Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone: Excitement and Frustration

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Today marks the arrival of one of the villains I’ve wanted most to appear in Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm.  If last week’s enormous post about World of Warcraft lore didn’t hammer it home for you, you should know that I absolutely love World of Warcraft villains.  The release of “The Archlich Of Naxxramas, Esteemed Lich Lord Of The Plaguelands, Commander Of The Dread Necropolis, Master And Founder Of The Cult Of The Damned, Formerly Of The Council Of The Six, Creator Of The Abomination, Corrupter Of The Sunwell, Summoner Of Archimonde The Defiler, Betrayer Of Humanity, Hearthstone Enthusiast, And Majordomo To The Lich King Himself, Kel’thuzad,” is, therefore and understandably, an incredibly exciting event for me (Credit to user RobotDoctorRobot from Reddit for the creation of this meme-y title for the Archlich which has been immortalized by Blizzard in Kel’thuzad’s voicelines!)  In addition, Kel’thuzad’s release event includes reworks for two characters who have desperately needed them and one of the best skins to ever appear in this game, Dreadlord Jaina.

 

The content update to Heroes of the Storm comes at a very opportune moment as my frustration with the state of Hearthstone competitive has reached a peak.  While competitive doesn’t make me feel like raging, I would more describe my feelings towards competitive as ones of exhaustion.  Druid is running the show in all levels of competitive with one of the most boring decks to play and to play against.  I’m not unique in lodging these complaints, a brief look at most of the Hearthstone-centric forums will reveal a great number of posts about the state of Druid decks at the moment.

 

While I don’t think I have much to add on a mathematic or technical level, I think there is some value in discussing how disheartening it is to play a game where a lot of the population isn’t there to have fun, but rather to simply win by any means necessary.  You want to know what’s worse than losing to a deck that is clearly, undeniably over tuned with no major answers in the game?  Having so many games followed by friend requests by the players so they can harass and insult you.

 

Hearthstone’s single-player duel against the Lich King was one of the most fun events that has ever been in the game.  Despite having to wrack my brain for hours trying to come up with decks that could defeat him with each character, the end result was rewarding and the problem solving demanded of me felt great.  It was a great break from the painful stagnation of multiplayer in this multiplayer card game.  Knights of the Frozen Throne has some of the most exciting and enjoyable cards in any expansion I’ve ever played (and I’ve played since the beta test of Hearthstone,) but this is overshadowed by how a select set of cards has made year-old decks unstoppable.  People are playing those decks not because they are fun or amazing, but simply because they win.  The most innovative new cards have been suppressed in competitive because they don’t mean anything in the face of classic ramp Druid with a few new cards sprinkled in to make the ramp unstoppable.

 

I look forward to a nerf because I want the win-only people to go away and because I want to see the really awesome death knight cards see play in a way that isn’t just a desperate bid to not die to a Token or Jade Druid deck.  Death knights are thematically exciting, game turning, and make the end game of many matches a real struggle for victory.  Games are about fun, learning, and inspiration.  A win should feel good not just because it ticks an arbitrary ranking higher, but because you prevailed over a challenge and learned something.

Warcraft Lore and My Honorary Husbando: Gul’Dan

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There is something very strange about Warcraft’s lore.  The longer the Warcraft series runs, the sillier Warcraft lore gets.  Somehow, though, I’ve only come to love everything about Warcraft all the more.  For a very long time, it seemed like Warcraft would forever be a cycle of corruption stories; X hero rises up, gets corrupted, becomes the new villain, and then is defeated by the players with the help of Y hero, etc.  While the themes of corruption have not disappeared and it’s a guarantee that every new expansion will include a corrupted lead villain, the writers have begun to craft a certain tongue-in-cheek self-awareness that makes Warcraft and all its associated IPs still feel lovable and enrapturing so many years on.

One of the best examples of this sort of writing is Gul’dan, who I often joke is my honorary husband.  Easily my favorite villain in all of Warcraft lore, Gul’dan made the otherwise just-okay Warcraft movie incredibly fun to watch.  Gul’dan is laughably evil, but his origins in Warcraft II were much more serious.  Gul’dan was, at some point, a true antagonist who more or less sold out everyone who trusted him and scourged an entire generation (sometimes more) of nearly every major race across two planets.  In Warcraft III, this trend more or less continued.  The demon hunter Illidan sought out Gul’dan’s skull, which resonated with incredible residual power long after his death.

Then came World of Warcraft, changing the delivery of Warcraft’s lore forever.  World of Warcraft right off the bat was a much less serious game.  The dark themes of Warcraft II and III were in contrast with the bright, often silly presentation of World of Warcraft.  This new tone solidified after the merger with Activision, at which point I feel Blizzard entered its most awkward phase.

After the merger, two of Blizzard’s most questionable releases came: Starcraft II and Diablo III.  I won’t go too in-depth about each of these games simply because the topic is more about Warcraft, but both succeeded and failed in similar ways.  Both games were financially successful, and both games languished in the long run.  Both games had good, even great, multiplayer, but lost something of their soul in the single player.  Diablo III’s storyline was greatly out of pace with the tone of the series thus far, as was Starcraft II’s story.  Starcraft II launched to a wave of retcons and sudden changes in character personality.

Starcraft II went supernova as an e-sport and then experienced a crash so sudden that it more or less killed the competitive scene just as the newest expansion was releasing and being played.  Diablo III released with a real-money auction house that utterly broke the game and encouraged pay-to-win play.  The ire of the Diablo II fans who made up much of Diablo III’s audience was so great that the first expansion to the game removed the auction house altogether.

(For a FANTASTIC video on Diablo III’s missing the mark, please watch Mr.BTongue’s “Stay awhile, and listen to me gripe about Diablo III.”  Really, though; ITS REALLY FANTASTIC AND YOU SHOULD WATCH IT AND BECOME SMARTER ABOUT VIDEO GAMES.)

During the first few years after the merger, much experimentation happened, and a lot of that experimentation was not good at all.  Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm were being made, and ultimately launched with the fingerprints of Activision all over them; micro-transactions had become the name of the game.

Through all of this, though, World of Warcraft still sailed steadily.  Somehow they’d managed to grow from their roots, instead of leaving them behind.  There were no glaring retcons to the Warcraft lore or characters who suddenly behaved like someone totally different.  There was a great respect for where Warcraft came from, while still managing to bring in a whole lot of sillier elements.

