Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Great War

Once there had been Kings. Men with shining armor, riding griffons and winged horses into battle. Birth right and divine right had been the sources of power.

Now magic is the source of power, and is power. Rule by those who can because they can and no one can stop them. Apprentices at the front lines, journeymen casting from the back, and masters ruling far from battle.

The wind shifts, there is movement along the enemy line, and they wait for the diviners to make the call.

“MEN!” and they grab their firearms and spring up to the parapet of their trench, firing on the shapes they see slogging through the mud. Thirty seconds of shooting, black silhouettes in gray fog coming closer, before fireballs begin to fall and the enemy withdraws.

“BEASTS!” and they grab their pikes and spring up to the parapet of their trench, thrusting the points forward to become a wall of spikes. Once beasts had meant manticores, hydras, and wyverns. Now they were the products of magically quickened breeding, hybrids of every predator that could be found, confused amalgamations which rage and charge and shake themselves to pieces when they die.

“FIRE!” and they rush to their designated bunkers, keep their heads down and try not to look at the second suns falling from the sky.

Worst of all is when no call comes, when the diviners begin to babble and all unburied corpses join them. Someone has become desperate, a breakthrough is needed, a curse is on the wind. Hold your sacred trinkets tight and pray.

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.