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from Ovro

White dog, blackened south, Millions dead to reason. Burning but not sign from God, Thinking the new treason.

(poem / prophecy I wrote in 2003)


from Curator

I took over as Curator in Feb 2021. I'm the third Curator. I've been on Fedi since 2016, and on .art since 2017. Because we've been around so long, we're pretty big by fedi standards, and until the first Twitter wave in April 2022, we had open registrations but were still fairly quiet (our active users count is MUCH smaller than our total users count).

Because I've been on fedi so long, and because of the company I kept from my personal account, I've been around for the conflict. Some of that conflict – probably the biggest thing – was when a few PoC span up their own instance as a means of setting their own boundaries and moderating against harassment themselves, without having to rely on the server admins of individual instances to take their word on what was or wasn't racism, etc.

They were around until 2020. December 31st, actually. Are0h's last post is still cached on our instance – (you'll have to load that internally through masto's search bar).

They closed because they were harassed off fedi by a huge, disgusting wave of racism, abuse, and harassment against their admin Ro, some of their mods (one of whom who is now a mod on .art), and their users. The harassment was vicious. All the instances that participated in it are blocked from because of the part they played.

Some of them left fedi for good, some of them (like Ro) came back on single-user instances, some of them moved to smaller safe instances. So again, PoC are back to relying on other instance admins to create spaces for them that are safe, where racism (and any form of bigotry) isn't tolerated, where Black folk can exist – just exist! – online without facing constant micro-aggressions in their mentions.

.art had already been working to that goal when I took over, and already had a team of mods committed to taking a very hard stance against bigotry and racism. Since then we've expanded our mod team to include a great deal of diversity and breadth of marginalized voices. We provide a safe space for all of them; for BIPoC, disabled people, neurodiverse people, queer people, nonbinary people, Jewish people – anyone who faces marginalization.

But we're also big. We're by no means the biggest, but because of our domain name, because we're what comes up when you search for 'mastodon art instance', because of the Twitter exoduses that have happened, because we already exist and joining an existing instance is a much lower barrier to entry than creating your own, people join us, and we grow (not indefinitely – we have a cap of 12k active users, as that's when our local timeline becomes too busy to be useful).

This gives people certain expectations of what we are, and what we can provide for them. Recently we've edited our /about page to be clearer about this – to be clearer that we defederate from instances that break our rules, that are inherently unsafe, and that we aren't an open-federation instance and we DO have strict rules.

We also have to acknowledge that we are big, and until there are more options on fedi for places artists can be among their own and still get widely seen, we have to (to some extent) strike a compromise between safety and still being able to provide working artists access to an audience.

This is why we still federate with, but defederate other instances that one would think, at a glance, are safer than Some of the instances we've defederated from have a history of intentional decisions that resulted in marginalised people being harmed and their safety not considered. Their mods and their admins are complicit, perhaps not deliberately, but complicit by enacting their intent in a way they felt fit, but the consequences of which were harmful., on the other hand, are passively bad. They're not, actually, terrible – their moderation has improved. They do remove racism, they do remove antisemitism, they do block blatantly bigoted accounts (but sometimes they need to be reported a few times before getting actioned). They're still problematic, but they're also hundreds of thousands of potential art buyers. So we weigh that, and for now, the risk for us is manageable and they haven't acted in a way that, with intent, harms marginalized communities.

We know that this won't be acceptable for everyone, particularly for people who signed up expecting an experience closer to Twitter and weren't expecting that their reach would be cut down based on the needs of the community around them and the moral principles of the people who manage that community.

But we won't stop doing it, because that goes against the primary reason our instance exists – dotART, first and foremost, above all else, is a safe space for marginalised people. That is very clear on our /about page, and it's the main reason a LOT of our users join us – because this, the defederating from instances that we don't feel we can trust the moderation of, is exactly what they want.

We, the mod team, don't care if that leaves us with a couple of hundred active users who exist in a little isolated bubble in some small cut-off corner of fedi, if that corner is providing those couple of hundred people a space where they can exist without bigotry and harassment.


from Karin Wanderer Learns

Comic & picture book artists use a wide variety of physical & digital media for their work. My favorites have always been the ones made with watercolor- even if I did not realize it at the time!

Watercolor & Ink 2 panel comic. 
Panel 1: Title Text reads "Calvin and Hobbes by Watterson and Wanderer". Angry Calvin is marching with his fist in the air, shouting "I'm not tired! It's only 7:30! This is tyranny! I'm"
Panel 2:Sleeping Calvin on the floor, voice bubble has a picture of a bee & says "zzzz". Watterson used India ink & watercolors. I used watercolors & micron pens.

Why Watercolors?

Using watercolors to make a picture book or comic is very different from using watercolors to paint more traditional forms of art, such as a still life. While the supplies may be similar – or even the same – the techniques employed by a comic illustrator like Bill Watterson are very different from a fine artists such as Fidelia Bridges.

Comic & picture book illustrators are making lots of pictures to a fine artists’ one (or relatively few, if they are working on a series.) This is where a lot of the biggest differences lie. Comics & picture book illustrators are also expected to put out more pictures in a shorter amount of time. The pictures all have to be very consistent- if a character is wearing a red shirt on one page & a pink shirt on the next, the reader might think it is an entirely different character! Comics & picture books also tend to show less detail overall, to allow for the small time frame & aid in consistency. The manga series Sand Land, written & illustrated by Akira Toriyama, is a great example of the importance of simplifying your work. The series features a tank that is practically a main character, appearing in some form in most of the manga’s panels. Toriyama had a terribly hard time hitting deadlines for this series, largely because the detailed tank took up so much of his drawing time!

Of course, it isn’t all bad. Most comics are assembled panel by panel, not a whole page at a time. This means that panels with small mistakes can be fixed digitally. If a mistake ruins a whole panel it can be swapped out easily instead of starting the whole page over again. Many comic & picture book illustrators buy “convenience colors”- premixed shades they use a lot – to aid in consistency. It also means that artists can often use cheaper materials. After all, the lightfast rating of the paint hardly matters when the picture is meant to be reproduced in print or on a computer screen, rather than having to stand the test of time hanging on a wall.

… But Why Watercolors?

The transparency of watercolor allows for dramatic layering. The dreaminess inherent in the medium lends itself nicely to the fanciful stories that picture & comic books most often contain. From a financial standpoint, you tend to get more pigment for your dollar with paint than with markers. (I would make comics with my dollar-store paints any day, but never with my dollar-store markers!) Additionally, the workflow is entirely different, in a way I find oddly fascinating. For example, compare my workflow painting disparate pictures versus the Calvin & Hobbes comic at the top of this article.

