For those concerned with such things or just a mite irritated with Patreon at the moment, I am pleased to announce that I now also accept monthly donations via Liberapay. Patreon won’t be going away, so really, this just means you have a bit more freedom of choice, and who doesn’t like that?
Also, for those of you who don’t yet own copies of the earlier books in the series, special countdown deals on the Kindle editions of both Vignettes of the Star Empire and The Core War and Other Storiesare now running on Amazon.
Yeah, that’s pretty much the first thing they teach you to watch in espatier school.
Although they really should cover how not to make re-entry, too. That said, it takes one hell of a personal force-field not to have left a rather bigger crater than that.
Well, your night report is gonna be interesting.
Nice technical education, too.
Well, hello, young-looking Coulson and primordial Fury.
I love a subtle undercover mission.
Wait, so did you go back to not acronymizing yourselves at some point?
“Not on the periodic table?” Seriously?
Someone’s memory blocking techniques need work. See, this is why you don’t use that as a substitute for memory erasure, and preferably filling in the gaps.
Are you wondering yet where your stock of Terran lore comes from? I presume they didn’t cover that in Kree school?
You’re gonna have a very confusing family.
Aw, they’re bonding.
Nice kitty. Nice, not at all suspicious, kitty.
So, a Kree researcher building something on Earth. I wonder what the Kree is for “stone knives and bearskins”.
Oh, my. Now that’s an interesting picture, isn’t it?
See, cold, rational judgment at this point would also conclude that that guy’s lying like a weasel.
Always that good, huh, Coulson.
Ah, Ronan. Just popping in to remind us of the dick factor.
Always good to have a memory cascade in a box lying around.
With just a little deception, then.
That was actually an astonishingly nice landing.
Oh, of course it is. Who else would it be?
Wait. All you need to do to get your ridiculous quantities of mojo is blow up a drive core near yourself? Shit, we’d be blowing them up every week. (Insert chorus of “That’s Not How Any Of This Works.”)
Yeah, that sounds like the Accusers. Based on the example we’ve seen, anyway.
Kid, we like you. You’ve got a good future.
Ah, yes, the curse of the shapeshifter. Taking requests.
Always secure your cat before leaving the atmosphere.
Hello, spaceship. Miracle you didn’t run into anything up there.
Oh, that explains it. It’s that “core”… wait, is that where that’s supposed to be right now? Guess Howard Stark was behind that project at some level?
That’s a cute name for brainwashing.
Hard to fight inside someone else’s virtuality.
Now that, on the other hand…
…especially since that is a restraining bolt…
…and the “Supreme Intelligence” appears to lack quite a lot by way of actual supremacy.
Well, that’s one way to encase an Infinity Stone. Damn lucky you didn’t accidentally a flerken’ god, though.
Yes, very good kitty.
Not so good kitty. Unless…
…damn, he’s good at that.
Who needs a plane when you have incredible cosmic power, right?
Also: evidently the (yellow) mind stone in the scepter empowers people with blue-themed mojo, while the (blue) space stone empowers people with yellow-themed mojo. Does that seem right to you?
They’re not ballistic warheads if they have engines, guys. Sorry, but no.
And they’re severely outmatched. May I suggest the tactical maneuver known as Running The Fuck Away While You Still Have Ships Left?
And that would be why Fury never tells the eye story.
So, one reversed-order pager incluing.
Ah, yes, the so-briefly “Protector Initiative”. Ha!
…meanwhile, back in the aftermath, and y’all really should have seen her coming.
Which it does. Not something a direct analog to which would exist *there* , mind you, inasmuch as defending yourself and civilization is something written right into the Imperial Charter, Section III, Article V: “Responsibilities of the Citizen-Shareholder”1. But the underlying sentiment, that certainly does.
(And the technarchs have their equivalent of the Ritual of the Iron Ring, too, as do many others. One of these days, I should trot out, for example, the plutarch version.
No-one has forgotten or denigrated the memetic power of ceremony in this ‘verse. What else, indeed, is the Logarchy of Protocol, Ritual, and Symbology for, or the entire profession of symposiarchs?)
And if you were wondering if the lay orders of Barrascán have appropriate ceremonial along these lines, well yes, they do.
Well, that, and you aren’t going to find anyone prepared to tolerate being described as “the weak”.
This piece of history is really sucking for the Asgardians. Culled twice? (Or three times, by the end.)
EBONY MAW, YOU POMPOUS ASS!
Oh, Loki. Don’t ever change.
Well, that’s a new experience for the Hulk, and I don’t think he cares for it very much.
And Heimdall of Asgard dies well.
Well, shit. Loki might actually be really dead this time. Never expected to be saying that.
And that’s some nice targeting for a dying god.
Aw, those crazy kids got back together. Excellent. Shame about the interruption.
Man, it would be nice if our universe came with a bunch of convenient ontotech keys. As long as they were in the right hands. Namely, ours.
What the hell is that, a giant flying cyclotron?
Great distraction, kid. Completely indistinguishable from genuine panic. And great cameo.
Pompous ass and dumb muscle. Nice pair.
Damn, Thanos gave the big guy PTSD.
Now that’s some fancy suitage. Pretty sure you can’t actually make one even with our tech, but still. Unless that’s vibranium, maybe.
Spider-Man has evidently has time to get used to Starkplanations.
Ah, that new suit smell. Nice crazy-prep.
Man, we love these guys.
Not sure you have god wipers.
Drax has quite the man-crush, there.
Well, that’s a hell of a thing to bond over. Such magnificent dysfunction.
He decimated Xandar? Damn. We liked that place.
