The Mad Ramblings of a Renegade Timelord

The Doctor Who

Now With Sheffield Steel!
Another Excerpt on the subject of developing a sense of scale:
Resembling a very oddly proportioned honeycomb, the wormhole relays known as Jump Gates were the lifeblood of the United Galactic Governments. They allowed an endless stream of traffic to traverse the mind-numbing distances that separated useful destinations in the galaxy far faster and easier than any single ship could manage. Despite the invention of ship-mounted space warping technology in the form of the graviton drive, no single ship had ever managed to move faster than a few times the speed of light. Even purpose-built racing ships reached their limit at 5.7 times light speed. At which, it would still take nearly a decade for one to traverse the distance between any two homeworlds. The gates allowed a ship of average speed to make the journey from Earth to Deneva in just two weeks.
Each gate was, in reality, a complex of paired wormhole stations, each designated for different priorities of traffic, one in and one out. The largest and by far busiest stations were always Public Transit. An endless stream of ships moved into and out of these gates, giving the impression, when viewed from afar, of glittering streams of light pouring into and out of them. After that were slightly smaller Emergency Transit stations, where law enforcement and medical ships made their way. Then there was Cargo, designated for larger bulk transport ships that would otherwise clog up the Public lines. Finally were the Government stations, designated for official government and military use and it was to these last that the Phoenix approached.
Inside, the three crewmates were gathered in the cockpit, observing with varying degrees of trepidation the looming gate complex. Already it more than filled the window and they still had an hour before they even reached the outer perimeter.
"How does this work?" Dirût asked, "I've used the public gates before, but those just stay open and scan for ship ID. These don't look open."
Indeed, the slight distortion and amber glow of an active wormhole was not to be seen ahead. Kethel gave a nonchalant shrug.
"That's normal." he said, "I've been through gates like these before on missions. They require a double access code to use. And there's usually ships on guard near them."
He paused for a moment then pointed out two elongated shapes on the screen, barely recognizable.
"Yeah, if you look there… those two are stationary, probably them."
"Should we be worried?"
"Probably not," John said. He'd been occupied with navigation, but now turned to address his passengers.
"What th’ ginger cat here said is true." he said with a smirk that made Kethel's fur bristle, "Two codes and guards. But th' patrol ships rarely bother t’ stop you unless th' passwords are wrong or you're on a wanted list. I trust Tasäka t’ give me good clearance and I'm… fairly sure I'm not on any wanted lists. Right now, anyway."
Neither of the passengers were put at any great ease by this statement, but there was little for them to do but wait and watch. The Phoenix glided on through the void of space and the hexagonal framework drew ever closer until the single Government gate filled the entire screen. As if on cue, a voice crackled to life over the local communications channel.
“Approaching vessel, we have marked you as a modified J-45 cargo transport at relative bearing fifteen degrees by three-ten, distance five thousand kilometers. This is a restricted gate, please identify yourself.”
John spun back around in his seat and jabbed a control on his console.
“Greetings,” he said in a clear, efficient voice, “This is Captain John Quinton McClarry, retired, serial code Uniform Echo Zero-Four-One-Zero-One-Nine-Eight-Two, aboard the Phoenix, Registry GCS2971215 on official business for the Denevan government.”
For a moment there was silence, during which Kethel and Dirut exchanged uncertain glances. McClarry remained robustly cheerful. Presently the voice returned.
“Thank you, so noted. Please transmit clearance codes so you may be on your way.”
A quick succession of keystrokes followed.
“Transmitting on my mark.” the Pilot said, then, striking the final key, he added, “Now.”
Again silence passed, this time longer. The two passengers were tense and restless as the seconds ticked by into minutes. Kethel tried to reassure his partner, though he himself was beginning to worry.
“It’s not unusual for there to be delays.” he said, “Clearance can take time to process.”
John held up a silencing hand and seconds later there was a flash as the gate activated, stars swirling and distorting ahead of them before settling into an amber tinted image of their destination. The voice crackled to life again.
“GCS Phoenix, you are free to proceed. Adjust course to relative bearing zero by zero zero and observe standard transition procedure. Thank you and safe flying.”
“Acknowledged, thank you!”
Bringing the ship to the requested course, John set the autopilot to take them through the glimmering wormhole. He then sat back in his seat, hands behind his head.
“Told ya Tasaka was reliable!” he said with a laugh, “The looks on your faces!”
Fighting back his irritation at the human’s needling, Kethel said, “So you were in the United Earth military?”
The pilot looked back over his shoulder and nodded.
“Served ten years. Retired after th' Kazzar war.” he said with a wistful air. “That’s how I first got in contact with your Fleet Commander. We were about th' same rank at the time. I lost friends, he lost family. I retired, he moved up in rank. And here we are workin' together again!”
The conversation was cut short as the Phoenix entered the shimmering wormhole. For a moment, they were caught between entrance and exit. Stretched by spatial distortion across more distance than the mortal mind could imagine. Volumes have been written by researchers, philosophers, psychologists and poets alike on the experience of traversing the compressed space of a stable wormhole. For some, it is exciting, for others, terrifying. For Kethel, it was always slightly nauseating, the whole universe seeming to lurch unnaturally around them as two points in space were pinched together by massive gravitational forces. Fully on the other side, the gate flashed closed and the modified cargo ship slipped onward into open space.
The majestic moment lasted for a full minute of breathtaking wonder. This was how long it took for the ship to reconnect with the local public communications frequency, at which point the threesome was inundated with the senseless babbling of overlapping commercials, declaring the wonders of the myriad nearby rest stops, layover stations, gift shops and fuel centers that made their home in the proximity of well traveled jump gates. John McClarry let out a groan and turned down the volume to a low murmur. By galactic law, public channels had to remain active to ensure that emergency broadcasts and distress signals could be heard by anyone nearby, but that left the door wide open for commercial exploitation.
“Ah, yes, that’s what I was missin’… incessant advertising.” grumbled the pilot. “Better settle in, my friends, it’s goin’ t' be half a day of this until we move beyond th’ local cluster.”
The Phoenix flew on, putting on an extra kick of speed to hasten their journey. Barely visible in the extreme distance, dots of light ran to and fro as business about the gate complex proceeded. While the limits of single-ship propulsion hindered long-range travel, it still provided enough range and speed that large colony-like clusters of businesses and living spaces could build up around popular travel routes. Entire populations could be born, live and die in these gate clusters and never see the larger galaxy.
Their small ship rushed on, putting the tourist trap far behind them.

