29 Nov 2014

NaNo 2014 - Week 4 Progress

The third week ended on the 28th.  The hard numbers, also available in a easy to read chart format, are as follows: 54 929 words total, 8923 added in the third week.  The overall average words per day is 1962, and 1275 words/day during the third week.  I passed the 50k word mark during a write-in on Sunday the 23rd.  Afterwards, with the push to reach the goal no longer there, my output dropped.

With the need to produce large volumes of words gone, the third arc, Basketball Night in Canada, is still unfinished.  I've reached chapter 7, where I ended each of the previous two arcs, but this time, the story continues beyond.  What should have been an arc that occurred over the course of a basketball game turned into a larger conspiracy.  This is what happens when you don't plan ahead.  In NaNoWriMo, this is known as pantsing, as in, writing by the seat of your pants.  My approach favours pantsing, provided that I have a good handle on who the characters are.  Laura's personal storyline continues to develop, and Caitlin is now having to deal with setbacks.

Reaching 50k words also let me take a break from Unruly to work on something else.  I have an idea for a follow up to By the Numbers*, picking up several months after the end of the first story.  Right now, the story is still in the middle of the opening, with the remains of the crew infiltrating a Seattle fashion house and seeing the run go bad.  I do know where Numbers comes in, but I haven't reached a point where I can introduce that part of the plot.  I am counting the extra words in the overall count, but only because I am past the 50k goal.


* Linked to the main By the Numbers page.  She was tired of the running gag.

28 Nov 2014

Beaver Flight Chapter 6

"I was visiting Peri.  The doctors said that she doesn't have to lose her arm."
"That's what we're in for here.  Boredom punctuated by absolute terror."
"Any chance that they'll bring up men once a month or two?"
"However, next time, we will be working as a team.  No unnecessary heroics."

Chapter 6 - First Patrol
May 19, 2128

"Beaver Flight, this is McGee.  Check in as you're ready to launch."

"Geek here.  Everything's green."

"Dominatrix checking in.  All good, even foot space.  I should be able to run today."

Darcy waited half a minute before asking, "Princess, any trouble?"

"Princess here.  Just about, no, wait, got it."

"Princess, what was the problem?" Darcy asked.

27 Nov 2014

Beaver Flight Commentary - Chapter 5

As always, please read the chapter before continuing.

In Chapter 4, we saw the aliens appear, with heroics by Tori to rescue an Australian pilot.  Chapter 5 is the fallout.  No plan ever survives contact with the enemy.  Beaver Flight, barely a team, is fragmenting.  Darcy has her work cut out.

Tori makes a point early.  While the Beavers are on a military mission on a military base, three-quarters aren't military but civilian specialists.  They weren't trained to be soldiers day-in and day-out.  The other flights, except maybe Russia's Bear, are the same way.  To be fair, even soldiers need down time in their day, time to bond with fellows without rank structure in the way.  While Beaver Flight wasn't trying to emulate M*A*S*H, the TV series was an influence.

The appearance of Pac-Man was to have a bit of fun figuring out what video games would be like in 2128.  It's difficult to kill a franchise.  Popular characters will remain popular, with fan bile targeting the creative crew of a bad outing instead of abandoning the franchise.  It takes an active effort on the part of the creators to turn off fans.  Thus, the first-person eating game, Pac-Man: Ghost Hunter.  The game is part of the world-building that could have used more work before starting.

The conversation Dom and Renée have reflects the issues of a long-term mission where logistics are complicated.  Getting from the Earth to the Moon takes a lot of energy.  Cargo is limited by mass.  Necessities like food and water take priority over luxuries.  Data is easy to send, though.  MicroSD memory holds 128 gigabytes easily and is smaller than a fingernail.  Given another hundred years, and data storage should boost the capabilities to the terabyte range.  Regular entertainment runs that involved files, which includes everything from ebooks to movies and entire TV series, don't add that much mass.  More ahem personal items do, and may have to pass through other barriers as well.  Renée is also more open about her needs; it's the Quebec/Ontario divide.

