Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Twenty-Eighth Amendment

G'day, readers. Y'know, for the past few weeks, I have been trying to get back into the swing of things, and write a blog post every two days like my unofficial schedule somewhat promises. But, I just keep on getting distracted, having other things to do or - like with my last post - having a really difficult post on my hands that requires more than a two days to write.
It's entirely my fault, but things are happening which don't exactly make it easier, the least of all being that I am trying to write stories in the background here and I don't always have something that I want to blog about.
For instance, the sicko that shot a bunch of girls because he was a misogynist? I don't want to talk about that. I really don't . . . but I'm going to. This isn't just that I want to do a blog post today, because I would gladly skip it. No, I'm going to talk about it for one very simple reason - the reason I blog in the first place - because it matters. I also offer a mild trigger warning, this is mostly concerned with legislation, but I do mention a few details of recent and prominent massacres and mass shootings.
The Word of the Day is: 'AMENDMENT'

Amendment /ə'mendmənt/ n. 1. The act of amending or the state of being amended. 2. An alteration of or addition to a motion, bill, constitution, etc. 3. A change made by correction, addition, or deletion: The editors made few amendments to the manuscript. 4. Horticulture a soil-conditioning substance that promotes plant growth indirectly by improving such soil qualities as porosity, moisture retention, and pH balance.

Y'know, a while ago, I wrote a blog post called "When the Morning Cries" (the title is a reference to a Bee Gees song) and in that post, I spoke about how tragedy in the media doesn't really affect me. Or, at least, I choose not to be affected by it, because it's too much. Because you can't watch all of that constant bad shit that's happening in the world and have empathy for all of it. You can't, because you'd explode.
Sometimes, I deal with it by laughing at the ridiculous nature of it all; sometimes I get angry and rant about it for a few minutes, then get on with my life; at best, I might say 'well, that sucks, I hope it works out', then move on. I don't let it get to me. But this time, it did.

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to talk about the misogyny thing. That's a given, people have already had its back and forth with it, and perhaps you want to join the discussion started by Mara Wilson on Facebook or Tumblr, where people are talking about it, or join the trend of speaking otu abotu it on Twitter with the #UCSB hashtag.
I don't want to talk about misogyny because my feelings are the same as ever: don't do it. If this doesn't prove that masculine entitlement exists, then nothing will. So please join the discussion, because that's a discussion that needs to be had; but that's not what people are talking about. Not in Australia, anyway. No, when we heard about this UCSB shooting, we went down a different path, which can be explained thusly:
"Fuck the NRA"
I don't know what the American Media is focussing on, but in Australia, the conversation has turned to guns, and how America still loves its guns and refuses to fix its messed up relationship with guns, despite the countless deaths that continue to occur because we allow these dangerous people access to guns.

I personally think that these are both important, but, as I said, I am talking about the gun thing because I was upset by it. It's not often that I can be upset by the tragedies in the news - let alone brought to tears - but I was when I saw one man stand up, angry and upset, to make a statement. Richard Martinez, father of Christopher Martinez, asked a simple question:
  "When will this Insanity Stop?"
Now, just from the news, and from what people are saying about this and gun laws and shootings, all that, I have come to understand two things. Firstly, the N.R.A. is evil. That's not an opinion, that's a fact, according to the dictionary definition of the word 'evil': harmful or injurious; characterized by misfortune and suffering; morally wrong; caused by bad conduct or character; etcetera . . .
The second thing I've learned is that people don't know what the word "amendment" means. That's why I've included it as the Word of the Day, so that it can be easily understood by everyone. Also, they don't seem to understand what the Second Amendment means.
See, when it comes to gun laws, many people seem to think that the "right to bear arms" is an American Constitutional right that means that you are allowed to own a gun because you're an American citizen. But that's just wrong. Here's the truth:

For the "Right to Keep and Bear Arms" is not an American thing, it was originally British. In 1689, the British had their own Bill of Rights (preceding the American Bill of Rights of 1789) which included the right:
". . . That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law."
- The [English] Bill of Rights, 1689
As much as this was a right to arms, this was not actually a right to own a gun, this was a right to have arms, as allowed by law. This didn't say "you can have a gun", this was a right not to have your weapons taken away, which is something that King James II did to his Protestant subjects, and thus it was a necessary ruling. This was for the correction of a previous injustice.
That is, this wasn't actually introducing a right, this was taking away the rights of the King to remove his subjects' means of self-defence. Therefore, if you legally owned any armament, and it was suitable for your situation (and you were a Protestant), then the King can't take it away, that's all it meant.

That Bill of Rights later inspired the American Bill of Rights 100 years later. That's not just conjecture, James Madison - the guy that wrote the B.o.R. - claims this law to be his direct inspiration for the Second Amendment.
Because, the Second Amendment does not say "you can own a gun"; it doesn't even say "you have the right to keep and bear arms". Rather, it says:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
- Article the Second,
United States Bill of Rights
, 1789
At first this didn't make much sense to me. But with the context of the above law, it's easier to understand that this isn't granting anyone any more rights than they had before. It's just saying putting down on paper that the right shall not be infringed.
Now, we need to cover something quickly here: what is a Militia?
Basically, it's a body of citizens who are not professional soldiers, but still enrolled in military service (In Australia, we call them the Army Reserve). Now, it can also mean "anyone eligible for army service" and some people believe that means that anyone can own a gun, because we all count as militia, but that's beside the point; I'm not going to get into a big biff over what "militia" means - because I don't have to to prove my point.
Just the same as the British Bill of Rights, in regards to the right to bear arms, this is not providing the right to bear arms, it is denying the Government's right to infringe upon it.
So, to me, the second amendment can only be interpreted in one way:
  "If you already have the right to bear arms (e.g. you're a member of a well regulated Militia) then your right to bear arms shall not be infringed."

The Right to Bear Arms is not a universal right. Do you know how I know that? It's because I know what arms means, because it doesn't mean "guns". It means weapons. Any weapon.
If the right to bear arms was a universal right, then you could catch the subway train, on the NWK–WTC line to Lower Manhattan carrying a grenade and no one could arrest you. If it were an inalienable right, you could make a bomb at home, put it in your backpack and walk down Main Street of Boston, Massachusetts, and no one could stop you. If that were really what the Constitution says, you could catch the school bus in Newtown, Connecticut, carrying a fully loaded assault rifle, and the authorities would have no power to stop you.
But the Constitution does not protect the right to carry a bomb or a grenade any more than it protects your right to carry a gun; and you can be arrested in such cases, because the average citizen doesn't have that right, and you can't take away rights that you don't have.
The only people with the right to bear arms are those that have a lawful gun license. A gun license is your right to bear and keep arms, not the Constitution of the United States. Don't be stupid, the law doesn't exist so that you can shoot at beer cans in your backyard, it exists to stop the government from oppressing the people.

Now, here's the fun part, there's another word I know the meaning of (I'm just rubbing my vocabulary in your face today, aren't I?), and that is infringe. Infringe means, basically, trespass or breach. What it doesn't mean is "change". So many people think that you can't take away peoples' rights to own guns, because that's a violation of the second amendment to the constitution.
But it isn't! It merely says "if you already have the right, we won't breach that right." It doesn't mean they can't change the original rights that people have in the first place, it doesn't mean you can't amend the rules of gun ownership . . .

See what I did there? Taking it right back around to the beginning. Because people keep on harping about your amendment, well, an amendment is just a change, and there's nothing wrong with change, especially when rights are being taken away. Do you know whose rights are being taken away?
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
- United States Constitution, 1787

You don't much have the right to Life, or the pursuit of Happiness, when you're dead. And whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends - when there are approximately 9 privately-owned guns per every 10 Americans, yet only 36.5% of Americans claim to own a gun; when the number of homicides committed with a handgun more than double of the number of any other form of homicide & when the number of spree shootings in America are second only to war-torn countries like Iraq. When a dangerous child on the local police watchlist can legally purchase two SIG Sauer P226 model handguns and a Glock 34, and use them to mercilessly gun down three innocent people - it is the Right of the People to alter said government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
And if current laws cannot keep you safe, well, it's not all that hard to add another amendment to that Constitution, you've already done it twenty-seven times.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and although I may not be an American citizen, I know people that are, in particular my Beloved. I just want to know that she can be safe. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, 26 May 2014

Lost Chapter - DUKE:v.01.07.5+Gravity_Falls


[b]07.0 | Archive Ref #: b07.5-216-G(L)-m03 | [b]08.0

  On Saturday, the 16th of May, 2014, I came home to find that the data for the latest chapter of Duke Forever was missing from my in-tray. I searched the house, and happened to discover the printed pages in the kitchen bin. Burnt.
  Perhaps I was careless and allowed the papers to be mixed up with the junk mail, when we threw it away. I don’t know how something like this could happen, but I'm not trying to suggest that someone threw it away deliberately. However I'm also not suggesting that someone wouldn't do that either . . .
  I was going to skip the chapter, but since the last chapter involved leaving Earth and the one after this involves returning to Earth, I couldn't justify leaving out this portion of the record. However, a great deal of the information I had has been lost. So, my only recourse is to compile what raw data I have to recreate the story for you, although perhaps without the bells and whistles of narrative that I've been adding to give some life to these stories. I apologize for the lack of artistic flair, but I want to retain the tenacity of this record, as best I can.

+

The Duke’s timeship is sitting just beyond a stargate, which is inside of some kind of art gallery. Within, the Duke is looking over the console.1
He takes note of a large number of life-forms living in a settlement several hundred kilometres away, closer to the equator of the planet.2
There’s also a large planet on the sensor, which is orbiting like a moon. The Duke exits the timeship and observes it for himself. The moon is revealed to be larger than any moon, and in fact larger than the planet Earth. The Duke explains this to Anise & Edison.3
The low gravity allows the timeship crew to “moon-jump” several metres high in the air. The Duke vainly attempts to explain the science while his companions test to see how high they can jump [approx. 5 metres.], before he observes the stargate itself and is mildly intrigued by the alien design.4
The Duke then insists they seek to find the denizens of this world, . They leave the art gallery enter the outskirts of the town [town name unknown.] and find it deserted. The Duke discovers a wheel-less, dark-silver tram trolley, hovering a foot off the ground.5
After commenting on the design, the Duke boards the tram, with Anise and Edison right behind him. The Duke activates the trolley with his laser spanner and it automatically takes them to the centre of town, where the Gravitan base station for the space elevator is located. The trio see several Temeritans patrolling the area.6
The Duke believes them to be natives, so they enter the elevator dock and the Duke approaches one of the creatures, kindly asking for help. Edison attempts to explain to the Duke that the creatures do not look like the portraits in the art gallery, when the creature roars to alert its compatriots. It then advances on the three, aggressively asking them what they are doing in the facility. Edison tells the creature they’re not looking for trouble, but two more Temeritans join the first, looking ready to fight.
Edison takes the baton out of his belt [a police-issue Monadnock® AutoLock Expandable Baton.] and prepares to defend himself. With one blow, Edison is sent flying across the room, and while Anise races over to tend to him, the Duke holds the other three at bay, punching and dodging under the creature’s relatively slow attacks. Edison regains his feet and helps the Duke, utilizing the low gravity to jump, kick and evade the creatures.7
After almost a minute, the pair manage to incapacitate one of the creatures, but the others roar for more backup and they are both exhausted so Anise, Duke & Edison decide to retreat. The Duke runs towards the hovering tram, however there are two Graviten soldiers waiting for them.8
The Duke decides to follow them, and so the five of them run deeper into the buildings into a Phandibhan-style restaurant [cuisine native to the nearby continent of Phandibh, known for using subtle spices and offal.], where several Graviten soldiers [approx. 30.] are holding up in the underground stockroom. When they discover who the Duke is, the two soldiers that helped them, named Sir Ghedda Musth & Sir Javaji Hastin, explain the situation:
  • Six days ago, a group of Temeritan terrorists came through the space elevator. They declared Graviten citizens inferior and began attacking everyone on site [23 were killed and more than 80 were injured.] with their brute strength as well as weapons stolen from the base station security.
  • The group kidnapped several hostages, numbers unknown, [many of them students on a field trip, from the Mabhoudat Mathematics School for Girls.] Then contacted local media, identified themselves as Groko Falem [a group of xenophobic terrorists, whose name translates to 'Fallen Moon'.] they declared war on all Gravitan citizens, in the name of "Lakwa", demanding servitude or death.
  • Five days ago, Gravitas representatives sent a deep-space communiqué to Temeritas, asking for help.
  • The group, using explosives, destroyed over 3000 G-HAC suits [Gravitas(?) - Heavy Atmosphere Containment suits allow for Gravitens to survive Termeritas surface-gravity for extended periods of time.] held within the space elevator base station.
  • The government of Mabhoudan continent moved in their defense forces, but ceased fire when the Temeritans began killing hostages. They were held at a standstill, as the Temeritans have threatened to destroy the space elevator if the army intervened, as a result the army retreated to a perimeter beyond the city limits.
  • Three days ago, Gravitas recieved the Temeritans' reply, which stated that they were preparing to launch a series of interplanetary rockets to help, however it could take seven days before the first rocket could land on Gravitan soil.
  • Ever since, the Gravitan army have been providing negotations for the hostages, and those trapped in the city limits, as well as covert guerrilla operations.
The Duke agrees that the situation is dire, and suggests that the army to evacuate as many trapped citizens as they can through the stargate. But Sir Ghedda doesn't know what a stargate is, and insists that the Duke can help them to stop this Temeritan threat "like he did last time". The trio are confused, and the Duke insists that he doesn't fight such battles, but the soldiers insist that many years ago, the Duke of Rathea stood before the Temeritans and brokered a peace that lead to the building of the space elevator in the first place.
The Duke is confused, but he tells the Graviten soldiers that he will do what he can to help them, as he once did.

