Writing sideblog. I just post about my characters and wips on here! main is floffybean right here on waterfall!
a few doodles from the past few months! a few of these never got posted anywhere since they couldn't justify their own post ;w; i'm glad i can slap a bunch of images in WF
SSing the tags because real talk, I legit wonder whether I made a mistake just making this an open beta instead of at least PRETENDING there was some exclusivity, even if it was giving everyone infinitely regenerating invite codes
Pillowfort has a MASSIVE marketing advantage because of their multiple Kickstarters and the fact they've been around longer, and yes - as Gold said, fake exclusivity.
Waterfall sucks at marketing because none of us want to do it (it's just the language involved, it seems so fucking slimy) so aren't good at it, and even though we have the advantage on features and technical implementation (apparently?), Pillowforts age and the fact they have a budget behind them means that they'll win on stuff like this. Pillowfort also just looks a bit nicer since they focused on the aesthetic earlier than we did, where I focused purely on making stuff WORK before I get it looking nice.
I know I've been a bit memey about it, but seriously. We NEED you guys to advertise for us. Offer cheaper commissions by like a dollar or two if they do it through here, post exclusive content, whatever - but seriously, Pillowfort barely does their own advertising, it's all the users doing it. We need you guys to be as evangelical about Waterfall as their users are about Pillowfort, because their guys hop on Tumblr to make masterlist posts about why it's a great site.
If you guys can think of anything that'd pull more folks in, I'm all ears, but we're at a point now where we can't do it by ourselves anymore. We need you guys to step up to the plate as well.
Hey Thell, how can we be as cool and talented as you?
You already are.
I remember seeing something along the lines of "thell is so talented wtf" in the tags the other day but I wanna go over this and tell you what's what SO HERE WE FUCKING GO EH (I'm ignoring the basic stuff like eat well, do exercise, have water etc)
First, I'm only good at this because it's my passion. I like programming. I get a buzz when I figure out a problem in my projects. It feels good to solve it! If you have that kind of mentality you're gonna go far.
Second, you ARE talented. Everyone has an interest or something they're good at. Take me. give me some motors and silicone and I'll have half-programmed a robot wife by mid-afternoon. A friend of mine on the other hand gets a blank stare whenever I start talking about RAM or buffer overflows. But give her a makeup brush and some scissors and she'll make you look damn fucking good. Give me a pair of scissors, and somebody in the room is taking a trip to A&E. The point I'm trying to make there is that you don't have to be good at the same stuff as other people. Be good at what you enjoy, that's the important bit. And for the love of god, don't be afraid to say "I don't know this" or "I've forgotten". You think I coded this site entirely from memory? Fuck no, I googled a hell of a lot of stuff. I googled the same thing 6 times in one day because I kept forgetting. To quote Tom Scott:
"Did I know all that code off by heart? No, of course not, I Googled... and adapted some of the results. This is how basically how everyone codes stuff like that. Don't ever be afraid that you're not a real programmer because you still look stuff up. The important part about programming is not remembering exact words or syntax: it is breaking down a problem, working out how to solve it, and then fixing all the inevitable bugs in your solution. It's about holding lots of complicated connections in your head, not the exact magic words that you need this one time. I still forget which order to put basic stuff in sometimes."
Since I started thinking like that I've been a much less frustrated person. It doesn't apply only to programming either! Art. Which colours do you do stuff in to get the shade you want? Cooking. Which spice? How much? Literally anything. Experts forget and need reminders, it's why they take notes and write books. And Google stuff.
Third, and now we're getting into science and psychology shit. Do more than one thing. Seriously, just like, sit down with a newspaper and do the sudoku while you wait for dinner or something. There's something called neuroplasticity where your brain goes "Oh! I'm not very good at this thing" and physically builds the pathways to MAKE you good at it if you keep doing it. Literally, practice makes perfect. You have a passive interest in something? Start learning it. Transferrable skills are a thing, doing something can improve your brain's abilities in related areas because your brain is fucking smart. If you want my recommendations. Learning a new language and learning to draw are EXCELLENT things to start doing, they give you a massive mental workout. My language recommendation (for westerners at least) would be Japanese - the writing system is different enough that you'll be flexing a lot, and it's a great language anyway. Go grab the Genki books if your local library has them. Oh yeah, read a lot too. Scientifically proven to improve neuroplasticity.