Maybe it was Chris Metzen, who took a hard stance on continuity for the World of Warcraft ongoing lore.  Maybe it was just chance.  Somehow, though, Warcraft’s lore has gone from “orcs vs humans” to “Gul’dan is dead in this universe, so demons brought in a version of him from another universe to ensure that things turn out the same way after the incredibly Hitler-esque warchief of the horde travelled back in time to prevent the main story of Warcraft II from happening.”  Gul’dan isn’t mocked or sold out; he is still the power-hungry, evil bastard he always was, even if the storyline has gotten almost hilariously wacky.

I think, perhaps, World of Warcraft benefited from the fact that there was some inherent silliness in Warcraft II and III both due to technical limitations and to writer humor. Orc peons were goofy, but loveable dopes who shouted, “me not that kind of orc” when poked too many times by the player, and, on the technical side, Warcraft III’s character models had the tendency to look pretty silly at times, especially in dialogue.

In the end, the story of Diablo III was forgettable, the story of Starcraft II was almost embarrassing, but the story of World of Warcraft has only ripened with its wackiness.  In other spin-offs, such as Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, this ripening is very visible.  Hearthstone, for example, comfortably slid into centering much of its “story” around the silliest aspects of Warcraft lore and the culture around it, lovingly picking on players, writers, and characters in the greatest ways.  Hearthstone’s online video series about Uther, Jaina, and Gul’dan working in an office building is hilarious, and the latest expansion only played this further, with card battles against the ever-famous Lich King being enhanced by his dialogue about net-decking, cheating, and poor deck construction.

In the end, Warcraft doesn’t take itself too seriously but still has respect for its past.  The writers know how to self-parody within Warcraft lore without selling out the soul of the series.  Starcraft II, in my opinion, was the corollary to the Simpson’s infamous “the Principal and the Pauper” episode, which is largely credited as the nail in the coffin of the show’s previously unchallenged status as the King of Television comedy.  Warcraft, despite completely shifting genres from RTS to MMORPG, kept true to its tone, self-parodying without disrespecting what it was or pretending things didn’t happen.

Did I goof up my facts?  Did I missspell something?  Do you like what I had to say?  Hit me with your hottest takes in the comments below or let me bother you more by following me on twitter: @emiliesovis 

 

 

Political Fatigue

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I’ve found myself caught in these strange loops in the last few years where I’m simultaneously horrified at the way politics is unfolding in my country around me, but unable to do all that much about it.  I vote, and I discuss with relatives and friends, but I am always aware that such actions are really the baseline for political impact.  I have an awareness of the fact that inaction and apathy will only leave me in less control of my situation, however, participation in the gnashing madness of politics is a scourge on one’s mental state.

I find it unfortunate that the current state of living gives me a feeling of “fucked if I do, fucked if I don’t.”  There’s no room to breathe, it seems.  At the very least, I perceive it as so.  I only wish that there was some kind of guarantee of at least the basics of wellness, but there isn’t, not for me and mine.  I have to live in a country where, even in one of the most progressive states in the nation, I have to fear that the people I care about (myself included) may lose their healthcare or their right to participate in public life safely.  I find it remarkably hard to rest easily with such fears hovering over me.  Yet to attempt to participate in politics at the moment is an incredible undertaking.  The sheer scale of politics, and the barriers to entry, are seemingly impassable.  They are far greater challenges than I can responsibly undertake given my rough last few years on a health level.

Furthermore, I truly have no desire to devote my life to politics.  I want to write, create, take care of my family and friends.  Yet it seems that at the moment there are so few I can trust to have my back as a human being.  Those who I would trust are, at the moment, so far from being able to take office so as to be almost a pipe dream.  I am lucky, at least, that I have some trust in my local politicians, but I also recognize that my local politicians will be hamstringed if the federal government has its way.  And the biggest loser will be those of us who are already struggling.

Politics is draining.  It is, in many ways, hollow and shallow, lacking in everything that I cherish.  And yet it is so essential.  Frameworks for a healthy society have to be made, and if good people don’t step up then we will be left with the sociopathic, self-serving Gingrichs and Trumps and McConnells.  The poor and the sick can’t fight for themselves when money is a prerequisite to political influence.  Something has to change.  But I don’t quite know what yet.

The Age of Irony

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Irony drains on me.  I never thought I would reach a point in my life in which insincerity of opinion and behavior would characterize so many of other people’s interaction with me and those around me.  There was a point on the internet in which irony was a tool of comedy and lambasting mainstream culture.  Recently, it’s felt more like a cave to which the cowardly hateful can retreat when confronted on their malice.

At some point within the anonymous hangouts of the web a strange conflation of genuinely held and ironically postured beliefs seems to have occurred, and now the rest of us are left to deal with individuals who don’t seem to know where the line between joke and cruelty lies.  I remember laughing at forum posts whose outrageous arguments were too hyperbolic to be taken seriously.  Taboo was broken almost flauntingly online, but there was almost always an undercurrent of tongue-in-cheek.  When the mask slipped, there were caring humans underneath.  Outcasts who, in their own strange ways, had built a community which was detestable to anyone who didn’t understand the irony.

The irony and the exaggeration isn’t funny when its serious.  It isn’t funny anymore when there is a considerable number of people who actually believe the horrible garbage that shows up in these communities.  It becomes a game of sorting who is being serious, who is being half-serious, and who is being honest with malignant views.  There is an exhausting parade of opportunists profiting off of the ambiguity of online discourse at the moment, whether it is political writers grossly simplifying decades-old internet memes into symbols of hate (which then empowers those who do actually use them as a symbol of hate,) or YouTube pundits covering their psychopathic, prejudiced hatred under the veneer of opposing political correctness.

Every year it becomes harder and harder to communicate why anonymity and anonymous spaces are important because the list grows ever longer of anonymous spaces being used not only for horrific acts, but as echo chambers of heartlessness.  The kicker is that they are important, incredibly so.  Anonymity provides space for the criticism of oppressors, the expression of repressed humanity, and the discussion of ideas freely.  In a time when the owners of social networks commanding unprecedented user data are mobilizing for presidential campaigns, anonymous spaces are more important than ever.

What happens, though, when those spaces have been infiltrated effectively by the very people who ultimately oppose them?  What happens when the humans who invisibly sit behind the digital masks become convinced that racism, anti-Semitism, authoritarianism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, are no longer to be mocked but to be supported?  The irony blurs it all.  People who go there to laugh at what seems to be exaggerated, ironic impressions of terrible people find themselves alongside true believers in things like ethnic cleansing and bashing.  Some of those who started as parodies slowly start to buy into the ideologies they once mocked, or worse, they breach anonymity and realize money can be made off of such views.  Once their income is tied to whetting the bloodlust of the hateful, it becomes nearly impossible for them to escape.

