What Leon Tao (maybe) tells us about the Machine

So giandujakiss’s complaint that Tao seemed sort of shoehorned into the latest episode kind of got me thinking.

My headcanon has been that the Machine is coaxing Finch and Reese into relying on Tao more and more — and vice versa, of course — presumably for the reason that he’ll be invaluable if Finch is kidnapped again, or is otherwise incapacitated.

I think there’s a good argument to be made, in fact, that at one point the Machine either planned for Tao to replace Finch, or else chose for complex Machinely reasons to act as though it did.

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compromised-by-castiel said:

Clint/Phil No. 20 Please I need more Clint/Phil kisses. The world needs more Clint/Phil kisses. It's been a bad week

(Kissing meme: free choice smooch!)

Phil knows that getting exasperated with Barton will be of no assistance to the situation, but the man can be infuriatingly obstinate. Usually for his own amusement. He’s refusing to climb up into the sniper box without a packed lunch. Apparently he has been forgotten up there in the past, and Phil has a simultaneous sympathy for how damaging to morale being forgotten can be, and how completely appealing it would be to tuck Barton out of sight and out of mind for a few hours.

"You won’t be forgotten," he repeats. “I’ll be at the other end of your comm, and I doubt you can be quiet long enough for me to forget you."

"What if you turn the comms off?" Barton counters. “What if something really important happens and I get left up there?"

"If something important happens then I have no doubt that I’ll be pulling the key marksman down in order to assist with the situation," Phil replies. “Unless you are unwilling to perform your duties, in which case I request that you exit the field now and stop wasting my time.”

"Ouch," Barton replies, forcing his face into an exaggerated expression of grumpiness. “You’ve hurt my feelings now. I can’t go up in the box like this. I’m emotionally compromised."

"Then I have no use for you," Phil replies flatly. 

Barton snorts. “I don’t see a spare sniper around here,” he says loftily. Phil holds a hand out for the rifle, and Barton isn’t schooled enough to keep the mild surprise from showing in his face. Phil is still early in his career as mission control, and he’s not a sniper by trade. But he’s stubborn and he’s a lucky shot, which isn’t an ideal skill but it’s better than nothing. 

"Tell you what," Barton says after a moment of consideration. “I’ll skip the packed lunch on two conditions." He rushes on before Phil can turn the compromise down. “Firstly, I want to be down before I burn to a crisp up there, okay?"

Phil doesn’t make promises that he can’t keep, so he waits patiently for the second condition.

"Secondly, I’m going to need you to kiss my hurt feelings better."

Phil stares blankly at Barton, and the man offers his cheek up. There are other field agents watching the exchange, because Barton has a reputation for disobedience and watching a control get taken down a peg or two is something that every agent enjoys. If Phil denies Barton, he’s down a sniper. If he indulges him, he loses authority that he barely has a grip on as it is. He takes the middle road.

Slowly, so Barton can track every movement, Phil lifts his left forefinger to his lips and presses a simple, chase kiss to the tip. The he reaches out, and presses the tip of his finger to Barton’s cheek. Barton smirks at him, amused.

"That’s all you got?" he asks.

Phil tilts his head in a motion that resembles a shrug. “All you deserve,” he replies simply. Barton’s eyebrow quirks in amusement, and his mouth splits into a grin.

"I expect you to have a fucking juice box or something ready for me when I get down," he calls over his shoulder as he starts up the ladder. Phil watches his progress without comment. He’s going to leave that punk up in the box all afternoon if he can.

The work of an editor, in its most boiled-down, basic form, is to be a professional reader. It’s our job to be able to look at a work at any stage, from concept to final product, and be able to speak to not only its creator’s intentions, but the response it’ll evoke in its audience. We straddle the space between creative and commercial, artistic vision and the gritty necessities of production. Editors chart the course of publishing lines and publications. We brainstorm with writers to solve story problems. We assemble creative teams; set deadlines; facilitate revisions; supervise layout; place word balloons. And yes, some of us will fix your apostrophes.

Read more at racheledidin.com.

That’s the last of the blog backlog! I’ll continue to post links here as I go;  you can also follow directly at http://racheledidin.com/blog/.

