Good evening Tumblr. For once, I’m reposting something from my normal blog, and not the other way around. You are reading the first part of this two part post.
So let’s not waste time. Mazinkaiser SKL was released in 2011. But that doesn’t matter. Where it comes from, time has no meaning, and Mazinkaiser SKL comes from hell!
Or at the very least, from the anime section from your old Blockbuster video.
- 1. What is your best friend’s name? Best? Singular? Oh dear. I’m afraid I have no basis on which to make such a judgement.
- 2. What color underwear/boxers wearing now? Black. Thanks for reminding me that I need to go do the laundry, by the way. I’ve forgotten for the last few days. brb
- 3. What are you listening to right now? Well, I was listening to El Grillo by Josquin des Prez, but now that I’m back, I’m listening to Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson. Because why not?
- 4. Whats your favorite number? Seven.
- 5. What was the last thing you ate? A piece of chocolate.
- 6. If you were a crayon what color would you be? I am unfamiliar with shades of crayon. It’s been a while since I needed to. I seem to remember a chalk pastel that left an interesting shade of lime green though.
- 7. How is the weather right now? 28 and partly cloudy. I still have the window open.
- 8. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? My parents. Specifically, my dad.
- 9. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex? My own thoughts are not clear to me about this. General human psychology would be more useful here.
- 10. Do you have a significant other? Me? Nope.
- 11. Favorite TV show? Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of my favorite things.
- 12. Siblings? Nope.
- 13. Height? I’m unsure. More than 6’6”, I think.
- 14. Hair color? A dark brown, fairly neutral in hue.
- 15. Eye Color? A somewhat dark brown.
- 16. Do you wear contacts? Nope.
- 17. Favorite Holiday? I’m unsure I have one. My own birthday?
- 18. Month? May.
- 19. Have you ever cried for no reason? There’s always a reason, whether or not it’s discernable.
- 20. What was the last movie you watched? Ghost in the Shell. Incredible film, that is. Mamoru Oshii is brilliant as brilliant goes.
- 21. Favorite Day of the Year? Indeterminate.
- 22. Are you too shy to ask someone out? I can only hope that my awkwardness will come off as endearing and cute rather than creepy if I ever tried.
- 23. Can you do a headstand (not using the wall)? Not a chance.
- 24. Hugs or Kisses? Yes please.
- 25. Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla is useless on its own. Chocolate.
- 26. Do you want your friends to respond to this? I have very few friends who use tumblr for anything.
- 27. Who is most likely to respond to a text from you? I haven’t discerned any appreciable difference from person to person. It’s generally considered good etiquete to respond, isn’t it?
- 28. Who is least likely to respond to a text from you? Verizon?
- 29. What books are you reading? Meditations on First Philosophy. I need to read more fiction.
- 30. Piercings? Not unless you count the piece of graphite I have in my finger from when I accidentally slammed my hand against a holder full of sharpened pencils back in middle school.
- 31. Favorite movies? Madoka Magica, The Lord of the Rings, Ghost in the Shell, Interstella 5555, The Matrix, Duck Soup, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog…just a few off the top of my head.
- 32. Favorite football Team? Real Madrid. I don’t really follow it though - I just like Spain.
- 33. What are you doing right now? Conspicuously not working on my screenwriting assignment.
- 34. Butter, Plain or Salted popcorn? Plain. I never understood peoples’ fascination with butter and salt. Butter is bland and salt should be used in moderation.
- 37. Dogs or cats? My experience favors dogs, but cats are fun.
- 38. Favorite flower? Orchids, my good man.
- 39. Been caught doing something you weren’t supposed to do? Probably. I don’t remember any specific instance.
- 40. Do you have a best friend of the opposite sex? At one point, I did. We kinda drifted apart during High School. It’s a shame - I blame myself.
- 41. Have you ever loved someone? In what sense? I love my parents. I love my closest friends. If you mean in terms of romantic love, no. I’m not sure I’d know what it was.
- 42. Who would you like to see right now? Well, I’d like to hang out with some of my old friends right now. I suppose I’d also like to meet some people I only know online in physical space.
- 43. Are you still friends with people from kindergarten? I had a best friend in Kindergarten, but I have no idea where he ended up. I can’t even find him on Facebook. Maybe he’s hiding from the mob.
- 44. Have you ever fired a gun? Nope. Sounds like an interesting experience though.
- 45. Do you like to travel by plane? I love flying. I want to get my license eventually.
- 46. Right-handed or Left-handed? Right. I should train myself to be more ambidextrous.
- 47. How many pillows do you sleep with? One while at school. Two while at home. The second serves no discernable purpose though.
- 48. Are you missing someone? Actively? No. I would certainly like to see some people though.
