(no subject)

May. 26th, 2017 06:03 pm
yam: (PAW banjo)
[personal profile] yam
Woo, I got a new very, very part-time job! I'm going to be doing occasional falls prevention clinics for the local health region along with a kinesiologist and a physiotherapist, including some clinics in French! All those books I got at the université laval (I had to buy an extra suitcase) in 2006 are gonna come in handy. Or more likely not, but the part of me that wanted to buy them will come in handy. Because it's the health region, I don't have to follow the strict but unhelpful Pharmacare medication review rules and can like, focus on the patient's actual needs and concerns, and I will get to jabber all day about drugs without being in a retail setting. I can't sell them anything even if I wanted to. I mean at this point I've made my peace with working in retail, because working in hospital would mean giving up almost all of the human connection that is not only enjoyable but very much at the core of what calls to me the most in my profession. But some extra hours where I can be Freelance McGee, Not Giving You Advice In A Store That Also Sells Tobacco, is great, so great. The first one is even an excuse to ride the Evergreen Line. Whee!

I have been embracing Amazon Means You Can Get Burly Mans To Carry Things Home For You and got a whole pile of kitchen items. I used my sturdy as heck new roasting pan to cook pork tenderloin today JUST LIKE A GROWNUP WHO CAN COOK COMPETENTLY might and it turns out it is pretty easy WHO KNEW I DID NOT. I think I'll use my new blender to make a smoothie (ingredients: yogurt, frozen fruit, 1/2 scoop of pinterest) and maybe spiralize some cucumbers to make fetching hair clips tomorrow. Aw yeah. Ooh and I have a MUFFIN PAN which I used to make broccoli/cauliflower/cheese/egg muffins! That's a long name and almost the full ingredient list, I think I tossed in some garlic salt. You know. I just do that now.

Do you ever need to stay in a hotel in Seattle! I would like to recommend to you the Bacon Mansion B&B. Despite the obvious flaw that their free breakfast has... no bacon?! they are lovely in every other respect. Close to LINK (and thus the train station and airport are easy to get to,) in a beautiful neighbourhood, whimsically decorated, giant comfortable rooms with SO MANY PILLOWS, sitting rooms and lounges with like, a grand piano and hot drink stations, it's just SO NICE, and the prices when I have booked it have been lower than nearby actual-hotels and the tax is lower because classification reasons. (It is not wheelchair accessible, though, and all but two rooms involve at least a full flight of stairs.)

What isn't a high-performance DSL?

Apr. 30th, 2017 06:45 pm
lindseykuper: A figure, wearing a pink shirt decorated with a heart, looks upward from between dark shapes that suggest buildings. (Default)
[personal profile] lindseykuper

New blog post, in which I continue the "What isn't?" series.

lindseykuper: A figure, wearing a pink shirt decorated with a heart, looks upward from between dark shapes that suggest buildings. (Default)
[personal profile] lindseykuper

Ha-ha-only-serious comments like this really bother me.

I understand that people who say "all women in tech know each other" have good intentions, and are often saying it as a way to build community, or to make the important point that backchannels and whisper networks exist.

But there are many, many "women in tech" (ugh, I hate that phrase too, but I'm choosing battles) that the women-in-tech Twitterati don't know, and apparently don't know that they don't know. A lot of those women are older; a lot of them are immigrants; a lot of them work at big, boring, unsexy companies, or in academia; a lot of them aren't on Twitter. The word "tech" in "all women in tech know each other" seems to refer to only a very specific slice of the tech world. Saying that "all women in tech know each other" erases a lot of women, and that frustrates me.

solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird
goddammit characters stop writing new chapters for me (don't stop)

The fourth movement, "Exiled," has a coda. Tomorrow.

honestly i have no control over this story anymore i don't even know
gfish: (Default)
[personal profile] gfish
I was reading Kepler's Epitome of Copernican Astronomy and The Harmonies of the World recently, and found myself quite fascinated with his Platonic solid model of the solar system. On a lark, I set about extending it to include Uranus and Neptune. It proved to be an interesting challenge, and one that really helped me connect with the mindset of the age better.

Of course, with all that done, I had to write up my results as a full academic paper: Extending Kepler’s Mysterium Cosmographicum

The day after, and the day after that

May. 26th, 2017 09:11 am
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

"I think it's time," said the Brigadier. "She seems ready."

"I agree," said the Group Captain, "she should be pliable enough, now. Let's bring her in tomorrow."

MI5, Fleet House, London.

Two surprisingly fit but otherwise almost aggressively ordinary-looking people escorted Lena Oxton towards an almost aggressively ordinary-looking private office with venetian-blinded glass walls in a room surrounded on three sides by other surprisingly fit but otherwise aggressively ordinary-looking people at aggressively ordinary-looking desks.

If Pure Gym had a security division, she thought, as she was not quite shoved, but quite briskly moved through the short glass hallway to her destination, this would be it. Crikey, those are thick walls - I'm in real trouble now.

"I'm a British subject, you can't do this. I've got rights." she said to the man at the desk, after the agents dropped her into a chair and exited the room. The man actuated a control, and the blinds closed, leaving them alone. He tapped at the nameplate on his desk - Group Captain Aubrey Henderson - and said, "Salute your superior, flying officer, or I'll have you for insubordination."

Flying Officer Oxton's heart leapt and she snapped to attention and saluted. "Sir! My apologies, sir."

"Much better," said the G/C. "At ease."

