Friday, September 22nd, 2017 10:54 pm
Talked to the vet again, at much greater length, and I have my feet under me, I think.

Here's what we are looking at:

EXPENSES 6-12 MONTHS
$120 for the next round of bloodwork, either in 12 months or if he starts declining again, whichever comes first.
$100 for in-office euthanasia if necessary (I always want to have this amount on hand, even if he seems totally okay)
$60 for tending to his body respectfully.
$120 for what I think should be 3 months' worth of dry AND wet foods, and kidney-safe treats. (I'm having trouble with this math, since I don't know exactly how many servings are in this bag, or how much he will eat.)
$70 for his regular anxiety meds and lysine treats.

= $470 as a cushion against the most likely expenses over the next year or so, plus the non-negotiable meds and food, and the mercy fund in case he needs to be put to sleep.


PLUS OPTIONAL
$230 for an "optional" X-ray, which I very much want to get so we can check for other things like tumors. I REALLY want this quite badly, but it IS optional.
$400 for a full-body clean at Skulls Unlimited, like I did for Tazendra. This is genuinely optional. I'm not expecting this. Just the skull is $60.

= $630 extra, for stuff that would be good or cool to have.

TOTAL, that would be $1,100.

That is doable with a head start and help from y'all.

If you are comfortable donating a few bucks outright, I take paypal at naamah@gmail.com.

If you want something concrete, I will be posting some art stuff, listing some ponies on eBay, and maybe taking some small art commissions. I will try to get that stuff up on Monday, as well as bumping this post.

I am very optimistic after my talk with our vet today. I have a lot of hope, and overall this isn't looking too bad right now. I just want to build up a cushion so that we can keep him safe.

Thank you all for your kind words of support, which have been worth my stupid cat's weight in gold. It's good to see that there's hope. <3

Thank you for having my back, and his.

Here he is being stinky and beautiful:


Smooch is so pretty!

He says thank you.  <3
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Friday, September 22nd, 2017 10:46 am

Loading out for a weekend set of shows in Kennewick with Leannan Sidhe – if you’re in the area, here’s the Facebook event, c’mon out! Leannan Sidhe is a trad- and trad-style band, so playing a renfaire is something they do on the regular, even if very little of the music is actually Renaissance-specific, and the weather is supposed to be great. See you there!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

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Thursday, September 21st, 2017 11:39 pm
So the verdict is stage 3 kidney disease, and it is fatal.

We have time yet, though.  We'll do dietary management as long as we can.  But because I don't know how long we have, I am having to make preparations for sooner rather than later.  Because I can't afford to be caught flat-footed.

I am going to ask some questions, get a price for some things I know will be necessary, and then I am going to throw a number out there and ask y'all to help me hit it so we can be sure to have his needs covered for the next little while, including one more round of bloodwork for a re-check in six months, and, unfortunately, for the cost of euthanasia + taking care of the body.  I'm working on getting figures for that.  I'll know more tomorrow and should have a more complete forecast by Monday.

I knew going in I probably wouldn't have him for that long.  I'm okay.  It hurts, but I can do this.  I can't fix him, but I can be with him til the end of the line.  I just want to make sure he's taken care of.

I'm hurting just as bad for my best friend, who on the same day I heard about Smooch, learned that her Puck, my favorite dog in the world, has terminal cancer and has around a month.  I can't fix him either.

We are all so fucking helpless.  Life is so beautiful, I love it, but it is also completely heartless, and while I will never hesitate to make this bargain again and again, loving our pets means losing them.  They are our little outboard hearts, and that makes them so precious and us so vulnerable.
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Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 09:19 pm
Today was the most badass I have ever been as D.va.

Offence. Volskaya industries. Backfill, with about 2:30 to go; first point taken, first third of second point taken, but they've been flailing. I grab D.va, and they waste about 2:15 just raggedly charging in, ignoring my group-up requests - tho' I did get the enemy to blow a few of their ults. And once I announce that my nerf is up, my team finally groups, mostly because hey, about out of time.

I lead the charge in. I get one and a mech with my nerf. One of our team gets someone else, I don't know who. I get my mecha back, charge in, kill a third.

Their Reaper drops in with his ult and kills FIVE OF US. Quadruple kill. It is, in fact, play of the game.

But he does not get me. I am the only member of my team alive.

I kill every remaining member of the enemy team and take the point in overtime, while the entire rest of my team is dead.

I gold in objective kills, but I don't even card.

I cannot imagine what that looked like to everyone else.
Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 01:33 am

Sorry this one took so long. I'm not good at large action sequences, and this chapter was difficult to write, mostly because of that. I was trying to keep it gamelike, in that it would be evocative of a failed charge onto take a point with a payload on it in game, as opposed to a realistic infantry scenario. I hope it works.

If nothing else, it's way longer than most of my chapters, so at least nobody's being short changed. ^_^

[AO3 link]


The opportunity came sooner than expected. An arms shipment, escorted by Los Muertos, task force almost certainly to be led by Jack Morrison - or, as it seems they called him, the white ghost.

Jesse McCree had been the one to catch the rumour, talking with some of his old Deadlock Gang contacts, who, turns out, would be happy if a rival gang did not get to run goods through their territory. And so, they passed the news to him, and he passed it to Amélie, who passed it to Venom, who gave it to Overwatch, and Gabriel Reyes, who built a plan.

