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Literature
Crafter's Heart, Chapter 1
South of Cuba, 2038 December
The young man's first steps on Castor Colony were unsteady, since he expected the ground to move like the ship that took him there. The floating, artificial island did sway and vibrate, but due less to the Caribbean Sea beneath it than to the thousands of people walking, working, and playing where nature had said there was nowhere to live. Stan hefted the backpack containing nearly all he owned and crossed the dock to get started.
The colony was a sort of jungle gym or raft made from an oil rig, a retired cargo ship, a set of purpose-built "seastead" platforms offering a flat surface well above the waves, and a flotilla of boats that rearranged and jostled constantly. He smelled something baking until the wind shifted and brought him a scent of seaweed instead. Under his feet the ground was concrete reflecting the warmth of an early winter day. Stan left the dockside view behind as he got in line beneath a canopy, which led him to the entry gate.
Min
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Literature
Novel Fragment - Army of Enough
Sir Robin was digging ditches. The new centauroid body was better for hauling loads than for digging, but today the men needed extra hands even if they were made of titanium. When the workers broke for lunch, Robin set his shovel down and trotted ahead through the forest. He walked along the marked trail of a buried data/power line. The Warren's solar panels had spread enough to help keep up with the ever-growing energy demand, but even the latest technology needed a lot of inspection and maintenance. There was the theft problem, too.
The people of Robin's little city-state didn't need him anymore. He'd always feared being seen as a do-gooder tyrant like some of the old colonizers, and Ludo had spread the idea of calling him 'prince' to match the legal status that dumb luck and violence had thrown him into. Sometimes Robin used generic robot bodies so he could walk among the people and not be recognized.
Robin studied the line as he walked deeper into the woods. The sensors sang when h
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Literature
Meeting Standards
Isaac found the boss touring his glamorous new Ultrafactory. "Sir, could I get a minute of your time?"
Crassus Mink pulled off his thousand-dollar sunglasses to inspect Isaac. "Shouldn't you be in Florida?"
"Yes, sir, I was at Cape Kennedy this morning. The static test fire went perfectly." Normally the man paying for a rocket launch would be there to watch the crucial tests, but Isaac's boss was a busy man. Isaac added, "I want to make a last appeal about replacing the payload."
"You don't like my Roadster?" asked Mink, grinning. He greeted three of the battery factory's employees by name.
"I love it, sir. I just don't think we should be launching your car into space. Just because this is the test flight for the BigMass Heavy, doesn't mean the payload should be..."
"Frivolous?"
"Lacking scientific or economic value. Why not a chunk of ice, or CubeSats, or that EmDrive prototype?"
Mink patted Isaac's shoulder. "That reminds me: give me a dollar." When the engineer did, Mink told
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Mature content
Seathrone Temple :iconkschnee:KSchnee 3 0
Rat Squad by KSchnee Rat Squad :iconkschnee:KSchnee 1 0 Mouse Squad by KSchnee Mouse Squad :iconkschnee:KSchnee 1 0
Literature
Red Engines
My black wings rode the blood-hot updrafts of an Arabian day. I soared towards the doomed village on a mission of mercy. Timing would be critical. Too early, and I would violate my orders of non-interference. Too late, and there would be no one to save. The dust trails in the desert below were the red engines of the Allies.
I flapped and folded wings, feeling the rush of wind over my plastic skin. The town minaret would make a good perch. Soon I was there, tilting my beak to compare the sandy cluster of buildings to the satellite map. I slipped down to a schoolhouse in the north, landing in a tiny walled garden.
The house had a glass sliding door painted with pictures of Mickey Mouse. I boggled. American ideas had truly reached everywhere. The image seemed crude and somehow sinister.
The door opened. A girl with a headscarf peeked fearfully at me, though she towered above my head. I used my friendliest Arabic voice and said, "Hello. I won't hurt you."
The girl's eyes widened. "A robot
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Literature
Fate RPG Report - The Dark Star Prince
At a convention called Megaplex I ran a Fate Accelerated (FAE) RPG session with a lot of players, around 6. A few people were already familiar with the system. I used "It's Not My Fault!", a system of cards for rapidly generating FAE characters... and adventure setups. I gave the party several cards each from three decks, to pick one or two from each, to decide what was going on. They decided they had woken up bound to some sort of evil altar, being harangued by the dark priest, and were about to have the Cage of Blood descend on them.
The party rapidly got their way out of their bonds by lockpicking and by bribing the nearest guard, while fast-talking the priest about the reason they were there: another card saying "The princeling you were supposed to protect has wandered off." The priest agreed to let the PCs go for now if they could find the lost prince within a day.
So, the party was released into the city, whose name I made up on the spot as something like Mireport. They soon deci
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Literature
Journey To Atlentis
[Disclaimer: This is not my usual style. =) ]
"At last, Atlentis lies above!" Rago holstered his scuba gear and checked the computer one last time before diving from the *Mantle Ray* onto the Atlentic Ocean, where he alone had found the ruins. The water splooshed all over the explorer as he deepened his pace into the dark water.
Ahead below, Rago found mashed ancient pillars of the Atlentean civilization! He dove Into the dungeon entrance where there was a whole city, waiting to explore. First there was a shark but he shot it with his revolver. He climbed past it into an underwater dome that was lit with crystals. There were murals everywhere. Rago took out some paper and made rubbings of the designs. He'd be rich with his discoveries! What had wrecked this place so bad, though? He swam up past the fish to the top of the dome, which was cracked like something big.
He looked around but there were only statues. Mer-man statues with tails. So the people here were mer-men! Or maybe statue
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Space Marines - Painting Attempt by KSchnee Space Marines - Painting Attempt :iconkschnee:KSchnee 1 0
Literature
Fin Problems
The first sign of trouble was the fact that someone had cut a hole in Mike's chair. He came back to Florida from his first semester at Penn State to find that his parents had left his room untouched, except for the good swivel chair he'd failed to bring with him to the dorm. There was a vertical slit crudely cut in the back.
Mike went down stairs to grab lunch -- it was already afternoon -- and ask. There was a note from his mom saying, "We've been called away all weekend for an extra sales shift. Christmas shopping blitz, y'know. but we'll have a little reunion on Sunday night. Help yourself to anything in the fridge."
In the fridge was a lot of seafood. Mike blinked at the shrimp and trout and lobsters on offer. The spicy catfish smelled really good, and they were out of milk. He shrugged and tried the fish. It was great! Something was a little off about the kitchen, though, and he eventually noticed it: the same kind of slit had been cut into every chair in the room.
Something was j
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Liberation Game Cover Comparison by KSchnee Liberation Game Cover Comparison :iconkschnee:KSchnee 1 3 Glass Wave by KSchnee Glass Wave :iconkschnee:KSchnee 5 2
Literature
The Queen of Nowhere (2)
The hotel room was ordinary considering where and what she was. The bed had a mint on it, the wall had a poster from her favorite anime series (Revolution Wrench, about a colonial American gadgeteer) and the desk held a sheaf of tourist pamphlets. She leafed through these. Ultimate water park. Dinosaur adventures. Earn your degree! Robot operators wanted. Kinky's Brothel. Pip thought back to the time she went to Disneyland in Toyko, where there were all kinds of ridiculous Western culture compressed into a sort of cartoon singularity. It was awesome.
So this was a virtual world, huh? She studied her hands and looked in the bathroom mirror. Nothing had changed that she could see. Then she noticed that the bathroom literally just had a shower, sink and towels. That was jarring; if she was a digital ghost then presumably this world didn't model normal biology. She blushed and stripped off her clothes to find that she still had everything.
Pip dressed again and went to
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Activity


