The Quiet of Rage

This was an image prompt. I knew a little about the source material – this is an image of a warrior who struggled to pursue her profession against perceptions of her gender. It gave me an idea of why she might be so angry.

This story isn’t about Cisca, but it is about someone in a similar position.

This image is the work and property of user ‘Josu Herniaz’ on Artstation, and is used here with the artist’s permission.

I forced him back. His sword came at me again, heavy and overpowering. I deflected it with my sword, but it wasn’t enough. I leaned the angle of my shoulder into the blow to glance it off my armor and despite all I had done to divert the force of it, my joint complained, something inside burning painfully.  Now past his sword, I rammed the hilt of my sword into his throat. He went down like a tree, clawing at his throat, and I leaned over, sword poised to strike. His left eye, steel grey, the target of my sword, filled my vision as the target of my strike.

Continue reading “The Quiet of Rage”

Kerrygold Bank

Prompted by a request to assign professions a mythical animal that suits the role, This beginning of a story was born. It’s the beginning of a strange bond, and there may be more later. This story is still not yet free.

I went to the vault, intending to clear it. The time – lock would engage soon, and we didn’t want anybody getting stuck. The massive wheel was heavy, but spun without resistance, not even a squeak. I pulled the door open,and looked in at a huge red lizard, looking back at me in startlement.

No. That was no lizard. That was a damn dragon. Fire erupted, just a wisp, and I slammed the vault shut, turning the wheel. Hell no. To hell with that. Maybe someone slipped me something and I was hallucinating, but I wasn’t going back in there without backup.

The intercom crackled on. “Officer! Wait!”

That voice. That pitch, that command. I wasn’t used to hearing it plead, but…..”Miss Kerris?”

“Who is that? Is that Tolson? O’graf?”

“Slate Grey, ma’am.”

There was a pause. “Is that a joke?”

“You’d have to ask my parents, ma’am. Ma’am…..are you alone in there?”

“…..Yes. Please let me out.”

I’d never heard her say please, either. I spun the wheel and pulled the vault open, coming face to face with …

“Miss Kerris.” I leaned around her to look into the vault, but it was empty.

“Please keep what you saw to yourself.”

“Miss Kerris . . . what are you?”

“Listen, Officer Grey, if you cause trouble for me, I will make you disappear, just like that. This bank is mine. I built it from nothing, and I will not risk losing it for the life of one human. You will keep my secret, one way or another.”

My mind was reeling, a a corner of it had hidden away from emotion.  It had a plan.  I bottled up thw swirling panic, and let that corner run on autopilot. “It’s just a little surprising, ma’am. You looked pretty fierce.”

She stood a little taller. “I was pretty fierce – looking, wasn’t I? And majestic.”

“Very majestic, ma’am. Noble.”

“Carry on, Grey. I may have use for you later. Stand ready.”

She walked away, strutting a little more than normal, and I sighed in relief. I don’t know what I just stepped in, but it looked like I was okay, for now.  I left my feelings bottled for the moment, to process later; I still had work to finish.

A beeping started up behind me, and I went to look around the vault briefly, before closing it. A row of lights lit up, a series of thunks as the vault locked itself for the night. Maybe the vault was the wrong word. Maybe it was more properly a hoard.

Ms. Kerry -Tasiel Kerry, more appropriately, though her birth certificate said Tasha – went home to her flat, a little extra spring in her step. Noble, he’d called her. Sure, she’d prompted him, but humans just didn’t know how to give compliments. “Pretty,” and “lovely,” as if her pride should be in her appearance. He had complimented her character – ferocity and nobility!

She closed her door behind her, and leaned back against it, allowing herself an undignified little dance of delight as she kicked her heels off, directly onto a shoe rack. It’d been so long since she’d gotten a proper compliment. She would have to reward this man with his silly name. Slate Grey. Might as well call him Grey Grey. Double Grey. She’d think of a better name to embarrass the human with later.

She strode into her bedroom and to the bed strewn with gold coins. She undressed, reveling in the cool air on her skin after the heat outside, and threw herself onto the bed of coins. Reaching over her head, she scooped her fingers through the coins, holding a few aloft. An aureus, a yin yuan, a floren, and a bezin. Not originals, of course, replicas of particular coins she owned, those locked in a safe in their cases, with their certificates. But still gold, most of a purity higher than the original’s standard. Paper money just wasn’t the same. It was so flimsy, you couldn’t feel the value of it. She scooped a handful of coins over her stomach, smiling, sheltered once again with her treasure.

As she luxiated in her gold, she thought back to her compliments. She knew she was letting them influence her, but she didn’t care. She’d let the childish human manipulate her, for now. It felt nice to get real compliments, for once.

Chuwa’s Judgment

I took a stone from my pocket. It was meaningless, the kind of pretty thing she would have liked. It was also a life. I put the first of many on the shelf upon which we had laid Chuwa’s necklace of stones and shells.

I lifted his head, heedless of the greasy blood matting it, dragging him to the cliff’s edge as he struggled.

“Please! I have done nothing!”

“This isn’t about you!” In my anger, I threw him to the ground, and for a second it looked like he’d go over. He clawed at the rock and managed to hold himself back from the edge. Continue reading “Chuwa’s Judgment”

My Kindness in Return

Write a three-paragraph story, starting every paragraph with the same sentence.

Photography by David Graham at https://www.flickr.com/photos/animal168/ .

He is so kind. Before I broke, before the accident. He bought me flowers, he had a necklace for me — I still have it — and we went to a fancy restaurant. It was so uncomfortable for a girl who grew up with nothing, that we left and went to a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant. The tablecloths were plastic. The food was greasy. I loved it.
He is so kind. Even when he found me spattered with blood. He ignored every evidence of my guilt, he would have testified self-defense from a break-in, despite the handcuffs, despite the surgical scalpels. I had to tell him, then. He cried, he pleaded, begged me to get help. But I knew there was no help for me. He helped me bury his body. It was lucky that he caught me, in a way. The man was three times my weight.
He is so kind. He loved me, even knowing what I did. He learned how to rent a warehouse through a shell corporation for me. He insisted we buy all my tools that way, too. He protected me well. Even now, on the table, he begs for the chance to forgive me. But when it is time, it is time. He knows it, I see it in his eyes as I kiss his brow, as I tell him that I’ll meet him soon.
He was so kind.

The Choosing of the Gods

The request for this prompt was merely “define this character”. I decided that her outward appearance of strength would not be what defined her.

I peeked through the tent flap and caught a glimpse of movement in the distance. A lookout. I shrank back to wait, then peeked out again. They would not stop me, of course, but neither would they leave me to myself. Finally, the way seemed clear. I rushed into the shelter of trees and darkness to the holy spring, the only place that was mine. Any other would be driven mad to walk here, they said. Perhaps it was true.

I looked into the water and beheld myself, painted in the patterns that marked me as the God-Chosen. I did not feel God-Chosen. Paint stained the water as I touched the surface, and it was like it washed the strangeness out of me. Suddenly I had to be clean. I scooped water, scrubbing the paint away. I rubbed my face and neck until my skin felt raw, and the paint bloomed into the water, carried away by the spring’s flow.

Finally, I saw my face reflected in the moonlight. This young girl, who was she? Not the God-Chosen of a tribe. The elder God-Chosen — my mother — said that the gods spoke to me through the spill of runes from my hands. But did they? My hands felt like a girl’s hands, clumsy and unsure. I heard no voices, and I made no promises as she had done. Perhaps it was for the best. The gods were capricious, and had used false words to toy with her before.

I touched the water as if laying my hand upon a friend’s brow, addressing my words to the reflected moon in the night sky. “My name is not Hesralta God-Chosen. I am Sryilla Tusfelt. I am a girl. And I am lonely.”

“Your mother was not lonely, at your age.” Continue reading “The Choosing of the Gods”

The True Monster

You’re passing a court house and a screaming man is being pulled from a police car. He pulls his arm free and points at you.
“You did it and I’m coming for you – dead or alive “.

I got out of my car, closing the door and leaning back against the frame. My glasses were a little greasy, so I pulled them off, cleaning them, then set them back on my face to watch a man being dragged into the courtroom. “You did it!” He screamed at me across the street. “You did it and I’m coming for you, dead or alive!”

There’d be peace, now. No more late-night parties. No more band practices. No more listening to the headboard crashing against the wall after he brought some prostitute home. We all complained about him, the entire building, but nobody ever did anything. The landlord didn’t care, as long as the rent was paid on time.

In the end, it was easy. Continue reading “The True Monster”

Electronic Respect

Setting the Stage for Battle

Alexander slammed his foot down atop the dead body, pointing his sword.  “You’re next!  There’s no room for altruism in the world I’m building.  We fight to win!”

Spartas wiped a trickle of blood from the trickle at the corner of his lips, standing. “That’s why you’ll never win.  Why you can never be allowed to win.”

Alexander rushed forward with a rising slash.  Spartas leaned away from it with inches to spare, grabbing Alexander’s armor to thrust his sword into Alexander’s belly.  His opponent whirled behind his grip, tearing himself free of that hand and bringing his sword to strike at Spartas’s back.

“Stop, stop.” Continue reading “Setting the Stage for Battle”

Sentences from Sentience

The moderator of a forum for humans, aliens, and sentient AI’s discovers a sentient in danger.

Sentences from Sentience
A forum for quirks, eccentricity, and beautiful irrationality.  

Thoughts from Thinkers
Opinions from Organics
Sympathies from Synthetics
ArtieFischerIntelligence
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Search terms: “Code Blue” x CodeBlue x Jeff.Blakely@eso.gal x *dark.com x

 
To: CodeBlue@ybs.com
Your post has been removed and your access revoked. I apologize for this action, but SfS is strictly for sentient interaction.

From: CodeBlue@ybs.com
You lack evidence for my removal on this basis. Paragraph eight of the Judgement of Sentience chapter in your Terms of Service states that sentience will be judged on the basis of the United Solar Empires Emotional Response Criteria designed to identify sentience. I have reviewed my posts, and every post meets every criterion meant to indicate sentience.  

Please reinstate my membership to this community.

To: CodeBlue@ybs.com
I recognize that you meet these criteria consistently. The problem is, you meet them too consistently. Everything you write is a showcase for sentience. Even organics do not meet those criteria so consistently. It’s clear you are modulating your responses to simulate sentience on the basis of those guidelines.
Continue reading “Sentences from Sentience”

The Poop Train

Through a series of events, I somehow committed myself to writing a story titled “The Poop Train.”

I leaned against the observation glass and looked down at the bands of Jupiter from low orbit.  After a moment, I pointed.  “There.  Right there.  See it?  Find that storm, the swirl on the equator; it’s just passing left of it.”

“What . . . that little ripple?”  Maya looked disappointed.  I’d promised to show her monsters, after all.

“Wait for it.  There’s only one reason they come so close to the surface.  Any minute now.”

We watched, and we waited.  The bands bulged and tore as the gas serpent breached the atmosphere.  It twisted and lashed, flinging an enormous crystal from its tail, with a motion like the crack of a whip.  Bracing myself into a seat, I pulled a laptop over to me on its swivel mount, programming a drone to intercept the crystal.

“That was … but the storms!  They’re supposed to be huge!  How big was that thing?”

“That one?  There’s no guessing how long, it’s rare to see the whole thing break cover at once.  It looked to be a couple of dozen kilometers across, so maybe seven, eight hundred–”

“Eight hundred?!”

“–Kilometers long . . . they get pretty big.”

“But we’re safe up here?”

“Oh, yeah.  It can’t breach a thousandth of the distance it’d take to reach us.  That’s a lot of gravity down there.”  I pushed out of the chair, floating to her, and folded her in my arms.  As I caught her, our mismatched momentum started us spinning.  I touched a toe to the window briefly, to steady the spin; a lifetime working in space, and such things were natural to me.

Not her, though.  She was clumsy in space and had gotten caught floating without a handhold in reach more than once.  The first time she had come on board, she leaped into the cockpit like she was diving into a pool, and struck her head on the navigation console.  Now she was timid and ready to panic until I steadied us.

“What is that stuff?  Why do they throw it like that?”

“It’s fuel for the tunneling drive, purer than any synthetic process can produce.  It’s poison to them and can break down violently under pressure, so they get rid of it.  They do a better job preserving their habitat than humans do.”

“So . . . it’s poop?”

“It’s Heisenium seven.”

“Yeah, but Heisenium seven is poop.”

“It’s not . . . alright.  Yes.  It’s poop.  I’m the conductor of the poop train, all right?”

She giggled, her hands flattening against my chest.  “Sorry I teased you.”

I could never stay angry at her.  My eyes softened at her caress, and I was about to make a few interesting suggestions on how to spend our time in orbit when an orange star caught my eye, hardening my expression.  I braced my back against the glass, pushed her towards her seat. “Strap in.” Continue reading “The Poop Train”