2021/02/26

Deus Vult

Desu Vult Jon Del Arroz Jesse White Matt Crotts
Art by Jesse White & Matt Crotts

The latest indie comics event from writer Jon Del Arroz is here! This time, the sensationalist scribe has teamed with artist Jesse White and colorist Matt Crotts to bring you a medieval fantasy tale like no other!

DEUS VULT! 
A crusade into another realm...

...leads to the deadliest of evils.

Sir Domingo, Spanish Knight and Holy Crusader, is blessed with a vision on his return from his triumphant conquest in the Holy Land. The Holy Grail appears in the sky, leading him on an adventure to another realm where demons and monstrosities lay waste to all of creation. 

He discovers a strange race of people called the Kityin, who seem more kin to Earth's cats than they do humanity. He alone can lead them to salvation and away from the tyrannical rule of The Demon King. 

Should he fail, not only the Kityin but all the people of all the realms will be destroyed! 

DEUS VULT is a 66-page crusader fantasy graphic novel which will bring back memories of great comics like CONAN THE BARBARIAN and THE MIGHTY THOR.

The story is written by #1 Bestselling and award-winning Sci-Fi author, Jon Del Arroz, artist Jesse White, and colorist Matt Crotts with a special variant cover by our good friend Miss Sashi! 

Check out the trailer

This scorching hot project already funded on day one, but the creators have promised truckloads of tantalizing stretch goals, including bonus art, character bios, maps, and more!

You will kick yourself for missing this event, so don't wait! Back DEUS VULT now!

Already backed Deus Vult? No need to feel left out! The Indiegogo campaign for the continuation of my hit mecha saga, Combat Frame XSeed: SS launches next month! 

Combat Frame XSeed: SS

Get ready for our next record-shattering campaign. Read Combat Frame XSeed: S today!

Combat Frame XSeed: S

2021/02/25

Chinese Rooms

Cyberdine machine learning

Timely blast from the past: A Twitter user dispels the illusions of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Machine Learning 1


Here's the news report on the mystery. It turns out a YouTuber illegally uploaded clips from a fifteen-year-old Japanese TV show that featured "Over Your Shoulder" by Dinosaur Jr. Japanese viewers started to binge on the videos, and social  media created a self-reinforcing feedback loop. When Dinosaur Jr. charted above Ariana Grande, the YouTuber got spooked and scrubbed all the clips from his channel. That left Billboard scratching their heads as to how the anomaly happened.

Machine Learning 2

Pretty fucking terrifying, yes.

Machine Learning 3

"Machine learning" is rhetorical at best and more literally a contradiction in terms. "Learning" is predicated on an intellect, and man can never build a machine with a true rational intellect. Intelligence isn't a matter of sufficient complexity or processing power, as shown by the potentially disastrous results of entrusting scientific research to massive lumps of code.

As should always have been apparent, the scientific method's efficacy relies on scientists' informed intellects, and its accuracy relies on their freedom to run valid experiments. Since both the intellect and the will are non-material faculties, it doesn't matter how much silicon you stack up. Only trained human beings can do science.

A corollary to the thread above pointed out by another Twitter user: Science is as self-correcting as accounting.

None of this is to say that increasingly sophisticated Chinese room style "A.I." won't be controlling many aspects of our lives in the near future.


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2021/02/24

The Long Lent

Lent

It's hard to believe that Lent is here, mostly because the past year felt like one long Lent. During this time of preparation for Easter, Christians are encouraged to renew and deepen our vigilance in prayer, fasting, and penance. Before His glorious Resurrection, Our Lord first had to pass through His sorrowful Passion. If we would be His disciples, each of us must take up his cross and follow Him.

It's a staple of most Lenten homilies, but in our consumerist age, it bears repeating: Giving up chocolate for Lent doesn't mean gorging on caramel instead. Pigging out at Red Lobster--a company which supports infanticide--violates the spirit of abstaining from meat. We are called to practice self-denial. If your Lenten practices are pleasant, they're probably not encouraging much spiritual growth.

Another oft-suggested but salutary idea for Lent is to take on a new spiritual devotion in addition to giving something up. Resolve to pray an entire rosary each day. Dedicate yourself to at least fifteen minutes of daily Scripture reading. Make a resolution to attend daily Mass or Eucharistic adoration.

And here's the key to spiritual practice I've learned firsthand: Once you adopt a new spiritual discipline, NEVER EVER STOP.

Christians need to adopt a nurse shark mentality to the spiritual life. If you're not constantly moving ahead, you're falling behind. There is no treading water. Stop swimming, and you die.

That's a fitting analogy for a day set aside to remind us of our mortality. The Christian should always stand ready to meet death, which as Christ graciously warned us, comes at an hour we know not.

Far from morbid rumination, Jesus' exhortation should encourage us to avail ourselves of the generous channels of grace He has established and made easily available through His Church. Though in Lent we deny the flesh, the soul can have its fill through the overflowing abundance of liturgies and sacraments on offer throughout this holy season. It would be a shame to mortify the body and starve the spirit.

If you've never observed Lent before, this one is the best time in living memory to start. It's a good time to go to confession if you haven't been in a while. Austerity may not be optional soon, but voluntary and involuntary suffering alike can be offered up for our and others' intentions.

For those living under lockdown who wish to have some experience of the liturgy, here is a high Ash Wednesday Mass, courtesy of YouTube:


When the going gets tough, the tough get holy.

Affiliate offer: If you're not writing to persuade, you're writing it wrong. Let best selling author Joshua Lisec teach you the 45 golden rules of persuasion for just $27. Take his course now!

2021/02/23

Combat Frame Data: Dowager Khan

Dowager Khan

Dowager Khan


Technical Data

Code name: Dowager Khan
Nickname: Gorilla-lizard, Ape-hanger, Quasimodo
Classification: Ynzu Controller combat frame
Manufacturer: Ynzu
Operator: Ynzu Controller, codename: Bluebeard
First deployment: CY 97
Crew: 1 pilot in full-immersion cockpit in torso
Height: 18 meters
Weight: 97 metric tons
Armor type: "1D" carbyne laminar armor enhanced with fractal diamond isomers
Powerplant: 2x nuclear fission reactor, mounted in arms, max output 1500 KW each
Propulsion: Nuclear thermal rocket, arm-mounted, 2x 169,000 kg; top speed 4000 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 20, 180° turn time 0.38 seconds; legs: top ground speed 192 kph
Sensors: radar, thermal, gravitic, optical array
Fixed armaments: x2 carbyne wire, attached to x2 gravity anchor, mounted in forearms
Special equipment: Full-immersion cockpit, ion field generator, gravitic cloak, TC/D drive


General Notes

Humanity hoped that the defeat of the first Ynzu Controller in CY 60 would grant them a respite from the aliens' genocidal onslaught. Instead, the Ynzu changed their attack pattern from seemingly random hit-and-run strikes to a protracted siege of Earth.

ISBC researchers deduced the existence of a second Ynzu Controller years before the Coalition military encountered a bizarre new combat frame at L3's Orlando colony. Survivors reported that the anomalous machine destroyed entire XSeed Marine teams and appeared to call and direct a Nidulans swarm before singlehandedly scuttling a Daedalus-class carrier. But a communications blackout denied investigators conclusive proof of the CF's existence.

