Competition Is for Chumps

Hear me out.

While some people think competition is well worth the punishment, there’s a case to be made that competition is for chumps.

Competition is stress. The body and mind typically fails under stress. Soul and faith is tested. Relationships degrade and IQ drops. In short, competition kills.

Woman Holding Her Head
Stress from Pexels.com

Doesn’t that mean those that can deal with and survive stress are better? The fittest? The opposite – those that survive competition either overpowered the opposition with minimal cost or were so weakened they are consumed by another overpowering force. Competition is only for those already fit above and beyond their competitors; anything else is destruction.

Something as small-scale as an argument between colleagues (a competition of who’s correct) is detrimental. What happens if you win an argument? You lose, having possibly damaged the relationship between you and the other. What if you lose? You lose, ego bruised, stature likely downgraded in the sight of the colleague, and you run the risk of public humiliation. Competition gave you nothing despite you ‘surviving’.

Remember the Cold War from 30 years ago? A sense of competition that couldn’t be helped during World War 2 bled over into the years after. During that time, the world saw the greatest increase of weapons production ever.

Men in Black and Red Cade Hats and Military Uniform
Russian soldiers from Pexels.com

From the display between the US and Soviet Russia, at best, we have a destabilized Middle East, a proliferation of nuclear weapons, and ongoing tensions. It could have been worse. The Cold War nearly got “hot” multiple times (Korean War, Sputnik, Vietnam War, Cuban Missile Crisis, any number of James Bond films), the consequences of which would have been the end of human civilization.

Why did we approach our own extinction? Competition. Capitalism vs. Communism. East vs. West. My army is bigger than your army.

So what do you do if faced with competition?

As mentioned, one must end it quickly by being absolutely overpowering by at least a magnitude (eg a competition of 1 requires you to be a 10). This can happen by letting other competitors go at it until you swoop in to take what’s left. However, whatever is being competed over will suffer (think of a football), leaving you with less, requires patience, and in no way guarantees success (there could be a magnitude 10 still left compared to your 1).

You can still win, though. When faced with competition, decline to compete.

Here’s a few ways how:

Kick Chess Piece Standing
Chess pieces from Pexels.com

Back Down, Rise Up

Backing down can be deemed as a weakness. This is only the pride of the moment getting in the way of any goal, or at the foundation, survival.

Say a person wants to take the lead on a project that you could also easily lead. You could use your skills or position already as a leader to squash their ambition. Or, you could let them take the lead so long as there’s no obvious threat to you. Do the latter.

With the other person as leader, they will do one of two things. First, they might prove themselves a fine and capable person, improving the situation for both yourself and others. If the first option fails, they will fail, taking the fall in your stead, no matter the reason. Should the second event come, it allows you to rise up to take charge again, hopefully also having a large amount of work done. Additionally, with a bit of compassion, you can improve the relationship with the person who tried and failed, but only because you didn’t butt heads in competition!

Secure Your Niches

It goes back to that “order of magnitude” thing. Leave where there is competition to secure where this is none (10 to 0!). That’s a niche.

Should you be so lucky as to be a first mover you gain momentum over any incoming competitors to your niche. It doesn’t prevent you from being displaced (there were Ubers before Uber), but it makes it a lot harder to be uprooted and still allows you to find more niches in the future.

On a global scale, a country could dominate any number of areas: tourism, ecology, education, shipping, infrastructure, computer science, production, military, diplomacy, art, writing, population, language, service, etc! The people of a country suffers when that country tries its best that’s only as good as some other country’s worst. Such is competition.

Grayscale Photography of Human Skull
Skull from Pexels.com

Takeaway

Competition is detrimental to you, others, and your goals. Even an order of magnitude advantage over other competitors only goes so far.

If something really must happen that involves competition, I encourage you to check your expectations.

Otherwise, consider letting others take the charge for you. Or better yet, compete against nothing after discovering your own niche.

History is full of competition. I’d like to see anything but the most dire cases not also causing suffering. From others’ examples, I’ll decline most all competition because “[…] doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is for chumps.

Lasers + Shields = Boom in Dune

Warning: There is going to be math later. (I’ll try to make this deduction as fun as possible!) To business –

Immovable, Unstoppable

In Frank Herbert’s Dune, there exists protection that cannot be penetrated in the form of shields. Shields are immovable, covering everything from people to planets. This led to the end of ranged warfare as we would know it in Dune‘s universe.

