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Monthly Archives: May 2016

WildStar Fanfic #2: A New Day

This is my second attempt at writing fiction. It’s more difficult than I’d imagined, but a very fun and rewarding experience nonetheless. If you want to read my first WildStar Fanfiction, you can find it here. Enjoy!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“…and let’s support our brave soldiers fighting on the front lines to protect us from the soul-less Dominion wretches. Send in your donations and letters of support. It will mean the world to them.”

A deep, raspy voice speaks into a rusty microphone, fighting against the crackling and humming of the radio machinery that fills the room. Scotch McCloud is hunched over the console, thrumming his fingers on the hastily scribbled notes of tonight’s evening program.

Taking a deep breath, he continues.

“And before you rowdy bunch start sending in your usual angry letters, let me preempt you by saying… Yes! All donations will go directly to support our troops fighting on the front lines here on planet Nexus, our new home away from home. Supporters can rest assured that the brave troops are getting the supplies and armaments they need, and you brave soldiers can keep soldiering on, therewillbenobeersorry. So give, with no worry of corporate swindling! We are an independent broadcast and are in no way affiliated with “Protostar, the only brand proven to bring you a lifetime of happiness and entertainment!”

Cue the music. Scotch hits several switches, his face focused intently on the control board in front of him. Upbeat music begins to play. Scotch begins to nod in time to the music, his hand hovering over the next set of switches. Milk the moment, Scotch. A few more seconds…

Aaaand… now!

“Well, that’s gonna be it for tonight’s show, folks. DJ Scotch McCloud, signing out for the night! Stay tuned for our award-winning late night programming. This week, we’re bringing you soothing soundscapes in surround sound, straight from the forests of Celestion. Sleep your worries away in peace and serenity! As always, stay tuned, stay classy, and good night.”

Scotch closes his eyes for a moment as he takes a final deep breath. After a few moments, his eyes pop open, gleaming with purpose. He switches off the microphone, pulls off his headset and tosses it down on the desk.

“Man, I thought this night would never end!” He hits a few more switches and starts up the audio queue. Scotch rocks in his swivel chair and hops onto his feet, sending the chair rolling across the control room floor. “Hey, Lizzy!” Scotch yells out as he works out the kinks in his neck.

Sounds of rustling flora and wildlife gradually seep in from the control room’s speakers, filling the room with the forest’s ambiance.

“Yeah?” A voice replies lazily from a nearby couch.

“Get up, get up. Let’s get movin’! We got work to do!”

Lizzy peeks her head up from the edge of the couch, just high enough for their eyes to meet. “C’mon Scotch… isn’t this job work enough for you? It pays the bills, don’t it?” She yawns and stretches as she sinks back into the cushions.

Scotch turns sharply and points a finger in Lizzy’s face.

“Listen Lizzy, I don’t got plans to waste my life with my butt glued down to this run-down radio tower. This isn’t work.” He walks over and grabs his jacket from the back of his seat, opens a nearby closet and pulls out a long, heavy rifle.

”This little station ain’t never gonna change anything! Right, boys?” Two large arachnoid bots quickly activate and shuffle around, heads bobbing and turning toward Scotch’s voice.

“I know the Dommies are gettin’ close. Their Chua dogs have been sniffin’ around again. Joe and Mac spotted them two nights in a row.” The two bots start bleeping in unison as if in agreement with Scotch.

“I don’t know what those so-called soldiers are up to, but they’re sleepin’ on the job, Lizzy! Who’s gonna stop ‘em?!”

Lizzy yawns. “Well, I feel like stayin’ in tonight. Why don’t you go on by yourself, if you want to. I’ll be here…” she yawns again, “…keepin’ an eye on things.”

“Lizzy… “ Scotch slows down and turns to face her, arms on his hips. His stern eyes soften for a moment as he watches her. Scotch gazes at her soft features, watching her half-closed eyelids flutter for a few more seconds, before finally letting out a resigned sigh. It was nearly impossible for him to be upset at Liz when she was like this — so innocent and vulnerable.

