I work in a business that deals with returns and reverse logistics
Verizon and Comcast have trade-in plans
Everyone wants a new iPhone
This translates into a massive spike of incoming returns to where I work, GXO. By ‘massive’ I mean dozens of 18-wheeler trailers with 20-25 pallets of phones.
Millions of phones.
While we normally have ‘peak’ in late November in prep for Christmas, this year we are kicking off our intense work period very early — the Death March, as it is called, known for 14 hour work days, very short SLA turnaround, and madness.
As such I expect that my time and effort on working on the fic may suffer. I am just now recovering from my back messing up and hopefully this won’t set it off again.
The next chapter of TWCD is about half done. I have several docs by DarkHorse that I can put up as well as a large amount of Bird of Hermes stuff I may get out, but I don’t expect a chapter coming out in September at all.
In the event that you are new to reading my works (or an old hand but do not feel like trying to read through four years of Discord ramblings), there’s a lot of ‘side’ information that doesn’t really make it cleanly into the fic or the side stories or documentation stories.
A Discord member, Nemo (He Who Gets No Credit) recently put together a small document covering all the other side documents attempting to bring sanity, or at least organization, to this six-alarm dumpster fire.
Additionally, user viridae (asks Concerning Things and gives Concerning Speculation) has put together some in-depth guides on Commissars, the Department of Abnormalities, and Alliance R&D that gathers materials scattered across several books, the forums, the discord, and the PV Roleplay into one source. They can be found in the reference works menu.
Finally, Maddie (LP’s Heraldess of Chaos and Damnation) has recently finished up preliminary work on a guide to eezo, the first of several hyperfucked materials in the PV and the most cursed. If you aren’t into extremely dodgy math and logic so tortured you could have it star in a BDSM movie, you might not get much out of it, but if you do get at least some higher math it is worth getting a headache a read.
As with a lot of TWCD, there’s some significant alterations from canon. I don’t do this just to do a ‘fix fic’ type of thing, but to address serious structural issues in the games that have long bothered me.
Shepard’s return being so low-key and unimportant in the game was one thing but how she was dealt with by the Council truly boggled the mind. Anderson’s reactions (and Udina’s) were also … off. Wrong.
I don’t usually criticize Bioware on actions they took in making the game work that induce plot holes — some things are by nature of gameplay unavoidable. But it felt lazy to treat her return as a button press and a meme about shops on the Citadel.
We’ll see if I made this any better. As for the next chapter, we’ll have to see if work is as calm next week as it was this week.
Between the combination of Father’s Day and Juneteenth I probably won’t get any writing done this weekend, or RP. But I am always open to questions, either here, on my Discord, or on FF.net via private message.
2020 was not, as I’ve said elsewhere, the best of years. However, in terms of the fic we did get at least a little accomplished:
First, four chapters of TWCD were completed. That’s very slow, but then again it was about 110,000 words. I had writers block in how to proceed with the story, and since I shifted direction things are now easier to write.
New STG Reports (Vigil Pt 2, P., Rachel Florez, Richard Williams, Yonis Chu) and an additional few chapters to the STG Handbook
The new Bird of Hermes series was launched
The 2020 PV WriteCon was completed and was a smashing success
Xabiar’s completed Citadel document, expanding hugely on the timeline, politics, and capacities of the setting
The launch and development of the PV RPG System and the RP games, which has gone wonderfully so far
There’s also some non-fic related things we’ve done:
The creation of a PV Minecraft Server
The creation of a place for people to discuss problems and issues in Personal-space on our Discord
A staggering 199 members on the Discord
A series of music videos and two world-building videos
The production of the Uressa T’Shora art and progress on the Shepard Wedding Scene.
Expansion of Patreon integration, benefits, and merch
I’d like to take the time to thank some people:
Pallan Minerva/Comma: as always expected from him, Comma continued to provide guidance, moderation, leadership, fic feedback, advice, and contributions to the fic. He did this WHILE both going to college full time (and graduating) in the midst of this COVID bullshit, and while managing his own server community and writing his amazing Fate Stay/Night fic story which has surpassed my own in popularity. Comma is his own harshest critic but he’s accomplished more in a single year than some people do in a decade.
