[Zephyr] The wyvern or the lion?

The wyvern or the lion?

Which was he? More importantly, which was he to her?

One was worrying, the other unsettling.

The answer was obvious, if you ask the right question. But was he asking the right question?

There was only one way to find out. To ask and see what answer comes from it.

At best, a scathing retort; at worst, he was wrong about the answer and things were much more unsettling.

Still, what is Dawn if not a nation that charges through difficult situations?

The question is asked. The smile is knowing. Ah, this may be much worse than was supposed…

Image is the coat of arms of Sophie, Countess of Wessex

[Spectre] Haunted

They say eyes are a window into a person’s soul. If that’s so, then I don’t like what I see in mine.

They got in my head, changed how I thought. I did things under their control that I regret.

I betrayed my friends, I betrayed my allies, I betrayed myself and my ideals.

I am haunted by my own eyes. They stare back at me with accusation and pity. They stare back at me with heavy lids and bloodshot corneas. There is a great and terrible weight behind those eyes.

The mask doesn’t help. The false identity I took on so I could do some good defaced by the marks of the enemy. A sign of my betrayal painted in brilliant gold onto the mask that represents who I am in this world. It stares at me as well, the gold reflecting the waning light as if in accusation – not letting me forget.

Who am I now? What am I now? Where do I go from here? How can I fight knowing what I’ve done? How can I not fight knowing what they are and what they will do?

Maybe it’s time to put down the mask. Maybe it’s time I walk away. But I don’t think I can do that yet. Not while… not while they keep stepping up.

The question is… how do I do this now?

Photo by Oliver Facey

[Spectre] It’s just one of those things

It’s just one of those things.

Life and death. You think you’re prepared for it. You think you know what’s to come, and how you’ll deal with it when the time comes.

It’s all a lie, though. No one is ever really prepared for it.

Staring into the face of it, knowing you’re going to die if something isn’t done, it changes you. It makes you realise things you might not have known about yourself.

It makes you realise that you would choose death over slavery. It makes you realise that you would choose the lives of others over your own. It makes you look back at your life and see all your misdeeds anew. It makes you realise what you’ve been missing out on.

It makes you regret not realising sooner. It makes you regret not being able to say anything as it’ll make it harder to let go – to have others let go.

It’s just one of those things. You can’t know what it’s like until you’ve been there. You can’t know what you’ll do until you’re there. But once you’ve been there, it changes you and it’s hard to go back to where you were before.

It’s just one of those things that makes life interesting, right? Right?

Shit. Now what do I do?

Photo by Beth Dooner

[Tertius] Forging

Sweat beaded on his face, the clang of steel against steel ringing in his ears.

The hammer came down again and again, folding the hocho-tetsu to free it from impurities. The nabe-gane is heated, and quenched, broken and purified. Then the metals are combined: tamahagane, hocho-tetsu, and nabe-gane layered and folded together to form the blade. Folded together again and again, in more and more complex layers, extended and shaped until the lumps of metal resemble the blade they will become.

The yakiba-tsuchi has already been prepared, and the clay mixture is applied to the blade before it is heated and then quenched. The hot metal bends as it cools, taking on the signature shape as the yakiba-tsuchi leaves its pattern in the steel.

The blade is set aside while the second is forged, and the process begins anew.

With the blades forged, there is still much work to be done. Polishing and sharpening and polishing once more, taking several weeks before it is ready. The crafting of tsuba and koshirae take time as well, the complete process being more akin to art than Telmark smithing.

But finally, they are ready, new blades to suit the Empire he finds himself trapped in.

Photo by Jeff Kubina (CC By-SA 2.0)

[Tertius] New Clothes

These garments are alien to him. He has seen others wear them but he is not comfortable in them yet. They are easy to get wrong, easy to make social mistakes by wearing them wrong.

They are strange, but it is a strangeness he must overcome. It is not the first time he has had to wear the clothes off a culture alien to him, and he will overcome his discomfort.

His home world is a galaxy away, as is the world he was growing to know, and all he knows is so far away.

But he can overcome this. He will overcome this. He has tasks that must be done, there are changes that must be made, and they begin by him getting used to these clothes.

But they are still alien to him.

Character Study via Playlist – Zephyr de Rondell

Something I’ve been considering of late is how my character playlists have changed from when they were first created to now.