"Thank you, sir!" She burst out, too rapidly, "I've been trying to get someone to listen to me for weeks, and I've had a lot of nothing back for it. You're the first person who's even acknowledged who I am! I, I, I, didn't realise I'd been reactivated!" She beamed. At last, she thought, I've got through! "Sir!" She almost saluted again.

The older man glared, and she toned it down immediately. "I know," he grumbled. "We've been following you since you contacted the consulate in Pretoria. Sit." He motioned Oxton back to her seat, and sat down behind his desk. "Quite frankly, some of us have been hoping you'd just give up and go away, back to... wherever you came from."

"...sir?" said the Flying Officer, uncertainty replacing happiness on her face, as Imogen's words spooled through her memory. "I've been missing for..."

"I know the story," he interrupted. "You've told it about half a dozen times at this point, in full, I think?"

"...yes, sir. Before people stopped letting me in. Sir."

"It hasn't improved."

Not knowing what to say, Lena said nothing.

"Look at it from our standpoint," said the Omnic War veteran. "You die in a fighter test flight, killed over Greece. We retire you, with honours. We investigate, we find out your whole organisation was a horror, ridded with... funds abuse, embezzlement, questionable human experimentation, out-and-out war crimes, and even worse. And so, we put it away." He tapped the top of his cold, metal desk. "I put it away."

Oh no, thought Tracer. "Yes, sir."

"And now, two years after we finally had it all sorted, and the press have moved on and the public have started to forget and forgive, one of the few people not implicated shows back up, out of nowhere, outside our consulate building in South Africa, with a story not even a schoolboy would believe - the prodigal daughter returns, and starts poking her nose where it isn't wanted and no longer belongs."

"Sir?"

"What do you expect us to think? What do you expect us to do with you?"

"Sorry, sir," she said, with just a hint too much insubordination, "I thought the military might want to know one of their missing officers was alive."

Cute, he thought. "It was that ape, wasn't it. Somehow, he brought you back. From the moon." He shook his head - it still sounded foolish aloud. "I can't blame him for that - you were friends. But I can blame him for whatever he's built into you."

Lena froze. I haven't been near a military examination room, how did they know? What else do they know? She swallowed. "...sir?"

"You're a not a terrible liar, pilot, but you're not a good one either. Bioluminescent tattoos isn't the worst line..."

"Regulation-compliant within Overwatch, sir, nothing visible in uniform," she interjected, before he sternly continued "...but it's still a line. You're six kinds of wired up, and we know it."

Shite, she thought, scrambling for some way to salvage the story, "Sir, Winston had nothing to do..." That's not better, think before you talk, Oxton!

"I'll pretend you didn't say that," he said, "because the alternatives are far worse. For you."

"...sir." she said, outright afraid now. He's called me F/O, I must have some standing, I can use that, I have rights. "Has my commission been reopened, sir?"

"Not formally," the G/C replied, "which is why you're not in the brig for desertion, first, and more severe charges, later." He sighed, and leaned back off the top of his desk. "I don't think you're a villain, flight officer. The problem is - none of us really know what you are. I've brought you in to offer you a way out. I'm offering you a deal - and I promise you, it was the very best one I could make."

"A deal, sir?" she said, quietly, stalling for time and thinking quickly, I can live without the service, she thought. I can live with that. I can still do good work. There are plenty of other opportunities for a good pilot. Médecins Sans Frontières, maybe, they can always use...

He picked a padd off his desk, and tossed it towards her to catch. "Approve this. We reopen your commission and close it, this time as a medical discharge. We give you five years' back salary - more than enough to get you on your feet. You go away, again, get a job, and and live a quiet life somewhere. You don't talk to the press; you don't write a book; you don't do video; you're Lena Oxton, ex-RAF, not Lena "Tracer" Oxton of Overwatch." He gestured towards the PADD. "Section IV invokes the Official Secrets Act - whether you agree or not."

Tracer shuddered at that, and it took a forceful act of will not to teleport out of the building. "You're one-thirty-fouring my life, sir?"

"No, not your life. Just Overwatch, and Tracer."

"Sir!" the pilot spat out, "This is unfair. This is wrong. You can't do this. Sir."

"Move out of London - preferably, somewhere unimportant - within a week. After that, never get within five kilometres of a military or intelligence base, unless specifically recalled, ever again."

That's a big no-fly zone, she thought. "That'll limit my opportunities as a working pilot, sir."

"Your license terminated with your death, Flying Officer, and you're not getting it back. You've been on every no-fly list in the world since you landed at Heathrow; you are grounded. Most likely, for good."

Horror flashed across Lena Oxton's face, and she bolted up from the chair. "Sir! No, sir! You can't do that to me, sir!"

He barked the words, every syllable a body blow, staccato against her frame, "I can and I have, and if you have any sense at all, your next action will be to sit back down, and your next words will be 'Yes sir, I accept, sir.'"

Lena stopped herself - barely - from screaming at the Group Captain, composed herself as best she could, sat, and managed, shakily, "...but flying... being a pilot... it's all I ever wanted. Sir."

Group Captain Henderson let his expression, and his voice, soften a bit. He remembered that feeling - love of the air, the altitude, the endless sky, the pure speed. "I know."

Flying Officer Oxton straightened a bit, and stood her ground. "I've done nothing wrong. Sir. Except die in an experimental vehicle that exploded around me. It wasn't my fault, I'm pretty sure the record shows that, and I don't see why I should lose my license over it. Sir."

