Archive | April 15, 2012

The Goddess’ Rocky Path, Tir na Cali, Giraffe Call (@shutsumon, @kissofjudas, @clarekrmiller)

For [personal profile] clare_dragonfly‘s Prompt.

Tir na Cali has a landing page here.

Thanks for @KissofJudas for picking the season and @shutsumon for the names, and [personal profile] kc_obrien for the title.

“So what do I do?” He couldn’t help but betray his common roots, she knew, or his American upbringing, but here and now, it rankled.

“Stand there, and hold my hand.” Mairi gestured shortly at the space next to her. It was clear Sean was nervous; she was nervous, too, but the big, bluff angry slave getting twitching and shoulders-hunched was so foreign as to be both amusing and unnerving. When she’d first bought him, it had just been fun.

“This isn’t anything like the summer festival.” He glanced at the six-month swell of Mairi’s belly. “Or the spring festival.”

“Of course not.” The spring festal had freaked him out quite a bit, but she’d owned him for all of three weeks then. “The spring festival is for planting, the summer for celebrating life.”

“And this one?” His hand enveloped hers tightly.

“Blessing the harvests, of course. All the harvests. When the priestess comes, Sean, try not to offend her. This is important.”

“I’m not sure I like my daughter being a harvest.” He scooted closer to her protectively. “Or anyone else touching you, or her.”

“Your possessiveness is more endearing in the bedroom than it is in public.” She kept her voice as low as his was, and her tone mild, but it was enough to make him, just for a moment, glower.

“Yes, ma’am, sorry, ma’am.” Sean was the only man she knew who could make a whisper sound that angry.

“Sean.” She, on the other hand, was getting very good at pleading while keeping on a public smile. If it hadn’t been for the Spring tradition… “This is important.”

“A fully belly at Autumn Equinox is a blessing indeed.” The priestess was suddenly in front of them. “And such a strong father, such a noble mother.” Polite way of putting it, Mairi thought. Only Sean’s name and his black curly hair were Irish, the rest of him common as dirt. She set her ancient hands over Mairi’s belly.

“Bless our child, Lady of the Lady?” A baby with a common father would need all the help she could get. “See her route clear for us?”

“Aaah.” It was a moan, an exultation, a song in and of itself, the old woman’s eyes going milky and white with the sight. “There are other powers than the Power. Other strengths than the Strength. Other blessings than Her hand. This child will hold power, and strength. This child will be blessed. But her road will never be clear.” Her eyes were royal grey again as she looked up at Mairi. And at Sean. “You carved this route, but the Goddess gave set your feet to walking it. Remember that, both of you.” She bent down to kiss the curve of Mairi’s stomach. “You will need that, and Her, where you’re going.”

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

Sol Invictus, a story for the April Giraffe Call (@blueVulpine)

For sauergeek‘s Prompt.

Thanks to @blueVulpine for picking the language.

The weather was chilly when the team landed on Anderman Three, the wind blowing and the snow falling all around them. “They’re only three-quarters of the way to their coldest point,” Esteba pointed out, studying her readings. “It’s only going to get colder. How have they survived?”

The Kendar Corporation had, seven generations ago, seeded colonies as far out as their ships could reach and then, as such corps seemed to do, gone bankrupt in a spectacularly messy fashion. Only now were the survivor companies getting back on their feet enough to track down the colonies.

This one looked big – four small cities and several settlements, all gathered across a series of valleys between a large lake and a wide river. There was more land further south that wasn’t, according to their radars, yet getting snow, but the colonists seem to have stuck to their cold valley complex.

“It looks like we arrived just in time for a party.” Nord gestured at the camera views, which showed people congregating in large groups, and the radio feed, which was babbling away cheerfully in a language none of the science team could follow. “Is Mains working on that?”

“Mains, Tanner, and Jordy are going nuts on it. Jordy thinks he has a basis of translation; from the sound of it, they’re celebrating Sol Invictus. He says it’s past-ancient sun-ceremony that turned into the Christmas rite.” Clemantis worked as the liaison between science and cultural teams, mostly as a translator. She’d condensed seven paragraphs of Jordy-speak into that Nord-digestible tidbit, for example.