In thinking on this I find myself coming away with more questions than answers:  Why has the sense of desperation seemingly increased across the political board, when certain groups demonstrably suffer considerably more severe oppression?  How did a market for hatred and bigotry arise?  If there ever was any empathy on the web, where the hell did it go?

I am more than tired by the seemingly ceaseless tug of war between irony and paranoia online.  If you suspect everyone online of insincerity and hatred, you incriminate those who really have meant no harm, but, at the same time, there is so great a number of terrible people hiding under the protection of ironic hyperbole that meaningful dialogue is almost impossible anyway.

There was a great example of the tug-of-war flying around Twitter a few weeks ago:  A high school or college-aged guy sent a meme to a bunch of people in an airport through their unsecured “airdrop” folders on a public network.  The meme image was a simple drawing that has been used for years with no tie to hateful meaning.  Recently, though, due to a few notable subcultures using the meme image alongside hateful images or editing the image to contain hateful imagery, mainstream news designated the meme image as a symbol of hate.  There was no indication that the guy who sent the meme image was using it for any hateful purpose, but nonetheless one of the recipients tracked him down, photographed him, and shared his pictures on her very large social media account, branding him as a racist, bigot, and coward.

How can a rational person sort through such a situation with any coherence?  There was nothing to say the guy was being racist, but it is undeniably true that the meme image has become popular with racist groups.  Nonetheless, is humiliation by social media mob a fitting “punishment” for someone who may have only been playing a simple, harmless prank, or is such an action simply giving valuable ammunition to hate groups’ propaganda machines?

It’s a goddamn mess.  My only hope is that, as a whole, the users of the internet will realize that the insincerity-paranoia feedback loop leads to a maddening vortex of continual overreaction, else we’re all in for a terribly frustrating ride.

Torturous Little Things

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Dreams are torturous little things.

I have incredibly vivid dreams, and I’ve always been thankful of this fact, despite that it means some days my dreams really fuck with me.  There’s this unique range of emotions that seems exclusive to dreams: hazy nostalgia and melancholy mixed with the sense of more memories just out of the reach of your mind.  These feelings always come wrapped in a sense of appreciation of incredible, complex beauty.

My dreams are influenced by my life, but more or less out of my control.  They have their own recurring locations and characters, some of which are amalgamations of real life places or spiritual representations of real world people (some people in my life are replicated in my dreams shockingly well.)  There are locations within dreams that are impossible to access from the waking world, and likewise locations within the waking world that seem impossible to conjure in a dream.  Most dreams I am content to leave, some I am quite happy to flee.  Occasionally, though, dreams take me through simulations of that which could have been if not for what actually was.

Such dreams are the most painful, I think, because leaving them, while necessary, results in the loss of a beautiful potentiality.  While I don’t believe it’s healthy to preoccupy myself with every painful past event, it’s undeniable that some events stick with me and the prospect of a different outcome is tempting and poignant.  Emotional vulnerability at a peak, even a surreal vision of pains undone is difficult to walk away from.

I embrace them all: the time traveling dreams in which I live an entirely different life lost in an unfamiliar past, planning each day what I will do when I reach the day my younger self fell through time; the bloody nightmares planted in my brain by John Carpenter’s The Thing; the heroic struggles against demons with holy weapons (or angels with demonic weapons); and the dreams in which I spend time with those now gone in a world just different enough to not be our own.

For a Change of Pace: My Bloodborne Review

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Continuing in the spirit of this erratic blog, I felt the need to review a video game that’s been out for years and reasonably well discussed.  I like it, though, and I’ve been dying to get my thoughts on the game out on the page so, without further ado, My Thoughts on Bloodborne:

 

Bloodborne came to me in a strange manner.  In seeing early previews I was not particularly enchanted by the game, despite loving its predecessors Demon Souls and Dark Souls.  I think I had grown tired of Victorian flavoring due to the prevalence of steampunk at the time, and as a result the game fell on my list of play priority until a friend offered their copy to me on the day after launch.  They said the game wasn’t quite their style, but that I’d probably like it.  I bought it from them and started playing sometime that week.  While I found the game surprisingly unsettling, it actually took me some time to play the game through, and I ended up watching my girlfriend play it extensively before I dove in again.

Now I am approaching the end of my third play-through of the game, and I feel safe to say that Bloodborne is one of the best games of this console generation.  [From here on out there will be MASSIVE spoilers, so if you don’t want to be exposed to the Eldritch Truth, skip this blog!]

Bloodborne is a real trip.  Somewhere around the one-third point of the game on a standard playthrough it smoothly transitions from a Van-Helsing monster hunter game with a lot of Dark Souls flavoring into a Lovecraft-inspired nightmare parade of aliens, tentacled horrors, and disfigured monstrosities from the abyss beyond.  It was at this point that I truly fell in love with the game.  Somehow, Bloodborne manages to take two genres which have been pretty played out in gaming recently, mash them together, and leave them all the better for it.

While I consider the first third of the game to be considerably subdued in comparison to the rest, observant players will find enticing hints of what is to come.  The best example of this being the Eldritch Horror, Amygdala, who lurks just outside one of the only safe places in the entire game, invisible to the player until they have attained enough Insight, or knowledge of the Great Ones (a collectible item that increases the difficulty of the game as it is collected.)  While the player cannot see this enormous being, it is possible to bait it into an attack, which reveals the hints of its form at the cost of usually killing the player.  This occurs at a very early point in the game and marks, for me, the point at which I knew this game was something more than a mere re-flavoring of Dark Souls.

The turning point of the game is the acquisition of 40 insight, where all of the horrors of the Great Old Ones become visible.  The city, once a plague hellscape now crawls with alien beings that are jarringly different in aesthetic to the monsters encountered so far.  From that point on, the game becomes a mess of blood and flesh, of madmen and mindless beasts fighting for their lives against horrors greater than their minds can grasp.

And it is fucking incredible.

Undead miscarried Old Gods made of scrap body parts, poison-spewing squid-like aliens, and once-human extraterrestrials with bulbous heads and eyes characterize the latter 2/3rds of Bloodborne.  There are ongoing themes of disturbed birth, of mutation and human experimentation, of orphanage and genocide that ensure that the game runs your soul through a meat grinder of emotional upset.  It is not a clean game, and the necessary actions you take as a hunter are just as unclean.  Bloodborne is a disgusting mess, and that’s why it’s so fantastic.

