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Friday Quote – Rick Ector

Violence is a tool. It is no more evil than a hammer or a carving knife. It can be used for good or evil. Punish and ban people who use violence for evil ends.

Thank You Reader David and Some Writing Stuff

David Blackard, who blogs over at Blue Collar Prepping, is one of my alpha readers. He recently did me a great service by finding an old draft of the fantasy novel I’ve been working on and sending it back to me. It contained a bunch of writing that Scrivener swallowed in its updating between versions.

I like Scrivener, but there have been a few occasions when it syncs between my phone, my tablet, and my computer that it loses some writing. Mostly just a little bit, but sometimes a whole lot. I keep toying with the idea of switching to Word, particularly since I now have Office 365 and can write on my devices. I have this feeling if I were a more professional, or full-time, writer, I would like all the additional features of Scrivener even more. I may do a hybrid where I do a lot of the drafting in Word, and then figure out some of the editing in Scrivener. Not sure at the moment.

Anyways, David sending me my draft kickstarted my desire to write again. So, The Wife and I have agreed to at least one night a week devoted to our crafts. We purchased a Cricut for her back before everything went nuts, and she’s been using the hell out of it. With the holidays just around the corner, her projects list exploded. While my writing list hasn’t undergone the same expansion, it also hasn’t budged very much.

Some Other Items In The News

While everyone is searching their 2020 bingo cards for President Catches COVID, there were some other things that came up.

  1. The ILOH highlighted a Reason article with the title “The Conservative Trans Woman Who Went Undercover With Antifa in Portland”. You really need to RTWT. A few of the key takeaways. First, as the author describes, violence is fun! Or at least violence in groups can be exhilarating. I think that’s something we know intellectually anytime we watch riots following a sports victory/loss, but I don’t think we’ve internalized that when it comes to political violence. Second, Antifa/Black Bloc is very much a decentralized, distributed insurgency organization. There may be some influencers, but there’s no central commintern handing out orders. Even with that, Point Three is that the black bloc is very united in their MO to keep the violence at the simmer level to make the police and private citizens “overreact” to their provocations. Just in time for sympathetic journalists to capture images for Antifa agitprop. Very “heads we win, tails you lose.”

  2. Speaking of the 2020 bingo card, who had Azerbaijan and Armenia go to war? I heard about the tensions in the region about a year ago from the Popular Front podcast, but I was still caught a bit off-guard to see it explode like this. I’m a little concerned that this conflict could widen. From the Reuters article: “Ignoring a French attempt to mediate, the opposing sides pounded each other with rockets and missiles for a seventh day in the newest flare-up of a decades-old conflict that threatens to draw in Russia and Turkey.” (Emphasis mine).

  3. Speaking of France and Turkey, a little over a month ago, France sent some of its navy down to exercise with the Greeks, Italians, Cypriots. Why is this significant? From the article, “Tensions between Turkey and Greece escalated after Ankara sent its Oruc Reis survey vessel to disputed eastern Mediterranean waters this month, a move Athens has called illegal.” I’m checking my bingo card for either Greco-Turkish War or Turkey Leaves NATO.

Metal Tuesday- Serenity- Queen of Avalon

Presented without comment:

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 5 – Chapter 39

Mexico City, 28 June 2010, 0010 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 5 months, 2 days

Jessica Montgomery’s world was finally falling into place. As she kissed Billy Shakespear, she knew in her heart that she had found her one. The one person she was going to spend the rest of her life with. She didn’t care what Mateo said or what anyone else. This finally felt right, and she wasn’t going to let anyone stop her. Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite true.

Jessica was jerked up into the air by the drag handle on the back of her armor. Incensed, Jessica was ready to let her foster father have it. He had kept Billy away far too long. Her tirade died as she looked into the dark eyes of Quentin McLintock. The former linebacker held Jessica up to his eyes. They sparkled with amusement and warmth. Jessica felt her face go crimson with embarrassment. How would this look to Billy? And all of the soldiers?

“Could you do us all a favor and finish this later?” Quentin asked in a calm and warm tone, “We’re in the middle of trying to stop the bad guys.” Jess didn’t know whether to be angry because he was treating her like a child – or even worse – because he was right. Jess hung her head and nodded in meek agreement. Quentin set her down gently. Jess turned back to say something to Billy, but he wasn’t there. Jess searched frantically, and quickly found Billy talking to The Steve. Billy had an embarrassed look on his face, but the two were too far away for Jess to hear their conversation. She followed Quentin to where Collin was talking to the minion.

