SIONL: Is ‘Time is Strange’ Smarter Than First Appearances?

I’m going to have the most major spoiler of the second episode of Time is Strange, so consider yourself warned.

I have a thing about games that offer me choice.  I replay them, a lot.  The more choice it offers, the more I replay.  I tinker and fiddle with the choices, until I have crafted the narrative to perfection.  I’m weird like that.  It’s the reason that I now have playing through the Mass Effect games down to a science.  For real, it’s almost uncanny how well I do at that.  I am the guy who can have all my crew love me and a ton of allies, while having a TON of renegade points.  It’s a gift.  Oh, and because I am awesome, all of my crew survives the Suicide Mission.  I never have lost Wrex on Virmire.  I got both the Geth and Quarian fleet the first time I went through Mass Effect 3, and I got it by yelling at everyone!  How badass am I?!  Sure, it means that Mordin has to die, but so be it.  He dies like a boss, and it is a touching moment.  If the third game’s last act was better, my return to Earth would have been such a boss moment.  I had the ultimate fleet in the galaxy.  Wish I could have put it to use on Earth.  But that’s just me griping.  I do that.  Hence why I write these Self-Indulgent and Overstated Nerdrage/love posts.

But to the topic of the video, I am totally into Life is Strange.  Judge me how you will, I think it’s fun.  The characters are interesting.  The mystery is engaging.  And I can’t wait to see what happens next!  Still, this is a game where I can tinker with the universe of it.  It gives me so many narrative choices.  As such, what do you all think I’d do?  Tinker, of course!  I have tinkered with the two episodes that are out in a way where I think that I have the perfect remedy.  For real, I have allies, friends I can count on, and Max’s best friend is totally falling for me, thanks to my choices.  I can’t wait to see episode 3 come out, so I can continue this tinkering.

However, the first time I went through Episode 2, I screwed up.  On the scene of the rooftop, where you are trying to convince Kate not to jump, I messed up.  I gave her the wrong Bible verse, and she jumped.  It hurt!  No kidding, I felt terrible.  I vowed to restart both episodes, to try and set things up better.  But the second time, it was even worse!  Whereas the first time, it was one small mistake, the second time, I blew it big time.  No matter what choices I made, her fate was decided before I walked on that rooftop, because of earlier choices.  That hurt.  However, I learned from it.  I went back and I was able to change things again, and I saved her!  It was such an awesome feeling.  When I got her off that rooftop, I felt like a boss.  And it got me to thinking.

The whole angle of Life is Strange is about how you can change things by controlling time.  You can go back and change the course of your story, each time you hit the rewind button.  And if you really screw up, then you can go back even further.  You can go back to the beginning of the episode, by going to the start menu.  I figure that it was most likely game mechanics, but at the same time, I can’t help but think that these people had some understanding of what they had created.  It was almost like a statement about the game’s universe or gaming itself.  Don’t like the choice you made?  Just go even further back.  You, the player, are the God of this universe.

Max’s life is affected by you.  What happens to her, her friends and the people she loves is at your fingers.  It isn’t her that’s changing all these people’s lives.  It’s you!  It’s like a part of this game is self-aware.  It’s telling that the person you are trying to save is someone who believes in God.  It’s like the game is sending you a message.  The message is – this is what it would be like if you were God.  Do you like it?  Well, now you know what God is like.  Again, I have no idea if this was intentional.  Maybe I’m just over-analyzing.  It’s what I do.  Love or hate a game, I over-analyze the shit out of it.  And this is a cool thought.

Earlier, when Max and Chloe were at the junkyard, I had Chloe shoot the bumper of a car.  The bullet ricochets and hits Chloe.  That freaked me out!  I had had her do that!  Me!  Like some kind of omniscient asshole, I had Chloe accidentally shoot herself.  That’s nuts!  I went back and changed things, but can you imagine that?  Can you imagine what that would do to you?  You see someone you love shoot themselves, because of what you say.  That would fuck you up!  Even if you could rewind and take it back.  Seeing their blood and potentially guts go everywhere.  I can’t image.

Gaming is reaching a point where you have them becoming somewhat self-aware.  Games like Bioshock, that make a point about how the player has no real choice.  Games like Spec Ops: The Line, where you show that the player is the willing participant in carnage.  Games like Divekick, where they make a point about how people exploit the dive-kick move.  Gaming is getting really smart about its medium.  And that’s a great thing.  It means that we have more to talk about, and you know what – I’m always down with that.

What do you all think?

Until next time, a quote,

“To truly make the Matrix work, we had to give them one thing.  Choice.”  -The Architect, Matrix: Reloaded

Peace out,

Maverick

Your Bad Science and “Notoriously Toxic” Gamers (A response to the National Endowment for the Humanities)

You know how bad science works?  It’s simple – you start with a conclusion, and then you work tirelessly to find evidence to support that conclusion.  It’s been the cornerstone of “research” for the videos done by the likes of Anita Sarkeesian, or that Rolling Stone article on the now-proven false rape at Phi Kappa Psi (for which the fraternity should sue the publication), or any number of other kinds of Puritan Feminist statements that have no real-world application, along with countless creationists who also don’t care about contradictory evidence.  Now, however, it seems that the federal government of the United States of America has decided to get on the bandwagon of bad science and give money to the National Endowment for the Humanities to do said bad science.  Confused?  I’ll explain.

According to a recent article by Tech Raptor (linked here) the National Endowment for the Humanities has announced a grant for over $29,000 to study the “toxic rhetoric” of gamers.  Wow.  They immediately show their bias towards a conclusion.  Right in their announcement, it’s blatant!  Their assumption – gamers are toxic, and so is their rhetoric.  That is just…amazing.  It’s nice to see that a branch of the federal government doesn’t care about objectivity.

It’s so easy to demonize gamers these days, isn’t it?  I wrote an article for Gambitcon talking about how we demonize adults who play video games, and how it is unacceptable.  That we all get one chance to do this life thing, and you live it how you see fit.  And yet, if you watch the endless coverage in mainstream media about GamerGate and video games in general, when is it ever positive?  From the piece about rape in Grand Theft Auto V online space, with the traffic cones over people’s heads (right, ShoeOnHead?)  For my entire life, gamers have been the media’s whipping boys.  We are an easy mark for them to attack, because it is acceptable.  Acceptable bullying.  That’s America for ya!  And it is bullying, make no mistake.  They get to bully people they look down on, to make themselves feel better.  Hell, a writer for Polygon, Sam Biddle, even advocated that bullying gamers is a good thing.  I’m sure that Tweet isn’t going to haunt him until his career ends.

One can easily go online and find plenty of negative things that people have posted.  Internet Trolls are everywhere.  It’s the way of the world.  Is it right?  Absolutely not.  Does it exist?  Yup.  These trolls are loyal to no idea.  They don’t care about any group.  They do what they do for the lulz, and beyond that, its meaningless.  This is just a game, for them.  People like Anita Sarkeesian can bring up their countless threats, and its easy to make an assumption about gamers.  But then you have people like Liana K, Vivian James or myself, who all make it very clear that we do not support death or rape threats (obligatory statement that I, in no way, support death or rape threats) and have leveled fair and honest criticism without feeling the need to get ugly.

Anywhere on the Internet, really ugly things can be found.  Look at any video from Ark Music Factory.  Those things are cyber-bullying gang rape!  Oh, I’m sorry, did I trigger somebody?  My bad.  But it’s true.  Go to any popular video and look in the comments section and you will find a ton of people who have nothing but vitriol to say.  Is it right?  Absolutely not.  Is that how it is?  Yup.  That is definitely how it is.  It’s the nature of the Internet.  If you are a smart person, you take it with a grain of salt and brush off the douchebags who attack you.

But if you are a person with a chip on their shoulder and an ideological axe to grind, then you can promote the trolls and feed them, making every piece of legitimate criticism leveled against you disappear, because you get death and rape threats!  Who cares about what honest things people have leveled?  You get death and rape threats!  Isn’t that awful!  Don’t you just want to talk about that, and not look at the man in the mirror? Of course you do.

