The Suns of War – Chapter 5 (Serial Story)

Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12

Chapter 5: Hiding from Wizards in the Rubble of Mars

“There’s nothing but rubble,” complained Bart, scratching at his ears.

Sighing deeply, trying to keep her cool, Nessa snipped, “Just like the other eight million times you said it. Just keep scanning and see if we can find any clues.”

They’d spent the past week scanning every piece of debris from what was left of the Martian system. Seeing one of the three major powers that had been fighting for over two hundred years reduced to nothing but a pile of charred debris was putting them all on edge.

“Sirs,” Alexandre’s distinctly reptilian voice sounded alarmed. “There’s a ship that just appeared out of nowhere.” 

Alarmed, Nessa turned toward the main viewscreen and said, “Have they seen us?”

“I have n—” He didn’t get a chance to finish.

“They can’t,” said Zuri, bouncing up and down in what Nessa assumed was pride. When Nessa gave her an expectant look, the young girl said, “I really liked the special cloak that they had on Avalon and I spent some time scanning it while we were there and it turns out it’s just light bending over external shields.”

“Fascinating. You recreated an advanced technology from a few scans and your imagination. I’m impressed, young one,” Alexandre sounded more scared than impressed. 

“Thank you!”

“Let’s not count our kills until we check the pulses,” grunted Barf. “They’re broadcasting something.”

“Em, put it on screen!” Nessa ordered.

On the viewscreen was near complete darkness, only a figure stood facing the viewscreen. Their face was in complete darkness as their outline was backlit. They wore a cloak with glowing silver designs all over it. When they spoke, their voice was mechanical and deep, “Myrddin searches for Arthur.”

“Stay radio silent,” Nessa said. “We are hidden, right?”

As if on queue the voice continued, “We know you hide. Arthur must be found. They must be trained.”

“Does anyone know more about these guys? Other than that Blue-Sun hate them?” Bart asked.

Alexandre replied, “The Tyrite Empire met them several decades ago. We were able to talk to them. They refer to themselves as wizards and are searching for Arthur in order to train them to fight the sun worshipers. We had standing orders to avoid them and never to fire on them. They were fairly docile as long as you didn’t come too close, fire on them, or have any information they wanted.”

“How many Tyrite ships did they destroy?” Nessa asked.

“Every third encounter ended with them stripping all information from our datacores and leaving the ship’s crew braindead.”

Suddenly Nessa wondered if her former captain might have had the right idea. “So do we wait for them to leave, or should we go look somewhere else?”

Tanya, who had been awfully quiet for the whole exchange, said, “I don’t think we should leave, sir. I think I found something. There’s a large asteroid near the edge of the system that is registering very faint signs of power.”

The asteroid was moving slowly enough to look like it was a natural movement, but scans showed a small amount of ionic energy that was unique to old Earth star drives. The old Earth drives were more powerful and used less energy, but the ability to repair them and the material to do so wasn’t found in any of the three systems.

“Do the Myrddin see it?” Nessa asked.

Alexandre replied, “No, but they might suspect. That message may be for them and not for us.”

“Let’s follow that asteroid. Maximum speed, Zuri,” Bart ordered.

“No, absolutely not. We’re in the middle of a giant debris field, even if we’re invisible, we’re going to move so much rock as we move it’ll be pretty obvious,” Zuri said, shaking her head emphatically. 

Looking annoyed, Bart barked, “Do you have a better idea?”

Smiling in a way that made Nessa very uncomfortable, Zuri replied, “Let’s board their ship, take it, and anything in their database.”

After a lot of yelling and angry words from the rest of the crew, Zuri explained, “There’s a small flaw in their shields. If we hadn’t been scanning everything so deeply I wouldn’t have seen it. I can modulate a small ship’s shields to match their frequency and slip in unnoticed. Then a small group could infiltrate and take the ship.”

“How?” asked Tanya, looking bloodthirsty.

“I can take their data and send a virus that will take out their processing core. I just need five, maybe ten minutes.”

Nessa and Zuri were chosen for the team with Bart piloting his little fighter. Tanya had argued that she could protect the little engineer better, but Nessa reminded her that this was a stealth mission and if things got bad, Nessa had claws.   

“I don’t like this,” Bart said as they approached the ship.

“You don’t like anything,” Nessa teased before adding, “But you’re right, we don’t even know the layout of the place.”

Sighing dramatically, in the way only a teen could, Zuri said, “Once we get past their shields I’ll know the layout and we’ll know exactly where we’re going. You worry too much.”

Bart laughed and said, “That’s how I managed to become old. Worry and luck.”

As they passed the shields, Zuri swore and said, “This can’t be right, There’s only two parts of their hull that’s hollow. It’s like they have a cargo hold and an engineering bay, and that’s it.”

