Widowmaker brought herself in from the cold, one day, exchanging a list of Talon agents for sanctuary, and at first couldn't or wouldn't say why. Her first breakthrough in explaining herself came in a talk with Lena Oxton, who then helped her break through Angela Ziegler's insistence that Widowmaker was not really a person, and that Amélie Lacroix could yet be recovered. But despite that truth, sometimes, some of Amélie's last memories - mostly but not always tightly compartmentalised away - trouble the spider, and this is one of those times.
This is the sixth in a series of stories set in the It is Not Easy to Explain, She Said continuity, a timeline largely compliant with known canon as of July 2017 (pre-Doomfist/Masquerade), which is when I wrote and posted the first story. It is not part of the on overcoming the fear of spiders AU.
"Do you remember what it was like?"
Lena held Widowmaker's hand, gently, as they sat together, otherwise alone, mid-afternoon, in the smaller canteen at Gibraltar. She drank tea, cream, two sugars. Her counterpart drank obscenely hot coffee, unsweetened, strong, and dark.
For the most part, Amélie's memories stayed safely in their place, out of Widowmaker's way, but there were a few, occasionally, at the border between her birth and the previous woman's death, that picked at her, at times. Dr. Ziegler suggested that was because of the emotions around them - emotions could, perhaps, last long enough, even if the thoughts themselves didn't, to become Widowmaker's emotions as well.
"A little," said the former Talon assassin, after some delay. "Not very much, thankfully. I do not think she was making new memories very well, by then. But there are some."
Lena shuddered a little. "I can't even imagine it."
Widowmaker shook her head. "For her, it was not even the fear of it happening. It was..." She pondered a moment. "It is not easy to explain."
"I can't imagine it would be."
"She would feel, and think, one way, one thing, and then, she would find herself thinking another way, a different thing, a thing like I would think, sometimes, but she would be thinking it, and not me. And sometimes it would be something neither of us would think, but something they very much wanted her to think. And she would believe what she thought, and what she felt, but she would know, she would remember, moments before, thinking very differently about the same thing."
"And she'd fight it," assumed Tracer, "and that would hurt."
"No - but yes? Both would feel like it was her. There was nothing for her to fight. But the difference in the two... that, she found horrifying."
Lena let out a long breathy hoo sound, and took another sip of her tea, before continuing. "So they were making her think... their thoughts, then."
"My thoughts, at least, at times." She leaned her elbows against the table. "Or, to be more correct, the kind of thoughts they wanted me to think. About... how lovely, how beautiful, how perfect it would be when they put her back, and she killed Gérard. And she would believe it, because she could already feel it." The assassin smiled. "As I do, when I kill."
Tracer shuddered. She knew, she knew that the assassin enjoyed her kills - that for a long time, it had been all she lived for. But making Amélie feel that, and Amélie knowing they made her feel that... "Was it you, then? When they did it?" she asked, hoping for an unlikely yes.
The blue assassin laughed, a sound that still made Lena's heart ring every time it happened, no matter the context. "No. I could hardly have imitated Amélie so well for so long. I'd've been discovered, almost immediately. No - it was still her." She took a sip of her coffee. It had cooled a bit, but remained hot enough for her tastes. "That's why it took her two weeks to strike."
"So in the end..." the teleporter said, voice distant in her own ears, "Amélie killed Gérard. And enjoyed it."
Widowmaker nodded. "In a way. They were never above to achieve everything they wanted with her, but they were able to recondition her enough to kill - at least, for a time. And so, she assassinated Gérard, but being torn between the grief and the guilt and the ecstasy..." She shook her head. "That all but shattered her. When she returned, as programmed, they took her apart completely. And built me."
"But you feel some of her... emotions, from then? Her conflict?"
"I do," she said, a tinge of sadness in her voice. She put down her cup. "It was the only death about which I felt conflicted, until Mondatta, and the fight with you."
Lena put a third sugar in her tea. She needed something sweet right then. "D'ya ever wonder," she said, as she refilled her cup from the teapot, "if they'd done a better job sealing her off, if you might not've started to, y'know, think on your own?"
