Writer’s Advice – what’s that?! 2018

Author’s Advice

There are many ways that people can get advice. The most obvious ways for writers to improve are to take lessons in the language they will be writing in and the old fashioned ‘read the greats’.

There are times when constructive criticism is very helpful and there are times when your enemies will only have destructive criticism and jealousy to offer you.

Two main ways to get feedback about your writing for professionals:  1) Submit!  When the editors will make changes; when the magazine or newspaper or publisher will buy it/pay for it; then that ‘s good.

Great ways to get feedback for amateurs and some semi-pros: join writer’s groups; take work shops or classes.  Peer critique is often part of such arrangements.

General to Specific

There are numerous types of writing and most writers specialize.  Many of those who have specialized don’t call themselves writers.  Grant writers, for instance, will often just say that they work for whatever organization they work at in some administrative role.  Journalists, typically prefer to be called journalists, although they could all call themselves writers and be telling the truth.  Staff writers may choose to refer to the publication where they work.  Most staff writers wouldn’t ever write “for fun” or “as just a hobby” and those that would might well not tell the truth about that.

Travel writers, book authors, niche novelists, political news, best restaurants, fashion, television, film, all have specialized types of writing.  There are people capable or more than one kind of writing, but it is common for those who are most successful in the field to find they were forcibly limited to a small subjection of the writing world in order to find a way to earn a living or to develop a good reputation in the industry.

 

Network

There are times when you have to meet and greet enough others in the industry to get a deal and other times when you really need to mail something for it to work. In some cases, the right thing to do is apply for a job and become a regularly paid publishing company editor for other authors even if you hardly get anything of your own published. Maybe you will, and maybe it won’t matter anymore.

Sometimes writers are stubborn and fail to change in ways that will cause them to have far greater success and other times people just realize that for them: to change that much would be so bad that they might as well go work in a totally different field if that’s really how it works.

Other writers tolerate a lot of painful constructive criticism and make survivable compromises and learn to be a bit more flexible and they find out that they can get a lot further and are happy with the results even though the reality ends up being unlike their original idea.

Writer – Stereotypes

Stereotypes 

The Drunk / The Poet

Made more common by the romantic English poets of the 1800s, one stereotype of writers, especially book authors and poetry chapbook writers – even more so, middle aged male poets, is that of a drunkard.  Sometimes the hung over person holds down a day job always hoping to earn more money selling chapbooks of poetry but forced to bar tend to earn a living.  In other cases, the stench of whiskey building up in the drunkard tends to improve the quality of the poetry to the dismay of everyone Godly, and to the not-alcoholic adult children and ex-spouse of the drunkard poet.

The Gossip / The Journalist

Journalists are not really writers;  they are gossips.  They are able to present themselves well and are eager for a story, but only a true news story.   While they are one of the best known and best paid types of writers, journalists are notoriously “not artists”, and due to that are as much weirdos compared to novelists as scientific illustrators and police sketch artists are compared to painters whose works end up sold in galleries, illustrators who work in comics and cartoons and so on.

Whereas a book author may spend months doing research in some of the world’s libraries, the journalists are on the telephone and rushing around, full of noise and energy, all to meet tight and real deadlines.

Journalists are also most likely to be guilty of something the poet would describe as a mortal sin: they shamelessly write for pay.  Many of them openly state that they write only because they get paid.

The Novelist

In this case there is more than one stereotype:

Rich and Happy

These authors are best sellers.  They have stable marriages in many cases.  They live in castles or mansions.  They may be average looking or handsome/beautiful.  They draw big crowds doing public speaking engagements and are consistently treated like adored and respected celebrities.  Many of them are fairly quiet and reserved, especially compared to the journalists, but are capable of being polite and friendly enough to be used as interview subjects by journalists.

Poor and Miserable

These are the majority of authors, who write or have written entire books only to find out that it is way harder to earn a lot of money for doing something major like writing books, than they had thought.  Most of this type of author fluctuates between lamenting suffering from the burden of being an author, and being forced to endure being an artist instead of having been one of the journalists or corporate communications people or happy to work in advertising firms and abusing their creativity for respectable salaries.

Some of these authors have jobs, and some don’t even have jobs because they are really novelists or nonfiction book writers, and aren’t good for much else.

Obsessed

These are the authors who suffer from compulsive writing, but they have a successful novel series and a good fan base.  Thanks to that, their mental illness is indulged, left untreated and viewed as a viable means of earning a living.  Such authors are often either treated as a celebrity or ignored.  The people who believe they love them the most really are the fans of the fictional worlds and characters they have created, putting them into a rather bizarre real world situation.

 

Work Uniforms and the art of Transformation

Got to Work

I was able to work today.  The company that Life has allowed me to work for is vast.

Meaningful Digression about Writing and Editing

Unlike when I write and edit from home – which I am still willing to do, by the way, in the English language, I had a work colleague with me.  In truth, I have had one case of having a junior work colleague with me ‘in person’.  I have also worked with other people who were also working online.

Working as a professional writer and editor from home, the perception of who one’s work colleagues really are becomes bizarre.  One may write something and mail it to someone.  If a magazine, or newspaper or other customer buys it then the editorial staff have become work colleagues by becoming paying customers.  Compared to many other jobs it is weird.

Back to main topic

The company I did work for let me have a uniform.  Work uniforms: some of you have worn them.  To some of you they are a sign of a lame work life.  For others, they are a token of status – of having a job.  I may not even be the only one who was able to view the thing much like a ‘team jersey’.

They told me to not wear the thing around too much.

 

Transformation

Transformation is what happens to that caterpillar that emerges as a butterfly.  Transformation is what happens to some people if they go from having ‘not found God’ to ‘finding God’ or ‘getting a spiritual teacher’.  Some find that their children transform from puberty.   This can happen to people in both good and bad ways.

A lot of the time, the change is relatively minor.  Maybe that’s not really true.  I mean, when an actor or actress goes into character the transformation is not minor.  For ….this is really me just guessing, 50% of workers going into the job is a lot like going on stage.  One does not have to be entirely false but many are also not feeling ‘free to be themselves’.  Those of you who ‘get it’, can see why the simple action that I will describe below is a transformation.

All I did was don the work uniform.  Today, what made it most amusing or unusual was that I did it in a cubicle at a bank.  The reason was that I wanted to arrive on time ready for work.  I went to the bank as an ordinary customer.  That was myself as ‘a private person’ rather than as ‘part of a gigantic global corporation’.  LOL, but I am glad that I am not part of the Borg now….blogging as Borg….but wow, it is a big company and I am connecting with you through weird technology rather than old and ‘in person’ ways.

Another meaningful digression

Who are we kidding?  I wrote both professionally and as an amateur in this language – in this case the point is not about criticizing my abilities but rather to point out that most professional writers work at a distance.  I had to be told to try working more locally.  My record longest distance contracts at this point were the ones from Kuwait to Indianapolis, and the ones from Singapore and India.  I did not do that many of those, but yes.

Back to Transformation

So anyway, I put on the uniform and felt ‘ta da’ transformed.  In truth, I did not feel like I had suddenly turned into someone else.  Thank God, actually.  One might expect that from psychosis or abusive trauma or strong doses of psychedelic drugs or ‘intense meditation’ ….it wasn’t anything like that.

The subjective sensation was so real, and yet so simple.  We all know one way or another how it is to be part of something greater than ourselves but how that is, can be funny or profound.

I took the thing off again after work.  The actual work was nothing to be ashamed of nor proud of.  The work was not in any of the fields in which I have some kind of personal passion.  I also did not hate it.  My emotion about it was similar to how I feel when I do house work that needs doing except for a small pleasure knowing that I had some ‘social status improvement from working for pay’ and that I would be paid.  My work colleague did not bother me and I was happy to have a colleague right there with me and that we worked as a close team.  It was a pleasure I experienced in contrast to the type of pleasure I get from writing something up and just emailing it to the customer/client/boss who reviews it and then sends me an email about whether or not that is okay.

After post notes

Yesterday, I became excited because I read that more than 100 people began to follow the blog.  This is even though there are no ‘beefcake images’ and ‘no visible boobs’.  Somehow I feel almost proud of you for that.  In all seriousness, if any of you have a nice little story about feeling transformed please drop them in the comments.

‘Real engagement’ is always great, and if you do enough you can raise my awareness of many of you ‘as real people who are actually there’.

Recently, I was stunned when a man I knew personally read some of my blog.  Our relationship still hasn’t ‘recovered’ despite my belief that it is good that someone read my blog who I also interacted with in person.  If that seems weird, go back to the paragraph about writers.

Brief Chat about Chakras

What are chakras?

These are the names for some locations along the trunk and head of the human body associated with particularly large or intense amounts of energy.  They are associated with nerve channels, internal organs and bodily functions.  They are often referred to as ‘wheels’ or as ‘lotus’ or ‘energy centers’.

Why do they matter?

Depending on your social circles sometimes they turn up as a kind of jargon.  Metaphysical or spiritual people may often seem to refer to chakras, to auras, astrology, past lives, deities, yoga – jargon of this nature.

Those who practice hands on healing of most kinds, and acupuncture or acupressure consider chakras in relation to the body’s ‘meridians’ (which generally means nerve channels) and they are therefore relevant to health care.

People who practice yogas and other types of fitness training intended to balance the energies in the body often refer to chakras in relation to those.

Super powers?!

Depending on your own life, you may first hear of chakras in relation to what seem like some kinds of super powers.  Spiritual people and occultists seem to both advertise and protectively guard knowledge and insight about the super powers associated with ‘open chakras’.

What every one of the so-called super powers are, is heightened awareness that makes perception transpersonal to a degree considered to be far beyond ‘normal’.  These are often interpreted as or believed to be ‘psychic’ – genuinely transpersonal awareness.

In general, people are strongly advised to receive spiritual guidance along with use of the chakras and intentional use of the associated super powers.  The religious context influences how awareness about them is developed.

In personal experience it took me decades to discern that it is true that one, but not the only, function of ‘praying in tongues’ in Christianity is that is helps to bring the middle chakras in line with the higher ones.  That is an accurate observation, but is rudimentary within the realm of what it is and I don’t wish to pretend to know more or less than I do.  Normally, Christianity does not educate in terms of ‘chakras’ but there are connections between chakras as some of the spiritual gifts taught in The Bible.  The words of knowledge and wisdom and some aspects of prophecy all have some relationship with the third eye and the crown chakra.

Christianity finds ways to facilitate the human body-mind system to channel divine energy without most of what is known as yoga.  I know of at least one Hindu spiritual master, living today, who views yoga and Hinduism as inseparable.  I know that many disagree, but that also explains why now and then a Christian parent freaked out over their child spontaneously doing yoga.  To the degree that marriage is a type of yoga, I don’t agree with the spiritual teacher but with respect to the other aspects I defer and accept that that is why Christians and Jews would normally now or in the past, refused to learn yoga.

In detail, the whole matter is more complicated but if you had no idea this is a good, clear intro to the subject.

A European Destination – Germany

Deutschland

I’m in Germany.  Some of you know that.  There is more than one stereotype of Germany, and of the Germans.  Let’s see:   Dancing and singing in the mountains of Bavaria:  Blonde  women with lots of cleavage, and long skirts serving beer in large metal steins.  Portly men named Guenter,  in lederhosen, but evidently both strong and fat rather than, say, weak and fat.  Men like Guenter love drinking the beer served by the large breasted women, who are also able to tend cattle when not at work ‘down the Pub’ as the English would say.

Then of course, there are NaZi military Germans, as seen in the WW movies.

One that most Americans know but easily forget is the close cultural relative of the NaZi: the Jewish German immigrants to the USA and Canada.  In all honesty, I learned my first German words, not from the NaZis nor from regular Germans but from middle aged German Jews who relocated to America to evade the NaZis.  Their grand children are all Americans and Canadians.

Meanwhile, back to Germany after WW2 ended, which none of the Jewish German immigrants know about so much:  Of course divided Germany: the Germanies.  On one side, cap in hand, capitulated at the end of the war and thrilled to not have become Soviet Germany, the West Germans.

In truth, there are Central and Northern Germans: it isn’t only that the people of Berlin do not dance in the mountains of Bavaria, but for some reason that does ‘seem like what it is supposedly like’.

The Wall.  Eventually, I learned that thing was called Die Maeur (Mahhweer)

*Tips to work on German: 1) Don’t open your mouth to speak, 2) Imagine that someone has set a flat piece of wood atop the tongue.  Just leave it there when speaking; don’t make it fall off.  3) If it sounds like a cat is suffering from a hair ball or someone needs to cough up a bit of congestion, that’s probably the right way of pronouncing it, but it doesn’t yet feel natural.

Then of course, East German imagery is like propaganda of everyone eating the same and working out together throughout the nation before work…and the East German women, after winning at the Olympics in swimming, are found to in fact, have been on steroids for years.

 

It is not like that in the village where I have been living for the past few years.

Wappen Dörverden © Gemeinde Dörverden

The thing is, the symbol is accurate.

The village of Doerverden has an actual history going back over 1000 years in real time.  The terrain in the NW of Germany is as flat as the South and SE are hilly and mountainous.  There really are the rivers Weser and the Aller, but the one shown above is a rendition of the river Weser, and thank God for reading icons if not well versed in the German language.

The horse heads on wooden sticks is not “the riders of Rohan” from The Lord of the Rings, but might as well be, in the sense that Doerverden does have riding schools, and horse stables.  In truth, now that there is no impending danger of a war, it is not espionage to divulge to you that Verden, just one town over from Doerverden was home to the North’s Cavalry, and they have trained world class, top notch horses there for something like 500 years.

Due to the importance of such information at some periods of history, I developed the truth-bearing-joke that the German language is simply designed to prevent innocent children and women (or fools, for that matter) from accidentally spilling the beans, so to speak about anything from location of the cavalry to ….well, really, that Germany is a lovely and fertile enough nation for others to covet it….but of course not if they don’t know that.  Freizeitpferd mit Potential: » Reitbeteiligungen aus Stöckse

Logo des Ehmken Hoff e.V.

 

Click on this link to see pretty horsies

Final Statement in English

I will confess, that while I had a hard time there, I repeatedly posted that the village of Doerverden is so beautific as to be reasonably described as “a Saxon Heaven on Earth”.

 

Life On Hold? – Telecommunications – iPhones, Smart Phones, land lines, handies

Have you noticed how one of the changes of the 21st century is that the amount of time people spend on hold has increased?  There are multiple reasons for this.  One is that so many people are on the Internet and mechanized service responses have grown…Which means people call in and a machine sorts the call and then people wait.  What is so great about this is when people wait around at home rather than in traffic jams.  What is not so great about this is dealing with being on hold.

Often being on hold is like a miniature review session about how time is perceived.  Even though we can spend hours doing what we love, especially if we have ‘zoned into’ what we are doing, being on hold for even 5 seconds can make us feel like prisoners being treated unjustly, or like demons ready to destroy the low-lifes on the other end who have done this to us.

In reality, online and telephone technical services have improved over the years.  Never before has being able to explain how to do something in words when not able to see been such a valuable skill.  Most customer service agents do not earn a lot of money themselves, but some get more or less.  Despite that, the ability to analyze and solve problems over the phone is more valuable as a marketable skill than ever before in history.

How to cope with time spent on hold?  That depends a  lot on which type of device you are using and what your context is.

If you are in a social context, I highly recommend exchange some polite or friendly body language or even speech with those around you in body but not in social media.  If not, one must choose carefully.  Needless to say, one does not wish to put down or pull away from the phone to do something while on hold only to end up sobbing because one missed the call and has to start over.

The Children of Loki excerpt

The Children of Loki

Pre-pub. excerpt: This novel is now available at the link above and numerous online and offline book stores.  To get it from a regular book store, just order it through their customer service desk.

This excerpt is from right within the story:

At long last, Gezka got a chance to confer with her superior officer – she wanted to ask about forcing hand to hand combat and close gun fighting and wanted permission and then advice on the best way to achieve it.  Instead, Gezka jogged through the smoky, dusty dark night only to arrive just after her commanding officer was killed by combined ‘mortar’ then laser and bullet barrage.  Gezka entered what remained of the field command point and did not leave until she had grabbed the maps and called in to confirm to other officers that the Captain was dead.

She was informed, as she ran for cover in the night, plotting revenge that must not be revenge but simple tactics to move the war forward, that she had just earned a field promotion.  She managed to get medical staff to the dead officers and to gather together a couple of the other junior officers to make the new plan.

“Congratulations Captain,” reported one of her beleaguered comrades.  She had known the man for years.

She smiled.  “I think we had better prevent that from happening again, don’t you?”

They worked on the plans for hours, with a hot wind whipping past their ankles.  No one knew why, but on that planet, at least where they were, there were winds that scraped the ground and didn’t seem to ever get as high as the knees.

For readers wondering why the combat is not being described in more detail, all that can be said is, ‘Please be patient, we’ll get way more into that later’.

Gezka, the new Captain, did not sleep again for days and nights due to the demands of the combat.  She was able to get what she wanted – which was three squads who managed to raid the enemy and to use hand-to-hand combat.  She preferred this, but not all the time.  It was gratifying for her to punish the enemy and to protect her troops by killing off some soldiers who were running a ground tank and then some more who had been using something the equivalent of a helicopter – as that was what had killed off her Captain.

After a few cycles of day and night as her mind had begun to grow strange, some relief arrived along with a set of brief orders for her to return to a base for re-medication and rest.  She was not opposed to this, and set out to follow orders.  She disliked handing off the maps and the command to the man she left them with.  She had also known him for years and felt that there were conditions in this scenario that might outdo him.  Every soldier has their strengths and weaknesses.  She would have been happy to pass the same man the duties if they had been making combat in orbit or in forested terrain or even in a city, but this was something like rocky coastline on desert and not a good match for his skills.  Nevertheless, she obeyed her orders.  The liquid off the coast was not water.

En route, she was drawn to what looked like a small aero-spacecraft.  She could tell she needed sleep rather badly because she was only fairly certain that she had seen one of these craft before – not the enemy’s but their own.  They had only shown up within the previous year or two.  She went to it, expecting to find either a superior officer or else an injured or dead team inside of it.  She checked it for traps and wondered if she was slap happy or paranoid.

She cleared the interior – it was empty.  She was able to identify it as belonging to another battalion of the Naav’s, but last time she checked, they had relied on the same mother ship.  She felt compelled to fly it herself.  She had no idea what possessed her to suddenly try something new but she went ahead and figured out how to make it go.  She had been trained to drive a few different types of vehicles and had been engineered for brains as well as combat reflexes, so it seemed like something she should be able to do.

Sure enough, it worked.  She began to fly back to the Naav’s big ship in orbit.  Then something happened she didn’t understand.  Once she brought the small vessel off the planet, and into orbit, she began to steer it away from where she was supposed to go.  It wasn’t like her to disobey orders.  This will come up again.

Soon after that, Gezka figured out that this little rig was able to go faster than light but that whenever it did there was an unpleasant side effect: this nasty, weird feeling is going to be called “dimensional burn” for the rest of the story.  Gezka tried a few things and ended up taking the aerospace craft on a hyper light journey to one of the few places in the Rim where she had gone on vacation.

Readers may wonder – is the obvious true?  Was she that out of her head from lack of sleep, or is something else going on here?

Perhaps now is a good time for readers to know:  Exterior military personnel, at least Rejkyavik’s don’t ‘mix well’ with civilians.  They have segregation laws there to prevent such things.  The space station Gezka went to was one of those special places that was dependent upon the business it brought in from the Exterior.  In this case, one of the means of survival had been to cater to military troops.  There were a few decks where the Exterior was able to bring in military troops without them getting exposed to regular people.  Normally, these meetings had to be arranged days in advance so that the decks would be clear of all other subtypes of humans.

Now, Gezka going there alone, without the station having had time to prepare was too much like a terrorist bringing a bomb with the timer already running to an airport.  The funny thing was, Gezka did not know this.  She just went to a place she had been before.
The Space Station was a faint glow in the vast expanse of darkness that is space.  This wasn’t standard practice amongst space stations.  There was a reason for it.  Conditions in outer space are actually quite sensitive.  Most of the freighters and other ships that approached this particular station ran lights and vibrations.  It turned out that anything too reflective would endanger approaching ships.  As a consequence, this station was covered in a slightly radiant form of black which would absorb the lights rather than bounce them back.

Gezka flew around until she found a docking bay.  She was not asked to report in by the station.  The station serviced a lot of black market operations and found it easier to ask fewer questions.  There were people and systems inside that read the area around the station.  They would know if someone showed up.  No one needed to tell them.  She docked the small vessel, unsure of how seriously clouded her mind was from lack of sleep.

She disembarked still not knowing why she had not simply returned to the battleship like she normally would have.

*                                                             *                                                                  *

I lifted the bottle in the nick of time.  The FaucMerz came crashing into the booth table with at least one opponent, wrapped together in a grappling bar fight.  I pulled back in my seat.  I didn’t know if I just felt old, or mature.  I don’t get into many bar fights nowadays.  I turned 50 Earth years old a couple of years ago now.   Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t back down; its just that I start trouble even less than I used to.  My name’s Kiel Bronson.
The FaucMerz made quick work of the end of her little tussle and I could tell it was time for us to leave.

Gezka looks a lot like a young, giant Earth woman but with a very special twist.  If you’re an Earthling then you’ll see how alien she is, for a human.  She’s bigger than most Earthling men, with strangely broad shoulders as well as hips and skin as pale as an albino’s.  You probably won’t see her eyes; she wears special goggles to keep out the light in places where you might come across an Earthling.

Once you know what to look for, you can easily tell she’s a soldier.  She’s one of Emperor Rejkyavik’s pieces of military equipment.  They breed them out there.  They use genetic engineering and eugenics, not to mention brainwashing and cultural separatism.   In actual fact, I’m the first friend she’s ever made who isn’t also part and parcel of the ExxyNaav – that’s what her military force is called.  Emperor Rejkyavik’s ExxyNaav.   They are something along the lines of a “Space Navy” but their military forces do not have the same divisions of labor as Earth’s.

I found her.  She’s mine.  The kid went AWOL; we still don’t know why.  She told me she had just been field promoted to Captain – that means someone else died in combat so she gets the new job opening.  She broke the law again by leaving Exterior Federation Territory and went to one of the few space stations in The Rim she had ever been to.  Typical, she went somewhere she’d already been.  I found her in there, ordering her first drink while soaked in blood.  Back home we call this guilty of murder.  I think her perspective was more like war atrocities, but that’s the trouble with taking a soldier out of combat and mixing them in with regular people too soon.  She wasn’t ready and a lot of civilians died because of it.

I talked to her.  She could tell I was some kind of Sergeant.  Her Interior
Federation English was not very good.  Even so, we left the space station in a hurry and left a trail of blood, but we left together.

To me, she did not really look human, but I only thought so because I had been trained to identify military personnel and equipment.  To me, it was obvious.  As long as she was in uniform, most people would be able to tell.  I was considering trying to hide her; that was really why I was even thinking about it.

*                                                               *                                                                  *

When she was at a bar she had been to before she noticed that it seemed different.  The bar tender was terrified and there were no other soldiers there.  Well, almost none.  A man spoke to her who wasn’t the bar tender.  Everything seemed strange as she had gone without sleep so long and she was low on her normal doses of metabolic enhancers.  He spoke strangely.  It was actually a different language, but it was Interstellar English.  She recognized it in a vague way: she had received some lessons about it during one round of training.
Most Exxy Naav soldiers get new training any time they get hospitalized but aren’t so far gone that they get euthanized.  The Naav has very strict measures for who to bother to save and who to wipe the floor with.  This was part and parcel of the lifestyle.  There were other times when soldiers received additional training but it was much more efficient than letting them lose their minds from boredom while costing a lot of money.  Most soldiers hated how long it took them to heal from their injuries.  They liked it when they at least had something to show for it at the end.

She turned to the new stranger.  He was short but strong.  He looked like he had military experience and she could tell he had some combat experience, but how much was not clear.  He was from a foreign political power, but not one of the enemies.  Enemies: in truth the Emperor rarely viewed opponents as enemies.  He told the people that they should be viewed “as friends who need some persuading”; nothing more; nothing less.  Persuasion often included military warfare against them.  Not always, but that was Gezka’s Emperor.  She loved him of course: every loyal soldier does.

The new stranger spoke to her.  She found him comforting but did not perceive why.   He invited her to associate with him, and seemed to accept her military mannerisms – he was awkward compared to her comrades-in-arms but he was clearly more relaxed than everyone else in the bar.   She had 2 drinks with him but when someone tried to ask her to pay just as strong lights blasted in through a suddenly opened door she attacked the wait staff without really thinking.  There was some scuffling and screaming and groaning.  She felt the older man pull at her and shout about leaving and for some reason she did what he said, but didn’t know why.

They left together.  He flew a different small ship.  He told her go into the back, to relax and get some rest.  She passed out amongst some cargo.  It was easier to sleep there than in the field, but not as good as a cot or a bed.  When she woke up, she knew something had changed but didn’t know what.  Other than that, she was mainly just confused.  She did feel better, though.  In fact, she felt so much better that she suspected she had slept for an abnormally long time.
The older man with the dark skin moved and suddenly spoke, “You up, Soldier?” he asked.
“Ja, ja,” she muttered, realizing she had not even learned the man’s name.
“Good, good.  You can clean yourself up there, in the back, I think,” he said.
She did.  She was running low of most of her normal boosters.  It wasn’t good.  She looked into a mirror.  She appeared to be OK.  She washed and checked her tattoos – it was her serial numbers.  Something was different, but she didn’t know what.  She wondered if some program the scientists had hidden in her brain and mind had been set off – was it because she was a Captain now?  Captain Faucmerz?

She wondered if her comrades were missing her.  She both hoped so and hoped not.  She hoped that as a Naav soldier she mattered to her team, but now as it sank in that she was gone, she had a surge of fear and hope that they were doing OK without her.  She had been supposed to check in for a rest.

The man she had just met made some noise.  She re-checked herself and went out of the little bathroom.  He was very alert to her.  She tried to tell how much it was fear and how much it might be attraction.  He was definitely darker and not the same type of human as herself.  Where Gezka came from, everyone was engineered.  Without that, the human species would not have been able to colonize the stellar region.  This man was a type she had not seen before, but she thought maybe she had seen an image of the type on a news broadcast.

He gave her a weird smile and said, “I’m Kiel Bronson, but maybe you had better call me Sergeant.”

She gave him a weird look right back.  “I see you’re not the enemy,” she said.

He chuckled, but she could hear the fear in his voice.  “That’s right, soldier.  I’m an Earthling.  Have you met an Earthling before?”

“No,” she said.  It was the truth.  “Well, I did meet you last night, so yes.”

“OK,” he said.  He was certain now, that he was more than twice her age, even though she was an adult.  It still made him uncomfortable at times, to realize how old he really was, but there was a lot about it that he liked.  One thing for sure, was both the good and the bad of it: he had a lot more life experience than anyone her age.