Mission Control

The blog of lunarpunk.space moderator Mission Control. Expect both fiction and updates.

I clearly have not given enough attention to the moderation this instance needs, and that is an issue. We are now overrrun with tech reviewers, and its a crapshoot. Open registration was clearly a mistake.

If you have stuff you like on here, download it. This site is going down. I may reopen it int he future, with closed registration, but for now, I'm getting rid of it.

CW: Mental Health

I blew it up is what happened.

One minute I'm editing the config file in nano to update the blocklist (bad way to ban instances, imho. Pleroma devs might want to look at that), the next the damn thing won't start. The service I mean. I spent two hours trying to get it running again, but I couldn't. No idea what I did wrong.

I then called off work, because of a panic attack that ensued.

Overall, the instance, while fun, has been a nightmare for my limited technical skills. I enjoyed running it while I could, but I'm gonna pull back and focus on this write freely instance, which uses managed hosting.

I'll be making a new account on a new instance for the fiftieth time, but I hope that this time I will stick with it.

If you were on the instance, I'm sorry I couldn't reach out to you to tell you this any other way. I want to apologize deeply to all of you. I loved being your mod, but I can't handle it anymore. I wish you all luck, and i hope to see you on the fediverse again.

I met a skeleton, coming down the road. It was not yet bleached white by the sun, but was instead the sickly yellow-brown of the freshly arisen. It's clothes hung loosely off it's body, covered in grave dirt, and it shambled forward to an unknown purpose.

Many folks, seeing such a sight, would be inclined to run from the skeleton. Buit I am a traveling exorcist, well acquainted with the wandering dead, and charged with putting them to rest if I can.

“Ho there!” I said to the figure. “What keeps you bound to this mortal coil. Perhaps I can be of assis—”

“Piss off!” Shouted the skeleton.

I blinked. “I'm sorry?” I said.

“I said, piss off! Can't you hear?” said the skeleton.

“I was merely trying to—”

“Did I ask for your help?”

“Well, no—”

“Then why you still talking to me? you fleshbags are all the same, either running and screaming or 'oh poor tortured soul,' and I'm just trying to go on my way!”

“Well, I'm sorry—”

“Oh, you're sorry, are ya? Oh, now I'm supposed to feel sorry for some stupid fleshbag? We supposed to kiss and make up, that it? I tell you...”

The skeleton went on like this for a while. After a time, I got fed up with its rambling, and with a good right hook, sent it's skull flying away, it's body chasing after it. I respect that not everyone wants my help, but if you're going to be an ass about it, I don't see why i should put up with you.

A short little story I wrote out to test the waters after not writing for a while.

First of all I extend a hearty welcome to everyone who has joined the instance in the six days it has been open. We already have a lot of blogs and a lot of stories, and that's amazing! I can't wait to see how big this little corner of the fediverse will grow.

The main thing I am making this post to discuss is the possibility of opening up lunarpunk.space to consensus decision making. That means that instead of myself unilaterally taking actions, the users of lunarpunk.space would be polled on what to do regarding server settings and moderation. This would be accomplished with a loomio group on the servers of sunbeam.city. I am currently talking to them about this proposal, as I am now a part of their co-op.

Alternatively, we could join the co-op ourselves, which would make us subject to their governance policy. If we maintained our independence, we could come up with a governance policy of our own.

If you have any questions, please DM me on mastodon or email missioncontrol@lunarpunk.space. I will bring any concerns to the attention of the co-op myself, until we can get our own space on the loomio server.

This short cosmic horror story is the background for a D&D character, Arkham Grave, that I played in a couple of campaigns.

Arkham paced back and forth nervously in front of his master’s study. He had no idea why his master had summoned him. Perhaps he had heard of the pranks he had pulled on Hastur and wished to reprimand him. Hastur had been tormenting Arkham ever since his arrival at the sanctum, jealous of the young half-elf’s apparent talent and wishing to assert his superiority, both as a noble and as a scholar. Arkham doubted that his master would accept that excuse for his antics, however; Master Saryn stressed discipline among his apprentices, and sneaking spiders into another apprentice’s bunk would surely breech his code of ethics. It wasn’t fair. The spiders weren’t even poisonous. Arkham had been sure of that. Well, relatively sure, anyway.

Suddenly, the door to the study opened—seemingly of its own accord, as no one was on the other side—and a deep, raspy voice said “come in.” Arkham swallowed a lump in his throat and walked inside. There, behind a mahogany desk strewn with all manner of papers and arcane formulae, was his master, and elderly human with a long beard. His dark eyes studied Arkham, and yet they also seemed to be looking through him, as if gazing at something that lurked within Arkham’s soul.

Arkham cleared his throat. “You, um, wanted to see me, sir?” he said.

“Yes,” said Master Saryn. “I’ve been watching your progress, Arkham. And I think you are finally ready to have the secret of my power revealed to you.”

