Wednesday, April 10, 2019

[chapter 2]

The children’s names were Abdan and Mershi. Preteens, traumatized. Everyone helped, but Mazi turned out to be surprisingly good with them. Jase started teaching them how to read and the Ambassador would knit them garments while being petted by them. Mazi took all of their gear out of their quarters and it was remade into a room for the kids.

But they had been raised as slaves, outside of civilized humanspace. All they knew was being used cruelly. That’s why Mazi was good with them, despite being scarred and brutal; Mazi knew what it was like to have to share air with broken wrecks. Mazi could tell when they wanted to eat, or cuddle with the Ambassador, or needed to be alone.

The children, with the way they grew up, they couldn’t even imagine an angel, To them the Ambassador was a big softpet. The luckiest child slaves got a hand-me-down or cast-offt; they were the currency of their rudimentary economy. The ambassador knitted, and piece by piece replaced the oversize garments that the crew gave them to replace the filthy rags they had been wearing.

Mershi knew some words and letters, Abdan was completly illiterate. Jase did their best to teach them. Wer thought that, considering Jase’s temperment, they would have gotten along, but after a brief period of awkwardly getting to know each other Wer could have sworn that the children had began getting the better of and taking advantage of Jase. Wer shrugged, lit a cigarette.

Completely unsurprisingly Jase was the only one that had any media that was both appropriate and that they found engaging. For games night cards, dice and Panzerkraft was replaced with children’s games that Jase printed out from an entertainment archive on his server. Snakes, ladder, micetraps, dice under plastic domes. It was actually a relief playing the completely luck based boardgames after the repeated farce of the Ambassador pretending that they couldn’t win at every hand of poker.; their performance had been flawless, leaving no one feeling condescended, but it was still an insult to their intelligences when they thought about it afterwards.


Wer had been expecting past-date MREs. Instead it was a durafoam case of fresh fish sealed in transparent foil packets. They were unpacking the pallet of supplies after the initial business with the children had been taken care of.

“These say ‘Product of Hades’ on them. Assuming that nobody would sell counterfeit Hades raised fish on Hades, how infested and polluted do you think these are?”

“They can’t be any worse than these blank label cigarettes that you’re going to suck down. Besides, I’ve seen you smoke fucking fast Wer, while you were integrated with the fucking helm. You used to call yourself the human garbage can.”

“That time was an emergency Mazi, I’m way too old for fast anymore. Anyways, I’m not worried about myself but the Ambassador doesn’t smoke, Jase doesn’t smoke, the kids don’t...” Wer stopped and looked at Mazi.

“Both of them Wer. Slaves get by with whatever they can.”

“Well, I’m not going to take away whatever small pleasure they have after the hell their lives have been.”

Wer continued digging through the pallet. “Anyways, if you knew that then you damn well have better bought extra cigarettes as well.”


Jase figured out how to make fish sticks. It was the only thing the kids liked, everyone else resigned themselves to fish sticks for every meal. The Ambassador gave all of the fruit from the plants they kept in their cabin to the children, after peeling and cutting them them up. Wer had seen the signs of malnutrition and had talked to them about it. The Ambassador did a convincing performance of pretending that they hadn’t already thought about it.

One time Wer found Jase watching recordings of the encounter with the grown up ship at Hades. Wer watched for several minutes as Jase changed camera, speed, rewound, repeated. Wer sparked a cigarette. “what are you looking for Jase?”

“I feel like I’m missing something.”

Wer sighed. You miss everything with the grown ups, that’s why they’re gods.

“Okay Jase, let me know if you find anything you think is important.”


Mazi had slung a hammock in the hold. Snorted when Wer asked if they were okay bunking there.

Wer shrugged, “I still have to ask. I know your ass is made out of granite but I gotta do due diligence. Anyways, do you think we can drop the kids off at Gilead?”

“An illegal colony of a primitivist cult outside of civilization? Maybe I should have left them at Hades instead Wer.”

“Fuck off Mazi. They’re some sort of peace church, maybe they’re not that crazy. Maybe the kids are better off far away from civilization, the cops and the corps, at least out there they might have some sort of freedom.”

“Wer, I’ve been through bad shit, you fucking know that. And I went through it with a bunch of others, and most of them didn’t make it. I’m telling you those kids need real help.”