Mockingbird lay atop the crest of the hill, silent, even her breath inaudible, even to herself, even she wasn't entirely sure she was bothering to breathe right then, as the small three-vehicle convoy stirred itself, beginning its early-morning trundle out of the two-building ghost town that had once called itself Cloverdale. There had been more here, once, before the climate warmed, but really, it had ended before then, a former bit of a farming town, a little store, a dance pavilion, enough water - just - for a bit of crop and cattle raising, but now, even that last was gone, which is, of course, why they were all where they were.

The sniper had been in her nest since two days before, had watched the convoy trundle its way across the desert and to a stop, loading out into the little stone ruin, and calling it a night. She had not slept; she did not need to, for this watch. Once everyone had tucked themselves in so nicely, so quietly, she'd then confirmed via radio to Gabriel that Jack Morrison was, indeed, in the front truck, and that they were not, in fact, transporting refugees or undocumented workers - there were no innocents to get in the way. Just a simple cargo delivery - maybe the weapons, maybe a side delivery before the main delivery, no way even to know.

Not that it mattered, really.

She watched as the convoy slowly rode its way west, towards her and past burned out soil, past former farm gates, now collapsing along the road, the paint bleached in the sun. She took in a breath, just enough to speak. "They're on their way."

Gabriel's voice in her ear. "Do you have the target?"

Lena allowed herself the smallest of smirks. Less than a kilometre. No breeze, at all. Crystal clear skies. Do I have the target. Honestly, Gabe. But she kept it to herself. "Target confirmed and moving into go/no go. Do I have go?"

Reyes ran through the numbers one more time in his head. Everyone in position for the ambush. A lot more fighters on the Los Muertos side - more than they expected, and it bothered him - but only one hard target. The gang side wouldn't be trying for a capture - they'd be shooting for kills, without hesitation - but Overwatch had surprise on their side.

"Nearing optimal range, Gabe. Go or no go?"

Who knows when we'll get intel even this good again, he decided. "Action confirmed. All team, on my mark - go."

Venom - no, Mockingbird - smiled the spider's smile, and pulled the trigger. Morrison's head jerked to the side as the tactical visor went flying out across the desert in pieces, and he swore, loudly, in Spanish, blinded by his own blood, but not really hurt, despite the proximity of the bullet. The transport vehicle swerved, blocking the road forward, but did not fly out of control, and seconds later he was shouting orders to his team as the Overwatch group moved in from the northeast, from the dried-up spring.

"Visor down," the sniper confirmed, as Mei threw up a wall behind the convoy, Gabriel lay down fire blowing out the front vehicle's tires, and the unlabelled Overwatch carrier blared its orders to drop weapons and be commandeered. Pharah charged into the air, letting loose with a series of rockets aimed at vehicle engines, as Mockingbird readied for a spray of long-range discouragement fire from her position, to keep the grunts under cover. She grinned as she watched the Los Muertos gangsters circle their vehicles and swarm for weapons, and then her grin froze as Jack darted away from her sight, without a visor, then reappeared on the other side of the transport vehicle, with one.

What th'...?! She looked back towards the wreckage of the visor. Yes, there, pieces, still on the ground. She called into comms, "Gabe, he has a second visor somehow, watch it!" just as Jack triggered the device, visual overlay screen appearing almost instantly, knocking Pharah out of the air just as she'd disabled the third vehicle. Mockingbird adjusted her sights and took a second shot, surely hitting him dead on, but somehow apparently not as he just kept shooting through the visor, after briefly jerking to the left.

She waited for a third shot, and Jack's head popped up again, again through the front transport, behind two windows. Mockingbird reacted instantly, and fired. Her vision seemed to blur, and suddenly, it was a Los Muertos grunt splayed out across the sand, her head smashed, and Jack Morrison was still firing.

Nobody's that lucky, she thought, coolly. Something's going on.

Los Muertos got a shield generator running as Mei threw up another wall while taking bullets to the shoulder and chest, saving Gabriel, who had also been hit and hurt by the barrage of bullets. Pharah limped back into the air, got off a single rocket knocking Morrison down, and went down again herself almost immediately, Mercy flying to her wife's side. Gabriel, Mockingbird, and - a moment later - Mercy's fire kept most of the rest of the Los Muertos fighters ducking for cover, as Winston leapt down, shield in place over the wounded Mei, Tesla cannon keeping braver Los Muertos back, as Athena flew in as pickup for the injured.

"Gabriel, Tracer here," Mockingbird shouted into comms, trying to force some emotion back into her voice. "Mockingbird's hit this guy in the head three times and he just shakes it off, something is very wrong. We need to..."

And then Jack fell to the ground, unconscious, and an older woman's voice came over the Overwatch comms, saying, "He's down, but it won't last more than 30 seconds. Get your wounded out while you can, and regroup at my position. Tracking beacon enabled."

-----

"A second visor?!" Gabriel - limping, but mobile - looked incredulously at Mockingbird as the small Overwatch strike force mended its wounds at the beacon site deep in the hills to the north. "He can't have a second visor. It's unique to each soldier. It was wired into his brain."