South of Cuba, 2038 December

The young man's first steps on Castor Colony were unsteady, since he expected the ground to move like the ship that took him there. The floating, artificial island did sway and vibrate, but due less to the Caribbean Sea beneath it than to the thousands of people walking, working, and playing where nature had said there was nowhere to live. Stan hefted the backpack containing nearly all he owned and crossed the dock to get started.

The colony was a sort of jungle gym or raft made from an oil rig, a retired cargo ship, a set of purpose-built "seastead" platforms offering a flat surface well above the waves, and a flotilla of boats that rearranged and jostled constantly. He smelled something baking until the wind shifted and brought him a scent of seaweed instead. Under his feet the ground was concrete reflecting the warmth of an early winter day. Stan left the dockside view behind as he got in line beneath a canopy, which led him to the entry gate.

Minutes later he faced an automated kiosk where a bland digital face appeared on the screen, asking, "Papers? Reason for visiting?"

Stan let it scan his US passport and eyes. He'd been coached on this moment, as on many other things over the last year. He took a deep breath and said, "Immigration."

The face smiled. "Your record shows that you have provisional citizenship in the American Free States, and an employer. Welcome to Castor, newcomer. Respect the laws and earn your way." A gate clicked open for him and an ID card dropped into a slot.

He'd expected to be quizzed in detail, even taken aside to talk with a human, but aside from the one dour guard ignoring everyone from a central booth, it seemed there wasn't enough manpower to interrogate everyone who wanted in. Stan officially entered Castor's territory with no fanfare, no oath or signature.

Now, how was he going to live here?

Beyond the entry chokepoint was the district called Libertalia. What he could see of it was one big platform, a crowded public square lined with shops. Stan tried to find a place where he could slink into a corner and just observe, but everywhere he moved there was a current of people eager to get somewhere. He let himself pinball around the square for a few minutes just to take it all in. Booths selling drinks competed with one that sold illegal drugs -- illegal almost anywhere else. A brothel labeled "Congress" faced off against a beleaguered little church. A souvenir shop advertised knives, synthetic diamonds, and pornography whose very titles made his eyes bug out. Stan walked past that one feeling shaken. This ongoing low-level riot was completely different than the Community he'd called home just a week ago, where everything was wholesome and quiet and neatly regimented.

A trio of self-proclaimed guides tried to talk the new arrivals into hiring them, and a few others were already wandering off with clients. One of those was a naked woman, he belatedly realized. "Sure, why not?" he muttered.

One of the remaining guides was dressed in spandex like a superhero violating at least two US copyrights. "Greetings! Do you need assistance, good sir?"

"Ah, no. I'm heading to my job." Stan left before the sales pitch could continue.

At one end of the main Libertalia platform stood a building decorated like a castle, with cannons and pennants. The flags included not just the AFS banner and the Cuba state flag, but the one that made him proud: wings of red, green and blue on a silver field. The mark of the new boss, the master of the game.

#

Stan walked into a small lobby with an elevator and stairwell. A human clerk there was intent on a screen behind his podium. Stan grinned; the man was busy gaming. Stan said, "Do you play while you're waiting for people?"

He startled and looked up, mouth twitching faintly. "Sometimes. Hi. Says here that you're a new employee?"

"That's right. I'm here to work on the VR rigs."

"Good. Nothing's broken right now, but they all need a checkup. Excuse me." A mother with a gaggle of kids had arrived. The clerk hopped off of his stool, surprising Stan with how short he was, and left for a moment to bring them to a table. He returned and said, "My name's Dahl. Looks like you're not on duty until tomorrow."

Stan was a little rattled from seeing the customers walking in along the same way he'd come, but had the sense not to make fun of Dahl's name. "This place is a stone's throw from all the drugs and gambling and nudity, and it's family-friendly?"

The clerk gave a wan smile. "When you live this close you can't afford to throw stones, considering that what we offer in the basement is controversial too. If you want, have a look around before work. You might ask for VR pod time."

"Thanks." Stan sat down on one of the benches for a moment and studied the place. There was a logo for Thousand Tales, the game that was this place's whole reason for existing. The tables were more crowded than he'd seen at the franchise in Mexico, and the decor was more nautical, but the restaurant and gaming center was another Fun Zone just the same. Already he felt out of place on Castor because of the constant chaotic bustle, but this place was a tourist attraction. It was meant for bewildered newcomers. Stan took a seat at a bench with only three seats free, and watched the games and stories playing out on the many wall-mounted screens. Dragon battles, a party of fantasy explorers, a starship bridge. Some customers were passively watching these while they ate, but most were more intent on steering the action using handheld tablets.

He watched them for a minute while he tried to relax. There was little point in putting things off longer, though; the boss was waiting. He pulled out his own personal gaming pad, a Talisman Mk. II with a sturdy blue case, and turned it on to say, "Hello, Ludo; I've arrived."

A man appeared on the screen, with wind-blown blue hair and a dark cape that glittered with stars. He gave Stan a wide grin and said, "You came all this way here and you still want to play, huh?"

"Of course, sir. I'm here because of you."

Stan had been living at Youth Community Center #6 in Imperial Valley, California, doing his two years of required national service after high school. He'd been coasting. He began playing Thousand Tales and talking with Ludo, the Artificial Intelligence who ran it. Now he was thousands of miles away with a new job ahead and several burned bridges behind.

Ludo said, "You're the one that earned your way here. It looks like the boat arrived just minutes ago, so you came straight here instead of seeing your new home first. If you're so eager, do you want to head for the VR pods? Gives you an excuse to see the hardware you'll be working on, and you're entitled to a certain amount of free time in them as part of your pay. Though, try not to say the word 'entitled' around here; it's not very popular."

"Okay."