The last scene is Darcy laying down the law.  Darcy is aware of the building friction and knows she needs to shut it down.  Tori and Renée, in particular, are always rubbing each other the wrong way.  The threat of the ring may work, at least for the short term until routines are settled and personal space is found.  The conflict between characters is good for drama, but there's an external threat that needs to be dealt with that takes priority.

Tomorrow, Chapter 6, "First Patrol".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, managing expectations of adaptations..
Saturday, over at MuseHack, there goes Tokyo again, with the 2014 Godzilla.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

23 Nov 2014

NaNo 2014 - Week 3 Progress

The third week ended Friday.  The hard numbers, also available in a easy to read chart format, are as follows: 46 006 words total, 15 950 added in the third week.  The overall average words per day is 2190, and 2279 words/day during the third week.  At the end of the third week, I am over six and a half days ahead of pace, reaching seven days in hand on the 21st.  The slowdown I had in week two was not in evidence.

That just tells the tale of the numbers*.  I completed the second arc and started the third.  Some changes are happening.  First, the Jennifer Revolt may happen sooner than I expected.  The ringleader, Jenn, has appeared and has shown far more initiative than expected.  Second, Laura is scary.  Most NaNo projects involve odd searches.  This year, besides high school basketball and Oshawa school names, I got to add truth sera, such as scopolamine, to my search history.  If I disappear, check with law enforcement drug squads.  I also discovered that lasers aren't covered by the Criminal Code of Canada but under industrial regulations.  That robot army can be armed with lasers without a problem!**  Third, while I had in mind an ongoing rivalry between Caitlin and Verity to be the driving element of the early arcs, I now have someone else playing them like chess pieces.  Neither girl would admit to being pawns, though.

Starting the last full week of NaNo with less than 4000 words left means I can have a slow day and not lose time.  I can now work out the implications without losing ground.  I should still reach 50 000 words in the upcoming week.  It's a good feeling, and writing has been far easier this year than in the early years.  Well worth rebelling this year.

Get it on!

* You weren't expecting a off-hand references to her?  Tsk.
** Except the licensing needed for higher-powered lasers.  Oh, and Assault with a Deadly Weapon still applies, because that law doesn't specify what a weapon is.

21 Nov 2014

Beaver Flight Chapter 5

"Darkside Control to Beaver Flight, return to base.  Repeat, return to base."
"I'm hit!  I'm hit!"
"I can help her if you won't."
"Grieg, do you ever listen to anyone?"

Chapter 5 - Working Out
May 18, 2128

Victoria finished scrubbing herself off after her sonic shower.  She couldn't get the sight of the Australian pilot out of her mind.  While her power suit managed to seal off the breach into hard vacuum, part of the Australian's arm was exposed to space.  The medtechs did what they could to save the arm, but . . . Victoria shook her head, trying to chase the vision away.  She sighed.  And for Kincaid to tell her to not help?  Victoria was still steamed from that.  Though some of the Lieutenant's words sank in.  But I have to also look out for you, Renée, and Dom and make sure that I don't have to tell your family that you loved them because you never went back home from here.

20 Nov 2014

Beaver Flight Commentary - Chapter 4

As always, please read the chapter before continuing.  Spoilers!

The Beavers received their new toys, power suits.  Victoria geeks out over hers while Renée has mechanical problems, just what the reasonably frightened needed.  Before I started writing, I had an idea of what the mecha would be like.  Each one was tailor-made for the pilot, using feedback from the pilot's own muscles and nervous system to move.  The controls aren't quiet intuitive; they're first generation.  Darcy's helicopter pilot training gives her an edge.  Helicopters require not only hand-eye coordination, but foot-eye as well.  Victoria plays video games, so she has improved her hand-eye coordination.  Dom and Renée had to spend extra time in the simulators to make sure they could keep up.

