Getting in the mood for Christmas… Old, recycled posts of the holiday season… part 7…

How about if one year, we try being NICE to each other and visit each other and buy presents for each other, and wear festive colors, and sing silly songs, and decorate things and hang colored lights for 11 months, and then treat each other like crap for two or three weeks, maybe in December, I haven’t decided yet. Or how about August, when we are all hot and crabby anyway, that would work for me…

Also, this plan would allow us to do our present shopping during those fabulous sales… that now take place right after the ‘traditional’ Christmas.

Just sayin’.

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Otherwheres Collide… (A humorous science fiction thriller)… Chapter 10…

(Author’s note)… We are going to be meeting a lot of new alien races in this chapter, as well as some new members of races you would already know about… you know… if you have read the first three novels in my action/humor science fiction series: The Otherwhere Chronicles… available over there—> in my sidebar—>

One challenge of writing science fiction is coming up with new ideas for aliens. There is so  much science fiction out there now that this presents a real challenge. I had to invent dozens of races and hundreds of characters for these books. I think I did okay. Occasionally, I resorted to some silliness, such as with my alien race called the Morlans, which I describe as; ‘your basic original Star Trek series aliens, short, blue, with little brow ridges’. This is the race of tech wizards to which our friend Gup belongs, and we are meeting a few more of them now… which brings us to another challenge of science fiction writing… making up cool alien names.

I might get around to posting the list of alien races. They give a little description of each race, their main physical features, and some details on their temperament and outlook and so on. Or I might not, since very few people are reading this. I will, however, post some more of the pictures I made of some of the aliens.


Chapter Ten

 

As Arthur sat in the ward room drinking a cup of coffee, he took stock of his Captains as they entered the slightly-too-small room. He was struck by an interesting fact; no one, as they went about their daily lives, looked remotely like they did when they were going to war. Take the average nineteen-year-old kid you have known. Now picture him in a helmet, with camouflage paint smeared on his face, and a haunted, feral look in his eyes. He is dressed in combat gear complete with body armor, festooned with grenades and rifle clips and a large knife. He is carrying a weapon designed to kill in his hands, and looks more than prepared to use it as he surveys the battlefield around him. Would you even recognize him?

Well, the same holds true for most races, it turns out. Aliens that Arthur had always thought of as peaceful and friendly he now came to see in a whole new light. The first to arrive were two pairs of Helper-Friends. There were two Brain-Friends and two Scout-Friends. The Brain-Friends looked very similar to Mr. Toad, being one and a half-feet-tall, and bright blue. And the Scout-Friends definitely reminded Arthur of his friend Gollum, being three-feet-tall, pale green, and very thin. But the four little beings were certainly not dressed as his friends were prone to dressing.

To begin with, they were all carrying side arms, energy pistols of some sort, in flapped holsters hung on belts covered with full-looking pouches. They all wore armored shirts that covered their arms and torsos. These shirts had a camouflage function that mimicked the background colors, as did the sturdy helmets they all wore.

The two Brain-Friends hopped over and saluted Arthur. “Our Masters have sent us as their emissaries. We hope you do not mind,” said one of the little blue warriors. Did I mention that all four of the Helper-Friends were wearing long, thin swords at their sides? If so, I apologize. Arthur knew it was difficult for the Slugs to move quickly without the ignominy of being loaded onto sleds. He told the Brain Friends that he appreciated the efficiency of this plan.

“May we speak to you quickly on a personal matter, Admiral?” asked the other Brain-Friend. Arthur told him to go ahead. “We would not bother you with something so trivial at such a time, but since we are waiting for the others…” The Brain-Friend gestured around the almost empty room and Arthur nodded for him to proceed. “We wish to thank you for the honor you have done the Helper-Friends. You have given us the chance to have our own names, our own identities, and there is no gift greater.”

Arthur was touched, and determined not to make a big deal out of it, but then one of the Scout-Friends blurted out, “We know you have befriended our kind. Please, is it too much to ask, would you give us our own names now?” The two Brain-Friends cast scathing glances at the Scout-Friend for his rudeness, but then they turned back to Arthur, looking pathetically hopeful and bobbing their heads up and down.