“I’m also not reading any sign of life,” added Nessa, “No wait, there’s one life sign.”

“Where do you want me to land, or are we turning back?” Bart asked Zuri, who suddenly looked really nervous.

“I would need their engineering bay, so I think there’s a shaft right here,” she said and pointed at a spot on the hull. 

“Creepy ship with only one life sign… here we go,” Bart deadpanned.

Read Chapter 6 (June 2023)

While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

We were nominated for Auroras!

Hello friends, family, and fans!

The nominations are up!!!

Thanks to all who nominated. You really made a difference.

Now, it’s onto the voting! You should have received an email on how to download the voters package by now. If not, check the website when you’re logged in, and follow the instructions.

There is EXCELLENT news: Our Aunt Ann, writing as Ann Birdgenaw, will receive her Aurora nomination pin!! We’re so proud of her!

The four categories in which Jen, Éric, and family are nominated:

  • Category 2 – Best YA Novel
    • Black Hole Radio – Ka’Azula by Ann Birdgenaw
  • Category 7 – Best Related Work
    • Nothing Without Us Too by Cait Gordon and Talia C. Johnson (Jen has a short story Semper Ubi Sub Ubi in this one!)
  • Category 9 – Best Fan Writing/Publication (these will not be included in the voters package, as they are available online)

Something to remember this time around, is that the order matters. In order to concentrate our voting power, Éric and I have agreed to focus on The Travelling TARDIS, as it is more well-known in the community. Therefore, please vote for it first, and the Movie Reviews second.

Voting is June 17 – July 29, 2023. We’ll write a reminder post before it ends. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Thank you all so much for your time, attention, and support. It means the world to us!


Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.


There were elements that worked and it was interesting to see Ant-Man as a lead in something epic, but it wasn’t the right story for him.

That being said, it felt like the main story was ripped straight from early science fiction and specifically from the old Flash Gordon serials.

Score: 0


There were two sets of characters and it felt like they were in very different movies. Janet and Hope were in an epic fantasy, while the rest were in a YA portal fantasy comedy. The character development was all over the place and felt disjointed.

I did like the story arc with Darren/M.O.D.O.K., and the secondary characters were fascinating.

Points for avoiding useless romantic drama, but they lose points for having no idea what to do with Hope, again.

Bill Murray’s character was an unsympathetic clone of Lando.

Kang was BORING. The infodumping speeches and mediocre threats were the worst part of the movie.

Score: 0.5


Like the rest of the movie, it felt disconnected. The epic fantasy prose of Janet, Kang, and most of the rest of the cast were uncomfortable juxtaposed with Scott, Cassie, Darren, and Hank’s quippy superhero dialogue.

There are times it worked, like with the goo man who wanted holes, but overall it wasn’t great.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie’s visuals were absolutely engrossing. I loved all the details, races, and weird shit everywhere. It was a wonder to watch and so much fun.

The music was well done and didn’t take itself too seriously, but fell into the same problem of feeling like Ant-Man music in an Epic Fantasy movie.

Score: 1


This movie was surprisingly chill for all its over the top drama. It was a lot of fun to watch and I can see myself rewatching just for the visuals. The kids were glued to their seats and most of the adults liked it.

Score: 1


The weakest of the three Ant-Man movies, mostly because it wasn’t an Ant-Man movie but a vapid copy of Flash Gordon with Ant-Man and company. The story is messy and disjointed with elements that shouldn’t go together being forced to interact. The villain is one of the blandest most boring villains in MCU history.

The visuals however, were ABSOLUTELY fabulous and Paul Rudd is hilarious, both of those make the movie way better than it has any right to be.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

First big bookstore signing

Hello wonderful readers,

Yesterday, Jen and I had our first signing at a big bookstore. We were signing Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers at Pinecrest Indigo.

There are still several signed copies if you hurry to the store!

We had a few issues getting the whole thing set up, our original date was back in February and then Indigo had some hacker issues and everything was postponed.

We had more issues today when we got there and they were surprised. Thankfully the staff were extremely nice and accommodating and got us set up with time to spare.

We spoke to a lot of people and even sold 6 books.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and said hello.


Zoom: Academy for Superheroes – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2006 film Zoom: Academy for Superheroes.


The story works. It’s a nice mix between superhero and underdog sports movies. It has a lot of awkward moments and more than a few scenes that could have been cut or replaced.

Score: 0.5


Yikes is Jack an asshole. Seriously, he comes shy of insulting everyone but racial minorities (and that’s probably because there are none in the movie). His turnaround from asshole burnout to father figure is not believable and neither is the love story.

Thankfully, the kids are fantastic and bring the emotional heart to the film. The secondary characters felt a little out of place and there just for gags.

