There are a lot of old tunnels beneath the city, including sewers that are no longer in use. Homeless people use a lot of the ones that are closer to an exit, but the deeper ones are pretty much empty. We were travelling through a circular tunnel that had once probably been a sewer - though thankfully it didn’t smell - when it emerged into a large room, with what at first glance appeared to be a lot of cloaked figures scattered around it. James - big strong lad that he is - yelped. And, okay, I might have done as well, but definitely quieter than he did. It just wasn’t what we had been expecting, okay? It took a moment to realise that they were all standing unnaturally still, at which point I was out there, skipping merrily through the half foot of water covering the floor. The first figure was a stone statue of a man in a robe. The second was a balloon taped to an upright broom, supported by two halves of a mop at the base, who had an umbrella for ‘shoulders’ over which was draped a black velvet cloth - a curtain, I think. The third was a store mannequin dressed in a robe. This was when I managed to put it together - they were all dressed like monks of some kind. We all spread out through the room, laughing and calling out our discoveries, flashes of light piercing the darkness as we took photos. A few minutes later, Serena shouted for silence. In the quiet, we all heard what she had - a low hum slowly becoming louder. As we waited, it resolved into what sounded like chanting in words we couldn’t quite make out. The song - beautiful, haunting and sombre - lasted about five minutes before fading, jarring us from a trance we hadn’t realised we’d fallen into. Luckily Pete and Emma had had the presence of mind to record the song on their phones, so we could listen to it later, though it was never quite the same. They still haven’t managed to figure out what language the chanting is in - Pete’s of the option that the distortions due to the shape of the room and the recording on a phone are just too great, though there are differing opinions in the club.
We were picking our way cautiously through the floors of an office block that had apparently been abandoned for several years, when a smell wafted over us. I’m putting it down here for the record - it was the smell of fresh honeysuckle. I have *no* idea how Pete thought it was the smell of engine grease, nor how Jemima thought it was the smell of wind off the salt flats. Whatever it was, it came from upstairs and after about five minutes of petty argument, none of us were put off from continuing up. The next floor was empty, but the floor after that weirdly had a food stall set out in the middle of it, a middle aged woman in an apron tending it. She waved us all over and asked what we wanted, with an accent I couldn’t quite place. Now, the food on there was strange. Not unfamiliar - I mean, I pretty much recognised every single individual component of what was on offer - but, like, weird pregnancy craving strange. The worst thing was that I caught sight of what looked like a pork rib smeared with jam and mayonnaise and garnished with lime and my mouth started watering madly. Somewhat to my inner despair, I couldn’t argue myself out of paying for the monstrosity - and it was so good, I couldn’t help moaning when I tried it. Everyone else was also trying equally bizarre concoctions, with almost identically mixed expressions that quickly changed to delight after trying it. So, so weird. And we never did find out where the smell of honeysuckle came from. I tried to recreate the abomination later, but just managed to make something I couldn’t quite bring myself to taste from the smell.
Jessica padded wearily towards her room, hardly bouncing at all as she did so. But even her tiredness couldn’t quite stop her heart jumping at every unexpected sound or movement. Luckily there wasn’t much of that at this hour - a scant few students still up from the night before, even fewer who were up to the task of starting their day this early.
Well, at least the police hadn’t been waiting for her outside the dorm building.
That had to be a bonus, right?
She opened the door to her room as quietly as she could - only to see two people curled up on her bed, sleeping. Snoring loudly in one case. She felt a grin tugging at the side of her face as she poked Pete in the side.
“Hey,” she said as he grumbled sleepily. “You’re in my bed. I don’t know if you realise this, but that’s going to make it really hard to get to-“ The rest of her words were muffled as Serena leapt up off the bed and glomped onto her, muffling Jessica’s mouth with her chest.
Okay, okay, okay. Do not react, she told herself. Just be normal. Don’t babble, don’t flush, don’t start waving your hands around spasmodically. Everything’s fine, everything’s normal.
Definitely don’t think about where your face is right now.
“We were so worried about you,” Serena said. “What happened? Where did you get to?”
Jessica managed to find the presence of mind to push herself away.
It wasn’t like she had a massive burning crush on Serena or anything. Besides, Serena was straight. And had a boyfriend. Who was in the room. She gave Pete a slightly manic grin and only a slightly overenthusastic wave.
“Too much?” Serena asked.
“No!” Jessica chirruped. “It was fine. Everything’s fine! I just got caught up in an adventure. The first thing that happened was that I managed to find a different part of the underground city that I can totally find again, with a prohibition style saloon that’d be totally great for a party. And then I managed to find my way upstairs and encountered a man in costume with a crown on his head and-“ she said, then snapped her mouth shut. Maybe she shouldn’t go into all that. At least not yet. At least not until she’d gotten it all straightened it out in her head.
