The Problem With Ferrets

The completion of the Problem with Chickens/Assignments story.

🐔

Trenner slept surprisingly well, tucked in on a couch that still had its no feet on the furniture sign, in very fussy handwriting, prominently displayed.

After all, if there were strange noises outside, they were no stranger than the ones she might hear in the dormitories.  And if there were strange breezes coming across her, well, her second-year roommate had left the window open all winter. It was, she realized, more relaxing than her trips home, where everything felt not nearly lumpy enough, too quiet, and too soft.

Once she had woken, performed her morning ablutions – she did not ask where the water had come from, and her guide did not tell her, but it smelled sweet and washed her with no ill effects – and geared up, they were on their way into the wilds that had, once, been the Dormitory and Agriculture Quad. Continue reading

(Not) Getting Old

Inspired by Life Extension, by Isaac Arthur. 

…People will obviously still leave jobs, but they’re no longer retiring.
You are not going to get the management slot when Sally retires in two years, you are not inheriting Dad’s business, at least not for several centuries.
You’re not inheriting his house either.
When he does die odds are good he will have several thousand descendants kicking around.
You also now have a de facto gerontocracy….

His sci-fi videos are chewy but really interesting. 

A story of Cya Red Doomsday, who does not get old, and one of her descendants, who hasn’t had time to grow up yet.  Continue reading

Purchase Negotiation 13: Performance Anxiety

First: Purchased: Negotiation
Previous: Family

💰

If you want to sleep with me…

Leander didn’t exactly freeze, but he did go quiet for a moment.  He looked at Sylviane. She was looking – well, he thought she was looking shy.  He was going to put his foot in it in the worst way.

He cleared his throat and decided to go for honestly.  “I… well. You’re gorgeous. You’re sweet. You’re absolutely nothing like what I expected.  You’re nothing like what I’m used to. And uh. I… you don’t want to do that. You don’t want me to do that.

He braced himself for anger, for hurt, for something.  She looked confused. “I don’t want to… sleep with you?  Have sex with you?” She whispered the last and he once again had to think about her age, or maturity, in some confusion.   “Do you, uh. Do you have spines or something?” Continue reading

Fleeing the City

This is, more or less, slice of life as the world burns.  The gas station guy came to me and I needed to give the story something of an end if not a beginning.

So here it is, Fae Apoc, early in the war so mid-2011.  


 

“What do you mean,’no satellites found?’”. Hayley pounded the dashboard with her fist and glared at the GPS, her phone, and the road.  “They’re up there, you idiots! They didn’t go away!”

“Well.” Tyler cleared her throat.  “They might have, you know. The god-things took out Manhattan.  A satellite is probably no big deal forgot them, you know?”

“I see a gas station.  We should fill up while we can.” Lindsay pointed from the back seat.  “There. Eddie’s Gas and Service.” Continue reading

The Isle of Time, a piece of Pratchett Fanfic

I was re-reading Thief of Time, and there is a line in there about “just dump the extra time in the ocean.” It was always wet and watery:

Oh, maybe fishermen would start to dredge up strange whiskery fish that they’d only ever seen before as fossils, but who cared what happened to a bunch of codfish.

So here is a bit about someone who might care.


There was an island in the middle of the ocean that the Monks of Time did not know of.

They didn’t know about it because it wasn’t supposed to exist for another five hundred thousand years, but it existed in a place that a particular set of Procrastinator-drivers in the halls of time particularly enjoyed, and as such, it had gotten more than its share of time manipulation.

Geography and geology are always a bit of a question when you live on a disc on the back of four elephants riding on the back of a turtle, but as far as anyone could tel, this was also a place where certain sea creatures had been going for millennia to die, and thus, between that and some activity it was best to call volcanic,  although Vulcan went by a different name here, had pointy ears, and had only once even looked at this place1, well, anyway, there was an island here.

And because shipwrecks happen everywhere and possibly more than everywhere when your ship is suddenly beset by a pre-historical2 creature or, worse yet, suddenly becomes a grove of trees and two confused elephants or a pile of mold and driftwood, this island had people, and had had people for quite some time (Probably.  Maybe.  Likely.)

Even evolution works strangely on the Disc, and so, after a while (or several whiles, depending), someone needed to do something about this aging a thousand years before one could manage to breed, or coming back before one’s grandparents had gotten around to it, and so on.

There were not a lot of people on this island, but it wasn’t on any charts, which only increased the shipwrecks (it’s a bit off putting when first your First Mate loses fifteen years of life and then there’s an island right in front of you while you’re still talking her out of a fight with the cook and the ship’s boy over Music With Rocks In It), and things continued strange around there.  Which meant that, in due (let’s be honest and say un-due) time, the people who survived there ended up being, ah, immune to time.

They could step through it, and sometimes did.  They could create elaborate looping paradoxes – and, indeed, it became an art form there: what is the most beautiful paradox that you can create?  None of this I’m-my-own-Grandpa sort of thing; on this island that was considered to go without saying, after all.  And if you wished to go and replay last Tuesday, well, go ahead.  Maybe alone, maybe with your previous self or several of them.

And while the Monks of Time did not know about this island, neither did those on the island know about the monks of time.

If they did, it is thought by those who pay attention (Mostly Sark’ck) that there were at least three consecrated mounds of dust and ash that might have some very strong words for those Monks.


1 Nobody was saying that Vulcan, or, as he was known here, Sark’ck, had anything to do with a particular green-blooded bastard in a another part of the multiverse, but he did have a habit of adopting stray myths and making them his own…

2 And in the Discworld, where someone or other had been writing down history since the time the fifth elephant landed in the Uberwald, that is saying something.

