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So this is a fun exercise that I did. I wrote this short story years ago, but I didn’t finish it. I uploaded what I wrote to ChatGPT-4 and had it finish the story keeping the same tone as what was written.
It was a suicide mission. He knew that. that was the reason they even offered it to him. It was the sort of thing that you only hire convicts serving a life sentence to do. The reality of it was just sinking in a bit better now that he was sitting in the cockpit.
He pushed back into the seat a bit, the old leather stretched and cracked as he did so. He knew that it wasn’t going to be a high class spaceship, but he didn’t expect it to be quite this bad. The chair must have been pulled from an old car in a junkyard somewhere. As he examined the interior of the cockpit, it looked like everything in it must have had a previous life of some sort. Even the control stick looked like it was well worn. It probably came from an old arcade machine.
“One Minute until blastoff” a female voice said in his ear.
He looked forward at the sky. All he could see was blue sky and clouds. He knew that up there, beyond the atmosphere was a swarm of deadly alien robots ready to destroy anything that tried to leave the Earth. It had been twenty years since the Earth was permanently quarantined. He didn’t know the reasons, there were some reports on the news, but he was too busy knocking over convenience stores for his heroin habit when it happened. Since then he didn’t really think it was that important.
The corporation hired him to do a gauntlet run through the alien swarm. They’ve hired dozens of convicts in the past to try the same thing. Each and every one of them failed. He had a payload that he was supposed to take past the blockade and activate. Once activated it was supposed to do something that would save the earth or some shit. He suspected that it was a farce. His ship was covered in cameras that would be streaming video of his trip back to the Earth. They would be broadcasting the video as a Pay Per View event.
He didn’t really care about any of that. He just knew that the farther he got, the more money they would give to his family. It was really the only thing he could do to help them. After what he did they wouldn’t come see him. He couldn’t rightly say that he even knew his kids. He might even have grandkids by this point.
“Ten Seconds.” the female voice said again. He grabbed the control stick and got ready.
“Nine… Eight… Seven..” He closed his eyes and said a silent prayer to whomever might be listening.
“Six… Five… Four… “ He held his breath for the last three counts.
“Three… Two… One.” He was pushed back into the seat with more force than he had ever felt in his life. He heard creaks and groans coming from the spaceship that worried him. He wasn’t really sure that this hunk of junk would even get him into space.
Within moments, he was through the clouds and the sky was darkening as he rocketed through layers of atmosphere. He looked out to the side of the cockpit he could see the curvature of the earth. It was really a thing of beauty.
The ship lurched as it dropped the stage one thrusters and moved to the next stage. His heart stood still for a moment while he waited to see if they would even work. If the ship blew up on it’s own this early, he was pretty sure that the corporation wouldn’t care whose fault it was and would pay his family minimally. He briefly wondered if they were watching. Would the kids care that their old man was rocketing to his death for their benefit?
The second phase kicked in, and he was again knocked back into the seat. Something that he couldn’t see behind him made the unmistakeable ping sound of metal breaking free. He forced himself to focus back on what he was doing. He could see the shiny chrome dots of the blockade getting bigger as he approached them. They already seemed to be converging on his trajectory. He veered the ship to try to hit the blockade where it was a bit thinner. He had been through simulations of this quite a few times. The corporation trained him knowing that they would make more money through replays the farther he got.
He knew that it didn’t make a lot of difference where he hit the blockade. He just knew that if he hit it at an angle away from where he was initially heading then the large cluster would have to catch up to him. If the ship was fast enough, then he might even outrun the bulk of them.
He spun the ship so that he could look up out of the cockpit and see the cloud of death robots above him. So far the biggest cluster of them that was anticipating his initial trajectory was behind him. He might have a chance. There was still a number of robots that didn’t move from their positions at all. They maintained coverage around the entire planet even when some converged to take down a single ship.