"Don't care," insisted the woman in black and green. "I shot the first one off, just like we planned it. It was on the ground, in pieces." She folded her arms. "My sight takes pictures, I can show you."

"But a second visor - that's not possible," Gabriel insisted.

"I know I hit him. I know I did. Three times. There's something we've missed, Gabe. This should've been easy and it was a disaster."

"You look very familiar," said the older woman with the beacon, looking with narrowed eyes at the younger sniper.

Mockingbird blinked, and looked over to the older woman, finally realising who she was seeing. "...no question of it on my side," she said, recovering. "The legendary Ana Amari, in the flesh. You're supposed to be dead. What the hell, mate? And how'd you get on our comms?"

Gabriel glanced away from Mockingbird and brushed dust off his hands, looking resolutely unsurprised. "Ana, this is our sniper specialist, callsign Mockingbird. Mockingbird, this is Ana Amari, apparently not dead."

Ana snorted at her former Blackwatch friend, and gestured over to Mockingbird. "You think that can replace me?"

"You have been dead since 2069," said Winston, stepping in between the new and the old, "as far as we knew." He gave Reyes a look, a look that said they would be talking about Reyes's lack of surprise in the very near future. "She's an independent contractor willing to work with us, and we're happy to have her service."

"I know that kit," said the Egyptian, with a sideways glance back to the younger woman. "And I know that blue tinge. Working with Talon, are we, now? Maybe Jack's not so crazy as I thought."

"Not with Talon, luv," Mockingbird lied. "But I always buy from the best. No second chances in this game. 'Cept for you, apparently. And Jack." She looked around at Angela and Gabriel and Ana, and frowned. "And apparently all you old lot."

Amari glanced disdainfully at the young assassin, then returned to ignoring her, looking back to Gabriel. "And where's the so-called Hero of Old London supposed to be, then?"

Mockingbird glared, anger a flash across her face. No, she told herself. Lena's not here. Ana's trying to provoke you. Realising that, she found she didn't even need to bring up the web further to keep control. It's a game. She knows, she just wants us to admit it. Spill the beans, grams? Not likely.

"We all thought it was for the best if she stayed out of any direct action involving the man who left her to die in the Slipstream." He looked directly into the sniper's eyes. "Knowing you're here, I'd say that was the right call."

"Afraid she'd lose her cool, get hurt?" She made a little unimpressed sound, a kind of pffft. "And yet here you hand whatever they've made of her" - she waved at Mockingbird, without looking - "a sniper rifle. You're fools."

Lena almost spoke up, then almost laughed, but kept her expression flat. Nice try, she thought. "So I shouldn't ask for your autograph, then?"

Winston shook his head at Mockingbird's verbal jabs, and Gabriel crossed his arms, with a frown. "I have no idea what you're talking about, Ana. More importantly - where the hell have you been all these years?"

"Really? You're going to keep up this laughable facade?"

"Whatever. You gonna tell us where you've been all this time?"

Amari glared. "No. But I will give you this." She pulled a small memory card out of a coat pocket. "It's video and notes from a... previous attempt to solve the Jack Morrison problem. If you're going to try to kill him, I need you not to make things worse."

"We aren't trying to kill him," Winston said, taking the card. "We're trying to bring him to justice."

Amari spat at the ground. "There's no justice for what he did, or for what he's become. I thought you understood that."

Well, thought Mockingbird, there's one place we agree. She found she didn't like the agreement. "That's what I thought, too. Maybe I ought t'reconsider the point."

"Does it always make this much noise? Maybe it should be reprogrammed again."

"ENOUGH OF THIS." Mercy glided down from the flat spot on the hillside above, where she had been tending to Mei and Pharah, watching since Ana showed herself, stunned to see her mother-in-law, of all people, reappear from the dead - not her way, but alive and well the entire time.

"Angela, why are you mixed up in this idiocy? I thought you'd know better."

The field medic marched over to the old military officer, and slapped her across the face, hard, staggering her back. "You dare show your face? You dare act like this to my friends, after what you have put us through?!"

"Woah!" interjected Mockingbird, jumping forward to restrain the doctor. "Angela, no! It's fine, she's just horrible!"

"No," she said, looking back, and shaking her arms free, "it is not fine!" She turned back to the old soldier, and pointed to Pharah, unconscious, but recovering. "She mourned you. You ignored her as a child and she loved you anyway and then you died and she put it behind her and now you are here and alive and she is here and wounded and you have not even acknowledged her existence?!"

"I've done what has been necessary, and I've stayed out of the way of the medic while she works. Fareeha will understand that."

"Will she? I hope not! But I will make sure she knows. I will make sure she knows everything. Including how horribly you have just abused our Mockingbird. 'It?! '" She shook herself, as though fluffing feathers she did not have, except in her wings. "You call her an it?! She is a person, not a tool, and you have become a monster."

Quietly surprised, Lena's heart tore, just a little, at the medic's furious defence. "Doc, really, it's fine, she's just digging..."

"I know what she's doing," Mercy said, not looking at Lena. "And I don't care why." She turned to the openly astonished Reyes and Winston. "We should get the wounded out of American territory as soon as possible. They will not be happy with our actions today."

"I agree," said Reyes, taking the opportunity. "Ana, we can pick this up later. Do any of your old dropboxes work?"

"No. Do yours?"

