Jess(i?e+)? or Hope (she/he/they, он/она)
icon by alohasushicore (picrew link)
multifandom, sfw blog (rare cases of #nsfw and #suggestive are tagged accordingly)
i draw, write (in Russian), animate things. creations are tagged as #babkart
black lives matter
Unus Annus x ECHO
What if... I drew something for a fandom that I had no interest in until after it died? Jk jk.... unless? Anyways, reeeeeeally regretting not getting into Unus Annus, cause the fan compilations, fan art, and the final live stream really got me hooked. I know how much it meant to a lot of people, so I hope that I did your faves justice. Also, the lyrics and inspiration are from the song “Echo” by CirCrush, which is where the lyrics are from and why they’re wearing schoolgirl outfits. So uhhh memento mori I guess? 🖤🤍
Stream by Koon Lake
We found a tiny feeder stream at neaby Koon Lake in Pennsylvania. It was a chance discovery made when my teenage son was kept out of school for a while with a chronic illness - we needed and 'adventure' to cheer us both up. We took plenty of pictures there, and I did this trio of drawings on my favorite toned paper. Just recently we went back to see it in winter, and took more pictures (of course). I started another drawing, because time has been very tight for me, lately, and I can find time to fit drawing into my schedule easier than painting. You'd think that drawing and painting would take about the same mental effort, but for me drawing seems much easier. Also no brushes to clean at the end! Just put the cap back on the pen, set the colored pencil back in the box, and done.
I've been inactive here for a while, because I had trouble logging in - but that seems to have cleared up. Computers are strange, mysterious beasts.
Fathers Bury Sons - 1sjflemingwriting -
Written by Serena J. Fleming, 2019
Science fiction, serial story
Chapters up early for Patreons Content warnings: Violence, gore, body horror
The first breath I ever took was fire filling my lungs. The first time I exhaled, thick, clear, slime dribbled out from my mouth. I retched and coughed, trying to get a hold on where I was, on who I was. Each breath hurt, but a little less than the last. My first step was on to cold, hard, ground. Like ice.
I opened my eyes. The first thing I saw were men and women in white coats, sleek and clean and paying attention to everything in the room but me. It was a blue-clothed woman who was the first to touch me, grabbing my hand and wiping away some of the ooze that coated my body.
“Hey, my name is Maria, Nurse Maria. Can you take a step for me? Good, good.”
I understood what she was saying. I didn’t understand how I did.
Oh, the light hurt. It hurt so much. Nurse Maria, the lovely lady, lead me from the light to some other, darker room. The light here was red, dull red, and it didn’t hurt nearly so much.
“Who am I?” I asked. My voice cracked and strained.
“You’re TFL-eight-nine, six, two-four, nine-five, five-nine-oh-one. Nine-oh-One, how’s that sound, at least for now?”
A designation. That’s what I was.
“Yep! Or, if you’re gonna be with your squad, niner-oh-one. Don’t know why, I’m just here to help you get started. Now, could you please jump for me?”
Without thinking, I jumped.
“Wonderful! Can you hold your arms out for me like this?” She stretched her arms out to the side. I did so as well. She grabbed my upper arm and gave it a squeeze. “Okay, good, muscle mass seems standard. Just step into that biometric scanner over there, and then we’ll send you on your way with the rest of your batch.”
“Yeah, don’t worry, you’ll fit right in with them!” She let out a hollow laugh. That must have been something she said often. She gestured to a diagram on the wall. “So this is you. Well, not just you. The whole clone thing in general. I’m just making sure you and your batch are close enough to this.”
I looked down at myself, as if to confirm the diagram was correct. It was. Hairless, pale, completely flat chest and stomach. No genitals, no belly-button. Things I knew about, and yet didn’t have. Everything about me was identical to the diagram. A feeling of unease fell over me, an awkward sense of being judged and tested.
“Well, we’ll need to see. Just step into this machine here, dear. It’s nothing too dangerous.”
“What if I wasn’t?”
The nurse shrugged. “I don’t know, not my job. But you don’t need to worry about it, so just don’t think about it.”
The machine was a cylinder, white plastic and clear glass, with two hoops - one on the top and one on the bottom. The glass slid off to the side, and two lights turned on. I took a deep breath, and stepped inside. A screen inside told me to REMAIN CALM.
The glass door slid behind me, and the screen went black. For the first time, I saw my own face. I didn’t have time to examine the details, but I knew it was me. My mind took some time to process it, trying to parse the idea that I had an identity. I was a clone, and I was a designation, but that face reflected on the screen, that was me.
A great whirring sound filled my ears, and the machine started to rumble and vibrate. Contrary to the screen’s instructions, I felt fear. A tugging at my muscles, telling me to run fast and run far. That had to be what fear was, it was the only word I knew that matched what I felt.