Fourth, projects. Have some. Whether its in your area of expertise or not, if it's something you think might be fun to do, just go right ahead and do it. I find having more than one on the go helps - that way if you run into a budget issue or a problem and need to break from one for a bit, you have other stuff to work on. I spent 6 months trying to figure out a problem in one of my game projects and inspiration struck yesterday. Variation is key. Obviously you probably don't want to take on quite as many projects as me, but just having a few is great! Never settle. There's always something new you can learn, and improvements to be made. Try something out, learn a new skill! I bought the Bob Ross paint kit recently so I can learn to paint. In the meantime, I've mixed together a simulant of Martian soil to see if I can get plants to grow in it and what works best. And then I have my programming stuff. Three completely different areas, all equally as interesting to me.
Fifth, but just a little one - either tend your garden if you have one, or grab some houseplants. They add a little splash of colour to the room, and they even do a little for your mental health too.
Sixth - learn. Learn. Learn learn learn. If you think you're dumb, doesn't matter. Learn. Sign up to Brilliant. Sign up to SkillShare. Sign up to Khan Academy. Learn shit. You will be surprised at what good instruction can help you pick up that you didn't at school.
I promise you that you are all equally if not more talented than I am, you just have your own areas.
to fly (mahpiohanzia)drowsy-quill -
n. the disappointment of being unable to fly, unable to stretch out your arms and vault into the air, having finally shrugged off the ballast of your own weight and ignited the fuel tank of unfulfilled desires you’ve been storing up since before you were born. (via the dictionary of obscure sorrows)
There was a girl who was born without wings. This, in it of itself, was not a notable experience, girls without wings are what is to be expected. But this girl was born without wings, and her soul longed to fly. Her father unknowingly aided this fascination and need to fly. It was just the father and the girl in the world, the father was a painter, an illustrator. He painted her nursery to look like the stars above and the clouds below, almost if you were floating on air. As she grew, their library grew with books of fiction and fact about wings and birds and winged beasts. The girl would usually read aloud her books to her father as he worked, and she would often wake to the smell of paint and the sight of a new creature on her walls to join her flock. It was when she found a book about Leonardo when a spark ignited her imagination. Whilst her father was in his studio, she climbed to the window of her attic bedroom, their prized garden below. She took a breath, and she leaped.
With her bedsheet wings she flew, she flew for a moment, and it was a moment she would never forget. She flew before gravity and its cruel fingers brought her crashing down. Her father didn’t know whether to be proud or concerned for his little girls as she smiled and laughed and sang like a bird’s call “I flew daddy! I flew!”, unaware of the arm that was very much now broken and the front tooth that had jettisoned from her mouth.
Her father carefully picked her up, and put her in the front seat and calmly drove her to the hospital. She became the favorite of the nurses with her talk of flying and birds, unaware of her father’s baffled concern for his child. The ladies in town began to gossip about the little family, how he should put her in school so her foolish hopes of flight would be crushed, and replaced by more normal, more practical dreams. ‘If she were mine’ They would titter, 'I would have gotten rid of all those lousy books and sent her to a Governess to learn how to be a lady’. The father did not do this, however, he continued to foster his child’s love of flight and of birds. He continued to add to her flock and let her read books of engineering and myth, although with the express instructions to not attempt to fly again alone. As the girl grew, she never let go of her dream, and she was more than content to spend her days with her father in their library, or in his studio, or on their roof mapping out the constellations.
And as she grew, her father began to plan, plan on how to let her fly. He had a set of paints, created by the girl’s late mother, to use for the girl’s 16th birthday present. He began to paint, and paint and paint, never letting the girl see his secret project. He worked near day and night for three years, the girl taking over some of his jobs illustrating so he could work. She never asked what he was creating, though she wondered, as all children are want to do.
And with her wings painted with the love of her father, she flew. She flew and flew and did not crash. She flew and flew the currents caressing and launching her into the clouds and the stars above. And as she flew, her father smiled from the ground. He did not expect her return, he expected her to fly to the nearest star and forget about her room with fake clouds and fake birds.
She returned as the sun began to dip below the sky, her hair wild, and her smile free. And embraced her father, before returning to her bed, feathers and all. Each day she would fly, bringing gifts and stories from lands and worlds across the stars and the seas, and each night she would return. Her father never asked her to stay, but wings are not home. The sky does not care if she is sick, or if she is sad. The stars cannot read her bedtime stories. The clouds were not her family. The winds were not her home. But her father was, her father cared if she was sick or hurting or upset, her father worked himself to the bone to make her wings. Her father gifted her dream, expecting her to never return. But she did. She always did.
