“My blues cousin Opp is missing, Bill. I, of course, blame the reds and yellows.”
“Tell me about it,” affirms Wheeler who is now Bill — The Bill. “I’ve been shooting reds and yellows all day.”
“But if you’ll excuse me, I must now get back to sewing the elephant.”
Grassy Noll wondered what that was a euphemism for, but Bill meant it literally.
But instead Buurb finds himself heading left, toward the freebies library at the end of Lost Heaven Road. What to buy today? he considers. Maybe something for Mabel this time.
Yes, more bean stew for Mabel. He loves that stuff. And — Buurb couldn’t resist — a Green Lantern mini-avatar for himself, hehe. He can hear his wife now: “You’re *such* a Sheldon.”
Bill (Wheeler again) couldn’t figure it out. Why would this mysterious chess club pal Ellen insist on going first and then make such a weak opening move? She counters with her own weird kind of opening: Pawn to Queen 4. Because at this rate she was going to win in 13 moves or less. Anyway, she’d check back tomorrow and see if Ellen had stopped by to play again. Poor girl; maybe not the brightest of us all.
But Bill was wrong about that.
“I’ve tried so many times to paint the Moth Temple and attached pier village, Catvas. Tried and failed. It’s just so beautiful as is.” Bill gets up and moves toward the winged feline.
“But try I must again.” She then peers down at the piers. “Ooo… looks like Ellen has made another move at the chessboard. Forgot *this*!”
“Okay,” the disappointed Catvas purred after an awkward pause. She should be use to the feeling by now. “Maybe tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow it is, my friend”
fish and fowl
“I thought this lobster might at least partially make it up to you, Catvas. I’m so sorry I’ve neglected my painting lately. It’s that darn chess game. I can’t decide on the next move!”
“I’m Catvas II, actually,” the feline across from her corrected while purring over the dinner. “You can tell the difference by my fishtail, which Catvas I doesn’t have. Instead she has the wings of a bird. In truth, The Bill, I think you might be losing your grip. The chess battle is turning your mind soft and fuzzy, like Stan over there.” Catvas II nods toward the hairier cat washing dishes tonight. “I suggest: withdraw from the match. If black wins, that might also be the end of *you*.”
“But,” counters The Bill, “that also means the reds and yellows stand victorious over the carcasses of the blues and greens. No, Catvas, er, II, this is not just a black and white situation. There are winners and losers in all 4 corners of the world.”
Then Grassy returned from the bathroom and they knew not to say anything more about all that.
When to move you first, my Queen? Rey Wisa ponders from far below.
Bill (Wheeler) spoke over the loud, synchronized drumming. “These guys are nice, Grassy, but I feel something is missing. Why don’t you go up and join them! You played a mean bass steel pan in your college days, didn’t you? The Merrymen wasn’t it?”
“We *emulated* The Merrymen,” the Mmmmmm Grassy clarified. “Played a lot of their songs. But Calypso and the Carribean are far back in the rear view mirror now.” He sighed. “We better head over and meet Catvas I and Catvas II for bridge. I’m afraid that’ll have to do for our synchronized quartet tonight, ha.”
“Catvas I always smells of bird,” Bill complains. “And Catvas II of fish.”
“You smell of lion,” Grassy continued the grousing. “And I smell of, um, sodden earth? Haystacks?” He looks down at his white, sneakered feet. “Haven’t quite pinned it down.”
“We’ll get to Montana and then we’ll know.” Bill leaned in closer and lowered her voice. “Got any more of that wacky weed on ya? I brought some tweezers.”
“Then I’ve got the pony, hehe. We’ll figure out the rest later.”
Bill carefully laid down the now empty tweezers on the seating. “Ahh. Life is good, Grassy. Grass. But all this reminds me.” She waves her arm around to indicate. “I really should get back to that chess game with Ellen.”
“You’re lion *snicker*”.
15 minutes later:
“I wonder what the Catvases did tonight in our stead?”