"Your record does show that," he agreed, almost kindly, "and, if you agree, it will continue to do so." Then, with a harder edge, "But if you didn't think we'd find out about that device you have embedded inside you, you underestimated us badly."

Keep it together, Tracer, keep that trim tight, she thought. "I, I..." The jig's up now, but... "I need it. It keeps me from sliding back out of time. Sir."

Thank god, thought the Group Captain, exhaling slowly, she said it. "Good. You admit you know. I'd hoped you finally would." It means if you behave, we might actually honour this agreement,, he did not add aloud. "But we don't know what else it does, and the only way to know, for sure, would be to take you apart, all the way down, and study what was left. The only reason we haven't done that already is that you tried so very hard to get our attention."

"Sir." This can't be happening, she thought.

"Would you rather we changed our minds about that, Ms. Oxton?"

"...no," she said, bitterly, "Sir."

The Group Captain nodded. "Then accept the agreement, and you walk out of here a civilian, and intact. We'll be keeping an eye on you, of course, but stay quiet, let people continue to forget all of this, don't do anything stupid, and we'll leave you alone." The older man - older than Ana, probably older even than Reinhardt - leaned forward, with as much compassion as he could push into his blunt, once-chiseled face, and said, "Just walk away, Oxton. This really was the best I could get you. Walk away, and go live your life."

Lena Oxton sat in the chair, suddenly feeling strangely calm, separate, isolated. This is the second time since the explosion I haven't really had a choice, she thought, as she reached out her hand and pressed her thumb against the acceptance screen. I like it this time much less.

Former Flying Officer Lena "[Redacted]" Oxton left the MI5 building for the first and last time. Money instantly appeared in a bank account, a fair and reasonable sum. Ms. Oxton checked that account, took a little bit out in cash at an access point, and treated herself to a lavish dinner, which tasted like nothing, then box seats at a show at the Palace Theatre, which left her utterly unmoved.

Then she walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, around Old London, past Piccadilly and past St. James and past Westminster and along the Thames and across and past the Tate and past the ruins of the London Bridge and back across the river and past St. Paul's and then she didn't even notice anymore, until hours later, at 3am, when she found herself in the middle of a deserted Trafalgar Square, carrying a worn satchel popular in South Africa some ten years before, with the remnants of her flight suit, her burnt Overwatch identity card, a fake of her old passport, and a change of clothes, old, but serviceable, from a Lutzberg charity shop.

There, standing between the fountains, from a small, round, metal box, she extracted a smaller, round device. Clicking its power cell into place, she held the beacon tightly against her chest, depressed the second button, the one on the top, until it beeped, twice...

...and waited.

Music/Video Haul 2017-05-25

May. 25th, 2017 10:50 pm
dingsi: The Corinthian smoking a cigarette. He looks down thoughtfully and breathes the smoke out of his nose. (Default)
[personal profile] dingsi
I'm trying out something new. Considering I have a fluctuating but persistent desire to share music, and my energy level for writing content is very low, I'll see if I can at least throw in audio posts to liven things up a little. Plus it's going to be kind of like a mood diary because every entry will collect some of the tunes that I discovered since the previous entry, either completely new to me or a "re-listen", but in any case something that stood out to me & found its way onto my mp3 player & got played a lot. Additionally, there might be videos discussing music, too.

Alright, here we go. I don't know if it's the call-in for summer or what, but this issue is 90% chill. Also 80s-influenced, because I'm me.

The explanation video responsible for my seeking out the first three tracks (YouTube sidebar is one hell of a drug): Is Simpsonwave A Joke? by This Exists [YouTube]

Blank Banshee - Teen Pregnancy [Soundcloud] using a sample from Grandmaster Flash's "The Message"

Sun Glitters - Too Late (Love Echo Rework) [Soundcloud]

Home - Resonance [YouTube]

Lazerhawk - Feel The Rush Tonight feat. Gunship [Soundcloud]

Lazerhawk - Mirror Between Worlds [Soundcloud]

Snowhands - Fumes [YouTube]

Cold Cluster - An Imaginary Diary [Soundcloud]

Mac DeMarco - On The Level [YouTube]

Lost Image - Crying Corpse (really difficult to find a useable link, but you can go to this EBM website and scroll to the album "Electrocution" and click on the song.) If there ever was a remake of The Hunger, it should be on the soundtrack. (Don't tell me if there is a remake already in the making. I don't want it.)

Not chill but still great: Tuning Circuits - I Am A Non-Believer [YouTube]

And that's it for this time!

Lena, alone; day 60

May. 25th, 2017 09:14 am
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

5:30am. Lena Oxton awoke just before sunrise. Day 60, she thought to herself. Or maybe day ten.

Quietly, so not to wake her hostel bunkmates, she went to her locker, pulled out her bag, and slipped silently to the common washroom, where she brushed her teeth and hair and prepped for her morning run. Nightshirt, brushes, back into the bag, and back to the locker; beacon with her, as always, in the special strap she'd built just for it.

6:00am. Lena Oxton ran. It wasn't a jog, it was a run, an all-out two-minute-mile run, jinks coming in bursts between buildings where she wouldn't be seen, not even by CCTV. She'd memorised the route that guaranteed least surveillance, and took it without fail, twice, every morning.

Then, a more typical endurance run. An hour at a more recognisable speed, one the best-trained fully-human runners might manage - certainly nothing anyone would find too impossible, out of context. But she nonetheless slowed whenever police happened near by.

