Archive | June 2016

Swords into Paintbrushes – a story for my Summer Giraffe Call


Written to siliconshaman‘ prompt here to my Summer Giraffe Call.

My apologies for mangling any and all military terminology!

“Sir..” Uther Lafenne’s aide-de-camp stepped into the general’s tent with a worried frown creasing his forehead and twisting his lips.

Lafenne sighed. The new aide had only been here a week. He’d hoped this one wouldn’t spook off so quickly.
“One of the gunners?” he guessed. “Probably west flank position, so… Yorner.”

The aide’s eyes were wide. “Yessir. Gunner Yorner put down his gun and… sir, he refused to shoot. He started, um, drawing in the dust on the ground, sir. And that’s all.”

Lafenne’s next sigh was louder. “I was hoping he’d last until his replacement shipped in. WRite him out, honorable discharge, hazardous duty pay. Give him a berth in Bunk Lot R with the rest of ‘em, and put… mmmm… Vasquez in his place.”

“Sir?” The question was clear on the Aide’s face: Have you gone batshit crazy, sir? The aide was too new to ask it, though. Maybe he’d last long enough to learn how.

Lafenne explained anyway. “Female soldiers are hit by it less commonly and less quickly. We’ve lost 70 soldiers since we made landfall, and it’s escalating, the longer we’re here.”

“Lost? You mean mutiny?”

“Ha. Kid, mutiny required volition. These soldiers just lose the will and skill to fight. Gone, kaput, stipped out of ‘em, and as far as we can tell, it don’t come back. Artists, every one of ‘em, and nothing we can do about it. Muster Yorner out, kid, and pray Vasquez can last.”


Vasquez: here (warning, TV Tropes)

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1135796.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

(no subject)

Hey, all, it’s time to pick the July Patreon Theme!

Each month, y’all pick a theme, and from there I write several stories posted to my Patreon (One is always free-for-everyone).

Want to check out my Patreon? Look here.
For just $1, you can read all the Patreon stories; for $5/month, you can prompt in the prompt calls! (for $7/month you get a private story!)

Don’t have Dreamwidth account? Please feel free to vote in the comments.

For setting information, check out here.

This poll will close on 7/2/2016 at 7:02 p.m. Eastern time (or so).

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1135544.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

This sort of thing…

http://myhandboundbooks.blogspot.com/2013_01_01_archive.html

Is what Evangaline and Beryl, et al, are having to do with many of the oldest Aunt Diaries.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1135257.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

What was that? – A story for my Summer Giraffe Call


Written to rix_scaedu‘s prompt(s) here to my Summer Giraffe Call.

“What was that? Up there in the bushes?”

“Damn it, Shane, get out of my line of fire!” Donna looked up as Shane darted up into the brush, crossing in front of her not once but twice. “You’d think you’d never had any training at all, the way you’ve been bouncing everywhere this morning!”

“Sorry, chief, it’s just…” Shane ducked down behind a thorny bush, “there’s all sorts of…”

“Get down!” she shouted, as he stuck his head up again. For once, he obeyed, and Donna took down the monster stalking him with one bullet. “Damnit, this isn’t a walk in the park, you know. Stay down. Where there’s one… there.” She took out a second one, firing twice. “Get back here, and be careful.”

Shane headed back to Donna’s position, hunching forward to keep a low profile. “Sorry. It’s just…” He tumbled into the low gully where Donna was stationed. “This had to be a nesting zone, before the war.” He opened the front of his jacket. “The other ones, they’ve all been left alone too long, or they were just eggs. But this one…”

The head was similar to the things they’d been fighting since the first rain of spring. But it was tiny, smaller than a human baby, and its eyes were wide and nearly cute. Donna sighed.

