Okay, so some months ago I started playing 80 Days, the amazing interactive fiction game (on iOs and Android, not that I am suggesting you go download and play it immediately, except of course I totally am), and it was great. So great. So so so great.
I tried to convince all my friends to play it, as is the custom of my people. Most of them were like, "Well, uh, it sounds…interesting. I will definitely play it. Sometime." But that's mostly what happens when you try to persuade people to try the things you love, so I wasn't downcast. I just waited like a sea lion (although I hope I was slightly less annoying), ready to casually insert 80 Days into any conversation that seemed even marginally relevant. (I was probably not actually less annoying.)
One of the people I thought would love it immensely was norah. I've known her since I was just getting into fandom, and she is my real-life and fandom BFF, and I know her tastes, just as she knows mine. But, sadly, she did not bite on my delightful hook, baited with inclusive steampunk and robots and joy.
Well, she's very busy. Later, I figured. Someday I'd persuade her. I vowed not to give up. (Being friends with me is awesome, folks.)
A couple of months later, I requested 80 Days for Yuletide. And I got it, and it was amazing. I think I got two paragraphs in before I said to Best Beloved, "Wow. This is really good." Halfway through, I corrected myself: "This is really, really, really good. This is great." It was. Also it seemed tailored for me, well beyond Yuletide typical, as I noted in my incoherent and flailing comment to my Mystery Author.
There was much Yuletide joy in my heart.
And then. And then. Today, at 4:25, I got a text from Norah. She said, essentially, "Hey so stories are revealed and GUESS WHAT I WROTE YOURS."
I texted back, entirely coherently, "UM OMG WHAAAAAAAAT EEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" (Text with me and get all the extra letters, free of charge!)
See, Norah and I exchange assignment emails every year, and support each other through Yuletide, and generally are all up in each other's Yuletide-y business. (One year we ended up co-writing both our assignments.) So I knew she was writing Moby Dick this year. I knew her recipient and everything! Her recipient wasn't me!
Except I did not know. She got a fake assignment from the Yuletide mods so she could conceal her true one. And then she spent two months pretend-complaining to me about her pretend assignment while actually writing her real assignment. And -- seriously -- sending said real assignment TO MY WIFE.
About two months ago, my wife apparently got a phone call at work from Norah. ("At first I thought someone had died," BB told me today.) Norah said, "Hey, I have TFV as my Yuletide assignment, so can you alpha-read?"
BB said, "I don't keep secrets from her! I'm really bad at keeping secrets from her! But -- okay, yes, I will. I will do my best." AND SHE DID. For two months, as she read and my actual Yuletide gift and cheered on my actual Yuletide writer, she gamely acted like she had no idea who was assigned to me or what I would be getting. (She even emailed Norah a play-by-play of me reading the story for the first time. Recruit your recipient's spouse(s) and profit, Yuletiders.)
Tl;dr: TWO OF MY MOST FAVORITE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD CONSPIRED TO MAKE ME THE PERFECT YULETIDE GIFT AND I AM SO HAPPY.
It's a great story. I mean, it's lesbian robot airship pirates, which is, honestly, basically everything I look for in fiction and also would be my entire bucket list if I had one. (So far I've only managed the lesbian part, but look out, airships. I'm coming for you.) And now, every time I read it, in addition to reveling in the gorgeous story, I'm going to remember that I am loved, and by amazing, talented, kind, and generous people.
Truly, it is a Yuletide miracle, wrapped in secrecy, with a sweet and chewy lesbian robot pirate center.
My heart grew three sizes today.
Beside me singing in the Wilderness (15998 words) by norah
Fandom: 80 Days (Video Game 2014)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Characters: Behiye bint Kasim, Bulbul, Manussiha
Additional Tags: Steampunk, Robot Harm, Character of Color, Action/Adventure, Misses Clause Challenge, Pirates
The adventures of Behiye bint Kasim, Captain of the pirate ship Canavar, and her engineer and companion Bulbul.
Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comments.