Legacy 12

Feb. 28th, 2016 10:31 am
rix_scaedu: (Giraffe)
Following on from Legacy 11 we have a little domesticity.


Baranyi woke once in the night. She checked on the girls, stood outside Buldaveho’s door for a few minutes telling herself that she didn’t need to check on him, and then took herself back to bed. Her guest wasn’t, she reminded herself, an ill elderly man like her father who’d needed careful monitoring and nursing through the last few months of his life. He didn’t need monitoring or nursing.

No, he’s not like Father at all, agreed part of her mind that hadn’t spoken up in years. He’s not your brother, or your cousin. He’s sleeping in your house tonight. He was naked in your bathroom….

Baranyi rolled over, moved her pillow around and tied to ignore the imagined images parts of her brain seemed far too eager to consider.

She got up early and made parsnip patties to go with smoked fish for breakfast. For four. Making breakfast was a nice, straight forward, non-wayward thought process.

Then she got the girls up, dressed them in their own clean, dry dresses, and braided their hair for them. They’d objected, until she’d proven that it really had grown long enough to be braided, but when she’d shown them the results in the mirror she thought they were both rather pleased.

Buldaveho got himself up, dressed and down to the kitchen. After agreeing gravely with the girls that his hair was far too short to be braided, he sniffed suspiciously at his first parsnip patty, tasted it, smothered both his patties and the fish in butter, then ate the lot. The girls looked astonished when he asked if there were anymore. Baranyi cooked up the rest of the mix that might have gone towards lunch and kept feeding him.

It was somewhere around there that Baranyi realised that this scene, or something close to it and maybe with the same players, was something she wanted for herself. It wasn’t everything she wanted, but it was definitely on the list.

She just wasn’t sure how to make it happen. Or if she could.
rix_scaedu: (cat wearing fez)
I wrote this to the second prompt I'm using on my DW community: [community profile] trope_bingo card. The prompt is "kiss to save the day" and the story is origfic which follows on from From Episode One - "The Dawkins Affair". It runs to 1,907 words for those of you with time or spoon issues.


Damien Lieb was very drunk. That was always the problem with meeting the contact known as Potemkin, the Russian insisted on trying to drink you under the table. That, of course, limited who they could send in to deal with him: Ali was their wheelman and teetotal; Taylor and Watkins were both of more use stone cold sober with their judgement completely unimpaired; and Stan’s liver wouldn’t be up to that sort of shenanigans for months yet. Despite his inability to keep up with the Russian, and swearing each time that he’d never do it again, Lieb was always the man for the job.

Read more... )
rix_scaedu: (cat wearing fez)
I wrote this to the first prompt I'm using on my DW community: [community profile] trope_bingo card. The prompt is "kiss to save the day" and the story is origfic which follows on from From The Pilot - "Out With The Old, In With The New". It runs to 2,146 words for those of you with time or spoon issues.


“No, it’s not happening.” Rose Forkin was on the phone to her mother, standing in the middle of the lounge room of the flat she shared with Taylor, the man with no given name, and talking into her mobile. “Mum, it’s a two bedroom flat – there’s no room for Hayley to stay here. No, she can’t stay in my room because there’s only one bed and that’s a single. Mum, I, for one, don’t believe that would work. Mum, I’m just the flat mate. Taylor is the only one whose name is on the lease, so I’ll have to talk to him about it. Yes, Mum, I will.” She turned around as Taylor wandered out of his room, wearing a batik dressing gown, carrying a coffee mug and heading for the kitchen. “When Mum? Oh soon, very soon. Bye Mum, I have to go.”

Taylor asked, “What was that about? I heard my name.”

“Oh,” Rose, pushed her loose brown hair back behind her ear with one hand, “that was my mother on the phone. She’s got some idea that now I’ve a proper place to live, I should let my sister Hayley come and stay here while she finds a job in Harbour City and a place of her own. She wouldn’t get off the phone till I agreed to ask you about it.” She sighed in exasperation. “Mum always does this – she waits till I’m tired or in the middle of something and then she won’t stop until I say yes.”

“Sounds like a technique Watkins would be proud of,” commented Taylor as he put the mug in the sink.

“He’s the one who kept asking questions the other night when you had people over for cards, isn’t he?” Rose put her phone away and started taking off her summer weight coat.

