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...i am working on a story. i write it when i am stuck in the office and have work-related writer's block.
i want to share it with you! i have shared one short, incomplete story before. This one is unrelated. It's a Sci-Fi, with a sort of humanity feel-good theme. Let me know what you think?
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All races in the universe are born with magic; it is an intrinsic characteristic of life. The ebb and flow of magic throughout spacetime unites all peoples, and provides context to existence. All conflict, all peace, all action, and all inaction are felt and understood in every creature – magic is the essence of fate. It is said that magic protects the natural order of things; prey is eaten by predator, the weak are conquered by the strong, and these relationships are governed by the Winds of Magic. All life knows its place because of magic.
From the lowliest animal, to the mightiest of the First Races, all are bound to the Winds. Indeed, since the first Arch-Magi summoned the first warp-gate, and traveled to a world beyond her own, all life that has been encountered has possessed some connection to the Winds of Magic. This, we all know.
When the Council of Arch-Magi first scried the Jeweled Plane, it shone brilliantly in the waters of the Great Mirror, and filled the Ancient Scrying Chamber with a light none had ever before seen. The gathered races there assembled, hundreds of Arch-Magi representing millions of species, bore witness to the discovery of the sacred plane: a jewel in the Creator’s palm.
Commotion spread about the Council, and it was decided that a warp gate should be opened to this plane immediately. The opening of the warp gate was simple: the stronger the Winds at the destination, the easier it was to open a gate. The Council quickly assembled a congregation of seers, and with just only a breath of mana, the gate was opened – it was as if the Plane reached out to us.
I was one of the seers present that day. What I saw when I passed through that gate astounded me. The plane was rich with life, to an extent I could not possibly describe. The ground was green. Living spires rose into the skies. And the skies themselves were filled with flying creatures of all kinds. The very air was thick with magic. Past the great, breathing spires, was a vast body of water, dark and powerful. From these tumultuous waters, the essence of life vibrated and pulsed.
Our congregation could not stay across the gate for long, as the sheer volume of magic coursed through us. My mentor, who is called the Lady of the Hundred Graces, was the first to be absorbed into the plane. I heard her gasp, exhale, and then watched her dissolve, her essence becoming one with the Winds of Magic. One by one, the seers around me surrendered to the Winds. It was only I and the other three Blessed, youngest and weakest in mana, who managed to stumble backwards, through the gate, and back into the Council Chamber.
We returned as changed beings, filled to bursting with magic, and awakened to the universe around us. With this awakening, however, came the divine dreams: visions of the future, of destruction, of annihilation to come, when the Winds of Magic would be scoured clean from the universe. Our first order of conduct was to permanently shield the gate to the Jeweled Plane – the sacred power it contained had to be protected.
We who were called The Blessed no longer needed scrying pools, or vast hosts of Arch-Magi to open gates to other worlds. We could sense worlds glimmering far and wide, so long as we kept the Jeweled Plane in our mind’s eye. The Plane shone like a beacon in the void; the light from the Plane cast a shadow on every other, but the Jeweled Plane itself was surrounded by an incomprehensibly vast darkness, devoid of any magic.
My children, it has been a thousand ages since the Age of Blessing. With every age, the Light of the Jewel grows dimmer. And as the Jewel dims, so too do the Winds of Magic across the whole of the universe. It is known that not even the strongest one among us can travel to the Jeweled Plane itself, and stay for long without dissipating.
We must travel the stars, to the edge of the Winds of Magic, and reach out across the void. There is no other way.
Admiral McNamara chose the Colony Ship “Tegucigalpa” as his command ship for good reason: this was a civilian escort mission, and he was sick of the lack of discipline he’d seen so far out in this Godforsaken reach of space.
The Tegucigalpa was slow, if you can even call faster than light travel “slow.” She lurched forward at her maximum speed of 26 parsecs per hour. Any faster than that and her warp bubble would wobble. The Admiral smiled, as he instantaneously processed the math. It would take the Tegucipalpa 702.493853179 years to travel from one side of Laniakea to the other. It was a miracle, the Admiral thought to himself, that humanity had managed to colonize the entirety of the supercluster at all.
