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CHAPTER TWELVE: Just Another Day or Two

Wherein Mr Rothakis works on an essay; gives his Trines some equipment for their convenience and safety; makes a new friend; goes for a run; assists Averos and “meets” a mad scientist; visits Samuel B’s for writing and meets some interesting folks.



Jan. 11th, 2017 05:31 pm
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 I did it. I sure hope I got the settings correct.

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: ...But Not Insane



Ambros woke in his tent in the swamp. He sat up, stretching, and rolled his shoulders. He crawled out of bed.


He stood and did an abbreviated set of stretches and calisthenics, then sat on top of his sleeping bag. He assumed the position he called ‘quarter-lotus’, which was an excellent passive stretch for his legs and hips.


As he stretched, he pondered: “I was never able to reach the Full Lotus position, however hard I tried...”


He tried it again, and, somewhat to his surprise, achieved the goal: “Ahhhh!” he cried out, briefly in intense agony. He had to use his hands to pull the upper leg off of his thigh before he could unwind himself.


He sat a while, stunned: “Okay,” he said: “I’ve been exercising and stretching a lot more lately...it’s not just something I do for myself. Now it’s part of my job...”


He sat nodding, adding up all of the little changes that he’d noticed over the past five months.


‘It’s not just that I’m exercising and stretching,’ he thought: ‘The Combat Medical treatments I’ve been getting are having more and more effects as time goes on. Each treatment adds stuff, and the effects are cumulative.’


He realized what that was leading up to: “I’m not Superman, and I won’t ever be...but with that armor, that tech…”


He shook his head, dismissing the disturbing train of thought. “Enough fantasies. I got work to do.”


He knew he was putting off an important insight: “Who cares?’

 He tapped his MPS alight and looked over the Calendars, separating and merging them and thinking about all of the things he had to do. A quick check showed him the time in the Commonwealth: “First bell plus fifty leptae...forty-five minutes past 7:30 AM...eight fifteen USIT time. I slept in.”

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CHAPTER TEN: Teaching and Learning

Ambros dropped in to his preferred spot in New York state, in US Imperial Line Six: at the bottom of the ridge near the former town of Peekskill. He was in his Commando armor, with all the weapons and gear the combat belt carried. He looked around, worrying.

‘Lots of snow,’ he thought: ‘It’s more than head-high in places.’ He walked between high banks of snow, where folks had shoveled and hauled it. The walls on either side alternated between layers of pure white, slowly compressed into ice at the bottom, and other strata of smoky gray. ‘Snow is normal for early December hereabouts. But this much? I don’t think so. It’ll only get worse as the year comes to an end...’ The sky was grey and threatening, the air very chilly: ‘Tech Guilds predict no summer for this Line, for at least the next year. Oh well.’

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CHAPTER NINE: At A Tangent...

Ambros dropped in to the War Room. He walked around the room, slowly. He listened for a bit to the person or group of people operating each machine, and asked each one a question, when it was possible.

He reached the Main Board, staffed that day by Megalos’ relief, BWG Magistri Ka’ikani. She asked: “You do this whenever you drop in now, huh?”

He shrugged: “I oughta get to know these machines, right?”


“I won’t take RNA about this, I want to save my capacity for histories and languages. I also don’t want to obsess about it. So I figure I’ll just pay attention, and learn a little every time.” He gestured at her board: “Alf Kappa Phou: what’s that?”

She raised an eyebrow: “Apoklismo Kronenskeeno Fasísitika.”

He frowned: “We’re somehow blockading the Nazi Timelines?”

“Keeping them from ‘seeing’ some fairly helpless low-tech Lines ‘nearby’.” She used handsigns to put air quotes on some words, to indicate their approximate nature.

He nodded: “Thanks...”

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As in Chapter Seven, this chapter has some sexy-time rather intimately described. First, because Magistro Skavo is an odd duck, and it wouldn’t be fair to leave you, Gentle Reader, in the dark. Also, the “pillow talk” between bouts of lovemaking reveals somewhat of each participant’s History and Character. IMO, it would behoove the reader to (at least) skim and locate those sections.

CHAPTER EIGHT: Confrontations; Ambros and Skavo; Vandalism

Ambros looked around as he entered the bar: ‘The one place in Eugene that has this gluten-free so-called ‘beer’ on tap, and it has to be a sports bar?’ No matter which direction you looked, you aimed at a big-screen TV. Most of them showed a hockey game.

‘Fortunately, hockey doesn’t really hold my attention very well. Still, not how I’d prefer to spend the evening.’