Nidavellir sounds interesting. Let’s go there. The audience is very much with Rocket, here —
Well, okay, except that last bit.
It can speak! (Not the mind stone; that we were expecting. The one-man brute squad.)
You have a beard now.
And Team Freedom And The Right Thing continue to kick ass. Were we expecting any less? We were not.
This, presumably, is the culling of Gamora’s homeworld.
So, literally killing half the population.
That’s a hell of a thing to ask. Even more of one to have to ask.
Drax, the Destroyer of Moments.
Also, Tivan, what in the universe could you possibly sell an Infinity Stone for?
And there I was expecting Drax to play the role of Leroy Jenkins.
That was too quick.
The reality stone. Right.
Okay. That was both messy and awesome.
Damn. All that for nothing.
And this Ross continues to prioritize being an asshat over, well, reality. Fortunately, Rhodey knows that.
Thank you, Cap, for continuing to be the voice of ethics.
Shuri built you a new arm! Can’t wait to see how this one performs.
I’m guessing you missed hearing about the whole Dormammu incident?
Makes perfect sense to us. Also, you have the same chronic hero syndrome as your mentor, there.
Beautiful. And the perfect end for said pompous ass.
Well, it is a Strange name.
Welcome to the team. Everyone else’s induction was about that short, too.
Seriously, that’s your motivation? DO YOU KNOW HOW BIG THE UNIVERSE IS? AND WITH THE SIX STONES YOU’RE LOOKING FOR, COULDN’T YOU DOUBLE THE SIZE OF THE UNIVERSE ANYWAY? OR AT LEAST THE AMOUNT OF RESOURCES?
AND YOU KNOW WITH POPULATION GROWTH YOU’LL HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN?
…and that looks really uncomfortable.
Thanos shows that he does know the one way to make torture work.
Nidavellir sounds like one hell of a forge.
We understand your motivation, Thor. Just hope you have something left when it runs out.
You collecting body parts again?
Well, okay, it was one hell of a forge.
3/4 of a ship isn’t so bad.
“Blanket of death”.
Mr. Lord is his father…. oh, wait.
I’m guessing scrying gambit. Yep, scrying gambit.
Those are poor odds. Or a certainty, depending on how you look at it.
…okay, how did you get there?
Which raises the question: just how sapient/sophont are the stones? Other than mind, obviously.
So, the soul stone has a test that guarantees only deeply terrible people can take it. Seems poorly designed.
Nice kinetic barrier. Couldn’t do better ourselves.
Well, I guess they probably would have some spares.
Jump-starting a neutron star. Impressive. Also, what the hell are the dwarves made of?
Put Banner in the Hulkbuster suit. Cute.
Nice to see T’Challa and M’Baku getting along so well now.
Ah, the infamous Inhuman Wave Attack.
A bold move, and did Thanos teach any of his minions tactical acumen?
(Guess he’s helping to reduce overpopulation by ensuring as many of his own armies die as possible.)
Okay, what the hell is Thor made of? Flesh-phase neutronium?
The axe is Groot.
The audience wonders how the Bifrost is still working when its generator presumably got all blowed up with Asgard.
Still a grand opening move.
This not-plan is going remarkably well.
…until then. Quill, dammit. We understand, but damn it.
You just threw a moon at them. A friggin’ moon.
Dual-wielding a raccoon. That should go on the resume. But watch your arm.
And I shall call you Excessive Wheelbots.
Well, Okoye, that would be why.
Some of those armored war rhinos seem like they’d be useful about now.
You won’t like him when he’s angry, either.
…and now you’re throwing singularities.
That is probably the greatest honor a human has ever received.
This, presumably, is the one path out.
Okay, that’s a really nice starship-killing axe.
…did he just turn Bruce into a half-fossil?
How impressive is it that the Scarlet Witch is able to significantly hold back Thanos while simultaneously destroying an Infinity Stone? All of impressive, we say.
Horrible as it is for those people who have already had to make the worst possible heroic sacrifice and have it be for nothing, having it actually reversed right in front of your eyes manages to out-horrible it.
(Worse, in-‘verse, because this might actually be a possible kind of causal weapon.)
Oh, gods. So close.
And Peter dies thinking he failed. Thanos needs to die twice for that alone.
(Huh. How did Bruce get out of being half-phased into solid rock?)
Hope that pager calls someone… you might have been better off calling most of a movie ago. Did no-one keep Fury up to date?
“THANOS WILL RETURN”. Well he’d better. He’s got a hell of a lot of red in everyone’s ledger.
…really, they’re not gonna want to make the audience wait too long for Endgame, ’cause the audience is all heated up and baying for ol’ purple-chin’s blood. Now it’s personal.
(Which is to say, they are a passionate race, and they have an understanding of the proper protocol for heroic sacrifices, which is to get together, hunt down whoever was responsible for ’em, and get medieval on their ass. And they’ve been following these folks through their triumphs and tragedies for eighteen movies now.
This is going to be a really hard one for the Imperial audience to understand. Not because it’s not an awesome movie, or anything, but simply because they have absolutely no cultural context for the background – and there’s only so much gnostic overlays can do.
(For those who are haven’t been keeping detailed track of the cultural background elements, here’s your quick summary of the main divergence points in their history:
Well, for one thing, there was considerably less phenotypic divergence to go from, because of the limited initial population, slowed divergence, and a couple of bottlenecks, so while people could talk about the six original eldrae races, the two that came later, and the further divergence of cladism, it was never quite so immediately apparent. Which I mention not to explain a lack of racism, but rather to point out why the racial distinctions we make are so non-obvious to them…
…but even that isn’t particularly relevant, since no-one got around to inventing hierarchical moral racism. At least part of that is down to the various different sets of instincts we’ve addressed in a whole lot of places (starting here) and in particular being too individualist to really grok group identitarianism and associated status games; as for the rest —
— well, let’s just say that the civilization whose unofficial motto was always “slavers, die!” never found any particular need to develop copious justificatory bullshit for treating people as property.