There also exists “lasers” (let’s call them “phasers” for now) when fighting at a distance is called for. Phasers can cut through anything and might be considered as an unstoppable force.

Assorted-color Laser Lights
Lasers from Pexels.com

When shields and phasers interact – that is, when the immovable meets the unstoppable – a huge explosion results:

A lasgun-shield explosion was a dangerous variable, could be more powerful than atomics […]
– Dune

Hearing this, I got to thinking. What kind of explosion are we talking about?

To find out, let’s first define our terms:

  1. Phaser – We’re going to consider this as equivalent to the Star Trek phaser. Those tools were also able to cut through anything and more, dissolving entire mountains in the early pistol-size variant.
  2. Shield – Here we assume that to stop any force, there must be an equal and opposite force. In the case of a phaser, we assume its disintegrating ray would be sent directly back along the line of the ray. Anything hitting the shield would disintegrate itself.
  3. Atomic – A nuclear weapon. For our purposes, assume 15 kilotons of explosive power (this was the power of the first atomic bomb in history).

Here comes the math…

So we shoot our phaser at a shield. At the speed of light, the shield deflects the beam back at us. Our ray hits and dissolves the matter in our phaser. All that matter has to go somewhere, right? With E=MC^2 (energy equals mass multiplied by the speed of light squared), we know that:

  • Energy (in Joules) = ?
  • C-speed of light squared = 9 x 10^16 meters^2 / seconds^2
  • Mass of a phaser = .340194 kilograms (assuming 12 ounces)

Therefore:

  • .340194 kilograms x 9 x 10^16 meters^2 / seconds^2
  • = 3.061746 x 10^16 Joules

A kiloton (measured in the mass of TNT-equivalent) is 4.18 x 10^12 Joules. We can cancel a few things out:

  • 3.061746 x 10^16 ÷ 4.18 x 10^12
  • = 3.061746 x 10^4 ÷ 4.18
  • = 30617.46 ÷ 4.18
  • = 7324.7512 kilotons

The energy held inside the matter of our handheld phaser is approximately 7324.7512 kilotons. To put that into perspective, that’s more that 488 atomic bombs.

Grayscale Photo of Explosion on the Beach
Atomic explosion from Pexels.com

Let’s assume a 0.03% efficiency in converting mass into energy (equivalent to modern atomic weapons; not the most efficient conversion we can implement). That’s still some 15 atomic bombs going off. In your hand.

Little wonder the characters in Dune wouldn’t bring a gun to a knife fight.

Silver Butter Knife
Knife from Pexels.com

Sleeping God

Six months to Halloween. Let’s get creepy:

Our trumpets blow unceasingly to keep the Eternal at bay.

It has been a million millennia. More. The records are wasted now, burned long ago to fuel the forges for our Instruments. Always our Instruments.

Yet I will take this luxury here, secretly, to write with valuable resources my thoughts. Even mindfulness is a crime for the energetic glucose it consumes. I would choose to burn it for my own peace rather than in the embers of our legacy.

The constellations have been going dark. We’ve mined the worlds, conscripted their populations, drained our suns. A darkness unlike anything before creeps in at the edges of the universe. It is not just a physical shroud over creation, but also a shadow to the pits of our minds. So long as the sound from the Instruments trumpet through the void, all is as it must be.

At least the light is strong in our young, artificially birthed sun, but that is it. When machines harvest the last energy of this last star, all existence will be cast into the black. We continue to play. Nothing else is left to us, the few huddled now in the final system whose bellows bring forth song from the Instruments.

Philosophers of myth wrote on the outcome of these end times, the apocalypse revealed sometime when the universe was naive, ignorant to the nothingness that awaits all at the end of the Divine Dream. If only we’d never known why the Instruments were needed, or at least had lacked the cleverness to construct such things, our foreparents might have died long ago, sparing us now our toil.

No-one can really know what will become of us. As the last horns blow no more, the god that forsook us will toss all that has been to oblivion.

Many have taken the Way Out. Their bodies lie forgotten in dead spirals that once were galaxies. We’ve brought uncounted burial sites close to cater to this existential ritual, though their corpses aren’t enough for the forges, for the Instruments to sound. Only so much ash anymore.

The dead may have been right, to choose their own end, rather than be cast to the fires in their trillions to play the Instruments. Always we must service the Instruments. Even death will be denied us, the living. Either we are alive and labor, or we become part of the fire and the Instruments. Thus is all our need for fuel.