Arthur felt tremendously honored and just a little cheesy, but he meant it seriously when he said, “Noble Brain-Friends, I name you Merry,” he said to one, “and Pippin,” he said to the other. Then he dubbed the pair of Scout-Friends as Sam and Bilbo. And he told them to give the names Legolas and Gimli to the two Hand-Friends he knew would be back on the ships with the Muccasim Captains.

“You honor us greatly to choose names from the same great work of human fiction as you chose for your friends,” intoned Merry. All four nodded solemnly and Arthur joined in.

At that point, they were joined by two Vaccurians. Truth to tell, Arthur had always found the eight-foot-tall silver insectoids rather intimidating, and he certainly would never have wanted to make one angry. His friend Skip, the cargo chief on the Hub, was a pleasant and polite being, but Arthur had seen him lift a crate the size of a storage shed and weighing 8,000 pounds, in his four frontal arms, and it hadn’t seemed at all difficult. These two Vaccurians were downright frightening.

Since Vaccurians already went through life wearing natural armor, the armor these Captains wore seemed almost excessively redundant. But Arthur did think the extra spikes were a nice touch. The helmets they wore over their shiny, multi-eyed heads looked both modern and ancient, as if someone had crossbred a knight’s helmet with a fighter pilot’s. There were also armored boxes over both Captains’ forward shoulder joints that looked to contain missiles and energy weapons. If the Vaccurian ship captains were this well armed, Arthur could only speculate on what their assault soldiers must be packing. The Captains introduced themselves as Wallaparmondiosus and Fallagamisstorypop, respectively.

Following close behind the formidable Vaccurians were four figures that almost caused Arthur to leap to his feet and yell for the Marine security detail. In marched a quartet of fearsome Gomai, to come to attention before Arthur and give him a salute which consisted of shoving their tightly-clenched right fists straight up into the air. Arthur realized that he didn’t even know the makeup of his allied fleet, though he recalled being told that there were eleven races and thirty ships. I didn’t even know the Gomai existed in our reality, he paused to consider. He forced himself to calmly meet the disconcerting gaze of their crystal-clear eyes as he returned the salute in the human manner.

These Gomai wore armored coats of fine chain mail like the assassins did, but they wore armor leggings, boots, and helmets as well. They did not carry weapons as far as Arthur could see. The four Captains went to sit at the table without saying a word.

The next to arrive were a Tinnjjee and a Tarry. The Tinnjjee also wore armor over his already-armored crustacean body, and a helmet as well. He also wore an energy gun on a clip at the side of his armored vest. His repulsive mouthparts moved like power tools as he said, “Herro, Admirar, I am ship reader Rorrander. Now we fight the Keerar, eh?”

With the crab-like Tinnjjee was a Tarry. Arthur’s friend Mof, the head cook at the saloon, had always maintained that he had been horribly burned to the point that his people considered him to be hideous. But the Tarry Captain, who also looked like a five-foot-tall, hairless, fat and orange melted Buddha, had nothing about him to suggest that he hadn’t also been the victim of some tragic conflagration. This was Arthur’s opinion, not mine, and it was more a matter of human taste than anything else. This Tarry, however, instead of an apron, wore a complete protective suite of the same bright orange color as his skin.

Four Bats followed these Captains. You are familiar enough with the Trexes that I will not bother to describe nor introduce them by name. Though I suppose I could go far enough to say that they were wearing very medieval chain mail and breastplates decorated with gold scrollwork and precious stones that matched their helmets and shields. They also carried long fencing-style swords and guns at their belts. The little group consisted, not surprisingly, of two Princes, an Earl and a Duke, and they were all sure that Arthur was thrilled and honored to have them fighting at his side.

Next in the parade of captains came a Morlan, short and blue like Arthur’s friend Gup. He wore a body suite of color-shifting material that reminded Arthur of a light show, but did make the fellow very hard to focus on. He also had a belt and crossed bandoliers loaded with gadgets and weapons, and there were strange goggles perched on his forehead. He introduced himself as War Officer Gorap.

Gorap was followed by two Wasp Whips. These tall, thin individuals wore no armor, but they carried energy rifles strapped across their backs and belts holding large cleaver-like knives and what looked like grenades. They introduced themselves as Captains Corallor and Bayol, and launched immediately into an apology for the antics of the teen-delinquent pirates. Arthur politely told them to forget about it.