He’d arranged to meet the Chief of Police at that joint, because he didn’t want to be drinking hard liquor while being interrogated.

He got a drink and tasted it; it seemed vaguely beer-like. He picked up a glass and served himself some ice water, then picked out a table. He sat with his back to a wall; the rear exit was behind and to his right, down a short hallway.

The Chief came in as he was sitting down. Chief Black had stringy brown hair and a bald spot, with a comb-over. At eight in the evening he had a Nixon-level case of five o’clock shadow. His uniform looked rumpled from a hard day’s police work.

The top cop ordered a shot of rye whiskey and hammered it back, then got another, a double. He approached Ambros looking grim and sarcastic.

“Mr Rothakis,” he said, sneering a little. “Or, should I say Mr Scharffen?”

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Here's a little forsoothly for ya.

Gather round, all, and hear my words. I, Ambrose, Knight and Baron, Viscount, and Squire of old to Dublin, do tell now two stories. Let no man doubt the truth of these tales, for I was there and saw the fields upon which they happened. (It may be that the words I report were not spoken with such eloquence upon the day; I follow the example of Herodotus, Father of History, and make true those things which should have been...)

I sing you of the deeds of Sir Dublin, Baron and Knight. In his deeds of valor unmatched, in humors bold and virtuous, in the legends of his life unleavened by lies, I tell you true: here is a man of An tir and Summits, who may stand unashamed in the company of any.

Long ago it was, and far to the south: Sir Dublin strode the field, Roachy Crest upon his helm, a pike in his hands, sneaking...er, searching the edges of the field for Western foemen.

Whence came that foul roche that sat upon his helm, as it were a crest? And by what foul spell did it dance and sing, distracting friend and foe alike? I know not, nor I deem does any man now living.

It came to pass that certain Knights of Western fealty were at rest beside the trunk of a great Tree; and Sir Dublin came upon them at unawares, and approached them from behind.

Alas! That roachish Crest upon his helm, rocking side to side as he approached his foes, must needs have felt some twig or leaf against it brush; and waking from its torpor, began to sing and dance as was its wont.

“Slay him!” warbled Westies, and charged the Hero, intent, it would seem, upon his demise. Sir Dublin stood, and struck, and slew the enemy Knights ere they could approach.

Save one; that one drew back his mace and made a mighty blow---and slew not Dublin, but the singing Insect that had so taunted him.

That night, the Knight who slew the beast did drink and dance and brag of his great deed, and all there feted him, Monarchs and peasants alike. Gold he gained, and great gratitude for his deed.

Was it Western King that so rewarded the Slayer of the Roach? Or some other Monarch?

Two years passed, and it came to pass that another great field was fought, upon the Ground Where the Roach Died. This field had before been known as the Field of Pigs, and as the Place of Never-ending Wind.

For the wind blew there, and never steady in its course, came from all directions, severally or all at once. And when the wind blew from the west, it carried to the assembled armies the odor of a Great Farm of Swine. And it was very foul.

On that field Sir Dublin strode, strong if squat, and bore up the surcote and banner of his newest rank: Prince of the Summits was he, and led a mighty force to the aid of the King of An tir.

It came to pass as the battle swept back and forth across the land, that An tir’s mighty army gained most of the field; and for that time, the Western King and all of his host were pent within their own Castle, and they valiantly defended the smashed Gate thereof.

Mighty Dublin, Warrior Prince, led the Muster of his realm into battle, driving the Western host deep within its own redoubt. But the Western King, clever and cunning, brought forth fresh troops to the battle.

Step by step the Host of the Summits retreated, beset by Dukes, Knights and Footmen three times our number and more. As we fell back to the gate and beyond, His Highness turned his back upon his foemen.

Did he flee? A pox upon he who thinks it! He stepped backwards into the line of the foe, and made as if to strike us, his own men.

The foe, thinking him one of them (Cynagua, perhaps?) strode to the breach and to the fight...and Dublin, ever clever, called out: “Stand your ground, O men of the West! Hold the gate, for the enemy brings many more men to the field, and we are like to be o’erwhelmed!”

(It was true; a host of An tirians was there, just out of bowshot, preparing to charge. ’Twas Sir Daegar led them.)

But even as the Westies backed up to hold their broken Gate, Prince Dublin turned upon them. He struck and slew as Western footmen floundered, flustered and frustrated. We of Summits’ Muster pressed them yet again, and Dublin, mighty Prince, returned into our midst; unscathed—indeed, untouched.

Did Castle West then fall? Did fail the stout and lordly defense of the Western Host? Did the King die, or did he escape?

These are tales for another day. ’Tis Viscount Dublin whose deeds we celebrate today: Knight, Baron, and Sheriff of lands untold and people unnumbered.

Good Gentles All, I remain your Loyal Servant,

—Viscount Ambrose, Knight and Baron
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JUST A NOTE: If you are one who skips the sexy-times, be aware that part of this chapter is one. There is also Philosophy and some Information about the Nature of the Multiverse within that part of the chapter. So...maybe skim the sexy-text and read those parts...

CHAPTER SEVEN: A Series of Lessons, Subtle and Not

They strolled down the hallway, hands brushing against one another’s sides and backs. The big towels that they’d wrapped around themselves fell away as they reached the door: “This one,” Voukli said, breathing a little harder: “Come in...”

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CHAPTER SIX: Cleaning up; A Date with Skavo; Obligations and Challenges

He dropped in to the cubbyhole on the outside of the Exhibition Hall, where he pulled the knockout patches off the naked cops. He set the bin containing the tattered remains of their clothes and their other effects on the ground beside them. He opened the box briefly, to check Police Woman’s name tag: “Angela D’Angelo,” he muttered: “That name can’t be a coincidence. Well...It could, I suppose.”

He walked around towards the front of the building, contemplating: “Thompson is such a professional idiot that I’d be a fool not to keep tabs on him. I better see what I can find out about Police Woman; she must be his partner, and she may not yet know what a jerk he is. Of course...she participated in a ‘no probable cause’ stop. She may be a jerk, too. If she’s related to Hannah D’Angelo...”

He accessed his Desktop via his MPS; he composed a message to a reporter he knew, who worked for the local Wobbly paper, tipping her on “naked cops asleep at the Fairgrounds.” He snickered a little as he sent it.

He passed a blank wall between the window of Holiday Hall and the west side of the building with its multiple entryways. He heard a sound: footsteps coming up behind him, quickly.

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CHAPTER FIVE: Chiefly About Food and Drink

Ambros walked along the berm next to the south branch of the ‘Amazon Canal’, which in reality was a ditch. Amazon Creek had its headwaters in the southeast hills of Eugene; before the City dug the ditch, the Creek had passed through the south central part of town, resulting in flooding every winter.

“The Amazon Canal diverts water from Amazon Creek to Fern Ridge Reservoir, out near the Country Fair site.” He contemplated the geography; he nodded, continuing to speak aloud: “I guess it’s more accurate to say that the Fair is out near the Reservoir.” The ‘absolute location’ power that he had gained with his first RNA treatment in the Commonwealth kicked in, and he could see a three-d map of the area.

He held that image in his mind, and continued along the raised berm, seeking the best spot for his camp.

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CHAPTER FOUR: Missions and Permissions; Strategy and Security.

It was quite a large and lively group of them who descended on Café Xenosenos later that day: Danilos and Ambros had initiated the gathering, to discuss their various educational and propaganda activities, in the Lines where they were or had been resident. Skavo arrived shortly after they did; Arrenji and Voukli appeared soon. Two other BWG reps had come along with Danilos. They stayed silent for most of the meeting, but they recorded everything, using laptops and flying cameras. The Postal Guild rep from the previous day’s meeting was there: Voukli introduced her as Magistri Prazini.

Ambros reflected on her name: ‘Prasina is the word ‘green’ as an adjective. I’m guessing Prazini is a nickname, from her eyes and hair.’ Prazini from
Postal had very bright green eyes and iridescent green hair.

“I’m not sure we have any dye in my Line that would create such an amazing hair color,” he said, smiling at her.

“We don’t have any dye that would do this, either. Nothing that would leave the hair unburned. I had a genetic modification.”

“Oh,” he said, taken aback.

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Trump is not Hitler, if only because Trump is too lazy. All his cronies are the same. When Adolf came to power in 1933, he had been working like a draft horse for 11 years. He had the SA (stormtroopers) a disciplined, organized group of thugs thousands strong, He had recruited all of the future war criminals who made up the working bureaucracy of the Reich. He had the beginnings of the SS and Gestapo prepared, and the bureaucrats needed to run them already lined up. He had an organized propaganda ministry that never said anything stupid or contradictory. (They LIED all of the time, but that's different.)

Even as we speak, Trump's closest (political) associates are purging each other and fighting over the spoils. Adolf would never have tolerated that.

NONE OF THE ABOVE is meant to say that the President-elect is not similarly *dangerous*, but to point out that he has a lot of work to do before he can "be" Adolf Hitler. Or even Mussolini.