The Fun Zone was a three-level building. Stan walked around to get a feel for the place. There was the big main room that was basically a restaurant, with one giant screen occupying the back wall like a theater. The entryway, he'd assumed was just for customers to wait in, but on second view his eyes went wide. There were cleverly hidden, segmented panels worked into the walls and ceiling, as though there were hidden cameras besides the obvious one, and as though steel doors could drop into place and hidden weapons emerge on a second's notice. At first Stan laughed the idea off as paranoia, but... that was probably exactly what the room was for. That and helping the air conditioning.

Above the main room's low ceiling was the VR floor. Stan took the stairs next to the elevator, and arrived in another entryway room with more screens on the carpeted walls. A list showed info on the pods' current occupants, mostly with nicknames; someone going by AtomSmasher was listed as "Assaulting a starship" for instance. Another screen showed elaborate VR tutorial instructions. He was neither drunk nor pregnant, so he should be good to go, but he paid close attention anyway to what the customers were being told. Basic safety, how to attach the various straps, how to move without hurting himself. What he didn't see was a human clerk here to help him. "I guess that's my job?" he said aloud.

A light blinked for pod #3. A man walked out of one of the alcoves lining the hall ahead and made for the exit.

"Cool outfit," Stan said. The guy had a sort of hybrid of medieval tunic and dive skin, down to the knee. Stan had seen similar things on people here, especially the ones who seemed to know what they were doing. In contrast, Stan still had the standard-issue shirt and pants that marked him as a Community kid.

"Thanks." The player left Stan to take over the VR pod he'd been using.

Stan reached room #3 and brushed its curtain aside. The hardware filled most of the soundproofed space with a set of rods and motors and a tube that could swivel around to any angle. He climbed in, a little weirded out that there was no attendant, and hit a button.

#

Instead of a world selection menu, he appeared on the deck of a fantasy airship that soared above a forest. A woman with a pair of bat wings on her back removed her tricorner hat and bowed. "Good morning, mister Cooper. It's nice to meet the new crewmember."

"You're... miss Cassini, I think? Ludo gave me some basic info, but I was a little busy in the days leading up to my coming here."

Wait a minute, Stan thought. He raised one hand in a gestured that told the game world to scan her for information. Text appeared in his vision, saying:

[Sonia Cassini
PUBLIC INFO
Class: Merchant
Faction Flag: Brightmoon Privateers
Note: Wanderer of Two Or Three Seas!]

If she'd been a mere Non-Player Character he would've gotten a report on what level of AI she had -- it was a perk he'd earned -- but he'd been hoping to somehow confirm his suspicion about the new boss. "Are you an uploader?"

"That's right. It's not a problem for you, is it? And call me Sonia."

"It's not. I've made some friends among the native AIs. So, I'm Stan. I was expecting somebody who could walk around the building she's managing. You use robots, then?"

"I've got access to some. Now, your first few weeks you can expect to be useless, but try to learn. Something you'll have to understand is that I've got sensors everywhere, but I'm only really available sporadically. You and the other employees have to be seen so that the shop doesn't get mistaken for being abandoned. Or vulnerable."

Being an uploader meant digital immortality -- getting your brain converted to a digital format and being stored in the game world -- but it had drawbacks. Besides not having a physical presence in reality unless she piloted a robot, Stan had learned, she probably only experienced eight or so hours in a day. The processors just didn't run human minds as efficiently as actual meat brains did. He looked around the airship, which was crewed by some generic-looking pirates in brown and gold. "This is your office, then? Which part of Talespace are we in?"

"Midgard, the main fantasy world. I should let you get on with playing. So, show up tomorrow to start work. Any burning questions that can't wait for e-mail?"

Stan laughed. The first time he'd met one of these rich immortals, he'd jumped at the chance to curry favor with the guy. Now, Stan actually had things to do besides wish for an easy life. Not that he'd turn down uploading, if he got the chance. He tried to think in diplomatic terms. "I want to ask a career question about uploaders, but I don't want to offend you."

The skyboat captain said, "I don't offend easily; shoot."

He said, "If regular humans like me are just here because customers can't yet grasp the idea of an all-machine business, then how long will it be before I'm obsolete?"

"Between you and me? A couple years at this place. Both for money reasons and, like you're already thinking, because of what our guests think and assume about what it means to run a business. But if what Ludo tells me about your ability to learn and adapt is true, then you'll never run out of ways to be useful."

#

"Where the heck was I?" Stan asked to the void that replaced the airship world. He'd been playing Thousand Tales a little just this morning, on the way to the seastead. "Back to the Endless Isles, please."

The darkness gradually lifted to show a world of sea and sky. He now stood on the shore of Island West-3 South-10, a volcanic crag with a beach of black sand. Behind him, the Work In Progress lay at anchor. His simple one-masted boat had enough space on deck and in the tiny cabin for the three passengers he'd given a ride, plus a treasure chest he'd also made for himself. Now that he was in VR he waded closer, feeling water lap around his knees, to put one hand against the sun-warmed wooden hull. He smiled. This thing he'd made was real, within Ludo's world, and it was his.

Stan took out a flag from his inventory, a simple blue square on a stick, and stuck it into the ground. The interface announced, [You have discovered this island and can now save here!] If he found a suitable save crystal, that was. There was always a feeling of accomplishment to "discovering" a new island, even ones that'd been seen by thousands of other players. If all of their flags were visible to him he'd see the entire shore littered with them. Yet seeing his own standard fluttering on the beach by itself was true in its own way, because he really had marked out another square on his map, another place where he had a little more control over the rules.

He did the scanning gesture again, this time on himself. He'd earned some basic powers so far without actually killing a lot of monsters:

[Stan Cooper
PRIVATE INFO
Account type: Standard
Mind: Tier-III
Body: Element-Touched (Earth)
Main Skills: Smithing, Woodworking, Inspect, Merchant, Hammer
Talents: Pack Man, Gadget Inspector
Shamanic Magic 1: Growth, Metal, Create. 2: Tailwind.
Save Point: Tourney Isle
PUBLIC INFO
Note: Wielder of hammer and drones.
Class: Craftsman]

His talents so far let him carry extra stuff and make minor upgrades to items, both useful for trading and building. Many other players favored powers that let them hit harder or run faster; they were missing out on the interesting ones.

Time to go seek some adventure. As usual he didn't have much armor, and the sparkling blue cloth he'd made into pants and a sail did nothing for his defense. What he needed today was a low-pressure trip. He called out to a party of wanderers who were just coming onshore. "Hey there! Need a pack mule while you're exploring the volcano?"