"Internal conflict as the source of self-awareness? Dr. Ziegler has suggested that idea as well." She shrugged. "I do not know. But let's say it's true - in which case, Talon did me yet another favour. They..." she picked her cup back up, sipped at the coffee, and put it back down, "left me open, on accident, to you." And she smiled again, just a little, at the side of her mouth.
The Overwatch teleporter let out her breath, and her eyes softened just a bit, as she looked into those metallic eyes. "Aw, luv. That's..."
"May I kiss you?"
Lena blinked, putting down her tea. "...you... care about..." She shook her head, just a little. "...things like that?"
"I don't know." The spider shrugged again, this time with something artificial in the nonchalance. "But I am finding I... may. At least, with you. Shall we find out?"
Lena wasn't sure what she expected. Would she be cold? Would she feel wrong, would she feel like some dead - and then no, she did not, she was not, she was none of those things, she was cool, yes, but not cold, cool like the first breezes of autumn, like the first hints of snow off the mountains, not chilling, but invigorating, and Lena returned the kiss, almost involuntarily, herself warm, no, hot, like summer sun, like the last day at a Spanish beach before the turning of the weather, and Widowmaker was just as surprised, finding herself melting just a little bit more, and she gasped, pulling away, panting, looking down at her coffee, thinking, How can she be so warm?, before looking back up at the one who had reached past her eyes of molten gold, and finding she had no words then at all.
"Blimey, luv..." managed Lena, after a moment. "You're... only the second woman ever to make me feel like that with a kiss."
"For me, you," breathed Widowmaker, eyes wide, "...are the first."
"I hope it don't make you feel like killin' someone," Lena half-laughed, half-serious, half-joking, a lot nervous and a little afraid, and if that made more than a whole, so be it. "Chiefly, me."
"Never." Widowmaker reached across the table, grabbing Lena's hands with both of her own. "Do you understand? Never. I could not."
She pulled Lena forward, close, quickly, knocking the teacup across the table, shattering it on the floor, and the smaller woman gasped, startled, but did not flee.
"I do not know why, and I do not know how, but..." The spider kissed the teleporter, again, the meeting short but intense, "...I have found someone I could never kill."
Hooooooo, thought a part of the teleporter, unexpected emotions swirling around her mind, throwing her into responding before she even knew she was doing it. This is not gonna be easy to explain, to... to anybody.
On Thursday I had a big day out with my dyebuddy, J. We rendezvoused on the first off-peak Chiltern line train to London and made our way (not by the most efficient route) to the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. A free shuttle bus turned up just as we stepped out of the railway station, which was jolly good of it, and I loved the view we got on the short drive, especially the last, elevated section where you're looking down across London.
The first thing we needed to do when we arrived was to eat. And oh my, the catering at Ally Pally is like taking a step back to the 1970s. We could only find windowless, underground eating places -with black tablecloths adding to the gloom - where the options made little concession to people with allergies and a preference for not eating meat.
The show itself was disappointing. For ages we genuinely thought that we were wandering around the edges and failing to find the main event, but no, that was the main event. It was just vastly smaller than the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, and vastly less imaginative, passionate or cutting edge than the fabulous Fibre East.
The one thing that made show itself worthwhile was a substantial display of work by Diana Harrison. I've seen a little of her work before (at BMAG's Lost in Lace exhibition a few years ago) and found it interesting. Last week, seeing a lot of the work together, and with the benefit of having done rather more printing and stitching myself, it made a huge impact. J loved it too. We enthused at the artist, signed her comments book, and I bought her catalogue from a previous exhibition.
The great thing is, even though the show didn't live up to expectations, we had a lovely day. We don't often get chance to hang out like that, the sun was shining, everyone is friendly and comfortable at these events, and I was on my feet all day (walked about 8km) without trouble from the tendons.