“Gilmore the Axe Man drug me off dry land and down to this wet, swampy place,” spoke former Collagesity resident Roger Pine Ridge, freshly dried off from a not-so-refreshing dip. “But mixed up girl-boy Lee Mann will lead us to heaven and the moon. We will take to the air to escape.”
Per usual as of late, Cyberpaperdoll was only half listening to her boyfriend, this time engaged in a lusty staredown with Bandit Boy floating on a nearby inner tube. Roger Pine Ridge had grown boring to her. She needed a sense of danger in her life. Moths and the moon, moon and the moths. That’s all she kept hearing about lately. She continued to plot a change… a ditching. But when was the right time? Maybe this weekend at the St. Patrick’s Day party over at Fishy’s. She simply wouldn’t show up. Leave this watery place, but not with wings. In that cute little pink sports car of Bandit’s. The one with the horn that neighs like a heated pony. Bandit Boy then pulls a banana from his pocket and peels it slowly while continuing to stare. Mmmmmm, she thinks.
Don’t go there, visiting Catvas II thinks on her own.
The Catctii behind her remain neutral on the subject, though.
They’d seen more in their days.
knights and bishops
Nascera is the continent of the Linden Homes – “ready-to-move-in homes belonging to a themed community and available only to premium account members”. Read all about this on http://community.secondlife.com/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/Linden-Home-overview/ta-p/700103. There are several landmasses with Linden Homes visible on the map now. But it seems, they still are all called Nascera 😉
After the others had gone back to their respective homes — Baker Blinker and Karoz to Chilbo; Hucka Doobie to Gaston; Wheeler and Spongeberg/Grassy to Iris — Baker Bloch decides to stick around and explore more of Nascera, kind of picking up where he left off those over 8 long years ago now. He’s pretty sure this plaque in Budsic wasn’t here before when he biked around the continent’s 8×8 original core of sims in the days. The Lindens had subtly and sometimes not so subtly changed the landscaping surrounding the central California Modern region since his initial forays.
Ryu and Ingerstall, he thinks after reading the story behind the Vertical Blinds Historic Battlefield. That would be the position of black queen’s knight and black queen respectively on Wheeler and Ellen’s chessboard, hmm. And Budsic here between them: the black queen’s bishop. Queerly, Karoz Blogger subsequently found a white bishop in a new Nascera sea southwest of here, after the early 2010 continent expansion beyond the original 8×8. Beyond the confines of a chessboard design, that is. And then, much more recently, Baker Bloch himself found a *black* bishop in a neighboring sim while popping over here one night for a quick visit.
And now this plaque in a “black bishop sim”; chess was definitely a theme to be dealt with. But what would be — or has been — Ellen’s next move beyond his Knight to King’s Bishop 3? Wheeler is greatly confused as to the weakness of her play so far.
“There. I’ve finally done it,” proclaims Bill (Wheeler) back in Iris. “Knight to Rook 3; weak knight move counters weak knight move. Let’s see what she does with it. But now I can finally rest at night!”
Ellen’s next move came much quicker than expected.
“Just block out the chessboard,” Catvas I purred. “Focus on the temple. Think of the moths, where they were, where they are now. *Be* the moth. Fly free to the moon and back. You are a moth.”
On the floating raft 3 stories below, Cactus concurrently ponders the same identity while companions Tiniest Tell Tale and Akira think about fish and birds respectively.
Bill (Wheeler) always dreaded going to see The Boss. It was a scary walk through the Red Curtain Hallway, for one. And at the end: The Venus Door. What could Philip want from me today?
Both look at the pile of money stacked up on the marble table. “As you can see, life’s been good lately, Bill. But you’ve been neglecting me.”
“Now tell me all about this chess game you’ve been playing.”
After the meeting, Bill realized she had only a limited time left to save the Heterocera continent as a whole, perhaps Our Second Lyfe itself. She paused to take a look at the moth temple through vintage binoculars on the pier outside the Mermaid Lounge just exited.
