Archive | April 2013

Giraffe Call Open: A-Z

Today’s Giraffe Call Theme is based off the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.

Over the next 2 weeks, I will write one fic to prompts for each letter of the English Alphabet – one prompt per person; a second prompt for donators.

If I receive enough prompts/donations to write a prompt for each letter of the alphabet, I will write two bonus stories to non-English (real or fictional) letter themes.

Leave as many prompts as you wish. Please leave your prompts in the form of:

A is for Apple
C – Cephalopod Creeps.
and so on.

I will list the letters here. As one becomes “full;” i.e., 4 or more prompts, I will cross it out.

If I get a large number of overlapping prompts, I may ask people to re-prompts with new letters.



Prompter Count: 23
Extra Prompt count: 1
Donator Count: 6
Total letters to be written: 36/26

Donations go towards summer renovations: still working on the foyer! I want to make a new bench, a storage area, and a slippers-for-guests arrangement. It’s an 8×4 space; budget is $300.

If I get two new prompters or one new donator, I will write a setting piece (setting chosen by poll) explaining something about one of my universes.

At $20 in donations, I’ll order pizza!

At $25 in donations, I’ll finally have enough for the hardwood boards, and find a hardwood store in Ithaca! – REACHED!

At $40 in donations, I will choose 1 non-donater at random to receive an additional microfic as well. – REACHED

At $50, anyone who donated $7.50 or more will have a copy of “Alder by Post” mailed to them if they wish. – REACHED

For every $50 donated, I will do a one-hour livewrite on Etherpad or googledocs during the next month.

At $65, I’ll write a third microfic to the prompts of everyone who donated. – REACHED

At $75, I’ll buy the accessories for the storage area. And post pictures!

At $80, I will write two extra 500-word continuations – chosen by prompters picked by random number generator.

Buy an Extension
500 words $5.00 USD
750 words $7.50 USD
1000 words $10.00 USD
1250 words $12.50 USD
1500 words $15.00 USD
1750 words $17.50 USD
2000 words $20.00 USD
100 words $1.00 USD

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First and Last Frost Dates

Getting impatient?

Three resources for last frost date by area:

(these read between May 2 and May 31 for last-frost for my approximate area).

here’s a map for the UK:
and another:

Something not entirely clear for Australia:

Of course, even with a chart, it helps to look at the weather on a day-to-day basis at the beginning and end of the season.

And I’ve planted some peas and put my first butternuts in the ground.

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X is for Xeno-everything, a story for the Giraffe Call

All of my X prompts were to people for whom I had already written all of their allotted prompts, so I mushed them all together; have something strange for free.

When the Introductory Team went to a new planet, they made sure to bring samples of their culture with them.

There were three reasons for this.

The first was the human habit of hospitality and guest-gifts; if you were going to drop in on someone unannounced, it was polite to bring a present of some sort.

The second was to test for xenophobia. A new culture’s response to common human artifacts would tell the Team a lot about the culture: did they fear the new? Did they step back from common, everyday objects?

The third reason was very related to the first and second, and was what the Introductory Team was all about, in the end.

When they landed on Cunnel Six, the Team brought three of their best xenolinguists, their xenobiologists, and their xenoempaths. They also brought their gift bag of common items – a xylophone, a box of xocolatl, knitting needles and yarn, bread, and so on – and their gift-giver.

Matthiew Ornan had done this now on seven planets. He bowed carefully to the first representative from the Xantusia people, and then, even more carefully, imitated their greeting as best as his human body could.

The Xantusia – an approximation of the words they used for themselves – looked to human eyes like large bipedal lizards; their greeting involved clasping their hand-like appendages together tightly and then turning their back on the person they were greeting. They made clicking sounds – the xenolinguist told Matthiew they were approval, and his own empathy agreed – when he did a similar gesture.

“We bring you gifts.” He paused while the xenolinguist translated. “Things from our home, as tokens of our good-will.”

He watched the Xantusia as it picked up the box of gifts, its claws tinkling over the xylophone. Early studies of their broadcasts had shown that the Xantusia had a similar instrument.