Now, we persist. Our awareness damns us. Still, the Choir races here in this place of ending don’t stop. An old, obsolete word from ages past, “hope”, wouldn’t fit a description of our efforts. For as long as we can, we will play. There is nowhere to go. There is nothing to do otherwise. Only few like I who have read the stories as their pages were shoveled into the fires understand there has ever been anything else.

Solutions have been calculated, dreamed, prophesied, and all ultimately failed. “Hope” has eluded the most titanic means available of the brightest minds over eons of unknowable work. There is no person nor thing deigned to survive the flames. Not the remnants of our best, not even their histories. Not the least this author.

We keep the god-thing asleep in its Divine Dream. The Instruments either play and we continue, or they are silent, and we cease. Until quiet finally wakes the Eternal, we will all be used to keep up the charade of this dreamscape. Forever and ever it shall be.

My writing time ends. How many seconds has it cost the universe in fuel? Time lost for us to wonder moments more at it all? These questions must go unanswered. This note and I travel to the forges.

Here’s the prompt that sparked this little piece:

“The universe is just God dreaming. When he wakes the universe vanishes. Every species in the universe has united to forestall the inevitable.”

u/Punsterglover

See the original post here:

Record Your Good Days

These kinds of days are rare, few and far between.

Today (Sunday, April 28th, 2019) has been a Good Day.

However, what makes it “good”? That can vary from person to person.

For me, it’s a sense more than contentment. Might it be happiness?

(Well, if so, that’s a let down to think a majority of days aren’t “happy”. But must we be bursting at the gills with unconstrained joy 24/7? Probably best not to be that jovial. Sounds tiring.)

Regardless of the sensation, I like it. I’m sure you’ve felt the same at some points in life. Maybe even this week!

So how do we get this good feeling to come calling again?

To do that, what makes up these “good days” ought to be looked at factually but in broad strokes. Let’s take my day today as an example:

  • 5:30 AM wake-up; protein powder and coconut-oil + baking-chocolate drink.
  • 7 AM arrival at event site; provide support + hang out with strangers and teammates for event.
  • Take pre-competition cocktail (beetroot and maca powder, whole wheat spaghetti w/ peanut butter and oil, vitamins)
  • 8:30 AM first-in-line competitors at event.
  • I excel / don’t fail at event; team doesn’t fail at event.
  • Casually hang out / watch other teams / work out.
  • Learn we (the team) have won event; get medals.
  • Casually post online.
  • Shower + eat pancakes.
  • 40 minutes editing a story.
  • 20 minutes laundry.
  • 15 minutes watching comedy (laughing).
  • 20 minutes meditation.
  • 1 hour of edits.
  • 15 minutes light exercise.
  • Another hour of edits.
  • Make mac’n’cheese + frozen peas + egg. (It’s binge day on the 6-on, 1-off schedule!)
  • 20 minutes of writing in the journal (summarize dice game idea and decide between writing this post and playing video games).
  • Writing this post! (17 minutes in by this bullet.)
CorporateNinja2019
First-Place Ninjas of Las Vegas, B Division, 2019

My feelings are that I’ve done some cool stuff with cool people today while also saving time for myself for rest and accomplishment. That story is in good shape, I have a blog post incoming, and there is still time I might watch a cool movie or play a nifty video game!

Some generalities of today: Excellent weather (high of ~90 F, low wind), meeting people for a time, early-morning physical accomplishments, later-day personal project accomplishments, naps, and a touch of carb-rich foods.

What about other days?

Not all days have felt this good. Relatively few, in fact. The last time I recorded a really good day was April 13th. I’ve only thought to record a few similar times – these days still show some themes:

  • Great weather.
  • Physical accomplishment in the early morning w/ a team.
  • Casually watching people in a park do physical activity.
  • Socialize w/ strangers while also escaping to be on my own.
  • Casual physical activity.
  • Some generally-bad-for-you food w/ others.
  • Watch a good movie (Watchmen).
  • Laugh.

These are days to cherish. They don’t have the same specifics between them, nor do they need to. To get joy consistently / reliably is a work in progress.

A great outcome of taking note of these days and feelings is that I now have things to aim for, things to plan into my future. Certainly, this feeds into my analytical nature, these eyes for detail and pattern recognition.

If I plan on being happy, that comes with effort. It only could occur because 1) I’m aware and not afraid of my own feelings, 2) I wrote down and recognize what worked before, and 3) I forgave myself of backing off of various responsibilities (ie hanging out, video games, chores [this floor won’t vacuum itself…]).