Into the room trooped six beings of a type Arthur had never seen before. They looked at first and even second glance, like four-foot-tall fish that walked upright, balancing on two rear fins and a finny tail. They had scales of iridescent bluish-purple and huge, round eyes below and to either side of a round, puckery mouth that rested near the top of their heads. They wore chest plates of black scale armor and carried bizarre boomerang-like weapons on their belts. Their short forearms had thin, webbed hands that had once obviously been fins as well.

“We are the Skalarin,” informed one of the Captains in passable English. “We come to fight with six of our hunter ships.”

“An honor,” returned Arthur, not bothering to listen too carefully to the six names because he knew he wouldn’t remember them anyway. He was, as he liked to say, good with faces and bad with names.

The Skalarin were followed by three Reavers, one of whom was female. Arthur exchanged the war hand signs with them because it was useful for transmitting information quickly and efficiently. The three patrol ship leaders were named Toovo, Rudis, and the female was Rovan. He greeted them in their own language. The Reavers wore no armor. They didn’t believe in armor. They believed in weapons and training, and they were well equipped with those.

Captain Browne alerted Arthur that the Xxo fleet had arrived and were sending their representative.

Four new aliens entered the room, aliens with which Arthur was completely unfamiliar. They were all close to seven-feet-tall, with short legs, two of them each, and very long torsos. They all had four arms, the bottom pair being short and strong, and the upper pair being long and thin. Their two blue eyes were set very close together on their round heads above very tiny noses and mouths. They wore no armor or indeed any clothes at all. But what really set these beings apart was the fact that their bones were on the outside of their skin with the pink and white flesh and muscle visible between them as if they had been turned inside out. Small strands of pink and white crept over their bones, and the whole effect was rather disturbing, like watching skinned hogs walking about in a butcher shop. Their only adornments were purse-like bags slung over their shoulders.

The newcomers introduced themselves as the Forthisa and gave their names, which Arthur proceeded to forget even more rapidly than he otherwise would have, because of the four new figures that entered the room to stand, one behind each of the beings who had preceded them. These beings, only half the size of those they stood behind, were fur covered, friendly-looking fellows, with heads that reminded Arthur of English Bulldogs. They wore only loincloths, and were all burdened with parcels and bags strapped about themselves.

Arthur waited politely for an introduction, but none was forthcoming, so he finally asked the Forthisa Captains who their companions were. One of the Captains admitted, reluctantly, that the Chasa, the newly arrived individuals, were their slaves.

“I thought slavery was universally frowned upon by all civilized races,” Arthur said in some surprise.

“Well, yes,” explained the walking anatomy lesson, “we have been trying to free them for centuries, but they simply will not have it. They say they don’t want the responsibility.”

Arthur leaned to one side to establish eye contact with one of the slaves, who nodded enthusiastically and gave a snaggletoothed grin with a mouth that, though large, didn’t seem quite big enough to hold all its teeth. “Very true, my Lord,” said the fellow, who was so cute Arthur wanted to go scratch him behind his droopy ears. Arthur was trying to decide if he should make some sort of comment when the Xxo Battle Commander arrived and the moment just passed.

Since Arthur already knew the Xxo, whose name was Ooo, from his meeting with the Council, their greeting was brief. So now was the time to go into a strategy and tactics briefing combined with a unifying pep talk. Arthur walked to the head of the conference table, thought about what to say, and realized it was time to admit the truth, at least to himself. He had nothing.

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Making Art’s art even more arty… part 8…

a 1

I know, you have no idea what that is… except that it is awesome!

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There is a reason that you can’t tell what it is.

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I mean, yeah, obviously it is more of those special, digital effects I like to use…

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But you can’t tell what the original image was.

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Okay, here is what I did…

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I took this photo… yes, it is the paper weight that was the very first thing I made in my glass blowing class…

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And then I used the ‘kaleidoscope’ effect on the photo…

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Now, I could have used the same effect in the moving version, that gives you a little GIF…  but I haven’t figured out how to add the other filter effects to a moving image… because that would be way cool…

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But even so…

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I like the way these turned out.