Typically when I am painting I am working on multiple pictures at once, in order to avoid sitting around watching paint dry. I fill the time while painting A dries by drawing & starting to paint Painting B, then maybe starting to draw & paint C before going back & doing more work on A, etc. My palette is covered in small amounts of paint, with a different color scheme for each picture. When it comes to comics, a major concern is consistency. I rarely paint series of pictures, with the notable exception of Milly, whose coloring is easy to match consistently. Working in a comic strip style changed everything for me from the ground up!

I had to draw both panels entirely…

Lightly penciled 2-panel Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. I didn’t write Calvin’s dialogue in the first panel- I should have.

Ink them entirely… Iked 2-panel Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. The kerning… It haunts my every step…

Then mix up a big batch of each paint I needed & paint all the parts that need to be consistent all in one pass. As you can see in my example below, I did not mix up enough red to do the title & both Calvins’ shirts. This meant I had to stop after finishing the title, even though I had enough paint for one of the shirts, & mix up a new batch of red so the Calvins would match neatly.

Watercolor & ink half-done 2-panel Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.

All in all, it is an entirely different experience from painting more traditional pictures! So I am starting a new series, called the

Karin Wanderer Blog Series For People

Who Wanna Read Good

& Who Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too

Or maybe just #WatercolorBooks, for brevity’s sake. I’ll be talking about watercolor comics & picture books as well as the people who illustrate them.

Black ink painting of Miyamoto Usagi sitting calmly while drinking tea. So many artists, so much time!

Is there a picture book or comic book illustrator you want me to talk about? Let me know on Mastodon or Ko-Fi!


from Karin Wanderer Learns

I Have 12 Hobbies & 0 Space

I have quite a few hobbies I engage in regularly. I do both traditional & digital art. I also cook, bake, sew, embroider, read, write, garden, watch movies, play video games, listen to music… That’s a dozen hobbies. This presents a bit of a challenge.

Almost completed embroidery of a sunflower mandala in yellow thread on a grey background.

Why Can’t I Have 0 Hobbies & 12 Space?

It can be hard to find the space in your schedule & in your actual physical space for your hobbies. My apartment is tiny, I am not the only person who lives here, & my time is a finite resource. I have had to develop strategies to help fit all my hobbies into my life, since restoring a vintage TARDIS is not one of my hobbies.

Ink drawing of Miyamoto Usagi looking determined.

Strategy 1: The Buddy System

It’s a classic for a reason. Happily, lots of hobbies pair up well. I can paint while I bake, write while my paint dries, & listen to books or music while doing just about anything. Which of your hobbies can be buddied up? Which ones need to stand alone?

Watercolor of a nightingale singing while sitting on a branch. I baked a cake while painting this nightingale.

Strategy 2: Figure Out If It Needs Scheduling, Then Do It- Or Don’t

Sewing a simple garment or household item takes my entire work table, plus my ironing board set up nearby, as well as several days’ worth of my free time. Obviously I need to schedule that in advance. Things like gardening & cooking need to happen regularly. Listening to audiobooks or painting can happen at any time. Which of your hobbies need scheduling, & which can you jump into right away?

Reading Log designed to look like a library. Most of  the shelves of books have titles, on 1.5  shelves blank book spines wait to be filled in. Outside the window is a watercolor; several witches & 1 ghost are flying up to the moon from the city below. One of the witches is a cat. A moment of appreciation for my local libraries' audiobook selection.

Strategy 3: Know When to Rest

Mind your spoons. Sometimes you need to take a break & abandon all but your lowest-energy hobbies. Sometimes you need to enjoy the oldest hobby of all – taking a nap!

Photo of two potted pepper plants climbing up a loose macramé string trellis all the way to the roof. A burro's-tail succulent grows in a pot hanging nearby. Or sitting & enjoying your tiny garden.

Variety Is A Blessing & A Curse

Having too many hobbies can be overwhelming. How many is too many? That largely depends on what hobbies you have, how much time you want to dedicate to them, how much time you have to spend… Some might say having a dozen hobbies is too many, but it suits me just fine. Of course, sometimes they distract from one another. Say, for example, you were supposed to write an article on watercolor illustrators & then, to pluck a for-instance out of the air, you got distracted reading the books they illustrated instead. And what if you followed this up by re-reading as much of Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur as you could get your hands on? Well then, dear reader, if you had a dozen different hobbies then you too could pivot to an article about one of those other hobbies, or even an article about how to balance many different hobbies at once…


See you next week for an article about watercolor illustrations! Maybe. I just got the notification from my library that my hold copy of Yukon Ho! has arrived…

Is there a picture book or comic book illustrator you want me to talk about? Let me know on Mastodon or Ko-Fi!


from Pixie's Pad

The Bad Space exists because its creator, / Ro, once set up an instance by and for Black folk after seeing the racism that got a pass on other instances, and then that instance – PlayVicious – got harassed off fedi by racists. Everyone involved in that instance got extreme levels of racist abuse and harassment, and a couple of the other people involved – a mod of PV, Marcia (, with the help of Ginger ( – started a hashtag, Fediblock, for calling out racism and other shit behaviour so that other instance admins were aware of it, and could block the sources of it, and thus save themselves from being targeted by the same abuse.

A few years later, we now have instance-level blocklists, and the ability to export and import those lists. A bunch of people have started their own blocklist repositories that function in different ways, like combining the blockists of several 'trusted' instances and then finding the common denominators that appear on a majority of blocklists and creating a new blocklist that only has those majority-blocked instances on it.

Where receipts or reasons are not provided with the collaborative hosted blocklists themselves, the sites providing them tend to link to receipts sources that are hosted elsewhere. This is a deliberate choice that comes from hours and hours (literally, I've been privy to these conversations happening behind the scenes with multiple of the public blocklist hosts) of deciding how to approach this with a focus on minimising harassment of the instances providing reasons and receipts, and of the people hosting the blocklists and receipts, and minimising the risk of people threatening litigation for block reasons they don't like (this happens a lot, and while some instances/people are fine with being threatened and know that not much – if anything – will come of such threats, they can still be scary and understandably some instances want to prevent that from happening).

Popping back momentarily to PlayVicious, when the people who were being harassed provided receipts, they were accused of 'screenshot dunking'. The people who were harassing them sought any reason, however tenuous, to dismiss their receipts or to call into question their credibility or attack and bully them into eventually just not posting receipts. This was deliberate, and it happened extensively, and the result is that many folk on fedi are now understandably reluctant to share receipts because of the abuse and backlash they received for doing it the first time.

