A Tale of Two Gates: Book One (Excerpt)

Hey everybody.  Got this new novel I’m working on.  I think it’s coming along smoothly, and I decided to share a decidedly-romantic scene with you all.  I suppose this is a bit of a spoiler for it, but since I do hope to make a series out of it, and the relationship between the characters in this is complicated, I don’t think it will tell you that much.  Hope you all enjoy.

It was a cool evening.  A breeze was coming in from the north.  The city was quiet as fishermen came in and the other ships were coming in for dock.  The hava airship was still anchored outside the city.  It made for an imposing sight against the amber skyline.  Smells of food from the various stalls and bars was carrying on the breeze, along with the occasional waft from the pleasure houses in the green light district.
Sitting on the roof of the building she lived in, Aima had a bottle of Everline in her hand.  Next her was her hume companion.  Both were enjoying the cold air after a hot day and all the chaos on Deo’s ship.  The ginger xylo had bandages on her arms, though it wasn’t necessary.  Using blood magic, she had stopped the bleeding and the healer at the corner clinic had given her a quick patch-up.  This was more for sun exposure.  Her pink button-up shirt was open, with her white undershirt and all the stains associated with it exposed.  Some would see it as macabre, wearing a shirt covered in old bloodstains.  For her, this was part of the day.
The bottle was being passed back and forth.  The hume was still wearing the Navy uniform pants but had the white undershirt on underneath.  It was mostly tucked into the pants, with part hanging out.  This shirt was also getting stained, though after today, the reason why was clear.  Her long brown hair was hanging down, poofed out about the roof tiles that the two were leaning against.
“I can’t believe you did that,” Jean said, breaking the hanging silence.
“It was them or me,” Aima replied.
“Still, that was nuts.  All that blood.  You could have been killed.  Blood loss is no joke.”
Nodding, she took a drink from the bottle.  “Trust me, I know.  This isn’t even the furthest I’ve gone on this.”
Looking over, the hume was concerned.  “Don’t tell me that.  I worry about you.”
She chuckled.  “Chari, Jean.  That means a lot.”  Her hand came to rest on the hume’s.
Jean turned her hand around, locking fingers.  The quiet intimacy of the act struck both of them.  Each found their heart beating quicker.  Then their hands separated, going back to staring at the vast ocean of stars and the shimmers of nether streams in the sky.
Very soon, the bottle was empty.  Aima set it beside her, then went back to staring at the stars.  There was a long pause, with just the cacophony of the life of the city around them.  Families having meals, restaurants and open bars having dinner, various groups out and about, it was a gentle symphony.
“You looked pretty badass out there,” Jean said.
“I did?”
The hume looked over with incredulity.  “Oh don’t act like you don’t know it.  Nobody who can do that stuff doesn’t know how cool they look doing it.”
“Den ita tinata.”
“Meaning?”
“It was ordinary.”
“Fuck that!  That was crazy!  Watching your blood becoming blades, cutting those dudes open and then having their blood make the blades bigger!  That was fucking awesome!”  There was such sincerity in her voice.
Aima smiled, resting her head closer to her companion’s.  “I guess, when you have trained the way I have, done this sort of thing for so long, and seen mages and sorceresses who can do some crazy things, you start to forget that you can also do cilin things.”
The hume’s expression soured.  “Wish I could do cool stuff like that.”
Seeing the dour look on her face, Aima gave her a smile.  “You have analyzed data which tells Omirals how to move fleets to make war!  That’s amazing!  I could never do that.  Being in a room filled with powerful people like that, I wouldn’t be able to talk without stammering.”
A slight smile came to her face.  “Isn’t as cool as being able to control blood.”
The xylo shook her head.  “It is.  Having your words help guide the actions of legions in potential wars with millions of lives on the line.  You might not see it, but that’s incredible.”
“I guess.  Definitely don’t look as good as you doing it.  You are in such good shape.”  Looking down, she frowned at the fat around her waist.
“You are pannefori, Jean.  Don’t you ever believe otherwise.”
“Pannefori?”
She looked right at her.  “Beautiful.”
The hume’s face suddenly went beet red, looking away.  “You don’t mean that.”
Aima’s face got very serious.  “Koitaxe ma, Jean.”
“What?”
A slight pause.  “Look at me.”
It was hard to turn and meet her companion’s gaze.  Finally, she did.  The xylo’s face was very close.
“You are beautiful, Jean.”
The closeness between the two lasted for just a moment, until Aima’s hand was around her head, bringing their lips together.  The kiss was passionate, as if a ton of restrained energy had finally exploded outward.  She pulled herself into the young hume’s arms, holding her close.  Her companion’s mind was swirling.  For so long, she had been wondering about it.  The little glances, the closeness, the butterflies anytime Aima smiled at her.  Now it was happening, and she was both terrified and joyful at the same time.
Her elven companion got in closer, climbing on top of her.  It was clear she was wanting to elevate the level of intimacy.  For her, this was something she had been aching to do for a long time.  Among her people, intimacy between genders wasn’t nearly the social issue it was to the humes.  Love should be free and expressed in all the ways it can be, with those who are able and do consent.  The connection that she had immediately felt since the young woman opened her eyes in her bed was being fully realized.  She wanted more.
Right as things were getting heavier, Jean pulled back.  “Wait!  Please, wait.”
Not wanting to push things and make the situation awkward, Aima did as bidden, releasing hold and climbing off.
“I’m sorry.”
The hume’s hand touched hers.  “No.  You didn’t do anything wrong.  Just, not here.  It’s too open, too public.  Can we go back inside?”
Aima smiled from ear to ear.  “Tu echai!”

A cool breeze was still blowing in through the window of Aima’s bedroom.  Gentle music was playing from the teliz.  A woman was singing in Alder.  A gentle tune, which the ginger xylo had told her was of love.  Reminded her of jazz singers, back in the day.
The two women were laying in bed, gently kissing and holding one-another.  Passion had erupted in this place, and there was a lingering scent to match, though the candles were gradually replacing it, and the breeze was airing the room out.  Now it was calmer, with the two enjoying the closeness and tender afterglow.  Aima’s hands were running over the soft flesh of her hume companion’s breasts.  The amount of attention they were being paid had gotten Jean’s attention.
“You are really into my boobs.”
Aima nodded, grinning.  “You have no idea.  Women of the alder don’t have memlars like this.  Ever.  Even when we are nursing children, they don’t get this big.  I love them…”
Jean’s expression soured.  “They’re only big like that because I’m fat.”
The xylo sighed.  “Why are you so hard on yourself?  You have such a small amount of fat.  If what you’ve told me about your people is true, then you are in such vastly better condition than most.  Why do you berate yourself so hard?”
She turned around.  “Because of this.  Ever since puberty, I have this giant butt and super wide hips.  I hate how I look.  The only pants that fit me assume that I’m unbelievably fat.  Last time I went shopping for…sexy underwear I was crying because there was nothing at the lingerie store that fit me.  I feel so fat because of this.”
Aima shuffled down the bed.  The hume let out a squeak as a big kiss was planted right on one of the cheeks of her butt.
“I think it’s pannefori, and you won’t find any such problems here.  If you cannot find clothing, it can be tailored for you.  Trust me, the tailors love a challenge, and you would present a fantastic one.  Whatever clothing you want.”  She shuffled her way back up the bed.  “Your world sounds so judgmental and awful.  Everyone always hating how they look, constantly fearing what others think about it.  It sounds exhausting.”
Turning back around, Jean smiled and kissed her elven lover.  “It is.  Doesn’t help that in the Navy, they make me feel worse.  I didn’t make the weight last time and the tape measure was too much.  So they run me ragged to lose more weight, but then I’m gaining muscle.  And it feels like my fluffy is never going down.”
Aima looked confused.  “Your what?”
Getting ashamed again.  “It’s a term where I come from for…fatness.”
The xylo gave her a cold look.  “Stop being so mean to yourself!  You are not fat!”
She pointed down at her stomach.  “There’s fat there!”
The ginger elven woman chuckled and slithered down her body and started kissing her tummy.
“There is sexy female there.  How can you not love every ounce of this body?!  You are perrafora omori kelm!”
Closing her eyes, she suddenly felt very intimate.  “What does that mean?”
“Beautiful beyond words,” Aima replied, kissing back up her body.
Then the young hume burst into tears.  A sudden painful, loving feeling came over her and she couldn’t help but cry.
It was enough to get the ginger xylo’s attention.  “What’s wrong?!”
“I’m sorry.  You didn’t do anything.  I just…I always feel so gross, like this body is something I am stuck in and that it’s hideous and no one could ever think I’m attractive.  Doesn’t help that I can’t flirt or be sexy.  It always just looks awkward.  Even now I feel so unsure what to do.  I’m a hot fucking mess and I feel so bad because my brain doesn’t want to believe what you’re saying, even now.  There’s this niggling thought that you’re just being nice and don’t want to hurt my feelings.  I feel like such a jerk.”
Aima had a big smile and moved back up to look at her lover face-to-face.
“Look at me, Jean.”
The hume was indeed a hot mess, puffy and red with tear-streaks on her face, but she did as bidden.
“I don’t want you for some idea of you.  I want you for you.  So you are exceptionally awkward.  That’s alright.  You’re you, and that’s all I want.  It’s okay if you have trouble believing what I’m saying.  I’ll keep saying it until it gets through that thick hume skull.  And I bet we could find a way to make you feel attractive.  Give me a tailor, some makinia, and some pins for your hair, and I bet I can make you feel like you are the most attractive hume who’s ever lived.”  Looking down, a smirk came to her face.  “Starting now. Veni merun!”

Sitting naked on the edge of the tub, with a towel hanging over her leg, Jean couldn’t have looked more awkward.
“You sure you know what you’re doing?”
Aima gave her a caring look.  “Do you trust me?”
“Of course.  It’s just…”
“I won’t hurt you.  I promise.”
After a few deep breaths, she nodded.  “Okay, let’s get started.”

“There we are!  Not a nick on the kolos!” Aima said.  “You can open your eyes now.”
With much apprehension, the hume looked down, then was in awe.  Her pubic region was shaved perfectly clean.  The towel was covered in shaving cream mixed with hair.  Through the whole ordeal, she had had her eyes closed.  Having never done this herself, the whole prospect seemed very frightening.  As clumsy as she was, she never would have taken such a risk with her womanhood.  Running her hands over things was so different now.
“Wow.  It’s so smooth.”
“Yes indeed,” the ginger xylo replied, regarding it approvingly.  “Let’s see how you look in the mirror.”
The two women stood together, Aima’s arm around her lover’s waist.
“Not gonna lie, I feel kinda hot right now.”
“I assume hot means attractive?”
“Oh yeah.”
“Very good!  You most certainly are.  Now all we need is a cute open shirt that shows off those glorious memlars, a long skirt to accentuate the vasel, some dark makinia that goes with how pale you are, and some shimmers for your hair.  Then you will be turning heads everywhere!”
Now it was Jean who pulled her companion into her arms and was kissing her with passion.  A fire had been lit, and now there was no going back.  The night was almost over, but for these two, it had only just begun.