The Doctor Who

Now With Sheffield Steel!

Still working through some plot points. Meanwhile, I got a far too rare visit from the drawing muse.

Here's a slightly updated version of the group image.

Really happy with how well I'm handling their proportions.


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The Doctor Who

Now With Sheffield Steel!

Jesus, this is taking forever. Not quite enough room for everyone so far, so I guess this will be separated between two sheets. Both of which will be retraced for final lines and then combined through the DARK ARTS OF DIGITAL EDITING. God what I put myself through XD

Glad I starred it, though. It's really nice to have something to work on between bouts of writing.

The Doctor Who

Now With Sheffield Steel!
Speaking of the second sheet...

The writing is proceeding, too. Had to remind myself to stop worrying about the issues and just push forward. I can rewrite whatever needs fixing later. It really is the most important thing right now to just get words on the page. Editing and story fixes can come later, when I know what all needs fix for sure.

The Doctor Who

Now With Sheffield Steel!


Finally found my light tablet so I could refine the line work. Pretty pleased with how it's going. Especially getting all the different body shapes together in proper relation.

Just gotta scan them in and combine the two halves.

The Doctor Who

Now With Sheffield Steel!
And the end result!


That... took a lot more work than expected. Turns out I got some characters a little off level and wound up cutting, moving and then carefully filling in gaps.

Also, my scanner isn't quite big enough for the paper I'm using so there was some finagling to get it all in shot... anyway, very pleased with how it turned out. It's been a while since I tried drawing more than just one or two characters together, so getting ten to line up was pretty gratifying. Also seeing that I can actually get people to look distinct with different builds/shapes is great. All-in-all a very successful experiment.