That proof would present itself in CY 98 when UCS Sovereign Protector came under attack by an Ynzu swarm at Augusta extrasolar colony. A misshapen combat frame vaguely resembling a Claviceps with two optical sensors mounted in a vertical configuration cut a swath through the carrier's defending XSeeds. Its main propulsion was confirmed as a pair of nuclear rocket arrays, one mounted in each pendulous forearm. 

The CF's only known weaponry consisted of an irregular spheroid attached to each arm. Launched by the same graviton-manipulation technology on which standard Ynzu drives were based, the spheroids could attach to any object or even anchor themselves in space. Each anchor trailed a length of ultra-strong carbyne wire, much like that carried by the XCD-001-3 Xanthippe. The unknown CF's main method of attack consisted of anchoring its wire and swinging through XSeed formations at high speed. Not even the XSeeds' carbyne laminar armor spared them from being sliced like butter under a hit knife by the hypersonic wire.

Despite its ungainly appearance, the unknown CF exhibited remarkable maneuverability owing to its drives' placement in its forearms. This configuration allowed the unit to direct its flight with motions of its arms. The thrust nozzles themselves also served as unconventional weapons by spreading a trail of radioactive material in their wake.

Lieutenant Kaiser Eckhart, who engaged the unknown CF in his MCF-Re124 ReXPro, stated his firm belief that the unit belonged to a second Ynzu Controller. UCP Military and ISBC analysts later confirmed Eckhart's assertion. The new Controller's seemingly erratic behavior left them speculating as to its intentions.

The best XSeed novel yet. Read it now!
Combat Frame XSeed: S - Brian Niemeier

2021/02/22

Find Your Sword

Rosary Zelda Meme

 A famous game mechanic in certain adventure games of the eight and sixteen-bit eras involved starting the main character off sans the main tool he needed to win. The Legend of Zelda set this trend by throwing the main protagonist Link into the wilds of Hyrule completely unarmed. 

The story goes that Link actually began the game with a wooden sword in test versions of the game. Early play testers complained to illustrious Zelda designer Shigeru Miyamoto that the game was too hard. In a legendary masterstroke, Miyamoto responded to this feedback by removing the sword from Link's starting inventory. 

As a result, the play testers were forced to compare notes and work together just to find the most basic equipment. This spirit of collaboration carried them through the whole adventure and turned a single-player game into a cooperative experience.

The slow but accelerating collapse of Western society is retroactively turning the Zelda sword hunt into an apt allegory for young men trying to carve out a living amid the chaos. If you are under 50, the system you were taught to thrive in is passing away. Many feel like the world is crumbing around them, leaving them stranded in a strange place without the tools they need to survive.

What can Zoomers, Millennials, and Ys do in such a disorienting situation? As in so many other aspects of life, The Legend of Zelda offers the answer.

You've got to find your sword.

In the context of post-Western post-America, your sword is the tool that lets you interact with this new environment so as to draw resources from it. Instead of a physical weapon, your sword represents the skills and knowledge required to survive - and even flourish - in this crumbling social order.

What is your skill? There are as many answers as there are people. And like Link, each of us acquires an inventory of useful skills and knowledge as we go along. Each new skill and piece of information is another tool in your survival toolbox that will increase your chance of success.

How do you gain this knowledge? Again, the answer differs from person to person. But again, Zelda gives us a clue. Learn from the example of the play testers who shared their knowledge and experience so all of them could win. Whatever your path in life, it is certain that cultivating a trusted group of likeminded peers will make the going easier. Man sharpens man as iron sharpens iron.

The decadent elites who have seized control of the world hate us, and they fear the prospect of their subjects gathering together to share knowledge. That alone is reason enough to network with sympathetic people in your field of interest.

Earlier I stated that everyone will have a different specific answer to the challenges that beset him, but that rule admits of one exception. Every knowledge-seeker must first establish a relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the Divine Logos and the source of all good.

Seek Him first, and the rest will be added.


Affiliate offer: My friend and client Adam has put together a Gumroad course designed to help you identify and hone the skills you need to earn additional income at home. Adam draws on his expertise as a certified therapist to get you thinking about your skills and earning potential in different and profitable ways. Sign up for his course here.

2021/02/19

A 1980s Loser

... lived like a king by today's standards.

1980s Loser

Readers over a certain age will remember the house above as the one used for exterior shots of the house from the Fox sitcom Married... with Children. The series chronicled the life and times of Al Bundy, a shoe salesman going through the motions of life with his best days left far behind him on the high school football field.

A prototype of the dopey dad trend that came to dominate television in the early 90s, Al Bundy was the butt of his comedy show's every joke. Those jokes all revolved around Al being a loser. The writers never missed a chance to showcase just how pathetic Al's life was. Our sense of catharsis came from knowing that, as troubled as our late 80s lives might have been, at least we were better off than Al Bundy.

Mind you, this was a man who owned a three-bedroom house in a Chicago suburb. His car was notoriously uncool, but he owned it outright. And as the show's title suggests, he had a wife and two kids.

It's instructive, looking back these years later, to examine what it was about Al's situation that made him a loser by the standards of his time. Al's first demerit was his profession. He sold women's shoes at the local mall for what we're given to understand was a pittance.

True, by the 80s, retail work had fallen out of respectability. Being a middle-aged shoe salesman was definitely a strike against you in polite society. But what the writers couldn't have foreseen was that showing a man raising a family and owning a home on a single retail wage is an even bigger joke today.

If you frequent this blog, you're probably aware that younger generations find themselves in dire financial straits. Gen Y and the Millennials have seen their net worth plummet by 35% since 1995, exacerbated by crippling debt. The prospect of owning a home, much less one as grand as Al Bundy's, seems like a pipe dream to them.

This is why they can never pull off a successful Married... with Children remake. It is impossible to make a homeowner with a family look like a loser to Millennials and Zoomers. A Millennial as low on the totem pole as Al Bundy was in 1987 would be squatting alone in a derelict Chevy Astro. Calling that show Married... with Children would be brazen false advertising.

Chevy Astro

That brings us to the other source of Al Bundy's woes: his family. Al's wife was a venal, bonbon-chomping shrew that had more respect for their dog and emasculated him at every turn. Their daughter was a vacuous slut, and their son was a shiftless lowlife well on his way to career in petty crime.

In case you're not connecting the dots, the whole series did its best each week to put young people off marriage. The Death Cult propaganda campaign of which it was part has succeeded spectacularly.

US Birth Rates

What obviates any attempt to remake a show called Married... with Children is that no one is having children, and if they are, they're not married.

Large numbers of Millennials can't even aspire to be a 1980s loser.

There is a way out of the poverty trap, and best of all, it doesn't involve selling shoes. Unless that's your thing. Let my friend and client Adam show you how to turn your skills into a profitable home business. Take his course today!

2021/02/18

So Long Uncle Rush

Rush Limbaugh

Legendary talk radio host Rush Limbaugh succumbed to lung cancer yesterday. It's been dawning on more and more Americans that we find ourselves at the end of an era, and the death of Uncle Rush is a major sign of that historical transition.

A lot of folks in dissident circles dismiss Rush as an irrelevant civic nationalist in an age of identity politics. Some even accused him of knowingly dispensing blue pills to keep the people ignorant of their dispossession. 

Admittedly, banging the drum of presidential politics when brazen election rigging has made voting pointless comes off as quixotic at best. But we have to keep in mind that Rush was a product of his environment, and that environment was pre-Clown World America.

For a Baby Boomer who actually managed to live the American dream, Rush exhibited impressively red-pilled moments.