Arkham’s face lit up. He could hardly believe his ears. Every student of cosmology in the sanctum knew that Master Saryn possessed great arcane power. Yet he was very reluctant to reveal the source of his powers to anyone, and never spoke of it to his students. That Master Saryn was willing to reveal such a secret to Arkham was a compliment of the highest order.

“Truly?” Arkham asked.

“Yes,” replied Master Saryn. “But you must never reveal what you see to any of your fellow apprentices.”

“Of course not, Master,” said Arkham. “I would never dream of doing so.”

“Good.” Said Master Saryn. The old man rose from his seat and picked up his staff. “Follow me.”

He led Arkham out into the hallway, leaning on his staff for support. The two of them walked down the hall until they got to the staircase. Then they began to descend. Down and down they went, past the sleeping quarters of the other apprentices, past the library where even now Arkham’s fellows worked on expanding their knowledge of the multiverse. Eventually the even passed the grand entry hall and went deep below the tower into the dungeons.

When they finally reached the bottom stair, all that lay before them was as long hallway, completely dark. Master Saryn spoke a word, and suddenly the hallway lit by green torchfire coming from every sconce on the wall. Master Saryn continued down the hall, motioning for Arkham to follow him. At the end of the hallway was a large iron door. Taking a key from his pocket, Master Saryn slowly unlocked the door and pushed it open. The room inside was pitch black, but just as before, Master Saryn spoke a word and the room became filled with an emerald glow.

Standing at the doorway, Arkham could see that the room was circular in shape. The circumference of the room was lined with candles, each of them lit with the same green flame that lit the torches in the hall. In the center of the room stood a tall iron pedestal, upon which sat a book with a black cover. Two candles stood on the pedestal, one on either side. By their glow, Arkham could see that the cover of the book was inlaid with a picture of what looked like a clump of eyes. Arkham took a step into the room, but the pressure of Master Saryn’s hand on his shoulder caused him to stop at that one step.

“Where you go now,” said Master Saryn, “no being, be they god or mortal, will be able to help you.”

Arkham turned to look at his master and found that the old man was looking right at him. He did not appear to be looking through him as he had done before, either; his gaze was focused completely on Arkham. And there was some emotion in those eyes. Pity, maybe? No. Fear. Arkham started to sweat. As long as he had known him, Master Saryn had never been afraid of anything. But he couldn’t turn back. This was everything his studies had been leading up to. He had to go through that door.

Arkham faced forward and walked into the room, Master Saryn’s hand falling off his shoulder as we stepped forward. He heard the door shut behind him and knew that he was alone. Carefully, he walked up to the book, took it off the pedestal, and opened it to the first page. Before he could begin to read, however, the letters on the page began to swirl, transforming the page into a vortex of arcane symbols. From the center of the vortex emerged a yawning darkness which grew and grew until it had swallowed Arkham whole.

Now Arkham found himself floating in space, surrounded on all sides by darkness. The area around him was deathly cold, and there was no light to be seen anywhere. And yet Arkham knew that there was something with him in the darkness. He could not see it, but he could feel its eyes upon him, thousands of them, all focused on him. They were studying him, taking in every detail, measuring his very essence. Something wet and milky brushed up against his leg. Then the whispers began. There were thousands of voices of varying timbers and pitches, all whispering in his ears. They spoke of ancient magics and long lost secrets, and of a great hunger that threatened to consume all the matter in existence. They asked him a question, and he answered them in a language he did not understand. A pact had been made. Of this he was certain. Then he felt himself falling backwards.

When Arkham landed, he found himself lying on a stone floor, staring up at a ceiling lit by an emerald glow. Arkham sat up, and looked around. He was back in the sanctum, in the very same room that he had been spirited away from. The book was back on the pedestal, its cover closed. He briefly wondered how it had gotten back up there, before deciding not to question it. Confused and mentally exhausted, Arkham laid back down on the floor and tried to make sense of what had just happened. He had read books about strange beings that lurked in the dark places between the stars. Supposedly they could touch a mortal’s mind. He had never taken these tales very seriously, but after what had just occurred, he decided that the tales must be true after all.

Unbidden, the word “Hadar” appeared in his mind. Hadar. Yes, that was it. That was the name of the being he had formed a pact with. Hadar, the beast that lurked in the dark between the stars. He thought of his quarrel with Hastur. How could mortal arguments such as that matter when beings such as Hadar lurked in edges of the cosmos? And that wasn’t the worst of it. Mortals fought wars over land and resources and prayed to gods for favorable harvests. It was all so pointless. What could mortals hope to accomplish that could compare to the might of Hadar? And yet they continued to run around thinking that their lives meant something. It was all so funny! Arkham opened his mouth and laughed.

The problem with reading horror stories before bed is that, of course, you can't sleep. You tell yourself that it's just an autonomous response to fear or that you're just anticipating the nightmares that you might have. But deep down, you know that the real reason is that you're afraid of something coming to get you in the middle of the night. So you read something else, or find something to watch (quietly with headphones). Or maybe you just listen to some music (again, quietly, with headphones) and stare at the ceiling for a time. Eventually, you are able to find a way to sufficiently distract yourself and go to sleep.

