Archive for the ‘ Fiction ’ Category

Author’s Note: MadeOfLions and ThePinion from SSG’s Dev team have addressed the Calaquendi issue – the current prologue text identifying the player character as having dwelt in Valinor is incorrect. Their quotes will follow the text of this post.

To preface this post, I’ve been playing LOTRO since 2008. I’m a massive LOTR fan – enough so that our Rebekah’s middle name is Luthien. One aspect of LOTRO’s IP that can sometimes be frustrating is the fact that they can only use The Hobbit and the LOTR Trilogy – not the Silmarillion, or the other entries into the posthumous Tolkien canon. That being said, Standing Stone Games, the successor to Turbine, decided to add the “High Elf” race to the available choices, coinciding with the release of the upcoming Mordor expansion. The announcement was greeted with excitement, as well as some trepidation in some quarters. Here’s an interview snippet I want to share, to start with.

Pay close attention to it, because it will be important.

MMO-C: All righty. Let’s turn back to happy fun Made of Lions. We want to talk High Elves. You guys have already said there won’t be a new class coming out like what happened with Beornings. And Professor Olsen, of course people are going to ask him what he thought about it on his livestream on the official last week or the week before. He said the High Elves would by lore default be Noldorin like Galadriel or Sindar like Thranduil rather than Vanyar cos they never came back from Valinor. So if this happens, will we be getting a new starting instance for them to explain how they’re coming back to Middle earth because High Elves are the ones who went to Valinor and came back.

Libby: Well, that’s primarily the case but for our interpretation, one of the things that we’re thinking of going with is that it’s not only Elves who went to Valinor and came back, it’s also their descendants. We’re going with the concept of… and this is one of those things I think is sort of necessary in our game, in that you’ll need to be… you may have some proportion of High Elf in your blood, for instance, in order to in a way power you down slightly, so that you’re not Galadriel running around, because that’s not really the power level I think we can suspend disbelief on all that well in there are hundreds of High Elves running around and they’re all Galadriel-level people. I think that’s not a realistic way to present it, so we’re going more with the concept that there are people and characters of High Elf ancestry in addition to the sort of straight-up High Elves that we know from the book like Galadriel and in that way, we could have High Elf adventurers that weren’t mentioned, for example, like we traditionally have done with several of our other races and classes. I’m not sure that Grimbeorn had hundreds of kids running around, but for our game, you can make a Beorning and have Beorning adventures. So for the High Elf, you would be a High Elf in that you still have the benefits of being a High Elf and maybe some of the drawbacks that there might also be, like still working out gameplay concept for all of this obviously, but Sauron is going to be especially unhappy about High Elves and that might cause some difficulties for you. You’re going to be feeling the call of Valinor more strongly than other people, than other Elves even. And, as for the original question, we will probably have some starting instance of some stripe, but I don’t want to get into what that will entail at the moment.

Snook: I would say that, and Professor Olsen will probably appreciate this, we do have a fairly large what you might call a lore-doc in how High Elves would fit into Lord of the Rings Online, and that’s something we’ve been looking at, and a lot of it is a little behind the scenes kind of documentation, but we’re looking at a way to perhaps distill that for community read to help kind of place where they will fit into the game.

Ciccolini: Yes. I would love to see the community sort of have more insight into the gratuitous amounts of lore documentation that we generate.

Snook: (laughter) It’s a massive document.

Ciccolini: The community just doesn’t see some of this fantastic stuff.

Snook: I was like, ‘why is this PDF so large?’
(laughter)

So, with that in mind – spoilers incoming. Seriously. Lots of spoilers.

Read the rest of this entry

Atheist Hermeneutics

The first instance of atheist hermeneutics can be found to follow.

As anyone who has picked their Bible up recently can tell you, this doesn’t even resemble Numbers 35. In fact, Numbers 35 instantly recalls “cities of refuge” (Num 35:6) to the Biblically literate. Since this is a stock phrase to this day, it’s always stuck in my mind – as I’m sure it has in many of yours. Secondly – the “verse” quoted is so antithetical to Biblical doctrine, as taught elsewhere, that it is amazingly obvious that our forger has no sort of accurate conception of what is taught in the Old Testament. Since this is so, it would follow that they also have no accurate conception of what is taught in the new – as Christ, in His own words, came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. (Matt 5:17) This has significance, also, in the trial of Christ, where it is mentioned that a man cannot be put to death without more than one witness. This also is found in Numbers 35 (vs 30). These are two common referents for this chapter.

I introduce it this way due to a common theme we often see in atheistic writing. “Reading the Bible cover to cover is the surest path to atheism” – or some derivative phraseology. In my experience, the “reading” done by atheists is most often cursory, acontextual, arbitrary, and guilty of more wooden literalism than any fundamentalist I could name. Further, these readings are guilty, in every case I have ever examined, of “eisegesis.” Eisegesis is the importation of your own views, ideas, or the like to the text, and reading in your *own* context, instead of the context the text presents to you. The correct way to consider the Scriptures is via “exegesis” – the “drawing out” of the meaning of the text – by use of the languages, context, background, references given in the text itself, or those made to it.

In the case shown above, there is no exegesis whatsoever – as there is no text to exegete. There is simply gross insertion, utterly foreign to the text itself. In fact, there is simply no other reference to this supposed text to be found, anywhere, save in the blog post, since deleted with a “noted and corrected, Thanks!” This is the worst conceivable form of eisegesis imaginable, due to the fact that it simply inserts their own text AND context, wholesale.

The successor to that (thankfully) abortive attempt to “educate” us on what the Bible “really” says is better only in that at least it attempts to deal with an actual text of Scripture. As we will note, it fares only marginally better as an attempt at exegesis. The (new, replaced) link is below.

Now, he insists (on twitter) he got it from some blogger, and just didn’t check his source. However, as you can do for yourself, do a search on the “verse” he provided – entire, by phrase, any way you like. I just wanted to see if he’d admit it… but here’s the source I found for what he posted, apart from the initial hit on his site.