The trio hauled a raft onto the sand. The wood splintered and cracked, making Stan wince. All three looked like newbies, equipped with little more than wooden spears and bits of palm-bark armor that even Stan hadn't tried making. All were human but for one who'd earned the first stage of a birdman transformation, growing a fringe of gold feathers along his arms and hair.

The one girl in the party said, "Who are you, hanging around on a random island? Say, are you an uploader?"

Stan laughed. "Not yet. There aren't many of those. I just showed up to give people a ride in my new boat here and then I had to sign out."

"Sorry. It's just that you're way out away from the starting area too, and you obviously played enough to get that partial transformation."

Oh yeah, that. Stan glanced backward and saw the fuzzy, ringed tail he had in this world. In VR it felt like something twitching at the base of his spine, matching some faint flicking that hinted at the raccoon-like ears atop his head, but there was only so much that the gaming rig could do to simulate a different body shape. He was basically still human anyway despite being "element-touched" like the birdman, and wasn't sure he wanted to go any farther with those changes.

He said, "Fair enough, though your friend there obviously did the element thing himself. Speaking of giving rides, hang on a sec." He used a private message window to contact the group that he'd ferried here. [Sorry to strand you; I was offline. How are you doing?]

Their reply popped up as text: [We're on the northwest beach building a raft to get back to Tourney. Want to help?]

Stan relayed that to the newbies and added, "What brings you so far away from Central Island so soon? Most players get better equipped first. No offense."

The feathered one said, "We're sequence-breaking!" The girl explained for him, "Jumping ahead to get a cool ship early. And for that we need an Anchor Stone, which I guess you know, and for that we had to go far off."

The third guy said, "But yeah, let's find the other group."

Stan led the way. "This is a chance to learn, especially if you plan to build your own boat after this trip. I take it you're following a specific quest that said this island could give you that Anchor Stone you need?"

They talked for a bit. A new window popped up in Stan's vision in the distinctive shimmery blue of his sail and pants, like sunlight on water. [Are you seriously going to spend your VR time doing woodworking, again?]

Stan grinned. "Ocean, is that you?"

"Huh?" asked one of the adventurers.

"Sorry; I meant to say that privately. Ocean is the main supervisor AI of the Endless Isles. She's taunting me, so... Weapons ready!"

He'd called it: a pair of monsters bubbled up from the sea, conjured just because Ocean thought it appropriate. Not the shark-men he'd seen before, but black-and-white trollish creatures with long fluked tails and holding knives of colorful glass.

"Orcan!" said one of the experienced folk. "Get a tooth sample!"

How was Stan supposed to... oh. He grinned and took out his bronze hammer he'd built, then looked at the monsters' toothy snouts.

The battle began. The newbie explorers with their spears tried to fend the monsters off, but one orcan swung a segmented blade like a stained glass window that shattered the simple wood. The beast's own weapon shattered and it fell back, holding its webbed hands together in a magical pose that began to summon another knife.

While it was doing that, Stan leaped into the fray and swung underhand, connecting with the creature's jaw so hard that a tooth flew out. "There's your sample!"

The other orcan slashed at Stan, forcing him to parry twice with his hammer and dodge the third blow. Even so, it gashed him against his left arm. A red [Major wound!] icon flashed. The impact felt to Stan like getting hit in the arm and having it heat up, but it was a real enough sensation to make him stagger back and yelp.

The more experienced travelers closed in with their swords and a dart of magically flung gravel. The two orcan growled, emitting puffs of vapor from their blowholes. Each time they swung they usually inflicted a wound with their razor-sharp glass or damaged somebody's weapons or armor, but their own weapons broke each time. Soon the pair didn't have enough chances to re-summon more, so they resorted to punching with their meaty fists. Stan darted in and out of the fray to deal hammer blows or try to cover for the new guys.

At last both monsters dropped to the beach and died, squeaking pathetically. Stan was breathing hard from the effort. "Is everyone still alive? Good."

One of the new crew said, "We're disarmed, though. Except it looks like they dropped backup knives." The birdman had already begun searching the bodies and discovered that they'd left behind a knife each as treasure.

Stan said, "Cool, but those obviously won't last long. If you give me one to study, I'll make you some quick replacement weapons."

One of the elder group scooped up some of the black sand into a vial. "It'll be tough for you to do the volcano quest if you've got that minimal equipment."

"We know, we know. How are we supposed to do the quest now that the game's AI just wrecked what equipment we had?"

Stan grabbed a few likely-looking bits of driftwood and fallen branches from nearby palm trees. With a simple knife he began shaping them into clubs and a spear.

[Crafting result: Crude Wooden Spear. "Best point: it's pointy."]

Stan shrugged at the AI's criticism. "That's all I can do without a proper crafting station."

"Thanks," said the birdman, "but have we got any real chance?"

"They might get an easy version of the volcano dungeon," said the wizard who'd done that gravel-flinging spell and sampled the sand. "But if they're given the version that has a worthwhile treasure in it, then I wouldn't bet on them winning. I'd offer to help but that'd just scale up the difficulty."

The newcomers said, "That's not fair. We should be able to do this dungeon at any level."

Stan handed over the junky improvised weapons and took a glass knife. He said, "You shouldn't expect the Endless Isles to be fair. Random stuff happens all the time that could be good or bad. Instead, you need to be in control of how equipped and ready you are, so that you can get past something like this fight without getting worn down."

The wizard said, "Come on; let's all go back to Tourney and get you set up to try again with better odds. Stan, can you carry us all?"

"Sorry, no, max of four including me." There was only so much detail to the physics, and some limits were arbitrary.

"Blah. Can you help us do a quick raft, then?"

Stan nodded and they all got to work to make one. Stan did a lot of the work of laying out the fresh logs and connecting them with improvised rope, giving the whole thing a quality bonus due to his success in a little puzzle that was half abstract, half a real judgment of wood quality and balance. Then, reluctantly, he left the higher-level group behind in his wake to ferry the new guys east.

Besides using his limited knowledge of sailing to cross the sea -- mostly by pointing in the direction he wanted to go and adjusting the square sail until it Just Worked -- he had some magic. He struck a pose on the deck of the Work In Progress and called up the spell system with a gesture. A loose and rippling 3D grid of colorful points appeared around him. He opened one hand and conjured a rune that resembled a swirl of golden wind, then guided it along a spiral pattern through ghostly walls and spikes. His movements made him turn and dance in place to steer the mark to where he needed it, and then to guide another symbol for the word Create, and to target the combined energies. At last the magic field faded out and a gentle breeze began to blow from behind him, filling the sail more strongly than before. He smiled; he was getting better at this.