The little girl acted a lot younger than my 6yo does.

Score: 0.5


Lots of ableism, racism, sexism, and just meanness. There are a few good jokes, but the movie doesn’t balance it’s slapstick, seriousness, and heart very well.

The little girl had some of the best lines.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The special effects look cheesy but still hold out pretty well. Lots of nice practical effects and I liked the comic book style of filming.

The music was so mid 00’s that it was nostalgic. I kinda want the soundtrack. It’s dated but not in a bad way.

Score: 1


It’s hard to like a movie when the main character is so unlikeable. The 6yo and 3yo loved it and ran around the house pretending to be Zoom or Princess.

I did enjoy the obvious twist with the scientist girl.

Score: 0.5


Despite Tim Allen’s thoroughly unlikeable character, the movie is fun and exciting with a few surprises along the way. Great movie for kids and for those who have fond memories of Smash Mouth.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Prey – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Prey.


The story is fairly simple and predictable but extremely satisfying. Everything is set up and everything pays off perfectly.

There are some excellent emotional moments and I am impressed with how tight the script was.

Score: 1


The main character is awesome. She is the perfect underdog in this sort of story and she kicks a lot of ass. I loved her brother. Their individual arcs and their sibling arc were wonderful.

I was impressed with how accurate the French was for the time period.

I’m a little sad I didn’t know there was a full Comanchi version before I watched.

Score: 1


The dialogue was well done. In the version I watched, they transitioned from Comanchi to English and it worked well. I liked the nods to previous Predator movies.

The main character’s body language helped with the intensity of the movie. She reacts realistically and viscerally to the horror.


Visuals and Music

The great plains are a great backdrop for something so epic. The wild is just so big and the predator is so much more terrifying in comparison to the bears and mountain lions. They are also beautiful.

The camera work is clean and lets us see the impressive fighting.

The music was understated but effective.

Score: 1


The movie didn’t grab my attention right away and could have used a little more action right at the beginning but I think that’s because I was expecting an action movie not a horror.

Overall it was a lot of fun though.

Score: 1


An intense action horror with enough references to make Predator fans happy but not so much as to make it unwatchable on it’s own.

The action is amazing, the acting is fantastic, and I want a whole series of kick ass woman throughout history fighting off predators.

Final Score: 5 Stars out of 5*

*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Random Updates from Éric

Hello family, friends, and fans,

Some weeks are hard. This was one of those weeks. I’ve been working through a lot of emotions. Among them is the fact that I’m still in pain. I know that a new physio for two weeks isn’t going to fix everything, but I was secretly hoping.

Let’s break this down into categories:


I’m currently finishing the longest running project I’ve ever had (started in 2016) and I’m really hoping to be done by summer. It’s going slowly, mostly because of pain, and I worry it’s crap but at least I’m having fun writing it.

Family Life

I’m trying my best to be a good father and a good husband. I know that I haven’t always been perfect; I’m a little whiny and I over explain and analyze everything but I’m trying. This week I’ve felt like I’m not enough and that’s really frustrating.


I have a similar issue at work. I think it’s time for me to find something new. I’m fairly certain that within a year, my position will be cut and after 15 years, it’s time to do something new. The problem with that is because of my health issues and lack of return to full time work, it’s not easy for me to convince anyone to hire me. So I feel a little trapped.


I’m seeing a team consisting of a physiotherapist, kinesiologist, and occupational therapist. They are trying to help me get back to work.

While they’re doing that, I have an MRI for my head, neck, and back set up for mid July.


My father’s birthday was earlier this month. He passed away at the age of 47 from brain cancer.

He was 40 when he was diagnosed. Considering my health issues, it’s hard for me not to worry about this year. (I’m turning 40 in July.)

It’s one of the reasons I’m really glad that I got that MRI. At the very least we’ll know something. The MRI should be able to detect brain lesions from MS or brain tumours. Hopefully there’s nothing to find.

Mental Health

With all of the above I’m struggling, but my occupational therapist is helping me find coping mechanisms and to rationalize instead of spiralling. That part is helping and I’m trying to be kind to myself.

How have you been?

Be kind and stay safe,


Peter Pan & Wendy – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Peter Pan & Wendy.


I’ll be honest, I’ve never liked the Peter Pan movies. They always feel like growing up propaganda. I get that growing up is important, but this story is one of the biggest reasons that our society equates growing up with giving up childhood things. I think that’s a sad outcome.

All that being said, I liked the changes to the story from the traditional stage play and Disney movie. It’s exciting and fun. Lots of set up and some long monologues slow it down though.

Score: 0.5


It’s nice to see a Tinkerbell that is not jealous of Wendy and a Wendy that is a capable fighter. Tiger Lily was amazing and wise without being a stereotype. Great to see and hear the Cree language. (Although subtitles sometimes calling it a foreign language was silly.)

