her's standard human, bits of her just go off in directions that don't exist, and that the scanner can't follow. Other dimensions, presumably.

    Once the basic scans were done Nurse could siphon the drug from her body. A horrible semi-living, self-regenerating thing, with a psychic component, was our best guess. But, once it was mostly gone Raven's digestive system handled the dregs.

    I guess I'm, now, Raven's doctor, so I should discuss her meta-psyche with her...

    ---

    On the last available fast-time 'slot'...

    We agree, I'm going to need time to heal my psychic injuries, Starfire needs time in a sun-bed. So, we're the obvious people to benefit. It might be nice to treat Terra, but, she's not urgent, and, we don't trust her, enough, yet.

    While I'm there, I can do finishing work on the med-bay, maybe some other light tech stuff. Kory says she can catch-up on her reading, there's a new series of books that she wants to dig into. I'll grab some books, too. Including from Raven's library. And, while I'm there, we can get started on another Geo-bot with living skin.

    Looks like Kory would be finished before me, but there's no reason she shouldn't leave early, with sufficient care. It might take me a fortnight to heal, it might be a month. We'll have to see. And, any extra time I could use by starting the Victor-bot, the one with real living-skin. Seeing as he'd agreed, and I'd got his measurements and pattern.

    I really wanted to see what he'd say, after looking out through the eyes of a body with no obvious cybernetics...




    AN: The concept of 'low berth' is from the Traveller RPG, which in turn got it from pre-1980s science fiction, the Dumarest saga, I believe. Cheap travel, no need to feed or water the passengers, quite a low death rate. :)

    AN: Some draw a distinction (Mysticism Warning) between talismans, and amulets, in that the first can provide 'active' effects, and the second 'passive' protection. But, as ever with things mystical, definitions are a bit unclear.

    AN: Fortnight, because apparently it's a word not known to some readers.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2020
  26. Extras: Raven Worm 2, Author Omake 3
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Worm 2, Author Omake 3

    < Previous

    AN: This is an 'Author Omake', which has nothing to do with Geo's story, and is definitely not canon. However, a reader (Dukem) implied it might exist...




    Madison was Nematode Girl. Some sort of tiny worm, you might think? Unimportant. Ignorable.

    Nematodes are all over the place. And, her name was misleading, because she also 'got' mites. And, just about every healthy human has those.

    She was also a sort of slave. Of the rogue, 'Arachno Mage'. And, she got to be chief slave, of all the other girls who'd followed her and Emma. But, at least she got to know she was a slave, they just got their minds used as useful tools, without them realising.

    Emma, as Arachnophilia, was the visible face of Arachno Mage's power. The strong arm, and, one who healed, amazingly quickly, from anything that anyone had done to her, so far. The fights between her and Shadow Stalker, those'd been interesting to watch. And, the fights with various villain capes in Brockton Bay.

    How did Madison watch? Even though she wasn't a normal cape, rather one created by Arachno Mage's power over anything bug-related, she knew she was amazingly powerful. She could somehow see, sense damage to, anything close, maybe within a half-metre, about 18-inches, of the smaller bugs, like nematode worms or mites, anywhere within Brockton Bay, and recall that, perfectly. You might say she did 'bugging'.

    Either from a distance, or if she wanted to see things with human-grade eyesight, as an invisible, apparently immaterial, bug-mediated presence. Or, it might be one of her 'slaves' doing the looking. Then, she could play those memories, her's and her slave's, back, for Arachno Mage. Or, 'Taylor', as she knew she was. But, couldn't say.

    She was pretty sure there were 'holes' in her coverage. Things she wasn't allowed to know. Of course, she somehow had filters, bugs getting eaten or otherwise killed in a normal way was ignored. Presumably, some things Arachno Mage wanted to keep private. And, after all, she also had to obey instructions to forget things.

    There was also one, rather glaringly obvious to her, hole in her coverage. Flutterby. And her weaponised butterflies.

    But, she didn't hold out much hope in that direction, despite Emma's delusions about a heroic rescue. Somehow, Taylor would have that covered. No one got to bully her, these days. There was a quiet confidence about her that made it seem an amazingly bad idea.

    Now, Madison was an invisible watcher in the latest fight between Emma, as Arachnophilia, and Shadow Stalker, who she happened to know was Sophia. It was obvious that Arachno Mage was just playing with her, she could've settled the matter long ago. She imagined Taylor and Sophia, just standing there, glaring at each other.

    No one could hear her, no one would know. Unless, Arachno Mage asked her the right direct question, later.