7:00am. Back to the hostel, for the allotted four minute shower. Re-up her bunk on the way in. She tried to think of it as boot camp, or aircraft carrier duty. It felt more like prison.

7:15am. Into her best outfit. If you're going to war with records, best to look like you've got some standing - even if you've been had so many doors slammed in your face that you've developed a ranking system.

7:30am. Breakfast. A century-old cafe tucked into a still-older building on the border between Westminster and Pimlico, high density, high fat, but low cost and they don't skimp on the bangers. She loved it the first three weeks, liked it the next three. This was week nine.

8am. The library. The librarians knew her well at this point, and were kind, assuming without saying that she was some sort of homeless, and probably undocumented, passport or no passport. Electronic refiling of the same sets of requests and documentation that somehow just kept going missing. (Sorry, miss, there's just no sign of it. Why don't you submit it again? ) Research, trying to find something, any case like hers, that might get her a day in court - anything that might get her heard.

Noon. Lunch. A second workout - it's Wednesday, so the corporate-sponsored free weights session; next one would be Friday. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it's Parks Fitness. Mondays and Saturdays, anything she could find online. Sundays, parkour out on the east end, no one she could really talk to, but the closest she'd found to friends so far.

13:30. Another attempt at her should-be MP's office; barred at the door, as usual. Another attempt at Council - more forgiving, but nothing they can do - "not if it's a military matter, sorry luv." She knew better at this point to show up at a Forces station. One office visit followed another followed another, all about the same, one too-familiar blur after another.

16:45. Immigrant rights groups, free legal aid meeting, round six. Sincere, but - she's not an immigrant. And their legal assistance team are as confused as she was until ten days ago, when she ran into Imogen again, Imogen, who picked her up by the collar and slammed her against the wall and said in a low but deadly voice, "are you following me? are you following me? i don't know what you think you want but the word has gone out, you are a poison and i will not lose my career being seen with you. i don't know you. i never did. never get near me again" before storming away, diving into the nearest cab that would take her, gone almost before even Tracer could think, ...what just happened?

17:30. Dinner. Week nine. Not out of money yet, but no dessert. She missed dessert.

18:30. A long walk around town, playing her favourite new game, "spot the new CCTVs."

Now it's 19:45, as Tracer climbs up onto the hostel's rooftop to try and get a signal to Winston if the surveillance isn't too obvious, but, of course, it is. She heads back down to the common room; it's Wednesday, quiet, and there's been another incident, emergency response in Tunisia, the reporters are wondering if it's Talon and Lena wants to laugh and cry at the same time, as if her beloved spider would ever be so indiscriminate, so inelegant, so wretchedly, terribly sloppy with death.

But sloppily or not, people are still dying, and as she studies the action on screen, she thinks, We could've done something about this. Her hands tighten into angry fists. Overwatch could've, if they hadn't shut us down. I feel so useless. If... She follows the footage, overhead views, and realises she's tracking critical actors. There, she thinks, coolly. That one. Take that one person down, the whole plan falls apart. One shot...

She shakes her head, and closes her eyes. She can still see the target, clear and sharp in her mind's eye, as though through a scope, as though through her scope, as though... Hindsight, she tells herself, is always so clear. Opening her eyes, she realises no one else is even paying attention, and so she reaches up, and changes the channel.

Early to bed. Tomorrow's another day. It'll be different, right? Surely. It has to be.

Maybe I'll just sleep in.

Reminder: June challenge

May. 25th, 2017 02:26 pm
nou: The word "kake" in a white monospaced font on a black background (Default)
[personal profile] nou posting in [community profile] flaneurs

Just a quick reminder that the June challenge starts soon.

Anyone got any plans firmed up yet? I’ve organised a date to do my regular bus challenge (i.e. I.c) with [personal profile] bob, and I'm planning to do the next stage in my bit-by-bit West Croydon to London Bridge walk (amended version of II.a) too.

what we are about

May. 24th, 2017 10:17 pm
graydon2: (Default)
[personal profile] graydon2

In any case, we are using it [price control], and those who doubt that it is necessary or wise should remember that in the incommensurable task of governing this Republic, we often do in practice what we only later find to be justified in principle. [...] Even though we do not like what we are doing, we should understand what we are about.

--John Kenneth Galbraith, A Theory Of Price Control

hoo boy

May. 24th, 2017 01:24 pm
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

chapters 20 and 21 are ... i'm pretty sure ready to go.

I'm glad 20 is short, because it is a hard chapter. I don't mean as in difficult to write, though it wans't the easiest, I mean, as in... blunt object. And 21 is, if anything, harder, also as in blunt object. But in a different way.

Hopefully that will make sense to other people by the end of the week.

and this is only the fourth movement. i think it may look like the end of an origin story, which I can see, but that's wrong. there is critically more to come.

Lena, in London. Day 30.

May. 24th, 2017 08:44 am
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

"Hey, doc!" The pilot waved her arms, and shouted across the square. "Angela!"

"Lena!" The doctor waved back in response, and walked quickly through the thin crowd. "It... it really is you. You look almost exactly the same."

"So do you!" The two women hugged, close. "Gor blimey, doc, it's been so long. You're the first person from the old team I've actually seen in person since Greece. How's Fareeha?"