- 49. Do you have a tattoo? Nope. I don’t know what sort of tattoo I’d get. It would be an interesting project, figuring out something that deserves to be part of my person. I probably wouldn’t get one for practical reasons though.
- 50. Anybody on Tumblr that you’d go on a date with? I don’t know everyone on tumblr. There’s a good chance that there’s someone, somewhere on tumblr who I would get along with quite well. Maybe even learn to love. I haven’t any way of knowing, of course, so it’s purely academic.
This is a version of a short paper I recently wrote for a senior seminar on Descartes. We were asked to give interpretations of his famous “I think, therefore, I am” reasoning, which we call the “cogito.” I make a few esoteric references which I should explain here. “The Mediator” is the rhetorical device of Descartes “Meditations on First Philosophy,” the text in which he explores the reasoning most fully. “Hatfield” is Gary Hatfield, the author of a discussion of The Meditations which we routinely reference in the course.
Anyway, I wanted to post something more serious than what I normally do, so enjoy it for what it’s worth.
Just as I start to type this, I see Paralellism Beta is up. I guess I know what I’ll be doing next. Some metal will be good for a change. Though I was also planning on doing a bunch of reading and catching up on anime, so I dunno if I’ll write about it today.
I’m currently reading Earth Unaware, a novel co-authored by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. I’m a fan of Orson Scott Card’s writing, though I’ll be the first to admit that he’s not precisely a literary genius. What can I say? I like his characters, I like his worlds, and he’s quite good at pacing.
As for the co-authorship, you can see the seams a little, but only if you squint really hard. They were definitely on the same creative page, so the book functions about as well as if it were written by a single author. I’m afraid I don’t know the story behind why this is a joint project, but perhaps it’s even fortunate that it is. Perhaps Card himself did not have the motivation to write this particular story on his own. Or perhaps I should look these things up before making conjecture.
Speaking of segways, you know that album that I said would almost definitely be stupid awesome? It’s stupid awesome.
There we are.
Like Split the Atom, Mágico Catástrofe is a rather lengthy album of lengthy songs. Shibayan takes lots of inspiration from Noisia, just as he does from Justice and many other French house producers. Mágico Catástrofe is not quite French house, but rather something of its own, unique.
In fact, I’d say that this album is unique even among Shibayan’s own releases. It is not nearly so heavy as Kokoro Vibration or even Musume Materialise, but rather it is, as Shibayan himself labeled it, “nu-disco.” It is much more like Assortment of Sense, though that album was much more low key. It did not have the electro influence to nearly as high a degree.
That electro influence - Shibayan’s way with using noise and low end sounds to create interesting rhythms and structures - is what makes the album so interesting: because it uses its electro roots to such ends. The closest this album comes to what we’ve come to expect as normal for Shibayan is Clockup Flowers. Of course, I can hardly call Ranko vocals on a ShibayanRecords album precisely normal…
The one track that really breaks this pattern is Myoisia, a reference, like the album cover, to Noisia - specifically a track called Groundhog. Myoisia is almost identical to Groundhog, but in temperament is very different. Myoisia carries the Shibayan tradition of having a “myon” track on the CD - a track that makes extensive use of a voice sample of 3L saying “myon.” Because of that, some quotes from Ancient Temple used in the background, and how the track is mixed, Shibayan’s version is a lot cuter, if not lighter. As an homage, it’s quite excellent. I think I even prefer it to the original.
As it turns out, completely positive reviews are very hard to write and make interesting. I am afraid I am not familiar enough with the genre to give any sort of interesting critique in the academic sense, so for now, this will have to suffice:
Mágico Catástrofe is an awesome album that people who like awesome electronic music should listen to. Even the name sounds good, in the same way Tolkien claims the phrase “cellar door” sounds good - just in terms of aesthetics. Aesthetics that carry through to the album until its end.
I’m not sure this is my favorite track from the album, but it’s a very good one.
Actually, this might be a bit too leisurely. My excuse is being over at a friend’s house for one and a half days for New Year’s Eve. It was fun times for all. We played Halo 4, I taught everyone to fear the assault rifle, and we went to see Django Unchained. I could write a review of Django Unchained, like the rest of the internet, but that would be something actually relatable and might get me readership. Fuck that shit.
For the record, Django Unchained is a bit of a masterpiece, as to be expected from its director, who is a bit of a master. I feel as though I have little to say to anyone who isn’t familiar with Tarantino’s qualities as a director. It’s built on genre, rolls along on a disgust with slavery in the antebellum South, and fueled by a deep love of film. If you don’t mind the violence and love film, you’ll love it, even if the third act has some issues.
Anyway, I returned to find the new Shibayan album out, and it was shortly joined by Buta Otome’s original and Keyboard Cat albums. I’ll talk briefly about the Shibayan album later (hint: it’s awesome), but to break things up a bit, here’s Chess.