Until next time, a quote,

“Real love is wild and passionate and dangerous.  It burns and consumes.” – Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Peace out,

Maverick

How I Would Have Done The Last of Us: Part II

Having finally watched through an entire playthrough to know the story of the game that hurts me because of how it shits on a game that I love from the bottom of my little black heart, I got to thinking about something.  See, I think that Neil Druckmann wants to be seen as a visionary creator.  He wants his name to go down in history as a writer who creates stories that will stand the test of time and be heralded for years to come.  And we have seen that he can write some amazing and mature stuff.  I really loved the story in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.  The story of the last mission of Nathan Drake, where he finally is able to leave behind the warrior is both mature and touching.  The scenes where he is talking to Elena or where he talks to Sam about how they aren’t the boys in the orphanage anymore were great.  My favorite scene in the game is at the table where the pirate captains all died, where he is marveling at the history and how amazing it is that he can see this for himself, only to look at Elena and realize what got him here.  That’s great stuff!

I also love every second of the narrative of The Last of Us.  The story of Joel, losing his daughter, being hardened into a cold and cynical killer, only to rediscover his humanity and find someone worth selling humanity up the river for because he reasoned that she would die for nothing, was touching and beautiful.  My favorite scene in the game is at the very end.  When Ellie finally unloads all the emotional baggage she’s been carrying around, and Joel realizes that Marlene was right, and she would have wanted to die to save the world.  Then, when she confronts him about the story he told, and you can see she knows he is lying when he swears it was the truth but accepts his lie.  To me, the title The Last of Us means that last part of yourself who is willing to accept the darkness and live with it.  She accepted his life as the truth and chose to move forward.

The problem with the sequel is that the Neil seems to forget that part of gaming is finding characters to care about, and seeing what happens with them in a narrative.  You can’t create a great franchise if you make a game where we love two characters, and then making them out to be monsters in the sequel.  It leaves a bitter taste in people’s mouths.  Neil wanted to leave a legacy of pushing boundaries, and I shall give him this much – he succeeded.  But at the cost of good story-telling and shitting on characters we all love.  But it didn’t have to be this way, and could just as easily been a fantastic narrative about the ugliness of retribution and how it begets more violence.  I’ve been thinking this over, and I really do like what I’ve come up with in how to make the kind of game Neil wanted, while making it great, and making it a game that everyone would have been talking about.

First, I would have totally reworked the premise of this game.  See, I would have a campaign of two characters, Ellie or Abby.  At the beginning, there is an intro sequence with Ellie, so fans are feeling comfortable, but after the inciting incident, I would introduce Abby into the game.  I was thinking they would get captured by a gang of violent people.  Maybe have her moved to a camp and spend a long period of time being horribly beaten and tortured.  Do some darker stuff and maybe hint that Ellie’s body was used.  There, she meets another young woman who has been captured, named Abby.  The two quickly bond, and find a way to get out of their predicament.

At that point, you have to pick who you are going to play the rest of the campaign with.  To keep things interesting from a gameplay standpoint, I would have picking one or the other to each have its own perks.  Maybe Ellie would be more technically minded and so she would be able to upgrade weapons and stuff in unique ways, while Abby being much more physically capable, she would be able to buff her person.  Like maybe getting iron knuckles or something so she could be a more physical warrior.  I want to give players a reason to pick one or the other, not being aware that whoever they pick would change things.

The concept of the game is the price of vengeance, and I think it would be fantastic if Ellie decided to be out for blood with the people who kidnapped them.  Make it some religious cult or something.  They were kept there as brood mares, and maybe hint that both of them might be with child.  I got no problem with the darker elements that Neil wanted to address, just that they shit on the characters from the previous game.

Over the course of the narrative, Ellie and Abby would develop a very close relationship.  There would be this fantastic chemistry where they are able to make jokes and try and find the best in the situation.  What’s more, as the narrative goes on, both start to realize that their quest to hurt the people who hurt them is starting to damage who they are, because they end up having to kill people who are just as desperate and broken as they are.  The two would eventually become lovers, more as an escape from the reality they live in as much as a real relationship based on love.

Now, I don’t want to blindside players with some hard twist at the end.  There would always be this question about what Abby’s story is.  She would tell these stories about how she was hurt, and her father was killed, and how she has been searching for the person who killed him.  You could have dream sequences showing scenes of her and her father as a child, which are touching, then a scene where clever players could realize is the hospital from the first game, but it would have to be subtle  Then, we’d have some scene where the two are in a building and Abby realizes that Ellie is immune to the plague that has wiped out humanity, and there could be this great scene where their relationship is suddenly changed.  There is some sudden distance, and with the psychological toll that this is taking, it’s the last thing that Ellie needs.

After a not nearly as long game (seriously, the plot goes on forever!), the two finally wipe out the last of the people who imprisoned and tortured them, preparing to head home.  Maybe have the game take place over a series of months, and both women are now noticing that they are pregnant.  There are so many concerns with this, but Ellie just wants to get home.

I would also have a few segments where you play as Joel, so fans of the original can get some familiarity and see a character they like back in action.  With age having caught up with him in a big way, he would be a very different character who one would have to play carefully as he wouldn’t have the stamina that the female characters do.  My thinking was that he would find Ellie and Abby, in a scene much like the one at the restaurant.  It could make for a great mirror scene for Ellie, seeing him come in to save her at that moment, while for Abby it would be a scene showing that he is a loyal father and a man who would do anything to find the girl who has given him a reason to live.

This leads to the big 180.  On their way back, they find out Joel has been searching for Ellie, but Tommy knows where, so he will go out and get him.  When he is gone, Abby decides she cannot hide the truth from her lover anymore.  With everything done, the critical part of Ellie is back, and she can tell that she is hiding something from her.  That’s when she tells her the truth.  That she is the child of the doctor Joel killed to save Ellie, and she is out for his blood.  That the mission to kill the man who killed her father is all that has kept her from killing herself for all this time.

What follows would be a very visceral and tragic boss fight.  Both of them are weakened by the physical toll that pregnancy is taking on their bodies, but Ellie isn’t about to let her kill the man who is a father to her.  Both would battle to get hold of a gun.  Eventually, after beating the shit out of one-another, each would find a weapon, and point it at the other.  Here come the best part – a choice.  If you are playing as Ellie, you can either kill Abby and save Joel’s life.  She essentially has to choose between her lover or the man who has given her a reason to live as well.  If you play as Abby, you have to choose to either kill Ellie and then finish your revenge on Joel, or lower your weapon and choose forgiveness.  A neat twist would be, if Ellie lowers her weapon, Abby will choose forgiveness, because she doesn’t want to ruin the relationship she has made.

In other words, if the player chooses not to kill, their diligence would be rewarded, and if either one kills the other, it would have an ending where they are psychologically broken for the rest of their lives, having to raise a child.  In Ellie’s case it would be in Tommy’s compound, but in Abby’s case it would be in the wilds, on her own.

Plus, this opens the game up for a co-op mode, where players take on the role of both characters and they would see things that their character would.  It wouldn’t be couch co-op, that way each character could have their own thoughts and stuff.  And the choice at the end would be even more prescient because then both characters have to choose to lower their weapons.

So what do you think?  I know, it’s not perfect, but I think with this idea, we would have had a game where everyone would have been talking about it, for years.  Sure, the anti-SJW types would bitch about gay chicks, but whatever.  That narrative doesn’t disrespect the fans of the originals and their love of the characters, while also painting a grim look at the cost of vengeance.  In my eyes, this game would have been the one Neil Druckmann was hoping to make.  A game that would have challenged conventions, and had people talking, without all the visceral hate.

Until next time, a quote,

“Swear to me!  Swear to me that everything you told me about the Fireflies is true.” – Ellie, The Last of Us

Peace out,

Maverick

The Last of Us, Part II Leaked Info is Frustrating…

I’m sure you all know by now – a disgruntled Naughty Dog employee leaked pretty much the whole game that they are using as their big title, The Last of Us, Part II.  I need to make a few things clear right up front.  First, I don’t care how mad they are about crunch culture, this isn’t cool.  I think that crunch is disgusting and I think these employees shouldn’t have to deal with it, but if it becomes normal to just leak entire games as retribution, then how many other games are going to be ruined because of one asshole.  Second, I LOVE The Last of Us.  I love it so much.  The original game was such a fantastic story.  The narrative of Joel and Ellie and the question of what is the cost to be human is told in such a gripping way, and I love every second of it.

When I saw that a sequel was being made, initially I was like, “wait, what?”  I mean, why make a sequel?  The original game wasn’t asking for one.  Hell, I didn’t even like the DLC for the game all that much.  It took the fantastic ending that Ellie talked about her and her friend Riley and made it seem all hopeful and uplifting.  That wasn’t what it was.  The ending with those two was meant to be tragic.  It was the beginning of Ellie’s descent into blaming herself for all the people around her who have died.  So why did the DLC make this some big uplifting moment?  It made no sense.

Still, as the footage of gameplay came out, I’ll admit, I was hooked.  It still looked like the game I knew and love.  I still got the warm feelings of catharsis watching Ellie sneak around and hunt her foes.  The infected still looked freaky as fuck.  I even didn’t care about Ellie and Diversity Lesbian (now we know why the character had a passing resemblance to Anita Sarkeesian). The gameplay looked sick, and I had seen that Neil Druckmann still can craft a good narrative.  After all, Uncharted 4 dealt with some social justice stuff, and it still had a story that worked.  So maybe this would too.

However, the leaked information has come out, and some of what I’ve seen has me really, really unhopeful for this game.  I’m about to go into specifics, so if spoilers is something you want to avoid, turn back now.  You won’t get a second warning.  If you are still reading, then you’re in it.

Here’s what we’ve learned.  First, there’s a new character that we are going to be playing as for the majority of the game.  She’s a super talented, super capable archer, fighter, gunfighter, and all around best at everything.  This character is believed to be transgender, though I’m not sure if it’s a male to female or female to male thing.  The character is the child of the doctor that Joel killed in the original game at the hospital.  They are hunting Joel and presumably kill him with a golf club with Ellie being forced to watch.  This person or someone connected to them is believed to be the one who murders Ellie’s girlfriend, who is supposedly pregnant with child that the two mean to raise.  Next, you have a segment like the restaurant scene in the original game, except this time, it’s Ellie you’re hunting.  And, if the information leaked is true, you most likely will end up killing her.

So, after spending a whole game getting me to really care about two characters, you introduce some new person in the sequel and have me, the player, assist them in murdering the characters that I care for?!  I’m supposed to help this cunt kill Ellie?  Are you fucking kidding me?!  Um, no!  I refuse!  Now look, if this chick kills Joel as part of the cycle of revenge, fine.  Okay.  I get that.  Thematically it makes sense.  He killed people to save Ellie.  Now those people come back to kill him.  Now Ellie is on the warpath for someone who killed her girlfriend.  All of these things make sense, with the narrative of this game being the cost of revenge.  But I refuse to help this bitch, who is just super duper awesome at everything, hunt down and kill one of my favorite characters in all of gaming!  Hell, I don’t wanna help her in the killing of Joel.  I like both of them.  The idea that this game is going to put me in the shoes of this character murdering two of my favorite characters in gaming and not have me wishing for their immediate and painful death is laughable.  I will be cheering every time this cunt get stabbed, shot, bitten, and ripped to pieces by dogs.