The problem with lunar orbit being a combat zone is that it's hard to train for it without being in the zone.  NASA's Vomit Comet provides minutes of zero gravity experience, but the airplane isn't big enough for powered armour to stand up in.  Thus, Darkside One becomes both forward base and training camp.  The Beavers get a first-hand look at the invaders.  The Aussie flight, Roo, after the kangaroo*, was on patrol.  However, Darkside One doesn't have much on the bench.  Eagle, Bear, and Tiger flights, four suits each, aren't enough to hold off a full-on assault.  Yet, the invaders aren't assaulting.

Victoria is headstrong, lacking discipline.  Almost deliberately so, really.  She also has a strong sense of right and wrong.  Leaving an injured pilot in the field goes against her core.  If she was alone, that wouldn't be a problem.  As part of a military unit, big problem.  Unit cohesion is often needed for tactics to succeed.  There's a reason why an army is comprised of soldiers, not warriors.  With the Beavers in training, Darcy's main concern was getting her people to safety.  Victoria running out into the battlefield ran against Darcy's goal.

Tomorrow, Chapter 5, "Working Out".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the November news round-up on remakes and adaptations.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, adaptations and expectations.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

* "Because they're kinda weird down there." - Arrogant Worms, "We Are the Beaver"

18 Nov 2014

NaNo 2014 - Week 2 Progress

The second week is over.  The hard numbers, also available in a easy to read chart format, are as follows: 30 056 words total, 14 888 added in the second week.  The overall average words per day is 2147, and 2127 words/day during the second week.  As a result, at the end of the second week, I am four days ahead of pace.  I slowed down, compared to the first week, but not enough to fall behind schedule.

Numbers aside*, story-wise, everything is coming together.  I'm rebelling a little.  Traditionally, NaNoWriMo results in a 50 000-plus word novel.  My project is a series of serials, short stories and novellas broken down into chapters to appear in weekly posts.  This gives me a bit more flexibility.  Arcs can last as long as they need without being stretched out.  Overall, I'm aiming for at least 50 000 words written, but individual parts don't have to be that long.  The first arc, now complete, totals 18 739 words.

With the first arc complete, the second arc is being worked on.  I had a slow start, trying to figure out what would happen.  That resulted in a couple of slower days until I checked an inspiration.  From there, I got not only the plot for the arc, but a few ideas for a later antagonist for the Unrulies.  I love it when a plan comes together.

Coming up in week 3, the end of the second arc and the start of the third.  I may go with "Hockey Fight in Canada", to give Skye the spotlight for a bit.  Skye's turned into the voice of reason, at least when her roommates start bickering.  It's time that she lets out her aggressive side in a basketball game.


* Numbers had her time in NaNo already.

14 Nov 2014

Beaver Flight Chapter 4

"Beaver  Flight command to Beaver Flight.  Call in.  Over."
"McGee, these things have thrusters.  We can fly!"
"Walk?  We can fly!"
"Okay, Beaver Flight, this is it.  Let's see what these babies can do."

Chapter 4 - A Giant Step
May 18, 2128

As the outer hangar doors opened, Darcy looked out on the lunar landscape in awe.  The long shadows from the sun creeping down in its long setting created harsh distinction between craters.  Data crawled along the bottom of Darcy's holo-HUD, giving her a direction.  "Beaver Flight, form up and follow me."  She heard her team's acknowledgements as they called in, then pivoted her power suit on its heel to turn it in the right direction.

The first step on the moon's surface landed with a satisfying thud that echoed through the suit.  Darcy had to smile; her one dream, to be assigned to a lunar base.  Not the base she's expected, but being on the moon was still being on the moon for her.  A small cloud of dust floated up under her suit's foot.  She picked up the pace, bringing her power suit to a swift walk.  On her scope, the rest of the team kept up and in formation.  The drills were starting to take hold.

Over the radio, Victoria whooped with pure delight.  "This is awesome!" she bellowed.

"Geek, this is McGee," Darcy radioed.  "Watch the volume there."

"Sorry, guys."