Colony, and its derivatives, don’t have the same contextual meaning. (See here for more.) A colony is founded out of nothing; if there were people there already, it ain’t a colony, not in Eldraeic.
And even if you do get around that problem by translating “colonizer” into traän-rianqármoníëdaráv (“conqueror”), you then face the secondary problem that Earth-style colonialism is not how the Consolidation worked. (You can tell that because, y’know, all Earth’s empires fell, and most of them – especially in the “colonial” era – didn’t work very well for the owners even when they were up and running.) There were no metropole-periphery distinctions, no subject peoples versus ruling ones, no mercantilist exploitation (free trade, rather, which enriches everyone – just as planned). Admissions were preferred to forcible annexations, and even forcible annexations became peers with all other constituent nations. And history, naturally, proceeded very differently…
The sort of ugly urban ghetto of poverty and its associated vices that Earth cultures like to shove people in to oppress them doesn’t exist there, either. Partly for reasons as given here, but also because of things like the Citizen’s Dividend, eleemosynary organizations, and because the Empire has a pretty firm grasp on its economics and the shit you don’t do if, like the Empire, you hate poor people and wish to solve this problem by enabling them to self-upgrade into rich people.
So as you read through the point-by-point below, the thing you need to remember is that – with the possible exception of anyone who’s taken the official Exploratory Service “Barbarians Gonna Barbar: Here’s How” course – while the audience may love this movie, they don’t really get this movie. Earth-style racism doesn’t have anywhere to fit within their cultural context. It just reads like humans decided to arbitrarily pick a subset of themselves to be giant dicks to just because, and who the hell does that?
So, anyway, here we go:
Vibranium has lots of interesting properties, evidently. But, hey, so does our orichalcium.
This, we presume, is not Wakanda.
Is that a… glowy lip barcode? Interesting ID mechanism.
The Third Directorate approves of your spying on your spies.
One of the poorest countries in the world? Oh, this is quite the cover-up, we can tell already.
How to get an Imperial audience to stand, cheer, and root for you from then on: introduce yourselves by whacking a bunch of slaving assholes while being awesome.
And now we go straight from “my, that’s a gorgeous landscape” to “ah, this is where Earth has been hiding its real advanced civilization all along”.
Given the interesting properties of vibranium, one would think someone would have noticed what that was made of. Or at least that it was made of something unusual.
Between the post-poisoning conversation and the “spreading out the crime scene”, these guys are into some cold shit.
(For anyone who might have the wrong idea of what the hyper-civilized Imperials might think of the ritual-combat succession and so forth, they have a great deal of respect for a culture that preserves its traditions and authenticity during its advancement, rather than getting all bland as many less respectable cultures do. And they have some interesting succession mechanisms of their own. And, y’know, it’s easily interpreted as a kind of consensual governance mechanism.)
((I’m just going to take a moment to add to my preamble that this was something the Empire positively encouraged during the Consolidation, because having many diverse parts and cultures to draw from was one of the major factors that made the whole effort worthwhile.))
Can’t say they’re going to think much of M’Baku’s ideas, but they certainly respect his willingness to put himself on the line for them. And both his and T’Challa’s actions at the end of the fight.
There is going to be, I foresee, much speculation about the Ancestral Plane and its relationship with vibranium’s other properties. And that sky. (Comparisons to the Ocean of Souls included.)
T’Chaka delivers very good advice. Very hard, indeed.
Case in point: both Nakia and W’Kabi are making exceptionally good points.
Presumably someone like Klaue is where Howard Stark got the vibranium for Cap’s shield? That seems like something that’ll come back to bite later.
Shuri has best lab. And terrible best taste in puns.
Nanofabric, bead-tech, a sand table based on utility sand, vector control (!). Awesomeness.
It’s a little early in the movie to contemplate sequels, but honestly, at this point the audience is hoping for an entire movie titled Shuri, Tony, and Bruce Do Science To Things. Throw in Hank too, maybe.
Oh, gods, it’s a Ross.
Well, aren’t you charmingly eccentric.
Kicking that much ass in a formal dress, it’s easy to see how Okoye got to the top of the Dora Milaje.
Oh, that’s what’s in the arm.
A vibranium car. With, presumably, vibranium-infused glass windows. And with that remote-driving system — hell, you could just remote-drive it through anything you didn’t want to be there.
Guessing that arm-tool is Wakandan in origin, since it seems able to blast vibranium (a presumably specialized task). And picking up all the pieces of the vibranium ex-car is going to be a hell of a job for some Wakandan-on-the-ground.
Diplomacy, I believe, is not her business.
Okay, this Ross may be all right. Also, those kimoyo beads are even cooler than we thought.
W’Kabi, you know there’s a difference between “not trying” and “not succeeding”, right?
So, between your collection of kill-scars and your expendable girlfriend, we’re guessing you’re a serial asshole. And with that ring, that’s some bad news.
Oh, gods, you’re the kid. Who your father just abandoned there. In a “civilization” which is starting to sound like a very unpleasant place. Although we’re guessing “your people” doesn’t mean Wakandan expatriates for assorted reasons, and this is where we’re failing to grok, per preamble…
And now we know what Everett Ross’s “have I just been abducted by aliens?” face looks like.
Look at all the pretty maglevs!
So, the CIA took someone whose “people” – at least on the maternal side – their parent civilization was oppressing the hell out of, and trained them in breaking civilizations. How did that possibly seem like a good idea?
