Tag Archive | clockwork apoc

Beyond the ‘Basket, a story for #3ww

Written to the Three-Word Wednesday Prompt: Crucial, malignant, yearning
Also written as a tiny character study for my next piece of my #nanowrimo: The Despot of Santa Roux Finds Love

“Listen, it’s crucial that we get this shipment across the ‘basket.” Marie frowned at the steamboat driver, because she had yet to find that smiling did any good.

“And it’s ‘crucial’ that I get paid.” Marcus Wainwright grinned back at Marie, which he could get away with because he had the boat and what she had was a pile of fruit and wheat and a deadline.

“And we get paid at the other end of the ‘basket. Mar- Mr. Wainwright, we’ve been doing this for months. Years.”

“And that was all well and good, because you always paid. But then when my boat got attacked by bandits – well, I was out two good boat hands and the price of your shipment. I need to get paid, Miss Tanner.”

Marie took a breath. Marcus Wainwright was the most vile businessmen, the most malignant tumor on the face of the river, the most obnoxious handsome smile that she had ever seen. But he was the captain they had, the only captain that was willing to traverse the dangerous and bandit-and-slaver-ridden ‘Basket. Or, at the very least, he was the only one still alive. “If I can get you two more boat hands for this route, will you do it?”

“Where are you going to find two boat hands on this short of notice, Miss Tanner? I’ve combed every river town this side of the ‘basket. Have you been hiding them up your skirt?” He leered nastily in her direction.

She set her jaw. “In a manner of speaking. The boat hands I’m mentioning would be my brother – who I suppose people might think had hidden behind my skirts, although it’s a lie – and myself.”

If nothing else, it was worth it, whatever may come, for the stunned look on Marcus Wainwright’s face. And maybe a trip on a riverboat would solve this stupid yearning she could not seem to get rid of.

And it would, for all time, get her brother rid of the rumour that he hid behind her skirts.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/847047.html. You can comment here or there.

Say What You Want, a ficlet of Clockwork Apoc for Thimbleful Thursday

to the Thimbleful Thursday prompt from 2 weeks back “For XYZ reasons;” 393 words

“So, she went right into the middle of a Blank zone. Just walked through it, like there weren’t Creatures still in the air and only the skies know what sort of trouble on the ground. Not to mention falling walls and all that standing water….” Grace shook her head. “Who knows what goes through the mind of someone like that?”

“We’re talking about Lisette, right?” Rose pursed her lips. “Who knows why she does anything? She’s the one that rode below an airship all the way across the Blank Plains. She’s the one that brought home an Other just to see what made it tick. She does what she wants, for x, y, and z reasons, and the rest of us just have to stay out of her way.”

“You just put up with here?” Grace had only been in the compound for a few months; she’d been a refuge from a lost town, Mortin, one of only three survivors. Rose tried to remember that when Grace got… difficult. Judgey. “It seems like she’s putting the whole compound at risk.”

Rose took a breath. Remember what happened to Mortin. Remember the bodies. Remember the Blanks. “The thing about Lisette is… yes, she does her own things, for her own reasons, reasons that are best not asked about and not worth speculating on. And when the compound was attacked by a wave of Blanks last year, it was Lisette – Lisette, on her own – that saved us.”

“But you let her just wander into Blank zones. What if she came back blanked out? What if she contracted some disease?” Grace leaned forward. “What if she let the Blanks in?”

“Lisette is not going to do something like that.” Although Rose was beginning to see a picture of how Mortin had fallen. “Lisette does what she does, for Lisette’s reasons – but she protects the compound. She’s never failed to protect the compound.”

“But what if she’s wrong? What if, worse, what if she’s doing something wrong? You can’t just let people wander around for mysterious reasons, and not expect them to turn on the compound! You can’t!” Grace’s voice was getting louder and louder, shriller and shriller.

Rose kept her voice low and quiet. “Lisette has her reasons for doing what she does. And we have our reasons for letting her.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/840363.html. You can comment here or there.

Quick-and-Dirty, a story of Clockwork Apoc for Thimbleful Thursday

“I can do a quick-and-dirty fix.” Carlotta pushed the magnifying eyepiece back on her head, pinning her red-and-white curls back with the strap. It gave her, Johsnen thought, a strangely rakish and mechanical look, the telescoping eyepiece sticking out of her head like a periscope. “To actually repair it would take three weeks to a month and parts we don’t have here. So that adds another two weeks to a month, depending on when a caravan or ‘ship can get through to Ashburg. That kind of fix, though, that would hold up to just about anything except maybe a wild boar attack.”

“And the quick-and-dirty?” Johsnen ran an apologetic hand over the ‘car. He really hadn’t meant to get it into so much trouble. But there’d been Them, and then there’d been that hole in the road he hadn’t seen until he was in it, and all things considered, he was lucky he’d gotten himself and the steamcar back to Bridgeport. But she’d never look the same again, and she’d been a lot of miles in the poor thing.

“The quick-and-dirty I can do with what I have here. It’ll run, it’ll be safe against normal impacts – it’ll take a humanoid hit, but stay away from big tusked or horned things – and it won’t break down. But it’s going to be a little more fragile, and it’ll probably take a few more repairs along the way.”

“Can you…”

“Yeah. But if you come back around in winter, it’s going to be more like three months. For one thing, everyone does the same thing. For the other…”

Johsnen sighed. “Yeah. For the other, nobody wants to travel the Blank Plains in wintertime.”