“All right, Liz. I can’t force you to go. I still got my little buddies here to protect me.” He pauses for a moment in thought. “Though they’re no match for your shootin’ skills, and you know that.”

“You’ll be fine, honeybunch,” she says, the edge of her lips turning up in a sleepy smile. ”I trust your judgement.” Lizzy lifts herself up on the couch and throws a casual salute, looking into Scotch’s determined eyes.

Scotch salutes back, nods silently and throws on his jacket.

* * * * *

The city sleeps, hidden within the dark deserts of planet Nexus. Discovered by Exile forces and hounded by the Dominion Empire, the once dormant planet has become a battlefield between the two factions, each desperately racing to uncover ancient secrets hidden within the planet — ancient secrets which could grant them untold power, resources, and some even claim, immortality.

The city sleeps, with its dimly lit signs flickering throughout the main thoroughfares, ramshackle buildings littering the streets as far as the eye can see. The radio tower looms in the distance, overlooking a desert canyon. The wind blows soft, chilled air between the narrow canyon walls leading away from the city gates, quietly stirring up the dry dirt. The horizon begins to glow a soft red, signaling the dawn of another new day.

Scotch McCloud and his companion bots march steadily atop the canyon walls, their gazes continuously scanning the opposite end of the roads winding along the canyon floor. Scotch looks up at the brightening city skyline, then back toward the road. Another crummy day, another crummy morning. I wonder how many more we’ll live through, the way things are going now.

Scotch leans low near the edge of a cliff wall, squinting through the low light of the early morning. He whispers to one of his bots, pointing in the direction opposite the city. “Hey Mac, go set yourself up behind them rocks there and keep alert. Let me know if you see any movement.”

The bot answers with a series of beeps and shuffles off, its eyes scanning left and right as it follows Scotch’s orders.

“And you, Joey. Come with me.” The second bot bloops as it follows Scotch’s footsteps.

Scotch looks back and shouts, “And keep it down. You’re gonna alert the whole bloody Dominion fleet!” The beeps and bloops from the bots drop down to a hush, then disappear.

Scotch flips a switch in his earpiece, and the beeping of the bops resume as if they never stopped.

“That’s better,” he whispers to himself.

Scotch slowly descends down a narrower slope on the cliffside.

They came about this far before they turned back. Yes. I see the tracks there. Scotch scratches his chin in deep thought. Chua feet. Hmm… they got their own bots, too, it seems. He traces the outlines of small caterpillar tracks with his fingers.

A sudden burst of beeps assault his ears. Scotch winces as he searches for the bot’s location.

“What, Mac? You see something?”

More beeps.

“Where?” Scotch skitters back to the cliff wall and listens carefully, squinting into the distance. He brings his voice down to a whisper, “I got nothing here. Sure it’s not some random dust devil or somethin’?”

Mac beeps affirmatively.

“Well, boys, let’s regroup just to be on the safe side.” Scotch climbs back up the cliffside with Joe skittering up the wall beside him, all the while visually scanning the narrow path leading up to the ramshackle city. This road was the one sure way into the Exile stronghold. The radio tower looms in the distance, overlooking the desert canyon. 

Scotch pulls out telescopic visors and puts them on, zooming into the city entrance. The gates are shut tight, make-shift lights flickering above. His gaze stops at the flimsy metal gates protecting the city and shakes his head. “Those good for nothin’, beer guzzlin’ excuses for guards are sittin’ safely behind those walls. It’s disgusting, Joe. We need to do something before things get bad.”

He fiddles with his visors as he tries to get a better focus. I wish we had those fancy night-vision lenses, he thinks to himself. He pans over to other end of canyon path.

Nothing.

“Well boys, they must be takin’ the day off.”