The minion’s ninja costume was cut away to reveal a very beautiful woman in her early twenties. Jess squelched a tinge of jealously as she looked at the woman’s stylishly cut blonde hair and exquisitely formed pale face. The minion was lying on a stretcher with an IV in her arm. Her left leg was stripped of the tight black cloth. Blood soaked bandages were wrapped around the knee. The minion moaned in pain. Jess felt a pang of sympathy and guilt. This woman nearly killed her, and had killed others. Still, Jess was the one who pumped three rounds into the woman’s knee. It was hard watching someone in excruciating pain that you caused.

“Giant might be powerful, but he knows nothing about how to properly conduct an operation,” Collin DuBois said as he joined Quentin and Jess. The tall former SAS commando matched Quentin’s dark skin, but where Quentin was a gentle giant, Collin was a wiry and cold professional. Collin sounded as if he was insulted.

“Don’t we want him to be sloppy?” Jess asked.

“To a point,” Collin answered, almost reluctantly, “On the good side, he has not a lick of operational security amongst his team. On the bad side, he keeps lashing out at us with small forces when we annoy him. At least if he was acting like a proper professional, we would have an idea of what to expect.”

“Quit whining about it and tell us what she knows,” Mateo commanded as he stepped into the group. Mateo spared Jess a quick glance. The warm look threw her for a loop. She nearly missed Collin’s answer.

“Some of what we already knew,” Collin answered, “The cabal was responsible for all of this destruction.” He motioned to the ruins of Mexico City. “Our enemies are called the Champions of the Truth. A bunch of babble about bringing back Xipe Totec. They’re following the same bloody prophecy Quentin and Jess were nice enough to translate for us. Giant’s heading for a temple near the center of the city. According to the prisoner, an artifact called the key is there. She even had a nice little map in one of her pockets.” Collin unfolded a printout with the directions.

“Any chance this is just a fake to throw us off from what’s really happening?” Mateo asked.

“Possible Mattie,” Collin answered, “I rather doubt it. Morphine isn’t as good as sodium pentothal, but it makes do in a pinch.” Jess didn’t understand what Collin was saying, but the evil smile of his face frightened her a little. Mateo didn’t seem fazed.

“It does sound like what the Coyote told me,” Jess said. By this time, the entire Zombie Strike team had congregated around Collin. All of them were staring at Jess with incredulous looks. She quickly looked down and desperately wanted to shrink into her armor.

“Who told you what?” asked Billy stepping in front of her. His voice was urgent. As Jess looked up, she saw Billy was anxious.

“The giant coyotes that saved me,” Jess said, completely confused. Why was Billy acting this way? “One of them told me that minion would tell us where to go and that we had to stop Giant before daybreak.”

Coyote’s Pack?” Billy asked. Jessica could hear the capital letters in his voice.

“Yeah, I guess, why?” Jess asked. Billy didn’t answer her. He just reeled back and began muttering in a language she couldn’t understand.

“Would you mind explaining what’s going on to your team lead?” Mateo asked, his voice starting to get that tight control that signaled Mateo’s growing anger. “I thought you said that the dogs were nothing to worry about.”

“I thought they were Wolf’s Pack, not Coyote’s,” Billy answered. The team all looked at him in confusion.

“Start at the beginning Billy,” Mateo ordered. The short Native American nodded, but he still looked like he was in shock.

“Look, I’m sure some of you have heard some of the old Native American legends, and you know that some of the tribes worshipped totem animals,” Billy began, “Well, the totem animals are real. They’re a bit more than Earth spirits, but not quite gods. My family have been spirit warriors for the Wolf for a very long time. Wolf sometimes allows some of his pack to come into the real world to help his warriors in time of great need. That’s who I thought Jess was talking about earlier.”

“But it was Coyote, and not Wolf,” Quentin said, “Why is that so bad?”

“Where Wolf is the warrior, Coyote is the trickster,” Billy said, “The two are brothers, but where Wolf is noble, Coyote is disreputable.”

“Wait a second, I thought the crow was the trickster,” Quentin said.