Remember how I posted awhile back on South Dakota’s intent to lengthen the already-ridiculous 3-day waiting period for abortions by decreeing that weekends and holidays don’t count toward the 3 days, as if people seeking abortions can only think properly on weekdays?*

Well, they’ve decided they need to clarify why they’re doing it.  It’s not because we can’t think on weekends and holidays.  It’s because anti-abortion activists take the weekends off just like the rest of us, meaning they don’t have access.

Which, on first glance, makes very little sense, until you get a bit further into their “explanation”, where they say:

One of the other purposes (of the bill) is to provide the woman with the opportunity to seek out counseling from other persons or individuals within the pregnant mother’s natural support system, such as the woman’s regular care physician, who’s never going to be open on a Saturday or a Sunday, or such as a clergy member

Hoooo boy, what a lot of loaded language to unpack. 

So first of all, what catches my eye right off is the phrase “pregnant mother”.  They’re coercively labeling all pregnant people as mothers, regardless of their feelings on the issue, or indeed their actual fucking gender.  I would quite possibly actually slap someone who tried to refer to me as a “mother” simply because I was pregnant one time, if they said it to my face.  Being pregnant and being a parent are two separate things, even before we get to the issue of NOT ALL PREGNANT PEOPLE ARE WOMEN SO YOUR GENDERED TERM FOR A PARENT DOESN’T EVEN WORK.  Especially when you’re specifically talking about a subset of the population of pregnant people who are actively seeking to terminate their pregnancies, you’re probably going to find a fair number of them who do not see themselves as parents at all (unless they’re already parents to actual children, which 60% of those who get abortions are) because if you don’t intend to have the baby, why would you refer to yourself in relation to it like that?

From there I move on to raise an eyebrow at “natural support system”.  It’s not overtly a bad phrase, but something about it bothers me, and I’m having a hard time putting my finger on it.  Perhaps it’s the “natural” bit, which casts a certain air of judgment over just who the pregnant person includes in their support system.  Because you know this guy means: the potential father, the person’s doctor, their priest (because obviously he assumes everyone would seek counseling from a Christian clergyperson), or their immediate biological family such as parents.  But many people have very different support systems, including friends, chosen family, online friends, etc., which implicitly are excluded from this concept of “natural” support system.  It also subtly casts the counseling that patients receive at the clinic - which they do, they always do, even where it’s not required by law, as it’s not in California but I did have to sit down and talk to someone for long enough to make sure I knew I had other options and they’d help me with those if I wanted to do something else - as “unnatural” and inferior, which is probably the other thing that’s raising my hackles.

But the real gem of this quote, the thing that throws their lies into stark relief, is a single word.


As in, “give her the opportunity to seek counseling from places that aren’t open on weekends”.

I dunno about you, but when you’re legislating requirements for how someone handles a situation, I don’t really feel like you can call that “giving an opportunity” to someone.  That’s called “forcing them to do things your way” and it’s a very, very different concept. 

I mean, do they think that there’s a time limit between the initial consult and the actual procedure?  Like, once you have your consult, the timer is running down and if you don’t finish up with your second appointment RIGHT THE FUCK NOW you’ll lose the chance to have it at all?  Because people are quite capable of waiting an extra few days if they feel the need to.  They’re not being rushed by anybody but the ticking clock conservatives have turned biology into with their X-week restrictions and bans, so if pregnant people are feeling pressured to hurry up and get their abortion, it’s not pro-choicers’ fault.  It’s standard business tactics, though, I suppose.  Create the problem so that you can tout your ability to create a solution to it. 

You can’t forcibly give someone an opportunity.  That’s not what “opportunity” means.  That’s not what “give” means, either.  If you are taking charge and setting requirements, that’s force, control, and coercion, not generosity and opportunity. 

If a pregnant person wants to visit a CPC or a member of the Christian clergy who isn’t available on weekends, and get counseling, there is nothing in this universe stopping them from waiting an extra couple days to do so before returning to the clinic or making their second appointment.  Nothing.  At.  All.  They already have the opportunity to do so.  They have the opportunity to wait as long as they need to before making a decision. 