Mac scuttles from beyond some shadowy rocks and rejoins the group, beeping insistently.

Scotch looks over to Mac and shrugs. “Looks like it’s nothing, bud. Too bad. Thought I could get a nice souvenir for our trophy room…” he says to himself. The bots beep silently, their lights flashing in a dance of colors.

Scotch shifts his gaze from the far path, up to the top of the cliffs. “I guess we’ll come back tomorr…”

He sees a flicker of movement in the distance. “What the hell?” Scotch wonders aloud.

Two, no, three small figures.

Are those…?

There is a flash, and one figure instantly closes half the distance between it and Scotch’s party.

Scotch’s eyes slowly widen in realization. “It’s them! Boys, get ready! It’s action time!”

Scotch throws off the visor, and pulls his rifle from his side. “Looks like we got us some spellslingers. Joe, slow ’em down. Mac, gimme some cover!”

Joe’s legs latch firmly onto the ground as the bot shoots a stream of mortars toward the approaching chua. It’s small rodent-like body rushes forward with incredible speed, weaving left and right, dodging the shots with ease as it closes the distance. Two other chua follows closely on its trail, pistols ready in their grips.

“You’re not getting us that easily, filthy jabbers.” Scotch pulls a thick cord from the side of his pack and his suit unfolds itself into an exoskeleton, locking firmly to his body. He digs his heels into the ground, charging up his rifle and aiming straight for the group of chua.

Mac takes aim and shoots a volley of machine-gun fire at the group of chua, glancing the lead spellslinger’s arm. It winces, and a moment later, disappears into thin air.

“Take this!” Scotch unleashes his charged shot on the remaining chua. The shot lands directly at their feet, blowing them to bits. “And he scores!”

The air vibrates and the chua that had disappeared moments ago reappears behind Mac. It fires a volley of pistol shots directly into the bot’s exposed joints. Mac bleeps violently as its legs buckle and it crashes into the ground.

“Damn it, Mac!” Scotch and Joe both turn to face the enemy and they return fire. The chua disappears again into the ether, the bullets zooming harmlessly through air where it stood a moment ago.

Scotch keeps his rifle at the ready, eyes scanning left and right. Mac twitches as sparks scatter from its body. The dust of the battle settles into an eerie silence as the gunshots echo further through the canyon.

His eyes catch the strange shimmering of the air in the distance. The chua pops into existence, running full speed toward the city walls.

“What the… after it, Joe!” The bot locks its sight onto the escaping target and scurries forward. Scotch struggles with his suit as he wrestles with its weight. “Damn this suit…” Scotch unlatches his exosuit and let’s it fall to the ground in a heap. Scotch dashes toward the city, fumbling with his offhand as he reaches for his handheld radio.

“Lizzy, Lizzy, can you hear me?” Scotch shouts into the receiver between heavy breaths.

The sky turns colors from red to orange, from orange to yellow, as the sun begins its steady rise over the city, the looming radio tower casting a long shadow underneath. Steady static flows through the radio–a noisy silence that suddenly fills Scotch’s thoughts with dread.

Scotch shouts into the radio once again, struggling to keep up the pursuit.

“Lizzy? Wake up, wake up!”

The radio emits a soft beep, and Lizzy’s voice cuts through the static. “Yes, Scotch, I hear you. Is everything all right?” she answers, her voice still groggy from sleep.

“Thank the stars, you’re awake! Listen, you got to broadcast an alert.” The chua stops in front of a high section of the city wall. It turns back and sees Scotch in pursuit, grins, and winks out of existence. Scotch grits his teeth and pumps his legs even harder. “Do it, Lizzy. Right now! Somethin’s going down!”

Scotch turns back toward the direction the chua arrived from. Silhouettes of a small army both above and between the cliff walls are now visible in the morning light.

“We were right, Liz. The Dominion. They’re coming for the city… You have to warn them!”