“With hair that used to be red,” agreed Taylor. “Getting answers is sort of his stock in trade. Are you just getting home? I thought you said you were off work at eleven last night.” A slight crease appeared between his eyes.

“I wound up working a double shift,” explained Rose. “A couple of people from the shift after mine called in sick, so Arvid and I had to stay back and help with the payment run. This sort of thing is one of the reasons I couldn’t keep commuting from Steel City.”

“I can understand that,” Taylor nodded easily, “it’s what, three hours each way by train?”

“If nothing goes wrong,” agreed Rose. “And now I’m going to nuke a frozen dinner before I eat, shower and flake out on my bed for at least six hours before I have to get up and do it again.”

“So, when are you going to ask me about your sister staying here?” Taylor had a faint quizzical smile as he asked the question.

“I’m not,” said Rose as she walked past him to the freezer, her 160 centimetre height overshadowed by his 195 centimetres – not that he loomed or anything. “I’m going to lie and tell her that you said no.” She pulled a single serve lasagne out of the freezer, opened it, pierced the film on top with a fork from the drawer, and put it in the microwave on high for five minutes.

“Is there any reason we shouldn’t help your little sister out?” Taylor wasn’t smiling and the crease between his eyes was back.

“Hayley isn’t my little sister, she’s my older sister and I shared a bedroom with her my entire life, until I moved down here.” Rose took her handbag off her shoulder. “Getting out of that bedroom was one of the reasons I moved out.”

“Oh?”

“Hayley feels entitled to through my stuff to find out what I’m not telling her.” Rose sniffed. “She used to move my things around and put me down when I complained but she’d go off her head if I touched anything of hers, even if it was in what was supposed to be my space. Taylor, I really don’t want her staying here, even just for one night.”

“That wasn’t the dynamic I was expecting,” Taylor admitted. “If she snoops and has other boundary issues, then I don’t want her here either. I need a flatmate to make sure the landlord doesn’t sublease this place while I’m away on extended trips for work. I don’t need an extra flatmate who makes life harder for both of us.”

“Oh thank you, Taylor,” she made a gesture with both hands, almost as if she was going to grab him. “I’d kiss you but-.”

“We don’t have that sort of relationship,” he finished for her.

“Now that’s sorted, I’ll eat and then I’ll call Mum back.” Rose didn’t quite dance her way into her room, but it was close.

Ten minutes later Rose was sitting at the dining table eating her lasagne off a plate, a glass of water on the coaster beside her place mat, when the doorbell rang. Rose looked up from her meal, surprised, and Taylor walked out of his room, doing something with cuff links as he came.

Taylor asked, “Who’s that?”

“I have no idea,” answered Rose, standing up as she did so.

“If you didn’t buzz anyone up, then it should be one of the neighbours,” said Taylor carefully. “Let me see who it is.” He walked over to the door and checked through the peephole. “Brunette with curly hair, sort of about your age and a bit taller than you.”

“Can I have a look?” Rose’s voice had a disbelieving tone which spread to her face once she’d looked through the peephole. She turned and hissed at Taylor, “It’s Hayley!”

“We have to open the door,” Taylor said, “and we’ll have to let her in, but that doesn’t mean that we’re letting her stay here.”

“Right, of course it doesn’t.” Rose put on a fixed smile, took off the safety chain then unlocked and opened the door. “Hayley! Mum was just on the phone about you.”

“Oh good, she said she’d call you.” Hayley was holding a suitcase in one hand. “I spent the longest time finding someone who’d let me into the building. I can’t wait to see our room.”

“This is a security building – I’m surprised anyone let you in because visitors are supposed to be buzzed in by the people they’re seeing. And Mum rang to see if you could stay here; we never agreed that you could.” Rose was still standing stock still in the middle of the doorway.

“Of course, I’m staying here,” Hayley disagreed as if Rose was being simple. “I’m here with my bag aren’t I?”

“I’m only allowed one flatmate under my lease,” said Taylor firmly, “and we’re not set up for overnight guests, so you can’t stay.”

“But I’m Rose’s sister,” protested Hayley, “And where am I supposed to stay while I find a job and a place of my own?”

“Try the YWCA,” suggested Rose crisply. “It’s where I stayed for three months. Or you could stay at home and commute. I did that for six months before the YWCA.”

“I’m a barista,” Hayley pouted. “Who makes coffee and can afford to commute? I had to leave my old job because the boss was getting all grabby and as for staying with the parents. I swear they’ve upped the personal displays of affection since you left.” She shuddered artistically. “It seemed a good time to make the move.”