The Forgotten Kingvoidarcana-writes -
Surveying all with weary malaise
An old king far past his ending days
Standing bent beneath his age
His palace vast become his cage
White hair flew in the breeze
As he walked, creaking knees
His life long spent, now all alone
No family left to take the throne
Outside he walks, to the tower
High he climbed, while wind blew sour
Out he looked across the realm
His weighted crown a heavy helm
A chain of duty, bound to rule
The old king now a lonely fool
All in ruin, his kingdom dead
Nothing left but pain and dread
The old king’s war had bleed them dry
No living soul was left to die
All gone, all dead, but that old king
Not even birds remained to sing
The land a grave, an empty tomb
A deal was struck, and caused their doom
Now trapped by curse, a deadly fate
The old king could do naught but wait
Not dead nor living, but in between
Not quite a ghost, he walks unseen
And until the end of time
Up the tower he must climb
Confront again his deadly deed
What he destroyed through selfish greed
His name forgotten, his kingdom lost
His people paid the dire cost
If you wander through his land
Keep your torch flame close at hand
For the old king lingers in the night
And without a guiding light
You too will vanish, no trace or mark
Just a whisper, lost in the dark
I love this!!
Random Little Ask Game!kinghelios33 -
I wanted to make my own little ask game with emojis! Feel free to reblog!
🐶-Favorite animal or animals?
💐-Favorite flowers or plants?
🌳-Favorite outdoor activity?
🌎-If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Or, what's your favorite place you have visited?
🌈-Gender and/or orientation?
⭐-If you like space, what do you like about it?
🥞-What do you usually have for breakfast?
🥪-Favorite snacks or lunch stuff?
⛰️-What's your favorite kind of natural structure? (i.e. mountains, forests, rivers, etc.)
🏖️-Have you ever been to the beach?
🏕️-Have you ever been camping?
🏰-If you could live in any kind of building (castle, skyscraper, etc.), what kind would you live in?
🎡-Have you been to an amusement park or fair? What was your favorite thing there if you have?
🛌-Are you an early bird or night owl? What's your favorite time of day or night?
🎈-How do you usually celebrate birthdays? Do you go out, or stay home and treat yourself?
🎀-What kind of clothes do you usually like to dress in? Any accessories to go with them that you always wear?
🧸-Do you still have stuffed animals/plushies? If so, which one is your favorite?
🎥-Any favorite movies?
💻-Any favorite video games or web series?
📖-Any favorite books?
✏️-Do you like to make art? What kind do you make? Digital? Traditional? Music? Any kind of art counts!
💕-Have you ever had a crush or has someone crush on you?
💖-Are you single or taken? If taken, how long have you been with your partner?
♋-Zodiac? Do you have any traits matching your zodiac?
Feel free to reblog so your followers can ask you stuff? And remember, if you don't want to answer a certain question, that's perfectly fine!
to readdrowsy-quill -
There is much comfort in a book. To have an entire universe bound neatly and both heavy and light in your hands. From the very first page, the ink swirls around your hands, your eyes, your soul. Creating sunbursts and galaxies of prose. You become Other, Outside, Infinite and so very small.
A life that is not your own, but belongs to no one but you, wraps around you. You see nothing but words, but your mind is a symphony of landscapes, of first love and battlefields. You meet friends that will never see, you hear words that will never be spoken. The perfume of the pages overwhelming any mortal sense.
You understand the allure of Icarus and his sun. You consume page after page, hungry for more knowledge, for more of the warmth of familiar stories. It is human nature, isn’t it? To become enraptured and entangled in tales tall and short? The spark of want hits your core, you try to pry yourself away from its sticky pages but as you turn away the soul-wrenching Need calls you back. Like a siren, it calls, and you answer.
Time means nothing as roads unfurl beneath your fingertips, and you feel yourself falling, or are you rising? Do you crash or do you ascend? Is this the feeling of infiniteness or nothingness? Are you cradled by Creation or swaddled by the void? Does it matter?
The book ends, the pages stop turning. And there is a story sized hole in your heart. You take a breath, then another, and place your hand on another love-bound tome. The cycle started from humanity’s first breath begins anew.
There is much comfort in a book.