Nimiraj : as always, provides strength and comfort. Her insight into the Sara/Liara rebonding section was critical (as with all the relationship pieces) as well as listening to all my self-pitying bullshit and keeping me cheered up is sometimes the only reason I keep going.
Xabiar: Despite the literally titanic efforts on his own fiction (nine chapters of his main fic, twelve chapters of TITANOMACH, twenty seven chapters of the XCOM Files and God only knows what else), the man managed to somehow take the scattered, disorganized and in some cases self-contradicting lore bits I had to create the Citadel Files, nearly 200k words of lore, expansion, and new ideas and characters — in under a freaking year. Very much appreciated, especially on top of running his own community.
Wele: Not only a driving force in working on art for the PV, Wele has been a key player in the success of the Personal Space in the discord chat. Her creation of the asari Sigils and her work on the Wedding Scene hasn’t slowed down her other efforts, on top of all the issues she has. You are appreciated very much.
The Elder One: I can never thank TEO enough for all he does in the background that no one even sees, from fixing up stupid typos and finding plot holes to keeping an eye on the chat. Again, this is on top of working on all his own projects and dealing with the COVID mess.
EnigmaticOne and Mooloor: These two took strong and energetic leads on the RPG Project, taking the insanely stupid and useless half-ass ruleset I gave them and turning it into a finely tuned product that helped produce what I feel was outstanding gameplay. They have continued to refine and expand the rules and at this point deserve a lot more credit for the Fic-RP’s success than I do. EnigmaticOne also went above and beyond the call of duty to collate and edit the RP logs into a format to be turned into stories.
B.W.: B.W.’s entry into the PV WriteCon was incredibly good, some of the best writing any of us have ever seen! Their work in discussing some aspects of where I’m going with the fic and other contributions have also been of seriously important help!
Jacob: Last but not least, Jacob — despite some personal issues — came back strong in 2020 to throw down both edits to the files he’d already done and an incredible piece on Richard Manswell. Jacob remains one of the few people I trust to handle my lore and build on it without oversight and I am deeply humbled by his contributions.
A few others deserve thanks as well:
Sevoris for managing the SIENCE with his usual deft tough
Bish09 for handling, organizing and managing the Gaming Discord
Kep for some very interesting and useful art that has given me ideas.
Krieg for returning to the chat in a far more productive fashion!
Mrosera for keeping the Warframe Clan organized and expanding it greatly!
DaSkyBurner for taking on the challenge of being our Minecraft Server Admin, out of his own pocket I might add
EternalConcern for adding many much needed (and becursed) emotes
SodiumEnriched/Fperson1 for being the original IsLurk and showing everyone how to go from lurker to key member.
JimHero, Eggnogui, DevilNero, Kinnix, Nolan, Neprau, Samael, and Seras for being Bro-Tier
Spicy for being the true and undisputed Lord of Cursed
Of course, I appreciate each and every person who reads, comments, reviews, or shows up in chat.
What does 2021 hold? Ideally, things will improve. COVID vaccines and perhaps a return of more conventional normalcy would help a great deal. As for the fic…
The Editing Gang has indicated — and repeatedly — that this shit is beginning to drag. I will endeavor to wrap things up in a way that does not take too long, but this is where people start dying and actually staying dead.
As for my personal condition… still have knee, back and wrist issues. Due to some medical complications, my finances are shit, and work remains hectic. Purportedly sometime this year we are moving to a new platform, so I expect a great deal of trouble with that since we are adding many new clients. The 2021 Death March is likely to be hellish.
However, I’m still alive, still in good health, and still trolling. I hope you all had a happy holiday season and have a wonderful new year, and that things get better, and not…
Well, you know, not like the Days of Iron. <voncern.jpg>
Due to a happy coincidence of timing, I got the next TWCD chapter published as well as Xabiar’s new Citadel Files : Military out the door today.
We are having a PV-RPG session today from 2 PM to 6 PM CST, which will result in that being put into an online chapter along with Bright’s next happy discoveries.