Buta Otome has always had a very particular style that they never stray too far from. Album structure varies from time to time, but the content is always that signature blend of rock, ska, jazz, and…indy-ness? I don’t honestly know how to describe them most of the time. Rock is such an unhelpful descriptor, and yet, they somehow don’t even seem to fit under that most of the time.
One thing that is certain about Buta Otome is their equal aptitude at arranging Touhou as at composing original compositions. Were I not a Touhou fan, I would have a difficult time picking out their Touhou tracks from their originals. And it does seem that they’re producing an increasing number of originals, which is encouraging.
I actually don’t have that much to say about the album. It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s very Buta Otome. I will say this though: the xfade did not do the album justice at all. It’s actually a fair bit more adventurous than I thought it would be, even generously. Like most Buta Otome, it’s melodic, but the melodies are very strong and interesting. Moreover, they’re more strong rhythmically, I think. There’s something vaguely classical about them (specifically romantic, and not classic), and not in the way that Touhou tracks tend to be. Perhaps it is that influence coming through, though perhaps it is simply them experimenting. Or perhaps I’m simply hearing things.
In the end, if it’s more awesome Buta-Otome you want, it’s more awesome Buta-Otome that you’ll get.
Some might say that this is a slow Comiket. I would prefer to call it a leisurely one, albiet a bit front heavy with the electronic stuff. Well, this isn’t true. There’s Buta-Otome’s Touhou album, RD Sound’s thing and Sally’s thing, which I could go ahead and try if I wanted. I may well do just that. Sally’s album this time doesn’t interest me too much, and I was never able to really get into RD Sounds too much, but I’m not sure why I haven’t gone for the Buta-Otome thing yet. Maybe I just need a good excuse.
All in good time. I have plenty.
In the mean time, I went ahead and checked out our old friend Zytokine’s new album for C83, Double Key.
Some people like new school Zytokine. Some people prefer his old stuff. I think he’s a fairly talented guy with some interesting sounds that have stayed consistent throughout both eras. But this album? It’s…pleasant.
It’s a very pleasant album.
I like Zytokine’s vocals, and I always have. Aki, SYO, Itori, and Cold Kiss are all good singers who have the singular quality so uncommon in Touhou EDM of sounding like mature women. Partially this is because of Zytokine’s choice in vocalist, but it’s also because of how he arranges them. Even Sakaue Nachi sounds comparatively mature in her one track.
None of the vocalists are doing anything particularly interesting on this album, but they’re pleasant.
Zytokine knows where to borrow from Touhou and where to insert his own flavor. Most of the songs are in mildly syncopated 4/4 meter, but some are in 2/2 meter. All the instrumental choices are wise and the overall feeling is warm. Most of the melodies are carried by the vocalists, with only occasional tracks like the Zytokine original that breaks up the album down the middle doing anything wildly different.
Certainly none of the arrangements are particularly complex or challenging, but they are pleasant.
Okay, I’ll stop now. I shouldn’t be so mean. Double Key is an electro-pop album, and it’s actually a pretty good electro-pop album. Zytokine has done better, yes, but he still knows how to do some cool things with background vocals, and he still has a distinctive air to all his songs that doesn’t really get old. I didn’t find the album very interesting personally, but it’s not a waste of time. I’ll probably listen to some songs again, and a few might find their way into my running playlist.
It’s a pleasant album, and I don’t mean that sarcastically. I guess I was setting my sights wrong.
There aren’t too many songs from this album on youtube yet, but this is a pretty good one. The vocals have a lot of charisma to them. Itori’s English pronunciation is very good too.
Next? Something not electronic. Maybe Buta-Otome. Maybe something else completely. Who knows?
I guess I’m starting a bit late on this. Demetori’s EP was out last night, but I didn’t have the time or really the urge to say anything about it. It’s eleven minutes in total. Go seek it out. It tries some things that I don’t think I’ve ever heard Demetori do. The second track in particular grabbed me for its melodic, melancholy feel - something the Teramae bros. have never before attempted to my knowledge.
Since DoujinStyle and /jp/ are both a bit of a mess this time around, downloads are coming in even more haphazardly than normal. Some things never change though, and one of those things is that Alstroemeria Records albums are always one of the first major releases to get upped.
Alstroemeria Records really is an uneven beast. Not only do they go up and down from album to album, they go up and down within the album too. I really do like Minoshima, but it’s gotten more and more the case that the most consistent points on the album are almost always the guest tracks.
Dominated Dancehall is like this. Two halves of this album exist: the very standard first three tracks and everything after. I could have told you before I even knew this album existed that Sakaue Nachi would do the vocals for the first track, and that Minoshima would misuse her yet again by having her sing in moé timbre. Interesting instrumentals in the third track and Ayakura’s excellent performance are not enough to make up for the uninteresting rhythm Minoshima has her singing.