And Then They Were Dancing
And then they were dancing. He stumbled at first, flailing limbs sending raw, electric panic through his body. But Asa caught his momentum and swung him around, and then they were dancing. He spun, and the word blurred around him, into color and sound, into bright light and soaring emotion. the aching pain he carried inside of him, for once, came off of him in glowing electric sparks, and he was all fire, he was incandescent joy and whirling kinetic motion, something was bubbling up in his chest and he laughed and all around him was warm and safe as he whirled in Catalufa and Asa's arms, safe in the embrace of the tavern and the warm grasp of the dance. He spun through the outer ring of the dance, to come face to face with Toby. Amarat thought the dance would end there, come to a creaking, ungraceful halt, but Toby simply extended his hand, and they danced. Hands on each other's shoulders, they created their own center of gravity, spinning their laughter outwards. They were so close and Amarat could feel something speeding up within his chest as he looked into Toby's eyes. He was so warm, so safe. Then Cata and Asa pulled them back into the twirling circle with them, and they danced and turned until the crickets sang and the cool breath of trees added a chill to the dark skies. He was inside, but he always knew these things now, when the sun was gone, where the moon was, the turning of the stars. When at last the dance came to an end, a cart crash of stumbling into each other and helpless laughter, he took a chance and stepped outside to rest in the air of the quiet outside. He was right, it was dark now. Amarat turned his face upwards to the stars, and breathed. When was the last time he felt like this, joyous and unafraid? He breathed the water-cool air into his lungs, suddenly wildly, intensely glad to be alive. He let out a deep sigh made rough with his roughshod, wild emotions, that only served to stir his feelings up more. That was alright. He wanted to hold onto them anyways. Then he felt a sharp pain drive through the back of his head. Light and ground disappeared from beneath his feet, turned to jet black to wrap around him as his heart choked and his breath stuttered. Not now, not now. The world vanished around him, and he hung in the thick, endless darkness. "So," A voice inquired, echoing all around him, and humming from inside him, "seems like you've finally figured out how to enjoy your life. Now, what would you do to protect it?"
Do you know of any good witchy based books that can be accessed online? Such as in PDF form?
Honestly I don't really use a lot of books. Most of my knowledge is from cross referencing several online blog posts (from tumblr and misc other sites) with talking to other witches and magic practitioners as well as my own personal experience. The books I do have that I absolutely love are The Goodly Spellbook: Olde Spells for Modern Problems by Dixie Deerman and Steve Rasmussen and Christopher Penczak's Gay Witchcraft: Empowering the Tribe. Both are written from a Wiccan viewpoint but as long as you read critically you'll be fine. Another great author is Orriculum Rose. She's an amazing witch who also has a blog full of useful information at http://orriculum.tumblr.com
If you're looking for more sources my best advice is follow sources that your favorite sources use. So if a witch you admire uses Scott Cunningham it's probably worth reading his material
Worldbuilding Always Prepared: Festivals through the yearpheita -
While there are varying holidays in each city-state all over Mitresk there are some festivals that are celebrated everywhere. Let’s start at the beginning of the year.
New Year: Unlike the people of Earth the people of Mitresk don’t celebrate New Year’s Eve. Instead they celebrate New Year’s Day starting at noon because an old belief said you can’t trust the first twelve hours of the first year. It is celebrated at home with friends and family with good food, music, and alcohol for the adults. A special mead is made for this day and it’s been said everyone who shares this mead with a person they like will have a good year. Traditionally this day is also used to make up with friends and family for things you did or say that weren’t nice, so all of you can start the new year on good terms. In the afternoon New Year’s cake will be served that looks like a wheel and has a coin hidden in it. The person who finds the coin is granted a lucky year by superstition. Since the parties are long and jolly no one will go back to work until January 3rd.
Spring Equinox: Since it often falls around the time the farmers are finished to prepare their fields for summer harvest it is a big gathering with parties at the town/village square. It all starts with symbolic suns and wheat sheaves being carried through the streets towards a podium on the town square. Little notes with wishes can be pinned at the symbolic sun and ask for some luck or a good harvest etc. After this, the musicians will start to play and the dances start. It is also often a time where couples announce their engagement and ask for the sun’s good luck for their marriage. There are also games for all ages where you can win prizes from small plush dragons to gift certificates for a nice restaurant. Puppeteers will play well known children stories or the regions favorite stories. The celebration will often last until the next morning.
Kasht’s Awakening: Celebrated during the last Week of May. During this week the people celebrate the birth, life and doing of Kasht who was the first dragon to teach a human more than 3000 years ago. It is counted as the turning point of the relationships between humans and dragons. During the week there will be plays either by puppeteers or theater groups that show Kasht’s life and how he started to teach humans. Children will get dragon lantern that get sent into heaven with their wishes for their future. Dragon shaped filled cakes will be served at every corner. The magic students show what they learned at the academy with little magic shows. There are fireworks at the last day which are always anticipated with huge excitement.
Lover’s Day: Basically the Valentine’s Day in Mitresk which is celebrated at August 1st with candy in a double heart shape that will be given to your partner to symbolize the love for each other. Also common gifts are key pendants, feathers dyed into the partners favorite color or a nice evening at a restaurant/a home cooked meal. It is not uncommon for close friends to exchange self-made gifts that day as well since a close friendship is viewed similar to a romantic relationship.
Harvest festival: Will be celebrated around mid to late October as soon as the last harvest is done. There is a big harvest fair with grilled meat, fresh batches of mead and lots of games and music along with farmer’s markets where the fresh goods are sold along homemade stuff. Aside from the festival place are always secured places where people can give away their unwanted prizes or donate their prizes to the orphanages and children of low income families around the area.