“Shane…”

“Well, I can’t very well put it back.” He buttoned his jacket up and pulled out the gun. “Besides. Maybe we can teach the young ones not to kill us.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1135031.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Buffy: the Invitation (an Addergoole Crossover), Part VII

Part I: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1096503.html
Part II: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1100922.html
Part III: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1104619.html#cutid1
Part IV: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1108537.html
Part V: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1112216.html
Part VI: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1124762.html

Help! I’d like clever individual titles for these chapters as well – now taking suggestions for all 7!

“It’s some big, nasty, anti… anti-us ward?” Willow frowned both with effort and confusion.

“Very good, Willow.” Giles spoke through gritted teeth. “I did tell them we were coming…oh, bollocks.” He fell silent, gripping the wheel.

Xander’s fists were clenched. “Maybe they don’t want us?” he managed, although he was looking a bit nauseous. “Maybe this was all a big mistake and we should… what?” Everyone in the car had turned to look at him.

“Interesting,” Giles managed. “You are feeling…”

“Like a giant force-field is trying to push my out the back of the car? Yeah. I mean, I’ve felt worse…”

“I believe we’ve all ‘felt worse’,” Giles murmured. “And yet still…”

“No still, no nothing, man. Why are you going faster? Why are you not turning around?”

“I’m irked,” Giles snapped, “and I want them to be quite aware of this.”

“Well, um, Giles old buddy,” Xander gulped, “I get that, and everyone in the car is very aware that you’re, uh, irked, but you’re driving headlong into certain danger and that’s normally my job. So, um, maybe slow down just a little bit?”

And just like that, Giles let off the gas as the sense of danger and doom lifted from them. He brought the car down to a sedate pace and turned in his seat to look at Xander.

Xander swallowed. “What?”

“Tell me, Xander,” Giles’ voice was level and terrifyingly calm, “were you that frightened of my driving…?”

“What? No. No! It was just — it felt like the world was ganging up on us. You know, Apocalypse season?”

“I do wish you wouldn’t say that.” Giles sighed. “Well, that is quite interesting. It may be a very good thing indeed that you came along.”

“Well, duh, I mean, I provide much needed humor. But why… Why in specific?”

“Giles, I want to know, too.” Willow leaned forward. “I mean, we were all affected by the wards. Why is it interesting that Xander was?”

“Well, you and BUffy were invited. And I, uh… oh, dear.” Giles sighed. “I was hoping to put this off, but I suppose it can’t be helped. From what I can determine, Addergoole is an academy for a specific subset of very, mm, special students, which is why Willow and Buffy were invited.”

Xander swallowed. “Will and Buff are special, yep, we already knew that. Will’s got these magical witch powers and Buffy’s the Chosen One. Special.”

“Yes, well. There is special, and then there are, um. Other kinds of special.”

“Giles, just spit it out,” Buffy complained. “Is it ‘cause I’m dumb?”

“No way, Buffs, you’re way smarter than me, and I got in…” Xander put both hands over his mouth. “Just pretend I didn’t say that, okay?”

Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1139412.html

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1134781.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

The Sun Comes Up


Written to [personal profile] alatefeline‘s prompt here to my Summer Giraffe Call.

The world had been very black and white for a very long time… mostly grey, if the truth was to be told. 973-25-025 was very good at engineering. She designed very good buildings, working fifty or 60 hour weeks, and then she came home and exercised for an hour before eating a sensible dinner and going to sleep.

She knew most of her co-workers, her former classmates, her neighbors in her building, lived similar lives. They had skill, and they exerted it. They had bodies, so they fed them and kept them working. THey needed sleep, so they slept.

Her parents had, like most other people’s parents, not bothered with a name for her, and nothing struck her as interesting, so she was 973-25-025. The engineer she worked most commonly with was 753-29-29. He was very good at his job, and together they made very efficient buildings. Sometimes they worked with Allarannie, who had chosen a name a year ago. Her designs were very fanciful, and she would complain about how little fun 9er and sevens — as she called them — were, but her work was good enough, and she did not complain when they made her designs more efficient.

