vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
[saved as an oversized Tumblr post. Click here for that conversation in full.]

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If the foregoing is too long to read, or if it seems rambling and out of context, I invite the reader to consider:
  • Were the Pharisees infected with a fungus that clouded their judgment?
  • Where is the proof of the existence of the seven sickly cows that ate the seven fat ones? If they never existed, is Pharaoh's dream thereby not inspired by God?
  • Are Judas Iscariot and Joseph's brothers blameless because they were only doing the will of God in their evil acts?
  • When the Mosaic law forbids the flesh of bats in the explicit context of clean and unclean birds, are we required to reject any taxonomy that does not include Chiroptera in Aves?
  • Are we required to hold that every one of Christ's parables actually happened?
  • How can you slay someone before the foundation of the world, when clearly death does not exist until some time after?
  • If Adam had no concept of death, why would God warn him that he would die? If he had a concept of death, where did it come from? If Adam had no concept of death and God's warning was a deliberate setup to help him learn what death was, then what is so important about death that God would do such a thing?
  • If Adam and Eve died the day they ate the fruit, and they did not conceive until after they did this (and consider the time it takes to sew enough fig leaves together to wear as a garment and to process the shock and horror of what had happened after the banishment before anyone could possibly be in the mood for sex - surely more than one day all told), and the death of the Fall must be one and the same as biological death, how did Eve's body manage to gestate Cain, Abel and Seth?
  • If Christ has defeated death with his Pascha, how come people still die?
  • [EDIT not found on Tumblr: What are the waters above the heavens?]

Some of these points are petty and others are central to the faith, with others in between. I have made minimal effort to sort them. The point is that there is enough room in Scripture, if a strict historical exegesis is made a condition of the faith, to allow the simplest Marie Henein treatment to be much stronger grounds for apostasy than the modern evolutionary synthesis on its own.

(That Youtube link calls for further comment, if for no better reason than lest I play right into another commenter's insinuation that I myself am an apostate. I think, without having any great knowledge in that field, that the archaeological data is more or less as the author characterized it - and yet I remain a Christian. This is because I believe that God revealed Himself to Israel through those pre-existing myths and took on the particular god Jehovah to lead them to Him. Consider the parallel between this and God appearing again among a whole host of this time not gods, but Jewish rabbis and self-proclaimed Messiahs, distinguishing Himself from them by words and deeds of authority of which the others prove ultimately incapable. Scripture is filled with these appropriations from pagan gods, most notably Psalm 104(103):3 (among many other similar references) and Acts 17:28. To try to explain away all of them is to do more violence to the text than denying the historical accuracy of certain specific texts or to admit that some were written in a (subjectively, at the time) self-serving manner. It is a kind of textual violence that we never see the apostles doing in the NT, and even if you rope in a convert here and there I do not believe it is constructive in preparing anyone for their long-term salvation.)
vaecrius: A round squishy plush lobster bursts out of the blue. (cock lobster)
Previous: A large, heavily armed Imperial squad come across an small, unrecorded hamlet that had been recently massacred by unknown hostiles. They investigate and discover an old sarcophagus that turns out to contain a living man who is either an Imperial noble, or an eldritch monster from the depths, or both.


*

Timín wakes up to the stink of death. It is everywhere in the darkness around him. He gets up, moves around, leaves the "house" he is in - the corner of the wall that happens to have a bit of roof over it still - and wherever he goes, it is there. It's seeped into his uniform.

He can still see the faces. The bloated and blue, green slimy bug-eyed stares, wall-eyed but still somehow looking right into him, women and children, old men and maidens. They cry out to him in his sleep: How long? How long must they lie in the darkness of the pit? How long must they go unavenged?

Suddenly the corpses are yellow and brown. The pit is the wine-dark sea, and he is inside an old photograph of the Xiniënar teleport station, before it was burned. The bodies arise - tens, hundreds, all along the docks and the catwalks and down the halls and climbing over the turnstiles - and stare at him. Timín is in an Imperial uniform, an enlisted man, in a style no one has used in decades. The name tag says "Cpl. Gitimurka". It is not his name. His spear is dripping with liquid screams.

How long must they go unavenged?