On the way home, looking at the trainline app, I noticed that at Banbury the train behind us was going to overtake the train I was on, so I could switch and arrive 20 minutes earlier than expected. It all happened on adjacent platforms, with no rush, and I was so proud of myself because trains and platforms and timings all tend to induce stress and panic. I love living in the future where I have so many tools to make life easier and minimise the fear.
On Thursday my new gardener worked some more magic in the back garden and it's now looking like a place one might want to spend time, even though his work is very much at the beginning. (This week he has been attacking the front and letting in the light - very exciting.)
On Friday I discovered The Good Place and didn't really stop until Saturday evening when I had run out of episodes to inhale. It's lovely. And smart. And darkly charming. And contains many actors I was delighted to find on my screen. I am more than a little in love with Janet.
That sets up a Batman I want to read. That sets up a Batman whose pain comes from guilt, not just from inaction. I think a lot of us, when we think about the worst parts of our life, we think about ourselves being involved in them. It’s not just the pain that was done to us but [also] the pain we caused ourselves. In looking at Batman and making him more human and raising the stakes of the series, I wanted to bring out that guilt. -- Tom King
( Read more... )
There are three requirements to earning a mage's name among the JanTep. The first is the strength to defend your family. The second is the ability to wield the high magics that protect our people. The third is simply to reach the age of sixteen. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn't be doing any of those things.
And we're off, into the duel. Kellen's problem is that he doesn't have magic. This is not a survivable problem. But Kellep does have a very, very clever mind. In a lesser book, Kellep would discover his magic and wipe the floor with his opponent, winning the acclaim of the crowd.
This is not a lesser book. Spellslinger is actually about a young outcast discovering and creating his own moral fiber. Kellep's struggle, although he doesn't realize it early in the book, is to become a decent human being in an indecent society. This is a far more interesting coming-of-age story than you usually get. When the Mysterious Stranger shows up, she's not a kindly wizard mentor. She's (possibly) not a wizard at all. She doesn't teach Kellep: she gives him opportunities to teach himself. Kellep acquires some new resources, but they are challenges as much as gifts.
Oh, the Mysterious Stranger kicks ass. I can't say more, because it would be a spoiler. She is compelling and ambiguous and funny and tough.
The characters are engrossing. The worldbuilding is unusual and clever. It's partly based around an original variant of a Tarot deck, but is in no way woo-woo; the cards do not predict your future, but (sometimes) illuminate your choices. The cards are playing cards, but are also a weapon. The cards have nothing to do -- as far as we know -- with the magic of the JanTep.
The book itself is gorgeous, in a way that made me extremely nostalgic. The red-and-black cover has two line drawings of the main characters, presented as a face card. (Don't look too closely at Kellep; it's a spoiler.) Red is used as a spot color, very effectively. There are interior illustrations of relevant Tarot cards at the beginning of each section. And the page edges (forget the technical term) are red! Taken as a whole, the book looks a bit like a deck of cards, which is, I'm sure intentional.
Here's the catch. There (as of time of writing) no U.S. or Canadian distributor of Spellslinger or its sequel, Shadowblack. If you're in North America and want to read them, you'll have to order from the, in my experience, reliable, fast, and cheap www.bookdepository.com or an equivalent.
Note: de Castell's Greatcoat books are also awesome. If you like the Musketeers books, you should love them. The nice thing is that they preserve the essential "three duelists against the world" spirit without either copying the plots or being pastiche-y. The second nice thing is that the author is a stage fight choreographer and is able to communicate fights clearly to the non-fighter (me).
Happily, Andrew's explanation of how the light works was spot on, and it doesn't bother me like a glowy phone or computer or TV screen. To give you some idea of how Lorca-ish my eyes are, though, I have it set to 2 when I'm in bed, and 5 in daylight. It goes up to about 30, by the looks of it (haven't actually counted).
I'm really REALLY happy with the cover I got for it, which is incredibly thin and light, but still feels sturdy. It also has the autowake function, which is handy. I would genuinely rec it to anyone who has a papperwit of the requisite size (that's pretty much all of them less than 5 years old).