Wait, this idiot planet is oppressing people based on melanin levels!? What the hell!? (There are probably not enough emphasis italics in the world to express the strength of this reaction, given that despite all the really dumb-assed things in the galaxy that they’re aware of, this one is even dumber.)
…and assuming the facts are as presented, N’Jadaka does have a point. A very good point. But even if his strategy would succeed perfectly, he’s about the least suited person in the world to carry it out.
Oh, shit. There is no limit to how badly this could go.
One also has to wonder what N’Jobu would have thought of his son’s actions, given how destructive they seem likely to be for Wakanda.
…yeah, you’re definitely going to work out as king. Guess that civ-breaking training stuck. On the other hand, especially given how easily the keepers gave in, we frankly disbelieve that that was all of the Heart-Shaped Herb.
“And their children”. Oh, the irony. Real seeker of justice you are.
M’Baku, you enormous troll!
With the note that his subsequent actions only increase our respect for his strength and honor, as well as his enormous trollishness.
Assuming, that is, that you want the world to think of you as the architects of a bloodbath everlasting.
Really, W’Kabi? Really?
…although those shield-cloaks are really cool. Paging a kinetic barrier designer to the engineering courtesy phone.
Is that… an armored war-rhino?
(On a personal note I really want that sand table.)
One day people may figure out that beating on the Black Panther only makes him stronger, but it is not this day.
Yeah, that’s your motivations made plain, all right, pretty words notwithstanding.
We think that is called battle trolling.
Everett is best Ross.
Although despite his brokenness, his crimes, and his plan to unleash horrors in revenge, the audience does feel sympathy for N’Jadaka’s tragedy in the end, especially after those dying words. (And, it is very fair to say, considerably less for the entire rest of the planet which allowed the horrors that broke him to happen.) And for the greatness that could have been, had they not thrown him away as a child.
And is thus cheering for T’Challa’s new outreach policy.
(The similarities here with their own difficulties with trying to do good in the rest of the Worlds, and the problems of trying to do it by force, do not escape anyone.)
Ooh, you’re going to feel really dumb for asking that, French guy. As is only right and proper, because as questions go, it was neither courteous nor wise.
…and evidently they figured out how to fix Bucky a lot faster than anyone thought. Cover-up wins again!
So. Yes. The audience loved the movie, and Wakanda, and our protagonists, very much.
But, by damn, has their opinion of the rest of Earth (formed, you will recall, essentially from the previous MCU movies) dropped more’n a few points.
Guess we’re going to have to assume some sort of introductory foo, here. Otherwise no-one’ll know who Spider-Man is, in medias res and all. Apart from what we saw in Civil War.
Well, lady, you just lost all our sympathy. You don’t stiff someone on a contract.
Yeah, those are some pretty nice things.
Ah, quick recap.
Nice self-awareness there, Tony.
Yeah, waiting on the call sure does suck.
Seriously, a dick pun is the best you can do?
You need some sort of changing room. Really.
Also, more work, maybe.
Nice toys, boys. We can’t exactly approve of what y’all opening guys are doing, but still, you don’t stiff people on contracts.
Man, you broke the Death Star.
Free pudding, yay! Hopefully not made from larb.
Although those would all be really cool powers. And they’re good questions. Should work on those.
Okay, how did they get Cap to make those videos?
Ah, the perks of Avenger-hood.
Okay, score one for the stunner-fist.
Oh, your boss is not going to be happy you lost that.
Your power-set is really very poorly adapted to suburbia.
Nice parachute feature. Needs some beta-testing.
Ooh, remote-control suits. Nice.
Also nice reference. Shame no-one has the background knowledge to get it.
“The Shocker”? Well, I suppose it’s slightly better than Taserface…
Seriously, you’ve got to remember which gun is which.
I applaud your lair-logic.
So, what do strontium, barium, and vibranium have in common?
“Training Wheels Protocol”? Seriously, Tony, that’s a name that almost demands that someone turn it off, and you had to know that Peter’d go looking. Maybe “Prevent Your Head From Exploding Protocol; Do Not Disable”? At least then he’d have to read the code first.
Really, ammo selection should be her job, or what’s a suit AI for?
I’ll take one of those portable doors.
At least it’s not a radioactive energy core.
Dear lift-lady: Less reassurance, more action.
Now that’s an awesome drone.
Someone throw that guy out of the elevator and let the reasonable people be rescued.
Well, that kinda-sorta worked.
“Man-Spider”? Come on, guys, get it together.
Seriously, WHO GOT CAP TO MAKE THESE VIDEOS?
…these protocol names really aren’t getting any better.
And seriously, Peter, get Karen to read you the instructions first.
Okay, someone needs to have a word or two with you about collateral budgets.
And, oh yeah, how even not fancy space guns can fire through wrapping.
Ooh, a swarm of shovebots. We like.
Desperation. It’s a hell of a drug.
Man, harsh. Although it’s not like Tony doesn’t have a good point. Several of them. From experience.
Ah, young love. At least you’re getting good advice on this one.
…oh, my. This will work out badly.
Although credit to him, offering a life for a life.
At least he didn’t ask for your pants, dude.
Glad someone’s having a good time. In the chair.
Although Peter is definitely right that y’all should do more listening.
Is that self-repairing? I don’t think that’s self-repairing.
Good strategy. Much overkill. Smart. Not good enough, certainly, but still smart.
And there it is. (We were noticing your heroic quality all along. Glad you caught up with us.)
Pretty sure ‘retroreflector’ is not the term, there.
Is that really a case of arc reactors?
You can’t believe that worked?