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The real reason Roy Moore likes to dress like a cowboy…

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Getting in the mood for Christmas… Old, recycled posts of the holiday season… part 6…

A poem… yeah, I know, many of you see the word ‘poem’ and you run screaming… but this one is funny… and it is about Christmas… and why I might be way too obsessed with this blogging thing…

Family gathered for Christmas, a brightly burning log

I try to get in the spirit of things but I’m thinking about my blog

The kid’s have opened their presents, there’s booze in my eggnog

I sit and smile and nod a lot, but I’m thinking about my blog

When I go to workout at the gym, and on the treadmill take a jog

My mind is running to new ideas to post upon my blog

When I am in the backyard, and tossing the ball for my dog

I am also tossing ideas around to entertain you on the blog

When I’m in a drunken stupor from too much rum or pirate grog

I clear away the cobwebs by pondering my blog

When the road of life is muddied and I am mired in the bog

I find the path made easier by thinking about my blog

When my body is wracked by fever, my mind is in a fog

The only clarity I can find is thinking about my blog

As through the turmoil and confusion of everyday life I slog

My brain is trudging ceaselessly through ideas for my blog

In the vastness of this universe, I am just one tiny cog

And the place where I fit in the best is right here on my blog…

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Otherwheres Collide… (A humorous science fiction thriller)… Chapter 9…

(Author’s note)… Things are not looking too good for our hero. Yes, he managed to avoid getting blown up by one of his best friends… who turned out to be another copy of his friend, sent over from the other dimension. And he did get the first fleet of enemy ships that came through the gate to switch sides without any loss of life. But he also learned that the fleet now gathering on the other side of the gate is ten times the size of the first one, and there is another fleet forming that is ten times bigger than that one. And don’t forget, most of the warships of the allied fleets have been sabotaged.

If it was anybody else but me… I mean, not this me, the me from the other dimension, now aided by yet another me from yet another reality… I would be really worried right now.


Chapter Nine

 

As they waited for the fleets to assemble Arthur asked every question he could think to ask that might be useful. First, he wanted to know more about Fahh’s plans. The other Arthur was not overly helpful in that regard.

What he said was, “It’s not like the Emperor takes me into his confidence. They only found me after you messed up that Glassaway guy’s plans. I was in boot camp to be a sailor in the Black Fleet. That is what they do with conquered people. You fight or build for them, or you die. But as you caused more and more trouble they began to train me as an officer. Then, just a week or so ago, they began to take even more of an interest in my career, so to speak.”

“Right around the time I was foiling their assassins,” Arthur told himself.

“I don’t know anything about that,” said the grand admiral once removed. “But it was like they were studying me. Seeing if there was anything special about me or something. To be honest, it was only a few days ago that they put me in charge of the fleet.”

“But you must have seen some of Fahh’s preparations,” insisted our Arthur.

“I know the second wave is gathering at the gate. And I know it was ten times bigger than the first wave,” the grand admiral who wasn’t sure if he was still a grand admiral said unhappily.

“30,000 ships,” Arthur spat out, “are you sure?”

“Oh, yeah, and they are manned, or crewed I guess I should say, by the best of Fahh’s conquered races. And there are lots of Keelar aboard those ships to keep an eye on things.”

The Keelar, Arthur thought desperately, they don’t like electricity. He had a sudden crazy idea.

“The third wave,” continued the turncoat Arthur, not realizing the other Arthur was distracted, “will be ten times bigger again. 300,000 ships, all full of Keelar.”

Arthur was so excited he didn’t even panic at this information. “Hold that thought,” he said, and then to Gup he added, “Get me the Orion on screen, and make it as secure as possible.” When Captain Hull’s face appeared on the screen he asked where she was.

“If you had a window, you could see me waving at you,” said the Captain with a smile.

“I need you to run a little errand for me,” said Arthur, returning the smile. “You need to zip over to Zitara and pick up a cargo. Hopefully a large cargo. I will have Mr. Toad call them and set it up, and get you a priority run through the Nexus Points.”

“Very well, Sir,” Captain Hulls replied, and her image vanished from the screen.

Arthur made a quick call to Mr. Toad to set things in motion, and then he returned to his questioning of the other admiral. He was interrupted by Rubar before he had a chance to speak. “Sir,” said the battle-hardened mercenary, “the Keelar are beginning to stir.”

“Admiral,” said Arthur to the other admiral, hoping that using his rank would show that he trusted his other self, “would you have some of your crew place the prisoners in your brig?”

The other Arthur turned to his first officer, who proceeded to carry out the orders. The crew members assigned to this task were not overly gentle, Arthur couldn’t help but notice.