We’ve gotten whole albums like that before from Minoshima. This isn’t one of them.
No, the album actually starts with Rave Launcher Mk.II, a Minoshima original with nonsense sampled vocals. What does this track do? It launches the rave. Mark Two. The subsequent tracks are all really, really great, and make you forget about the first part of the album entirely. Nhato and Camellia both have guest appearances in which they very nearly steal the light from Minoshima entirely.
For Nhato, this isn’t surprising. Nhato is an accomplished commercial musician. He gets critical acclaim from people who don’t know what a Touhou is, and has a very good progressive house album called Etude on iTunes. That his track is polished and has good feeling is not at all surprising.
For Camellia, it’s even more reason to want to keep an eye on the guy. He’s got a good ear for instrumentals and rhythms, but more than that, what Minoshima seems to lack in vocal arrangements Camellia seems to have gained. Maybe all that time with Hatsune Miku taught him some tricks, but whatever the case, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Ayakura Mei sound quite like she does on his track. And let’s face it, who besides Camellia would use physics and computer science metaphors like that?
And yet, Minoshima seems to raise his game to those standards with his own subsequent music, and gives us excellent tracks like Night Bird, with its addictive minor key vocal rhythms that stop just a bit short of being melodic, as a lot of his tracks seem to. It seems that always just as I’m about ready to write him off, he comes up with something kinda interesting like this. Nothing on here is terribly groundbreaking for him - it’s all in the same form and I don’t think I’ve heard any new musical tropes to Minoshima’s library, but it all comes together very well. Even the English vocals are pretty good and actually recognizable as English, which I think might be a first for an Alstroemeria Records track (possibly because they were written by Zytokine and not Haruka).
Dominated Dancehall succeeds where I don’t think I realized The World Destination failed at the time. It’s not a very heavy album like Destination or even Abandoned Dancehall, but rather feels reminiscent in some ways of Haunted Dancehall, only more polished (which I continue to be an outspoken fan of). Just slice off the first three tracks. They only weigh the rest down.
I’m not choosing a favorite. I’m just going with Night Bird because I went with Camellia’s track last time.
Up next…I dunno. I have to go check and see what’s out, but I do have Double Key queued up…
Ah, it’s that time of year again. What time of year? The Comiket time of year! For some people, Christmas comes a week late, see.
I think this year will be a good year, and there’s a bunch of stuff I plan to give a listen. You’ll find a complete English list of albums that will be released this Comiket in this Doujinstyle thread, and a much more comprehensive anticipation article here. It would seem that KafkaFuura is a far braver man than I to try to write about everything like that.
Well, I already knew that.
Anyway, these are not in any sort of order. If it does have an order, it’s probably just the order I found it in on DoujinStyle.
Mágico Catástrofe - ShibayanRecords xfade
I have a very good feeling about this album. I don’t think that a crossfade is sufficient to evaluate an album as a whole. I would be crazy if I were to go ahead and say this album is good even before I actually listened to it. But I am tempted to with this one. ShibayanRecords has recently produced several Bossa Nova albums that I, quite frankly, have not been a huge fan of, but it seems like with this album, he not only returns to his electro side, but brings over what he learned from Bossa Nova. He’s already demonstrated his skill with interesting, sometimes aggressive rhythms in his electro, but this time he’s bringing a very French House (nu-disco, as he labels it) feeling to it too. I’m very interested to hear the whole thing.
Tendre Est La Mort - Demetori samples
Anyone who is a fan of metal and Touhou probably knows about Demetori and knows to look forward to one of their releases, even if it’s just an e.p. The Teramae brothers have day jobs, after all, and their day job involves performing for the gods and goddesses of the Falcom JDK Band, so it’s understandable that their releases are so scarce like this. But true to form, even the brief samples on toranoana sound incredible. I am expecting great metal, and I will be very surprised if Demetori does not provide.
Dominated Dancehall - Alstroemeria Records xfade
Another Dancehall album this time for Alstroemeria Records. I’ve heard good arguments for why the dancehall format is better and they might be true. I’ve yet to decide myself. I think I probably prefer old Minoshima more than new, but this new album sounds pretty good, except for notanotherminoshimamisusingNachiSakauetrack. The first half of the album sounds kinda bland, but with Nhato’s guest track and onwards, it’s sounding really interesting. His, Camellia’s, and the subsequent Alstroemeria tracks not only sound good from the xfade, but also unconventional for them. I dunno whether this will a fair album or a really good one, but it’s got my attention.