Angela hugged the pilot again, and whispered into her ear, "I am certainly being surveilled, we should get to my office at the embassy" before leaning back, taking Tracer's shoulders in her hands as if everything were perfectly ordinary. "On a mission, like always. But we're both very well, thank you. I'll be back home with her again in a few days." She showed a decorated gold band on her ring finger. "It's our second anniversary."

"Oooh, nice," said Tracer, looking closely at the interweaved inlays, the halo and the hawk. "Very nice. I'm not surprised, though - you two weren't exactly subtle." She scrounged her pockets for cash. "Let me grab something from the takeaway and we can head over to your place. You don't mind, do you?"

"Of course not! I have the entire afternoon, go ahead." She gestured to the order window. "So tell me, how is life back in London?"

Tracer frowned, and ordered a vindaloo and joined the short queue for pickup. "I'm not alive yet," she said flatly. "Still trying to get that sorted."

"Still?" asked the doctor, confusedly.

"Yah, that's why I'm doing everything in cash. It's like being a tourist in my own home town. Still living in hostels, couldn't get work if I tried, it's just every-day all-day throw myself at another corner of military bureaucracy."

"That sounds terrible. Have you tried the civilian authorities?"

"Yeh, I gave up and submitted a bunch of forms earlier today. But if I could get the bleedin' forces to pay attention, I wouldn't have to. I'm an officer! This shouldn't be so difficult."

"Surely some sort of official status is better than none," said Angela.

"Not too sure about that, luv." Tracer's curry arrived, and she grabbed it, a couple of napkins, and her tea. Turning to go, she confessed, "Honestly, outside flying, outside Overwatch... I'm starting to wonder if I ever even had a life."

-----

"Sorry if this messes up any of your tests," said the pilot, putting away the last of her second lunch. "But I was ravenous. Happens a lot these days."

"Well, I won't be able to tell you much about cholesterol levels or blood sugar, but that's not exactly why we're here, is it? You look quite fit."

Lena just smiled, happy to be looking at anyone she recognised. "Bloody hell, it's good to see someone I know. Even if you were always just 'the doc.'"

Dr. Ziegler smiled professionally back. "Before you say anything else - anything else - authorise this." She offered the pilot a padd, with forms.

"What is it?"

"It confirms that I'm your doctor. Doctor-patient confidentiality is core to my organisation and we're prepared to defend it. I assure you, whatever I see or record, it will not go to the British - or Swiss - governments. We are on Swiss soil, and I am notoriously prickly."

"Brilliant." Tracer keyed her acceptance. The form even looked like an Overwatch document. It felt like being back at old home, and her heart ached a moment for it.

"And this document," the doctor changed pages, "is not standard. But it authorises me to share your data with Winston. He has legal standing with us in ways he does not in Britain." Tracer approved again.

"Now, we may talk freely. But clothing off, please. Let's get you looked over."

Lena threw her shirt and trousers off, onto the chair, revealing the intricate pattern of bands of light, blue or red or white, flowing across her body, from upper right shoulder to lower left leg.

Angela was visibly taken aback. "Gott in Himmel. It's beautiful. You are living art."

"Clever, innit? I can control how it looks," she said, and faded it to a series of thin lines across her skin. "But I wanted to show off."

"This is what it takes to keep you in time, then?"

"S-," ..ombra, she almost said, but did not quite, "Since I got pulled back, yah. There was an earlier version that just belted on, but it wasn't stable. I kept," she shuddered, a little, remembering the feeling, "trying to phase back out of time."

"One broken strap from vanishing? That does not sound like a good solution, no," offered Angela.

"I'd've lost the plot in a month from stress and lack of showers. Can't lose this, though - it's part of me." She ran the traces through a cycle of soft, calming blues. It reminded her of No, she thought to herself, leave it. "I tell people it's bioluminescent tattoo. The latest thing, in Greece! Everybody wants them now."

"I understand why." Dr. Ziegler selected a pair of scanners. "With your permission?"

Lena hesitated. "You sure this place isn't bugged?"

The doctor smiled, and nodded. "Quite sure."

-----

"Good morning, Winston," said the doctor, a week later.

"Angela," he said pleasantly, sipping at a cup of tea, one and a half seconds ago. "How are you this fine morning?"

"Quite well, thank you. I'm in Egypt; Fareeha's just off to work. I'm ready to transmit the data, if you're set up to receive it."

"Go ahead," said the scientist.

"Sending," she said, pressing confirm.

"How was she, in person?" he asked, as the progress metre slowly climbed.

"Physically well. She's in fantastic aerobic condition. She has some new scarring - in my opinion, almost certainly burns from the explosion. She lost a toe, and broke several bones, but I see nothing to worry about. On the whole, she had to have been remarkably lucky."

"But is she still herself, to you?"

"As far as I can tell, she is. But while were perfectly friendly, before - professional friends, yes? - I didn't know her like you did. I would miss subtleties." She looked thoughtful. "Even so... even to me, she seems very lonely."

Winston nodded, sadly. "I can't even imagine what she's been going through. If I could just get down there..."

"I think that would be good, if only it could be done." The doctor paused a moment, collecting her thoughts. "But to the larger question..."

"Don't say it."

Mercy smiled, as close to wickedly as she ever came, "the ten thousand pound gorilla in the room..."

"For the last time, Angela - I am not ten thousand pounds!" he huffed.

Angela giggled, the Swiss equivalent of a guffaw, and continued, "...the hardware itself. It's extraordinary. The shielding is perfect, and where it cannot be shielded, it is too fine for nondestructive deep scans. I could get nowhere with it."