Many of the themes of the game are reinforced incredibly well by the gameplay mechanics.  The lack of any real block mechanic (which was core to Bloodborne’s predecessors,) the viciousness of enemy attacks, and the inclusion of a time-sensitive health recover based on successful player attacks pushes the player to be aggressive and skillfully dodge.  Insight is foist upon the character by merely witnessing the horrors of the Hunt, which is a mixed blessing.  Insight can be spent to purchase unique items, but hoarding the amount of insight necessary to purchase the most valuable items comes at a cost; high-insight characters encounter enemies with more complex move sets and, additionally, are increasingly vulnerable to frenzy attacks, which cause a player to go mad and take a catastrophic amount of damage.

Villainy is not straightforward and gameplay choices always have consequences.  Talking to townspeople generally results in spitted disgust and stubborn stonewalling, but persistence can yield options.  Some townsfolk are willing to communicate (and some to make demands.)  How a player chooses to interact with the citizens of Yharnam can make drastic differences in later game play, and none of the characters have completely transparent motives.  Characters who can bring you great rewards often victimize other characters in order to do so.  Some kindly characters can end up blocking advancement in side quests because of their actions.  More complicated yet, unlocking the true ending of the game means meting out terrible injustice in the name of an end that is not even necessarily good in the traditional sense.  Bloodborne does not let you sit back on tough choices with cutscenes or the like.  If you choose to kill a helpless individual for a needed item or to prevent an unwanted outcome, you’ll be the one swinging the axe.

Enemy resistances are diversified, encouraging the player to keep a wide arsenal of tools prepared – like a true hunter.  No one weapon is a slay-all in Bloodborne, and the diversity of enemy move sets means that even min-maxing characters will have to get creative to overcome certain beings.  Some enemies adapt and will respond to different tactics, meaning a single-skill cheese is nearly impossible.

This, however, brings me to the game’s greatest downfall: farming.  In a game about brutal, punishing challenge one of the biggest missteps in design is the severe limitation of two of the most important resources in the game: blood vials for healing and quicksilver bullets which allow parrying.  Blood vials have a default maximum of 20, which is more than reasonable for the battles in the game; however, blood vials are not an infinite resource.  They have to be stocked up on.  This means that a particularly challenging boss that requires a lot of practice could result in multiple farming runs just to re-fill your box with blood vials.  Blood vials for purchase are notably expensive, meaning that progression is often blocked by the need to spend currency on an essential resource.

Quicksilver bullets are almost more frustrating.  Quicksilver bullets are essential for parrying, ranged damage, spells, and utility tools.  It is practically impossible to play the game without quicksilver bullets because battle was designed with parrying as a core mechanic.  On its own, parrying is great: a player must learn their enemies’ attack patterns and the ideal moment to fire a quicksilver bullet such that it results in a stun.  Some stuns require remarkably precise timing, and therefore a lot of practice.  The frustrating aspect is that, despite an enormous amount of the game’s items relying on quicksilver bullets, quicksilver bullets are, like blood vials, expensive and only drop from certain enemies in small bundles.  A chunk of health can be sacrificed in exchange for five bullets (a number which cannot be modified by any in-game upgrade), but most spells or tools require more than five bullets.

As a result of the scarcity of bullets and blood vials, the game seems to encourage one of two paths: over-level the bosses you are going to fight so that they are much easier, or farm, a lot.  I find this to be an overshadowing issue on some bosses.  A prime example is an elite hunter-of-hunters at the end of one of the side quest lines.  This enemy is remarkably difficult.  Over-leveling him isn’t really an option as his difficulty scales decently well through a large number of levels, and his move set is adaptable enough that no single skill leaves him particularly vulnerable.  To beat him, a player needs to memorize his attack patterns and learn to time his stun windows precisely.  This usually means a lot of death.  Unfortunately, a lot of death means a lot of time spent running through the bullet- and vial-rich areas of the game over and over in order to stock up on a resource that could have been limited only by carry capacity instead of total inventory stock.

Tracing the same wound, the Chalice Dungeons, randomly generated, themed caverns full of enemies and treasures, are repetitive and self-fulfilling.  The treasures they grant are mostly re-used for further dungeon creation, which also costs currency.  While they contain a number of unique bosses, these seem like diamonds in the rough when compared with the drab slog that the Chalice Dungeons represent.

Despite these two very present weaknesses, Bloodborne still sticks with me as an incredible work.  It manages to bring a breath of fresh air to well-trodden flavorings by using them as inspiration as opposed to a foundation.  Bloodborne is Lovecraft-ish, not based on the Cthulhu mythos.  It is steampunk-ish, without taking place in Victorian England.  As a result, it is tweaked and corrupted in all the right ways.  It is a fucked up, bloody mess that makes our hearts scream in protest and excitement and everything else in-between.  Despite its flaws it is a work of beauty that stands out among its fellows as a piece truly inspired, truly horrific, and truly experimental.  I can’t think of a game since Eternal Darkness that quite captures the same element of horror, and I can’t think of a game since the original Dark Souls that quite captures a specific flavor so well.

#Valentroid

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This piece is a fan piece based off of Sarah Almeda’s “Valentroid” OC ship.  Everyone should take a look at her art and go check out the #valentroid ship hashtag, because its wonderfully wonderfully adorable. 

 

 

“Sir, I really, really don’t think we should be flying this speed through a populated sector!”

 

Valentina was screaming much louder than she was usually comfortable with, so loud was the roar of the Gunship’s fusion engines as they struggled to maintain pace without slipping into warp speed.  Even still, Samus didn’t respond.  About an hour previously, Samus had burst into a flurry of action following an incoming transmission.  They’d both been sleeping, finally enjoying a few days of rest after the successful completion of their last mission, a particularly taxing hunt for a notorious weapons smuggler.  Normally, Valentina would handle incoming transmissions, but this one was sealed with a private code.  She’d been embarrassed to have to wake Samus.  Technically, she could have auto-signed the message since Samus had never calibrated the ships systems to have more than one user, but…that just didn’t feel right to her.

 

“Sir, at the very least can I at least broadcast emergency warnings ahead of us?”

 

“No.”

 

Samus’ tone was firm but not cruel.  Valentina usually chalked that up to her being unused to cooperative work.  She’d thoroughly studied all Federation assigned briefings on Samus Aran long before she’d stepped onto the Gunship, so she knew it had been some time since Samus had worked with anyone, let alone anyone less experienced than herself.  Nonetheless, Samus’ refusal to obey system law was wracking her with anxiety.  At this speed, collision would be disastrous.

 

“Sit down, Cadet.  I can’t have you splitting your head if I engage evasive maneuvers.”