I have an idea.  Why don’t we force generously give everyone the opportunity to consider their decision to undergo ALL elective medical procedures?  Institute three day waiting periods before tooth whitening.  Before rhinoplasties and breast augmentation.  Before gastric bypass surgery.  Before wart removal.  Before laser vision surgery.  Before vasectomies.  Don’t the people undergoing all these things also deserve the opportunity to consider their decision and seek out second opinions and counseling from their natural support network, including their hypothetical clergy?  I mean, if that’s the logic we’re operating on, why restrict our legislative generosity only to pregnant people?  Let’s give EVERYONE lots of time to think about their medical choices before they do anything. 

Weekends and holidays not included, of course.

*I just heard a bit ago that the SD House passed the measure; I’m unclear on whether the SD Senate has also done so and it’s on to the governor yet or if there’s still a chance to stop it before it goes that far.

compromised-by-castiel said:

Clint/Phil No. 16

(Kissing meme: upside-down kiss)

"No," Phil says firmly. 

"Why not?"

"It’s impractical, for one. Dangerous, even," Phil replies, and Clint snorts at him.

"Come on," Clint goads. “You can’t tell me that this’ll work for Spider-man but it won’t work for me."

Phil gives Clint a flat look. “Thank you for bringing seventeen year olds into this,” he says. “That has really added to the romance of the moment.”

"I knew you’d get into it," Clint replies, grabbing Phil’s tie and tugging him closer. Phil sighs heavily, but he indulges Clint with a relatively pleasant kiss. Plenty of lip and just a little dash of tongue. And then, while Clint is grinning smugly, Phil grabs the shoulders of Clint’s uniform and yanks down with all his weight, sending Clint sprawling onto the ground.

"Ow," Clint protests.

"I warned you that it was dangerous."

Clint scowls up at Phil, rubbing the shoulder he had landed on. After a moment, his expression shifts into something of a leer. “Gonna kiss me better?”

Phil rolls his eyes and hauls Clint to his feet. “You’re incorrigible.”

Drabble results

Thanks to everyone who requested! This really has helped me get back in the writing mood! :) Gonna have to do this again, sometime! :D

Warrior Goddess!verse - Mikaela - “happy”

Warrior Goddess!verse - Mikaela - “the parting glass” - this one ran away with me and will probably get posted as a standalone fic in that series, once I explain on AO3 what’s going on this far in the future of WG!verse….

In Service!verse - Ratbat, Ravage, and Laserbeak - “lethargy”

Phil Coulson meets Optimus Prime

Dawning!verse: Megatron attending a formal event

Dawning!verse: Megatron and Optimus - Bad blood

Optimus and Megatron - dance

Berserk - Griffith and Guts - “I want to be an equal”

Jazz and baby!Blue cuteness

Mirage meets James Bond

TF:P Megatron/Optimus - Love is war


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A Voice in the Dark - Transformers (Blaster/Cosmos)

Title(s): Galaxies (art) / A Voice in the Dark (fic)
Link to artwork: Artwork here!
Link to fic: Fic here!
Artist: heavybomb
Author: White Aster
Continuity: G1/IDW
Rating: G (art) / NC-17 (fic)
Characters/pairings: Cosmos/Blaster
Content advice/warnings: Sticky and tactile/wireplay sex. Relationship building, phone(comm)-sex, mutual masturbation, dirty talk, voyeurism/exhibitionism, sizekink, happy ending AU.
Summary: A long-range shuttle, a communications mech, and a very long-distance relationship.
Author Notes:

  • This is based on what I could remember and google of the G1/IDW canonverse, but no doubt some things that are slightly off. The end is centered around a peaceful AU that isn’t related to anything in canon (in-joke notwithstanding). Or, I suppose you could assume it’s a-bit-future ongoing comicverse. Whatever floats your boat!
  • This goes along with the idea of Cosmos as actually-big-and-shuttle-sized, rather like he is in the ongoing IDW comics, rather than cute little minibot Cosmos from the cartoon. Because we liked it that way.
  • Many thanks to Heavybomb, Moogle, and Blue for beta-ing! :D


I knew him for vorns before I ever met him in person. I knew him by voice and comm frequency, by his ident across my HUD and the smooth cadence of his words. He knew my name, which is important when you are so often unmoored from everyone and everything. To him, I wasn’t just TransCyberComm Transport Specialist 98645367, and when my assignments sometimes had me on-duty for a vorn or more a time, that meant a lot.