Zephyr’s playlist was started on the 8th of September 2017, just before my first full event of playing him, and is somewhat appropriately titled “Glory!”.[1]

It starts off with “Glorious Domination” – the WWE entrance music for Bobby Roode, and that has generally been the signature track on the playlist. The song portrays a very Dawnish sentiment, as well as blending well with Zephyr’s Changeling nature.

The rest of the songs added that day are all songs that portray a different aspect of a headstrong, ready-to-charge, Dawnish war witch, whether they’re songs that you just want to rock out to or whether they’re songs you want to charge into battle to.

Queen’s “We Will Rock You” is the Dawnish battle line advancing on barbarians.
Heather Alexander’s “March of Cambreadth” tells of the relentless nature of the Dawnish at war.[2]
Lindsey Stirling’s “Roundtable Rival” is just full of energy.
Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” gives a hint of the Changeling being controlled by emotion without thought.
And then there are many many songs about Glory.

The playlist then stays unchanged until the 20th of June 2017. This is when “Firebird’s Child” by S.J. Tucker was added. This is the first song that isn’t directly associated with Zephyr, but instead with his lady love, Eliane. This was the beginning of the changes.

On the 30th of November 2017, after A “Relaxing” Social Event[3], I spent some time adding more songs to the playlist. Part of this was having discovered more songs that fit Zephyr like Lorde’s “Glory and Gore” and Saint Mesa’s “Lion”, but it was also indicative of a shift in the character.

Glory and battle are not Zephyr’s only drives any more. Love, and Loyalty, and passion are rising ever more to the fore. There are songs that tell of his willingness to do anything for his love, to stand fast and true to his loyalty, and to ensure that no one has their story forgotten.

The League of Legends track “Legends Never Die” speaks of his current tasks and Inspirations.
Celtic Woman’s cover of “Fields of Gold” speaks of the joy of love, but knowing that it will end in tragedy.
Five Finger Death Punch’s “No One Gets Left Behind” is a reminder of the events of the Spring Equinox, and of Toni.
Within Temptation’s “Stand My Ground” speaks quite eloquently of his stubbornness when confronted with Highguard tribulation.
S.J. Tucker’s “Come to the Labyrinth” hints at his newly religious nature.
Lorde’s “Glory and Gore” is both a reminder of the reality of battle, and of the fact that he is still both a Changeling and a War Witch no matter how much he’s changed.

I’m finding it quite interesting to see how character development is reflected in their playlists, and I’ll likely do another of these analyses for Tertius (my Stargate character).

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. The only character playlist I have that does not share its title with the character’s name
2. ignoring the Songgate lines
3. honest, it was relaxing

Character Introductions

As there often is on Facebook, there has recently been a scourge of memes going around, one of which was along the lines of “Tell me a character name and I will write their introduction as if I were writing a novel”. I didn’t want to do that for everyone, but I did want to do some. And so, I present a select few of the ones I have written. Characters are not named, but should be obvious from context if you know them.
Continue reading Character Introductions

Well, I got hacked.

“Hacked by Imam with Love”

Well, that was all the impetus I needed to get my upgrades in order and update to https.

Editing to add more info.

So, it looks like I’ve been getting hacked about once a day for the last two weeks, but the only damage is that my last post got replaced with bragging rights about the hack, and then they spent the last two weeks fighting over who gets to display the bragging rights.

The exploited vulnerability is this one: https://blog.sucuri.net/2017/02/content-injection-vulnerability-wordpress-rest-api.html

So my user accounts weren’t compromised, and my password is secure, but WP once again introduced the sort of hack that let you do just about anything without even logging in. If I’d been on the ball about getting my updates sorted, it wouldn’t have happened, but I’ve been busy and can’t use the auto-updater any more so I’d been putting it off because manual updates are a pain in the ass.

Far as I can tell, they only edited the one post and I’ve reverted the content on that. Doesn’t seem to be any more damage.

ETA (2018-03-22): found a second post, still haven’t found much damage…

xkcd: Life Goals

New year, new things

It’s 2017, I’m still getting used to typing 2017 instead of 2016 by reflex (haven’t even tried writing it down yet), and I have absolutely no resolutions for the year. Not one.