The Admiral stepped away from his command console, and stepped out into the dome. A bright approximation of Sol, the home star of Earth, shone with gentle, loving light upon the colony to-be. He sighed, and leaned forward, the invisible space in front of him shifting to hold his weight. It was a handsome sight: a little slice of Earth, made from human hands out of alien planets.
A *ping* interrupted the Admiral’s reverie. With a passing thought, the command console rematerialized in front of the Admiral, and with another thought, an image manifested in his Mind’s Eye.
“Admiral.” It was Vice Admiral Jennifer Ma. Formerly Rear Admiral, until Admiral McNamara had bene tasked with shaping up the Sector 7 Fleet. Vice Admiral Ma was calm and collected, as always. She was born half way through the ill-fated journey of Expeditionary Fleet Niarose: a clone of her mother, who was a boisterous, universally renowned neuro-engineer. The Vice Admiral doesn’t like to talk about the Niarose Disaster. Admiral McNamara frowned. The Vice Admiral doesn’t like to talk about much of anything, come to think of it. A clone, perhaps, but very different from her mother.
“Admiral” said Vice Admiral Ma, “we have something you'll want to see.”
Humanity reached out into space for the first time in the 20th century. Back in those ancient times, humanity sailed into the cosmos on unstable chemical reactions wearing domed, fishbowl helmets. We dreamed of human footsteps on distant worlds, orbiting distant stars. We dreamed of finding our neighbors in space, and joining an interstellar community of races.
Humanity certainly did reach distant worlds, and distant stars. Humanity spread out in every which way, conquering lifeless planet after lifeless planet, and making it human. Vast, shielded cities with gravity, air, and atmosphere approximating Earth were built on planets all over space. Spaceports arose in high orbit around worlds full of billions of people. And yet, no matter where humanity went, it found no neighbors. The universe was completely and utterly empty. It was impossible, and yet, the truth could not be denied: planet after planet, star after star, until the entire Laniakea Supercluster had been conquered by Earth – humanity was alone. It was a fact of life, by the year 4,433 C.E.
Interstellar warfare in the 4th Millennium is governed by very strict rules. An object with mass moving at the speed of light has infinite energy. A massive object in a strange-matter shielded warp bubble pulling it forward as it moves faster than light through real-space can collapse a star into a blackhole, if you aren’t careful. Einstein, as the saying goes, is the deadliest son of a bitch in spacetime.
Possession of Faster Than Light technology is heavily regulated across space, and most ships utilize massive transit gates, which generate warp bubbles for typical civilian craft and aim them in safe directions. Even so, a typical spaceship moving at near light speeds can do catastrophic damage to an unshielded planet, and kill billions on less developed worlds. Larger, more developed worlds, particularly those worlds under the umbrella of the various Inner Alliances, often deploy vast shield arrays and strange matter cloaks to protect their planets from accidental faster-than-light collisions.
Even in these enlightened times, however, conflict is ultimately inevitable. Battlefleets collide against each other in the void between stars, using weapons of terrible power against each other. Warships are often equipped with their own warp bubble generators, and the largest warships have fleet beacons, able to draw whole armadas into warp bubbles for transit.
Losers of these Interstellar conflicts generally surrender. Those colonies that do not surrender are usually orbitally bombarded until surrender comes, with advanced algorithms utilized across a blockading fleet precisely tuning the bombardment for maximal psychological damage, and minimal loss of life.
With the vast resources of the cosmos at humanity’s disposal, space and property are nearly limitless: lives, however, are valuable.
The HXTS Elysium was the Sector 7 Navy’s newest ship, and Vice Admiral Jennifer Ma had the distinct privilege of its command. HXTS – meaning HuoXingTuanShip. The Huo Xing Tuan, called the “Martian Concordat” or “Fire Star Concordat” in Anglish, was the third-born of the Solar Empires, but the second eldest now. Mars became second eldest, people say, after the Lunar Colonies were absorbed into the growing power of the United Nations, now the United Systems, of Earth in the early 3rd Millennium. All of this seemed like ancient history though: the HXT and USE were unbreakably close allies, and, in this age, the two may as well be the same entity.
