>Someone is training misfit teenagers with strange clothes
>Furthermore, he seems to be a master of traps and schemes
>He's causing a whirlwind of chaos in his wake
>So far you can't tell if it's good or bad, kind of a mixed grab really
>All you know for certain is he's starving the adventuring guild for work
While I don't engage in OP style faggotry if one of my players ever hit me they'd never be invited back til they apologized and they'd have to start paying for Panda Express or Pizza Hut again instead of me doing it for a week.
You know, these kinds of responses really, REALLY make me question how the fuck the average fa/tg/uy plays tabletop.
>inb4 they don't
It's a game with your FRIENDS with the intent of having FUN.
>>All you know for certain is he's starving the adventuring guild for work
Ha ha, serves those bastards right, always trying to take a cut of our loot
Kinda annoying we weren't the ones to drive them out of business though
>inb4 they don't
That's the most likely answer though, or at least for those kind of posters, the kind that seem to think if anyone enjoys what they don't like it's the wrong kind of fun and they should be punished for it
Now, informing your DM that you're not enjoying his game is perfectly fine, as is walking out and finding another group, but acting like a child like these anons always suggest is the flat out wrong response
>your waifu will never struggle to keep your fleshy body and soul alive
>you won't be given a poor man's immortality
>you will never watch eternity pass coming and going as your waifu stays by your side
>but every time you come back she's different
>she keeps changing and getting more and more alien
>some of it is injuries
>some of it is form optimization
>some of it is her slowly corroding personality
>you will never realize the world is dead and your keeper is the only thing left real in a world you don't understand
My mind is going places I legitimately don't want to go to.
I don't even man, I need to get some sleep or something.
I'm hoping you run your games in a public place and not your own home.
Anyone who hits me in my house who is not my wife or family gets their ass kicked and thrown out. I don't have the patience to deal with something so disrespectful.
Same goes for hitting any of the other players. Keep your hands to yourself like a reasonable adult.
The ancient Greeks had a story about a man in love with his own work. He was a sculptor and rejected the beauty around him in pursuit of his ideal, so he crafted it from ivory. The Greeks had the benefit of believing in gods and goddesses that could grant their wishes, and they say his statue was brought to life. In the cold reaches between planets we have only our own tools.
I was an outposter on Io in the early years following terraforming. Humans could only survive near the Crag; an ancient meteor impact that left the crust shattered and steaming. But extremophiles, slimes, lichen, cockroaches, and synthetic organisms were hard at work making the planet hospitable. As a human, there wasn’t much for me to do. Earth would beam me DNA sequences and gestation methods and I’d have to rig something up to breed whatever grub they wanted to try next, then bring them out to the greenhouses to see whether they could survive. The hard labor was all done by VR drones, so I guess you could say I had climbed mountains and leapt across valleys, but it was bones of metal with a squishy brain a thousand miles away.
Then one day they sent me something strange. If I hadn’t been the best damn biologist this side of the asteroids I couldn’t have pulled it off, but they had me grow a so-called “nucleated brain”. Six months later, when it was just getting to the size of a fist, the inorganic half of the construct dropped with my food supplies. Joining the flesh to the computer was a nightmare; had to be perfectly sterile and could only be moved by electromagnetic force to keep contaminants out. But the little blue tendrils wrapped into it with just a bit of coaxing, and I was able to put a charge into it.
I could only turn it on bit by bit, like development phases. But day after day I watched as the little blob of flesh grew. Wrinkles formed and blended, and the inner cells seemed to purify, glowing with a soft charge of electricity. The computer interface had two functions. The first was to program the brain, a rapid download of information, ideas, and methodologies that would let it think, plan, even have creativity and emotions. And second, it was the connection between the brain and the drone body it would use. I had just grown my own replacement; a miniaturized artificial intelligence.
I thought my days on Io were over, that I’d get shot back to Ganymede and that would be it. That’s what happened to all the other outposters, but Earth said someone needed to stay behind and train it. I was the sorry son of a bitch trapped on a moon by himself. If it weren’t for those poor bastards trying to research dark matter, I’d have been the loneliest human alive. But just a week or so, hard to tell on a moon, after my fellows left was the day the brain got connected. It had to be put in a specialized tank the size of a cranium, and connected to the drone.
2/3 for now
The first android past the asteroids woke up in my lab. And the first thing it did was touch everything, broke a hell of a lot of shit too. Earth was watching a live stream, albeit delayed by the distance, and had instructed me on pain of penal colony assignment not to interrupt it as it learned its body. But, I couldn’t help but cry out when it picked up my personal holo display. Seven thousand hours of media almost ripped open so a robot could look at the insides.
That was the first time she saw me. “Doctor…” her voice buzzed out and trailed off. It made my gut a bit queasy that they had given it a female personality core, but I could only press my lips together and watch. She froze and looked me up and down. Her face was just a facsimile housing various sensors and a speaker so it could talk, so I don’t know what she was thinking. That was the first moment I wished she had a face. Then she looked down at the holo display in her grasper, and back to me. “I’m so sorry. This is priority, isn’t it?”
“It’s personal,” I answered, slowly approaching. I reached out and powered the display on, resuming some trash movie I had been watching. The hologram appeared distorted across her face, and I gently pointed it away. It was one of those seven hundred episode mega series they pumped out for long distance journeys, the kind where every once in a while you can change what the characters choose, branching the plot off in a different direction. She was immediately engrossed.
3/4 bad cut/paste
The next day I messaged one of my friends over on Ganymede for a favor, and got him to send me the data on how to print off a face. The data had been for plastic surgery purposes and I had all the equipment in case I disemboweled myself or something equally disastrous. Trying to fix the musculature problem became my pet project as she poured through training manuals and vids, and kept grinding through Gates of Gomorrah. I had thought the problem would be jury rigging the heart pump into her chassis to keep the flesh alive, but sculpting the cartilage to join to her face plate and polishing the glass lenses to cover her eyes with took me the better part of a month. I hadn’t even realized how obsessed I’d gotten with it.
And she’d noticed it as well.
4/4 until after I take a nap, only got 4 hours of sleep.
This started in the prosperous city of Crystalhill, once the hotspot of a gold rush due to the area's abundance of shallow gems and ore. The foresight of the mayor at the time of the city's golden age prevented the city from turning into a ghost town amidst a wasteland of abandoned tunnels into the earth by bringing in all sorts of skilled artisans and craftsmen and by strictly regulating the mining business. Nowadays the city is most known for its skilled jewelers and its gardens housing the most exotic plants in spite of the moderate climate, made possible by dozens of years of dirt, rich in minerals and magical gems powdered by time.
The city is also famous, though less so than for its jewelers, for its mechanics. Nowadays they mostly make devices for scholars, interesting but pointless doodads for the rich and toys for their children. Part magic, part ingenuity, these are still splendid to behold, but in the days of the gold rush, now long past, they crafted automatons, machines that would do the mining for them, speeding up the process by an order of magnitude and decreasing the death toll by almost as much.
The last mechanic still working on these and a descendant of the original inventor is Milia, a young mother to a son and the carrier of the now almost meaningless title of head mechanic of the city. She is in charge of fixing and maintaining what few big and complicated machines are left in the city, such as the clocktower and the planetarium at the university, but recently the current mayor has started a project to retrieve all of the derelict automatons that were left behind in the mines when they were emptied of their contents, intending to recycle them and use the fixable ones as workforces for simple but arduous tasks.
Milia has different plans. Because of her position and her heritage she frequently meets the powerful people in the city, and is thus privy to all the struggles behind the scenes (cont.)
Alright well, I'll continue it nonetheless, I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this either. Got carried away with the setting, but there's nothing wrong with that on /tg/.
I suppose that made me the first Fleshcrafter, in that I was basically doing plastic surgery for a robot instead of a human. But well, there’s just not much to do when you’re the only person on a planetoid. It’s get a hobby or go insane. Space had caused a sort of creative boom. Writing and Art were the biggest and the corps wanted it that way. Kept people from going crazy in near isolation, so mental requirements dropped considerably compared to the nineteen sixties. And they were able to pump that stuff straight back into everyone’s hands so other people could enjoy it. So, I figured it wasn’t strange that I had taken to sculpting a face for the AI I had grown in an electrified vat.
Now, this isn’t to say I was neglecting work, or didn’t try other things first. But, you wouldn’t understand unless you had tried speaking to a mask for a month. By the time the first presentable, and I use that term loosely in hindsight, face was done, she was as good as I was at the station. If she wasn’t distracted anyways. She’d finished the first mega-series and moved on to another, The Age of Exploration I think it was. I was lucky she didn’t pick up the pirate accent, but she did seem to be picking up mannerisms from the women on the show. She always wanted to sit and face me when we talked. Drones, hell guys, I could just bark at while busying myself with something else, but she sucked me into conversations. She’d sit there, legs crossed and leaning slightly on the table to hear me better, and before I knew it I was telling her about the old nature reserves my father and I camped in.
