Archive | January 18, 2012

Under Scrutiny, a story of Rin & Girey, a Giraffe Call continuation perk

From the poll for continuation story from December’s Giraffe Call. This one ran short, so I will also write a bit of something to the runner-up.

This comes after:“Come to Bed” (LJ)
In Bed (LJ), after “Come to Bed” [Beta]
Morning After (LJ) [Access-list only]
Virginity/Celibacy (LJ), a drabble.

Reiassan has a landing page here on DW and here on LJ.

Arinya found the way her captive was gaping at her to be very strange. She’d known he’d have a reaction, of course, and even if he hadn’t been staring, the warmth of his hand on her hip was a clear giveaway.

“So.” He coughed uncomfortably, and seemed to be trying to bring himself to move away, or at least move his hand. She made it easier for him, pressing her hand down more firmly on his and scooting closer. That just made him cough again, and repeat “so.”

“So,” she echoed, smiling at him.

“So,” he repeated, this time in Bitrani. “I am the reason you have not had a lover since the war ended.”

“That is part of what I said, yes,” she answered in the same language.

“Would you like me to leave, then, so you could find a lover without interference?”

She sighed. Were all Bitrani men this stiff-necked, or was it only this one that she’d brought home with her. “If I wanted you to leave, Girey-whose-mother-didn’t-give-you-enough-name-to-scold-you-with, I would have asked you to leave.”

“I like my name,” he protested. “And you don’t have to scold me.” She could see the moment when the rest of what she’d said sunk in. “So you want me to stay.” There was tension in his voice that she didn’t think she’d ever heard before. “And you want…” His voice cracked. “What do you want from me?”

A very good question. She wished she had an easy answer. Taking him with her had seemed so much more reasonable when they’d been at the front. Now, in her bed, by the light of day… “Roll over.”

“What?” he asked, almost a squeak, hardly befitting his dignity as… well, any of his dignity.

“Roll over, please.” Before she lost her nerve or did something they’d both regret. Staying chaste had seemed like such a wonderful idea when she was young, and it really had been practical in the army, but now, faced with this warm man in her bed… now she was beginning to have her regrets.

He rolled over, perhaps just out of the habit of obedience, because he was moving his hands as if they were still shackled together. “That, I have to note,” he mumbled, until he got his elbows under him to get his face out of the pillow, “is not an answer, not unless you Callenthe have funny ideas about answering… which I guess you do.”

“We do,” she agreed. “It’s part of being raised to diplomatic positions – or the army or priesthood, which are about the same.”

“Heh,” he chuckled, and then again, this time a little strained. “Ah… Rin, Arinya, what are you doing?”

What, indeed? “Straddling your bum, what does it look like?”

“Well, it looks a lot like the linen of your pillow from this position. I know you said you were inexperienced, but…”

She silenced him by pushing his face into the bedding. His hair was greasy; they both still needed a bath, desperately. Well, one foot after another. She pulled the blankets off his shoulders, down to his waist, and studied him.

Wisely, now he said nothing, holding still, cautiously tilting his head to one side and regarding her through a stray curl of hair. In addition to a bath, they both needed a haircut badly.

“Try to breathe naturally,” she murmured. “Relax. I am not the enemy.” He had scars on his chest; she’d seen those before, over their season on the road. But none on his back, nothing but muscle, slightly atrophied, and freckled, mole-dotted skin. Slowly, she set her hands just above his spine.

“If you were the enemy,” he replied, “I’d be in trouble.”

She said nothing to that. She had been his enemy – and now he was her captive, in the heart of her territory. By some lights, he was already in deep, deep trouble. Instead, she felt the energy running through his body, the connection to the small courtyard outside her room, the tree which had been growing there since the palace was built, the feel of the life in both of them.

“What…?” he asked, as she began to sense the energy within him, seeking out imbalances.

“It’s the step before a massage,” she answered, most of her attention on the way his muscles pulled and shifted, the way the tendons were stretched, the hitch in his shoulder from the way he’d held the shackles.

“A…” He turned over, frowning at her. “I’m not asking you to be a…” he trailed off, and muttered, “I don’t know the word in Callenian. It’s not a nice word.”

“Healer?” she asked, knowing that’s not what he meant. “You have pain there, Girey. I can soothe it.”

He flushed, discomfort – and, she thought, a realization of the position he’d just put himself in – making him angry. “You know that’s not what I meant.”