973’s salary was more than she needed, so she put much of it in savings. If she took a day off, she ran in the park instead of on the treadmill, because Vitamin D was healthy for you in moderation. She went to the art museum quarterly to study other designs in buildings, and read at the library once a week. It was a good life. She was not happy, but she had not ever been anything but efficient and skilled.

She worked fifty-five hours, finishing a building that would house one thousand people. The population was declining, she had read in a news feed. Still, people commissioned new buildings, bigger and bigger buildings.

She drank a nutritionally balanced shake for dinner, and then went for a run. The sun was high in the sky still, and she wanted to feel sun on her face. She thought she might be coming down with a cold; she had been moving slower and working with less than her full efficiency lately.

Her jogging took her around a blind corner to a spot by the reservoir where the sun came in through the trees. There, leaning against a treetrunk with his notebook balanced on his knees, a man was painting with watercolors.

Niner paused. She thought he might be a landscape artist or an engineer from a rival firm, sketching the terrain. Maybe he was a water-safety engineer, studying the possible contamination sources.

She had a perfect view over her shoulder as she turned. He was painting a dragon made of leaves, the colors perfect, the image nearly leaping off the page.

She skidded to a halt and fell to her knees, still staring at the painting. It was… it was… it was beautiful. “Teach me,” she gasped. “I’m… my name is… call me Nina.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1134505.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Insta-Cure – a story for my Summer Giraffe Call


Written to [twitter.com profile] fullaquirkes‘ prompt here to my Summer Giraffe Call.

“I think I’ve got it.” Aspen hurried into the common room, three books under her arm and a basket full of miscellany in her other hand. “I figured it out. Now all we have to do is… try it.”

Betsy looked up. “Is this like the part where we ‘tried’ being a cat for half an hour?”

“I apologized for that.” Aspen wrinkled her nose. “I apologized, I made cookies, I even kowtowed. I had to look up kowtowing, but I did it.”

“Cut her a break, Bets.” Topher didn’t look up from his video game. “I mean…” somehow he still seemed able to see the glare Betsy shot in his direction. “If you want to? I mean, I spent that half an hour as a golden lab, remember?”

“A very drooly golden lab.” BEtsy made a face. “All right… sorry, Asp-lady. What do you have for us?”

“Well, first I have clearing out the fireplace. And then I have sitting around it in a half-circle, because we can’t exactly circle the whole thing. And then…”

“Asp. What does it do?

“Oh!” Aspen grinned widely. “It takes out the part of our personality we like least. Like, for instance, the way that I go on and on and on and…”

“Asp.”

“…or your self-doubt, or, um. The way Topher doesn’t like anything about himself.”

“The thing is, I mean, I’m with you about Topher,” Betsy said slowly, “but I mean, sometimes the self-doubt keeps me alive…”

“…and sometimes it nearly gets you killed!”

“…and sometimes when you don’t stop talking, we learn important things that we wouldn’t have figured out otherwise. I mean, like the Lumbago Demon.”

“Lon Biago, because lon means of, from, or descending from…

“Exactly. But Toph…”

“Right. Toph is broken boy, so he gets to be experiment boy.” Topher flopped down in front of the fireplace. “What’re we burning, Aspen-lady?”

Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1142558.html

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1134200.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

The Sink Is In – Homeownership at its finest

(I shall try to get a photo, I promise)

We have a sink and faucet!

(New ones, that is, and finally installed.)

This project, like all home improvement projects, expanded and expanded and expanded – but it’s done. Well, at least for the moment.

So, problem one: Our walls are nearly-solid wood, not studs. They’re 2″x~15″, 16″-on-center.

That means the sink plumbing does down, not into the wall and then down.

That means our solid-bottom pedestal doesn’t fit, ’cause the solid bottom would go right over the encased-in-cement drain!

So, fix one: we bought two ~4″x4x”x24″ pieces of very pretty maple, sanded, stained, and polyurethaned them. Instant (ha) stand-out.

Then we got food poisoning.

Then the P-trap didn’t have a down, because plumbing goes into the wall.

Then the hot water didn’t work.

