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Mass Effect: Hunted


Tweet of the Day: The Arthur Stone


Rodan’s belly rumbled,”Three days with nothing but filtered water will do that to you,” he whispered.

The jungle did not deigned to answer. The Occuli destroyed his rations when it blasted the cockpit to oblivion. And due to his alien biology there was nothing on the entire planet fit for consumption. He couldn’t even chew on the leaves to calm his hunger. He tapped on his omni-tool to distract him from the hunger. The display flashed several error messages then faded. Rodan looked up a nearby tree, sighed, and climbed it. As he made his way up he snagged his right leg bone spur on a branch.


He struggled with the branch. It shook loudly with every tug. Then, through the thick tangle of leaves, he spotted something that sent chills down his spine, a husk. Rodan froze in place, the branch wrapped around his leg. The dessicated animated corpse, once human, looked up with dim cybernetic blue eyes. It’s skeletal head tilted to one side then the other.

Nothing to see here, just branches swaying in the wind. Not a turian climbing a tree like a stupid pyjak.

More husks walked passed the first one. It lead out a confused guttural grunt and joined the others. Rodan waited what too him felt like an eternity then managed to disentangle his leg resumed his climb. Once on top he scanned the horizon.  Golden sunlight pierced the thick cloud cover to the east. To the west, several moss covered skyscrapers rose from the jungle floor. Rodan climbed down, careful not snag another branch along the way. By now the legs moved of their own accord, headless of the dull pain in every muscle and tendon. It rained again in the afternoon. Streams of water percolated through the undergrowth. Rodan stepped gingerly around the muddy pools. The promise of shelter in the ruins beckoned. Moss covered  ruins littered the landscape. Rodan made out the vague contours of houses and streets. Everywhere gnarled roots grasped at the corpse of the city.

How many batarians lived here? Thousands, tens of thousands, maybe a million? And how many more slaves scrapped a living under their masters glare?

Nearby a large building blocked the way. Bullet holes pockmarked the exterior and something blew the main doors clear of its hinges. Larges green stains covered the walls inside. The turian stumbled upon a corpse behind an upturned desk. Four empty eye sockets stared back at him from the dirt covered skeleton. He bent down to check the body.

“Maybe he has a spare thermal clip or two,” he said out loud.

The answer came by way of the cold barrel of a gun pressed against the base of his skull.


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TV Tropes Monday: Scaly Precursors




Tweet of the Day: Dear Procrastination


This is a world building trope.

The Precursors, those that came before. Also known as Ancients, Ancestors, and even Gods. A common enough trope in speculative fiction. But this particular sub-trope, doesn’t appear on the page, so we are breaking new ground (as far as you can break new grounds with tropes, of course). The Scaly Precursors are either a form of lizard, dinosaur, or fish people that once inhabited the setting in the Ancient past (for a give value of ancient) and ruled it. As with many Precursor races they tend to have fantastic magic and/or technology. And like most variations of those that came before, they are now long gone, leaving only mysterious and dangerous ruins to explore.

I lay the reason for this trope on the feet of the Theory of Evolution. Lizards and dinosaurs evolved before mammals, so it stands to reason that if civilization rose before the Anthropocene, then it might take the form of a civilization of reptilian creatures. This makes them alien enough to be different but because of the Intelligent Gerbil trope, remain familiar enough that you can apply other familiar tropes such as Reptiles are Abhorrent for those Precursors (or their degenerate survivors) to fill the role of villain in your story. The fans, scales, poison and carnivorous disposition of many reptiles adds a touch of nastiness that, say a a giant talking bear lacks.

Since reptiles and fish are also associated with the tropics (be they the tropical rainforest or desert regions) it is also a way to introduce a Fantasy Counterpart Culture, perhaps modeled on the Egyptians or a Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilization. Talking of fantasy, dragons seem to be the number one reason for the existence of Scaly Precursors. Either dragons fill the role or are related to the civilizations in questions, as mentors, or rivals.

So, if your spinning the Wheel of the Ancients it might well land on Scaly Precursors.


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World Building Wednesdays: Religion



Tweet of the Day: Episode 20 – Stuff Teenagers Read (Past Tense)


Religion permeates all parts of human endeavor, so an author would be remiss if they didn’t include it as part of their world building. Since this is a complex subject, I’ll start with the broad strokes first and then dive in further in future posts. Different genres use religion in different ways.  For example, many fantasy stories take the Dungeons & Dragons approach to religion: a polytheistic religion with deities that cover a limited set of aspects. You can have a deity of knighthood and just warfare, another of ingenuity and crafts, and of course your deities of death and destruction. Each deity serves to define different aspects of the setting and more deities can be added as needed by the plot. Since many fantasy sub-genres thrive on magic, count on deities to be real, active and brimming with power, only limited by their areas of expertise and the power of other deities.