Winter Lights: Three days long festival that starts a day before winter solstice and last until a day after winter solstice. During these three days, all houses are decorated with all kind of lights to remind people that even if winter is still going on will last for some more weeks the sun and the light will come back no matter what happens. It is the time to gather around fire places with hot drinks and tell stories of the past. At winter solstice young women will walk around with candles after sunset to bring the light to every house with the magic academy in the big cities being the last stop. The academies will hold the winter lights dance where everyone is invited to come. The dance is a big ball that is been held at the huge hall of the academy with lights hovering above the participants all night.
Fathers Bury Sons - 1sjflemingwriting -
Written by Serena J. Fleming, 2019
Science fiction, serial story
Chapters up early for Patreons Content warnings: Violence, gore, body horror
The first breath I ever took was fire filling my lungs. The first time I exhaled, thick, clear, slime dribbled out from my mouth. I retched and coughed, trying to get a hold on where I was, on who I was. Each breath hurt, but a little less than the last. My first step was on to cold, hard, ground. Like ice.
I opened my eyes. The first thing I saw were men and women in white coats, sleek and clean and paying attention to everything in the room but me. It was a blue-clothed woman who was the first to touch me, grabbing my hand and wiping away some of the ooze that coated my body.
“Hey, my name is Maria, Nurse Maria. Can you take a step for me? Good, good.”
I understood what she was saying. I didn’t understand how I did.
Oh, the light hurt. It hurt so much. Nurse Maria, the lovely lady, lead me from the light to some other, darker room. The light here was red, dull red, and it didn’t hurt nearly so much.
“Who am I?” I asked. My voice cracked and strained.
“You’re TFL-eight-nine, six, two-four, nine-five, five-nine-oh-one. Nine-oh-One, how’s that sound, at least for now?”
A designation. That’s what I was.
“Yep! Or, if you’re gonna be with your squad, niner-oh-one. Don’t know why, I’m just here to help you get started. Now, could you please jump for me?”
Without thinking, I jumped.
“Wonderful! Can you hold your arms out for me like this?” She stretched her arms out to the side. I did so as well. She grabbed my upper arm and gave it a squeeze. “Okay, good, muscle mass seems standard. Just step into that biometric scanner over there, and then we’ll send you on your way with the rest of your batch.”
“Yeah, don’t worry, you’ll fit right in with them!” She let out a hollow laugh. That must have been something she said often. She gestured to a diagram on the wall. “So this is you. Well, not just you. The whole clone thing in general. I’m just making sure you and your batch are close enough to this.”
I looked down at myself, as if to confirm the diagram was correct. It was. Hairless, pale, completely flat chest and stomach. No genitals, no belly-button. Things I knew about, and yet didn’t have. Everything about me was identical to the diagram. A feeling of unease fell over me, an awkward sense of being judged and tested.
“Well, we’ll need to see. Just step into this machine here, dear. It’s nothing too dangerous.”
“What if I wasn’t?”
The nurse shrugged. “I don’t know, not my job. But you don’t need to worry about it, so just don’t think about it.”
The machine was a cylinder, white plastic and clear glass, with two hoops - one on the top and one on the bottom. The glass slid off to the side, and two lights turned on. I took a deep breath, and stepped inside. A screen inside told me to REMAIN CALM.
The glass door slid behind me, and the screen went black. For the first time, I saw my own face. I didn’t have time to examine the details, but I knew it was me. My mind took some time to process it, trying to parse the idea that I had an identity. I was a clone, and I was a designation, but that face reflected on the screen, that was me.
A great whirring sound filled my ears, and the machine started to rumble and vibrate. Contrary to the screen’s instructions, I felt fear. A tugging at my muscles, telling me to run fast and run far. That had to be what fear was, it was the only word I knew that matched what I felt.
“Good, now, step into the shower,” Nurse Maria gestured to another cylinder. “There’ll be a uniform ready for you when you’re done.”
The shower was cold. Really cold. Or maybe it wasn’t, and I just had no idea what a proper temperature for it was. I stepped out, and felt a lot warmer. The air was….better. Warmer now. Probably just in comparison to my skin, but that hardly mattered. It felt good. There was a uniform, a black jumpsuit, waiting for me. It was itchy, uncomfortable.
A series of arrows led me out of the room. I followed them for no reason in particular. It just felt right to do so.
A thousand other people, each one looking identical to the diagram I had seen, stood in the room I ended up in. A disorganized throng of people, putting on uniforms like mine and wandering around the room aimlessly. I saw my own face in each of them, staring back at me. Bald and browless, with blue eyes. Gaunt and tired, despite having only been awake an hour at most. I had no choice but to look each person in the eyes as I walked through the room. All of us were the same. Same height, same build, same face. Sure, some small differences existed between us. I saw some who were darker-skinned, others who were lighter, some who had ever-so-slightly different facial features. But we were still all clones, born from the same genetic stock.