My personal history with Rush goes all the way back to the 90s. He'd really only been a player on the national stage for a few years when I first heard him. One of my buddies from back in the day had a paper route, and the local AM talk station would replay Rush's show on weekend mornings. I fondly recall many a crisp post-sleepover morning riding in the back of their family's station wagon with bound stacks of newspapers. My buddy's dad would tune in to Rush while he drove and I folded.

Not log after, my dad and I would take up the same tradition on my own paper route. This practice continued into high school, whereupon I began listening to the EIB Network on days off and over summer break. To say that Rush influenced my political development would be an understatement. Next to the Church, I credit Rush's show with steering me away from the degeneracy that ensnared too many of my generation.

Like all gateway drugs, Rush's show eventually gave way to more rigorous and serious intellectual pursuits. I'd largely fallen out of the habit of listening to him by the time I earned my bachelor's. The study of theology soon took up most of the time I'd previously invested in politics

Here on the far side of the Trump phenomenon, it's hard for most people to remember what a shock Obama's two terms were for conservatives. The ACA and the legalization of same-sex marriage by judicial fiat dispelled the illusion that the Right stood on an equal footing in the culture war. It's also easy to forget how fed up rank-and-file conservatives were with the establishment GOP. Only the Tea Party kept the Republicans nationally viable.

The reign of Puppet Pal Joe is already shaping up to be Obama's third term. He's already swept away Trump's legacy with the stroke of a pen. To the ruling class, the minor delay that was Trump's unexpected presidency has passed, and they're pulling out all the stops to make up for lost time.

Once again, the GOP is on life support, and politics in general seems like a waste of time.

Students of history know that history doesn't actually repeat. Our rulers burned a tremendous amount of resources and good will installing their puppet. No grassroots movement capable of being co-opted by ConInc. looms on the horizon. Meanwhile, the pretender stumbles from one disaster to another as if his handlers didn't stop to think about what they'd do with total power when they got it.

All signs to our teetering society going its natural course this time. Men like Rush were not made for such times, and his family can take solace in knowing that he didn't live to see the worst.

Those who weather the coming storm will almost certainly see the crisis through thanks in no small part to the countercultural voice in the wilderness that was the Rush Limbaugh Show.

Another major contributing factor to your odds of survival in years to come will be your degree of independence from woke capital. Learn to leverage the skills you already have to generate independent incomes streams for you and your family. Nobody knows this better than my friend and client Adam. Take his home business course now!

2021/02/17

XSeed: SS Trailer

Combat Frame XSeed: SS - Brian Niemeier

Readers have been clamoring for the next installment in the Combat Frame XSeed saga. Now, book 2 in the second explosive XSeed series comes a significant step closer to realization.

It's my pleasure to present the brand-new book trailer for Combat Frame XSeed: SS. Watch the teaser now!


Big thanks to VideoAnon for turning out another triumph!

From the back cover blurb:

SPACE IS A GRAVEYARD

They came to destroy us. Now they're humanity's only hope.

The Guardian Angels race home to confront a traitor. Instead, disaster forces them into a savage battle with an invincible enemy bent on Earth's annihilation.

Can Jehu Red lead his team to victory over a power even greater than their XSeeds? Or will humanity burn on the funeral pyre of history?

Combat Frame XSeed: SS holds the answers. Stay tuned to this blog for news on our upcoming Indiegogo campaign in support of the book. Newsletter members get early notifications, and a free short story, so if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe.

And if you haven't read the first record-breaking book in the new series, don't miss out! Buy Combat Frame XSeed: S now!

Combat Frame XSeed: S - Brian Niemeier

2021/02/16

Shapiro - Carano

Shapiro

In a follow up to the news of Disney's latest middle finger to their audience, it's now been reported that inveterate white knight Ben Shapiro has swooped in to sign fired actress Gina Carano.

It's a testament to Con Inc's influence that anyone on the Right met this news with anything but a groan. Despite having to work overtime to memory hole his many humiliations, Conservative Media's PR machine has convinced many that Shapiro isn't a joke. 

Star Wars fans shouldn't pop the Champaign yet. Not an inch of ground is reclaimed in the culture war that housebroken shills like Shapiro don't immediately seek to walk back.

"It's too much, too fast," they say. Never mentioned is the Left's constant breakneck stampede over the tatters of Western civilization.

The kept men of the Right always find fault with how the victory was won, or else they clutch their pearls over what their Leftist friends will think of them as a result. 

That's how you know they're gatekeepers. Teammates playing for the same stakes as you focus on moving the ball down the field. Professionals keep their heads in the game while the clock is running. They know there's always time to review what did and didn't work after the game.

There's a reason why behavior once relegated to remote rest stops and grubby shops in the seedy part of town have, in the living memory of most people reading this, come to be lionized in the public square.

By now, everybody knows the death cult's M.O. They steadily drip subversion into pop culture to boil public morality like a frog. At the same time, an army of lawyers and officeholders advance an aggressive legislative agenda to enshrine the moral inversion in law. Leftists in Hollywood and Washington work hand in hand.

Make any mention of trying the same effective strategy in Conservative or Libertarian circles, and you'll get no shortage of deer-in-headlights looks. Proposals for exclusive dissident projects that shun Leftists and show active nepotism toward likeminded creators go over like cussing in church.

The most common canard parroted as an excuse for Conservative inaction is a hand-wringing warning not to stoop to the Left's level. Conservatives' incoherent conditioning drives them to condemn identity politics while scrambling to maintain a negative identity based entirely on not being evil like the Left, whom they refuse to admit are their enemies.

Conservatives forfeited Hollywood, the record labels, New York publishing, and the academy. For decades now, it's been the job of gatekeeping outfits like National Review and now Daily Wire to make sure no one effective rises to the top of Conservative media.

Devon Stack is correct. We're not in a culture war. That would imply both sides fighting. This is a culture rape.

We start to fight back by making an end run around the gatekeepers and finding markets for our skills. Adam Lane Smith will show you how to leverage your skills and carve out your place in the market. Take his game-changing course now!

2021/02/15

Not Visual Media

books

There's an old saying in comics that writers can't draw, and artists can't write. That's an overgeneralization. Sometimes you do get a John Byrne or a Frank Miller, but there is a kernel of truth to the cliche. Because an artist is trained to think in terms of visuals, he tends to approach writing by letting the book play out like a movie in his head and writing what he sees in his mind's eye.

Now, visualization is a useful skill. It can really help with writing setting descriptions and action. But it's just one of many tools an author must master to reach the pro level. Over-reliance on visualization makes the whole book read like someone reciting the plot and action of his favorite movie. If you see the narrator taking over the characters' jobs, this is the reason. The only solution is to adopt a whole new way of thinking about writing.

How to tackle this challenge? The only answer, as always, is hard work and lots of it.

In writing, as in all things, you have to walk before you can run. Nobody fully appreciates how hard a major undertaking is until he's elbows deep in it. The public has been propagandized for decades to think that being a novelist is easy. Authors as a whole do a poor job of informing aspirants how hard building professional level writing skill is. Well, have a seat, because I'm going to tell you.

Remember all the time and effort you put into reaching pro level at your current job? Now you need to do that again, but this time as a writer.

To be a writer, you must read. Movies, TV shows, and even comics don't count. You must read novels in your genre, and you must read them voraciously. Go to Amazon. Look up the top 100 currently best selling novels in your genre, and read them all. Twice. First, read them for pleasure as a reader does. Then reread them as a writer. That means reading with an eye to the tools the author used to elicit an emotional response. Whenever the book delivers a good gut punch, stop and read that part again carefully until you understand exactly how the author achieved that effect. That puts his tool in your toolbox. You will need a well-stocked toolbox before you go pro.