 

Cadet Valentina laughed nervously, quickly sitting down into the empty jumpseat at the back of the cockpit that served as her “station.”  She had broken into a cold sweat.  Something about Samus’ body language was setting off all her alarm bells.  Admittedly, Valentina tended to get panicky when Samus threw Federation law to the wind, but something was different here, she felt.  While it was normal for Samus to act quickly when need arose, she tended to have a casual confidence about her, a sort of distance from the danger and stress.  This was different, Samus seemed scared.  She had even started priming her power suit.

 

Samus seemed to live in her “Zero Suit,” a powered polymer jumpsuit that gave her base-level protection and allowed her to more quickly don her power suit when the time came.  Valentina had only seen her outside of it once, in a particularly embarrassing event that had earned her a full day of cold shoulder.  To note that event was the only other time since Valentina had been assigned to Samus that she’d seen any real cracks in the bounty hunter’s confidence.  The look on Samus’ face when Valentina had accidentally triggered the bunkroom door release while attempting a repair on the electrical systems was one of…self-consciousness?  Valentina, after crying out in embarrassment and shame, realized that Samus probably hadn’t liked anyone seeing her scars and power suit implants.  Valentina’s reaction in retrospect was that the scars and augmentations were endearing and somewhat attractive.  She concluded it was somewhat disrespectful to Samus’ experiences to feel that way though.  Right?

Valentina sighed.  If she couldn’t convince Samus to slow the ship, the least she could do was ease the workload.  She flipped open her wrist computer, scanning her print to engage the Gunship’s sensor systems.  Simultaneously, she initiated preparation processes for her own armor suit – a Federation issued power-assisted recon suit.  Her armor loadout was considerably less powerful or flexible than Samus’, but it could absorb a few good hits, and was equipped with both active camouflage and physical enhancement modules.

 

“Sir, we are approaching a major trade route.  At our current sub-light speed we will cross paths in approximately 30 seconds.  I recommend giving the route a wide berth.”

 

Samus looked over her shoulder, squinting, and then nodded, adjusting their flight path smoothly.

 

“Thank you, Cadet.  I trust you’ll be taking over controls of the scanners from here on?”

 

“You got it, Sir.  No offense, but you’re a better pilot than you are a navigator!”

 

Valentina laughed more nervously than she intended.  She didn’t often poke at Samus because, frankly, she was afraid to displease her.  Not only was this assignment incredibly important to her career within the Federation, but she’d come to look up to the bounty hunter as a sort of mentor.  After a joke like that, it took everything in her to speak up again.

 

“Sir, I’m going to have to know where we’re going to best navigate us safely.  Apologies if that’s out of line.”

 

Samus was silent for a few seconds, which stretched out long enough to make Valentina worried.

 

“…Not at all Cadet.  Clear the course for Ceres Space Colony.”

 

“Ceres?  I can get us there.”

 

But Valentina’s curiosity was piqued.

 

“That’s…backwater.  Nothing but pencil pushers and researchers, if I’m remembering correctly.  What’s the rush to get out there, sir?”

 

Samus furrowed her brow, looking sterner even than before.

 

“Ceres reported a serious attack.”

 

Valentina knew that couldn’t have been everything.  If it was a major attack, the Federation would have dispatched marines.  There’s no way the Federation would take a risk sending a single operative…unless the threat was from a source Samus was uniquely equipped to dispatch.

 

As if reading her mind and knowing she had questions, Samus addressed the Cadet again.

 

“Reports of space pirates.  Sightings of an old enemy of mine.  Federation thinks they’re after the baby…”

 

Valentina choked.  Her heart was suddenly rushing, and fear crept up her spine.  Oddly enough, it wasn’t the pirates that were on her mind.

 

“You have a BABY?!”

 

Samus spun around, her expression twisted in fury.  Her cheeks were glowing red.

 

“What?  NO!  The baby Metroid! Surely the Federation briefed you on it.”

 

Valentina was speechless.  She simply shook her head, wide-eyed.  Suddenly, the short-range sensors screamed.  She pointed out the cockpit windows.

 

“Look out!”

 

There was a loud crash as a truck-sized asteroid smashed into the forward shielding.

 

“Damn it!” Samus swore.

 

“No major damage, sir!  Forward shields took it in stride…I’m glad we went for that tune up…”

 

Samus had returned to her silent focus, whipping her head back forward so quickly that her ponytail slapped her in the face.  Valentina couldn’t believe how frazzled they’d both become.  She resolved to try to keep things business-only for the time being.  She hadn’t expected the idea of Samus having a family she didn’t know of to hit her so hard.

 

Good thing it’s just a Metroid…

 

The absurdity of such a thought struck Valentina immediately.  If there was anything that everyone knew about Samus Aran, it was that she’d destroyed the last of the Metroids on SR388.  Nothing in her briefing talked about a baby Metroid whatsoever.  Valentina wasn’t about to ask again at a time like this.

 

To her surprise, after almost a half-hour of uneventful, tense silence, it was Samus who broke it to speak.

 

“I found the baby…the Metroid…on SR388.  It hatched just after I’d killed the hive queen.  I believe it…imprinted on me.  It seemed non-violent afterwards, and I determined it would be better use to the Federation alive than dead.  I don’t hurt helpless beings.”

 

Valentina was floored.  There was a living Metroid, being kept in secret from most of the Federation, and Samus was its mother.  She almost wanted to smile.  The first image to her mind was so ridiculous she had to stifle a laugh:  Samus in her power suit gleefully playing with a tiny, cute Metroid baby.  The next image to her mind, one of Samus tucking the little Metroid into bed with a blanket, was impossible to resist.  She laughed slightly.  Immediately praying that Samus wouldn’t hear.  She did.

 

“What’s so funny, Cadet?”

 

Samus’ voice was laced with frustration.

 

“Nothing, sir!  Was just choking on my own spit!”

 

“Don’t you lie to me, Cadet.”

 

Valentina winced.  She had always been a terrible liar.

 

“Just the idea of…you being a mom to a weird alien is pretty…well it’s kinda funny to be quite honest, sir.”

 

Samus whipped back around again, this time completely spinning her captain’s chair.

 

“I am NOT her mom.  And anyway, she’s not a ‘weird alien,’ she’s a larval form of one of the most dangerous weapons this galaxy has ever known.  Metroids can suck the life right out of you, leave you colorless and too weak to breathe!”

 

“She?”

 

Valentina regretted saying the word the moment it left her lips.  She hadn’t been able to help herself from noticing the way Samus’ expression grew in excited intensity as she talked more about the baby.

 

“You have some nerve, Valentina.”

 

Samus stomped her food down and spun back to the controls, chewing her lip furiously.  Valentina was shaking.  She’d never seen Samus so unnerved, and the last time Samus had referred to her by her name and not her rank had been the door incident.

 

The sensor sirens lit up in Valentina’s ears again.