“Xinpahzian.” It tinked its claws against it. “Lii-eer.”

Matthiew needed no interpretation to recognize kin.

He bowed again, hiding a smile. If the Xantusia could be made to recognize them as kin, than the rest of his job would be so much easier.

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W is for Whisk(e)y

To [personal profile] thnidu‘s prompt.

“There’s a reason it’s called the water of life.”

David was drawing circles on the floor of his dorm room, linked circles around a central circle, and in the middle of it all, an open glass of whiskey. “Uisce beatha,” he continued. “Hey, Wayne, pass me that second bottle, would you?”

His roommate, who had been walking a careful circuit of the room, wanting only to get to his desk, his computer, his tequila, and his chat with his girlfriend, nevertheless passed over the second bottle. “More whiskey?”

“This one’s whisky.” He turned the label so it was visible, the missing E clearly absent, and poured out two shots, and then a fractional third shot. “No e.”

“No E. Okay, I’ll bite. Isn’t summoning demons supposed to be a weekend activity? Elizabeth got awfully pissed at you the last time you started mucking about with the forces of good and evil on a weekday.”

“No kidding. And Miranda hasn’t talked to me since that thing with the bog monster.” David poured out two more shots, drank one, and passed the other to Wayne. “Go talk to Steff. It’s fine, I’m not going to do anything stupid.”

“You’re sitting there in a chalk diagram drinking whisk-no-e.”

“Yes, but I’m not going to fuck around with the forces of good and evil tonight. No demons, no bog monsters.”

“Then what in the unknowable Names are you doing?”

David grinned up at him. “Math homework.”

“Math homework?” He poured himself another shot of whisky.

“Finding e.” He drank down another shot himself. “Like I said. Water of life. This stuff is going to be a life-saver.”

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Magic Mondays: The Aunt Family, and Uncles

@DaHob asked about the Aunt Family’s Uncles.

The Aunt Family, as it has been revealed so far, has magic of some sort (Witchery, “the spark”) residing in one unmarried, childless member of each generation. Through an unknown-so-far mechanic, when the family gets too large, it splits; thus there are several Aunts at any given time (Evangaline, Deborah, Becka).

But what about men? Beryl’s brother Stone has the spark, that much is already been determined. And there have been Aunts without the spark as well – Evangaline’s Aunt Asta, for one, was described as mostly a vessel, holding the title for a generation.

The answer is, more or less: the family as a whole has the genetic possibility for the spark. They aren’t the only ones in the world that have it (Their family is very old; they could have the only bloodline that has the spark after all, just spread out over the world over the last millenia), and the Aunt is not the only person in any given generation to hold it.

But their particular family holds that men have other things they need to focus on, and that the magic is in the sphere of women alone. What this means for men with the spark depends on the man, the branch of the family, and the era.

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I Have This School, a story of Cynara/Regine (Boom) (@inventrix)

This takes place some time (2 years or so) after The Year Cya Didn’t Keep Anyone.

She cleaned the dust of two years of hard labor off of herself before she went back to school; she re-dyed her hair the brilliant red it had been for most of her life and found clean, nice clothes. When she walked up to the wards and knocked, she didn’t look like the scruffy girl who had been pulling a city out of the earth by the force of her mind. She looked like a responsible adult.

She didn’t think it would help enough, but she thought that, considering the Administration, to not put on the facade would hurt too much.

She gained an audience with the Queen of Addergoole, Director Regine Avonmorea, by the simple expedient of asking. That was, Cynara had a feeling, the last easy part of this mission.

“Jae’Red Doomsday.” The Director nodded her head politely.

“Sa’Lady of the Lake.” Cya responded to the lack of inflection with an equally bland response.

“How can I help you today?” If Cya were to attempt to anthropomorphize, she would say the Director sounded tired.

“I came to offer you help.” Without further prelude – it was wasted on the Grigori Director – Cya laid out the carefully-chosen plans and diagrams, staff folios and curricula. “I’ve built a school.”