I’m also in the process of getting bids and estimates for the next set of artwork, as well as waiting for my Patreons to determine what oneshots they want to see. Later on this month we’ll start to see more of the stories from the Fanfic WriteCon showing up as well.
It has been an interesting month, in the Chinese sense of the word.
Due to work events, I have not been as productive as I would like, but I have managed to overhaul the Patreon stuff and get some organizational work accomplished on things in the background.
The next TWCD chapter is mostly done — about 70% of it is with the Editing Gang, I just need to put the final few pieces together. The outline for the chapter after that is coming along…slowly.
I put out a Naruto chapter a few days ago due to insomnia, I will probably do more as I hit bits of writer’s block here and there. The first few entries for the PV WriteCon are coming in and I will set up a page to display those here very soon.
There’s also some new art that’s been completed, Uressa T’Shora is finally done:
Work has not really improved. Things have become… messier in the real world. The issue with Coronavirus, protests, climate issues, and the rest of things feels disconnected from ‘life’ when you are basically super-isolating yourself from others. There are always challenges to overcome, but each one feels less and less like ‘accomplishment’ and more and more like an endurance time trial.
(Warning: Rant below)
That being said, I’d like to take a few moments to address a common theme I’ve been seeing and hearing in regards to all kinds of things; namely, intolerance to those who disagree. It’s an insidious poison, one that makes anything that doesn’t fit your filters just get ignored, and blinds many people to reality.
This is not limited to any one group. I have no ‘formal’ political affiliation that makes sense, given my views are mishmash of hard left, hard right, and draconian. But I always, always try to take the time to listen to people who disagree, or who have mindsets different than mine. And what I find is that most people I know are doing the opposite: refusing to listen to anything from anyone who is not in agreement with their own views… regardless of the validity of said views.
You see it everything now, from left to right wing, from various interest groups and blocs, from fans on shows to people discussing what should be hard science. We have now come to a point where facts, discourse and compromise are less important than irrelevant shit like ‘purity’, ‘wokeness’, ‘patriotism’, or whatever the fuck other whack-ass bullshit drives any particular brand of wonkery.
“Well that’s great, you senile old bitter bastard, what the fucking duck does that have to do with the fanfic stuff?” I’m glad you asked.
Ironically, my fic started as me venting negativity to get it out of my system, and now I realize I was actually not negative enough to match reality.
The Earth went to shit in the Days of Iron in my fic because people took a hard-line stance on everything and doubled down on Fuck You Syndrome. People wanted ‘strong leaders’ but no longer trusted government. Wars erupted not over real problems but over the egos of their nation’s leaders. Resources were ruined and destroyed rather than shared because by then people had convinced themselves that anything not from their nation was evil.
When I wrote that outline of the future, back in 2012, I was bitter and depressed at the death of my wife. I was upset because Barrack Obama was wasting political capital on projects I knew full well would not work out due to political infighting. I was somewhat negative on my views of the future.
But in my wildest, most fucked up nightmares induced by drinking Jack Daniels and eating cheese pizza after midnight, never did I imagine anything like what I set forth in a Series of Sorrows Unending would ever come to pass.
We live in a world where the Wheeze is real (COVID-19), and even worse than I set it out to be.
We live in a world with worse climate change conditions than I set up, with 100f + temperatures in Siberia and massive wildfires in Australia, and that if we had any kind of nuclear exchange as in the Days of Iron would actually be WORSE than my depiction. If all the carbon locked up in tundra lets go, the sea level rise would drown billions.
We live in a world where the structure of transnational cooperation is not only frayed but is basically destroyed, where the UN is increasingly seen as a laughingstock with countries like Uganda and North Korea on the Human Rights council and its toothless peacekeeping forces helpless to stop ethnic cleansing in Myamar, China, and elsewhere.
We live in a world where the power of the rich and influential is so much stronger than it was just a decade ago, where already we see the rich talking about orbital stations and moon colonies. We live in a world where the rich are idolized and all that drives people is status and money and goddamned Twitter followers.
We live in a world where actual achievement is sneered at, and where fucking participation alone is supposed to be worthy of appreciation, where scientists and artists are backed not due to the brilliance of their creation but if they are black or lesbian or whatever.
