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Fic: Might Have Been

Cape Canaveral, FL, July 21th, 1999

Speaking yesterday at a NASA event celebrating the 30th anniversary of Apollo 11's successful moon landing, President Bob Dole announced the long anticipated cancellation of the Apollo Program. In his speech, the President praised the many scientific accomplishments of Apollo, which landed at twenty-one different sites over the course of over thirty lunar missions, twelve missions to the Skylab One and Skylab Two space stations, the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, and the landing of Apollo-Ares 3 on Mars' moon of Phobos.

Critics of the Apollo Program have long complained of cost overruns and of NASA "Digging trenches on the moon", in particularly the final eight lunar missions, which established Goddard Base on the Moon's Mare Cognitum, and also included the 1996 tragedy of Apollo 37, when astronauts Commander Rick D. Husband, Lunar Module Pilot William McCool, and Mission Specialists Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark were killed when the engine of their Advanced Lunar Module failed upon takeoff, resulting in it crashing into the lunar surface ten minutes after launch. A subsequent investigation discovered that debris struck the ALM's engine bell during its initial landing, which was not discovered during post-landing inspection. The investigation's final report eviscerated NASA for a "culture of complacency" resulting in large changes in NASA's safety programs.

Upon hearing the announcement, former NASA chief Michael Griffin stated "In retrospect, the Apollo Program was a mistake. The American public and scientific community would have been better served if we had moved forward with the Space Transportation System, and created a true, reusable Space Shuttle, and perhaps a permanent manned space station."

The Space Shuttle was a mid-70's attempt to build a partly reusable spacecraft, which would have carried a maximum seven astronauts, compared to the Advanced Apollo Command Module's five crew, and over 22,000 lbs. of cargo. A prototype craft, the Enterprise, was built for testing the Shuttle's landing characteristics, and flew on five captive carry flights atop a modified Boeing 747, and five test flights, where it was released to land on its own. However the program was cancelled by President Ford in 1980, citing cost overruns and NASA's commitment to the Skylab 2 program.

Currently there are no plans in place for a replacement for the Apollo program, leaving NASA's manned space program in limbo 

* * *

This story originally appeared on my Patreon page. Please consider supporting me there to see these and other stories at least 30 days in advance of the public. 

RVA: Patience

 This story originally appeared on my Patreon page. Please consider supporting me on Patreon to see stories like these at least thirty days in advance of the public.
 * * *

She was only a hundred and ten years old when she'd lost Salli. Sallivera, only five years older, but never having indulged in cellular regeneration, and having suffered more than her fair share of serious injuries, died from tripping over the edge of a carpet of all things. The fall resulted in a broken rib. The subsequent lung infection from her restricted breathing brought on a battle with pneumonia that Salli had no chance to recover from. After a brief three day coma, she died, never regaining consciousness to say goodbye.

So for forty years, Alinadar went on without her. Not unhappily. Their children and grandchildren kept her distracted from the empty hole in her heart. She even took on a lover, scandalously fifty years younger than herself, who brought her joy she'd never expected to feel again. They lived together for ten years, parted amicably, and moved on with their lives. After that, there was no one else. 

Ali, never happy unless she was occupied with a task, kept to her post as Adjunct to the Governor of Greenholme until her 140th birthday, when her health began to decline and even she was forced to finally retire. She died in bed, after wishing the grandchild she was visiting goodnight, a blood vessel bursting in her brain an hour after falling asleep. She would have been embarrassed, and more than a little confused, by the sheer number of mourners at her funeral.

After a period of time without real meaning, she awoke again, naked, in the snowy, Cold and Dark plain of the Mother Goddess' Hell.

"Ah!" Ali called out, pushing herself up out of the snow. There was something heavy, hard, and freezing cold hanging off her right ankle. She looked down, to find a heavy shackle welded there, an anchoring chain a hundred times as long as her tail, the metal of the links each a good two centimeters thick, hanging off it. Blood dripped from the chain, staining the white snow a deep red, and hanging from the chain were knives, pistols, rifles. All the tools of Ali's old trade, all likewise covered in blood. Her Chain of Sin, marking all of the unanswered offences Alinadar had committed against the teachings of the Mother Goddess in her mortal life.