“I do. But it’s what I meant.” She set her hands on his bare chest, just left of the scar that had damaged his shoulder. “Girey, you have pain, old pain, and pain that I caused. As a healer, I’d like to fix it. As Arinya – I’d like to get my hands on you.” She smiled down at him, wishing her gut wasn’t twisting as she admitted that. He was the enemy, wasn’t he?

“You don’t have to demean yourself…” he tried again.

“Then don’t demean what I’m doing.” She traced the lines of his shoulders, poking gently where she could see the pain flaring up. “Roll over, and let me heal you.”

Slowly, reluctantly, he rolled over. Facing his back, she was able to tell him, “the word you were looking for? It’s ‘bed-warmer’ if you want to be rude, ‘courtesan’ if you’re flattering.”

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A Growing Plan

For skjam‘s prompt.

The Planners have a landing page here on DW and here on LJ

They had a plan when they moved in to the city.

Of course they did; they were the Planners. They had other names – the Seven Families, the Amalgamated Preparation Assembly, or just The Founders – but the one they called themselves, in their private meetings, was The Planners. And what they did was Prepare, Found, and, most of all, Plan.

They’d done this in several other cities already – move in, begin buying up unwanted, abandoned, cheap land in bad neighborhoods, empty warehouse space, anything they could get that was standing vacant. And then They would begin cleaning, stockpiling, restoring, and, in some cases, demolishing to make room for green space.

Bringing at least some food production to within the reach of the cities was their primary goal, although they couched it in different terms depending on the audience: raising property values, making community spaces, teaching the youth of the city about food, creating habitats for wildlife. The Planners had learned how to camouflage their long-term plans, and how to blend in with their environments.

Everything went a little weird when they got to Syracuse, though.

Kerafena knew much of it was her fault. It was her first management job, her first chance to prove herself, and they’d given her the budget they always gave to new-city developers, something with enough zeros to make her eyes water, and expected to see results within three years. She gulped, considered running away to Kalamazoo, changing her name, and becoming a short-order cook, and then shook herself and got on with her business.

She bought properties. She refurbished tolerable buildings, throwing money at contractors until she found a group she liked and doing much of the work herself. She rented out refurbished buildings, started planning some modern apartment space, and broke ground for a Planners headquarters.

Mostly, though, she tore down old, decrepit buildings and planted the resultant lots. She started with three such gardens her first year; by her third, she had enough that she needed to hire day labor to help her maintain them; by her seventh year, she had three property managers, ten full-time workers, day laborers by the truck in planting and harvesting seasons, and four farm stands in the heart of the city.

By the time the Elders came to view her progress, she had a ring of green properties circling the city, corn and wheat and parkland in what had been the most decrepit neighborhoods, a pumpkin field abutting the college, and – and this is where the Elders began to raise eyebrows – her cows had gotten out and were running through the McDonald’s parking lot.

Some inspiration from this song, esp:
“His cows get loose and run right thru the fast food parking lots
And Daddy gets calls from the mini-malls
when they’re downwind from his hogs. “

This entry was originally posted at You can comment here or there.

Breaking Ground

For [personal profile] anke‘s Prompt

The new hospital was going to be the best thing that had happened to the Cayuga Lake region in decades. Stuck in a hospital-dry zone, the state-of-the-art set of buildings would bring more jobs to the area, open up treatment options without having to drive two hours to the nearest bigger city, and, hopefuly, put the old I-wouldn’t-send-my-dog-there hospital on the other side of the lake out of business. Georgie and Gene VanStatler were very proud of themselves for bringing it all together.

When they got the call, barely two days after the ground had first been broke, they didn’t know what to expect. They had surveyed and studied all of the normal hazards of the region – there wasn’t natural gas close to the surface. There were no records of Indian habitation right in this area, although the records were spotty. The bedrock had, in nearby constructions, proven to be far enough down. And it was not, unlike much in the area, a flood-prone zone.

“You’ve got to come down here,” was all that Marty Townsend, the construction boss, would say. So down there they came, in the cold of early April, bundled up and muttering to each other the whole time about how it really couldn’t be THAT bad.

THAT bad depended on your viewpoint. The ground, it seemed, was going to be useless for a hospital. There was no way that anyone would ever let them put new construction, however nice, on top of this.

On the other hand, the VanStatlers owned the land, and if this was genuine, they could make a fortune off of people wanting to see and study this… and put the money into another plot of land and a better hospital somewhere else.

Sticking up in the half-dug hold, you see, like candles in a cake, were the tops of what looked like Roman buildings, buried beneath a thousand years of dirt.

Author’s note: Cayuga Lake is one of the Finger Lakes, in central New York State.

