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Handspun Sock Yarn

I finished this a couple weeks ago, but I’m absolutely terrible at getting photos in a timely manner.

The finished yarn that I talked about in this post.

At this point, I’m undecided about whether I feel like using knitting or crochet to make socks. I should probably make little sample squares out of both to see which suits the yarn better, but I’m also keeping my eye out for anything that sings to me.

Stories, The Scions

The Scions – 5a

The best course of action came to him in the middle of the night. Hartmann had seduced the bar chick by playing coy, but she was the exact opposite of Carol in many ways – such a tactic would backfire if he tried it. Carol, the woman who had perfected invisibility to survive, needed to be seen.

If he acted distant or kept her waiting, she would fade away before he had the chance to make his move. He needed to keep her in his sights. He needed to let her know beyond a doubt that he had seen her.

So, the next morning when he rejoined Carol and captain Lambert, he gave her a warm smile. “Hello,” he said. “Are you rested up for more training?”

She nodded, answered, “Yes, master sergeant,” and looked up to meet his eyes. He noticed the fleck of green in her otherwise brown eyes, and thought about how appropriately they matched her. There was something about Carol that was easy to pass over, that hinted at something colorful inside of her, that he was only now beginning to see after all the time he had spent watching her. Hartmann liked her eyes, and only after Lambert gruffly ordered her to approach him did he realize that he had been staring.

“Let’s get this radio on you,” Lambert said, clipping the receiver onto her shirt. “We’re going to practice some maneuvers in the Suit today.”

“Yes, sir.” Carol climbed the ladder up to the cockpit of the Suit, then hesitated and glanced back at Hartmann. He nodded.

“Corporal Holmes is bringing the jeep around for us,” Lambert said quietly to Hartmann. “I want to see how she handles the Suit while we transition outside.”

“She should do much better today, sir,” Hartmann answered, somewhat reluctantly. “Provided that she doesn’t forget how much bigger she is.”

Lambert lifted the radio to his mouth and pressed the button as he asked, “Carol, are you settled?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. We’re going back out to the airfield, where you will be drilled on the essential skills of running and stopping.”

There was something redundant in Hartmann’s presence. As the top pilot, he knew that he belonged there to offer his expertise, but there wasn’t anything new for him to say; Carol was the one who had full access to the Suit, while he had merely mastered the demo version; he had no clue how much more the Suit was capable of. With Lambert coaching her through the drills, Hartmann was left to sit and watch.

“Is that all, sir?” Carol asked, sounding surprised.

“It’s harder than you think, commander.” Lambert shook his head. “Go on and get your ass outside.”

“This is all unorthodox,” Hartmann muttered as they watched Carol precede them through the giant double doors. “I suppose that we aren’t going to bother with teaching her how to stand at attention and salute.”

Lambert shook his head. “Carol is … the classified radical faction in the military. We can skip building her identity as a soldier and go straight into the specifics of what she needs to know.”

“Like how to take out the enemy without blowing up a hospital in the process.” Hartmann smirked. “We’re in trouble, sir.”

“I know.” Lambert lifted the radio up and spoke into it, “Okay, Carol. There’s a mile marker painted on the ground out there. I want you to run as fast as you can, then stop precisely on it without overshooting.”

“Yes, sir,” Carol replied, then took off.

Corporal Holmes was ready with the jeep, so Hartmann waited until they were both settled in their seats with the younger soldier as a witness before he said, “You need to teach her proper radio protocol, instead of using it like you’re chatting on the phone to your girlfriend … sir.”

Lambert’s jaw twitched, and his face turned the slightest bit red. Holmes silently chuckled. “You’re right,” he admitted quietly, then cleared his throat. “She’s going to need to know how to communicate efficiently.”

As they approached in the jeep, Hartmann said, “Looks like she overshot,” and pointed to where the Suit was standing some distance away from the marker.

“Dammit,” Lambert growled, then said into the radio, “Carol, you’re way off. Over.”

“I’m sorry, sir. When I tried to stop, my feet just kept going on their own,” she replied.

“When you’re done speaking, you need to be in the habit of saying over.” Lambert rubbed the bridge of his nose. “You know about stopping distance with driving a car, right? Over.”

“No, sir. I’ve always ridden the bus.” There was a pause, then Carol quickly added, “Over?”

“Of course she wouldn’t know,” Lambert muttered to himself. “That would be too convenient.”