The Director almost looked surprised. A trick of the light, Cya assumed. She flipped through the pages, one at a time, either pretending to look through them or – more likely, considering that she had never showed any interest in pretense before – actually considering them. “This is a blueprint for something to be built?”

“This is the plan for something already built.” It was missing enough information, of course, to be no use in, say, an invasion, and suggested several things that were just not true, but it was a plan for the school.

“With suggestions for study plans and staff, I see.” She continued to flip the pages. “Heavily centered on your Crew.”

“As is Addergoole on yours.” She spoke levelly, calmly. Nothing explosive here. Nothing at all.

“I see you have a few spots left open.”

“If this project is to be part of the Addergoole system, then there will of course be room for other Addergoole graduates, or other teachers that you feel would be appropriate. Perhaps some of your core staff are looking for a little sunlight, and could be rotated out? I’m aware you have done that once or twice over the years.”

“You would be. Your grandsons are in school now?”

“One grandson, and a granddaughter, at the moment.” The threat was implicit, of course; Regine would never be so gauche as to spell it out.

“And this project of yours. You built it before making the offer?”

“I did.” She forbore any explanation or defense, although she had plenty of both.

“Very interesting.” The Director closed the notebook with a rather final-sounding thud. “You had in mind opening another branch, as with Addergoole East?”

“I did. Different students benefit from different learning environments.”

“They do. And your great-grandchildren…”

“Would have their school chosen by their mothers, of course, among the Addergoole options.”

“Of course. And, refresh me, how many of those mothers currently live on the Boom ranch?”

“Currently? Two.”

“Of course.” Regine brushed her hand over the book. “It’s a very good plan, Cynara, jae’Red Doomsday. But I’m afraid I am not interested with engaging in a partnership with Boom.”

Cya had not expected she would be, but she had allowed herself to hope. “May I ask why not?”

“Your crew has always been explosive. Revolutionary.”

“Explosive, I will grant. In our teens, we were very volatile.” We. It covered it well enough. “But revolutionary? There’s hardly anything left to revolt against.”

“A situation which I’m certain your crew could change, had they the desire.” It was a pat answer that didn’t actually answer anything. “No, jae’Doomsday, I do not think your Crew are the proper people for such an endeavor. I’m afraid you built your school in vain.”

“In vain?” Cya allowed herself a smile. “No, certainly not. There are fae who are not part of the Addergoole project, still. Less than there were, but they exist.” It was not a threat, not quite. Cynara was no more gauche (here and now) than her hostess.

“Your descendants are still promised to Addergoole.”

“Of course.” Cya smiled more broadly now. “All of the Addergoole-born descendants of Boom and their allies are promised to Addergoole, as it has always been.” She was un-threatened. She was un-offended. She had a lot of allies. And they all had children.

She watched the implication reach the Grigori’s computer that she used in place of a mind. All those grandchildren, all those great-grandchildren, raised by Boom.

Their kids had been impressive enough, en masse. Their grandkids…

“I wish you luck in your project, Cynara.”

“And I, you, in yours.”

She left before their threats could grow less civil.

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V for Vindicated

For @KissofJudas’ prompt. Fae Apoc, Addergoole Grad.
Via is a character in the Baram’s Elves sub-series; this takes place after she graduates and before she ends up at Baram’s.

Via left the body where it fell, cleaned the weapons with three cloths and a quick Working, and left those sitting on the body’s chest.

The man wasn’t dead, yet. He wouldn’t be dead, if someone got him to a hospital. And he was Faded, with enough strength to be held to an oath, so the chances were, in time, long enough time, he might heal. He might, however, wish he was dead.

“You’ve gotten a vindictive streak lately.”

She should have been surprised to see the man standing at the mouth of the alley, but she found that she wasn’t. “Could we take this conversation somewhere else?”

“Probably best.” If she hadn’t known better, Via would have thought the man sounded amused. “There’s a cafe down the road with the sort of sense of time that’s useful in cases like this. I know the owner.”

“That works.” He probably knew where she lived, but that didn’t mean she wanted to bring him there. “You took longer than I expected.”