Speaking as the admin of a sizeable fedi instance with a pretty big blocklist, I can tell you exactly what happens when both our block list and the reasons are public – we still do it, because I don't give a fuck, but here's what happens:

  • If an instance doesn't publish their blocklist, they are chastised for lack of transparency and insinuated in misdeeds against their users who deserve to see who their instance blocks.

  • If an instance DOES publish their blocklist but without listing the reasons (which is a very valid thing not to do because of the harassment and legal threats it generates), they are chastised for being untrustworthy.

  • If an instance publishes their blocklist AND their reasons, the reasons are debated and discredited, constantly, without fail. The only people who debate and discredit reasons like racism, transphobia, alt-right, free speech, etc. are people who are defending those things, whether they've realised that's what they're doing or not.

If you've spent any time scrolling through the Fediblock hashtag you'll see the same instances pop up time and again, usually mentioned by new instance admins who've had a run in with one of the 'worst of the worst' instances who discovered they weren't blocked by that particular instance and went on a harassment field day. This has, many times, resulted in people being doxxed and harassed to such an extent that they shut down their instances, deleted their online profiles, moved house, even moved country – and that is the main service that public shared blocklists provide; an effort to minimise the harm that those known terrible instances cause when they are not blocked.

And now back to The Bad Space. The currently public version of The Bad Space is meant to function as a receipts repository, but when Ro launched it, the decision to list every entry there even before receipts were available was informed by Ro's personal experience of harassment spanning years on the fediverse, knowing the harm it causes, and knowing that mitigating that harm by identifying its sources was the most important thing, and the missing receipts would come later (and for the people arguing against the existence of The Bad Space, the receipts wouldn't matter anyway – they argue against it because they know it's coming for them and the spaces they inhabit).

The alternative would have been not to release The Bad Space – not to release any of the blocklists or the receipts sources or things that help fedi admins improve moderation and safety on their instances – until they're 100% perfect, and in the time that would take, how many more marginalised people would be harassed off fedi?

Yesterday, an instance ended up on another instance's block list for what came down to unchecked anti-trans sentiment, which led to it getting a listing on The Bad Space (accidentally, explainer to follow). While parts of fedi exploded with outrage over this, talking around the issue but not bringing it up directly with Ro, theorising and and angry-yelling and ultimately decrying the entire existence of The Bad Space and blocklists as a whole and warning entire communities off using them, a few folk quietly approached Ro directly, Ro discovered a bug in The Bad Space that he fixed immediately, the source instance removed the instance from their block list, the problem has been fixed, and The Bad Space functions better because of it.

The damage caused here is not that an instance accidentally ended up on a blocklist – that IS problematic, especially given the provided reason, and it IS unfortunate – but the bigger damage is that now communities doubt the integrity of a tool that functions to make fedi a safer space for marginalised identities and in doing so makes fedi a safer space for everyone who's not a bigot, that can prevent thousands of people from experiencing the kind of harassment that the tool exists to protect against.

If there are sincere concerns brought up to Ro and other blocklist or receipts repo. maintainers in good faith, they will listen and address them. I have seen them do it. They WANT these tools to be the best that they can be to protect marginalised fedi – that's the entire point, minimising harassment and protecting the people who are most often the targets of that harassment. Nobody is more invested in doing this than the people who experienced that harassment first hand and know the damage it causes.

So if you have an idea for how The Bad Space can be improved (but first check the Version 2 edition ( that, while not fully public yet, already addresses the concerns I've seen raised these past couple of days), bring it up with Ro. Bring it up directly with Ro, who is the creator and maintainer, and will engage with you in good faith if you approach him similarly.

But please, please, consider the implications of loudly decrying a tool that exists by and for marginalised people. Consider whether you're punching up or punching down, consider who you are serving by telling people they shouldn't trust it, consider which voices you are elevating and which voices you are ostracising, and consider how you can effect positive change and help make these tools more effective to combat harassment.

It also needs to be repeated that these public shared blocklists are not shared without extensive warnings for admins to DO THEIR DUE DILIGENCE and not thoughtlessly import blocks without checking that the blocks align with their own instance's practices. The more absurd thing to me is that someone would thoughtlessly import a blocklist – or look at The Bad Space and see that there are entries there without receipts and thus no clear way of knowing why they're there, and then decide to download the CSV of all entries and import that as a mass blocklist – without doing their due diligence as an admin to check that they agree with all of the blocks.


from Ovro

Some day they will all find out and know they were always right.

Some day they will all find out and won't settle for shunning.

Some day they will all find out but the day is not today.

I pray it is not today.

#SmallPoems #Poetry #MicroFiction #SmallStories


from Ovro

“I feel like people use me as a special tool. Forgotten in a box until my brain or skills are needed, used and put away again.” I said, checking my files for the requested piece of info.

Ty looked up at the screen, somewhat startled. “You said something? Sorry didn't hear, I was chatting with Mia.”

“I was just muttering to myself…” “Yeah ok. Did you find it?” “Yes, I'm sending it now.” “Thanks! We got to go out for a coffee or something, I'll call you!”

Ty didn't wait for my answer before ending the call.

“No, you won't”, I sighed, “You won't “

#MicroFiction #AutoFiction


from Ovro

The dust hadn't yet settled, but hearing “Im one man failure rate!” said with a tone of being accompanied with a sheepish grin told me there were no casualties.

I assumed my usual role in situations like this and said: “I don't think the term works like that. You are thinking of 'disaster zone'...”

Kay groaned, theatrically: “SEE! Didn't get THAT right, either!”

“And you're not a man.”

She collapsed on the floor, laughing.“Ann, you're KILLING me!”



from Ovro

“Well, you're just a lovely little ball of paranoid psychosis.” she said while peering down at me with a studying eye. Her voice oozed false lightness, the tone reserved for the lesser-than. Babies, puppies, the elderly, the mentally… less.

My mind was burning. “You sick sadistic FUCK! With what right…”, but my body managed only a whimper and an involuntary twitch.

With the arrogance of power she read this to her liking. “Ball! Yes.”, she cooed. “No 'play ball' – YOU are the ball, yes you are!”

Then she turned another knob.

#MicroFiction #ShortHorror


from aaribaud

This is the sixth installment of my SOS story. Unless you've read the previous parts, I suggest you start at part 1.

While Val organizes a rescue operation from aboard the Tin Locust, Sam has returned inside the wreck of the Scintillating to help Flora — with mixed results so far.