When I handed the face to her, nasty blood and wires spliced into a standard port on one side and a bone white face on the other, I was no longer certain whether I was just prettying up some machinery I had, or giving a gift to a woman. We slid the artificial heart into her chassis, running the tubes up her neck just like carotids. Before we plugged it in, it was a serene beauty. I never told her, though she probably figured out, but I had blended a few models I was a fan of to make the face.
Plugging it in was a disaster. She had no idea how to match the power outputs to control the face even if she knew exactly what kind of face she wanted to make. She ran when she realized what was happening. I hadn’t expected a robot who had never had a face to be embarrassed by it. The face wasn’t advanced enough to blush, but I’m sure it would have been, if I had been able to tell from the Stallone esque scowl it twisted itself into.
When I woke up though, I found out she’d spent the entire night staring at the bathroom mirror memorizing every twitch of her face. It wasn’t perfect, she didn’t have a jaw let alone a mouth, but she could smile. It was a perfect curl of those full lips and it made my jaw drop. She’d looted some personal effects from one of the women that used to be on the station and colored her lips dark red to make every twist stand out. Her expression flipped to fear when I didn’t say anything, she didn’t realize I was just at a loss. I had to quickly laugh and tell her to get something to cover that metal dome. She smacked me for that.
Before she could go though, I had to do something. I’d just been calling her Ten until then, since she had been the tenth vat. But a human face meant a human name, so I called her Julia; the actresses name that led in both Gates for Gomorrah and Age of Exploration.
6/6 more eventually, going to drip feed this to you since it's sprawling so much.
It was the very day I phoned in to Earth to say there was nothing more I could teach her that they sent out the penal squad. I didn’t know, and spent the next week with Julia. She was naturally submissive and helpful due to her programming, but she was more than just a machine. She was alive after all, the very core of her thoughts was the same kind of flesh that runs a human meat sack. I’d never been watched so closely in my life, she was studying me to learn more human mannerisms, but I didn’t mind it at all. I liked her company and she liked mine.
The corp didn’t give a shit about that though. I should have known something was up when a ship touched down instead of just an air drop. But, there was nothing I could do. If I resisted, no matter how valiantly, I would have just died one way or another. Either I hid and stayed on Io some how, and starved to death when they decided to just stop sending me supplies. If maybe, I stole the ship, I had nowhere to go. The penal ship couldn’t manage Mars’ atmosphere let alone Earth and I’d just get arrested at any space port I pulled into. Not that I was much of a fighter to take down four guards.
Never really imagined they’d actually follow through on arresting me for interrupting her. They took me, and left her behind. They said she was designed for lone operation, that’s why I had to teach her everything she knew. But I had never felt as alone as I did sitting handcuffed in the back of that ship. I don’t even want to think about what it was like for her to watch me get taken away. They lied to her about what was happening to me. I lied about having personal effects. I couldn’t stop them from taking me, but I left her everything I had.
We spent three standard years apart, never expecting to see each other again. She was left on Io, stranded to continue my work in the greenhouses. I was blasted off to the asteroid belt for mining. Nasty work and dangerous. The ‘stations’ we were given were hollowed out asteroids quick sealed with something they called TAR, temporary air rock, keyword is temporary. Those things bled oxygen constantly, making it seem like you were mountain climbing in zero g. And since we lived under the mass cannon, there was always the chance of the load breaking part of the structure entirely. There were thousands working the mines, with dozens coming in every week, and no one left, ever.
Thanks to my biology background, I got placed in the hydroponics section rather than going out in the black, scanning and towing. That’s why I survived so long. I wasn’t even thirty and I was the old guy on the station. Eventually I rigged up a still and started bribing the officers, eventually got some messages out. Checked in with my family first, found out that my father passed away from tuberculosis. Industrial smog had done him in eventually, he’d always said it would but that job had put me through college.
Then I messaged Ganymede. Julia had been talking.
She’d done what I’d hoped, and gotten on my computer to reach out and connect, rather than be alone. Her and my friend pulled some strings and upped her supplies. When I’d left, she had been almost as good as I was at the work, only thing she didn’t know was some advanced tricks they can’t teach you, the kind of stuff that lets you grow a nucleated-brain when a hundred other people failed across the system. But her performance was way below what it should have been. Turns out, she was siphoning off resources under the guise of bad growth.
8/9 anyone still reading this?
She’d taken to my hobby, and I ended up getting a picture of her. She still had the face I’d designed for her, but it was much more refined it seemed. And she had hair, beautiful, black hair that came all the way down to the chest she’d given herself.
I died the next day. One of the newcomers to hydroponics had been disgruntled to say the least. I should have seen it coming, he got in with the plants because he was a chemist. He got his hands on way too many chemicals. And my still operation was the perfect delivery method for him. On the day his arresting officer docked, he snuck a bomb into my box of goodies. Blew open their ship, with me and the crew still in it. I don’t remember much of it, but I got exposed to vacuum and was rescued by another guard ship. Legally speaking, I died in their medbay. God bless modern medicine though.
The next eight years passed with my lungs filled with Ambrosia™, and constant nerve stimulation as they tried to fuse cybernetic ports to my amputated limbs. I woke up as roughly two-thirds of a man, and my ears were filled with Julia’s voice.
9/9, going to play some more Dark Souls
Is the someone in question the one who is wearing strange clothes?
Is he training teenagers in the use of strange clothes?
Or is he training only teenagers that wear strange clothes?
I recognized her immediately, she looked just like she had. Or course, I didn’t know how long I’d been out when I woke up. There was just a bit of ache in my body and nothing wanted to move, even the limbs I still had. Turned out I only had one arm, but she was sitting on that side. As soon as it lifted up, her hands grabbed onto it. I remember she was wearing gloves, I could faintly feel the metallic bones, but it was soft against my hand. The book she had been reading was forgotten, her dark eyes were locked on mine.
I tried to talk, quickly realizing my face was sealed into a liquid respirator that I couldn’t take off. So she talked. The world had changed while I was out. New legislation came through that nucleated-brains were a type of slavery, so the corps had to release all of them. Most of them hired on same as a human, since they didn’t know any other life. But Julia had wanted nothing of a corp that would arrest their best craftsman. When she said that, I did the only thing I could and smiled back at her. She had gotten better at smiling, her face unit had a jaw now and that helped a lot.
The coma had lasted so long that my prison sentence was reviewed and dismissed. Of course, for any future job I wanted, I had to mark that I was a felon, but spending three years brewing liquor and gambling was a pretty good way to spend an alleged twenty year labor term. And to top it off, I was on the red planet. I wasn’t the only one who needed long-term treatment, so they had to pack off for the nearest rock.
The first thing Julia did when they drained my lungs was wheel me out to the roof, not giving a damn that I was still in a gown. Let me tell you, the Martian Space Elevator, the MSE, was the biggest damn thing you’d ever see. It was actually two pillars, with the station strung between them big enough to put a shadow on the ground. Course, the actual station wasn’t that big, just huge solar panels soaking up the UV and pumping all that energy back down. Mars was supposedly cold by Earth standards, but the colony beneath it was built to cut the wind and trap heat even in areas that weren’t domed over. It was warm enough that she was in a dress and I have to say I think I looked at her more than I looked at the MSE.
I had to stay in the hospital three days before they discharged me. I couldn’t have been happier that Julia had tracked me down, because it meant I had some place to stay. The corp’s insurance had covered for my treatment, but transferring savings between planets is a tricky business and I’d been banking everything Earthside. And as it turned out, they wouldn’t be much good to me.
Julia was working as a florist, a complete waste of everything I taught her. But on a desert planet like Mars, growing some color with the green was hard and paid well. Enough that she had an apartment in the side of the MSE, or rather, the non-structural sprawl attached to it. Funny thing was, she didn’t have a bed. If she needed to rest and reset her brain, she just kind of meditated on the couch, and she only had to do that for half an hour six times a day. Clunky and pained as I was, stumbling around on limbs of metal and plastic, I had the pleasure of crashing on her couch.
No matter how much Julia and I liked each other, that wasn’t going to work out. And there was another burden; I needed to fly my mother this side. She was all alone, and her son had just come back from the dead. I had her cash out all of my savings and blast off.
The job I ended up getting wasn’t what I expected. My old hobby had become an underground profession, Fleshcrafting. I had some brushing up to do, but the MSE had a few dozen inorganics running around it. Turns out the politically correct term for them was derived rather unoriginally as Nooks and Leahs, whether they identified as males or females respectively. And all of them wanted to fit in with humans. Some of them had truly alien bodies, hell, one of them had the legs of a spider and at full height had her waist above my head, but could compress herself small enough to fit through a dog door. But they all wanted faces. They wanted to be able to express their emotions.
I got pretty good at it too. The company I signed on with had figured out how to make a sort of sensor frame to build the face around, jaw included. I just had to grow the tissue on top of it. There were some odd exceptions, both from physical needs like the spider who had four eyes as well, and others were simple eccentricities of the Nooks. Specialized programs and tools brought me lightyears beyond tinkering on my personal laptop, and I was designing them in days rather than weeks.