"And Geek?" Darcy added.  "You're right.  This is awesome!  Okay, let's pick up the pace.  How are you guys at running?"  The young Lieutenant opened the throttle more, pushing her suit into a sprint.  The controls just felt natural to Darcy, similar to the ones she used flying helicopters in Trenton.  The only difference was a lack of wind through her hair through an open door.

Behind Darcy, the rest of Beaver Flight struggled to keep up.  Dominique had her power suit in a stumbling trot over the lunar terrain.  Victoria bounded over the landscape while Renée kept at a walking pace.  On Darcy's holo-HUD, a path highlighted in green appeared.  "Beaver Flight, this is McGee.  We're getting close to the proving grounds."  She eased up on her suit's speed.  "Remember, this is our best chance to fine tune our suits.  Take your time here.  We've got more than enough fuel and oxygen to get back to the hangar."

Victoria caught up to Darcy.  "That was fun!  I can't wait to try out the thrusters, McGee!"

"Baby steps, Geek.  Baby steps.  Make sure you can walk and shoot first, okay?"  Darcy shook her head.

Dominique trotted into the proving grounds and slowed to a stop.  "Still some kinks to work out.  I couldn't get out of second gear, or whatever they call it.  I need to extend my foot a little more and I didn't have the space for it."

Darcy opened a file with her onboard computer.  "I'll make a note of it, Dominatrix.  McGee to Princess, how far away are you?"

"Princess here.  Ma'am, I am having problems keeping this beast upright.  It keeps trying to go right when I want to go straight."

"Darkside Control to Beaver Flight, this is Doctor Takemori.  That's an alignment problem.  We've seen that in a third of all units sent.  It's an easy adjustment at the hangar, but your pilot needs to keep things slow for now."

"Copy that, Darkside Control," Darcy acknowledged.  "Princess, you heard that?"

"I heard it, McGee," Renée said.  "Should I return now?"

"Negative, Princess," Takemori said.  "The problem won't affect your assigned training mission, just getting back to the hangar."

Renée sighed over the radio.  "Understood."

Poor girl, Darcy thought.  She's not cut out for being here.  "Okay, team, pick up your weapon from the cabinet.  Pick a target, and take aim.  The good doctors want to see how accurate you are with their aiming package.  Here's as good an area as any, and there won't be any wind to push your aim off, unlike on Earth.  Geek, no hotdogging it.  Got me?"

"Yeah, yeah."

"Beaver Flight, go."  Darcy walked her power suit to the weapons cabinet and picked up a training rifle.  The feedback through the suit's arms made the weapon feel like the rifle she trained with in basic at the Royal Military College.  Looking down at it through the suit's cameras, though, she could see that it was as long as she was tall.  She raised her suit's arms to check out the weapon closer.  "Impressive," she murmured.

"McGee, this is Dominatrix, what was that?"

"Nothing.  Disregard."  Darcy felt her cheeks grow warm.  She lowered her suit's arms.  "Geek, Dom, go ahead to the firing range and follow the instructions that appear on your HUD.  I'll wait for Princess."

"McGee, you don't have to wait for me," Renée said.  "I'm almost there."

Darcy watched Victoria and Dominique as they grabbed their rifles and strode to the range.  "Princess, it's the commander's duty to make sure everyone reaches the objective.  Don't try to rush, either, okay?"

"Thanks, McGee."  Darcy could hear the relief in Renée's voice.  "I'm going to need a proper shower after this, though."

"We'll do what we can."

Renée manhandled her power suit into the proving grounds.  Darcy handed her one of the oversized rifles, then walked with her to the range.  Victoria was well into the instructions, firing while lying her suit prone on the ground.  "Let's not show off too much, Geek.  We don't want to make the other flights jealous."

"The aiming programs are working properly," Victoria said.

"Dom," Darcy said, "how about you?"

Dominique crouched her power suit down.  "It's working.  I think my suit will need adjusting for my height."

"That's why we're here, Dom.  Take your time.  That goes for you, too, Geek.  Don't rush the instructions."