 

“Ah, sir?  We’re approaching Ceres now.”

 

Samus huffed and didn’t respond.  Valentina felt the odd sensation that came with entering the gravity influence of a planet.  The artificial gravity generated by the ship pulled one way, but there was a light feeling of being pulled outward, towards the planet.

 

Samus slowed the Gunship as they rounded the inhospitable gas giant that Ceres Station orbited.  They saw instantly that the call had not been in vain.  Three large Space Pirate ships loomed about the station, weapons pointed inwards.  There was a hull breach on one side of the station, and a series of cables tied one of the ships to the breach.  Most terrifying, however, was the creature that soared from the ship into the breach as Samus glided the Gunship closer.

 

The creature was massive, at least three times the size of any human in height, and in length, much more.  Its skin was a violet hue, somewhere between scaly and chitinous.  Four claws and a spiked tail trailed behind it as its wide, clawed wings guided its body into the breach.  Valentina was immediately reminded of mythological dragons, though she felt this being was much scarier.  Mythological dragons didn’t attack space stations.

 

“Ridley.”

 

Samus engaged the Gunship’s stealth engine.  The pirate vessels hadn’t seemed to pick the ship up yet.

 

“Cadet, I’m going to get in close and dock with the far side of the station.  If we’re lucky, I’ll be able to do so without raising suspicion.  Space Pirates sensor tech is nothing on Federation stealth.  When we dock, I’m going to go on board, and I need you to stay here and communicate…”

 

“Oh no you don’t!  I am NOT staying on the ship this time.”

 

Valentina was incredulous.  She couldn’t believe Samus was trying to keep her out of the action yet again.

 

“Cadet, are you going to disobey a direct order from your serving captain?”

 

Fear welled up in Valentina’s throat, but she wasn’t about to yield just yet.

 

“Well you just broke about a thousand Federation laws, so I guess I can disobey one order and you’ll still owe me!”

 

Samus silently brought the ship to dock.  The station immediately accepted her docking codes.  None of the pirate vessels seemed to respond, and docking on the far side of the station had put them out of direct line of sight.  If the sensors hadn’t picked up the Gunship, they were in the clear; there was almost no way a Space Pirate could have noticed the ship with its active camouflage engaged.

 

Once the ship was docked, Samus powered all external systems down.  Only life support and the power suit bay remained engaged.  Valentina was to her feet before Samus was.  She rushed to the storage closet and started suiting up hastily.  She heard Samus activate her power suit.  There was a flash of light as the suit materialized around her, warped in from the suit bay by arcane Chozo tech.  By the time Valentina was hopping out of the storage closet, fastening her boot, Samus had already donned her helmet and powered her arm cannon.

 

“I’m coming with you.  Comms will reveal us to the enemy for sure.”

 

Valentina assumed a defiant stance, arms crossed and legs braced for action.  She powered on her suit and her own helmet’s virtua-screen flickered to life.  Her sidearm activated, and she drew it with lightning swiftness, ready for action.

 

“Very well, but stay close.  This is not a standard engagement at all.”

 

Samus placed her hand on the dock keypad and the sound of heavy machinery filled the air around them.  The blast door slid upward.  Before them extended a hellish sight.  Red emergency lights faded in and out, casting angry shadows down the long hallway from the rear dock.  A wedge of light went forth from Samus’ visor, lighting the empty hallway.  Samus motioned to the wall, and Valentina sidled up against it.

 

Before long they approached a bend in the hall.  Samus, suspecting ambush, tore a piece of plastic paneling from the wall and tossed it around the bend.  Nothing.  She motioned to Valentina to follow behind her.  Once around the bend, Samus increased her pace.  Valentina could see past her down the hall.  A doorway lay open, the door that belonged to it completely blown off the hinges.  The door was lying towards them.  Someone had checked this hallway already.

 

The two women proceeded forward cautiously.  As they grew closer to the door, Valentina caught her breath.  A grisly sight awaited them inside.  Two citizens of the station lay slumped against the wall in the next room, clearly killed by plasma weaponry.  Samus motioned for Valentina to take the other side of the door.  As she checked down her side of the hallway, she saw a shadow stretch out in front of her.  Before she could even catch her breath, Samus had rolled into the room and fired two shots from her arm cannon.

 

The twitching corpse of a space pirate grunt slammed against the wall paneling.

 

“Let’s go!”

 

Valentina was on her feet, plasma pistol raised and ready.  As she dashed into the room, plasma fire flew above her head.  Two more pirate grunts had revealed themselves to the right, hiding behind upturned desks.  Samus quickly dispatched of the closest target, while Valentina took aim at the further target.  Her shot fell wide, but the pirate ducked and couldn’t take another shot.  By the time he peered back out of cover, Samus was on him, slamming her cannon down on his head and knocking him out immediately.  Valentina rushed to her side, pulling a device from one of her armor compartments.  It was a Federation-issue suppression unit.  She slapped it down onto the pirate’s armor, and it immediately issued a shock guaranteed to keep him out cold until they could properly make an arrest.  The Federation always preferred arrests to lethal force, though it rarely worked out cleanly with space pirates.

 

Samus moved forward quickly, checking each doorway as they continued down the hall.  She seemed to know where she was going.  As they rounded another bend, they came up on the backs of two more pirates.  Valentina took care of both of them with a heavy stun pulse from her pistol.  Samus gave a quick nod, seemingly proud of her performance.  For a brief moment, joy overcame the fear in Valentina’s heart.

 

Moments later, Samus slowed as they approached a larger door.  Printed above the door in common block text were the words “Central Laboratory.”  The door itself had been only partially opened, seemingly cut and bent with heavy power tools.  When Valentina peered inside with Samus, the sight was the most horrifying yet.  The bodies of scientists littered the floor.  In the center of the chamber, a large containment unit was shattered open.  A handful of pirates guarded the wall on the far side of the room, which had an enormous breach in it.

 

“He’s got her!”

 

It was always harder to read Samus when she was in her power suit, but somehow Valentina knew she was upset.

 

“Let’s go.  I’ve got your back.”

 

Valentina readied her weapon; no stuns this time.  Samus rolled into the room first, charging her weapon as she did.  Valentina fired off a round, which found its mark in the rightmost guard.  He crumpled to the floor.  Samus loosed her charged round which crashed into two more of the guards, incapacitating them immediately.  The other guard took aim at Samus and fired.  Samus dodged left and the shot went clear.  As the pirate struggled to realign his sights, Valentina was sprinting across the room.  She fired three shots, the last of which blew the top off his plasma rifle.  Two more shots at closer range dispatched the final guard.  Samus quickly took position next to Valentina.