I ran back into the airlock and pulled the manual lever on the corridor-facing door — now it went smoothly, that jerk — to keep the door open. Then I punched the emergency vent mushroom button. I had just enough time to jump back into the room, grab Flora, and hold on to the closest handrail I could find before the cyclone came down on us.

I clung on as we got tossed around for about twenty seconds and then the inside door closed to cut the air loss. As the room pressure rose back to normal, I ran to check the gauge on the door. Zero atmo on the other side. Door control flashing red. The airlock was closed for good, that is, until someone on the outside turned the pressure back on for the whole exterior hallway.

And that wasn’t going to happen any time soon as there was no one on the other side — in fact, there probably wasn’t any other side any more. Chances were our friendly Proteus was very happy with dropping the whole exterior simulation in order to save on its precious computing power.

I sent a prayer to all the gods that I knew — probably about time, all things considered — and turned to check on Flora.

It had worked! She wasn’t bleeding anymore!

Val had said something about the shock that had caused the bleeding, but since it was the damn door that had caused the shock, I’d figured that by sealing it shut for good, I’d remove the conflict. No more conflict, no more trauma, no more hemorrhage…

Okay, I’d basically hoped it would work because we were in a simulation, and Proteus would not distinguish different sorts of causes and effects. Guess there are some advantages to being digital — even if I didn’t want to remain in this state for longer than necessary.

Flora's eyes opened.

How do you go about smiling, again? Right.

“Hey Flora. It’s Sam. Remember me?”

“Yes… How come you're here?”

“Didn’t I say I’d find you eventually?”

“What happened? I think I got hit by something…”

“Yeah, well, this f...lying comp—control, airlock control, wasn’t responding so I had to force my way in and I didn’t know you were right behind the door, so… Well, I hope you don’t mind a little company because I did damage the control, and I think you and I are going to be stuck in here for some time.”

Some time during which I would have to hold my tongue with both hands to make sure I didn’t let on our actual situation. We were both digital projections of our minds. Flora had to remain ignorant for a while. I had to remain aware for the both of us.

All I was hoping for, now, was that in some of the virtual rations Proteus had conjured up for us, I’d find some aspirin.

And that it would have any sort of effect on my growing headache.

“Right. Mind if I use your coms console to call my shipmate?”


“This is Valerie, acting pilot of the Tin Locust, hailing the wreck of the Scintillating, over.”

“This is Samuel Foster, acting commander of the wreck of the Scintillating. How’s it flying, Val? I don’t like it much that I’m leaving you alone at the helm.”

“Somebody needs to go get help. Plus, despite the damage, at least on the Scintillating you’ve got access to better supplies than you'd have on the Locust. How’s Flora?”

“I guess ‘terrific’ would be a bit of a stretch, but she’s alright. She’s got a bump, but that’s all.”

“Glad to hear it. I’m going to cut communications now. Stay safe. Over and out.”

I felt horribly uneasy. It was one of the weirdest feelings I’d ever had. Like all I’d hear for the rest of my life would be my own voice spouting nonsense I’d never even actually said.

It took me a moment to realize Val was speaking to me.

“I’m sorry, Val, I was zoning out. Say that again?”

“I was just saying everything seems okay now. The Scintillating's safe on its new orbit, and your copy is now fully integrated into Flora’s environment. From her perspective, you’re in the same room she's in.”

I mulled over that thought as I was attempting to dislodge an identification tag from an angular statue that had once been one of the Scintillating’s engineers — you can’t have an FTL engine blow up in your face without getting a few scars.

“I still can’t believe that’s actually me in there. I mean, I’m here, in the engine room, and there’s no one here with me. Can’t wrap my head around it.”

“If it's any solace, that Sam doesn’t enjoy it any more than you do. He knows he’s a digital projection, and he knows his objective is to make sure another digital projection doesn’t lose her mind.”

“Well I sure hope he doesn’t go nuts himself, seeing as we’re supposed to reintegrate our minds after all this, like you said. I wouldn’t want to merge back a looney.”

Under my fingers, I felt something crack. “All right, here comes the ID tag. Log it? Lescryn, mechanic, second-class. Crystallization. That’s the last one.”

“Copy that, Sam. On your way back, unhook the fuel ducts, we’re at full charge for electrical and propulsion. And if you can, bring back some rations. We can stock up another dozen or so. Then we'll cast off right after the periastron.”

“Got you.”


I returned exhausted. I’d spent over fifteen hours cataloguing two hundred and seventeen bodies, and that didn't include those still floating about around the Scintillating.

The first thing I saw in the empty cabin inside the Locust was the dashboard, and on its screen, Val’s face. I stowed my pressurized suit in heavy silence. Val had nothing to say; I had a lot, but no idea where to even begin.

“So, er, Val…”

“Yes, Sam?”

“I wanted to… I just want to say I’m sorry. I think I said some hurtful stuff.”

“I won’t tell you I’ve let it go : I can’t forget anything. Let’s just say it’s behind us.”

I climbed back into the pilot’s chair.

“Um, Val, tell me...”


“If you can put a mind inside a computer…”

“A Shabasch computer.”

“Right, a Shabasch computer, and if you can also take that mind out to put it in a body… Could that be done for you?”

“Of course.”

“And, I mean, have you ever thought about it?”

Val looked at me a long time, half-serious, half-smiling.

“I sometimes do. We’re starting the run-up for the hypervelocity jump in one minute. You'd better buckle in, unless you intend to end up spread over the cabin walls.”



from Karin Wanderer Learns

Hello & Hello Again! I absolutely refuse to apologize for any puns used in this AuGHOST postmortem. Even that one. Enjoy! ~KW

Watercolor & ink on brown cardboard. A smiling, blushing ghost is wearing a flower crown. Such ghastly humor!

What Is #AuGHOST?

AuGHOST is a ghost-themed art challenge for the month of August. There is a different art prompt for each day. AuGHOST is billed as a “all-skills, all-inclusive, no-pressure art-event” & that’s exactly what it was! Draw one ghost, draw all the ghosts, make it a scribble or a fine oil painting- anything goes. If you’ve been haunting this blog long, you know how much I love art challenges. It probably won’t surprise you to find out I did all 31 Days of #AuGHOST!

Watercolor & ink on brown cardboard. A black cat sits happily on the ground as a ghost pets it. The ghost's typically compact form is being stretched & distorted, but she still looks happy to be petting the cat.

Let Me Introduce You To My Boo

Here are 31 pictures & 2 animations featuring the best little ghostie in town: Milly!