Hartmann took the radio. “MSG Hartmann here. Bigger objects like the Suit get a lot of momentum going, especially when you’re moving fast. If you want to stop on target, you need to start slowing down before you reach it. Try again, now. Over.”

Lambert scowled. With his little comment, Hartmann had put the captain in the position of becoming self-conscious about how he treated his subordinate, and it was starting to eat at him. Especially with corporal Holmes silently bearing witness.

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The Evolution of Carol

AI art is harder to make than you would think.

You go to Stable Diffusion for the first time, type in a random prompt like, “A horse galloping through the woods,” and get back a picture that actually looks pretty cool.

So you play around a lot more, until your confidence is bolstered enough that you start to think that you can create something specific — to approximate a solid idea that you have in mind.

And that’s where the trouble starts.

I decided that I wanted to create a character portrait of Carol, from The Scion Suit/The Scions.

My first attempt, anime style:

… Okay, I’ll give it a few more tries …

By which point, I realized that simply describing the woman I wanted a picture of wasn’t going to be enough. AI doesn’t have the same intrinsic grasp of human anatomy and faces that we do.

I joined a Discord server and did a lot of reading.

A LOT of reading.

And I quadrupled the number of keywords I was using, to include things like, “Normal face,” and “Not disfigured.”

Highlights include:

Waaaaay better, but not even close to my end goal. Too glamorous and sunkissed for Carol.

Anatomy is still off. Also seems a little vampirish.

Hair is too short.

Now we’re starting to get it.

I liked the picture, but I decided to change art styles to see if I could better grasp the essence of Carol. And I like anime, so, you know … 😀

I’m still amazed that the face isn’t horribly wrong. But it’s not quite there — the woman is too doll-like to really be Carol.

AH-HA I’VE GOT IT!

All told, it probably would have been easier and faster to draw a character portrait if I had the art skillz — but I don’t. I generated dozens of pictures, most of which I didn’t save, and probably spent more time on it than it would have taken to paint it in photoshop.

But, truth be told, I enjoyed the process quite a bit. I think very strongly in words, and my brain turned it into a puzzle game of figuring out which words in which order would produce the best results. My final change was to swap out the keyword, “Shy,” for “Demure,” which gave the right tilt to the eyebrows and mouth for her expression.

And thus, I give you, Carol.

About Me

Today is my “trauma-versary.”

The skinny of it is that I spent a few years trying to move on and forget it ever happened, until I realized that I was committed to acknowledging the day despite my best efforts. So, I baked a cake to celebrate instead.

This year I feel like having a jelly roll cake, with our homemade peach jam.

Twelve years ago, my fundamental assumptions about humanity were shattered. Innocence lost. Horrors revealed. I was torn apart, never to be the same again.

And I was reborn.

Cheers.

Stories, The Scions

The Scions – 4b

He considered finding out which of his friends were available that night, then shot down the idea. He wasn’t in the mood to show off, and he didn’t need the help of a wingman. What he needed was a distraction.

There was also enough time to get dinner and a few drinks before the prime hunting hour, when women were done with the bars and ready to be picked up. He settled on his favorite restaurant, and thought about Carol in the cafeteria on base with that young corporal. He hoped that she was as uncommunicative and dismissive with everyone else as she was with him – he didn’t want her making friends.

The fucking cleaning lady, prancing around in his Suit like a girl. He had never thought that he would consider a 12-foot mecha to be feminine before.

It had been like watching Carol be stripped free of her shyness and become fully herself.

In the space to process how events had turned, he had to grudgingly admit that there was something right about Carol inside the Suit. Something in his brain assured him of that, and comforted him with the knowledge that once he laid claim to Carol, he wouldn’t have truly lost control of the Suit; he would be piloting it by proxy.

But there was no way she could ever handle combat. That area belonged to him.

Hartmann lightly flirted with the waitress to ease himself into the proper mindset for the night, and was pleased when she responded with extra attentiveness. He left a large tip, knowing that it would leave a favorable impression for the next time he returned.

He stopped by his apartment to change his clothes, but skipped showering, then it was on to his favorite bar.

Hartmann was still nursing his first drink when a woman walked in wearing a red dress made of flimsy fabric. Her hair was almost the same color as Carol’s, and cut to the same length. When he looked over at her, she pulled the side of her bottom lip underneath her teeth, and he took it as a sign. She was the one he would go home with that night, but first he had to play the game.