“And then you managed to make it back to your dorm and all your friends left because it’s five-fucking-o’clock in the morning,” came sleepy voice of her roommate Maya from across the room.
It was as good an excuse as any, and Jessica leapt upon it. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” she said. “I’ll tell you all about it later. Not that it’s all that interesting, anyway-“
“Quiet!” Maya snapped as Serena and Pete gave her a funny look. Whoops. Maybe it hadn’t been the best idea to describe her night as not all that interesting. She couldn’t remember the last time that she’d-
She blinked, and whispered loudly, “Sorry,” to Maya and “Later,” to Serena and Pete. Serena raised her hand in the call me later sign and gave her a dire look. Jessica was fairly certain her smile flickered before she managed to get her game face up, but-
Maybe Serena and Pete were too tired to catch that.
She sunk down onto her bed and the phone she’d been given buzzed. She checked it to see approximately seventy billion texts and missed calls from her mother.
She sighed and cast a glance in Maya’s direction. She almost feel the all-but-certain glare coming from that direction roasting her flesh. With a groan, she pushed herself up and padded wearily upstairs to get to the roof access. Luckily no one was up there.
She dialled her mother.
“Hi, mum,” she started, before her mother could so much as say anything. “Sorry I didn’t call before. I totally meant to, but stuff happened. Good news - I’m out of police custody. Not that you probably couldn’t guess that, since, hey, I’m phoning you. Although I guess being in police custody didn’t stop me from phoning you before, but we destroyed that phone after everyone had made their-“
“Jess,” her mother interjected, her voice still rough from sleep. “Hush.” Jessica shut up. “Now take a deep breath, and count backwards from ten…”
Jessica obligingly deep breath. “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one,” she said, feeling a little calmer already.
“Now start at the beginning,” her mother told her. “Slowly.”
Jessica took another deep breath for good luck, and began, “I was exploring the underground with the UrbEx Soc when I ended up separated, in unfamiliar tunnels…” she began.
She doesn’t move an inch as she wakes up, through long practice. The rhythm of her breathing doesn’t even change.
In the streets, it’s one more edge, one more thing that can potentially stand between you and danger, if no one around you can figure out your change in consciousness.
Sometimes it’s not enough by itself, of course. But it isn’t a habit that her body or mind has quite relaxed away from, not even in ten years.
After all, no matter how much Wake might mean safety to her, there’s still a part that knows he also means danger as well.
At this range, he could do anything he likes to her, and there’s absolutely nothing, nothing at all she could do to change that fact.
Not that that’s the reason she’s awake now. Nor even a sudden fear about the children next door, something which has awoken her more times than she can count over the last nine years.
She killed someone today.
It hadn’t felt at all like she’d imagined it might.
She’s spent so long thinking about killing the members of the Council, dreaming of it, craving it on a deep and fundamental level as the only kind of retributive justice that she could envisage for their violation of the city, of her sister (of her), yet still so utterly scared to even raise a finger lest it be broken off that…
But she’d killed someone today.
Maybe someone even on the order of the Council.
And it’d been… easy. A simple rearrangement of energies and a woman had died.
Not that she’d been alone in taking her down, of course. But she’d never imagined that anyone of that stature could be killed that easily, even after everything else.
She wasn’t sure what she felt about that, wasn’t sure what she should feel about that, didn’t feel much of anything about that at all.
As she slipped out of bed, Wake stirred beside her, but slipped back under with a calming touch of her hand. She quietly padded over to the window, overlooking what had once been Funland.
She didn’t think that she regretted killing Velucide. She’d violated her sister, siphoning from her in some kind of scheme without so much as a by your leave. If she’d been left alive, she’d have doubtless just tried to do it again.
Worse, other people - Sethry’s name bobbing in her mind, unsolicited - might have thought she had a point, tried to help her in her next attempt. And…
Well, she was aware that Sethry wasn’t much of a father, especially when it came to his other daughter.
Not to mention the fact that she’d proven to have a talent for burrowing into people’s minds, worms-worms-worming her way into their will, bending it to her own. Wake had just been there, would have undoubtedly been her target if she’d known of his presence…
She’d like to think that it was just a desire for him to never experience a violation on that level, be helpless even in his own mind the way that she…
And that was definitely a factor. It was. She thought that she might even love him, and she’d certainly never wish that on him. Was almost grateful for the gut level anger she felt at anyone doing that to him.
But she also couldn’t deny the bone level terror at the thought of someone twisting him around so he’d be a threat to her.
There’d be absolutely nothing she could do.
And in the moment, removing that threat, removing all of those threats, had seemed like the only thing she could do.