I think I am also going to quickly get used to having Goodreads integration, which my old Kindle was too ancient to support.
All in all, I think I made the right decision. Thanks to those of you who helped by voting and commenting and things.
Having listened to the promotional strategy advice of a wide variety of people, I'm planning to accomplish two things this weekend. One will be to set up Hootsuite (or some equivalent social media manager, but that's the one people seem to prefer) to handle automated promotional reminders that I rarely have the emotional energy to do manually. The other will be to set up an opt-in (of course!) newsletter for fans and readers to provide both a direct way to communicate announcements and other information, and to provide special content in exchange for access to attention. I figure to aim for absolutely not more often than once a month except for things like unexpected special sales (which I never know about in advance). Maybe less often than once a month, we'll see. I have a hard time planning these things because I'm not a newsletter reader myself, so I have to figure out what works for people who are.
So what sort of content will the newsletter provide? A lot of it will be just basic information:
- Upcoming/New publication information
- Upcoming appearances
- Current projects
But I'll also be offering some special content not available to people who don't subscribe to the newsletter. And that's where you come in. Here are some ideas of my own, plus suggestions people have made online. Which of these would entice you to sign up for and read a newsletter? What other content would entice you?
- Worldbuilding information (Alpennian language, geography, history, etc.)
- Snippets of work in progress (no spoilers!)
- Exclusive previews of Alpennian short fiction (stories that will eventually be released either free or as a collection, but that I'm not trying to sell individually)
- Discussions of my writing process (for example, I kept a diary of how the plot of Daughter of Mystery developed as I was drafting it)
- Alpennia fan art (with the artists' permissions, of course!)
- Access to Alpennia swag (there is none yet, but I have some ideas percolating -- what would you be interested in?)
Let me know what you think. I'm still trying to get my mind around the psychological aspects of doing a newsletter and how it would differ from my blog, other than providing me with a list of people who have expressed a particular level of commitment and interest to following my writing.
Now, there is a school of thought that this doesn't matter a jot because it'll never get past parliament, requiring as it does far too many turkeys to vote for Christmas. I, for one, think that would be a shame, if only for my little home patch.
The proposals for Calderdale are basically what I would have done, were I the boundary commission. A lot of my fellow Calderdale politicians will doubtless be pissing and moaning about various bits1, although having read the report, the Tories will probably be the least annoyed of us. Here are the things I am pleased about:
- The two constituencies make geographical sense, for the first time in my lifetime.
- The town I live in can no longer be almost completely ignored by three of the five active political parties in the area.
- We have not created a complete dead zone for the Lib Dems in the constituency I live in, which is what would have happened had the commission accepted the Lib Dem proposals2.
- The constituency names, while not the ones I suggested, follow the same logic3
1I know a bunch of my fellow Lib Dems are annoyed we haven't got a winnable seat out of it, by putting all the wards with Lib Dem councillors into the same constituency. To which I would say: did you see our vote share at the last general election? And also combining wards where we have councillors is not the only way to get a winnable seat. Look at the demographics...
2Calderdale Lib Dem membership is divided pretty much half and half, which it would not have been under the proposals the party submitted. While it will annoy EVERYBODY who wanted to be in the mythical winnable seat, gives us two live constituencies to fight for, instead of one with pretty much every Calderdale activist except my household in it.
3I wanted Calderdale East and Calderdale West and they've gone for Upper Calder and Lower Calder. I can live with that. It's miles better than their initial suggestion of calling my seat Halifax, when it only had half of Halifax and two towns that are not Halifax in.
Rating: All ages
Word Count: 693
Characters/Pairings: Twelfth Doctor, Clara Oswald
Summary: Letting the strangers go had clearly been a mistake…
For persiflage_1 in the 500 Prompts Meme: 12. Why didn't we detain them? - Twelve & Clara Oswald (DW)
Here @ AO3 | Also @ the Teaspoon
Are you worried about nuclear war? I am too. Keep reading for a way to stop it with one simple action.