This was meant to be about Carlotta (with a nod to @inventrix), but it really turned out to be more about Johsnen (Jawz-nen). Ah, well.

283 words, to two weeks’ past Thimbleful Thursday, here: https://thimblefulthursday.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/thimbleful-thursday-prompt-2/

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/838165.html. You can comment here or there.

A prelude Drabble to clockwork apoc

“The goddamned blasted thing doesn’t work.” Anata kicked the car, then, for good measure, slammed the hod with the flat of her fist. “It won’t work without electricity, no matter what I do, and…”

“And if we use electricity, we call down the Creatures.” Jack banged his head against the garage wall. “I wonder how they’re coming on the steam machine.”

“Do you really think that we can make that into a-“

The bang and the shock wave hit the wall of the garage at the same time. Jack dove forward, was thrown forward, and landed on top of Anata, both of them pressed against the car.

“Not well, I think.” Anata shook her head. “Maybe we should start raising horses.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/805998.html. You can comment here or there.

Three-Word-Wednesday – The Easy Way & Hard

To Three-Word-Wednesday (Today’s words are eradicate, mercenary, squeamish).

In the same world as last week’s story, The Job

There were always politicians.

Even now, even after the near-end of the world, even after the years of struggling to find a new way to survive, even now, when survival was not guaranteed for more than ten percent of the remaining population, there were politicians.

And they would stand in their safe, protected halls in their safe, cozy auditoriums, and they would pound their fist and shout. “Eradicate the Blank Plains!” they would demand. “Wipe out the Creatures! Make this world safe!”

Over and over again, the politicians would shout, because shouting was safe when you were within the walls.

There were always the mercenary ones.

If it seemed like there were more of them now, when every commodity was a rarity, when there were so many ways to gouge and so few could afford to be gouged, then it was probably a matter of perspective: there had always been those out for number one.

They would stand by the gates and offer “services,” in the marketplace and offer supplies, by the graves and console widows, and all at a low, low price.

If it could be bought, they’d sell it, because selling was easy when your audience was captive.

There were always the squeamish.

If they seemed far more delicate now, when there was no room for delicacy, when food was scarce and resources tight, if they seemed too soft to live, it was probably the comparison: most people had grown far more hard. But there were always those that could not toughen.

They would wail over their choices for meat, when even their herd animals were starving. They would wring their hands over an outlaw’s death, when outlaws threatened everyone.

They would flap their hands, because it was easy to be squeamish when someone else was getting dirty.

There were always those who wouldn’t do what was needful: the politicians, the mercenary, the squeamish.

And then there were the Rangers.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/774111.html. You can comment here or there.

Robot, a story-test of Clockwork Apoc

“You’re a robot,” they’d told him, “an automaton. We made you, we created you. You are a steam-powered device. You have no feelings, you have no emotions. You do what you are told.”

They clothed him in metal until he forgot he had ever had flesh. They told him what he was, and told him nothing else. They fed him a sludge they informed him would lubricate his joints, and they taught him that to fail to obey meant sharp pain – that, in essence, his programming would not allow him to disobey.

“You are our robot,” they told him, and parade him before tin-hat dictators and penny-ante princes. “You are our robot.”

They taught him to be their robot, until one day, he taught them that humans, unlike the robot they’d made him, could die.

This came from a 7th Sanctum prompt: The theme of this story: metaphorical conflict. The main character: neurotic robot. The start of the story: service. The end of the story: education.
It sort of wrote itself from that.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/768634.html. You can comment here or there.

Three-Word-Wednesday: The Job

To Three-Word-Wednesday (Today’s words are Liberated, Muddy, and Vicious). It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these, I had to go digging in my tags.. April 29, 2011!

It was dirty, it was vicious, and it was illegal, even by the lax regulations that counted as law in the wastelands. But it was necessary to get the job done, and nobody had ever said of the Rangers that they did not do the job.

They slipped in at night, like raiders, like bandits. They slid through the cracks in the outpost’s defenses, like assassins, like thieves. They took what they needed and were gone without being sighted, like ghosts in the night. When they moved on, there no proof they’d been there, except the holes in the storeroom.

It was muddy, it was nasty, and it was immoral, even by the standards of the gods who would have wastelanders and rangers as subjects. But they had to do it, and so they did it. Rangers prayed for forgiveness rather than petitioning for permission.

They collected their supplies from seventeen small outposts and villages, townships, farmsteads, way-stations and junkyards. They left no payment, note, IOU, nor apology. They left three corpses behind, none of them their own, and did not miss a single piece of their equipment.

Raiders, their victims assumed, monsters and ghosts. The rangers preferred those assumptions.

It was messy, it was close to monstrous, and it was exactly what they had been recruited to do. They had a job to do, and they had not been hired to keep their hands too clean.

They built a machine out of blood-soaked gears and mud-caked pipes. They hammered it together with stolen tools and liberated rivets; they fueled it with oil seasoned with widows’ tears and their own tired prayers.

It looked like an abomination, and there were some – even among the Rangers – that would say that it was. But it would get the job done.

They were muddy, they were vicious, and they were at the border for only one reason. The laws that the wastelands pretended to honor ignored them, and the only gods that would have them as subjects were looking the other way, lest they see something they shouldn’t.

The Rangers couldn’t care. They had a job to do, and a city to take back from the monsters. Their task was bloody and violent, dirty and nasty, but it was what they had been recruited to do, and there was no-one who would say that the Rangers did not do the job.

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