Now I’m equipped for better days ahead. What to look for, what to say “yes” to, what to protect. If a record of the “good days” was absent, where would I be?

Without knowing the themes of your good feelings, where are you?

Example of Editing a Warhammer Fan Fic

I’ve a strong attraction to the nature of Game Workshop’s Warhammer 40K universe. They publish hundreds of stories and have the opportunity to make near infinitely more in the universe they’ve created. Heck, even the genre-term “grimdark” spawns from their work.

As I learn to write, here’s an example of editing a bit of fan fiction I wrote for WH 40K two years ago, Unblinking Skitarii. The first 1000 words or so should do it.

Here’s the draft finished July 4th, 2017:

Thumpthumpthumpthump
Thumpthumpthumpthump

Boots pounded deck plate as the Skitarii ran through the halls. The din from outside increased the closer they got to a rip in the alien ship’s hull. Sliding under the tear’s rip, they blurted to each other a timestamp to go on the offensive.

As the milliseconds met the mark, she stepped up to the ledge. As the carbine she’d commandeered rose with her sight, it was unleashing killing rounds before a proper target lock was acquired.

Aim was not a problem for the enemy outside. By sheer luminosity, the volley of return fire nearly blinded the Ranger’s ‘spex. She ducked as florescent green rounds tore chunks out of the opposite wall, sizzling through the air where she’d just been. Where the other Skitarii was still shooting.

Her companion’s helmet exploded to the sound of a tinny smashing of a wet egg. Slack, their rifle clamored to the floor, the body falling heavily.

They had this position zeroed in. She had to keep moving. She checked the communication queue – nothing incoming, and all of her outgoing requests were still pending. Still on her own – no change over the last hour.

Missiles still striking above her, the Ranger picked through the robes of the freshly steaming corpse. Ammo clips: just what was hoped for. Pocketing these, she took off in a crouch.

Thumpthumpthumpthump

Rounding the corner, her processes spiked for a fraction of a second. There, at the end of the corridor, a long, stark skeleton turned slowly to look with dead eye holes at the survivor.

[… 262wc]

I was including sound effects! And what’s a “‘spex”? Clearly, this very early draft was only going line-by-line from a sparse outline. Maybe putting the work through the Hemingway App, Word Count Tools, Word Counter, my own observations, and a writing group unfamiliar with Warhammer can help:

Boots pounded deck plate as a pair of Skitarii ran through the halls. The din from outside increased the closer they got to a rip in the alien ship’s hull. Sliding under the tear’s lip, these cyborgs blurted binary cant to each other: they would take the offensive.

As the milliseconds met their mark, IB-13 stepped up to the ledge. The carbine she’d commandeered rose with her sight. In a moment, it unleashed killing rounds before a target had locked. There would be casualties regardless.

As it was for her, the aim for the enemy was not a concern. By sheer volume, the barrage of return fire nearly blinded the Ranger’s visual receptors. She ducked faster than her original organics could have ever hoped to. Fluorescent green rounds tore chunks out of the opposite wall, sizzling through the air where she’d been. Her comrade IT-X0 was still shooting, taking an extra sixteenth of a second more than their firing solution had provided for.

Her companion’s helmet exploded with a sound of a wet egg. Slack, rifle fallen to the floor, the body fell with a heavy whoosh of cloak and armor.

While missiles struck above her, the Ranger picked through the robes of the fresh corpse. Her calculations for survival increased when ammo clips appeared. Pocketing these, she took off in a crouch.

She wove her way around thieving blue-skinned bodies. Data was the most holy text of the Adeptus Mechanicus technopriests of Mars, cybery the most sacred of tomes for the cyborg Skitarii warriors. These aliens had taken both and paid for it with thousands of lives. They, these “T’au”, had received divine judgement, but now IB-13 had to find a vantage in the crashed tomb. Possibly even a way out.

These silver monstrosities had this position surrounded. IB-13 had reconnoitered the enemy advance with surviving members of the squad. Like ants, they had spilled into the halls, through the deck plating, and translocated in glittery sheens amid the Skitarii’s formations. The Skitarii, living weapons of the Martian Empire, had dissolved into oil-slick smears.

IB-13 took a chance to check her internal network systems. The communication queue held no new messages. All of her outgoing requests were yet pending. No data, no direction, no oversight. On her own for over the last hour. Not even IT-X0 to share processing capacity. Not since the automatons appeared.