Anise & Edison are confused, but the Duke explains that the that he will most likely travel to the past and help these people, some day later in his lifetime, which makes him somewhat uncomfortable.9
Edison asks how he could help them, and the Duke explains that the only way to deal with terrorists such as these is with force, and since he's not a warrior anymore it would be unwise to enter the fight. However, he does have the timeship, and with Sir Javaji's help devises a plan to materialize within the base station, via the timeship, to rescue the kidnapped citizens and schoolgirls. The Duke, Anise, Edison and a fireteam [a group of four soldiers, with a junior officer in command.] sneak out of the restaurant and travel on foot to the art gallery, where the Duke's timeship is waiting for them.
  Scene Missing10
The group are within the console room, and the Duke is spending a few minutes adjusting the co-ordinates, to aim for the location where the kidnapped citizens are said to be held [Within The space elevator unit itself, is a vessel the size of a skyscraper, with a mixture of Temeritan and Gravitan architecture (See Fig.3), which is capable of travelling between the planets in just a few hours.]. With several minute adjustments, the Duke pulls the ignition lever and the ship dematerializes. After an unsteady flight, the ship rematerializes and the soldiers shake themselves off. Then, standing at the ready by the exit, the Duke opens the doors and the soldiers all take point. They discover that the ship has missed its target, and is sitting on the roof of the base station. The Duke apologizes for miscalculating the co-ordinates, but not wanting to risk another trip, the soldiers enter the building from the roof, and head deeper into the facility. The base station is uncommonly empty and the group attempt to board the space elevator, but the air lock is sealed. The Duke manages to get through with his laser spanner, however the elevator begins to move. The six of them quickly climb aboard as the elevator accelerates into the air, leaving the timeship behind. The Duke struggles to get the air lock closed again, before they enter the stratosphere.
  Scene Missing11
The soldiers are seen moving up through the facility, slowly incapacitating or killing Groko Falem terrorists as they encounter them in each room [the interior of the space elevator is like a cruise ship or a hotel, with open space and different activity centres to entertain passengers.], however a firefight breaks out in the drinking lounge, with many terrorists joining the fight, leading to a standoff.
Anise and Edison are slowly heading up the facility through crew access corridors [The relative gravity aboard the elevator is approximately 0.9 g, to best facilitate all species of passenger.], and the pair enter the top level of the Gravitas-oriented portion of the space elevator.12
A lot of the terrorists have congregated within the mid-section of the ship, so Anise and Edison retreat to one of the "crew access only" areas of the ship, using their pilfered master key [Which must have been acquired during the missing scene.] and enter a large, unusually oriented generator room. Within the mess of generators and computer monitors, Anise recognizes a gravity engine [This device is identical to the gravity engine from Warehouse 88 (See Ref#: b02.0-216-L(X)-m01), it is as yet uncertain if it is the same device.].

The Duke is within the engine room, working on the motor coils with his laser spanner, [it is implied that he was attempting to repolarize the coils to reverse the elevator and return it to Gravitan soil.] when a Temeritan assaults the Duke, drags him off his feet and slams him into a wall and interrogates him about his intention.
  Scene Missing*
The Duke is next seen quickly vacating the engine room, to head further up the space elevator vessel. After his encounter with the Temeritan, the Duke has come to learn that the ultimate goal of the Groko Falem is to overload the gravity engine, destroy the space elevator, and ultimately pull each planet out of their dual orbit, such that they will collide with one another, and it is his goal to stop that from happening.

Within the gravity generator room, Anise manages to convince Edison that she not only knows how to turn off the gravity engine, but also that it would be beneficial to do so, since Gravitens are used to low gravity, and Temeritans are not. Edison uses his radio to contact the remaining fireteam, who are still in the drinking lounge, and warns them that they are going to attempt to disengage the gravity engine. The soldier thanks them for the information, and tells his men to hold steady. Anise then approaches the gravity engine, and climbs up [The circuit connecting the gravity engine to the gravity plating results in a feedback loop which creates an outward force around the device; such that, when activated, the gravity engine is relatively "up" within the two-metre area around the device.] to adjust it, via a form of gear shift on the device. Anise's first attempt accidentally reverses the gravity across the entire ship.13
Anise tries again, with another lever, but but only manages to make the strength of the reversed gravity fluctuate. Finally, Edison joins her and attempts to cancel the engine himself.

The Duke, unharmed but very cranky, accesses the communications section of the elevator, and first uses the intercom to contact Edison [through his police radio.]. The Duke asks, rather bluntly, for an explanation as to why the gravity is such a mess. The pair explain themselves, and although the Duke warns them that their actions were very dangerous, he talks them through how to deactivate a gravity engine.14
The Duke then hails the Temeritan vessel and relays to them the details of their encounter thus far. They organize to rendevous in twenty minutes.
  Scene Missing15
The Duke stands at the control console of the boarding centre, behind the greeting desk, and quickly realizes that the boarding chamber is not fitted with an airlock. Several of the Temeritan terrorists enter the room, looking furious [due to the low gravity, the Temeritans would be suffering from higher blood-pressure in their skulls. However, it is assumed that their aggression mostly stems from the Duke, himself.]
One of the leading terrorists [Whose name is recoded as, Brohl Musth.] monologues about the Duke's weakness, and they attack, the Duke dodges them easily [It is unknown at this time whether or not time lords are naturally adept at manoeuvring in zero gravity, or if the Duke has learned to master the feat himself.], and tells the Groko Falem that they're nothing more than a group of thugs, no better or worse than any pathetic mutineer he has come across in his time. The Temeritan leader insults the Duke's status, the Duke then refutes his claim, closes the bulkhead door behind him & opens the outer hull door. The Duke holds on tight as the vacuum of space vacates the room of air, and the Temeritans are blown out into space.16
Duke holds his breath as the Temeritan military ship intercepts the vessel [time lords can survive for extended periods in the cold vacuum of space due to their physiological tenacity and a respiratory bypass system.]. The Temeritan soldiers repressurize the boarding centre and flooded the space elevator with their squads. They swiftly took control [the Groko Falem refused to harm fellow Temeritans, allowing the soldiers to arrest them.], began treating the hostages and reversed the vessel to return to Gravitas.
  Scene Missing17
Back on Gravitan soil, there was a lot of commotion with the returning hostages, celebration and incarceration of the remaining Groko Falem and the news reporters declare it a miraculous resolution to the conflict.  However, without much fuss, the Duke, Anise & Edison slip away to the timeship, and together they quietly vanish.

+

  The preceding information is everything that I could present (or extrapolate) from the remains of the burnt document and my ancillary notes on this subject. I apologize for this incomplete record, but I will endeavour to take greater care of such precious information in the future. I wouldn't want something like this to happen again.
  There was some amazing information lost in this piece. It is, after all, the first time I've seen the Duke deliberately kill someone, but I've got more data on the nature of vacuums than I do that act of murder. I don’t know if it was in the heat of the moment, or if he’d planned for them to die before he entered that room. It makes me question his motivations, and wonder whether this is hinting at the truth behind what would cause such a powerful leader to fall from grace.
  However, as I said, this is all that I can offer of this lost chapter, and I hope you've found what you were looking for.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Let it Snow, or A Musical Analysis of Disney's "Frozen"


Na na na heyana / Hahiyaha naha / Naheya heya na yanuwa / Hanahe yunuwana . . .

The following blog post contains spoilers for the Disney movie FROZEN.

This is not a movie reviewing blog, I don't watch nearly enough movies to keep up with my schedule; I haven't the money to pay for the movies and I live in Australia, where movies come out about 6 months after the rest of the Western world, so it would be a little late for a review. But I heartily recommend that everyone goes to see the movie Frozen. So, if you haven't yet seen the movie . . . then stop right there! No, stop reading!
Did you NOT see the big, bold text up there that says "this contains spoilers"? because that's not a joke, and these are major spoilers. Go and see the film before you read this. At best, you won't understand what I'm talking about, and at worst, you'll spoil a major twist in the movie for when you do see it (which you need to do), and I will not be held responsible for that. Now go and see it before you continue reading this blog post. Don't worry, this post isn't going anywhere . . .

Are they gone? Okay, let's talk about Frozen. The Word of the Day is: 'OPERETTA'

Operetta /opə'retə/ n. a short opera, usually of a light character and generally having a substantial amount of spoken (not sung) dialogue; a light opera. Also, Musical Comedy.

So, why am I talking about Frozen today? Well, because I blog about what's on my mind. And ever since I saw Frozen (for the first time last week) it has been on my mind a lot. Unfortunately I went through a dark slump not soon after, but now that I'm thankfully over that, the film is on my mind a lot. Because, I think it's a great film.
But that's not why I want to talk about it, I've seen a lot of great films, rather I want to talk about why it's a great film, because I love stories, and I think it's worth discussing what makes Frozen great, as I understand it.

See, before Frozen, Disney made Tangled, Brave & The Princess and the Frog; and while they weren't terrible movies (except for Frog, that was kind of stupid), they just didn't seem to know what to do with their music. After the abortive attempt at reinvigorating classic "Disney Princess" movies and Animated Musicals with Frog, I think Disney Animation Studios got a little flustered. Brave didn't have any songs at all (beyond ambient/background music) and then with Tangled, Disney was trying so hard to be Pixar, that they forgot that Pixar movies don't work with singing.
I don't hate the film but, as my Beloved puts it, "Tangled was a Pixar movie, with singing". I personally don't feel that "I See the Light" belongs in that movie, it seems out of place which sucks, because it's important to the plot. I like Tangled, but it needed more Disney.