Two people, who looked very different from anyone in the room (as if that was hard), came in. They were dressed very smartly, in military uniform. One of them was a lieutenant, the other was a colonel. I saw the uniforms and knew right away, before I knew their names.
“Now,” the colonel said, his voice amplified by means of speakers in the room. “This is the batch I’m commanding?”
The lieutenant leaned over and whispered something into his ear. He nodded, and pressed a button on his sleeve. The speakers stopped amplifying his voice, and the two of them kept talking. I didn’t hear anything, but I could see the colonel seemed displeased. Why? Because of me? I was the inspected clone, so maybe he didn’t think we were good enough.
He got on top of a raised platform, and pressed the button again. After a few moments of throat-clearing, he spoke.
“My name is Colonel Abrams. I am the commander of this Batch-Regiment. You are all members of the Legions of Fallen Trappist, division eighty-nine. Welcome to your first day of life. Now, I will answer the three questions that Clones, statistically, ask most often. Where am I? You are on Orbital Facility sixty-two, in the Alpha Centauri system’s second asteroid belt. How do I know ‘insert topic here’? Well, we implanted you all with basic soldier personalities and knowledge. Basic anatomy, weapons use, language use, the works. And finally, what’ll happen to me? Well, this division has been assigned to the defense of a human system some ways from here. You’ll get a full briefing soon, soldiers, understood?”
There was silence in the room. After a few moments, Colonel Abrams continued.
“Just so you know, when a commanding officer is done speaking, you have to say ‘Yes, sir.’”
“Yes, sir!” the whole room declared.
The first week of my life was aptitude tests. Training with every weapon, making sure the implanted knowledge had actually set. In two minutes and twelve seconds, I did a field breakdown of a EMEMPS-SIR Striker rifle. Apparently, that was a few seconds slower than average.
I was able to keep a three-inch group at two-hundred yards with that same gun. It felt natural in my hands, like an extension of my own body. But again, I was told that was sub-average. Apparently the average Clone can keep a two-and-three-quarters inch group at five-hundred yards. I’m not quite sure what I felt when I was told that. Shame, maybe.
Somehow, despite being the same as everyone here, I felt inferior. I wasn’t given any time to process these feelings, though, because as soon as I felt sadness over my score with the A3, an EMP Trencher shotgun was put in my hands. I was told to shoot the moving targets by another clone, one with a deep gash from left eye to right cheek.
Fifteen-point-seven seconds to hit each one.
At least there, I was average. Some measure of pride returned to me as I moved from small arms to large. At least I wasn’t terrible at everything. Emplacements and whatnot. Again, average or below. Endurance, average. Strength, average. Average, average, average. Where I was below, it wasn’t by much, and where I was above, there was an even slighter difference.
Rationally, that should have been the case. After all, if I was a clone, there was a template. If there was a template, there was a standard. If there was a standard, then everyone had to more or less fall into the average, right? But still, being told over and over again that I was just average gave me a strange feeling, an empty feeling in my gut.
I got over myself when I saw my armor, though.
Sleek, smooth, and black, every part covered by plates of plasteel, every joint protected with hinged plates. Every part that could be rounded and angled was, but it still retained that sleek and slim profile. The helmet was almost tear-drop shaped, the face completely sealed in. Six eyes, cameras protected by bulletproof glass, were arranged in three horizontal pairs. An antennae stuck out from the left side, short, blunt, and blocky. It was exactly my size, and that was something I knew before I even got into it.
It fit beautifully. The harnesses were comfortable and padded, the neural bodyglove fit like, well, a glove. Not a single piece felt too tight or too loose. The weight didn’t hang on any particular bodypart, and it moved with almost flawless grace. It responded to my movement so naturally, so smoothly. There was nothing about it I didn’t like.
From there, I was processed into a squadron. Nine other clones, those with their helmets off staring blankly ahead into nothingness, those with their helmets on likely doing the same. I found myself zone out from time to time, from the sheer amount of stuff I had to do and process. My mind was still ruminating on Maria, trying to remember her face. I couldn’t.
We had some free time, and each squad was directed to their room. The rooms were like us clones. Each had a window that, when walking past, you could see through. Ten beds, in five bunks, with ten chairs, around one table. A separate bathroom. Beyond that, there was little in amenities. When we got to the room, I realized that much of the walls were actually closets, each one with our designation over it. Our armor seemed to respond to it, unlocking and letting us take it off when we got near. I stepped out of my suit, and the closet opened up. Two mechanical limbs stretched out, grasping the helmet and drawing it inside. Two more came, and grabbed the body-suit itself. The only thing left untouched was the neural suit, which I realized was actually quite nice to wear. Light, airy, almost like it was nothing at all.