Airfoil E.P. - Downforce xfade
Hey, you know how I’m always saying, “Minoshima should make an original album.” Well, this isn’t quite that, but it’s a step in that direction. Downforce is what Minoshima and Camellia are calling their circle for releasing this original e.p. And it sounds really cool. Really cool. Please tell me that this is a prelude to them releasing a full length album. Because that would be seriously legit. As it is though, the xfade sounds promising, and I can’t wait to hear the full ep
Ark Dark Half - 鶇(Tsugimi) xfade
Somehow, I never heard of these guys before, but they’ve got a good sound. Very charismatic. It’s not heavy, but it’s just got the right edge of strangeness due to some modal keys (I…think?) and vocal processing that it somehow manages to fill a very specific niche that I’m not sure I realized needed filling. Since I’m not familiar with these guys, and this is only a crossfade, I don’t know whether some of the stuff I’m hearing here really translates the same in the full album, but I’m very curious to find out.
Parallelism・β - Unlucky Morpheus xfade
I was kinda hoping for another jazz fusion album like Unlucky Morpheus released last winter Comiket, but this is good too. I really liked Parallelism α, and this quite literally a reverse order of the arrangements from alpha. Yuki continues to be an iffy vocalist, but Denshirenji is making a return too, and I’m a fan of his style. I don’t think Unlucky Morpheus is brilliant or anything, but I’ll be darned if this sounds like some very good quality power metal. The original tracks all sound most excellent as well. I will also look forward to making fun of Unlucky Morpheus’ Engrish vocals again.
幽雅な東方子守唄(A Refined Touhou Lullaby) - TAMusic xfade
I really do like that one album that TAMusic keeps making over and over again. But this time, there’s a certain liveliness to the arrangements that makes it feel fresh. I’m not sure precisely what musical qualities make this a lullaby, and at times it feels quite energetic and very unlike an album of lullabies, but this is not something I’m particuarly concerned with. It’s a violin and piano album and it sounds good. And I’m looking forward to it.
Dominant World - AssaultDoor xfade
I haven’t much to say about this. It’s a cooperative album between some of the best pianists who play Touhou music, and it sounds excellent. NekoMusume and Alioth are of course on here, as well as Jam, Setsugen, Runa, and many more. All of them bring not only technical skill but excellent artistic talent. I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to this album quite a bit.
And here are a bunch of albums that I’m definitely going to listen to, but that I didn’t really have it in me to write about.
チェス(Chess) - 豚乙女(ButaOtome) //You know, I was very surprised when this didn’t make my list. I thought it would be there, but then I tried to write it, and it wasn’t.
Double Key - Zytokine //I do like Zytokine, I really do. But I fear his stuff is getting less and less complicated all the time. Is this what it’s like to be a long-time ENS fan?
Auxiliary Brightness - EastNewSound //Speaking of which, this sure is another ENS album. I will probably listen to the whole thing once, and put the good songs on my running playlist.
Snow Melody -
Halulzy Halozy //He’s been around for a while, but I’ve never really explored his stuff. Snow Melody sounds good. Let’s check this out.
Four Resolutions - Crow’s Claw //Vocal Crow’s Claw isn’t quite as interesting as instrumental Crow’s Claw, in my opinion. But then, I’m always biased towards the heavier stuff.
Paradigm Shift - UL70 //You may be surprised that I’m not very familiar with such an important circle as UL70, but I only just recently listened to Splendid World. Paradigm Shift doesn’t sound quite as interesting, but we’ll see.
東方サウンドRPG Another History ～異幻想史～ - 東方アクティブNEETs //Eeeeeeh. I don’t know what to say about this one, other than it’s weird coming from the Active NEETs.
風彩旋律 -ふうさいせんりつ - Xi-On //Ordinarily a power metal and hard rock band, Xi-On seems to be trying their hands at arranging for the piano, drums, and flute. I have a suspicion this album might surprise me, actually.
That seems about it. Comiket officially opens its doors in a few hours from now in Tokyo time, so perhaps we’ll start seeing the first downloads appear sometime tomorrow night. I guess this means I’ll have to venture into /jp/ again. *sigh*
Until then, here’s one of the last tracks on Mágico Catástrofe. In Morse code, the title spells love.
Too bad about no Syrufit this time around. He made a post about being too busy with other stuff, and though it’s disappointing, it’s also pretty understandable. Most of these guys do have day jobs and real lives, after all. He says the next album will probably be out sometime this summer, so perhaps Reitaisai 10 or even Summer Comiket? Either way, good luck, Nagata-san!
>Draft of a short story for my fiction writing class.
>…technically already turned in for a grade, but I can still think of it as a draft, right?
>So what I mean is, this is a finished short story for my fiction writing class.
I open my eyes.
It’s still dark out. Man. What time is it?
It must be early. I look up into the sky, and I see that it is still clouded over, with lots and lots of massive thunderheads, way off into the deep focus range. So I guess it’d be dark regardless, huh.