…now that. Damn. That was an awesome landing.
It’s over. You know it, you know there’s nothing to be gained, and you’ve been an honorable enemy thus far. Don’t —
— do that.
Yeah, you’ve got to secure the bathroom first.
No, that may be your worst analogy ever, and it’s up against some damn stiff competition.
..we hope you’re going to give him Karen back. They were really bonding.
Awwww. We’re all so happy for you crazy kids.
Ah, you did! Excellent.
Oops. (And, man, are we going to be disappointed not to see how that conversation ended before we see Spider-Man again in Infinity War.)
Well, our server just died today. This is a mite awkward for us here, gentle readers, since if it doesn’t work, our network doesn’t work, and if our network doesn’t work, neither of us – writing, software developing, any kind of freelancing – can do any of our work work that pays the bills.
One hates to bleg, even if it is ethical, but needs must when the power company breaks your stuff, and so:
A quick pre-note: while suspension of disbelief is needed to believe in magic, of course, it’s not an unfamiliar context to the audience. The eldrae have a fine old hermetic tradition of their own, even if it’s regarded these days mostly as philosophy and “how we scienced before we learned how to science”.
Sadly, however, that both doctor and wizard mean “wise man”, in a sense, will be a little lost: long-term readers will remember that *there* doctor is a purely medical title, and the learned in other fields are generally titled academician.
This folding of space is exceedingly impressive. Especially since everything isn’t collapsing.
Doctor Strange, we presume.
My, someone has an ego. (Not that that’s a bad thing when you can so obviously back it up.)
Well, okay, maybe that’s going a little far. Also, “Strange Technique”? Snerk.
Avoiding a challenge, Mr. Ego? Makes your perfect record a little meaningless, no?
…and that would be the world taking your valxíjir from you.
That avoidance bites back.
I’m not sure that’s mania so much as a very familiar kind of despair. And yet, that’s still no excuse for such discourtesy.
Always at the far end of the world, the wisdom is.
Hiding in plain sight, I see. Promising.
(Only some of the audience have the cosmopolitan experience to understand why it’s odd that the Ancient One doesn’t look ancient, because…. well, all the Ancient Ones they’ve met look like that.)
You know, much as the audience might be inclined to agree with him, being punched right out of your body should really be awfully convincing. Even without the free trip through the Realm of Forms.
…or maybe the Realm of Hands. What the hell, other plane?
Ancient Snark from the Ancient One. Also, seriously, you show him the true nature of the universe and then throw him out? That’s a real dick move.
Wi-Fi, indeed. Heh. Although the audience is unlikely to understand the whole Magic vs. Science trope this is playing off.
Especially since the Ancient One’s spells-as-programs metaphor is exactly how they’d be inclined to think about magic anyway.
“No knowledge is forbidden, only certain practices.” Ooh, we like you.
Okay, as a general rule of thumb, rituals that make your eyes all charred-looking are probably not from the puppies and rainbows side of the force.
The “sling ring”? I mean, the device is nifty enough, but it needs a much cooler name.
Also, Kaecilius, I like your ambition and your distaste for time and death, but someone should really have explained to you the charred-face thing and the fundamental problem with borrowing power from extradimensional assholes.
See, he gets it! Easy principle, right?
Still best cloak!
And now for an astral asskicking. Astkicking?
From remote viewing to remote electrocution. I bet that application wasn’t in the library.
Well, your world’s been thoroughly upended. Was the bigger revelation that the world works completely differently, or that Strange grew up?
You know, people with the powers to alter natural law defending natural law per se is remarkably ironic, inasmuch as complete devotion to that principle would require doing absolutely nothing.
The architects in the audience really, really want to be able to fold space like this. Such possibilities!
(Also, is there really only one Dark Dimension? Or is Dormammu just kind of Spell-My-Name-With-A-The pretentious.)
Well, her method evidently sucks less than theirs.
…the audience hisses. Their lives have plenty of meaning without the prospect of death hanging over them, thank you so very much.
Awww. Best cloak really is best cloak.
Steal centuries of life from a giant abomination? Not the worst deed ever.
Always nice to see a too late arrival from time-to-time. Especially when there’s a convenient rewinder.
Heh. Stuck in a fish tank as time unwinds. What an embarrassing way to go.
Listen to Wong. Wong understands the rules of ethical singularities.
A time loop to trap a timeless being? Strange, you magnificent bastard!
…and getting killed over and over again how many thousand times? Dammit, man, we have to offer a standing salute to your collection of moon-sized orichalcum balls!
Yeah, they really should inscribe those the other way around.
Oh, for frak’s sake, Mordo, the whole damn planet was about to get eaten. How could there possibly be a bill larger than that?
Well, hello. So, there weren’t wizards on Midgard before? (And, even more importantly, Asgard doesn’t have self-refilling steins?)
You walking away makes you undutiful. Going around taking away everyone else’s powers, starting with those which allow such unnatural acts as walking? There aren’t words for how much that makes you suck.
And what’s wrong with the world is that not enough people subscribe to the naturalistic fallacy? You cosmic jackass.
As we’ve said before, mortality sucks. And being the grandfather who loses his daughter and grandson in the same moment sucks unimaginably.
Those who remember the very first trope-a-day will know why one might have to explain the whole alien abduction thing to this audience.
Well, look who’s rockin’ the adventurer archetype, complete with hint of xia. (Imperial culture loves this archetype so hard, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the audience will be rooting for Star-Lord from now on.)
We have artifact sign!
Oh, yeah. Nice ship, nice gadgetry, this is how this shit is done!
Well, aren’t you an interesting lot.
So, looks like the Kree go heavily in for the big, dark, and gloomy architecture.