But this isn't about those movies, it's about Frozen, and I think that what sets Frozen apart as not just my favourite Disney movie, but also the best movie I've seen all year is that they get the music so very right. I mean, the story is amazing and that plays no small part. The story, to me, is basically awesome in that it's Disney learning how to be self-aware; they can see what's "wrong" with Disney, and the story is, in part, commenting on their whole "A Woman Needs a Man" Unfortunate Implications. But without the music, this wouldn't feel as 'Disney'.
The reason I love this is so much is because I think that Disney has finally figured out the formula for putting relatable characters + family-oriented comedy + awesome story music all in one movie.

Everyone talks about Let it Go - and I will as well, that's kind of a prerequisite for a Frozen blog post - but the other songs serve just as well at both being Disney, and evolving Disney.

The very first song in the movie is "Verulie", the lyrics to which started this post, and I think it, as well as the second song, serve an important purpose. Whereas Tangled seemed scared to admit that it was a musical, Frozen doesn't pull any punches. And a few seconds after the title, we get "Frozen Heart", and I think that, although the song is short and sweet, it serves a few important purposes. First, yes, it establishes that this is a musical. But if you listen closely, the lyrics are reminiscent of the drama at hand. It's a story about how ice can be beautiful as well as dangerous, it's basically setting up the story to come. Exciting stuff.

It's the next song, "Do you Wanna Build a Snowman" however, which really sets this movie in the right direction.
I like the movie Up, and a lot of people love the beginning vignette, the "Carl & Ellie" scene at the beginning of the film, because it's such an emotional story; beautiful, lovely and sad. But to me, "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman" is a Disneyfied improvement on that, because Pixar doesn't do musical, and I was always a little bothered that they went the "silent movie" route with it. Yeah, it works, but I believe that music works better at conveying emotion, so I believe Disney took such a story, a happy beginning, comedy & eventual tragedy and played it to music, improving it exponentially.
And the part that always sticks in my mind, is the last line, right at the end:
"We only have each other, just you and me, what are we gonna do?
Do you wanna build a snowman? . . ."

Because in my mind, there's a missing line, the song rhymes, but there's no couplet for "What are we gonna do?". I think that the omission is there because this is meant to be a duet. At least, Anna wants it to be; she's asking a question after all, and was hoping the answer would be "Yes, I do", to continue the metre and rhyme, but instead, only silence . . .
Disney isn't just including music in this story, the music is telling part of the story, and in this part of the story, it's about how this duet has become a solo act . . .

Then we continue with "For the First Time in Forever"
Just like with the beginning of "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman" we're being introduced to the impulsive, socially-awkward weirdness of Anna. And I love this song for that, but also - in my opinion - I think that this is something of a parody of Disney songs.
Personally, I like to believe that Anna is singing while running around and talking to the paintings, swinging and playing with little ducklings not because this is a Disney film. But, because, as she says herself: "For the First Time in Forever, I won't be alone".
It's as though Anna has been singing to herself this whole time, and that's why she's talking about feeling gassy, eating chocolate and being excited all while making a mess of the castle while she's dancing. I like to think she's gone a little kooky, stuffed up in the castle all alone, this whole time. She really does talk to the paintings on the walls, after all . . . so to me, it's a parody like: "What kind of a weirdo actually runs around singing to themselves?"
The answer is, someone like Anna, someone cooped up inside a castle for about three years with little to no contact with the outside world, and someone that's a little bit crazy.
But it also introduces us to the grown up Elsa, the picture of a fearful, self-disciplined, ice queen.

Then, the self-awareness continues, in my eyes, with "Love is an Open Door"
Okay, here are the spoilers, if you ignored me before, skip to the next paragraph . . .
See, this is played like the We-Are-Made-For-Each-Other Song, a Duet Bonding moment, if you will. And it's an adorable song, but the thing is, Hans doesn't love Anna. If you've got a whole lot of time on your hands, you might want to dive into the Hansalysis which purports that Hans isn't such a bad guy, and I agree with it on a few points, but consider this my counterpoint - I don't believe Hans loved Anna, because he didn't kiss her before he left her to die. Maybe he thought she was pretty, a trophy wife at best, but if he ever felt anything, he would have kissed her, it's that simple.
So, that re-evaluates what this song means, in the story. Despite the fact that that's exactly what Tangled did wrong, it's now as though Disney itself is saying "What? Fall in Love during the course of a song? That's not what love is."
In fact, the wonderful Ms Sridhar points out that even Disney characters don't fall in love during a song these days, most of them actually have a courting period. So this song is actually a rebuttal to the interpretation of Disney as anti-Feminist.

Now, the one we're all waiting for "Let it Go"
Absolutely everyone freaking loves this song, and yeah, I do too. I can't help it, it's about being free and throwing off the shackles of self-doubt and being yourself. But when I heard it for the first time, do you know what I was thinking?
Wow, this sounds a lot like a Villain Song . . . and you know what? Apparently, it was supposed to be. According to Word of God, Elsa was originally a blue, spiky-haired villain that commanded an army of evil snow monsters; however, when the composers created "Let it Go" - one of the first compositions they successfully wrote for the movie - the creator reconsidered her characterization, and rewrote the story to make Elsa more sympathetic. And that explains why it still sounds like a villain song to me . . .
Elsa isn't the villain, but she is sort of the antagonist, she causes most of the problems that occur so she is the closest thing that we have to a major villain (since Hans' evil twist was localized to the Third Act). But Elsa isn't evil, the best fit for her is that she's an unwilling Anti-Heroine. But the song is still coded like a villain song:
Like with all villain songs, she is singing about how freaking awesome she is, despite feeling cast out by society (the fears that once controlled me, can't get to me at all!); it's about showing off the almighty power of the character and why they're a force to be reckoned with (my power flurries through the air into the ground; my soul is spiralling in frozen fractals all around!); it's the song that exposes the villains modus operandi (Well, now they know! let it go, let it go . . . can't hold it back anymore.) & is sometimes the first step in their evil plan (Let the storm rage on! The cold never bothered me anyway . . .).
My favourite song in a lot of Disney's Musicals is often the Villain Song. My favourite song is "Poor Unfortunate Souls"  from The Little Mermaid; my Beloved adores "Mother Knows Best" & it's reprisal from Tangled & I admit, I even love "Friends on the Other Side" from Princess and the Frog.
So I believe the reason why this song is popular is because it's a Villain song that's also about a sympathetic, benevolent character, it's a powerful combination.

Now, my final song for this post, actually my favourite song in the movie:
"For the First Time in Forever (Reprise)"
That's right, my favourite song is not "Let it Go". Shocking, I know; instead, my favourite song is actually a reprisal of that silly little "isn't Anna weird?" melody from Act 1. Why?
Well, as I said before, Disney isn't just including music in this movie, the music is telling part of the story, and a huge part of the story is the way that Elsa's fear is what makes her so dangerous. She won't listen to reason because of her fear, fear that she could very well hurt people with her powers just like she did to her sister back when they were little kids. And as I also said, I believe that music is a great tool for conveying emotion and this is the emotional conflict of the film.
If this were any other Disney movie, then this song would be another Duet Bonding moment, Anna and Elsa would sing together and everything would be alright again. But that doesn't happen. Elsa is trying to sing that song:
"We can head down this mountain together, you don't have to live in fear;
'Cause for the first time in forever . . . I will be right here . . ."

But Elsa doesn't believe her, she doesn't believe in the Disney fairytale and starts singing a different song. A darker song about how she's a danger that needs to be left alone "Just stay away, and you'll be safe from me . . ."; then when Anna tells her that Arendelle's in danger, that's what breaks Elsa and begins the final act of the story . . .
Anna continues singing her song of joy, optimism, hope and love; but she's up against Elsa's self-despair, fear and doubt, and sadly it can't compare. Especially because hurting Anna is what made Elsa so afraid of her powers in the first place. Elsa's self-doubt and her song about self-doubt drowns out Anna's hopeful song, to the point that she can't even hear her through the song and blizzard. And anyone who has been in that place of self-doubt can attest that this is a relatable experience, even those that love us the most have trouble reaching us through those moments of utter despair.
Elsa rejects her sister, ending with that final line: "I Can't!"
It's a heartbreaking moment, in so many ways, as she casts her sister out and tries to face the storm inside of her alone . . .
There are some great songs, some uplifting songs and some comedy songs in this film that I adore, but my favourite has to be this heart-stoppingly relatable story of how, sometimes, Hope and childish optimism isn't enough to get through to someone, in the real world it takes more than a song - or a kiss - to thaw a frozen heart.


Frozen is a powerful movie, with great characters, amazing songs, not to mention fun and comedy, as well as a story that actually holds meaning in this day and age, about fear, love, family, doubt & trust.
If you haven't seen it, you really should. Just be careful you don't listen to too many "Let it Go" parody/cover songs . . . it might just make you go a little insane.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and until next time, the cold never bothered me anyway . . .

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Festering an Unclean Culture

I don't really like the term "Rape Culture". That's not to say that I disagree with it. In the long run, I kind of do, I believe that the concept is right in a couple of key respects, which deserve attention. While, perhaps, Rape Culture itself needs to be re-understood and rebranded, I don't think that rape culture is by and large wrong.
Rather, my issue with the term is that it's aggressive. For people that don't know what it means, it can be seen as accusatory and confrontational.
If I go up to someone that doesn't know what it means and say "you're promoting rape culture", if they're a caring human being, they'll think "but, I'm not a rapist and I think that rape is wrong!" so they'll probably disagree, they'll think that I'm the crazy feminist for calling them a rapist.
But I'm not calling you a rapist that's not what it means at all; at least, that's not what I understand it to mean, and that's not what it should mean. So today, I want to explain what rape culture is, and perhaps even redefine it so that we can think about it in terms which even non-feminists can understand and agree with. Because when I say that there is a widespread rape culture, I am not saying that everyone is a rapist. I'm saying that some of our attitudes and practices promote an unfair and unhealthy mindset towards women and sex.
So, I don't like calling this "rape culture" I prefer a much less controversial term and meaning. I consider a more accurate term to be Complicit Culture. The Word of the Day is: COMPLICIT

Complicit /kəmplisət/ adj. Choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having complicity.

So, What is Rape Culture?
Basically, Rape Culture is the concept that certain attitudes and practices of a society - especially those which are sexist and promote inequality -  can normalize, excuse, tolerate & even condone rape and sexual violence.
When I say "certain attitudes" I am talking about sexual objectification, victim-blaming; misandry/misogyny; rape trivialization & desensitization towards sexual assault.

Now, do we live in such a culture? Well, I obviously think we do. There are countless instances of people blaming the victim; there are a ridiculous number of men that think women exist solely to have sex with them (and other gender identities, guided by lust alone); there are too many people that don’t understand why date rape is the rapist’s fault & I don't even want to get into the people that engage in slut-shaming. We are a culture that too often allows rape to happen or allows victims to suffer, helpless and hopeless.