How to paint this thing and capture the true essence? she ponders again. 3-n-1. Mabel, Annie, herself. All painters trying to capture essences. All linked together, of course, in their failure to accomplish the deed so far. She thinks this, deep down, through her core avatar. Wheeler.
Unnoticed so far, a somewhat drunk Roger Pine Ridge observes Bill from the side of the lounge. Cyberpaperdoll has abandoned me here in this *swamp*, he reflects bitterly. I must talk to *someone* about it.
He debates whether to approach her. Decisions have always been hard for him.
“A move!” Magus Ellen exclaims upon teleporting into Iris and seeing his opponent’s Knight to King’s Bishop 4. “She’s just moving to move, but that’s okay.” He takes a thick lick. “This should be another easy one for me. Time for a castle.”
“Holey moley Pencil. What is *that*?”
“I think we may have found our variant, Catvas II,” Bill (Wheeler) spoke to the fishtailed feline reading beneath her chair after the record had finished playing. “*The* Variant.”
“That’s nice. Anything to help you paint and take your mind off that chess match.”
“I’m trying to pick out Roger’s song on this harp,” offered a plucking Grassy from the opposite side of the small porch. “It’s more complicated than expected. The bridge is interesting.”
“I timed it,” said Bill. “(The bridge) starts at 3:33. The whole song is 6:66. Oh, I’m sorry! I meant 7:06.” But Bill wondered about that time slip more and more as time went on.
“‘Time,'” proclaimed Grassy simply while continuing to pluck and strum. “Don’t care too much for the flip side of ‘Beach,’ though.”
“No, not as powerful and catchy,” followed Bill quickly.
don’t axe him
Gilmore the Axe Man,” utters Roger Pine Ridge after his walk from Iris. He’d reached the end of a main causeway again. “Still blocking me from leaving this cursed swamp village. No matter what direction I go, there he is.” No use talking to him directly, he realizes. The message remains the same.
“Don’t leave.” Or a variant on that: “You’re trapped.”
“At least those insufferable moths aren’t around in the middle of the day.”
Just like that, Mabel was back in Collagesity. It wasn’t their house that was the key, it was the *Mission*. She’d just completed a long and fascinating conversation with long time dual resident Turchin McGurchin about the nature of “Beach” and “Time”. Precious Snowflake had been working on The Rainbow Sphere all along, a final gift.
But what is The Rainbow Sphere? That’s what former town resident Roger Pine Ridge was aiming to find out.
“Gilmore, I’m going to be out of this water world and back on dry land before you know it, you hateful bastard. You’ll see.”
The couch here is unusable, with no sitting scripts. Tired of standing, Bill (Wheeler) rezzes a wearable chair in Philip Strevor’s so-called “waiting room” and tries to be patient. 1 1/2 hours Mrs. Hazelhurst has been in there, she complains inwardly, but does not dare to say aloud. This place has been bugged for as long as she can remember.
The Boss was admiring his mermaid cabinet when Bill walked in. She had not seen Mrs. Hazelhurst in the hallway but had heard the shutting door. Bill figured she exited through the lounge.
“Red, green, blue,” he began, describing the string of shiny, netted balls immediately before him. “The mermaids and mermen called them marbles for some reason.” He turned to face Bill. “How can I help you today?”
Bill crossed her arms. “You called *me* here. Remember?”
“Oh yes. Of course.” He waved for Bill to be seated. He took his place in The Boss’ chair. “I’m sorry there’s no chair available. The maid took it off for cleaning.”
“That’s all right,” Bill said matter of factly. “I came prepared this time.” She rezzes her wearable attachment again and automatically has a seat in it. She then positions herself so she can face Philip squarely.
“Rat lost his property in the Pond District,” he then said, appearing to scan the photos on the bulletin board beside him. “Owner came back and returned his vanity, his ratmobile. Now why would someone squander a perfectly good piece of property beside that beautiful Linden right of way, not rezzing a house, a farm, nothing?”
“They don’t appreciate what they have,” offered Bill. “They don’t understand the beauty, the loveliness, of Our Second Lyfe.”
“Perhaps.” He leans forward, looking down to consider and then up again. “We made your chess move while you were away playing that role. “Pawn to King 3. I hope you don’t mind. We figured we couldn’t keep Ellen waiting any longer.”
Bill felt the anger rising within but bit her tongue again. “I see,” she managed after a weighted pause. “And has Ellen had time to respond? Or is he still stuck on the beach?” She tried to smile but found she couldn’t.
“The New Island beach, yes,” Philip Strevor said nonchalantly. “The Hook I think they call it in that Moth Man’s book. He removed his web site because of us, you know. Didn’t like the idea of another New Island besides his own. The one *he* owns the trademark for. A public/private domain affair again. I have a whole drawer full of those kind of documents.
“I know,” replied Bill. “She then glances at the money and Philip follows her eyes. “Still haven’t put away that wad of cash, eh? Gloating at the clientele, are you? Like me.”
“No,” Philip said. “That a new stack. Mrs. Hazelhurst graciously gave it to us in return for her safe passage to Zindra. Lots of people leaving this place, Wheeler, er Bill. The axemen and swordsmen and their ilk can’t keep them here forever. Soon enough, people cave in on paying the price. Your friend Roger Pine Ridge is next, if you ask me.”
“You’re barking up the wrong tree there, I think. Roger doesn’t have any money. Cyberpaperdoll got out of the village with that cash they made from the (ruby) slippers heist. Roger thought Iris would be safe — away from prying eyes over at Collagesity. He was wrong.”
Philip settled back into his seat, getting comfortable. “I know all about that. We don’t want his money, we want his *time*. Though brain damage could come later.”
“Hmm.” Bill paused, then: “How much time does he have?”
“Two, three, four weeks on this?” Philip answered as a question.
When to move you first, my Queen? Rey Wisa ponders from far below.
“How about… *now*.”
“Shouldn’t be very long now, Rabbit 01.”
“I know, Rabbit 02. I’ve got to get this place spiffy for the filming!”
At the center of the Inner Delta of Heterocera sits the impressive Moth Temple of Iris. The first telehub on that continent (and still an incredibly busy place today!) the Temple… is a delicate but towering wooden structure designed by Xenon Linden. Almost all of the sims in Heterocera are named after species of moths; the continent itself is named for the sub-species of insect by which moths are categorized. You can find these lovely little creatures all over the Moth Temple, including fluttering around the lamps that line the boardwalk surrounding it at dusk.
“Maybe we should break it off for the day, Grassy. I’ve got to start getting ready for my big date.”
“Okay. But I believe we’ve got Roger’s ‘Time’ pretty well down, don’t you think?”
“It’s pretty good,” Bill admitted, still going over their mistakes and miscues in her head. She wants to get it perfect before playing it to him: the *creator*, after all. She’s meeting the mysterious Ellen for this date, but she also keeps thinking of Roger, what he’s doing at any one moment. And then there’s also Philip to consider. The Boss, haha. I can take care of those sharp, chisled angles, she thinks. Smooth ’em down, like the de Milo I am.
So all in all it was another great 3-n-1 riddle to tackle for me the author, pheh. But I’m loving it.
Do you see it yet, Grassy?”
The green Mmmmmm keeps rummaging around the antique trunk while talking. “No soap in here, it appears. Nothing but these old, dusty lanterns.”
“Pheh, Grassy. That’s all I’ve got to say. Pheh,” she repeats. “I’ll just use the Ivory. But I *hate* when it gets in my eyes.”
“This full facial chessboard tattoo is a little extreme, don’t you think Bill?”
“Yeah, I guess so. Take it off.”
“Don’t panic, Bill,” Grassy soothed. “We’ll sort out your hair.”
“There. That’s better don’t you think dear?”
“I’m loving it. I’m *feeling* it. Where’s that man!”