 

“If Ridley has the baby, I need to fight him.  Can you hold this room and make sure more pirates don’t come in behind me?”

 

“Don’t you need help against him?”

 

“He’ll tear you apart.  My power suit is the only thing that lets me stand a chance against him.”

 

This time, Valentina submitted to her request.  Picking up one of the fallen pirate’s rifles, she dragged a couple of lab tables in front of her and upturned them, forming a makeshift bunker.

 

“Go get her.”

 

Samus nodded and disappeared into the dark behind.  Seconds later, one of the other doors in the room tore open, and pirate grunts poured into the room.  Valentina managed to dispatch three or four of them before they were able to get a foothold in the room.  Two more pitched themselves through the door, rolling across the floor into cover.  Her plasma fire crashed into lab equipment, finding no targets this time.  Moments later, the pirates were firing rounds above her head.

 

She peered out of cover only momentarily and was immediately greeted with a volley of plasma fire.  More pirates had joined the fray.  Crawling across the ground, she moved to the other side of her table-wall and sprung up.  She was much better with a rifle than a pistol, and before the pirates could adjust for her change in position, she had nailed two of them, and injured a third.  A fourth, however, nearly hit her before she threw herself back to the floor.

 

Behind her, she heard a horrible roar, followed by a bone-rattling explosion.  Tittering erupted from the space pirates.  Rolling out of her cover from the side, she loosed a series of shots, taking down two more pirates.  She dashed behind a solid panel of instruments.  There were at least three more pirates in the room.  Their tittering was increasing in intensity.

 

Another explosion behind her, then another.  A bloodcurdling roar.  Her earpiece crackled to life.

 

“Valentina!  Be ready to run!”

 

A screeching alarm tore into the air around her, tearing at her ears.  The station’s comm system was blaring a red alert.  She peeked out of cover to see the pirates fleeing the room.

 

This is not good at all.

 

She stood and fired after them, catching just one of the pirates before they could escape.  Suddenly, Samus came barreling back into the room.  Her suit was blackened and splattered with blood.

 

“RUN!”

 

Valentina did not hesitate, despite her mind screaming in fear for the blood on Samus’ armor.  The two women crossed the room.  Valencia’s vision was a blur.  She was running, struggling to remember the route back.  Somehow, her instincts seemed to guide her rightly.  She could just see the blast door leading back to the ship.  She flipped open her arm computer and sent an emergency open code with Samus’ signature.  After a terrifying second, the blast door began to rise.

 

They were only a few meters away when the ground beneath them shook with a grim force.  Valentina was thrown to the ground, and even Samus in her power suit stumbled against the wall.

 

“GO, GO!” Samus screamed.

 

Explosions rocked the station, the sound crashing against Valentina’s ears.  She was one her feet, stumbling, trying desperately to think.  She moved automatically, without thought, typing commands into her wrist computer as she struggled towards the blast door.  The whole world was tearing apart around her.

 

She wasn’t going to make it.  She was just a foot away, just six inches, but the ground was shaking.  She couldn’t stand.  She felt a terrible impact, something metal crashing into her ribs and then…she was looking up at the ceiling of the Gunship.  The blast door slammed down somewhere near her feet and she could feel the Gunship rapidly accelerating.

 

Valentina’s ribs screamed out in pain.  Samus was on top of her.  Blood had splattered onto Valentina’s armor.  Frantically, Valentina tore off her helmet, desperately trying to make sense of the situation.  Through the cloud of her fear, memories flooded in.  She’d set a time delay for the Gunship’s engines.  They were to fire within seconds.  Somehow they’d made it on.

 

No, we made it on because…Samus tackled me?

 

Valentina struggled beneath the weight of Samus’ power armor.  Her mentor wasn’t moving.  Mustering every drop of strength she had left, Valentina rolled Samus over and lifted her helmet.  A mess of blond hair poured out into her lap.  She could see Samus’ lips moving with breath.

 

Thank god! Thank god!

 

She slid her legs lower, bringing Samus’ head closer to her, cradling her and hoping to all the gods of the universe that she would pull through.  And as she held her, deafened by the roaring of the engines, she saw something she had never seen before.  Samus was crying.  And moments later, Valentina was crying too.

 

 

The Week the Writing Waxed

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After a number of depressingly bad writing weeks, I’ve finally had a bit of a break in the clouds.  This week the work came rolling in, and that is inspiring, if daunting.  I’m now working on a handful of gaming-related projects, which is just perfect.  I’ve been writing a great number of tabletop gaming articles, focusing primarily on the history and basics of popular tabletop games, and I’ve also just received an opportunity to write about tabletop games in a different context which will involve less building guides for popular games.  Instead, my new work will be focusing on exploring the histories of a number of indie games!  Also, I’m currently interviewing for a position as a narrative designer for a company that develops a number of text-based games and I’m thrilled to be involved with that.

I’ve always wanted to get involved with game design, but I have no talent for programming whatsoever.  I have a great grasp of narrative and design concepts though, and gameplay, strategy, and player incentivization are something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about over the years.  Gaming has been, by far, the dominant hobby of my life, rivaling even fiction reading.  Because of this fact, many of my stories and ideas are viewed through the lens of gaming and concepts therein.  I think this is why I had such an incredible and motivating experience writing my longest Dungeons and Dragons homebrew campaign, which ran with the same group for over a year.  There was something truly invigorating about trying to get into the minds of the players and tailor an experience that will most motivate, inspire, and surprise them.

I’m hoping that perhaps this new work will open doors for me to get experience and learning in the narrative side of gaming.  Games need writers, and maybe there is a place for me even without the ability to code.

Of course, if this windfall of words keeps coming, maybe there will be room for me to write and create my own projects and really dig in to some projects I’ve always dreamed of creating.  We shall see, we shall see.

A Long-Overdue Update!

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What a crazy series of months!

In the time from late February to now, life took me for quite the ride.  I’ve travelled all over the United States, moved to the West Coast, caught a terrible sickness, and worked greatly on improving my personal wellness.  Since the last time I updated my personal blog, I have undertaken a whole collection of writing jobs, so I’m really building up a career as a writer.  It feels quite good to build more value for my words — I did spend years in schooling mastering english after all!  Its been so busy and hectic that I’ve really fallen behind on my personal writing, but I can feel the winds of change coming.  I think it’s high time to start crafting a new world!

Anyway, expect me to update here more.  I want to make it my mission to provide a place where people can keep up with me and my work.  Now, it is time to rest because more adventures await me tomorrow.  (It looks like I might be traveling *again* soon, which is a great undertaking in and of itself!)