However, I also understand the criticisms of Rape Culture, and accept them. One of the key criticisms [one brought to light by RAINN] is that, since the term "Rape Culture" implies that a certain culture can cause Rape to happen, then it takes the onus of guilt off the criminal and instead turns it on society - blaming society when the truth is that we should be blaming the rapist, who made their choice to do wrong.
This criticism is pretty much right on the money; but, I none the less feel that it is short-sighted. I am honestly of the belief that serial killers are raised, not born - that is, I believe that a lot of violent criminals are caused by nurture, not nature - it's not true of everyone, but as I mentioned way . . . back in my "Trigger Warning" blog post [that's not just a clever title, that post includes the following trigger warnings: Spree-killers; School shootings]; I believe that there are certain "recipes" for creating violent criminals. And in the case of Rapists, there are some factors, identified by the World Health Organization which can lead to sexual violence: male sexual entitlement; "family honour"/purity myths; anger; disempowerment & even being the victim of sexual abuse.

But does this mean that rapists are innocent? They are merely victims of society - or to quote Thomas More:
  “For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves [rapists] and then punish them.”
― Utopia by Thomas More
Well, no. Because, as I said, although short-sighted RAINN does have a point. I believe that there is a point of choice. Just as there do exist pre-sexual paedophiles, that are attracted to children, but do not touch them, because they realize the damage it would cause [or, just don't want to get caught]; rapists are still making a choice, at the end of the day. And because Free Will exists, even if we are encouraging the development of monsters and violent, sexual criminals; they are still the one at fault. It just requires a bit of open-mindedness to understand that you're allowed to blame more than one person, sometimes more than one person is at fault.

But, I believe we should feel somewhat complicit in these crimes. This should not be a case of deferred blame, but instead shared blame. We're not Criminals, but we are Complicit in these crimes, by allowing them to exist. Rape Culture, like Bacteria Cell Cultures in petri dishes, will fester and grow if we allow them to, and it's not just rape that we allow in this culture. . .
See, one of my favourite criticisms of Rape Culture is one suggested by Gloria Jean "bell hooks" Watkins, although the woman herself seems a bit over-the-top, I don't have a counterargument for her criticism, because I agree with it.

The criticism is that "Rape Culture" is too narrow a concept. Because although she believes that Rape Culture exists, she also believes our culture encourages all manner of sexual violence; as well as racial violence; criminal violence & religious violence and prejudice.
As I said, she's a bit over the top, but I see what she's saying. But I don't have time to cover racial violence in this post as well, perhaps that can be another post.
But, this is why I prefer calling this a Complicit Culture, instead of a Rape Culture. Because it's talking about a culture which is complicit in the consequences of that culture. And most importantly, the thing I wanted to address, is victim blaming.
We too often think that victims are complicit in their own suffering.

In the examples of rape, as I said, so many people slut-shame, and they blame women for having sex forced upon them. It's bad enough that they've started making PSAs to combat these ridiculous mindsets. Although I'm upset that we've gotten to this point, I still applaud the Scotland Rape Crisis Centre for making this informative and darkly ironic public service announcement.
I don't even understand how people can justify these thoughts, first of all, by blaming a victim for being raped, you are yourself victimizing them, which makes you a disgusting human being to begin with. But more importantly, isn't this the rapist's fault? I covered this above, even if they've grown up with a terrible understanding of women's rights, consensual sex & empathy, it's the rapist that chooses to attack people.
These people just don't seem to understand that the World sucks. This isn't a just world where the only people that get hurt are those that deserve it; sometimes innocent people get hurt. And it's not like rapists are a fact of life that we need to just accept. If we were talking about, say, a lion, then I would understand. Because we can't stop lions from being lions, so if you know there are lions around and choose not to protect yourself, then you're kind of dumb. But rapists aren't lions, they're people - horrible though they may be - that choose to commit these heinous crimes.
If you want to stop people from being victims, I don't believe the best course is to stop victims from being victimized; I believe we should stop rapists from raping people. One of these ways is to catch these predators, but a better way is to stop them from prospering in the first place.

But how can we do it? So many people have been fighting against sexism, for feminism & equality - so many people have been fighting for justice for so long. How can we stop this Complicit Culture?

Well, I suggest that we teach young boys not to be sexist, teach them how to treat women kindly. While we're at it, teach the girls as well, despite the precedence, men do get raped, there's no reason to ignore their plight - or the plight of those sexually assaulted because of their sexuality or gender identity. We should teach everyone about basic social niceties of romantic and sexual interaction. In fact, I even have an idea about that . . .
Why is it that when we give people "Sexual Education" we only teach people how to put on a condom, we teach them about genitals, sexual development, pregnancy & childbirth? We teach kids how to put their genitals together, but why don't we teach them about respect, relationships, equality, intimacy or courting?
Why can't we teach kids "No means No"? Why can't we tell boys and girls about emotional and physical abuse? Why not teach people respect for others and themselves? Teach kids about patience, and the proper way to court a partner and discover consensual intimacy?
Why is it that something so important to our lives as sexual development and relationships, are ignored? Is this really such an outlandish idea, turning Sexual Education into something more than the mechanics of adolescence, hormones and coitus?

I don't know . . . this isn't necessarily the solution, and hell, maybe there isn't a magic bullet that can solve this mess. I don't have all the ideas, as I said, I'm a narrator, not a dictator. But I can say that we need to address these issues; because, the only way to annihilate the views, attitudes & actions that make up this Complicit Culture is by finding them and replacing them with a the mindset of a much more accepting culture.
I suggest dealing with the youth, because they are the individuals that will comprise this culture in the future. But for now, we should continue to deal with these issues in small measures.

Celebrate equality; decry intolerance, victim blaming and slut-shaming; punish rapists and violent criminals; expose sexism for what it is & encourage people to live the way that we want our society to be.
Even if you don't believe that we live in a Rape Culture and think that I'm wrong about my theories on a Complicit Culture, these are things we should all be doing anyway, so there's no harm in critics doing as I suggest.

Until next time, I'm the Absurd Word Nerd; blaming the blamers & shaming the shamers - because there's no excuse for inequality.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Black Dog Days

I have a whole bunch of stuff that I could talk about today, and I would be all over that, but I'm not feeling very well today, and I'm not in the mood for doing research or planning or trying to find fancy words to express myself. Today's post is going to just be me rambling. Sometimes, it helps, just to talk about that stuff for a while. I'm feeling a little unhappy, today.
It's a whole bunch of things that have gotten me down. My Beloved's been stressing out lately; we're experiencing a cold-snap and I've been stuck inside, because it's too cold; I got a scratch on the lens of my brand new pair of glasses & I recently realized that I will have to postpone my trip to America for an indefinite amount of time . . .
So, I'm not a happy chappy today. And this feeling I have at the moment, it's still not so bad. I'm enjoying some of the fun things, I have fun talking to my girlfriend, I am really proud of what I've done with Duke Forever's latest chapter (you should seriously check it out if you haven't already) and I recently saw Disney's Frozen, (it took a while to come out on DVD in Australia) it's an awesome movie that you need to check out now if you haven't already. But after all that, when I'm left here on my own, sitting in front of a screen . . . I don't want to do anything. And the worst part is, I recognize this feeling. It's depression. Luckily, it's not chronic - I'm just having a bad week - but I'm going to talk about it. Because at the moment, it's the only thing on my mind; and, more importantly, I think it's something worth addressing.
The Word of the Day is: 'BLACK DOG'

Black Dog /'blak dog/ n. Informal Melancholy; despondency; the blues: The black dog is over him.

If you's not sure what I'm talking about, there was a video made by the Black Dog Institute, called "I had a Black Dog, his name is Depression" It explains the way that depression can affect the way you think and feel, and I'm sad to say that some of the things they describe in this video, sound very familiar. I don't feel like doing anything, I'm not having as much fun here, writing, I'm not even taking as much joy out of watching the (somewhat minor spoiler) musical number "Let it Go" for the 20th time as I once would have.

But see, I've already gone through this before. The whole depression thing. I got medication, I told my friends, I got over it. I'm actually better now. But as they say at the end of that video, the black dog never really goes away, and sometimes you can have "black dog days". This isn't a relapse, because I've still got my head, I still feel pretty good, but I'm just feeling despondent because I haven't got a job; I'm cold and tired & I'm upset that I won't be able to go see a movie with my girlfriend, like we'd both been planning.
All I'm going through at the moment are just a few down days, and I guess that's what I want people to see. At the moment, I'm sad - there have even been a few tears - but I know that I'm going to be happy again and I have hope. Why? Firstly, because I've been through worse and gotten over it. But more importantly, because I want to be happy again, I know I have things that help me smile, and I have friends, family and as always my Beloved to help me get over this slump.
There are ways to manage depression, and an important way is talking about it. Just writing this post is helpful. Putting my thoughts to paper, being honest with myself and being honest with you too is making me feel comfortable with how I feel. Because you're not supposed to be ashamed about being depressed. You are allowed to feel depressed.

It's something I've never quite understood this attitude towards chronic depression, that people think you need to hide it away as though admitting it is a horrible thing. But I see it as nothing better or worse than a broken leg. If you broke your leg, you'd go to the doctor, you wouldn't pretend that it's fine and then try to walk on it, limping - because you'd only make it worse. It's the same thing with depression, it's just a wound that needs healing. And, just like a broken leg, if you don't seek help, it's very unlikely that it will heal on its own. It will probably just get worse.
But if you're feeling down, you should ask for help; because there's no depression that cannot be healed, and there's no black dog that cannot be tamed.

Anyway, that's all I'm in the mood to write right now, but I'm feeling better already, I'm a couple of steps closer to getting my black dog back on the leash. Right now, I might go cook dinner, and wander around a bit, and tomorrow I might go for a walk (wrapped up in jacket, trousers and warm socks, to keep the cold out) and move on from this. Because life's too awesome to spend it being depressed . . .

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and until next time, I may be upset, but later I won't be. And that's the most important thing to remember: "Now is not forever", and just because your sad today doesn't mean you'll be sad tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. I look forward to that happier tomorrow.