Sector 7 was Martian territory in name only. In truth, it belonged to the Inner Alliances: an increasingly centralized power bloc of the galaxies nearest to Earth. The Vice Admiral grinned to herself. After all this time, Copernicus was wrong: the universe, it should seem, revolves around the Earth.
The Vice Admiral shook off her grin as she continued to ponder.
The Elysium was a hybrid carrier/battlecruiser, carrying with her a small armada of destroyer and frigate sized ships hidden in her hanger pocket dimensions, three full wings of nanotech regenerating strike craft, and an ensemble of ship to ship weapons, besides. The most notable of the Elysium’s weapons, however, was her tachyon beam. The weapon system itself ran the full length of the ship, connecting directly to the dark matter annihilator within. The curious nature of the Tachyon beam meant a lock-on and firing of the beam is registered by the ship and reported to the crew before the command itself is given. Tachyons must travel faster than light. As they do, they move backwards through time. Counterintuitively, the lower the energy state of a Tachyon, the faster they move. As such, an extremely low energy Tachyon lock can be used as a way to communicate with yourself backwards a substantial period in time.
Tachyon technology is still poorly understood, and philosophers and scientists all across Laniakea have been working on maximizing the use case scenarios of Tachyonic time travel, in its myriad forms, while minimizing any risks or moral hazard associated with it.
Of course, for military applications, moral hazard goes right out the window. But with new territory, comes new problems. And the Vice Admiral had a very big new problem.
“Elsie” the Vice Admiral flatly commanded, “please repeat the data you received, for the Admiral.”
Admiral McNamara gave his V.A. a stern, sideways glance.
“You named the ship, Elsie?”
The Vice Admiral looked Admiral McNamara in the eye, and smiled.
“Yes.” she said.
Elsie elected not to materialize her avatar, based on the Admiral’s tone of voice, and instead, sensing a good opportunity to begin, manifested a diagram for reference. She spoke in a cheerful, disembodied voice:
“Good morning Admirals, I happen to like my name, thank you very much! Anyhow, I’d like to turn your attention to this diagram here. My weapons matrix received a Tachyonic lock-on, and shortly after, detected a Tachyonic firing, in four universal days from now. You can see the spread here; it’s an extremely low energy lock, meaning the target being locked is at an extraordinary distance, potentially parsecs away. This explains why we’re receiving the lock and fire readouts now, despite the lock actual occurring so far in the future.
The Expedition Report prior to departure made note that this area of space is uncharted, being so close to the Bootes Void and all. There’s also no outer system alliance, of course, that would be insane enough to declare war on a HuoXing Fleet by opening fire. Maybe it’s mistaken pirates?
Elise’s unspoken question hung in the air.
After a moment of silence, The Vice Admiral dismissed the Elysium curtly. “Thanks Elsie, that will be all.”
“You’re welcome, Jenny, seeya!” The diagram winked out of existence.
Admiral McNamara had a lot to think about. He stared blankly for a while at the space where the diagram had been before he spoke.
“Vice Admiral, why does this state-of-the-art Martian warship sound like a teenage girl?”
“Nothing scarier in the Universe, sir."
The Admiral grimaced. Vice Admiral Ma had her mother’s sense of humor.
V.A. Jennifer Ma; quiet, not a person of many words, burdened, witty, funny, sarcastic, primary protag. Keeps secrets that burden her. Likes cute things. Doesn’t accept failure. Can be charming, but doesn’t care if you don’t think so. Likes who she likes, and doesn’t like who she doesn’t like, and doesn’t make an effort to like people she doesn’t like. A realistic, competent, female character; not someone to look up to per-se, but someone real, who is like you. If you asked her what she looks like, she'd say "fine." We'll go with that description as long as she's in control of a situation, and be more descriptive in sections where the VA is a little more vulnerable. But always respectfully. It's what she'd want.
Admiral McNamara; serious, stoic, but a secret softy. Keeps secrets and deflects with stoicism. Gets the sense that VA keeps secrets too, but trusts her more than anyone, as he can relate to her. Older gentleman. Very by the book habit of doing things. A “Captain Picard” character. Wise, willing to sacrifice for the greater good.