Suddenly, your alarm goes off, and you get up to get ready to go to work. But something's wrong. Your clock says that it's seven in the morning, but it's still dark out. There is no light coming through your windows, not even the red and purple twinge of sunrise. You look out the window, and something immediately catches your eye: the moon. When you went to sleep, it was a waning crescent. Now it is full. You look down from the sky, and find that your neighborhood has disappeared. In its place is a forest of what appears to be red coral. It stretches on for an impossible distance.

Immediately, you begin looking for your house-mates. But when you go down the hallway and knock on their bedroom door, no one answers. You knock on the door to the bathroom. Again, no answer. So you open the door. No one is inside. Frantically, you search all the rooms on the upper floor. You find no one. So you run downstairs and begin searching the ground floor. And that is when you see the shadow through the window in the front room.

The shadow is large and many-limbed. It slinks through the coral forest, circling the house. you hear a low noise, something between the timbre of a growl and a rolling drumbeat. Then the shadow disappears and you hear a scratching at the door.

The scratching noise starts at the bottom and gradually works its way up. Then it stops, and the doorknob starts to rattle, as if something is playing with it, or perhaps trying to figure out how it works. You stare at the door, wondering if you remembered to lock it last night, and hoping beyond hope that you are still sleeping and, if you try hard enough, you can wake up, wake up, wake up...

The building taunted Arthur every time he walked past it. It stood there, all steel and glass, a modern architectural style designed to evoke medical cleanliness and peerless efficiency. No matter how hard he kept his eyes on the ground, the image of that facility remained burned into his consciousness, a reminder of the grisly deadline that lurked ever closer in Arthur’s future.

He would have just as soon have avoided walking past it except that it happened to be so close to the coffee shop. His daily cup of coffee was the only luxury Arthur had been able to fit into his current budget. His walk down to the shop had become a sort of ritual. It got him exercise, and got him out of the apartment and away from the constant pressure of bills. He felt that without this ritual, he really might be in danger of losing it.

Entering the shop, Arthur walked over to the counter, ordered his usual (a medium cup of coffee with cream), and took a seat by the window. He made sure he was facing away from the facility, and yet it still lurked in his mind. Arthur thought back to when the first facility of its kind opened in Washington, D.C. He remembered the president’s speech, promising an end to the nanny state, to the do-nothing parasite who suckled themselves on the government teat. Arthur remembered that he used to think the facility was a great idea. He had felt ecstatic when one had opened right here in Cleveland. Finally, he wouldn't have to see so many transients on the way to work.

Arthur had continued to think this up until the day his manager called him in to talk about his performance. “So you see, Arthur,” the manager had said, peering at Arthur through his spectacles, “you just aren't processing software change requests at an efficient pace.”

“But my work has been improving,” Arthur had protested. “Everyone has been saying so!”

“Yes, the individual requests you complete are quite thorough. But you see, it’s not just about the quality of thew work. We also have to consider the rate at which the work is done. Efficiency is key. Do you see what I’m saying?”

Arthur had, in fact, understood. The modern world worked at a blinding pace, and those who couldn't keep up were left behind. Arthur had seen then that his protests would be in vain. The manager, for his part, had been nothing but cordial. He had even walked Arthur to his car to make sure he was OK to drive. This politeness didn't stop Arthur from cursing the manager out as he pulled away, however.

In the months that followed, Arthur fervently applied to every business that would take him. And every week, he had received another email apologizing to him for the inconvenience and wishing him luck on his job search. Around the three month mark, he had begun having nightmares about men in clean, crisp uniforms coming to his apartment and dragging him screaming into the metal and glass doors of the facility, never to be seen again. These nightmares had continued unabated throughout the rest of his job search.

Shaking his head, Arthur brought himself back to the present. Though the nightmares were terrifying, the future they predicted was not yet a forgone conclusion. There was still a few days before the six month deadline. and just last week he had attended a promising interview with a local tech support call center. Sure, it wasn't the most glamorous work, but it was better than the alternative. And besides, in all likelihood it was the last chance he’d get.

Suddenly, Arthur felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. Taking it out, he saw that he had gotten an email from the tech support company. Arthur felt his heart begin to pound. Opening the email, Arthur read the words “We are sorry,” and then the room began to spin. Arthur felt himself take shallow breath after shallow breath. He felt beads of sweat form on his brow. His sight became unfocused, and he couldn't read the rest of the email. He didn't need to, anyway. He knew what it said.

Then Arthur heard the tiny ringing sound of the bell on the coffee shop’s door. He didn't need to see who had come in. The men from the facility were here for him. Arthur knew this in his very bones. “Run,” said a voice in his head. “Run, run now!” And Arthur did run. He ran out of the door and straight into the street. There was the honk of a car horn, a screech of the brakes, the crunch of bone under rubber, and then finally, nothing.