Friday, 2 May 2014

The Blue Silence

<< < Chapter Seven > >>
With a mechanical grinding sound, the Duke's timeship vworped into existence, in the middle of a concrete room, with blue-tinged light peeking through the windows. The timeship looked like a silver, rectangular box, with a simple, steel frame braced around it, sitting on a two-inch thick, metal base with spindle wheels connected to the doors. After a few moments, there was a little ding, and the Lift doors opened. Anise stepped out, and squealed as she took a step onto a floor that was lower than she had expected. Her bare feet slapped against the cold concrete.
  "There's a step!" she called back. The Duke and Edison followed her, each taking care where they put their feet.
  "Are you alright?" asked the Duke.
  "Yeah, but the floor's a bit cold," she said, wiggling her toes. "Where are we?"
Edison wandered around the ship, admiring its new facade, then looked around the room.
  "We're at the construction site, on Bishopsgate," said Edison. He grabbed his radio. "Control? This is Edison. Come in, control."
  "Whatever do you think you're doing?" asked the Duke, raising an eyebrow.
  "Radioing in," said Edison, he clicked the radio on again, "This is Edison, please respond."
  "Then desist," said the Duke, "I don't want people coming here to discover my timeship."
  "Duke, technically I'm still on duty,” said Edison, adjusting his cap to make his point. “If you don't want to arouse suspicion, then you should worry less about your camouflaged spaceship and more about the policeman that vanished while on duty. Otherwise, we might start up a panic."
The Duke held up one open palm, conceding and Edison continued.
  “Control, this is Inspector Chester Franklin Edison, do you read?”
  “This is where it all started,” said Anise, looking around. nostalgic. “So much has happened.”
  “Indeed . . .” said the Duke, looking out the window. He noticed that windows had been installed, marked with crosses, to make them easier to see. “although we've arrived later than . . . Edison, Stop!”
  “What is it?” Edison asked, freezing still.
  “We're back on Earth, but not at the time from when we originally left,” said the Duke. He held up a shaking finger in a 'give me a moment' gesture, then headed outside. Anise and Edison headed out to follow him. The Duke turned to face them as he walked, and slowly looked up. “Oh dear . . . this is much later than I anticipated.”
Edison followed the Duke's gaze and found himself staring up at a skyscraper that was almost completed.
  “Oh . . .” said Edison, “Time really has changed.”
  “We're in the future, relative to your timeline,” said the Duke. Anise carefully hobbled her way with bare feet over the dirt and stone to join them.
  “What are we all lookin' at?” asked Anise.
  “We're in the future,” said Edison.
  “Oh . . .” said Anise. “Is that why everythin's blue?”
  “What do you mean?” asked Edison. But as he looked around, it dawned on him. The sky was blue and the plastic fencing was blue, he'd taken that for granted. But the dirt, once grey and gritty, was tinged blue. The concrete was a soft blue. The dark clouds in the sky were tinged dark blue and even Anise's olive skin was tinged blue. It was as though he were seeing the world through a thin sheet of pale, blue cellophane.
The Duke looked at his hands, then inhaled deeply. He licked a finger and held it to the sky, testing the wind. Finally, he reached into his pocket, and took out his laser spanner. He held up the little tuning-fork shaped device with two fingers, and for the first time the other two could see up close just how complicated the little metal handle was, with dials, buttons and adjustable gizmos.
The Duke dropped it. The laser spanner fell half a foot, then rapidly decelerated until it stopped moving half a metre from his hand.
  “Oh my God . . .” said Anise, kneeling down to see the spanner, floating in mid-air. “How's it doin' that?”
  “It's not doing anything,” said the Duke, grabbing the spanner out of the air. “the flow of time has been disrupted. Time has slowed to a near stop.”
  “How is that possible?” asked Edison. “I mean, we're moving.”
  “That's the timeship's doing,” said the Duke. “In the same way that it affected your psychic field, by travelling through the vortex, you're imbued with Temporal Grace.”
  “So . . . what's the 'blue'?” asked Anise, “An energy . . . cloud, light thingy?”
  “No, I figure that's merely blueshift,” said the Duke. “We're moving closer to the relative speed of light, and as a result, the wavelength of the light we see has decreased.”
  “So, what could make time stop like that?” asked Anise.
  “I have no idea,” said the Duke. “We'd best investigate . . .”
The Duke lead the way out of the construction site, through the gate, and they stepped out onto the road. As they did, Anise and Edison looked on in wonder. There were cars in the street, frozen still, people walking along the sidewalk were frozen in mid-step crossing the street and there was a cluster of pigeons, caught in the air as they took to the air from the sidewalk. It was like they were walking through a washed out photograph, tinted blue.
  “This is surreal,” said Anise, following the Duke as he walked down the middle of the road.
  “No, wait, hold on,” said Edison, “This can't be right. This kind of thing can't happen!”
  “What do you mean?” asked the Duke, turning to face him.
  “I mean . . . what about him?” asked Edison, walking up to a businessman, who was frozen mid-step. “Doesn't he realize something's up? Or them?” He said, pointing at the motorists. “Or any of these people?”
  “Their minds are moving as slow as their feet, at the moment,” said the Duke. “For them, this will be over before they can blink.”
  "But that's not the point," said Edison, he joined the other two in the middle of the road, and they walked together down the blue-tinged street. "This is Earth. You, I can understand; The metal rats, sure and even the Slyph. That makes sense, it's freaky and alien, but it's all in one place at one time, it makes sense that it could be ignored or forgotten. How can something like this be possible in London, I live here, I've never seen anything like this before."
  "Anything like wha'?" asked Anise, stepping forward to talk past the Duke, who was standing between them
  "You know. Sciencey, alien . . . 'Ooh'," said Edison, wiggling his fingers beside his face.
  “What about the Leadworth Crop Circle? ” asked Anise. “Or the attack on the Shard?”
  “The what?" asked Edison, frowning. "No, those aren't the same as this, that was all just a hoax.”
  “A hoax?! Then what about Canary Wharf? Or all the weird stuff that happened on Christmas?”
  “Which Christmas?”
  “Every Christmas!” said Anise, exasperated.
  “Could you not,” said the Duke, stopping and raising both of his hands. "Edison, you know better than I what is or is not common knowledge on this world, but believe me when I tell you that the there is more extraterrestrial activity on this planet than I alone can account for. It's all been analyzed in the Lift's scanner: Alien technology, space junk and life signals; space-time rifts, temporal cracks and paradox ripples; psychical anomalies, existential beacons, fixed moments in time and more . . . you can believe you're all alone on this world, if you want, but you'll only be fooling yourself!”
  “I believe it, Duke,” said the Inspector, walking over to stand beside him. “I believe what I can see with my own eyes. I just don't understand why I've never seen it before.”
  “You've never seen your own brain, yet you seem confident it's there," said the Duke, then he spun around. "And Anise? Don't yell across me . . ."
The Duke marched off and behind his back Anise stuck her tongue out before the pair moved to catch up with him.
As they head further down the road, the Duke turns to head into a small park, nestled between two buildings. A sign at the boundary named the park St. Butolph's, it was small, just a path cutting through a blue-green lawn, with a few trees and a garden by the fence. In the middle of the park, two schoolboys had been kicking a soccer ball between them, but were now frozen, One stood with the ball floating on the side of his foot, as he'd been frozen mid-kick. The Duke quickly scanned the boy with his spanner, shook his head, then reached down and grabbed the ball with one hand. For a split second, the ball slid sideways, so the Duke grabbed it with both hands and stood up.
  “What are you doin'?” asked Anise, walking over.
  “Testing. Matter seems to retain its kinetic energy within this anomaly. When we touch something, we imbue that object with our temporal grace, allowing it to move.” The Duke let go of the ball and it fell for about a foot, then slowed to a stop. “But as soon as it leaves our time-field, it reverts to the relative flow of time.”
The Duke tapped the top of the ball with his finger, it started to fall, then stopped around his knees. He tapped it again, and it fell to the ground. Stepping to the side, he pulled his leg back and swung a heavy kick at the ball. it shot through the air for a few metres, but quickly decelerated, hovering high off the ground.
  “Wow . . .” muttered Anise.
  “But what does that mean?” asked Edison.
  “It means that we shouldn't touch anyone,” said the Duke, walking back over to his companions, careful to step around around the ball he'd just kicked. “Beyond that, I have no idea. This doesn't make sense. These people are unharmed, they're unaware of this anomaly, they're not being affected in any way. They're just . . . paused.”
  “But why?” asked Anise. “What caused it?”
  “I don't know. The good news is, it doesn't seem hostile. If an alien presence wished to invade, or kill everyone or abduct them, they would have done so by now, with zero resistance their presence would be obvious to us by now. So I am certain that whatever did cause this is not dangerous to us.”
  “But what's the bad news?” asked Edison, cynically.
  “The bad news is, if this isn't hostile . . . then I have no idea why this is happening. We'd best head back to the ship,” said the Duke. He pushed past his companions, heading back towards the construction site.
  “What? No, Duke, wait!” Anise called out. “You're just gonna leave 'em?”
The Duke stopped and turned back.
  “Of course not, my dear. I won't turn my back on your Earth, not again. But this problem is global. Your planet isn't moving, neither is your natural satellite, or star,” said the Duke, pointing up at the blue sun in the sky. “We can't walk the surface of your world and hope to run into the solution. Our best hope is returning to the ship and scanning the entire planet for rogue signals, identifying temporal anomalies, searching for alien technology and experimenting with the timestream to get it moving again. Sometimes, Anise, the best solution to a problem is not to go running into them headlong with a big gun.”

The trio returned to the Duke's ship.
  “Duke, have you considered maybe that we're the problem?” asked Edison, as they entered the near-completed first floor of the skyscraper. “I mean, we're the only ones affected. Maybe the world is fine, and we need to speed up?”
  “I've considered that, but it seems unlikely. If we were sped up, it's more likely that we'd be experiencing redshift,” said the Duke. “Of course, there is a distinct possibility that the Lift itself is causing the problem, which is thankful, since the timeship would never put us in danger.”
The Duke used the scanner to open the door of the lift with a ding, and the first thing he sees is the barrel of a familiar gun, pointed directly at his face. It was a woman in a form-fitting bodysuit and a sleek kind of motorcycle helmet, and the gun in her hand was humming, covered in blue lights.
  “Hello, Duke,” said a woman's voice, which was modulated to sound metallic and echoey, as though she was speaking into a tin can. “So good to see you again.”
  “You?” said the Duke. “You're the traveller that came to my planet. You stole the Orb.”
  “Ancient history,” said the Traveller. She pointed her gun past him, at Anise. “Now, you two, back off. If you fight back, Duke, I'll shoot them.”
  “Woah, take it easy,” said Edison. He held out one open palm and stepped forward, moving his other hand to his gun holster.
  “I said stand back!” screamed the woman, her modulator straining with the volume. She moved to point the gun at Edison, and the Duke struck. He grabbed her wrist, but she kneed him in the stomach, but Edison rushed forward. In one unnaturally fast move, the woman smacked the Duke in the head with her gun, pistol-whipped Edison in the face, cracking his nose. While he was reeling, she swiped his speedcuffs then turned to the Duke. He swung a punch, but she caught it in the cuffs, headbutted him with her helmet, then latched his other hand so they were cuffed in front of him. Spinning the Duke around, she held him as a human shield and pointed the gun at Edison slowly backing towards the Lift.
  “Are we done playing, now?” asked the traveller, sounding annoyed. Edison wiped at his nose, he yelped in pain, then moved his hand towards his gun again. Immediately, the woman aimed the gun at Anise, and pulled the trigger. The Duke screamed, but the shot pierced the air, a line of blue fire which sped towards Anise, then quickly decelerated, stopping a few inches from her neck. Edison looked horrified.
  “You won't get away with this,” he said, blood running down his chin.
  “No, Inspector. Please, stay back,” said the Duke, sounding scared. “I don't want either of you to get hurt.”
  “There's a good boy,” said the traveller. She held the Duke tighter so she could reach her other wrist with her gun hand. She unclipped the latch of a black, leather strap around her wrist, “Now . . . stay.”
She pressed a few buttons on the wrist strap, then she and the Duke disappeared in a fizzle of white electricity, teleporting away.
  “W-W-What the hell just happened?” asked Anise, slowly backing away from the blue energy that was hovering close to her neck.
  “I dunno,” said Edison, sniffing, spitting blood and wincing, “but I fucking hate time travel . . .”