I don’t get how Neil Druckmann can be this blind.  What did he miss about the original game that makes him think that he can have some rando bitch kill the protagonists of the original game and everyone isn’t going to be mad at him?  Where did the idea come from?  Also, this is how they want to put a transgender character in their game?  By having them kill off everyone’s favorite character.  What great representation!  I’m sure that this in NO WAY won’t blow right the fuck up in their faces.  Joel dying as part of the narrative, okay.  I don’t like it, but okay.  But having me hunt down and kill Ellie?  I refuse on general principal!

My girlfriend is playing through the first season of Life is Strange.  She privately streams it and we are going through this together.  Seeing the relationship between Chloe and Max grow organically, with them being characters first who are established as characters and the potential for gay romance being brought into the story is inspiring.  That’s good writing!  You don’t make the LGBT stuff front and center, instead weaving it into a clever narrative and bringing that up at a pace.  By that token, what does Neil think that is going to be accomplished by having super-transgender woman in his game who is super awesome and murders everyone’s favorite protagonists from the last game is going to accomplish?  Not to mention, I’m assuming the transgender stuff is by identity only, since the character can’t actually transition.  A huge amount of hormonal treatment is needed for transition, so I’m just guessing they identify as whatever and are just really butch.

I’ve talked about this in the past.  Gaming is going through a rough patch right now in terms of LGBT representation.  The social justice types are demanding that it be front and center, like how people were in the 90’s.  And we saw how SUBTLE some of the gay characters from that era were.  Subtle like a wrecking ball.  Shit like this doesn’t help the movement.  Far from it.  It hurts it.  Rather than having a character who has a different identity or who is gay being integrated into a good story first, and then having that part of them become a part of who they are once we care about them, their being LGBT is so front and center that you lost track of who they are.

Upper Echelon Gamer made a fantastic video about this, and I’m going to see what his review of this game is before I see it, because he seems to be on the same page as me, and I want to know if this game fucks everything as badly as the leaks indicate.  If it is as bad as everyone seems to hope it will be (the people who seem vindicated by this annoy me.  This isn’t a good thing, assholes.  It’s a bummer), I’m not giving my money to it.  I know this game will make a ton of money because of the original, but I’m going into this with both eyes open.

Until next time, a quote,

“Boneface is right.” – Jose, Persona 5: Royal

Peace out,

Maverick

The Myths of Conservative ‘Small Government’

This is a belief I’ve had going back to when I was a much younger man than I am now.  Hell, I had this figured out when I was a teenager.  The state I have grown up in is basically Texas, but with tons of snow.  It’s about as red as red states get.  So as you might imagine, I’ve heard all the conservative lines.  I’ve heard all about how they want the government to get out of their way of their “religious freedom” and the even more bogus line – we need a “small government.”  That one in-particular always rubbed me the wrong way.  When I heard the talking points that they went on and on about (ad infinitum), it quickly occurred to me that they would talk about one thing, and then would either be willfully ignorant or just turn a completely blind eye to what they want in practice.  I’ve compiled a list of things that are some of the bigger things in “small government” America that they talk about, but are complete bullshit when you actually think about it.  Not a Top 10, but a list all the same.

Marriage Equality

I just red about how alleged child molester judge, Roy Moore has filed a brief to get the Obergefell v Hodges overturned.  For those of you who don’t know, this is the ruling that gave marriage equality to all 50 states.  What is his stated reason for this?  Well, another bullshit conservative concept – religious liberty!  Ah yes, the classic line that conservative whip out whenever they need an easy out for their bigotry.  After all, THEY don’t hate gay people.  God does!  And they need to be free to exercise that hatred however they see fit.  That’s what the Founding Fathers wanted, right?  Moore seems to think so.  It’s something he said in a statement about the brief.  The Founding Fathers.  The mythical heroes that conservative America can slobber all over the knob of.  They’re all gay for George Washington.  Same with Jesus, now that I think about it.  Oh wait, not gay, just in love with to a degree that definitely isn’t platonic.

The reality is that gay marriage hurts no one.  If you don’t like gay marriage, you’re free to not get married to someone of the same sex.  It’s so simple that even the dumbest dumb-shit conservative should be able to do it.  But since these people are so great about being stupid about the basic shit, are you really surprised that this is too hard for them?  So their government should be small enough to go into your bedroom and tell you who you can fall in love with and share the rest of your life with.  Cowering behind their religion because they’re too scared to just come out and say, “I hate faggots.”  Well, those who actually want to run for public office or hold any position with status affected by the general public.  I know plenty of people in my own life in this reddest of frigid cold red states who will tell you all about how disgusting gay people are.  There is at least one who I am dead-certain is a closeted homosexual himself.  I have proof of it too.  I wonder how often Steven Andersen gets pounded in the ass by a big black dick.

Women’s Rights

Another avenue that conservative America’s ideas about small government just flies in the face of – a woman’s body.  Yeah, they want a government so small that it can fit in them, and dictate what they do with it.  Get raped by a family member?  They want that super small government to force you to have that baby.  Trust me, it’s for the best.  Their imaginary friend told them so.  In fact, their imaginary friend said that there is a big plan.  So for the woman who is raped by her husband violently, he meant for that to happen.  It’s all part of a much bigger thing that you will be grateful for.  Doesn’t that make you feel good?

So many of my centrist Democrat friends tell me I need to vote for dementia Joe Biden because if I don’t, Roe v Wade will be overturned.  Did you all see that most recent video of him, by the way?  He is literally reading off his phone, and then wanders off camera, leaving it staring at dead air, until they cut away so the camera isn’t look at the back-side of Joe’s head in the corner.  But please, tell me again how he only has a stutter.  I digress.  I’ve long-since comforted myself with the reality that if such a thing ever were to happen, it would just become a state’s rights issue.  All the liberal states would immediately move to legalize, while all the conservative states would move to make it illegal.

Part of me wishes that conservative America would just admit that they don’t like women.  Or at least would admit that they only like women up to the point that they marry men and make babies for them.  As broodmares for the state.  That’s all they see women as.  Oh I’m sorry, that’s not true.  They see them as sacred, because their imaginary friend told them so.  In the same book where he said that women are responsible for the fall of mankind, a woman’s body is unclean, a woman who has premarital sex is a whore who is marked, and which has a punishment for rape so pathetic that it might as well be a reward.

Low Spending

Once upon a time, it used to be that Democrats believed in higher spending, but higher taxes.  Meanwhile, conservatives believed in lower spending and lower taxes.  Both of these views make sense, logically.  Now, it seems like the predominate view of conservative America is higher spending, lower taxes.  Just look at the astronomical amount of money that Bush II spent in the Middle East.  Granted, Obama did too, but you all know my thoughts on mainstream Democrats and how much they differ from mainstream Republicans.  Apparently their small government can spend astronomical amounts of money to kill brown people.

Let’s not even get how the government just made $1.5 trillion appear out of nowhere to feed the gaping maw of the economy with the plague that the orange retard in chief said wasn’t a problem until it got so widespread and his precious economy started to tank.  It went to show that in a situation that is an actual crisis, Trump is laughably unequipped to handle the situation.  He will deny and deny until it’s so bad that because there is so little testing, we genuinely don’t know how widespread it is.  We do know that the number of Americans with the illness has already doubled.  Who knows how big this will get.

Conservative spending is laughably out of control, and what do they want to cut in order to pay for it?  Anything and everything that helps the average American.  Part of me wishes that we’d have a conservative with the balls to say that they want the average American to die.  That their plan for healthcare is – get sick and die, motherfucker.  Or maybe we can make it more honest – We don’t care, so fuck you.  They want a government so small that it gives the finger to the poorest of America, but big enough to polish the military’s knob so hard that they are basically given a blank fucking check.  Of course, the Democrats have never resisted this, so maybe that just is what it is.

Religious Freedom

Let’s talk about “religious freedom.”  When their precious Founding Fathers established this country, the idea was that anyone could believe whatever stupid bullshit they wanted to believe, and the government wouldn’t get in their way.  All creeds were welcome here.  They came to this country to escape religious persecution, after all.  Though, that’s not even talking about the fact that most of the people who founded this country were deists who didn’t believe in a specific God, or outright atheists who believe that religion as a concept was toxic to the human intellect.

In this modern age, conservative America has a very different take on the concept of religious freedom.  See, to them, it means a government so small that if you believe in a religion that they don’t like, we can persecute you to no end.  We can ban you from our country.  We can tell you that your beliefs are not wanted here.  Makes me think of the line from the plaque at the Statue of Liberty – Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.  They really should throw that in the trash, at this point.  Especially when you listen to these people talk about immigration and how they feel about people who aren’t from this country.

What are some that you’ve found “small government” issues you’ve all found that are weapons-grade bullshit?  I’m just tired of conservative America hiding behind buzzwords.  I would genuinely respect them more if they were just honest about their views.  I take the hypocrisy of it more personally than the petty veil of bigotry that it is almost always covering.

Until next time, a quote,

“You don’t see many white anti-abortion women volunteering to have black fetuses transplanted into their uteruses, do ya?  No, you don’t see them adopting a lot of crack babies, do you?  No, that might be something Christ would do.” – George Carlin

Peace out,

Maverick

I’m Tired of the Gaming Culture War

It’s exhausting seeing all the online discourse about gaming, sometimes.  It really is.  Like, I remember a time when it used to just be a hobby and people had fun with it.  There would be the games they liked and the games they didn’t like, and we could all have a rousing debate on the topic.  Sure, disagreements were there, but at the end of the day, we didn’t make a huge deal about it.  We had games to play, after all.  But that’s not the world we live in anymore.  Now everyone has huge opinions and has to make a massive stink over all the stupid BS that comes out.  We can’t just like or dislike a game anymore.  Now it has to be a political statement.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with Naughty Dog’s newest game, The Last of Us Part II.  Right from the git-go, this game had the culture warriors on both sides clamoring. The big trailer which had Ellie making out with some chick who looks like she’s of Indian descent.  Oh boy, that had everyone in a tizzy.  Never mind that after it there was some of the slickest gameplay I’ve seen in years.  It was a joy to watch the gameplay stuff.  But nope!  All that matters is two girls kissing.  Everything else is mute.

Then last year, we got another gameplay trailer, and it looks sick!  Violence, stealth, Ellie out for blood, Joel coming back into the mix to assist in her vendetta.  I was already hooked, but this was icing on the cake.  However, it seems that I am part of a very quiet group, because the thing online didn’t seem to change.  On one side, “yay lesbian representation!  Suck on that, alt-right!”  On the other, “Leftist agenda pushing!”  It didn’t help when Naughty Dog recently announced with the rating that there will be nudity in the game, along with sexual content.  As you might imagine, this put things into overdrive.