Right off the bat, Bill knew Ellen wouldn’t be a love interest, at least from her end, and that she had over-prepared for the occasion. Got herself worked into a tizzy for basically nothing. Good ol’ Grassy, she thinks. If it wasn’t for him…
“Umm, delicious. What do you think Bill?”
“I agree it’s pretty good ice cream, Ellen. Pistachio, yum.” A cold-stimulus headache suddenly kicked in. “But, oww, should we be really eating our desert before the main course?” She rubbed her forehead with her free hand.
“Ice cream is the only decent thing on the menu here, dearest. I have other plans for the evening if you don’t mind the surprise. My assistant has rented a house in the southeast corner of the Moth Village. I think it will be to your liking. Sidechick can teleport us over in turn. The tuna should be grilling by now.” He downs another gob of the sweet cream.
The night was finally looking up for Bill. If this was all they had here, anpan (Japanese sweet roll), milk and Singha beer were only going to go so far.
“Better, huh? Ahh, smell the aroma. Nothing like grilled tuna. Sidechick is a 5 star chef, believe me. Finish up your ice cream and we’ll have a grand old time of it.”
Bill again wondered about motive. The game challenge seemed ages ago, months and months, but it was only 2 weeks back. Did Ellen want to forfeit now? Or maybe switch over to a different game? What was that one more complicated than chess the Oriental people liked? Gong, she though incorrectly. The one where black plays first. Maybe this is some kind of hybrid game; maybe that’s why the moves don’t seem to make much sense. She had to ask.
“Ellen,” she starts more seriously, setting the ice cream to one side. “I’m wondering about your moves.”
“As am I.” He stares at her kindly but intently. She sensed no malice in him at all.
“I mean, they are pretty lame.” She laughed to diffuse the seriousness of the statement.
“Notice what I have done, though? Can you see?”
“Umm, no. They’re just pretty bad moves overall. I’m not really even trying on my end because of it.”
“As you shouldn’t. No need to try.”
“Hmm. Care to explain?” She smiled slightly.
“I moved a pawn. Then I moved a knight. Then a bishop. Then the king and rook at one time in a castle. Then, lastly, the queen. The game is basically finished — no more pieces. We are here to celebrate. *You* are the queen.”
Uh oh, Bill (Wheeler) thought. Here we go. Here’s the *real* motive.
“I have something for you.” Ellen pulls a small box out of his robe and presents it to Bill, who hesitantly takes it and then hides it in her hand, staring forward, face somewhat flushed. “Go ahead and open it, dear,” Ellen encouraged. “You’ll *like* it.”
Marriage proposal?? — could it be *possible* that Ellen… Bill quickly snapped open the box just to end this line of speculation. A ring indeed, but it didn’t seem like an engagement ring. The gem was ambiguous, if it was a gem atall. Maybe, um, agate? Jasper? She found herself compelled to put it on nonetheless, then cautiously held the hand forward. “Care to explain?” she asked again as seriously as possible. No smiling this time.
end’s beginning 02
“There,” coos Magus Ellen after eliminating all unnecessary pieces and placing the remaining pieces in their proper place. “That wasn’t too bad. Now let’s have Bill herself make the next move. It took 10 more moves in ‘Through the Looking Glass’ for Alice to become Queen, but for Bill to seal the deal and permanently acquire the moth ring and its priceless power, it may only take one. Pawn to Queen 04, a repeat of Bill’s opening move.”
“Will she *want* to do it again?” offers his trusted assistant sitting across the board from him. “She’s already done it in the first place. Many people do not wish to repeat things they’ve accomplished and worked hard at in the past, or have an established pride in, sire.”
“You are right, Sidechick. We just better make it for her and go forward. Now you’ll notice, Stickler for Detail (ha ha), that Alice has already met the Black Queen beside her at White Queen 03, and who has moved on to her own color’s Rook 04. This leaves Alice free to leap ahead. So… here we go!”
