Friday, September 15, 2017

Scavenger

Based on a prompt

“Thank you Remy, good job.” Mrs. Templeton adjusted her glasses and looked out at the class. “Would anyone like to volunteer to go next? No? In that case… Jerry, your turn.”

Jerry looked up in surprise at hearing his name, and after taking a breath began dragging his presentation to the front of the class. He lifted it up onto the table and they could see it was a rectangular piece of wood, with a large rusty square attached to a tight spring.

“My dad dug this out of the yard, it doesn’t look like much, cause its all rusty, but the book says they used to use these things to kill ‘vermin’, but it didn’t say what those were.”

Mrs. White narrowed her eyes and looked like she was about to speak, but at that moment the strange old device sprung to life, the metal square slamming from one side of the board to the other, narrowly missing Jerry’s paw.

Once the class had calmed down and stopped chittering, Mrs. White turned to Jerry, who was now nervously holding his tail with both paws.

“Jerry... I’m going to need to have another meeting with your parents.”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Oops

Based on a prompt

“We’re doing this for a reason.” the young man said, strapping a helmet of wires and magnets to my head.

“It’s for your own good. I can promise you that.” the old man agreed, still looking at the monitor.

The metal of the helmet was cold and sharp against my scalp. I’d started shaving my head last month, but had that been my idea, or was that something they’d arranged for their own convenience?

I sought eye-contact with the young man. “I’ve already figured out how to prevent myself from retroactively preventing my own existence, my anti-paradox algorithm is air-tight. Besides, there are worse ways to go then not having ever existed, right?” I forced a laugh.

They made eye-contact. The old man suddenly seemed very, very old, and the young man seemed scared. The young man held a pleading look for a moment, but dropped his eyes, and the old man looked back to his monitor with grim determination.

The young man looked apologetic. “It’s not about what you will erase. It’s about what you will create.”

“Us.” said the old man.

“Us.” said the young man “There are, indeed, much worse things than to never exist. That is why we choose our own erasure, despite the cost. I’m sorry.”

The old man put one finger on the ENTER key. “Don’t worry” he said, “You won’t feel a thing.”

He started the program.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Supers

Based on a prompt

"I was so scared!" I sobbed into her shoulder. "I didn't want to go with them, but they were going to take me!"

"There, there" she said, stroking my head. "I would never let them take you anywhere."

What was left of them was scattered across the alley. Stray limbs, crushed torsos, blood pooling.

Some of the patches they had been wearing were still unstained. The flags of the old nations. They were one of the groups who wanted to bring back the old world. A world ruled by mere humans. Who knows what they would have done with me.

The smell of her hair calmed me down, as it always did. She stared into me with shining eyes.

"I don't know where I'd find another like you. An aquiline nose, perfect skin, and no wisdom teeth? Your children will be the start of something beautiful."

She kissed my forehead.

"Now lets get you back home."

I held on tight as she leapt into the sky. She smelled so good. I was so happy.

Scout

Based on a prompt

The rumble of the engine rattled the delicate prayer beads my father had hung from the ceiling. It fluttered the tapestries my mother had tied to non-essential scaffolding, images of old-earth for luck.

It shook my bones. I took a swig of kefir and returned my focus to the monitors.

A planetoid, a good one. Traces of radioactives, nickel-iron, platinum-group metals, and best of all, water ice. Another bonus, the Empire had also recognized the planetoid’s value, and allowed some of its servants to build an outpost. Wide-eyed, squat things. The Empire wouldn’t have granted one of the auxiliary species a full garrison. A chance to make a wound, however small.

The Horde would be glad to glut itself on water, and the Khan would be glad to harm the Empire. As she had decreed, so would it be, a thousand planets ravaged in payment for the murder of Earth, a hundred alien lives in restitution for each of our own. As the Emperor had sown, so would he reap.

I set a course for my rendezvous with a happy heart.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Malignant Machine

These are the facts.

