Quick Turnaround

Sep. 22nd, 2017 02:52 pm
stickmaker: (Bust image of Runner)
[personal profile] stickmaker
That's definitely the quickest I've had a story rejected. This small press F/SF mag had the first day of their open submissions yesterday, and I used their online submission feature. Got the rejection by e-mail this morning.
solarbird: (korra-excited)
[personal profile] solarbird

Loading out for a weekend set of shows in Kennewick with Leannan Sidhe – if you’re in the area, here’s the Facebook event, c’mon out! Leannan Sidhe is a trad- and trad-style band, so playing a renfaire is something they do on the regular, even if very little of the music is actually Renaissance-specific, and the weather is supposed to be great. See you there!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

catherineldf: (Default)
[personal profile] catherineldf
 The new edition of SILVER MOON made Book Riot's list of 100 Must-Read Bisexual Books for Bisexual Awareness Week! 
I am very, very happy about this, not surprisingly. 

And now some background, for those just tuning in. The first version of MOON was released in 2012. It appeared at just the right time to be entered in the first Bisexual Book Awards and the Goldie Awards for Lesbian Lit.  It finaled in both, which was nice, if less nice than winning. Did I set out to deliberately write a middle-aged bisexual female protagonist? Not deliberately. I wanted to write about coming out at middle age, questioning your identity, menopause and werewolves, as you do. I started writing and getting my work published back before indie publishing and a lot of discussions about identity and orientation happened. Writing a 'bisexual' book was, for most of my early writing career, equivalent to saying, "I'd like no recognition or sales for this book that is not nonfiction or erotica, thanks." Hard to find publishers, no awards, very, very few reviews, very difficult to find an audience. Which is how the first edition of SILVER MOON got slotted into "lesfic," short for "lesbian fiction." This is not a bad thing, but it runs into a genre convention that all "lesfic = romance." So my little book about questioning and changing and finding yourself and turning into an awesome werewolf was not sufficiently romantic for the lesfic market, but too romantic for the fantasy of horror markets. It did okay despite this, but I have some scathing reviews from people who expected a different sort of book. 

Fast forward to this year year and I had the chance to make some very necessary updates to the original book and re-release it. Re-releases are not popular with book awards or reviewers so there are still some significant challenges. Also, when you release a book into Smashwords, Ingram, etc., your choices are "gay" or "lesbian," not "considering bisexuality" or equivalent. But it seems to be finding some of its people and for that, I am very grateful.

Artistic bitterness, because I promised! So 7 books, 90 or so short stories, several juried awards, most of them queer-specific, articles and so forth should make me semi-famous, right? Sometimes! And yet! I'm literally looking at two upcoming events in my own city where I've been passed over as a guest. Deliberate malice? Probably not. But I'm too old/too female/too small press/too whatever, so somehow my work doesn't count and I spend a fair amount of time as an "also ran."

Some fun stories: when MOON first came out, I did a reading with a hot young lesbian author and local bi conference organizers very enthusiastically and purposefully ignored me and invited her to come and perform at the conference. Then, I had a contretemps with a con com member for an unrelated con a few years back when I asked why my number never came up for writer GOH. I was offered a quid pro quo arrangement in which I could be GOH...if I slept with that person. It was not, of course, clearly laid out that way, but guessing the person they did ask was not asked to put out for the privilege. So, good times. I don't talk about the bad stuff as a rule because I'm a "living well is the best revenge" kind of gal, but yes, weird crap happens to me too. The publications that are looking for a specific "own voice," just not mine, which then choose a writer who riffs off my work, and all that fun stuff, does sting, and I won't deny that. But you know what? Someone thinks my work is good enough to put on a list of "must-read" books, I got some lovely fan mail from an unexpected source about some of my nonfiction, I'm working on a couple of new books and I've got some upcoming opportunities that I'm excited about. Take that, brain weasels and bad crap! And thanks, lovely Book Riot reviewer, for giving some great tools to combat the "why do I keep doing this to myself?" blues.


zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
[personal profile] zeborah
I don't know how many of these methods I'll keep up in the long-term, but I thought I'd list them in case they're of use or interest to anyone else.