He spent awhile chatting up other women, all the while keeping an eye on the woman in red. She had noticed him, noticed every time he glanced over, and began to make small movements when he was watching. First she changed the crossing of her legs, then brushed her hair behind her ear, and bit her lip again. But he kept her hanging. Kept her wondering.

When she checked her phone, he knew it was time. He quietly moved, and stood behind her for a moment, smiling when her eyes looked for him in his former place at the bar. Then he sat down next to her.

“Hey,” he purred in a voice of velvet.

“I was wondering when you were going to talk to me.” She grinned like a cat that had eaten a canary. “I was just about to make the first move.”

That was a lie, of course. Women like her never made the first move, out of terror of rejection, and he hated the emptiness of her bravado. But he played along, stroking her ego with the words, “I had to build up the nerve to say hello.”

“Oh? And why is that?” She was leaning towards him, her fingers touching her hair.

“You’re beautiful.” He signaled for a waitress to come over, then said, “May I have the honor of buying you a drink?”

“I don’t know about drinking with military guys.” She made a show of eyeing him up and down. “I don’t know if I can trust you.”

“You’re right.” He leaned over and whispered into her ear, “You shouldn’t trust me.”

She giggled, then agreed to the drink. They flirtatiously bantered back and forth as they worked their way to the bottom of their glasses, then Hartmann put his hand against the back of her neck as he crooned, “Come back to my place with me.”

“I’m not really that sort of girl,” she answered, breathing deeply with flushed cheeks. Inwardly, Hartmann cringed. She wouldn’t be there in the first place if she wasn’t that sort of girl.

“You won’t regret it,” he purred. “I promise.”

“Yeah. Okay.” She picked up her purse, and he took her elbow.

He found himself hating how corny the game was, and the fact that it worked. For a moment he allowed himself to actually look at the woman he was leaving the bar with, at her penciled eyebrows and fake eyelashes, and wondered why he was bothering at all. But her hair was an imitation of Carol’s, and until he could possess the real thing, he would satisfy himself with this caricature.

(A/N: The following is a depiction of an adult situation. I recommend practicing judgment and jumping ship here if you suspect it will make you uncomfortable.)

Continue reading “The Scions – 4b”
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AI generated art of The Scion Suit

My husband has been telling me about AI generated art for awhile now. Stuff along the lines of, “It’s getting really good,” and also, “It’s getting really scary.”

As a reclusive author sort, it’s a topic that’s really intrigued me — there’s something extremely appealing about working with an AI to generate art for my books.

I tried out a free “trial version”, and with absolutely no clue what I was doing or why, I typed in a descriptive sentence to get the pictures below. The first obvious glare is that the people came out weird, particularly with the faces. But otherwise, it’s pretty cool.

This is Carol, but feeling “meh” about how she was generated. The Suit is about twice as big as it’s supposed to be, but looks fantastic.

This was supposed to be Hartmann. IDK.

This one is of The Black Magus. Doesn’t actually come close to fitting the story, but still cool.

Observations

The Forbidden Chronicles – 6

I ran across some blogs that marketed themselves as “anti-feminist liberals,” which I found to be fairly amusing — the idea is spreading, I s’pose.

During my stint in college fifteen years ago, I took a class of feminist theories. I was genuinely exploring feminism at that point, and the class was intended to be pro-feminism — I was probably the only student who came away from the class permanently turned off from the ideology, since I was by far the smartest person in the room and understood what was actually being taught. #ego

You see, everyone believes that the first wave of feminism began in response to women being treated like second-class citizens, but that it totally and completely wrong.

First wave feminists were the ones who originated and promoted the idea that women are inferior to men.

We’ve been living with this ideology for over a hundred years, so it’s hard for us to imagine the world being any different, but have you ever wondered why “kicking ass” is seen as superior to “healing touch”? It’s because we have all been deliberately taught for generations that everything feminine is defective.

The goal was pretty simple: First, convince society that feminine traits are stupid, then push women into traditionally masculine roles and behavior.

This is why people think that motherhood is “wasting your life.” Why raising children isn’t a good enough contribution to society. Why any form of dependence is deemed unforgivable.

The solution to being born with a defective feminine body is to pay and ungodly amount of money to “higher education” for the privilege of becoming a wage slave for the rest of your life. But hey, when you die, you can rest easy knowing that your job will replace you in a week and forget that you ever existed; sure beats hearing another human being sincerely say, “I love you, mom.”

Anyway, it’s actually kind of comforting to see that people are finally trying to progress past the dogma that has enslaved everyone for the last several generations.