My Thoughts on the Election:

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My thoughts on the election:

Last night was most certainly a depressing night.  I have a lot going on in my head about this election, so I’m going to try to distill the essentials here so that anyone who is interested in reading my views on the thing can see them essentially summarized here.

There are a lot of people to blame for the outcome of this election, and the first and foremost is Hillary Clinton.  Third party voters likely helped Hillary, not hurt her.  So don’t go blaming third party voters.

Hillary Clinton fucked the Democrats, and the Democrats fucked the Democrats because they didn’t vote.  Hillary Clinton and her base made snide attacks on the Republican base, and more than that, they made attacks on the American public.  Trump did much the same, but he did it in a manner that is politically acceptable, as unfortunate as that is.  Hillary Clinton did not.  You cannot call the electoral majority of the country racist and sexist, even if it’s partially true.  You cannot mock a whole group in a blanket manner and expect them to not want revenge on you. They will fuck you if you do that.  And fuck they did.

Hillary Clinton, for all her boasting about political intelligence and experience, forgot the most basic rule of politics in our democracy: you have to appease the majority.  At the very least, you cannot mock the majority because they will want revenge. Donald Trump acted like a mirror for our country, he gave his base what they wanted.  The majority loved him because he promised big fat lies, but they were lies the majority wanted to hear.  They wanted to hear that he would fuck up Washington, that he would be handing out black eyes left and right.
Hillary Clinton left herself open to so much theorizing on conspiracy.  She should have put those to rest and put them to rest honestly.  But she did not.  Despite running on a platform of superior morality, her apologies were half-hearted at best and she avoided coming out and confronting her bad behavior clearly.  She could have easily said, “I don’t like it, but this is the way it was done and we will not do it anymore.”  All of us knew the email nonsense was dirty, and it became an argument of how dirty.

And this is the candidate who was so confident in herself that she fucked Bernie Sanders out of a primary nomination.  The DNC helped her.  Where did everyone’s conscience go?  How do you expect to win on a platform of morality against one of the dirtiest candidates we’ve ever had by behaving in such a morally troubling way?

Hillary Clinton is now responsible for losing an election whose results might sit with us for decades.  Our country has only just begun making progress on issues of equal rights, and now we are experiencing an incredible swing backwards.  If it had not been for Hillary Clinton, if we had had a clean candidate who stood up for their morals, this swing could have been prevented.

Blaming the FBI, or the Electoral college, or even racists or sexists just isn’t accurate.  Hillary Clinton was the wrong candidate, but we had no choice because she knew the system well enough to get herself into the position.

We will have no freedom until we reform the party system.  None of these elections matter.  The people will continue to get screwed until we reform the way our votes are handled.  We need a runoff vote or some similar way to break up the power of the two-party system.  There is too much consolidated power, and that was incredibly clear this election.

Donald Trump is not the answer anyone was looking for.  The man is a serial liar who has successfully fooled the right-leaning voters of this country.  You’ve all been had.  Look at the man’s past and you’ll realize he is just as corrupt as Hillary Clinton, if not more.  He is not a Christian, like he claims.  He has no morals.  He steals from and bullies the poor, like he did in Scotland, personally ruining poor old folks lives in the name of profit.  You’ve been utterly fooled if you think this man represents your interests at all.

Donald Trump himself is not even my biggest concern here: look at the people who are coming into office with him, the people he is appeasing and had to appease in order to win the White House.  Mike Pence is the most obvious example:  A man who supported federal funds being diverted from HIV treatment to conversion therapy.  I urge any of you who don’t know about conversion therapy to do some cursory research.  The idea of intentionally and permanently psychologically traumatizing someone in order to “correct” their sexuality is beyond disgusting.

In addition to all his corruption, and the fact that he essentially acted as the battering ram to let more social conservatives into office, he has no respect for the right any more than he does the left.  If you oppose him, he will insult, drag you, hound you just like he did to his previous opponents.  You’d best hope you agree with him on everything, else you’ll be his next target.

A lot of people seem to have voted for Trump to counter “political correctness” or “the regressive left” or even “SJWs.”  I can understand that to some degree, because I fucking hate these garbage websites that churn out articles about how every new video game is sexist and every person who disagrees with their shitty website is racist.  I think its stifling and I think its abusive.  I think that major voices on the left have abused their power to go far over the top in their criticisms of others, and I think they’ve deliberately empowered really unethical people.

 

But they are truly a loud minority.  Responding with anger to them by voting in someone like Trump is not helping.  It’s the two-wrongs answer.

I can understand why white people would be mad about moronic bloggers accusing them of having innate racism.  I can understand why men would be mad about moronic bloggers calling them innate rapists.  Such writings infuriate me and I actively oppose such people.

But does anyone understand or care why people like me might be afraid of a Trump presidency and a social conservative backlash?  While I absolutely do not believe that white people are innately racist or men are innately sexist, the fact exists that there are sexist and racist attitudes present and prevalent in America today.  It’s not just in the dark corners either.  As I said above, we now have a Vice President who is vocally and in the past violently anti-gay (yes, conversion therapy is most definitely violence.)

There are transphobic and homophobic people in Trump’s vanguard already, people who deliberately want to dial back the clock on civil rights in a way that severely effects my life.  I do not think that the majority of Trump voters are sexist, racist, homophobic or otherwise, but I do believe they are there, and they just used Trump to get a lot of power.

People tell me “nothing’s going to happen” but offer no real convincing proof of that.

 

Hear me out here:

 

Most of the Trump supporters I know have never lived in a time in which they were denied the right to marriage.

 

Most of the Trump supporters I know have never had to go through a name or gender change process which is expensive, difficult, and often horribly humiliating.

 

Most of the Trump supporters I know have never been denied healthcare coverage for something they have no control over.

 

I have.  My partner has.

 

And there is more to consider:

 

How many Trump supporters have had a major candidate openly discuss building a police force which will inevitably profile them in a search for illegals who might look like them?

How many Trump supporters have had a candidate declare their religion a problem which requires a ban of all followers of it?

This doesn’t mean Trump supporters are incapable of empathy.  In fact I believe strongly that the only way to make things better is to work together.  I accept that Donald Trump is now the president of the United States.  I don’t like it.  I feel like people were gambling my rights on their presidential candidate in a very real way.

But I am willing to fight against those leftie demagogues for you if you’ll join me in securing my basic rights.

I’m no fool though.  I won’t fall for lies.  I’ve proven my fight against garbage media: I’ve written letters and I’ve helped make legitimate change.

Will Trump supporters do the same for me?  Or will my rights get left to rot once their concerns are taken care of?