We should be watching.
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CHAPTER THREE: The World Turns in a Gyre

“Saturday practice, rattan swords and armor, fun and games...” he murmured.

The essay had nearly written itself. ‘Often happens when I’m on a rant,’ he thought. ‘Now I need to edit it so as not to insult anyone unnecessarily.’
He pulled into the parking lot at a city park in nearby Springfield. He stepped out and stretched, groaning. ‘I always knew that staying in shape after age fifty was going to mean a lot of sore muscles and aching joints. Even with Commonwealth medical science that’s true, apparently.’ He knew, though, that he was in better shape than a fifty plus year old man should expect to be.

He looked around, wondering at the greater activity at this practice, compared to previous one he’d attended. The high overcast lit the scene in muted colors, save for the bright heraldry on some of the combatant’s shields and surcotes.

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So, I was awake for most of the night on Election Day, but not for the reasons that many of my friends were. I spent a long time staring at the walls and ceiling trying to figure out: “Why am I so blasé about this disaster?”

That’s right: I felt so disgusted at the choices people had made when filling out their ballots that the next day I posted a rather insulting status to several sites. But what was really on my mind was wondering why I wasn’t in worse shape.

Wednesday night my friends Paul and Julie and Tony invited their friends list to come to our local pub and ‘co-miserate’ (their sp) with one another and a stiff drink. I thought it over and decided to attend. They three, and me, and after a bit, Sue and Steen, showed up and had some booze.

And after listening to the expected disappointment and rage and despair etcetera, I asked politely if anyone would be offended if I gave my own (different) take on the events. Those present assured me it would all be well, so I held forth.

In the process, I found my own way to making sense of the weird way I act around election time.

Here it is, highly elaborated from what I actually said that night:

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Nov. 9th, 2016 08:11 am
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By all the gods above and below, what a bunch of redneck morons.

(If that shoe doesn't actually fit you personally, just don't even try to put it on. You ALL know who I'm really talking about.)


Say goodbye to your Social Security. I hope for your sakes you got a bunch of money saved up for rent and food and medicine in your retirements, cuz Medicare and Medicaid are on the block as well.

Say goodbye to your VA benefits, too. The last time the Rs had full control they cut the sh*t outta that while illegally invading two countries.

But hey, at least your personal firearms are safe for another few years.

Sh*t. See ya, I guess.
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Chapter Two: Introductions; Operations; Criticisms

Ambros left Seventh Avenue at the end of the pavement and hiked along the raised berm next to the canal: “This northern fork of the so-called ‘Amazon’ ain’t much. Just a glorified drainage ditch.’ It was straight as an arrow and not landscaped at all.

He knew that the southern branch, on the other side of 11th Avenue, was more winding and scenic and ‘wild’. The bike trail wound along that part of the ditch. He’d even seen river otters in there.

He walked very slowly up to the edge of the encampment. He stood quietly, his hands deliberately shoved deep into his coat pockets. He carried a beat-up rucksack that he’d got from Jerry Mallory. It was breezy and there was a mist in the air.

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Chapter One: Questions and Answers

Ambros Shifted into his usual drop-in spot in Veneta. He slipped the Shifter, which resembled a hockey puck in size and color, into the left thigh pocket of his cargo pants. He began to walk.

Veneta, Oregon is a small town about twenty miles west of Eugene. Ambros had been using a café in the town as a retreat for writing and research ever since he’d become a citizen of the Commonwealth. That, and he’d had to spend time spying on the local populace in the weeks leading up to the Mainstage Operation.

As it happened, he was cogitating on that sequence of events as he approached the café: ‘I suppose it wasn’t a coincidence that so many of the events of the past few months circled around the Country Fair site. It’s an obvious crossing spot for Timeline explorers. During the Fair even their oddest eccentricities are liable to go unnoticed. Or at least not remarked upon…Of course, I noticed. Hmmm.’

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Hey there, fans and other folks, I'd appreciate a little feedback here!

Does this Prologue contain enough 'recap' to remind readers of the main events detailed in the previous book, and draw them in to the new one?

Prologue: November First, 2007: the Immediate Aftermath of the Events at Mainstage Meadow.

He rolled over, still mostly asleep. He stared befuddled at the ceiling: an unfamiliar ceiling, all gigantic wooden beams and smooth plaster. He had no idea where he was, nor the slightest recollection of how he’d got there.