    So, she mumbled to herself, an act of defiance, thinking of Taylor and Sophia.

    "Now, Kiss."




    AN: Another 'Worm' Omake? Why, you might say. Well, it seemed there might be a bit more story to tell...

    AN: I'll reference, here, nematode, and mite, for reader convenience.

    AN: No, I don't anticipate any more of these. And, as a cruel writer, I'll say that Taylor does have friends, but, Madison isn't allowed to know about them. Are they visitors from the TT-verse? We may never know. :)

    < Previous
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2020
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  27. Threadmarks: Down Time, with Kory and Nurf - Episode 36
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 36

    Preparations for up to a month's 'holiday'. Robin's been told. That was a difficult decision. Ditto Cyborg and Beast Boy; much easier. Not Terra. Master Roshi? Who knows?

    After a bit of thought I realise the smart person to ask is Nurse. In some respects the med-bay will be like a spaceship, cut-off from outside world, needing to be self-sufficient, due to the temporal acceleration. Raven's initial speed-ups drained the batteries pretty deeply, and there's certainly not enough capacity for a month. The planned acceleration is thirty-fold, a month in 24-hours, and while the Tower's power reserves should handle that, I want more redundancy.

    So, back to the starship salvage. There were a pair of medium-capacity cold fusion generators, 'fusion lamps', with power cores, that looked good. A third one that was probably repairable, with a little effort. Two of them should run the entire med-bay, and a third would be nice as a spare.

    I think I've figured-out how Raven knew so much about my growing a living skin on a robot. She'd had plenty of time in the med-bay, with Nurse, while trying to recover from being drugged. And, I'd not suggested skinning a robot was a private matter - Raven being my teacher was probably enough authority for Nurse to talk about the subject. I think.

    That led to a couple of other matters. The med-bay was good for air and water, Victor and I'd ensured that, power looked to be handled. What about the more subtle stuff? Before coming to this world I likely wouldn't have thought about it, but, chi was partly from the environment, and maybe there was other stuff I hadn't thought of. Another rummage in the salvage, and a 'background field generator', needing trivial repair, wired-in to the med-bay. I'm guessing that should handle things.

    The other big problem with spacecraft I raised with Raven. When I caught up with her she was giving Kory a replacement anti-possession amulet. Her's was a blackened wreck, after its encounter with the Janus Crown. Maybe it helped save Kory? Hard to tell. Kory mumbled something about needing more astral projection training.

    The issue was getting rid of excess heat. Vacuum's a pretty good insulator, and, Space may be cold, but life and machinery easily generate enough heat that only radiators keep you from stewing in your own juices.

    She thought for a few moments, then commented that might be why dimensional tides were so important in some magical workings - unless they were right there was nothing to take away excess heat. A very minor modification to the wards, and apparently they now radiate excess heat into some other, empty, dimensional spaces. Nice.

    So. Water was recycled, two different ways, handling showers and drinking. And sewage, of course. Nurse could synthesise basic food. We'd got the older auto chef, and some supplies, for variety. Books, videos, some games, for entertainment. Basic exercise equipment. I didn't think we'd forgotten anything...

    A last minute thought. Yes, Victor'll have to do without use of the mind interface, for a day.

    Guess we'd find out...

    ---

    A couple of surprises. After Raven possessed me, to use my Third Eye, I'd felt a bit awash with magic. Nothing I couldn't handle, but, probably something I could, should, practice with while recovering. She'd used magic while her spiritual powers were locked-away. If I was careful, I think that I could, too, without compromising my healing.

    The second thing was a mysterious device in the salvage. It was labelled as a 'synthesiser', but alch-tech has many varieties of those, so, which was it?

    Eventually it dawned on me. It was a general-purpose one, a 'Synthesiser'. Rare, expensive, and, oh so useful. Looked like it came with all the required software, too. And, I'm sure I could hack-together a suitable alch-tech computer system to run it.

    Yes, it was an older model, looked repaired very many times. But, in good order. And, something as good as having a portable workshop, stuffed full of exotic power tools. Interesting enough, you could even use it as an energy-based 'shower', as well as a personal tailoring system.

    Did I jump up and down? Squeal? Any reports of such from Nurse are completely untrue. Honest.

    ---

    We'd had breakfast with the team. Starfire and I. She could walk properly, now, though she still looked weak. Then, we went down for a 'day of medical treatment'.

    Now a full day, our time, everything seems OK. Funny to think that only about three-quarters of an hour has gone by for the rest of them. They're 'bunkering-down'. I wish'd I'd had time to emplace the force-field generators, from the salvage, so as to protect the Tower. We could only hope our enemies wouldn't act too swiftly, would wait to see what happened as a result of their demonic attack.