I don’t mind the dark, I never have. I get up and start to grab for my clothes. I pause. I think, I don’t need to put them on just yet. I’m out here in the wilds, I won’t need clothes until I want to go anywhere.
So I just stand up and feel the air. My magic-tent-enchantment-thing is still going strong. Rain is streaming down the invisible planes. I’m actually not sure how I’m going to undo the magic, once I’m done with it.
I don’t particularly care anyway.
So I grab my coffee machine lying over beside my coat. It’s white, and it’s laying on its side. I dust it off, put the old bag of pre-ground beans in, draw some water from the air (this is why I love humid days), and grab the end of the electrical plug. This is the most annoying part, see, standing there and pretending you’re a human dynamo (which is exactly what you are).
Mostly, I’m actually annoyed because coffee is one of those things I still haven’t been able to finesse. I found an old book in a library back in the Nuremberg metro area. That book had magic in it, and they were all able to conjure things out of thin air. Like, with wands and stuff. Convenient. I wish real magic was like that sometimes.
Ah, but I still wouldn’t trade away my godhood for it. So I’m sitting around, doing my whole dynamo thing, thinking about how awesome it is to be alive.
Hah. Godhood. The ol’ man back in the village would frown his frowniest of frowns if he heard me say that shit. He’d worry I was about to turn into one of those viajantes myself. A good man, he is, and I’m fine with it, but he could never understand this about magicians. Deus ex magica, man. Well, dea ex magica in my case. My tomboyishness only extends so far.
And then my coffee’s ready, and that just makes my morning complete.
It feels just awesome yelling that. There are some birds - yeah, actual birds man, the Fulda Gap has, like, a ton of them - and they get all startled and tweet tweet off into the…oh, that’s where the sun went. I couldn’t really see it before, because of all the storm clouds.
I take my first sip of coffee. It’s damn good coffee. I feel like magic, let me tell you.
So I pace around a little. There’s an old tree - that’s what I slept under. I walk around that, and I look at it, I regard it. It’s bark is a sort of grey, not so much brown, I dunno why people think trees are brown so often. It’s smooth-skin too. Maybe it’s a cherry blossom tree of some sort. I dunno how it got there. But it’s a damn nice looking tree, and I like the way its bark looks when it’s wet. Which it gets wet, because it’s still raining. Which I remember as soon as I dispell the force-tent-thing and I realize I’m still not wearing clothes.
Oh well. I don’t mind being wet. And for real though, clothes are for looser humans.
The rain does get in my coffee before I can stop it though. It’s a sad thing. I manage to dehydrate it slightly, but it tastes funny.
So I decide, forget the coffee. I toss it out of the cup. Messily, I do a poor job of it. But I rinse it out and sterilize it and I walk over to where my bag is. And my clothes. I put the cup in last, on top of the books, which are on top of everything else. I put on my clothes. They’re light clothes, summer clothes, even though it’s winter or something (I honestly can’t really tell the seasons apart anymore, to be honest). I like the cargo pants the most - they’re roomy and good for storing random things. Good adventuring gear. I got them from Sñr. Fransisco Franco (no relation) a month ago. These things are damn useful, and with those sleek, crisp lines even despite the pockets, they look very nice too. Even without having been washed for who knows how long.
So I take off. The rain gets in my face, of course, but though I squint, I’m fine. I just fly along in low visibility. I’m not too concerned exactly where I’m flying. Mainly because I don’t know where I’m supposed to be going. They said I’d find her somewhere in where Portugual used to be. Maybe somewhere towards Nazaré? It’s been a while since I’ve been there, and I’m still working on my Portuguese. Não é dificil, mas não tenho tido a oportunidade de ler muito, sabes?
Mas, I’m getting distracted.
The storm is following me.
The storm is definitely following me.
No really, why is the storm following me? This is…peculiar.
I lick my finger and hold it up in the air stream. I get goosebumps. There’s fire in the air. There’s lots of fire, and lightning. She’s definitely around here somewhere.
I love it. I eat it up.
But I feel the current is ahead of me, not behind me, not within the storm, so I guess whatever is causing the storm to follow me is completely incidental. I have such bad luck with weather sometimes.
But anyway, it’s a strong, strong current I’m getting from her, because as far as I can tell, it’s still hundred miles off.
At least I know where I’m going now.
I feel good today, real good, I tell you. The rain isn’t even touching me now, the air is getting displaced in front of me. I accelerate, and before I know it, I’ve graduated from the transonic realm into the supersonic university, and my skin is very uncomfortably warm. Shit. I’m not protecting against the heat from the air resistance. I read about that too. Humans used to have trouble keeping their planes from melting. Of course, flesh is even worse for that – that’s why most of them abandoned the stuff. Then magic happened, and…well…
But that’s depressing.
I love the heat though. I let in just enough.