All over the Internet, I see the same thing – “Leftist agenda!  You won’t let in anime boobs but will let in the scissor sisters?!”  Now, to that point, I’ll at least give this – Sony’s weird censorship policy is mildly annoying.  And if they are going to have it, it should be applied equally.  But as far as I’m concerned, I have no problems with anime boobs or with ultra-realistic characters in a game having romantic relationships.  The gaming marketplace should be an open space where all kinds of games are made for all kinds of people, and people can like what they like and that’s okay.  Remember those days?  I do, and I lament their passing.

Back in 2012 – 2014, when the culture war was at its height, I was in the fray with the rest fighting against the social justice influence.  But that was a long time ago.  Now, I realize that gaming is naturally going to evolve with the times.  We will have characters of all kinds of personalities and sexual preferences because that’s the world we live in.  These characters exist, and if you have a problem with that, in the modern age of endless Indie and mainstream games, you have something for you.  I still do think that demanding that gaming cater to your sensibilities is annoying and stupid, but I also know that Neil Druckmann has his own sensibilities as a game director and will make the kind of game he wants to.  Thus far, I have yet to be disappointed.  I loved the original Last of Us.  I loved Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.  His propensity to make characters with depth and interesting narrative arcs keeps me hooked.

When the culture war was at its height, you had people from all different political ideologies coming together to battle against the forces who wanted to corrupt the thing we loved with blatant political agendas, detracting from the final product.  It was good times, with those who once fought against one-another uniting against a common foe.  But those days were gone LONG ago.  Now, the anti-SJW crowd is almost-exclusive right-wing, with it being nothing but conservatives yelling about the “libs.”  The best minds that I followed during this time have moved on to other things because they realize that this movement isn’t the one they were a part of in its heyday.  Now I’m just wishing that my online feed wasn’t so polluted with the same crap from the same tired voices who are ringing the trumpet when the war is over and everyone who matters has moved on.

We can’t do that, though.  Because the Internet is a cesspool of people just arguing to argue.  Being outraged just to make their voice heard.  From where I’m sitting, it’s tired and has me wishing that I could just escape it all.  If you like a game with a gay chick, fantastic.  I got no beef too.  If you think a game with a gay chick is awful, fine for you as well.  Don’t play it.  There is a vast catalog of great games that I’m sure cater to how you see the world.  Or if there aren’t, you are more than welcome to learn how to make games and make one yourself.  Just don’t make yourself a giant spectacle when it comes to other people liking games and wanting to enjoy what they like.

Is that too much to ask?  Really wondering that here.  I mean, it’s pretty obvious that the SJWs won the culture war.  To argue otherwise is intellectually dishonest.  They own the media, academia, and politicians blatantly pander to them.  But here’s the thing – their rule of this stuff won’t last forever.  Ask anyone who has been around long enough to see how social justice infected atheism.  This community eats itself, and corporate America can only pander so long before people get bored.  We’re seeing it already.  “Woke” films that are box office poison, even among women.  Corporate America will eventually move on, when there’s no money in it anymore.  No more token lesbian kisses in Star Wars films that even the audience saw as a split-second bit of pandering that could easily be edited out for China and the Middle Eastern market.  The public will move on, life will go on.  The Internet will still be a cesspool, but what else is new?

Until next time, a quote,

“Who’s the bigger fool?  The fool or the fool who follows him?” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Hope

Peace out,

Maverick

The Cheap “Woke” Ploy

Hey, did you know that the latest Star Wars film has the first same-sex kiss in any film ever?!  The Hollywood Reporter said as much in their click-bait-y headline says as much, along with other equally-stupid media outlets.  Much like how Star Trek: Discovery had the first black Captain.  Or the first black female Captain.  Both of which were equally wrong, and bless the Internet for being the most potent fact-checker in the universe.  To the Rise of Skywalker, what is the context they’re talking about?  Definitely not the first film to have a same-sex kiss.  Not the first film this year, or this decade, or certainly ever.  Maybe the first science fiction film?  Oh man, not even close.  The first big blockbuster?  Nope, I’ve seen it in those too.  Not often, mind you, but there’s a reason for that which we’ll come to.  So why is this such a huge deal?

I’ll tell you why – because it gets cheap points for a film that is being panned so hard right now.  It makes it so that Disney can try and re-frame this terrible movie as being pro-LGBT, so if you don’t like it, you hate gays!  Or lesbians, in the case of this film, as it’s two women kissing.  This happens all the fucking time, and every time it does, I roll my eyes because I see stuff like this for EXACTLY what it is – a cheap ploy to get “woke” points.  And the big thing that gets to me when I think about this is – why does no one in the media see it too?

On the one hand, it’s obvious – because they are being paid not to.  Disney owns a massive chunk of entertainment media, and the Hollywood machine in general owns pretty much all the rest, and they all have a vested interest in this stuff.  But on the other hand, with how every media outlet that isn’t some conservative gossip rag like Ben the prolapsed donkey anus Shaprio’s site is so about the social justice narrative, part of me wonders if they all have this huge blindness to stuff.

Whatever the case, the simple truth is that it’s a play.  One that always makes my eyes roll every time I see it.  After Blizzard was rightfully being brutalized for what they did to a Hearthstone player who championed the Hong Kong protests, and you saw them in full damage control mode, there was this popular talking point online – which Overwatch character are they going to have be gay next?  It’s an easy dodge.  “What’s that?  You’re mad at us for basically kowtowing to the Chinese government and making ourselves look like their bitch?  Look over here, this character’s gay now!”  Easy dodge, and they’ve done it before.

Now we have a Star Wars film that has two women kissing for two whole seconds of screen-time.  Two characters who we don’t know or care even the slightest bit about.  For a kiss that will be easily edited out of China’s version because Disney wouldn’t DARE risk losing out on that sweet China cheddar.  It all reeks of bullshit to me.  It all reeks of trying to find an easy way to dodge this film’s criticism.  To try and get people arguing about something inconsequential in order to detract from the fact that every major reviewer I’ve watched has done nothing but shit all over the film for being worse than The Last Jedi.  The review I’m waiting for most is Red Letter Media.  That should be amazing.  Jay and Mike having a cynical tear-down of a film that is nothing but massive exposition bombs, no character development, no atmosphere, horrific pacing, an an ending that is absolute bullshit.  It will be nothing short of incredible.

How much longer can films do this, I wonder?  I mean, you can’t argue that this is female empowerment, or lesbian empowerment.  Two women we don’t know or care about kissing!  Yay…feminism?  Remember when they were talking about Po and Finn being the first gay couple in a Star Wars film?  Yeah, I get the feeling that Bob Iger came down personally and said that’s out.  Can’t have two central characters in a franchise be gay together, otherwise you couldn’t edit it out for China.  It has to be characters who have absolutely no significance to the plot at all.

Are there any detractors for my point of view on this?  Who can defend this and not see it for what it is?  Do you like getting cheap points?  Do you think that your side is winning by having two women kiss for two seconds at the end of a film?  Two characters we known nothing about and care even less?  That’s just dandy for you?  Doesn’t it bother you that a major company who claims up and down to be all about the rainbow flag represents you in a way where they take no actual risk doing so?  Not to mention, let’s have two dudes kiss.  Why?  Because then people might actually get upset.  See, two girls kissing is seen as hot by the culture at large.  Two dudes kissing is seen as awkward.  Oh wait, that’s also a risk.  Disney can’t do that.  Modern Disney isn’t about risk at all.

I’ve talked about this quite a bit over the last couple years or so.  It just bugs me every time I see stuff like this and the news just fawning all over what seems to me to be the most obvious feeding of a line thing ever.  I suppose it probably is just corporate media parroting a narrative because they are told to.  But they have dumbass readers who buy into their narrative.  Who don’t think for themselves.  And so they are looking at the forest and missing the trees.  That leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.  Maybe it’s my old journalism passion flaring up again and making me hate that all modern news is just infotainment.

Kind of a bummer, really.

Until next time, a quote,

“They fly now!” – Terrible line from Rise of Skywalker that they felt the need to repeat three times

Peace out,

Maverick

Let’s Answer: 100 Ways to Make Life Easier for Trans People

I did the one where it talked about how to make life easier for black people and for women.  These lists are awful and I always feel drained at the end of them, but here’s another list and it caught my attention.  Let’s talk about 100 ways that I can make life easier for trans people.  Here’s a link to the article.

1. Respect people’s pronouns. This is really not very complicated! If someone tells you how they identify, you have no say on the matter. Use the pronouns they use.

Sure, why not.  So long as it isn’t some stupid pronoun like xir/xirself or ze/zeself, I got you.  If you’re gonna pull that shit, then my pronouns are master/master.  So you have to say to your friends – master said my pronouns are dumb.

2. Still on pronouns: if you don’t know somebody’s pronouns and want to get it right, either use gender neutral pronouns (i.e. they/them/their) or quietly and discreetly speak to the person and ask. Be aware of your surroundings and those around you before doing so – do not out this person or put them in an unsafe situation.

Nah.  I don’t think so.  I’m gonna use the pronouns I think fit the gender as I see it unless told otherwise by the person.  I don’t get into this gender-neutral world that people want to live in.

3. Trans folk can use gender neutral pronouns, so please do not assume that we must adhere to a binary.

You can use whatever terms you want.  I don’t care.  Free country.  And can we PLEASE stop using the world “folk.”  It’s fucking people.  I swear, when I hear them use the term “folk” unironically, I think of the Pepperidge Farm commercials.

4. Try to start removing binary language from your everyday conversations. If we all make conscious efforts to steer away from gendering everything, this will have a knock-on effect that stops our learnt obsession of having to divide everything into binaries.

Um, no.  I’m gonna speak how I see fit.  If you don’t like it, don’t talk to me.

5. Trans women are women. This is not up for debate – so don’t try to.

I’m fine with a trans person identifying themselves however they wish.  Not my concern nor my problem.

6. Trans men exist! We are often overlooked or forgotten, so try to remind yourself that we are out here and can find the male cis world hard to navigate.

There is this assertion this person has, that people like me just hate trans people on the face of it, so we refuse to acknowledge their existence.  I’m anti-SJW, after all.  Again, I’m fine with trans people identifying themselves with whatever gender they want.  Even idiots like Milo Stewart.

7. Call out transphobia WHEREVER you are! Even if a trans person is not present, be our defence. Hateful language perpetuates the dangerous cycle of violence.

Yeah, no.  If someone’s talking to me and they say some hateful shit, I might be like “dude, what the fuck?”  But if I just hear something someone is saying, I’m going to leave them alone.  Much as I would hope other people leave me alone when I talk to other people.

8. Understand and be vocal that transphobia is never “funny,” “in jest,” or “banter.”

If I’ve learned anything from the Cyberpunk 2077 nonsense, it’s that what constitutes transphobia is always evolving with you people.  So tell you what – I’ll make the jokes I wanna make.  If you don’t like them, you can not talk to me.  In fact, let’s start that right now.

9. Don’t refer to us as a whole. Do not make sweeping generalisations about every trans person. We are all individual people with different opinions.

Can someone tell the writer of this article that?  This entire fucking post is about how to treat an entire community of people as if they are all the same.  Irony, it’s a learned art.

10. Reject the idea that transitioning looks like one thing. People wish to transition in various ways. If someone doesn’t want to or can’t medically transition, this does not mean they are “less trans.” There is no such thing as “less trans” or “more trans.” This is a personal journey that doesn’t need to tick any boxes in order for the transition to be validated – by anyone!

I couldn’t possibly care less about how people transition.  For real.

11. NEVER ask anything about our genitalia or body. “So… do you still have everything down there” as a puzzled hand flutters near our privates is not ever going to be OK. That is final.

This depends on the situation.  If we’re getting hot and heavy and I know that you’re trans, I have every right to ask.  If we are in a sexual situation, as part of consent, I have a right to know what I’m getting myself into.

12. Oh, let’s not forget that we do not all know each other. The queer community is bigger than you think.

Again, articles like this treat the LGBT community like a Borg collective.  I happen to know it’s bigger than one would think.

13. Try to refrain from using language that is heavily influenced or derived from queer culture if this is not your community. Words and phrases are a way of communication in code for a large majority of the queer community (like “reading”). Language creates a dialogue within the queer community that is meant to protect and ensure safety.

I’m sorry…what?  The term “reading” is part of the gay community?  The fuck?  Yeah, fuck you.  I will use whatever terminology I want, and if you don’t like it, you can suck it up like a big boy/girl.

14. Do not enter queer or trans safe spaces without a queer person asking you to be there or without making sure that allies are welcome.

No worries there, whoever, because I have no desire to go to a queer/trans safe space.  At least not without someone asking me to be there.  People who designate an area a “safe space” are probably not the kind of people I’m going to like getting to know.

15. When you are in queer spaces, repeat: “This is not my space, I will not fill it” and actually do what you say.

See previous answer.

16. Be aware of your hands. Do not touch people without consent in all spaces – and especially queer spaces – and especially avoid touching trans people who often are triggered by physical contact involving parts of their body.

You know what, this I agree with.  Don’t touch me, ever.  I don’t like to be touched, and I guess you don’t, so tell you what – you don’t do to me, I won’t do to you.

17. If you are called out for being offensive, do not argue. This is not a debate. Apologise. Take a moment to reflect. If necessary, leave or give the space over to those you have offended or upset.

If someone calls me out, I absolutely will argue, because they are making a spectacle of something.  Someone wants to talk to me in private, that’s something else.  But you call me out in public, I’m gonna argue with you all day.  You started that fight, not me.

18. Never try to argue with a trans person that something isn’t transphobic.

No.

19. Remind us that being trans isn’t a burden or a bad thing!

It absolutely isn’t a bad thing, but given that most of the population isn’t trans, and society doesn’t have the same view on it that it does on the gay community, it has a burden.  Technically, being gay is a burden too because the average person is straight.  Being gay is a minority situation.  We all have our crosses to bear.  Sorry if you don’t like that, but reality doesn’t conform to what you want the world to be.

20. Recognise the strength and power of your voice.

Okay.

21. Now use it.

Using it now, to reply to you.

22. If a trans person is being verbally assaulted, made to feel unsafe or uncomfortable, or being attacked in any way and needs your help – open your mouth.

If someone asks for my help, I’ll do so, but I’m sorry – I’m not gonna put myself in a difficult situation without someone asking.  That’s a huge imposition.

23. This being said, do not become the ally that speaks over or for a trans person in this situation. Ask if we want you to step in because there’s nothing more frustrating than cis person silencing you. It happens enough, jeez!

See, this kinda makes my point about why I do nothing unless asked.  Because these people don’t appreciate it when people go out of their way.  And wait, didn’t you JUST SAY that people should step in in a situation where someone is being verbally or physically attacked?  Gotta say, your yin-yanging on ideas is a real doozy.

24. Talk to us about more than gender! Movies, what we had for dinner, our next holiday – anything that isn’t constant emotional labour.

Tell you what – you don’t talk to me about your gender, I won’t talk to you about it.  I have no more desire to talk about that than apparently you do.

25. Take us off your mood boards. Book us, pay us, and celebrate us.

…What?

26. Do not fetishise trans folk. We are not your sexual experimentations, tokens, or reason to rebel against your parents. We are not here for you.

I’ll be sexually attracted to whatever I’m sexually attracted to.  You have no more right to tell me how to conduct myself in what I want than I do you.

27. Criticise the media. Write to the newspapers, institutions, and publications that are spreading hate towards the trans community. Create polls and petitions. National news portrays us as monsters and threats to society. We can’t stop them from doing that on our own.

Making fun of conservative news is a good pasttime of mine.  Not on your behalf, but because they say so much stupid shit that’s comedy gold.

28. Learn what Mx means.

No.

29. Talk to the generation above you – your parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. You can’t always change traditional mindsets, but you can give them a new perspective.

I come from a conservative-ass extended family.  My own parents are cool, but the rest run the gamut.  And I know for a FACT that if I broach any of these subjects with them, it will just start a fight.  I’m trying to avoid these people as much as I can already.  Don’t need to add that to the problems.

30. Support the generation below; speak to young kids. Make them aware that gender is a spectrum and they don’t have to commit to one gender for their whole life. Educate them on their freedom and choices.

Yeah, no.  Here’s what I’ll do for the gender below – if they are super young, I ain’t gonna say shit.  When they are old enough for gender dysphoria to manifest, then I’ll talk to them about how that works, and say that they can look into if they want to see about transitioning when they are old enough to make an informed decision, or not.  I’m not gonna give kids bad information like you lot.

31. Don’t buy gendered things for kids around you. This just pushes the ideas that boys must like blue and girls must like pink and only one of them can play football in their spare time. I don’t even particularly like either colours!

Good for you.  As for me, assuming I buy something for a child (highly unlikely), I’ll get them whatever I think they’ll like.  Fuck your stupid-ass opinion.

32. Stop pretending only trans people experience name changes or surgery. Me changing my name and a friend getting married and changing her surname meant we had to go through some similar legal process. Help trans folk with these legal procedures, whether that’s telling us which bank is easy to change your name with or going through the deed poll process with us. It means it doesn’t feel like these are “trans issues” – they’re just really confusing forms that nobody quite understands!

This sounds like a huge imposition on my time and I don’t actually care enough about your issues to do anything, so no.

33. Share your platforms. I am tired of cis people talking about trans health. Ask us to talk, educate, share our stories, and pay us. This way you don’t get the credit for the lives we live.

Oh fuck off.  I’m not talking about your issues.  And I’m not paying you for anything.  What should people pay you for, existing?  Are you an Instagram influencer now?  Wanna do some Internet panhandling?  I’m sure a decent chunk of the people who are seriously trying to discuss stuff like this are doctors and people who understand these issues from a scientific standpoint.

34. Support trans artists. Rock up to our exhibitions. Buy our books. Listen to our podcasts. Use your social platforms to share the incredible things we do despite the adversity we face.

I’m sure they don’t have this opinion of Blaire White.

35. Don’t expect trans folk to always congratulate you for being an ally. Sometimes you’re just being a good person. I don’t get a gold star for just being a good person.

I don’t think you are a good person.  I think you’re a judgmental asshole who I have no desire to know.

36. Donate to organizations and charities that are set up to aid and help trans folk. There are so many organisations struggling with funding. Without lots of these resources we can’t access things like mental health services and free meet-ups.

I donate to charities I think will do the most good.  You do the same, and power to ya.

37. Do not tell us what RuPaul, Trump, or the Daily Mail said about us. Chances are we already know.

Good for you.

38. Post about the #blacktranslivesmatter campaign – highlight that trans people of colour are targets of violence.

I have ZERO respect for any of these identity politics hashtag movements.  Kindly fuck off with that nonsense.

39. If you are dating a trans person, try to understand their triggers. For example, me and my partner call my menstrual cycle “Lucifer.” So if I text her to say “Lucifer is here,” she knows to bring chocolate and pillows. You can also try covering tampon or pad boxes and wrapping with cute cartoons or their favourite colour.

My Groj, do you people want to be coddled.  I won’t be an asshole if I know something is a sensitive subject for you, but I’m not gonna go out of my way to pamper your ass.  Christ, what world do you think you live in?  This is why people say that Gen Zed/Millennials can’t handle life.

40. Do not tell us we “are playing the victim,” WE ARE THE FUCKING VICTIM.

Yeah…you kinda made the point about how you play the victim.

41. Do not attend panels that address gender and/or trans identity if everyone on the panel is cis.

There will never be a point, in my life, where I will be attending a panel about gender/trans issues.  Ever.

42. Give trans creatives platforms to share work that aren’t all about being trans.

Why do I have to give this to you?  All the social media you could ask for exists.  And we know that right now it has a very hard-left bias.  So why do you need me to give you a platform?  You couldn’t ask for more by yourself.

43. Do your research. For all ignorant questions, divert to Google. Google is your friend. I am not, especially if you’re asking me how doctors make a penis from my leg.

Remember that point about you saying you don’t get a gold star for being a good person and my response about thinking you’re just an asshole?  Let’s revisit that for a moment.

44. If trans folk do have to explain something to you that may be uncomfortable, triggering, or upsetting for us, buy us a bunch of flowers, take us for dinner, drop something into our PayPal. No labor should be free.

Oh fuck right off with this shit.  Yeah, let me pamper you for asking a fucking question.  Fucking Internet panhandling at its finest.  Let me guess, you have a Patreon.

45. Transphobia is a huge issue in the queer community. Do not let other people who identify as queer get away with things, because they can be by far the worst.

I’m not gonna tell anyone how to think, and I would expect the same courtesy in return.

46. Record transphobic incidents. (Caveat: This is only if your immediate assistance is not needed and you have checked you can use this footage by the person involved.) Share this with everyone you can. It may lead to prosecution or people in positions loosing their job. Nobody should still be allowed to be a CEO and use offensive slurs.

Fuck you.  I’m not gonna try and destroy someone’s livelihood because of what they do in their off hours.  If they are unprofessional on the job, that’s one thing.  But I’m not gonna go after a person that said something impolitic when they aren’t at work.  Fuck people who think like you too.  All that stuff about you being a good person, let’s log that in the trash.

47. Don’t question someone’s religious beliefs because they are trans and you think they go against what it says in a holy book. This isn’t your business, OK?

No.  It’s a valid question.  How can you possibly believe in a deity who outright says that how you are is an abomination unto them?  Really asking here.  This interests me.

48. Trans issues are not for profit. That’s it.

Are you fucking kidding me?!  You just told people if they ask you a question to pamper you or give you a Paypal donation!  There cannot be this level of cognitive dissonance!

49. “Queer” is not a theme. Do not have a “queer” house party and let boys who still use the word “faggot” wear your heels and dresses because it’s fun.

I don’t do house parties, so I think we’re good on this one.

50. Drag queens are not always trans, but they can be – so respect that!

Sure.

51. Do not make someone feel bad after dragging you for something you have done that is deemed transphobic. Your guilt is not my guilt to feel.

If someone I know made a big deal out of stupid bullshit, yeah, I got no issue making them feel bad for making this my problem.

52. Don’t ask what gender dysphoria feels like because it’s a stupid question and there’s no way you can try to understand it.

For someone who wants everyone to understand their “struggle,” you certainly do go out of your way to tell them not to ask about what it’s like.

53. Ask your friends or trans folk you know if they’d like company when going to hospital appointments. Hospitals are scary at the best of times and sometimes you don’t always get the treatment, doctors, or results you want. Be there to give a hug, at least.

I mean…I guess.  Having spent over a month in a hospital because of a head injury and a subsequent coma, I don’t fear them all that much.  But sure, if someone I know has to go to the hospital and they are nervous, I’ll be there for them.  No problem.

54. Do anything you can to stop trans exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) from leaving stickers, leaflets etc. Tear down everything you see associated with them.

I was wondering if TERFs would ever come into this conversation.  I don’t think I will.  It’s kinda nice to see the community fighting amongst itself.  Identity politics does this a lot, and it’s entertaining.

55. Do not engage in question-based conversations with TERFs. You have nothing to learn from them.

Hey, I got an idea – how about you don’t tell me who to talk to and I won’t tell you who to talk to.

56. Correct others when they misgender people.

No.

57. Gender and sexuality are not the same thing. Remember that at all times.

This is all part of a long, convoluted conversation that people like the person who made this list have helped perpetuate, so I’m just gonna walk this off as – sure.

58. Do not ask a trans person’s partner what being in a relationship with a trans person “makes” them. It makes them in love, now fuck off.

Again, I won’t tell you how to talk to your people, you don’t tell me how to talk to mine.

59. Trans Lives Matter should be more than a hashtag. Push it further than social media.

No.

60. Tell your trans friends and partners how great they look. Highlight the changes after hormones, surgery, or even just a good skin day.

This reminds me of that thing about the “TRANS-lator 3000” comic where, if you tell a trans person how well they are passing, it’s an insult.  You people can’t even make up your own minds on this shit.

61. You are not a true ally if you allow your partner to use transphobic language. Educate your friends and family.

Not an ally.  Just a casual observer.

62. Love your children regardless of what gender they identify as. Most self-hate for many trans folk comes from not being accepted at home.

Never having children.  As of this year, removing myself from the game, medically.  I mean to be part of the solution to overpopulation, not the problem.

63. Offer shelter, money, food etc. The basics of survival are hard for trans folk. If you have enough to spare, try to offer.

No!  They can work for it like anyone else.  I give to homeless shelters and organizations to help the homeless, so if that is their issue, I’m helping them and other people the best I can.  You make being trans sound like this huge Lawrence of Arabia kind of endeavor.

64. This is not a “phase.” Do not tell me it is one.

I ain’t telling you shit.  You seem really unpleasant to me.  As for Milo Stewart, I think that it is a phase.  Someday the little dork will grow up.  That’s a good thing.

65. If your trans friend is leaving a social situation and feels uneasy about travel, offer to walk them to a train station and wait with them, drive them home, or get them a taxi. Travelling home alone by yourself can be a scary scenario.

Why does the person writing this always want me to make huge impositions for people?  If it’s my friend, sure.  If it’s not, no.

66. Do not think you are saving us. We don’t need saving. You are helping us to have what everyone else has without having to ask for it.

The irony of this statement in respect to the rest of this list is just staggering.

67. Be active about your allyship. Just saying you are an ally but not doing enough to actually make a change isn’t enough.

Not an ally.

68. Avoid gendered slang terms like “dude,” “man,” or “missy.” For trans people, these too feel like misgendering.

I’ll speak however I like, thank you.  Dude is a non-gendered term in my mind.

69. Expand your knowledge of gender. For example, the Yoruba language is genderless. There is also a third gender in many spiritual philosophies.

No. I don’t care about Yoruba.  Fuck them.

70. Decolonise the way you think of gender. Remind yourself that these social constructs are postcolonial issues that the western world have pushed onto people.

*rolls eyes*

71. Be hyper aware of the systems that work against trans folk in issues like policing, housing, and health care.

Fuck off.

72. Offer to help go to health meetings and assessments. These spaces and the people within them can be very triggering and cause distress.

NO!  Unless someone I care about asks me to attend something and tells me why, the answer is fucking no!

73. Correct yourself if you accidentally misgender someone. It doesn’t matter if it was an accident – it still hurts.

Sure, if it’s a friend.

74. Make no excuses for others. No trans person wants to hear one of your friends say something offensive, only for you to say, “I’ve known them for ages, they don’t mean it like that.”

Uh, no.  I’m going to step in on account of a friend if I know that the friend wasn’t trying to be offensive.  Sometimes things come out wrong, and your precious opinion doesn’t override that.  Egotistical bitch/bastard.

75. Don’t forget that racism is rife in the queer community and trans people of colour are often the most vulnerable. Protect us.

I’m glad that somebody brought this up.  “People of color” tend to be the least accepting of the LGBT community.  But I’m sure you mean that just white people are evil.

76. Do not call yourself an ally if you do not believe in complete intersectionality. You be xenophobic and be an ally for trans folk. It doesn’t work like that, I’m afraid!

Not an ally.

77. Sex work is a service. Again, this is not up for debate. Do not try to stop trans folk from advocating for and implementing their own safety measures. Do not hide your prejudice against sex workers with fake worry.

I got no beef with people who do sex work, so your point here is mute.

78. Do not ask to try on or feel a strap-on, breast plate, or packer. These belong to us.

I needed a good laugh.

79. Believe trans folk when they say they have been targeted. Recognise the hatred that is thrown at us from so many angles.

Depends on who’s telling me.

80. Read Charlie Craggs’ To My Trans Sisters, Juno Dawson’s The Gender Games, C Riley Snorton’s Black on Both Sides, and Travis Alabanza’s Before I Step Outside (You Love Me).

No!

81. Relearn there is no universal trans experience. Not all of us go through the same things – we are all shaped by our varying lives.

Wait, did you just admit that you know you’re out of ideas and are now retreading old ground?  Ugh…

82. Share our work. Often our talents are overlooked based on our gender identity.

If your work is any good, sure.

83. Step down. Take up less space. If you are asked to do or take about something that you think your trans friend, partner, or coworker is more qualified for. Give our names.

No.  I wanna get ahead in this world.  I’m tired of being poor and scraping along.  If I have a chance to do something that gets me farther along, I’m gonna take it.

84 Love us and see us as human beings. After all, that’s what we are!

I will love other people and see them as human beings.  Not you, person who wrote this.  I am convinced that you are an unrepentant dick.

85. Watch Pose, Paris is Burning, Tomboy, Tangerine.

No!

86. Learn the correct terminology. Instead of saying “when you were a girl/a boy” say “your assigned gender at birth.”

No.

87. “Transgenders” is not a thing. We do not fall under one group. Never say that.

Yet-another retread of something we’ve already talked about.

88. Fight for our rights. Block and report pages or people spreading hate, too.

Not gonna try and stifle other people’s freedom of expression because it makes you mad.  Sorry-not-sorry.

89. Help to introduce gender neutral bathrooms. They should be way more common. Ask for them at work, cafes, bars, and venues.

Got no problem with you doing that.  Not gonna help.  As I said, not an ally.

90. If somebody who is trans asks you to go to the bathroom with them, go. This can be a very unsafe space for us.

Yeah…I’m gonna have some follow-up questions if someone asks me to go into a bathroom with them.

91. Pride is not for you to get drunk and smear glitter on your face. Respect that this is not your space.

Fuck off.  If you don’t want people to have fun at a public event, then have a fucking funeral, you pedantic prick.

92. Trans-only groups are there for a reason. These are also not your spaces.

Fair enough.

93. Your curiosity does not come before our comfort. Don’t expect answers and labor.

If you don’t wanna answer people’s questions, then don’t get mad when people don’t have an understanding of your issues.  They came to you wanting to learn, you told them no.  That’s on you.

94. Saying “I do not see gender” is hella problematic. We don’t need another way to be erased.

Fuck off.

95. Don’t assume anything about gender dysphoria. Not everyone experiences it and not everyone experiences it in the same way. People navigate it with different coping mechanisms.

Remember that point I made about people asking questions and you not answering them?  Kinda comes back here.

96. Do not deny your privilege. If you tell me that being a cis heterosexual white man doesn’t mean you haven’t “had it rough,” I will tell you that you are wrong.

Fuck off with your Original Sin bullshit.

97. I also am not playing Top Trumps with you. Don’t try to top my experience.

Top Trumps?  Is this a British thing?

98. Not everything needs labels. As my grandmother would say: “Baby, some things just be as they be.”

You all are the kings/queens of labeling things.

99. Intimacy can be even more complicated for some trans folk. Respect boundaries and ways people feel comfortable with nudity, tactility, and sex. This may been being patient or unlearning what we deem as ‘sex’.

What?  Unlearning what “we deem as ‘sex'”?  What the fuck does that mean?  Oh, right, I shouldn’t expect answers from you because you’re an asshole.  Never mind.

100. Find your own ways to disrupt the cis world. There are so many ways to do this.

Fuck off!

I hate these things so much.  Why I torture myself by doing them, I’ll never know.

Until next time, a quote,

“I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.” – Professor Farnsworth

Peace out,

Maverick

A Wife, A Soldier, An Assassin

That, my dear readers, is the title of this little narrative.  Let me tell you, I don’t do these kinds of things much.  It’s hard for me to maintain an idea long-term.  This little concept for a story started with me being bored as fuck at my job.  So I decided to let my mind wander, and it came up with this.  It’s been fun writing it.  I’m gonna have links to all the parts of the story, in the order I wrote them.  Hopefully you all enjoyed this too, and will come back to it.  I will say that I may end up writing more stories of the missions of the STARS in various posts.  I will be adding them to this post if I do, so check back if you don’t follow my work regularly and want to see if there’s more stuff.

Act I – A Wife
A Chance Start of a Friendship
The Hidden Story (Part 1)
The Hidden Story (Part 2)
Old Friends, Lost Dreams
Unveiling Some Truth, But Not All
A Thanksgiving to Live For

Act II – A Soldier
Lost Sisters, Old Wounds
A Preparing for Battle Tale
Camaraderie Between Branches, and Sisters
A Den of Secrets and Lost Family
Bad Dreams, Bad Behavior
The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth (Part 1)
The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth (Part 2)
The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth (Part 3)
The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth (Part 4)
On Home, Gardens, and Babies
An Assassination, In Front of a Choir
The Principles of Youthful Love
Pictures and the Road Down Memory Lane
Home for the Holidays (Part 1)
Home for the Holidays (Part 2)

Act III – An Assassin
The Binary Compound Mission (Part 1)
The Binary Compound Mission (Part 2)
The Binary Compound Mission (Part 3)
Talking Until the Morning Light
The Submarine Mission (Part 1)
The Submarine Mission (Part 2)
The Dream
The Truth About Killing
Saying Goodbye to Her
Coming Full Circle (Part 1)
Coming Full Circle (Part 2)

As I said, there will be more mission stories, but the central narrative is finished.  I hope to see you all again later.