The ship started to buck as it was hit by laser fire from the robots. Most of the laser fire was absorbed by the shielding that the rocket was coated in. He thought that just maybe he would have a chance to get at least a record distance through the blockade if not all the way through.
The little rocket plunged into the swarm. He could hardly see out of the cockpit windows there was so much laser fire out there. All he could really do at this point is stay on course and hope for the best. Suddenly there was a hissing sound. He looked at the gauges on the control panel. He was losing air pressure. He wasn’t really sure if he should attribute that to being shot at, or just the shoddy construction of the ship. He was wearing an oxygen mask and it was a slow leak, so it would be a while before that leak killed him. He didn’t worry about it too much.
He looked at the monitor that showed how far he had gotten. So far he was about fifteen percent of the way through the blockade. The record so far was seventy five percent. He still had quite a ways to go.
The convict gritted his teeth, trying to keep his focus despite the sound of his impending doom. He knew that if he lost pressure, he was done for. His vision started to go blurry as he struggled to breathe. He tried to concentrate on the task at hand, but the ship was shaking so violently that he could hardly hold onto the control stick.
He thought about his family, wondering if they were watching the live stream. Would they see him die? Would they even care? He couldn’t blame them if they didn’t. He had made so many mistakes in his life, and this was the ultimate punishment for them.
The ship continued to lurch and shake, and he could feel himself losing consciousness. He tried to fight it, but it was too much. His last thoughts were of his family and the hope that they would be able to use the money to start over.
The next thing he knew, he was floating in space. He opened his eyes and looked around, confused. He was alive. He couldn’t believe it. He looked down at his hands, which were covered in blood from where he had bitten his tongue during the pressure loss.
He took a deep breath and checked the gauges. The ship was still flying, albeit barely. He couldn’t see any of the robots anymore. Had he made it through the blockade? He looked out of the window and saw a blue and green planet in the distance. Earth. He had made it.
He smiled, feeling a sense of triumph mixed with disbelief. He had done the impossible. He had survived the suicide mission. He looked at the cameras, knowing that his family was watching. He hoped that they were proud of him.
He activated the payload, not really caring what it did. He had accomplished what he had set out to do. He had made it to the other side. As the ship started to descend into the Earth’s atmosphere, he closed his eyes and let out a deep breath. He had done it. He had really done it.
Uncategorized • March 17, 2023
I’m excited to say that I’ve accepted a full-time position with Verto Education as a Full Stack WordPress Developer. I’ll be maintaining and improving their websites and helping them expand their reach.
It’s been 20 years since I finished college, so I guess it’s about time I have the word Developer in my job title. It’s been a heck of a detour that took me through IT, being a teacher, and freelance work. I don’t regret any of the things that I’ve done but it does feel kind of good to have a job that will use my education.
This does mean that for the most part I’m done doing freelance work for the time being. I spent this week basically resigning from 15 different jobs as I offloaded my clients.
This coming Monday will be my first day, and I’m really excited to see what this new chapter brings
Steve's Life • April 28, 2022
I watched Kimi the other week on a flight coming back from California. It’s a thriller starring Zoë Kravitz. Overall, I would say it’s an okay movie. There are a couple of things in the plot, especially toward the end that kind of irritated me.
What’s really interesting about it is that it solidly takes place in mid-stage pandemic. The entire film was produced in 2021. You have characters who aren’t leaving their homes, and others who are back to working in offices. Zoë Kravitz’s character is working from home reviewing voice assistant (the titular Kimi) recordings to help it be more accurate. It’s a reflection of today’s world.
What really irritated me about it, is that at the end of the movie Zoë Kravitz’s character turns and coldly kills the people invading her home. She seemed very detached from what she was doing. Then, after a bit of a flash-forward, you see that much of her struggle with going outside is gone. That struggle stemmed more from previous sexual assault than the pandemic, and it’s implied that what she really needed to solve her mental health issues was to kill some bad guys.
Kimi is available to stream on HBO-Max.