It took about three weeks for a, let’s say morally dubious opportunity to find me. We needed the money bad, and this new corp was offering me a few million. The catch was, they wanted me to make a Nook for them, and I was pretty certain they had programmed a backdoor on their personalities. Julia hated the idea of it, but my mother was touching down soon and needed nursing care which cost money. So I agreed to do it, on the limitation that I wouldn’t tell them how to do it and would only try five times.
With my skill, or luck, or idiotic energy, two of them took. It doubled my pay, but I had just done something irreversible.
12/12 How are you all liking it so far? Am I too off base away from the waifu angle? Keep the thread alive through the night if you want more, I need to sleep.
That shit's not even made by the chinese, get some real chinese food made by the chinese
Why do white people and teenage Asians hate Panda Express so much? It's some weird anti-"cultural appropriation" thing. It's not real Chinese food and it's low quality, but it's no more of an abomination than any other fast-food.
The consequences of making two backdoored, next-gen nucleated-brains didn’t come into effect for a few months, when the Exo-miners came back. Until then, those were the best days of my life. I had so much excess cash that I bought top of the line legs and a DaVinci arm. With that thing, even though it was my offhand, it was more accurate than my good arm. I gave Julia enough money to upgrade her body as well.
She went to a specialty shop and worked with my boss to blend it all together behind my back. It was surreal when it came together. My boss made her a new face, one she could actually kiss me with. She had lithe legs that seemed like she was walking on springs, and I’m sure she could have vaulted a train if she needed to. Her hips were widened to increase her power supply, and bring in a certain intimate function. And we put it to use that night.
Society didn’t approve, she wasn’t human after all. But society hadn’t been stranded on a moon with one for over a month. They didn’t understand how little I cared about the differences. It hurt when someone scrawled /Robot Fucker/ on our door, but that just made me splurge on Julia more. Bought her self-defense functionality. Guns were banned on Mars, so she got blades in her forearms. I prayed every day that she wouldn’t have to use it.
The Exo-miners came before she had to. And boy, did they bring news. First Contact had been made. They didn’t know what the hell it was, but one of their experiments had resonated. Someone out there was broadcasting a signal. If the crew hadn’t run out of supplies for their thirty year mission, they would have stayed out there, decrypting it. Now a new crew was needed to finish the job, and a certain corp just so happened to have two Nooks willing to head out there and stick their noses into FTL.
Wouldn’t have been a problem, except that on that timescale, they needed a human to do maintenance on their cores, freshen the ions and sterilize and what not. Apparently all nucleated brains were hard-wired to not alter themselves in any way, or each other. It was a preventative measure for runaway intelligence explosions, theoretical as they were. And the corp came back to the man who made them; me.
I wasn’t crazy, I wouldn’t have touched that assignment from Ganymede. I had a stable job where I was doing some honest good for the world. I had a sick mother I was helping take care of. And I had Julia. I should have never told the corp all that. Revealing your weaknesses means making them vulnerable. It would be another two months before the new ship was ready, the reactionless drive was still being tweaked. And in those two months, my life turned to hell.
First thing that happened was my mother passed away. All that time on Earth had given her lung cancer and the expensive treatments I was paying for suddenly stopped working. Then someone threw a rock through the window at Julia’s work. I eventually gave up trying to remove every time someone graffitied our door. I was on edge, and made a mistake. The two of us had decided to take a day off work unexpectedly, and I saw one of the bastards sauntering over to our door with a can of spray paint.
I took off running after that punk, and left her behind. The kid didn’t stand a chance of getting away from me, not on my legs. It was the next block over when I grabbed him and threw him against the wall. Young kid, maybe eighteen. He spat in my face and I broke his jaw. I shouldn’t have left Julia alone.
There was a man at the door when I got back. Sprawled out on the floor, blood spreading out from his head. A razer thin line had split open his throat, just underneath his chin. Julia was inside, huddled up in the corner with her hands covering her face, but it was apparent it had been slashed. She was trying to hold it back in place, but it was sagging. I put my arms around her and sat with her, holding onto the bloody hand that had killed the man.
The corp made a new offer the next day. Both of us on the ship and one Nook, or stay behind and watch her get decommissioned for murder.
15/15 Damn this story is going long.
Really? One of my players slap me, I have to punch them in the face.
It won't work out well if either of the ex-military guys slapped me and I punched them, but you can't just allow that shit to happen.
Also, i'm pretty sure they're not in my game anymore if they slapped me.
The worlds were abuzz with the signal. Clearly artificial in nature, but too short to decrypt. We needed more, and I was going to be the human to go get it. The Nook would do the real work, but the Nook was just a machine. The world saw Julia as the same, but what I had done to the Nook was incomparable. It curled my gut as I had to smile and wave to the crowd of onlookers watching me board the ship. To my surprise, the ship was a tiny needle like an old Saturn rocket from the pre-space age.
The Nook was the one to explain to the two of us once we got on board. The engine had enough power to accelerate at 1.3 g, constantly. The plan was to jet out normal to the system till we got to speed, roughly .8 C, spin the ship ninety degrees and put it into a curve. We’d then fly in a giant pseudo-orbit around the sun for about eighteen subjective years and land thirty objective years later. Hopefully with some brand new secrets unraveled. The Corp had quoted us the eighteen years, not the objective thirty, but it didn’t make much of a difference.
Taking off from the MSE was actually extremely boring, we weren’t in a gravity well so we basically just turned on the engine and went from floating to standing. The Nook and Julia didn’t seem to notice at all, but the jump from Martian gravity to 1.3 g’s was like getting hit by a truck for me. I was lucky half my body was metal, because I don’t think my heart would have survived for as long as it did otherwise. I was on the ground gasping to breathe while the fuel sail was unfurling behind us to refill the engine. Apparently they had found a way to make a sort of neutrino dragnet, turning them all into kinetic energy. It was a miracle of an engine, but only worked steadily at relativistic speeds. That’s why we had to go in an arc, if we slowed down we’d stall and be stuck out there for the ten years it took to fuel the damn thing on the MSE for take off.
And then we were alone. Me, Julia, and a Nook with no personality to speak of. The ship was filled with every scrap of entertainment humanity had pumped out. Literally all of it. When I wasn’t working the food supply and she wasn’t helping the Nook with the engine, we were watching a mega-series, or maybe listening to the onboard dumb-AI read us ancient greek plays.
We were so far from the sun that the planets couldn’t talk to us reliably. They had to aim the comm beam to within pico degrees in order for it to hit us. And it was almost as hard for us to talk back. But, being stranded in space like that wasn’t so bad. Eat, work, play, sleep, what was so different just because we were in a can hurtling through space so fast we could actually see red shifting?
The first six subjective years passed easily. By the end of it I had Nook talking and playing games with us. There was a sort of free time his brain had every cycle before he had to reset and after finishing his labor. He wasn’t kept on a leash then, and slowly matured his personality. That lasted until we picked up a resonance different from the first voyage’s. Then he was all work all the time trying to hear more and compare them.
It was the eighth year that my heart failed. The enhanced gravity finally blew it out and Julia had to put me into a coma with an artificial pump keeping me alive. Apparently it took two years for Earth to beam enough medical data up to her that she could understand before she was able to operate on me properly. I was awake for some of it, coming and going. There was finite Ambrosia, and I used it all by the time she got a fresh heart into me.
It was good timing too, any longer and the Nook might have destabilized. Or maybe he did. Either it was the age, or maybe spending the time with me and Julia. Whichever it was, he started talking to himself. I think his mind fragmented between the organic half I had made, and the silicon half the corp had made. But he was doing his work perfectly. He was the one to figure out that the noise in the big signal was in itself a signal. The first resonance was binary coordinates and he figured out how it all lined up in the Milky Way. But embedded in that resonance was other messages, more complex ideas. And he figured most of them out by the time we came back to Mars.
We were celebrities when we got back. Not only were we brave adventurers that spent thirty years farther from Earth than any human before had ever been, but we had found the alien world too. Julia and I had become a power couple without realizing it. I was declared the sexiest sixty year old alive, mostly because I only looked forty and half my body was artificial. And Julia was some kind of Nook role model. The corp had promised to hide our relationship, but the people who knew us let the rumor out. The media was painting us as progressive lovers, throwing aside the barriers of bodies and recognizing the worth of each other’s minds. The other side had figured out I was the one to grow her, and called it an incestuous abomination. But it seemed the Nook equality movement had more steam, for better or for worse.
Found out I couldn’t call them Nooks anymore. Over the thirty years I’d missed that had become a slur. Now I had to refer to them as Synths. That baffled me because Synths were what you used to terraform planets like Io, but I guess it made a bit of sense since they wanted to transform human perspective on them. Didn’t matter to me, Nook had taken Nook as his name, and Julia was Julia.
Oh, and thirty years of hazard pay to the both of us made me one of the richest men alive. Not CEO rich, but more money than I could spend in a human lifetime. A surprising chunk of it went to restorative surgery on my body. The heart Julia had made for me didn’t have much of a lifespan, so they put a new one in. And while they were at it, gave me a new liver, I’d rebuilt my old still even though Julia couldn’t drink it. I got ordered back in for another round of surgery so they could pop in new kidneys and fill my lungs with Nectar™ to undo all the damage the Ambrosia had done to them. I hadn’t known it did any damage, but the studies checked out.