Distant figures start blinking their way toward the city, just like the previous spellslingers. But this time, there were more of them — dozens more.

Scotch hears the sound of metal piercing metal behind him. He turns quickly, leveling his rifle at eye level. Joe lurches to a stop several paces behind as three large holes bore into the bot’s side.

The air shimmers, and a horned, muscular draken materializes from the air. It pulls its claws out from the bot and licks his lips, looking back toward Scotch. “This will be easier than I thought.” He lunges toward Scotch as Joe twitches and explodes.

The draken finds an opening and pierces through Scotch’s chest. Scotch howls in pain and falls backward, grabbing the draken’s clawed arm and dragging it down with him.

As they hit the ground, the impact lodges the claws deeper into Scotch’s chest. Scotch fires his rifle into the draken’s gut, and the draken’s body explodes into two halves. The draken’s face freezes in shock, and his eyes roll back as it loses consciousness.

Scotch lay on the ground, panting, struggling to pull the claw out from his chest. He coughs up blood.

“Damn it. Why do the handsome ones always end up dead…” he grumbles. As his arms tire from wrestling with the draken arm, he sees more spellslingers blink past him toward the city. They pay him no attention.

His breath is heavy, and he looks up at the city before him, still quiet and peaceful in the morning light. “I hope Lizzy…” The radio tower explodes, scattering flame and debris across the city below.

Alarms sound throughout the city, and distant shouting reaches Scotch’s ears.

An army of draken, chua, cassian, and several mechari march steadily past Scotch’s still body.

One larger mechari slows down in front of Scotch. The robotic form leans over and inspects the body. Scotch’s mouth is open, eyes glazed over in shock. His hands are still gripping the dangling draken arm, but he has stopped struggling.

“Zax!” the mechari calls out.

“What, what? Why you call? We not there yet!” Mondo Zax, an old, bearded chua with a crazed grin skitters toward them.

“Here, can you use this one?” The Mechari lifts Scotch easily with one hand, tears the draken remains off of the limp body, and dangles Scotch in front of Zax.

“Yes, yes… Zax can always use more specimen.” he says, then lets out a gleeful cackle.

The mechari nods and tosses Scotch’s body onto a passing truck, adding to the pile of bodies within.

“Good.” He looks toward the city. Explosions begin erupting everywhere, flames roaring up throughout the city. Distant shouting and screaming fill the desert air, amplified by the echoes from the canyon behind them.

“I am…impressed. You prove yourself time and again.” The mechari looks over to Zax and gives a nod of approval. Zax mutters to himself rapidly under his breath and doesn’t seem to hear the mechari.

The mechari looks back at the falling city and stares into the flames. It stands there for several minutes, watching, thinking, analyzing. Black smoke begin to cloud the air around them as the sunlight struggles to find it’s way through.

“I have decided.” It begins to resume its walk in a steady pace toward the smoldering city. “You are right once again, Zax.”

The mechari sees something in the flames and a slow smile spreads across its mechanical face. “Yes. Today will be a good day.”

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Posted by on May 28, 2016 in Fanfiction, Gaming

 

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The Long Break Up

I am divorced.

What image does that paint of me?

Yesterday, I made my first public announcement of the end of our marriage. It has been over a year since we have been separated, and several months since the divorce.

It was a difficult thing to do, pulling that trigger. Now it’s out in the open, for all of our past friends and acquaintances to see and to make judgement.

It needed to be done, because we need to move on.

How do I come across to those friends who only saw the facade of the happy couple? What image do they conjure in their minds when they finally know the truth?

I am divorced.

There are connotations attached to that phrase, along with questions:

Am I just another statistical casualty?

Are we just another couple who inevitably “bit the dust”?

Are we just another example of the futility of marriage?

Or was it a result of immaturity? An unwillingness to work things out or to compromise?

But most importantly: Who was in the wrong?

