Archive for August, 2011

Steel and Motor Oil

The clinking of wrench on bolt echoed slightly through Dela’s guts, sound bouncing ever so slightly against the gears and steam pipes. The parts of her that he was standing in were shut off while the rest continued to pump away, using redundant systems to keep Newton safe while he repaired and enhanced her. He spoke to his difference engine, watching a yellow light blink Morse code in response.

“How is Dr. Bellenger?” The computer seemed sincere in her question. After so long, Newton could almost believe he could hear her moods in the grind of gears and strength of pistons.

He blushed a little as he tightened a bolt, rolling his shirt sleeves higher, trying to stall for time. “Please don’t begin that as well, Dela. I receive quite my share of it when I visit with the rest of the Exceptional community.”

“I don’t see what the problem is. It’s been quite some time since you’ve considered women as anything more than a potential colleague.  You’re not embarrassed by her, are you?”

“No!” The answer was sharp and quick and slightly mortified. “Not in the slightest. I might as well be embarrassed that the works of the Old Masters are so heartbreakingly beautiful. Rather…it is unfamiliar to me. Never have I been so delighted to be unsure of so much. Each new revelation is glorious.” The scientist started, realizing he had stopped working and was instead staring into space, the scent of oil and metal reminding him not necessarily of her, but of how she made him feel.

“Irregardless,” he continued, clearing his throat and deliberately returning to the task at hand, “she is the most brilliant women I’ve ever known, and I am honored simply to know her.”

There was the briefest pause before Dela answered, “The most brilliant?”

Newton couldn’t help but laugh. “Present company excepted, of course. No need for you to worry.” He patted one of the steam pipes, “You’re still my number one girl, Dela. But you have to admit, there are certain limitations to our friendship.”

“You’re right, Newton,” she said, pistons calm and steady. “I’m not jealous of your time. But I can perform thousands of calculations a second. I sincerely doubt Dr. Bellenger can accomplish half of that.”

He smiled, oiling an assembly with care, wiping up a trail of the slick lubricant before it dripped into the bearings. “You are indeed correct. Though Mac may be able to-” he was interrupted by a piston arm crashing down on his shoulder, not enough to hurt him, but certainly enough to gain his attention.

“I’m sorry, Newton,” the light blinked. “I seem to have slipped.”

Newton glowered for only a moment. “Perhaps less oil next time, then.” But soon he was smiling softly again. “Alright, Dela, I think you’re in form.” He climbed over another pipe, past a steam vent, and out a trap door in the huge facade of the Difference Engine. The buttons were warm and the switches flipping were accompanied by the satisfying hum of power surging through a machine. The pistons took a few moments to come up to speed and synchronize with the rest of the parts that hasn’t stopped moving, but soon the entire engine was moving at full capacity. Newton went over to the output slot and read the status report, his eyes scanning a familiar pattern of holes.

Then there were the two extras. Two punches that he had never seen in a diagnostic report previous to this one. That was entirely new, and the scientist spent more than a minute staring, trying to remember when he’d added that functionality.

“Dela, what is this ‘temporal fluctuation detection’ you have listed in your diagnostic?”

The computer took several seconds longer to answer than usual. Finally, a blue card spit out. “After your temporal…adventure, I though I should begin learning how to upgrade myself to include chronology sensors. They are not complete, but they would be present on the diagnostic.”

He didn’t know where to begin. All he could do was sputter, “What do you mean, ‘upgrade yourself?’ You don’t have that functionality, I never gave it to you!”

Dela did not answer. She didn’t answer anything for the rest of the evening.


Moving Forward

From the Journal of the Late Noel Aig: 8/1516/11

It’s been a long night, but I’m awake again. I even forgot the changeover of days. When I look back over my shoulder I can see my wife still blissfully asleep, smiling with thoughts of what we were just talking about.

I’m not sure if I knew until this evening, but I think I am ready to be a father again. I’ll never stop loving or missing Arthur and Sebastian, never stop thinking about what it would have been like to have raised them, read with them, played football with them, but I can’t live my life mourning them either. And I can’t be afraid of what will happen to a child of mine, either. I’ll protect them, and maybe not having a wife who tempted fate to the point of it taking revenge means I’ll have a better chance.