She needed to keep moving. Anything with the means of slaughtering her kin would have devices to track a lone warrior in the bowels of a dead ship. Unless the interference was indiscriminate…

The first indication of trouble had been when their dropship lost all communication with the flotilla in orbit. The airwave interference of the vox spread, knocking out dropship-to-dropship traffic. As the strike team made their way inside the downed alien craft, communications with their lander was lost to them as well. Infrared laser messaging, subvocal vibrations, and gestures were all they had left.

Despite a lack of transmission mediums, the cyborgs’ tactical progress couldn’t be hampered over such a meager concern. Regardless of the massive damage to the vessel’s infrastructure, the T’au’s layout remained navigable. It proved too easy when the first booby traps –

Static hissed over IB-13’s network band. It immediately settled into an encrypted invitation for silicon communion. Her rush to respond fouled the first attempt at cracking the lock – something this imprecise would have had the commanding Centurion temporarily deactivate her. A partial lobotomy wouldn’t be out of the question. No matter – her Centurion had evaporated under the snaking tendril of some eldritch energy weapon.

The second attempt bridged the connection. IB-13 felt a flood of information pour through her circuit-fused organics. Cool authority she’d taken for granted from decades of indoctrination calmed nerves in welcome sensation. Out of it all came the glorious figure of an ordained technopriest of Mars, emissary of the Omnissiah’s unknowable will. Though only a mental simulation of a being some unknown distance away, IB-13 had never been more ready and earnest for this connection of the factual, of the Omnissiah’s word in the galaxy.

IB-13, report.

The Skitarii began to dump banks of memory into the thought stream. With only a fractional amount beginning to exload, it was still too much for the tentative link. When the digital form of the technopriest cut out for a moment, the cyborg almost felt the first emotion in half a century: despair.

The Skitarii darted into a crushed hollow that was once a laboratory. Holding position, she focuses all resources to getting the signal back. Hydraulic limbs froze, the respirator switched to blood-oxygen reserves, and pumps cranked to a halt. To any on the outside she would have appeared as a statue of cogs and armor, all shadowed by her tattered crimson cape.

Near-death comatosis was far outweighed by the elation of the return of the network and the priest.

IB-13, have you secured the Standard Template Construct?

The STC had been their target. It and other hyper-computers of its type held the secrets of Humankind’s past. Technologies resided within that could allow crops to grow a hundred times their yield, build vaccines to cure ageless plagues, or unleash terrible weapons of havoc not witnessed for ten thousand years. And it was the Adeptus Mechanicus’s to peerlessly own.

A fleet of warships had stalked the STC and its cowardly burglars across systems. Worlds burned where the T’au’s allies had lain. Finally, the escaping vessel was brought down in this unperturbed planet’s gravity well. She and a hundred other augmented shocktroopers had infiltrated the vessel while another thousand scoured the wastelands outside. All the effort only to have the artifact destroyed by the powers of their current foes of unholy, silver contraption.

[… 956wc]

A bit better here. Can you spot other differences?

Warhammer books share a few things in common: They have lots of fights, the characters never dwell on the fights they’ve had or those that have died, and the prose is as purple as possible (while keeping the language fairly simple).

Let’s see how purple we can get this sample. Buckle-up, this is a long one:

Boots pounded the deck plates as a pair of Skitarii super-soldiers ran through the halls. With the aid of their cybernetic limbs, they rushed through empty corridors of alien design, the charred dust of the former alien owners billowing in their wake. The din from outside increased the closer they got to a rip that stretched for over eighty meters in the ship’s hull. Sliding under the tear’s lip, IB-13 and IT-XH blurted a set of binary queries and replies to each other. With a thousand transactions a second, they needed to agree in the affirmative or negative of the decision before them.

Their delay only came because IB-13, a Ranger meant for more long-range engagements, while IT-XH remained optimized for the more moderate reprisals of the Skitarii Vanguard. It didn’t help that the Vanguard’s natural radiation filled IB-13’s receivers with excess static. After a debate transmitted in seconds that might fill a novel, the numbers aligned: The offensive would be brought to their enemy outside.

IT-XH synced a timer between them. As the milliseconds met their mark, IB-13 stepped up to the ledge in mirror to her last companion. The carbine she’d commandeered from a battle-inoperable Skitarii rose with her augmented sight. In a moment she unleashed killing rounds before a target had been locked. To bend the rules of her ingrained engagement protocols in a normal fight would have required the override of a Skitarii Centurion, leader of an entire cohort of cyborgs. As there was only IB-13 and IT-XH, their own kill-analyses would have to suffice. Regardless, with a ninety-eight-point-seven-nine percent accuracy calculation, their foe would suffer.