Kaijune: Catch ‘Em

“Rashi, what did you do?”

The interns at the laboratory known only as The Lab did their level best to be close enough to hear the argument while far enough away to avoid any fallout.  Just three weeks ago, a new intern had taken umbrage at being shouted at and, while the Boss was fine – the boss was always fine – three nearby interns had lost parts or all of their limbs to a parasitic vine.  With the memory still clear – with Yando still sitting in his mechanized chair, working the controls with what were only sort of fingers (and sort of vines) everyone was very cautious this time. Continue reading

The Trouble With Guides…

After The Trouble With Chickens… and The Trouble With Theories… and The Trouble With Assignments….

🐔

Trenner thought she might be losing it.

“I have made base camp,” she wrote, “in the lobby of the Pendington building.  From the signs here, I am not the first to make camp here.  I can see the remains of a fire pit in what had once been the grand Fountain to Athena, and over there in the former wishing well, people, ah, wished in another way.  

My native guide tells me that he avoided the Exploration Club quite handily, and, seeing the way he blends into the terrain, I am not surprised.  He is, after all, not a plant nor a building, nor is he a giant chicken (or a mutant killer ferret nor a feral housecat, although he bears the most resemblance to the last), and thus, even if he did not smell slightly like Wrong and did not look slightly like a pile of detritus, he was not on their agenda.

“What are you writing?”  He sat across the fire from her, roasting something on a pan he must have taken from one of the dining halls – Goldblum, that was the one in the Lost Buildings.  

“It’s my exploration log.  I’m tracking everything I do.”

“Oh, I remember that. They taught us how to do that in first-year Exploration.  Are you still thinking of going back, then? You haven’t tried the eggs yet.”

The egg in question was huge, and he had darted in and out of a nest with surprising dexterity, returning with something it took him both arms to hold.  “I certainly want to try the eggs,” she reassured him. “And I’ll be here for at least a few days. If I come back too quickly, Professor Lokeg-Fridelabout is going to accuse me of cheating.  And it’ll be points on the chart, sure, but it will be more points if I actually manage to prove the professor wrong and he has to eat his words and the egg.”

“Oh, are you still doing that?  I was almost winning, the year I left, but I kept getting points through being sent on deadly assignments, and I decided I wanted to live. There’s a few of us here,” he added.  “Five that I know of, all up in the top of Drummond Hall. It’s safest there. The chickens don’t like to roost on that roof, because it’s too steep, and we blew out the first-floor stairways, which keeps out the ferrets pretty well.”  He noted the way she was looking around. “This time of year, this will be safe, too,” he assured her. “It’s just when they get broody that there’s a problem.”

Trenner considered broody as it related to a beast the size of a wagon.  “How – how are they still here? How hasn’t someone eradicated them?  Did the university really just let them take over a portion of the school?  What about funding?”

She started writing down all those questions almost before she was done asking them, not really expecting answers from him.

“Well, they’re very hard to kill, surprisingly.  The eggs are easy, but you have to survive getting the eggs.  And they have no natural predators, which means there’s quite a few of them.  That’s problem one. Problem two is, the university has always been known for taking the path of least resistance.  In this case, the chickens resisted more than the trustees, so they put up a fence. I’d heard rumors – are you really writing all of this down?”

“Of course I am.  I want to come up with a solution, which means understanding the problem.”

“You really are one of them, aren’t you?”

It was said with such admiration that Trenner could hardly take offence.  “I’m sorry? What’s a ‘one of them?’”

“Oh, ah. My favorite professor, Professor Sojide, used to say there were Golden Students. Um. ‘If they can survive their time here, they will change the world, one way or another.’  I wasn’t one. Ah. Matilde was, but she didn’t survive the ferrets.” He looked down at his feet. “I just want to live. That’s pretty much it. My family all believe me dead, probably.”

“Hunh.”  She had never heard Professor Sojide say that.  She made a note of it in her book. “Can you take me close enough to see them, without risking yourself?”

“Tomorrow.  At noon. I can take you to the right path.  That’s it.” He shook his head. “I won’t go further than that.  But if you want eggs…  eggs I can get you.”  He spooned out a large portion of his concoction onto her plate, more onto his, and then put the pan on a stone in the shadows.

She was not surprised to see movement there, movement that could have been human.  She did not look too closely. They weren’t a danger to her, she didn’t think; she didn’t want them to think she was a danger to them.

The egg was better than anything she’d ever eaten.  She said so, three times. In the end, her native guide – who still would not give her a name – colored and looked away.  “There’s some tricks to cooking them. But the biggest tricks are in just finding them.”

“I look forward to seeing that, then.”  She had never been more sincere. “And the eggs.  Are they fertile, do you think?”

She had just had a glimmer of an idea, and it looked like her being able to walk out of here alive.

 

World Building June Day 13 – A Diagram?

In the post I did yesterday, I mentioned a Jackal house, a “very small building on the outskirts of town that has only the bare necessities to survive,” in the Bear Empire, reserved for those who are taking advantage of the charity/kindness of others.

If you’ve been following on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/aldersprig/posts?tag=boom), you may have noticed that I’ve been drawing little maps and floor plans in Excel and Paint.

So when I was like “tiny building, bare necessities….”

Of course I had to draw it.

And I might have mentioned that I’ve been taking all-day Administrative Excellence classes on Wednesdays.

This leads to a lot of doodling and drawing.

So uh.  There’s a reason I draw these things in Excel usually, and below you’ll see both versions.

A “Jackal House” in the Bear Empire, as it might look.  Fire is a required necessity for survival.  Windows are not.

As the sketch shows, a stack of firewood outside the house on the windward side provides more firewood and also insulation.  The high-pitched roofline provides protection.