Until next time, a quote,

“War all comes down to these tiny stories about people’s lives that will never be the same.” – Eugene Richards

Peace out,

Maverick

Coming Full Circle (Part 2)

The phone rang.  Annoying.  Had to disengage myself from Ashley’s arms.  She was so soft.  Not nearly the cuddle-bug that Jean was, but still.  Looked at the clock.  0300.  Who would call at this hour?!
Picked it up.  “Hello?”
“Quinn-chan?!”  He sounded awfully perky.
“What do you want, Toriyama?  It’s really fucking early.”
“Oh yeah.  Sorry.  There’s something that I thought you ought to know.  Got a hot tip from someone.  Can’t say who.  They had me do some work on other documents from North Korea.  Very shady stuff.  Was something I found.  Thought you’d like to know.”
Now he had my attention.  “I’m listening.”
“Not over the phone.  Just give me an address.  Will ship it to you.”  A brief pause.  “But you may not like this, Quinn-chan.”
My tone was ice-cold.  “If you have something you think I’d like, then send it.”
“Ya, ya.  Okay.  But don’t say I didn’t tell you so if you no like it.”

It was dark, just how I like it.  A trip I had made years before.  Now I was making it again, for an entire different reason.  But I needed to know.  Had to know.  Needed an answer that only this man could give.  Didn’t know if he would be happy to see me.  Probably.  We had parted on good terms, after all.  But this wasn’t at all a good thing.  Old wounds that needed to be resolved.
Right back where my revenge started.  Sitting in the back of a car.  Well, laying in the back of a car.  Heard the door open.  As before, he was on his phone.
“Yes sir.  We’ve already got the President’s approval.  Once the budget goes through, we’ll get it started.  Thank you, sir.”
Silence.  Guess he was mulling things over.
Sat up.  “Another star on your uniform.  Very impressive.  You won’t be saying ‘sir’ to anyone here, pretty soon.”
He didn’t even have to look in the mirror.  “Pierce.  We have to stop meeting like this.  You know, if you wanted to talk, you could have just come to my office.”
I shook my head.  “There’s no official record I’m here.  Flew in under an alias.”
Still had that look where he was processing.  It was intense.  Even now, he still had it.
“Okay.  What did you want to talk about?”
“Got my hands on some interesting intel.  Real crazy stuff.  Seems the story about the attack on the Pacific Fleet didn’t end for them with the death of those who orchestrated it.  KPA did some digging.”
“Oh yeah?  And what did they find?”
I got very close.  “They found that it was curious that the dissident faction seemed to know exactly where to send their popper planes.  I mean, it isn’t like they had a big satellite network.  China had already told them no.  So how did they know where to strike?  Got me curious too.”
There was a little twitch in the man’s neck.
“Making me wonder – did the leak come from us?  Was there someone in our military who made sure they got it?  And if so, was my mission just to cover their tracks?  A big song and dance that helped them come out looking squeaky clean?  And also got us peace with one of our biggest adversaries?  Lots of questions.  Which then makes me wonder – was the guy who sent me on this wild goose chase the same one who knew where this all came from?
“Then I found out that the newly christened Delta Team got their start with a black ops mission here in the US.  Some ‘threats to national security’ iced.  Sounds like someone in the Navy used the STARS to clean house.  Sure would be a shame if it was the same person who sent me on my mission.  Wouldn’t it?”
The Admiral actually smiled.  “Not bad, Pierce.  But don’t think for one second that you’re innocent in this.  Like you said, you were gonna do this one way or the other.  You came to me looking for intel.  We both used each other.”
My knife slide into his neck like it went into butter.  “My wife’s dead because of you, you piece of shit!  Because you had to go scheming.  I told you that I would make her killers pay.  And now I have.  You’re the last loose end.”  Pulled the blade out.  He was dead in seconds.  “Goodbye, Amiral.”
Got out of the car.  My ERC-7 was on, and I exfil-ed the parking garage the same way as I had come in.  All these years later, and there was that same cathartic feeling that I had when I watched that mess hall full of KPA soldiers choke and scream and die.  But now it really was done.  She could rest.  And maybe, just maybe, so could I.

Epilogue

This was it.  What we had all been drilling for.  The last week here was nothing but drilling for the graduation ceremony.  Everything was regimented.  Every fucking thing.  We even had a practice hall that we used for the exact purpose of getting ready for the real deal.  But this was the home stretch.
My excitement was growing and growing.  While Petty Officer McGrath was yelling at us, I would be thinking about getting to see them again.  Dad told me wouldn’t miss it if the world was ending.  So had the rest.  All the letters we got.  Speaking of, had to get my duty done.  My tenure as the Mail Officer was coming to an end.  A post that I kicked ass at.  It was cool that I got the girls back home to send letters to the guys and girls who had no one writing to them.  Telling them that they were doing good work and that they knew it was hard.  I got a reputation around here as the person trying to help everyone.  Got the attention of the base commander.  No joke.  Felt proud of that.
Now the day had finally come, and here I was.  Dress whites on, I was ready.  We were all in formation.  My shipmates and I were in the 193, fourth in line.  Walked in to that room, and for the first time, I felt all the pride inside seeing all those people, to congratulate us for making it this far.  It wasn’t easy.  Not everyone makes it through boot camp.  Not everyone should.
I was there the day the girl died from heat exhaustion.  She didn’t want to look weak to her shipmates, so she hadn’t told Petty Officer.  Eventually it was clear, but by that point it was too late.  I can’t imagine being the CACO and having to tell her family that she died before she even got to be a Seaman.  Petty Officer was pissed.  Gave us all a talk as we did air-chairs that it doesn’t make us tougher sailors to die because we don’t report problems.  That we have a duty to our shipmates to look after ourselves, because we are all we can depend on.  When a ship is on fire, or we are under attack, all we have is each other.  So we have to trust each other.  That stuck with me.
Something to know about graduation from boot camp – it’s literally you standing at attention for 45 minutes.  No joke.  You cannot break formation or go at ease until they give you liberty.  Another thing is that they have people there whose sole job is to see those who are struggling and escort them out.  People pass out doing this.  Not even kidding.  Was hot as fuck, too.  Hated it.  But thinking about them all out there, watching me, seeing me in uniform, it made it so much easier.  Couldn’t wait to see Dad’s face.  Or hers.  She had promised that the rest would be here too.
Worst part of it all was when we all had to sing, in “unison,” Anchor’s Aweigh.  Never have I wanted to cringe more than I did then.  It was terrible.  People were off-key, not keeping time, and I hate singing unless I know I’m alone in the shower.  This was terrible.  Felt so humiliate to even be there.  Could almost feel her smirking at me.  But then, she’d been down this road before.  So had all of them.
Finally, and I do mean finally, the announcer came on.
“Now, let me say, Liberty!”
Everyone cheered.  Finally getting to break ranks, I knew Dad would come charging in to find me.  Sure enough, within moments, there he was.  Dressed in a blue suit that fit him like a glove.  Looking sharp, Dad!  Felt out-classed, all of the sudden.  But I wouldn’t when I had the officer’s dress uniform!
“Hey, sweetie!”  He gave me a big hug.  Kind of took the wind out of me.  “You look great in that uniform.  I’m so proud of you.”
Smiled at him.  “Thanks, Dad.  Not looking so bad in that suit.  Feeling outclassed.”
“Not for a minute, honey.”
Just then, I saw them.  Each standing in officer dress uniforms.  A little strange, considering that they weren’t in the Navy anymore, but these women were legends in the STARS.  I could see people looking at them with instant respect.  And in the center, there was she was.  My teacher.  My best friend.  The mom I never had, but I’d never tell her that.  Her hair was done up in a perfect bun.  She really did look the part.
Walking over, I immediately stood at attention.  Their uniform showed that they outranked me.
“Well done, Seaman Phillips.”
“Yes ma’am.  Thank you, ma’am.”
She stood at attention and saluted.  I returned it.
“Carry on, Seaman.”
Couldn’t get the smile off my face.  “Thank you, ma’am!”
Now she held out her arms.  “Give me a hug, kiddo.”
I jumped into her arms.  Just like old times.  Being 14 again and training with her.  Nothing had changed.  Except Quinn.  With her was Bethke, who was looking a little sheepish.  She was still enlisted, leading Alpha Team.  Beacham couldn’t be here, which made me sad.  But she did write and tell me how if I didn’t get through boot she would put her foot up my ass.  Believed it.  Pennyfeather couldn’t be here either.  Being Beacham’s right-hand woman was hard work.  Gave Rodriguez a hug.  She looked the most awkward in uniform.  Ever since she left it, she was always in something that had less layers, and showed more skin.  Even now, she still was looking for tail.  Some things never change.  Lastly, there was Crow.  Scuttlebutt back home was that her and Quinn were getting pretty close.  Nothing official, but part of me hoped they were.  I think they’d be cute together.
“I’m proud of you,” she said.
“Thanks, Quinn.”
It’s strange, but in that instant, for just a second, I thought I saw a woman with brown hair, just behind her.  Then I blinked, and she was gone.  I know Quinn has always been skeptical of the afterlife.  I am too.  But I like to think, that Jean was there too, also proud.
But now, I had a couple hours of Liberty.  Had to make the most of it.  Worst part was – no drinking.  I know that Rodriguez would hook me up.  Next stop, A School.  The first stop on the way to earning my wings.  I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Fin

Until next time, a quote,

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” – Plato

Peace out,

Maverick

Coming Full Circle (Part 1)

“When I first joined the Navy, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life.  It was all just something to get me out of that town and doing something important.  Boot camp was the loneliest I had ever been.  All the people getting mail from their families, it hurt.  You’d get the occasional guy who got a Dear John letter from a girlfriend.  Had a couple girls who got it from their girlfriends.  Never saw boyfriends sending this shit.
“Then I joined up with the STARS, because it felt like something worth doing.  They sold me on it being a unit for women, helping them get into combat roles.  The training we got, the places we visited, it was incredible.  I’ve done arctic training in Canada with CANSOFCOM.  I’ve crawled through sand with Kurdish fighters.  I’ve run through jungles with COPESP.  And I learned how to disappear in cities with the SAS.  It was amazing.  Difficult.  I thought that it couldn’t be harder than boot camp.  You can’t imagine how wrong I was.  The SEALS have Hell Week.  We had Hell Months.  When we got sleep were the good nights.  When we didn’t was pretty usual.  So many women dropped out or were flunked out.
“At first, we were seen as just the women-force.  What they called the FDU.”
“What was that?” Johnathan asked.
“The Frigid Dykes Unit.”
“Christ.  You’d think they’d give you more respect than that.”
I chuckled.  “Respect is earned, in the military.  And we eventually did earn it.  Like you wouldn’t believe.”
Emily was sitting on the edge of the bed, feet up and arms around her knees.  Kiddo looked awkward.  But I made the choice to finally be open with them.  These two were the closest thing I had to family since losing my wife.  Now I had to give them the full story.  Minus the classified bits.  I think.  Sometimes it’s hard to know with a unit that was breaking the law and sometimes operating on American soil to kill threats to the country.
“For a while, we were just a stealth unit, infiltrating, getting intel, setting explosives, whatever needed to be done.  Sure, there would be the occasional kill we’d have to make, but soon the brass realized our ability as killers and saw fit to have it become a bigger and bigger part of our operations.  One of Alpha Team stood out among the rest in regards to being a good killer.”
“Who?” John asked.
“Me.”  So many memories flashed before me.  So many kills.  The ways I could do it.  How I was always seeing ways to kill people.  “I was so good at it.  They had me doing more and more of it over the years.  Until finally I didn’t even know if I could stop.  It was doing things to me.  Mentally, physically, you name it.  The only person who was able to help me get out of the darkness with killing was Jean.  That’s part of how our relationship began.  She asked for some shore leave so all of us could unwind.  Our first date was that night.  The beginning of what would be the best relationship I’ve ever had.”
Both my companions looked awkward.
“Oh Quinn, I’m so sorry.  I can’t imagine how awful it was to lose her.” he said, finally.
“Ever since, I haven’t been able to get past it.  Haven’t been able to let the killing go.  It’s all I know how to do.  So I keep doing it.  But now there’s no outlet.  My hands aren’t shaking, but my mind is still breaking.  I don’t know how much more of this I have in me.  But you all came into my life, and I feel like maybe, just maybe, there’s a future for me.”
Emily smiled at me.
“I’m sorry, kiddo.  I didn’t mean to hurt Ashley the way I did.  It’s just, there’s so much guilt inside me for what happened.  I was the one who convinced Jean to go on deployment when she did.  I wanted us to actually be able to spend a Christmas together in our new home.  Two years, and we still hadn’t been able to.  I wasn’t going to let that year be different.  Wanted to make tasty food for us.  Maybe have some of the girls who had no family over.  Make a feast for all the sisters.  That’s been in the back of my head for years.  Guess it caught up with me that night.”
All she did was nod at me.
“I think I’m finally ready to see if I can move forward.  I can’t leave the company I started, but I can start looking at the jobs I get offered.  Maybe change my criteria.  Some of the girls I served with are looking to leave the Navy.  No point letting good talent go to waste.”
“That sounds like a wonderful idea,” John replied, with that approving dad look.  He really did remind me of my old Lt.  “If you’re ever looking for a CFA, I might know a guy who has the credentials.”
“What about the company you’re with now?”
He shrugged.  “It’s good money, but truth be told, I want something more challenging.  Handling the legal side for a Private Military Corporation sounds like one hell of a challenge.  I like it.”
There was this moment that passed between us.  Reminded me of when I had been negotiating with the Admiral after Jean died.  Two equals, figuring shit out together.
“Well, we’ll see when we get there.  Not committing to anything now.”
He nodded.  “Absolutely.  Decisions like this should always be given a great deal of thoughts.  But I’m glad you’re finally starting to think about your future.”
So much weight off me.  They were all on the same page.
Looked over at Em.  “You mind looking after Natayo and Shadow while I’m still in here?  They said it will still be a couple more days.”
She nodded.  “Sure!  They’re pretty great.”
“Thanks.  But you know, once I’m out of here, we’re back into training.  You’ve been slacking off!  Can’t have that.  And I want to expand your education.  Have you learn some new stuff.”
That got her attention.  “What new stuff?!”
“It’s time I teach you how to fight.  Some basic CQC.”
“Hell yeah!”
When her dad gave her a look, we both cracked up.

A couple days went by.  Finally getting back home, still recovering from a bullet wound.  I had gotten lucky.  Bullet went right through me.  No major arteries knicked, but my intestines had been perforated.  Did some surgery to get me patched up, now it was just about recovery.  Spent my days resting, for the most part.  Wasn’t going to risk my stitches getting undone.
Kiddo would come over.  I’d talk with her about what we would be doing.  Basic combat stances, being able to read opponents, relaxing her muscles.  Had a kitty perched on my lap pretty much the entire time I was recovering.  Pussy got some serious love.  Pupper wasn’t especially pleased with this.  But Emily was taking him out to run.  That did make a happy dog.
Finally, after what felt like forever, I was back on my feet.  Had to recover a LOT of strength.  Apparently I lost a decent amount of blood.  Now it was about getting my strength back and then going back into it with kiddo.
Something else that happened because of what I did – apparently I had a REALLY big fan club at Emily’s school.  Word got out about the badass former STARS member who saved the lives of students and even got a shooter to put the gun down.  The accomplice was dead before he hit the floor, but the first guy did surrender without incident.  None of the other students were hurt.  Only casualty of the event was me.  Got to talk to a news crew.  Being regarded as a hero was the weirdest shit ever.  All these years, a hero is the last thing I felt like.  But now, here I was, getting thank you cards, flowers, even a stuffed kitty with a card telling me to get well.  It was a cute snow leopard design.  Natayo now attacks it all the time.  It’s super cute.
Ended up going to Em’s school, and the second I walked in the door, the staff came to greet me.  The principal shook my hand.  Got to sashay into kiddo’s class and walk in like a rock star.  My old Navy hoodie was covered in blood, but it seems my Alpha Team sisters were all over that.  They got me a new one, that had Alpha Team’s insignia on the back.  The same one that Jean designed.  Not gonna lie, cried a bit when I opened it.  But I wear it so proudly.  Seeing that hoodie, so many people were all over me.  The adulation felt nice, but I didn’t let it go to my head.  At least, I don’t think so.  People asked me what it was like being in that situation, and I leveled with them that my first thought was with taking out the first kid.  But I pushed myself past my worse angels to reason with him, and I was glad I did.
I think everyone expected military bravado.  Eff that.  I wanted them to know the truth.  Needless to say, kiddo was something of a rock star for being chill with me.  For a little while, it made things awkward when we’d go to the pool to do training sessions and people would want to shake my hand of whatever.  But eventually the craziness died down and everyone moved on to the next thing.  In the age of Internet culture, nothing stays a huge deal for long.
Stuff with my company was changing too.  I had a couple of assassination contracts I had already agreed to.  Once a contract is signed, I can’t get out of it.  So I knew that I’d have to play those out.  I could do that.  The pain wasn’t as vivid.  The mental stress.  Maybe all of this was tied to how I had been holding everything in.  Was it the same way when Jean and I were dating?  I couldn’t talk about anything back then, either.  Perhaps the secrecy was what was fucking up my life.
One day I got a text from Ashley, wondering if I was doing anything.  Was kind of shocked.  After what happened between us, I figured she hated my guts.  Turns out, she was just scared and didn’t know how to deal.  Kiddo had talked with her, and now she was hoping to get another chance to spend a fun night together when she was in town.  I do remember how unbelievably attractive she was.  And pretty good in bed, too.  I needed a woman in my bed again.  Since the bad dreams had stopped, I was certain this was gonna be crazy.  I told her to wear something really sexy, on top and underneath.

Lt was coming out of the base.  He had a look on his face of it being a long day.  He fiddled with his keys, trying to unlock the door.
“Hey,” I greeted.
The look on his face was one of shock.  “What are you doing here, Pierce?”
Hopped off the rail I was sitting on, tossing him a beer.  Not some domestic shit.  America makes crappy beer.  Just gonna put that out there.
“Just in the neighborhood.  Figured I’d come visit.  Looking sharp, I see.”  Suddenly something caught my eye.  There had been a change to his uniform.  New collar, shoulder, and sleeve chevrons.
“Lt. Commander now.  Rock on!  So does this mean you’re not in charge of Alpha Team anymore?”
He shook his head.  “For now I’m still here.  A replacement is being selected from the program.  It’s in a bit of a bind.  We’re having new women integrated into Delta and Echo teams, but since several team members are leaving the ranks because either their enlistment is up or they asked for a transfer, we may end up having to compartmentalize the teams into new ones.”  Then he gave me a wry look.  “I mean some of those leaving have cards from your company.  You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”
I gave the biggest innocent face ever.  “Who, me?!  Never!”
Guy chuckled.  “Smart ass as always.”
“Aye, sir.”
“I heard you talked with the other girls.  Once they stopped shit-talking you, I knew something happened.  They’re playing it close to the uniform, but I know something happened.  They talked about coming to visit you.  And convinced me to sign that card we sent after you got shot.  Heard what happened at the school.  Very impressive, Pierce.  On both the kid you talked down, and the one you took down.”
It still felt good, getting adulation from my old LCO.
“Thank you, Lt.  Well, guess I can’t call you that anymore.”
He snorted.  “Might as well.  It’s what the others still do.  No respect around here.”
Gave him a wink.  “Not a bit, sir.”
Leaning against the car, he took a swig of the beer.  “You look a lot better, Pierce.  I remember that day I saw you at the hospital.  You looked like shit.”
“Yeah.  I was in a bad place.”
“And now?”
“Now, I’m in a different one.  Not entirely sure what’s gonna happen, but I think that I am on the path.”
He nodded.  “I’m glad to hear that.  Part of me always hoped that one day you’d end up in charge of a team with the STARS.  But then, you were always following Beacham’s lead.  She’s one of the people we’re looking at to replace me.  Give her a HUGE promotion and then give her command of Alpha.  Don’t tell her I said that, Pierce!  Understood?”
“Wilco, sir.”
“Thanks.  I put her name in myself.  That woman has the makings of a great commanding officer.  Someday I know she’s gonna be where I am now.”
“You’re not wrong.”
We stood there for a few moments, just drinking beer and listening to the noise of the base.  F-22s landing down the way.
“I heard you’re finally getting a divorce form Vicki,” I said, finally.
“Why am I not surprised you know that.”
“I am so glad.  That woman was a bitch, sir!”
“She was a little rough around the edges…”
“No!  She was a bitch.  We all hated her so much.  She treated you like her dog.  Hope your lawyer takes her to the cleaners.”
“Yeah, I’m sure that’ll happen.”
“We live in the age of equality, sir!  That means that women can be fucked over in a divorce as much as any man.”
Another snort from him.  “Yeah, I’m sure.  But no way am I gonna get out of this without paying alimony.  At least my son is in college now and I don’t have to worry about child support.”
“No kidding.  Up here it’s a bitch.”
“Copy that.”
From there, we have finally reached a point of being able to be personal.  Some light conversation.  His son heading to Cal-Tech, to study to be an astrophysicist.  Wanted to end up doing some work for the Navy.  Made his father proud.  I could feel that.  Would make me proud too.
Finally, Lt looked to leave.  “So, you gonna be alright, Pierce?”
“Aye, sir.  I think I will be.”
He held out his hand.  “It was good to see you again.”
Shook it.  “You too, Lt. Commander.”

Until next time, a quote,

“I started the lab because I was never able to create friends.” – Okabe, Steins;Gate

Peace out,

Maverick