The Blessed Queen: head of a magic religion, of which she is the primary messianic figure, despite never intending it to be that way. Most powerful single mage, but despite her pretenses, is actually very reasonable. Genuinely afraid that Earth is collapsing and that it will have a detrimental effect on the Winds of Magic. Leader of countless alien races that sit outside of Laniakea. Wise, careful, but perhaps too reactionary, and unable to see the lesser evils plotting her downfall for selfish reasons while being so focused on protecting her people.
The Lady of Dawn: Cheerful, inspiring, and conniving. Chiefly interested in power. Abuses her power as a blessed, but still does good things. Willing to play dirty, but gives the appearance of being the purest of the Blessed, so much so that few understand her true nature. A tyrant at heart.
The Songstress: quiet, perceptive, gentle blessed, possessed of the weakest magic and will. Frightened of what seems like overly reactionary behavior, and tries to earn others of this, while not having the will to resist following orders. Dear friend of the Blessed Queen and loves and respects her dearly.
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Please let me know what you think!! i am always wondering if this writing would even have an audience
Well I read it.
Usually your identity is always obvious when you write anything here due to its sheer tone. But you’ve shown me different!
By the way, isn’t Ma your last name?
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When writing creatively, it is not the same as speaking! One must do one's best to be writing for your readers!
i will not say my last name, of course, rainbow :c please understand this is not safe on the internet
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I'll take a gander. I've been drinking so odds are I won't be in depth.
I'm only part way through, break is over, but this is actually really
I'll finish when I get home.
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i am glad! i also have something else i wrote that was inspired somewhat by you, tracer!
it's ... also unfinished>>979423
well, that's really encouraging!! i am ... i have long written stories, but never shared them with anyone, and my family never liked them.
i know it is only one opinion, but thank you anon. it is very kind of you to say, and i hope i can share more with you in the future!
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What do you think? i really want to write good characters, especially.
Good sci-fi tends to have some pretty unfortunately... hard to believe characters.
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Oh? A detective novel huh?
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Well, sort of. i wanted it to have a sort of slightly Noir-y feel to it, but with a washed up, depressed attorney instead of a detective.
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I thought all attorneys were depressed.
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i always feel like realistic characters who get too real become fake, too
...there's nothing boring about reality, if you ask me. real feelings. real things that happen to real people.
if anything, reality is often much more interesting than the most bizarre fiction!>>979433
That's a better way of putting it. The "brown is real" fad from movies and video games a few years ago, but in written form.
They are colorful without being plastic.
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this is the "lawyer" story. i've been working on it for longer, but i only have a little saved at home.
most of it is saved... at work, actually
It's called "Any Day of the Week"
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...it has unique formatting. i might need to figure out how to post it.
um, so this book has many footnotes that you need to read as you read the book. Just like a legal text! Let's... see if the formatting works :c
This is the intro blurb.
Nobody likes an attorney1, least of all himself, or herself2, as the case may be. Lawyer’s have something
like the fourth highest rate of reported depression, after doctors, dentists, and probably some third medical profession, but the first highest rate of unreported depression.3
I’m picturing you moving your eyes bouncing up and down the page like a ball, going to and from the intro
to the footnotes. If that’s you, congratulations: you read like a lawyer. If that’s not you, you’re going to
want to get used to reading that way for as long as you’re sticking with me here. (See, Footnote 1).
Back to our topic at hand, law is a field possessed solely of people who hate themselves, or are sociopaths.
If you’re an attorney, take some time to think about which one you are. If you’re the latter, please don’t
come to any book signings. Law is almost never fun and law is almost never rewarding. “Lawyer” will
always be America’s most hated profession after “Congressman”, and “Lawyer” will always be second
fiddle in prestige to “Doctor.”
Speaking of doctors, it’s funny how people tend to think of medical professions as being good, honest
people. “Trust me, I’m a doctor.” Sure, they have that oath they live by. But they’re just people: not
especially good, or especially honest… as much as they are just especially people. Lawyers, as a group,
have a bit of completely unreciprocated doctor envy. It’s a bit laughable, really. Why would lawyers care?
Every attorney has a million stories to tell. Some of those stories are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Others are protected by the human umbrella of empathy, which doesn’t seem to cover us lawyers. I’ve got
a story for you. It’s a true story, as much as it can be true, and an honest story, as much as it could be honest.
You can trust me, I’m a lawyer.