The whole house is quiet. So much is quiet here, peaceful and relaxed, and for a moment I know why my father hated to leave Chipping Norton for work so often. I got bored a lot after we moved there when I was 15, especially after my life in Dublin where I had the constant adrenaline rush of being part of the Living Tribunal. There were times when my adolescent brain would just crave any sort of excitement, and I’d almost get wistful about hiding in trash bins and almost getting killed in extended rituals. Now that I see why Dad didn’t miss that, I realize what an idiot I was as a teenager.

Quiet sounds like a nice thing right now. Having a child is an adventure, a long and difficult and endlessly rewarding one. Maybe it’s time for me to be part of that one instead of battling monsters all night. Maybe it’s time.

No matter what happens on Sunday at this meeting with the mysterious stranger (I really need to stop listening to mysterious strangers), I’m ready to try for a child, and considering we started tonight, I’m not turning back.

Ok, so I read this today. It’s from Penn Jillette’s new book, God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales, and I’m putting it here because a lot of it is very close to the thinking of my Gaslight character, Newton. He is a huge proponent of the claim that he doesn’t know, and gets very upset when people suggest that he’s trying to answer everything. This is not to change people’s RP as I enjoy trying to explain the difference IC and his struggle to get people to stop seeing, as he views it, ignorance as a virtue.

Either way, if you feel it will inform future interactions in a way that would ruin the IC nature of the struggle, I’ve put the quote behind a cut. Also, hey, look, I figured out how to do cuts in WordPress.

From the introduction, titled “The Humility of Loudmouth Know-it-all Asshole Atheists”

From the Journal of the Late Noel Aig: 8/15/2011

I could tell it was time for me to step back a little when I read the email. Fiction, talking about humanity and what it means to suffer, as if she were capable of such things, as if she were actually human. That’s when I knew that I couldn’t really be a part of this lifestyle any more, realizing how easy it is for the monsters to slip into it, hiding until they’re bored and ready to rend people with their claws and teeth. I believe in the Awakened Nation, but I also know that they’re not ready for certain things, and their selection process is still shit.

It wasn’t easy unsubscribing from that list. I thought back, wistfully, to the time when I didn’t think I could handle the sheer volume of email from the Awakened Nation, and now it would be hard to cut off contact with them. But no matter what I ended up doing after Gypsy and Sol left and Cloud went his own way, I can’t imagine it would be deep within the Mysterium. Zohar is clearly an idiot and, both as an Irishman and a Mastigos, I won’t follow somebody who so clearly has their head up their arse. Moreover, the whole business with the Free Council has shown me that a number of the Hierophants have their image of the Pentacle and the Order wrapped up too tightly with their own egos, and I’m too tired to fight that.

So much of my life these days comes down to being too tired. I can’t blame Bowie for not wanting to be more than a normal wife, baking and cleaning and painting and running her gallery. My heart screams at me to join her, to leave this all behind, maybe even start a family again. I may be ready for that, to have a child I could love and raise and show the light. But the screams are always there, in the back of my head, the same ones in my Nimbus, and I remember why I can’t stop fighting. It hurts, just thinking about it, listing my failures every night and realizing they could have been avoided. How can I abandon them when I can make a difference?

Can I make a difference any more?


This post is a marker to indicate where my old, imported stuff ends and my new stuff begins. Just for me, but you can use it if you like.

Noel stepped into the church. It was closed to the public, it always was at night, but Father Flanagan makes spare keys for God’s warriors. Noel didn’t know how many had been handed out, but he seemed to be the only person who actually used it. He flipped the light switch, listening to the muffled bang of each bank of lights turning on, one at a time, a luminous procession up the aisle.