Arthur had Gup put the two sub-commanders back on screen. “I am bringing my robots back,” he told them. “Please have the Keelar prisoners confined to your brigs and kept under guard.” They also seemed more than happy to obey theses orders. Arthur transported Number Two and Number Three back to the little spy ship. You have probably figured out by now that to transport machinery or other inanimate objects was a rather simple procedure, as long as you knew exactly where you were sending them, and their exact location when bringing them back. However, live beings needed to be in contact either with a remote unit or someone holding a remote unit.

At last Arthur had the opportunity to continue talking to himself, if you see what I mean. “Can you tell me about the gate? How does it work? Can we go through it in the other direction?”

“All I know is,” replied his slightly distorted reflection, “it has something to do with those transport machines. And ships have to go through one at a time. Oh, and big ships won’t fit through the tube thing.”

The ‘tube thing’ must be the husk of the dead Pickle, Arthur figured. Then he figured something else. “Then Fahh made yet another mistake. He concentrated his sabotage on our big ships, figuring there would be a space battle here. He never figured we would be crazy enough to try to attack him on his home turf.”

“Well there you go,” said the admiral in slimming black, which was also one of our Arthur’s favorite expressions.

“You have certainly been a font of useful information,” said the Arthur we have come to know.

“As you so cleverly pointed out,” retorted the other, “I am here mostly for comic relief. And my first gig apparently didn’t go nearly as well as yours.”

Arthur felt bad for the guy and decided to cut him some slack. “I am expecting great things from you in our little revolution. Now I am going to take my guys and get out of your hair.” He couldn’t stop himself from smiling. “Oh, I miss the hair. We look good with long hair. Get your fleet turned around, Admiral, and prepare to take the fight to the enemy.”

And in one of the more unusual sights ever seen, two Arthurs came to attention and saluted each other.

“The Obama has arrived with its fleet units,” said Number One in the Warlord’s voice. “The Xxo fleet will be arriving in twenty minutes.” Arthur and his friends, along with Number One and all the gear they had brought across, transported back to the spy ship.

Arthur told the Warlord to draw up close to the Obama, but to take care as the spy ship would not appear on their screens. Once again using as secure a line as possible, he contacted Captain Browne and asked her to have all the captains come at once to the Obama for a council of war, and told her he would be joining her shortly. Then he simply transported directly to the bridge of the warship.

As he flickered into existence in a new place, he was impressed by his reception. By the time the transport was done, Lt. Sarota and four heavily-armed Marines had him surrounded. He gave a chuckle and turned to Captain Browne. “I really do like monkeys,” he told her. The Captain ordered the Marines to stand down. Then she crossed the bridge to shake Arthur’s hand.

“Now that is how visitors arriving in an unexpected manner should be greeted on a warship’s bridge,” Arthur said proudly.

“I am glad you approve, Admiral,” said the Captain seriously.

Arthur also shook hands with the Marine Lieutenant, and congratulated him as well. The young officer looked pleased at the praise. “It is always interesting when you are around, Sir,” he said with a straight face.

“I do like to keep you on your toes,” said Arthur equally deadpan. “I know how you Marines love a challenge.” This got a smile from the younger man.

“The Captains are flying over via more conventional modes of transport,” Captain Browne informed Arthur. “They will be gathering in the ward room momentarily.”

“Then lead on, my good Captain,” said Arthur graciously. If the good Captain was harboring any doubts or resentments over his rapid, even unprecedented promotion, she had the good grace to conceal it. If Arthur could have read her mind, he would have been vastly surprised and a little amused to find that Captain Browne was actually thrilled that Arthur had been put in command. She wasn’t sure how, but Arthur Blacke had a weird way of overcoming obstacles and opposition. She couldn’t even explain it to herself. There was just something about the guy.

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Making Art’s art even more arty… part 7…

a 1

What is that? Some microscopic, radiated organism? A protozoa on LSD? No… not even close.

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I am, once again, using some digital magic on a photo of one of the vases… the very first vase, to be specific… that I made in my glass blowing class.

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Yes, it is true that most vase have only one opening for the flowers and the water…

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A two-ended vase would be awkward to use, what with the water and the flowers not wanting to stay inside it.

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Fear not! The vase in question does indeed have only one opening, located, conventionally, and conveniently, at the top.

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But I put the photo into Photoshop, and messed around with it a little.

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And then I cast my digital spells upon that new image.

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Because I have crack squirrels living inside my head.

 

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