“Best of travels and a sharp spear on your travels.” The Jesharian, Koyl, had served as Reyn’s translator and go-between with her people for the last year. Now she engaged in an elaborate bow, bending at both sets of hips, one arm sweeping the floor.
“Best of blessings in your stay, and may your rapport with the next human you meet be as smooth as it was with me.” Reyn tried to keep any trace of reluctance or misery from the blessing. The Jesharian were very, very sensitive to such things, and the last thing Reyn wanted was to hurt Koyl’s delicate feelings, especially now. “And Koyl… in the human fashion?” Reyn held out a hand. “Thank you.”
They had been working together long enough that Koyl no longer hesitated. Two spindly blue hands wrapped around Reyn’s. “It has been my pleasure as well, Reyn. It…” Here the blue alien ducked her head in to one side: Jesharian embarassment. “If the world were ordered in the way I please, you would not be leaving.”
“If I had my way, I wouldn’t be leaving, either.” Reyn patted Koyl’s shoulder, an intimacy Koyl had allowed only recently. “I like it here better.”
“We are honored.”
The Jesharian were an immensely formal people, but even so, there was only so long one could drag out the good-byes. Reyn sighed. “I hope I see you again.”
“If the world turns as I bid it, we will see each other again.”
There was nothing left to do but grab bags and toss them into the shuttle, then toss onesself into the shuttle and bow, again, to the Jesharian pilot. Not many humans were allowed on the planet’s surface. It was one of the reasons Reyn had so liked it.
(I know, I know. All this and we’re not even to the gender-funk part. O-O)
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“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.
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The base of this came from a 7th Sanctum generator. Not sure about this one, either, but it’s another interesting beginning
“It’s not like we need to learn this shit anyway. I mean, what’s there to learn? The world was there and then it ended. Everything blew up and here we are.” Benji kicked the ground. “I could be doing something useful, like scrounging the wrecks or hunting down Ovarod spawn.”
“Or helping Malcom with the still he’s building.” Thad had slightly different priorities than Benji, but they agreed on the basics: History class was a sad, Ovarod-feces waste of time, and Math and science weren’t much better.
“The still would be nice. I can’t remember the last time I had some nice…”
“Benjamin Widdowson-Chatwyn?” The voice cut over Benji’s reminisces.
“I didn’t do it!” He twisted, yelped, and jumped all at once. His mother did that to him, complete with full name. Nobody but her ever called him Benjamin.
Next to him, Thad sniggered. Oh, Benji was going to be living this one down for weeks. He coughed and tried to redeem himself.
“That is, yes, I’m Benjamin Widdowson-Chatwyn.” He bowed, smiled, and managed to look the woman in front of him up and down all at the same time.
Her hair was so blonde as to almost be white, her smile was just a little too amused, her ankles were beautiful, and the rest of her was covered in a Recovery Service uniform. “How can I service, ah, help the Service?”
“That is the proper question.” Her smirk was growing to a full-fledged grin. “Your uncle thought I might be able to use you; he said you were eager for promotion.”
“Promotion? I mean – graduation, sure. But it’s not like I have a ow Thad what the Ovarod-trails?” He danced away from his friend, who seemed to have suddenly developed a twitch in his leg.
“What Benji means is that of course he wants the promotion, Corporal. Doesn’t he?”
“What? Oh, yes. Yes, Corporal.” If you moved past the severe nature of her field gear, the Corporal was a stunning woman. And anything had to be better than learning the history of a destroyed world. “Is Thad up for promotion too?”
“That remains to be seen. For now, however, Private Widdowson-Chatwyn, we have a quest for you.”
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Because every good adventure should start in a tavern – although this is currently more fantasy/medieval than it is steampunk or apoc.
The dice rattled across the table and landed in a spray: 6, 8, 5, 3, 10, 3.
Anjzeny pushed the threes around with a desultory finger. The dice weren’t being kind tonight – perhaps it was all for the better that there was no-one here to throw against.
“If your dice mislike you, perhaps you should consider cards… if you are in the mood to gamble.”
He could pretend not to hear the voice, a melodic alto with a strange twist to the consonants. He could pretend to be drunk, or engrossed in his drink.
Anjzeny looked up, instead. “I am, in a general sense, in a mood to gamble.”
In a pub such as the Laughing Bull, it was more likely to see a stranger than a common face; this stranger’s face was both more strange and more welcome than most.
Blue eyes pinned Anjezeny to his chair; a blue scarf wrapped around the stranger’s head and face, covering everything except those eyes. Blue robes concealed everything else.
Anjezeny found himself swallowing. He recovered with a lazy smile. “I am almost always in a mood to gamble.”
The stranger fell gracefully into a seat. “This is what I have heard of you, yes. And so I ask you, Anjzeny Clever-Fingers: how much are you willing to bet?”
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