"Damn," said the ape. "So we still don't even know what it does."

"Not so," she gestured with her left hand, "we know it's a chronal accelerator. Of that, I am sure. We just don't know what else it might do."

He put more sugar in his tea. "Like mind control."

The doctor drew in a deep breath. "No, I don't think so. The brain interfacing is all motor cortex and reflex. It's meticulous work - it had to have been grown into place - and the guiding was magnificent." She highlighted some of the interface points, and at each level further down, the integration became, if anything, more complete. "It is truly a part of her, as much as any other part of her body."

"Huh." Winston peered at data sets as the first files completed upload. "Like your nanites?"

"A different approach, but if anything," said Mercy, "moreso. Whoever did this - it's not new to them. They've been doing this. They have practice."

"You could replace someone's whole brain with these techniques, couldn't you," he said, grimly.

"Certainly. But you can also do that in a chair with a combination of drugs, conditioning, and high-precision electromagnetic fields, and not leave so much evidence." She leaned forward on her elbows, towards the screen. "I know what you're thinking. Amélie had nothing like this in her brain. Whatever has been done to your friend Lena - I think her mind is still her own."

"With respect, doctor, you thought that about Amélie. We all did."

Dr. Ziegler nodded, resolutely. "I still do."

commodorified: very worried stuffed crocodile clutching a pillow (not coping)
[personal profile] commodorified
Since I'm half-packed and we're leaving in less than 24 hours it's probably time to announce that I am coming to WisCon. (Now watch me wake up tomorrow with Lorayne's cold or something.)

I'm not signed up for any panels, I'm not volunteering this year. I'm not 100 percent sure that this isn't going to end in disaster again. Depending on how I react to the various allergens in Madison I may be very low-energy, I may be sneezy and stuffed-up, I may be spending a lot of time asleep, I may be slow and forgetful due to being low oxygen, I may recuse myself rapidly from controversy or trouble if I don't see an immediate way to be useful.

I may have to leave panels abruptly due to coughing fits. We may be leaving town abruptly to get me back to Canada for treatment. (My out-of-province insurance isn't going to cover me for another serious asthma event in the same damn' city as the last one. That's kind of the definition of 'pre-existing'). We have a plan for this. It's as solid as we can make it.

Or we may have trouble at the border and not get there at all.

Or it all may be just fine. I really don't know. There's no way to tell.

But I'm on a new med (Singulair), and taking ALL the other ones, religiously, and so far my lungs seem to be willing to stay fairly functional. I'm bringing my bike. I'm hoping to stay an extra week and see friends. I'm cautiously optomistic.

A small request: if you see me, and we're friends, and you possibly can, grab me for coffee or food or a quick chat? This is almost certainly my last WisCon for some time, and if I do have a dangerous reaction, it's my last WisCon, period.

I know that I've lost touch with a lot of you due to missing the con and generally being offline and preoccupied trying to get my health under control. I'm sorry about it, and I'd really like to connect this weekend if we can, because you all are one of the communities of my heart, and to be honest I'm coming much more for y'all than for the "official" con.

If you or someone near you is wearing scent, I may have to back away rapidly. I'm sorry.

I'm not really accustomed to being a fragile little flower, you know? I'm still working out how to handle it.

Also, if there's a volunteer task I can do, something you need help with, that you can grab me for on the spot, please do. It's hard to contribute meaningfully when you can't make any promises, and I'll appreciate any chances to do so.
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

"Heya, Winston!"

"Lena! It's been weeks - it's so good to see you," he replied, with a three second delay. "Are you okay? At least you're on the ground this time - where are you?"

"Brighton! Can't you hear - oh, I've got background noise filtering turned on, let me fix that." And the sound of the ocean appeared around her in Winston's feed. "It's cold, but I'm on the beach. Look!" She aimed the camera to the sea.

"It's March and it's not even raining! How about that," came Winston's voice, clearly, over the small speaker. "Is Amélie there? Or any of her friends? "

"Nope!" she chirped, turning the transmitter back around and walking with it. "It's just me, all by myself, kicking around old haunts."

"You're... out, then?"

"Yep. Entirely on me own, footloose and fancy free, walking the earth - or at least this beach - with no way to be found. Nobody even knows who or where I am - except you, I s'pose."

She didn't mention the retrieval beacon in her bag.

"I'm staying a couple of nights in a hostel, a few blocks in. It's cheap! And nice. But mostly, cheap."

"Off-season like this, I'd hope so." The scientist discreetly zoomed his viewscreen and scrolled around, looking for anything out of place in the background. Nothing obvious. "So... Talon just let you leave."

"Sure did. Helped me arrange my story and flew me out."

He leaned forward, and said, conspiratorially and low, "You haven't assassinated anyone yet, have you?"

Tracer laughed. "Only because I can't catch a shuttle to the moon, y'big ape. Which way do you want to go - pummellings or too much peanut butter?"

"Oh, peanut butter, definitely." He put on his best, big, toothy grin, which he let drop to a more genuine smile as a small popup window confirmed, Signal origin: south coast of England (probability 93%), Brighton Beach (probability 77%). "They really just... let you go."

"Yep. I said I needed to go find my old life, and Amélie made it happen." She bit her lower lip. "It's like she even agreed."

"Are you... alive again? Legally, I mean? Do you have money? Did they re-activate your commission?" Location probabilities climbed as more signal data arrived, and Winston dismissed the window. Good enough, he thought.