He hears himself narrating in his long-dead grandfather's voice, that mendacious red-jowled old cunt, tinny and warped in a holo-recording long since dumped somewhere in the bottom of the bay: "There were thousands of the skinnies around us! Damn near woulda killed us all if Captain Arramas hadn't blown down the wall to our nine while we were runnin'! We scrambled up the rubble and found three of their necros turning the whole place black with their zombies, poppin' up everywhere! You ever seen those mattresses they pull out of the poor-house, they rip 'em open, the bed bugs just pour right out? Imagine that with a whole lotta dead jellies. Was a glorious day for the Empire, that!"

Zombies. Skinnies. Jellies. Bugs. Young men and maidens, old men and children.

How long?

He looks over at what's left of his 40. Captain gave him a direct order not to touch it in the morning. Captain is asleep. Still dark. No one would know.

He does not touch it.

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*(Potentially) Relevant setting fluff*
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vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
A rewrite of this, as a response to this.

Next: After some more exposition, a random encounter ends in violence.
Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave, let him know he has enough.

*

The sleepers dig unclothed in the pit. Naked and unashamed, they span the little abyss with their forms, waist deep in mud. Groundwater and rot, all too easily smelled by the masked men behind. They have been digging for a few hours now: one could see the tiles, the cobblestones, the foundation and a few old soil layers, then where the water table begins and the sleepers slowly work against boulders and packed clay.

A banner is erected on the ledge behind them: the rich azure, silver and gold of the Empire flickering in the wind, warning off any who dare intrude into the business of the Atharan crown. Atop rests its eye: blinking imperceptibly in the early afternoon sun as it stares through the air around them, the psionic scanner picks up only a few crows, as they occasionally dodge a bored Imperial soldier's slingshot. Its display is perched on a convenient boulder propping up the flagpole that the sleepers had dug up early on, and is not very ergonomic in any way; but whoever had put it there, it seemed wrong to move it afterwards.

It is before this little altar that the men's leader stands bowed, sun-crossed blue cape limp over his shoulders as though asleep, half watching, half staring blankly past, the ethereal screen. Nothing bigger than a crow for miles, save the squad and the one in black standing next to him directing the sleepers. The one in black occasionally asks him for an update; he tells her about the crows. They have long since tired of trying to speculate about what had happened to this place - at least until they have found their buried quarry.

For the past hour there has been nothing worth being seen. Then the one in black grimaces, rubs her temples and walks closer to the sleepers. There is a small commotion as the one in black redirects them, cursing something unintelligible about boulders.

The sleepers dig around it. Another two hours pass as the pit must be widened. After much repositioning and straining and three attempts at a haphazard pulley system set up by the squad engineer, it is lifted up.

It is not a boulder.


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*(Potentially) Relevant setting fluff*

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vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
[Include this paragraph if there is any chance that someone may believe you are heretically praying for the salvation of the animal's personal soul. Which is usually.]
I do not know, Lord, and am unworthy to inquire, what plan of salvation you may have for this creature. But I beseech You, who in Your unfathomable wisdom have made even Your sinless creation subject to futility in hope of salvation from corruption into Your glorious freedom, to extend all such mercy You have planned for that with which we have had this privilege of sharing Your gift of life.

[Include this paragraph if we were responsible for its unnecessary death.]
Forgive us, Lord, in our haste and our brokenness, poor and unprofitable stewards of these Your gifts, and ever guide us to repentance that we may do all things in accordance with Your will.

Lord Jesus Christ our God, bless this Your creature in accordance with its kind, as it returns to its dust whence it had been brought forth from Your living earth, that all your creation may be restored to the joy of Your salvation, O Resurrection and Life, in Your everlasting mercies with Your unoriginate Father and All-Holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.


[Written for want of anything remotely resembling such an occasional prayer in either the little red Antiochian prayer book or the green Ancient Faith prayer book, and the total inappropriateness of attempting to use any existing prayer for the dead as a base.]
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
And so we trudged along the frozen waste.
We found a wall of stone, ten feet in height,
Rough from wear and carelessness, easily clomb.
Stains, and a great stench, covered it--
Rotting, sulfrous protein, slime and shell.
Bubbling I heard: not below, but unseen.

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vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
Prompt:
describe 2 people marooned together and their relationship after 5 days, 5 months and 5 years, in 300 words.