As for her aim was of little concern, so too was it for the enemy. Arcs of energy blistered and boiled the ship’s torn hull around IB-13. By sheer volume, the barrage of return fire nearly blinded the Ranger’s visual receptors. She ducked faster than her original organics could have ever hoped to as the shots crept towards her. Fluorescent green rounds tore chunks out of the opposite wall, sizzling through the air where she’d been.

Her comrade IT-XH was still shooting, taking an extra sixteenth of a second more than their firing solution had provided for.

IT-XH’s helmet exploded with a sound of a wet egg. The explosion flung cranial fluid and shards of steel scattering around the hall. Something wet and gooey splattered on IB-13’s cloak. To her the projectile posed no threat of damage to her systems.

Slack, IT-XH’s rifle fell to the floor with a clatter covered by the sound of eldritch energies scything overhead. The body fell with a heavy whoosh of cloak and armor. If IB-13 had the ability to smell in the traditional human way, a sense lost sometime during her innumerable operations to become a Skitarii, the stench of burnt rubbers and tang of carbonized metal would have been logged as a telltale of their enemy’s presence.

While missiles struck above and around her, the Ranger picked through the smoldering robes of the fresh corpse. That she and IT-XH had logged thousands of hours in operation together, that now the Vanguard was so much a pile of meat and wires gave her no pause. Their mission was still not complete. It was the Will of the Omnissiah, the dual-faceted god of the Skitarii as it was with all branches of the Adeptus Mechanicus, that a report be made of their findings inside the crashed vessel. The battle data alone dictated that she must survive at all costs. She discovered ammo magazines in a titanium corded pocket. Her calculations for expected lifespan ticked-up another notch. Adding these to a digital inventory, she took off in a crouch.

Another hall held more than the last one. The Ranger wove her way around blue-skinned bodies splayed haphazardly around doors and consoles. Some clawed at locked doors. Others held their throats. It didn’t take IB-13’s post-human abilities of deduction to conclude that these “T’au” had suffocated. They likely died long before the vessel’s crash, though she couldn’t be precise. The Adeptus Mechanicus fleet had been in pursuit for an unacceptably long time.

Data was the most holy property of the Adeptus Mechanicus technopriests of Mars, cybery the most sacred of study for the cyborg Skitarii warriors. These aliens, these thieves, had taken both and paid for it with thousands of their lives. The T’au had received divine judgement, but now IB-13 had to find a vantage. Possibly even a way out.

It seemed a maze. The T’au warship was a behemoth run through by the guns of the Adeptus Mechanicus in their weeks-long pursuit. Corridors collapsed into others, doors remain locked while other holes cleared entire decks. The wreckage acted as a tomb now for human cyborgs and T’au crew alike. And it was only the fault of the blue-skins daring to pull off a swindle of such proportions.

Now the silver monstrosities outside had this position surrounded and infiltrated. IB-13 had reconnoitered the enemy advance with surviving members of the Skitarii retrieval squads. Like ants, the foe had spilled into the halls, through the deck plating, and translocated in glittery sheen amid the Skitarii’s formations. The Skitarii, living weapons of the Martian Empire, fighting with whirling blades of supersonic titanium and coursing lightning guns, had dissolved into oil-slick smears.

IB-13 took a chance to check her internal network systems. The communication queue held no new messages. All of her outgoing requests were yet pending responses. No data, no direction, no oversight. On her own for over the last hour. Not even IT-XH functioned to share processing capacity. Not since the automatons appeared.

A hatch led down and the Ranger took it. She needed to keep moving. Anything with the means of slaughtering her kin like so many herdstock would have devices to track a lone warrior in the bowels of a dead ship. Maybe the interference preventing her signals didn’t discriminate the ambushers too. IB-13 had to optimize for that possibility. It was the only one that predicted her being alive after more than a few minutes.

The first indication of trouble had been when their dropship lost all transmissions with the flotilla in orbit. The airwave interference of the vox spread, knocking out dropship-to-dropship traffic. As the strike team made their way inside the downed alien craft, communications with their lander was lost to them as well. Infrared laser messaging, subvocal vibrations, and gestures were all they had left while they sought out the T’au’s holds.