This video does not feature descriptive audio. A thread where each picture & animation in the video is posted with alt text can be found here

Last Time I Did All 31 Days of an Art Challenge…

…I made many grave mistakes. In an effort to push myself to expand my skills, I put so many restrictions in place that I got in my own way. I learned an important lesson that changed my approach to these challenges. This month was much more fun than MerMay because of that difference in approach.

Watercolor on brown cardboard. A happy ghost holds up a basket of glass gem corn in one hand & ear of glass gem corn in the other. Behind her, the corn has been grown to make a maze.

What I Did Differently This Time

I focused on challenges, not rules. Instead of saying I couldn’t use certain media or colors, I challenged myself to incorporate something new. This led to my using cardboard from cereal boxes & embroidery thread scraps. It resurrected my love of upcycled materials, which I had not worked with much since I stopped making collages a lifetime ago. I also challenged myself to create a new character like I did for #HippySheepFest, only more in-depth since I would have 31 days instead of 4. I think we can all agree this worked, as in my totally logical & objective opinion Milly is the greatest ghostie who ever was.

Watercolor & ink on cardboard. A smiling ghost knits a web for the spider sitting on her head, waiting patiently. The knitting is embroidery thread stitched through the cardboard and the thread ball sits at the ghost's feet. Eat your heart out, Casper!

How Changing Things Changed Things

All these changes were for the better. I think it probably helps that I like painting ghosts more than people. It helped me see that I’ve grown, not just in terms of artistic ability but also mindset. I’m still getting used to gouache & am a bit inconsistent with transparency levels, but most of the time I would sit down to paint a prompt with an idea in my head & end up with pretty much what I imagined on the paper. More importantly, to my mind, is the change in mindset. I am always very critical of my work. (If I waited to share only the paintings I loved, I would share maybe one a month.) I am still very critical, but in a better way. Now instead of oh, that’s terrible I’m more likely to think oh, that’s the wrong color or the wrong proportion or something else that’s much more constructive. All in all, these changes have definitely made a positive impact!

Paint & ink on cardboard. A happy ghost is holding a coffee & reaching out toward a falling leaf. Other leaves swirl around, in the air & on the ground.

It’s The Magnificent Milly Announcement We’ve Been Waiting For!

I have spent the month of AuGHOST being absolutely amazed to see that other people love Milly as much as I do! I am finally doing it- opening a TeeSpring store! This is your chance to have your favorite Milly on mugs, notebooks, & even stickers, in case you want to put Milly on something that isn’t a mug or a notebook!

My Spring Shop is Officially Open!

Follow me on Mastodon or Ko-Fi to be the first to hear about updates as I add new watercolor designs- more Milly as well as watercolor flora & fauna!

#Inktober Inspiration

4-panel comic, watercolor & ink.
Panel 1: A smiling Milly the Ghost, in top hat & bow tie, holds a magic wand in one hand & a curtain in the other.
Panel 2: The curtain is raised to hide Milly.
Panel 3: The curtain is covered by a cloud of smoke that says "POOF".
Panel 4: The curtain falls to the ground, revealing a sign which reads "The Amazing Milly will return, #Inktober".

Which was your favorite Milly? Let me know!


from Kae Luna

//WIP Intro Post: Ultra Drive//

//Title: Ultra Drive

//Progress: Writing early chapters, planning for whole (hopefully) series out of order

//Genres: Sci-fi, cyberpunk, dystopian, biopunk, post-apocalyptic, action, LGBTQIA2S+, drama, psychological

//Rating: 16+ for violence, blood, possible gore, swearing, and suggestive content

//Content warnings: death, pandemic, sickness, bigotry in general???, war, fascism

//POV: Third person (For now. Might switch to first person later.) //Setting: In the city of Venicula on the island of Arasai and surrounding areas. Takes place in the future.

//Premise: AlexiKa's world was changed forever the day her family was forced to immigrate to the imperial city of Venicula after the Ebony Plague – caused by mysterious spores – infected her home town.

~(Continued under the cut)~ Now a young adult, she works as a courier (and secretly an anti-corporation activist). When going on a delivery for the all powerful Gaia Corporation, she accidentally uncovers dark secrets and ends up infected with the same Ebony Plague that haunted her hometown as a child. But when she survives the illness and instead develops superhuman abilities, she joins a mutant resistance group – who call themselves Ultras – to fight against the Veniculan Empire, the Gaia Corporation, and other mutants with immoral goals.

//Aesthetic: neon and pastel architecture, holograms, dyed hair, tech gear, infrastructure in derelict conditions, overgrown plants, eco-friendly technology

//Tropes + themes: anti-capitalism, equality, probably found family, female empowerment, cool Japan, globalization, super powers, POC characters, LGBTQIA2S+ characters

//Inspiration: Nausicaa of The Valley of The Wind, Ultraviolet (2006), Aeon Flux (show + movie), Alita: Battle Angel (movie, OVA, + manga), Ghost in The Shell (anime), Fallout (games), 86 (anime), The Last Of Us (games), Blade Runner, The Matrix, 1980s, 90s, and early 2000s in general, vaporwave art, the United States of 'Merica, Sims 4 eco lifestyle

//Characters: AlexiKa Raiden: A young woman with fiery passion and an even more fiery temper, AlexiKa – AKA Lexi – fights for her family's survival in the rough city of Venicula. She hates authority and will gladly fight for you, despite the odds.

Yuki Raiden: Lexi's mom. Japanese. Super sweet and tries to keep the mood positive, even in dark times.

Alessandro Raiden: Lexi's dad. An Italian himbo who loves to tinker.

Ellie: Lexi's childhood friend. Super sweet, but a bit cheeky as well. Pacifist. They might have some gay tension.

Empress Vox: Rules the city of Venicula. Politician who does weird parasocial crap over VR/AR. Definitely a good person.

Donovan Vox: Brother of the Veniculan president. CEO of Gaia Corporation.

LaKellan: Leader of the Ultra Resistance. Calm and may seem cold, but is actually just a bit awkward and emotionally constipated.

(More coming soon probably-)

//Tags: Ultra Drive, aesthetic, xxx, xxx, xxx... //Mood boards/Pinterest boards (coming soon) //Playlist (coming soon)


from aaribaud

This is the fifth installment of my SOS story. Unless you've read the previous parts, I suggest you start at part 1.

As Val and Sam are unable to bring Flora, the only survivor of the Scintillating, to safety in the Locust, Sam is tasked with keeping her company aboard the wreck.

The problem with Val is, you can never win an argument. She never forgets even the smallest point, she never ignores a blunder, she always has the last word, and to make it worse, she’s always right.

And that’s why I was standing again in the corridor of the Scintillating, in front of that same damn airlock.