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(originally posted on tumblr; posting here for archival reasons. another take by [personal profile] vorzac, sans 300-word limit, here; [personal profile] helarxe's fulfilment of both of these here)
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
There are two shooting clubs, Club O and Club C. Each has their own shooting range.

C boasts some of the most advanced techniques and is welcoming of everyone, and all of their members are capable of hitting their man-height target 100% at maximum range on most days.

O openly admits that the vast majority of its members can't even reliably hit the target, which is about 20 feet wide.

C's range is a state-of-the-art climate-controlled sound-dampened indoor range of exactly 10 metres. Everything is built to very exacting measurements. The bullseye on each target is exactly 0.61803 metres in radius. Members are fitted with custom-made ergonomic pistols with optic sights accurate to 1/60 of a minute of angle. Failure to hit the bullseye is treated as a scandal resulting in much hand-wringing for your teacher and the club board, and failure to hit the target can get you permanently banned from the club. (This is not always enforced.)

O's range is on the side of a mountain - the rainy side. It is in the burned-out clearing in a wooded area that suffers many brush fires and the area often gets hit with snowstorms. The clubhouse has been destroyed several times in the past fifty years due to landslides. The target is about 20 feet wide and its circumference is painted with a very bold, thick red line so you know exactly where it is - which is important because it is about 300-500 yards away (depending on more factors than we can get into right now, none of them seeming to involve what anyone actually wants) and the bullseye is about an inch wide, with a literal bull's eye painted into the middle. You are expected to aim for the optic nerve in the back of that eye (not depicted). Scopes are forbidden but full-auto weapons are encouraged. It is strictly forbidden to denigrate anyone for their inaccuracy, provided they were actually aiming for the bullseye and the bullet did not hurt anyone. (Temporary bans are frequent and there is no standard for their length.)

O and C used to be the same club. Both of them have plaques in their clubhouses dedicated to their early legends who were able to shoot tiny, barely visible targets at over 300 yards in the middle of a storm in a burning forest - no scope, of course.
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (g)
Start at the upper left and say the Jesus Prayer with each key (excluding those constituting the sign of the cross).

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vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who had an inordinate amount of money, far more than anyone knew or could imagine, and for which he had no use. And there was a tiny island nation where he did some business, and there a great multitude ended up owing him much money, though he had no use for these debts and did not care to collect on them; and yet The System these many debtors slaved under could not forgive these debts, and though the man thought they were worthless paper this multitude could not save, or buy or sell or trade, for their debt was great and all that they earned was siphoned off by collectors who charged exorbitant fees and interest, and interest on those fees, and fees for calculating that interest, and so on, such that the man never saw any money from the multitude while the collectors grew in power.

And one day this man said, Enough! and purported to breach his contract with the collectors, and they sued him, and he filed a reply that admitted all the facts and contested none of the relief sought, and the collectors won default judgment and added him to the list of debtors. And at the first payment hearing that man agreed to pay, and received void cheques for a direct deposit; but when the payment came, the amount was so enormous that the flood of cash destroyed the entire nation's economy and sent it into chaos, and there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, and many fled in vain to the outer darkness; but the man took hold of the entire System in his hands, and ruled as a benevolent tyrant, such that any who believed and switched over to his new system should never be in debt again.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
[The implicit setting is from my own private attempts to reboot the Avernum setting with closer attention to the details of living in a magically-powered cave ecosystem. I might post some of that here in the future. This particular post, however, is the direct result of trying to think of an analogy about reading texts free of the context of the traditions they were written within. Source text is this recipe for lemon pound cake.]

Milk is unusual and, shall we say, an acquired taste. The pig has just started farrowing and the wooly rats were recently shorn, so let's go with the pig; it would take quite some time to get an entire cup, though, we may need to get the dog in on this. Postscriptum: the dog was not cooperative. )
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
The Up-Goer 5 Text Editor

Attempting to rewrite this was an unmitigated failure, but I did manage to get most of my will (the only omission is that my boss gets my law books) and the Standard CBA Real Estate Undertakings letter.

And, of course, my job description, which in retrospect I've got a much easier job of writing in this thing than a lot of people.