She blinked drifting snow out of her eyes. In the distance, barely visible, was a light in a cave. Waiting there, she knew from dimly remembered teachings, would be the Mother Goddess, waiting to free her from her chain and guide her to the Fields of Green. Ali pressed her free foot into the snow, trying to push herself towards it, only to collapse, panting, having not budged a centimeter.

Are you honestly surprised? she thought to herself. She'd known her likely fate the day she committed her first murder as Bloody Margo's slave. Ali sighed, laying down in the cold snow, feeling it begin to rise above her. Soon she would feel nothing save oblivion, the fate of all whose chain was too heavy to reach the Mother Goddess' warm den.

"Ali? You mustn't sleep, Ali," a familiar voice called gently. "The Mother Goddess waits for you." A warm, gentle paw brushed the snow off her face, and Ali looked up to see Sallivera looking down on her, a smile on her wife's face.

"Salli, what are you doing here?" Ali asked, sitting up as Salli gathered her into her arms. She was as naked as Ali, her own Chain of Sin a light anklet around her leg.

"Waiting for you, of course," Salli answered.

"But you should be in the Fields of Green," Ali protested. She waved towards the light in the distance. "The Mother Goddess' den is right over there. You could reach it easily."

"I could have, yes. But that would have meant being separated from you," Salli said. "I knew your own Chain would be horribly heavy. So I waited for you to arrive, to help carry it for you."

She blinked, feeling warm tears run down her face, soaking and freezing to icicles in her fur. "But it's too heavy," she cried out. "Even with you lifting it, I'll never be able to move."

"I know," her wife replied. "That's why I brought help."

From the darkness and snow several figures emerged. Two she knew, her brother Lu and her Aunt Razi, both dying two decades ago. Three she recognized somehow, though her mortal memories did not. Her mother. Her father. Her grandmother. All murdered by the same pirates that had kidnapped Ali at the age of six, to be made their warrior and slave.

"Hello, my darling," her mother said. "We've been waiting for you."

"Time to come home," her brother Lu added. Together, all six of her most beloved family lifted the heavy chain, as Ali rose to her feet. Together, they began to move forward, towards the warm light.

Review: Carmen Sandiego


Summary: In this new take on the long running Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego edutainment franchise, the series focuses on the character of Carmen herself as the protagonist, as she fights the agents of V.I.L.E. who raised her.

Review: One thing that has held (mostly) true about Carmen Sandiego in all the games and TV adaptations since the 80's, is that's she's the antagonist. Sometimes stealing for money, sometimes just to pull off a ridiculously spectacular heist, and sometimes as a sort of karmic trickster, but she was always the one the players hunted, not rooted for.

This time around, Netflix's series turns the tables. Turns out orphan Carmen was actually raised by VILE after being discovered as a foundling in Argentina, and taught to be a master thief. Unfortunately for them, she figures out the happy group of quirky jewelry robbers aren't above hurting civilians, and she decides to GTF out of Dodge (the Canary Islands actually) with the help of Player, a "white hat" hacker she gets in contact with through a prohibited cell phone.

As much as the Carmen Sandiego series of games and shows has a canon, this pretty much turns things on its head, as the audience is now supposed to root for Carmen, instead of the folks hunting her. This actually gives the series a bit of moral ambiguity, with at least at couple of VILE agents sympathetic to Carmen, as she also goes slightly greyer (it is a kid's show after all), basically doing the Wrong Things for the Right Reasons.

Random Observations:

1. Watch out for original Carmen voice Rita Moreno as the person who (unwillingly) provides Carmen with her signature outfit.

2. The first two episodes are Carmen's origin story, without much edutainment content.

3. Episode Three actually starts the geography lessons with a visit to Malaysia, with a bit of a clunky geography info dump at the beginning. Hopefully that will smooth out in later eps.