“Crow is, but he’s the brother of Eagle,” Billy answered, “Look, it gets complicated to explain fully. The point is that if Coyote’s Pack is here, he’s playing his own game. His goal may or may not be the same as ours.”

“But they saved me twice,” Jess protested, “And they called me Little Sister. Why would they do that?”

“Um, probably because you’re Wolf clan,” Billy answered nervously. Jess felt her eyes go wide in astonishment. How was she Wolf clan? As far as she knew, there wasn’t a drop of Native American blood in her.

“So can we trust anything from Coyote?” Quentin asked.

“We can’t answer that,” Mateo snapped, “Slim, are you good to go?” Slim nodded with a fierce determination in his eyes. “Good, I want you and Sport to find which of those Humvees are in the best condition and get them ready to move. Quentin and Billy, help the soldiers finish securing the scene. Collin, The Steve, I want you two to squeeze out every drop of intel you can from that woman without killing her. I’m going to make a phone call, and when I get finished, we’re going after Giant.” Jess followed Mateo as the team broke up to their assigned duties.

“Mateo, I uh—“ Jess started, and then trailed off. How was she going to talk to her foster father? He turned to her and smoothed back her hair. Before Jess could react or say anything, Mateo kissed her on the top of her head.

“Jess, don’t worry. It’s going to be alright. Just do me a favor and concentrate on the mission,” Mateo said calmly and warmly.

“You’re not mad?” Jess asked.

“Oh, I’m furious, but I’m not sure if I should be angry with you, Billy, or myself,” Mateo answered, which just confused Jess even more. “We’ll work this out when we get home. Right now I have to make a phone call.”

“To who?”

“To Kenn,” Mateo answered, “We’ve been bouncing around to every other spirit’s tune, and I’m sick of it.” He reached under his armor and pulled out a small medallion. “I haven’t really talked to God since my divorce. I think it’s about time to ask Him for some guidance.” There was some deep emotion in Mateo’s voice that touched Jess.

“Do you want me to pray with you?” Jess asked.

“Yeah, I’d like that” Mateo answered, “Thanks.”

[Zombie Strike Part 5 Chapter 40]

Friday Quote – Ayn Rand

Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter.

The Gateway Brand Returns…Badly

The Brother shared this article from ArsTechnica about Acer reintroducing the Gateway brand for a line of new laptops. They were less than impressed. From the article:

Back in 2007, Taiwan-based PC manufacturer Acer bought the once-iconic Gateway brand in order to stick a thumb in the eye of rival OEM Lenovo and increase its US market presence. In the 13 years since, the Gateway brand has languished largely unused, while Acer built up its own name in the United States directly. The cow is officially back now, though, with a new line of mostly budget, Walmart-exclusive Gateway laptops.

The new line ranges from $180 to $1,000, and several models seem interesting—but when we looked closer, we found a familiar and not particularly attractive name behind the brand. Gateway is also making two models of Android tablet—an 8″ GWAT8-1 which doesn’t appear to be available retail yet, and a 10″ model available at Walmart for $67. Trying to find more detail on the GWAT8-1 led us to a surprising discovery—it’s actually made (or imported) by EVOO.

In June of this year, we reviewed and absolutely despised a $140 EVOO laptop—a device powered by an AMD A4-9120e CPU, just like the cheapest model of Gateway laptop in the table above. The new GWTN116-1BL has twice the RAM and storage compared to the effectively uncooled, drastically underclocked, and absolutely bletcherous EVOO EV-C-116-5—but when we went sleuthing, we discovered shipping records indicating that it, too, is an EVOO system.

And of course the kicker:

An Acer representative confirmed later that, although Acer does own the Gateway brand, it is not directly involved in the production or manufacture of these devices.

My first computer (that was mine, not one of the family computers) was a Gateway. My family bought Gateway systems for a long time. For the nineties, Gateway was exactly that, a great gateway for people purchasing their first computers. It is disappointing to see such an iconic brand treated so shabbily.

Borepatch Blogshoot?

The infamous Borepatch proposed a Central Florida blogshoot. That piqued my interest. Partly because I thought Borepatch was living up near the Georgia border. Then, he suggests using Manatee Gun & Archery.. That is very close to the Ward Estate. Very close. Very interesting.