From left to right:
  • Kéthel Olialíne - Denevän, former special ops soldier in his 50's. Fought in the later part of the last great war, court-martialed for refusing what he saw as a suicide mission. Hounded by an unnatural strength and resilience he doesn't know what to do with. After multiple failed post-war jobs, wound up a bouncer at the Dead Watch bar in the distant Rajar space station of Kretût 1. In a relationship of convivence with Kûrkavre Dirût. The pair care for one another but find that they are not as able to get along under duress as they had believed.
  • Tamûja - Rajar, co-owner of Toms Roaster Grill. An effusive, sometimes overbearing, transwoman in her 40's who runs the business with her wife, Jadût. Long time motherly friend of Harriot who takes the young man under her wing when he begins to question his identity. Has a moderately conflicted friendship with Haksa due to an unfortunate incident involving another person that Tamûja had attempted to guide some while back.
  • Harriot Olidéne - Denevän, perpetually broke and struggling writer of 29 who was raised on Earth from childhood. Mother passed away when he was 15 and his father abandoned him in his early 20's. Forced to drop out of collage in order to survive, Harriot has been held back by the underlying xenophobia of United Earth policy and lingering unresolved emotional trauma. His life begins to turn around when he meets a Denevan by the name of Edmond (Edanäka) and they form a relationship which helps him confront man of his issues... though trouble is on the horizon as potential war threatens to pull the newly formed couple apart.
  • Edanäka - Denevän, Ketekäl soldier of 32, on a cultural exchange program, going by the more Human-friendly name of Edmond. Struggled at first with his English until assisted by Harriot, with whom he fast forms a relationship. Finds comfort in the emotional openness and warmth of the younger man, having difficulty in expressing strong feelings due to the emotionally repressive training of the Ketekäl military and social structure. Despite being technically forbidden from having relationships during his exchange program, takes in Harriot when he loses his job and can't keep his apartment under the pretense of having a live-in guide. Fears the likelihood of upcoming war and what it might cost him.
  • Mazthuka - Kazzar, 45 year old matriarch of a colony fleet in Kazzar territory. Struggling to maintain her position as she pushes for her people to open friendly relations with the United Galactic Governments. Has been working in secret with Denevan Fleet Commander Tasäka in order to gain favor and perhaps support from their government in the event of war. Believes that their isolation and insular ideology has lead to a stagnant culture which would likely lead to their extinction if they cannot change their ways. Finds a potential compatriot in Kûrkavre Dirût, in whom she sees a soul mate and reliable confidant.
  • Kûrkavre Dirût - Rajar, former designer of spacecraft of 89. Lost her arm in a shipyard accident suffers from neurological incompatibility from the cybernetic replacement. Was forced into early retirement due to difficulty managing the narcotics that allow her to tolerate the prosthetic. Ended up on the much neglected deep space station Kretut 1 as a technical administrator where she fell into a relationship with Kéthel Olialíne, though more out of convenience than genuine compatibility.
  • John Quinton McLarry - Human, 62 year old independent freighter pilot for hire. Former soldier, retired after fighting in the last great war. Has a very flexible relationship with legal authority, though a strong sense of personal ethics. Has been working in secret with Fleet Commander Tasäka to assist in the building of relations with Mazthuka's colony fleet, transporting supplies across the border to help aid her people. Hires Kethél to accompany him on a potentially dangerous mission to connect with a Denevän agent on Mazthuka's colony, begrudgingly allows Dirut to accompany him. Is also employed by a businessman named Gregory Talesman, who frequently sends him to retrieve artifacts for his research institute.
  • Jek - Rajar, a strange and perplexing man whom Harriot met on a walk. Has an library full of books in every known language in the galaxy (and a few that appear unknown) and claims to be over 300 years old, having lived on Earth his entire life, being descended from a group of Rajar who came there thousands of years ago. Has an undefined connection with Gregory Talesman, who he apparently works with as an advisor on ancient language and culture.
  • Jadût - Rajar, a cantankerous and demanding chef in her 40's, famous (or infamous) for her experimental fusion cuisine. Absolutely dedicated to the culinary arts and obsessed with it to a fault. Cooks for her wife's restaurant, Tom's Roster Grill. Has a warm, if somewhat gruff relationship with Harriot, allowing him to eat free, as long as he's willing to be subjected to her experimental dishes. Fortunately for him, she's very good at what she does.
  • Haska - Kazzar, 49 year old owner of the Mauve Muffler, a shop specializing in alternative clothing, especially focused toward LGBT and general queer needs. Was sent away from their colony fleet for being non-binary and was the first and thus far only Kazzar allowed legal citizenship on Earth. Can be standoffish and sharp-tongued but is kind hearted and enjoys assisting people in finding their inner truth and beauty. Long time friend of Tamûja (who is a frequent patron), though there is a sore spot between them due to the loss of a mutual friend which they blame her for. Helps Harriot find his desired look and encourages him to find himself.
An important note on age: Rajars live long lives. Despite being 89, Dirût is closer in physical age to Kéthel, who is in his 50's, if not a little younger.
On Kazzar biology: They are a reptile-like people and while they follow humanoid form in general, they have different dimorphism between male and female, more based on color patterns and other, more subtle variances.
Jesus tapdancing christ on a pogo stick that was a lot of typing. I think I'll probably do another one like this as I come up with new characters and to define ones I mentioned but haven't been drawn yet.

Writing's been coming along well enough. I should really update the first post, but I can't be bothered right now.

It's been a real lesson in just keep writing. Since I've become aware of a lot of developing issues with tone and characterization, but if I stop to fix them before the end, I'm just going to wind up stalling out and, like, what's the point of fixing a story before you've actually got the rough draft finished? You might just have to go back and fix it again later. Better to keep going and then fix everything once the whole thing is there and you have a complete idea of what should be happening.
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The Doctor Who

Now With Sheffield Steel!
And now comes that moment when you ask yourself as a writer, 'is this scene uncomfortable because I'm writing an uncomfortable scene well or is this scene uncomfortable because I'm recognizing red flags in my own writing?'

The Doctor Who

Now With Sheffield Steel!
Probably. Like, I'm trying to avoid the usual traps authors fall into when they deal with sensitive subjects. Like, the last thing I want is to be the subject of a Dan Olson video XD.

Like, it's be fascinating to see someone dig into my writing that way, but, like there's an implicit failure there that I'm not aiming for XD

The Doctor Who

Now With Sheffield Steel!
It's not that bad. My body is starting to fall apart, but, you know... I have no idea how to finish that.

On the plus side, it's been a pretty great birthday. Bought a sports top and have been enjoying the extra bounciness more than I expected.

The Doctor Who

Now With Sheffield Steel!
Been on vacation so the story's on hold.

In the meantime, I've been coming to the conclusion that I might probably be a woman, so there's a thing. Jury's still out, still hedging my bets with they/them but there's definitely a trend in that direction.

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