"Boxburg does."

"I'll leave a contact point there, then."

"Thanks. And... thanks for helping out."

"You're welcome. Maybe next time we can work together, make sure the grown-ups are in charge."

Mockingbird's face showed absolutely no sign of emotion, and her hands did not tighten visibly on her rifle.

"We'll talk later," said the former Blackwatch head. "Team - back to the ship. Mockingbird, give Mercy some help with Mei; Winston, I wouldn't mind a little help myself. Let's roll out."

The Lunar gorilla offered his friend an arm, as Mockingbird turned towards the Chinese scientist with a curt "acknowledged." Behind Venom's mask, beneath the web, the assassin roiled viciously, but no hint of that storm made it outside.

Maybe I've got more than one problem to solve, she thought, as she guided the semi-sedated Mei up off the ground. Maybe I've got two or three.

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 06:51 am
It's like clockwork around here: Labor Day comes and Mother Nature flicks a switch. Though Seattle summers are usually mild, this year, we're going from scorching hot days to cooler temps and now the rains have come. They started yesterday and continue today; I think we've seen the last of the sun for a while.

I'm not quite ready for autumn. I haven't changed over my wardrobe; I suppose that happens this week and weekend. Last night I changed my blanket from summer- to winter-weight. I don't have quite the right shoes for this weather; the boots that I've worn for three years now have got holes in them--perhaps not the quality I thought they were when I bought them.

And Rosh Hashannah is bearing down upon us with me, once again, not having tickets for services anywhere because I don't belong to a synagogue and because it's the busiest time of year for me at work. (Most synagogues don't know what to do with me anyway; they're set up for families, not for independent Women of a Certain Age.) I failed to get tickets for services at UW's Hillel, which I've done before. I live within walking distance of the local Chabad House (the only congregation in town that doesn't require a donation for High Holiday tickets), but I wasn't brought up Orthodox. And though their outreach is friendly and welcoming, I'm a little intimidated by the prospect of what will surely be a less-than-egalitarian approach to services. I'm not the sitting-in-the-back-row type. And so I'm once again a little bereft at this time of year.

And, as mentioned above, it's the busiest time of year at work, which means I've got tons of work to do, oftentimes overseen by a million managers, all of whom want to have check-in meetings to ensure the work is getting done. Which means talking to my actual manager about the irony of negotiating the work needing to be done versus attending meetings to report on said work. I can meet or I can execute; I can't do both effectively simultaneously. This year, it seems like it's worse than it's ever been. I keep putting off or declining meetings, and the managers who run said meetings want just five minutes, which often ends up turning into an hour anyway. And then I have to explain myself and my work to everyone. Especially irritating are the compliance managers, who insist that they don't have to be familiar with our website (on which I work) but then insist that I give them a tour to ensure I'm doing the work. It's maddening.

So, yeah. The turn of the calendar comes and the darker, cooler, wetter days, the busier days, come along with it. I miss living somewhere with a more gradual segue into autumn and winter. But every now and then we get a glimpse of the beauty that autumn can offer and I'm pleased.
Monday, September 18th, 2017 07:10 am
1. If you had a year off (with pay, to make it interesting), what would you do with it?
First thing that came to my mind was get in my car and travel the country, the most massive road trip ever. There are so many places I want to see that I never have, and I have friends all over the country so it wouldn't be a solitary trip. Of course, I'd want to travel overseas as well; I'm not nearly done with international travel. But I have neglected seeing the US and the number of places I still want to go is huge: the Grand Canyon (which I'll actually be seeing in the spring), Red Rocks, Big Sur, Devil's Tower, Mt. Rushmore, the Big 5 in Utah, Crater Lake, the Newseum in DC, Nantucket, Fenway Park, Ellis Island (yeah, typical New Yorker), Kennedy Space Center, the Everglades and on and on and on. . . .

2. What are two things you would do to improve the country if you were in complete charge?
Single payer medical insurance. Democratic president.

3. What three TV shows do you like watching?
Very different question than what are your favorite shows; interesting way to put it. I like watching Project Runway though I haven't in a while, Game of Thrones though I'm a season behind, and Downton Abbey.

4. What are your four favorite ethnic dishes?
Lasagna, chicken tikka masala, phad see eiw.

5. What are five words you love to use?
Hilarious, bananas, booby (as in blue-footed).
Monday, September 18th, 2017 12:07 am
I got to play a lot of Widowmaker today (three sessions!) and I just have to write down a couple of moments.

First: backfill on a doomed team, I came in as Widowmaker and made them competitive. We still lost, but they went from being steamrolled - apparently, the entire game, given how much time was remaining when I arrived and how close the enemy payload was to destination - to a serious goddamn problem. We held them nearly five minutes, despite being less than five metres from destination when I arrived. It took a large ult stack to beat us, too.

I've long been able to shift games like that for a while as Tracer or D.va or Pharah, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've managed that big of a swing as Widowmaker.

Second, towards the end, I had three games against the same enemy Widowmaker, username something like "animevslife" or somesuch, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that she was completely outclassed, by me. I was headshotting her at will, and had like five just of her in one game. (I was also carding a lot, and the only member of my team to card in the last game.)