“It’s still not up to us to provide you with a bed,” said Taylor firmly. “I suggest you try the YWCA.”

Hayley put a restraining hand on the front door, “Can I at least come in and use the bathroom? I haven’t been since I left home; the railway toilets are disgusting.”

“All right,” Taylor motioned Rose to one side to let her sister into the flat.
Hayley asked brightly, “Where will I put my suitcase?”

“Right beside the door,” Taylor told her grimly.

When Hayley disappeared into the bathroom, Taylor locked the front door of the flat and pulled Rose over to the kitchen. “I’m beginning to think,” he told Rose quietly and quickly, “that your parents have kicked her out. You’re twenty-six and she’s twenty-eight so it’s possible that they wanted both of you to move out but only you took the hint. Has she always been hypersensitive to or hypercritical of displays of affection?”

“She’s never liked ‘mushy’ stuff,” Rose confirmed.

“I have an idea,” Taylor said. “I apologise in advance but please play along.” As they heard the toilet flush, he suddenly put his hands on Rose’s waist and lifted her into a sitting position on the kitchen bench. A tap in the bathroom was running as he stepped closer in towards Rose, moved one hand under her chin to tilt her face up, leaned down and kissed her. Just before the bathroom door opened one of Rose’ arms reached up around his neck and her other hand grabbed the front of his shirt.

Hayley coughed and they stopped kissing to turn and look at her, their hands remaining in place. “I’ll just grab my bag and be going.” She had her mobile phone out before she left the room and they could hear her from the hall way outside. Hi, Mum! Just to let you know I won’t be staying with Rose. Oh, he’s almost as old as Dad but the two of them are all over each other.”
Taylor glided, there was no other word for it, across the space to the door so he could close and lock it.

“That was interesting,” commented Rose quietly.

“It certainly wasn’t a chore,” admitted Taylor as he went back to help her down off the kitchen bench, “and – we should never do it again,” he finished in a rush.

“You’re probably right,” agreed Rose as she straightened her clothes. “If we’re going to talk about it, it should be after I’ve had some sleep.”

Taylor reached into his trouser pocket and pulled out a phone. “Any talking’ll have to wait till I get back. Looks like I have to go to work.”

“I thought you were on your way to work?” Rose indicated his clothes, business shirt and suit trousers.

“Looks like I’m taking one of those work trips I told you about,” he corrected. “I’ll be at least a couple of days.”

“Ah, one of those ones where I collect the mail and make sure no subletting happens,” replied Rose.

“Exactly,” he flashed her a smile. “I’ll leave as soon as I get some shoes on and see you when I get back.”

Rose smiled back, “Right then, and I’ll get some sleep.”

********************

Several days later Rose, while she was on her way to the railway station, bumped into Hayley. She almost didn’t see her but turned around when she was hailed, “Hey, Sis!”

Her older sister was carrying a tote bag and was wearing black trousers and tee shirt with a coffee logo on it. “Hayley, what are you doing here?”

“I’m on my way home from my morning gig.” Hayley smiled. “I got a job as the morning barista at the House of Beans down by the station, they were short a body unexpectedly, gave me a trial shift when I walked in and here I am. I’m doing evenings at a dessert bar on Cambridge Street, they have a caramel fudge to die for.”

“But where are you staying?” Rose thought of her own problems getting a place reasonably close to work.

“There was a place for let in the block opposite yours. The real estate agent had a number in the window, I called it, they gave me the tour and I was in that night. I don’t know why people say it’s so hard to get somewhere to stay in Harbour City.” Hayley’s smile sharpened. “I must say, it’s got a nicer bathroom than your place.”

“The block opposite ours?” Something clicked in Rose’s mind. “On the sixth floor? The one where three people were found locked in and brutally murdered with no sign of how the killer got in or out?”

“It’s been cleaned and redecorated,” Hayley said defensively. “You’d never know anything happened there.”

“And you’re not worried at all?” Rose presses carefully.

“Why would I be?” Hayley shrugged. “I can’t see why whoever killed them would be interested in me.”

“Okay,” Rose said slowly. “I suppose you got a good deal on the rent though.” Hayley nodded, pleased with herself. “You know that if you go six months without anything gruesome happening to you, they’re going to shove the rent right up, don’t you?”