It was better than my first visit, mind. Now there was pressure in the hallway, and with full lighting I could see where I was stepping.

And at least this time, I didn’t have to worry about where to go.

I opened the first airlock. Got in. Closed the outer door. Turned to face the inner door. Pressed on the controls.

Nothing happened.

Right, that would have been too easy.

I flung open the casing over the emergency lock and pulled on the lever. Well, tried to, because the lever didn’t move even a fraction of an inch, and neither did the door.


No reply. The cherry on my Sunday… I lifted my arm to inspect my coms bracelet. But it wasn’t there.

Sorry, what?

You put on your suit, you check the seals, you test the gauges, you test the coms, it’s all reflexes! So how come when I left the Locust

And then it came back to me.

I hadn’t actually left the Locust. Not the usual way, anyway. I had gone to lie down in my own survival pod, closed my eyes… and found myself back on the Scintillating, in the corridor.

Well, my digital self, anyway. The other one, once the copy was done, was supposed to get back up and actually come on board to collect samples on Flora's corpse and resume counting the dead. Except that other one was also me.

This was what Val had in mind: send a digital copy of my personality to keep Flora company inside Proteus, aboard the Scintillating, and wait together for Val, well, us, to go and bring back help.

Except of course, I couldn't pop up inside Flora's room out of nowhere, not from Flora's viewpoint anyway. Val had managed to get me on the other side of the room's airlock, but I had to take it from there.

So there I was. Of course, Proteus simulated only what it knew, and it didn't know about the Locust's coms, relays or tools; and only what was needed, and who needs a helmet when there's air, right? There I stood, empty-handed. More useless than a tourist.

What was I supposed to do now with that blasted door?

Out of frustration, I nearly smashed the door controls with my fist. I held myself back, though, because on the control display something had caught my eye.

Usually, these things show a message such as OPEN or CLOSED or O2 19.3. But right then, it was displaying SAM.


“Uh… That you Val?”


“Why d'you talk through this thing?”


A few seconds went by.


Another few seconds.


It was bloody frustrating that the display could only show twenty-four characters at a time.



“Well, your Proteus is starting to get on my last nerve. It’s blocking the door and I don’t even have a pocket knife to negotiate entry.”


I waited. Stay zen. Stay very zen.


I chuckled.

“Hold on, I’m going to solve its f...lying problem.”


Too late. I turned 18 during the war. As one of the few who did not get sick aboard the shuttle to the orbital assignment center, I was unceremoniously shoved into pilot training. Since it was wartime, I was taught not only how to take off without exploding and how to land without crashing, but also how to open a door that needs a key. Kind of an automatism, in the end.

So, automatically, I backed up a step and soundly kicked with all my strength at lock height. The door flew open with a loud bang, and then stopped still with another bang. Then a softer noise. The kind a body does when it falls down.

Oh uh.

Maybe not the smartest plan.

I walked inside, and saw a human form lying on the ground on her side. I turned her onto her back. She had long black hair, and was bleeding from her ears, nose, and mouth. Her eyes were closed, and around her neck was a chain with a gold tag that read: Flora Kesler.

Ah, shit.

“Val, I fucked up. I kicked the door open but I guess the girl was just on the other side and she got hit in the head! Can you ask Proteus to rollback and start over?”

No response. Then I remembered that I had to go read the display screen. I doubled back.


“What am I supposed to heal her with?


Easier said than done. How? Flora was bleeding, and I had nothing on me to stop the flow, let alone treat the trauma. And all this because of a divergence of opinion on whether a door is closed or open!

Wait. There was a possibility. I could treat the cause.

No. It was stupid. I would probably just make things worse.

Oh, whatever, wasn’t like I had any better option.

Continue to part six


from Pixie's Pad

A few weeks ago, Oliphant brought on five mods and one co-admin to I was one of the mods, and we were all of us a diversely intersectional marginalized bunch of people, most of us who have our own established safe space instances, all of us who hang out in Fedimins (the fedi admins Discord group). His intent was to help build into a safe space instance, to have a diverse mod team who could catch the kind of things he'd miss as a white guy, and (this may have been the main factor of Oli bringing on a bunch of mods) to help him moderate the harassment and abuse AnarchoNinaWrites would get from randos in her mentions.

Nina had moved over from because of the harassment she was getting being on the biggest instance. Oli offered her a safer space on an instance that utilised both individual account-level blocks and instance blocks to maintain safety and assured her that he would do his best to protect her from that kind of harassment/abuse.

He told all of us individually, and expressed to us as a group, that we should moderate the instance as if it were our own, with our full discretion. I asked him myself what kind of moderation style he expects from me and explained that I'm pretty strict on .art, and he said that's exactly what he was looking for. Others asked if we should be moderating the internal users as well as external and he said again that we should moderate it as we moderate our own instances, so yes.

While some of us used our 'known' names (I was on there as WelshPixie) and some of us linked from our profiles there to our 'known' handles, others set up anon identities because they've been targeted in the past and didn't feel comfortable with being fully exposed on an open instance. This becomes relevant later.

Now that that's set the scene, here's what happened, as neutrally as I can:

Nina made a post in which she said 'with dicks' to imply men. We noted the transmisic phrasing (Oli had previously mentioned she's trans, and Nina has posted publicly since then that she is trans). One of the mods (who has given me permission to say she's trans) sent her a very VERY polite, friendly message – not an official warning, just a message – pointing out how this could be interpreted, asked if she'd mind changing the phrasing.

Nina deleted the post (for other reasons) and brought up to Oliphant that she thought she would be protected from this kind of thing on his instance.

You can see the mod DM she was sent here:

By Nina's own admission in that thread:

“I did however, once again, pull my admin friend, the person who had started the sever aside and say “look I can't go forward like this right? If I'm publishing stuff that might just get deleted, I should go back to my website.” I was assured that nobody had it in for me (see above) and that the old admin themselves would prevent anyone from banning my account without talking to them; because again, at this point I think it's weaponized reporting from randos. I dunno that the co-admin hates me.”

The next day, Nina made a bunch of posts using the phrase 'Pig Empire' – and this next part is important – in the context of globalism and bankers, which is further important in the context of Nina already having a bad reputation with the Jewish community on the fedi after several prior events (her account is banned from multiple Jewish instances), with her website co-opting the word 'pogrom' for non-Jewish use, with loads of posts on her site being tagged 'holocaust' while not being holocaust related – individually small things, perhaps, but there was a larger picture to consider.