    Kory is obviously fretting, but doing her best to occupy herself. After a day of Nurse-monitored intense sun-bedding she's looking far less tired, moving normally, though not showing any super-human abilities. I've taken it easy, though I've got Nurse to make hourly checks. Apparently I'm starting to heal. I'd noticed that it was, a little, easier to concentrate.

    For practice, and with Kory's permission, I've been using a medical scanner to check on her. All seems to be OK, and Nurf tells me I seem to be interpreting things correctly. It's nice to have someone to check me, as even around my Dad I was often working on my own.

    I've been puzzling about the 'image modulator' that Kory's acquired. Why didn't Victor's scans, at the Tower door, detect it? I'm reluctant to do anything like dismantle it, but, the Synthesiser has some pretty good scanners, so I use those. And... It shows-up as being without any power storage, or external power feeds.

    Weird.

    ---

    Another day. I've read a couple more books. Tinkered a bit. Meditated and felt my flows of magic. Lightly exercised. Done some Tai Chi, and, Kory asked if I could teach her the basics. I can't see any harm in that. She managed to lift a few centimetres, maybe an inch, off the ground, hang in the air for maybe ten minutes. Then, had to lie-down, exhausted. A good sign, though.

    Day three. A clearer mind, and I think I've an idea about the image modulator. It's psionic. I asked Kory, and she said, "Of course", seemed surprised I didn't know that. I guess, alien tech is alien. But, it's persuaded me, I need to learn the minimal psionic parts of alch-tech.

    There's always more to do...

    ---

    A week, and Kory's looking pretty good. Can levitate, fly, charge-up star-bolts.

    Reading, listening to, the sped-up reports from 'outside', they seem to be OK, so, she's going to wait a bit longer, until she has a full 'charge'. Maybe another week, based on previous progress, six or seven hours outside time. I could be wrong, but, I think she's partly concerned that someone, apart from Nurf, keeps me company.

    Day ten. I'd almost forgotten she was doing it, but Nurf is now ready. She's wandering around, a metre-tall, in all her blue-skinned glory. Poking stuff, listening to music, nibbling snacks, getting used to having a fleshy body, again. Says it's been a couple of centuries, her last body was killed, and life support was critical enough she didn't imprint another one. From her tone, I suspect it's not quite that simple.

    Doesn't seem to interfere with her driving the medical systems, though. She sings a duet, with herself, for our amusement. Pretty professional, even though we don't know the language. Kory offers to learn, but Nurf seems a bit dubious about the kiss-to-gain-a-language method. I'd not thought about it, but, why does Nurf speak English? Though, her accent is a bit funny. I'll have to think about that. Or, ask her, but, I'm reluctant to intrude on her already limited privacy.

    Two weeks, the full fortnight, Kory is leaving. She's positively brimming with power, and, I certainly wouldn't want to face her in a fight. Terra will probably assume that we've just got really good medical facilities, which we do, but. So, hopefully the time-tinkering will remain a team secret.

    ---

    After Kory leaves I go and check-on my now fully-skinned robot. Before we started, a fortnight ago, and after a little thought, I'd done a redesign, and she's the same height as me, 1.7m, five-foot-six. As opposed to 1.5m, about five-foot, my height before coming to this world. Assuming her main job is as a stand-in, that's sensible.

    I can drive her with the radio collar, hear, see through her eyes, feel what she does. It's quite a different experience to the latex-skinned variety. Much richer, far more like having, being in, a fully-living body. The Synthesiser in 'auto tailor' mode handles the detail of clothes and footwear.

    I, very carefully, try and astral project. Ow. Very definitely, ow.

    The lapses in attention have gone, I now maybe feel as I did before the demon attack. As I was after helping Raven alter her psyche. Though, I think the pattern of injury is different. Nurf says I'm an interesting case, as she's had to rely on her spirit sight to see my injuries, and my spirit being within a living body makes that unreliable.

    I can feel flows of chi, again. It's funny how I missed such a recently acquired sense. Manipulating chi, that seems OK on a small scale. Levitation works, flight, stretching-out chi-limbs, striking stuff, I'm putting that off till I feel better.

    I seem to have put-on a bit of muscle. My upper-body strength is definitely improved. Maybe not accessing chi did that? Hard to tell. Nurf informs me chi is not a part of her medical knowledge.