It's not that they were a terrible team, or even that she was a terrible Widow - she was not entirely unproductive - but she had to stay the fuck away from me, because I would just end her on sight. I've been the better Widowmaker several times before, of course, but this was just not even close, and wonderful.
Sunday, September 17th, 2017 10:42 am

This is a semi-sequel to "I Could Murder a Chippie," inspired in part by the fact that my gym's colours are UW Huskies colours, which is to say, Talon purple, and Overwatch gold, and that had to show up somewhere. [AO3 link]


"Th' hell?" said Venom, as the treadmill she was on - black and purple, like so much Talon gear, like so much Talon corporate culture - suddenly gained gold highlights.

"Ha!" said Tracer, as the treadmill she was on - black and gold, like so much Overwatch gear, like so much Overwatch corporate culture - suddenly gained purple highlights.

Venom looked to her left, the previously unoccupied treadmill now occupied by her mirror image, almost, hair almost the same, eyes almost the same, accelerator stripes most definitely not the same, or even there at all.

Tracer looked to her right, the previously unoccupied treadmill now occupied by her mirror image, almost, hair almost the same, eyes almost the same, accelerator missing, but she has thin stripes showing on her shoulders and legs, faintly shining blue.

"Hiya!" said Tracer, beating Venom to the punch. "Somehow I just knew you'd have a gym on Filicudi."

"You again..." Venom's mind raced, as she thought back to the impossible luncheon she'd shared with the Manic Pixie Murder Machine. "...that was real?"

"Kinda!" chirped Tracer. "As real as interdimensional transits can be, anyway. Thought I'd see if I could set up the right conditions and meed up again. You remember me, so I guess it worked!"

Venom reached over and tried, and failed, to touch Tracer. Tracer did the same, in reverse. At least she's not really here, thought the assassin. That's a relief. "So... your Winston's somewhere off... in some impossible direction from here, I guess?"

"Yah! Well, yeah, I guess so, but not to me. He's been helpin' out, but it's by remote. We've had this set up a while - it's the first time it's actually worked!"

Venom looked crossly at her Overwatch alternate-dimension counterpart. "So. Your Overwatch doesn't work with your Talon, does it?"

"Nope!"

"So what's this about, then? Intel gathering?"

"Kinda?"

"Won't matter, y'know. Apparently, our kind of Talon is pretty rare."

"Yeah, I've only seen a few of your lot. Tekhartha always dies, 'cept when it's you... which is..." she looked down at her treadmill, and let it coast to a stop. "...why I wanted to apologise."

Venom blinked, letting her treadmill slow to a stop as well. "...wot?"

"I'm sorry. For calling you evil. I've been thinkin' about that fight we had, and..." She let out a deep breath, and took another one. "I'm sorry. I was wrong. I mean, you're still assassins, and I still can't go with that, but..." She shook her head back and forth, slowly. "Bloody hell, love, you saved Tekhartha Mondatta. D'ya know how rare that is?"

"We've... kind of got that idea, yeah." Venom didn't say that mostly, worlds like theirs, they ended up without her, or with a Venom that didn't question the mission, with Widowmaker taking the shot. With atomic fire and ash. With the war that truly did end all wars.

But not here, she thought. Not us. Not now.

"So..." continued Tracer, "...I'm sorry."

Venom shook off the things that could've been, but weren't, and smirked, but with a little warmth to it. "You went to these lengths for an apology? Maybe you're not so bad as I thought, Tracer. I accept."

Tracer smiled her genuine smile, the soft one, the one she saved for people she really, truly liked. "Thanks."

"But you said you wanted intel. Sorta."

Tracer blushed furiously. "...yeah."

What's that blush? Venom wondered. "G'wan then..."

"Tell me..." she looked nervously off to the side, "...about Amélie."

"Wot." said Venom. This can't be what I think it is, she thought, or maybe it might. "I thought you and Emily were..."

"We are!" Tracer protested. "And we're happy! But..."

"...you've seen some of those universes where it's all three of us together, haven't you?"

"Yeah."

"And y'want that."

Tracer looked down, and her voice became very quiet. "I'd... I don't know. I don't know what I want. But I know I'd given up on her, and I... I think that was wrong."

Must do, thought Venom, to poke at spacetime about it. She sympathised, of course. How could she not? But might as well have some fun with her opposite. "Well, first things first. You have another apology to make, luv."

"For wot?"

"'Aggressively overstyled shitehawk' ring any bells?"

Tracer laughed. "Ah, c'mon, mate, that was a joke and you knew it."

Venom smirked. "Apologise anyway."

"Done," the Overwatch agent replied, laughing. "I'm sorry. I don't know what is wrong with me, but I'm sorry."

Venom grinned her famous half-grin, and looked off to the side, where Tracer could not see. "Amélie, Em, you think we should help her?"

Em?! thought Tracer. "What?! "

"Surprise!"

"What?! When?! "

Venom beamed, broadly. "We placed a discreet notice for a private top-class aircraft mechanic. Guess who showed up?"

"Wha... wha..." Tracer quite literally vibrated in place. Venom didn't think she could do that with her kind of accelerator, but, apparently, she could.

"Is that a question?"

"...yes?"

Venom just laughed. "It's fate, Tracer. Get used to it, it's probably gonna happen! Mostly just a matter of when."