I don’t really believe in the whole resolutions thing. But I do believe in setting some goals for myself, and trying to do better over time. I just find “New Years Resolutions” to be a crap way of doing it.

So this year, I want to achieve some things, and I might take some inspiration from the stand-up meetings we have at work and start keeping a record of how I’m doing on them to keep myself accountable and keep track of what’s getting in my way (besides myself).

With all that in mind, here are my current goals:

  • More gym time, get my cardio up, look at freeweights
    • Possibly try cardio in chain once I’m back in the swing of it
    • Currently blocked by my new gym still not being open but there’s another branch I can use in the meantime.
  • More work on Tixty
    • I need to get the admin backend sorted, and get a better frontend interface done while I’m at it
  • More creative writing
    • I want to try and get some regular creative writing done. Might start looking around for sources of inspiration or ask people for prompts
  • Write and run Heroes Rush In
    • It’s the penultimate event for No Rest for the Wicked, and I’m not alone in writing it but our plans are ambitious and we need to get started on them.
  • Make mage armour
    • I need new mage armour for Empire
    • I need to settle on a design, get someone to help with the bits I need help with, and start working on the rest.
  • Get Magento certified
    • We’re working on it at work, but I need to put in the effort, and I need to push for it to get sorted.
  • Learn Japanese
    • I’ve got a number of events coming up where knowing conversational Japanese would be useful – I need to brush up on it again and get used to using it.

I’ve probably missed some off, but one of the joys of life is that if you forget something, you can always it it to the list later.

 

Featured image from xkcd: Life Goals

Anime Recommendations

I promised some people to remind them about some anime recommendations I made, so I figure I may as well make these recommendations to everyone. Some of these are classics, some are new. I’ve added (legal) links to some of these telling you where you can buy it or watch it.

I started this list in April and still haven’t finished fleshing it out. Maybe I will at some point, but for now, I think the titles may stand on their own for further research.

Outlaw Star

Some people have said that Joss Whedon drew inspiration from Outlaw Star when writing Firefly but I’ve not seen any real sources on the matter. That should tell you something about the anime though: a group of ragtag outlaws on a ship trying to make enough money to keep going while making a name for themselves who find themselves on a quest to find the Celestial Leyline. Throw in some ancient magic and ships fighting with arms instead of guns and I was sold. I originally bought this on eBay from China when I was at university and I’ve been hooked ever since – I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it and I can’t describe how it feels to find someone else who’s seen it as they appear to be somewhat rare. You can get it on Amazon.

Cowboy Bebop

Much like Outlaw Star, Cowboy Bebop centers around a group of people taking on what jobs they can to make enough money to feed themselves and refuel the ship. I think Cowboy Bebop is actually closer to Firefly than Outlaw Star is in a lot of ways, and it’s certainly more of a cult classic than Outlaw Star is. The focus of Cowboy Bebop is around chasing bounties and the character arcs tend to give people the feels. Too soon. You can get it on Amazon (and can currently watch it on Netflix).

Gundam

Okay, so I’m a Gundam head – I like most Gundam shows I’ve watched and I now watch them religiously as new seasons come out (for the most part). My favourites (in no particular order) are noted below, but you can find some of these on YouTube for free on the official GundamInfo channel.

Gundam 00

Written in a similar vein to Gundam Wing, Gundam 00 centers around Celestial Being, an organisation dedicated to eradicating war. They’ve been preparing for two centuries, building the Gundams in secret and now they’ve announced themselves to the world in a series of interventions. The Gundams, beyond any mobile suit the warring super-nations have produced, are meant to help unify the world and eradicate war. Obviously things don’t always go to plan and there are a series of upsets as things go awry. It’s an excellent series that I much prefer to Wing at least in part due to Setsuna being less annoying than Heero.

Gundam Build Fighters

Written by the same writer as Gundam 00, Gundam Build Fighters is obviously a technique to sell more Gunpla[1] but the plot is strong and engaging – as is the action. In some ways, Gundam Build Fighters is an avenue for people to ask “which would win in a fight? Wing Gundam or Strike Gundam?” It’s been described as “Gundam Valhalla” due to the number of “cameos” where characters in GBF bear a striking familiarity to those in other Gundam shows. The basic premise is that a company called PPSE has developed a particle that can be used to move the plastic that Gunpla are made from and have then further developed this to create battle systems that allow people to fight with the custom Gunpla they’ve built. The series covers the journey of Sei Iori and Reiji as they go from local tournaments all the way to the world stage. You can watch it for free on YouTube.