I set out to make a Days of Iron that was supposed to be ridiculous and over the top, because of course no one wanted rich autocrats to rule them, or to have draconian laws, or to start world war III over petty shit.
Now, standing on the cusp of what is a nightmare given flesh and form, my own words mock me. And the shape of what has transpired is because we no longer take the time to listen to those who disagree.
Instead, people define everything in their life by what separates them — race, sexual orientation, gender definition, political affiliation, belief in pseudoscience — and then get offended when others judge them based on what they define themselves by.
We now live in an era where science, common sense, and generosity are not only ignored but openly mocked, where virtue signaling is more important than empirical data, where ‘critical thinking’ is actually being derided and instead people cling to horoscopes, numerology, or (God give me strength) fucking homeopathic crystals.
A lot of people have said “OSABC is too depressing and grimdark things would never turn out that way on Earth”. And they are right, things are turning out worse. Victor was a monster but at least he was competent and had a certain level of grace and pity. I doubt very strongly any of our leaders, potential leaders, or corporate CEO’s have his level of vision.
A lot of people have said they don’t like ‘reading depressing things because I want to escape from that’. And this is why the entire fucking planet is going to shit. Because people can’t be bothered to spend two hours doing Meals on Wheels. Or skip playing CoD to work at a soup kitchen. Because people don’t want to deal with ‘bad things’ and ‘depressing things’.
Well, folks…that is how you get to the Days of Iron, basically. By ignoring the reality going on around you, and by pretending it will all be okay, until you wake up one morning and discover everything isn’t okay. For some people, that is happening right now, with COVID, or with drastic temperature changes. For a lot of others, it hasn’t happened yet.
But it will, and by then it will be far too late to do anything about it. I’m aware that almost everyone reading this is probably feeling like you have no power.
I reiterate the wisdom of Benezia T’Soni, which someone recently reminded me of myself, that when it comes to changing anything, you always have to start from zero, and that any increment is progress. That is true in both regards. If you work towards change, even if you do nothing but improve a single person’s life for a few hours…that is still improvement.
And the flip side of that is that lack of trying, of telling yourself you don’t matter, that you can’t fix it, that it is not even worth trying, becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy if enough people buy into it. If you let yourself be neutralized by despair, then you add one more tally stone to the stack of shit already tipping us towards the abyss.
Or, in other words…no single raindrop blames itself for the flood.
So, before I talk about the fan-fic stuff, the ‘real news’:
Thus far, my immediate family is health and safe. Fort Worth is continuing to climb in COVID-19 cases, but I am still working from home.
There have also been protests in Fort Worth and Dallas, but rioting so far has not impacted me and is limited to more public venues.
XPO (my employer) has not had to layoff any more people so my job should be secure. Finances are still shit but stable.
I’ve had a couple of friends get COVID (one died) and several family members in California and Virginia are in jail due to protesting.
Other than the above, things haven’t been so hot. Ankle and knee are slowly getting worse and I can’t do any therapy with the curfew and COVID lock-downs, so I have to manage with ice packs and grit.
I got one chapter of TWCD out, as well as an entirely new work, the Bird of Hermes. Set in between ATTWN and TWCD, Bird of Hermes is a sci-fi horror tale of the System’s Alliance exploration and evacuation of a pre-Inusannon colony world code named Rho-19. It ties in with a planned RPG segment I will be doing with some of my Discord participants, and will end in a series of reports on pre-Inusannon races to further out the backstory.
I’ve also updated Xabiar’s magnificent Citadel document he writes for me, so make sure to check all of that out.
Also, for those of you who are just finding out about my writing, I finally got around to creating a document to map out the best and recommended reading order for all of this stuff. Check out A (barely) annotated guide to the PremiseVerse:
Finally (and most hilariously) I finally decided to take a stab at recording an actual video. I warn you now that this is a low-quality web-cam and in my ignorance I forgot the mic pickup was right next to the A/C vent so the sound quality is absolute garbage.