Before the war, there was a particular sub-sub-genre of romance fiction that centered on shuttles and comm mechs. The appeal was very specific, very niche, and it was mostly read (and written, usually under pseudonym) by deep-space shuttles themselves. Most other frametypes didn’t understand the appeal, but every long-range space-faring mech understands what you mean if you call someone a “voice in the dark”. There’s nothing more intimate than being the only voice we hear.

What I’m getting at is that I fell for him before I even knew what he looked like, and that wasn’t particularly surprising. I know I wasn’t alone in that, over the years. He was The Voice, after all, as Cybertron became increasingly dark.

But before he was The Voice, he was just TransCyberComm Communications Specialist 11457.


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Review: Warren Ellis Double Feature


Scars by Warren Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Last night I went on a bit of a Warren Ellis adventure. I watched his documentary Captured Ghosts which delved into his childhood, skirted into his teen years in which he was barely conscious, then talks about his career as a writer and patron saint of the Internet. It would make a good double feature with the Harlan Ellison doc, Dreams With Sharp Teeth.

I’m more generous about calling myself a fan of a writer versus a fan of an actor or director, artist or musician because I can gobble up an album in 20-30 minutes, I can watch a movie in 90, I can watch two in about three hours. It’s quicker for me to judge multiple portions of works of art or film of music than it is for comics or novels. If I like one book out of 12 written by someone, I call myself a fan until proven otherwise.

All I’ve ever read of Warren Ellis’ work was Transmetropolitan and I adore it, so I call myself a fan. I’ve never read The Authority or StormWatch or anything else, but I do follow his Twitter and blog and I have several of his works on my To Read list.

Then, the documentary brought up Scars and I hunted it down.

Scars is a well constructed, tightly contained story about a cop hunting down a child murderer. It’s a case of true horror, gruesome and terrible but unlike the shock-for-shock’s-sake mess that is Garth Ennis’ CROSSED or The Walking Dead, it’s the realism that makes it terrifying. Sick bastards like this exist, will always exist and we never know who or where until it’s far, far too late.

The rest of this will contain spoilers. You’ve been warned!

I think what I liked the most is that the story is so very contained and nothing is over-explained. We’re left to assume that the drive by that left Cain a broken man was due to him being a detective, but it’s never spelled out for us. We’re not sure if Cain was the intended target, or if the person caught in the path of the bullet was.

The ending is left up to interpretation, though in my opinion it’s quite obvious that Cain’s partner shot him, otherwise we would have gone through the fallout.

I wish it was longer than six issues, I feel some things happened too fast and Cain could and should have fallen even farther. But over-all, a very good story that I recommend, if you have the stomach for it.

View all my reviews

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Blog Post: Unexpected day to myself

Yesterday, while we were going through the cupboards and finding a bunch of stuff my mum had forgotten she even had, we decided that today was going to be spent pulling everything out of all of the cupboards, giving the insides a good scrubbing, and laying new contact paper. Because it’s been a while.

My mum’s decided that she doesn’t want to do that today. She’s gone down to get the new contact paper, so I can do it tomorrow while she’s at work. I guess after two solid days of manual labour, she’s done. Which is good, because I was done early yesterday. So while she putters about outside, doing whatever she does to keep herself busy, I’m gonna try to get some writing done. I’ve almost got an update for my Loki/Darcy fic ready, and then I’m gonna do a coin toss over whether I work on my Norse Big Bang fic, or my Camp NaNo project.

On a ficcish front, I’ve been trying to do more reading lately. I don’t read fic anymore, mostly because I hate reading at my computer, and my phone is evil. I used to read on my netbook, before it went kablooey, and then kind of stopped after that, because trying to read fic on an iPhone is an exercise in migraine-having. So earlier today, I went across the street to Best Buy to look at eReaders, and found a refurbished Android Tablet for $30. I’ve wanted one for ages, so now I finally have one. Yay!