The nine others in my squad had extremely similar designations. It took me a moment to realize, though, that we were all one-after-the-other. I was the ‘middle child’ of the squad, so to speak. Nine-oh-one. Four ‘older’ than me, from nine-oh-two to oh-five, and five ‘younger’ than me.
None of us spoke to each other. What was there to say? “Oh, weird being alive now?” or “Where will we be sent?” or “Do you know how to do this?” No matter what topic I considered, I drew a blank.
Ultimately, I ended up taking off the neural suit and packing it away with the rest of my armour. There had to be something to do, something I could use to pass the time. Eventually, after far too long searching, I found a gym. It was completely empty, the barbells and treadmills having gone completely unused. The glass door was locked, and a fingerprint scanner seemed connected to the lock. I pressed my hand against it.
The screen flashed out five words in sequence: NOT. PERMITTED. ENTRY. OFFI-CERS. ONLY.
Now that didn’t make too much sense to me, but I shrugged and figured there was going to be some other room for the grunts. They probably didn’t want us wandering around anyways. That was it, yeah. Not wandering around. The thought entered my mind, and just wouldn’t leave. I turned around, and jogged down the hall. Didn’t want to disobey the officers, and I didn’t want them to see me. But the halls were empty, why was I running like I heard one come around the corner? It wasn’t even a conscious thought, it was…a compulsion, something deep in my chest dragging me away.
I found myself back in my room before I was able to think too deeply on it.
There were a series of little pamphlets sitting on the one table in the room when I got there. No one else had picked them up, and I had no idea where they had come from. The paper was clean and crisp, and still warm, as if they had just been printed.
A hatch opened, and a clear, rectangular tube lowered down over the table, and another packet of pamphlets was dropped on it. The tube retracted, the hatch closed, and I was faced with new reading material. It wasn’t anything particularly novel, just explanations of ranks and serial numbers that I already knew. The first two digits, eighty-nine, were division number, then regiment, then battalion, then company. Eighty-ninth division, sixth regiment, twenty-fourth battalion, fifty-ninth company. Everything after that was just my individual clone ID.
Of course, I knew what they meant, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit of…irony at that statement.
I sighed, and put down the pamphlets. No wonder no one had touched them, it just pointless.
“Nine-oh-One,” said Nine-oh-two. I turned around, and faced them.
“Yes?” I replied.
“You missed the announcement. We’re going into weapons training in about half an hour.”
“Yes. Weapons training.”
“Good!” I declared, putting my hands on my hip. “That should be, at the very least, not boring.”
“Yeah, I hope so,” said Eight-nine-nine.
“This is a EMEMPS-based Standard Issue Rifle, or SIR, also known as the Striker A3,” declared a clone from fifth-division. He had only one arm, the other being made of steel and plastic, and half his face was a poorly-done skingraft. “In my three years of life,” he continued, holding up a sleek, thin, rifle damn near as long as him in his artificial hand. “This thing has saved my ass more than you can imagine. It’s sturdy, it’s robust, it’s deadly as all hell. Your SIR is your best friend, because even if you aren’t in armor, you still have a fighting chance with it.”
“Now,” he put the rifle down, and his voice took on a harsh quality. “You’re all just a bunch of amniotic-suckers, I’m going to assume that the implanted knowledge is still fresh in your head. You probably worked with these things in the aptitude tests, but just to be sure...you!” He pointed at me.
“Fieldstrip this SIR.”
After a moment of stumbling and pushing past clones who didn’t seem to understand the concept of getting out of the way, I found myself watched by fifty pairs of eyes, all of whom were just waiting for me to mess up so the veteran could yell at me. I was determined to make sure I didn’t mess up.
Fieldstrip the gun. Alright. I could do that. Press the primary magazine catch, unload the canister of exotic matter-plus-battery. Press the tab on the top, at the back of of the optic’s mounting. Pull the entire front of the gun forwards, then bend it 45 degrees. It all came apart, perfectly. It looked almost like a shotgun ready to be loaded.
I pulled the magnetic rails out, and placed them off to the side. There. Fieldstripped, and I didn’t embarrass myself. All I got in response was an acknowledging nod, and an order to get back into line.
“Now, some of you will be given Standard Issue Carbines, Shotguns, and other weapons using the same EMEMPS system. They all operate in the same way, and fieldstrip in more or less the same way. Now, on to exotic weapons, the lucky bastards among you will be getting these.” He walked over to a large backpack-looking thing with a tube and nozzle.