Gundam: IRON-BLOODED ORPHANS

Humanity colonised Mars then there were a bunch of wars between nations and a group now known as Gjallarhorn created the Gundams and other technological advantages to enforce peace and stabilise space. Many year later, the Gundams have been mothballed and Gjallarhorn has become corrupt. The story follows a group of Martian orphans who have been implanted with Alaya-Vijnana technology allowing them to operate mobile weapons as if they were their own body – this is what gets them employment and allows them to keep eating. They take over the group, rename it, and strike out on their own with not much more than the old Gundam suit they used to use as a power generator and tank-like mobile weapons. As they travel to Earth escorting Kudelia Aina Bernstein, they start making a name for themselves and stirring change for the better. You can watch it for free on Daisuki.

Gundam SEED

Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny, its sequel series are the classic Gundam story. The Gundam series has many universes but the one that seems most classic to me is the Cosmic Era[2]. You have the Earth Alliance on one side (most Earth nations under one banner) and ZAFT on the other (an alliance of space colonies). The colonies are largely populated by Coordinators (humans with enhanced abilities), while Earth is largely baseline human – this forms one of the core conflicts between the two. The story follows Kira Yamato, a Coordinator who ends up fighting with the Earth Alliance while trying to find a path to peace without killing. There are Gundams on both sides of the conflict (though what GUNDAM stands for does depend on who made the suit[3]). SEED Destiny changes the primary characters but has similar arcs and continues the story as a whole. You can get it on Amazon.

Other Gundam series

I’m not going to go other all of these in depth as they’re not so much on my favourites lists and I’ve already talked about a lot of Gundam stuff at length so here’s some short stuff:

  • Gundam Wing: The first Gundam series I saw (on Toonami of all places), it’s what got me hooked. I’d still recommend people watch it, and I still love the Deathscythe, but it’s been displaced from my favourites.
  • Gundam Unicorn: An OVA in the Universal Century timeline, it’s an interesting take on Gundams and how they should be used. You can watch it for free on Daisuki.
  • Gundam AGE: Featuring an evolving Gundam, I liked watching Gundam AGE but I find I don’t care to rewatch it as much. I especially like the second arc of the story which tells the story of three generations of Gundam pilots.
  • Gundam Build Fighters Try: The sequel series to Gundam Build Fighters follows a team of students competing in a similar tournament. I like it, but I don’t rewatch it as much as I do GBF. You can watch it for free on YouTube.

The Asterisk War

Humanity has evolved and people are now capable of harnessing prana to do magic/magic-like effects often channeled through weapons known as Lux. There are six major schools dedicated to teaching people to use their abilities, and they regularly host tournaments between each other. The winner of the tournament gets to ask for whatever they most desire as a prize. It’s a pretty typical shonen anime in that there’s one male protagonist who has a bunch of pretty girls fawning over him, but it’s got a good story and some nice swordfighting. Found it by accident on Daisuki and the first season is mid-release at time of writing. You can join me in watching it for free at Daisuki.

Cross Ange

People have discovered the ability to manipulate mana to enhance their lives and technology. It’s become an everyday part of life, and those who can’t use it (and in fact destroy it when they touch it) are considered vile inhuman people and are taken away as soon as they’re discovered. The assumption was that they were killed, but they’re actually taken to a remote island as Princess Angelika discovers when it becomes apparent that she (unknown to herself) is one of them. On the island, they’re trained to use jet-bikes that can turn into mecha and fight dragons from an alternate reality while dressed in the most revealing flight suits imaginable. It’s pretty amazing.

Full Metal Alchemist

The Seven Deadly Sins

Currently on Netflix.

Fairy Tail

Currently on Netflix.

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

Currently on Netflix.

Code Geass

Currently on Netflix.

Death Note

Currently on Netflix.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Gundam plastic model kits
2. The actual classic timeline is Universal Century, and Cosmic Era is noted for its similarities
3. Technically in CE, GUNDAM refers to the operating system used to control the suit and most of the advanced features of the suits could be applied to other mobile suits if they could be easily mass-produced or controlled – hence the need for an advanced and specialised OS