-The Long Break Up-

I was in a 9 year relationship with my now ex-wife. We have a four year old son. Our relationship started straining about 3 years ago when she fell in love with someone else. She still cared for me, but we were living apart at the time, lonely and in need of emotional support.

I didn’t mind, as long as we were still close to each other. As long as we had complete trust and was honest with one another, I didn’t care what she did. We talked a lot over the phone during and worked through that time period together and got over the bump.

After he left, she eventually started seeing other people. While she told me of the first, even before it became anything substantial, the ones following were all secret until I eventually found out about them, one after another.

She would start to make excuses about going out to eat with friends, and outright lie when I asked her specific questions. It hurt terribly, but I wasn’t going to stop her. It was her choice, and I’m not a person who tells others what they should or shouldn’t do. Maybe that was part of the problem.

I wanted us to try and work things out, but she didn’t want to. She would always run to something else. Her phone, her work friends, her lovers. The thing is, I can’t completely blame her, because I haven’t done everything I could do to make her feel secure in our relationship.

After we had our child, I was stuck with a dilemma. The job I had was crushing my soul, and was taking me further and further from the career path I put myself into immense debt to pursue. It felt like I either had to stick with the job I hated and abandon my past seven years of education to work in the seafood industry, or act now to steer myself back in the right direction.

We decided to live apart while I tried to go back to school. She stayed with my parents, whom she hardly knew, and with whom I had a strained relationship with. She agreed to go, because it was impossible for me to go back to school without somebody to help look after our son while my wife worked. They insisted on her paying rent, so the end result was probably not much different after all.

In hindsight, we should have stayed together and figured things out another way. I eventually gave up on finishing my classes, and went back home to stay with my family before it was too late.

We had many ups and downs those next three years. There were still fond memories to be made, but by then, it was clear the trust she had for me was gone.

In her eyes, our financial future was impossibly bleak. It became an inescapable burden for her. Our current income couldn’t support the amount of student loan debt I had accrued over the years. I had a low wage job, but in an industry that I cared for. I was working on moving up–which I did eventually–but she didn’t want to suffer any longer. She lost all faith in me and my ability to provide for the family. It came to a point where she would come home from her job and would escape to her phone, staring at it non-stop. She wouldn’t even look up at me or our son.

I became more and more bitter as the months went on. Why couldn’t she even try to work things out? There is always a way to make things work. Why can’t she talk to me about anything anymore? Waves of hopelessness struck me constantly, and there were times I wanted to give up. On my evening commutes, I would entertain thoughts of driving full speed off of the highway, or even getting a firearm license so I could go shoot that mother fucker she’s seeing in front of her face.

She moved out over a year ago, and have been pushing for a divorce for the latter half of the year. We argued and discussed the terms for our separation, which mostly revolved around visitation schedules. We had no significant assets to fight over, but she wanted to return home to Japan with our son.

We met many times throughout the year, discussed, debated, back-tracked, and finally agreed on our son’s future. As much as I want to be with my son, and as much as I felt that I would be a better care-taker for him than this immature, irresponsible mother who put her own desires to be comfortable above her child’s desire to stay with his parents, I could only see the uphill struggle we would have if I took custody. A single father with a mediocre job, debt-laden, living with parents he couldn’t stand to be around, versus both a mother and a future step-father with a sound financial future.

I wasn’t, and still am not, in any state to take care of him on my own. And he will at least have a new father, as well as his mother to lean on.

Of course, I resent this bastard, who also happened to be cheating on his partner who lives overseas. Supposedly, he wasn’t close with her anyway, so they split after he started seeing my wife. Of course, I wanted to find out where he lives and beat his brains in. How could they get away with this? I have ammunition. I have text messages. I have photos. I could take legal action.

But then again, he’s providing her with something she really wants that I can’t offer. He gives her financial stability and a more financially sound future for our son. He also provides her with trust and understanding, which we have clearly lost. The photos she unwittingly left on our shared iCloud account shows me how much she cares for this person. She was happy in those selfies, and showed joyous expressions I haven’t seen in years.