“Your graduating class is more active than most.” He tilted his head down the road and, not wanting a fight, not here, Via followed.

The cafe was exactly the sort of place she’d expect him to pick, with deep booths and ambient noise that covered casual conversations. They sat across the table from each other, drinking beer and eating fries, both waiting for the other to speak.

“How many?” He broke first, or perhaps accepted the role of inquisitor.


“You have a reason?”

“Rapists. Monsters. Torturers and creeps.”

The man across the table looked, she thought, as if he was contemplating her list. “We didn’t educate you to be a vigilante.”

Viatrix raised her eyebrows. “You could have fooled me.”

At that, the man across the table laughed. “You’re doing a good job of it, Via. And not even a whisper of chance you’ll get caught. Well done.”

Vindicated. Viatrix smiled. “Thank you, Luke.”

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U is for Under the Weather Unexpectedly, a story for the Giraffe Call (@RealBriGang)

To @RealBriGang’s Prompt, with a side order of pretty much everyone eles’s U (Except probably the Uranium; I couldn’t work that one in. 😉

Uma wasn’t feeling well.

That much, everyone could tell. Her crowd of urchins gathered around her, bringing her little offerings – stories, food, drink, anything they could find in the ruins of the city, anything they could drag of carry or, in one case, force at broken-bottle-point into their little sanctuary.

They had thought she was immune. The olders had, one by one, gotten the Sickness and then had to leave. Some had come in with it, and been driven out just as quickly. Some had just gotten old, and, as they got old, gotten Sick.

But Uma was special. Uma was twice as old as any of them, at least, and, she had never gotten the Sickness. She was immune, she was precious, she was their leader.

She had brought the children in – some as infants, like Uli, slung by her shoulder in a baby-hammock, some old enough to remember that once, before the Sickness, they had known parents. She had brought them in one at a time, or in bunches. “We are your family now. You are my urchins.”

Oli was old enough to remember that there had been others, that, once, Uma had not been the oldest, and they had been Kelly’s Kids. And Kelly had said, before that they had been Tommy’s Tots.

The broken world yielded endless children, it seemed, endless children and endless Sickness striking the old, the grown-ups. The children watched after the younger children, because there was no-one else to do it anymore.

“Don’t get Sick, Uma.” They all whispered it; she was past hearing them anyway. “Please, Uma. Don’t do the thing.”

But it was too late. Her skin was already shifting, her ears stretching, her teeth growing.

Crying, the urchins drove the confused wolf-woman out of their sanctuary. Oli wielded the largest weapon, shouted the loudest. When they were done, when the wolf-woman who had been their leader was gone, Oli turned to the children. “You’re Oli’s Orphans now.”

And maybe Oli would not get Sick.

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The Strength, a continuation of the Aunt Family for the March Giraffe Call (@rix_Scaedu)

This is [personal profile] rix_scaedu‘s commissioned continuation of:
Intimately Involved (LJ) and
Precedent (LJ)

“Oh?” The other women turned as one towards Hessa. Hessa, in her own turn, had shaded towards a sickly pale green color.

Deborah found both of her hands going over her stomach protectively. “What is it, Hessa?”

“I think I found something out. I think I found another time it happened.” She smoothed the pages with both hands. “I think it happened to great-great-great-Aunt Pearl.”

“Great-great-great…” Deborah counted on her fingers. “That was the one who… vanished, isn’t it? Her diaries went missing with her.”

“I don’t think she vanished, Debs. I think someone vanished her. I think the Grandmothers vanished her.”

“The Grandmothers?” Deborah found herself looking back and forth between her cousin and sisters. “You mean her contemporaries?”

“Oh, relax, Debs. We’re not going to vanish you. We’re your friends, you know. This isn’t like the cousins over in Johnsonville.”

Deborah swallowed, hard, and found herself grabbing and clinging to the hand that Linda offered. “So you don’t mean Aunt Pearl’s sisters and cousins, anyway.” She looked up at Hessa, to find that both Hessa and Danielle had reached their hands out, too. She clasped them both with her free hand, and Linda put her free hand on top of that hand-pile.