1 You’re reading a book written by an attorney. You’re going to have to get used to both seeing and reading footnotes. Do me a
favor, and don’t skip these: not in this book, and not anywhere else either. Consider this Lesson 1. You’ll thank me later. Or not,
if you didn’t read this footnote.
2 It turns out, 1 in 3 lawyers are women as of 2018, and that’s the most the profession’s ever seen. So yeah, himself, or herself.
See, Jennifer Cheeseman Day, U.S. Bureau of the Census, More Than 1 in 3 Lawyers Are Women (2018).
3 Objection, your honor: conjecture. Lesson 2. Don’t believe everything you read. Do your own research. After doing your own
research, read between the lines too, and think. If you did all of the above, you’d realize that I’m probably right.
Chapter 1; Attorney-Nervous
I met Dr. Singh on the first day of my third month working at the firm. I mistook him for an attorney at
first. He looked the part, with his slicked back hair and confident stride. Too confident though, and that’s
what gave him away. Every attorney I’ve ever met is a shambling bundle of frayed nerves, hiding behind a
mask of glib confidence. When you’ve been an attorney long enough, you get a sense of it.
Now, it’s not that Dr. Singh wasn’t nervous or anything. He was, and you could tell. It’s just not the same
kind of nervous. An attorney’s nervousness radiates off of them like heat off a lamp, or that staticky feeling
you get when you’ve been stuck outside in a thunderstorm for a bit too long. Dr. Singh was just normalperson nervous. I was attorney-nervous.
“Just a run of the mill appointment with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service,” I thought
to myself. A lot of mill and not much run though. Any appointment with the USCIS was bound to involve small, dingy rooms full of sobbing mothers, crying children, barking officers, and standing room only. You
could get there at 9:00 AM for a 10:00 AM appointment, and be there until 4:30.
Dr. Singh and I walked into an empty waiting room – rows and rows of plastic, barely humane chairs,
reminiscent of an airport lobby and kindergarten lunch table smashed together. I felt my eyeballs itch.
Empty was good, but not normal. And not normal was always bad.
“HEY.” A voice caught me by surprise. I turned, and looked at a security guard. He seemed glad to see us,
as if our presence validated his own. “Hi,” I responded. “I’ve got a client here, for an InfoPass appointment.”
The guard squinted at me suspiciously, and then eyed Dr. Singh the same way. Dr. Singh gave the guard a
nervous smile. I stared at the guard like he had just handed me a dead fish on ice.
“Let me see your appointment notice” the guard murmured, his eyes avoiding my own and focusing back
on Dr. Singh. The guard was also regular person nervous, it seemed. I looked at Dr. Singh, who, much to
the guard’s distress, handed me the appointment notice. “Here” I said, to the guard. I handed him the printed
sheet, replete with barcode and date.
The guard looked down at the appointment notice, then looked up and past me, at Dr. Singh. “Alright,
proceed to the line on the right.” I walked past the guard, and he handed the notice to Dr. Singh as we
passed, before disappearing back into the silent nothingness of the room.
Dr. Singh and I proceeded to line on the right as instructed. We walked past several rows of empty plastic
chairs, to the empty plastic queue. There were several kiosks at the end of the queue, each with a dour,
barely functional, person-shaped husk sitting on the other side of a wholly unnecessary pane of safety glass.
A year-book photo portrait of President Donald Trump hung awkwardly on a mysteriously placed pillar off
to the side of the kiosks.
I stood there with the good doctor, and we waited. Directly opposite the end of the queue was the intake
kiosk. It looked exactly like the others, but for a paper sign that said “RECEPTION” on it. The man on the
other side of the glass looked no less dour than the others.
It took four minutes before a loud “PING” resounded through the barren room. A painfully cheerful voice
came on through the speaker system, accompanied by a loud, mechanical buzz. “PLEASE PROCEED TO
I glanced backwards at Dr. Singh, and then proceeded forward towards the kiosk. The two of us sat down
on the black plastic chairs, and faced the receptionist: an older gentleman who’d look almost grandfatherly
if he wasn’t so tired. The receptionist turned towards us, and said, in a flat, practiced tone, “appointment
notice.” He looked at the space in between Dr Singh and I as he spoke.