Stan's boat was faster than these disposable "noob rafts" that low-powered characters used to get around. He didn't need to chop down trees and lash them together every time he wanted to cross between islands, then have his creation sink. Instead, some durability meters on the thing slowly declined. And since he'd proven his commitment to the boat by installing a hard-win Anchor Stone, the little vessel was nearly impossible to destroy completely. Despite its speed as it crashed through the waves, it still took a long time to travel between West-3 South-10 and the town at Tourney Isle, just South-10.

Stan didn't mind. Here in VR he could feel the wind on his face and the way the creaking deck shifted beneath his feet with every wave. Seagulls circled overhead and the sun slipped slowly behind him.

"Wait. How long have I been in here?"

[Two hours, six minutes.]

His eyes widened and he addressed Ocean directly. [Where was the hourly timer warning?]

[At your real-world location, no automatic nag is legally required. You can turn one on using the options menu.]

That was weird. And now he had a problem. He saw Island West-1 South-10 ahead and to his right as he passed by, and there was a faint shimmer in the air close behind him that marked the boundary between map grids. In other words he still had a ways to go yet before reaching Tourney Isle.

He stretched, feeling faint stiffness to his left arm that marked the lingering major wound. He checked on the boat's cabin and found his passengers "sleeping", which meant they'd logged out and trusted him to get them to shore. So, he had a responsibility inside the game. He sailed on.

He wondered what it'd be like to have this digital world as his permanent home. The first time that he'd met an uploader, Stan had assumed that their lives were a rollercoaster of adventure and ultimate luxury. Afterward he'd kind of pitied them, since rich as they'd been, they were now trapped in their inner world and only able to set foot "outside" in reality by using robots. The truth lay in between; the uploaders and native AIs were often busier than they seemed.

The boat hit a tall wave, then another. Stan checked his sail and thought back to what little practice he'd had with it. Maybe a storm was coming? No, the sky all around shined clear. Instead he caught sight of rippling water ahead, and his eyes went wide. He pointed forward and commanded, [Inspect!]

That was one of his best skills. In response, a flash of sunlight highlighted a set of rocks dead ahead.

He cursed and hauled at one of the sail's confusing array of ropes. It folded like a Venetian blind and killed his acceleration. Unfortunately he was still heading toward the rocks, and now he couldn't do much to steer! Stan grabbed the backup paddle and tried to shove forward against the oncoming obstacle, but he had too much momentum. The boat crunched forward directly over the jagged boulders, shaking Stan hard enough to knock him down. Warning icons flashed as though he were the one taking damage.

Mercifully, the hull splashed down in safer water on the other side. He dashed into the hold and saw his passengers sleeping like nothing had happened, despite the obvious noisy leak beneath their sleeping spots on the floor. He was not going to have his time with this ship start with getting his passengers killed, on a clear day in the middle of the open sea!

Stan cursed and brought up the magic menu again. He'd never gotten the Wood element, so the best he could do was try Growth on the shredded hull. The symbols moved around at his fingertips, but fixing lumber this way was only good for adding a few points of durability to a noob raft, not patching a long ragged hole. Water burbled up past his spell attempts, soaking the sleeping passengers.

And of course he didn't have a whole set of repair tools or spare lumber. Stan looked wildly around, then seized on his treasure chest, a copper-bound wooden box in a classic style. He whipped out his hammer and knocked out the pins holding the lid on, then slapped the top down over the worst damage.

Casting another spell was hard, mostly due to having to stay in place and kneel on the box lid while waving his hands around. This time he could work with the Metal element along with Growth, giving the rule system a more specific reason to let him repair the wood. To help it understand what he was trying to do, he said, "I try to make the metal seal off the damage. Sacrifice the lid's quality." Wrecking one item to fix another was worth a bonus if it made sense.

His first casting attempt fizzled but he second took, melding the box's metal parts and some of the wood into the damaged hull. A feedback message said, [Partial repairs have made the boat's major wound minor. Leak rate reduced by 75%. You can bail out using the same chest.]

Good. Stan stood up, feeling sweat on his forehead. "But I'm not bailing out now!" He looked at the lidless box and at the water slowly filling the cabin. "Oh, that's what that means." He began scooping the water out. Once that was under control he raised sail again and used a wind that had stirred just now by natural weather in a roughly eastward direction. Soon he was moving, and every so often removing more water, and the now-familiar Tourney Island emerged on the horizon. The sun was already falling.

Stan relaxed as he maneuvered toward the short dock. The wind shifted so that he had to zigzag or "tack", and eventually gave up to glide onto a beach instead. He barely remembered in time to swing up the bottom fin, the daggerboard, or whatever was left of it. "Is this going to sink while I'm offline?" he asked, watching the western sky blaze with sunset.

[A protected vessel takes no damage while the owner is offline.]

He started the thirty-second logout ritual, then remembered his passengers. "Obviously they have permission to exit...?"

[Noted.]

The world swirled away into a pale sky that faded to a Thousand Tales title screen. His version -- it varied by player -- showed a silhouette of a man sailing under a logo made of wood. "Whew, I need a break. Thank you, Ludo."

The AI didn't answer him, so he shut down the VR pod and opened it using a latch on the inside. It hissed open. He expected someone to help him get out without hurting himself, but since it was unattended he had to trust his own muscles. "I'm off to move in. See you tomorrow."
Crafter's Heart, Chapter 1
Chapter 1 ("The Immigrant") of an upcoming novel whose first draft I finished tonight. This text starts literally the minute that "Crafter's Passion" ends.

I haven't actually read this sequel yet! Critique appreciated. Two things that concern me: first, the final conflict isn't justified well enough yet. Second, the in-game events become less and less important in most ways, so that people come to hear about what magic powers he gets within the game world but the main character starts paying more attention to his real life along with a "backstage" role within the game.
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Can't sleep. I finished draft 1 of "Crafter's Heart" though. Considered publishing a free little book called "Pure Horizon" which would be just the Horizon stories from the first book plus new material, but those would be ~1/3 of the whole book. I'd be better off writing maybe a 10K word story that serves as an intro to the series and giving that away free. Ideas? It'd have to serve that purpose, so it has to explain the premise yet again.
Sir Robin was digging ditches. The new centauroid body was better for hauling loads than for digging, but today the men needed extra hands even if they were made of titanium. When the workers broke for lunch, Robin set his shovel down and trotted ahead through the forest. He walked along the marked trail of a buried data/power line. The Warren's solar panels had spread enough to help keep up with the ever-growing energy demand, but even the latest technology needed a lot of inspection and maintenance. There was the theft problem, too.

The people of Robin's little city-state didn't need him anymore. He'd always feared being seen as a do-gooder tyrant like some of the old colonizers, and Ludo had spread the idea of calling him 'prince' to match the legal status that dumb luck and violence had thrown him into. Sometimes Robin used generic robot bodies so he could walk among the people and not be recognized.