We had a long back and forth with the documents her lawyer provided us, making adjustments until all of my concerns were sorted out. One night, after looking over the adjusted paperwork, with my soon-to-be-ex pleading sincerely, I had one last cry in the bathroom before I signed my son away.

All this time, everyone around us was oblivious to any of this. Mostly because we were so good at hiding it in public. Not even our parents knew anything was seriously wrong until the day my wife packed up and left.

We will still communicate going forward, because our son has us bound for life. She still cares for me, and let’s me see our son whenever I ask. She just can’t see herself happy living with me anymore and wants to move on. She felt incredibly hurt and abandoned while we lived apart, while I was free to pursue my dreams as she suffered in silence away from the person she loved. She felt our trust deteriorate, especially after feeling the guilt of seeing another person in secret after we had worked through the first one together. Sensing her lack of trust, and with a mix of bitter emotions, I found it harder and harder to comfort her and to give her the emotional support she needed. She built wall after wall of emotional defenses, and our rift grew ever larger until it was finally too much for her to handle. And that was the beginning of our end.

Even so, love is not an easy thing to abandon.

I still have occasional thoughts and even dreams of us reuniting, our son jumping up and down with joy that we can live together again. She is still my love, because she completed me. She was the first and only person in my life that I trusted without a doubt. She was the only one whom I could be completely honest with and be vulnerable about my inner demons. I was never lonely, even when we lived apart. Even after the emotional hell she has put me through, I could never intentionally hurt her, because I put her through that hell as well.

It has gotten easier these past few months, but I’m afraid it will become more and more difficult for our son once they move overseas.

-The Aftermath-

I faced a new dilemma after we agreed on our divorce.

How the hell was I going to tell people? Everyone thinks we are a happy young couple, living happily with their son and their parents. My work friends and my school friends, they all think we are still happily married. To make things worse, our family is a part of a religious community which holds marriage and family as the number one priority. To make things even worse, I was in a public leadership position in that church, helping to lead and organize the music for services every week. How was I going to announce this to the world in these circumstances?

It was months before I told even one person. I would meet with an old friend ready to spill everything, open my mouth, then change the subject. He would ask me how my wife and kid was, and I would shrug and say, “They’re doing good. The usual.” It took everything I had to finally tell someone. It took over a year to tell just a handful of people I trust. I had to do it one by one, face to face. I couldn’t take the backlash and scrutiny a public announcement would create.

Last November, when I had an opportunity to switch locations for my job along with a promotion, I took it immediately. I used that as an excuse to relieve myself of my duties as a band leader at our church. I haven’t returned since. I needed to withdraw. I needed to leave enough time and distance so the blow would be minimal, both to my family and the community. Imagine the gossip and scandal that would spread throughout the church if all of this came out while I was still involved.

Soon after, an opportunity came for another promotion. I took this on, and while being extremely challenging, it provided me the means to save up to move out. I found an apartment with a friend who understands my situation. I set up my living space in a way that I could continue to pursue both my skills as a musician and my gaming hobby. I have found a go-to market and a gym that can help support a healthy lifestyle. I have found wonderful friends in the online space who share my passions, and with whom I can show my real self. I have found inspiration and developed great habits in large part to my exposure to this blogging community. I have experienced the zenith and nadir of emotions during the time with my love, and hopefully am a wiser person now because of them.

Were we wrong? Did we choose the wrong path? It’s easy to think of things we could have done differently. It’s easy to look back and find the crucial, pivotal moments where things started turning downhill. But time does not stop, and it does not let us rewind. We were married, and now we are not. What image does that paint of us?

To fall in love is easy, but to maintain that love is another story — and we all have our own stories. Most importantly, dear readers, before you judge, before you criticize, before you assume; please remember this: There are always two sides to every break up.

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2016 in relationships

 

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