“I’ll deal with that when it happens,” Hayley shrugged. “Anyway, I gotta go. See you around little sis!” She walked off with a wave, leaving Rose behind her looking slightly bemused.

Bingo Card

Jan. 5th, 2015 07:26 am
rix_scaedu: (purple me)
So, I am going to attempt [community profile] trope_bingo. My card is:

fake relationship secret relationship au: coffee shop amnesia au: magic
kiss to save the day in vino veritas/drunkfic truth or dare forced to marry soul bonding/soulmates
au: fantasy locked in WILD CARD au: steampunk bodyswap
presumed dead au: college/highschool slavefic immortality/reincarnation au: historical
secret twin/doppelganger au: daemons huddle for warmth poker/strip poker animal transformation
rix_scaedu: (Elf)

It took me a little over a month to finish off the prompts from April, which was why I didn't hold a May prompt request.

April resulted in the following stories:

Public Consultation
Complications Happen
Forewarning
Inheritance 2
Wedding Day  
Traitor
The Project
Inappropriate Use of a Time Machine
How The World Changed
Side Effect
It Was Just A Card Game
Dealing With Objections
Choices and Consequences
The Only Girl For You
Beginning Of The Year Adjustments
Defence
Too Clever
An Introduction To Rope
Wherein Nai Makes A Decision
The Prince Of Cats
The First Of Her Kind

I also wrote a background piece, Rensa's Universe: Background 2, and counting the list of stories above, I owe everyone a second background piece.

The Prompters' Story continues with our protagonists hiding on a train.

The April Prompt Request also resulted in my first paid extension - I regret not having having a suitably flabbergasted image to show you all.

Thank you everyone who participated.

Everyone who has a background piece they would like to see, please leave a comment below giving me an idea of what you would like.

The Favour

Jun. 7th, 2012 02:46 pm
rix_scaedu: (stunned fez cat)
Time for a little fanfic.  Only one of these characters is canon.

“Can I have my favour now?”  The look the girl shot at the metallic-skinned half-man and half imp was half shy and half calculating.

“Don’t you want to think about it first?”  He leered at her.  “It’s not often I admit to owing a favour when no contract is involved.”

“And His Highness isn’t going to keep quiet about that,” the child of the Castellan’s unfortunate second marriage indicated the direction the son of her father’s liege lord had taken.  “I think we have ten minutes, at most, before this room is full of people telling me what to ask you for.”

“There is that,” the notorious, usurious man-imp agreed.  He folded his arms and asked, “So what do you want of me, little girl?  What won-.”

“A kiss,” she interrupted.

“A kiss?  From me?”  He looked at her incredulously.  “You could have had a wish, magically fulfilled and you want a kiss?”

“Yes.  Magic comes with a price, I heard you say so yourself.  On the mouth please – with gusto, so to speak, if you can muster the interest.”  She glanced at the doorway the prince had left through.  “We don’t have much time.”

“I pay my debts.”  He stepped forward and put an arm around her.  Another leer, this time down her discreet cleavage, and, “I hope you know what you’re doing, my dear.”

“No,” her eyes were sparkling and her tone was cheerful, “but I’m trusting that you do.”  His lips descended on hers.

He was the one who broke it off, raising his face from hers with a listening tilt to his head.  “You were right,” he told her, “company’s coming.”  He looked at her critically.  “You should tidy yourself.”

“You’ll need to move your hands first,” she told him pertly.”

He looked down.  “Ah, yes.  Sorry.”  He let her go and stepped back.

“You have nothing to apologise for,” she told him as she shook out her skirts and straightened her neckline.  “I asked for enthusiastic, if possible.”  She looked at him and curtsied as to a senior nobleman, “Thank you, sir, for indulging me.”  She blushed.

“It was my pleasure.”  He listened.  “Two minutes at most before we have company.  Why a kiss?”

“My father will arrange my marriage,” she said quietly.  “I know he is already in negotiation with several families who either won’t mind my mother or can be bribed to ignore what she was.  I know what my pool of potential bridegrooms is and I wanted to be able to choose my first kiss.”

“Why me?”  His expression demanded an answer.

“You owed me a favour and it was the one thing I could think of that was nothing of magic or contract.”  She looked him up and down.  A metallic-skinned near-man of dubious repute, ill-dressed despite the riches he had reputedly gleaned over the years, clean smelling to the nose and with clawed fingers stained in ink.  “Why not?”