Then repeat the same process with the books in Appendix N.

To be a writer, you must write. When you can write 2,000 words per day, every day, you will have reached a professional output level. Write daily until you have written one million words of fiction. At that point, all of the bad writing will have drained out of you. You will then be ready to begin.

No, that's not a typo. I meant begin.

Because the idea isn't just to write. It's to sell what you write. When you've read your 200 books and written your million words, you will have sufficient knowledge of your tastes and abilities to offer your work for sale.

My reaction to hearing this same advice ten years ago was, "A million words!? That's ten 100k word novels. I'm supposed to write ten books' worth of prose fiction and just stuff it in a trunk?"

Yep.

Hard and fast writing rule: First novels always suck.

Every author begins with a millions sucky words in his head, and he has to get the suck out. Selling the suck to readers would do them and the author a grave disservice.

Here's the good news. Just because your first novel falls within those first million words, it doesn't mean you can't come back to it. I did. You should read the first draft of Souldancer sometime [Editor's note: I will never let you read the first draft of Souldancer]. That book accounted for fully a third of my first million words. I stowed it in the trunk until I'd finished off the other two-thirds, wrote a prequel, then came back to it and won a Dragon Award.

You need only patience and discipline to do the same.


I put in the time and improved with each book. Read the results for yourself!

Combat Frame XSeed: S - Brian Niemeier

Get on the fast track to your 2000-word writing days. Let my friend and author client Adam teach you how to Write Like a Beast!

2021/02/12

The Great Star Wars Replacement

Star Wars Replacement

Bounding Into Comics has assembled a list of properties in various media which it deems capable of replacing Star Wars

Following Disney’s takeover of the Star Wars franchise, the storytelling has completely declined epitomized with the absolute failure of The Last Jedi and subsequently The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian.

Not only has the storytelling declined significantly, but the company also employs people who regularly attack its fans such as Rian Johnson and Pablo Hidalgo.

So there are plenty of reasons to ditch Star Wars, and there are a number of properties that can replace it.

This writer was pleasantly surprised and deeply honored to find one of his series on the list.

Combat Frame XSeed is a series of novels written by Brian Niemeier that takes place in a future where tensions are rising between the people of Earth known as grounders and space colonists that make up the Systems Overterrestrial Coalition.

As tensions rise the Systems Overterrestrial Coalition deploys giant manned robots called combat frames in an attempt to put an end to the growing violence.

The first set of novels includes Combat Frame XSeed, Combat Frame XSeed: Coalition Year 40, and Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming. Most recently he released Combat Frame XSeed S.

Combat Frame XSeed: S - Brian Niemeier

I offer my thanks to BiC, along with a slight correction: There are now two series in the Combat Frame XSeed saga.

Find the first hit military thriller series here.

Get started on the second thrilling series. Book two now in the works!

Combat Frame XSeed: SS - Brian Niemeier

It's also encouraging to see nods given to my peers Jon Del Arroz and Richard Fox. Not to mention the original Mobile Suit Gundam, which had a major influence on CFXS.

Oldpub gatekeepers put indie authors on hard mode to grind us down. As always, they underestimated the tenacity of folks who get 100% perfect clear rates in high 90s JRPGs. Having to work five times as hard made us five times as good.

Let the Great Star Wars Replacement commence!

Are you a writer hoping to make a positive impact on popular culture? My fellow author and client Adam will teach you how to write like a beast!

2021/02/11

Star Wars Is Still Dead

Star Wars Is Still Dead

The big social media sites and entertainment rags are aflutter over Disney firing an actress from their Star Wars brand. She's been charged with antisemitism, but her real crime was failing to understand that America now operates under two sets of rules: one for the ruling uniparty and another for the dispossessed subjects they stole the country from.

Gina Carano's excommunication from the Pop Cult carries a touch of tragedy because she was arguing within the moral framework that all civic nationalists have been conditioned to accept. Their knee jerk response to accusations that Trump was Hitler never involved questioning the Left's authority to set the moral standard.

Instead, CivNats continue to argue as if the Left is honest and rational, even as folks like Carano correctly recognize their systematic unpersoning at the Left's hands.

It doesn't occur to Conservatives that people working feverishly to exile them from society for holding the same positions Hillary Clinton did thirteen years ago are fanatics incapable of bargaining in good faith.

Since a core tenet of civic nationalism is that people are interchangeable, and all differences are reducible to disagreements over ideas - nearly always economic - CivNats cannot grasp the far stronger motivating power of tribal, moral, and spiritual identities. This fatal blind spot also blinkers them to the essential friend/enemy distinction at the heart of politics.

As more astute cultural observers have pointed out, a more effective framing for the establishment purge of Conservatives would have been likening it to 19th century discrimination against American Catholics. That is a tribal, moral, and religious hot potato the Left won't touch with a ten foot pole, doubly so with the massive effort they've spent gaslighting people into thinking Puppet Pal Joe is a mackerel snapper.

One-party rule in America now means there is no opting out of the game. Losing means banishment from polite society and the economy, and not losing requires learning the rules. The first step is knowing that there are two rulebooks.

That's not a double standard, contra incessant Conservative whining. That is the ruling party internalizing and practicing the first rule of political power, viz. help your friends and harm your enemies.

The sad spectacle of self-described culture warriors crawling back to Mouse Wars after the slap in the face that was The Last Jedi proves the Right has not learned this rule. The fact that all it took to lure them back was a C+ TV show gives actual dissidents an idea of how much work we've got cut out for us.

Now, outraged fans did get #CancelDisneyPlus trending. But if past behavior is any indication, Disney just has to throw them a bone, and they'll come flooding back. The Mouse knows this, which is why rumors of Carano's replacement by the star of a camp 90s action show are making the rounds. Just watch the consoomers trip over themselves to get back in line.

Even though Carano's firing should serve unambiguous notice that Star Wars is still dead, and it isn't coming back.

There are hopeful signs. I can't speak for other counterculture creators, but hardly a day goes by that a reader doesn't send me a grateful testimonial for helping him reclaim his dignity from the Pop Cult.

What can't go on won't, and our increasingly unhinged elites' soft war on their own subjects is doomed to fail. That doesn't mean they won't take millions of innocent people down with them. If you haven't taken steps to make yourself antifragile, start now.

My good friend and client Adam has a course up on Gumroad that's proven to help folks set up multiple income streams for greater financial resilience. Take the course now!

2021/02/10

Y2K Music Curse

Cake Y2K Curse

In response to yesterday's post, reader Scott W.  solicits learned opinions on music producer Rick Beato's claims of a Y2K Curse.


For those in too much of a rush to watch the video, Rick observes that a whole slew of bands that hit it big in the 90s fell off the map in the aughts. Right around the year 2000, in fact, almost like someone threw a switch.

Here's a partial list of bands Rick cites as victims of the Y2K Music Curse:
  • Cake
  • Blur
  • Live
  • Everclear
  • Collective Soul
  • Blues Traveler
  • 311
  • Gin Blossoms
  • Days of the New
  • Our Lady Peace
Rick is one of the top three or four sources I go to when I want to know something about the music industry. Ignore his insight and experience at your peril.

That said, there may be some apophenia at work in his Y2K Curse theory--nothing as coincidental as, say, the curse of King Tut, but he may be seeing a bit more smoke than fire.