Then Miguel muses about making the trek up from the south end of the state. Well, that might be worth trying to find some ammo. Not that I haven’t had much luck in that department.

When the Cabela’s flagship store is showing no ammo, you know it’s bad.

Metal Tuesday – Serenity – My Farewell

Another decent song from a new band. Well, new to me, at any rate.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 5 – Chapter 38

Mexico City, 27 June 2010, 2312 Hours Local: Countdown: 1 Year, 5 months, 3 days

Jessica Montgomery instinctively went limp as the Humvee was violently flipped. Her body slammed painfully against the restraints. After the first couple of seconds, the violent motions completely disoriented her. Jess couldn’t tell which was up, down, or even left or right. All she could do was feel the pain. She watched helplessly as the soldier sitting next to her bounced between the ceiling and the floor before being flung out the window.

Just as suddenly as it started, the Humvee came to rest. Her body hurt all over. It reminded Jess of the time Mateo let The Steve go all out during a hand to hand combat lesson. Jess managed to access her PDA and trigger the pain meds. Oh, how she wanted to just lie there and wait for the medicine to take effect. Mateo’s relentless instruction over the past several months kicked in. Gingerly, Jess found the releases and undid her restraints. More pain as she fell a short few feet. The truck was upside down. Thank God, she’d kept her helmet on. It could have been much worse.

She crawled to the door of the Humvee. It was partially open from the force of the blast. Jess peered through the shattered glass. In the odd green palate of nightvision, Jess saw the lower half of someone in a minion’s ninja suit. The minion’s casual stride was all female. Slightly behind the minion were half a dozen zombies standing like decaying statues. Jess felt a thump above her and heard the screeching howl of a gollum. This was worse than any of the tactical problems she’d faced in training. Only this time, if she was wrong, she wasn’t going to just get that annoying look from the adults. She would end up a zombie.

Jess slowly drew her pistol. There wasn’t time for an elaborate plan, or even a simple one. She aligned the three glowing dots at the minion’s legs. If Jess was going down, she would at least take that one with her. The pain medications finally kicked in, and she felt the edge of her hurt go numb. Jess felt a predatory smile spread across her face. This must be what Collin felt when he stalked someone. The anticipation of waiting to spring the trap. Jess forgot what she was planning next as the cab of the Humvee exploded with sound.

The soldier riding shotgun emptied his M4. The roar was deafening in the close confines of the vehicle cab. Jess’s head throbbed, and she nearly dropped her pistol. Her hearing protection must have been damaged at some point. Jess shook her head to clear the fuzziness. She needed to get into the fight. A brilliant green beam blew out her nightvision. In fact, it wrecked most of her electronics. Frustrated, she tore off her helmet. A sudden breeze alerted Jess that the front half of the Humvee had been sheared off and thrown at least twenty yards away.

Jess knew she should have been scared. Hell, she should be paralyzed with terror. Instead, a cold rage surged through Jess. Her eyes hadn’t adjusted to the darkness, but the minion’s casual walk and darker clothing drew Jess’s eye. Jess brought the pistol up again. Her finger brushed the trigger in a gentle squeeze. Jess heard the muted scream of pain and surprise. The minion dropped to the ground, writhing in agony. Instantly, the zombies with the minion staggered towards the wreckage of the Humvee. Each let out the unmistakable sound of a hunting moan. Jess had to work quickly. Every zombie within earshot of those moans would now be homing in like a missile.

Jess half crawled, half rolled over the sharp edges of torn metal. The scrapes and cuts burned as sand and dust rubbed into them. Jess did her best to ignore the pain as she came up into a kneeling stance. No longer needing the element of surprise, Jess flicked on the flashlight mounted on her Kimber. She had a good ten yards. Jess took a deep breath, sighted on the closest zombie, and squeezed. The bullet lanced cleanly through the bridge of the zombie’s nose before shredding the brain. The zombie collapsed like a marionette as its strings were cut. Jess was already transitioning to the next zombie. This one went down with a shot straight through an empty eye socket. The third received an unintentional double-tap. Numbers four and five went down with single shots each. Jess laid her sights on the last zombie.

She barely caught the glint out of her eye. Instinctively, Jess ducked and brought up her arm. The obsidian hatchet splintered Jess’s bracer. The force of the blow drove her to the ground. Her pistol skittered across the asphalt. Jess turned to see the gollum above her, holding its axe above its head. The blade came down unbelievably fast. Oh God, this was how Jack Winchester died. Jess closed her eyes. She heard the axe coming down and then stop. There was no pain, not even the dull thud sensation she feared. After a few seconds, Jess opened her eyes. The obsidian axe was hovering six inches above her head. The gollum was frozen like a statue. Its eyes were fixed on something behind Jess.

“We meet again Little Sister,” a deep voice said in her mind. The voice felt warm and safe. The gollum scampered back as the giant dog stepped protectively over Jess’s prone form. The gollum hissed and waved its axe as if to threaten the animal. The dog barked once. The gollum scrambled back. It turned to run, but barely got a few yards before two more giant dogs pounced on it. It was fascinating and horrifying to watch the two dogs savagely dismember the gollum. As each part of the gollum was ripped free, it withered to dust in seconds.

“You have to be more careful, Little Sister,” the voice said again as the dog sat down next to Jess. “You are needed in the future.” The giant animal panted patiently as Jess’s mind processed all that had just transpired. She watched transfixed as four more of the giant dogs emerged from the darkness. Their matty brown coats were strangely easy to see in the darkness. It was almost as if they glowed. Two of the animals hunched over the wounded minion and snarled menacingly. The other two gently pulled Slim from the wreckage of the Humvee and gently laid him on the ground.

“Who are you?” Jess finally managed to say as she turned back to the dog that saved her.

“We are Coyote’s pack. Or at least part of it,” the voice answered. “Listen very closely Little Sister. That one knows where the Foul are going.” The dog nodded towards the moaning and sobbing minion. “You must find the Key, Little Sister. You must have it in your hands before dawn breaks. If you don’t, then there will be much more death before this journey ends.”

“What is the Key?” Jessica demanded, “Why do you have to be so cryptic?” The dog looked sadly down at her.

“We wish we could tell you,” the voice answered, “Coyote only tells us these few things, so that we can tell you. Your pack comes. Don’t forget.” The giant dog bent down and licked Jess across the face. Jess recoiled at the warm slickness. Then, the animals were gone, as if they vanished into thin air. Jess stood up at the sound of roaring engines and screeching tires. She froze in mid-step. She was moving. Her pain wasn’t gone, but it wasn’t any worse than after a hard sparring match. Her hand reached up and touched where the giant dog licked her. What had he done to her?

The area went bright as daylight as several Humvees surrounded the battle scene. Jess blinked at the sudden light. Strong arms enveloped her and lifted her off the ground. She recognized the ferocious hug as Quentin. As he set her down, Mateo greedily snatched her into another hug.

“I thought we lost you there,” Mateo whispered into her ear. She could feel his tears on her cheek. Jess knew she should be mad at her foster father for scaring off the one guy she had fallen in love with. At that moment, she let go of her anger and just reveled in the warm hug. When Mateo let go of her, Jess saw that the Army and Zombie Strike had quickly secured the area. The Steve and an Army medic were tending to Slim. Collin and Sport were holding their weapons on the minion who was having her leg tended by another Army medic. Apparently, everyone had figured out who the bad guy was.

“After your Humvee was hit, zombies just came out of the woodwork,” Mateo said as Jess watched all of the activity. “We tried to get back to you as fast as we could.” Jess’s eyes locked on to Billy. His armor was dented and smeared with fluids that Jess didn’t even want to think about. Mateo was talking about the battle, but Jess didn’t hear him. She had nearly been killed more times than she could count in the space of a little over an hour. Giant dogs saved her twice and then talked to her. She had no idea how or if she was going to survive tonight, but she knew what she needed to do. She stormed away from Mateo. She loved her foster father, but this was it. Soldiers and teammates got out of her way as she crossed the battlefield. Billy turned just as she approached. He started to reach out to her, but stopped as his eyes met Mateo’s. Jess grabbed Billy’s head and forced him to meet her eyes.

“Billy, do you love me?” Jess asked, quietly, but forcefully.

“Yes,” he answered, like he was relieved to finally acknowledge what he felt, “But Jess, we can’t—“ Jess cut off his protest as she yanked down his head and kissed him.

[Zombie Strike Part 5 Chapter 39]

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