"But luv, where do I start? How do I get past the Widowmaker and free Amélie?"

Venom frowned. "Y'want a serious answer? Y'won't like it."

Tracer nodded.

"Stop thinkin' they're different."

Tracer blinked. "But they are, Widow's not even - well, fine, not yours, but mine, Talon..."

"Doesn't matter," interrupted the junior assassin. "Got news, mate. If you can't love the Widowmaker, you can't love Amélie."

From out of range of the interface field, but not out of range of the movement of air to carry sound, came the senior assassin's voice. "It's true. Even when they think they've built someone completely new, they have not. They have only forced changes, and even then, fewer than they think. The foundation remains. It must, for the process to work."

"Woah," breathed Tracer. She knew the elder assassin had to be there, somewhere, but hearing that voice sent tingles down her skin. "...Widowmaker?"

Amélie stepped into what she suspected - correctly - was the area of field effect. She put down the free weights, wiped her face with a towel, and turned to the tangerine-clad Overwatch agent. "Hello, Tracer."

Tracer's breath stopped and she blinked, her mouth half open for a moment before she was able to close it, and she shook her head. Venom and Widowmaker exchanged the briefest of meaningful glances - oh, she's got it bad, doesn't she? - before Tracer collected herself, with a "...nice to see you, luv." The teleporter swallowed. "Even though you're not..."

"...your Widowmaker?" interjected Amélie.

"Yah."

"Neither is she," said Tracer.

Widowmaker nodded her agreement. "She is a person, cherie, and she is not yours."

Tracer took the point, and, for once, knew when to shut up. Amélie picked up on the silence, and granted her a small smile. "Ah, you already begin to understand, yes? She is real - as real as I am. As we all are, every one of us. Just as every Tracer is a person - even the most dedicated members of the worst kinds of Talon - so is every Widowmaker, no matter what she may seem to you."

"So she's still in there..."

"No," Widowmaker said, frowning a little, and crossing her arms. "Understand this. She is there, right there, in front of you, as I am now. Perhaps under various kinds of influence, perhaps traumatised, perhaps parts of her are muted, perhaps parts of the old her are even lost, perhaps she is even a new person built from the old - but no matter what has happened, she is that person now."

Tracer's eyes widened, as her thoughts flashed to all the ways she'd tried to talk to her universe's Widowmaker, and how offers to help, to undo what they'd done, to bring back Amélie, always backfired.

"...I've been..."

Widowmaker smiled.

"...telling her we'd do the same thing Talon did."

"Exactement," Widowmaker bowed, her arms now spread apart, as if on stage.

"Oh. Oh, oh, no," Tracer said, burying her face in her hands. "What've I done? "

"Hey, hey," said Venom, reaching forward uselessly, to comfort her opposite. "It's all right. She still talk t'you?"

Venom looked back up, towards the voice. "Yeh. Sometimes."

"Then," said Widowmaker, "I think it is not too late. I cannot imagine any version of myself that would talk to you if she had, how do you say, written you down?"

"Y'think?"

"Also, you are still alive, are you not?"

Tracer snorted. "Don't underestimate me, luv."

"Do not underestimate her, either." Widowmaker nodded towards Venom, whose accelerator stripes suddenly shined brightly, and then she grabbed Tracer off her treadmill, hand strong and oh so very solid. "Or me."

Tracer shrieked, and found herself unable to teleport away, as Widowmaker leaned forward, golden eyes bright, the spider bearing down on her terrified, halfway hypnotised prey. "Understand. I do this for her. Not for you. Can you love the spider? "

Tracer stared back into those gold eyes, and that cold blue face, overcome with fear... and then, suddenly, felt no longer afraid. She reached forward, pulled her arms around the Widowmaker, and kissed her, briefly but fiercely. Pulling back, she held the spider's gaze, and said, firmly, "...I can."

Amélie smiled coquettishly, and let Tracer go. "She does not taste like you, beloved," as Venom and Emily both laughed.

"They never do," said Emily, from outside the field.

"They never...?" replied Tracer, confused.

"You're not the first Tracer to come asking these questions, luv," Venom said, with something between a grin and a smirk. Her glow faded to normal, and Tracer returned to her insubstantial state, at least, for the Talon crew and gear. "All patched up. G'wan back home."

"And good luck!" she heard Emily call, from outside the field. "Most of us are pretty poly, but some of us aren't. Don't hurt your Emily, or I'll come after you myself!"

Tracer looked towards the direction of Emily's voice. "Not for anything, Em. Not for anything."

"I'll hold you to that," she shouted, as the field began to fade, and then collapsed.

Tracer dropped and sat on the treadmill's belt as the gateway failed, the last of the stored charge exhausted, patting the ground, the floor, the chairs, making sure she was still here, still home. She'd not expected to be grabbed completely into their reality like that, and she shivered at the thought of losing her Emily, her Overwatch, her world. That was... a lot riskier than I imagined! she thought. Winston'll want to know.

"So," she said, after a moment, looking over outside the field boundaries, to her Emily. "You still sure about this?"

Emily "Kestrel" Oxton raised an eyebrow. "After seeing you and her kiss?" The flying agent smiled a broad, bold smile. "I am. More than ever."

Sunday, September 17th, 2017 12:18 am
So when I got the smooth as silk trophy, okay, I got it, but it seemed cheap. Not much of an air shot. It was one, of course, but still.