Fixed!

It took – well, don’t ask, but it took 2 weeks of working on it regularly, but now we have a beautiful functioning sink.

Next step: toilet. Wish us luck!

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1133921.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

Marked – a story of Fae Apoc for my Summer Giraffe Call

Written to [personal profile] wyste‘s prompt here to my Summer Giraffe Call.

Content warning: Slavery, suggested violence against said slave. Fire is involved.

The fire was getting very hot. Reis struggled futilely against the chains binding him. He could hear in his head, absurdly, the way she’d sounded when she’d first bought him:

”So. Fire, Water, Plants. And Earth. What about you?”

He hadn’t answered. He’d been working at the ropes, and it hadn’t been an order. She didn’t give a lot of orders, he’d noticed. Even after he’d refused to answer her. Even after he’d run away. Even after he’d run away four times.

Five, now, and he’d gotten further this time than he had before. This time, she’d actually looked annoyed when she caught up to him. And this time, she’d made camp right there, right in the middle of a ruined city, rather than dragging him home again.

“There.” She sat down in front of him and showed him her handiwork: a piece of twisted metal on the end of a stick. “Do you read Old Tongue?”

Not answering her had become a test. Now Reis was wondering if that had been a bad idea. Still, it was too late now to close the barn door. He didn’t reply, not even to shake his head.

“This part is my Name. The Long Run. This part means ‘property of’. I figure…” She stroked his bare neck slowly. He’d gotten really good at picking locks on collars. “…this one will be a little harder to take off.”

Reis eyed the piece of metal. It was kind of pretty… if you didn’t put one and one together and get ow. He swallowed and thought about begging.

She grabbed his hair and pressed his forehead to the ground. Oh, gods no, not his neck, not… He started keening. He couldn’t help it.

“If you have any skill with Body, now would be the time to shut off your pain receptors for a couple minutes. And if you don’t… I’d suggest holding as perfectly still as possible.”

Reis thought fast, swallowed, and pushed up against her hand enough that his mouth was out of the dirt. “Could… could you make that an order?”

As the first thing he’d spoken to another person in over a decade, he figured it made a pretty good surrender.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1133740.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

What are we Sciencing For, then?

Written to book_worm5‘s prompt here to my Summer Giraffe Call.

The Landing Page for my Science! setting is here

“Well.” Cara frowned out the window. “This is interesting.” The city closest to their fortress-slash-research lab was over a third rubble. The shock waves from the bombs could be felt all the way to the tower, which had been built on a remote island to minimize interruptions from the curious or outraged. “I’d say it’s unexpected, but according to our charter…”

“Mmm.” Alex frowned. “I always thought our charter was a bunch of carefully-worded bullshit.” He was holding a hip flask; he took a long drink from it before offering it to Cara.

She looked at the flask, looked at her partner in crime, and frowned. “Well, and what it it was? What have we been doing here all these years?”

“…Laughing at the new guy?”

“In between laughing at the new guy. The part we were actually paid for.”

“I’m pretty sure Liam paid us for the laughing…” Alex muttered, but Cara was already walking away. “Cara? Cara… oh, no. Not…”

“Look, it’s an alien invasion. The saucer type suggests it’s the same type of thing that our droids caught ten years ago. So we can make some very basic guesses about them.” The machine she was hauling onto a cart was twice as long as she was tall, half tubes and half rivets. It made Alex’s blood run cold which, considering what it could do, might be a wee bit ironic. “Are you going to help me get this up to the roof turret, or are we going to roll over and welcome our new alien overlords?”

“Cara… the last time you fired it, it melted an intern’s shoes to the floor.”

“So we’ll clear the interns off the top two floors. Get… what’s his name, the new guy?”

“Jorgensen?”

“Him. Get Jorgensen to do that. Me? I’m going to fire some aliens.”

“Fire on. Fire on some aliens.”

“Fire on, set fire to, fire, terminate, downsize… It’s all dust and ashes in the end.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1133449.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable