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Conics Unfortunately: 19

by Ventomology


A few days into the return journey, Ellipse figured she ought to take on real captain duties instead of just lazing around and answering Mouthbot’s questions and pushing slabs of fish at Focci’s face to remind him to eat. So while Tejal tried giving the translator demonstrations of a few endemic American accents, Ellipse headed back up to the pilot’s cabin to ask Focci about flying the ship. Of course, she also brought him fish.

“Focci,” she sang, “I brought food.”

He grunted at her, though frankly even siren grunts sounded melodic, and held out one hand. Ellipse floated towards him and flipped the plate onto his snout instead, leaving morsels of fish to float about the cabin.

“Why do you keep doing that?” Focci asked. He snarfed down a chunk that drifted past his nose and sent Ellipse an unimpressed glare.

“Because you put up with it,” Ellipse answered. She balanced the plate on top of Focci’s head and then turned to the windows. “What do you and Tejal do in here during the flight? I thought most of the path was computerized.”

“We adjust for debris in case the detection systems fail.”

Wrinkling her nose, Ellipse searched for the joystick hidden among all the flickery lights on the dashboard. “I could do that too,” she said. “I know how a joystick works. And I have a full license, unlike you two.”

All she got in response was a disinterested hum as Focci swallowed more fish. Then, like the master of conversation he was, he changed subjects without any kind of lead-in. “I have a question about earthling biology.”

“You should let me fly the ship,” Ellipse said. She had more than enough fluency in Siren to wrestle back control of this conversation. Hopefully.

“Is it normal for earthlings to have drastic differences in height and breadth?” Focci asked anyways. “You and Tejal act similar in age, and so I thought it odd that you are so much more muscular. Mass-wise, we sirens are always very similar to others within our age groups.”

Siren weight was at the mercy of water temperature and space availability, so of course Focci was the same size as other space-faring adolescent sirens. Ellipse took a breath to explain the array of factors involved with earthling growth, and then remembered that she had other goals. Frowning, she leveled Focci with a hard stare and nudged a piece of fish towards him. “You should let me fly the ship,” she said.

“You should answer my questions. At least I am not interrogating you.”

Ellipse huffed and rolled her eyes. “I can explain the biology for you, of course. But is Tejal really much smaller than I am? Aside from the lack of leg mass, obviously.” For the past year, Ellipse had spent hours each day cleaning mirrors, and she was familiar with the biceps and triceps she had earned in the process. Tejal could not be that much skinnier, not if he could roll his wheelchair around as quickly as he had at the earthling fold terminal.

“He is scales and bones, Ellipse. Are we feeding him enough?”

Maybe the years before her janitor stint had blinded Ellipse to how thin people could be. Pursing her lips, she tried to remember when Tejal had last eaten, and what and how much. She had shared some seaweed with him before napping and then forced him to gnaw on frozen fruit when she woke up, but that had been hours ago.

“He complains about the taste of earthling food,” she said, brows furrowing. “Unless it is sweet, he will not eat much.”

“Picky,” Focci snorted. He reached for the joystick, but the ship angled downwards before his arm even fully extended. “We need to fix that in case his parents get stuck in legal whirlpools.”

Watching as a piece of icy, blue-black rock floated over the view, Ellipse found herself making excuses. “It makes sense for him to be picky. You are wired to enjoy savory foods because you get more energy from breaking proteins. Tejal and I get more out of sugars.”

“You enjoy fish as much as I do,” Focci pointed out. “If we are blaming Tejal’s bony-ness on his eating habits, then he is being a guppy and you know it.”

Ellipse would forget how to speak Global Gliss before she ate sashimi again, but she had to admit to pan frying more than her fair share of the fish stores. Even now the taste of oil permeated the ship’s air supply. “He has been eating gato food for years,” Ellipse argued. “That stuff is easy on earthling tastebuds, even if it has… no nutritional value.”

Ah. That explained a lot. She and Focci exchanged a knowing glance and then turned back to the stars outside the cockpit window, faces tight with disappointment. They should have figured that out sooner.

“So,” Ellipse tried, “why are we worrying about Tejal’s lack of muscle? It is considered rude in earthling society to talk about someone’s weight behind their back.”

“I am worried he may have a hard time moving when we land at the serpent planet station. They set their gravity almost twice as high as earthling and Triune stations.”

A metal clang rang out from somewhere downstairs, followed by Tejal shouting ‘what in tarnation’ in a Texan accent. At least he was not eavesdropping through Mouthbot. When Focci sent her a questioning look, Ellipse giggled.

“That was just an outdated curse,” she explained. “It is like asking if something came from the fire trench.”

Focci tittered, canines showing, and then snapped a piece of fish out of the air. “But if the increased gravity and friction and whatnot become a problem,” he said through his chewing, “you can probably push him. I suppose in the short term we can just ignore it.”

“Hmm, but think of all the fun we could have forcing him to try new things.”

Another loud noise echoed through the ship, this time from the hall. It sounded like a hand slapping on plastic, which was probably the actual cause as well. The sound was either that or Tejal’s grappling line magnet hitting something, and both meant Tejal was free from Mouthbot’s question-prison.

“We should probably stop talking about Tejal,” Focci said, turning to the door. He snarfed down another bite of fish and groped about for his Mouthbot refocus button.

Before he found it, Tejal burst in, eyes wide, and pointed at Ellipse. “I can’t do Chicago!” he shouted.

Ellipse blinked. “What?”

“Chicago. You know, the accent? I can’t do it.”

“It is not hard,” Ellipse said, placing her hands on either side of Focci’s head. She angled him back to the windows and pushed herself towards the door. “I can do all forms of English, and it is not even my first language.”

Tejal combed his hands through his hair, fingers clawed like he might start pulling the strands out. “Then why did you abandon me with the computer? I could have been perfecting the fold generator, but no, you had to just run off and leave me with the crazy translator.”

“I will ask Focci to press the reset button for you,” Ellipse replied, bowing for drama’s sake. She switched into her singing voice and called for Focci again. “Tejal wants to be done with the translating work, and I am going to go practice poetry on the metal tube. Any requests?”

As Tejal pulled the miniature fold generator and a set of tiny screwdrivers from his pockets, Focci looked over at the earthling boy and shrugged. “The Andra poem about boiling fish is good for working. And I like the one about death. Try not to spend too long practicing the alphabet this time.”

Ellipse could make no promises on her scale work, but she smiled like she might try and switched back to English. “Tejal, what are your favorite songs?”

He glanced up, still turning a screw. “You’re playing trumpet again? Uh, I guess the “Onyx Eyes” variation is cool, and I liked it when you played “Gravitation” really fast.” He frowned and squinted at the screw he had pulled out. “Sorry if those aren’t good for practicing. I don’t know any classical stuff.”

“No, it is all fine,” Ellipse said, beaming. She floated out of the cockpit, shut the door behind her, and sighed in defeated amusement, glad that her crew at least had decent taste in music. Andra’s music was the best. She had composed it that way.


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Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:56 am
ExOmelas wrote a review...



Ellipse figured she ought to take on real captain duties

A-ha! So it is just them!

“Focci,” she sang, “I brought food.”

He grunted at her

Since it seems to be a big thing, I think it should be expanded on why Focci doesn't want to eat. Like, even if it's just he thinks he's too busy.

though frankly even siren grunts sounded melodic

I just love all the little observations about siren language. this is such detailed worldbuilding.

He snarfed down a chunk

I doubt "snarfed" is a word but regardless that is a wonderful image.

He is scales and bones

scales?

Are we feeding him enough?”

Oops up until this moment I thought Tejal was in the room with them xD I guess he'd have said something if he was, doesn't really seem like the quiet type. Also, seems a bit rich coming from Focci :P

Ah. That explained a lot.

For a second I thought this was Focci speaking. Maybe "Ah. That was it." would work better.

“Chicago. You know, the accent? I can’t do it.”

“It is not hard,”

That seems oddly specific. Is there a particular Chicago accent? I can see Texan, or New York, but I'm unsure why this would be something so obvious that it should be either easy or necessary to do. Ohhhh it was for Mouthbot. Sorry, my bad.

The Andra poem about boiling fish is good for working. And I like the one about death. Try not to spend too long practicing the alphabet this time.

Genuinely giggled out loud at this bit.

Overall:

Character: I think the relationships to Tejal are a little off here. Ellipse has gone from hating his guts to bemusedly helping him with Mouthbot and Focci has gone from essentially being his science bro to caring about him like an older sibling, or even a parent. If a lot of time has passed, I guess this could make sense. But you haven't told us this, so I'm still a little confused.

Setting: So finally I know, they are the entire crew. I will not be commenting on this for the rest of the chapters. I like the idea of them going to a heavy gravity environment. It's good that you keep it fresh with the different places to go :)

Plot: This sort of falls under the character stuff, just seems a bit odd that they are suddenly so worried about Tejal. The idea of scenes of him being forced to eat brussel sprouts or other such nutritious foods is extremely pleasing though ^.^

I'm off to bed but I'll be back to review some more when I wake up,
Biscuits :)




Ventomology says...


You may catch up before it shows up, but I do have a Tejal-gets-forced-to-eat-gross-food scene planned.

Thanks again!



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Fri Jul 28, 2017 1:10 am
TheSilverFox wrote a review...



(Note: I should stop sending this notes because they're disconcerting and don't impact the quality of my reviews, but this one might be more incoherent than normal because I'm having a small meltdown and I'm not 100% sure why)

Tejal combed his hands through his hair, fingers clawed like he might start pulling the strands out. “Then why did you abandon me with the computer? I could have been perfecting the fold generator, but no, you had to just run off and leave me with the crazy translator.”


Tejal needs to learn when a question answers itself. :P

So, hello! I'm happy with this chapter, mostly because it's funny at a time in which I'm in a serious need for humor. Though brief, it's an interesting way to point out Tejal's general health, especially as the product of differences between gato food and human food. In that sense, the worldbuilding here is wonderful (as usual. XD), whether over some of Andra-Media's songs or how sirens grow. I'm curious about what exactly this serpent system is, and why the gravity is so much stronger there. It will certainly make pushing Tejal that much harder of a job, and I doubt Ellipse is anticipating it. Then again, does he necessarily have to come with them? Can he just stay in a secure position on the ship and work on his fold generator? Would it be a danger if he stayed, whether by the virtue of his being annoying/having a potentially dangerous magnet or the presence of intruders who might be interested in such a generator? What are they even coming here for, because I think I forgot? Regardless, the prospect of Tejal's state and its gravity-related consequences is a nice hypothetical, and I'm looking forward to seeing it explored more as they head to the planet in question.

Everything else I have to say is more or less the usual weirdness from me. It seems contradictory that Ellipse would go from trying to come up with excuses to avoid pushing him out of his picky eating habits to the possibility of having fun in his complaints at trying new things. Of course, it might be, in the case of her first thoughts, that she's simply uncomfortable about the possibility that his parents might be in legal trouble and he would have to stay in the Conics, and she hasn't figured out why his diet is so limited yet. By the time she does, however, it becomes an opportunity to mess with Tejal by having him adjust to a diet that he feasibly can (rather than pushing him from staunch standards, which is much harder to do). Otherwise, there's the debris/meteor thing, or my speculation as to whether they would appear black and blue. Of course, we don't have many color photographs of meteors, and their composition of ice and stone means that they can possibly adopt such colors (particularly if the ice is water-logged due to heat from a celestial body, though I don't know if that actually happens; I just know that the undersides of icebergs are deep blue). Still, it reminds me more of those of icebergs, and I'm wondering about how much ice is masked or discolored by the gray stones of meteors. It's all just speculation, though, and you don't have to regard it seriously.

And that's about it! I already reviewed the next chapter way back in the beginning of July, so I might just read through it again to see how much more sense it makes. Well done!




Ventomology says...


You're going to like chapter 21. :)



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Mon Jun 26, 2017 6:12 pm
Kaylaa wrote a review...



This is Nikayla here dropping in for a review!

So I realized when I reviewed sixteen, I said that I also reviewed seventeen, but I realized that I don't think I did. I reviewed eighteen, so that last chapter should lead into this one even though I'm pretty sure it's already escaped from my mind since I read both of those chapters yesterday.

The first couple of paragraphs are fun, especially how Ellipse comes back and brings food. That line of dialogue sounded quite natural to me, so I enjoyed that. Ellipse is a fun character to be around, and from what I've read, it seems that she isn't the very main character. Makes sense she isn't, since Focci seems important too. At the same time, Focci seems a little too robotic to be a main character.

What I enjoyed most about this chapter is the interactions between the different members of the crew, particularly this takes a focus on both Focci and Ellipse though we get to see Tejal at the end too for a bit. I wanted to point out a couple of lines that I found to be a little odd or oddly worded, so I'll go ahead and do that below.

Focci tittered, canines showing, and then snapped a piece of fish out of the air. “But if the increased gravity and friction and whatnot become a problem,” he said through his chewing, “you can probably push him. I suppose in the short term we can just ignore it.”


Focci's line of dialogue here is a little awkward, in particular the 'gravity and friction and whatnot' part feels a little repetitive since it uses 'and' twice. Play around with the wording there.

“No, it is all fine,” Ellipse said, beaming. She floated out of the cockpit, shut the door behind her, and sighed in defeated amusement, glad that her crew at least had decent taste in music. Andra’s music was the best. She had composed it that way.


The last two sentences is what I wanted to talk about here. What I'm confused by is your explanation of how Andra's music is the best. With the last line, you're basically saying 'Andra's music is awesome...because it is." and I just don't find it to be much of an ending. Play around with the note that you end the chapter on because I found this to be a little weird to end there. I do have to say that this out of the chapters that I've read of Conics Unfortunately is my favorite and I did genuinely enjoy this one a lot, so nice job on that!

If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask! I hope I helped and have a great day.

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Ventomology says...


I probably should not write my LMS chapters on Sunday night. You're definitely right about the awkward wording, and I should have caught that.

I have plans regarding Andra and the music, but the end statement would probably be more logical if I had worked more on context in earlier chapters. That's something for me to come back to when I (eventually) get to draft two.

Thanks so much!



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Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:20 pm
BluesClues wrote a review...



Andra’s music was the best. She had composed it that way.


UGH I WANNA KNOW MORE

Like Ellipse is so mysterious but also we know her so well. It's kind of a funny combination, but I think it mostly works. You know, except for the part where at this point I just really, really, really want to know SOMETHING about this mystery of who she is.

C'mon, they're trapped in space, right? PLENTY OF TIME FOR EXPLANATIONS.

Anyway. It occurred to me, in reply to what you were saying in the club thread, that you can also do time skips to get through the vast boringness of space. You know, just "they'd been traveling for a month, well, a month in Earth time, although in Siren time it was more like..." and then dive on in to what they're closing in on, where we're heading next.

Unless the large point is the space travel, in which case, you know, I guess that doesn't work.

Also they can test the fold generator at some point, right? My understanding of it is basically like a tesseract, so the universe would sort of fold up and significantly shorten the journey between point A and point B, a la A Wrinkle in Time.

Anyway, I really enjoyed Tejal doing all these different American accents for Mouthbot and kind of wigging out because he can't do a Chicago accent. I love how Mouthbot should be this helpful universal translator but spends so much time questioning inane phrases and whatnot that it's actually usually more of a hindrance.

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Ventomology says...


I think I'm going to try adding some more ships to the mix in the next system. Just because the system the kiddos are in now is empty doesn't mean the others have to be!

And I hate to say it but I am laughing at your reaction to Ellipse (because that means I'm actually doing it right! Things are okay!)

Thanks for keeping with me!




Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.
— Brené Brown