    ---

    Three weeks. I'm definitely missing Kory, her cheer, upbeat attitude. I'm even missing Garfield's stupid comments. Raven, I think I miss her most. Nostalgia for the torture that's Robin's teaching - I'm definitely in a bad way. Nurf is nice, but, she's a rather reserved person. She's been reading some of the books Kory left behind. Say's its a novel experience. Took me a while to realise that was an intended pun.

    Today I levitated a feather. With psychic power, an 'act of will'. No pain at all. Though, serious exhaustion. I'd remembered that training place Raven took Robin and me to, wondered if I could do the same in a more normal world. Where did I get a feather? Nurf grew one, in a med-bed, for me.

    I think I fully understand the Synthesiser, now. It really is an amazingly flexible device. Can make just about everything except living material. Nurf agreed to step into it, and, we made her some casual clothes. She looks... strange in a t-shirt and shorts, trainers. But, seems happy enough. Says it's good enough for an 'old lady' like her.

    ---

    A full month. About breakfast on the outside. I expected time to slowly resync, instead it just suddenly matches. Seems I'm fully healed. but I've got the occasional spiritual twinge. Nurf thinks that will settle, go away, with careful (spiritual) exercise.

    No, for the moment, I'm not even going to think about Victor's new body being finished. I'll need to give it some really deep testing. And write him a manual... No. Just no. Not thinking.

    So. Healthy, I think. Back to the fray.

    That's good, isn't it?




    AN: This is a bit longer than most episodes, but it seemed sensible to do it all as one chunk. Very little dialogue, loads of description. Hopefully it's not too indigestible! :)

    AN: They say that all fiction reflects the time that it's in, even science fiction, the 'mythology of the future'. And, a lot of the world, Earth's, been in Covid-19 lockdown. Did that effect this story? I don't know. Bits of this are based on things from 2015, I think, getting things done via temporal acceleration. The idea goes back decades, centuries if you include 'walking round the hill' (to Faeryland). And, Geo's not 'self-isolating'. So, you'll have to decide, for yourself.
     
  28. MutantRancor

    MutantRancor [Suspected Sithspawn]

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    Glad you got that right. Some writers don't seem to realize it. I wonder why they think we use vacuum flasks for things we really want to stay the same temperature.

    "Says it's". I don't think "say's" is even a proper word, but Spellcheck isn't catching it for some reason.

    Transposed characters are a regular problem for me while typing, and I assume that's what happened to you here; Spellcheck is just being unusually unhelpful in this instance. I find that stopping every few sentences to reread what I've just written helps spot things like that, if you don't do that already.
     
  29. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Yeah, getting rid of waste heat is something people often miss, and the death of various 'magic nanobot' ideas.

    I checked that one online, just a few moments ago. Thought it was OK, but writing and checking text when rather tired isn't good for teh spelling.

    I think the 'full' text would've been something like "She says that it is good enough...", where the 'She' and 'that' have been dropped and 'it is' compacted. Yes, dropping or transposing characters are common 'failure modes'.

    My episode text creation method is to use a text editor to hack in the text, read said text and correct it, feed text to a word processor, like 'Word' in Open/Libre Office, and spell-check and re-read in there (Office also provides a useful word count; target is 1000-2000). If I can I try and find time for another re-read using the text editor (at least a day later, and preferably while more than half-awake); changes may be put in using the word processor, but for big ones I tend to revert to the text editor. Finally, post the text by copy-paste from the text editor into a web browser logged-in to QQ, thread-marking and checking link. And, a re-read in QQ of the posted episode, to see if anything still looks to need fixing.

    But, as always, mistakes still slip through... I do find that reading text in different tools with different fonts and page layouts seems to increase the chance of spotting errors. In general I don't go as far as the 'thorough check' method, which is 'read and re-read the text until you're sick of it'. :)

    As always, YMMV! :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
    MutantRancor likes this.
  30. Threadmarks: Alertness, Travel and Divinity - Episode 37
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 37

    Breakfast. Team meeting time? Sometimes it felt like that. It was good to see them all again, after a month.

    Of course, for them, it was just a day. So, before joining them I've carefully gone over my memories of our last meeting. I'd (probably) be able to fool Terra, and the rest should be smart enough to go along with it. Probably.

    "Good to see you. I'll admit I missed your smiling faces."

    Mostly that's... not ignored, but little reacted to. A minute nod from Raven, and Cyborg, a smile from Starfire, and Beast Boy... He gurns at me, then sticks-out his tongue. OK, so it was reacted to.

    Robin, who I've noticed is occasionally touching his forehead, looks serious, and addresses me.

    "Glad to see you're well. I'm stepping-down our alertness level to 'concerned', from 'battle ready'."

    Beast Boy half-whispers to Cyborg, "We've got 'alertness levels'?".

    "Shush. There was a memo", he replies.

    Robin resolutely ignores them.

    "Just to inform you, we've not heard from...", he glances at Raven, "the 'space police', so I'm going to request you take Blackfire down to the med-lab, get her checked and fed, then lock her back in that spare room. That should do for another day. I'm hoping you've had time to write a report on your encounter with... the demons, to go in our files?"

    "Of course."

    "Professional." For some reason he glances at Beat Boy, I really don't know why...

    "I would hope you've avoided unnecessary detail about... identities?"

    "Yes."

    He clutches his forehead, half-falls from his chair. Raven's instantly supporting him, she looks at me.

    "Sugoi. We're going to my room. Swiftly deal with Blackfire then be prepared to travel. Bring your passports." She helps Robin to his feet, over his weak protests. Everyone looks concerned.

    "Robin needs treatment."

    ---

    We're in Raven's room. I've grabbed a carry-bag, auto tailor pre-packed, from the med-lab. Left Cyborg to finish-off Blackfire. I think R&R must've gone via Robin's room, because a bird-themed bag's floating along behind Raven. And, there's a major circle laid-out in the centre of her room. Warding, from outside skrying and forces, I think.

    Robin is clearly half-conscious, being personally supported by Raven; she looks at me.

    "You haven't really talked about your... night trip, a little before the demon attack, but I gather you did more than dimension walk around the city?"

    "Yes..."

    "This is a guess, but, did you visit Japan?"

    "Yes."

    "I could teleport Robin and myself there, but it'd exhaust me. If you support Robin and I dimension walk with you then we should get there much easier, and, I can direct you once we arrive in the country. We're going to the Grand Shrine at Ise."

    "I know how to get there..."

    "Even better. We can leave as soon as you're ready."

    ---

    Our journey is pretty smooth, though it took me an extra effort to pull a half-conscious Robin into my dimension walk. Raven appeared to be coasting along in my wake, and I wondered if she was fully recovered from the last few day's adventures. But, now, not a good time to ask.

    At the shrine Raven knew exactly who to talk to, and, I found it was friend-of-a-friend stuff. Her Japanese was excellent, and she's some obvious familiarity with the culture, but, I can sense the magical overtones, so I know she's cheating on both counts.

    The 'friend' we wanted was a priest at an obscure Buddhist temple, and apparently he had a reputation as a 'spiritual healer', and, a 'demon breaker'. Useful.

    "Ah. Your reputation precedes you, Goddess Who Walks Tween Light And Dark." Raven goes a bit red.

    "I do not know how you know of me..."

    The priest indicates an ancient-looking telephone in a niche, which may or may not be older than him.

    Raven goes a little more red. "but I don't claim to be a goddess!"

    "Wasn't your grandfather a god?"

    Raven, obviously reluctant, nods.

    "So." He waves, obviously dismissing the matter, and peers at Robin and I.

    "Hmm. One of these newfangled technology gods? I see you have a bird-shaman, as well."

    Raven stamps her foot. "None of us are goddesses, or, shaman!" I notice her skin's gone a little grey.

    He looks, carefully, at her. "I'm glad to see your self-control is better. Tell me, if you'd lost your temper like that, stamped your foot, not a long while ago, would the building you were in be standing?"

    Raven takes a deep breath, mumbles three words to herself, visibly calms. Grey fades from her skin. "No. You're right. Thank you for your instruction."

    She, briefly, bows to him.

    He, briefly, grins. "All life is a lesson."

    He turns, a little, looks at me. "I was a little cruel to you, too. May the blessings of the Kami of Roads be upon your travels."

    There's a soundless flash, in my mind. And, suddenly, a lot of things, routes to travel, how places were laid-out, how people behave, made so much more sense to me. With a major effort I don't stagger.

    "Now." He looks, hard, at Robin.

    "Lay the poor boy down on that prayer mat. Let's take a good look at him."




    AN: You all know about gurning, don't you? :)

    AN: Might be fun to visit Ise...

    AN: I've used the term 'goddess', here. Strictly speaking the priest is using the term 'kami', which doesn't mean quite the same thing. Also, he's a Buddhist priest, which, arguably complicates things. The relationship between Shintoism and Buddhism in Japan is... complex. Of course, then he uses the term 'Kami', but that's part of a (local) title. And, this bit of the story is translated from the Japanese. So, that makes sense?

    AN: I think (Mysticism Warning) shamanism is an interesting subject...

    AN: I might admit this is one of those priests. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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