“Never do understand how these colonies do that.” Nor did he need to; he was the company representative for marketable resources. “All right, is Jordy ready to send a team down?”

“Yes. He says the second city from the East is the best bet, see that spiraled tower near the river?”

“Not the West one? It’s biggest.”

“But least elaborate. The spiral is either a temple, a capital, or a really happy corporation.”

“That’s where we’ll talk to them about planetary resources, as well. This is the only populated area on the planet?”

“The only big enough to show up on our instruments. Doesn’t mean it’s the only.” Clemantis was wasting her breath. She pointed, instead, at the screen. “There, Geo team says land there.”

“There it is.”

The landing team set down just shy of 12 hours later, in a rare clear spot, Nord in his best uniform, the rest looking suitably behind-the-scenes behind the large man. Jordy, especially, stayed blocked from sight from the colony by Nord, Clemantis, and the far-more-appealling-to-the-eye Mains. There was something he was missing, something he hadn’t gotten yet. Something important.

Nord began his speech in clear, careful Nouveau-Français, translated by Mains and Tanner into first the languages of the original colonists (Third-English and Spanish) and then into their best approximation of their current creole. Jordy fiddled with the translation matrix and scribbled in notes from overheard commentary.

It was just as Nord was reaching his great finale, about lost colonies and rescue and mutually-beneficial trade, that it came to Jordy. “Wait, wait.” It was a hurried, panicked whisper in Nouveau-Français. “Wait, Nord. They’re not celebrating their sun god. They’re atheistic as a culture. Sol is their emperor. They think we’re here to invade them!”

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

A Toque for Hill Primus

For kelkyag‘s Prompt.

It began when Hill Decima Insero was pregnant.

Pregnancy was neither a forbidden nor a mandatory activity (It created more workers, but took productivity from the pregnant worker), and thus the small sub-category of activities labeled “nesting” were also neither forbidden nor mandatory.

Allen Prima Super Insero had learned to knit long ago, from a grandmother who had learned even longer ago. Crafts were another neither forbidden nor mandatory activity, as long as the supplies came out of your allowance (they filled the free-time recreation slot, assisted in morale, but did not directly benefit productivity), so, on their sustenance pauses, over the course of weeks, Allen Prima took Hill Decima aside and showed her how to knit, starting with a tiny yellow beanie.

Decima took to the activity, finding it a pleasant change from planting tiny seeds, and was soon accessing the old hard-copy archives to learn more about the craft, accessing her supply allowance for yarn, and finding scraps from the planting fields to craft into needles. Hill Primus was wrapped in knitting from head to toe for the first years of his life, much intriguing the crèche workers.

When Phillips Sexta Insero Minor found she was pregnant a year later, Decima took it on herself to teach the younger woman how to knit, and passed on to her her first pair of knitting needles, which had belonged to Allen Prima’s grandmother. A year later, when Martinez Septus Insero Major learned that his partner was pregnant, they both taught him.

The fourth year, they lobbied the Bureau of Days to make Learn to Knit an official holiday for the Planting division. It was early in the season, when the time could be spared, they argued, and, despite its categorization, it taught hand-eye coordination and produced things which were one, usable, two, beautiful (That being a morale-booster), and three, could often use otherwise junked materials.

It wasn’t their well-lain-out arguments that won them their new holiday (Martinex Septimus’ partner worked in the Bureau of Food and knew how to write reports that would be read and noted), as much as it was that the accompanied the petition with four things: a new hat for Smith Prima Super Diem’s young child, a skein of the softest yarn, a pair of handmade needles, and Allen Prima, to teach them the skill.

On the first official celebration of Learn to Knit day, they had attendees from every department in the complex. To seal the deal, Allen Prima arranged their labor to make a blanket for Johnson Secondus, Super-Super, who ran the department which ran the entire arcology.

By the third year, Johnson Secondus draped in handknits, the holiday was arcology-wide. By the seventh year, it had spread to nearby arcs.