So, how is the Endowment of the Humanities going to conduct this research into “toxic rhetoric?”  Are they going to watch a bunch of Sarkeesian’s videos where she shows her harassment?  Are they going to scan the comment sections of YouTube videos.  In a better study, gamer rhetoric and looking at gamer opinions could be very insightful.  An honest study into this would show that we gamers are not the sludge that feminists make us out to be.  We are a vast ethnic group that encompasses a lot of people.  But don’t tell Tim Schafer that.  His sock puppet might be out of a job.

Tech Raptor pointed out that this study is not something to worry about.  Since it clearly has a narrative to uphold, it won’t really do much to convince people who already have their minds made up about gamers.  The real problem is that this study exists.  And it has taxpayer money.  We, the taxpayers, are giving money to bad science.  That does legitimately piss me off.  We castrate the budget of NASA, and replace it instead with this crap!  How does that not blow anyone’s mind?  Does mine.  Blows it hard.

When will it be enough?  This culture war in gaming is finally getting very ugly.  People like Anita Sarkeesian are riding the high and using their clout to get more and more money.  She’s a con artist, after all.  Aside from making money, she couldn’t possibly care less about what she says.  But the games media is feeling the heat.  The tide of the battle is starting to turn, with developers now taking a stand with the gamers that the politicization of this hobby needs to stop.  Gamers are banding together to fight for who we are.

Fighting for who we are and our right to be.  Huh.  You’d think that that would be something that a certain group of socially…just people might have a little sympathy for?  Oh, wait, these people think that we need to not clap anymore, instead doing jazz hands.  Hope for them is LONG gone…

Until next time, a quote,

“Have I ever told you the definition of insanity?  Insanity is when you do the same shit, over and over, thinking that it will be different.”  -Vaas Montenegro, Far Cry 3

Peace out,

Maverick

The Europa Mystery: Part 11

As I went in to cryo-sleep again, I had another dream.

The eyes I was seeing through weren’t mine.  I could tell as much.  They were the eyes of someone else.  Someone older.  Someone who had strength and confidence.  Well, most of the time.  With this person, they were dragging their feet.  Something stayed their motion.  Was it fear?  Sadness?  I couldn’t tell.  But for whatever reason, as they walked down the street, they didn’t carry themselves well.  It was Mars.  That much, I could tell.  In fact, the more I saw of this street, the more familiar it started to look.  I saw the house of one of my oldest friends!  Through whose eyes was I seeing this?  Better question, why were they here?  The person turned a corner, and I saw my house.  The fear that was slowing them got sharper.  I could feel it.  The person was desperately trying to hold back tears.  They looked down, and I saw that they were wearing a uniform!  Mars?!  Why was Mars here?
She finally arrived at the door, her hand visibly shaking as she went to the bell.  Finally, after some mental fortitude, she willed herself to press the button.  There was a brief pause, with her straightening her uniform.
Dad came to the door.
“Oh, hello.  How can I help you?”  He was looking Mars over, surmising that someone in a military uniform must have official business.
“Mr. Monroe?”
“Yes, that’s me.”
“Is your wife here as well?”
“She is.”  Dad’s face got more concerned.
“If I could step inside, I have something that I need to talk to you about.”
“Honey, who’s at the door…?”  It was Mom.  She came walking in.  “Oh, someone from the IDF.  How can we help you?”
“My name is Marlene Devareau.  I was part of the Europa mission.”
Both of them lightened up a bit after that.
“Ah, then you might know our daughter!” Dad said.  “She is on that mission.  Slated to be home in a couple of months.  Should have already launched.  Is the shuttle here?  Did they get home early?!”  That got the two of them excited.
Mars let out a long breath.  Both of my parents looked worried.
“Did something happen to Ellie…?” Mom asked, grabbing Dad’s hand.
“Something…went wrong.  We should go inside and talk.  This should be private.”  Things suddenly faded out.

 

They faded back in with me seeing Mom on the couch, trying to hold it together, while Dad was crying.  Mars was on the verge of tears herself, fiddling with her hands.
“Everything happened so fast.  There was the alarm, and Aronax telling the crew to abandon the Station.  I desperately tried to reach Ellie, but the long-range transmitter was down.  Hers wasn’t the only Distance crew we lost.  I was about to suit up and head out to find her, but the Commander stopped me.  Had to throw me onto the elevator.  I haven’t gotten my ass kicked by a CO like that in a long time.  He told me, ‘there’s nothing you can do.  Even if you found her, this place would be sunk by the time you got back.’  I hated him.  Wanted to shoot him and head back out.  That little girl, she wasn’t just my job.  She was…”  Tears flowed in earnest.
“Your friend?” Mom asked.  All Mars could do was nod.  Nobody talked for a while.
Finally, Dad looked up. “If she did find her way back to Atlantis, could she have survived?”
Trying to find the right words.  I knew this feeling well.  “The fact is that everything was falling apart at the time when we were ordered to abandon the Station.  We had minutes.  Water was rushing in from everywhere.  The Station was already starting to buckle.  The most nervous I was during all that was when the elevator started to buckle.  We would have had to climb up the shaft.  If that had started to flood, then we all would have died.  We had to shut off  the elevators after we got up.  So many crew didn’t even get a chance to evacuate.  Whole sections decompressed and water rushed in.  God, the people who must have drowned in there.  I don’t even want to think about it.  Ellie…”  More tears.  I felt like crying too.  All I wanted to do was hold Mars.  I guess my mother could channel my thoughts, because she went over to the woman and put her arms around her.
“You did all you could.”
“I should have gone after her!  So what if I died!  At least she wouldn’t have had to die alone!  She would have been with people who loved and cared for her!”
Dad looked up.  “No.  I know that Ellie wouldn’t have wanted that.  She would want you to live and be happy.  She wasn’t the kind of person to want anyone to suffer.”
It was true.  I would have been so angry at Mars if she had stayed in that Station and had died to find me, when she could have escaped.
“I had to be restrained once we got back to the surface.  They shoved me into that shuttle and we left.  Going into cryo for the journey was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  We just got back.  There hasn’t been an official announcement about what happened on Europa.  The PR people are trying to find the right way to word it.  We technical don’t even know.  Everything happened so fast that we couldn’t conduct any scans.  Aronax prioritized the safety of the crew.  He’s a good man.  I may have hated him then, but he is a good man.  Did everything he could to save as many people as possible.”
My parents nodded.
“I’m glad that he saved you,” Mom whispered.
“Why?”
“So you could tell us what happened.  So it wasn’t someone who didn’t love and care about our daughter coming in and telling us the truth.  That’s important.”

Now Mars was choking back sobs.  “I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.  I tried…”
Mom just hugged her tighter.  All the control that Mars had melted away, and she broke into Mom’s shoulder. Nobody talked, for a time.
“We’ll have to get started with funeral proceedings,” Dad said, his lip trembling.
“Yeah. I’ll make some calls.”
He shook his head.  “No, I’ll do it.  You stay with Marlene.”  The dream was fading out.  They believed I was dead.  How long would they believe that?  What would happen next?

The first thing that I remember is the sound of beeping.  A noise that seemed familiar, to me.  A heart-sensor!  My eyes opened, but my body felt unbelievably stiff.  Had something gone wrong?  I don’t remember coming out of cryo being this unpleasant before.  My body was a little weak.  Weaker than other times I’ve come out of cryo.  What happened?  The room I was in was white.  Very, very white.  A little cool, too.  Looking around, this place was nice.  Very nice.  It was the Station!  Of that, I was sure.  I looked to the other side, and saw Lucas there.  Thank God.  Moving got a little easier.  There was an IV in my arm.  As I was awake and looking around, my optical implants came online, along with my Band.  It told me about my surroundings.  Sure enough, I was back on one of the Orbital Stations.  My heart was singing.  We were home!  Now I could tell my parents that I’m not dead.
First, I had to check on Lucas.  My vitals were strong enough.  But I had to start moving.  Sitting up was not easy.  Why was my body so weak?  An analysis seemed to point to a cryo-sleep that was longer than normal. How long had I been out?  Not enough data.  Having finally sat up, now I had to try standing.  My feet didn’t touch the floor sitting up, so I was going to have to slide off.  That was going to be fun.  A little courage moment, then I did it.  My feet greeting floor was scary.  But my balance returned.  I wasn’t going to be running marathons, but I could move.  I walked over to where Lucas lay.  We were both in our underwear, from when we went under.  We couldn’t have been out of the cryo-pods for long.  My optics did a scan.  Lucas was alright.  Like me, he was suffering the effects of what most likely was a long cryo-sleep.
Time to get a doctor and to talk about this.  I shuffled back to my bed and moved it up so that I could lay in a seated position.  So tired, but didn’t want to sleep.  Done enough of that for two lifetimes.  My Band hooked in to the network here and let the desk know that I was alive and looking for assistance.  A young man came in, smiling at me.
“Well, hello there!  Glad to see that one of our sleeping beauties is awake.”  Flattering bastard.  I admit, I blushed a bit.  He’s a sweet guy, and, I admit, kinda cute.
“Yeah.  How long was I out?”
He frowned a bit.  “I’m not sure.  There is someone here that can help you with that, though.  He’s the head of the Medical Ward, here on this Station.  We’re with the IDF, so he should have all the answers.  I’ll ring him up.
“Thank you.”

About 15 minutes later, an older man, with a trimmed white beard and a jovial face came to my door.
“Well hello, young lady!  I see that you and your companion are awake.”
Indeed, Lucas had woken up.  Well, I woke him up.
“I had to get his lazy ass up, but yeah,” I sneered.
“Blow me, bitch,” Lucas replied.  We chuckled.
Taking out a tablet, the head of the Medical Ward sat down.  “Nice to see you two are up.  My name is Director Adrian Veer.  I’m the head of this facility.  Sounds like you two have had quite a ride.”
Lucas snorted.  “Understatement of the fucking year.”  I wasn’t about to argue.
“Well, I understand you were wanting to know about your cryo-sleep.”
I nodded.  “My optical implant told me that that was the most likely reason behind my muscle weakness and why I didn’t come out of sleep in the pod.”
“That’s true.  You two’s shuttle had to make a whole bunch of course corrections.  Avoiding more pirates, like the ones who captured you.  Smart defensive systems on those.  After you got away from the ship you were on, and a ton of corrections to keep you out of enemy hands, you headed back to Mars.  The whole journey took just over a year.”
“A year?!” I gasped.
“Yeah.  The Asteroid Belt is a pretty risky place.  Your shuttle was a little overly cautious, but it got the job done.  You weren’t captured again, after all.”
It was shocking, but I had to give him credit.  That shuttle had kept us out of danger.
Lucas decided to step in.  “So, then, it would have been about a year and a half, since we left Europa, then.  Wow.  Why didn’t we wake up in the pods?”
The Director looked at the chart.  “According to our information, given your age and the length of your cryo-sleep, they wanted to make sure that you hadn’t had any adverse effects.  When they pulled you out of the pods, they gave you some anesthetic, to keep you under, until we could verify your health.  That’s part of the reason for the weakness.  The drugs are wearing off.”
“And, was there anything wrong with us?” I asked..
“Aside from some mild melanin depletion, you’re fine.  Though the two of you are pale as corpses.  Kind of unnerving.”  He chuckled.  Lucas and I couldn’t help but do so as well.  It felt good.
“So, is IDF Command going to be debriefing us?” Lucas asked.
“Very astute.  When we got word that you were up and about, I sent word to them.  Commander Aronax is coming to debrief you, along with talk about other things.  If you’re hungry, I can arrange for some meals to be sent up.  It isn’t technically meal time, but I think that we can make an exception, for a couple celebrities.”
Both of us looked shocked.
“Oh, I know who you are.  Stay here.  I’ll have meals sent up.”
Both of us were starving.  I was eager to feel like I was alive again.

After getting some lunch, Lucas and I were totally different people.  It was just chicken strips and fries, but I felt so good.  There were all kinds of people poking their heads in.  The whole celebrity thing that the Director brought up.  Oh well.  It felt kinda cool, to be a rock star.  The two of us were giggling like schoolkids again as Commander Aronax came into the room.  Both of us looked up.
“Ah, I see our two stars have survived!”  He looked right at me.  “I can tell you now that Marlene was fighting with me the whole way when I had to drag her off Atlantis Station.  He was about to go to the sub bay and take one out looking for you two.”
A smile came to my face.  The dream was right.  That meant that my parents thought that I’m dead, too.
“Sir, have our parents been notified?”
Lucas piqued at that as well.
“I will personally be sending out notices after you are debriefed.  They won’t be able to come here, because this is a military installation, but in two days time, you will be heading home.”
Lucas grabbed my hand.  I clutched his back.
“But first, I have to know – how on Earth did you get off that Station?”

We told him the whole story.  From us getting back to the Station, to ending the Executive Lockdown, to getting to the surface and leaving on the shuttle, then when we got captured by Pirates, and how I used my tech to get us out.  It made for one hell of a story.  There were times where I wasn’t even sure that I believed it, and I was there!  After over an hour, the story was done.
Aronax stroked his chin.  “Wow.  You two certainly are a couple of amazing kids.  You are going to be all over the news!  Of that, I can guarantee.  Is there anything else I should know?”
Lucas suddenly looked excited.  “Sir, I think I figured out what happened to Atlantis.”
That got Aronax and a couple of people who were taking down notes’ attention.
“Oh?”
Clearing his throat.  “Yes sir.  When we were on the Command Deck, dealing with the Lockdown, I did some scans.  I also had the data that I got on the sub’s mission to check out the coral and did a little correlating.  I think I may have an explanation.”
I was confused.  “When did you do that?”
He smiled at me.  “Well, the first time that we went under, I waited a little while after you did.  I did some analysis of the research I had gotten and formulated a theory, based on the data that we gathered.  I have all the information, which I am happy to share with your scientists.”
Aronax leaned back  “I’ll be glad to have our people look at it.  What did you find?”
“Wish I had a holographic projector.”
“That can be easily remedied,” one of the note-takers said.  He took out a small device and set it on Lucas’ bed.
“Excellent!” There was a brief pause.  An image suddenly came up.  It was of the coral we scanned.  “When Ellie and I were on the mission, we found coral growing out of the caves that we found them in.  They were sending out some kind of organic mixture into the water.  It was warming the local area quite a bit.  At first, we thought that it was some kind of terraforming, but I believe that it goes much further than that!”
The image changed to the sea floor scans of Europa.
“We believed that the coral were limited to a few caves, but I think that those estimates were grossly inaccurate.  Sir, I believe that the coral was part of a massive network of caves that may have stretched through the entire sea floor.  It might have gone all over the planet.  No way to know without a detailed analysis, which is something I would very much caution against.”
Aronax looked confused.  “Why?”
“Because they would likely suffer the same fate as Atlantis.”
“You brought up knowing what happened with that.  Tell me.”
“Well, from what I’ve determined, eggs from the coral got into the Station from exterior venting ports.  The kind that were made for waste.  The filters would have caught them, but they didn’t go inside.  They started to grow along the vents.  The growth rate was exponential.  There’s a reason for that.”
The image changed to Atlantis, showing access ports and various passages.  “The coral consumes electricity.  It speeds up its growth.  In the day leading up to what happened, there were power drains being reported.  They didn’t seem significant enough to check out.  If you had, then things might have turned out a bit different for Atlantis.  Though I doubt it.  From what I scanned, the access ports were now totally overgrown with the coral.  They blocked the vents and backed everything up.  Once the filters busted, the coral wasted no time growing into the Station..  It was so fast that you wouldn’t have been able to stop it, even if you had seen it.  Though you might have been able to get everyone out quickly.  The major systems start being affected, and right as you are about to deal with it. the pipes that were overgrown with coral burst and the Station has a massive influx of water.  A very simple plan of attack.  Though elegant, for the coral lifeform.”
A quiet pause as people digested.  Aronax was still stroking his chin.  “I see.  But wait, did you say attack?  The coral were attacking us?”
“That’s my belief, yes.  The coral attacked Atlantis when we attacked it.”
“It?  You say that like it’s only one.  But that’s impossible.  We saw countless polyps.  Even different forms of them.”
Lucas shook his head.  “No, it’s all one life-form.  Singular.  This will take a bit of explaining.”
The projection of Atlantis changed again.  Now there were the electrical lines that we saw before.
“Oh a hunch, I had Ellie do a scan of electrical energy running through the base.  It showed me this.  There were TONS of signals being sent through the coral!  It was running all along the passages.  But that’s not all.”
The image zoomed back, to show the lines going out into the ocean surrounding Atlantis.  I felt so stoked.  I remembered when we first saw this, and how cool it was.  It was so cool, listening to Lucas be all super-genius and explaining it.  I might be a hacker, but this was some cool shit!
“The electrical signals were being sent out of the Atlantis, and flowing down, toward the seafloor!”
“But how would it travel through the water?” a note-taker asked.
“There was that organic material that I believed was for terraforming, but now I think that my assumption was wrong.  Now I think that is a kind of conduction chemical that carried signals back to the main body.  See, the coral isn’t different types.  All the types that we found, I am almost certain that they are simple different arms of the same body.  Like how various organs perform different functions.  My reference point for this was a tree colony back on Earth.  People believed that each tree was a different flora, but it turned out that their roots were all connected.  The entire forest was one massive super-organism.  It’s the same thing here.  The electrical signals were being carried through all the coral polyps.  If they were individual animals, then the transmission between them wouldn’t have been so seamless.  It is all one giant system, each with its own part.”
The image zoomed back in.
“The coral wasn’t doing what it did for any malicious reason.  It attacked Atlantis out of self-preservation.”
“But why would it view us as a threat?  We meant it no harm!”
Aronax nodded, but said nothing.
“Because we injured it.  We cut pieces off the body.  We thought that we were being smart about it, but this animal had never been injured by another life-form.  It took us cutting parts of it away as a sign that we were a threat.  So, it responded in the only way it could – by destroying our stuff.  Quite a fast evolutionary response, if you ask me.”
The room went quiet again.
“Incredible,” Aronax whispered.  “You have figured out a mystery that will put the coral creature in a class of its own.  A super-organism animal, which is extra-terrestrial.  Amazing!  I must say, son, if our people agree with your assessment, you are going to be given a place in scientific history!  Though I’d say that you have earned it!”
Lucas blushed a bit.
“Send the data to my people, and we’ll look over your data.  I can’t wait to hear what we say.  I’ll make sure to keep you in the loops, seeing as how it’s your discovery.  And don’t worry, your name will be the one at the top, when this gets published.”
The Commander stood up, along with the note-takers.
“Get some rest, you two.  Two days from now, you’re going home.”  He was about to leave, then stopped.  “Oh, right.  Ellie, my people found something in one of the lockers, and a friend of your said that you would want it back.”  He was handed an envelope, which he then handed to me.  I opened it quickly, seeing Angie’s necklace.  My heart sang.  It was here!  Part of me was wondering if I would ever see it again.
“Now, get some rest.  You’ll be going home soon.”
There was a part of me that was so happy, yet so nervous about going home.  How long had Mom and Dad thought I was dead?  Did they bury me?  Wonder what was in the coffin.  Too creepy a thought.  I would be with them soon enough.  That’s all that mattered.  Angie’s necklace was back where it belong – hanging right over my heart.

Until next time, a quote,

“People like what science gives them, but not the questions science asks.”  – Mr. Rzykruski, Frankenweenie

Peace out,

Maverick

The UVA Story Ends Here

After extensive investigation by the police, to which an article in The New York Times stated that the girl who levied the accusation, “Jackie,” was not cooperative with the police, it has been discovered that there  is no substantial evidence that any of what she said in her Rolling Stone article happened.  After all their work, the police have found that everything that “Jackie” said was false.  While that doesn’t prove that she was not the victim of rape, it does prove that her entire story was fabricated, and now we are having to actually look with cold eyes at what happened.  I mean to lay out what this means and what should happen next.  Because what happened here is such a farce and displays so much of the bitter truths about universities and how they and society at large looks at cases like Jackie’s.

First, the girl herself, Jackie, should be taken in and charged with levying a false accusation.  I know that sounds harsh, but with all the insanity, along with this girl’s refusal to cooperate with law enforcement, she should face legal repercussions.  This girl has done so much damage to the cause of prosecuting actual rape, because now the culture is going to be even more critical.  Though maybe that’s for the best, in some ways.  After all, look at how many Puritan Feminists came out and claimed that they stand with Jackie, regardless of how there was no evidence.  It’s time that this girl discovered that your actions have consequences.  This critical nature that people are gaining may be for the best, because the last thing we need are more cases like Jackie’s.  Although, the police haven’t technically closed the case, even though there is no evidence.  And the only witness they have, Jakie, has absolutely zero credibility at this point.

Next, the reporter who wrote that article for Rolling Stone should be fired.  This should have happened ages ago.  She displayed everything wrong with modern journalism, by taking a story from a single source and not doing even the bare minimum of fact-checking.  She started a media shit-storm that she defended, even as the truth was coming to light from The Washington Post.  This person is a terrible journalist.  She should be fired and, to be honest, her career should be totally destroyed.  Her credibility has been.  What publication will hire a person who fabricates their story?

Also, Phi Kappa Psi fraternity should sue Rolling Stone for their part in all this.  It was their terrible reporting and destroyed their reputation and got them black-listed in their own university.  If they are able to bounce back from this, it will be surprising.  Now the publication that tarred and feathered them should be held to the fire and be taken for everything they are worth.

Then there are the university Star Chambers that we are seeing on colleges.  Universities are expelling and suspending students for crimes like rape and sexual harassment, without going through any due process.  With the former of these, that’s just insane.  If you believe that a crime has occurred, then you have a legal OBLIGATION to go to the police.  Young men are having their academic futures destroyed without even getting the right to defend themselves.  Already, young men who have suffered this are coming back with legal teams and universities are losing money.  As they rightly should.  When you have a system of justice that assumes guilt and doesn’t follow due process, then you have broken the law and you should be held liable.  I hope these colleges lose a ton of money.  That’s at least a small way to get some satisfaction against a system that treats men like we are the enemy.

But lastly, and most important – this should serve as a lesson to people.  We live in a society where people believe in a mythical “rape culture.”  One that I have seen absolutely zero evidence that exists.  This idea that all over our society are things that promote rape is beyond absurd.  We gamers have been the most recent target of that.  Endless reports of people being sent death and rape threats, by trolls on the Internet who are just doing it for the lulz, and because the people who report these threats are professional victims who feed them to keep the money flowing in.  The reaction to what happened at UVA highlights everything that’s wrong with modern feminism.  There was even a Tweet where someone said that “‘evidence’ is an invention of cis males.  It has no place in the real world.”  A statement so insane that destructive that it goes to show the thinking of Puritan Feminists.

They don’t care about evidence.  They don’t care about reason.  They will take things on faith and buy it without a second thought.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I ditched religion a long time ago!  This kind of neo-Victorian fear of sex by third-wave feminists is destroying all the work that the sexual liberation movement fought so hard for.  It’s so blatantly obvious that they are afraid of sex.  And when you have them being supported by the culture at large, with the police not being willing to put away a person whose accusation was now proven to have no substance of any kind in jail, what do you think is going to happen next?  Why, justice will continue to not be served!  These Social Justice Warriors don’t care about actual justice.  They don’t care about real rape victims.

I have seen some of the most insane statements from these people.  One woman claimed to need feminism because of “stare rape.”  Another woman said that “birth rape” is a real thing.  These people are basically making any form of intimacy where the man didn’t ask for permission each and every step of the way into rape.  Is that the world that you all want to live in?  Because I don’t!  Third-wave feminists are exposing just how ugly the modern views of sex are.

So yeah, the story is done, and now some justice needs to be served.  Since I know that the entire world reads what I have to say and will totally go out and do my suggestions *read sarcasm*, I look forward to what happens next.

Until next time, a quote,

Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.”  -Exodus 23:1

Peace out,

Maverick

The Girl Who Saved Royalty

Following the path that the leader of the town told her to, she was making good time.  The best way to find out where the other Titans are was from the capitol of Grail.  The journey would be long, but she was armed with food, knowledge of the terrain and local flora, and some supplies.  Indeed, that woman had been rather kind.  The town had lived in constant fear of the Titan who wandered their territory for ages.  Ever since they arrived, it was something to fear.  Entire pathways and caravans could be destroyed by a Titan’s foot.  Though there were rumors that all kinds of Titans existed.  Ones that took to the sky and swam under the water.  This knowledge would have to be taken into consideration.  It sounded like there were also quite a few, each one unique.  Had she taken on more than she could handle?  There wasn’t enough time to truly ponder it.  What was done was done, and she had to deal with the consequences.  But this knowledge did make her travels easier.  Her theory had been right – the Titans were a menace that must be stopped.
However, it seemed that they had a place in the local culture’s lore.  Some people believed them to be holy, and that killing one of them was a mortal sin.  There were a few ugly looks, as she had left the town.  The leader there had been amicable, but she knew not to overstay her welcome.  And that was what led her to be on this path, gently traveling in what was a beautiful day.  There were a few clouds here and there, but overall, it was wonderful.  Rested and given new vigor, this felt like the first step on a positive road.

Some time in the afternoon, she stopped by a stream and loaded her water canteen.  The wind was picking up.  It felt so good,  She let her dirty blonde hair flow in it.  The sun was such a nice thing here.  Where her tribe lived, seeing it was so rare.  So much clouds and rain.  Not to mention chill.  Indeed, since being this far south, she was finding herself only in her vest and thin leggings.  That had gotten her some looks, back in the town.  So many women who wore dresses.  It was odd.  Among her people, such attire was only used for ceremonial purposes, and it wasn’t the flimsy kind of dress that these women more.  It was more like a shirt and a long skirt.  How these women could fight was beyond her.  Although, it sounded rare for women to fight.  Among the comments she got, there were those asking why she had a sword on her person.
As she sat, feeling the breeze on her pale face, there was a smell that suddenly greeted her nose.  It was smoke!  Her horse smelled it too.  Running over, she got back on.  Had another Titan come looking for her?  It would be quite fortuitous, if such were the case.  Then she could kill it and be that much closer to being able to go home.  Moving fast, the two headed toward the smell.  Coming to a small clearing, she looked up and saw smoke billowing into the sky!  But something was off.  There were no signs of a Titan! Indeed, they left vast swaths of destruction behind them  Not a sign of that could be seen.  Aside from the smoke, there was only the sound of screams.  This wasn’t a Titan.  Getting closer, there was the sound of swords.  This was a battle!  Dismounting, she tied her horse to a tree that was off the road.  Almost a ghost in the underbrush, she drew her knife and moved fast.
Coming through some trees, she saw that the road was in chaos!  There were several wagons, all of which were either burning or upended.  A few dead horses on the ground, along with men in large metal armor.  Among them were other people.  Some were people dressed in fine fabrics.  The men appeared to have had their throats slit.  One of the women was stripped naked, a look of terror on her face.  What had happened to her?!  The girl was afraid.  She moved fast through the rubble.  Then she came upon a different set of bodies.  These ones were armed to the teeth!  But they had no armor.  They were dressed like her, to move fast.  Each of them appeared by the armored men.  This armor looked very extravagant.  If the armor was a sign of wealth, then it stood to reason that these men were in the employ of the fine-fabric individuals.  Protectors?  If that was the case, then those who attacked them were some kind of vagrants, looking to take from the wealthy people.  It made sense.
The further in she made it, the more carnage she found.  The people with the fine fabrics were brutally killed, their possession being taken.  Large containers that were filled with clothes and other things were littered about, opened and gone through.  Another woman stripped naked and beaten.  Had they raped her?  A sensible assumption.  The leader of the town had warned her about bandits.  She wasn’t worried.  Perhaps that had been an error, on her part.
Coming around another carriage, she stopped.  There were two of the vagrants.  They were going through some possessions, talking amongst themselves.  Now was her time to move!  Drawing her knife, she knew that if she did not kill them first, they would likely kill her.  In a flash, she was on the first man.  Moving around him, her blade slipped across his throat.  The man gurgled as blood poured out.
“Oi!  Who the fuck are you!”  The second man drew a knife of his own.  Dropping low, she readied herself.  No vagrant was going to kill her!  The man charged at her, but it became quickly-apparent that he was not nearly as skilled with a blade as her.  His swings had purpose, but they lacked finesse.  He was just throwing himself at her.  Did that work with the ones in armor?  She doubted this.  Which would explain why each one of those typically had five or more bodies around them.  These vagrants were using numbers to their advantage.  A clever tactic, when your enemy has more skill.  In this battle, however, it did him little good.  Her blade went smoothly into his shoulder.  Coming out, blood flowed everywhere.  In a couple seconds, the man dropped.
The sound of battle was louder now.  Whoever these men in armor were, they were still in the fight.  Perhaps it was best to assist them, as a means of protecting the other people in this caravan.  Moving through the wreckage, she killed two more unaware vagrants.  Stealth was her ally.  With it, she was unstoppable.  Without it, she might succumb to numbers, as the armored men did.  There were three vagrants assaulting a woman.
“Where’s your rich boy now, whore?!”
“Yeah,, he seemed to cut and run when he saw us!”
The woman was terrified.  “Let me go!  Take my dress!  Take anything!  Please, just let me go!”
“What do you think, lads?!”  These vagrants were enjoying this!  She decided to not let them decide.  In an instant, she was upon them.  Her knife went into the loins of the first man, making him scream and fall.  The other two turned fast.  Right as the first caught sight of her, her sword took his head clean off.  The last one clearly didn’t have much spine without his compatriots.  Dropping his weapon, he made to run.  Her knife rumbled in her hand.  Did it want his blood?  She obeyed it, throwing the weapon right into the man’s back.  After retrieving it, she walked back to the woman, with her dress torn open and tears running down her face.
“Thank you!” the woman cried.  “Thank you so much!  If you hadn’t have stopped them, I don’t know what they would have done!”
“Likely, you would have been a victim of carnal violence,” she replied.  “Remain here.  I have dispatched all the vagrants behind me.  I must assist in killing the rest.  They clearly have no honor.  I must deal with that.”
“Wait!”  The woman grabbed her.  “You must save Princess Valen!  I saw them taking her!  Gods know what they’re doing to her right now!  Her guard is too busy fighting bandits to help!  You are the only one who can save her!”
While there was a part of the girl who wanted to join the fight with the armored men, if this young lady was unable to be helped, it fell to her.  There was always time to join the fight after saving her.
“Which way did they take her?”
“That way!  Into the forest!  Hurry!”
Dropping low, she moved like a cat, with silence and speed.  Using the thick undergrowth to cover her movements, she followed where the woman had pointed.  There was indeed a large trail of footsteps moving into the forest.  They seemed to be dragging some things behind them.  Was that this Princess that she was told about?  Only one way to find out.

It didn’t take long for her to catch up to the vagrants.  They were carrying a large amount of things on sledges behind them.  One of them was a woman with gently-tan skin and dark brown hair.  She was kicking and snarling, bound and gagged.  There was a look in her eyes of fear and anger.  A unique dichotomy, but she could see it.  Drawing her knife, it rumbled again.  Why was it doing this?  Was it not just the Titan that it wished killed?  Did it want more lives?  Something to figure out, but later.  They were making a ton of noise.  Jovial conversation about how much “loot” they had made off with, they seemed to pay no attention to their surroundings.  Did the fate of their comrades not concern them?  No surprise.  These were honorless vagrants, after all.
Coming up behind the first, she grabbed him and pull him in to the undergrowth.  Her knife went into his neck, as her hands covered his mouth.  In a second, his struggle ceased, as he died.  This was a good tactic.  She could kill the vagrants who were following behind those who were dragging their gains to wherever they made home, then deal with the rest.  Coming to a bend in the river, she took her chance.  Like a predator striking, she ran at the next vagrant.  Her knife went into his neck as she vaulted forward, using her weight and the river-bend to throw him off her weapon and into the water.  There was enough of a ledge to avoid being seen as the rest looked back and saw their comrade fall in.  They were laughing.
“Clumsy idiot!”
“Aye, enjoy the trip downstream!”
As anticipated, they showed little concern for his well-being.  These people didn’t have any real form of camaraderie, outside of getting wealth.  This could be exploited.  Once they continued on their way, she moved up and headed back toward the undergrowth.  As she ran, her eyes met the young woman.  She had seen her!  The Princess’ eyes were pleading with her for help.  The girl nodded to her.  Help had indeed arrived.
Next up was one of the people with sledges.  He was traveling too close to the undergrowth, which gave her a chance to strike.  None of them seemed to look back long enough to notice if one went missing.  Especially now that the rear vagrants were dead.  With deadly intent, she struck.  Her knife slid in, and the man stopped twitching in a moment.  Now she had to work quickly.  There were two more men with sledges of gains, and two men in front, watching the path.  This had to be done before any of them could react.
Without making a sound, she charged from the undergrowth.  With her knife in one hand, and her hatchet in the other, she was upon the first man.  The hatchet came down on his neck.  She threw her knife into the shoulder of the man with the other sledge, that was carrying the Princess.  The two lead men turned around fast.
“Who the fuck are you?!”
“She don’t look like none of those rich pricks!  What your beef wit’ us?!”
Seeing no reason to respond, she attacked.  These two man were not the same fools as the others.  One had a sword, the other had a sword and a knife.  Both charged at her.  Having retrieved her knife, she used her smaller size and low stance to her advantage.  The first swung at her, but she used her hatchet to move it away.  The second charged in fast.  That might have worked, had she not seen him coming.  Almost dropping to the ground, she kicked out and brought him down.  Her hatchet came down on his neck.
“You’ll pay for that, bitch!”  The man’s swings got wild.  A person without restraint was dangerous.  Plus, he was the last one.  He clearly knew the score.  Swinging at her, she kept moving back.  His anger gave him strength, but it didn’t last long.  Soon, he was breathing heavy and moving back to catch his breath.  That’s when she struck.  In a moment where his guard dropped, she put her knife in his neck.  Blood flowed onto the blade, which almost seemed to glow.  What was this weapon?  Perhaps her father had known more about it than he let on.
Standing up, she cleaned her weapons and sheathed them.  Walking back to where the Princess lay, she took her knife and cut the binds.  She then undid the gag, with the young woman coughing.
“You saved me!  You saved me from those awful bandits!”  The lady hugged her tightly.  It was an awkward moment, for the girl.  Was she supposed to hug her back?  It seemed logical, so that’s what she did.
After a moment, the two pulled apart.
“My name is Princess Coreal Valen.  Daughter of High King Massar Valen, of the Kingdom of Grail.  What is your name?”
Looking up at her, she nodded her head.  “A pleasure to meet you.  My name is Jelineau of the Night.  I am from the village of the White Crow, in the lands to the far north.”
Coreal perked up.  “I know of those!  My people have long since avoided to the northern tribes.  They were lands that were not fertile enough, and there were rumors of a horrible Titan lurking there, who could destroy a town in seconds.  It was said to be a dangerous place.”
That got a bitter look.  “It is true, there was a Titan in the lands to the north.”
“Was?”
“I slayed it, to avenge my people.  Now I am traveling, to find the others, so they might meet the same fate.”
The Princess was in shock.  “You can’t be serious!  The Titans cannot be slain!  We have tried, for hundred of years!  How could you have done what our greatest armies could not?”
“I was guided by my blade.  It is a weapon that my father gave to me.  It hungered for the Titan’s death as well, and it led me to places where it could be killed.  I suspect only with a weapon such as this.”  She showed the knife to the Princess.
The girl ran her finger along it.  “Amazing!  The knife is black!  It must be made of special metal!  You may be right that only it could have killed a Titan.”
“I am headed to the capital of Grail, so as to ascertain the location of other Titans, so that they too might fall by my knife.  As the Titan I killed told me, they shall be coming for me, so I must do this.”
Eagerly, the Princess took her hand.  “I am the daughter of the King of Grail!  You shall come with me!  We shall return to the capital and I shall have all our armies find as many of the Titans as we can!”
Jelineau shook her head.  “You do not owe me that, Princess.”
“Of course I do!  And please, call me Coreal.  You saved my life!  I would be dead or worse, had it not been for you!”
Pondering for a moment, she nodded.  “Alright then, Coreal. Let us head back towards your carriages.  I shall protect you.  Your armored warriors seemed to still be fighting.  When we get closer, I shall have you hide, while I assist them.”
Grabbing her hand quickly, Coreal looked frightened.  “Don’t!  Don’t leave me alone!  I don’t want to be alone again!”
Jelineau returned the grip.  “Fear not, Coreal.  You shall be safe.  Trust in me.”
A brief pause.  “I do.  I do trust in you.”
“Alright then, let us return.”

They didn’t get far down the trail before they heard trampling footsteps running toward them.  Coreal grabbed Jelineau’s backside.
“More of them!”
“Quickly, Coreal!  Hide in the trees!  I’ll deal with them!”
The young woman found letting go difficult, but did as bidden.  Drawing her hatchet and knife, she got in her low stance.  Around the corner came half a dozen men, dressed in heavy armor.  They saw Jelineau and drew their weapons as well.  Leading them was a younger man, with auburn hair and regal features.  At his side, he had a sword with a hilt of gold.
“You are among those bandits that attacked us, yes?” he asked.
“I man not!”
“Then who are you?!  Speak quickly, or I shall have my warriors attack!”
“Stand down, Captain!” came Coreal’s voice.  From behind the trees came the Princess.  She stood beside Jelineau, who had relaxed her stance.
“Your Highness!  You are alive!”
“I am!  And it is this young woman who saved me!”
Bowing to her.  “Forgive me, M’Lady.  I did not know.”  He moved forward.  “Many blessings upon you, stranger, but we shall lead the Princess from here.”  He took a satchel from his belt and threw it on the ground in front of her.  “Here is a proper reward, I think.”
As he reached for her, Coreal smacked his hand.  “I shall have you treat my rescuer with more respect than this!  She is my honored guest!  And until we are back in the Capital, she shall be the one watching over me!”
The man was clearly hurt and annoyed, but his decorum too charge.  “As you wish, Your Highness.”
Taking the satchel from the ground, Jelineau tied it to her belt.  “Though I shall take the coins.  Thank you.”  A smirk came to her face.  The man looked so insulted.
Coreal pretended not to notice the two’s stand-off, motioning for them to continue.  She kept by Jelineau’s side, never moving away.

When they got back to the caravan, they saw what remained of the vagrants.  The fight was brutal, but the rest were dead.  What remained of the passengers was being protected by three armored men.  They salvaged what they could of the carriages.  Only two were still able to move.
Jelineau looked to Coreal.  “Remain here.  I must get my horse.”
“No!  I’ll go with you.  I can ride with you as well.”
Thinking for a moment, she frowned.  “Coreal, I do not believe it would be wise for you to ride with me.  It is very exposed.”
“You shall call her Your Highness, stranger!” an armored man shouted.
“It was by her request that I call her Coreal, warrior.”
Gasps went around the area.  The Captain looked so offended.
“I will ride with you, Jelineau!  Or, failing that, you shall ride in a carriage with me.  That is how it shall be.”
Deciding not to argue, she shrugged.  “Alright then.  You shall ride with me.”  The two started off toward her horse.

Some time later, the sun was starting to get low in the sky.  The carriages came out of the forest, being escorted by what was six men on horses, and the rest being on the carriages.  Jelineau felt that she had reached a milestone in her journey.  Indeed, this Coreal might just be the ally she is looking for.  With her help, she could find the rest of the Titans, kill them, and return home.  But as they were riding, she couldn’t help but notice that the Princess had fallen asleep.  To keep her from falling from the horse, she wrapped an arm around the young woman’s stomach.  She groaned and leaned into her.  Despite the bitterness and hate that had driven her, for the first time, she felt something warm inside herself.  Saving this lady’s life had given her a sense of satisfaction that had seemed like a distant memory.  Holding the lady close to her, it felt like the end of a day that was worth something more than revenge.  What is that feeling worth?

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Life is Strange: Episode 2

Life is StrangeAfter a first episode that got me – hook, line, and sinker – it comes back with another episode that keeps the plot going in a pretty good way.  I am hearing mixed things about this on the Inter-webs, but for the few people who actually read these, I think that you have a lot to dig into, here.  Plus, well, I’ll get to what makes all the choices that you made before so much better.  Overall, while this isn’t perfect, it has me wondering where the next chapter goes.  But let’s talk a bit about it, first.

The plot pics up the next day from the previous episode.  You have Max waking up, having spent what seems to be a considerable amount of time trying to figure out the reason behind her time-altering capabilities.  But the mysteries surrounding Blackwell Academy are growing, and now Max is hip-deep in it, trying to figure everything out.  The only ally she has is her friend Chloe.  But can they figure it all out, before the doom that is slated to appear on Friday?

Did that seem vague?  Yeah, I can’t go into too much more detail without some MAJOR spoilers.  In truth, since the technicals didn’t change for this Episode, I won’t have much to say about that.  I will say that the lip-synching is still terrible, but now that I’m used to it, I found myself only being annoyed by it a couple times.

So, what can we talk about?  Well, let’s talk about the pacing.  That’s my biggest gripe with this episode.  Toward the middle, there is a REALLY awkward section where the pace totally stumbles, and it feels like the episode is dragging its ass.  It’s a section where Max and Chloe are getting closer, but it is not more than a little annoying, save a segment where I really screwed up and nearly gave myself a heart attack.  Thank god for the ability to rewind time.

I will say that the relationships of the characters get more developed.  This game has done well making each relationship feel like it’s growing or falling apart, depending on what you did last time.  Though one of my choices in connection to a certain bitch character had me wishing that I had destroyed her in the previous episode.  For real, it was so infuriating.  Which brings me to another element that works – the consequences of decisions.  Each decision you made has a place in this game.  What you did has a real meaning.  This all comes to a head very late in the game.

All of the pacing issues aside, this episode was worth it for the climax.  I can’t say what happens, but I will say that you are placed in an unbelievably-difficult situation, and your time powers are unable to help you.  If you screw up, it’s on you.  The tension there was unbelievable!  I was so crazed!  And I know I screwed up.  When I did, that really hurt.  I felt terrible.  Especially when I saw some of the other mistakes I made in the last episode come back to bite me.  All of the choices come to a head in that climax, and it will touch you.  Unless you don’t have a soul.  That’s right, I said it.

While not as good as the last episode, I can’t help but recommend this one.  Some people said that this segment bit off more than it could chew, but I disagree.  There was some pacing issues, toward the middle, but overall, it was still fun.  I know this review didn’t tell you much, but like I said, if I explained it any better, I would spoil stuff, and I don’t want to do that, because it’s worth not spoiling.  Take that for whatever you will.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

The Girl Who Slayed Titans

The horse came to a stop. It was a gentle stream that passed by them as they rode. To where? Nobody could say. They had been following the tracks of the Titan that she sought for almost a month. How a creature that large could get so far, and yet never be noticed by her was a complete mystery. She reached down at petted its mane. This horse had been a very faithful companion to her, over the last few months. Since they had left the village, this was her only companion. The long days, traveling across fields and wood, they had left her very tired, but nonetheless determined. Her quarry wasn’t too far away. She could feel that she was gaining on it. There wasn’t the same kind of age to the tracks of the Titan for which her vengeance was so dedicated.
Her mind and heart were fluttering. The flames of vengeance burned in her heart, and despite her fatigue and hunger, the flames wouldn’t die. But rest was something they both needed, so she dismounted, letting her companion get some water. She dipped her hands in as well, drinking deep of the stream. It was a pleasant afternoon. The trees swayed in the afternoon breeze, as if they were enjoying their day. It was summer, and well into. The grass was green, the trees leaves were full. Even the stream made a sound like it was very happy to see the two of them. This put a frown on the girl’s face. Was it wrong to be feeding into their happiness, when hate was all that she felt? These questions had no correct answer, so she decided not to think about it. There was too much ahead to think about it too hard.
Grunting, her horse looked down at her. It gave her a look, as if he were telling her to lighten up. She smiled, rubbing the end of his nose. She reached into her pack, gently pulling out some bread that she had brought for the trip. This was close to the last of it. Foraging was nothing new to her, but this land was. The trees were different, and so were the plants. Not knowing what was safe or not was a danger. It was very clear to her that she had to find a settlement, and negotiate information, or supplies.
There was a grunt from down the stream a bit. From behind the trees came a rather portly-looking animal. It had a fat body and big teeth. Meat, now there was something that was always safe! She quickly reached over, grabbing her bow from the satchel on the horse’s back. She strung the bowstring, quickly taking aim. The body looked tempting, but behind all the meat, she could almost sense a thick rib-cage. She closed an eye, looking the creature over. The best way to go at it was right through the eye. This was going to be a tricky shot. A smile came onto her face. Now this was the kind of thing she liked! Pity there was nobody around to see her skill! There was her faithful companion, but he never commented, aside from the occasional grunt or whiney.
Her fingers gently released their grip on the arrow, letting it fly! A shaft from the heavens, it struck right through the creature’s eye. It reared back, squealing in agony. The screams only lasted a couple seconds, as it suddenly twitched and fell over. The girl ran over, taking the arrow out. She did a silent prayer at the animal’s fallen body, asking the Spirits to guide this animal’s spirit to the Golden Meadows, and thanking it for the bounty it provided. Now came the really difficult part.

It was nightfall before she had gotten the fire going and hung up pieces of meat. She was drying it off so that it could feed her later. This was a trick that was taught to her by her father. The memory made her eyes sting, so she shook it off. This was going to take some time, so she decided to get some sleep.
The moment her eyes shut, dreams overtook her. There was the village, with the people all gathered around the Elder’s fire. They listened to her tell of the days gone by, and of the people who lived there. The Old World was always an amazing thing to hear about. Their light stones, their moving stones on “rails,” their great flying monoliths, they were stories that she missed more than ever before on nights like tonight. Then it changed to the late summer evening. The harvest was in, and the people of the village were all working to get the crops into their large hovel where they were kept. The next day, they would be sorted and prepared, so as to preserve them and to keep the people fed for the winter to come. Another thing that she missed. The image in her mind turned to winter, and charging through the snow with her friends. What had become of them? Were any of them still alive? She had charged after the Titan on her horse, not even stopping to look back, the blade of her father in hand. The glow of it fading as the creature got farther and farther away. That all seemed like ancient history now.

She awoke with a start. Her horse looked over at her, grunting. She saw that the meat was dry, and she bundled it up in her satchel. It was time for the two of them to get moving. Quickly dousing the fire, she bowed again to what remained of the carcass of her prey. It had given its life in order that she might continue. It was not a sin to her, to take the life of something else, so long as you paid respect to it. Some from the village disagreed.
Mounting her horse, she gave it a kick, and they were off. The moons’ light filtered down through the trees. It was a beautiful night. It was then, running through the trees that she noticed something – there wasn’t a sound! No animals were making noise, no birds chirped. Even this late, there was always a bird or two that was talking. Something had caused them to stop. Something was different. Slowly drawing her blade, the girl looked around. It was then that she felt it – the rumble! The rumble of massive footsteps. This was a feeling she knew! A dark smile came onto her face. I have caught up to you at last! This got the horse to be pushed faster. The tracks were very new. The massive destruction that the circular feet left in the ground, even with how much it tore apart the earth, she could tell that these were new.
Her companion could feel this too, and it also seemed determined to make tracks quickly. They came to a clearing, at the top of a cliff. She pulled on the reigns, bringing her friend to a stop. Letting out a breath, she looked over. The view was breath-taking! The forest went on for what looked like an eternity. There were all kinds of trees among it. The stream that she had left merged with others and there was a great river flowing through there. Then, right as she was admiring that, her eyes found it! The beast for which her anger burned, the creature that she felt so much rage towards, the one that had burned down her home, and kill her family. It was here!
Truly, it was a titan. It stood almost as tall as the cliff on which she stood. Like a man, it stood on two legs. There were large patches of hair that were on many parts and growths that were stone coming from the body! What kind of monster is this?! She quickly dismounted, drawing her sword and her knife. She threw the knife into the ground, letting out her war-cry. It echoed through the land, and sure enough, it got the creature’s attention.
“I am…going to kill you!” she screamed at it, staring across the vast void, into the glowing red eyes. The creature started to move. She pulled her knife from the ground. The challenge had been made. According to the laws of her people, when a warrior threw their knife into the dirt and made their proclamation, the duel could begin. If nothing else, she was a follower of the laws of her people. The titan was coming right at the cliff face. The smile on her face grew. It was coming to its doom. She knew this. The closer it got, the more massive it became. The will that drove her did not buckle. It was a called a Titan. That naturally would make it massive in size. The grip on her knife tightened. It would be that weapon which would kill the beast. For her father.
It arrived at the cliff. Without speaking a word, it reared its arm back. There was sweat running down her face. How to avoid that? That’s when she saw the skin, furry and long. The fist came forward. There was only a second to react. She leapt back, digging her feet into the dirt and finding her grip. The fist smashed into the cliff, pounding through the rock. The entire face shook. Her horse didn’t want to leave, but moved out of necessity. With lightning-movement, she moved. She jumped up and grabbed the first. The fur on the fingers was easy to grip. She had to move fast. The hand opened, and the creature began to shake it. Holding on was unbelievably hard. It was straining both her hands and her arms, but she moved forward. Off the fingers, on to the hand itself. The creature raised its other hand, preparing to smash her like a mosquito. It wasn’t moving! Now was her chance! Its size was its own weakness. A creature this large couldn’t move very fast. The hand was coming down. She saw the shadow of the fingers above her. Coming between the shadow, fear gripped her. It was like an earthquake was slamming in front of her! Her legs buckled, dropping her to her knees. That was when she knew what she had to do. Reaching forward, she grabbed the fur on the other hand. The Titan was raising it up!
Its eyes searched where she had been. It didn’t see her. Confident in its victory over her, it began to move away. Her horse was following. Did he know that she was alive? She was certain that he did. He had seen her get through crazy situations before. Plus, for reasons she didn’t know, whenever they got separated, he always found her. As the arm was lowered, she began to trek up. She was smart, staying in the shadow of the arm, so as to avoid any casual gaze. It was a long trek. Felt like an eternity. She had climbed up rock faces before, during hunts, but never one that moved! Each footfall send a tremor through the body. The fur was getting thinner, as well. But where there wasn’t fur, there was rock! The truth about this monster was still eluding her. Thought that was immaterial, at the moment. It would still die, all the same.

Over an hour passed. The fur was gone, but there was the rocky skin. Her hands had been toughened by years of living as she did, so they had calluses that were thick as scales, and she was still moving. Indeed, once she got used to the tremors, it was easier to not worry about them. The climb went on, for what felt like an eternity. The sun was out in earnest, and it was hot. Very, very hot. Thankfully, the higher she went, the cooler the air. She knew better than to look down. Indeed, the very thought about the creature falling had given her pause, more than once. But one thing at a time. She was at the top of the arm! The shoulder had this weird mark at the top. What was it? Her knife was reacting! It shook and glowed! This was a weakness! Drawing the blade, she silently prayed to the Spirits, to grant her strength. Raising the weapon back, she plunged it forward. The Titan screamed out in pain. Why would a weapon so small cause this creature such distress? Then she realized – it was some form of magick! The markings of her people on the weapon, she saw that they were shining red! The mark got smaller and smaller, the longer she left the blade in. The creature was moving! Its arm was coming back! Once-again, it was raising up to flatten her. This was bad! The palm was closed!
She looked around desperately. Where to go?! There was a crevice where the blade had been! How did that work? Had the weapon sucked something out of the monster? Whatever the case, she had little choice. She jammed her small frame into the crevice. It was strangely cold in here. As the hand smacked into the shoulder, the force sent ripples through her. It was painful, yet not. Like some force had just landed on her chest and made it hard to breathe. The hand was moving! Guess the idea was to make certain this time that it had crushed her. It moved back, and she knew that she had to move too. That impact was too much. Another one and she would be dead, or worse. It looked at its hand, this time not seeming satisfied. She looked around the body. What about the other shoulder? Perhaps there was another mark. This time, she wouldn’t have to climb the Titan. The body was like a man’s, and up this far, she would just have to siddle across, like moving along a rocky mountain slope. The smile was back. But she had to move fast. The arm was coming back up. Breaking into a run, she went along the shoulder and to the neck. The hand was coming down!
She gripped tightly to the rocky skin of the Titan. Another impact. For a second, she felt like she was going to fall. That caused her to look down. Not a good idea! There was an eternity between her and the ground. The fingers of the Titan were searching the shoulder! The monster was smart. It knew that she couldn’t have gotten far, so it was moving around. She had to do the same. The head was moving too. That made this even more perilous. But now she was committed. It was injured. She would see how much more it needed to be killed.

It was about fifteen minutes of moving quickly and surely along the rocky body before she got to the other side of the neck. It was moving everywhere! The Titan was sure that she was still on it, and it wasn’t going to just let her kill it. It didn’t matter. She had made the challenge, and she was not about to let what had murdered her people get away. The knife was rumbling again! Her smile came back. No you will die! She almost broke into a run, drawing the blade and sliding in to the next mark. She looked up, and there she saw it! It was looking at her!
“You dare to kill a Titan, hume child! You know not the forces which you are fouling!”
Rearing the knife back, she snarled at it. “I don’t care! You killed my family! My friends! My people! For that, you shall die!”
“We Titans do not forgive transgressions. If you strike me down, my brothers shall find you, and destroy you in this life, and the next!”
“Then I shall kill them as well! Destroy you completely, so you can hurt no one again!”
The Titan raised its arm, preparing to strike.
“Die!” In a flash, she plunged the knife into the mark. Once-again, it started to make noise and be sucked in to the blade. The Titan screamed in agony, desperately shaking its shoulders, trying to dislodge her. It took all the strength she had to keep the weapon in place, but her will was driving her on. The mark was completely consumed, and then something happened.
Shimmers went through the Titan. It stumbled and fell forward. She climbed as fast as she could to the back, lying as flat as possible, waiting for the tremors. They hit and she was knocked into the air. Falling back down, right on her stomach, her whole front hurt. Standing quickly, she sheathed her knife. The body was changing! The fur was falling off, revealing the entire body of rock. The Titan let out one last gasp, then went silent. The change wasn’t done! She looked around and saw the forest all around her. They had landed right in the middle of it! The plant life was growing all around the Titan, like it was being consumed by the forest. Such a massive corpse, which, in just a few years time, would look like just another series of hills. It was like the Titan had never existed at all. What was this?! Did these monsters have a connection to the world? For a brief moment, she had doubt. But then she remembered the fires and screaming. The resolve came back, and once-again, she let out her war-cry. Her people were avenged. It was time to go home and see what remained. It was many hours before her horse found her. She petted its neck gently, with her horse whinnying in appreciation. After what had happened, she was utterly exhausted. Finding a grove, she found the nearest patch of soft moss and fell to sleep.

Dawn came too soon. She was sore in every way that a person can be sore, but the day was brighter. But there was doubt nipping at her. What would she do now? If the Titan was telling the truth, then there were others. And they would be coming for her, to avenge their comrade. Does that mean that other villages have been attacked?! The thought put a pit in her stomach. In that moment, she realized what she must do. She had to kill the Titans. All of them. Once they were dead, and no more people were in danger, could she return home to whatever remained of her people. She owed them that much. The fight was just getting started. After eating some dried meat, she mounted her horse.
“Let’s get moving!” She knew where to go. There was a path that she had seen, on her way down. It cut through the forest. If there was a path, then it led somewhere. She could follow that and begin her search. Instead of waiting for them to find her, she was going to find them first, and kill them. The fight had just begun.

Peace out,

Maverick