Movies and Television • March 6, 2022
I put together a movie release calendar of movies that I think are going to be Super Awesome, or at least they have my attention and are coming out yet this year in 2022. I tried to put both theatrical and streaming dates on there. Some of the streaming dates are my best guess based on studio habits. (Disney seems to put movies on Disney+ 10 weeks after the theatrical release. Warner Brothers movies go to HBO Max 6 weeks after theatrical.)
The main reason I did this is that I saw a trailer for Bullet Train, and I thought it looked great, but I was pretty sure that I’d forget about it by the time it came out.
I based the list off of Blessing’s Super Fun Game Release Calendar.
I’ll try to keep it updated as I notice movies that are coming out or have release dates updated. Honestly, this list is really for me. I’m tossing it online just in case someone else finds it useful.
Uncategorized • March 5, 2022
I have been a fan of Star Wars for as long as I can remember, and I will probably always be a fan of Star Wars. That said, I don’t instantly like everything released that is Star Wars. There’s been quite a bit said about The Book of Boba Fett, and I agree with most of what’s been said. For the most part, I was entertained yet disappointed by it. I guess I was less disappointed by what it was and more disappointed by what it wasn’t.
I’m going to go into spoiler territory here, so if you haven’t seen it yet, and you care, then maybe stop ready.
I’m not going to retread a lot of the faults of the show that have been talked about by everyone on the Internet. But something that really bugs me is that they keep talking about going to “war” and getting enough muscle to deal with the pikes. Then when it comes down to it, they have something like a dozen people. The entire final episode just felt a bit lackluster to me. The rancor bit was pretty awesome, but the rest was a bit meh. Instead of getting a dozen people from Freetown to come help, why not go out and recruit some of the other tribes of Tuskens? Boba Fett uniting a couple of hundred Tuskens to rid the planet of the Pikes would have been so much better.
Also, if you’re putting a sniper on a roof along with someone to act as a distraction, maybe put them on different roofs.
Okay, anyway. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re probably not in the target audience, and you can probably skip it.
Movies and Television • February 11, 2022
Last week “Beyond Thunder City“, an expansion for “Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse” was released. I am one of the contributing authors of this book. It’s an anthology of micro settings for the core game. I had actually kind of backed down on contributing to RPG books, but this is one that I had pitched a while ago, and it’s something that I really wanted to work on.
My section “Neo Nezumi” is influenced by “Akira” with some bits pulled from other CyberPunk sources. I’m pretty happy with the work that I did on it.
You can pick it up at the following places: DTRPG.com | Itch.io | Amazon
My Games • February 8, 2022
I’m a bit late to the party, but I’ve been watching Mythic Quest, a comedy on Apple TV+ that’s about a video game company. So far, I’ve finished the first season which was released in early 2020. If you have access to Apple TV+, you should watch Ted Lasso. If you’ve seen Ted Lasso and you like gaming, then you should watch Mythic Quest. I honestly didn’t watch it until now because I didn’t think that it would be good. I’m glad that I was wrong.
There are two episodes that I want to talk a bit about here. The first is an episode in the middle of the first season that tells a compelling love story between a couple of game developers that spans the 90’s and 00’s. It’s a completely stand-alone episode that doesn’t tie into the narrative of the rest of the season at all. There are things in later episodes that reference back to it in more of an easter egg manner, but nothing critical. You could watch season one without ever watching episode 5 and you really wouldn’t notice. You also could just sit down and watch episode 5 without the rest of the season, and you wouldn’t notice. I think it was a bit of a bold move to put an episode in like that and something that probably wouldn’t have worked before streaming TV.
The other episode I want to bring up is their Quarantine special that was between the seasons. Pretty much the entire episode was done via zoom calls. It came out in May of 2020, and honestly, it feels like something that came out at that time. Now that we’re 2 years into the pandemic, it was really uncomfortable to watch. I’m sure that had I seen it in May of 2020, it would have been a welcome distraction, but now it kind of brings back what were darker times. Hopefully revisiting specials like this years down the road will serve to remind us a bit of what life was like back then, but at this point, it’s too soon, and I don’t want to be reminded.