The smile Lena had been keeping propped up fell. "I'm... still working on that. After they cleared me at the consulate and helped me hitch onto a cargo flight home, I thought it would be easy. I kind of thought I'd be snapped up at Heathrow for debriefing, really. But... I wasn't. I just can't seem to get anybody's attention."

The pilot sat down on the top of a breakwater, propped up the transmitter, picked up a rock, and threw the latter towards the waves. "It's like I'm some kind of ghost."

"That's very strange," he granted. "Overwatch has been out of the news for a couple of years now, but - take it from me - the governments are still keeping tabs on everyone."

"Yeh. But it's fine, honestly!" It wasn't fine, but she managed to mean it through sheer sunny determination nonetheless. She turned back to the camera. "I've got enough money to live on for weeks - a few months, if I'm careful. So I thought, well, I just need to get out of London, right? Take a few days by the ocean, get some of that sea air. Get my head cleared up."

Partial retina image capture, said another, discreet popup. Image quality acceptable. Match probability 96%, margin of error +/-35%. "That accelerator they built you - how's it holding up?" He pursed his lips and shook his head. "I wish they'd used mine," he grumbled.

"Oh, it's absolutely wizard! Once I got the swing of it? Natural as breathing. I'll show you some time, I promise!"

Far away under the surface of the moon, in the research station now again his home, Winston the scientist studied Tracer's face for any hint, any sign, of the kind of programming he believed had been implanted into Amélie Lacroix. Face and voice analytics ran over and through every frame of vision and every millisecond of audio, searching for some hint, some breath of change, and found nothing.

Of course, they'd found nothing with Amélie either. But they'd had less reason to look.

I need someone actually there, he decided. "Lena, would you let me tell Angela you're back, and safe? I'd feel better if she checked you over herself. In person."

The pilot nodded enthusiastically, throwing another stone into the sea. "Let's! I'll be back to it on Monday, trying to get someone to listen to me. It'd be great to have someone from the old crew around to chat." She picked up a little stick of driftwood, and poked at more beach rocks, turning them over, seeing what was underneath. Generally, that meant more rocks. "To be honest, it's been kind of lonely. Funny, innit? Me? Lonely?"

"Haven't you looked up any old friends?"

"Oh, I've looked 'em up all right. It's a military life, though - most everybody I can find's been all moved 'round. Katarina's back in Norway, my graduating class have completely dispersed - a lot of 'em are in Greece, but I don't have the money to fly anywhere. The only one I found still in London was Imogen."

"That's too bad. I'd transfer you some money, if I could. But at least you found her."

"Yeah..." she said, sadly.

"uh oh."

Adequate data received to begin deep analysis, said the popup. Winston deactivated additional notifications.

"It was..." She looked for other words to describe it, and came up with nothing better than, "...it was weird, big guy. We were great friends in flight school, and we kept in touch when I jumped to Overwatch. And now, I'm... I'm literally back from the dead, least as far as she's concerned, and she won't even talk to me."

"That's awful!"

"She recognised me, I'm sure of it. She said she didn't, but I know she did. She said she didn't even remember knowing anyone who joined up with Overwatch." Tracer looked off to the side, not liking where her thoughts went. "She looked scared, Winston. Of me."

I can understand why, he thought to himself. The woman whose death brought down Overwatch is back from the grave, hasn't aged a day, and nobody is talking about it - who knows what you are? But out loud, he said, "I'm sorry," and meant it.

"It's been five years, the world's a different place - it feels like wheels are flying off everywhere, it really does - but now look out everyone, Tracer's coming to town! I thought..." her voice trailed off.

"Those missing five years didn't sink in, did they?"

They really hadn't, she knew. Not until then. "I really miss you, big guy," she said, sad and quiet.

"I've missed you too, Lena," he answered, softly. "I can't get off this rock, but you can always - any time of the day - radio me, and I'll listen." He reached over and touched a few points on a console. "I'm sending you my 'wakeup' prefix code. It will get me up, if I'm here, and I will answer."

Her padd chirped. "Got it."

"And don't wait 'till you're back in Brighton. Any time. Day or night."

"I will, I will! But maybe not tomorrow." She shook her head, brushing off the sadness. "There's a bar just a bit down the way, and it's also just hit me that I haven't picked anyone up in a bar in over five years, and that can't be helping. I think I'm gonna fix that tonight."

Winston howled with laughter, big honking bellows. "Now that sounds like the old Tracer," he said, merrily. "But... how're you going to explain the accelerator?"

"What, you think I've got some bulky ring in my chest, like yours? These are posh, mate!" She grinned. "I figured it out on the flight north. I just call 'em bioluminescent tattoos, and all the girls will want their own."

"Heh," he chuffed. "I believe the traditional Air Force benediction is, 'Good hunting?'"

"Rwrar." She winked.

"Go get 'em, pilot. But promise you'll radio me from London on Monday."

"I will, Winston. I promise."

Winston waited 'till Lena shut down her transmitter, and then threw the whole conversation - sound, vision, raw signal, transmission detail data, everything - into deep computational processing, to send along to Dr. Ziegler. If they've done anything to you, he thought, I will find it. And one way or another, somehow - they will pay.

A thing I had not previously realised

May. 23rd, 2017 04:13 pm
kaberett: Lin Beifong crying (lin-tear)
[personal profile] kaberett
You know the way tear are an excretionary mechanism for Nope Too Much Of That Emotion Let's Have Less Of It? No, they really are, maybe: emotional tears contain more misc hormonal wossnames. Have an art project!