“It’s an isolated colony Mazi, even if they are a primitivist cult, they still might have good mental health care. How about we check it out the colony and then we can talk? We’re still getting there well before the rendezvous. Always arrive early. I get it, you did the right thing and you want to follow it through. I support it. I just don’t know if the kids are going to be that safe with us.”

“We check out the colony Wer. Any bad vibes, we take them somewhere better.”


Wer was dreaming. The ship was dark, quiet. He got up from his bunk. His door was open. Walking down the corridor, he could see dim flickering light from the bridge.

One of the children was there, standing before a console flickering with white noise. The child put their hand out, palm first, and pressed it against, through and into the console display.

Wer tried, couldn’t move. Legs unresponsive, body slow, clumsy, anaesthetized.

The child leaned back, forearm immersed in the console. The white noise spreading up out and around the console.

Slow the child turned, their body rubbery, and Wer was frozen staring into eyes full of white noise, getting larger, pulling them forward....


Gilead was a young planet. Larger than Earth, but with a less dense crust. It still had a magnetosphere. Liquid water. Life, primitive plants and invertebrates, simple enough to both crudely compatible with human biochemistry without significant issues.

The Vespers were some variety of breakaway heretic Catholic sect: egalitarian, communal, pacifist, repudiating technology that they felt was detrimental to the soul. Wer had no idea when the last time a ship had been in the system. They had no communication facilities so the transit from the gravity wall was deaf.


“Those are fucking gibbets Wer. Wheels. Cages. This is fucking medieval shit Wer.”

“I see the bodies Mazi. I see the smoke and I see the people.” Wer lowered the binoculars, “We keep the kids with us until we find someplace good.”

Mazi nodded. Looked through their binoculars at the village. “This looks really fucking ugly.”

“You want to find out what happened?”

Mazi snorted, look at Wer, raised an eyebrow.

“Okay, let’s get back up and stay in offdirt until the meetup.”


It was better part of a week before the meet. The crew started getting tense again. Everyone had been looking forward to time on actual habitable pleasant planet. From orbit running slow detail scans it looked like whatever had happened had happened in everywhere. They found a couple of battlefields strew with bodies. The agricultural fields looked wrong, bruised and stained.


Wer heard a knock at the door to their cabin. Sighed, took a deep drag off of the spliff. “Come in.”

Jase entered, carrying a dataslab, shut the door.

“What’s this about Jase?”

Jae held up the ‘slab. There was a piece of paper on it, “Always assume that someone is listening”

Wer nodded.

Jase removes the piece of paper, shows the slab display

It’s a video, paused. Half of the display is a video capture of the bridge during the encounter with the ship at Hades. The other half is a composite of external cameras. The blobs. The receding ship-thing in one square.

Jase points at the Ambassador, zooms in on their hands, knitting. Starts the video.

The needles flashe. The audio was off but Wer imagines the clicking.

The video runs until Mazi turns and obviously glares at the ambassador. The ambassador stops knitting.

Jase rewinds the video. Plays it again, slower.

Wer leans forward, watching. The video runs until the knitting stops.

Jase plays it again, slower. And then again, even slower.

Halfway through the playback Wer nods, holds out his hand for the piece of paper, writes on it, holds it up.

“Show Mazi”


[chapter 1]

The cache wasn’t there.

Wer swore. Slapped the console. Lit a smoke. “Keep scanning. A fast one running long and get the computer to start a detail sweep.”

“If it’s not there we’re gonna be out a lot of money?”

“If it’s not there we get a refund for them fucking it up. If it’s just that the transponder is down, we’re gonna get a fucking discount next time for our time that they wasted. Start running a timer.”

“What if they didn’t screw up? Out here anyone could have taken it.”

“Who the fuck is going to be out here Jase?” snorted Mazi, “Out in a deep gap?”

The computer beeped.

They all stared at the ship? thing? god? on their consoles. Wer let out a long breath. “A grown up?”

Mazi barked “Are you shitting me?”

“Why is a grown up out here?”

Wer replied “To take away our toys before we got up to any trouble. That’s not a grown up. It’s gotta be a remote of some sort.”

“Is there a fucking difference for us monkeys?” snorted Mazi.