Here's why 'globalist' and related concepts are a rallying cry for fascists and traumatising for Jews:

Here's a deep dive on 'pig' and antisemitism:

Here's an overview of economic antisemitism:

Individually, those things might not have been concerning. Together, they paint a more problematic picture that could be easily avoided by some re-wording to clarify meaning without playing into antisemitic tropes. We thought, hey, Nina's antifash. She's one of us. Being made aware that you're using words that harm marginalized groups is good, right?

So far, we had just been discussing this internally, but agreed that we should bring it up to Nina. Oli wanted to message Nina himself to talk about this with her in the context of his promise to provide her a harassment-free space on his instance, and the mod team was fine with that (if not disgruntled at someone seemingly getting special treatment that was in direct contradiction to the team being brought on in the first place to help make the instance a safe space), until someone sent in a report with the same concerns about antisemitic dog-whistles. Taking Oli's earlier assurance with us that he did want us to moderate the instance as we'd moderate our own, one of the mods sent a message – again, not a warning, but a DM – just opening a conversation about dog-whistles, and again, polite and friendly in tone. The DM opened with bringing up 'Pig Empire' with the intention of broadening the conversation to include the greater problematic context of globalism and bankers, but Nina stopped responding to the conversation before that could happen, and again, went to Oli.

You can see screenshots of that DM and Nina's response in the same archived link above (

At this point, Nina made an account on where she had started subtooting about the two moderator DMs and the situation in general, and was doing the same from her account on I spoke with Oli about what the situation was and whether Nina was migrating fully to another instance or was waiting on hearing from Oli about anything, anxious about wanting to minimise harm and blowback on the mods who were just doing what they'd been brought to the instance to do. Oli conveyed that we could limit her account if we felt it would help, and impressed on me how important Nina's posts are to her and that she wouldn't want to lose any of her content. I passed this to the mod team, who in an effort to minimise damage (and again, to moderate the instance as we'd moderate our own), Nina's account was frozen by the co-admin and the posts with antisemitic dog-whistles were archived, deleted, and the archived posts linked to Nina in the moderation report so that Nina had copies of everything and wouldn't lose them.

Nina used her account on to start ramping up a dogpile of the mod team and the co-admin. Oli had told her himself that 'turns out, the co-admin doesn't like you', which Nina posted a screenshot of ( ), as well as linking to the /about page which had all of the mods and co-admin accounts listed, and THAT is why it was relevant that some of the mods stayed anonymous. People in Nina's thread have already started up the violent rhetoric, and the co-admin took the instance offline as an emergency response to protect people from getting targeted by Nina (it's back up now, with the mod info on the /about page removed).

TLDR? Two mods tried having polite conversations with Nina about problematic language that we thought she would be happy to be called out on, and Nina has escalated it into a huge tirade about how unfairly she was treated by a bunch of incompetent mods:

“The six weeks, it was just me posting on his server, without a small army of mods who I sincerely believe couldn't run a Church's Chicken, I am not saying that to be mean, these folks are not suitable at all to positions of authority”


Yeah, hi, I'm the admin. The other mods and co-admin you interacted with all run respected safe space instances on fedi. I understand you're upset, but you do not get to turn this around as an attack on the bunch of underprivileged marginalized people who incredibly politely called you out on some bad wording in an effort to protect the marginalized identities of both themselves and the other people on the fediverse who are exposed to your posts. They should not have to suffer a tirade of abuse from you or your rallied followers as a response to them putting in the voluntary work to make fedi safer and more inclusive.


from Karin Wanderer Learns

Hi Folks! Friendly Neighborhood Karin here!

Every 10 weeks on KWL we take a break. Please, take however long you were going to spend reading this week’s blog & relax instead. Drink some water, breathe a little, relax your jaw, & try this awesome recipe.

This week’s blog is written by KWL’s very first guest blogger! This is my favorite pizza recipe, from my favorite pizza chef. Introducing the sweet pepper to my red onion, the mutant turtle to my samurai rabbit, self-certified Pizza Expert: Wolfe3D!

Stylized photo of a smiling man with a beard & sunglasses. Certified Pizza Expert

Wolfe3D, developer of free PICO-8 awesomeness & frequent contributor to PICO-View! Pronouns: He/him Profession: Visual Effects Artist/Teacher Hobbies: Music, cooking, retro gaming Where to find me: Reddit, Discord, BBS, or Mastodon.

I’m working on a free Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan game called Shredder’s Prevenge for Pico-8, which should work on your phone or computer. It’s a great way to learn coding and have fun! I hope to make games based on original ideas some day, but for now this is a way to build experience and learn the tools and systems I need to make those games. It’s a side-scrolling beat-em-up like most TMNT games, but with a few unique touches including an interactive arcade and a vs. mode.

One of the things I love the most about PICO-8 is the community. Whether it be in the subreddit, the Discords, or on Mastodon, everyone involved in the PICO-8 scene tends to be friendly, welcoming to newcomers, and generous with their knowledge and skills. Thanks to all of you for helping me to learn, and to teach.

To Pizza!

This recipe makes 4 pizzas’ worth of dough. If you get this dough going on a Sunday night you won't have to worry about dinner until next Friday! You can bake it on a cookie sheet, we used a 12 inch round pizza pan.

Ingredients: * 4 cups AP flour * 1 tablespoon active dry yeast * 4 tablespoons of sugar * 1 teaspoon of salt * ⅓ teaspoons of baking soda * 1 cup of warm water * 2-3 cups of room temperature or cold water * Olive oil * Semolina flour * Low moisture mozzarella OR sharp cheddar & Monterey jack cheese * Pizza toppings

Kitchen counter is crowded with a mixing bowl & ingredients, such as salt. flour, & baking soda.

Step 1: Add yeast to warm water and allow 4-5 minutes to activate.

Step 2: Set aside 1 cup of flour. It will be used in step 5.

Step 3: Combine the other dry ingredients, and a drizzle of olive oil in a large bowl. Mixing bowl full of pizza dough ingredients, ready to be mixed.

Step 4: Add warm, yeasty water to the bowl and combine. Add cold water until flour is absorbed and a sticky dough forms. Mixing bowl full of very sticky dough.

Step 5: Add 4th cup of flour to bowl and mix until flour is absorbed and dough can be touched without sticking to your hands. Mixing bowl full of dough that is no longer sticky to touch.

Step 6: Form dough into a ball, cover with cloth and allow to rise.

Step 7: After the dough has risen (approximately 1 hour), cut into 4 separate pieces and place each into a greased bowl 2 pictures side-by-side. Pic 1 is a mixing bowl with a small ball of dough in it. Pic 2 is the  mixing bowl with a larger ball of dough in it.