‘What the hell…?’ For a moment he thought he was at an SCA event, the indoor sort, where a Viscount might rate a fancy room in an old hunting lodge or some such. His head throbbed, and he felt a little dizzy, as if from overindulgence in booze and not enough sleep. That certainly sounded SCAdian!

He looked to his left and saw a woman: not even half his age, blond and lovely, with a heart-shaped face, plump lips, and a bit of the roman in her nose. He thought: ‘What have you been up to, Carlo?’ He stopped, biting his lip.

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Oct. 16th, 2016 12:27 pm
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Amergin's Revolt is an SCA ecvent in the Barony of Adiantum.

I drove up for it yesterday, wanting to try out some swordplay stuff that had been percolating through my "Elderly Swordsman" presona's brain.

The tournament was for the Baronial Heavy (rattan) Championship. I have no desire for jobs or titles at the moment, but they let me play in the tourney as a non-competitor.

I had a good long time to hang out and think about what it was I wanted to try: a more deeply relaxed offense and a softer, more yielding and movement oriented defense (a la Peter Ralston.)

Pursuant to that, I spent a big part of the time (when not socializing) meditating on the subject of relaxation. As sifu R says: "Let your mind return to its natural state of calm and
let your body return to its natural state of relaxation."

Socializing included a long talk with the Baron, and another with the Baroness (that was mostly me talking, since she asked about my writing...) and an interesting talk with my Squire Viscountess Vesta. I also heard Tales of Great Western War from those who'd gone, and had (as always) interesting conversations with the current Prince (Sverre Bjornhartta)

I noticed that every time I went outdoors, I tensed up. "Why?" I asked myself. The pelting rain?

But I am usually at home in the rain, I work outdoors after all. I finally realized that the tension I was feeling was so slight that others probably couldn't even see it: I was not hunched over or 'hiding' from the rainfall as so many people do... I only noticed the tension because of my otherwise relaxed state. I took such steps as occurred to me to reduce my tension even further, and I liked the results.

At long last we all armed ourselves and began. Simple round-robin, I had five quick fights, went 2-3, saw places I could improve.

Then I fought a bunch of pick-up fights, and really began to feel the thing I was looking for. My attacks were quicker than I'd felt them in several years. The time between blows was down as well, which makes it harder for my opponents to respond with attacks of their own. To the extent possible in such a small field I was moving instead of blocking. I did wind up with some tension between my shoulder blades, but otherwise felt good.

I'm sitting reading over this and realizing that I can't even describe in common terms what it was I felt. Hmm. Gotta work on that; when I start to write about Mr. Rothakis meeting his mentor Arrenji in training bouts, this has to be accessible.

Not sure how to do that.

Anyway, here's a short video of Sifu Ralston "boxing" with an opponent. Shows a little of why he's so revered by those who discover him.



Oct. 16th, 2016 11:52 am
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Haven't been in this space for a while, it's all dusty. Lemme clean up a bit.

Okay, catching up: The writing life.

I had, for a while, four fiction projects going. My experience of this, so far, is that it's great for a while, and then either I drop them one by one and go back to working on one at a time, or I just grind to a halt.

Just before last Westercon, I ground to a halt.

I was in Portland for Geek Craft, where Marian was selling her jewelry, and had a day to myself in Travis' living room, so I edited and published a book of short stories. I already had the stories; I wanted something new for the upcoming con; and the book is short, cheap, and I can give away copies if I feel the need.


At Westercon I found a postcard saying that TOR books would be accepting un-agented novella-length manuscripts sometime in the near future. I thought about all of my projects, and none of them seemed right...then I thought: "The first story in 'Small Mercies' is a 10,000 word piece, I could write three more chapters about the same #s and have a useable manuscript for that moment of submission...if I get it done in time, if I like it when it's done, etc.

So I set all other work aside (except for 'jotting notes' into other docs when ideas occur to me) and got to work. It's taking longer than I expected (no shit?) since this story involves a ton of research. Really? Like, I needed a good, really specific timeline of the events leading up to the beginning of WWII in Greece, so as to insert my characters into an accurate version of those events. Everything from a detailed look at the League of Nations to "What the bleep is a Bersiglieri?"

I am almost done...about 6-8000 words to go, and the end is written. Not, I am sorry to say, a happy ending, but that was already established by the way Clementine and Eleanor appeared at the end of SALTARAE.

I remind myself that I have a lot of words already written into the other projects, When I get back to them I am not starting from scratch.

It's possible that two or even three novels could all be born in close proximity, if the writing ogres are kind to me.

Anyway, that's the writing thing. Back down the rabbit hole and into the word mines, soon.

Gotta go. See ya.


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