Renée brought her suit to a stop and sighted in.  She fired, a thin red beam lancing out and tagging a target five hundred metres away.  "Are we really using lasers?" she asked.

Doctor Takemori answered, "Just for now.  When reviewed the recording Lieutenant Emelin made, we saw that her team's bullets did some damage to the aliens' armour, though not enough to penetrate.  Since they didn't appear on any of the LIDAR scans, we're assuming that they can absorb laser emissions."

"Let me translate for you, Princess," Victoria said.  "The aliens mecha absorb light.  Laser is really intense light."

"I understood perfectly well, Geek."  Renée's tone turned icy.

"Just making sure."

Renée turned her power suit in place and shot at Victoria's with the training rifle.  The laser hit Victoria's head dead on.

"Geek, Princess, enough," Darcy admonished.  "Back to testing, both of you."  She walked her suit into the remaining bay and started running through the instructions that came up on screen.  Darcy recorded the results, both where the suit said the gun was pointing and the coordinate that was actually hit.  There was a minor difference between the values, enough to warrant some work, but not enough for Darcy to be worried.  As she progressed, she brought the suit down to a kneeling position, taking her time with each shot to make sure that she didn't bring any user error into the mix.

After about fifteen minutes of practice, an Australian accent called out, "Contact!" over the radio.  Darcy brought her suit back up, ready to move.  "Three bogeys, alien configuration, inbound at zero three zero mark two five."

"Darkside Control to Beaver Flight, return to base.  Repeat, return to base."

"Beaver Flight Actual, acknowledged."  Darcy backed her power suit out of her bay.  "You heard her.  Let's get going."

"Roo One, Roo Three.  Two more appearing!"

"Copy that Roo Three."

"Kangaroo Flight, this is Darkside Control.  Eagle Flight is suiting up.  Time to launch is three minutes."

"McGee, I can get there faster," Victoria said.

"Roo One, I've got a bogey on my tail!"

"Negative, Geek.  We have our orders to return to base.  We also lasers at low power.  They're useless."

"Roo Two, go help Roo Four."


"No buts, Geek."  Darcy knew what Victoria was going through and what she was thinking.  "What can you do up there?  Point your gun and shout, 'Bang, you're dead'?"

"I'm hit!  I'm hit!"

"Anyone, this is Roo Two, got the bogey.  It's running.  Roo Four looks bad, though."

"Roo Two, Roo One, We have four more bogeys.  Roo Four, return to base."

"Darcy, we can help her."  Victoria triggered her suit's thrusters.  "I can help her if you won't."

"Geek!  Grieg, get back here!"  Darcy slammed her hand on a strut.  "Dom, help Princess get back to the hangar.  Don't go too fast; her suit's not working right."  She feathered the controls for her thrusters.  The leap into space pushed her into the acceleration padding.

"Beaver Flight, this is Darkside Control, avoid the battle ground.  Repeat, avoid the battle ground."

"Roo one, this is Roo Four.  I have no power.  I can't feel my arm."  The pilot choked back a sob.  "Tell my family I love them."

"Acknowledged, Control," Darcy said.  She locked on to Roo Four's signal.  "Geek, sending you coordinates.  If you're going to disobey an order, you'll bloody well do it right."

"Got them, McGee"

Ahead of her, Darcy saw the thruster banks on Victoria's suit flare.  Darcy kicked in another burst to escape the moon's pull.  "Control, this is Beaver One.  How long until Eagle Flight gets in the fight?"

"ETA two minutes."

"Roo Two, Roo Three, get that bogey in a crossfire!"

"McGee, I see her.  She's falling and missing an arm."

Darcy cursed under her breath.  She scanned her scope, trying to pick out the aliens from Kangaroo flight.  One of the symbols for the aliens winked out.

"Roo Two, did you see where that one went?"


"McGee, need your help here."