“Good, now, step into the shower,” Nurse Maria gestured to another cylinder. “There’ll be a uniform ready for you when you’re done.”
The shower was cold. Really cold. Or maybe it wasn’t, and I just had no idea what a proper temperature for it was. I stepped out, and felt a lot warmer. The air was….better. Warmer now. Probably just in comparison to my skin, but that hardly mattered. It felt good. There was a uniform, a black jumpsuit, waiting for me. It was itchy, uncomfortable.
A series of arrows led me out of the room. I followed them for no reason in particular. It just felt right to do so.
A thousand other people, each one looking identical to the diagram I had seen, stood in the room I ended up in. A disorganized throng of people, putting on uniforms like mine and wandering around the room aimlessly. I saw my own face in each of them, staring back at me. Bald and browless, with blue eyes. Gaunt and tired, despite having only been awake an hour at most. I had no choice but to look each person in the eyes as I walked through the room. All of us were the same. Same height, same build, same face. Sure, some small differences existed between us. I saw some who were darker-skinned, others who were lighter, some who had ever-so-slightly different facial features. But we were still all clones, born from the same genetic stock.
Two people, who looked very different from anyone in the room (as if that was hard), came in. They were dressed very smartly, in military uniform. One of them was a lieutenant, the other was a colonel. I saw the uniforms and knew right away, before I knew their names.
“Now,” the colonel said, his voice amplified by means of speakers in the room. “This is the batch I’m commanding?”
The lieutenant leaned over and whispered something into his ear. He nodded, and pressed a button on his sleeve. The speakers stopped amplifying his voice, and the two of them kept talking. I didn’t hear anything, but I could see the colonel seemed displeased. Why? Because of me? I was the inspected clone, so maybe he didn’t think we were good enough.
He got on top of a raised platform, and pressed the button again. After a few moments of throat-clearing, he spoke.
“My name is Colonel Abrams. I am the commander of this Batch-Regiment. You are all members of the Legions of Fallen Trappist, division eighty-nine. Welcome to your first day of life. Now, I will answer the three questions that Clones, statistically, ask most often. Where am I? You are on Orbital Facility sixty-two, in the Alpha Centauri system’s second asteroid belt. How do I know ‘insert topic here’? Well, we implanted you all with basic soldier personalities and knowledge. Basic anatomy, weapons use, language use, the works. And finally, what’ll happen to me? Well, this division has been assigned to the defense of a human system some ways from here. You’ll get a full briefing soon, soldiers, understood?”
There was silence in the room. After a few moments, Colonel Abrams continued.
“Just so you know, when a commanding officer is done speaking, you have to say ‘Yes, sir.’”
“Yes, sir!” the whole room declared.
The first week of my life was aptitude tests. Training with every weapon, making sure the implanted knowledge had actually set. In two minutes and twelve seconds, I did a field breakdown of a EMEMPS-SIR Striker rifle. Apparently, that was a few seconds slower than average.
I was able to keep a three-inch group at two-hundred yards with that same gun. It felt natural in my hands, like an extension of my own body. But again, I was told that was sub-average. Apparently the average Clone can keep a two-and-three-quarters inch group at five-hundred yards. I’m not quite sure what I felt when I was told that. Shame, maybe.
Somehow, despite being the same as everyone here, I felt inferior. I wasn’t given any time to process these feelings, though, because as soon as I felt sadness over my score with the A3, an EMP Trencher shotgun was put in my hands. I was told to shoot the moving targets by another clone, one with a deep gash from left eye to right cheek.
Fifteen-point-seven seconds to hit each one.
At least there, I was average. Some measure of pride returned to me as I moved from small arms to large. At least I wasn’t terrible at everything. Emplacements and whatnot. Again, average or below. Endurance, average. Strength, average. Average, average, average. Where I was below, it wasn’t by much, and where I was above, there was an even slighter difference.
Rationally, that should have been the case. After all, if I was a clone, there was a template. If there was a template, there was a standard. If there was a standard, then everyone had to more or less fall into the average, right? But still, being told over and over again that I was just average gave me a strange feeling, an empty feeling in my gut.
I got over myself when I saw my armor, though.
Sleek, smooth, and black, every part covered by plates of plasteel, every joint protected with hinged plates. Every part that could be rounded and angled was, but it still retained that sleek and slim profile. The helmet was almost tear-drop shaped, the face completely sealed in. Six eyes, cameras protected by bulletproof glass, were arranged in three horizontal pairs. An antennae stuck out from the left side, short, blunt, and blocky. It was exactly my size, and that was something I knew before I even got into it.
It fit beautifully. The harnesses were comfortable and padded, the neural bodyglove fit like, well, a glove. Not a single piece felt too tight or too loose. The weight didn’t hang on any particular bodypart, and it moved with almost flawless grace. It responded to my movement so naturally, so smoothly. There was nothing about it I didn’t like.
From there, I was processed into a squadron. Nine other clones, those with their helmets off staring blankly ahead into nothingness, those with their helmets on likely doing the same. I found myself zone out from time to time, from the sheer amount of stuff I had to do and process. My mind was still ruminating on Maria, trying to remember her face. I couldn’t.
We had some free time, and each squad was directed to their room. The rooms were like us clones. Each had a window that, when walking past, you could see through. Ten beds, in five bunks, with ten chairs, around one table. A separate bathroom. Beyond that, there was little in amenities. When we got to the room, I realized that much of the walls were actually closets, each one with our designation over it. Our armor seemed to respond to it, unlocking and letting us take it off when we got near. I stepped out of my suit, and the closet opened up. Two mechanical limbs stretched out, grasping the helmet and drawing it inside. Two more came, and grabbed the body-suit itself. The only thing left untouched was the neural suit, which I realized was actually quite nice to wear. Light, airy, almost like it was nothing at all.
The nine others in my squad had extremely similar designations. It took me a moment to realize, though, that we were all one-after-the-other. I was the ‘middle child’ of the squad, so to speak. Nine-oh-one. Four ‘older’ than me, from nine-oh-two to oh-five, and five ‘younger’ than me.
None of us spoke to each other. What was there to say? “Oh, weird being alive now?” or “Where will we be sent?” or “Do you know how to do this?” No matter what topic I considered, I drew a blank.
Ultimately, I ended up taking off the neural suit and packing it away with the rest of my armour. There had to be something to do, something I could use to pass the time. Eventually, after far too long searching, I found a gym. It was completely empty, the barbells and treadmills having gone completely unused. The glass door was locked, and a fingerprint scanner seemed connected to the lock. I pressed my hand against it.
The screen flashed out five words in sequence: NOT. PERMITTED. ENTRY. OFFI-CERS. ONLY.
Now that didn’t make too much sense to me, but I shrugged and figured there was going to be some other room for the grunts. They probably didn’t want us wandering around anyways. That was it, yeah. Not wandering around. The thought entered my mind, and just wouldn’t leave. I turned around, and jogged down the hall. Didn’t want to disobey the officers, and I didn’t want them to see me. But the halls were empty, why was I running like I heard one come around the corner? It wasn’t even a conscious thought, it was…a compulsion, something deep in my chest dragging me away.
I found myself back in my room before I was able to think too deeply on it.
There were a series of little pamphlets sitting on the one table in the room when I got there. No one else had picked them up, and I had no idea where they had come from. The paper was clean and crisp, and still warm, as if they had just been printed.
A hatch opened, and a clear, rectangular tube lowered down over the table, and another packet of pamphlets was dropped on it. The tube retracted, the hatch closed, and I was faced with new reading material. It wasn’t anything particularly novel, just explanations of ranks and serial numbers that I already knew. The first two digits, eighty-nine, were division number, then regiment, then battalion, then company. Eighty-ninth division, sixth regiment, twenty-fourth battalion, fifty-ninth company. Everything after that was just my individual clone ID.
Of course, I knew what they meant, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit of…irony at that statement.
I sighed, and put down the pamphlets. No wonder no one had touched them, it just pointless.
“Nine-oh-One,” said Nine-oh-two. I turned around, and faced them.
“Yes?” I replied.
“You missed the announcement. We’re going into weapons training in about half an hour.”
“Yes. Weapons training.”
“Good!” I declared, putting my hands on my hip. “That should be, at the very least, not boring.”
“Yeah, I hope so,” said Eight-nine-nine.
“This is a EMEMPS-based Standard Issue Rifle, or SIR, also known as the Striker A3,” declared a clone from fifth-division. He had only one arm, the other being made of steel and plastic, and half his face was a poorly-done skingraft. “In my three years of life,” he continued, holding up a sleek, thin, rifle damn near as long as him in his artificial hand. “This thing has saved my ass more than you can imagine. It’s sturdy, it’s robust, it’s deadly as all hell. Your SIR is your best friend, because even if you aren’t in armor, you still have a fighting chance with it.”
“Now,” he put the rifle down, and his voice took on a harsh quality. “You’re all just a bunch of amniotic-suckers, I’m going to assume that the implanted knowledge is still fresh in your head. You probably worked with these things in the aptitude tests, but just to be sure...you!” He pointed at me.
“Fieldstrip this SIR.”
After a moment of stumbling and pushing past clones who didn’t seem to understand the concept of getting out of the way, I found myself watched by fifty pairs of eyes, all of whom were just waiting for me to mess up so the veteran could yell at me. I was determined to make sure I didn’t mess up.
Fieldstrip the gun. Alright. I could do that. Press the primary magazine catch, unload the canister of exotic matter-plus-battery. Press the tab on the top, at the back of of the optic’s mounting. Pull the entire front of the gun forwards, then bend it 45 degrees. It all came apart, perfectly. It looked almost like a shotgun ready to be loaded.
I pulled the magnetic rails out, and placed them off to the side. There. Fieldstripped, and I didn’t embarrass myself. All I got in response was an acknowledging nod, and an order to get back into line.
“Now, some of you will be given Standard Issue Carbines, Shotguns, and other weapons using the same EMEMPS system. They all operate in the same way, and fieldstrip in more or less the same way. Now, on to exotic weapons, the lucky bastards among you will be getting these.” He walked over to a large backpack-looking thing with a tube and nozzle.
“This, for example, is one of my favourites. A plasmicaster. Take one of these, point it at whatever you want to burn, and the entire area will be covered in plasma. You can vapourize just about anything organic with this damn thing.” He let out a short laugh, as if he was remembering some particularly funny memory from long ago. “Urban environments are ideal, but as long as there’s something to burn, you’ll be having loads of fun. Each tank is good for about two-hundred seconds of flame, but if you’re using it for that long, you have much bigger problems”
This carried on for quite a bit longer, going through nearly two-dozen weapons and their uses. After a while, I felt myself grow a little restless. If they were going to tell us all about these things, but not let us use any of them, what was the point? Dangling a carrot in front of us?
My impatience was punished by another four hours of training lectures and explanations, of doctrinal ideas and general tactica in different scenarios. I looked at the clock as much as I could, and counted out how much of my life had been spent doing anything but the one thing I had been created for.
Again, one of those feelings I couldn’t justify, but felt regardless, a compulsion that was somehow different and yet the same from the one I had felt when I ran from the officers-only gym.
I was, of course, overjoyed when I was handed my SIR. It was natural to hold, something that felt almost like an extension of myself from the second I shouldered it. Despite it being as long as I was tall, I didn’t feel weighed down by it, it didn’t feel awkward to swing about and aim. It was…perfect, or at the very least the closest thing to it that could exist.
The shooting range had massive plates of metal, moving on tracks. Dozens of us were lined up, and told to fire. The recoil without the armor was intense, pushing the air from my lungs. Eventually, I got good enough at holding my breath that it didn’t bother me as much. My shoulder, however, disagreed quite heavily with the rifle.
It was much better when the armor trials began the next day. I could barely feel a damn thing, it was less like a rifle, and more like a popgun, as far as my shoulder was concerned.
The war games were fun, really. Actually, legitimately, fun. We were given weird meshes to wear over our armor, and Non-Lethal Laser Rifles. It was a matter of setting up defensive positions against the Red Team (I was on blue), and making sure you knew how to competently follow instructions. Digging foxholes, setting up sandbags, things I knew already. Over time, I started to feel…happy.
Oh-two was a decent person, always willing to lend a hand, and ninety-nine did their job admirably. Somewhere along the line, oh-four said she preferred to be called she. No one seemed to have an issue with that.
“So,” she said, sitting down next to me as we prepared our meals over a flameless heater. “Can’t wait to blow some heads up for real.”
I nodded, not exactly sure how to answer that.
“Well,” she stretched, resting the back of her head on her hands, “I found out that we could get deployed soon. Guess this is all just to keep us busy.”
A pang of excitement shot through my heart. “Deployed?” I asked, almost in disbelief. “Where to?”
“Defense of Cygnia, or whatever. I didn’t really spend too much time looking at the documents, what with the officers coming down the door.”
“Wait, you read classified stuff?”
“Yeah. Delivered to me by mistake. Apparently, I’m one digit off from a lieutenant-militant or whatever. So of course I read it.”
I felt sick. Intensely, truly sick. I didn’t know how to respond, save to stare silently at the bubbling food. It was one of those things where I didn’t think there was even a decent response. Do I report her to the officers? Do I keep silent? Do I admonish her? What could I do? Betray a squadmate, someone who I would need to fight with for possibly years on end, or stay mum and go against every regulation pounding in my head?
“Yeah, I would have done the same,” I said, something unnameable yet fundamental within me shattering.
Chimera Heart Pages 144-148 have been released on Webtoon!
What's Ita so hyped up about? Find out in today's installment of Chimera Heart!
This is also the last update of Chapter 8! Chapter 9 will begin on September 4th. Thank you for reading and supporting the comic up to this point!