“I think it was Pearl’s mother’s sisters, and their mothers and aunts. I think there’s something about the family that works badly if there’s a pregnant woman in the Aunt house, and I think they do everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“I think that nothing like that is going to happen to our Debs.” Danielle was firm. “We’re not going to let the grannies get in the way, and we are going to come up with a solution.”

Deborah found her sister’s confidence reassuring to hear, even if she didn’t share it. She might be the Aunt, but there was tremendous power held in the women of the family, especially the Grannies, as the younger generation called the older (but only when they weren’t listening). It did not have to be magic to be strong; the Grannies had the power of family behind them.

She wasn’t the only one not entirely reassured. “We still don’t know-” Linda began.

This time it was Danielle who found it. “I think I found something important.”

Linda, always the youngest, and thus used to being talked over, shut her mouth with a snap. They all turned to look at Danielle, who was holding up a hand-bound book, the covers looking suspiciously like home-tanned rawhide.

“Listen to this. ‘It is not that the power of the family’s Auntie rests in the womb, as some have speculated. Nor does it, as others had complained, rest in the mother’s milk.‘” She looked up at her sisters and cousin.

“Well.” Deborah didn’t want to get her hopes up. “That sounds like a good start?”

“Did anyone really think all the power sat in your belly?” Hessa was grumbling. Of course it was Hessa that grumbled.

“Clearly you haven’t heard the men of the family talk. Or, worse, some of the far-cousins who haven’t a spark of spark but still think that maybe they will be the next Auntie, or start their own line, because they have an empty womb.” Linda was getting grumbly as well. They needed refreshments.

Of course, they needed answers more.

“Keep reading, Danielle.” Deborah stood, noting as she did that she wouldn’t be able to hide her little problem much longer. Standing was beginning to get tricky, and the Grannies would definitely notice that.

“‘The power of the Aunties, indeed, of all our family, lies deeper still. After all, there have been men who have carried the power – not many, of course, and of course they cannot be trusted with it, but they do carry it, and they have no womb and no milk.‘”

Deborah set the tea kettle on the stove, and measured out the loose leaves into four cups that had been her great-great Aunt’s. “Interesting that they acknowledge the Uncles. The Grannies certainly don’t.”

“The Grannies don’t ever acknowledge anything that might mean change.” Linda, who had married a tall, handsome black doctor, might have been a little more aware of this than most of them.

“They’re supposed to be the anchor, like the cousins are supposed to be the sail.” Deborah had read that in another Auntie’s journal. “So that the boat of the family moves, but very slowly, and without tipping over.”

“Seems like that would just break the boat.” Hessa had her own opinions on matters. She always had.

“I think the assumption is that it’s just a really sturdy boat.” She pulled out bread and meats and cheese, and began throwing together a lunch tray. “Danielle?”

“‘The power of our family has always been twofold. First, in the family itself, root and stock, branch and bough. Second, in the thing that is sometimes called the Spark and sometimes referred to simply as the Legacy. The family has been carrying this spark as far back as any records I can find.‘” Danielle looked up. “Debs, what happened to the old records?”

“We hold on to them. When the family splits, like it did with Aunt Arvis, we make copies of some and just split up others. So, for instance, we have a hand-made copy of Aunt Fortune’s diaries, but we don’t have her Aunt’s diaries at all anymore.”

“It seems like we ought to digitalize it.” Linda frowned. “Or is that against the Auntie creed?”

Deborah clasped her hands over her belly. “I don’t believe I’m one to stand on tradition. Dani, is there more?”

Danielle frowned at the page. “‘The thing,‘” she read, “‘that one must always remember about this spark, the reason that, like cloistered monks and nuns, the holder of our power is always virgin, always female, always childless, is that it is only in our control because of concentration. The moment that concentration fails, we run the risk of doom.'”

“Oh.” Deborah curled around herself, unwilling, for the moment, to pretend to be strong. “Oh.”

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