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Planning Board Woes, a story of Dragons Next Door for the Giraffe Call

For [personal profile] kay_brooke‘s prompt

Dragons Next Door has a landing page here on DW and here on LJ

I do enjoy my consulting work, and not just because it gets me out of the house once in a while. Generally, I get to help smooth the interactions between humans and other races, and I almost always get a good story out of it in the process.

Like the situation just last week. I got a call from the City Planning and Zoning board, asking me to come help with a building that a non-human consortium had purchased. It seemed that they weren’t keeping the streetfront up to code.

Because some of the races have strange opinions about aesthetics, it’s generally a good idea to bring in a translator. The City has run into problems before – things like the ogres who used to live next door to us, for example. So now they call me in at the first sign of trouble.

This one, I knew what was going on before I even read the paperwork. There are tell-tale signs that most humans don’t think to look for, and, really, how many humans really study the walls at ankle level that closely, anyway?

The consortium is a business partnership started way back in the ways of the founding of Smokey Knoll to give non-humans a human-looking face for their business interests and, sometimes, to allow them to buy through a front when prejudice rears its ugly head. Their purchases, often through fronts and shell companies, ranged all over the city, suburbs, and surrounding farmland, and were a bureaucratic nightmare to track down, as they’d intended. This time, however, they’d been rather direct.

They’d purchased a parking garage in a part of town that had seen better days, and had then, to common view, let it simply sit there and fester. Since the City offered very generous tax breaks to those who bought land in these neighborhoods, expecting that they would beautify and prettify the area, the Planning Board was understandably a little vexed.

As I said, however, I knew what was going on the moment I stepped onto the property. The bottom foot of the wall was very nicely painted, you see, and someone had installed tiny doors, including a tiny parking gate, into most of the larger doors. They had also, because all the races at some point have to deal with one another, left the large car entryway and the human door to the office intact – so I knocked.

I was unsurprised to not see the person who answered the door, or rather, to see her only when I crouched down. The place had all the classic signs of Tiny habitation.

The Mayor, whose secretary had answered the door, was happy enough to talk to me, once I explained who I was, and, what’s more, she gave me a tour. It was amazing, what they were doing with the place – an entire city within a city was going up on the top floor of the garage, complete with small skyscrapers and lush little parks. They had left a few human-sized walkways, and were in the process of refurbishing the middle layers to allow them to communicate with the larger races.

“This way,” the Mayor of Tiny-ville told me, “we can have sunshine without being overshadowed by the Big People. We’ve lived in the walls for so long, and it’s beginning to be unhealthy for us as a people. We have our own roads, our own police… what could a Biggie policeman do for us, anyway? Or to us?”

There was a lot someone fifty times larger than one could do to them, but that wouldn’t be polite. I praised their growing city – it really was beautiful – stepped carefully into their largest park – there’s nothing to make you feel gangley and clumsy like a Tiny park – and admired their bonsai maples – and then, once I had done the proper things, sat down to talk to the Mayor about hiring a painter.

In the end, it took doing something you only ever due to a small or tiny person with their permission – holding her up at my eye level – to explain the problem, but once I had, she agreed to hire some day labor to paint the place.

And, in addition to my fee, I had the delicious privilege of having been the first Middle Races person to have seen the first Tiny city in over a thousand years.

This entry was originally posted at You can comment here or there.

Giraffe Call Early Wednesday Update

The Giraffe Call is Still Open (and on LJ)! It will stay open until this Friday evening, or until I’ve written one prompt to ever prompter, whichever comes first.

Monday morning we reached the $201 goal – our furnace bill is paid for! (also, there will be another single-setting Call near the end of the month) At $211, we are just $29 from reaching the next incentive level, where I will hold a chat session with characters!

Claim your words! If you have donated to this call, or to any call, you can ask for $x100 words continuation on any story posted here!

Back to writing!

Linkback Incentive Story (and ON LJ)
Summary so far:
First Steps (LJ) The city remembers
The Dark Places, the Numbered Streets (LJ) – Ance seeks a real adventure. And finds it.
Recovering the City (LJ)
The Tuesday Map (LJ) Life in the BAELZ.
Souvenir (LJ) A little something from every city
Birth of a City (LJ) It started with asteroid miners…
The Cracks
Through the Cracks (LJ)
“China is Here” (LJ)

Unicorn Chase (LJ)

Origins of Smokey Knoll (LJ)

Underneath (LJ) [Josie[

Shadow Rebellion
Evoloution (LJ)

Donate below

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