Create-A-Verse

Okay – so… not only is this a source that *specifically says* it’s a “create your own” bible verse – but the post in which it is promoted seems to think that those “religious people” will fall for it. So, either we have something posted on facebook, found by someone purporting to tell us “what the Bible says,” and… the atheist “falls for it” – or we have an atheist trying to “pull a fast one,” trying to defend his poor attempt – or we have the originator of Alex’s verse. However… if you read Mr. Burgoyne’s tweets, he is trying to give the impression that he *thought* this was a real verse. From the *comments* of a post that says “Create your own Bible verse?” Without even reading the passage? Interesting view regarding accuracy.

The Bible REALLY says that – Part 1

Jason Burgoyne offers us the following passage (cited in the NAB – a Romanist translation, but linked to the TNIV, a liberal “Protestant” version)

Thus says the Lord: ‘I will bring evil upon you (David) out of your own house. I will take your wives while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor. He shall lie with your wives in broad daylight. You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.’ Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered David: “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die.”

His attempt to object here is extremely short, but we’ll examine it nonetheless.

So the punishment for David killing a man and taking his wife? To have his innocent wives raped, and to kill his innocent child.

Notice – there is not even an attempt to deal with Psalm 51 and David’s confession and cry to the Lord. There is no attempt to substantiate the accusation of “rape” – no identification of who it was that was doing this “raping”, nor is there any attempt to go to where this is fulfilled. In the first case, David attests that it is against God, primarily, that he has sinned. Nathan tells David, in this same passage, why it is that David’s punishment is to be what it is. He has given the enemies of the Lord occasion to blaspheme. Note, also, that there is no attempt to deal with the hope David expresses later on in this chapter, concerning his son, nor is there any attempt to deal with Bathsheba’s next son – a boy named Solomon. The nature and character of God, as is sadly common with atheists, is not addressed at all, save in a highly cursory fashion. His foundation – the position from which these objections are made – is likewise not offered, or argued for. it is merely assumed.

How is this a moral story, and how is any book that contains it supposed to be informative of our (or our children’s) morality?

How is his objection moral? How is any objection, or any putative contrary position supposed to be informative of our, or our children’s morality? For instance – how does a purposeless, meaningless bag of protoplasm, supposedly evolved from “lower” (so-called) life, supposedly meaningful, in any non-arbitrary way, in the first place? On what grounds does he assume there is any semblance of universality of experience which concepts like “morality” can be considered intelligible? What, in his worldview, makes this “morality” he is appealing to in what appears to be a non-subjective fashion, even an intelligible concept in any sense whatsoever? The incredible nature of this lack of self-reflection evidenced by atheist objectors never ceases to amaze me. Not because I don’t expect it, but because it’s so heavily addressed by the pages of Scripture, and they so accurately depict it.

Unbelievers so often throw out words like “moral” or “morality” as if they were some sort of invariant universal. On what grounds do they do so? I offered to debate Mr. Burgoyne on the subject of morality previously, and have not received a reply as of yet. I’ve yet to see a coherent answer for why he seems to object on “moral” grounds, when it seems to me that his worldview offers no consistent basis for a non-arbitrary, non-subjective conception of “morality” in the first place.

It was clearly a book written by iron age sheep herders based on their own skewed “morality”.

Clearly, Mr. Burgoyne’s post was written by an individualistic North American whose “moral” opinions are skewed by temporal prejudice, a notion of class superiority, and ultimately based on his utterly subjective, completely arbitrary conception of his own notions as universally applicable.

Clearly.

Now, let’s be frank. Do the sort of assertions he has offered hold any sort of persuasive appeal, let alone stand up to any rigorous logical objection? Do they come from his own worldview? Are his objections even intelligible, given his atheism? I don’t see how they could be. As easily as they can be turned around on him, they can be dismissed.

He first offered a wholesale forgery, then followed that up with a four sentence “indictment”, borrowed whole cloth from a worldview which actually *possesses* an objective moral code – in order to *object* to that same moral code. I find such lackadaisical treatment of the subject to be par for the course, sadly. Here is what we want, my unbelieving friends. We would like an objection which even attempts to move beyond the superficial, shows even the slightest grasp of context, Biblical theology, or the text itself. We would LOVE for you to actually engage even the barest *fraction* of the mountains of literature surrounding each and every verse of Scripture, or show even the slightest interest in reading it as you’d like to be read yourself. In short, we would love to interact with an intelligent, knowledgeable objector. It is incredibly tiring to deal with the same tired, endlessly dealt-with objections that show not the slightest inkling of interest in fairness, and fairly reek of ignorance. Please, if all you care to do is congratulate yourself on your brilliance, while showing not the slightest knowledge of the field you are claiming knowledge in – do yourself a favor – at least do the cursory study in the field in which you are “educating” us in.

“Not to know the King James Bible is to be, in some small way, barbarian.” – Richard Dawkins

Fist or Fate – Chapter 7

2 weeks later…

06 smiled. Perfect, HOL, and the so-called Angels Fist had all disappeared without a trace into the Fog. They weren’t missed. ScadianWraith’s abrupt and forcible departure from =VA= had sent ripples of shock over the tachband, as news spread that he had attempted to infiltrate both The Neechi and DeathWing. 06 had made it his personal mission to drive Scadian/Warstorm from the Fringe entirely. Scadian’s belief that his actions were correct, coupled with a decidely amoral bent to his thinking, grated on 06’s nerves; as did the anarchist and devolved logic he trotted out to defend his actions. He had immediately begun a concerted attack on Scadian, his logic, and his so-called ideals as soon as news had reached him of Scadian’s three-fold betrayal. Doing so as DF was risky, but the reputation of the Devils Fist had served him well.

He quietly, almost sedately, checked all the major clan comms for activity. Sometimes as DF, sometimes as his clan persona. He was a regular on the comms as a DF member – approaching Cutter01’s volume. More so, at times. He logged off, stretched, and donned a clan flightsuit, and walked with measured strides to his Archangel.

Razors_Kiss, newly minted ThunderHawks commander, climbed the crew ladder of his Archangel after a cursory inspection.

It was a good time for a patrol.

-End –


An Explanation:

RazorsKiss was the first online name/handle I ever used. This chapter, actually, was an addon to the story. I put it in, later on, when all of the “Devil’s Fist” characters revealed who they really were. Leaders, and well-known, respected pilots! It caused quite a splash when they all found out who was who! The original intention of the “Devil’s Fist” was to “create” bad guys for the gaming community. Time and time again, people who wanted to destroy something we all enjoyed became “bad guys”, and their goal was to tear the community apart. This was something we had worked a long time on, and we had real friends we played games with! So, as an answer, some of the more forward-looking members in the game community decided to make their own “bad guys”. These bad guys allowed *noone* else to cut in on their action. Thus, the “real” bad guys were always “mercilessly” destroyed by the “Devil’s Fist”. In truth, we were a collection of the best players in the game – bar none. We were mercenaries! Newer players could “contract’ us to teach a vet who was mean to them a “lesson”. Older players who weren’t quite up to our standard could contract us to beat up on a cocky newbie to humble them a bit. We were the pressure valve. Good guys, playing bad guys, so the real bad guys couldn’t trash things for real.

I still think it was a very cool idea. The name wasn’t my idea, but it was pretty fun playing a bad guy. As long as you knew what you were doing it for. That’s the story behind the story, as I said before Chapter 1.

Fist or Fate – Chapter 6

The Present…

06 pondered these, and many other questions as he fought his way back to consciousness. The world appeared in a rush as his eyes snapped open, a heady influx of stimuli as the world reached into his mind and bade him rejoin. He hit the message light on his comm station. A voice – strangely familiar, yet alien as well – came quietly, but relentlessly, from his room speakers. “Hello SoulCrusher06. You’ve improved a great deal since last we met. Unfortunately, I’m under contract to eradicate you all. Who am I? I am Perfect. Independent Contractor. You are my first victim, 06. Prepare.”

He shut off the comm station, ignoring the insistent blinking. They didn’t matter. Probably just telling him he had a contract on Perfect INDC, anyway. Time to get this over with. Atonement, that’s what it was. A chance for atonement.

Finally.

06 slowly dressed in his sable flight suit, and strode thoughtfully toward the hangar. His crew chief had perfectly duplicated his former pegasus. Even down to the skull looking menacingly from his stick handle. He rocketed out of the hangar in a swirl of heat and accelerated wildly. He almost managed to assuage the chill, growing all too familiar, in his soul.

3 hours later…

06 pulled off his flight gloves in disgust. He powered down his pegasus, noted the laser reserve was a bit slow to respond as he did so. Time to get that crappy thing replaced. Perfect INDC had beaten him by slim margin moments before. He was NOT happy about it. The first match, he had made a supremely stupid error. He had somehow forgotten to link his primary laser array to dual fire. So, off he went at a critical disadvantage. Didn’t realize it until too late. Good thing it was in Arena, and not in open space. That could have turned pilot error into a fatal mistake, instead of a blow to his pride. Imagine – all that drama over an arena contract. He wished Perfect had mentioned that earlier. His record against the Independent Contractor stood at 3 – 4, in favor of Perfect. 06 was livid, if the truth were told. He scrolled through pages of messages, and several replays of the highly publicized battle. Breaker09 had done much better, with a 6 – 3 record vs the new merc. Breaker04 had had pulled even, at 2 – 2. 2 messages caught his immediate attention. An “Angels Fist” was playing copycat, offering to fulfill contracts for hire, as well as a “Hammer of Light”- an all Warhammer merc outfit. Time to run some upstarts out of business, he thought with a smile. Maybe he’d even get some open-space contracts. Those were much more… permanent.

Fist or Fate – Chapter 5

Through the rest of the Civil War, he was involved in dozens of battles. Some they won, others they lost. But the time passed in a blur of agonizing bloodletting. After some time, Cutter01 admitted defeat. He was demoted, the crisis passed, and the Fringe rested to lick it’s wounds. Life is a constant struggle, it seems. But peace was not to be. The Voices arrived.

Two Voices emerged first. Voice of God, and Voice of Doom. Foul-mouthed, abrasive, and arrogant, they made enemies quickly. Led (in name) by Agnostic Angel, their presence was initially accepted, if not enjoyed or encouraged. Voice of Hope… Voice of Greed… Voice of Anger… Voice of Death… Voice of Revenge… among others.

But they became the hunted rather quickly. They were attacked mercilessly everytime they entered Fringe space. Mostly due to the actions of Voice of God, the whole clan was decimated within days. Several defected or fled within those first few days and were branded as traitors by the voices. The taunts, and the profanity still continued.

What can you say about the Voices? Those who participated in the cleansing to follow came away sick at heart over the wholesale butchering of the innocent along with the guilty. Sick to death of the vileness that was Voice of God. Of the arrogant commentary spouted by Voice of Doom. Many were judged by the actions of a few. They were judged by fire. To forestall another Firestorm. To prevent another bloodbath. They slaughtered them. To save ourselves, to save their community, to save their precious Fringe – they slaughtered them. God have mercy on their souls – and ours.

Greed, the new pilot. Hope, the victim. Revenge, the veteran with a taste for clan blood. Doom, the arrogant. God, the foul-mouthed ringleader of the vicious crew – the pseudonym for Scadian Wraith, a member of the very clan the Voices vowed to destroy. A traitor, turncoat, and fool; with the mind of a cretin, the temperament of a rabid dog. The Void Alliance welcomed the refugee Voices with open arms – Wing Zero, and Dark Ice. The Voices swore vengeance, and invoked another chapter of the Fringe’s dark history. The infamous General Phoenix of the bloody Firestorm. It came to naught, as even he would not endorse their foolish course of action, and Scadian’s insanity. But his shadow still lingers. Abated, perhaps, but still fresh in the mind of many.

Was there a rhyme or reason to their actions? Perhaps not. A deeper purpose behind the quest for order in the Fringe? Perhaps so. Only time will tell, and History judge the actions taken to quell the Voices tide of infamy. The war involved three courses of action. The vendettas – Mr4, Captain Scarlet of VA, King Dano, who went through VA and IK before settling into RG, and our own 06. Perhaps most vocal of all. The Clans – VA, ND, DeathWing, and finally every clan in the Fringe at the end. A united front to combat a growing threat to stability. The Voices – espousing a hopeless cause, following a clueless leader. Soon to be relegated to anonymity and steeped in disgrace.

Does this not strike a chord of sympathy within our bleeding hearts?
Get on its knees and wail for the forgiveness and understanding of good hearted individuals everywhere, deep within our psyche? No. For we are heartless killers. All of us. Hiding behind the facade of genteel civility, is the steel gauntlet, and the hardened heart of the practiced assassin and combat hardened contract killer. What is gentility? What do we mean when we say “civilization”? How do you reconcile that with the ravenous beast that cries for blood?

To be Continued…

Fist or Fate – Chapter 4

The Present…

06 lay across his bunk, pointedly ignoring the persistent message light and the incoming comms sent his way. He had been quite vocal on the comms lately, both denouncing Scadian Wraith, and in silencing the Voices. It had been a draining few weeks, both mentally and physically. The lingering, numerous scorch marks remaining to mar his ships in both his clan hangar and the DF hangar could attest to that fact quite vividly. The Fringe had become a hotbed recently – a veritable cornucopia of passionate viewpoints about every subject under the Fringe’s many suns.

All he wanted to do was take a break, leave his alternate persona behind, and retire completely. He had the money, now. But – as they say – there is no rest for the wicked. As if determined to prove the sage wrong, he slowly drifted into a deep, yet troubled slumber, eyes moving rapidly, perhaps thinking of the blurred and strife-torn days of recent weeks.

The Past…

A whirlwind of activity in the Arena. BreakerXX and Stealer03 engaged in ruthless combat. Taunts, plasma, and blood flow freely this day. Anyone venturing too near is vaporized almost instantly, as if swatting flies. We have 1 Breaker… one Stealer… and one Crusher. Him. Crap. Only himself, versus two of the best the Devil’s Fist has to offer. Thoughts of the future, of a hope-filled new beginning crumble to dust in that split second of recognition. Steeling himself against the coming trial by fire, he raced inexorably toward the titanic battle between these two great pilots. He couldn’t help wondering what he was going to do in his flimsy pegasus versus two behemoth Hammers. Too late to be maudlin. He was in range. He dropped both his blast torps directly at the spot between the two ships.

Far outdistancing the scream of the torp in seconds, he switched to lasers, and squeezed off a shot at XX on his way past, but doing little damage in comparison to the awesome array of weaponry on each Hammer. He heard the torps detonate behind him, watching in satisfaction as both ships suffered moderate damage from the blast, and pulled a high G turn to return to the fray. Now, it was a matter of survival. He had to get one to destroy the other, and pick the winner off. He rolled quickly with a lat reverse to avoid a rail coming his way, but only partially succeeded. He darted nimbly *between* the two huge ships, and got a hit on 03. Glancing at his HUD, he saw 03 was getting dangerously low. Madly transferring energy reserves to keep his shields up, he dropped under and behind XX, strafing his rear shields with triple bolts of crimson fire, then burned up and through the melee to regain his bearings. Crap! Thinking too much, he said under his breath, as two sets of quad plasmas streaked toward him. Almost as an afterthought, it seemed. Man, they were good.

With a tight barrel roll, he latted and burned his way around to a better position. But not before one of the rockets hit him, shredding his shields and reducing him to 75 hull in seconds. He transferred half his burners and lasers to shields. That will have to do, he thought. He dodged, corkscrewed, and reversed wildly, trying to spare himself that random shot that spelled his death. He spiraled in with full burners, reversing directions, trying to get the shot in, taking advantage of his low profile to avoid most of the fire. Arrowing in on 03, he dropped three lasers squarely in the center of their ship, on his way by at 2000 kph. XX’s engines exploded with a blinding flash, as four plasmas slammed into the rear quadrant of his ship, and the pilot ejected out with a pillar of flame trailing behind, as the dying ship jerked convulsively, then shattered into a brilliant flower of light. Down to 03, and himself. The huge Warhammer was dangerously low on resources, but a wounded beast is the most dangerous.

06 reversed course back in the Hammer’s direction. With a cry, he was thrown back into his seat as he kicked in his burners for a pass at the menacing Hammer. Just enough power for one torp. It left his ship with a scream, 5k out from his target, and zeroed in on the hulking black shape. They circled each other, dancing and sizing each other up. The torp impacted with it’s customary high-pitched, glass-breaking ping as the shockwave passed over his cockpit a split-second later.

The Hammer was down to 35 hull, no shields. He had only wounded the beast further. It came roaring at him with ponderous grace, closing in for the kill. Twin rails caught him off guard, and reduced him to a meager 30 hull. Into the fray! He burned up and behind the Hammer, trying to stay behind, and reduced it’s newly charged shields to ribbons with a couple well placed shots. He smiled coldly, and prepared for the coup de grace. He hit the burners, and … Nothing. He watched four plasma rockets gracefully arc their way toward him, and watched, entranced, as they made a beeline for his ship. So pretty, with the nebula as a backdrop.

CRAP!!!! He punched his eject button, and rocketed out of his doomed ship just in time, as the rockets vaporized the paper thin pegasus. 03 flew through the wreckage, saluted mockingly during a victory roll, and headed for the nearest gate. The adrenaline wore off. He shivered uncontrollably. That was close. Way too close.

Bloody Hammers.

To Be Continued…

Fist or Fate – Chapter 3

He awoke with a start, almost injuring himself against his seat restraints. He took a deep breath, and could nearly taste how close he had come to death. He was alive, however, and he intended to stay that way. He glanced toward his nav computer, hoping he could make sense of his present position in his groggy state. Not good. Smoke lazily drifted from it’s twisted casing. Ok… next plan. He checked his comm systems. Thank the void, they were still functioning. He patched himself through to his personal ship’s comm, triangulated his position, then he and his damaged ship slowly limped toward their destination. As he had nothing better to do, considering his busted up ship, and on half thrust at that, he checked his personal comms. Message from Reamer thanking him for yet another completed contract, yada yada… Message from 03 about needed support in an upcoming battle, (yada yada again) Breaker00 asking for support in his plan to bring new leadership to the Devil’s Fist, and a list of demands… WHAT!? Scroll back. What in the void was he thinking? Reamer will have his hide, he thought.

He was wrong. Once safely back at DF HQ, he was assaulted with propositions from every newly formed faction, all with their own agenda, it seemed. This was ludicrous! “New Blood”, “Old ways are dead”, “Strong leadership”, “Back to what we were” – some of the slogans he encountered. Then the typical Devil’s Fist rhetoric (some people took this too seriously, he thought occasionally) – “They will drown in blood”. “Their screams will echo in the void for eternity”, “they will be as lambs at the slaughter”, and similar rubbish. By the end of his reading, three uneasy alliances had been formed. Breaker00 had initiated the splitup with his noisy public argument over policy with the other wingleaders. Who, in turn, themselves split into two groups. Longtime allies parted over how to discipline the upstart. He had to admit, Breaker00 was a likeable rogue. with a penchant for winning people over, despite his adopted evil persona. Oh, and there’s the message from IK outlining their support of the Breakers. Explains the attack a while ago. This could be a problem.

The Crushers, led by Reamer, were championing the decision to keep DF’s structure, goals, and operating principles essentially the same as they were before this fiasco. We had been decimated by recent LOA’s, public opinion reversals, and other besetting calamities recently, so this was a terrible time for this sort of thing to happen. The Breakers wanted a complete revamp of DF – top to bottom. With Breaker00 in charge of the “reconstruction”, probably. Then the young, impetuous Stealers and Cutters. They very nearly sounded as if they wanted nothing but anarchy. Wow. Quite a day. Of course, he sent a comm out to Reamer affirming his loyalty to the Crushers’ ideals, and explaining he needed a rest before doing anything. He wasn’t kidding, either. About the rest, or his ideals.

He slowly walked out to his ship, set the autopilot for an evasive route out of ther fog, and back to his patrol route. only five hours had passed since he left his barracks. Strange how so much could happen in so little time. Stranger things have been known to happen in the Fringe.

06 arrived at base only slightly late. Not late enough to engender suspicion, thankfully. He blamed his tardy arrival on a malfunction in his autopilot; easily explained by a purposeful failure to update the command protocols issued by the a/p manufacturer (de-updated by the concealed datadisk still hidden in his flightsuit cargo pocket). He reported no unusual activity in his patrol sector, and verified it with the faked data provided by the drone he had activated to mimic his patrol and his ident. Upon arriving home, he promptly collapsed in his bunk. He didn’t want to see what other messages he had waiting. Not surprisingly, he woke to see the message light blinking on his comm terminal. It seemed the Fringe was truly up in arms over this “internal disagreement”, as it was being called. There was gossip flying everywhere, stating everything from power struggles to petty bickering as the reason for this (too public by any account) dispute. Rumors flew over the tachband as to the true identities of the pilots that comprised the DF wings (more than usual…).Almost as bad as the rumor mill concerning supposed sightings of Susan’s elusive “Lance”. He hadn’t seen the comms so lively since the Bora/Galspan war, in fact.

He shook his head and walked out to the hangar. Under pretext of making a cargo run (an independent contract) to deliver goods to a (secretly) DF controlled cargo hauler, he set off (in an Archangel this time) for the hidden base once more. His circuitous route led him deep into the twilight, away from civilization, towards his second home.

To Be Continued…

Fist or Fate – Chapter 2

06 was just your run of the mill pilot. A journeyman in a world of prima donnas. Nothing like Twilight Jack, with his rock star flair, or Werewolf, with his snarling angst. No, he was just a pilot. Better than average, but still just barely hanging on by the skin of his teeth in a hotshot’s world. He wondered sometimes why he had been selected out of hundreds to be a Devil’s Fist candidate.

During a long Fenris Arena Match, he had emerged victorious with a 20-5 record. Not a record-setting performance by any means, but not bad for a relative rookie. Soaked in perspiration, and exhausted from the concentration required to make it through such battles, he noticed, out of the corner of his eye, a dark figure, towards the edge of the crowd that always gathered to congratulate the pilots after their matches. Almost gave him the chills when he realized whom this mysterious person was watching. Him! He decided he’d skip the showers and backed warily, almost hurriedly, toward his craft. He’d heard about those pilots. This “Devil’s Fist”. Nothing good, either. They were said to be killers – assassins, mercenaries for hire. They also numbered among them some of the top pilots in the fringe, leading a double life. Clansmen in their day to day lives, they also filled a darker role as their alter-egos; the dreaded “DF”. He evaded the dark-cloaked figure this time. he thought. Little did he know they would become an obsession.

He logged hundreds of hours for his new clan – a wise choice, considering his lack of experience in space combat. He participated in several battles with, and without, his wingmates. Some he excelled in, others not. He was a young pilot as of yet. Eventually, he grew in skill, and flying acumen; learning his ship, and the Fringe itself – his new home. He fought to contain the missiler threat, fought against outlaws, pirates, other clans, yet somehow he remained unscathed despite it all. He considered himself lucky. Then one day, it happened. He entered his barracks, to find a comm waiting for him. As he plopped down in his chair, he noticed the message would not immediately initialize. Coded to my DNA pattern? He thought. Must be some new orders. He decoded the message, and initialized it. That wasn’t his wingleader. Grinning hideously at him from the viewscreen was a white, deathly pale face. He wore black leather, a mockery of a flightsuit, and looked to have a forest of pins sprouting from his ghostly head.

“Greetings, Pilot.” Said that grinning face. The face of Cutter01, the infamous Breaker Wingleader. “I have been monitoring your progress with great interest. With a little time and experience, I’d like to have you join us” The message continued, but his mind was racing. He was aghast. Him, a killer? No sir! he closed the terminal with a bang, and headed to the simulators to work out the issues running through his head. I’ll NEVER be a killer! So he thought.

Almost compulsively, nearly against his will, he began reading all he could find about the Devil’s Fist. A group shrouded in secrecy, yet thinly guised as a mercenary group, they policed the Fringe as noone else could. With fear. With intimidation, and the strength of their reputation as cold-blooded killers. Founded by one known only as “SoulReamer”, the Devil’s Fist burst upon the scene just prior to All Hallows Eve; a traditional night of forbidden magics and sorcery. The other two wingleaders, SoulReaper and SoulReaver, were instrumental in the group’s establishment. They silently began their work. Few in number at first, but deadly fliers, all. Accept the contract, fulfill it, and post proof for the solicitor. “An evil business”, quoted Reamer in an earlier text. “But necessary. Would you feel safer knowing your own wingmen are accepting these jobs, and not some unknown quantity? Better the devil you know…” Interesting, in a macabre fashion. Their numbers grew, and chief among these new recruits was a pilot assigned to the “Cutters” wing.

His original callsign was “SoulCutter02”, but the bravado and panache displayed in his piloting, as well as the artistic flair with which he displayed his kills quickly earned him the “01” position in his wing, and eventually his own wing, the “SoulBreakers”. Suffice it to say, our “hero”, (if you will) had a bit of a falling out with his clan. A faux pas, I suppose you would call it. The offshoot of this involvement was this; in an insane moment of frustration, he contacted Cutter01 concerning that job with the Devil’s Fist. Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on his state of mind when thinking of it) two members of DF left; one over DF’s methods of taking and completing contracts, the other over a missiler in a private arena. Quite an ugly scene at the time, but regardless of the outcome, that left DF two pilots short. He got the comm the next day. “Your application to the Devil’s Fist is hereby approved. Stand by for confirmation codes, and the route to stronghold. Welcome, SoulCrusher06, to the Devil’s Fist”.

Fist or Fate – Chapter 1

This post is short fiction. My short fiction, actually. I’m going to post a few of these in lieu of a “real” blog post, because I’d like to share it with you. Be warned that some of it may not be for those who are squeamish.

Don’t be fooled by the name of the group you’ll likely take umbrage with. There’s a crucial part of the story you’ll find out, later on.

This story was inspired by an “actual” in-game event – so I wrote a story around it. It comes from the game “Tachyon: The Fringe”, which I have played for 6 years, off and on. I still think it is the best spaceflight combat simulator ever made. Primarily because of the flight model. Without further ado…


Chapter 1

SoulCrusher06 looked up from his ‘pad as the incoming message alert sounded. The data encryption algorithms processed, and a similarly encrypted face gazed at him from his viewscreen. “06, we have a contract. Do not reply. A pilot in your sector has been suggested to us as a potential contract due to his decidedly amoral conduct concerning honorable battle. Customer’s comments. Not mine. Here is an excerpt from the formal contract.

‘The pilot known as Johnny Rebel was seen pumping rocket after rocket into a nearby Galspan model fighter as the pilot was composing a message to his superiors regarding a recent escort run. The pilot barely escaped with his life, and the attacker, who’s ident broadcast identified him as “Johnny Rebel” was heard laughing uncontrollably over the open comm as his intended prey fled.’

Needless to say, 06, he’s not the sharpest tack.

Dispatch this individual and upload the completion data and ident match to the usual location. Hull him! Reamer00 out.”

06 inhaled deeply, then exhaled with a visible slump to his shoulders. He stood up, and surveyed his quarters with a regal air, exited toward the hangar area. On his way, he passed several of his clanmates, and greeted them with false bravado concerning the upcoming arena matches with their rival clans. Yes, they were going to kick some butt. No, they weren’t going to stop at anything to win. And so on and so forth. He had other things on his mind. He was used to killing. He was a combat pilot. The world in which he had embroiled himself was another matter altogether. To kill, not for the honor of his clan, not for his ideals, not for pride; but merely because someone asked a pilot dead. Of course, his victim was an idiot. He had tried to kill an unsuspecting pilot like himself. Somehow, this was different. The Devil’s Fist was not your usual group.

He climbed inside his Galspan Pegasus fighter under pretenses of patrolling the border of the Twilight Region from attack. Yes, he replied to the command section query, just adding an extra shift because he couldn’t sleep. No, he wouldn’t let his guard down due to sleeplessness. Of course not. He powered up his fighter, the vibrations from the mighty engines rattling the entire hangar, but strangely distant to him in his padded and heavily shock dampened custom seat, inside his vibration and soundproofed cockpit. The engines roared, and he tore out of the hangar at the top speed of the Pegasus, (which is considerable). He glanced at his own personal motto, mounted on a plate to the right of his instrument panel. It said “Fly with courage, with chivalry, and with skill. No matter the outcome, your honor will be without question”. em>Tell that to my victim, he thought.

He arrived at the Devil’s Fist hangar, which as usual, which was devoid of any signs of life – as it was tucked away deep in the all-encompassing fog – and pulled his fighter in without incident. The rows of menacing black craft shone with a deceptive gleam as he took in the view inside the voluminous hangar. He landed behind his own personal collection of ships he had purchased with his newfound credits. Blood money, all of it, he thought fleetingly. Enough of this. This pilot was an idiot, a danger to others and himself. it was time to hunt. He walked over to his locker with a deceptively easy stride, and gathered his Devil’s Fist flightsuit and all his equipment.

Nothing should identify him. As he pulled on his sable gauntlets, and pulled his jet-black helmet on, he truly looked a killer. The Devil’s Fist is feared throughout the Fringe. Sure. If they only knew who we were, he thought.

He selected a Warhammer to execute Johnny with. Only fitting. See how he likes plasma rockets decimating his shields, he thought to himself. He powered the ship up, and slowly pulled out of the hangar.

