Archives

The Visit

He could have had any man or woman in the whole nation — probably in several of the adjacent nations as well. He was a brilliant man,a dashing pirate, and his airship was one of the finest known to navy nor fleet. He was a folk hero the likes of which had not come since Dywin Talizen in the age of stories and myths.

And his airship had ducked in, dodging the royal navy ships and the cannons, to visit a political prisoner in a quiet exile in a mountainous corner. He had brought her a rose, the sort of gift that fit the stories, risking everything for a romantic gesture.

He couldn’t stay long; he couldn’t even risk a kiss, even if she would have accepted it. But he brought her a rose.

And he brought her a key.

Continue reading

Outta the Woods Yet?

The big cat had been chasing Pren for heart-rending minutes when she managed to skid into a cave she’d never seen before.  She shimmied through a hole that was barely big enough for her and scooted up into a little ledge area. The cat might wait for hours for her, so she made herself comfortably before she pulled out the flint and steel and lit her torch.

The walls of the cave glittered and shone the way that sometimes a small piece of rock would.  The whole area was smooth, rounded, like she had scooted up from the cave into something even less natural than her tree-house.

On the far side of the room was a lever.  Pren looked at the lever. At least, it was a stick poking out of the wall at an angle.  Her mother had shown her how to use things like that to set traps for animals, when she had been small.  When her mother had been around. It might dump her into a net or drop something on her, although both the floor and ceiling looked sturdy enough in the torchlight.  It might drop something on the cat.

The cat was trying to get up the hole she had slipped through.  One clawed paw batted upwards, bigger than Pren’s foot.

She scooted backwards and pulled the lever.  Even a trap was better than being eaten by a cat.

She fell backwards as the wall opened up, into a brightly and smooth room full of strangers and shining lights.

Continue reading

Obsolete

When you listened to the old-timers talk, the problems were mostly space.

When you actually listened to them, the problem was space in specific areas, or space that someone wanted, or something like that.

But there was a “crowding issue”.  There were issues with too many people in NYC.  There were issues with lots and lots of people in places on the other side of the globe.  There were problems with obsolete technology.  As far as Rhini could tell, there had been a whole bunch of problems like that, or things people had thought were problems, and some really rich people had thought those problems were going to take over the world. Continue reading

Treaty

A prequel of sorts to Lost Day and A Toque for Hill Primus.

“It’s only for a-”

“Ambassador, between us, let’s not mince words.  There’s never an only for a while when it comes to government.  Something exists, and then it continues on. So let’s talk about what we get out of it and what we have to put in.”

“We had to agree to a single arcology to get every other nation putting in to agree to one.   Which is important, because some of those other nations really need the population space. It quadruples the amount of room that a lot of their population will have to live in.  So we’re going to put one – well, we had four buildings in construction already in Virginia, so we’re working with an architectural team to turn those into one big building that can house at least five thousand people.  And every other nation on the committee is doing the same. They’ll be monitored and maintained by the Starlight Hospitality corporation; they’re the ones we have doing a lot of the work on the national parks like the Grand Canyon right now.”

“How are you going to get people to move into a giant skyscraper?”

“For one, it’s not, it’s more like an enclosed town that just happens to be several dozen stories tall.   There’s – there will be, and soon – plenty of accessibility, solutions for power outages, and then, on the other end, nice spaces, good views, plenty of natural plant and animal life, and good shopping and entertainment.  It’ll be like a really nice city, just with no cars and no attached traffic and such. For another thing, we’re going to bribe the first three thousand people. Free rent-”

“You’ll end up with homeless people.”

“Then they won’t be homeless anymore, will they?”  The Ambassador smiled benignly.

“And who is paying for all of this?”

“The Starlight Hospitality corporation is paying for seventy-five percent out the door.  We’re selling rental space for restaurants, stores, and the like to cover the rest, and the rent for anyone over 3000 will cover any unexpected expenses.  Digital commuting allows people to talk to anyone they want without leaving the warmth and safety of their arcology.”

“And what does the Starlight Hospitality Corp get out of this?  Other than the exclusive contract to run these things which, I imagine, will turn them a pretty penny.”

“Well, that.”  The Ambassador cleared his throat. “And there is all of that test market research on an effectively captive audience.  And data on people’s traffic patterns and such. I hear they plan to build another fifty of these things in the upcoming twenty years.  Ours are just their, mmm, their test market.”

“So… they build these things, a treaty forces us to fill them up, and then they get all the money?”  

For the first time, the Ambassador looked nervous.  

“…Yes.  Yes, that is the situation.”

“And we’re stuck with it.”

“Yes.  Yes we are.”

“Then I’m sure—”

Something about the voice made the Ambassador nervous.

“-you’ll be glad to take one of the first apartments there.  

“I will?”

“You will.”

“I… will.”

“For free, of course, since you’ll be one of the first 3000.”

“That’s too generous, really, I can’t—”

“Not at all.  I’m sure your wife and kids will love it.  And you’ll be very comfortable there, right?  You won’t notice being data mined at all! Now come on, I won’t hear no as an answer. It’s a very nice place, I’m told, yes?  And we do want to set a good example, after all.”

Want more?

 

My Arcologies prompt call is still open here

Continue reading

The Stapler Rebellion

“Class, can you tell me what this is representing?”

The VR diorama  showed two women in early Space era outfits, the one in a tidy romper with a skirt-wrap of a style that was classic enough that it kept cycling around every generation or so, the other in a sloppy scientist’s jumpsuit.  The classily-dressed woman had her back turned on a distraught scientist who was shaking a stapler.

“Oh!  That’s the Stapler Revolution!”  One of the know-it-all students bounced a little. “That’s when — when they changed all the laws about staplers? No, that’s not right.  It’s…” Continue reading

The Generation

Amalie had been studying science since she was old enough to scroll through a book reader.  She had spent ten years studying astronomy before moving on to geology and then, in a move that surprised everyone, concentrated on botany for her secondary work.

Her younger brother had focused on astrology and astrogation the entire time, and could tell you from a two-second look at any star chart where they were and which way they were headed.  He wanted to be part of the Navigation Team. He wanted to be part of the Rulers who got to go up onto the Bridge.

Amalie just wanted to know everything.  She wanted, as she explained to her perplexed parents, to eat something more interesting, too, and to make something with a better protein balance that didn’t taste like the same old thing.  And if high-end botany was going to get that, that’s what she was going to study. Continue reading

Present

a story for my New Year’s Prompt Call, which you should go prompt at please, here.

Warning… a wee bit maudlin. 

Related image

The snow had finally melted.  It had been a long winter – slow-starting but then dumping buckets of snow on us all of February and March and most of April.

It was May 5th, and I could finally see all of the grass, or at least the parts that had survived.  I could see, too, my poor bushes, which had not done well but which were, now, trying to put out the buds they normally would have put out in early March.  Continue reading

Suffering

a story for my New Year’s Prompt Call, which you should go prompt at please, here.

Image result for fireworks emoji

She had learned tricks in her time, and one of them was the fuel that kept her going.

She wasn’t supposed to keep going, that was part of the problem.  She was a construct, and she had been built for one particularly strange revenge that had been intended to last a couple weeks, maybe a couple months. She had been designed to build this one person up and then watch them crumble down, and she had done very well at her job.  Continue reading

Running in the Bear Empire 27: Climbing

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: A Place

🐻

The question hung in the air between them.

Deline had started it because he wouldn’t stop about the “wife of the emperor” business, no more than some courtier trying to curry favor or some spy trying to dig up information.  She’d finished the question because she found herself curious, even though she was aware it wasn’t exactly a nice question.

Carrone cleared his throat.  He looked at the next hill before them, looked back at her, and started walking.

Deline followed, setting a pace that wouldn’t leave her looking at the back of him the entire trip.

At a very narrow flat spot, just barely big enough for the two of them, he paused.  “Obviously you think I’m good enough for that,” he pointed out, his eyebrows raised as if challenging her to deny it. “How many nights have we spent together already? Continue reading