It has all the advantages of biology and machines. It grows, reproduces, and evolves like something alive. It has suffused itself into the biosphere, and not living thing remains uninfected. It is specialized and powerful like something mechanical. It has suffused itself into all human technology, and no machine is uninfected.

The closer you get to the equator, the more solar energy is available to feed its intensive processes. Here everything is part of one system, constantly adapting, improving, and integrating.  It incorporates everything into itself, growing its own interfaces.  There is less distinction between machines, animals, and humans every day.

The farther you get from the equator, the less solar energy is available and the slower it grows. Up here, there are still humans. They are infected just like everything else, but able to pick up a wrench without gaining a wrench-hand. Nothing is uninfected, but those last humans have the luxury of choosing how human to be.

Notes: How about an RPG where your inventory levels up instead of your character.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

What Do Children Do

The best time to overhaul a brain is during puberty. An FDA approved retrovirus can deliver a standardized mix of improved genes. Better working memory, better concentration, better creativity and 20 points to your IQ, guaranteed. You won't be able to compete in today's market without it.

Dramatic changes to your brain don't come without side-effects. A fission will occur, between your per-pubescent and adult selves. Your memories of childhood will become distant, scattershot, and difficult to recall. You are a new you, after all.

No childhood memories means teaching children is a waste of time. Education is for adulthood, once it will actually stick. You should make sure your kids don't kill themselves, but otherwise they can be left to their own devices. You see them, running in packs, speaking strange words, playing strange games, conducting strange rituals. I wonder what you might have done.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Order of the Horn

The guards were unhappy, grumbling to each other when out of the caravan master's earshot, and glaring at him when he wasn't looking. They would soon be passing through the land of an infamous robber baron, and allowing a sad old man on a sad old mule to join them would slow them down.

They glared at the old man whether he was looking or not, finding reasons to dislike him. His face was dour, and he brought down the mood of the whole caravan. His tunic bore a sigil like that of a knightly order, but not any order they had ever heard of, so he was surely some sort of charlatan. He had around his belt a strange old horn with strange old carvings; a pagan artifact, perhaps, sure to bring them bad luck.

The caravan master had said that the old man reminded him of his own grandfather, and that it would be a good deed to let him travel with them, even if inconvenient, and that was that. The guards would have to satisfy themselves with grumbling.

Although unfair, the fears of the guard were not unfounded. They were unable to make it through the robber baron's land during daylight, and as the sun set, they were attacked. A volley of arrows flew out from the brush on both sides of the road, landing in a circle around the caravan. They all got the message.

The sad old man hardly seemed to notice the arrows, but as the baron's men emerged and surrounded the wagons, he frowned. He let out a deep sigh, and lifted the strange old horn to his lips. The sound boomed like the echo of thunder, and reverberated as if in a great hall. Both guards and bandits started at movement on the edges of their vision; movement that soon resolved itself into ghostly figures.

Each figure was armored, although the only uniform feature was that the armor was battered and nicked. They held weapons of a style that no men now bore, but that farmers sometimes dug up from their fields. Their shields and banners bore the sigil like that of a knightly order, not one that any of the guards had heard of, but that matched the one on the tunic of the sad old man.

They fought like great knights, swinging their translucent weapons through bandits and felling them in single blows, although no wounds appeared. The sad old man watched watched the knights, no longer dour, with light in his eyes. When the last bandit fell, the knights turned to the old man and saluted him, then faded and disappeared.

The guards now regarded the old man cautiously, and were startled when he spoke. He asked about the lord of these lands, and how he could allow such bandits on an important road. They explained that the bandits worked for the lord, and sadness slowly settled on the old man once more.

The caravan master took charge of his caravan once again, ordering that they should get as far from this battlefield as they can before the sun fully set. As they got underway, one guard noticed the old man had left the group, and was moving slowly, but with determination, towards the castle of the robber baron.