Archive | April 18, 2017

Too tired for the bells and whistles – more Mélanie/Mdom-not-asshole

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“That… well, that’s rather ominous,” Mélanie admitted. “Does that mean if I’m irritable at you, I’m going to be, say, an obnoxious treasure? Or some sort of treasure kept in a glass box?”

Being called a treasure was rather pleasant, she had to admit, if she ignored the sense of worry from the ominous part of it.

“It’s more that, if you find me too irritating, you’ll be more of an independent agent who happens to be a treasure, where if you actually find me pleasant to be around – which I suppose is possible; it’s happened once or twice before, and the bond thing might help with that a bit – you’ll be my partner.”

“In crime?”

“Well, that too, I’m sure. I do a bit of that. Crime. I mean, if we can call it crime.” He gave her a very charming smile. “After all, it’s not as if there are that many laws anymore… right?”

“Well, you’re the boss.” She was smiling back at him again, how did he do that? And what’s more, she’d missed ten minutes of scenery while she ws smiling at him. She looked around, trying to figure out where they were.

The road was overgrown with weeds; to either side of the road was almost entirely choked with greenery, and through the trees she could see one white shingle of what had, at some point, presumably been a house. She had never been through here before – wait. Once, back just after everything went to shit. She peered at the house; with effort, she could make out the picket fence with the elaborate designs carved into the pickets. “I wanted that house so badly,” she whispered. “It looked like a fairy tale.”

“I guess a lot of our fairy tales died in the End Wars.” he patted her shoulder, sounding, for a moment, far less flippant. Then the moment was gone, and his voice lifted up. “On the bright side, we can make our own tales.”

“What, like ‘the cautionary tale of how not to end up in a slaver’s cage?’”

“Well, that’s a good one. To be a proper fairy tale, you’d either have had to upset several grannies at crossroads, or been under a curse, or, let’s see, it’s your origin story and your handsome prince is going to rescue you.”

“Or I’m going to rescue my handsome prince, but he doesn’t know it yet,” she countered.

“Ah, a modern woman.” He grinned widely at her. Mélanie tried to ignore the surge of warmth. It wouldn’t last. It never lasted. “Wonderful. I’m absolutely certain I’m going to need some rescuing along the way. So. Your fairy tale. How did it begin? ‘Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess…’”

“-Swineherd,” Mélanie countered. “I mean, also dairy maid. Mostly dairy maid.” She ducked her head. Who’d have thought the monsters would come that far out of the cities? “Until she happened upon a hungry dragon who was eating her herds.”

“Oh, it’s one of those stories. A beautiful dairy maid who tried to defend her herd against the dragons. but-”

Mélanie bit her lip. “But the dragon was too big for her, the end.”

“…aww.” he patted her leg gently. “I’m sorry. Sometimes the stories we make up are better than the ones rooted in truth. So you’re going to rescue me, are you?”

Mélanie rallied and gave him a weak smile. “I think that’s the way the story’s supposed to – where are you going?” She reached for the edge of the cart, even though she knew, knew, that running away was futile when one was Kept.

“Oh? This place is my home. Don’t mind the ghouls and goblins; there’s just there for ambiance.”

“You do not… no. Oh, no, you don’t.” She jumped over the edge of the cart before it could drive through the gate made of spider webs and giant spidery legs of steel, skulls and bones out of no monster that should be known to mankind. “No, this- I know this place.” She was backing away from the cart back down the road even as he stopped the cart and hopped out. “Everyone knows this place. No, you might be mad, but you are still not dragging me in there.”

“Princess dairy maid… Mélanie….” He walked towards her, hands out, his smile gone. “It’s safe for you and me, I assure you.”

“People die when they go in there! People come back empty!”

As stupid as it was, she took off running.

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Red Thorns – doomsday/cloverleaf

In Cloverleaf, they don’t kill their attackers if they can avoid it; they make future assets out of them. Here’s a flash of that.

“Look, it’s not like Cloverleaf actually kills anyone.” Hecherak had coaxed. “They’re weaklings. We’ll be in, out, steal a few sheep, maybe some… ha, cattle, and then we’ll be back. Good practice for a real raid, no trouble, and we won’t really be risking anything.”

At the moment, Tekliek was having trouble discerning the fine points of difference between death and his current situation: that was, impaled with three hawthorn stakes that had been sent into him with surgical precision, missing anything he actually needed to survive. Death hurt less, he was pretty sure.

Death might involve a beautiful redheaded halfbreed straddling him.

“Here’s the situation,” she began, and Tekliek passed out.

When he came to, his hands were chained above his head, his feet were chained to something, and he was in the sun. He was no longer pierced through with anything, but from the burning, he could tell he was cuffed with hawthorn.

The half-breed woman was there again. “Here’s the deal,” she began again. “You are going to swear to not attack Cloverleaf for five years or anyplace flying the cloverleaf circles for three years, to not enter Cloverleaf during that time without the freely-given signed permission of the gate guards, and to leave Cloverleaf trade caravans alone for ten years. Then I’m going to mark you with my thorn, and what that means is that the next time I see you, you will do one favor for me. It won’t kill you, your children, or any Students you might have and it will not bring harm to any children still in your care or students the same. Understood?”

Tekliek nodded slowly. “Under-ah!” She had pressed her fingers into his skin, just under his collarbone on his right side. When he looked down, there was a thorn marked in red ochre.

“Good. Someone will be along to take your oath in a moment.” She moved down the line, repeating her speech. To one side of Tekliek was Poesl, from their clan; to the other side was his friend Fijsk. Past Fijsk was Hecherak, and the red-headed halfbreed was straddling her now, ready to mark her.

“Oh, not your first time, is it? Third. And I see you still owe me for the last time.”

Tekliek shared a look with Fijsk. They looked over at Poesl, shook their heads, and looked back at each other.

With their new tattoos burning on their shoulders and their new oaths fitting like cages, they waited patiently at the gates of Cloverleaf for the guards to acknowledge them. There was never going to be a better time or a better reason to slip Hecherak’s leash.

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A Month of Sundays – Tootfiction/Thimbleful Thursday

She woke on Sundays.

The world was small, quiet; the landing site nearly self-sustaining, but when she’d slept a month she’d woken to find the smallest robot bumping into walls, so now she woke on Sundays.

Her calendar marked thirty-one Sundays. She woke, X’d the date, took notes, transmitted data, checked the fields.

The robots did most of that. Still, she had to do something.

The calendar had 12 months of Sundays. On “Christmas” she made eggnog. For “New Year’s”, she cried at old songs.

On Leap day, they finally reached her.

Written to Jul 30th’s Thimbleful Thursday prompt as an experiment in tootfiction – 500-character-or-less fic for Mastodon

Actually, in this case, this version is slightly longer to fit in the Thimbleful requirements. The Tootfiction version here – was only 80 words.

… and now that this text may be longer than the story…

Oh yeah! Inspired by the Wired comic for Interstellar, which I liked better than the movie.

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