Contemporary stories, be they horror or urban fantasy or near future cyberpunk, organized religion takes center place:the power plays of cardinals, the deceit of cult leaders, the untold riches donated by thousands of church goers. Here religion tends to play an adversarial role either as obstructive bureaucrats, or as a gang of dangerous fanatics.  Often the question arises if the power behind the religion is supernatural or truly divine. You may even have philosophical movements and political ideologies fill in for old time religions.

In science fiction (outside of science fantasy) religion serves as a cultural artifact, i.e., one that defines a culture or species. It maybe the reason for certain taboos, laws, ritual behavior, and even styles of clothing. Even the lack of religion can be used as a defining cultural trait, perhaps one where the members of the species have evolved beyond “such superstitions”.

Of course authors often mix and match. You could have a conquering alien fleet driven by a physical god that demands constant sacrifice or an ancient tradition of agnostic looking for the true meaning of life.




TV Tropes Monday: Street Samurai



Tweet of the Day: The Church Under the Sands


So, you are in the middle of a near future, high-tech, corporate dystopia infused with every vice known to man and multiple-variations dreamed up by legions of speculative writers. What do you do? Well you jack up your meat body with as many electronics as it can take, and arm up with a double order of weapons from katanas to assault rifles and hit the streets.

Do so to the sound of a cool soundtrack while spouting lines from The Book of Five Rings, then you are a Street Samurai.

Introduced in works of William Gibson, the street samurai may or may not wield swords, fight corporate crime or even follow a code, but they are better than the average mook and are from the streets, making them more akin to ronin (masterless samurai) than actual samurai (who, by definition, have a master).

The real reason for this character is the Rule of Cool. Characters like these have access to the latest technology, may use swords in a world of guns, or use guns as if they were guns, or any combination of the two, while wrapped up in the mystic of the samurai. And unlike many a samurai movie, they often run with a group of like minded individuals (the better to play and RPG with) that complement the samurai’s skill set as often as they act solo. Either way, expect a lot of roaming of streets and nations on their way to their next gig, which is almost always going to go sideways in a variety of ways.



Weekend Writing Warriors/ 8#sunday/07-26-15: The Wolf and the Songbird


Welcome to another edition of the Weekend Writing Warriors blog chain. We continue with another snippet from my short story collection, Weirder and Wilder Tales, which is a mix of speculative fiction short stories from high fantasy to science fiction with a dash of horror thrown in for good measure. Most are flash fiction, around a thousand words, but three stories are a bit longer. Today’s snippet is from The Wolf and the Songbird, the last of the longer pieces of the collection. A young maiden, emphasis on maiden, walks through the forest near to her small Welsh village, compelled by tradition and in search of someone or something….

An owl hooted in the distance. The hem of the long red cloak brushed the leaves that littered the forest floor. The cold air bit into every inch of exposed skin.

Did it have to be red?

But it was tradition. Like Mum’s inspection.

Maybe I should call the vicar to do it, they way it was done before? Or maybe a group of the village’s wise women? My book club meets tomorrow,” Mum said as she gave me a once over.

What was the inspection for, and why is she traveling so deep into the dark wood, well that will be answered in another time. For now, feel free to visit comment, subscribe to any of the blogs along the chain. Until next Sunday, I bid you adieu.


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Mass Effect/AEC-ANN News: New Hardware on Display at FPM




ANN News Desk

From Alliance News HQ in Vancouver

May 10, 2197

New Hardware on Display at FPM

By Amita Quita

Farnborough, Great Britain– The skies above the Farnborough Aerospace port came alive for over a week with the sound of the latest military aerospace craft as part of the annual Farnborough-Paris-Moscow  (FPN on the galactic trade exchange index) aerospace and trade show. Skilled pilots wowed the ten thousand strong crowd with aerobatic displays while hundreds of top executives from regional, planetary, sector corporations and governments perused the latest in the cutting edge of military hardware. Among the highlights of the show were:

  • The XF-66 and XF-68, the fighters designs in competition to fulfill the Alliance Military requirements for the next Advanced Carrier Fighter or ACF program. Both designs sported new crystalline ablative armor to protect them from directed energy weapons, upgraded electronics countermeasures, and new organic-machine interfaces. The ground displays showed both designs with FAST (Fuel and Sensor Tactical) packs loaded with extra munitions and the OSJ module or One-Shot-Jump module designed to give fighter size craft a limited FTL capability.
  • Rostvertol/Boeing offered a new version of the A-61 Mantis gunship, dubbed the A-62 Hornet. The Hornet showed expanded modularity beyond the Mantis already vaunted flexibility. Three version were on offer: the A-62A Omnirole Attack, the A-62B Omnirole Support and the A-62C Omnirole Electronics Warfare.  The Attack version dispensed with the cargo module, second crew man and switched the M350 dual machine gun turret for a pair of fixed M400 mass accelerator cannons, the same used in the UT-47A. The Support version has a larger cargo bay to carry more troops or mechs as needed while the Electronic Warfare version switches the cargo bay with an enlarged ALQ/ERP/DCC-122 jamming pod/electronic reconnaissance pod as well as expanded VI drone support, which enables a third crew member to control up to 24 combat drones at once. Each version has enlarged wing structure with three hard points each for multiple weapons packages that included triple launchers for advance drones as well as the new Peregrine Multi-Spectrum missile system in development for the Alliance Military.
  • Another expanded design was the UT-47B, a heavily armed and armored version of the venerable Kodiak Drop Shuttle. NorthAm Multistellar, primary manufacturer of the Kodiak in Alliance space integrated a series of modifications made on the field by users in recent conflicts. The B model sports a pair of pintle mounts for light, dual barrel mass accelerators machine guns, improved rate of fire modification for the forward mass accelerator cannons, and a pair of rear mounted rocket/missile launcher for ground attack. They were intended to fill a close escort/fire support for other shuttles during landing operations.

Controversy shrouded some of these designs. Industries insiders who talked to ANN said that the XF-66 pushes the airframe of the F-61 Trident to its limits and leaves no room for future hardware growth. They blame Shinsei Heavy Industries desire to keep costs down as well as their conservative approach to design for this development. Meanwhile the XF-68 sports a new organic-machine interface that required cybernetic modifications on the part of the pilots without any observable benefits in terms of performance. That and that the design was suspiciously similar to the fighters operated by Cerberus during the Reaper Invasion.  A spokes person for Cord-Hislop Aerospace denied any connection to Cerberus past or present except that the company did analyze captured craft for the Alliance military and under their full supervision.

Meanwhile both the A-62 Hornet and the UV-47B Kodiak lived under the shadow of the McCollic case (see ANN Legal Brief) in which the former CEO of NorthAm Mulstistellar was found guilty of selling Alliance Military secrets to non-Citadel governments. Melinda Aguirre, current CEO of NorthAm assured ANN that the matter was laid to rest with the McCollic trial.

The show will move to Paris in 2198 as part of the FPM agreement to share the show’s placement among the three major European cities.

Report filed by Amita Quita for ANN News Vancouver.


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Mass Effect/AEC-ANN News: CoT Renewed for Another Season


Tweet of the Day: Bad Life Decisions: Chapters 21 & 22


From: Alliance News Entertainment Desk

May 6, 2197

Champions of the Terminus Renewed for Another Season

By Joan Calder

MILGROM, BEKENSTIEN Star Wold Productions celebrated the renewal of their banner extranet show, Champions of the Terminus, with an elaborate gala in the Zaibatsu Center in Bekenstein affluent North Beach area. A holographic replica of the Victory, the heroes’ flagship, floated above ZC. Dozens of celebrities attended the event, among them Sheryl Stone, who came off the first part of her tour linked to the show (see Sheryl Stone Kicks Off Tour). Her charity even aboard the the SSV Einstein was a hit with the troops and earned over 95 million credits in donations for the refugees of the recent conflict in Chav.

Speculation ran rife through various fan forums as the last episode of the season ended in not one, but two cliffhangers. The first involved Col. Tad Nowak discovery that his ex, Alliance  Military Major Karl Almodovar put a bounty on Agent DeTracy and accused her of being part of Trident, the secretive organization behind the shows events. The second cliffhanger involved a last second explosion aboard the Victory before the episode faded to black. Kiko Diaz, producer and show runner for CoT, assured fans in a recent Q&A that will be more of romantic triangles, more spine tingling action and more clashes with Trident in the upcoming season. He added that Sheryl Stone was hard at work on a new soundtrack for the season.

Veritech Network, CoT main distributor also announced that the show reached peak viewership with a new record of 4.9 billion individual views across Citadel space, a new record for an human produced action-drama series.

The new season starts October 1, 2197.

Report filed by Joan Calder for ANN News from ANN News Entertainment Desk on Bekenstien.



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