Once safely away from the secretive base of operations, he began to scan the comms for signs of his quarry’s whereabouts. Nothing on the RG comms, nothing from IK. This might take a while. He continued to scan through the comms. There! Void Alliance frequency, one “Captain Scarlet”. “That idiot Johnny Rebel’s playing with plasmas again”, he heard from the comm. 06 smiled to himself. Gotcha. He swung the ship around to the new heading, and as he passed through the gate, his last thought was, Poor sucker. Wonder what else you did to piss people off? The Tachyon gate accelerated him to impossible speeds, and the jet black ‘Hammer elongated, then disappeared in a flash of light.

He emerged from the gate with a euphoric rush, and shook his head huriedly to clear the effects of the jump. Within seconds, he had a lock on his victim. “Oh Johnny….”, he said over the comm. “The Devil’s here for his due…” There was an abrupt break in comm traffic as the current occupants of the sector took in the black lines of the Hammer’. He caught the tail end of an encrypted message from an IK pilot. “There’s one … those … scum. I say … take him, and take … the garbage …. him.” Crap, he thought. Just what I need. An IK patrol flight to deal with too. Ah well. Take what comes. Two Pegasi and an Archangel. Great. Let’s see; Target at 240, IK at 160, VA at 230, on the target’s butt. The base is what he’s heading for. Let’s see what this baby can do. “This is The Devil’s Fist, SoulCrusher06 on contract for Johnny Rebel. Stand down and allow me to complete it”, he said in his most authoritative voice. “DF slime, take your contracts back out in the fog, where you both belong. get out of the Fringe!” The IK patrol leader said ominously. So much for the DF mystique…..

The IK fighters were closing, and fast. He still had 35 klicks on the targets, and the IK patrol was almost within range. Crap. Just then, came his break. Captain Scarlet scored a direct hit on his starboard engine, slowing him down considerably. Closing… 20 klicks. IK in range. Plasma, he breathed, don’t let me down. The two pegs roared past him as he kicked the Hammer into full reverse. His shields still whined in protest as two single deimos still scored. Down to 65. Crap… He kicked on his burners in an attempt to close the gap. it succeeded, until he realized one crucial thing he had missed. The sturdy ship bucked in space as quad blast torps scored direct hits on his shields! The Bloody Archangel!

Space him…

10 shields, 60 hull. Crap. Still at 10 klicks out. Closing… bloody peggies are coming back around. He reversed his lats haphazardly, in an attempt to buy himself some time. Another deimos took what little was left of his shields. There goes the rails, he thought, as he transferred laser power to his shields to keep himself (hopefully) intact. 7 klicks… as another deimos hit him aft. 4…. plasmas away, clean quad shot. The rockets hit Rebel’s aft shields in an explosion of light, and brought him to critical on 06’s scanner. 06’s ship rocked as a blast torpedo found it’s mark once again. Crap! Another clear shot… and another set of quads turned Rebel’s ship to stardust. He immediately turned his transmitter on to upload the evidence, in case he didn’t make it out of this one. (He was beginning to doubt the outcome. Most assuredly)

Captain Scarlet suddenly burst out of nowhere, almost directly on top of him, and caused him to duck involuntarily. He distinctly heard hull armor blow up. Galspan hull. He drained the last of his laser power, and hit his slide button once oriented toward the gate. He rotated around his vertical axis on his way back past the IK fighters, and let loose several volleys of plasma on his way by. The second pegasus was not keeping up anymore, he noticed. Now he rotated fully behind his slide path, and let loose with the remainder of his plasma rockets. Busy dodging the lethal hail of rockets, he dropped back a whole 5 klicks. 06 could almost feel the deimos shots as they scattered around his overly large (or so it seemed now) profile. “Why did I bring the Hammer again?”, he asked himself. A large explosion echoed in his ears, leaving him temporarily deaf. The peg had caught back up. The acrid smell of an electrical fire, as well as the distinct feeling he was losing velocity, began to work their way to the front of his mind. Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap became almost like a mantra. This was it. His luck had run out. Seething energies surrounded him, took hold of his conscious mind, and he knew no more.

To be Continued…

Forever – a Vignette

This post is short fiction. My short fiction, actually. I’m going to post a few of these in lieu of a “real” blog post, because I’d like to share it with you. Be warned that some of it may not be for those who are squeamish.

This was written for a friend of mine. He was going to write a work of fiction containing multiple, short vignettes, set in the Tachyon: The Fringe universe. The subject choice is his. The writing is my own. Enjoy.


/record/

Some people just burn
Like a Roman candle

Some people just see the burning
They can predict it… Unfortunately, they go insane.

Some people see… nothing
They just didn’t get lucky yet.

There aren’t many of us left, now. We used to be a vast, sprawling, brawling race of explorers, warriors, adventurers, and an all-around great bunch of people. Now, we’re just the moldering remnants of the once-great sails of an ancient ship of the line. Tattered, torn, rotting away – yet valiantly trying to keep our heading in the teeth of the gales of history. Yet nothing we attempt can possibly return our crew to our decks – we’re adrift, despite our best efforts. We are an anachronism, yet futilely struggle on, oblivious to the fact that nothing we attempt can possibly affect the outcome.

The human race, he pondered, is reduced to this, now. We’re nothing but a huddling group of frightened children, sheltering inside our walls, while the wolves howl outside. We desperately try to convince ourselves that the wolves are merely a figment of our collective imaginations, so we do nothing but share the warmth in our little bodies, awaiting something we know, deep down, is inevitable. We still try to make believe that the day will never come – when the wolves find their way inside, and devour us all.

He knew he was a little mad already. That, he also accepted. It was the way things now were. Those who didn’t burn, were doomed to know when the others would. Those that neither saw, nor burned – they were, simply, not yet dead. Nothing more, nothing less. Welcome to the human condition.