Magus Ellen then effects the game’s first and also final move.
exit, stage left
“Well, it looks like this is it, Grassy.”
“Grass, please.” Grassy would never get over that he’s a child-like Mmmmmm through and through and will never “progress” to the current state of his cousin Opp — True Opp or Tropp, that is. He’ll never be X-ed out in other words. The shortened name of Grass would never stick. “Yes, I will miss you my old friend.”
“And you my friend. But I’ll return for the weed if nothing else. You certainly haven’t seen the last of me, ha ha.”
“Yes: ha ha. Ha ha ha.”
“Ha ha ha ha ha!”
15 minutes later:
“Would you like to see the painting, Grassy? Er, Grass. Grassy… Grass… can’t remember.”
“Whatever,” Grassy Noll submitted, having given up on correcting her about his name, at least for tonight. “Oh, sure. I totally forgot that’s why you can leave now.”
“Plus the payoff to that loathsome Philip Strevor. And the payoff for, well, everyone that lives here in the swamp village, but most importantly perhaps, Roger Pine Ridge, the great variant. And *you* can leave too, of course.”
“No, my place is here. Waiting for your intermittent returns.”
“Fine, fine. I thank you for your service. I hope the new apartment is to your liking.”
30 minutes later:
“So there it is Grassy. A beaut, isn’t it? And it’s all because of that ring Ellen gave me — the power. Catvas here likes it too.”
“I do!” meows the winged feline from her perch just behind.
Grassy moved closer to study the painting more carefully. “Lovely indeed.” He put a finger to his lip here. “But I think I see one detail you missed. We better go check it out.”
“Now?” Bill almost shouted. “But there’s *people* over there. Lots of people. You know I can’t stand people.”
“Most of them are just bots — no one really inside, you see. But let’s go beneath the Mermaid Tavern for a beer beforehand to loosen up your nerves. I’ll buy.”
“You talked me into it!”
“See, Bill? Just one of those silly bots down here. Usually there are a number standing around like zombies.” Grassy’s eyes glaze over here. “And only a handful more right now at the temple according to my inworld map. Perfect time to go. Fate, we could call it.”
“All right. I’ve drunk almost my entire chug-a-mug. One more gulp and I’ll be ready.”
“No, we’ve checked around the whole structure — like the back of my hand now, Grassy — and I can’t see anything I really missed of importance.”
“Look again,” the green Mmmmmm requested. He indicates toward the epicenter of the temple.
“The dancer?” They then jointly stare at the child going ’round the world.
“And that’s it, Sidechick! We’re done with ‘Collagesity 2018 Early’.” They were standing beside Nascera’s Meadowbrook ice cream truck where it all began.
“Just like that? It was sort of an abrupt ending.”
“Bill can paint,” Magus Ellen counters. “Annie can paint. We will assume Mabel can too because of those paint splattered jeans Axis gave her. The great 3-n-1. It’s complete.”
“What *about* Axis? You said time and
beach space were altered because he got Baker Bloch to discover Magellan’s broken teleporter one day too early.”
“If you haven’t guessed, Sidechick my friend, my understudy, Magellan is me. I broke the teleporter. But on purpose. It was the only way we could get Opp to come here in the first place and fill the center up with his blueness. Otherwise — all for naught.”
“I’m not understanding. What about, for example, the golden orb?”
“There’s a black and white opening beyond Braynard’s Place that doesn’t concern us. This would be New Eden. Does it stay coupled with New Island through the castle or does it begin to move independently? This depends on a number of factors, including what happens in the haunted Artist Point colony. But it’s a story for another day, as they say.”
Sidechick Corea tries process all this information, then: “What now for us?”
Ellen smiles mischievously. “I have a surprise for you. Still holding his own ice cream cone in his right hand, he expertly whips out another from his left pocket and hands it to his faithful assistant. “You’ve earned this.”
Now let’s leave the 8×8 behind and walk up the road to see that bridge you’ve been talking about forever.”
END OF “COLLAGESITY 2018 EARLY”!