“Even if it’s a drone” murmured Jase, “it’s creeping me out.”

“You should be thrilled,” Wer sardonically replied, “Think about how lucky you are. How many humans ever get to see anything of the grown ups? We should all buy lottery tickets at the next big hab we hit.”

Mazi snorted. “Yeah, well we still need fuel.”

“Hades is close enough.”

“FUCK Hades, are you crazy? That place is a shithole. A BAD shithole. It’s a fucking zoo.”

“They need commerce. We get what we need, we stay out of trouble, and we get out.”

“Hades IS trouble. That’s where pirates go.”

“They’re not gonna jump us at a station. It’s bad for business. For Hades and pirates.”

“We still gotta get from and to the gravity wall. They could jump us any time.”

“Again, that’s bad for business. Hades is desperate for commerce.”

“Wouldn’t Hades get more from the pirates looting us than from us than us resupplying?” interjected Jase.

“It’s the risk factor Jase, safe money from commerce.” replied Wer, “Plus”, pointedly looking at Mazi, “we don’t even know if there are any pirates there.”

“Don’t you always say to always assume pirates are there?” retorted Mazi.

Wer rubbed his eyes. “Okay, check-and-mate Mazi, you got me. I don’t like it any more than you do, but this whole thing was a risk from the get go. We’re just going to have to keep our eyes open and not fuck up. Like any other risky job.”

Lighting a cigarette Wer got up out of the console. “Jase, get us on a vector away from that thing. Let’s take a day, keep scanning for the cache, and work out plan. If either of you can think of anything better than Hades that doesn’t involves having to run slow and cold let me know, I’m going to go tell everyone.”

At the door he paused. “Always assume that someone is listening.”


The Ambassador was knitting. Not even glancing at what they were doing as they looked at Wer with those deep calm wise eyes.

The Jesus eyes, the silky angel down on their skin, the unnatural grace. When the babysitters arrived, when Homo sapiens learned that they were not alone in the universe, and not only that but that the it was manged by gods billion of years old who had decided that enough was enough and the baby might fall out of the cradle or choke on the toys it had made, the fury was widespread when what met us was an Australopith. Offended beyond belief.

That anger never lasted once someone had seen the videos.

The Ambassador’s voice clicked and sang in a countermelody to their knitting “I see a friend was waiting. They appear to be of the Seventh Wind. I’m sorry about the considerable inconvenience.”

Wer nodded. Sighed. Took a deep drag on his cigarette. Tried to ignore his mind screaming at him to question the Ambassador. Tried not to think about the Seventh Wind Ship reading his mind.

“Do you think there’s any chance that if we ask nicely we can get our fuel back?”

The Ambassador did Wer the courtesy of appearing to be deep in thought for several beats, the knitting becoming laconic, before replying.

“We’re not in any immediate danger are we? I understand there is a place of resupply available, albeit one of dubious character, Hades I believe?” It was that inhuman angelic grace that made whatever an Ambassador say not sound condescending, “From their perspective, if Hades wasn’t within reach with our remaining fuel supply, us having to travel at slowdrive in sleepfreeze for a few decades wouldn’t even register as an inconvenience to them.”

Despite himself Wer deadpanned “Parents just don’t understand.” Cursed at himself inside. Is it listening to us? Would it even bother, or need to?

The Ambassador smiled. “If they deigned to think about it I’m sure they’d consider it to be a valuable life lesson.”

“Then I’m not going to chance any further education by trying to talk to it.”


Mazi glared at the console. “Why is it that fucking thing still there?”

“Maybe it’s doing something?” Jase replied as they continued the calculations for Hades, “It was just a coincidence, it had something to do here.”

“That’s a big fucking coincidence with how much empty room there is out here.”

“Well, we don’t have any idea how far or fast their sensors can be or what they can see. It could have just walked a few steps to pick up a piece of litter.”

“I think it’s there just so it has wave it’s finger at us.” Mazi raised a hand and gave the console the finger. “Smug fuckers, fuck them.”