Christ’s face looked down on him, peace hidden in the pain carved into his wooden eyes. Noel slowly walked up along the red carpet, careful to keep the scabbards tucked into his belt from hitting the pews on his left as he passed by. Even the carpet couldn’t fully muffle his steps as he approached the front row. He stopped to genuflect and pull the swords from his belt, laying them on the pew next to him. Again, he couldn’t help but see the peace in the pain and wondered if his face ever looked the same. He was too tired even to feel guilty about comparing himself to Christ again.

He bent down to the padded, red microfiber kneeler, crossing himself with practiced grace as he did, the whole thing a single, flawless motion. He bowed his head, trying to reach out with his heart like he normally did. Ever since his Awakening, it had been harder for Noel to feel God, but he always knew He was there. Tonight, he felt the Lord especially strongly.

“Dear Lord,” his Irish accent came unbidden, the language of his faith rolling off his tongue and around the church. “I know that I am not meant to return to You. That’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for this world and I thank You for the chance to be worthy of it. Just the other night I was more concerned with myself, but it’s not worth it now. I know it’s not. The last time I prayed like this, I traded by Destiny for a favor that never happened. I know now that I was asking for myself, and the result is clear.

“Tonight, though,” he said, refusing to cry, “I ask for Your guidance not for myself, but for my friends. I will miss them, aye, but I am Your instrument and will do Your will. All I ask, please keep them safe. They would never want it to happen, but I don’t know if they’ll have somebody willing to die for them where they’re going, so they’ll need You to keep them from risking it. Watch over them, protect them, and if they must risk their lives, make sure some nutter crazier than them is around to take the bullet if it comes down to it, just like I was always ready to.”

He looked up again, seeing now neither pain nor peace, but only compassion in the empty, wooden eyes.

“E nomine Patri, et Fili, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.”

Though he crossed himself he continued to kneel there, his eyes closed, meditating on God’s love and grace.

How much more….

From the Journal of the Late Noel Aig 8/1/10:

How deep are my sins?

I don’t know how many scourings I can take any more. God has given me a purpose, but I cannot help but feel I live my life in Gethseminie, asking always for God to let this cup pass. I’m not strong enough for this. I can’t handle this any more. I want to live with my wife. I want to have my sons back. I model my life after super heroes, but I don’t know how they do it, how they continue on when the pain gets so excruciating.

My sons are avenged. Really and truly avenged. I bathed in the blood and gears of a Tick-Tock Man, I saved the city again, I stopped the people who helped kidnap and kill my boys. Why isn’t it enough? Why does this rage still pound in my veins? Why do I want to kill, maim, and slaughter when I know it keeps me from being happy?

I’m so tired, and all I can remember is the callousness with which I drew Gypsy’s katana and my wakizashi through its neck. I know I cast a mind effect to keep myself from becoming inured to that sort of violence, to please my friends as much as to hold on to my humanity, but now that the effect has worn off, I still don’t care. I’ve spoken to Father Flanagan, gave my confession, told him I stopped some of Satan’s warriors, but I feel neither forgiven, nor sorry. Being a Catholic, I realize the first is predicated on the second, so there is no forgiveness for me. I cannot allow the strong to prey on the weak, and for all my vaunted intelligence, I cannot find another way to scour my sins without compounding them. Fee would never say, but I cannot help but believe she would be disappointed in me.

On top of everything, Fiction has returned. I was content to believe she died with the rest of the nutters in her Legacy, but I’m confronted with reality, and both magic and academia require that I accept facts for what they are. There is no place for her in the Awakened Nation, no place for murderers and madwomen, and it galls me to see the people rejoicing at her return, as if she weren’t a stain on the nature of reality. Even Zohar, whom I had considered an intelligent woman, has been taken in by her countryside charm. I see what an idiot she is now, but telling her would do very little good.

I’m tired. How much have a sinned that I’ve earned this? Must we pay for goodness as well as sin? I don’t know. I just don’t know any more.

I am not Christ, I have no aspirations to being like Christ. I know I’m a terrible person, ultimately, destined to return to Hell where I was given the power to fight God’s war on Earth, but please, Lord, if you were to show mercy, let this cup pass from me.