I can barely see ahead now through the mist of air, and I’m finding it hard to breathe. The air feels so much less dense. I feel my feet getting swept with fantails of water flung far from the displaced air, in brilliant arcs. It feels wonderful.
I see a rainbow star up ahead, between the coastline and the clouds.
Ah. There she is.
I feel her very distinctively. It’s an interesting feeling, but most importantly, she doesn’t feel crazy in the same way so many other viajantes do. I’ll talk to her.
Hell, something in me is actually exited about this. What is this? I never liked small talk. I like reading and shooting things with giant lasers. Who needs to talk with anyone when you can do that?
I watch her shoot pass to my left as I cross in front of her and pull high into a loop to burn energy. All my joints are being torn at by the massive deceleration. My intertia wants to go in a different direction entirely. Silly inertia.
“Boa tarde!” An uncanny but friendly voice.
“Boa tarde, meu amiga!” I respond. “Este tempestade é genial, não?”
“Yeah, é muito genial. Mas, quem é você?”
“Katrina Gallardo de Nuevo Barcelona, em tua serviço.” I slide into the air in front of her. She actually looks younger than me – something like a 17 year old human might, if she didn’t have this creepy depth to her eyes and her skin weren’t so pale. Her eyes are an ossified blue, she wears a frilly blue and white dress, and she’s drinking a nice cup of tea. Charming look, really.
“Ah. De Nova Barcelona? Podemos continuar en español, si prefiere usted.”
“English is best. Y sabes que puedes usar “tu” conmigo, ¿no?”
“It has been a while since I spoke with anyone. I feel the occasion calls for extra politeness.”
“Vaya vaya, encantada to meet you. Thank’s for the welcome, but I’m afraid I should either get down to business or start shootin’. I’m here on behalf of the people of New Barcelona, you see…”
“Oh. Oh dear. You’re one of those mages.”
“Yeah, I’m ‘one of those.’ I still kinda sorta identify with normal humans, you know? I feel…obliged…to make sure the likes of you don’t go around accidentally irradiating the lot of them. Or hunting and eating them. Or carving lewd things in their wheat fields. Or something.”
“Go away. If you’re just here to bother me about dumb petty things like that.”
“I was going to ask you to do the same thing. Perferably somewhere not near New Barcelona.”
“I haven’t been doing anything. If you notice, I’m sitting here in the air drinking some nice tea in the middle of this wonderful storm.”
“Well that’s all well and fine, buh-waitwaitwait, you can magic tea?”
She shrugs. “I’ve been around a long, long time, Señora Gallardo.”
“But I mean…I have been trying to years to figure out a way to synthesize coffee with magic. Shit’s impossible!”
“Oh don’t be silly. Everyone can do it, you just need patience – time to refine yourself. I am going to guess here, and I’m going to guess you spent all your life training how to blast things, right? Of course you did, you’re a hunter. A demon hunter. They call us ‘viajantes,’ but you know they think of us as demonios. You kill gods so they can feel better about themselves at night. So they don’t feel so insecure.”
“Well, yeah. But really I spend most of my time reading and experimenting with little things, and I guess coffee is only one of many so I can’t say I concentrated on it too hard, but I guess it’s not that I really don’t have the time, since that’s really all I do besides travel and reading, and…well, that’s beside the point.”
She smiles and closes her eyes. “You remind me a little bit of myself, I think. Before I decided to leave all that nonsense.” She nods to herself.
“So am I going to have to fight you first? Before I get you to leave?”
“Where do you see yourself in fifty years?”
“Still floating here asking you to leave.”
“A serious answer, meu amiga.”
“I am serious, I’m totally serious!” What’s this lady getting at?
“Do you have no sense of self-awareness at all?”
“Very little, Ms. Viajante. Now I’m gonna a…”
“Do you know how much your quality of life would improve if you left and became a traveller like me?”
“Gonna take a wild guess that you think the answer is up.’”
“More than you know.”
“No way, tía. I have friends in New Barcelona. It’s where my life is.”
“You know full well you spend more time out around the countryside than you do there. You ever think why?”
“It’s a place to come back to, you know? A touchstone. More or less. I…just do. They’re good people, you know. I’m fine with it.”
“I don’t see why you couldn’t return now and again, if you became a viajante.”
“You said yourself, they’d see me as a demon. And what’s more, that’s exactly what I’d become if I stayed out here for too long, you know?”
“Well it’s their fault for not accepting it. Be the change, Katrina.”
“Lol no. We both know nothing of that sort’s ever gonna happen. I’d rather not become a monster to my own hometown.”
“You already are. How many friends do you have in New Barcelona?”
“Plenty! I have…Señor Fransisco Franco, the shopkeeper! He sold me these pants! He…uhh…actually decided to move to the new settlement, I think near León, but he’s still a friend! I just don’t know where he is. Is all. It’s fine.”