Since it’s not just an eReader, and a full-on tablet, I’m gonna look into the best way to write with that as well. I’m not overly thrilled with Gdocs, but if it works, it works. We’ll see. Also, I’m gonna see if it has any apps that’ll work for letting me do my embroidery away from my computer. Basically, everything I do makes me stuck to this thing, and sometimes, I want to go somewhere else. Maybe I can, now.


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Dear Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, and the Texas GOP,

You don’t know me, and I’m not a Texan in any way, shape, form, or fashion.  So I’d say you won’t care what I think about this fiasco - except that you’ve already made it abundantly clear that you don’t care what anyone thinks of what you’re doing here, whether they’re a constituent, a politician with the opposition, or God Herself, so I know it’s nothing personal.

Since my words, and indeed, my very existence mean nothing to you, I will feel free to speak my true mind on this in very blunt terms.

You are the biggest pack of filthy hypocrites I’ve ever seen.

You (the wider GOP) venerate the Founding Fathers, who fought a war and founded a nation over the right to be treated with respect and have a say in one’s government - and yet you blatantly disrespect the modern people of that nation when they gather by the hundreds and thousands to tell you to STOP.  You idolize (and I mean that in the truest sense of idolatry, by the way) a group of men who are remembered for, among other things, decrying “taxation without representation” - and yet you will happily impose far more intimate regulations on your constituents’ very bodies while silencing their representation, whether it be through their elected officials or through their own voices raised in protest.

You use procedural trick after procedural trick to try to force those elected voices to shut up, eventually forcing them from the floor under guise of respect for parliamentary procedure - and yet you’re quite happy to blatantly violate the same rules you insist everyone else abide by as soon as it suits you, by altering documents and timestamps to literally rewrite history once it became clear you’d lost.

Do you know why I am political in the ways that I am, Mr. Perry (et al)?  Because I still believe in - still want to believe in - the the noble ideals I was told we as a country stood for, as a child growing up in America.  I want this country to offer liberty and justice to all.  I want a government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.

And you people claim to love the Constitution, love the Founders, love what this country “stands for” - that is, what we claim to stand for - and yet your actions tell a terrifyingly different story.

Because when you are faced with The People Themselves, in the flesh, by the hundreds, literally raising their voices to prevent you from making unjust laws that trample on their rights…

And your response, after every dirty trick and lie and machination you used failed you, is to say “That’s fine, we’ll just try it again next week"…

You are not acting in the spirit of the lofty goals of liberty and justice and freedom.  You are channeling King George.  (Hell, at this point, I’m inclined to say you’re channeling Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine too, but that’s my penchant for hyperbole and my geekishness sitting down for a drink together, so.)

You are liars.  You are hypocrites.  You are power-hungry tyrants unfit to wield authority over an ant colony, much less millions of human beings.  And you need to fucking stop.

With intense loathing,

In Nocturnes I Shift

In nocturnes I shift
fellow night lover, sweeten
the stars in milked drops,
awaken a curving hip, yours.
Dripping water, faucet-found
opened palm in the silver underbelly,
reflecting your moon’s sliver,
shiver by knife cold as butter window-sill
bound while the bread waits to rise,
while the sun has gone awhile,
waits to rise.

Shivering in tides, the swell of waves
blanketing upon aurora’s
aged borealis, my deep hands
cupped in interest of moonlight, but
paper-thin sky tonight, anew, no waxing, waning
despite the sweet mess of sleepers alight in dreams;
they hunt for winding silver thread
which traces peaked waves static over ice,
river flowing beneath,
does not stop for winter or the dark.

Your myths of Artemis overwrought her Athena,
we are both; knife, bow, golden, mind,
wolves uttering, snouts raised,
living in our father’s daytime mind 
before an untimely birth arises,
spits us free, rise of moon, nocturnes shifting.
In these lonely and lunar times,
the sun does not count for much, but
how the moon does shine.