Essentially I found myself in a mood to ask myself, just how much plastic is passing into the environment via my purchasing habits? Even though I send a lot of it to recycling, that's its own use of energy. Mostly I was looking at my grocery shopping:


  • I already take my own reusable bags (or reuse old plastic bags) at the checkout, and for fruit as well. I do like to get the occasional new plastic bag for use as bin-liners; I'm going to try emptying their contents directly into the red bin for a while, instead of tying the bags off and putting them in all together. But I haven't found myself throwing much into the red bin since making this resolution so no data on how that goes.

  • A 2L plastic bottle of milk every 7-10 days. And you can't even reuse milk bottles to store water against emergencies; hygiene aside, the plastic breaks down over time. Speaking of emergencies, though, I'd been considering getting a bag of milk powder for my supplies. So I thought I'd try it in every-day use. So far it's worked well in baking, yoghurt-making, hot chocolate, and morning cereal, ie all my normal uses except drinking straight from the fridge, which will wait until summer for testing. It takes a few moments extra in the morning to mix it (my preferred method: boil the jug, dissolve the powder in a bit of boiling water, then add cold to desired strength) but it's become part of my routine over the last couple of weeks so I think I will keep this one up. Bonuses: here at least it's significantly cheaper than fresh milk; no running out at inconvenient moments; and conversely no finding that it's gone sour before I've finished it.

  • A plastic bag around my bread each week. I've revived my bread-making to avoid this; to be honest it's the one I'm least likely to keep up. OTOH I have discovered that if I bake the bread and let the oven cool somewhat but not completely, it's a great place to incubate yoghurt overnight. And the bread is so tasty - it's just the time it takes. We'll see. I may just keep going through phases on it.

  • A plastic bag of muesli every week or so. I'm experimenting with pick-n-mix (taking my own bags) but pick-n-mix rolled oats alone cost about the same as (budget) prepackaged muesli. :-( Does anyone know why rolled oats and muesli come in plastic, when flour and sugar come in paper??

  • A couple of plastic packages of shaved ham every few weeks. (The recycling status of which I was never sure about, so red-binned them!) Careful attention revealed that cheap ham at the deli is cheaper than cheap ham prepackaged. Moreover today I was brave and found out that if you take your own container along they'll use that instead of a fresh plastic bag. (At least the guy I struck today did, and even set the scales to discount the weight of the container though I wouldn't have minded that little bit.) So I just need to keep organised.



Beyond plastic - I've also taken to washing dishes in a tub, and using the water on the garden. (Someone at church has set up her laundry pipes to use water from that on the garden; I think I'd just flood the house.)

And recently I came across SolarAid, a charity whose selling point is that you can 'offset your carbon' from flights you make by funding solar-powered lights for personal use (eg kids doing homework) in developing countries to replace kerosene, which besides emitting copious carbon dioxide is expensive, not that bright, and seriously unhealthy. It seems win-win-win so I looked for a catch but couldn't find any.

Anyway this came at a time shortly after a) I'd made some international flights and b) I'd received a tax rebate from last year's charitable donations so next thing you know I'd apparently donated enough to get sent an example solar light in the mail. It just arrived today, and it's cute and lightweight and works out of the packaging, and I'm weighing up whether it goes in my emergency kit or to City Mission here because goodness knows it's not just kids in the developing world who can't do homework due to lack of money for power.:-(

Hair

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:22 am
zhelana: (Marvel - Puny God)
[personal profile] zhelana
How do you do your hair/makeup? Why?