Most of what he observed can be chalked up to a combination of:
  1. Third albums that failed to connect (A member of Jesus Jones told me outright that this is what happened to them.)
  2. The 1996 Telecommunications Act, which Rick does pin some blame on and author JD Cowan has written about at length.
  3. False positives - Some bands he cites as victims of the curse, most notably Live, stayed big into the aughts.
  4. Wild Cards - Other acts that fell prey to the curse owed their decline to issues within the band, e.g. artistic differences, personality conflicts, drug problems, etc. Blur and Oasis were two high-profile casualties of internal drama.
One major industry shift that Rick touches upon but gets bafflingly wrong is the grunge craze. The public did not, in fact, get tired of glam metal. What did happen was big hair bands' contracts came up for renewal in the early 90s, and rather than keep paying established acts the compensation their popularity demanded, the record labels cut them and signed garage bands who'd play for peanuts.

The wholesale replacement of glam metal with grunge was when the top-down realignment of the music industry really started. The industry's twofold problem was that grunge never matched the popularity of the genre it replaced, and record execs didn't think much beyond replacing their expensive labor with cheap labor. 

Sound familiar?

The industry was left holding the bag by the mid-90s when the grunge fad ran its course. A lot of the bands Rick names were themselves stopgap replacements for disappearing grunge acts--spaghetti that didn't stick to the wall.

A harsh reality obscured by the glitz and glamor of showbiz is that most acts, even those that meet considerable success, tend to fail. The perpetually stadium-packing supergroup was a Cold War phenomenon whose day is done, except for the few pre-90s megabands that linger on.

Most groups followed a career path that ran from Mom's garage -> playing friends' parties -> open mic nights at dive bars -> headlining local shows -> van tours of colleges in the tristate area -> B stage at the county fair.

A tiny sliver of bands got a break and found their way onto the lineup at one of the big festivals or were tapped to open for an A list act passing through town. Most of those bands blew their shot, but the percent of a percent that made good landed the coveted Big Record Deal.

That, according to an eye-opening article musician and author David Stewart passed along, was when our gun-slinging guitar heroes' problems really began.

All that hard work paid off. With the help of a video, the album went like hotcakes! They sold a quarter million copies!

Here is the math that will explain just how fucked they are:

These figures are representative of amounts that appear in record contracts daily. There’s no need to skew the figures to make the scenario look bad, since real-life examples more than abound. Income is underlined, expenses are not.


Advance: $250,000


Manager’s cut: $37,500

Legal fees: $10,000


Recording Budget: $150,000

Producer’s advance: $50,000

Studio fee: $52,500

Drum, Amp, Mic and Phase “Doctors”: $3,000

Recording tape: $8,000

Equipment rental: $5,000

Cartage and Transportation: $5,000

Lodgings while in studio: $10,000

Catering: $3,000

Mastering: $10,000

Tape copies, reference CD’s, shipping tapes, misc expenses: $2,000


Video budget: $30,000

Cameras: $8,000

Crew: $5,000

Processing and transfers: $3,000

Offline: $2,000

Online editing: $3,000

Catering: $1,000

Stage and construction: $3,000

Copies, couriers, transportation: $2,000

Director’s fee: $3,000


Album Artwork: $5,000

Promotional photo shoot and duplication: $2,000


Band fund: $15,000

New fancy professional drum kit: $5,000

New fancy professional guitars (2): $3,000

New fancy professional guitar amp rigs (2): $4,000

New fancy potato-shaped bass guitar: $1,000

New fancy rack of lights bass amp: $1,000

Rehearsal space rental: $500

Big blowout party for their friends: $500


Tour expense (5 weeks): $50,875

Bus: $25,000

Crew (3): $7,500

Food and per diems: $7,875

Fuel: $3,000

Consumable supplies: $3,500

Wardrobe: $1,000

Promotion: $3,000


Tour gross income: $50,000

Agent’s cut: $7,500

Manager’s cut: $7,500


Merchandising advance: $20,000

Manager’s cut: $3,000

Lawyer’s fee: $1,000

Publishing advance: $20,000

Manager’s cut: $3,000

Lawyer’s fee: $1,000


Record sales: 250,000 @ $12 = $3,000,000 gross retail revenue Royalty (13% of 90% of retail): $351,000

less advance: $250,000

Producer’s points: (3% less $50,000 advance) $40,000

Promotional budget: $25,000

Recoupable buyout from previous label: $50,000

Net royalty: (-$14,000)


Record company income:

Record wholesale price $6,50 x 250,000 = $1,625,000 gross income Artist Royalties: $351,000

Deficit from royalties: $14,000

Manufacturing, packaging and distribution @ $2.20 per record: $550,000

Gross profit: $710,000


THE BALANCE SHEET


This is how much each player got paid at the end of the game.

Record company: $710,000

Producer: $90,000

Manager: $51,000

Studio: $52,500

Previous label: $50,000

Agent: $7,500

Lawyer: $12,000


Band member net income each: $4,031.25


The band is now 1/4 of the way through its contract, has made the music industry more than 3 million dollars richer, but is in the hole $14,000 on royalties. The band members have each earned about 1/3 as much as they would working at a 7-11, but they got to ride in a tour bus for a month.

Repeat this process for the two albums left on the band's three-record deal, and it's no wonder why most bands that make gold records go back to playing the state fair.

Or at least they used to before the establishment made an end run around the process and just started manufacturing every popular act from scratch.

And since this blog's readership leans towards writers, it's important to understand that New York publishing is even more backward and evil than the record industry.

That 20 grand publishing advance up there? That's for a book the band's publisher paid a ghostwriter 40 grand to crank out.

Unless your craving for validation trumps your need to eat, you are well advised to steer far clear of legacy industry gatekeepers. The secret to avoiding the traps that musicians and authors all too often fall into is knowing the value of your skill and never settling for less.

Even if you're not an artist, you have skills that you can turn into income streams and use to heal the culture. 

My best selling author client Adam Lane Smith will show you how. Take his course today!

2021/02/09

The Music Men

Music Men Backstreet Boys

The more I learn about popular music, the convinced I become about 1997 being ground zero for pop culture's decline.

Like all sectors of the entertainment industry, pop music suffered a marked collapse--not just in sales, but in quality--in the late 90s.

What happened ca. 1996-1999 that brought popular music so low? Did every act suddenly endure a catastrophic loss of inspiration?

It turns out they didn't have to. Pretty much all chart-topping pop is now written by a handful of highly placed songwriters. Three of the most prominent have connections to a particular songwriting group. The man at the center of it all is Martin Karl Sandberg, AKA Max Martin.
Martin Karl Sandberg (born February 26, 1971), known professionally as Max Martin, is a Swedish music producer and songwriter. He rose to prominence in the mid-1990s after making a string of major hits for artists such as the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and 'N Sync. Some of his earlier hits include "I Want It That Way" (1999), "...Baby One More Time" (1999) and "It's My Life" (2000).
Martin's big breakout moment came when he co-wrote and co-produced a majority of the tracks on the Backstreet Boys' album Millennium. That album still holds the US record for most copies shipped, and it's among the best-selling albums of all time with over 40 million copies sold.

And it came out in 1999.

Martin has gone on to write, co-write, and produce hit songs for Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Christina Aguilera, and Taylor Swift. He's written multiple songs for Katy Perry, including the irredeemably pozzed "I Kissed a Girl".

Predictably, he's written and produced for GoGurrrl of the moment Ariana Grande

A quick glance at Martin's catalog reveals Martin's M.O. He writes catchy ear worm beats that disarm listeners against lyrics that encourage conformity with post sexual revolution death cult anti-morality.

These songs are overwhelmingly aimed at girls and young women.

Martin isn't doing his evil work alone, either. He has three influential disciples.
Martin's influence in the music field is also seen in the effect he has had on co-producers. The music site Stereogum singles out three people as his "disciples", Savan Kotecha, Dr. Luke, and Shellback. Time Magazine reported that "There’s a cluster of high-powered songwriters who are based in Sweden, and the grandmaster is Max Martin"
The weaponization of pop music is real. It's due to a coordinated, top-down effort by a small cartel of taste-makers, and it started in the late 1990s.

How much are you willing to bet we'd find a similar pattern operating in other media at the same time?

A likewise small, dedicated group of artists are striving to retake popular entertainment from the death cult grandmasters. Make no mistake, restoring truth, goodness, and beauty to pop culture will be an uphill slog. Men of goodwill with artistic gifts are morally bound to try.

If you fancy reading about the dimension-spanning adventures of a feminine and loyal heroine, check out my award-winning Soul Cycle:

The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier


2021/02/08

Zoomers vs Coomers

A major backlash against the Death Cult is fomenting among Generation Z.

Consider the following chart. Look closely at the generational trends in attitudes toward pornography.

Porn Chart

At first, you may be inclined to lament that more Zoomers want porn to stay legal than any other generation polled.

But on closer inspection, a couple of remarkable data points present themselves.
  1. More Zoomers than Millennials want porn banned outright.
  2. This stat marks a reversal in the trend that started with the Boomers of each successive generation favoring porn bans less than the last.
Perhaps most fascinating is how split Zoomers are on the porn question--more than any prior cohort. Factor in people's reliable tendency to grow more conservative with age and the high likelihood that many pro-porn Gen Zeds are having their freshman fling with Libertarianism, and odds are good that their green bar will shrink to the red bar's benefit.

Lest you still doubt the Zoomers' budding reactionary streak, take a look at another chart, this time on gun laws.

Georgia Gun Law


Note that the age delineations lump Gen Zeds in with some Millennials. It's a good bet that support for C&C is even higher among 16-20 year-olds.

Now, a common mistake older folks make is to impose their Left vs Right filter on groups that eschew that paradigm. By and large, Zoomers who reject the Death Cult's vision are ambivalent or even hostile toward Classical Liberalism, unrestricted free marketism, and government noninterventionism. The see those 20th century ideologies as failed pipe dreams that have no relevance in the post-Western world they've been relegated to.

What does interest Zoomers on our side is the family and faith life their grandparents took for granted and they themselves never had. We'd do well to help guide them to their goal.

And to stop funding people who hate us

Don't Give Money to People Who Hate You

2021/02/05

Dissident Cinema

movie camerea cinema

One windfall of the Star Wars sequel trilogy fiasco is that it clued millions of ordinary people in to what folks in the counterculture have known for years: Hollywood isn't in the business of producing entertainment for a profit. Instead, the movie industry has become a propaganda factory for the Death Cult that's seized control of the culture.

A common topic of conversation in dissident circles, especially among dissenting creatives, is how to use their talents to counter the dominant narrative. Taking the established industry back looks like a nonstarter since Hollywood is on the verge of falling to China.

Creating a parallel dissident cinema scene might be a more feasible idea. I've written before about how it's easier and cheaper than ever to make your own movie. An enterprising director could put together the necessary crew and equipment to make a sharp little indie film with a budget equivalent to the average novel or comic book crowdfunder. Pro quality editing software, and even high-end hardware like a RED cam, is within an upstart production's means.

The real question to ask is how to craft movies that effectively counter the Death Cult's message. Two wrinkles usually arise to derail the discussion at this point. 

First, those of a more Libertarian bent will argue that right-wing message fiction is just as bad as left-wing message fiction, and it's incumbent upon film makers to simply tell an entertaining story.

This objection misses the point because it assumes that the Death Cult successfully spread its message via heavy-handed message peddling. People who make this argument overlook the fact that they themselves were increasingly put off Hollywood's offerings the more overtly the studios pushed their message. If message fic worked, Hollywood wouldn't be floundering. But the Cult's conditioning did work on most people, so the message fic must be a symptom of the conditioning, not the cause.

That brings us to the second mistake that often fouls up countercultural art. This error is more common among Conservative artists who likewise start from the false premise that overt message fic is how the Cult delivers its propaganda. They then rush headlong into the equal and opposite error of purposefully trying to make their own message fic, but Conservative.

Both groups of dissenting artists fail to understand how the enemy managed to indoctrinate several generations with their victims none the wiser. The genderswapping and blackwashing on full display now are just victory laps. Hollywood got to where it is now by using subtle storytelling techniques to break down audiences' resistance.

A detailed examination of these techniques is beyond the scope of this blog post. What can be explained within the confines of this piece is the simplest and most effect means of influencing how movie viewers think.

To understand this method, one need only understand the archetypal role of the protagonist. This is the character who drives the story by setting out on a quest to achieve a concrete goal against opposition.

Hollywood learned through long trial and error to make the protagonist as likeable and relatable to audiences as possible. The idea is to make audiences identify with the hero.

Nowadays, the studios have turned this approach on its head. The contemporary movie protagonist is an utterly inhuman Mary Sue with no compelling reason to pursue a goal since she's already said to be perfect. Instead, she uses her screen time to deliver a series of lectures on Death Cult pieties.

Again, that is not the conditioning. That is a humiliation ritual meant to rub the remaining fans' noses in it.

The conditioning came before that. And the way it happened was by Hollywood churning out decades of movies wherein heroes whom audiences identified with achieved their goals by acting according to the Death Cult's morals.

That point bears repeating. To bring movie audiences around to your way of thinking, show characters they like being successful by acting in line with your moral standard.

Contrary to what anti-message fic purists say, this method does not have to involve hamfisted preaching. In fact, the subtler the delivery is, the better.

Ironically, the last movies to even halfway subtly counter the Death Cult's conditioning were 80s slasher flicks. Contemporary feminist types love to gripe about how anybody who fornicated or lit up a joint received a death sentence, while only the virginal girl survived.

The slasher genre died out in the early 90s. If you look at teen sex and drug use statistics, both declined from their peak in 1980 and only started rising again in the 90s. That's not to give all the credit for the reduction in degeneracy to slasher flicks, but it's undeniable that those movies exerted considerable influence on the youth culture of the time.

To renew the culture, tell stories with appealing heroes who win using Christian moral principles. For more in-depth tips on how to write your own books and make your own movies, read my best selling book:

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2021/02/04

Five Fingers

cove

This story comes from 4chan's /x/ board, so take it with a grain of salt. It does meet the criterion of weird tales purported to be true, so keep an open mind and enjoy.

Okay I'm not sure if anyone else out there will find this story very creepy, but it's certainly the scariest thing that's ever happened to me, so i might as well share at this point. 

I like to think that I've been around long enough to realize that there's more crazy shit happening in the world than their explanations, and I'd say this falls into that heading.

If anyone out there can actually explain everything away, please do. It would make me feel a whole lot better about the situation.

A few years back I was enlisted in the US Coast Guard, hoping to save lives, stop bad guys, and just be an all-around hero--the kind of mindset that most younger guys have at that time. The reality of what I'd gotten myself into was a lot more frustratingly mundane than what I'd hoped for and consisted of a lot more cleaning/field daying, running basic training drills, and just constantly trying to keep various qualifications up to standard as well as gain new ones.