It began with the visions, long ago. Some began to see the flames. It was written off for a century or more as simply a product of stress, environment, an unbalanced mind, or simply as “the unknowable” – the favorite bastion of the psychiatric community. Until the Burning began. Oh, it didn’t begin all at once. It took quite some time for the first discoveries to be made public. It happened so fast, you see. First, you saw them stiffen, as if rigor mortis set in at a blinding speed. The nimbus appeared. Their eyes opened wide, as if they saw all the mysteries of the universe unfolded to them – then, it happened. Almost too fast for the human eye to register, a white sheet of flame began to consume the body. Beginning at the extremities, working its way inward, the flame races in, leaving only a haloed afterimage in your mind’s eye. Then, without a sound, without a trace – they’re just… gone. During the initial stages, the theories abounded, and the scientists treated it like a cheap tabloid stunt. Then, the frequency increased.

At first, you see, it only happened once or twice a decade. With the speed at which it occurred, you couldn’t really be sure you saw what you saw. It was freaky. It almost never happened around heavy electronics, which people lauded as a deterrent to the Burning, for a while. So there was never a good-quality image to break down and analyze. Later, though, we had more images of it than we could stomach. Because, you see – it took a large majority of the cyborgs first. Maybe they were just attuned with it, somehow. We still don’t know. There’s nothing like the internal data from a cybernetic eye watching it’s bodies’ own limbs vaporizing – I have to say that much.

All of them didn’t go up, though. It skipped around, like some insane wildfire. Here, a mother holding her child’s hand on a shopping trip. The child’s hand wasn’t even hot to the touch, seconds afterward. A man walking down the promenade, freezing, staring into nothingness, and immolating. Right in the center of a throng of chatty shoppers. It finally reached galactic attention, though, when the pilot of a bulk freighter went up while on approach to GalSpan headquarters. A quarter of a trillion creds went up in flames that day. It became real, then, it seems. I don’t know. It was over 450 years ago. I’m something of an anomaly now, I suppose. I’m a sane Prophet. I can tell you, just by looking at someone, the exact date, hour, minute, and second that someone is going to Burn. We’re all Chosen for something, they tell us, now. Some to Prophesy, some to Burn. Some still even die of old age. The odds are only about 50-50 now. 50% of the human population, if the figures I have aren’t lying, are slated to Prophesy and go stark raving mad, or go up like a firecracker. Only 200 years ago, it was only 5%. If that doesn’t bode ill for our race, I don’t know what does.

So yes, I suppose I’m something of an oddity. I’m 28 years old, I’ve had the Sight since I hit puberty. If you’re going to Prophesy, you’re normally mad by age 22. More males than females can See, while more females burn. Statistically. But when you’re talking billions of deaths every year, the numbers aren’t exactly important. I’m also an oddity, because I still fly. They grounded most interstellar travel after the Space Burnings 75 years or so ago. Pilots had done historically well prior to that – some attributed that to the high concentration level required to become an accredited pilot. The Space Burnings changed it all, though. Roughly 12 million spacefarers all Burned within 7 hours, in every nook and cranny of the known galaxy – over 82% of the then-current licensed pilots. The Tach system is still operational – barely. The network keeps degrading, and those of us that are left play Russian roulette every time we make a jump. In an existence like that, though, things like that ceased to matter a long, long, time ago.

Let me write this down, while I’m still lucid. Most people with the Sight are already a little mad shortly after they discover what they are doomed to become. I was, a little. My father refused to let my Sight interfere with our family business, and he trained me to fly, as he had both of my brothers. They both Burned, shortly after their first solo jump in Dad’s miner. I told them they would. We’re wrong about 7% of the time. They figured they’d take their chances on those slim odds. I don’t blame them. If you’re going to go, why worry about it? If I look into your eyes, and I see the flames – I know you’re going to go. If I concentrate, I can tell you precisely when. If I really, really meditate on it – I may even be able to tell you where. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. Trust me, every theory under the sun has been advanced, and nothing explains it.

I, on the other hand, have lasted well beyond the usual threshold for Seers. Maybe it’s because I’m a pilot. Maybe it’s because I’m a real rare item – a fighter pilot. Who knows. All I know is, I’m still mostly there. As much as fighter pilots usually are. As the grid slowly deteriorates, our kind are heading toward extinction. Along with our decline will follow the once-great Human civilization. Our latest colonies are already guttering candles. Over 90% of the Fringe’s population is gone, with the highest Burn rate anywhere in the galaxy. “He has formed me from the dust… and to dust I shall return.” I have a sneaking suspicion that the Corporate sector colonies will be next. Just like a Burn – extremities first, then inward, to the center.

Anyway, yeah, I’m a pilot. I’m wondering how long this will last, though. Just this last week, I’ve seen flames everywhere. They are all telling me that the inferno will begin in roughly 3 hours from now. Now, that isn’t anything new. I’ve seen mass Burns before. I’ve even predicted them. This time, though, I saw the flames in the eyes of a Seer. That doesn’t happen – but it did. I keep seeing the guilty stares when they look at me, too. There’s a time for everyone. The Burning taught us that. This might be everyone’s time. I’m trying to deny it, still. I haven’t seen anyone’s eyes that WERE NOT filled with flames. Even the ones in the mirror.

So, I’m flying. Well, not quite true. I’m sitting. Sitting roughly 20 meters from where I was born, actually. It’s fitting, I think. So, here I am, maybe listening to the very last Twilight Jack cube in the entire galaxy, and waiting to die. I closed my eyes not too long ago, and I fell asleep. How anyone could do that while waiting to die, I don’t know. But I did. My chrono shows 4.8 minutes left to the time I, and every other Seer, predicted. I really don’t know what to say. I really do hope someone finds this message cube, one day. Obviously, if you’re reading this, someone did – and someone is still alive. As for every other person in the surrounding 5 sectors, we’re dead men. I suppose it’s just now sinking in. I don’t believe it, further than on the intellectual level. All I know is, I’m still in my Archangel. There’s no better place to die, for me.

2.4 minutes. So, I guess these are my last words. What do you give yourself as a eulogy? “Alas, for he isn’t dead yet?” I really don’t know. If you’re reading this – I’m glad I got to talk to you.

Whoever you are. .6 minutes. In closing, all I can say is this. I’ll type as it happens. Maybe I can, I don’t know, describe it, as it
happpppppppppppppppppppppppp
/record end/

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