(h/t: [personal profile] steorra who got into the hall of fame EDIT: and featured on io9 with her much superior work than mine)


EDIT: it occurs to me that, in glossing over just what papers need to be signed (3 out of 4 of them dealing with tax issues and the 4th being an instrument to effect a change in a government registry) and in focussing on the "bank" sense of "institutional chargeholder", I've conveniently avoided the entire issue of referring to government institutions or taxation. I'm actually kinda scared of what stark, awful admissions must be made about our society if I did have to make explicit references in compliance with UG5TE standards.
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
The boy wanted to find a wolf. He was the guardian, the protector of the village from the lupine menace, tasked with the security of his flock and his people. He would find that wolf, call it out, summon the town to his aid and be the big hero who hunted down the wolf at long last.

The wolf was everywhere. A fleeting shadow under a tree; a whistling in the wind; a glint of imminent panic in a lamb's eye. The boy diligently sounded the alarm each time; and every time the village hunters rode forth, chased down the phantom, and returned empty-handed.

This went on for some time, but the boy never lost hope. )
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
In the beginning of our people's story there was the World, in all its shapes and sizes and layers and forms, and it is the World that is the source of all life and happiness.

The World was created by He-Who-Provides, the great Father to all living things. Through His omnipotent grace He builds layer upon layer over the World, creating food and living-space for our people as we live and have children and die content. He rules over us with a usually gentle but careful hand, and though occasionally a disobedient or greedy tribe is eliminated by His command, the World remains bright and happy for those who live within.

But our people also speak darker legends than this. )
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
[no number or storyline given - can be placed after just about any initial in media res scene.]

It wasn't always like this. Long ago the Empire brought prosperity, stability and infrastructure to these lands, trade was booming and the great Sun-Sea was not the onerous barrier it is today. Until about eighty years ago you could make twenty inter-continental trips and never once feel the sea was there, a mere illusion of vastness on the horizon caused by the sharp curvature of our small world. )
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
(V1 here, it sucks)
(V3 here, it sucks a little less)

We sat in the stable and watched the pit. Where the pit was now there used to be a village shrine to some local god of good and light; where there used to be the shrine, there once long ago was a well where they say the water ran pure and purged those who used it from evil and darkness.

Now it's just a pit, a bowl of dirt carved thirty feet across the middle of the village square, damp with muddy choleric water and littered with dead villagers. Even a couple dozen yards upwind the smell still made some of the younger soldiers gag.

The smell wasn't helped by the fact that a couple of the bodies were moving. Somebody, after all, had to dig the pit. )
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach. —Alfred Hitchcock

When I write a story, what do readers immediately look for?
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
While browing the RPGnet forums there was yet another discussion about reinventing the "stock" fantasy races - elf, dwarf and orc. This seems usually to take the form of taking something that looks like an elf, then pulling it completely out of the mythical role it had in Middle-Earth and/or D&D.

That gave me another idea: take a bunch of other species tropes and shoehorn them into these roles.


Deathbots

A long time ago the Atlanteans built a terrible race of sentient killer robots to conquer the world. They built very many and they scourged the planet, and Atlantis became the ruler of the known world for centuries. But eventually its expansion had to stop, and as Atlantis teetered between downsizing and stabilizing and collapse from its overreach the deathbots had nothing to do. So they settled down, raised families, and moved off to greener (or in their case blacker) pastures. People say that they fled to the caves and deep underground because humans distrusted them, or that it was part of a great tragic rift between the peoples above and the peoples below that drove them into exile, but really they're just down in the mines and caves and undermountains because that's where the fuel and ores are that they need to live.

Deathbots are stout and stubby, standing about 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide with a body covered entirely in metal with one to six yellow or red pupilless eyes glowing out of some impenetrable blackness within the "visor" of their heads. They can detach and replace parts voluntarily though for more important parts it stings a little as a protective security measure. (They tried making it not hurt at all but people kept disassembling themselves trying to do complex field repairs in stupid places in the remote tunnels and needing to be rescued.) They will very often be seen with only one manipulator, the other arm preoccupied with housing some tool or weapon, which are incidentally famous for being some of the best in the world. (They love making and selling weapons though no deathbot-led faction has started a real war in centuries.) A newly built deathbot AI core can usually last about 80-120 years before wear and tear warrant a permanent decommission.