Step 8: Cover any dough you want to store with plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator at least overnight. Allow at least 3-4 hours of rising time if you want to eat it today.

Step 9: Preheat oven to 475°F (246°c)

Step 10: Grease the baking pan and liberally sprinkle semolina flour. A round baking pan with semolina flour dusted across it.

Step 11: Stretch dough carefully into a disc and place on a baking sheet. A round baking pan with a raw pizza crust on it.

Step 12: Add sauces, cheeses, toppings, etc. 2 pictures side-by-side.  Pic 1 is Raw pizza dough on a round pan with a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce in the center.  Pic 2 is Raw pizza dough on a round pan with a tomato sauce spread across the dough.

Step 13: Focus topping placement towards the center of the pizza; toppings will drift towards the crust as it bakes. We like chicken or veggie sausage with mushroom, onions, or peppers. 2 pictures side-by-side. Pic 1 is an uncooked cheese pizza. Pic 2 is an uncooked pizza with sliced sausage & mushrooms on it.

Step 14: Bake at 475 for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

Step 15: Add spices and extras such as parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, oregano, or garlic salt. 3 pictures side-by-side. Pic 1 is a whole baked pizza with sliced sausage & mushrooms on it. Pic 2 is a close up of the pizza. Pic 3 is slices of the pizza on a blue plate.

Step 16: Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Hope you like the pizza, folks. Stay radical! -Wolfe3D

We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled art blog next week. If you want another awesome recipe, here is my favorite vegan cake recipe. It’s so good, people don’t believe it’s vegan! If you make either of these recipes, share pics with me on Mastodon! See you next week.


from aaribaud

This is the fourth installment of my SOS story, the first of which can be read here

While trying to locate the single survivor to the wreckage of the Scintillating, Sam Foster, from the Tin Locust, encounters fifteen corpses and a... ghost?

I spun some yarn about my O-two reserves to Flora — or to whoever or whatever was talking to me on band eighty — and I almost raced back to the Locust.

Once back inside and safe, I debriefed with Val.

“There’s no doubt — the ID badge is perfectly legible, not turned over or dirty. It shines like it's just been polished. KESLER, Flora. And it’s hard to get any deader than she is, Val. Blue veins, blue lips, blue fingers, glassy eyes, putrefaction, the whole book. Who the hell was I talking to on band eighty?”

“Apparently you were chatting with Proteus, the Scintillating’s onboard computer. Or more precisely, to a process it is running.”

“What? Are you blowing a fuse too?”

“Calm down. I’ve finished downloading the ship’s log while you were on your way back, and everything’s in there. I told you earlier that the Scintillating runs on a Shabasch computer just like the Locust, right? Well, after the accident, that computer ran an emergency backup on a survival pod.”

“Come again?”

“The ship's power started failing while passengers were in their pods, undergoing stasis, so most didn’t even make it. Consequently, their pods shut down, leaving just enough power to get Flora into stasis, but she was dying fast from severe internal hemorrhage. The pod signaled Proteus about it. As Proteus was already running a simulation of theScintillating anyway for staff training purposes, it chose to take a copy of Flora's mind and placed it in a simulated survival room. It's been running her mind in real time, much like its own.”

“Bleep me. Didn’t even know a computer could do that.”

“Shabasch ones can, because unlike terrestrial machines, their structure is similar to that of a human brain.”

“Shit. Well, I guess now I’ve got to get back over there and unplug the whole thing.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Well as long as the wreck is transmitting that signal, other pilots are going to pick up on it eventually and come check out this spot for nothing, since there are no survivors. So I’ve got to go pull the plug on the onboard computer.”

“What? Don't you dare do that! DON’T YOU DARE, YOU HEAR ME?”

That stopped me in my tracks. Val, angry?

“Come on, Val, it’s just a machine that screwed up.”

“This is not a machine! That is a human being! Do you think that’s a machine? All right then, get back on band eighty and tell her that, and on top of it, tell her that you’re going to unplug her. What are you waiting for?”

“Val, what’s up with you? It’s not a human, it’s a copy, you just said it yourself! It’s a copy of a mind stored in a computer!”

“And what do you think I am? Follow through with your actions! Underneath this dashboard, there is a lever. The manual says that pulling it deactivates the high-level functions of the onboard computer. I say if you pull that lever, you kill me. Do you get that? So, since you’re in the mood to unplug computers, go ahead, look me in the eyes and murder your onboard computer!

So shouted Val, with her blond bob and her grey eyes throwing daggers at me from inside her display screen.

I was glued to the spot, eyes wide open and mouth agape, with no idea what to say. No idea what to think, either.

“Is that your so-called humanity? If you can show no remorse for deleting the mind of a woman who is human like you, then what should I possibly hope from you? The day you decide you’re done with the sound of my voice, will you unplug me without hesitation? Is that what I have to look forward to? That my last sight will be your remorseless hand pulling a circuit breaker?”

It was dawning on me that since we’d started flying together, I’d completely forgotten that Val was not made of flesh. Despite only seeing her on the ship’s screens and only hearing her through its speakers, and despite eating all my meals alone, in my own mind I’d always imagined her somewhere else in the Locust, at her own dashboard. We’d been friends for a long time. I mean, I'd considered her my friend—ah, shit. What a mess all of a sudden.

“B—but, Val, what else can we do? We can’t bring her aboard, can we?”

“No, we can't. My memory banks are barely sufficient for my own personality.”

“... I meant bring her physically on board. I didn’t even know you could transfer minds like that from computer to computer.”

“With Shabasch computers, you can. But the Locust isn’t the Scintillating. I have less than a tenth of Proteus’ computing capacity.”

“Er, OK. So... what can we do?”

“We can go back to your plan of thrusting the wreck into a slingshot orbit around Hawkins. This would buy enough time for a reconstruction team to fly over here. If you go back stat and take tissue samples on her corpse, they'll be able to grow a body from her own DNA, and transfer her mind back into it, which should reduce rejection risks. It'll take weeks, but the elliptic orbit decay should be longer.”

“But I can’t tell her I'll leave her there for weeks to go find reincarnation people. I don’t think she can handle it.”

“She’s in shock. If you leave her without assistance, she will break down. If you tell her what’s really going on, she will break down. In both cases, it will void any chances of transferring the mess of her mind anywhere.”

“So we can’t do squat.”

“Oh, there is something we can do, but I don’t think you’ll like it. You could stay there and keep her company while I would go get help.”

My ears flattened and every single hair on my body stood up. That isn’t as contradictory as it sounds.

Continue to part five