Just now tho'? Archetypal. Three storeys up in the air, Eichenwalde, headshot, on Pharah, who was also in flight.

Now I feel like I've earned it.
Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 11:20 pm
Smooch got some weird bloodwork back yesterday, and we are waiting on new bloodwork to learn more.  idney disease, hyperthyroid disease, and cancer were all mentioned.  They're testing thyroid and kidney stuff now.   I should have the results early next week.  But, basically, it's pretty likely to be bad news.

I mention this because the step after this is likely to be imaging.  An x-ray will be $230, and I will need to ask for help with part of that, as well as for ongoing treatment if it's necessary/possible, or, god forbid, euthanasia.  Care Credit is something I will not hesitate to deploy, but I would prefer to pay for as much of it up front as possible, to minimize future monthly payments.  So if y'all could have my back on that when the time comes, I would be very grateful.

He has lost 1.8 pounds in the last year or so, most of it in the last couple of months, and if this weird bloodwork had cropped up without that, I wouldn't be as worried as I am.  But with cats, weight loss on this scale is associated with very poor outcomes, so I am not tremendously optimistic.  To put it in perspective, 1.8 pounds is the same as if I lost 40 pounds, proportionally.  That's frightening.  He was a cinderblock of a cat, built thick and powerful, capable of physically pushing me backwards when braced against something, and now he feels a little below merely average, and has lost a lot of strength.

This is somewhat tempered by the fact that I knew going in that he would probably live a shorter life since whatever inbreeding or genetic abnormalities led to his messed-up face are hardly likely to have stopped there, and I honestly only really expected him to live about 10 years.  I was willing to take that hit that going in, and I am not sorry nor would I ever change my mind.

It helps that he doesn't appear to be feeling bad.  It makes it easier not to worry, moment to moment.

So for now it's wait, and worry.
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Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 01:08 pm
Okay, lunchtime Overwatch today? Exquisite.

I got with a good team pretty early, and we grouped up and just... the enemies of Talon were eliminated. Thoroughly.

I carded or got play of the game every. single. game., including as Widowmaker. I came this close >< to four-golding as her on defence at Horizon, and still had three golds and carded for it. I also carded as her in Volskaya, for kill streak. (11. No deaths. No objective kills or time, either, because the enemy never set foot on the objective. Their Pharah got close, once. I stopped her, and she started hiding from me. They were terrible.)

The game at Horizon, though - hoooooooo. I had a one on one with a Genji who really, really, really should not have lost a solo melee fight with Widowmaker in close quarters, but wow he sure did.

I was holding the point solo when he charged in with his primary attack - and, conveniently, hit my mine. Then it was just machine gun (and another mine, I had one ready) vs. shuriken and I took him apart. Three of my team rushed back to help just as I killed him, and they came up the stairs to see me standing over his body. Mercy threw heals at me as they just stopped for a moment, all, "...oh. We thought you might've needed help."

I didn't hit my laugh emit, but I certainly should've.

It wasn't just Widowmaker, though. Mercy (before we teamed up, a smaller version of the group with more weak links, I made them competitive), Pharah (which is when we had some weak links replaced and formed a team), Tracer, Widowmaker, D.va - I was just in charge in all incarnations. By the time I hit Widowmaker, it was like the assumption was that I was going to be fine. Then I proved that correct.

I can make a weak team competitive. But when I'm really on my game... I can make a good team an unstoppable force.
Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 06:18 am
My dreams last night were full of writers--and the predictable messages when you're, well, me.

First I dreamed I was at Kit Kerr's place ([personal profile] aberwyn) and she was cleaning out her bookshelves, getting rid of extras and books she'd never read. While she was doing that, she was talking about her latest book, and how she was going to self-publish, and would I edit it--because I was the only one who could. There was something in there about buying a book I didn't really need. But I committed to doing the editing, knowing that it meant I wouldn't be doing my own writing if I did so.

Then I dreamed that I'd written a play for a school performance--a terrible play, just really bad, and I knew it. In the dream, five major science fiction writers were attending (I remember specifically Joe Haldeman, Greg Bear, and Bob Silverberg--the two others were vaguely familiar faces, but my dream self did not put names to them; one of them may have been Harlan). I made a point to tell them it was bad, to not have high expectations. I was a member of the cast, by the way. Right before the play began, I retreated to the restroom a) to use it and b) to refresh my memory on my lines. A couple of the writers called after me, making fun of me for writing a play. (I know all of these writers but I know Greg well enough to know that this is emphatically not something he would do. Ever.) Of all people, Haldeman followed me into the bathroom to ask me why I kept telling them the play was bad, and why I was giving myself a hard time for writing a play instead of fiction. I made him go away because I had business to do (i.e., relieve myself). When I was done, I went out to watch the warm-up number before the play began--a bunch of the boys in the cast doing a performance of "Gee Officer Krupke!" from West Side Story. Then it was curtain time. I took my place . . . and realized I didn't know my lines. I wasn't off book--and the curtain was about to go up.