However, it is a video message that is, according to the people who’ve watched it, worth listening to, so in the immortal words of our Queen Senzawa, ‘here we fucking go’:
I hope everyone is staying safe. You’ll forgive me if I don’t include some kind of pithy statement about the protests and the death of George Floyd, but as you can see from the video I’m tired of almost everything right now, and there’s nothing you can put on the net that will fix what is wrong with the world right now.
However, I will say this. The problem isn’t the ‘police’ or the ‘government’ or ‘hoodlums’. The problem isn’t solved by laws, or by guns, or by protests. The problem is fucking humans not giving a shit about each other, and lots of people are guilty of that regardless of skin color or profession.
Until humans all learn to love one another — white or black, Hispanic or Latinx, American or Chinese, CIS or trans, gay/les/bi or straight, rich or poor — we will all continue by ruled by hate.
Be safe. You are cherished. You are appreciated. You are trolled.
Haven’t been on much. Two friends are in critical care with COVID and my uncle passed away due to it last week. Several friends are out of work and with mounting bills, medical issues and no relief in sight, especially in Florida where the unemployment system is… unoptimal.
My place of work laid off more than 500 people in IT and support and more in operations. Critical people, senior devs, code writers who knew the legacy systems. This is going to lag things at work and pile more mess on me and my bosses. Schedule is even more chaotic and I am the on-call this week.
Not exactly happy with the home-schooling options presented by my nieces’ school, went through a social studies section claiming the cause of WWI was ‘economic anxieties’ and a Common Core math section that actually said 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 and 12 * 12 are the same. So now I have to go over that.
Anyway… I have gotten another few pages done on the next chapter of TWCD and may put out a tech guide. Not sure. Haven’t been on Discord lately so please obey admins or there will be more punishment for Susan handed out.
So far, I am not sick and neither is my mom or nieces. Given the asthma both nieces have, my smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure and mom’s issues, none of us will be going out in public for anything. I have no problems with re-openings; there are no good options for the people out of work who are going to be evicted without income.
That being said… God gave you common sense for a reason and I certainly won’t be interacting with anyone who thinks a bar crawl is a good idea at this time.
The coronavirus shares several frightening characteristics with a theoretical flu variant call the Wheeze I came up with for the backstory of PV Earth, a virus that killed tens of millions of people and was one of the key factors in shattering world civilization into the mess that became the Days of Iron. As several other factors in my work have also come to pass, I begin to grow worried.
That being said, I am a paranoiac and disaster prepper anyway, so this outbreak hasn’t affected me much IRL. I already have high quality filters for my air, lots of toilet paper, MRE’s, canned goods, and the like. And I had a stack of N95 masks and surgical gloves after the SARS outbreak that are still here. I am able to work from home and my company is deeply involved in shipping medical supplies and food. Given the importance we have I am unlikely to lose my job.
I haven’t gotten much writing done, mainly because I’m having some blocks on the next main chapter, but also because my work schedule is chaotic. Our company lost our disaster response team so I’m part of a rotating on-call 24/7 response group. Yesterday, I worked from 5 AM to 2 PM, got 3 hours sleep, worked from 5 PM to 9 PM, got three hours sleep, and then again from 9 to almost 6 AM today. This erratic pattern doesn’t allow for good introspection.
I do have some updates, however. Thanks to the efforts of the Patreon donators, we have new art of Shepard — specifically, her attire at her wedding and a close up of the Star of Terra.
Right now, the current plan for the fic is as follows:
Side Piece work — tech guide on battle suits, finish refurbishing the Order of Battle Document, and rework a few things in the Biotic Encyclopedia
Finish next main chapter of TWCD
Put out chapter of Lions
Put out chapter of Alliance News Network interviews — Anderson
Beyond that… I dunno. This virus is a scary thing, but so is what it is doing to society, to economy, and to the lives of the poor and without resources. My work at my company is literally saving lives so for the moment I am more focused on that. On the other hand, with everyone shut in and isolating, I know a distraction is valuable, and I have certainly not forgotten any of you.
Feel free to email (email@example.com), PM in FFN, DM on Discord or comment here if you need to discuss anything, need advice or want to ask a question. Please stay safe. Please self-isolate and don’t take stupid chances, this thing is containable if we just all act intelligently.