…also for the unnecessarily repulsive bathing habits.
Well, hello. You seem more interesting than the average bounty hunter.
(Also, is everyone else a hominin in this universe? Wut.)
Even the one from a completely different tree, heh, of life. At least in body plan.
Yeah, it’s amazing how many adventurer circles meet that way.
And are described that way.
Xandarian prisons would appear to be about as bad as the audience expects. And have no respect for private property! Bastards.
Let’s see: a wanderer, the hand-crafted pawn of an insane Power, a prototype uplift, and a tree. Oh, and Broody McEngravedPants. Yeah, sounds about right.
Looks like he earned that name honestly, judging by the reactions.
Nice even-with-translation difficulties, there.
Someone wants to speak to the organ-grinder. I don’t think he’ll enjoy it.
Ah, it’s going to be one of those plans.
I love an enthusiast with a gun taller than they are.
The things that make up a chap’s reputation. My, oh my.
Okay, even by the audience’s local standards, this is a brilliant escape plan. Although it raises some questions about the maximum-security prison’s security.
Yeah, some things are important.
…or an enthusiast for blowing up moons. Love those too.
And eww. Even without black light. Especially since the audience can see in UV.
Is that arrow a knife missile? Shiny.
Well, that’s novel. And creepy. And faintly disgusting. Squishier than we would usually expect ancient Powers to be.
Okay, someone’s going to have to explain that reference.
All the love for the phrase “pelvic sorcery”. Three logotects submit a new word to the Conclave by morning.
We might like you if you weren’t such an asshole to your staff, or perhaps we should say slaves.
Well, that’s some suitably terrifying ultimately-paleo paleotechnology.
And this is the pragmatic reason that you shouldn’t have slaves.
(Also, what the heck did that do to the other Infinity Stone you have lying around there?)
That’s a good reason.
Drax, never get drunk again, ‘kay?
And for him, it was Tuesday.
You like that plan, huh? RAMMING FTW.
Well, that’s definitely a basis for a relationship…
Hell of a play, Quill. The audience applauds, anticipating the follow-up gambit.
Groot, thoracic surgeon?
Oooh, someone’s caught ambition.
Oh, gods, this meeting. Just… this meeting. But especially the moment that it ends with.
…and then Rocket.
Wait, wasn’t that a metaphor?
What is it with you and other people’s body parts? On second thoughts, don’t answer that.
Hell, “Not 100% a dick” is a pretty apt description of the entire adventuring profession. Certainly as viewed from the outside.
(Sadly, the dick message will require cultural translation. As will Kevin Bacon.)
Now, that’s a neat trick, but I think the audience might question the practicality of turning your mobile defense into an immobile shield, especially when the enemy has mobile units of their own,
Ah, Drax. Tact is something else that your culture missed out on, isn’t it?
…you do grok friendship, though.
Oh, yeah, that’s a knife missile!
Urgh. Macrotech cybernetics are ugly when self-repairing.
Evidently, he has reserves. And Saal, you’re kinda racist towards the one saving your city’s ass right now. Well, okay, part of it.
Keep working on it, Drax, you’ll get there.
And that’s why you don’t bring Sakaarans to a Groot fight.
Aww, Groot. Is this theater dusty? I’ll call someone to clean the filters… in a minute…
And Star-Lord wins the furthest-beyond-left-field improvised plan award, this and possibly all years.
Yes, that you most certainly are.
Well, now, isn’t that interesting?
Looks like Drax has also caught some ambition. I hope it ends better.
Also, good for the Nova Corps in actually, unlike maybe 99% of similar organizations, having some gratitude.
Oh, don’t troll the poor man. Well, too much.
Oh, yeah. Despite the pop-cultural references – spoken and visual – needing a gnostic overlay or two to make sense, this one fills theaters for months, easy. The audience loves it. The fan community starts building stuff from it. The soundtrack inspires musicians to the sincerest form of flattery. Just about perfect, in fact.
Once more into the cinema, dear friends, once more:
Captain America continues to be awesome.
He don’t need no steenkin’ parachute, although why the vibranium ain’t glowing is a mystery.
Ah, multitasking. Always room for a banter thread.
And this is why concealed mission objectives are a bad idea unless you’re concealing them from yourself with a conditional-release trigger. Even for compartmentalization purposes.
Heli-cruisers, is it?
Ah, the idealist versus the pragmatist. The audience sides with the idealist. (The sentinels in the audience sigh softly.)
Oh, that reunion. It could make a stone weep, and we all still hate mortality.
Hiding things from yourself, Fury, or something sinister going on?
Nice car. Smart. Just the thing for a nice day out in hostile territory.
…not quite good enough, but damn close.
The Winter Soldier, I presume?
Well, that’s a nice trick, Mister Cyborg.
Oh, he is so not dead.
And, Pierce, this is possibly the most obvious frame job since they hung the Mona Lisa.
Son, you don’t have enough STRIKE units. The whole of SHIELD doesn’t have enough STRIKE units.
And, as usual, the Council of Holographic People is being played like an organ-grinder’s… organ. The Imperial Security Executive is deeply unimpressed.
Nice moves – and you schmucks call yourselves a tac team?
YOU UPLOADED A MIND-STATE WITH THAT!? (in a bunker? with a box of scraps?)
Oh, you cunning bastards. When working with a population of kneelers, anyway.
(And how the hell was Fury blind to this all these years? This is why the Imperial Service has three, count ’em, three, Departments of Impropriety.)
“I shoot my housekeeper to demonstrate how unnecessarily evil I am!”
Oh, it’s Senator Asshat being… well, yeah, exactly what we’d expect.
