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TV Tropes Monday: Character Witness


Tweet of the Day: Lilac and NaNoWriMo Prep


The Hero helps a hapless bystander background-character type early in the story. Then when said Hero needs help guess who come up from out of nowhere: the Character Witness. The trope serves three functions:

  • Show the Hero/Protagonist altruism
  • Foreshadows a future event
  • Allows the Hero/Protagonist to escape a sticky situation

Of course subversions abound. The bystander may keep their mouths shut when the time comes to speak up for the protagonist, they may turn in the protagonist or die/suffer for trying to help the protagonist. If the character is a Villain with Good Publicity, they harvest Character Witnesses like wheat and have them ready when ever the heroes cast aspersions upon their character as one is wont to do when castings such things.

The moral of the story, oh gentle writers, is to keep a few character witnesses around. You never know when you might need them.


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Mass Effect/AEC: Chapter 2 (c.3)- Thabisa


Tweet of the Day: The Dark Origins of Conjugal Visits


Parliamentary Conference Room 3, New Arcturus Station, Arcturus, Arcturus Stream, May 21, 2197

Chairman Thu Van Thieu slammed the gavel down,”We will take a fifteen minute break.”

I went to a corner of the room to answer the dozens of messages on my omni-tool:

<Oriana@LawsonLTD.net-Subject: Revision of Quest List>

<Oriana@LawsonLTD.net-Subject: Navy Dress Blues or Black Tux?>

<Oriana@LawsonLTD.net-Subject: New Sitting Arrangements>

<Oriana@LawsonLTD.net-Subject: Local Aerobatic Squadron Requesting a Flyby in Miranda’s Honor>

Oriana had taken over the wedding planning with a vengeance. Everything had to be perfect, which I had no doubt they would be since there was a Lawson in charge. I joked that the wedding was all about Miranda and that she didn’t need to consult the special guest of honor for anything except to make sure my butt would be where and when she needed it to be. She just glared at me with a stare strong enough to melt steel beams.  I cycled through the rest of the messages.

<Galeena@Extramail.com-Subject: Rodan Back in Service>


<TheHotSpot.com- Subject: Top Game Scores of the Week>

<DonellyG@AllianceNavy.gov-Subject: She is still in space dock>

I opened the last message. It came from the Tyr Shipyards were the Alliance worked on the Kursk post shakedown cruise. She outperformed all expectations. Now the Alliance wanted to investigate her every nook and cranny to apply the lessons of the cruise to the other ships of her class. It would take several months to put her back together again.

And I may never see her again.

<BadAssWeekly@BekensteinNews.net-Subject: The Top Ten Snipers of the Last Century>

“Excuse me, commander,” said a voice over my shoulder.

Nomusa Cele, representative for the Union of African States, towered over me. Her stolid presence dominated the room but there was grief in her dark eyes.

“What can I do for you minister?” I asked.

“It’s about my daughter Thabisa and the Battle of the Imri Relay,” she said.

Images of exploding ships flashed through my mind, “What about it?”

“I want to know what happened?”

“Wasn’t the committee brief on it?”

“Only selected members of the committee were briefed, commander,” she said.

“I…I see. I’m sorry minister, there is nothing I can do about it. Not without violating my oath to the Alliance and about a dozen or more laws in process,” I said.

He wide shoulders slumped, “Commander, this is my daughter we are talking about. There was no body to bury. All I got was a letter and some credits.” No state funerals, no taps, no folded flags or honor guard. No three-volley salutes that pierced the calm of the grave. In the Alliance eyes only sailors and marines deserved full military honors. Mercenaries did not qualify. “I have run out of options, except for information brokers and they are not reliable.”

“No, they are not an option. They would either swindle you for every credit you have or exploit you for information on the Alliance,” I paused for a second, “Minister, what exactly do you plan to do with this information?”

“I need to know the truth, commander. The public needs to know as well. I know why they promoted you, commander. They wanted to ease you out the service with a cushy commission on a prestigious post,” she said.

“I figured as much. Too bad Cerberus had other plans.” I tapped on my omni-tool, “Technically, by which I mean literally, this is still a violation of my oath to the Alliance but to hell with it. If am going out I might as well do it right.”

Her omni-tool lit up, “Whose this?”