Everyone was gunned up when the ship bored back into realspace at the gravity wall. Holsters on belts, shotguns and machetes stowed in bins next to the staions. Except the Ambassador, although they graciously allowed a couple of nonlethal devices and a boarding shield to be stowed in their quarters. Mazi was wearing a few pieces of body armor and carried a mean looking combined assault weapon, occasionally toggling the bayonet repeatedly until Wer sighed and asked them to please knock it off.

Mazi had argued for booby-trapping the airlocks. Jase pointed out that it wouldn’t safe if there was an emergency. Wer shut it down, “We’re going to have to dock anyways. I don’t want to be fucking around disarming booby-traps, putting them back in and then disarming them again. That’s how accidents happen.”

Hades hung there, a massive bloated glowering brown dwarf surrounded by a few rogue planets, rocks and chunks accumulated over the past billions of years since it formed.

Not worthless rocks and chunks. There were minerals, chemicals, strange matter deposits. Not enough for a colony or a corporate venture but enough to attract small time independents, and then, this far out, the predators that take advantage of opportunities in the far reaches.


“Ambassador, is that our Seventh Wind friends again?”

“I’m afraid I don’t recognize that. My apologies, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Mazi barked “What the fuck is it sending over?”

Swirling block blobs closed the gap between the two ships.

Wer repeatedly hailed the kilometers-long amorphous mass. Silence.

The tumbling black blobs, dust fragments in comparison to their mother body, swirled around The Old Wolfe. Occasionally one of them briefly darting close.

Even Mazi didn’t discuss arming any of the weapon systems. Everyone stared at the consoles.

At one point Mazi glared at the Ambassador. The Ambassador apologetically smiled, nodded, and ceased knitting.

After several long minutes the blobs peeled off and rejoined the receding mass.

“What just happened?” whispered Jase.


The hours spent om transit to Hades Station were quiet and tense. They stared at consoles, paced around the ship, checked weapons, ate in silence.

No one was happy about going to Hades, but they had to refuel here or hang a bunch of popsicle years. And now that they were here they didn’t have enough left to do that.


Wer handed the station liason a hardcase, “For your inconvenience. Thanks for letting us resupply here.” The liason nodded and placed it on the counter, undid the latches.

A bundle of bills. Cigarette packs. Glass bottles in translucent foam cylinders. Foil-backed plastic envelopes of marijuana, cocaine, pills. Make them happy, hope they keep the scavengers and cutthroats at bay. If they possess any authority.

Wer had handed out small packs of cheap cigarettes to everyone who would be going stationside.

Jase protested, “But I don’t smoke.”

“Open one of the packs now. Someone wants a smoke give them one. Give someone a pack if you want anything from them.”


“Do you see that?” hissed Mazi.

“Don’t stare” Wer hissed back, “of course I see that.”

“Those are slaves Wer. They have kids refuelling our ship.”

“I don’t like it anymore than you do.”

“You know I served on Mercury Wer. You know what happened there.”

“We’re not going to be buying any slaves. We came here because we had no choice.”

“Where’s the fucking grown ups now?”

Wer rubbed his eyes. “Instead of getting pissed off, can I give you a job and keep you busy? We might be able to find some good stuff here, there’s gotta be a bunch of black market shit available.”

“Don’t you want us to stick together?”

“No one is going to fuck with you. You know how to stay out of trouble and nobody is going to rip you off either. Buy anything that we can use, just don’t go gun crazy. Food, booze, smokes too. Let’s resupply.” Wer handed Mazi a crumpled plastic envelope. “I know you can take care of it faster than if we all go, lets get out of here as soon as we can.”


Wer looked at the two children. Looked at the pallet of shrink-wrapped boxes; at the hole cut in the side of two of the boxes; and then settled his gaze on Mazi.

“I take it that if we ever need to, that we won’t be able to go back to Hades?”

“You said that we weren’t going to be buying any slaves.”

“We’re damn lucky that nobody missed them before we made bore. Someone is going to be very pissed off at us.”

Wer sighed and smiled at the children staring at him and leaned against the pallet. “I hope that you’re going to be able to swear less” he said as he pulled out a cigarette, “because you’re going to be looking after these two until we can drop them off somewhere safe.”