And that’s how one conducts an interrogation. Also, really nice jetpackoskeleton.
Ah, proleptic algorithms. Nice tech, lots of useful applications, shame about the grotesque abuse of it here.
Well, shit. How did you end up there? And then?
Excellent timing, Agent Hill.
Oh, Rumlow, don’t you know that the traditional cliché is to make the prisoners dig their own graves?
Ah, more freezing, after a run through the brain laundry. That makes sense.
Please note: the tech in your laundry also sucks.
…and yeah, seriously, when you’re this compromised, you BURN IT TO THE GROUND. And then shoot the ashes into the sun. And then blow up the sun.
Good impromptu speech, that.
And glorious moment-stepping!
And then, sudden transparency. Everyone in the audience who doesn’t secretly work for the Fifth Directorate applauds. So does everyone who does, because, y’know, secrecy.
“Order only comes through pain”? Man, HYDRA are all about the fucked-up mottos.
Well, this is a spectacular mess.
And after their respective multiple high-risk plays, the entire audience would be more than delighted to go into battle alongside either Cap or Black Widow. Any day of the week.
Well, that’s a hell of a loose end to tie up.
…and there are some idiots playing with the scepter of mindfucking. That’s going to work out well.
Also doesn’t take much cultural explanation, same as the last one in this sub-series, except for two really big details:
One, how did you get a supposedly non-evil organization to think that Project Insight doing preemptive executions was a good idea (don’t tell us, pragmatism – which is why we don’t like pragmatists around here); and
Two, how in all the blazes of nucleonic eggbeating fornication did, I repeat myself, Fury let SHIELD get that compromised? I mean, there’s suspension of disbelief, but based on previous films and characterization, we’re not supposed to think of him as hilariously incompetent, so…
This audience would point out that yes, Odin has a point about relationships between the short-lived and the long. But also that there is a cure for that, and if they haven’t figured it out yet, why the heck not?
Ah, Darcy, never stop being you.
Someone’s suffering some aftereffects of being brain-stirred with a scepter, methinks.
Welp, something’s plaited space-time like a much-used handkerchief. Wacky fun with metric engineering?
That’s a mite impressive.
Evidently you can explode more than once.
Holy shit, indeed. Bifrost is a delightfully showy method of interstellar travel. And your reaction, Jane, is simply adorable. The scientists squee and proclaim you one of their own.
Yes, “soul forge” is definitely a more poetic name. Our science team agree, although the description of what it does is… odd.
Rather civilized dungeons, Asgard has.
Interesting cosmology. One presumes that the Nine Realms are themselves an artificial construct.
There is perhaps something to be said about what one ought to bring to a battlecruiser fight.
Given some earlier comments about woman warriors, it’s good to see that the Queen of Asgard is appropriately badass. And tricksy.
…and dead. Shit.
A worthy funeral.
Lecturing the nuthouse. A sorry end for a great mind and someone who got drunk with a god.
Ah, Loki. You may not be a troll, but you’re definitely a troll.
Nice flying… for a vehicle you’ve never seen before.
Hell, a man takes that many pills, no wonder he’s crazy.
Nidavellir: it’s a miserable place.
Loki, damn it.
Let me rephrase that: Damn, Loki!
Oh, well played with that grenade.
Is there anyone in this audience who believes that Loki actually just died? Signs point to no.
You may have found a body, but the audience still doesn’t believe it.
Given that Mjolnir can lay down the smack on someone wielding the functional equivalent – or actuality – of an Infinity Stone, Asgardian weapons technology is really quite impressive.
And, hell, where are they gonna run to, anyway? Might as well get a good video on the off-chance the universe survives.
Welcome to Vanaheim, gentlemen. Hope they have airfields.
Excellent rising to the occasion, intern’s intern.
…kinda hope we get to visit Muspellheim sometime. It looks interesting, what we can see through the big ol’ skyhole.
Rendered ‘armless. Ho, ho, ho.
…aww, the fighter pilots didn’t get to stay in Vanaheim long enough for any mead. I hear it’s excellent.
Oh, Loki, you magnificent bastard! (And one wonders what he did with Odin?)
And he’s back! Good thing too, bilge snipe and all.
Anyway. Perfect movie for this audience – modulo some serious suspending of science disbelief – complete with perfect demi-villain. Couldn’t be better.
(The answer to a question asked on the Eldraeverse Discord, copied here since not everyone follows the Eldraeverse Discord.)
Fanfiction policy: Well, first, I’m rather gratified to discover that I need a fanfiction policy…
1. I don’t have any objection to fanfiction per se . Content-wise, however, I would like to politely request that fanfic writers write in, or respect, the spirit of the original work and characters, and somewhat less politely request, for the love of gods, spare us badly-written porn. Apart from that, feel free to enjoy yourselves.
2. If publishing it anywhere people other than you can see it, please include (a) a disclaimer that it is fanfic, (b) a link to the original Eldraeverse site, and (c) a note that it is licensed under the Creative Commons as derivative, non-commercial fiction. You also specifically grant me all rights to reuse any or all elements of it that I might wish to, such that in the event that I stumble across it on the Internet or just happen to write something similar in future, you can’t sue me.
3. If talking about it on the Discord, please do so in the #fanfic channel to avoid confusion.
Don’t really have to say anything at this point, do I?
Nice “you know who I am” badge.
Less cool: exploding ficus.
JARVIS continues to be best house brain.
Your R&D process really looks unnecessarily painful.
See, now folks like this asshole is why the King of All Known Space sometimes orders the King’s New Glass Marina.
(Also, War Machine was so much better as a name.)
Post-traumatic stress sucks; and while the audience recognizes it, they’re from a culture that is very predisposed to repress the hell out of it. (Which is why the Imperial Military Service spends so much time and effort watching for, guarding against, and dealing with it.) ((And as honers of the will to a razor edge, those cases that do show up are exactly this bad.))
And for the record, both they and I think it was handled very well.
Nice holoballs. (“Conversation balls”, as we call ’em.)
The empty slots in the brain really sound different to a species that actually was designed.
Well, someone’s not solved the nanocyborg waste heat problem. (To reference a recent discussion: catching fire and then exploding is exactly what happens to people who get overenthusiastic about the extrinsic power sources. If you want high energy, go metal.)
Damn, that’s some degree of control. (Also, no anti-air defenses, Tony? We would have thought that you’d have thought of that.)
…they killed Dummy and Butterfingers? Someones need to die. A lot.
(And we really hope Jarvis is a fully distributed system.)
We applaud you, kid. You have… potential.
Dear media networks: your security systems are a giant ball of suck. I mean, seriously. Kids with a My First Firewall kit could follow this act.
Yeah, that is a terrible password. It’s also fairly terrible to be using a password.
Ease back there, fanboy. A little dignity, please.
IN A HARDWARE STORE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!
… well, of course they have a decoy schmuck.
Killian, your personnel policies are all kinds of terrible.
Pretty sure a flamethrower – even an implanted flamethrower – is better than the potential of, y’know, exploding.
Ah, the Vice-President has a sympathetic motivation. Which, in Imperial terms, means he’s earned a pistol with one shot left overnight in his cell in between arraignment and trial for treason.
Now that’s a rescue back in the proper form!
Autonomous mode for the win.
You gave them all individual names? Awww.
…but best not-actually-resurrection ever. Damn, Pepper. Nicely done.
And the audience delivers multiple standing ovations for that series of endings, which cap things off exquisitely.
(Especially the salvaged robot arms.)
Yeah. Just… yeah. Works perfectly. Both on its own merits, and because, in a different way to Captain America, Iron Man is exactly the kind of hero they write stories about.
Well, someone forgot the first rule of mucking about with poorly understood paleotech artifacts, didn’t they?
Mind-zapping scepters work much better, I feel, when they don’t change your eye color.
Free from freedom? Well, someone just lost any possible audience sympathy.
Nice paranoia training, Agent Hill. The ISS approves.
Even nicer reverse-interrogation technique. Likewise.
Hello, Reason Why We Tend Not To Leave Things To Councils In Our Universe.
Good to see Tony Stark putting his tech into practical use.
Ah, Loki, you brood so well.
Well, someone graduated posturing school summa cum laude.
Ah, a flying carrier. Evidently SHIELD, too, knows the value of Shock and Awesome.
Big ‘ol science sighs at this abuse of iridium.
You, good sir, are the one person in that crowd we respect.
…love the entrance.
…and the next entrance. Bringing the storm, eh?
Y’all are the worst ever at conflict resolution.
(Well, maybe not all audience sympathy, inasmuch as Loki looks kind of beaten up around the eyeballs and maybe under the influence of his own scepter. But it’s pretty definitely reserved until we find out more about that.)
We bow in awe to Tony Snark.
Another very nice interrogation – with the truth – there. Plus understanding of clemency and obligation.
Your engine redundancy ain’t great, though. Pair and a spare, guys.
I’d also just like to say that this is a very badly designed engine and you ought to talk to somebody about that when you get home.
Ooh, virus delivery by arrow. I like it.
Again with the quality paranoia training. Never trust a field deconversion.
And Phil Coulson shows us all how to earn your way into your local equivalent of Valhalla.
Good for you, Mr. Security Guard. Unflappable and highly decent.
“I’ve got red in my ledger; I’d like to wipe it out.” is such an eldraeic sentiment.
…yeah, that ain’t going to work. *tink* *tink*
The audience can only imagine how embarrassed Loki, who is quite the snappy dresser, must feel about being stuck with leading this army of ugly-ass cods on their ugly-ass space-bikes.
And that’s a giant bone-plated space-planaria? Really?
(Definite case of brainfucked-eyes right there.)
Yeah, these Chitauri are definitely a warrior culture, insofar as their battle plan is the awesomesauce “leap into buildings and fire randomly at civilians” strategy. If they didn’t have their tech and huge numbers advantage, a Girl Scout troop could mop ’em up with time left over for cookies.
Cap shows us the right way for Asskicking to Equal Authority.
Yes, that is definitely a stupid-ass decision. The audience gives Fury a standing ovation.
The Inadvisable Weapons researcher is taking a bunch of notes on Hawkeye’s arrows, too.
SHIELD are quite distressingly good at shooting at themselves, aren’t they? Also, I’m pretty sure the Imperial Military Service have the right position on firing IRNs at your own cities; to wit, don’t. Even if you’re ordered to, because how the shit is that a legal or ethical order?
…your troops are all hard-wired to suicide when you lose the central command point? Did you guys learn everything from Amazingly Self-Defeating Strategies Monthly?
Yeah, that just confirms that Fury would be better off without the Omniscient Council of Asshats armchair quarterbacking.
…not that unruly. Just some of them. And oh, look, it’s the blue-eyed thing behind the thing.
It’ll work for the Imperial audience, although human culture/nature and distressing flexibility about the knees is still different enough to require some translation/explanation.
(It also comfortably confirms their prejudices that governments in general – looking at you, Council guys, and Senator hold-the-Avengers-responsible – tend to be made up of idiots and assholes and it’s always up to the few, the proud, the heroic cooperating individuals to save the day again despite the former’s best efforts to worsen the situation.)