It's long and curly. I just brush it. I don't do makeup. Because I really couldn't give a flying fuck.

the rest )

Poem for Friday, Rosh Hashanah, Cats

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:20 am
littlereview: (jewitch)
[personal profile] littlereview
And Now We Welcome the New Year )

Happy New Year! My day was not particularly religious -- I didn't go to services -- though it was a nice day, with a walk to appreciate the weather and a bunch of chores finished. Maddy arrived in the afternoon and we talked for an hour while she started getting organized (she hasn't even opened her big suitcase, so this will be a multi-day activity). She also got to see work friends.

Annmarie met us at my parents' house for Rosh Hashanah dinner along with other family friends, and I ate way too much around a dash to Starbucks with her and niece so I could take part in an EX Raid. Adam now has official details of his internship offer so I can say it's with Microsoft! I ran late when we got home so here are just a couple of photos of all four of our cats:

17couch1
Cats and Couches )

iPods

Sep. 21st, 2017 10:53 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Haven't been around long enough for an adult to reference the technology as something around when they were kids. That's just crazy talk -- 16 years ago, you say?

89F - 66F : Late night thunder

Sep. 21st, 2017 10:32 pm
zhelana: (X - forever my love)
[personal profile] zhelana
The bad decision train left at 4am, with me too tired to stay up until noon, and with too little sleep available to wake up at 11, so I didn't get to temple this afternoon. I did temporarily wake up at the appropriate time, but then I was like "there's no transliteration in the books and you stumble too much to say the prayers, so you won't get anything out of it anyway, and you'll have to park across the street which will be a hard and painful walk and your back will hurt before you even start standing up to pray. So I talked myself out of it and went to sleep.

Kevin called at 11 and said he was done with work for the day because he has to work Saturday. Then when I woke up at 2 he still wasn't home. Apparently he called Brian and wound up going out to lunch with him, and decided I wouldn't know because I'd be at tmeple, so he didn't tell me he wasn't coming straight home, and I was very nervous by the time he came home. Now he has two days of working from home, plus he gets to get off early on Friday (next Friday I think not this Friday), to make up for the hours he did work today.

We talked a little bit, then I went to Panera to meet Tia and Klepto. I wrote over 1000 words on my Star Trek short stories, and then started reading DW for about half an hour because my brain was just not having any of it. My brain had better get over this not having any of it by November because I'm relying on a successful NaNoWriMo to finish my goals for the year. I think it'll be better when I have a novel I'm writing instead of the short stories. I hope.

Came home, read LJ, read my bat mitzvah portion over again - the first half of it came easier, the second half came harder for some reason, even though I know most of the words in the second half of it. Read my Bible, and generally prepared for the end of the day.

Anyway, Shanah Tova to the Jews, and Happy Mabon to the pagans, happy Friday to the rest of you.


Another Friendzy


happy fall multifandom friending meme!

I no longer get the hang of Thursdays

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:40 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Had my passport interview today. Everyone told me it was fine and normal but I thought it was weird and intrusive. How many of your bedrooms look onto your back garden? Where did your parents go on their honeymoon? But it was done quickly and kindly, by a big guy with amazing facial hair and who had actually heard of Minnesota because he's an American-football player.

The worst thing about it was that we had to go all the way to Salford for it, which took ages. I turned out to also need to go back to the university because you can't sign up for language classes online, you have to go in person to the place I was twice yesterday where no one told me this. (I presume it's because they need to check the level people are at if they want to do anything other than beginner's level in their language, because there was a lot of that happening. But surely abject beginners should be able to apply with the system we have to use to do everything else?) But I filled out the form so hopefully that's done.

Which means all my bureaucracy should be done that can be done for now, which is good as all of tomorrow will be taken up with volunteer training at Manchester Museum (which is just a different kind of in-person bureaucracy, as little or none of it will be relevant to my role).

And I had a smear test today, and that's all this morning, so frankly not only am I done with today, but I think I need a medal.