Treebugs

Deep in the forests of every known world these vast insectoid beings flit silently across the canopies, drinking the dew and light in memory of some impossible antediluvian world. At first glance they appear to be beasts, slipping flawlessly among the leaves and branches, naked as Adam in their peculiar sort of primordiality. But in truth they guard some of the most formidable technologies ever seen on this planet, things that would make the finest machinery of Atlantis seem like the work of impatient children, thinly and perfectly disguised to our crude senses as the essence of nature and life itself.

Treebugs are tall and spindly, standing 6 feet tall with long arms like a gibbon and a long forked tail that acts as two independent grasping limbs. They have small heads with huge compound eyes under heavy eyelids, and they can turn their heads to look completely behind their own bodies. They can change colour at will, but are most often some kind of green and brown, reflecting a thousand blues when the sun hits them at the correct angle. But for the four limbs and lack of a separate abdomen they would appear very much like arthropods, but what at first glance appears to be an exoskeleton is really a pattern of scales and spikes and muscle tone - and equipment. Communications devices, telepathic nodes, medical equipment, cutting implements, wings, extra limbs, things just seem to spontaneously emerge from a treebug's incomprehensibly ornate body as needed. They weigh a fraction of a grown man of similar height, bearing the hollow bones of a bird. No one knows the full extent of a treebug's lifespan, and some purport to have personal recollections of Atlantis in its prime.


Hivers

Vast regions of the world lie barren and uninhabitable by man, overrun with twisted forms of the hives that house these brutish beings. Their ancestors exiled those of the treebugs eons ago, naming them heretics and blasphemers against the the purity of their race and the sacred nature of life itself. Now they spawn by the dozen, cannibalizing each other from birth in a race where only the strong and ruthless survive, to live a short brutish life amidst the decaying land ravaged by their predecessors, or to suffer the stigma of being impregnated and locked up in the centre of a hive, barefoot and perpetually pregnant, every few days birthing another batch of fanged grubs desperate to find a place - desperate to find the top place - in their world.

Hivers are thick and coarse, about 5 feet tall with faces like those of treebugs but thickly muscled, with shaggy feathery manes around the neck and four long razor-sharp tusks sprouting from the mouth - and a pair of slit-pupiled yellow eyes long evolved to bear as much rage and hate and inspire as much fear as possible in the viewer. Their grey bodies bear little ornamentation beyond more shaggy fur in strategic places, and unlike their distant kin are quite visibly clothed and armed with shoddy but effective gear. Aggression and visible wealth are directly linked with status. Sexual dimorphism is minimal between males and virgin females, but once impregnated and enhived the females quickly become obese and hairless and glassy-eyed. Potential maximum lifespan is unknown, though life expectancy is typically around 4-24 years for a male or non-reproducing female (with almost all of these on the high end of the scale bearing a male gender identity) and around 15-32 years for a reproducing female.
vaecrius: A round squishy plush lobster bursts out of the blue. (cock lobster)
O beloved Father, deathless Lord of the North,
Your crimson shroud the light of worlds,
Majestic above all beneath Your polar throne,
Hear now our cry, your awful Visage
Bear down and grant grace to Your steadfast servants.

Cut we now the throat of the sacrifice,
Him once high, brought low, now revered
With wreath of heart-blood red and undying green
Upon this frozen altar, melting under the heat
Amidst this forest phallic, of cedar, snow and gore,
We revere this great one, whose holy blood
We paint upon his nose, in memory of the One
Who led the force of salvation to the world of men.

Hear us now, O Lord of hosts!
Your servants are legion, born free,
Whose chains ring through the night.
We, who forged in pain of this benighted earth
Raise our swords, our steins, our ecstatic bloody hearts
In one voice, joyful and triumphant,
Come and bless Your Name.

Great Thing-Giver, proud Guardian of wealth and worth,
Your unstoppable Spirit bless these holy days.
Red as dusk, white as stars,
Your mass and grace rumble across the nine worlds!
Your enemies tremble and crumble to dust in the wind!
Your perfect Name be known for ever and ever!

Known of all of good and evil,
Your black northern Wind -

Cleanse this world of its iniquities.

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.

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