See, these dreams? Are all about getting in my own way, feeling inadequate and unprepared. I've been giving myself a hard time about not writing fiction but working on the board game design instead--as if taking a different creative approach is a bad thing. I actually had a conversation with a friend who's a well-known name in the RPG design sphere in which I told him I felt intimidated by talking about the board game in front of him because of who he is (and talking about it in general because some of my friends are Grand Old Men (tm) in the RPG business). And tonight I have therapy but I haven't done my homework for this week.

It's a good thing I'm a cognitive dreamer with an analytical mind, otherwise I'd be kind of a mess. I mean, I am kind of a mess; I have spent my adult life surrounded by the most extraordinary creators, whether they're writers or designers and I still have self-image issues, even though I know that they wouldn't be spending time with me if I didn't myself have something to offer as a creator and generally interesting person. Some part of me always figured that at some point, one gets over this sort of thing, that as a grown-up I would conquer this sort of madness. Having not done so by this point, I'm guessing one never does after all. One just sort of learns how to deal with it. I'm learning. May I say, however, that it's a pain in the ass? It's a pain in the ass.
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Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 08:30 am

Hiya!

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here, hasn’t it? Well, it’s been that kind of year. I warned everyone that the band blog would get a lot more political, but instead, I haven’t even had time to write political posts. Take political actions, yes. (And also, write a lot of short fiction about assassins. One takes one’s stress relief where one finds it.)

But posts? No. And this isn’t one, either. This is about music stuff!

When I was Festival Mémoire et Racines in Quebec this year, I picked up a cute little noisemaker. It reminds me a little of a kokiriko, but much simpler and smaller, and played very differently. But it was radically underengineered, and the two small dowels used as spacers between clackers were absolutely not going to last – one even broke before I could get it back home.

Which is where attoparsec comes in. Matthew said he could totally make replacements out of brass for me, and that he’d actually kind of enjoy doing such a simple project to unreasonably unnecessary degrees of precision.

To wit:

Looks great, doesn’t it? The metal bits make it look so much more like an actual non-toy effects toy, rather than the Can$10 bit of fluff it is.

So… yeah! Not something I made or even fixed but something which someone fixed for me. Yay! Thanks. ^_^

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 12:58 am
I have now doubled multiple starting weights. I have five weights at half the maximum the machine allows, or higher.

I'm gonna need a Zarya icon f'srs.

Basically I'm spending a little over an hour on the machines on the days when I do workouts. So far, that's been 4-5 days a week; to make schedules work better, I'm going to have to drop that to pretty much just four days a week. But I can deal with that, I think.

Optimally, the full workout consists of a mile on (quasi-)balance beam, a mile of hill walking, and the weights. It takes about an hour and 45 minutes, including changing clothes and stuff.

To be clear, the balance beam isn't a true balance beam; it's just that the 1mi each way walk to the gym doesn't have sidewalks but does have elevated drainage curbs about half the time (like this) which are about the width of a balance beam, and they're on uneven terrain and up and down hills and are worn and broken in a bunch of places to make it more of a challenge. So I figure that balances it out.

I'm already starting to run just a little of the balance beam part; I want to run more of it. I don't think I'd've climbed to the top of that exhibitor prop if I hadn't been doing all this. That is my best memory of PAX - I had the altitude record for the show. Fuck yeah parkour is what.
Saturday, September 9th, 2017 11:08 pm
I've been trying to declutter the house bit by bit over the last few weeks in preparation for some gradual redecoration. In amongst the piles, I found all the cards I received while I was in the hospital last year. Now that I'm healthy and functioning and about a year out from it all, I'm overwhelmed all over again--and in a whole different way--by the amazing amount of love and support I was blessed to receive during my illness and recovery. I had multiple cards from some people. I received cards from a few people I barely know. I had cards I don't remember receiving, probably because I was too out of it to really retain and integrate what I was seeing. Some of them included the most wonderful, the most moving notes.

I remember chunks of my stay. I remember some of the people who came to visit. Even now, people tell me they came to see me and had whole conversations with me, and I don't remember them actually being there. I remember the people who were there day in and day out. I remember being unable to sleep a couple of nights, and watching a TV channel that was nothing more than static netcams of beautiful places. I remember physical challenges that I would never have imagined having to deal with. For example, I had to learn to write all over again; I had trouble even holding a pen after a week. I had trouble managing some of the most private functions. It was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before, terrifying in so many ways.

I haven't taken a big trip since last summer--the trip to Ireland where, we believe, I picked up whatever it was that tried to kill me. I have been putting together my photojournal of the trip in fits and starts. It's been a very piecemeal, sort of catch-as-catch-can kind of affair, and I think it's partly because I associate it with my illness and so am having trouble casting back for trip memories to finish the project. And now, my brother has begun to plan our family trip to Arizona for next spring. Of course, I'm not concerned about the possibility of getting sick like that again, and I will not let any prospect of travel be associated with the possibility of another devastating illness. There's too much of the world left to see to be worried about that sort of thing.

I will say this, though. If I ever feel like I'm not loved or valued, I have only to look through the cards I received during and after my hospital stay, to remember the nine flower arrangements I received, to remember the friends who came and stayed, to remember that my brother flew out to tend to me. I am not alone in this world, even though sometimes I feel that way. I hate that it took such an illness to remind me of that so thoroughly. But sometimes a kick in the head (or the gut, in this case) is what's needed. And a pile of cards I can turn to again and again and again.