When this story took place, I was still pretty new to the entire thing. I was in for less than a year, and I'd been stationed at the little small boat station on the coast of Maine. I'd grown up in a small fishing town myself, so i was used to having nothing to do but work, drink, and trying to convince the least unattractive girl at the bar to go home with you.

I was hoping for something a lot more exciting--some hotbed of activity like the coast of Florida. That's pretty much the reason why I always volunteered to get underway whenever the boat was going out for literally anything. It didn't hurt that because I was still new and not actually boat crew qualified that all the extra time helped me with all my required knowledge as well as making me look good in front of command.

So that day we were going to get underway to practice some BECCE drills, some basic boat crew stuff for me, and generally just spend most of the day out on the water making sure we were using some hours.

It was a Saturday, so the command was nowhere in sight, and the OOD was a second-class boatswain's mate named Rivard. He decided it was better to get a few of us out on the 47-foot motor lifeboat than just doing some sleep-inducing classroom training, so the crew consisted of myself, who was a break-in, BM2 Rivard, acting engineer was a third-class MK named Ford, a chick BM3 named Brown, another non-rate break-in named Kovats.

All of them were pretty good guys and dependable sailors, so it was a good crew on a good day with little wind and no predicted bad weather, even if it was unseasonably cold for November.

What a lot of people don't seem to realize is that there is a lot more coastline out there considered haunted than they think. Hell, there's probably just as much of it out there as there are haunted houses or whatever between all the harbors and rocky coastal areas. 

Think about it. If a house gets haunted because something bad happened and people died there, then what about all the countless lives lost in a watery horror over the centuries with downed vessels, battles, mutinies, pirating, storms, and everything else. One stretch of coast could potentially have seen more death and murder than any given area of the land it surrounds.

There's no shortage of tall tales to be told if you can find an old salt talkative or drunk enough to really open up. Not all of them are about the other side, either. There have always been tales of, like, things out in the deeper waters--everything from a kraken to serpents to mermaids and sirens. And the important thing about stories like those is that they were all based on some little bit of truth. A kraken can be replaced with a colossal squid, and the story wouldn't skip a beat.

I'd heard stories about there being a place in our AOR that was supposedly a place where all of the above had happened. It was a small natural cove that couldn't have been more than a mile or two square. Everyone at the station had heard something along those lines, but hardly anyone actually bought into it. Mostly we'd just jokingly bring it up in a mock spooky voice when a crew was about to get underway--just basic fucking around with each other. Nothing ever actually happened in the history of the area, and we didn't expect anything to.

Which is why BM2 Rivard decided we should, "live dangerously," as he put it and head out that way for some of our training.

The cove was a little ways out, about 45 minutes one-way. On the ride out we pretty much just joked around and had fun with going over some basic book knowledge. The BM2 was laid back like that. It was pretty chilly out, about 42 degrees with a water temp about the same or a little lower, so we were in out full dry suits, which made it a little harder to move around, but it did make sure we didn't have to worry much about the chill in the air.

Anyway, when we reached the mouth of the cove, Ford threw the life ring off the side and made a mock scream for help. Looked like we'd started man overboard drills. It was my job to maintain visual of the ring and keep shouting its location in relative degrees until the boat could swing around and come in for a pickup, but it was just a drill, so I was trying to have fun with it. So after about the fifth time, I yelled out a position, I turned back to look at BM2and say, "You get that yet?" in a sarcastic tone. But when I turned back around, the ring was gone. It just wasn't there anymore.

Now, these things are designed to be seen. Not only is the ring bright orange, but it has a floating LED light set to flash so many times per second connected to it with a bit of bright yellow line. If you lose it for a second, it's not hard to find again. Nor was the much wind at all at the time, so it couldn't have really gotten very far from where it was.

The water was pretty calm for the ocean, so after a few seconds of not being able to see the ring and not yelling out any location, Kovats comes over and asked what was up, if I was trying to piss someone off with not taking this seriously at all. So I tell him I lost the ring, and I shout back at BM2 that I lost visual on the ring. Then after a few minutes both Kovats and I still can't find it. The rest of the crew comes up to see if we're blind or just retarded, but they obviously can't find it, either.

I tell them I saw it perfectly one second, then when I turned around I just lost visual completely. But they all thought I was lying and that i must have never had a visual and wanted to make myself look less bad if I said I was paying attention at one point. Even BM2 Rivard didn't seem to believe me, saying that life rings don't just sink; that they're actually made to do the exact opposite, and that I'd probably have to explain to the XPO why our 47 is missing a ring now. 

I called BS on that, but he didn't want to hear it and just wanted to get on with the training. I was pretty pissed at the fact I was basically getting in trouble for lying, so I didn't really notice at first a slight change in the sky.

Kovats asked me if I noticed how the clouds seemed to be getting a bit darker as we went into the cove, but I told him there isn't supposed to be any rain or snow or anything, so it's probably just a little overcast that'll probably let up in a bit.

"I don't know man, isn't overcast normally more just gray?"

He had a point. The clouds did seem darker; more like a thunderhead in color, but like every cloud was a mini thundercloud.

I told him he's just letting the stupid stories about this place get to him. "What are you, some kid afraid of bedtime stories?"

Asking that kind of shut him up about it, but between the clouds and losing a life ring out of nowhere, I had to admit I might have been feeling a little creeped as well.

So anyway, we were in the cove with Ford and Brown having me practice working the tow bit, and Kovats was with BM2 going over the nav equipment and piloting the boat. The sky had stayed that unsettling blackish color, and I could feel a weird feeling in the air--like something wasn't quite right, but there was nothing obviously wrong at the same time. The only thing I could compare it to is if you've ever been standing outside during the eye of a storm.

I saw Brown shiver a little and swore, following it up with the rhetorical question about wasn't it supposed to be good weather today? Being one of the new guys, I didn't want to let that go. I always get ragged on, and I needed to give my share back when I had the chance.

"I didn't take you for the damsel in distress type. You letting some clouds and scary stories get to you now?"

She shot me one of those sarcastic grimaces people give and shoved me in the arm.

Just at that time though, the engines jerked to a complete stop. Just as she shoved me there was a heart-sinking grinding noise, and the sudden jerking of the boat mixed with the shove was almost enough to send me over the rail. The thing is though, that while I was leaning over the rail thinking I was about to go over, I could have sworn that I saw a face just under the water. It was so quick that I almost thought I didn't see anything, but I definitely saw a pale face with eyes as black as the clouds were becoming. 

I was taken aback and still staring into the water when Brown came over and grabbed my arm and asked if I was okay and said we need to go meet up with BM2.

I was a little shaky in my response, but now that my nerves were calming down from almost falling in, I realized that I had just seen my own reflection in the water, and that it wasn't anything more than that.

Mentally scolding myself for being so stupid and quick to assume, I went with Brown to muster up with everyone else. Ford had already gone down into the engine compartment to see what was going on, while the rest of us were in the cabin with BM2. So far no one knew why the boat stalled, but there was some more good news to go with what we already knew. All of the electronics died when the engines went: plotter, radios; everything. 

At first I thought we were screwed and couldn't contact the station. But I remembered that probably all of us had our cell phones on us, even if we weren't supposed to, so I took my phone out. It was dead.

BM2 told me to make ready the anchor. He said that he'd just done an ops and position check less than 10 minutes before, so they won't even try to contact us for another half hour. Which means it'll be up to a few hours before anyone gets out here to pick us up.