“Worldwide is only a matter of time,” Allen Prima murmured. “Seven, eight, nine… there.” She worked placidly around on her newest project, a toque for Caesar Prima Caesara.

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

First Wind

For [personal profile] avia‘s Prompt. This, ah, wanted to be long.

The bells and chimes did not wake Uyllulla or Onolliy; they’d been up all night. They knew what this day was. They could read the calendar and the sun as well as any adult.

They had borne three sons in Uyllulla’s first litter, only to lose one to a roc and the second to the fall. They had only their runt left, little Yilly, and today they had to accept that they might lose him.

“We can try again,” Onolliy whispered, rubbing his hand over Uyllulla’s pouch. “We can try again, my love, my rainfall.”

“We can,” she admitted. They looked over to Yilly’s bed-nook, to see him rubbing his eyes and blinking. “Wha… what’s all the noise?”

By his age, most kits knew about the First Wind. Most had been whispering in school, told by the older ones about their experience. They’d seen it coming, peeked out over their family’s ledge when the years before flew out. Yilly should have known. But Yilly was a lazy boy, a fat, sleepy kit who liked to read and preferred staying further in town, where the ledges weren’t so many and the wind didn’t really reach. Yilly had few friends, lazy, silly, kits like himself, low-level kits. The older ones didn’t bother with him. Why bother, Uyllulla had heard a few mutter, when they didn’t know she was near. He wouldn’t survive the First Wind.

“It’s the flying day, baby,” she told him. Her sashes felt heavy today; near her, her mate was moving just as slowly. “Your First Wind.”

“My…” His ears flattened and the skin around his eyes reddened. “I’m not old enough. I’m not ready!”

“You are.” Onolliy’s voice was flat and hard, rocky. “You are.”

Then there was no time for talking; the masked and wrapped Fliers burst through the door. Through the wild hoods, shaped like rocs and dragons and even stranger creatures, their voices echoed and trembled. Nobody would know who it was who had worn the mask; every flier without kits of the right age took part. Nobody would know, if their kit didn’t make it, who had pushed.

And they were pushing, grabbing Yilly by his wrists and shoulders, shoving him towards the edge. Their home, like all in their city, opened up broad and wide onto the canyon below. Yilly had never gotten within ten feet of the edge, not since his brother had fallen. He’d never gotten near any ledge since then.

He was screaming. Uyllulla was screaming, even though she knew this had to be. A creature with a mask like a snake-demon was pressing her against the wall, keeping her and Onolliy from her kit, as they dragged him to the edge.

“To live, you must fly,” they intoned. “To breathe, you must fly. To survive, you must take the first steps out. You must step into the air.”

“No, no, mother, father, nooooo,” he screamed. Uyllulla bit her fist to keep herself quiet.

“Let me watch,” she whispered to the snake, muttering around her fist. He nodded, but didn’t let them go until the others dragged Yilly into the void.

Their glides snapped open, and they carried him out, out into the air. Uyllulla and Onolliy lived high up in the city; there wouldn’t be any others to ruin Yilly’s flight. But it would be a long fall for him.

He struggled in their hands until he realized where he was, and then he grew still. Praying, maybe? He’d never been devout. It took too much work.

“Fly with the Wind,” Uyllulla whispered. “Catch the Wind, my son.”

The masked Fliers released him. He fell, fell, then snapped open his own glides, the long skin between arms and legs awkward. It slowed him, but he was spiraling, still going too fast, still falling towards the river.

“Watch,” Onolliy whispered. “Watch, my berry.” She watched.

She watched him fall, narrowly avoiding ruining a lower-level kit’s First Wind, narrowly avoiding being hit by another as they careened out of control. She watched him struggle, flapping his glides like a bird. She saw the river growing closer, with all its rocks. And then…

And then his bottom-level friends, with comfort and ease, grabbed his hands. Uyllulla couldn’t hear what they said, but the three of them shouted to him, and, guiding, pulling, half-carrying, they lifted him to the Wind.

She sagged against the wall, relieved, triste, happy, all at once. “He’s in their hands now.” He would live. He was no longer theirs to raise. And they could always try again.


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