“You could have riches, position, power.”  He stalked around her as if hunting her answer.

“Once given, those can be taken away by others.”  She looked at him, trying to catch his eye and make him look directly at her.  “I’ve lived on the edge of the Court all my life, I’ve seen it happen.  Politics change, someone else does a better deal.”  She shrugged and he chuckled darkly.  “A kiss and its memory can only ever be mine.”

“Ah.”

Then they were not alone and the chances for further speech were gone.

rix_scaedu: (Default)
Hi out there anyone who might be trying to contact me through comments.

My lovely new computer won't start up and thus I cannot access my normal email account.  I am not deliberately ignoring people, I just don't have access to my notifications.

I will keep checking here for comments and I hope (crossing all possible appendages for luck) that I might have my computer back for the weekend.

Rix
rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this in response to [livejournal.com profile] aldersprig's eighth prompt.  It is the same world as 'Forewarning' and 'Choices and Consequences'.  It overlaps with the second story.

“I’m afraid that you’re not quite what we’re looking for,” the Choirmaster said regretfully, his wings held tightly behind his shoulders, their great white feathers only visible where the folded wings protruded above his head.  Tala had already learnt that this posture meant the speaker was uncomfortable about what he or she was saying.  “Perhaps there is a place for you in one of the other choirs.”  He turned and began to shepherd his recruits away, his wings relaxing into a more natural position as he went.

Tala watched as he and her cohort-mates moved away, her own wings drooping as she did so.  “But you were the last of the Choirmasters,” she murmured sadly, uncertain of what she was going to do.  The newly created angels, and they’d been given to understand that angels were not often created so they were all special, had been told that they would be taken into a Choir serving one of the gods.  Looking around, she was the last of her cohort still standing in the middle of the sward in this junction of the divine realms.  The older angels who’d escorted them here from the place of their creation all seemed to have gone and the few angels who remained were beginning to disperse.  She needed to ask someone what she should do and quickly, before she was left alone.

“Why are you still here?”  The voice came from behind her and she turned quickly to face the speaker.  He was an angel with buff wings almost as large as any of the Choirmasters’ but unlike any of them he was wearing a short tunic and a garment her mind called ‘trousers.’  “If you’re not careful you’ll get left behind.”  His wings sat in a natural rest position and she thought he had a kind face.

“I wasn’t accepted into a Choir,” she admitted.  “Apparently I’m not what any of them are looking for.”

He ran a hand through his sandy hair.  “I thought we’d gotten past this with banded wings,” he said in a slightly annoyed tone.  “When the first angels with bands of colour on their wings were created, the Choirmasters were reluctant to take them on because angels had only been self-coloured until then.  Now they’re used to that but the younger gods tried something different with you and the Choirmasters have baulked again.  Now-.  I’m Micorah, by the way.  What’s your name?”

“Tala.  Are my wings really that different?”  She extended the right one forward so she could look more closely at it.  Each of her feathers was one of two patterns: a white rachis with white afterfeather and alternate white and black barbs; or a black rachis with black afterfeather and alternate black and white barbs.  The two designs leapfrogged each other down her wings, the fine striation and lines complicated by her new-made iridescence.

“I’ve never seen anything like them,” he admitted.  “I’m not a member of a Choir myself,” he went on, “more of a general roving task pool but you get selected for that by distinguishing yourself in a god’s Choir.”  As her suddenly hopeful face faded again he went on, “What I think you should do is visit the seats of gods who don’t have a Choir and ask for the chance to serve.  Start with the younger gods who were involved in your Cohort’s creation.”

“Because they must have wanted angels or they wouldn’t have helped make us?”  Her silver-speckled dark eyes lit up again with hope and a touch of curiosity.

“Exactly,” he agreed.  “I can give you names and directions.  Follow the directions and be polite to anyone you meet and I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

“Thank you,” she clutched the parchment he handed her to her bosom, “thank you so much.  I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

“Off you go,” he instructed.  “The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be settled.”  He watched her enter the demesne of the first god on her list.  If this strategy didn’t find her placed then certain gods were going to find themselves being divinely admonished along with Choirmasters who needed to be reminded of their responsibilities.  He hoped he wasn’t going to be presenting an unplaced Tala along with his report.