Dr. Singh handed me the appointment notice, and I handed it to the receptionist. “InfoPass appointment,” I
said. The receptionist looked down at the form on his table. He looked through the paper, through the table,
through the floor below, and directly into hell itself, before directing his cold, dead gaze back up, and
directly into my eyes. “A30,” he said. He stapled a piece of paper, the size of a restaurant receipt, on the
appointment notice. The paper said “A30.”
Dr. Singh and I got up, walked over to the empty waiting area with the kindergarten airport chairs, and sat,
waiting for one of the husks to finish his or her appointment with nobody, so that we could be seen. We sat
directly underneath a loud, buzzing speaker, emitting the sickly drone that had accompanied the chirping
speaker voice from before. We sat there alone, under that speaker, for about two minutes before I suggested
to Dr. Singh that we move seats. “Ah” Dr. Singh exclaimed. “Because of the buzzing, yes?” he said,
pointing upwards at the speaker.
I responded with a sympathetic nod, and the two of us rose up together. We moved two rows closer to the
kiosks at the front of the room, and sat down. There was another speaker directly overhead, which we had
not seen before sitting. The speaker emitted the same, teeth-grinding buzz. This time, Dr. Singh and I did
not bother to move, or even comment on it.
“PING!” “A … THIRTY … PLEASE PROCEED TO KIOSK NUMBER … FOUR.” The painfully cheerful
voice clawed at the psyche with its enthusiasm. Dr. Singh and I walked over to kiosk four, and sat down in
now familiar black plastic chairs. Opposite us, behind a pane of bullet proof glass one might expect on Air
Force One, sat a surprisingly young man. He wore a sharp sweater over a nice tie. He looked at me with a
light in his eyes that struck me as particularly alien in this forsaken place. “Interesting.” I thought to myself.
It made me grimace. I took in a sharp breath. I am not a big fan of interesting.
I exhaled through my nose, and handed the young man the appointment notice, Dr. Singh’s passport, and
my G-28. He looked at the documents, and then looked at me. “What’s he here for?”
“He needs a stamp. Passport stamp, pursuant to pending I-751” I explained. “He’s been in front of the IJ,
and his next hearings not until 2022.”
The young man nodded, rolled back on his wheeled chair, stood up, and walked away. Dr. Singh and I sat
there and wordlessly waited. Two minutes later, the young man returned. “Okay” he said. He pulled a stamp
out of a hidden compartment in his desk. “Ka-chunk” went the stamp. And it was done, just like that. Dr.
Singh and I looked at the stamp on the passport with equal amounts of surprise. I hid mine better though.
Dr. Singh and I thanked the young man, who swirled around on his chair to face back towards his computer.
We stood up, and proceeded across the room, back towards the elevators.
The appointment ended altogether too soon. Counting from the moment the guard vanished to the point we
stood up to leave, we couldn’t have been in the empty room for more than fifteen minutes. I look backward
at the kiosks as we left, and saw the words “UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
SERVICES” written in be-serif’d Romanesque font above them. I felt a bit sick, as I read those words. I
sucked it up and turned around.
Dr. Singh was beside himself with relief as we proceeded towards the elevators. It poured out of him and
filled every inch of the empty room, out into the elevator hall, and up through the cracks in the roof and the
pits in the floor. It crashed over the blank-faced officers like the shockwave of an explosion over a field of
grass, bending each, but not breaking them. It inspired me to speak.
“Congratulations, Dr. Singh” I said. He beamed, and offered me a handshake. I pushed the elevator button
“DOWN” before reciprocating his gesture. I returned his smile with a question. “Were you nervous?”
He looked at me with the bright, confident eyes of victory. “No!” he proudly lied. “Were you nervous, Mr. Han
?” I thought about his question for a moment, and answered just as the elevator doors opened.
“No.” I lied, as well.
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Sorry for the hard to follow formatting! This chapter is my favorite one ^^
Prima-facie means “on it’s face.” As in, New York is prima-facie cold in February. Cold as death, if you
ask me. Colder still, at 8:00 PM on the Woodside train station platform.4 My favorite thing about this
platform is that it doesn’t have doors. You get off the subway on the top floor, and walk onto a platform
exposed on all sides to cold wind that blows back and forth with Himalayan ferocity, taking hats and sanity
with it. Then, you walk down some stairs, into the main terminal, which looks like it was built by accident
in the 1940’s by M.C Escher.