4. Weirdest change in the series is Zack and Ivy going from ACME agents to Carmen's hench-siblings. Which isn't helped by the choice of giving the characters really thick and annoying "Bawhston" accents.

5. Funniest line so far: "You do realize that means risking another surprise visit from Fedora the Explorer?"


This story originally appeared on my Patreon page. Please consider supporting me on Patreon to see stories like these at least thirty days in advance of the public.

* *

The text from Angie was what first got me worrying.

Home late, not hungry, was all it said. 

Angelica was a motorcycle cop. I was used to her coming in late, given her shift hours tended to run long if there was some sort of crisis. But she almost always wanted dinner when she came home. It was part of my job to have it ready for her.

I should explain I guess. After we were married and my dad cut me off (not that I was crying too hard about that) we figured out between her salary and what my mother had left me, we could actually live pretty comfortably even without me holding a job. So to the neighbors I was her house husband. 

Between just Angie and me, I was her slave.

Love is strangeCollapse )

Fanfic: Liliemaniacs

SCENE: The Warner Brothers (and Sister!)'s Water Tower.

Yakko: Great news, everybody! Looks like we're getting a brand new, shiny reboot series!

Dot: Hurray!

Wakko: Oh, are we going to be back on the WB?

Dot: The WB network is gone, Wakko.

Wakko: Then who's going to be carrying us then?

Yakko: The good news is, we'll be on Hulu.

Dot: Oh, binge watching for the win!

Yakko: The bad news is, we'll be on Hulu.

Wakko: Why's that bad?

Yakko: The water tower's ISP is Comcast.

(Wakko and Dot groan in disappointment.)

Dot: Wait, if we're on the Internet, that means no more Broadcast Standards and Practices! And that means…

Wakko: No more Wheel of Morality!

Yakko: And all the barely concealed innuendo we want!

All: YAY!!!

Yakko: And best of all, Meg Syverud is doing the storyboards for our pilot!

Dot: Yay! Wait, who?

Wakko: Meg Sylveroof.

Yakko: No, no. It's Sliverude.

Wakko: I get pretty rude, if there's sliver in my finger.

Dot: (checking her phone) It's pronounced SIV-uh-rood, and it says here that she draws something called Daughter of the Lilies

Wakko: "Daughter of the Lilies"? Isn't that from a Bible verse?

Dot: AUUUUUUGH! I thought we were getting rid of the Wheel of Morality!

Yakko: Hey, don't you worry! Unlike most of the hard-core Wheel of Morality fans, she's actually read the Bible!

Wakko: (sly grin) Even Ezekiel 23:20-21?

Dot: What so bad about that? (Checks her phone again. Which explodes) Woah! Now that's some hot verses!

Yakko: Speaking of verses, one thing Daughter of the Lilies needs is a theme song!

(Theme music starts)

It's time for Lil-ie-man-iacs!
We got action to the max!

So just sit back and relax.
The plot is pretty whack.

It's Lil-ie-man-iacs!

Here's our gal Thistle,
The hero you can see.
She's got claws and fangs and magic,
And a troubled history.

Ly-ra's an elven archer,
And has anger issues too.

Brent is just a meat shield.
Orc Dad Orrig runs the crew.

Gwen is laughing evil,
And disses Dragon Wu.

The schedule's slipped.
The artist's flipped.
The Drath are in your brain!

It's time for Lil-ie-man-iacs.
Use RSS Feed to keep on track.
So just go and settle back
Plot you will not lack

It's Lil-a-man-ie

A bit One Question-any

Yakko (spoken): Dart is cockamanie!


Those are the facts!

(The Warners pop out of the water tower, along with Hello Nurse dressed in a chainmail bikini)

Yakko: Hellllloooo Ti-fa-nii!
This story originally appeared on my Patreon page. Please consider supporting me on Patreon to see stories like these at least thirty days in advance of the public.