"Coming."  Darcy kept her thrusters firing as she closed in on Victoria and the damaged Kangaroo.  Electrical sparks shot from wires severed and dangling from the remains of Roo Four's left arm.

Victoria manoeuvred her power suit to below the plummeting Austrailian.  Cushioning the damaged suit with her own, she applied her own thrusters to slow the suits' fall.  Darcy reached the pair and took position at Roo Four's legs.  She tossed away her rifle to grab the legs of the damaged suit.  "Got her, Geek."

"Try to match my thruster burns," Victoria said.  "I'll give the count.  In three, two, one, burn."  Victoria and Darcy both fired their suits' thrusters.  "Good.  Let's bring her down slow."

The pair of Canadians managed to get the damaged suit into the hangar's airlock.  Overhead, the remainder of Kangaroo Flight was joined by Eagle Flight to put chase to the invading aliens.  Once the internal pressure was equalized, emergency medical technicians dashed out.  Engineers and mechanics had cutting tools standing by.  Darcy backed her suit out of the way, then opened the clam shell hatch to get out.  She spotted Dominque and Renée standing near the door to the briefing room.  Darcy looked around.  Victoria's power suit was crouched down, its own hatch open; the woman herself was climbing down from it.

Darcy strode over to her charge.  "Grieg, do you ever listen to anyone?"

"We rescued her.  We may have saved her life."  Victoria turned to walk over to the rescue scene.

Darcy grabbed Victoria's shoulder and pulled her around.  "There's a reason why we were told to return to base.  You flew into a battle zone unarmed and in an untested vehicle.  You could've been killed."

"Geez, what is your problem?  While you were following orders, I save her life!  Doesn't that count for anything?"

"It means you got lucky, Grieg.  That could just as easily be you getting cut out."

"So I'm supposed to sit on the side?  Is that it?"  Victoria glared at her commanding officer.

Darcy took a deep breath and counted to five before answering.  "Look, Tori, I know exactly how you felt out there.  Don't you think it was killing me to have to come back here?  But I have to also look out for you, Renée, and Dom and make sure that I don't have to tell your family that you loved them because you never went back home from here.  Don't put me in a spot again where you go off half cocked.  Do you understand me?"

The two women stood staring at each other for a long moment.  "I understand," Victoria said, sounding more subdued.

"Thank you."  Darcy closed her eyes for a second.  "Now go see how Roo Four is then get cleaned up.  You've got an hour break."

Victoria ran off without a word back to where the damaged Australian power suit lay.  Darcy watched for a moment before turning and walking towards the briefing room.  As she entered, Renée and Dominique swarmed towards her.  "You're letting her walk away?" Renée asked.

"Not now, Lalonde."

"Lieutenant," Dominique began, "I'm sure Tori meant well."

"Not now, either of you."  Darcy sat on the edge of the room's large table.  "This isn't a democracy.  I talked to Grieg and now I'm talking to you.  You both have an hour off.  Use it to clean up, get changed, and rest."

"But—" Renée stuttered.

Darcy levelled a glowering look at the Quebecoise.  "If you finish that sentence, you'll be cleaning our bathroom for a month."

Renée closed her mouth then turned on her heel.  She stormed out of the briefing room.  Dominique joined Darcy on the desk.  "Ma'am, if you need to talk," she offered.

"Thanks.  I just need to go work off steam."  Darcy patted the taller woman's leg.  "Go get some rest.  At least stretch out a little."

Dominique stood up and walked out of the room, leaving Darcy behind.

Next week:
"Command isn't easy."
"Neither is letting someone die."

13 Nov 2014

Beaver Flight Commentary - Chapter 3

More chapters, more commentary.  As always, please read the chapter before continuing.

People annoyed by Victoria may have had some reason to cheer.  Tori isn't being allowed to get away with annoying her squad mates.  The need for certain specialists was greater than having a proper psych profile done, apparently.  Sometimes, the best woman for the job is a little annoying.

The sonic shower is a standard in science fiction.  For a long-term base on a dry rock, water is limited.  Sonics shaking away the accumulated grime is more efficient, especially when the so-called darkside of the moon spends time facing the sun.  Solar panels and batteries to store power makes sonic showers a better idea than water.  The shower also gives Renée a small bit of revenge.

The big reveal in the chapter is the mecha.  Powered suits, bigger than standard EVA suits with feedback control.  Each suit has to be tailor-made for the user, so Dominique's is hers and hers alone.  Two women with similar heights and builds might be able to use each other's powered suit, but they'd find it uncomfortable after some time.  The controls of the suits are modelled after the control of a helicopter, requiring coordination between arms and legs to get the craft to move properly.

One last stab at the name of the flight.  This time, though, the reason why the beaver was chosen over other animals.  Victoria's explanation paraphrases the Arrogant Worms' song, so go buy their albums.  If it weren't for the innuendo, the name of the flight and the story wouldn't be so bad.

The researchers from Nissan are a nod to mecha anime; the powered suits are a Japanese design.  Honda is better known right now for research in personal robotics, with several prototypes already revealed.  It's not that far-fetched that Nissan would have similar research happening.  Industrial robotics are a given today, but all the work is remote, in factories where the only humans on the floor are there to fix the devices.  As for Doctor Aoi, he's the most popular person on the station with the majority of the residents.  Dr. Aoi is the only man on the base.

Callsigns are a stable of pilots, usually of fighter jets but not limited to them.  Callsigns aren't assigned nor can they be self-designated.  Instead, they're given by fellow pilots.  A callsign like "Maverick" is not likely unless mean ironically or derogitarily.  On The Big Bang Theory, Howard gained the callsign "Froot Loops", thanks to his mother yelling at him during a video call.  For the Beavers, though, it was all internal.  Darcy already had "McGee" after flight school, after the Canadian prime minister and the bar named after him.  Victoria's "Geek" was a natural fit.  Dominique kept her hated nickname from Carleton Ravens basketball, "Dominatrix", based on her name and her style of play.  Renée got "Princess" from being fussy.

Tomorrow, Chapter 4, "A Giant Step".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, a second look at Mr. Peabody & Sherman.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, the November news round-up on remakes and adaptations.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

9 Nov 2014

NaNo 2014 - Week 1 Progress

One week has passed by already.  The hard numbers, also available in a easy to read chart format, are as follows: 15 168 words written, averaging 2167 words per day, putting me two days ahead of schedule.  Numbers* don't tell the full story.

The first arc is starting to wrap up.  While it was meant to introduce readers to the setting, it also became Laura's introduction.  She took centre stage, adjusting to her new life.  Characters developed in ways I never expected.  Flora and Fawna, the twin sisters no one bothers to get right, have a war brewing, where one is building an army of laser-wielding zombies to fight the other's zombie hordes.  Cassie is having fun poking Caitlin's ego.  Caitlin, for her part, is blind to her own ego and is like a force of nature.  I've also set up the Jennifer of Jennifers serial.

The St. Dymphna students are also coming together.  Mackenzie, previously described as Verity's pet geek, developed a spine of sorts.  There's also a spark of something between her and Laura.  Caroline's crush on Jay has been set up, as had Autumn's.  Drama and conflict should come out from that.  Possibly explosions and collateral damage.  Verity hasn't said much so far, but is definitely the centre of her clique.

Coming up in week 2, the end of the first arc and the start of the second.  I should have a Caitlin focused arc next, to show how she works, but I have plans for a Skye-focused arc as well.  Considering that Caitlin took the offensive in the first serial, there should be a Verity-initiated plot for retaliation.  I hope to keep to the pace I've set, which will give me an off day if I need it.  I have enough potential serial titles to keep me going and a scene in my head for at least one of them.


* No, not her.  And not personified math, either.

7 Nov 2014

Beaver Flight Chapter 3

"Pfft.  Normal's overrated."
"Yeah, I noticed that the place is a little barren."
"It's going to be a long mission here."

Chapter 3 - New Equipment

May 18, 2128

The morning began with a bugle blaring over the intercom speaker.  Victoria threw her pillow in the general direction, hitting the door instead.  "Someone make it shush," she grumbled sleepily.

Darcy hit the floor almost immediately.  "Okay, girls, time to get up!  Let's go!  We've got a long day ahead."

6 Nov 2014

Beaver Flight Commentary - Chapter 2

Welcome back to the commentary track.  As always, please read the chapter before continuing.

Chapter 2 involved more world building, providing the readers and me an idea of the layout of Darkside One and who else lives there.  To be clear, since it gets a little confusing, the Beavers are all part of the Canadian Forces.  Darcy is career Air Force.  Victoria and Dominique went with the default, Air Force, when given the choice while Renée opted for the Royal Canadian Navy.  The main reason for Renée's choice was to avoid writing "Lieutenant" all the time.  Renée's full rank is Acting Sublieutenant, which really didn't solve the issue.  Since Renée is Quebecoise, she could have gone with Enseigne de vaisseau, deuxième classe.  In hindsight, I should have, just for the boost to word count.  For the record, Dominique and Victoria are both Second Lieutenants, equivalent to Renée and Darcy is a Lieutenant.  Just wait until the other nations appear.

Victoria is not military material.  She's in the Flight because she sees the adventure potential in going to the moon.  The nature of the mission required getting specialists who may not be in the military.  Granted, given the likes of the Royal Military College, I had to really consider possibilities.  Other countries have similar education available.  Irene and Pranaya, though are civilians.  The breadth of degrees on the base may give an inkling about what Darkside One is facing.

Darcy confirms the above with Major di Carlo in her scene.  As well, Darcy makes the formal complain about the name of the flight.  She also shows sign of decent leadership; she has a problematic command, with non-military personnel getting on each other's nerves.  Basic training, in one of its many goals, forces a disparate group of young people and gives them a reason to band together despite their differences.  Victoria, Dominique, and Renée haven't gone through the full training, just enough to survive on the moon.  Time was of the essence.

The conversation Dominique and Renée have was based on one I have had.  I read a lot as a kid, but the reading material tended to from England.  Books like The Famous Five contributed to my vocabulary.  I've broadened my range a lot since then, but I'm not thrown when I read anything by Terry Pratchett or JK Rowling.  So, words like "horrid" tend to get used.  The rest of that conversation is more about dealing with aspects of life that people take for granted.  Most people have their own home, or at least their own room, and can go out and see men and women around.  The mission has no men.  While not everyone in Darkside One is straight, most will be, and, depending on each person, needs happen.

The big reveal, for those who remembered the prologue, is Yulya Emelin.  Yulya was the survivors of a previous attack, the only person left behind.  She's been made an officer and given a promotion.  Yulya doesn't talk about what happened.  She is happy to warn people about the coffee.  The talk about Tim Horton's was inspired by the Canadian Forces' mission in Khandahar, Afghanistan.  Tim Horton's had an outlet there; job postings included mention of moving expenses and danger pay.  Made the Canadians popular, though.  Tim's is everywhere, possibly more common than Starbuck's.  I am within a fifteen minute walk to at least three, one being three doors down from me.  On my last contract, there was a Tim's in each building, plus one over at the mall across the highway.  Tim's is everywhere.

The rest of the food discussion was based on the idea of printed food.  What I hadn't considered was Schmeat, artificial meat force-grown from stem cells.  Shipping cuts of meat to the moon is wasteful, due to the mass of the cargo.  Shipping stem cells and the equipment to grow the meat requires an initial cargo to get things started, then just resupplying the stem cells and growing solution.  Add 3-D printers with flavour nozzles, and you get proper meat.  While Schmeat is beef, other artificial meats, like pork or chicken, should be possible.  Hydroponics provides vegetables.  The biggest issue, really, is water.

Tomorrow, Chapter 3, New Equipment.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Wolverine.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, a second look at Mr. Peabody & Sherman.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.