Tala had reached the last name on her list.  At least this god’s servitors hadn’t turned her from the door with her plea unmade.  The uncanny automatons matched the gloomy architecture, full of shadows and the whispering shades of the dead.  The automaton that led her through the building paid the shades no attention and Tala wondered if they were being rewarded or punished by their presence here.  Finally the automaton brought her to a chamber lit by torches and braziers.  Weapons and other war gear lay around while in the centre of the room, under a ruddy candelabra, a sole figure was sharpening a sword.  The automaton indicated the figure in the middle of the room and left.

Tala approached the god enthroned in his demesne and bowed.  “Excuse me, Lord Thaladeneth-“

“Which of my sibs sent you?”  He kept sharpening the sword as he spoke, the rhythmic sound oddly comforting.

“None, my lord.  I am Tala, one of the newly created angels and as yet unplaced.  As you contributed to my cohort’s creation I thought you might have need of my services.”  She waited on his reply.  The whetstone continued its work.

“I contributed to your creation as a favour in repayment of a debt.”  The god-voice rumbled through her.  “However, I do have a need for a messenger.”

“My lord?”  She looked up hopefully.  “Might I serve?”

He put the whetstone and blade aside.  “Let us consider this task a test.  Come here and I will tell you what I want you to do.  Your ear please.”

She walked up to him and turned so he could whisper into her ear, then listened intently as he did so.  The thrum of the god-voice through her body was surprisingly intimate at this range.

When he finished speaking and leaned back in his throne she did not move for a moment, then turned slowly to face him.  “Is there anyone, my lord, whom you do not wish to know of this matter?”

He smiled slowly at her.  “That is a very good question.”  He spoke a little longer before finishing, “And do not return until you believe the matter has reached the completion I desire.”

“Yes, my lord.”  She bowed.

“And you may use that exit,” he pointed with the sword at an archway that led to an outside balcony, “and come back that way when you return.”

“Thank you, my lord.”  She left him without a backward glance as she made a small run up towards the balcony, but he was not offended.  Angels needed that run to get easily airborne.  He resumed sharpening his blade.  This new one’s wings were really quite extraordinary.  He would have to make enquiries.

It was several months before Tala returned, re-entering by the door from which she’d left.  Thaladeneth might not have moved during her absence.  He was, as when she’d gone, sharpening a sword.  He looked up from his task as she presented herself and noted that she had acquired a light tan and a change of clothing, no, her clothing had been remade.  The long white robe a newly created angel was given had been resewn into a belted thigh length tunic and trousers.  Somewhere she had acquired a pair of soft brown knee-high boots.  Confidence glowed off her in happiness.

“You’re back.”  He laid aside the sword and whetstone.  “I had expected you sooner.”

“I wanted to make sure it all worked, my lord.”  She smiled, pleased with herself.  “Once I found someone for the task it was easy enough to put the scroll in his hand.  It was in with some books he wanted, and he didn’t even notice that I wasn’t one of the librarians.  Then all I needed to do was watch him to make sure he actually got it and it got back into circulation.  If I hadn’t stayed I wouldn’t have known if anything went wrong.”

“Very true,” he nodded.  “You have done well and I am pleased.”  Pleasure at his praise rolled off her in waves.  “A chamber has been prepared for you with a bath, bed and clothing.  There are chambers there for my other few servants of your kind, but they are rarely occupied and it will be some time before you meet your fellows.  This servitor will take you there,” he gestured and an automaton moved forward.  “I will send for you again when I have another task for you.”

“Yes my lord.  Thank you, my lord.”  She bowed and then went after the automaton.  She had barely left the room before a happy little song in an angelic soprano reached his ears.

The god took up the sword whetstone and resumed his rhythmic sharpening.  “What do you think, Dorthiel?”

A dark olive-skinned angel with black wings stepped out from behind a pillar.  “She is very young, my lord.  Micorah was concerned about her when I spoke to him and he’s right, she should be in a Choir with her fellows.”

“Perhaps,” Thaladeneth allowed the opinion.  “She is a thoughtful messenger and certainly a less threatening one than any of you.”

“True, my lord.”  Dorthiel did not smile.  “Our messages tend to be very final.  When will you put her to the work?”

“I won’t.”  Thaladeneth regarded the blade in his hand and with a flip of his will swapped the sword with another from a far corner of the room.  He resumed sharpening.  “I have other tasks for her.  You all carry out my will and the will I have the rest of you execute is often dark and grim.  Her task is to remind the rest of you that you have not become monsters or demons but remain angels.”  Only the whetstone spoke for a moment.  “Despite what I have you do.”