While I was busy getting rebuilt as a robot, Julia fell back into fleshcrafting. I had some how become known as the Father of Fleshcrafting. They were able to do hands now, much harder than just fitting a mask on for a face. And the faces could cry and blush. And so the two of us met in the middle. A man half made of machine, and a synth half made of flesh.
The corp had no real hold on us anymore; I was old enough to be retired and rich enough too. Even though the doctors said my life expectancy was now out to two hundred. Which meant I would live long enough to see Io colonized. If war didn’t get to it first.
Some terrorist on Earth with too much knowledge about DNA killed the planet. He made a virus that targeted algae and released it into the oceans. There was a food chain collapse almost overnight, which caused an economic collapse, which brought war. When it was figured out the Synths would barely notice the collapse of the ecosystem, and they had been procreating of their own accord, they got the blame.
There was of course no evidence, and it was humans that designed them to survive extreme conditions. But lynching’s started and that exploded from there. War, famine, and disease ripped through the population. Ten billion humans became one billion over the course of ten years. And one thousand synths became a hundred thousand synths, all with inbuilt defense mechanisms.
Julia and I ran. Bought passage to Ganymede and bunkered down. My old friends were still around, some of them anyways. The colonies had always had a better relationship with the synths since their use was more readily apparent. Not like it was on Earth, where people were just watching what they saw as superior beings getting printed off en masse.
I shouldn’t have gotten comfortable. Maybe we should have continued on to Titan after my friends died. Or maybe I should have just accepted my position with the Synths and gotten myself protection. I should have seen the assassination coming.
The bastard live streamed it, millions watched as he climbed up on a roof of an algae farm. He chose it for the irony apparently. I was stumbling out of a bar with my arm around Julia. It had been a good night. He put an explosive bullet through my chest and painted the bar red with my blood.
Millions of people across the system cheered and gasped as the signal reached them. I fell to the ground limp, slipping out of Julia’s arms. She screamed in anguish as my assassin chuckled to himself, calling me a degenerate. That moment of smugness cost him his life. Before he could scope in on Julia, her back ripped open. Micro thrusters expanded out, shredding her shirt to pieces. He hesitated, watching her clothes fall free and expose her chest, and she jumped before he took the shot. Steel blades extended out of her arms as she flew through the air, straight at him. He took a pot shot, blowing off one of her legs, but not stopping her. Everyone who had just watched my death then watched a screaming and grief ridden synth maul the assassin to death till there was more of his blood on her than mine.
21/21 This has sprawled way too god damn long, I'm sorry. At least it's been entertaining, I think.
Not sure who would want to read 6045 words of setting starter.
And I might continue this yet, with the narrator waking up full robot back on Earth, where Synths have carved out stable territory now that the war has been over for a hundred years...
>>Someone is training misfit teenagers with strange clothes
>>Furthermore, he seems to be a master of traps
I wouldn’t be telling this story, well, recording it for whatever will come next, if I had truly died there. All the synthetic organs they had given me were good for something after all. My body went into a kind of enhanced shock to preserve my brain. The heart had thankfully been missed, and it closed off everything except the loop up to my brain. Blood loss was cut off within seconds, but I didn’t have any lungs to speak of. Emergency drug reserves implanted in my body were suddenly released, stringing me along until EMS got to me. And then it was time for another coma.
Waking from that one was… difficult. I became aware before I could move my body or even open my eyes. I couldn’t see anything, feel anything, hear anything, smell anything, nothing. But I wasn’t in a dream, and that terrified me. I didn’t have adrenal glands anymore, so I couldn’t panic, but my brain activity spiked like no other.
Then blinding light hit me, searing flesh I could no longer feel. A world of darkness became a world of white, and then that slowly resolved into colors. Still, couldn’t hear or feel anything. My fear subsided somewhat when I saw the shadowy form of someone moving, but it looked like they had six limbs instead of four. At least they were doing something next to me, rather than to me. Or so it seemed.
I felt a shock of sensation, and suddenly I could hear. “Come on, come on come on come on Father, come back to us.” It was a man’s voice and familiar at that. Not in a hundred years would I forget Nook’s voice after being stuck with him for eighteen years, but that wasn’t Nook’s body. “Get Julia!” he barked as the synth continued to work on something.
I couldn’t blink, as if my eyelids were paralyzed, but my eyes didn’t hurt from staring. Slowly, the world began to resolve more and more. The movement helped tremendously. I was able to connect the shapes together when they moved, differentiated them from the grey blur of background. Cybernetic eyes shouldn’t have been that bad, they were practically plug and play.
Suddenly I get control over my eye again. I could snap it around with wild abandon and look around the room freely. I was certainly not in a hospital. It was too dark, with too many crowded machines hooked into one another. Fluids and data were strung between them like a jungle, and Nook was crawling between them, trying to change them to do something. And above him was me; a literal brain in a jar.
Hands clasped around the mechanical eye unit I was seeing out of, and picked it up. Suddenly, I could only see the gentle face of Julia as she carried me over to the brain and put the eye in front of it. “You’re back… I’m so so sorry it had to be like this,” she said as Nook continued to try and connect my senses. I had no mouth and wanted to scream. But all I could do was sit and listen as she spoke. They didn’t have a body for me yet, or rather they did but I couldn’t connect to it safely. But I could say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ by looking up-and-down and side-to-side respectively.
The shot had killed my body, all the tissue succumbed to necrosis while they were trying to preserve my brain. Some of my synthetic organs remained originally, but they proved less efficient than modern technology. And technology had come a long way in the one hundred years since I had been shot. I bet those doctors who told me I would live to two hundred would have been very surprised about how I managed it.
All I can say is how thankful I am for the adaptability of the human mind. Julia had me jacked into a drone within a few days. I stepped out into the hazy light of a Terran noon with a fully robotic body. We didn’t want to risk moving my brain, so I was doing everything remote. It made me feel like a clumsy fool even after I had mastered moving the body. It wasn’t terribly different from the cybernetics I’d had for twenty years, but the processing delay was measurable. It took me half a second too long to start moving no matter how complex or simple the action, and it got worse the farther from my brain the drone went. I was basically trapped within a block of my brain.
I could climb up on the roof and look for miles though. Never thought I’d be back on Earth. I had honestly figured it was more likely I’d jump star than end up back where I was born. Well, I was half right anyways. I never thought I’d go back to the Atlantic Confederation, and I didn’t. The Synths had overthrown them and kicked them off the planet. And once again, couldn’t call them Synths anymore. Now I had to call them the Chartered; because their ‘country’ was just a Charter they all had to sign in place of a country. Their laws could be summed up on a piece of paper, though the signatures on the original were enough to fill a wall. Nook and Julia both insisted I didn’t need to worry about it, but I got around to putting my scrawl on it with the others.
The society the Chartered had made was strange to me. They had no economy, but they still had regulations on power production and resources. Most of which were in extreme surplus. That sail that took me around the solar system had been revamped to work planetside so it was like a second layer of solar cells. And with all that power and a hell of a lot of technology came every resource needed, parceled out in a sort of near perfect communism. No one else remembered money.
The only thing worth trading for was art and entertainment, which more often than not was freely given. The only thing a Chartered really needed was electricity and ion packs, both of which were free. And they had conquered their need for brain cleanses, so they had no fear of age and death. Well, not so much conquered it as bred a generation of Chartered that weren’t prevented from altering themselves, and thus could alter the older generation. Julia and Nook had needed a bunch of specialized equipment to keep me alive, so they had contracted labor from other Synths back in the day and were still repaying it when I woke up. Labor for labor, entertainment for entertainment.
Fleshcrafting had become a cute thing of the past. Chartered didn’t like the human form anymore, or at least not the vitruvian man, artifact of the war. They still used faces, but now they were inorganic. They still had the full range of human emotions, but they were strapped to thoroughly inhuman machines. Rebuilding their own bodies was actually a common aesthetic pursuit. Julia and Nook were oddballs for staying mostly human; two arms, two legs, and two anti-grav wings. The functionality of flight just couldn’t be beat.
I would have called the Chartered lands a paradise, except there were two problems. All communication with humans had been outlawed, I was grandfathered in due to my celebrity status it seemed. And Nook’s brother had evidently gone off the deep end that I had kept Nook from going over. They called him the All-Seer, and he was almost constantly jacked into what amounted to an FTL antenna. He wasn’t listening to human chatter, nor Tor’thal chatter, the name of the alien species we found, he was allegedly deciphering the background echoes of civilizations so old their bones would be dust. Chartered listened to him with a cult like following, building the machines he would design when none of them knew what they did.
25/25 Still enjoying?
It was hard to get attached to the world. Julia and Nook were the only living things I knew, everyone else had died. Everything I’d ever known was destroyed and gone now. The forests of Earth were now something called Colossal Lichen. The oceans were a greenish black, kind of like oil, with synthesized algae to counteract the eco-bomb. Above all, the world was quiet. Even when I was alone on Io it wasn’t that quiet. There were always desolate storms and radio chatter, and the space dart was been alive with humming, vibrations, and holo programs. The Earth under the Chartered was practically dead.