I made my way forward to the bow and started rigging the anchor with some line. I toss the anchor over and start paying out line, and I hear what sounds like something swimming along the surface of the water.

I stop with the line and do a quick look around me and only see small wakes around the boat.

I'm starting to feel pretty eerie at this point. I just want to finish anchoring and get back off the bow, when the line I'm holding is tugged from my hands. It's enough to make me wonder what the hell just happened, when the rest of the line starts getting pulled pulled into the water. It's going too fast, and I'm so freaked that most of it's gone before I can even think to move.

I managed to wrap the end of it around the Samson post and throw on a few figure eights, when whatever was pulling us ran out of line. There was a sickening lurching noise as the entire boat got jerked bow-first at a 45 degree angle downward. 

Once again, I almost went over at that point. I was like, Fuck this! but I did notice the Samson post was all bent to hell. 

Now the sky's pretty much black, but there's still daylight somehow--kind of like the opposite of a sun

shower. I go into the survivors' compartment where everyone's gathered, and I'm just in time to hear Ford complaining about us playing music at a time like this. Brown asked him what the hell he was going on about; we didn't even have anything electronic working to play music with. But Ford said, "I know you were playing some kind of music. I could hear it down in the engines." 

Just then, everyone noticed I was there, and BM2 wanted to know exactly what happened while I was up there. I told him exactly what happened, and twice that day I was called a liar.

I said, "Let's go up there, and I'll show you I'm not lying." And lo and behold, there was the post all bent and messed up with barely any line left.

BM2 got a kind of worried look on his face that matched everyone else around me. I heard the sound of swimming again. This time I just waited a second and asked if anyone else heard it, but Ford yelled that he could still hear the music. Like someone singing long notes without a tune.

We all look at each other for a second before Brown says, "MK3, there isn't any music. No one hears

anything."

Wham! Something rocks the boat.

We all look at each other, scared shitless. 

Wham! again. 

We booked the hell back indoors to the survivor's compartment. As we were scrambling along the side of the boat, one more wham almost threw Kovats over, but Brown grabbed him and steadied him.

Once we were all indoors, the pounding stopped. After a minute or two of silence, Kovats says, "Okay, everyone realizes that was something hitting us intentionally, right?" 

BM2 tells him to shut up and that we don't need anyone to make things worse right now. He does say that there's clearly something up, and that we need to take the right precautions. He told Ford to go up and check the anchor line and for the rest of us to prep some pyro. He's going to check the radios one more time, and if they still don't work we'll need to send off some flares.

So Brown, Kovats, and I break out the pyro kit and start making sure it's all still good. It obviously was, we just needed something to occupy ourselves.

Brown asks me what I think is going on. I tell her I have no idea, but I've got the worst feeling that things might get a lot worse before they get better.

BM2 comes back and says everything's still shot, just like he thought. He told me to go up and get Ford, because it should not take that long to check on a line.

I called Ford's name as I was coming up to the bow, but when I got there, he wasn't up there. I thought that was weird, but that maybe he just went around the other side as I was coming up, so I circled back around and checked for him on the fan tail. He wasn't there, and I didn't see him get into the survivors' compartment with everyone else, so I asked if he's in the engine room. BM2 asked me what I'm talking about. Didn't I find him on the bow?

At that point I tell everyone to go topside because we must have a man overboard. We all rush up and start yelling his name and looking for any movement in the water. BM2 has the binoculars out and starts doing a search for Ford. After close to 15 minutes, we didn't find anything. 

BM2 is clearly frustrated and pissed. He starts blaming me for wasting everyone's time because Ford's not in the water. I tell him that there's nowhere else he could be, because if Ford went into the engines, he would have seen him himself, and if he were in the cabin bridge I would have seen him BM2 said that Ford was wearing bright orange and an inflatable PFD; he didn't just fucking sink.

At the point I remembered the anchor line, and my stomach turned. I thought to myself, No he didn't just sink; not on his own. 

BM2 just went for the pyro and fired off a parachute flare I was left standing there putting things together in my head. The face I thought I saw, the anchor line being pulled away from me, the whatever it was ramming or hull, and the sound of something swimming. I could still hear the same sound.

Something was going on here, and it was more than just ghost stories and weird feelings. Something was here with us in the water, and it wasn't exactly hiding. 

I snapped up a basic flare--the kind they show in the movies that you just hold and wave around while it burns, I told the BM2 and everyone else to come with me over to the taffrail and just watch. I dropped the flare in the water so the burning end was facing us. Within a minute, we couldn't see the light from it anymore.

Quickly I grabbed another one and did the same thing. Kovats asked what I was doing, but I said to just shut up and watch because the sound of swimming was still there.

Just before the light faded, we saw a big shadow swim over the light. We all backed the fuck up and went down into the compartment. Everyone was scared, But BM2's skin had turned the same shade as a piece of drawing paper. He just kept whispering, "We can't be here. We have to go. We need to leave. We can't be here anymore."

The first thing I thought of to do was to cut the anchor line. I'd rather drift aimlessly than have a physical tie to whatever was down there. BM2 had clearly gone bye-bye, so I told Kovats and Brown what I'd planned to do and for them to sit tight; I'd be right back.

I only had my small boat crew knife with me, so I knew it might take a minute or two to completely cut the anchor loose. I went up to the bow as fast as I could and went to work cutting us loose. I was about halfway through the line when, wham! we were hit again.

It's like whatever's down there knows when we're vulnerable.

Wham again, and I still had a way to go.

Wham! They were getting more frequent now and more forceful. That last one rocked me back on my heels.

Almost done now. Just a few sec-- 

Wham! Wham! Two right in a row.

Almost there! 

Wham! again, but I was done now. We were loose, and I could book it back to the compartment. Just need to make it past the side of the boat, and wham! I was in the water. Third time's the charm.

As soon as I was in I realized I could hear music now, too. It sounded like someone singing long tuneless notes, like if a person were to try to sing a whale song.

When I saw it, I was terrified out of my mind. It was just below the surface, not quite breaking the water. Whatever was coming towards me seemed to be confident. It was taking long serpentine strokes getting to me. A shark or anything I knew wouldn't take its time. It would go right for you. Whatever this was, it was playing.

It was about a meter away from me when I felt something strong pull me. I screamed. And then I was back on the deck of the 47, soaking when but alive. 

Apparently when the pounding started again, Brown and Kovats had come up to make sure I was okay and saw me fall in. They were just quick enough to pull me back up before whatever was in the water got to me.

I asked them if they saw the same thing I did. They both got real quiet but didn't say no.

After that we all hunkered down in the survivors' compartment. BM2 looked a little better, but he was still clearly out of it.

It turned out that last pounding actually did us a favor and ended up inadvertently pushing us toward the mouth of the cove. Not long after that, the rescue crew found us. We were all shaken pretty badly and not really able to tell the rescue crew where MK3 Ford was. All we could do was convince them that he was not in the cove and not to go back in to look for him.

The ride back was quiet, uneventful, and pensive. I did ask BM2 Rivard what it was he saw that made him lose it like he did. He looked me dead in the eye and said that when whatever it was swam over the flare, he saw its fin. Only it wasn't a fin, because fins aren't long and slender. Fins don't end in five fingers.

We never found any trace of Ford.


For another terrifying tale of a doomed voyage, read my breakout space pirate novel Nethereal:

Nethereal - Brian Niemeier