“You’d have us sing rounds of hymns with her?”  Dorthiel was sardonic.

“Why not?”  Thaladeneth looked up at him.  “It might be good for you.”

rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [livejournal.com profile] aldersprig's seventh prompt.

“Parts.  It has to have lots of parts,” Elvira Madden was flicking through a stack of play scripts regarded as being suitable for small children to perform.  “Christmas is easy, even if someone complains about the Nativity play being religious or not their religion or not religious enough.  With shepherds and angels you can easily get twenty five year olds on stage at some point during the proceedings.”

“That is the point, after all,” agreed her friend the fifth grade teacher, Dorothy James.  “At least your lot will still hold hands with the opposite sex.  Half the boys in my class don’t even want to stand beside the girls.  The Shrimptons’ mother seems convinced that she’ll be a grandmother by next year if either of her daughters is within a yard of a boy and no matter how she’s cast, Melissa Wright’s parents will hire a professional costume for her.”

“Both our lot are too young for musicals,” Elvira put a number of books to one side, “perhaps there’s something in here based on a fairy tale?”

“How about this one?”  Dorothy picked up a slim volume and handed it to Elvira, “The Prince of Cats?”

“Let me have a look,” Elvira opened the text pamphlet to look at the cast.  “There’s Tom, his mother, the mice, the cat, some dogs, and more cats.  This could work.  Is it okay if I take this one to read through?”

“Go ahead,” Dorothy waved a hand at her, “I need to find something that won’t upset any of my parents.  All the vocal ones hate something different!”  With that she turned back to the stacks of the school’s accumulated drama resources.

Six weeks later, the school drama night was a great success.  The kindergarten play had gone first and was greeted warmly, with the tallest girl in the class playing the mother and the five smallest children being the mice.  Joe Grimolochin, a happy boy, played a surprisingly cat-like rescued cat who turned out to be the Prince of Cats.  Elvira sought him and his father out at the beginning of the intermission, the first of twenty families she needed to see in the break.

“I think that very well, don’t you?”  The tall, olive-skinned man who was Joe’s father smiled at her.  Every time he did that she found herself wanting to curl up in front of a fire somewhere and stroke him.  That was totally inappropriate.

“Yes, it did Mr Grimolochin,” Elvira smiled politely back at him.  “At least partly because Joe,” she smiled down at her student, “was so good as the Prince of Cats.”

“Please Miss Madden I’ve told you before, I’m Tybalt.”  That smile again.  “I must agree with you, Joe is a most excellent Prince of Cats.”  Father and son looked at each and Joe smothered a giggle as if they had shared a joke.

After a few more words Elvira moved on to the next family with the odd feeling she’d just missed something important.

rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [livejournal.com profile] aldersprig's fifth prompt.  It is quite long and I expect there will be at least one more instalment.


It was the robes that set me off on the decision path that led to everything else.  My mother and my sister Ruh were carrying them in from the car.  Brightly coloured responsibility ceremony robes all ready for Ruh’s birthday the next day.  Just like the robes I hadn’t gotten two years earlier for the ceremony I hadn’t had almost two years earlier.  I’d thought I’d gotten over that disappointment.  I’d spent that day on my own because everyone else had been busy, finally accepting that no-one was going to be coming with me and then taking myself off to the temple to make a donation from my pocket money and burn my incense on my own in front of a stern-faced priest.

I’m kid number eight and there are five more after me.  That’s a lot of interests and activities and events to remember.

I held the door open for them and they swept in with their shopping, all happy excitement.  Then I went upstairs to my room to look out my best set of clothes and polish my shoes for the next day.

I left my birthday present with the others as I went out to my gi class.  When I got back, Mother was already fussing in a countdown.  I walked through the door and was ordered, “You, shower, now!”  As I went up the stairs I was followed by, “And then get ready to go to the temple!”

I was downstairs again twenty minutes later neatly dressed in my best clothes, the only black trousered figure in a room of traditional robes.

Mother stopped fussing over the set of father’s outer robe and shrieked at me, “What are you wearing?”

“My best clothes.”

“You’re supposed to wear your ceremonial robes!”  She was almost screaming across the room at me and the rest of the family moved out of the way.

“They’re four years old and I’ve put on three inches.”

“You stuffed your face and got fat!?!”  That sounded as bad as it reads in print.