For future reference, though, having a lot of local friends means a lot of them share the same doctor's surgery, and I'd heard a lot of good things about the new nurse who frankly could hardly have been worse than the old one. And she lived up to everything I'd heard about her; she didn't mention my weight, even though she did mention my blood pressure a lot which is fair enough as it was high when she checked it. She even took my height and weight which I know will be for bullshit BMI things the NHS makes them do, but while she said "Five four" as she read my height off the thingy, she then looked at the scale and said "weight...[mumbly mumble]" like she was just reminding herself long enough to go write it down (which is exactly what she was doing) so far from making a big deal of it she ensured I didn't know it at all which is the best thing for my mental health.

And when she asked if I wanted a sexual health screening done at the same time I said it was a good idea because I have two partners but it's okay and they know about each other and etc., she actually said "Oh, so you're poly?" Which left me really taken aback! I've never had a health professional know the word before. And she asked me if the partners were "male, female or other" so didn't assume sexuality or binary gender, which made me happy.

Poem for Rosh Hashanah

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:26 am
littlereview: (jewitch)
[personal profile] littlereview
Prospective Immigrants Please Note )

My Wednesday morning and afternoon were all chores and not worth reporting on in detail other than an hour at lunchtime walking in the park, where the chipmunks were very busy hoarding the acorns that were falling everywhere. Maddy is returning tomorrow!

We watched Inspector Morse, then we started watching the Orioles but that was too depressing to stick with so we watched some Bones instead. What a way to start the new year! Happy, healthy, peaceful 5778 to everyone who is observing Rosh Hashanah.

17rosh2
Shana Tova )

i need a d.va icon apparently

Sep. 20th, 2017 09:19 pm
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird
Today was the most badass I have ever been as D.va.

Offence. Volskaya industries. Backfill, with about 2:30 to go; first point taken, first third of second point taken, but they've been flailing. I grab D.va, and they waste about 2:15 just raggedly charging in, ignoring my group-up requests - tho' I did get the enemy to blow a few of their ults. And once I announce that my nerf is up, my team finally groups, mostly because hey, about out of time.

I lead the charge in. I get one and a mech with my nerf. One of our team gets someone else, I don't know who. I get my mecha back, charge in, kill a third.

Their Reaper drops in with his ult and kills FIVE OF US. Quadruple kill. It is, in fact, play of the game.

But he does not get me. I am the only member of my team alive.

I kill every remaining member of the enemy team and take the point in overtime, while the entire rest of my team is dead.

I gold in objective kills, but I don't even card.

I cannot imagine what that looked like to everyone else.

101 Update

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:10 am
zhelana: (seaQuest - Remember when)
[personal profile] zhelana
Progress This Week

Go to 30 meetings - Went to a dance practice tonight

Post 100 situations prompts to AO3 - Another one is posted.

Fill a second 100 situations with a different fandom - Wrote 2 more prompts

Learn 30 new things through wikipedia - I learned about Brezhnev's legacy.

Take golf lessons - one more week in the books.

Listen to 90 other podcasts - I listened to an episode of Backstory on myths and legends in American history.

Read the entire Bible - Still in 2 Kings

2 people

Sep. 21st, 2017 12:08 am
zhelana: (original - alone)
[personal profile] zhelana
Two people you want to be with right now.

Dylan and Yves. I guess one of those is actually possible, if I call and make some time.

the rest )

92F - 65F : Sunny

Sep. 20th, 2017 11:19 pm
zhelana: (seaQuest - cocky)
[personal profile] zhelana
I woke up inexplicably at 8 this morning. Despite this, I did not go to PSWC. I was pretty lazy until time to go to my dentist appointment. I spent some more time in bed, and on the internet. Then I went to the dentist. It was not as horrible this time as last time. At least, I didn't leave bleeding and crying. I set up a return appointment, and an appointment with the actual dentist (the VA one person does cleanings and another person does X-rays and other stuff). Every time I go in this woman "discovers" cement on my teeth from my braces that I had 20 years ago. And tries to scrape it off, each time unsuccessfully, but with lots of the scraper skipping off of it and going into my gums.