“This, for example, is one of my favourites. A plasmicaster. Take one of these, point it at whatever you want to burn, and the entire area will be covered in plasma. You can vapourize just about anything organic with this damn thing.” He let out a short laugh, as if he was remembering some particularly funny memory from long ago. “Urban environments are ideal, but as long as there’s something to burn, you’ll be having loads of fun. Each tank is good for about two-hundred seconds of flame, but if you’re using it for that long, you have much bigger problems”
This carried on for quite a bit longer, going through nearly two-dozen weapons and their uses. After a while, I felt myself grow a little restless. If they were going to tell us all about these things, but not let us use any of them, what was the point? Dangling a carrot in front of us?
My impatience was punished by another four hours of training lectures and explanations, of doctrinal ideas and general tactica in different scenarios. I looked at the clock as much as I could, and counted out how much of my life had been spent doing anything but the one thing I had been created for.
Again, one of those feelings I couldn’t justify, but felt regardless, a compulsion that was somehow different and yet the same from the one I had felt when I ran from the officers-only gym.
I was, of course, overjoyed when I was handed my SIR. It was natural to hold, something that felt almost like an extension of myself from the second I shouldered it. Despite it being as long as I was tall, I didn’t feel weighed down by it, it didn’t feel awkward to swing about and aim. It was…perfect, or at the very least the closest thing to it that could exist.
The shooting range had massive plates of metal, moving on tracks. Dozens of us were lined up, and told to fire. The recoil without the armor was intense, pushing the air from my lungs. Eventually, I got good enough at holding my breath that it didn’t bother me as much. My shoulder, however, disagreed quite heavily with the rifle.
It was much better when the armor trials began the next day. I could barely feel a damn thing, it was less like a rifle, and more like a popgun, as far as my shoulder was concerned.
The war games were fun, really. Actually, legitimately, fun. We were given weird meshes to wear over our armor, and Non-Lethal Laser Rifles. It was a matter of setting up defensive positions against the Red Team (I was on blue), and making sure you knew how to competently follow instructions. Digging foxholes, setting up sandbags, things I knew already. Over time, I started to feel…happy.
Oh-two was a decent person, always willing to lend a hand, and ninety-nine did their job admirably. Somewhere along the line, oh-four said she preferred to be called she. No one seemed to have an issue with that.
“So,” she said, sitting down next to me as we prepared our meals over a flameless heater. “Can’t wait to blow some heads up for real.”
I nodded, not exactly sure how to answer that.
“Well,” she stretched, resting the back of her head on her hands, “I found out that we could get deployed soon. Guess this is all just to keep us busy.”
A pang of excitement shot through my heart. “Deployed?” I asked, almost in disbelief. “Where to?”
“Defense of Cygnia, or whatever. I didn’t really spend too much time looking at the documents, what with the officers coming down the door.”
“Wait, you read classified stuff?”
“Yeah. Delivered to me by mistake. Apparently, I’m one digit off from a lieutenant-militant or whatever. So of course I read it.”
I felt sick. Intensely, truly sick. I didn’t know how to respond, save to stare silently at the bubbling food. It was one of those things where I didn’t think there was even a decent response. Do I report her to the officers? Do I keep silent? Do I admonish her? What could I do? Betray a squadmate, someone who I would need to fight with for possibly years on end, or stay mum and go against every regulation pounding in my head?
“Yeah, I would have done the same,” I said, something unnameable yet fundamental within me shattering.
About three years ago I got serious with writing original fiction. I mean serious in the "I actively seek writing advice and read everything on writing I can find" way. For some time I tried to follow each and every advice I found.
I went against my pantser nature and tried to do a meticulous outline for a sci-fi novel series which ended in writer's burn out and the circumstance I didn't touch the story since that. I still want to write this someday but I will have to start from zero and redo a lot of stuff to make it work for me again.
It took me almost two years to realize that it is a bad idea to try to follow every writing advice since a lot of them contradict each other. It is actually a trial and error thing with them. Try if it works for you and makes your writing better If not, throw it into the mental trash bin and try the next.
It takes a lot of time to figure out what helps you and what doesn't. It takes even more time to figure out your own writing style. So don't get demotivated when things don't work. It just means you need a different angle or a different way to make it work.
Ok and sometimes a storyline really doesn't work.
I only want a place for my own
I’d plant a tree and call it home
Build a room with four walls
No single curtain ever falls.
It will be safe, be a shelter
As if a fortress made of cover.
And only I will have the key
Everything belongs to me.
I’ll decide about wallpaper
Every stone hearing my whisper.
Then I’m alone I will be free,
Look at my garden, drink my tea.
Once every chair will be a throne
All my plants will be long grown.
Then I will rest my tired bones,
And my rich soul forever roams.