(no subject)

May. 23rd, 2017 10:48 am
seren_ccd: (Default)
[personal profile] seren_ccd posting in [community profile] 2017revival
Name: Seren
Age: 38
Location: Wales, UK
Gender: F
 
Describe myself in five sentences or less:
1.  I'm an American living in the UK (for the last 10 years).
2.  At any given moment, I can guarantee you that I'd rather be reading.
3.  I've been writing fanfic for some time now and am trying to write an original novel-thing.
4.  I live in Wales and love it.
5.  I'm from Florida originally and everything you've heard about that state is completely true.
 
Top five fandoms:
1. Black Sails
2. Star Trek
3. American Gods - more that I'm enjoying the show, I haven't created anything (yet)
4. The Mummy (NOT the Tom Cruise atrocity)
5. Uhhh, whatever tickles my fancy?  I tumblr-watch a number of things.
 
I mostly post about: Writing, life, Wales, food.
 
My last three posts: 
1.  Writing is hard.
2.  Hooten and the Lady fic
3.  Did you know that Writing is Hard?
 
How often I post/comment: Not often, but I'm hoping to change that and post weekly.  We'll see how that goes!
 
GIF to describe day so far: (not a gif, but an image)
Daisy from Spaced

 

Newly local characters

May. 22nd, 2017 03:13 pm
azurelunatic: The (old) Tacoma Narrows Bridge, intact but twisted. (Tacoma)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
Once I move at the beginning of June, there will be a new local set of people.


Me: y'all know me. Lunatic, infovore. Gender: no thank you. Pronoun set: plural-they.

Partner: a witty, kind geekfolk, fascinated by books and shows and links and sports and hardware and eking every last ounce of usefulness out of old gear. I have known them for about 10 years at this point. Infovore. Gender: has a lot of oppressive constructs which should be BURNED THE FUCK DOWN while not endangering the vulnerable folks who depend on some of its supportive ones. Pronoun set: anonymous-they.

Metamour: has been seeing my partner since February-ish. Met them over a game of CAH; knew they had to be friends when they had pretty much the same answer. Witty, beautiful. Likes baking. Gender: woman. Pronoun set: she/her.

Tay-Tay: my younger (biological) sister, and soon to be my roommate. I say she is my "baby" sister but she's actually a year older than my partner. Violinist and general ball of energy. Short and tiny; I can kind of lift her in one arm so she can be on eye level with my partner. Gender: probably woman-ish and she likes kicking over gender norms and dancing on top. Pronoun set: she/her.

The Kitten: a small, loud, grey indoor lap cat who loves my partner and will punch people who try to pet her without her permission. Previous owners declawed her. She is food-insecure, and cannot be left to free-feed. She's antisocial to other cats. She does not like Master Jerkface very much at all. She is most often found perched on the back of my partner's desk chair and getting hair on their jacket, on my partner's lap with her tail in their face demanding to be petted, or on top of them when they're asleep.

Master Jerkface (and other equally unflattering nicknames): the abusive ex of my beloved partner. I hope to not meet them. Gender: they have one. Pronoun set: as used here, anonymous-they.

The Man-Child: Tay's boyfriend, who I didn't hear about in the context of a Relationship until September 2016, literally as I was coming back from the Oakland radiation oncology department. Musician, outdoorsy hiker type. A few decades too old for man-childishness to be excused. Gender: man, probably. Pronoun set: he/him.


Team Partner: a bunch of people who came together to help my partner in their hour of need. They include:

an old internet friend of mine who reads the Vorkosigan books
their wife
a friend of theirs

The first hosts: one of my partner's former co-workers who went into tech and her husband

The second hosts: another co-worker-ish person and her husband


Assorted now-local friends of mine include:

Mr. Zune: a former co-worker from Virtual Hammer who is now at the SEA-TAC outpost as his career was portable
Mr. Zune's Girlfriend: got a dream job in the Seattle area

[livejournal.com profile] tygerr: an old friend and Listee
[livejournal.com profile] tygerr's wife: an excellent and fun geek lady

Carnelian: a friend of mine from the late 90s; we had various different paths in life but now we're talking again and comparing notes.
Terezi: Carnelian's daughter, who infamously needed two stacked baby gates to keep her contained as a toddler. Now a proud teenage tumblr bb. (I haven't seen her in Many Years, but I'm likely to run into her more often now.)

Various #dw, #dw_kvetch, and #lj_s folk!!!

someone needs to say it

May. 22nd, 2017 01:57 pm
solarbird: (korra-smug)
[personal profile] solarbird

let's put this in order

May. 22nd, 2017 11:02 am
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird
If you wanted to follow on overcoming the fear of spiders in chronological order - it is kind of futile. But here is a list. I probably won't update this post, but it is correct as of today. (Okay I updated it, it's now correct as of 26 May 2017.)

I am including only chapters already written. I am redacting titles of chapters not yet published. Chapters numbered ???## have probable numbers but they aren't final. Chapters ??? can't have usable numbers yet, as they will appear after others not yet written.

I consider the second movement, "Restored," to be two related mini-movements, but there is only one name, so they are combined here.

Some people would consider this spoilery (if nothing else, because of movement titles), so enjoy a cut tag.

It's 2068, and Overwatch test pilot Lena Oxton has just been given the go code, ten thousand metres above Greece. )

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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