Despite a lack of transmission mediums, the cyborgs’ tactical progress couldn’t be hampered over such a meager concern. Regardless of the massive damage to the vessel’s infrastructure, the Skitarii scouted through the mess. By a navigable route the database of Adeptus Mechanicus was uncovered. It proved too easy.

Foul booby traps secreted from the Skitarii’s scanners triggered at the first contact with the database. Explosions ripped through both skinny Infiltrators and armored Vanguards. The Ranger groups fared little better. IB-13 held the rearguard, thus survived to witness the carnage that came immediately after the destruction of the data. At least the information was no longer in filthy xenos hands. Better forgotten than perverted outside the Omnissiah’s intentions.

IB-13 nearly tripped as static hissed over the Skitarii network band. It immediately settled into an encrypted invitation for silicon communion. Transferring all secondary processing to the receiver, her rush to respond fouled the first attempt at cracking the lock – something this imprecise would have had the commanding Centurion temporarily deactivate her. A partial lobotomy wouldn’t be out of the question, though at least that would bestow additional circuitry to the Ranger. No matter – her Centurion had evaporated under the snaking tendril of some unclassified alien energy weapon.

Her second attempt bridged the connection. IB-13 felt a flood of information pour through her wire-fused organics. Authority she’d taken for granted from decades of indoctrination calmed nerves in welcome, cooling sensation. Out of it all came the glorious figure of an ordained technopriest of Mars, emissary of the Omnissiah’s unknowable will. They were garbed in flowing robes of red and white, outlined in ever-churning data exloads. On their head was a cap, tall and high which obscured from view sensors and devices the Ranger could only speculate at. In the pitch dark of the hood whirled the spectacles that poured what they saw into the algorithms crafted by the Omnissiah itself. Though only a mental simulation of a being some unknown distance away, IB-13 had never been more ready and earnest for this connection of the factual, of the Omnissiah’s word-made-digital in the galaxy.

IB-13, report.

The Skitarii began to dump banks of memory into the thought stream. With only a fractional amount beginning to exload, it was still too much for the tentative link. When the digital form of the technopriest cut out for a moment, the cyborg almost felt the first emotion in half a century: despair.

The Skitarii darted into a crushed hollow that was once a laboratory. Inside lay cracked workbenches, punctured pressure tanks, and other detris. It didn’t matter. Only the connection mattered.

Holding position, she focuses all resources to getting the signal back. Hydraulic limbs froze, the respirator switched to blood-oxygen reserves, and pumps cranked to a halt. To any on the outside she would have appeared as a statue of cogs and armor, all shadowed by her tattered crimson cape.

Near-death comatosis was far outweighed by the elation of the return of the network and the priest. This time, the mental image downgraded from its previous glory to a pixelated silhouette of muted hues and indistinct shapes. It shimmered as it sent meaning to her.

IB-13, have you secured the Standard Template Construct?

The STC had been their target. It and other hyper-computers of its type held the secrets of Humankind’s past. Their manufacture came in a time of darkness when Humanity sent its envoys into the void of the galaxy without knowledge of the Omnissiah. A dark age. The Omnissiah nevertheless bestowed sacred knowledge even to those that were ignorant of what they held. Technologies resided within STC’s that could allow crops to grow a hundred times their yield, build vaccines to cure ageless plagues, erect cities kilometers high on worlds made ripe by STC terraforming, or the knowledge could unleash terrible weapons of havoc not witnessed for ten thousand years. And it was the Adeptus Mechanicus’s duty and privilege to peerlessly own.

IB-13 didn’t need to know how to operate an STC. Doing so would be a terrible heresy. Only the priesthood, and even then a small selection of the ordained, could enact the proper rights of access. IB-13 only needed to claim items like the STCs for the glory of Mars.

That was why this theft was of such a terrible nature. A fleet of warships had stalked the STC and its cowardly burglars across systems. Worlds burned where the T’au’s allies had lain. Finally, the escaping vessel was brought down in this unperturbed planet’s gravity well. IB-13 and a hundred other augmented shocktroopers had infiltrated the craft imprisoning the STC while another thousand scoured the wastelands outside. All the effort only to have the artifact destroyed…

[… 1865wc]

Wow. Double word count just by describing more things. However, this isn’t just filler for filler’s sake. I go into more detail about how the main character IB-13 feels (or doesn’t) and why. What fighting is already there I add more too. As it comes to the Black Library (publishers of Warhammer novels and operated by Games Workshop), adjectives, metaphors, and even similes aren’t to be feared.