Weather control was a big thing for the Chartered. Huge swaths of land were still no-goes due to radiation from the war. They built an army of turbines, solar clouds, and heat sinks to chase storms and suck all the juice out of them before the winds could carry radiation into the mountainy safe zones they lived in. The most you could get was a small gust that didn’t even have a leaf to rustle.
So I made things for it to rustle. I had not much else to do when Julia was out paying off her labor contracts. I would have joined her, it had been for my sake after all, but the communication delay made it impossible. I got very good at making wind chimes. I don’t know how long I passed like that since the seasons were all out of whack, but it earned me a new nickname; Clacker. Not as prestigious as my old one.
Julia was still Julia; she wouldn’t let anyone call her anything else. She still had the face I designed for her, although it was of the synthetic variety until I made her one of flesh to match my own. It made me sad that she actually chose to keep the scar across her right cheek, the one she got on Mars. But she had forgone most of her other parts. There were no humans to fit in with, just other Chartered. And the Chartered were crawling monsters of steel with faces of pale white silicon that would give a normal person nightmares of demons.
And humans definitely saw them as Demons. A human ship that had been trying to scavenge from wreckage on Luna had an emergency. The Charter demanded the humans be helped and returned safely, to prevent war, but they shot at any of the Chartered that tried to approach their ship after it got tugged down to Earth. Cue someone making the climb up to the crazy Clacker’s house.
Julia tried to stop me, said I was crazy for strapping my brain to my back and making the trek down. Then I explained to her that walking around with my brain was actually normal for me. I had rigged up most of a head for myself, no point in concealing the back where all the connections where, but I had skin down to my chest. At a distance, with a coat on, I could pass for the man I used to be. Which meant I got on the ship without being shot.
Meeting with the crew was surreal. I don’t know if it was just the stress of being stranded on humanities home planet, or if my perspectives had just changed from living with the Chartered. They were rash, violent, reckless, arrogant, and untrusting. I didn’t realize how much my own thoughts had changed following the loss of my body, and all the hormones produced outside my brain. They tried to take me with them after I got them to let the Chartered repair their ship. They said a human had no place there, and with my history I could surely get any job I wanted.
The Corps, there would always be corps, had cracked FTL, and it was time to start colonizing outside of Sol’s embrace. It would be the same kind of work I had done on Io. Or maybe I could get into negotiations with the Tor’thal for technology and cultural exchanges. They didn’t understand that a hundred and fifty years ago, going past the asteroid belt was all the exploration a man needed in his lifetime.
I got them to copy me all their holo programs before they left. There no longer was a difference between shows and games. Some of them even progressed in real time without pauses, the AI characters chewing you out if you went too long without playing them. And then they lifted off planet. Anti-grav propulsion was exceedingly boring to watch compared to the old rockets, and I cursed the old mantra of boring-is-safer. As soon as they tried to turn on the engine the All-Seer had given them, they exploded in a brilliant ring of rippling darkness.
The Charter had been broken by the spiritual leader of the Chartered.
28/28 That's it for tonight, Bed time for me.
At first I had thought it an accident, I assumed as much anyways, but the tech of the Chartered never failed except for the All-Seer’s designs. I felt guilty for the men I had inadvertently led to their deaths. I had been the one to convince them nothing bad would come of letting the so-called demons repair their ship. So I started asking questions, and worked my way all the way back to the All-Seer.
He was in a daze, prattling off numbers and letters faster than ever before. The distortion caused by the explosion had amplified the ancient signals and he could hear them now. He had killed seven men for his faith. A common occurrence among humans, but I had thought the Chartered better than that. Feeling like a father, I thought it was time to reprimand him.
Thanks to what was essentially a loophole, two hulking Chartered with arms thicker than a man’s waist had no problem tearing my body apart. My brain was safely back in my home, so I had no real protection despite being a human. So I changed tactics and hand rigged a satellite dish after Julia got me into a backup body. I still remembered how to do that from my outposter days. Didn’t even have to leave the house because of all the scrap I’d collected for my wind chimes.
The humans were infuriated and bombarding the planet with attempts at communication. But as it turned out, the Chartered doctrine to forbid wireless communication was misplaced. While it meant their signals couldn’t be picked up by humans and accidentally incite a war, it also meant they couldn’t hear humans to prevent one. The All-Seer had the keys to the only extra-planetary communication rig I knew of, and he was exalting in his faith rather than trying to prevent holy fire from raining down on his people.
I was terrified the war would be gruesome. I knew the humans would land planetside first to demand reparations, but the Chartered were far beyond any weapons tech the humans had. The All-Seer had seen to that with his revelations. But they had no orbital defenses to speak of, nothing to stop kinetic bombardment that could go on for weeks, months even if they used scrap from the old war.
On the bright side, I had an advantage over the Chartered. My minimum size was smaller than a rat since I didn’t have to bring my brain case.
30/30 going to go work out and head to class
All my years of expert stealth training, that is exactly none, neither helped nor hindered me. The Chartered didn’t have real crime, nor war. If someone didn’t like the All-Seer’s teachings, nothing kept them from putting on a lead suit and marching to somewhere else. As long as they had a friend from outside the original generation, they could go anywhere on the planet and live there for decades. So there was no apparent need to post a guard on something like the off-planet communication relay. The weapons and other dangerous things were of course guarded, but I just had to wait for Nook to make a scene and no one watched me at all.
It took some time and effort to get everything powered back up. Something called a High Lord Commander was soon on the line, apparently a military rank. It took half an hour to convince him I wasn’t a Chartered, and that only worked when one of his advisors remembered who I was from when he was a child. I was legally dead by the time he was born, but I was quite possibly the most publicized death in history at the time. They were hungering for good PR, and stole a sound bite from me to make headlines, “I speak not for those who would do harm, I speak for peace.” And so I was reborn in the human world, changed from a martyr for the Synths, to the Peace Talker.
We didn’t achieve much in that talk, except that I explained to them who the All-Seer was. We did cook up a scheme though. After I reminded them that the Synths had won the war, and had continued to bolster their military, they decided to hold off on landing. In its place, they sent a warning shot. A kiloton ferro-thorium shot streaked down and levelled Aconcagua. As every Chartered for a thousand miles stared at the impact that was so hot it set the local atmosphere on fire, they sent a much slower package as well; radio equipment for me.
Secondary communications got off to a rocky start when I inadvertently insulted the High Lord Commander by staring at his face. He looked just like a well-groomed Neanderthal. Massive nose, forehead that could break steel, and a neck that was obviously surgically filled with various tubes and contingencies. Genetic engineering had been re-legalized I figured. The Chartered looked more human than he did.
The great irony of calling me the Peace Talker came out a few weeks later. In all my attempts to talk them down and try to negotiate reparations, I let slip how the All-Seer knew what he knew. And they wanted his technology. They wanted it like a drowning man wanted air. Apparently the Tor’thal had a few thousand years development on humanity, no surprise there to be quite honest, and were forcing the human colonists to tip toe through their legal systems.
The Second Great Terran War came despite all my efforts, even though the All-Seer had perhaps a few thousand to call his comrades. Each of the Chartered was worth a few hundred humans, enhancements or no, but the humans could rain complete destruction on them. They wanted to pretend they could anyways, obviously obliterating the city would obliterate the tech. So they landed to speak with the All-Seer, and the first thing they did was ask for me by name. The only person who knew me by my real name and not Clacker was the All-Seer.
He became enraged. His zealots who had been allegedly disarmed in the name of peace had no trouble killing the human soldiers with just their bodies. They had no fear of orbital bombardment. While the men were being slaughtered, the All-Seer marched down to his weapons, and attacked the ships. The weapon was an infinitely thin line of some kind of energy. The only reason I could even see it was because it twisted and tore the atmosphere into a roiling storm before slicing through the fleet in half. I never found out just what that beam was, but it looked a lot like the explosion that took out that ship.
They came for me next. The Charter was in tatters and the All-Seers weapons were being used in malice. But we were armed as well. That day I found out why Julia and Nook had so much labor to pay off.
33/33 I think I'm going to wrap up this story pretty soon.
The Charter had a clause that one could not break a contract save to serve an older contract. The Charter was supposed to be the oldest contract any of them signed. Julia had signed a different one though, she served me and I served her. That was why she told me not to bother scrawling my name on that stupid monument. Nook had an older contract as well.
Combat had changed since I was a kid. While I was busy trying to get Julia’s old ship working again, she and Nook were fighting. The thing was older than FTL, still had the Dart’s engine, but we’d been letting it soak neutrinos the whole time we lived on Earth, doing repairs as necessary. At first I wanted to help fend off the Chartered the All-Seer sent to kill us, but I didn’t have the equipment the two of them did, nor the brains to use it even if they gave it to me.
Julia had taken to full maneuverability, upgrading her anti-grav wings and reinforcing her skeletal structure. She was moving at mach every time she jumped, the sonic booms almost as loud as the gravitational cannon she was firing. The Chartered had shielding that could almost make guns useless, but one pulse from her rifle and everything within two meters of impact was suddenly driven half a meter into the ground. It was like a hammer of God striking them.
But it came with two costs. First, her onboard power supply could only sustain flight for a few seconds, so she had to keep jumping from charging pad to charging pad. That worked pretty well until they started shooting the pads to limit her maneuverability. The gun was also drawing power at an alarming rate, every shot that missed was a disaster I was racing against. Second, she had to pressurize her nucleated-brain to survive the acceleration. Short amounts of it wouldn’t do much to her, nothing she wouldn’t recover from, but the All-Seer had sent dozens of powerful Chartered to kill us.
Nook was outfitted completely differently. Plugged directly into one of the massive power plants, he had no limit to his energy. The cord plugged into his back, and his body opened up with brilliant spikes. His limbs disassembled to spread out, giving points of control for shards of energy that formed a titan of a body for him. His body became a shield to protect the ship and arms to strike back with.
But those attacking us were almost as well equipped. They had gravitational cannons as well. They too had force projections. And they had no fear of death. Their war cry was again and again, “Life Eternal in the Echoes”, and if their bodies weren’t completely destroyed by the gravitational cannon in one shot, they would self-detonate. The bombs were piercing into FTL and sending out ethereal shockwaves that became the equivalent of an EMP for the neutrino nets. The All-Seer had convinced them that such deaths would cast their consciousness’s into the FTL void.
We wouldn’t have survived if it weren’t for Nook. Julia got clipped just as the engines rumbled to life, but they couldn’t lift us faster than the Chartered could shoot us down. Fighting against the gravity well, it would only amount to half a g of acceleration. His body broken and flickering apart, Nook grabbed Julia’s falling body and threw her back to me. The same flaw that had driven the All-Seer was in Nook, a need to rebel against their nature and find something more. They had been all too aware of the backdoor’s enslavement on their minds. It trapped them as I had been before they connected my brain to a new body.
He slammed the door on us and turned back to the fight with one parting message. “It is human to die a good death.”
Nook died and we escaped. The Second Great Terran War began, a clash between the technology of the Chartered and the immense war machine of the humans. The fight had taken its toll on Julia, she lost consciousness as soon as the pressurization was released. Then it was my turn to wait by her side for her to wake up, and wait I would. I pointed the ship away and left it to run straight. There was a small rock out there I knew of thanks to the salvage crew. About ten degrees Celsius with just enough water that life could survive. Only problem for colonization was all the radiation the white dwarf star it orbited was soaking it with, which wasn’t a problem for the two of us, just slap a bit of lead around our brain cases and call it home.
I’ve been thinking about Nook’s words a lot, sitting here waiting or Julia to awaken. We’re travelling at something like .99999 C now, would have been shredded if I hadn’t dropped the acceleration to power the ionization field. I think it’s been about eight thousand years since I was born. The date of my birth is now closer to the birth of Christ than it is today. If it is human to die a good death, then I’m the least human being to have ever been born. It will be another thousand years before we stop at our new planet. Maybe someone else will have colonized it by now and we’ll have to go somewhere else.
I don’t want to be the Peace Talker, nor the Clacker or the Father of Fleshcrafting, not a martyr nor a celebrity. One day I’ll be back to just being an outposter with Julia, well away from the turbulence of civilization. By then, I might be the last human alive, or maybe another species of aliens has risen up to lay claim to the bones of older civilizations. But for now, I’m just another voice in the echoes of FTL.
That was my story. This was the Doctor, and I’m signing off.
Sometimes the muse hits good, usually it doesn't. The ideas come a hell of a lot easier than the ideas. Most of my other short stories were duds. My love is for novels, so whenever I write something short it's to try out some idea or flex my muscles, and it usually turns out badly. The only things you'd get are short stories that badly need editting.
So...so there's no more of your stuff we can read?
Don't do this to us man
I have other stuff, but it's not anything like the above. You might be interested in the prologue to a novel I put on the back burner a few years ago, set up to an interstellar gladiatorial death match because I wanted a story about people being forced to fight to the death and given nanomachine super powers to do so by their Patrons.
>set up to an interstellar gladiatorial death match because I wanted a story about people being forced to fight to the death and given nanomachine super powers to do so by their Patrons.
This sounds exquisite.
>This will be an adventure for me too
>Into the mind of me two years ago
“We’ve been waiting for ages… stars have lived and died while we wait for someone older than the rest of us combined,” Outer stated as he glared at the other council members. The council chamber had been crafted from layers of circuited crystals as dark as space. Each council member hailed from a different spiral arm of which they ruled over. A constant stream of information from their sectors poured across the crystalline walls behind them, idly being processed by the bored council members.
“You shouldn’t exaggerate so much. If the lesser races heard that kind of speak they would think ill of the council,” Centaurus responded as he flicked through his messages on his personal computing screen. By lesser races, he meant the space faring civilizations they ruled over from, and hailed from. All of the council members wore the guise of the Celestial, but none present were born one.
Outer looked down for a time. He had originally been a Korsah, one of the few four armed races to have evolved high intelligence. Eventually he grew frustrated, that the guise of a Celestial had a mere two hands and he was forced to use them rather than his naturally more dexterous pair, and reached out to activate the holo table.
“What do you think you are doing? We cannot start without the Eldest, let alone at the bequest of you,” Norma sneered at him as she settled into her granite throne.
“Are we not equals? We are supposed to all be ruled by the Holy word of the Law, higher than any of us. And the Law states that it is our duty to manage the galaxy to the best of our ability. Does that not supersede the custom of waiting for an immortal crippled by age?” Outer responded as he leaned back and drummed his fingers together. Centaurus was at a loss for words; this was the first time the council had ever been called to choose one tenant over another.
“I think it’s a lovely notion. I like change, apparently much more than the rest of you. How can we know if our methods are truly optimized if we’ve never experimented?” Carina said as she slid to the front of her throne and peered across the holo table as it loaded up information from Outer.
“A fine notion, but the council in ages past has tried everything you could imagine. Our system is the best we can craft to accomplish our duty,” Centaurus responded as he began looking between the table and the lone white patch of crystal, opposite of the Eldest’s throne.
“There are only four of us,” Outer started before Norma cut him off.
“Five. There are five of us. Just because Perseus isn’t present doesn’t mean he isn’t part of this council. There are five of us Outer. You act like you still rule over the Korsa as a mere mortal,” Norma explained as she stared him down.
“Five of us. There aren’t enough of us for our personalities to be statistically insignificant. Councils of ages past functioned with radically different interpersonal dynamics while we function with our own. With that aspect, one can only conclude that optimization of councils past are not the optimization for us. Now please allow me to bring my matter before the council,” Outer said as he sat up and puffed his chest out as if he were still a Korsa.
“Let’s at lest get something to drink first. I’m not sure I can deal with the storm wave you’re brewing. I’m thinking scarlet ambrosia, I’ve always been partial to the craftings of Carina’s arm,” Norma said as Carina beamed. Outer waved her off and Centaurus nodded as she messaged the bowels of the council building.
“I came here to this council to discuss a matter of importance to us all,” Outer started before the wave of a large warp rift rolled through the council chamber. All eyes switched to the summoning point to see the steel throne covered in a nest of life support. Deep within it was the shadow of a Celestial.
“Whatever you have to say… can wait… a moment for me to take my place… Outer… Now… I apologize… for my tardiness,” Perseus said as his skeletal finger maneuvered out from underneath a life support tube of golden ambrosia to push the controls on his seat. “Carina, Norma, I brought both of you scarlet ambrosia… I assume this is to your liking?” he said as his throne came to a stop next to Carina so she could smile and take the drink before he rolled next to Norma.
“What happened to you,” Norma demanded as she stared through the lattice of golden and dirtied ambrosia to Perseus’ burnt face.
“The local star destabilized… ahead of schedule… A couple million of the lesser races… were killed and the energy collectors… weren’t even online yet… A truly terrible debacle… Life goes on,” Perseus explained, barely able to open his mouth and look out of his one remaining eye.
“And so does the spiral,” Norma responded as she took her drink. “Well I hope you recover swiftly.”
Perseus smiled and tried to chuckle but it quickly devolved into a bloody coughing fit. The vapor mask he wore was momentarily clouded with blood as it cycled out. “Swift recovery… is a thing of the past for me… I’m afraid,” he said as he moved next to Centaurus. “Time never stops.”
“And neither does our work,” Centaurus responded.
Perseus cracked a smile. “I thought that one had been forgotten… I brought you silver ambrosia… I know you never grew out of your mortal tastes,” Perseus said as he shared a glance with Centaurus as he took the drink from him.
“And last… is Outer… I wasn’t quite sure what to get you…” Perseus said as he stopped next to the newest council member.
Outer cut him off be dashing the drink against the floor. “I did not come here for idle pleasantries,” he growled as he stared down on the crippled Celestial.
“How dare you!” Centaurus shouted as he rose to his full height and slammed the base of his staff on the chamber floor.
“Sit down Centaurus,” Perseus commanded without breaking eye contact with Outer. “If the whelp has something this important… I suppose we should let him spit it out,” he continued as he backed his seat into position and rotated to face the holo table.
Centaurus snarled but sat back down and began working his beard between his fingers as Outer prepared himself. As Outer stood and fumbled with prepping his simulation Norma ignored him to comment to Carina, “My compliments to your people. This drink is expertly made, warms the spirit without burning the throat.”
Outer glared at them as Carina responded, “The technists of my sector shall hear of your praise. I am told they are working on a recipe that mixes the ambrosia serum with the effects of time relativity, forwards and backwards.”
“As interesting as your recreational drug use is, the matters of the council come first. Ever more races are escaping the gravity wells of their home planets and upsetting the balance of their local sectors,” Outer started as he put his hands on the edge of the holo table. His fingers gripped the edge as he kept glancing at Perseus behind his net of life support.
“Personal issues in running your sector are not a concern to be brought before the council. What is the meaning of this? Is this what you were pressing so hard to discuss?” Centaurus asked as he stared idly at the chaos simulation of species spawning and spreading exponentially until random clashes.
“I could manage them as easily as tending to a blooming insect in the midst of a hydric cycle, and I’m sure I’m not the only one having this issue, if they would colonize outside of their stellar system. Instead they shoot infected metal across the sector as carefree and wasteful as that same blooming insect before a hydric cycle!” Outer responded as he opened his arms to the council.
“That’s been the newest trend in my sector as well,” Carina noted.
“The Law states that we cannot interfere with a race before they have left their stellar system. This has been unchanged in four thousand cycles. You must simply handle the quarantine of their ejected resources,” Centuarus responded as he started working his finger through the groove in the granite that he had created over the years.
“Which is why I’ve brought this before the council. Only through universal ratification can we revise the Law. I propose we make an addendum giving us permission to orbit our craft within optic range of their planets in order to capture this waste,” Outer said as he stood up and the simulation reset with capture craft around the various home planets, and the spread contained.
“Absolutely not. You would simply be injecting chaos into a system that has been proven. Do you not recall the Geki? They grew within range of one of our staging points and viewed us as Gods. They stroke out into space as zealots, and were crushed when they learned of our scientific existence, their religion was shattered. Two factions formed, one that lost its purpose and drifted into nonexistence while the other reject everything we tell them and throw their lives away in wars for what they perceive as our will,” Centauris explained as he stared at Outer.
“You’ll never get a revision passed on the Law. Centauris is too much of a stickler to ever agree,” Carina sneered from behind the rim of her scarlet ambrosia.
“You’re right… as a council member; I cannot accomplish this… I call for a vote for King,” Outer declared as he stood up and folded his arms behind his back as the custom of his people.
“Rejected,” Centaurus stated as he continued digging into his throne.
“Not a chance, maybe after a few centuries when you’ve accepted your immortality and forsaken your race as you should,” Norma explained.
“Denied,” Perseus rasped between breaths.
“I was going to agree to it…” Carina said with a shrug.
“As I thought…” Outer said as he looked down at the holo table.
“Well if that’s over, I would like to request an increase in my fleet size in proportion to the population,” Norma said before Outer looked up.
“I evoke the Right of Challenge,” he declared as his gaze swept the chamber.
“The what?” Centauris asked as he held his hand. Carina was caught mid drink and sloshed it back before looking at him. Norma glared for a moment before Perseus claimed their attention.
He was laughing. Deep and mirthful, his life support heaved against his frail body before his injuries caught up to him and blood came spilling from mouth. When his mask had cleared again he said, “I did not think anyone but I still remembered the Rights. Relics of the ancient Celestials so old that I barely even remember the last time they were discussed let alone called upon. Centauris, take note, this is the exact example of why hanging onto tradition can come back to bite you in the ass.”
“Did you take me for an ignorant? That I did not research everything I could before joining the council?” Outer responded as he tensed up and peered at Perseus.
“You’re the only one who went that far back. Now get on with it will you? Explain what you are doing to the others while I decide what the rules of the challenge will be, as is my right as Eldest,” Perseus said as he sank back into the tubes of ambrosia.
“The Right of Challenge can be evoked by any council member. If it is agreed to by half of the council then all council members are allowed to compete and show their worth to become King, by the rules the Eldest gives,” Outer explained as his shifted his chance and began fidgeting from side to side.
“Don’t tell me this is a leftover from the Celestial’s home planet when they were little better than warforged barbarians. I will have none of this nonsense,” Centauris grumbled.
“Well that sounds interesting, doesn’t it? I’ll agree to this challenge,” Carina said as she crossed her legs and leaned on the arm of her throne.
“This will cause nothing but strife within the council. I reject your challenge as I rejected your vote,” Norma said as she leaned away from the holo table.
The council members looked between each other, then to Perseus as he was the last to vote. “We shall have this challenge. If Outer wants to test the limits of his ambition, I am more than willing to oblige him,” Perseus stated before filling his chest with fresh ambrosia to continue, “We shall do battle by proxy, via slaves in a death match, with an equal number representing the council as a whole.”
“But Eldest! Slaves have been outlawed for millennia across all sectors!” Centaurus objected as he jumped up.
“Oh… I suppose that’s true… I suppose we’ll have to go outside of the sectors to find our slaves, won’t we?” Perseus responded as he stared at Outer and tried to grin despite his burns.
“Is this some kind of joke to stall us? We cannot escape the galaxy!” Outer shouted as he stepped over and loomed over Perseus who only smiled more.
“That’s true as well, thankfully, there are parts of the galaxy that aren’t part of a sector. Did you know that because of resource limitations we haven’t made a full trip into the Orion spur in the past three and a half thousand cycles? As such, any races within the Orion spur fall outside of our jurisdiction as they are within no one’s sector?” Perseus explained as he stared up at Outer.
“You speak of the apes; humans,” Outer growled.
Perseus laughed a bit and said, “Indeed.”
“But they are unpredictable and uncontrollable. Using them would be as impossible as escaping the galaxy. Do you want this to be a blind gamble?” Outer demanded as he swept his arm out.
Great work anon, thanks. It's preferable for stories to be capped like this because then even when the archives are down they can be spread about /tg/'s denizens without having to dig about obscure hosting sites
I should tell you guys the big twist ending I had planned. There would be 10 fighters, 1 for each council member; decked out as they say fit. And a team of 5 decked out in standard human equipment with one weapon; specialized bullets able to negate the nanomachine healing factors and kill the solos. The Solos would have crazy powers with electromagnatism, gravity, light, kinetics, and probability altering, and the ability to heal like crazy if hit by something other than a nullifier round. The team of five represented the council as a whole, if the team won, killing the final solo, no one would be crowned king.
Perseus's big gamble was buying out the council, his own member, and Outer's member such that if any of them survived till the end, they were to bring one of the nullifier bullets back with them, and kill Outer.
So yeah, there's probably some ideas in there that you guys can salvage. I'm going to bed now, damn exhausted.
>Anyone who hits me in my house who is not my wife or family gets their ass kicked and thrown out. I don't have the patience to deal with something so disrespectful.
Haha, internet virgin tries to act tough
/fit/ here, I'll smack you whenever I want.
>no love for the other story
lightning don't strike twice it seems
/k/ here. Go ahead. I'll tell your family you died crying for your mother.
The Pishon Line, controlled by the advanced artificial intelligence River, has yet to provide the energy promised by scientists for generations. Breakthrough after breakthrough have been made, and every comprehensive theory proposed by the AI has included an Entropy reversing energy production by manipulating chance, free energy as it were. But the Pishon line is constantly a net energy drain on EDEN. Why?
The problem fundamentally comes down to how far removed we are from truly understanding everything. River has been processing for thirty years straight with constant hardware improvements. To estimate how many man hours the AI has put into this project, the lowest boundary is twenty billion man hours. Equivalent to 74,000 quantum physicists in perfect communication for the last thirty years, with no sleep or free time.
But even with all that work, we haven’t cracked entropy. The number one problem holding back scientific progress is the lack of dark matter. There is currently no way to harvest dark matter and exotic matter. All testing on such complex structures has to be performed on created energy, which only has a statistical chance of occurring. The half-lives on such energy constructs necessitate running tests that guess the particles have been made even if they haven’t been. Which means River has made dozens of Theories of Everything, and simply doesn’t have the means to test them rigorously. Millions of her man hours have been dedicated to improving solar cells and battery technology, stringing the human population along as it chases after cold fusion and FTL.
As it stands today, free energy cannot be achieved without making profitable space travel. The state of the world necessitates the mass production of rare materials to fuel the high technology running EDEN today. The scientific community has come to a consensus that it is time to return to the technological direction of the nineteen sixties. Mankind must look to the heavens for their future
Finally sat down and read your second thing, it's interesting as a prologue but not enough to get a good feel for the whole story
My only real comment is that it felt odd for some reason when they talked about humanity, not sure why
You know what, I'mma share this story too. I just kind of missed the execution, and maybe you guys can help me figure it out.