Also, I really want to know what the receptionist's job is there though because when I asked him to check me in he's like "check in at the automatic kiosk" and when I asked him to check me out he's like "check out is around the corner" So what the fuck is your job dude? You're working awfully hard at not working there.

If I had had brains, I would have brought my laptop and went to a coffee shop, but I don't have brains so I came all the way home, and sat online for an hour then talked to Kevin for an hour, then went back to Decatur to go to the SCA meeting. There was a business meeting at the beginning of the meeting, where we talked about upcoming events, most of which I am not going to. I don't think I'm going to any more events this year, actually. I may change my mind and go to Red Tower in 2 weeks, but they aren't having any classes, and I don't think I can shoot long enough to make that a whole day activity. So, I don't really know what I'd do with myself.

After the meeting we had some dancing. I danced with Ximon, and Justina danced with the dance Mistress, but I don't remember her name. Also this cute little 3 year old girl danced with Justina and they were adorable. The list of dances for 4 people is small, and I think we did most of them.

Then we went out to dinner at Imperial, where I had a burger and Mac and Cheese. Never again with that mac and cheese. The top was burned, and I made the mistake of stirring it so the burned pieces mixed in with the good pieces, and it was just disgusting. I picked at Deborah's french fries, which were better. We talked about travel, and the military, and I'm not really a fan of discussing the military. It's a thing that happened, and I'm glad it did, but I'd rather not talk about it. They were talking about family members who refused to talk about military service though, and I was like "sounds about right!" For what it's worth, my grandfather, who was a mine sweeper in north Africa never spoke about it either. Until he got Alzheimer's and thought he was living it.

L'Shanah Tova, y'all.

Abbreviated freshers' week

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:48 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Somehow all my freshers' week stuff was mostly crammed into three days, which is kind of nice since I'm done with it now, which gives me time for volunteering orientation, a passport interview, a doctor's appointment, and a weekend of being in Yorkshire because of Thought Bubble.

Overall it's gone pretty well. I was nervous of feeling out of place but I really haven't. Everyone's been nice and neither I nor anyone else has called attention to me being twice their age (though I have felt it, especially since I keep coming home and taking naps, and they've been going out every night according to scraps of overheard conversation).

I've done all the bureaucracy: enrolled on everything (except my language, working on that), got my student card, met my advisor, peppered my department's admin with questions...I've been to welcome talks and figured out where some of the rooms in the rabbit warren that is the building I'll be spending most of my time in.

I've made a friend! I went to this divisional "party" thing on Monday, which is where you stand in an echoy room with a bunch of other people standing inexplicably close together. This was on Monday so I was at my most self-conscious and sure no one would talk to me, but she just walked right up and did. She's called Kitty...well, she's not because she's Chinese and can't expect people to say her name. But she told it to me, Weijia, and I said it back to her and she said my pronunciation was good but I can't remember it now! She turned up in the group meeting with our advisor today, and we were happy to see each other.

I had my introductory meeting with disability services yesterday, too. Which was great, but kind of weird. I left it convinced that if I'd had even half that support when I first went to college, I wouldn't have to be trying again now. At the time I was still firmly of the belief that I wasn't mentally ill, I was just rubbish. So much of that could have been different.

But then if it was I might not have written so much that Andrew saw on LiveJournal and he wouldn't have been able to identify with me as much as he did and maybe wouldn't have wanted to talk to me and I certainly wouldn't have visited him here if my life had stayed on the track it was supposed to be on. Things would be so different down the other leg of the trousers of time that it doesn't bear thinking about.
solarbird: (tracer)
[personal profile] solarbird

Sorry this one took so long. I'm not good at large action sequences, and this chapter was difficult to write, mostly because of that. I was trying to keep it gamelike, in that it would be evocative of a failed charge onto take a point with a payload on it in game, as opposed to a realistic infantry scenario. I hope it works.