The Duke and his captor appeared in a huge, circular room. In the middle of the room was a large, spiralling staircase, held up with huge, stone pillars. The staircase was surrounded by a landing of red carpet which looked purple, upon which the Duke and the Traveller appeared.The walls around the landing were white - but appeared pale blue - with dark-brown wainscotting and four wooden doors spaced evenly apart, with a small square alcove down the far side.
  “Where are we?” asked the Duke.
  “We're exactly where you need to be,” said the Traveller. She began walking along the landing, pulling the Duke behind her by the cuffs.
  “Must you drag me?” growled the Duke, yanking his wrists back. The woman spun to face him with the visor of her helmet, a window of emotionless, black glass.
  “Do you want me to hit you again?” she asked, raising her gun above her head, threateningly.
  “I don't mean to resist, but you could allow me some dignity. I can't run away, I'm handcuffed and I don't know where I am,” said the Duke, matter-of-factly. “There's no need to drag me, walk and I'll follow.”
  “Whatever,” said the Traveller, holstering the gun in her belt. “but if you try to run, I'll bind your ankles and drag you by your feet. Do you understand?”
  “Perfectly,” said the Duke.
The Traveller walked around to a far door, checking behind her to make sure the Duke was following; he was true to his word and kept two steps behind. They entered a corridor, which lead a few metres then angled right, to another corridor, which lead to a large metal door. To the right, there was another corridor, and along the left side, there were three spaces cut into the wall where  where there was a wide window, but the curtains were all closed.
  “What is this place?” asked the Duke
  “I can't tell you that,”
  “Why not?”
  “Because you're not supposed to know yet,” said the Traveller, she turned down the right corridor, then lead the way to a huge doorway with a metal frame that was left wide open. She stood by it and gestured for the Duke to head inside. “Go on.”
The Duke raised an eyebrow, but nonetheless entered the doorway, and saw himself in a large room, with four other people in it, that looked up to see him as he entered the room, they all seemed to be wearing lab coats. The edges of the room were crammed with desks that were covered with computers, monitors, fibre-optic cables with two standing servers. On the far side of the room was a pair of security doors, made of thick glass, and there were some filing cabinets in the near corners. However, in the middle of the room, there was a large meeting table surrounded with study chairs, and in the centre of it was a glass box, which immediately drew the Duke's attention as it was the only device in the room which was moving. Within the box was a complicated series of brass gears, a torsion pendulum, springs, a wooden frame and it was all set around a large clock, with alien numbers around it.
  “So, you're the ones that stopped time,” said the Duke, looking at the glass clock.
  “Yes,” replied the Traveller, as she entered the room behind him.
  “Why don't you restore it again?” asked the Duke. “You need only remove the key.”
  “We can't. Not yet,” said one of the scientists, stepping forward protectively, making sure the Duke wasn't going to touch the device.
  “Yet . . .?” asked the Duke. “What are you waiting for? What could you be waiting for? Time is slowed considerably, you'll be waiting years for a day to pass.”
  “They're not waiting, they're working,” said the Traveller. “If you turn off that device, we'll all be dead in less than twenty seconds.”
The Duke frowned, then looked around the room at the others. They looked deadly serious.
  “How?” asked the Duke.
  “Our planet has been attacked,” said the Traveller. “An alien force has used one of our own technologies against us. If we can't fix it, it will explode.”
  “One of 'your' technologies?” said the Duke “Or something else you've stolen?”
  “It doesn't matter,” said the Traveller, “what matters is, we require your knowledge to stop it.”
  “And why would I help you?” asked the Duke, holding up his bound hands. “You've not been very welcoming, thus far.”
  “Because you have expertise in alien technology that can help us. And because if you don't; every living thing on this planet will die,” said the Traveller. “When the device explodes, it will do so with the force of thirty-gigatons. A blast radius bigger than Australia, that would devastate the ecosystem of this world.”
The Duke sneered; they weren't asking him to help, they were telling. And with the fate of the Earth at stake, he couldn't refuse.
  “Where do I start?” asked the Duke.
  “How much do you know about naquadria?”

Edison was screaming as he clenched his teeth, a pencil shoved up one nostril, to keep his airways open, and Anise pulling his nose straight.
  “Almost done, sweetie, almost,” she said, pulling it sideways before. “There. It's all over, Chess. I think it's done.”
  “Argh! Thank god for that,” he said, through clenched teeth. He pulled the pencil out and wiped some of the blood out from under his nose with his hand, sniffed, then turned to her. “How does it look?”
Anise frowned as she looked at Edison's nose, still bleeding and puffy from the swelling.
  “It looks straight,” she said, nodding but looking a little sick from the experience.
  “Well, at least something is . . .” muttered Edison, wiping his nose again, but the bleeding was less now than before, “Alright . . . now, how do we get the Duke back?”
  “I dunno,” said Anise, distressed. “I don't even know where he went.”
  “Can the Lift find him?” asked Edison, walking towards the lift doors, which were still hanging open.
  “The Lift . . . ?” said Anise, following behind. “Chess, Duke can barely fly that thing, do you really want to go messin' with it?”
  “We don't have to fly it, we'll just see if it can find him,” said Edison. He stepped inside the lift lobby and stood in front of the rear doors. Anise stood outside and stared at him as he stood there.
  “What are you doing?”
  “Open,” Edison said to the door. He felt around at the doorframe, then turned around, “How does he open this thing?”
  “There's a hidden panel just there,” Anise replied, pointing. Edison felt around it with his hands; there was no handle, so he tried to get his fingernails into the little gap. Finally, he poked it with a finger and it popped open. He looked inside, and was staring at an odd, glass screen. There were several buttons, some animated, circular symbols and a keyhole.”
  “Where's the key?” asked Edison.
  “Around Duke's neck,” said Anise, sadly.
  “No, no, this can't be right.” said Edison. He poked at some of the buttons, but they all made an odd buzzing sound. “It's not working.”
  “You need the key,” said Anise, stepping inside to join him in the Lift.
  “No, I don't need the key,” said Edison, turning around. “When I first saw this thing, I walked in here, and went right inside the ship.”
  “How?” asked Anise. Edison was silent for a moment.
  “ . . . I don't know. But I did it before.”
  “Maybe he just left the door unlocked,” said Anise.
  “Well then what are we supposed to do? The Duke's gone, we can't just wait for him to come back. We could be in danger here, what can we do?”
Anise looked around the lobby, and glancing at the panel, she saw the Lift's emergency button, on the panel, an icon of a little, red bell.
  “I have an idea,” said Anise. “The Duke said that I should push this button if something goes wrong.”
  “What does it do?” asked Edison.
  “I don't know. But this is an emergency, isn't it? He just said, push it, and the Lift would do the rest.”
  “Okay. Let's push it,” said Edison. Anise nodded, held out a finger, hesitated for a moment, then pressed the red button. Immediately, the front doors slid shut, and the ship began to rumble. From within, they could hear the wheezing, groaning and grinding of the engine as it began to move.
  “Hold on!” Edison yelled, grabbing ahold of Anise. The two of them bounced off the walls as the ship spun and swayed before the engine ceased and they landed with a muffled thud.
  “The Lift changed,” said Anise. She couldn't see much through the glass sides, but the glass door leading out looked out upon a grand foyer, which was tinted blue.
  “Time's still stopped here as well,” said Edison as he pressed the open door button it made a ding noise, and the doors slid out of the way and they walked into a grand hallway. The room was five storeys high, with huge, square, sandstone columns reaching down from the ceiling to the floor with a glass balcony on each of the four levels above, overlooking the hallway. At the floor, the columns stepped into a narrower square column decorated with geometric patterns which sat atop a square-stepped base. The columns bordered the sides of room, each spaced about five metres apart down a hall which looked to be a kilometre long, and every eight columns along, the hallways was divided with a huge wall of glass that reached up three storeys, each a few centimetres thick with a rectangular doorway cut into the base. The entire place was lit by the sunlight through the tall, thin window on the far wall, but all of it tinted blue.
  “I don't think we're in Kansas anymore,” said Anise.
  “No,” said Edison as he looked up at the wall behind them. Anise turned up to see. Hanging from the ceiling in front of it was an enormous blue tapestry, with a familiar, silver icon which looked like some kind of squid or jellyfish. “We're on Rathea . . .”

  “So they sent an explosive device through your system?” asked the Duke,
  “Yes,” said the Traveller, losing her patience, leaning her helmet in her hand as she sat at the meeting desk.
  “But that's not what's going to explode?”
  “No, that already has exploded. It was a tiny, naquadria-enhanced incendiary device, practically harmless.”
  “I don't understand,” said the Duke, struggling to gesticulate with his hands in the cuffs. “How could that affect the naquadah?”
  “Naquadria is radioactive. It emitted naquadric particles which slowly transformed our portal into naquadria.”
  “Because the Wormhole Generator is made of naquadah I understand that,” said the Duke. “I've seen these devices before, I just don't understand how it can be transformed at the molecular level into naquadria.”
  “Because naquadria is naquadah,” said the Traveller, exasperated. “Just radioactive. A related element.”
  “Ah . . . I see,” said the Duke. “So, your Wormhole Generator is now explosive. And when they establish a connection, the resulting influx of energy from the artificial wormhole will . . .”
  “Yes, explode in a thirty-gigaton blast, enough to wipe us off the map.”
  “Enough to wipe the map off the map,” said the Duke. “Can I see the device for myself?” asked the Duke.
  “Of course,” said the Traveller, gesturing towards the glass security doors. Through it, they could just make out the large ring, in the darkness. It was night in this part of the world.
  “I meant up close. I can't do anything from this distance.”
  “And you won't. You need a radiation suit to head out there, it's scattered with naquadric radiation. And those cuffs aren't coming off, even if I wanted them to, so you're not getting a suit.”
  “You seem to be forgetting that I'm an alien,” said the Duke. “I can't be harmed by most forms of radiation.”
The Traveller turned around to one of the scientists behind her.
  “I didn't know that,” she said.
  “It's not in the file,” said the scientist with a shrug. The woman, turned back to the Duke.
  “If you're sure,” she said. She stood and walked towards the metal door at the back of the room.
  “Where are you going?” asked the Duke, walking towards the glass doors.
  “That's an electronic door,” said the Traveller, “the circuits are frozen, you can't use it.”
  “It seems there's a lot of things that aren't in your file,” said the Duke. He reached into his trouser pocket, having to double over to reach inside with his hands and stood up holding his laser spanner, pointed at the top of the door. He pressed a button and a green spark of electricity shot out of the spanner and began to decelerate, but it hit the doorframe before it could stop entirely. Then the Duke pressed a finger to the glass door itself, it was affected by his time-field and the right half of the two sliding doors slid back, and he stepped out into the night.
He flinched slightly as he walked into the invisible particles, but he gritted his teeth and kept walking. Outside was just a wide deck, fenced in with some metal walls, just taller than the Duke, and a few feet away from the security doors, in the middle of the space, was a swimming pool, it had been emptied, and down the far end, framed by two metal ladders was a huge ring, 6.7 metres across and standing upright. It was set within some kind of purpose-built stand, comprised of a ramp with lights. The ring itself was a foot thick, and intricately detailed, but what stood out were several triangles, shining bright light - tinted blue - which were evenly spaced around the outside of the ring, set within a segment which was decorated with more lights in the shape of a chevron. As the Duke walked closer, he could see that between each chevron was four arched panels, within each panel was a symbol, each a comprised of dashes, dots, circles or squiggles in a linear series.
The pool it was sitting in had a series of steps, designed for slowly walking deeper into the pool water, the Duke walked down it, then up the ramp, and he stood atop it, marvelling at the stargate.
  “This design must be unique to your galaxy!” called out the Duke, as he read the different symbols. “I've never seen a wormhole generator like this before. It's primitive!”
After a few more moments, he turned his back on the stargate and headed back into the observation room with the other scientists.
  “Did you learn anything?”
  “Yes, yes, I did,” said the Duke, grunting and tensing his muscles awkwardly as he spoke. “They don't seem to use stellar bodies to map their co-ordinates . . . I believe it's a series of equations to calculate distance along a single, linear dimension.”
  “What are you doing?” asked the Traveller, stepping back as the Duke continued to groan and stretch.
  “Just . . . have to . . . there!” suddenly, every part of the Duke's skin began glowing with magnificent, blue-tinted light as he gasped with relief. Finally the light subsided, and the Duke stood there, breathing heavily. But he stopped breathing when he saw the Traveller, who had pulled her gun and was pointing it at his head. He raised his cuffed hands, defensively.
  “What the hell was that?!” demanded the Traveller, the Duke could just hear the unease in her voice through the modulator.
  “Take it easy,” said the Duke. “I was just converting the radiation from my body into light. It's perfectly harmless.”
The Traveller didn't lower her gun, however, she just shook her head.
  “You will not go doing anything unexpected like that again, unless you tell us exactly what you're doing. Do you understand me?” she asked.
  “I think I'm beginning to,” said the Duke. The Traveller lowered her gun, but not the tension in the room.
  “Get to work,” she ordered.

Anise was sitting on the base of a square pillar, as Edison fiddled with his radio, standing by the Lift.
  “This is Detective Inspector Chester Franklin Edison, of the London Metropolitan Police,” he said into the radio, “of the United Kingdom, Earth. Can anyone read me? I repeat, this is Detective Inspector Edison, of the London Metropolitan Police, of Earth, please respond.”
He stood still for a moment, but there was no response. He looked over at Anise, but she had been quiet for almost an hour.
  “Anise, what are you doing?”
  “Nothing,” she said, still staring into space. “Waiting.”
  “Waiting for what?”
  “For the Duke.”
  “The Duke's been captured, Anise, we can't wait for him.”
  “He told me to press that button if I was in danger. He knew it would take the Lift here. Why would he do that, if we'd be stuck on an alien planet?”
  “He didn't know that time would be frozen.”
  “Then what can we do?” asked Anise, sounding desperate. “We're stuck on an alien world, no one around to help us. The best chance we have is a time machine which we can't use because the door's locked!”
  “We'll find a way out of this,” said Edison.
  “How?!” screamed Anise, her eyes watery and fearful. The Inspector turned towards the timeship and marched inside. He banged his fist on the rear door.
  “Open, for goodness' sake!” he kicked the door and banged it with his fist again. “We need to get out of here!”
  “Chess, no,” said Anise, heading over. “Don't be like that, please.”
  “You opened before, do it again!” yelled Edison. “We have to save the Duke!”
He raised his fist again, but the door slid open with a quiet hiss. Edison stood there for a moment, utterly speechless.
  “Uh . . . Anise? It worked.”
  “What?” she asked. Edison walked into the console room of the Lift, and Anise followed right behind.
  “No way . . .” she said, heading in to join him. They both stood before the console, bewildered. “All we had to do was bang on the door?”
  “I think it was more than that. I told it to let me inside.”
  “And you said we want to help the Duke,” she said. “Alright, well, now that we're in here, . . . how do we fly this thing?”
At those words, the slightly transparent image of a person flickered into existence in front of them. The didn't recognize the man, he was wearing a flowing, red robe with long, hanging sleeves, as well as what looked like red, waxy plastic which was moulded over the shoulders to make them wider and spread out behind his head like wings in a strange, flared collar. The man was dark-skinned, with short, fuzzy grey hair atop his head,  a salt-and-pepper beard as well as unshaven whiskers speckled his mottled, acne-scarred cheeks.
  “Voice Interface, initiated,” it said. It had a strained, gravelly voice and spoke with a South London accent.
  “Who the hell are you?” asked Anise
  “I am the Holographic Assistant of the Visual Voice Interface,” replied the hologram.
  “Okay . . .” said Anise. She turned to Edison. “What does that mean?”
  “It's not a real person, it's just a projection from the computer,” said Edison, sounding impressed. “Can you tell us how to fly the Lift?”
  “Lifts cannot fly,” replied the hologram.
  “I mean the timeship,” said Edison, “we call it the Lift.”
  “Understood,” said the hologram. “Your alternate designation has been recorded for future reference.”
  “Can you help us to fly this bloody thing?” asked Anise.
  “I can instruct you in the spatial navigation and temporal manipulation of the Type Seventy-Two, Mark One T.T. Capsule. However, the piloting of this particular vessel is not recommended for a flight crew of less than five pilots or for individuals without a minimum of three months experience of simulated vortical travel.”
  “Whatever, can you tell us where the Duke is?”
  “The Duke is not currently aboard this vessel,” replied the hologram. Anise groans.
  “Ugh! I hate computers!” she whined, wandering off to the side of the room and then flopping onto the couch.
  “Look, we know the Duke isn't on board this ship. Can you help us to find him?” asked Edison.
  “This vessel's long-distance scanner is capable of accurately identifying the species, sex and blood group of individuals up to five light years away. Would you like to specify the parameters of your search?”
  “He should be on Earth,” said Edison. “The planet, Earth.”
  “Understood,” said the hologram, “Please wait, for the results of this search . . .”
The hologram stared into space, silently, as the computer fulfilled Edison's request.

The Duke was standing before several pieces of paper, which were hovering in the middle of the air, using the frozen time-stream to hold them in place. He rubbed his wrists, where the cuffs were digging into his skin, then wrote something on one of the pages. He held a yellow pencil by the eraser, so his time-field wouldn't affect the paper as he wrote on it, and scribbled some numbers onto one of the sheets.
  “I think I've got it . . .” said the Duke. The scientists scrambled and stood up at his words.
  “He's got it!” one of the scientists called out the door, to summon the Traveller, who ran into the room..
  “The simplest solution is the easiest one,” said the Duke, quietly. “The connection being sent through to your Wormhole Generator can only be sent through a single point in space, yes? A wormhole such as this cannot diverge into two, the energy would dissipate through subspace. So, all we need to do, is sever the device, here and here,” said the Duke, drawing two lines through a small icon of the stargate on one of the pieces of paper, which effectively cut it in half. “The difficulty would be cutting through the material without affecting it with our relative time-field, but if we kept our distance, and utilized my own laser spanner, we need only use one of your metal-shearing saws to cut through the material. Then merely separate the two pieces a distance greater than the diameter of the initial wormhole's event horizon, and set time flowing again.”
The Duke looked at the others, patiently.
  “No,” said the Traveller. “Keep working.”
  “What?” asked the Duke, walking towards her. “This will solve it, I've checked the physics.”
  “We're not cutting our Portal Ring in half.”
  “What?!” screamed the Duke. “Why not?!”
  “We cannot repair the device if it is cut in half. The device must remain intact.”
  “'Intact'! Are you really more concerned with saving that device than the billions of people on this planet?!”
  “We are not going to sacrifice our wormhole technology!” yelled the Traveller. “Find another way.”
  “Another way?!” shouted the Duke. “There is no way to stop the energy of an incoming wormhole from coming through an intact Wormhole Generator!”
  “If we block the entrance, it stops the wormhole,” she retorted.
  “The wormhole, yes, but not the energy! If we seal the entrance of that ring, the wormhole won't coalesce, but the energy will surge through the naquadria, and it will explode. We can't generate our own wormhole to stop it, because that would require sending just as much energy through the naquadria, and it would explode! And we can't even try to divert the power, because it's being sent through subspace directly into the device, if we try, we will fail and it will explode!”
  “You will find another way.”
  “What do you want me to do? I could take the device far away, to another planet, another place or time where the incoming wormhole won't find it, except that I don't have my ship.”
  “Even if we did, we wouldn't allow you to take the device off of this planet. We're not destroying the device, and we won't allow you to take it off this planet. We can't trust you to bring it back.”
  “I wouldn't bring it back,” said the Duke. “This crisis alone is evidence enough that you don't know how to handle alien technology!”
In response, the Traveller punched the Duke in the jaw, sending him flying through his papers and onto the floor.
  “We don't want your opinion; only your knowledge,” she said, standing over him. “If you don't understand the way this works, this is going to be a very, very long night. You find me a way to stop the Portal Ring from exploding without destroying it, or I will kill you.”
  “You can't kill me,” snarled the Duke through gritted teeth. “You need me.”
  “Then it's a good thing that you regenerate,” said the Traveller, leaning over the Duke; the Duke's face fell. “Oh yes, we know all about that; but, don't worry, I'll make it a death that will haunt your memories for the rest of your long, long life . . .”

Anise and Edison were sitting on the couch, waiting for the computer to find the Duke.
  “You know, we've been through some crazy, terrible, amazing things,” said Edison. “But this whole time, I don't know what you actually do for a living. But I'm curious now. What do you do?”
  “I worked in jewellery store.” said Anise.
  “Okay . . . what's that like?”
  “It's alright. I thought it would be a scary responsibility, 'cause I thought people would try to nick stuff all the time, but it’s pretty rare. I just hate it with couples sometimes, they're buyin' engagement rings, wedding rings an' that, but you can tell they won’t last.”
  “What? The couple?”
  “Yeah, all the time. Like, one time, I had this pair looking for an engagement ring and she was pregnant, they were arguin' the whole time. And he was tellin' her she had to get a diamond ring, he was bossin' her around and she was havin' at him as well. When I was tryin' to show them, she was all 'Nah that looks gay'. Y'know, just a divorce waitin' to happen.”
  “Doesn't sound fun,” said Edison, flatly.
  “Well, nah, it's alright. Like, you get the little girls that just want to see the sparkles, and the sweet couples. And there's this old man that collects glass figurines, and you know the type, he's always got a story. It's just the bad eggs is all, they make it all seem so pointless . . . what about you? What do you do?”
Edison frowned and looked over at her.
  “I'm a police officer,” he said, tugging his high-visibility vest.
  “No . . . I mean, y'know. There's more to you than your job. Like, I go clubbin' with my mates, and dancing, hang out with guys. What about you?”
  “I wish,” said Edison. “I really am married to the job. All work and no play.”
  “What, there's nothin' more to see with Chester Edison? Just a policeman?”
  “Well, my father was a policeman. I guess I'm picking up where Dad left off.”
  “Was? So is he . . .?”
  “Oh, no, he's not dead. He was shot in the leg, and it messed up his kneecap. So he left the force and now he's a private investigator.”
  “Ah, okay,” said Anise. “Well, that's your dad's story, But what about you, then?”
  “What do you want me to say?” said Edison with a shrug.
  “There's more to you than your job, I know it. Do you collect stamps? Do you own a dog? Do you want to start a family some day?”
  “No, of course not,” said Edison, chuckling.
  “What is it then? What aren't you telling me?”
Edison hesitated for a moment, thought about it then said. “I'm gay.”
  “Oh . . .” said Anise, nodding slowly. “So, what does that mean? Do you have a boyfriend?”
  “No, nothing like that,” said Edison. “I meant what I said, all work and no play. I'm a policeman, I can't go to those bars and I don't have time to go on dates.”
  “Why not?” asked Anise.
  “I just can't.” said Edison shaking his head, he stood up and walked away, over to the console. “Hey, Hologram, what's taking so long?”
  “The long-distance scanner is still processing your request,” replied the hologram.
  “Y'know, it's pretty obvious that you're deliberately changing the subject,” said Anise.
  “Why is it taking so long?” asked Edison, ignoring Anise.
  “Earth is currently more than two million light-years away from our location, and our immediate sensors indicate that this universe is currently undergoing a time-dilation anomaly. It will take approximately five minutes to receive information from Earth.”
  “It's been over twenty minutes. How long will this take?”
  “Scanning the entire planet of Earth will take approximately four thousand, eight hundred and forty-nine years.”
  “What?!” screamed Anise. “We don't have that long! Stop the stupid scanner.”
  “Understood. Cancelling the long-distance scan.”
  “This is ridiculous!” yelled Anise. “He's your pilot! Duke owns this ship! Shouldn't you know where your own pilot is?”
  “For security purposes, the keys which grant access to this vessel all contain a quantum beacon, which is constantly monitored by the computer to locate the position of any and all of its access keys. It is recommended that the captain of every T.T. Capsule keeps his access key on their person at all times.”
  “You know where the Lift key is?”
“The key to this vessel is currently located in Sector Eight-Zero-Two-Three of the Third Quadrant, on the Planet Earth; Fourteen degrees, thirty-six minutes and thirty-nine seconds towards the positive pole; One hundred and twenty-seven degrees, fifty minutes and sixteen seconds against terrestrial revolution.”
  “Wait . . . are you telling me that you've known where the Duke is this whole time?!”
  “The Duke is currently outside of immediate sensor range, it cannot be ascertained whether or not the Duke's position is concurrent with the position of this vessel's access key.”
  “I hate computers,” groaned Anise.
  “Can you take us to him?” asked Edison.
  “This vessel is not designed for automated flight. However, I can instruct you in its spatial navigation.” said the hologram
  “Alright then,” said Edison. “What do I have to do?”
  “First, you must approach the controls, and locate the helm and navigation control quadrant of the console,” said the hologram.
  “Alright,” said Edison. “Give me a hand, Anise. This is probably going to take a while . . .”

  “You said it was impossible,” said the Traveller, glancing at the Duke's notes.
  “We're not stopping the incoming wormhole energy, that is impossible,” said the Duke, sounding tired. “But this will disarm the stargate. If the naquadria really does have a half-life of fifteen thousand years, and it really is just a related element to naquadah, then this will solve the problem without destroying the wormhole generator.”
  “Will it destroy the StopWatch?” asked the Traveller, sternly.
  “Not if we're careful,” said the Duke. “But the mathematics is sound and I understand this device, it's Vistorian, I know how to manipulate it.”
  “Alright then,” she said. “Are you ready?” She asked, as she turned to a scientist wearing a yellow hazmat suit, which looked green.
  “Yeah,” he said, coiling some cords and fibre-optic cable around his shoulder, “just make sure we close the door, to protect our equipment.”
  “Of course,” said the Traveller, as she unholstered her gun and pressed a recess on the back which made it humm and glow as it charged with volatile energy. She pointed it at the Duke. “Now, let's get started.”
  The Duke wandered outside as the scientist in the hazmat suit carefully picked up the glass clock from the meeting table and followed the other them out the door. The Duke used his laser spanner and placed a hand to the glass to close the door behind them, and then all three of them headed into the small, emptied pool, in front of the time-frozen stargate.
The Duke began by heading around to the right of the ramp as the scientist stood at the base of the ramp and placed the glass clock in front of it, and the Traveller stood at the edge of the pool, with her pistol in hand. There were two lights on the base of the ramp which the Duke knelt down beside, then removed the cover from one of them using his laser spanner.
  “I need the copper wire,” said the Duke. The scientist unravelled some cord and handed one end to the duke, which had a small and unusual crystalline port on the end. The Duke plugged it into the exposed board.
  “How do you know this is interfacing with the Control Crystal?” asked the scientist, “those are just lights.”
  “It's not a computer interface,” said the Duke, sounding unenthusiastic. “I'm merely connecting the Vistorian time dilation device to the electrical circuit of the wormhole generator. By connecting the two devices, they will share the same time-field.”
The Duke walked to the front of the ramp and knelt down before the glass clock while the scientist picked up the other end of the cable and brought it over to the Duke. The Duke pulled off one side of the case and, using his teeth, he ripped the end off of the cable, and using his spanner, fired a bright red laser at the the exposed wires to weld them onto the power circuit with a small wisp of smoke. As soon as he did, there was a great rumbling sound as the stargate began to spin. The traveller pointed her gun at the Duke.
  “Don't worry, the wormhole generator is now in temporal harmony with us,” said the Duke, ignoring the gun. “The wormhole won't be established for thousands of years, at this rate.”
  “No funny business,” said the Traveller, sternly.
  “Wouldn't dream of it,” said the Duke. Staring at the gun, he said, “Now, I'm going to reverse the polarity of the time dilation device. Instead of affecting all of us, it will only affect itself, and its own relative time-field.”
  “Do it,” she said. The Duke shuffled back a few centimetres and pointed his laser at the device. Suddenly, the blue silence which had surrounded them disappeared with an explosion of sound, as everything began moving. The Duke was glad to see the clear, white tile beneath him, the brown wood, even the bright yellow of the scientists hazmat suit. But in front of them, the stargate was a blur. Now spinning at an incomprehensible speed, it was nothing but a black ring with chevrons spinning so fast, they blended together into a single band of bright, white, neon light, and the machine itself roared like a jet engine as it span. And the Duke felt the force of the radiation as it spilled from the device, two thousand years worth of radiation all expelled in a matter of seconds. After several seconds, the Duke sensed that the stargate was no longer emitting radiation, then, as quick as a blink, the stargate wasn't spinning anymore. The Duke only had one chance. There was a high-pitched whine as the energy of the wormhole began to coalesce and bright, white energy was rapidly collecting inside of the circle. The Duke seized the opportunity and grabbed the glass clock with both hands.
Before either the scientist or the Traveller could react, everything became blue once again. The Duke was now in harmony with the stargate's time-field, and he watched, in wonder, the energy seemed to be sitting still within the wormhole, a plane of pure, white energy contrasting with the scintillating night sky; it was beautiful. Struggling because of his cuffs, he got to his feet, still holding onto the case, and looked at the other two. The Traveller was still pointing the gun at the ground, where he'd been a moment ago, so the Duke yanked at the cable, disconnecting the clock from the stargate. Then he climbed up the steps out of the pool and stood beside the Traveller, staring at her with malice.
  “You should never hit a duke,” he said. Then, swinging the glass clock in his hands as a club, he smacked the Traveller in the stomach. She went flying back and up into the air with the force of the hit and for a second, as the time-field affected her, he heard her grunt from pain in a tinny, modulated whine. But she rapidly slowed, pausing in the middle of an arch that was flipping her head over heels, as the force of the time-sped beating sent her sailing over the iron-plated fence that surrounded the pool area. Then, turning towards the stargate again, the Duke sighed heavily, then casually threw the glass clock towards the energy in the middle of the stargate ring. He rapidly accelerated to normal time, and watched as an unstable vortex burst from out of the stargate with a whoosh. The clock was enveloped by the vortex and disintegrated before the unstable energy was absorbed back into the stargate, and the wormhole stabilized, settling into what looked like a rippling, vertical pool of shimmering blue-silver water, which made a low burbling sound.
The Duke suddenly convulsed as he felt a burning pain through his body, he cried out and fell to his knees; he'd consumed too much radiation. Clenching his teeth, fists and eyes, his skin suddenly shone bright orange. He cried out in pain as his skin felt like pins and needles, his fingernails shot with piercing hot pain, and his ears were burning. He began coughing then taking a deep breath he spat on the ground. The saliva bubbled on the tiles by the pool, and as the light subsided, his skin was steaming and he was breathing heavily.
  “That . . . was a little too much,” sighed the Duke, then he struggled to his feet. After a few seconds, the event horizon shone bright white and the wormhole dissipated. The chevrons went dark, and in place of the burbling sound disappeared with a whoosh to be replaced by the sound of the ocean and, in the distance, a familiar grinding sound. The Duke turned and looked up at the sky, and he cracked a smile. Up high in the night sky the Lift, in its basic, silver elevator form, was spinning wildly as flew towards them. Top over tail, it rolled through the air turning left, then right then twisting rapidly.
  “What kept you?!” yelled the Duke, then he laughed out loud. As the scientist in the hazmat suit finally saw what was happening, he started freaking out and ran to hide around the side of the wall behind them. The Lift was flying closer, wheezing and groaning louder and louder as it swooped down, and the Duke stood out of the way as the bottom of the Lift hit the top of the fence, sending it flipping over. Then it landed heavily on its base and scraped loudly along the ground, before coming to a stop with a thump! against the wall next to the glass security doors, which made it rattle. The Duke ran over, with a grin on his face, and used his spanner to open the door and step into the lobby. He pressed the button on the panel to close the door behind him, when the console room door opened automatically in front of him, to reveal Anise and Edison standing there.
  “That was a bit of a rough landing,” said the Duke. “I hope you didn't scratch it.”
  “Duke!” said Anise, excitedly running over to grab him in a hug. “We came here to rescue you!”
  “Well, your methods were crude, but effective,” said the Duke. Anise felt the Duke's hand pressed up to his chest, and let go to see his hands were still cuffed.
  “Oh, right!” said Edison, reaching into his belt. He retrieved the key and unlatched the cuffs. As soon as he did, the Duke sighed, happily.
  “Inspector, I could kiss you,” said the Duke, and Anise giggled. Then he walked over to the console, he flinched when he saw the hologram standing there. “Oh, right. That explains that. Deactivate Virtual Voice Interface Assistant.”
The hologram nodded and flickered out of existence, then the Duke went to the console and began adjusting the controls. A holographic screen appeared, which showed an image of the area outside, with the stargate front and centre.
  “What's that thing?” asked Anise.
  “It's a wormhole generator,” said the Duke. A number of symbols appeared on one of the panels of the console, and after a moment's consideration, he pressed seven keys in quick succession and the stargate began to spin, then a symbol at the apex lit up and it span the other way..
  “What are you doing?” asked Edison.
  “Something I've always wanted to do . . .” said the Duke, turning back to his friends as another symbol on the stargate lit up. “I'm surprised you can to rescue me. Thank you.”
  “You've done the same for me,” said Edison.
  “For both of us,” said Anise. Then she saw the bruise blossoming on his jaw “Are you alright?”
  “I'll be better once we get out of here,” said the Duke as a fourth symbol was illuminated.
  “What happened here?” asked Edison. “The blue's gone away.”
  “Time is once again flowing in accordance with the natural laws,” said the Duke. “These people stopped time because they meddled with a technology they couldn't understand, but I fixed their mistake, and they won't be able to stop time ever again.”
  “Who are they?” asked Edison
  “I don't know,” said the Duke. “But I will.”
  “What do you mean?” asked Anise.
  “They know me, but I don't know them. And we're in the future . . . I think we'll meet them again, in our time.”
  “So, what are we going to do about it?” asked Edison. As the seventh symbol lit up on the stargate, the unstable vortex burst out with a whoosh, then settled into a stable wormhole.
  “We're leaving,” said the Duke. “There must be hundreds of people within that facility, and none of them like me very much . . .”
The Duke took charge of the console, and the ship took off, groaning and rumbling. Anise and Edison held on and watched the screen as the Duke flew them into the event horizon.
The ship flew through the wormhole and appeared on the other side several seconds later. As it did, the ship landed with a heavy thud that shook the console room.
  “Here we are,” said the Duke.
  “Where is 'here'?” asked Edison.
  “I'm not entirely sure what it’s called, I've never visited this address before.”
  “Duke, wait. Just stop.”
  “Stop? Stop what?”
  “This,” she said, pointing at him. “You were kidnapped, and handcuffed, and by the looks of it, beaten. Can't you stop and slow down for a second?”
  “What do you mean?” asked the Duke. Anise grabbed his wrists, and he flinched as she touched his skin; he looked down at the red sores where the metal had cut into his wrists.
  “Duke, you need to rest for a moment,” said Anise softly massaging the marks with her fingers.
  “Right . . .” said the Duke. “Sorry, you're right. I was a little over-excited when I saw you flying the ship to come for me.”
  “You're always going eighty miles an hour, do you ever stop?” asked Anise.
The Duke didn't answer for a while.
  “You're right. We should stop. Relax and take some weight off, for a while,” the Duke walked over to the couch, Anise holding his hand with Edison close behind, and they all sat down. The Duke sighed heavily.
  “Now, Duke . . . tell me what happened in that place,” said Anise.
The Duke nodded and after taking a deep breath and exhaling heavily, he told them the story . . .