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

I believe women. I believe Mandy Morbid. Her abuser cannot debate, intimidate, or manipulate me into silence. There is no place for abusers among us. #AbuseIsNotAGame #OSR

I believe women. I believe Mandy Morbid. Her abuser cannot debate, intimidate, or manipulate me into silence. There is no place for abusers among us. #AbuseIsNotAGame #OSR

Testing the Generators from a Mothership thing I'm working on

Over-their-head schlub. Cheap ugly suit; brown, stained loafers Bumbling; sweaty; incompetent. Has a bottle of whiskey in their slovenly over-the-shoulder attache. INSTINCT 15//Will just take off at the first sign of serious trouble. SKILLS Driving, Piloting

Almost retired. Sloppily dressed; sighs a lot; has a bad knee; easy-going. INSTINCT 40//Nothing out of the ordinary going on here.

"Loss Prevention Security", Visored Motorcycle Helmets and Leather, SMGs and Disposable Restraints

"The Dead Team", S&M attire, Thrown Sharp Things and Martial Arts; driving Tanks and APCs; Led by a Sexy, Oiled-Up Saxophonist; Protectors from Alien Shit

Regarding Zak II

In light of these recent developments, and subsequent introspection, I feel like I really owe an apology to Johnstone Metzger

Coming from a background in the punk scene, I have become used to the idea of having two friends that don't get along, or hate each other, and having to not get involved.

Sometimes, letting that be seems to be part of existing in a community.

And I let that be my guide for dealing with the horrible way that Zak treated Johnstone.

Johnstone is someone that introduced me to Red Box Vancouver and playing pick-up games in public with an open table, and it was a very enriching experience.

Johnstone is also a very creative, intelligent and all-around wonderful person.

I should have stood up for him more, instead of letting "politics be politics". He was someone, that I knew in real life, that was kind and generous, and Zak used him as one of his punching bags. And I didn't do more about it that some comments in his defense.

I failed Johnstone, I felt bad about it when it was happening in the past, and I feel awful about it now.

To some degree I was afraid of Zak turning on me if I did more.

I should have done more re Paolo Greco, and Patrick Stuart, and Evlyn Moreau as well.

But Johnstone was a real-life friend of mine, and I failed at our friendship in not vigorously standing up and pushing back against Zak's persecutive horseshit.

I'm sorry.

[Disclosure: This post was previously posted on my Google Plus account yesterday. For the purpose of taking full responsibility for my inaction, I've decided to share it here as well. Commenting will be turned off for this post.]

Tuesday, February 12, 2019



1. "Venus is For Lovers".
2. A Hawaiian shirt, but with cartoon asteroids and rocketships on it.
3. Schematic of a a pulse rifle.
4. "I don't have time to breath" with a graphic of a depleted 02 meter.
5. "Don't ask me how the Jump Drive works... ...even the inventors don't know"
6. Mock-distressed Rolling Stones Tongue logo.
7. "WHO FARTED?!?!"
8. "I'M WITH STUPID" with a graphic of an arrow pointing upwards.
9. Like a tuxedo-graphic shirt but the graphic of the chest panel of a Vaccsuit.
10. "I'M WITH STUPID" with a cheap transfer graphic of the ship's Captain.
11. "In Space Everyone Can Hear You Jack-Off"
12. Playboy Bunny in a Bubble Helmet.
13. "ACAB", "All Captains Are Beautiful".
14. "Enjoy Crack" in the Coca-Cola logo.
15. "Alpha Bullshit".
16. Picture of a revolver pointing at the viewer, "We Don't Call Shipboard Security"; backprint "I Shot First"
17. Picture of the Milky Way Galaxy, "I Have No Fucking Idea Where You Are".
18. Tom of Finland style artywork of muscular, well endowed men wearing assorted Vaccsuit components.
19. All-over Pot-Leaf Print polyester button-up shirt.
20. Trojan Records Helmet logo with "Skinhead Moonstomp" caption in Rasta-colours

Monday, February 11, 2019

Regarding Zak

I hope that Zak engages with some sort of accountability process, takes responsibility for his actions, and does whatever is necessary to allow some sort of healing for the women he hurt.

But that's not what is really important. What's important is that we listen to Mandy, Jennifer, and Hannah, [EDIT:] and Vivka; that we believe them; and we do whatever we can so that they can heal and recover from this abuse.

I hope that Zak takes responsibility and gets the help that he needs, but going forward from this...