“Someone who was there from the beginning. Since they are not Alliance they might tell you exactly what you need to know.”

“Thank you commander,” she said with half smile.

And committee aide approached us, “Minister, commander, the session is about start.”

Minister Cele nodded, “Thank you,” the she turned to me, “I noticed you don’t have legal council.”

“Didn’t know I need one,” I said perplexed.

“You do commander, you do. Good day and good luck.”


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Adventurer! Master of Shadows



Tweet of the Day: September’s Recommended Reads


The Adventurer pressed deeper into the cave complex.

Where the hell is he?

The answer came by way of a maddening cackle at the end of the long tunnel. The space opened up into a gallery of smooth rock walls. Broken pieces of stalactites littered the floor among the stumps of stalagmites. A familiar laugh filled the cavern.

“Ya can’t catch me. You wont, you wont!”

The shadows coalesced around the Hero. A tendril raked through the Adventurer armor like a hand through the surface of a pond, past the Hero’s dusky skin and raked the marrow of their bones with an unearthly chill. The Adventurer dropped their wooden shield in shock.

Damned Shadow fiends. My armor won’t stop their attacks.

The laughter rose to a fever pitch. A loud bang went off above the Adventurer head. They rolled to the side and slammed their back against a nearby stalagmite. The piece of jagged rocks smashed the shield into kindling. More shadows coalesced around the Hero.

Got to kill him before they surround me.

The Adventurer broke into a full run. Round and round the cave went the goblin and the Hero. Behind them a dark tide covered every surface. The Adventurer ducked and weaved between the rocks. Stones rained down from the ceiling. They stumbled when a tendril struck at their tendon but pressed on. Finally the Hero cornered the goblin. The feeble creature bared his yellow broken teeth and blocked with his gnarled staff. Down came the two handed chop of the rusty blade. It snapped the staff in twain and cleaved the ugly beast head right down to its top of its long nose. It too broke at the cross guard. The Adventurer tossed the useless pummel to the side. The shadows recoiled, then withdrew to their natural forms along the walls.

So much for that piece of rusty shit.

Without sword or shield the Adventurer lit a torch and search their surroundings. In an alcove along the back wall they discovered a battered wooden chest. A swift kick snapped the rusted lock off. Inside hundreds of silver coins shined under the torchlight. Several stones gleamed among the pile of treasure. The Adventurer pocketed them and left the cavern.

Now back to those miserly merchants to by some proper gear. Not a bad days work although I really liked that shield. Oh well….


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Mass Effect/AEC-ANN News: Cartoonist Tried In absentia


Tweet of the Day: SF Obscure: EARTH 2


ANN News Desk on The Citadel

May 20, 2197

Cartoonist Tried In absentia

by By Iris Dunnigan

CITADEL, THE PRESIDIUM- J.J. Clancy (birth name: Jane Jackqueline Clancy) famous cartoonist behind the alternate reality fiction Laura the Star Fighter was tried In absentia by the Tribunal of Justice and Peace under orders of Lord Darcy, Lord Magistrate of the human-dominated colony of Libertas (Argos Rho/Attican Traverse).  Libertas was settled early in the second wave of human expansion after the First Contact War/Relay 341 incident (year of foundation: 2158) by an expedition let by Johan Damacy as a massive experiment in establishing a independent and self-sufficient world from the Alliance government based on Anarcho-Capitalist socioeconomic principles. 

The experiment collapsed within the year and by 2159 a Reform Dominionist theocracy government rose under Damacy’s younger brother who proclaimed himself as Lord Darcy the First. Darcy launched a series of reforms based on a strict view of Abrahamic religions imposed across the colony. These “reforms” stressed the creation of large families, the blending of the church with state and obedience to a strict law code that emphasized the superiority of humans over other species. The colony endured several raids from the Terminus systems which were vigorously repulsed by government forces. Rumor has it that the raids stopped when several suicide commandos launched attacks on several pirate bases with multi-kiloton explosive devices. The population swelled with thousands of human refugees escaping the horrors of the Reaper Invasion now making it one of the most populated in the Traverse.