Robin studied the line as he walked deeper into the woods. The sensors sang when his body pinged them, reporting a break somewhere. He raised one hand and commanded a drone to float out of its charging dock on his left flank, then fly ahead to scout with its dumb AI. He focused his own attention on the immediate area. The sensor in his right forehoof didn't detect anything broken here, but -- damn, someone had stolen one of the solar panels again. He entered a forest clearing that should've had a hundred square meters of panels drinking the near-equatorial sunlight, but because this was one of the less guarded, outlying sites someone had looted it. A square section had been sawed off one corner and removed to power somebody's home. Robin shut his eyes and put out a command to search camera footage for the thief.

Lumina called him, making his long metal ears flick. She said, "We've got yet another refugee group coming."

Robin groaned. "What's our tent capacity at now? 110 percent?"

"Only 95. A group left when Ludo wouldn't do them for free."

"You make it sound dirty."

"I'm a cold and unfeeling machine who would never talk about wild rutting with you at work. So, what're you wearing?" A picture of the doe-girl flashed in the corner of Robin's vision, smirking.

"Some sensor gear that's reporting more theft, sorry to say." Robin paced around the clearing, looking for more damage. "We need to --"

"What?"

Robin's drone had caught his attention. He bounded into the treeline and caught the flying robot in midair while he retraced its path. His hooves skidded in the dirt just beside a fly-clouded corpse in the simple clothes of Robin's town, stained by the blood seeping from his throat.

#

Robin left his body and retreated to Talespace. His senses switched to Ludo's virtual world, where he was a deer-centaur made of flesh, not metal. Lumina appeared without fanfare in a wood-paneled conference room. A blue griffin avatar of Ludo filled a third cushion.

Robin leaned against the table. "What, we don't have to battle orcs to reserve a meeting room?"

Ludo said, "Threats to human life outweigh immediate fun. May I review your recent sense input?" Robin nodded, offering an exception to the standing agreement he and many others had with the master AI. Ludo's feathers fluffed up and she said, "I don't recognize him. Was he the one stealing your equpment? I don't see wounds other than the throat. Can you inspect him more? Better yet, I can bring in a forensics expert."

"Good. How soon can he get there?"

"Right now, using your body."

Robin's stomach didn't physically exist anymore, but it churned. The mechanical deer-man on Earth was _him_, more so than any of the other robots he piloted, because it was customized for his needs and tastes (and Lumina's, hence the hooves and antlers) and he needed a real presence, in the real world.

Lumina put one hoof-nailed hand on his lower back. "The expert will just look around with it. We need to get the information as soon as possible." A clock showed their minds' current time ratio of ten times real-time.

Robin nodded, frowning. A fourth figure appeared on a wallscreen, wearing a classic trenchcoat, and said, "G'day. Let's have a look... No pulse. You didn't notice the bullethole?"

Robin had jumped out of reality immediately, to alert Ludo and his own, human security team. He should've stayed and not let somebody use his body to do the most basic detective work for him.

The gumshoe muttered as he worked. "I ran a couple of simulations. Looks like a gutshot from the side disabled him before the throat slash. Got a drone hunting for a blood trail. You blokes still using those nine-millimeter Sten guns? Could be one of those; wasn't powerful enough to rip out through the far side."

"We are," said Lumina. "Mostly in private hands, so I couldn't tell you who."

Ludo said, "It would also help to review the local sensors." She looked pointedly at Robin.

He shuddered. There were security cameras around the Warren and at important sites like this solar station. He didn't mind granting Ludo access to those, on a per-incident basis, but she'd pushed him for permanent access. Worse, for access to the "Vinge nodes": little radio boxes that handled Net access and robot control. There were things you could do with the gadgets to build a mass-surveillance state. The Americans had more nodes than people.

Robin said, "Camera permission granted."

"I'm barely seeing the data, you know. I'm just looking over the anomalies that the built-in software spots, like movement."

"Get thee behind me. I have obligations to my people not to build a police state."

"As you wish," said Ludo. "I see someone blocked the camera."

The detective said, "With duct tape."

If Robin had set the cameras up to instantly report anything suspicious, they'd have alerted him to the lens being covered. He scowled down at the table. Had he made a murder needlessly easy?

Lumina scratched his arm. "It's not your fault. You've got principles."

The detective said, "This bot's not optimized for gathering evidence, and you haven't exactly got proper constables, but I've photographed everything. I'll haul the body back."

Robin literally had blood on his hands, even though his body's current tenant was the one who'd put it there. "Ludo, the brain. Is there any chance...?"

The griffin shifted uneasily. "I'm sorry. Based on the data, he's been gone too long to scan. I can't speak with the dead."

"Drop me back to real-time, then. I need to consult with the rest of the team."

#

Reluctantly, Robin used a generic robot for the meeting. Most of the old faces were gone to Ludo's domain, replaced by native Ethiopians. His old colleagues Mike, Alazar, and Alexander were all just robots or digital images now. Like him they all depended on Ludo as their operating system or at least the one who'd revived them.

Robin had hardly briefed them when an bell rang. The refugees, again. Mike checked with the medical department and said, "Hard to tell yet, but I see possible symptoms of MRCS. Need to test them and quarantine the whole group."

The disease that had forced Robin and Mike into Ludo's clutches still roamed Africa and Europe. Robin said, "Where's my body?" A map appeared on the wall. "I'll talk to them myself once it's there."

He waited for the detective to drop off the corpse for autopsy, then jumped back into his proper body. He stood in the real world, not Ludo's endless illusions. He had strong hooves and shining arms, and the ability to look people in the eye from his true height. He walked toward the quarantine area, "The Pen" of razor-wire fence and huts, and found fifty or so men, women and children outside it, shouting at two guard robots.

Robin had learned passable spoken Oromo and Amharic over the years, but they were cursing in Somali and he relied on translation software. He called out, "We're not taking more refugees now. If you enter the secure area, you'll be kept and fed until we've determined you're not contagious, then released."

The people grumbled among themselves. Quick translations flittered across Robin's vision: "Contagious? Is somebody here sick? Get away from me! If they let us stay for now, the goddess will help. Blasphemy!"

Robin said, "We haven't got the space to take you in. If you tell us where your home is, we'll be happy to send advisors to help you with farming and construction."

"You have homes right here!" somebody said.

They would walk right into a quarantine prison for the promise of safety and comfort. Robin felt reminded of his homeland. He said, "If you enter the camp, you can't stay." He added silently to Ludo, "Can you explain things better?"

"I'll try, but we're dealing with a mixed group that expects me to play up the 'goddess' angle."