Movies and Television • January 27, 2022
Playing games is something that I like to do to relax in the evenings. While there are games that I enjoy being challenged in and overcoming the challenge, as I get older I find myself wanting something a bit different out of games when I’m trying to relax. I get a healthy amount of stress from other areas of my life, so I’ve been turning the game difficulty down.
There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment that happens when you beat a difficult game or get through a difficult section. But, when I’m relaxing in the evening, that’s generally not the sort of thing I’m looking for. I enjoy playing through long story-driven games and I want to enjoy them similarly to the way that I enjoy a TV show or movie.
That’s not to say I never want a challenge. In education, there’s a concept called the Zone of Proximal Development. That’s where the educational content is just challenging enough that students can do it, but they have to develop their knowledge in order to do it. That certainly translates over to games as well. When I’m playing Beat Saber I play on Hard because that’s difficult enough that I have to work, but I can keep moving my whole body enough to get exercise out of it. Going easier is boring, but going to expert difficulty makes me just flick my wrists to hit the boxes and I don’t get as much exercise.
Other times when I want more challenge is if I’m playing online either against other people or cooperatively with people.
Steve's Life Video Games • January 25, 2022
I feel like going through my thought process on why I’m writing a blog is important.
Sharing content on the Internet is a good thing for people to do. Especially in these after times. Personally, it gives me an outlet to say the things that I don’t get to talk to people about on a daily basis since I work from home. Also writing daily is a good practice to be in. Seth Godin has talked about this many times; here’s a blog post by someone else that collects several of his quotes.
So, that maybe begs the question, why am I sharing everything on this blog instead of Facebook or some other Social Media network. What it really comes down to is that I own this blog. Any content I put on here is owned by me. It’s sitting on a server that I operate. When you post something to Facebook, then you are beholden to their rules and they only show your content to the people they think will want to see it. And they can remove it anytime they want. (feel free to replace Facebook with your Social Media platform of choice)
Also, for any service that you are using online, if you’re not paying for it, then you are not the customer, you are the product. Facebook is profiting from your attention. They make money from the ads that you see, and they only show content to you that they think will make you keep coming back so that you can see more ads.
Of course, you probably got here from one of those Social Media sites, because I share my blog posts to Facebook and Twitter as no one regularly checks blogs anymore.
Blog Meta • January 22, 2022
Today I had to take my daughter to Gilette to see the orthodontist. I gave myself 4.5 hours to drive what is normally a 3-ish hour drive, because we had snow last night, and I have to go over the mountains. I’m glad I had the extra time as the roads over the mountains were a bit sketchy.
Anyway, on the way back, I stopped in Buffalo to get gas before going back over the mountains. When we got back in the car to take off, the car started fine, and I could get it into reverse or neutral just fine, but I couldn’t get the shifter to physically move into the drive position. At this time it was 6:30 pm, so I knew that there would be no chance of getting a mechanic until morning. I had visions of driving my car in reverse to a hotel to spend the night, an idea I quickly abandoned.
I ended up pushing the car away from the gas pumps to a parking spot, with my daughter manning the wheel (with a LOT of guidance). Then I started Googling the problem and found some threads on X-Terra owner forums about people who have the same year of X-Terra as I do with the same problem. It turns out that a little piece of metal tends to come loose within the shifter that blocks it from moving into the Drive position or beyond.
With the guidance of the forum thread, I was able to get the piece moved back into place and get my car into drive. The trip back over the mountains was slow (due to road conditions) and uneventful. I’m extremely grateful that the problem was something that I was capable of fixing and that the Internet exists to provide answers. 20+ years ago, I definitely would have been getting a hotel room and finding a mechanic in the morning.
Steve's Life • January 20, 2022