J.J. Clancy lived and worked on the colony since its foundation but only ran into trouble with the government when a recent story line, The Dames of Starlight, saw the protagonist entangled in a romantic triangle with an asari singer named Ariadne and her female turian bodyguard, Tarpeia. Lord Darcy ordered Clancy’s arrest under Section 59 of the Julian Acts for the Preservation of Family and Marriage. Clancy went into hiding soon afterward although new chapters of Laura the Star Fighter are regularly posted on multiple mirror sites (official and otherwise) across the Extranet.

While the Theocracy of Libertas does not recognize Alliance or Citadel authority, the Alliance Parliament has warned that any violation of Alliance citizens rights will be prosecuted by the relevant authorities to the fullest extent of the law. So far, Citadel authorities have deferred to the Alliance on this matter.


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TV Tropes Monday: Standard Fantasy Setting


Tweet of the Day: The Breakfast Stone


What is the Standard Fantasy Setting?

That is a good question, I’m glad you asked.

Well it can be:

  • A vague Tolkien/Dungeons & Dragons Setting,
  • Populated by “common” fantasy races like dwarves, elves, humans and orcs (or orks),
  • May also contain dragons or ancient an reptilian race,
  • Magic abounds from the earth shattering to the sublime,
  • Almost always has a pantheon of deities or a Judeo-Christian counterpart,
  • Often based on Anglo-French history from the 11th-16th century, with Japan or Ancient Rome thrown in for good measure,
  • Guns are rare or non-existent,
  • Governments range from pseudo-democratic city-states to feudal/monarchical nations run by powerful warrior nobles or the knightly persuasion.
  • Women tend to be second class citizens unless they wield magic,
  • Non-White Non-Western Europeans tend not be be visible.

Of course many variations exists but they all tend to share one or more of these characteristics. The reason for the heavy use of this trope is familiarity which makes it easy to pick up the gist of a story. But familiarity breeds contempt so writers tend to try to subvert one or more of the points raised above only to have those subversions absorbed by the genre and incorporated into the setting. This comes from the overall vagueness of the trope. The SFS doesn’t need to fulfill all the points above and in fact contains more than can be listed in a blog post, so any variations on the theme can be easily absorbed into it.

So feel free to go where everyone and their great-great-great-great-whatever has gone before, came from, and will likely return.


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TV Tropes Monday: Casting a Shadow



Tweet of the Day: Ten Brides


Do you like to weave the dark matter of the universe into intricate shapes? Summon dark shadowy spirits from the nether realms? Unleash total darkness from beyond the grave? Sleep in comfort wrapped by the cool darkness of a moonless night?

Then you might be an expert at Casting a Shadow?

Other practitioners of magic prefer fire, lighting or ice as weapons, but you prefer the dark stuff. That doesn’t make you evil, per say, but a lot of your fellow practitioners of the dark arts *groan* have a thing for skeletons, mind warping and instilling sheer terror on their enemies. It maybe be because of the way shadows imitate life or how they represent the darkness of the grave.  Certainly hordes of long grasping dark tentacles reaching out to steal the bodily heat from your foes doesn’t help.

But if you’re in the market for something different, a bit spooky and dark, then you might read up on Casting a Shadow.


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Mass Effect/AEC-ANN News: Alliance Launches Hearings



Tweet of the Day: Maps Before Print


ANN News Desk

From Alliance News Desk on New Arcturus Station

May 19, 2197

Alliance Parliament Investigates Operation Hammerfall

By Jill Scarlett

NEW ARCTURUS STATION– Thu Van Thieu, Chairman of the Alliance Parliament Sub-Committee on Military Intelligence launched hearings of the events leading to Operation Hammerfall (see D-Day on Chav) the joint Alliance/Hierarchy operation to neutralize pockets of Cerberus activity in the Terminus Systems. The hearings will focus on:

  • The events that lead up to Operation Hammerfall.
  • Exploration of critical intelligence failures surrounding Cerberus return.
  • The role of Alliance Intelligence in setting up, financing and operating Thompson-Ramos Security Services.
  • Costs of past and current operations tied to T-R Security in the region.

A long list of witnesses has been called to testify in front of the committee including the commanders of the 1st Marine Division, the 75th Infantry Regiment, the command staff of Task Force Osiris and the command crew of the SSV Kursk among others. Due to the extend of the investigation the hearings are expected to last until the end of the month.



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