If nothing else, it's way longer than most of my chapters, so at least nobody's being short changed. ^_^

[AO3 link]


The opportunity came sooner than expected. An arms shipment, escorted by Los Muertos, task force almost certainly to be led by Jack Morrison - or, as it seems they called him, the white ghost.

Jesse McCree had been the one to catch the rumour, talking with some of his old Deadlock Gang contacts, who, turns out, would be happy if a rival gang did not get to run goods through their territory. And so, they passed the news to him, and he passed it to Amélie, who passed it to Venom, who gave it to Overwatch, and Gabriel Reyes, who built a plan.

Mockingbird lay atop the crest of the hill, silent, even her breath inaudible, even to herself, even she wasn't entirely sure she was bothering to breathe right then, as the small three-vehicle convoy stirred itself, beginning its early-morning trundle out of the two-building ghost town that had once called itself Cloverdale. There had been more here, once, before the climate warmed, but really, it had ended before then, a former bit of a farming town, a little store, a dance pavilion, enough water - just - for a bit of crop and cattle raising, but now, even that last was gone, which is, of course, why they were all where they were.

The sniper had been in her nest since two days before, had watched the convoy trundle its way across the desert and to a stop, loading out into the little stone ruin, and calling it a night. She had not slept; she did not need to, for this watch. Once everyone had tucked themselves in so nicely, so quietly, she'd then confirmed via radio to Gabriel that Jack Morrison was, indeed, in the front truck, and that they were not, in fact, transporting refugees or undocumented workers - there were no innocents to get in the way. Just a simple cargo delivery - maybe the weapons, maybe a side delivery before the main delivery, no way even to know.

Not that it mattered, really.

She watched as the convoy slowly rode its way west, towards her and past burned out soil, past former farm gates, now collapsing along the road, the paint bleached in the sun. She took in a breath, just enough to speak. "They're on their way."

Gabriel's voice in her ear. "Do you have the target?"

Lena allowed herself the smallest of smirks. Less than a kilometre. No breeze, at all. Crystal clear skies. Do I have the target. Honestly, Gabe. But she kept it to herself. "Target confirmed and moving into go/no go. Do I have go?"

Reyes ran through the numbers one more time in his head. Everyone in position for the ambush. A lot more fighters on the Los Muertos side - more than they expected, and it bothered him - but only one hard target. The gang side wouldn't be trying for a capture - they'd be shooting for kills, without hesitation - but Overwatch had surprise on their side.

"Nearing optimal range, Gabe. Go or no go?"

Who knows when we'll get intel even this good again, he decided. "Action confirmed. All team, on my mark - go."

Venom - no, Mockingbird - smiled the spider's smile, and pulled the trigger. Morrison's head jerked to the side as the tactical visor went flying out across the desert in pieces, and he swore, loudly, in Spanish, blinded by his own blood, but not really hurt, despite the proximity of the bullet. The transport vehicle swerved, blocking the road forward, but did not fly out of control, and seconds later he was shouting orders to his team as the Overwatch group moved in from the northeast, from the dried-up spring.

"Visor down," the sniper confirmed, as Mei threw up a wall behind the convoy, Gabriel lay down fire blowing out the front vehicle's tires, and the unlabelled Overwatch carrier blared its orders to drop weapons and be commandeered. Pharah charged into the air, letting loose with a series of rockets aimed at vehicle engines, as Mockingbird readied for a spray of long-range discouragement fire from her position, to keep the grunts under cover. She grinned as she watched the Los Muertos gangsters circle their vehicles and swarm for weapons, and then her grin froze as Jack darted away from her sight, without a visor, then reappeared on the other side of the transport vehicle, with one.

What th'...?! She looked back towards the wreckage of the visor. Yes, there, pieces, still on the ground. She called into comms, "Gabe, he has a second visor somehow, watch it!" just as Jack triggered the device, visual overlay screen appearing almost instantly, knocking Pharah out of the air just as she'd disabled the third vehicle. Mockingbird adjusted her sights and took a second shot, surely hitting him dead on, but somehow apparently not as he just kept shooting through the visor, after briefly jerking to the left.