“Can you talk to him about anything?”
“Sure. He’s very knowledgeable. I gave him some of the books I found in my holiday to old Nuremberg. Well, sold, technically.”
“With him? Why would he care about me?”
She smiles, sadly, a pressed smile. “And your parents?”
“Want nothing to do with me. But hell, I never was the sentimental sort.” The hell is with this lady? I’m fine like this.
“So who do you talk to?”
“Well…no one, really.”
“It must be hard. I know it is. All the looks of hate hidden with aside glances. All the aquaintences who never spend any but the most minimum of time near you. All the warm, friendly tableside conversations at the café that dim whenever you walk past.”
“Hey. Hey. Shut up. It’s not like that at all.” How in holy hell does she know about the café?
“You stare at them. You sit behind your book and your coffee and you stare at them, and you’re jealous. So jealous. And I’m very sorry about that.”
“Shut it! I’m fine, dammit!”
“Your parents want nothing to do with you, and whoever gives you orders is too frightened of what you might do if you ever go rogue. He sees past your guards too, I know it. He knows how lonely and bitter you are with them all. That’s why he’s scared. You must eventually come to realize this.”
Shit. She can’t be reading my mind. She can’t be. I’m too good for this. I’m too good for all this! “Imma ask you once and once only…”
“You only feel alive out here, doing this. This is all you know. Flying. Fighting. Letting yourself get swept up in magic – they don’t know, do they, that using magic on such a scale releases endorphans like that? But when you return, you have nothing. You walk up the street to your little house on the corner, you open the door, you take off your hat and coat, and you collapse on your couch, wanting to cry, and there has never been anyone there. There never will be.”
“I’m fine! I’M FINE!” I’m trembling.
I’m also releasing several megajoules of anger colored magic at her. Oh god, what am I doing?
The beam manifests at about 9000 degrees kelvin, and like most B-class stars, glows a white-blue. I cannot see this, because I cut the line between my optic nerve and my eyes so I don’t blind myself. It’s all instinct. All of this is instinct.
And I’m crying.
Why am I crying?
I can’t cry anymore. How is this?
Why did I let this girl get to me?
I feel a hand on my left shoulder. I look, and there is her face, sad smile and all.
“I’m sorry,” she says.
“I wanted to help you realize.”
“I was fine before, thanks. You fucking asshole.”
“Would you like some tea?”
“Yes. No!” I feel a glass of tea is in my hand. Now that I think about it, I seem to have floated back down to the ground.
I shoot the tea back like a fifth of vodka. It refills.
“They don’t realize how dangerous it is to use us magicians as demon hunters. Using so much magic as you do in a fight releases so many endorphans that it’s only natural it becomes the one happy thing you ever do, and so when they shun you, they create a potential demon with not only bitterness, but a taste and talent for destruction. If time had been allowed to take its toal on you…well, you may have done something you’d regret forever on.”
“Cool story, tía. You dunno that.”
“I know I would have, if I didn’t catch myself in time.”
“You dunno that either.”
The rain beats on over our heads. She’s using the same trick I do, for making a tent out of force projections.
I watch the planes of rain. Sitting out in the rain on travel are some of my only best memories, and I feel a bit calmer now. It’s pleasant.
>Did you just think…
“Look,” I start,” you’ve given me things to think about. Okay? But I’m not going to do anything, anything, to risk hurting New Barcelona. They’re good people, they really are. I’ll protect them, even if I’m not with them.”
“I know. That’s a good thing, I think. If you ever need any help, call me.”
“I am very much like you, I think. I enjoyed a good fight back in my day.”
I consider her. She managed to not get incinerated by the energy beam I shot at her, and that’s damn impressive.
Oh fuck, I could have outright killed her, and I wouldn’t have…
“I’m sorry, Ms….I don’t even know your name.”
“Aline Sampaio. It’s quite alright.”
“I’ve killed viajantes before. But they were crazy, psychopathic, murderous. Hell, you’re just psychopathic. And an asshole. And you’re probably right – that’s worst of all, you know.” I sigh deeply. “So, what is it you do around here, anyway?”
“I drink tea. Sometimes I paint. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I work on my giant robot project.”
“Sounds like a good life.” It clicks. “Wait,” I gesticulate, “giant robot project?”
“Would you like to see it? I’ve been working on the design for years. I call it the ASA-00 – it’s a prototype model, of course.” An edge of exitement lines her voice. Her eyes don’t seem quite so distant anymore.
Well, part of that is because she’s sitting beside me now, and her hand is around my shoulder.
Am I really going to let this shit happen?
“Yeah. Yeah, that sounds nice.”
My hands no longer trembling, I take a sip of tea. A considered sip. A calmer sip. An honest sip, and I can taste it with good clarity now.
It’s very good tea.