Maybe you feel small and powerless. But many snowflakes make an avalanche. If we all move in the same direction, we'll be unstoppable. We will only fail if we choose not to act.
Trump has the power to order a pre-emptive nuclear strike for any reason - or no reason at all. He's always shadowed by a man with a briefcase of codes, called the "nuclear football," to enable him to launch nuclear missiles at any time. It would take less than five minutes from his order to the missiles being launched, and no one could stop him. Republican Senator Bob Corker says Trump is leading us into World War III. I believe him.
But we don't have to stand by and let it happen. Let's pull away that football!
Both House and Senate have bills to prevent the President from launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike without a congressional declaration of war. They're both called the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.) Passing those bills may literally save the world.
How to save the world:
1. Contact your representatives in Congress. Ask them to co-sponsor the bill NOW, before it's too late.
2. Contact EVERYONE in Congress who might want to prevent a nuclear war. Usually people only speak to their own representatives. But with the fate of the entire world is at stake, it's worth contacting everyone who might listen.
3. Promote the Pull The Football campaign on social media. Trump isn't the only one who can use Twitter. Get on it and start tweeting #PullTheFootball.
Share this post on Facebook or Dreamwidth. Put up your own post on whatever social media you use. Ask your friends in person. If you know anyone in the media, contact them to get the word out. If you're not American, you can help by publicizing the campaign on social media that Americans follow.
How do I contact my representatives?
1. Resistbot is a free service that will fax, call, or write your representatives for you. Just text the word "resist" to 50409 to begin.
2. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to the representative of your choice.
I've contacted everyone. What now?
Contact them again. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. One water drop can be brushed away. Many water drops make a flood. Call, fax, or write as often as possible. Set aside 15 minutes every day to make as many calls or faxes as you can in that time. Relentlessness works - it's why the NRA is so successful. If they can do it, we can do it.
What do I say?
Page down for a sample script. Or speak or write in your own words.
Democrats to contact:
Every Democrat not currently sponsoring one of the bills. Thank them for their courage and service to the nation, and ask them to act now to save the world.
Thank the Democrats currently sponsoring the bills. There are 57 in the House and 9 in the Senate. Especially, thank Congressman Ted Lieu (sponsor of the House bill) and Sen. Edward Markey (sponsor of the Senate bill). Encourage them to step up their efforts to make it pass.
Republicans to contact:
The Republicans listed below are the most prominent who have voiced concerns about Trump. This is not an exhaustive list. There are more Republicans who might be receptive. For instance, all the House Republicans who just voted for more aid for Puerto Rico, and all Republicans who are retiring from their seats and so not worried about getting re-elected.
Sen. Bob Corker (202) 224-3344) warned us that Trump is setting the nation on a path to World War III. If you only contact one Republican representative, contact him. Thank him for his courage and urge him to follow through on his convictions.
Rep. Walter Jones (202) 225-3415 is the only Republican to support the bill. Thank him for his courage and urge him to get his colleagues onboard.
Other Republican senators to prioritize contacting: Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, Dean Heller, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Marco Rubio, and Bob Sasse.
Hello, my name is [your name.] I'm calling to ask Representative/Senator [their name] to co-sponsor the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.)
I believe Republican Senator Bob Corker when he says we're on the brink of World War Three. No one benefits from a nuclear war. But we can stop it if we choose to. This may be the most important action Representative/Senator [their name] will take in their entire life. It may literally save the world. I urge them to co-sponsor the bill restricting first use of nuclear weapons. Thank you.
Thank you for reading this far! Please share the post before you go.
1. Laundry! Two loads.
2. Attended two concerts, one Friday night, one Sunday afternoon.
3. Finished watching Defenders and helped a friend out with some stuff.
4. Bought a new black rayon shirt for choir, and hand-washed it in preparation for Wednesday night's concert.
5. Laid out clothes and chose makeup and packed my bag with choir folder and such for Tuesday and Wednesday, so I wouldn't have to do it in the mornings.
Dress rehearsal tonight; am currently eating oatmeal, and hoping this stomach unpleasantness has fully gone away.