* * *

Anna leaned over the railing of the palace's balcony, feeling the warm breeze come off the sea as the Roof began to polarize overhead, filtering the sun's rays to simulate darkness for the Ring's billions of inhabitants. Above her head, Lost Earth grew brighter in the sky as the stars came out, and she wondered why she was becoming discontented.

She shouldn't be. The Ring was a paradise compared to the near terminally damaged Earth. After the Groupmind's takeover of humanity, saving the human race from itself, every human being on Earth was transported to the Ring and given all they could ever want. Had not Anna's own childhood dream been fulfilled, with the gift of her anthromorph lover, Khan? A living machine made to make all of her most base desires come true.

Almost all of them until nowCollapse )
 Short Version: Go see this movie. Right now. I'd put this up as one of the best, if not THE BEST Marvel movies, and that includes all of the MCU.

Randomly Spoilerly Comments.

1. Miles is Spider-Man. Terribly young, terribly afraid, but willing to do the right thing, even if his friends and mentors feel he'd be safer staying to one side.

2. Liked the interaction between Miles and his dad. It definitely felt like his father loved him and wanted to connect to Miles, but was just stumbling as to how.

3. Miles' uncle was a cool contrast, the appealing, chill, and slightly crooked opposite of his brother, and their interactions also felt genuine, making his eventual fate even more painful. 

4. Peter B. Parker was both simultaneously funny and tragic. This is a Spider-Man who has been in the costume for over twenty years, and is visibly tired of the grind. As one reviewer put it, he's the genius kid who peaked in high school and has been living in the glory days ever since. But he's still a hero, and as the movie makes a point of, Spider-Man always gets up again no matter how many times he's knocked down.

5. Aunt May was incredibly cool. The easy characterization would have been to make her devastated over the loss of "her" Peter, but when she sees Peter B. she immediately realizes what's going on, and becomes the clever ally of him, Miles, and the other Spiders.

6. All of  the Spiders, even the cynical Peter B. and Noir Spider-Man, and silly Spider-Ham, are heroes. Their immediate reaction when faced with the situation is stopping Kingpin and keeping poor Miles out of trouble. They may all be different, but they're all the Spider-Man/Woman/Girl/Pig we love.

7. Oh, God.. The animation blew my mind. I'm willing to say it's more innovative than even a Pixar film, and that's saying something.

8. If the movie has one fault, it's that it's got too many villains. The main three, Kingpin, Dr. Octavious, and Prowler, are done well enough, but Green Goblin, Scorpion, and Tombstone are barely sketches.

9. Didn't realize until now the significance of Miles' final Spider suit. He takes the backup of his world's Spider-Man and spray paints it, literally "tagging" Spider-Man, making it, and Spider-Man's legacy, his own.

10. Stay through the credits. Aside from a tribute to Stan Lee that will make you sniffle a bit, the last two Spider-Men we see made me laugh my ass off.


A look at one of Ali's few friends, among the pirates.

This story originally appeared on my Patreon Page. Please consider supporting me there to see this and other stories at least 30 days in advance of the public.



Once Fahdah had dreamed of gold and jewels. Of walking on strange, alien worlds, her body draped in robes of silken finery. Of having

Waqur rabbighfir warham wa'anta khayrur rahimeen.

(So say, "Our Lord! Grant us forgiveness and mercy! For You are the Best of those who show mercy.")

Dreams die.Collapse )
This story originally appeared on my Patreon page . Please consider supporting me there to see these and other stories at least 30 days in advance of the public.

* * *

"Alinadar, my love, what are you doing?" Lady Salli asked.

Ali flinched, trying to hide the portion of roasted glide lizard she'd wrapped in a napkin behind her back, even as she realized how pointless the gesture was. "Nothing, milady," she replied, her ears heating up. "Just getting a snack, for later." As was their habit, she and Salli had been eating their dinner at the dining table in their suite in the Governor's Mansion on Greenholme, the colony worlds Salli administered for her mother, the Countess Darktail.

Old habits die hardCollapse )

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