She waited for a third shot, and Jack's head popped up again, again through the front transport, behind two windows. Mockingbird reacted instantly, and fired. Her vision seemed to blur, and suddenly, it was a Los Muertos grunt splayed out across the sand, her head smashed, and Jack Morrison was still firing.

Nobody's that lucky, she thought, coolly. Something's going on.

Los Muertos got a shield generator running as Mei threw up another wall while taking bullets to the shoulder and chest, saving Gabriel, who had also been hit and hurt by the barrage of bullets. Pharah limped back into the air, got off a single rocket knocking Morrison down, and went down again herself almost immediately, Mercy flying to her wife's side. Gabriel, Mockingbird, and - a moment later - Mercy's fire kept most of the rest of the Los Muertos fighters ducking for cover, as Winston leapt down, shield in place over the wounded Mei, Tesla cannon keeping braver Los Muertos back, as Athena flew in as pickup for the injured.

"Gabriel, Tracer here," Mockingbird shouted into comms, trying to force some emotion back into her voice. "Mockingbird's hit this guy in the head three times and he just shakes it off, something is very wrong. We need to..."

And then Jack fell to the ground, unconscious, and an older woman's voice came over the Overwatch comms, saying, "He's down, but it won't last more than 30 seconds. Get your wounded out while you can, and regroup at my position. Tracking beacon enabled."

-----

"A second visor?!" Gabriel - limping, but mobile - looked incredulously at Mockingbird as the small Overwatch strike force mended its wounds at the beacon site deep in the hills to the north. "He can't have a second visor. It's unique to each soldier. It was wired into his brain."

"Don't care," insisted the woman in black and green. "I shot the first one off, just like we planned it. It was on the ground, in pieces." She folded her arms. "My sight takes pictures, I can show you."

"But a second visor - that's not possible," Gabriel insisted.

"I know I hit him. I know I did. Three times. There's something we've missed, Gabe. This should've been easy and it was a disaster."

"You look very familiar," said the older woman with the beacon, looking with narrowed eyes at the younger sniper.

Mockingbird blinked, and looked over to the older woman, finally realising who she was seeing. "...no question of it on my side," she said, recovering. "The legendary Ana Amari, in the flesh. You're supposed to be dead. What the hell, mate? And how'd you get on our comms?"

Gabriel glanced away from Mockingbird and brushed dust off his hands, looking resolutely unsurprised. "Ana, this is our sniper specialist, callsign Mockingbird. Mockingbird, this is Ana Amari, apparently not dead."

Ana snorted at her former Blackwatch friend, and gestured over to Mockingbird. "You think that can replace me?"

"You have been dead since 2069," said Winston, stepping in between the new and the old, "as far as we knew." He gave Reyes a look, a look that said they would be talking about Reyes's lack of surprise in the very near future. "She's an independent contractor willing to work with us, and we're happy to have her service."

"I know that kit," said the Egyptian, with a sideways glance back to the younger woman. "And I know that blue tinge. Working with Talon, are we, now? Maybe Jack's not so crazy as I thought."

"Not with Talon, luv," Mockingbird lied. "But I always buy from the best. No second chances in this game. 'Cept for you, apparently. And Jack." She looked around at Angela and Gabriel and Ana, and frowned. "And apparently all you old lot."

Amari glanced disdainfully at the young assassin, then returned to ignoring her, looking back to Gabriel. "And where's the so-called Hero of Old London supposed to be, then?"

Mockingbird glared, anger a flash across her face. No, she told herself. Lena's not here. Ana's trying to provoke you. Realising that, she found she didn't even need to bring up the web further to keep control. It's a game. She knows, she just wants us to admit it. Spill the beans, grams? Not likely.

"We all thought it was for the best if she stayed out of any direct action involving the man who left her to die in the Slipstream." He looked directly into the sniper's eyes. "Knowing you're here, I'd say that was the right call."

"Afraid she'd lose her cool, get hurt?" She made a little unimpressed sound, a kind of pffft. "And yet here you hand whatever they've made of her" - she waved at Mockingbird, without looking - "a sniper rifle. You're fools."

Lena almost spoke up, then almost laughed, but kept her expression flat. Nice try, she thought. "So I shouldn't ask for your autograph, then?"

Winston shook his head at Mockingbird's verbal jabs, and Gabriel crossed his arms, with a frown. "I have no idea what you're talking about, Ana. More importantly - where the hell have you been all these years?"

"Really? You're going to keep up this laughable facade?"

"Whatever. You gonna tell us where you've been all this time?"

Amari glared. "No. But I will give you this." She pulled a small memory card out of a coat pocket. "It's video and notes from a... previous attempt to solve the Jack Morrison problem. If you're going to try to kill him, I need you not to make things worse."

"We aren't trying to kill him," Winston said, taking the card. "We're trying to bring him to justice."

Amari spat at the ground. "There's no justice for what he did, or for what he's become. I thought you understood that."

Well, thought Mockingbird, there's one place we agree. She found she didn't like the agreement. "That's what I thought, too. Maybe I ought t'reconsider the point."

"Does it always make this much noise? Maybe it should be reprogrammed again."

"ENOUGH OF THIS." Mercy glided down from the flat spot on the hillside above, where she had been tending to Mei and Pharah, watching since Ana showed herself, stunned to see her mother-in-law, of all people, reappear from the dead - not her way, but alive and well the entire time.

"Angela, why are you mixed up in this idiocy? I thought you'd know better."

The field medic marched over to the old military officer, and slapped her across the face, hard, staggering her back. "You dare show your face? You dare act like this to my friends, after what you have put us through?!"

"Woah!" interjected Mockingbird, jumping forward to restrain the doctor. "Angela, no! It's fine, she's just horrible!"

"No," she said, looking back, and shaking her arms free, "it is not fine!" She turned back to the old soldier, and pointed to Pharah, unconscious, but recovering. "She mourned you. You ignored her as a child and she loved you anyway and then you died and she put it behind her and now you are here and alive and she is here and wounded and you have not even acknowledged her existence?!"

"I've done what has been necessary, and I've stayed out of the way of the medic while she works. Fareeha will understand that."

"Will she? I hope not! But I will make sure she knows. I will make sure she knows everything. Including how horribly you have just abused our Mockingbird. 'It?! '" She shook herself, as though fluffing feathers she did not have, except in her wings. "You call her an it?! She is a person, not a tool, and you have become a monster."

Quietly surprised, Lena's heart tore, just a little, at the medic's furious defence. "Doc, really, it's fine, she's just digging..."

"I know what she's doing," Mercy said, not looking at Lena. "And I don't care why." She turned to the openly astonished Reyes and Winston. "We should get the wounded out of American territory as soon as possible. They will not be happy with our actions today."

"I agree," said Reyes, taking the opportunity. "Ana, we can pick this up later. Do any of your old dropboxes work?"

"No. Do yours?"

"Boxburg does."

"I'll leave a contact point there, then."

"Thanks. And... thanks for helping out."

"You're welcome. Maybe next time we can work together, make sure the grown-ups are in charge."

Mockingbird's face showed absolutely no sign of emotion, and her hands did not tighten visibly on her rifle.

"We'll talk later," said the former Blackwatch head. "Team - back to the ship. Mockingbird, give Mercy some help with Mei; Winston, I wouldn't mind a little help myself. Let's roll out."

The Lunar gorilla offered his friend an arm, as Mockingbird turned towards the Chinese scientist with a curt "acknowledged." Behind Venom's mask, beneath the web, the assassin roiled viciously, but no hint of that storm made it outside.

Maybe I've got more than one problem to solve, she thought, as she guided the semi-sedated Mei up off the ground. Maybe I've got two or three.

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Anna the Piper

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