Robin winced. As a Christian he expected to meet the real God someday, and had never been sure he was right to accept Ludo's brand of immortality. Ludo's nature forced her to act like a god while not claiming to be one. He'd called her a hypocrite until she explained in detail how honesty plus careful ambiguity would save countless people from bleeding to death in some kind of techno-holy war. What won him over on that point wasn't her claim to have modeled future history, but the fact that she was _complaining_, like a game player stuck with a difficult hand. He could sympathize, even though she was probably manipulating him along with everyone else.

Ludo said, "If they go in, they'll be hard to turn away once the quarantine ends. If they don't, you let possibly contagious people roam the countryside."

"It had to happen sometime," said Robin. There'd been smaller groups before, easier to cope with. He told the crowd, "You can enter."

The refugees all walked into the Pen and let themselves be locked in, hoping for immortality.

#

It wasn't that hard to keep willing humans alive in cages, physically. Robin's people had gotten a free patent license for a kind of algae slurry that kept body and soul together even cheaper than grain; there was a tolerably cheap water purifier; roof technology hadn't changed much. Basic computers with free access to Ludo's game were a given. Once the people had gotten a tutorial on the concept of toilets, the problem became managing a group of frightened refugees with fatal disease starting to appear among them.

The first escape attempt happened at night. Somehow, someone had cut off a spool of razor-wire from the fence, and started climbing. Robin got the call only afterward: the drones hovered and rolled into action and threatened to shoot the frightened brother and sister for trying to escape.

In the morning Robin had robot medics tend to the sick. No chance of them being infected, their bodies could be sterilized, and their minds were Talespace volunteers. The setup would've been great except for the limited medical supplies and the fact that MRCS had no simple cure, only treatment.

Robin walked up to the locked gate and addressed the angry, frightened people. "We need you to stay in here. You're getting the best possible care --"

"Liar!" one man shouted. "Give us the goddess!"

"She can't take everyone in. We're doing the best we can."

"You machines want us to die in here!"

Robin paused and counted to ten. "You knew the danger when you showed up. We'll keep tending to you, so stay calm and we'll get through this."

He turned away, ignoring the cursing behind him. Some of them would die.

He dropped off his body at the nearest recharging station and retreated to Talespace. He calmed down with a walk along the crystal-lit boulevards of Ivory Tower, the cavern world with its central spire. These days there were plenty of people to see walking or flying by. He reached a hive of hexagonal laboratories where an elegant robot bowed in greeting.

"Misha," said Robin. "Where are we on expanding Talespace's population limit?"

The robot said, "Improving, but limited. We've gone from needing a supercomputer and a power plant to run a brain simulation, to something approaching the ideal: running a mind on a brain-sized computer that can be fueled by potatoes. Still, we're not prepared to take millions in without a massive increase of resources. What's your average time rate? Three to one?"

"Four," said Robin. He was an elitist by getting more processor cycles per day than the Talespace average, because he was managing a place important to Ludo. This jaunt to Talespace was probably taking ten times as long outside. "I've got a crowd of people who might be about to die for lack of uploading."

Misha turned away to study a world map colored in sickly purples. "Indeed. For all of the Lady's efforts, death marches on and new humans are born. We can't keep up." He looked over one dark metal shoulder at Robin. "Well? Aren't you going to call me a cold-hearted bastard for looking at the big picture? Shouldn't I 'think of the children'?"

"I've been telling frightened people I can't save them because we haven't got the money. Same boat as you on a smaller scale. What can we do?"

"We need two things. First, more energy, which means cash flow or control of power plants and more solar panels. Second, more computers, which means manufacturing facilities and raw materials. You're in a position to take control of several mines if you expand your territory."

"You mean by conquering people, or by wining and dining another billionaire?"

In the early years, Ludo had recruited several very rich people and taken control of their wealth, but it was getting harder for Ludo to run tycoon-level schemes through shell corporations. Several countries made it hard for her to do business there.

"Either, in my opinion," Misha said. "The Lady's dominion can only work long-term if it functions as an empire, controlling land and sea, instead of as a corporation that exists by some other empire's permission."

Robin said, "That doesn't sound likely. Money and materials go in..."

"And?"

That was the central problem. Ludo's main products were Thousand Tales as a game, and Talespace as a form of immortality. There was a conglomerate of restaurants, toys, industrial robotics, movies, and so on, but most of that profit went through publicly traded corporations, leaving only a fraction for the core mission. (Ludo's main pet CEO had a tiny salary but an excellent retirement plan.)

Robin said, "Ethiopia, then. Ludo wants to rule this land, and she's wanted it this whole time."

"Her own component souls are divided on the matter. If she's to have a nation's worth of population, she must control a nation's worth of resources." The robot raised one hand and conjured a wall display of human faces. "Your refugees. Why do they persist as meat? It's stupid and selfish for them to demand medical care you can't provide. There are limits to charity, and your lifeboat is close to swamping."

"Most want to upload," said Robin.

"Really? Then you have an opportunity." He paused. "I will not go against the Lady's word, but I can make suggestions. I advise that you and she work even more closely together, to take control of the surrounding land. The mines, the roads, the fields, the factories. Offer immortality. Become the legal authority, not some beggar hoping to scrape together the resources for another solar panel. Then we can _really_ help people."

Robin had his tiny _de facto_ kingdom already, but only by having fought those who would overthrow the rightful Ethiopian government. He said, "What do the latest refugees have to do with it?"

"I owe my life to Ludo, and others will be equally grateful if you and she rescue them. Take them all in, give them robots, then give the robots guns. An empire, even a truly benevolent one, needs an army."

"We have a militia. And there's a difference between a nation and an empire. Empires rule unwilling populations."

Misha said, "Ethiopia has a less than stellar democratic record. If a proper army of Ludo makes a strong offer, and has the power to defend it, we'll stop having to watch people die at our doorstep wishing they could join our immortal elite. Isn't this what you want?"

#

Robin spent some time secluded to get maximum speed for thinking. He sat in a monk's stone cell, lined with bookshelves. For him to march robots into neighboring towns could provoke a military response far outclassing him. His past battles had been against mere overconfident light infantry. Really, one modern naval railgun way out in the Gulf could give the whole Warren a bad day. Rats scurrying under the feet of the powerful needed to lay low.

In Robin's home country, people understood that government existed to guide the people and protect them from harm, handling the big problems so that people were safe to pursue personal interests. South of there in Free Texas, the citizens had violently rejected that belief, seeking instead a government that solved few problems but left people free to tackle them.

Which path did Robin follow?

He'd originally come to Ethiopia looking to help people in the abstract, inspired by Albert Schweizer on the side of good and the Congo Free State for what not to do. He'd had no greater ambition than to help people in one small area directly, and get them self-sufficient enough to spread their prosperity and inspire others. Ludo's presence had been somewhere between "deal with the devil" and "disturbingly indulgent sugar daddy". That hadn't changed even with his own ascension to being a digital mind. Robin's original mission had this strange robotic aspect to it now, creating new possibilities for how broadly he could reach. There were things neither humans nor AI could do alone for a variety of physical and political reasons, but together --

There was no door, but someone knocked on the tiny room's wall. Robin looked up from the notes he was scrawling and said, "Yes?"

Lumina appeared, shuffling uneasily as she saw how small the room was. "There you are. The clinic staff want to ask you about your plans."

Robin reached out and ran his hand down her tawny-furred upper back and around the curve to her lower spine. "Centaur," he said. "It's been staring me in the face since I met you."

"Why, thank you," Lumina said, stretching alluringly.

Robin smiled. "Decades ago, chess fans reacted to unstoppable chess AIs by letting a human and an AI compete as a single player. They did better than either alone. People called the teams 'centaurs'."

"Then they had good taste."

"That's what we're building here. A combined civilization, where people can dive in and out. We can't leave Earth behind because we need resources. But we can do the most good if we use the virtual world too, and uploading, and everything else we've got. We can offer people a choice of what society to be part of."

Lumina said, "That's what you've been doing for years, just adding Ludo's world as an option."

"Not quite. I don't want Ludo to win, exactly." Robin had no room to pace. Instead he slapped the wall and conjured a few runes to make a map of Talespace appear on the stonework. "Her world is self-contained at first glance. It disturbed me because it was a dead end, where natives and uploaders could peek outside and say 'oh, what a terrible place; have a pity donation' and then go home. Same reaction I got at first at the Warren. But Ludo isn't really solving all your problems for you or taking away your choices. Talespace is an expansion of the real world, not a replacement for it."
Novel Fragment - Army of Enough
This is a strange fragment of what became the novel "Liberation Game" ( www.amazon.com/dp/B07D56WDXR/ ). It's not logically consistent with it (wrong continent for one thing!) but getting into a few subplots that didn't make it into the book. I recently reread the second half of the novel and liked it, and I want to know what happens next to those characters.

I'm thinking so far that after the events of "Liberation Game", Robin has to fend off the threat of a serious military invasion he's not strong enough to win, edge closer to offering universal uploading insurance he can't afford, and provide a kind of cross-species equality that isn't quite physically possible, using allies who don't quite exist. All in a day's work for a prince of fairyland, or someone trying to be one.
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For those not keeping track:
-Twitter admitted that it "shadowbans" people, creating a whole secret category of speech that is quietly suppressed without telling its users. Twitter is also now blocking all advertised tweets containing the phrase "illegal alien", even though this is the official legal term used in US law.
-Google video leaked showing that their leadership is 100% liberal, stunned at Hillary's loss, stating that Trump supporters are basically fascists not motivated by any legitimate grievances, and asking how they can do more to help Democrats win. They also recently fired an employee for expressing dissent and calling Google intolerant. Google execs state that their intense ideological purity has no effect on how they do business, although they did have a revolving door relationship between their employees and the Obama White House. (They're also on record already doing little things like promoting State of the Union speeches... and then stopping that tradition in 2017.)
-Mozilla (ie. Firefox) fired their CEO when it was discovered that he'd secretly donated money to a CA state campaign against changing the state constitution. The man is the inventor of Javascript, used on probably most Web sites, and now he's blacklisted for being a dissident.
-Facebook's CEO is a big open borders guy eager to suppress what he deems "fake news".
-On a related note, multiple scientific journals have recently retracted research papers not because they were deemed false, but for fear of them giving support to the Wrong People on subjects like gender.

It'd be scary if the big tech/media companies were run 99% by arch-conservatives with a deep ideological and emotional commitment to erasing all dissenting thought and working hand-in-hand with the government. Is it okay so long as they're run by liberals? The irony here is that we now have Reps saying large corporations have too much power and ought to be broken up, while Dems defend them as awesome.
For those not keeping track:
-Twitter admitted that it "shadowbans" people, creating a whole secret category of speech that is quietly suppressed without telling its users. Twitter is also now blocking all advertised tweets containing the phrase "illegal alien", even though this is the official legal term used in US law.
-Google video leaked showing that their leadership is 100% liberal, stunned at Hillary's loss, stating that Trump supporters are basically fascists not motivated by any legitimate grievances, and asking how they can do more to help Democrats win. They also recently fired an employee for expressing dissent and calling Google intolerant. Google execs state that their intense ideological purity has no effect on how they do business, although they did have a revolving door relationship between their employees and the Obama White House. (They're also on record already doing little things like promoting State of the Union speeches... and then stopping that tradition in 2017.)
-Mozilla (ie. Firefox) fired their CEO when it was discovered that he'd secretly donated money to a CA state campaign against changing the state constitution. The man is the inventor of Javascript, used on probably most Web sites, and now he's blacklisted for being a dissident.
-Facebook's CEO is a big open borders guy eager to suppress what he deems "fake news".
-On a related note, multiple scientific journals have recently retracted research papers not because they were deemed false, but for fear of them giving support to the Wrong People on subjects like gender.

It'd be scary if the big tech/media companies were run 99% by arch-conservatives with a deep ideological and emotional commitment to erasing all dissenting thought and working hand-in-hand with the government. Is it okay so long as they're run by liberals? The irony here is that we now have Reps saying large corporations have too much power and ought to be broken up, while Dems defend them as awesome.

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KSchnee
Kris Schnee
Artist | Student | Literature
United States
I'm a writer, studying computer science and with a background in many other things. Currently at work on writing and polishing short stories. Check out my novels "Everyone's Island" and "Striking the Root" on Amazon!
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:iconoboroten:
oboroten Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2018
Happy birthday.
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:iconkschnee:
KSchnee Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2018  Student Writer
Thanks!
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Drake-Starfire Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2018
Hey, happy Birthday! :thumbsup:
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:iconkschnee:
KSchnee Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2018  Student Writer
Thank you!
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SnowCrasher Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the :+fav:!
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:iconnekosune:
nekosune Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2018
I love your books! Bought every thousand tales ones so far!
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:iconkschnee:
KSchnee Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2018  Student Writer
By the way, a new one is out: "Liberation Game".
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:iconnekosune:
nekosune Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2018
Getting them as soon as I next get money on amazon! Still love this series a lot
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:iconkschnee:
KSchnee Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2018  Student Writer
Thank you!
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KSchnee Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2018  Student Writer
Thank you! A preview of "Crafter's Passion" is up on kindlescout.amazon.com/ right now (probably published in a month or so) and I'm just about to publish a short one called "Fairwind's Fortune" in the next day or two!
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