5 Finally, you make your way around a corner and down a second flight of
stairs, onto the train platform. You get to enjoy the cold from the second you squeeze yourself out of the
subway car, to the moment you get onto the equally packed train car, when it arrives half an hour later, if it
arrives at all.
If you’re lucky, the train will arrive late. The subway arrived late, you see, as always. And if the train arrives
on time, you’re going to have the privilege of waiting at least another half hour for the next train. If the
tracks are under construction, and they are, you will wait at least another hour. When the next train finally
pulls up, the door will open to a wall of backs. You’ll squeeze in, muttering apologies, and stand on your
toes next to the bathroom on the toilet car.
It’ll always be the toilet car. The smell of it greets you like an old friend: the alkaline smell of industrial
toilet cleaner, ammonia, and ethnic diarrhea. You used to try to avoid the toilet car, but it’s like a game of
Russian roulette you always lose. Today, you’ve lost again. The car’s delicate scent is joined by a woman
somewhere wearing an aggressive amount of perfume and somebody eating four pounds of Mexican food.
The miasma mixes together and fills the train with a symphony of madness that everyone in the car can
hear, and practically taste, but none comment on. The occasional grimacing frown or twitch of the eye is
all that betrays the mood of your train-mates.
You arrive at Great Neck station an hour later than you’d hoped. You walk off the train, and watch as the
train winds off into the unknown. The train will be home before you are. You’ve got a transfer. The train
goes all the way to the stop before yours, and then chooses to give up, leaving you to wait another twenty
minutes for a second train to drag you the last few feet home. The Great Neck platform appears lovingly
designed so as to maximize the misery of its participants. The platform is sunken into a concrete canyon
that focuses the wind directly through the center of it. There is a single room designed to be the foyer of an
elevator that offers the only shelter in the entire station from the elements. The room is so moldy that it
looks like the inside of a mushroom, and so packed with people that it conjures images of Ellis Island.6
You choose to stand outside with the wind instead of the crowd. You close your eyes, and think happy
thoughts. Bed, sweet bed. Dinner, sweet dinner. Bed, again.
A rumble wakes you from your reverie. The train’s coming. It pulls up to you, and then just a little past you
so that you have to walk over to the door. You stand aside as the door opens, and hundreds of people pour
out, eager to leave. You let them pass, before making your way through the door. You think for a bit, and walk a little further, entering into the next car down. *KSSSSSHHHH* The train emits a jet of foul steam
that blasts your feet as you enter. Despite the crowd of people that was just ejected from the train, the car
remains packed somehow. You squeeze your way past a few barely living people, and find a place to stand
right next to the bathroom on the toilet car. It smells like Agent Orange and rotting flesh.
“Home soon”, you think to yourself. “Home… soon.”
4 Yeah, I know it’s not as cold as Minneapolis, or Chicago, or wherever you’re from: Canada, or whatever. Doesn’t mean it isn’t
cold though. Have some empathy.
5 M.C. Escher was that Dutch artist who drew all kinds of crazy, geographically impossible structures and figures. Like that sketch
of the hands drawing each other, or that one with the stairs that go on forever, or those color changing birds. He was everyone’s
favorite artist in middle school.
It’s that island where all the immigrants used to go when they arrived in New York. It’s romanticized now, but it was a horrible,
crowded, depressing place once upon a time, full to bursting with immigrants. Makes you wonder if we’ll think of LaGuardia
airport the same way one day.
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Mr. Han is the Attorney in the story, and has some Tracer inspiration, absolutely!
Dr. Singh... is a long story.
But all of this, believe it or not, is based on real-life experiences.
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still, as fun as the above stuff was to write... it all doesn't feel... like me.
It's so... depressing.
i want to write my inspiring sci-fi story! Full of political intrigue, and good winning over evil, and good in different places, unexpected places!
...it's also based on personal experiences. i wonder if all good books are in someway.
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She is based on a few different people i know! Some of the personality comes from me. but i am certainly not witty, and i care very much if others don't like me!