Hook and Pan have some great character moments and although there were a few monologues that went a little long, they both had a depth of character that is refreshing. Pan being a normal kid whose emotional maturity stalled was an interesting take.

Score: 1


As I mentioned, some monologues went a little too long. Some of the dialogue came off a little hammy like the actors were reading lines.

Overall it was a nice mixture of time appropriate dialogue and updated text.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The scenery was beautiful. The action well choreographed. It was easy to believe that Pan was an extremely good fighter. The camera work and framing were superb. At times I found it a little dark and maybe a little desaturated.

The music was epic and perfectly timed. I liked the mixture of the Disney animated movie soundtrack with the new orchestration.

Score: 1


I enjoyed the film, but the longer monologues seemed to bore the 3yo. The 6yo loved it, but seemed confused at the Hook and Pan friendship.

The rest of the family seemed to love it and that’s saying something since my MIL and SIL are both big fans of the book.

Score: 1


A film that both respects it’s source material and updates it in interesting ways. Fun action with fun characters. If you like any Peter Pan stories, you’ll love this one. A Disney update that is definitely worth the watch.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

I’m on Strike and it hurts

*This post was written at 10pm Sunday night and we received word at 1am that the strike was over.*

Hello Friends, Family, and Fans,

We’ve now entered the third week of the strike. If you don’t know or don’t follow the news, my union PSAC (you say the letters and don’t read it. If you read it it sounds too much like a bag of urine) which represents over 150,000 public service employees, has been negotiating a new contract with the government since our last one expired in early 2021.

Members do everything from auditing, to web design, to ship inspection, etc. Lots of different jobs. The union wants our pay to be the same as inflation and several other things. (I think the original list was 500+ items)

What happens when you’re on strike is you don’t get paid. We can get $75 strike pay if we picket for 4 hours. That’s less than half of my usual. We’re doing fine financially thanks to some inheritance, but it’ll get tight if this goes on more than another week. (Not asking for help, Thank you)

Because of my health issues, I’ve gone twice and both times I walked around 18,000 steps (3x more than I normally do in a day.) Every time I sat down I caught whiffs of cigarette or cannabis smoke. There aren’t a lot of smokers but it only takes one to stink up the place and make me have trouble breathing.

So I walked, and both times it took me 2 days to recover from the physical exhaustion and pain. It’s hard to recover from, and hard to feel so useless. I know there are awesome and brave people out there walking 20,000 steps per day and really putting on the pressure and I appreciate them. Unfortunately, like many other parts of my life, I’m feeling a little mediocre.

Let’s hope this gets fixed soon so that we can all get back to work and I can get back to figuring out how to improve my health.

Be kind and stay safe,


Health Update 2 Steps forward 1 back

Hello Everyone,

Since my last update I’ve started physio, exercises, and occupational therapy. It’s only been a week, but it feels like a lot of effort for little gain. I’m going to continue because at least it’s completely covered by WSIB. The people are nice but everything feels fast.

I saw a pain doctor. He was rushed and said I should continue what I’m doing and gave me some exercises that are the same as the kinesiologist has been doing. I’m glad he didn’t give me any pills. I’m already dealing with a lot of mind fog, I don’t want to deal with any more.

I had called my doctor to try and talk to him about MS and I managed to get an appointment. He said I had a lot of the symptoms but that the neurologist should have caught it. (Same guy who told me I was too young and should just ignore it.) However since I have the symptoms he has referred me to get an MRI. It’ll image my brain, neck, and back to make sure. This should help diagnose MS or any form of cancer.

My father died of brain cancer and my grandmother of leukemia, so I’m trying not to panic at the idea.

Reality Sucks, or Yes, I am disabled

I’m starting to come to the realization that I’m disabled.

My energy levels, lung capacity, and overall strength have never fully recovered from covid in February 2020. I’m told it’ll get better, but it’s a slow process.

Add to that the dizziness and fatigue I’ve been feeling since last year and it means I’m not in good shape or feeling well. In short, I’m disabled.

It’s frustrating me because I am physically able to do almost anything I need to but I start getting tired and pained quickly. If I push myself too far, I start to get dizzy and clumsy. Just setting up my backyard, with lots of help from the kids, left me feeling horrible for two days after. Headache, inability to think, pain everywhere, short of breath, fatigue, and extra pain in my arms.

I’ve been experiencing something similar with picketing but that’s a different post.

Accepting that I’m disabled means I need to start finding my limits and living inside them. Once I know what’s wrong, I can hopefully work up to increasing activity. For now, I’ll have to be extra careful with gardening.

So that’s my update, it’s all over the place but I’m okay and things are moving. Let’s hope it’s in the right direction.