But she’d actually killed someone. Just like that.
In the pale moonlight, Nadzieja looked out over her protectorate and wondered who or what, exactly, the tears falling down her face were for.
Possibly my favourite podcast series, this is from the viewpoint of Lia Haddock, an investigative reporter looking into the mystery of Limetown, whose over three hundred inhabitants disappeared without a trace over ten years ago. It starts off as a retrospective, but takes another turn when one of the missing inhabitants contacts her...
This is really well done, with excellent production values and a contained story that takes place over six episodes. Episodes 1 and 6, in particular, are standout. (Especially if you listen to episode 1 again after episode 6.)
Another well written drama, following the story of Dr Sally Grissom a twenty-first century scientist who accidentally time travels to the Eldridge, 1943 during a top secret military experiment. This series isn't anywhere close to being concluded as it follows Sally's tale over the course of years both as she tries to find out exactly what happened and the ripples that knowledge of time-travel in this period causes.
In general, the main focus of the story is the character drama, often laced with time-travel twists. Sometimes the characters stumble and fall, but always in ways that feel true to them, even as you hope they'll do better this time. One warning is that some of the voices are hard to distinguish, at least in the beginning, and there isn't a cast list, so sometimes you might not be quite sure who a given character is.
Doug Eiffel is a slacker and a comms officer - in pretty much that order - aboard the Hephaestus, a station orbiting the red dwarf Wolf 359. The series very much starts as a comedy, as Doug bounces off the other occupants of the station - his uptight, do-everything-by-the-rulebook superior, Commander Minkowski, scientist with more than occasional mad tendencies, Hilbert and the passive-aggressive station AI, Hera. It slowly morphs into something else as plot (and occasionally additional crew) accumulates, but still occasionally bounces back to its zany roots.
Although not nearly as focussed an experience as either of the first two podcasts, the energy and chemistry the actors bring to the roles makes it a very enjoyable experience. It's especially worth catching the video of the live show they did - a lot of the cast manage to look impressively like you'd imagine, and the changes in posture and body language between Eiffel and Hilbert - the same voice actor plays both - are kind of amazing.
The above three are my current favourites. Below are some others that I like.
The Bright Sessions
The focus of this podcast is a psychiatrist who specialises in people with super powers and some of her patients. Also some obligatory plot as things from the past start to affect the present.
Alice isn't Dead
A woman takes a job as a trucker and travels across America in search of supposedly deceased wife. Because, as the title tells you, Alice isn't dead. On the way, she encounters weirdness and horror and maybe occasionally some answers.
This is a well done performance by an actress I recognise, but for some reason it didn't grab me quite as much as my favourite three. I think at the end of the day, I get on better with podcasts that have multiple voice actors.
Within the Wires
This starts off as a series of creepy and weird self-help tapes at an unnamed Institute, and slowly plot starts to infect the tapes, telling a story. Again very well done, but likewise suffering from the problem of only one voice actor.
Given my particular biases, I feel I should also mention that Ars Paradoxica, Alice isn't Dead and Within the Wires all have canonical queer female content, and The Bright Sessions has queer male content.
Fandom: Person of Interest
Summary: Five bullets left and more than five hostiles incoming.
Yet another day in the life of Sameen Shaw
( Thoughts on the subject of the story (Serious spoilers included)Collapse )
Here on AO3
Author's Note: This is a fairly different story to most I write. I have a strong tendency to construct the main characters then let them go, concentrating on the relationship between them. For a number of reasons, that wouldn't work for this fic. The main one was that I wanted to focus on Irulan's world, and that required looking at the political situation that's never really looked at in Dune. Which meant - unless I wanted to focus on her father, and I didn't - original characters dominating a lot of the plot and a lot of the interactions. On the one hand, this is fairly new territory for me in fic writing. On the other, it really isn't when I'm running roleplaying games. So that's the approach I settled on - I thought of this as a political scenario that Irulan and Chani - PCs extraordinaire - stumble into and have to react to. I'm not quite sure how well it worked, but I don't think it went entirely badly even if it might need some polish.
So this is my 25.5K political fic with some focus on the (changing) relationship between Chani and Irulan, but more on the hole they find themselves in, and how they try and dig themselves out of it.
Fandom: Jessica Jones
Five times Trish Walker and Jessica Jones had sex, and one time they didn't.
Trish and Jessica have known each other a long time.
Really, not nearly as much smut as the summary makes it sound. Also, warning for rough sex.
I may possibly have taken some time off from writing my Yuletide treat thingy - currently at over 17K - to do this, because inspiration. Apparently It's the in thing at the moment, because I'm hovering at 99 kudos after less than twelve hours.
Found here on AO3.