...believe it or not, she is mostly based off of two of my cousins, and our friend Val from pville, and only a teensy bit of myself
That lawyer story sort of reminds me of the game “Papers, Please”. Ever played that, Moony?
And can you make a character based off of me? We’ve known each other for 8 years!
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You are a very good and poetic writer, Moony. I would love to read a story of yours if you decide to continue this and eventually complete it.
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I'm a bit confused. Is the second part supposed to be happening far in the future from the first part, after the magic died? It seems like a really sharp change in tone, considering you didn't mention magic even once in it.
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...thank you all for still being interested in my writing. That is a tremendous honor. >>980341
Heya hispers! If you mean the aesthetic and ideas behind the Natural Order, it comes from a lot of daydreaming over years of what a utopian alien society might look like, if it was totally different from Earth.
In this case, it's sort of like a fantasy wood-elf empire brought into a sci-fi setting, in a way!
The very particular way the language is written is based on various religious texts, which is a topic i personally find fascinating! it borrows some of the grammatical styles and language flourishes from the book of Genesis in the Bible, the Quran, and the Bhagavad Gita.
i wanted a very sharp difference in writing style between the very human-feeling parts on humanity, and the more verse-like alien chapters... Though that is a work in progress. >>980528
i don't want to spoil the plot too much, but the idea is, humanity is surrounded by an unfathomably large dead zone in the universe and is completely blind to magic, after shutting itself away from magic in favor of science, as humanity evolved.
Outside of this vast void of space, however, there are countless worlds full of life, and all species are connected through a connection in magic.
This "empire" of all other life calls itself "The Natural Order of Things" which the humans come to call the "Natural Order" and view as an adversary.
Meanwhile, Earth itself is a planet of such incredible life that it is like a magical beacon, and theorized by the Natural Order to be the source of life in the Universe, though it is uncertain how
These chapters take place prior to first contact, and the story in general is about humanity interacts with the Natural Order, about politics in the Natural Order, and the conflict that erupts, how the selfish behaviors of just a few people can doom the lives of countless people, and how the selflessness of a few people can save the universe.
There's a lot i wish to explore! But the story will be told sort of half from the human perspective and half from the natural perspective
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Oh I see! That's really interesting!
If I can give you a few writing critiques:
Have you ever heard the phrase "people won't always remember what you say, but they'll remember how you make them feel"? Well, stories are much the same way. If I were you, I would focus a bit less on exposition and more about introducing your characters in terms of emotions and personality. Put us in their head, show us how they feel and how they relate to the world around them, and let the details of the universe unfold naturally as they become relevant.
Stories like LotR and Star Wars don't immediately start off by explaining all the minutiae of their magical rules, they start off small and built out, giving the reader/viewer a chance to internalize the details before introducing new ones.
If you don't do this, you risk overwhelming the reader with things they don't need to know yet.
Also, start thinking about the emotional themes of your story and start introducing them in small ways(the thing about selfishness/selflessness is a great starting point). The small details should reflect the big ones, giving your story a sense of emotional, tonal, and thematic consistency.
Remember, it's not just about the events, it's about the emotional journey you put your reader on.
EDIT: You did this pretty well in that other story you posted, with your exploration of nervousness, confidence, and the masks we put on for society. See? I don't remember a single thing about the bureaucratic talk, but I easily remember the emotional stuff.
I also noticed you tried to include a bit of perception on the immigration services buro....
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I did not know you wrote at this scale.
The first one is a setup, I see -- something lost from long ago. This a common feeling. The writing seems good.
The second reminds me a bit of Issac Asimov, although I guess that's about the only modern science fiction writer I've read.
The lawyer story, I suppose, is your story more than the others. I think I would understand you better if I read and could follow it properly.
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Moony, this is fantastic!
I loved reading it, it's something I never would have thought I'd see from you, it's wonderful!
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The boundaries of super-clusters are mapped out to the precision of tenths or hundredths of a light-year? I guess maybe. Hmm...in terrestrial matters shifts in land make surveying complicated, but with GPS it's possible to get things down to centimeters, and better locally. In space, things are moving, but it may be possible to compute some kind of invariant for survey markers. Interesting thoughts...