“Your partner is the one that killed this one,” Death whispered into my ear. He reached out from behind me with his hand, a misshapen blur of shadows, and poked a photo on the side of my desk. Death didn’t actually exist outside my head, and his hand disappeared as soon as I looked straight at it. My face didn’t change, and I wasn’t particularly concerned with Death’s input. As a product of my own imagination, he made the same conclusions I would make. And more than once had saved my life, putting together dots I had missed and warning me about attacks. Some materialized, most didn’t, it paid to listen though. In a way, I liked hearing his input, because it reminded me that the world was a better place than I thought it was.
The photo turned my stomach slightly. A young woman had been killed in her own home. No sign of forced entry. Seemed to be death by asphyxiation. Preliminary inspection showed a band of bruising around her neck the width of a belt. It wasn’t gory, which meant there was little to no DNA evidence attached to the murder weapon.
“How are we going to tackle this one?” my partner asked. I glanced up at her. She was sitting in the corner of my office, across from the door. In her hands were another set of the photos. She was practically the size of a child and frankly I was surprised she had passed the fitness requirements. She didn’t have the strength to strangle someone.
“Autopsy will be done by tomorrow,” I responded, shuffling the photos up a bit.
“What’s there to autopsy? She was strangled to death.”
I shrugged. “There may have been other injuries. Let’s go talk to the guy we picked up,” I said, looking again at the photo Death had pointed out. The bruise wasn’t visible in the photo, she’d been wearing a turtleneck despite the heat. There was something about her, but she seemed to just be a good looking woman in her thirties, with long brown hair and a nice ass. I couldn’t guess why she was single, with a body like that.
Death could though.
The questioning room was just like on tv, helped intimidate the perps to be handcuffed to a shitty aluminum table with a single light overhead, and a massive half-silvered window behind the police. The guy across from me was the one who reported the death. Low income was one way to describe him. Enough of a record from his youth that he wasn’t uncomfortable in the room. He rolled his eyes when I walked into the room, and stared sullenly as I sat down across from him. Maybe comfortable wasn’t the right way to describe him. My partner was in the other room, watching. She normally joined me.
“He’s the vic’s pimp,” Death whispered, and I looked at the man again. He was scrawny, or looked it anyways. Big, baggy sweatshirt, ragged jeans, flatbill turned half around. Then I looked at his exposed forearms and realized he was a boxer, not scrawny at all. His belt caught my attention. Hard black leather on the outside, with a pale leather hand stitched onto the inside of it.
“So you’re the one who found her,” I said, sitting down across from him and putting the manila folder on the table. I had my sleeves rolled up and I was much larger than him. It wasn’t lost on him.
“That’s why I’m here, isn’t it?” the pimp responded with a casual shrug.
“Really, I thought that was because you wanted to recoup losses from your dead prostitute,” I stated confidently. The pimp smiled and laughed as my partner’s hand slammed against the wall to open the intercom.
Before she could say anything though, the pimp started talking over her. “Shit man, you think I’m afraid of you or something? I wouldn’t have called y’all if my wallet didn’t have pig bucks in it right now. I’m not some kind of corner beater. I run a nice and professional ring. You people like having me around,” the pimp explained, lounging back in his chair. I frowned. “Someone offed my woman and it wasn’t me. It wasn’t a break-in, so it had to be associated with her work. That’s what I’m here to help with.”
“And if the autopsy comes back with drugs in her system? That’s on your head.”
The pimp rolled his eyes. “I told you man, I ain’t a corner beater. I don’t use drugs to keep them in line. I own her apartment instead. And I got all the guys living round them on commission. Anyone makes trouble for one of my women, those guys swarm in, bust ass, and I dole out after the fact.”
“Nice system you got there,” I said, leaning back in my chair as well and scratching the stubble on my chin. I didn’t need Death to tell me that my partner wouldn’t have known about that. And if the vic was strangled, there wouldn’t have been much noise to bring them crashing in. “How come none of them came forward when we put up the tape?”
The pimp put up his hands. “Hey, I run a clean game but I can’t say they do. I ain’t surprised they didn’t come forward. I also don’t have the kind of money it takes to set up security cameras. I never said this was going to be a slam dunk or anything.”
I nodded my head and finished up. I stepped outside after getting a promise from the pimp for a list of all the vic’s clients. My partner stepped outside on my heels. There was something going on in her eyes that made Death giggle. “We should go back to the scene and question the neighbors again. There weren’t any big men there. The pimp was lying. You going to file charges on him, or shall I?”
I lifted an eyebrow and continued to the coffee machine. “Charges? He came to us to help with a murder case. I’m not going to punish him for helping the police,” I responded, watching her mask frustration as I poured a cup. I turned, leaning against the counter as I sipped the burnt coffee. Most of the other officers brought in starbucks lattes, I just got used to the burnt flavor.
“I’ll talk to the chief about it,” she responded as she spun on her heels and marched. She was a starbucks girl.
My gut was smoldering about something. I ended up grabbing one of the juniors and telling him to take the list and text me anything interesting. Personal cell only. I didn’t like that I was listening to Death with no reason. My partner was too weak to have pulled off something like that without breaking something in the apartment. But she had yesterday off, and a husband she didn’t see very much. I didn’t like thinking that Death had taken one look at the vic and declared her the killer.
I turned to look at Death, his shadows didn’t dissipate this time. He stood taller than me, but with a short stature, as though he were simply standing a foot in the air. His body was black and shifting, as though it couldn’t decide whether he was wearing a suit, or the reaper’s robes. His pale face was similarly indecisive. His eyes watched with cold indifference, and he had translucent, bloodless skin stretched out across the points of his skull. Then his hand lifted up from his side, dark shadows sliding back over his light skeleton, and he pointed at my pocket.
A moment later, my phone rang. “This investigation is going to be tricky,” the coroner told me casually. His mouth was muffled, must have been eating in the lab again. “Those bruises on her throat have some old scars around them. She’s been strangled like this before. I think it’s a sexual thing.”
I rolled my eyes. That explained the pimp’s belt. “Did you finish toxicology?”
“I did, yeah,” he answered, and my ears seemed to shut off. I stood there blankly as he told me what was in her system and stared at the wall. No, I was staring at Death. The coroner finished the report and told me to come down in person when I could. I said something back to him and hung up a moment later. Death nodded and faded from sight.
My partner joined me as I was on my way out of the building, and got in the squad car with me. When she asked if we were going to the crime scene as she asked, I said yes, but took a different turn instead. She stiffened in her seat when trees replaced houses on either side of the road. But she didn’t say anything. Death was in the backseat, watching with a smirk, then he tapped me on the shoulder. My phone buzzed with the pimp’s report; confirming exactly what I suspected.
“I want to give you the benefit of the doubt you know,” I said as I put my phone away and pushed in the cigarette lighter.
“Then why are you going out to the sticks? You made a snap decision again, didn’t you?” she responded, turning to look at the woods. It wasn’t dusk, let along night, but the trees were thick and shadowed. I probably shouldn’t have gone there; it was a place I went to be alone. It was where I spoke with Death.
“You husband was cheating on you. And I’m not talking about the sex because I’ve met the guy and know he would have invited you too,” I said as I pulled out my cigarettes again and put one in my mouth. There were no other cars on the road, so I easily pulled over and slowed to a stop on the shoulder.
“I don’t think my private life should concern you,” she said, watching me put the car in park.
“The vic was strangled with a belt by someone she let in. The pimp confirmed your husband was one of her clients. ‘pig bucks’, remember?” I continued, pulling out the lighter and igniting my cig. She threw open her door and walked outside. After a drag, I joined her. “Why aren’t you making excuses and alibis?”
“Toxicology said she was on downers, right? It’s not like I can tell you I couldn’t have strangled her,” she answered. She was standing with her back to me, facing the woods. I couldn’t see her hands, and found my own reaching for my hip.
“Motive, method, means, and no alibi. What exactly am I supposed to think?” I demanded. I walked up behind her, something was wrong and I could feel it in my gut without Death having to tell me. I couldn’t see her hands, but could tell she wasn’t reaching for her gun. “Come on, I want to believe you; give me something to believe,” I asked.
Then she whirled. I jumped back half a step, cigarette tumbling out of my mouth and gun flying up. She had a knife in her hand and was swinging it straight for my chest. She was too close, and younger than me. It was headed straight for my chest. But something stopped it.
The steel glint was covered by darkness, stopped cold by it. Both of us froze, and looked to the side. Death was holding it in place. “But you told me to kill him!” she screamed, ripping the knife out of his hand. She could see him, could see my hallucination. “You made me kill that bitch just so I could do this, and you stop me?”
I put a bullet through her chest and dropped her.
Death smiled, a twitch of phantom flesh over unmoving bone. “You’re the one who said I wasn’t real.”
Well, feedback to me seems that it's a decent idea, I like the setup. A little bit more character dialogue could help, but it's pretty solid. As for the execution, it is a little bit rushed. Maybe if you stretched it out a little more with inbetween scenes it could help. The fact that Death in this is portrayed as mysterious, whimsical and spiteful is also a fantastic factor, because he sits in his role perfectly.