An outline to first draft leaves much to be desired, though it’s some flesh on the outline’s bones. The next work is to fill in the body of the piece with characters and settings and maybe something of a plot. Clean it up through your own edits, online tools, and peer groups. Lastly, if writing for Games Workshop and the Black Library, purple that’d get Barney blushing must be added.

What’s missing? Without special expectation for Warhammer or fan fiction, how do you edit? Anywho, let me know if you’d like to see more on this Unblinking Skitarii story.

Quarterly Goals – June 2019

I’m cutting down this quarter to a number of goals I’ve found works great: four. Thank you for your patience with me getting this list out – the last two weeks have required a drastic reevaluation. Let’s get started.

My Goals Due June 2019

19JQ
Phone Lock Screen Reminder
  1. JimmyChattin.com
    1. The primary goal was going to be to finish Shallow Seas, but I think a website to show off Shallow Seas is of a lot more interest. By June, I need the domain name “JimmyChattin”, an “About” page, contact and hiring information, and a backlog of posts for the site. We’re going to keep this simple, maybe adding tags for posts as necessary.

    2. Surprise! WordPress makes setting up a website amazingly easy. With a coupon code, I now have JimmyChattin.com for the next two years! Huzzah! Now there’ll need to be a few more posts than just this one…

  2. Finish Draft 1 Shallow Seas
    1. My first among equals. The goal last time was to draft Shallow Seas; that didn’t happen, but I’m close. This time, we’re going to cover the final thirty-to-forty-thousand words.

  3. Lists
    1. “Blessed are the list makers.” I hope to systematize my life. First, we’re going to need to make and stick with a “No, But” list – whenever something would distract from goals or pure pleasure, pause. Give the list a review. Then either give it a “hell yes” or an unashamed “no”. Maybe include writing my own obituary too. There’s no time to dally.

  4. Edits
    1. Update the stories They’re Aboard and Unblinking Skitarii (working titles), two fan fictions written around 2018 for the Warhammer 40K universe. There are a few edits I’ve left behind for myself, so finally ‘completing’ these stories would be grand.

These goals, though fewer, are bigger than previous endeavors. Regardless, I’ll push hard. However, all are subject to replacement in the next three months. I’m keeping eyes peeled for Games Workshops‘ Black Library open submissions for 2019. If / When that hits, a few alternates will have to be taken up instead of the above:

  • Send one fully realized submission to Black Library. That’s brainstorm, logline, outline, pick, draft, revise (continuously), and finally submit a Warhammer story. Ideas so far:
    • Follow a soldier’s horrific journey through a spaceship boarded by aliens he once called home.
    • A simple heist of the jewels in an alien crypt at the heart of a continent goes wrong.
    • The lost crew of a ship crash on an ancient space station hidden in a sun’s corona.
    • When excavating advanced technology awakens an ancient menace, cyborg IB-13 must make her escape to warn the fleet of its impending doom.
    • Life is made easy for a child after they discover a new toy until the mechanical trinket decides to act on its own dark wishes.
  • Play Warhammer games (for research, of course). Total War Warhammer and Vermintide 2 and a boatload of audiobooks (hello, Humble Bundle!) should do the trick.

This’ll be a tough three months. With GDC happening in March, leading a new fitness group, and training / coaching for Las Vegas’s Corporate Challenge competitions, distractions will be rife. Rising in my role at my job is also a concern as I seek both more responsibility and less time in office. Wish me luck and give me understanding as things get shifted around to realize these goals and position myself for a life of leisure in the future.

If you’re interested, these were useful links for determining goals for JQ:

Previous posts on goals and games can be found at Make-Better-Games.blogspot.com.

Original Photo; Source Unknown

 

Divine; 2buiArt

Greetings!

And welcome to the website of Jimmy Chattin, senior software engineer, science fiction writer, orator, and just about a little of everything else.

Interested in a C# programmer who’s worked for the likes of Microsoft and Aristocrat (#1 video slot maker)? Checkout LinkedIn.

Want to read some original stories and fan fiction (for practice, of course!)? Those posts are coming to this website.

Need something written or a voice that’s been described as “butter”? Reach out on the Contact page or my podcasts (start with #1).

Old posts can also be found at Make Better Games, where there’s mainly talk about goals and a few games.

Explore.  Take a look around.  We’ll talk in a bit.