“Up,” I corrected her, “not out.”

She settled immediately.  “I’m sorry.  You can wear…”  She looked at my two older sisters who still lived at home, willowy like her while I’m blocky like father.  “No, you can’t.  Why didn’t you say something?”

“I tried.  Several times.  Other things were more important and you told me to be quiet.”  I was careful to be neutral, not antagonistic or whining.

“Well, you can’t come dressed like that and it’s far too late to get you something else.”  She’d decided a way ahead.  “You can stay here and let the caterers in when they deliver the food for this afternoon.  I’m sure you’ve got some work to do for Mr Heng.”  Mr Heng tutored my siblings so they’d get scholarships.  The family believed they were bright enough to be worth it.

“Mr Heng has never been paid to tutor me.  I have no work to do for him.”  A couple of my brothers nodded in agreement.

“Well, you can study for your exams next year, it’s not too early to start.”  She nodded at me, satisfied with her solution.

“My finals were this year,” I corrected her as she began to turn back to my father.  “We’ve just finished them and I’m waiting on my results.”  I paused then added, unable to help myself, “You all keep telling me I’m stupid, so I expect I didn’t do very well.”

I left the room at that point as Hu, the older brother nearest to me in age, looked up from figuring on his fingers, saying in a surprised tone, “She’s right.  It is this year.  Oh, heck.  Two years ago.  I was the only one who didn’t go, wasn’t I?”

They came back in time for a late lunch, accompanied by the rest of the extended family.  The length of their absence had already told me that they’d had the full blown ceremony laid on by arrangement for Ruh.  I’d let the caterers in and watched them set up, but I’d decided that I didn’t think I could do the gracious guest thing at Ruh’s party so I took myself off to my room as everyone started getting out of the cars in front of the house.

Yes, I was jealous.  Yes, I’d discovered I was still upset.  No, I didn’t want it to be me instead of Ruh in the middle of this party.  I did wish that I’d had a party like this when it had been my turn.  My sixteenth birthday had competed with the provincial championship gi tournament, a couple of concerts family members had been playing in and one of my brothers being a groomsman at a wedding.

I’m not sure how much of what I felt when there was a knock on my bedroom door was surprise and how much was pleasure.  It was my mother.  “You need to come down to the party.”  She had her being firm face on.  “You’ll ruin it if you stay in here and sulk.”

I’d been crying, my eyes were wet, my nose was purple and, with complete disregard for anything else including reality, I was feeling both unloved and less loved than my siblings.  “I don’t think I can behave in company at the moment,” I admitted.  “It shouldn’t make a difference if everyone will just act the way they normally do when I do go to these things – if they just ignore me then everything will be fine.”

“We don’t ignore you.”  My mother spoke firmly, positively.

“Which is why I don’t have robes to wear today, you’d forgotten which year of school I’m in and I didn’t have a responsibility ceremony.”  I hadn’t opened the door the whole way and now I started closing it again.  “I think I have less chance of ruining Ruh’s party if I stay in here.”  I closed the door.

Kae was next.  My eldest sister is a lot like our mother.  Confident, determined and rarely not convinced that she’s right.  Some of those are reasons why her husband loves her.  “Have you finished sulking yet?”

“Can you explain why we don’t mark my birthday and the rest of you get what’s going on downstairs now?”

“Your birthday’s on at a very busy time of year,” Kae repeated something I’d told myself quite often.

“I know.”  Then I added, “So, why didn’t you even call me for my last two birthdays?  Even heaps late?”

“Ma and I were busy with the gi championships,” her reply was slightly defensive.

“Kae,” I almost started crying again, “no-one called for either birthday.  I took myself to the temple for my responsibility ceremony.  No-one wished me luck with my final exams.  Then you do all this for Ruh.  How would you feel if you were in my position?”

“I-.”

“That’s right.  Everyone knows you’re beautiful and clever and talented and likable.  You’ve never been on the outside hoping people you care about will like you anyway.  Or had to face up to it when they don’t.”  I slammed the door in her face.  I’d felt my apparent maturity dropping with every word but I’d been unable to shut up.  I locked the door not so much to stop anyone coming in but to stop myself rushing after Kae to apologize.

I ignored the next few knocks on the door, partly because I was crying again and partly in the hope that if I was left alone to get past the tears I could compose myself enough to go outside before the party was over to apologize to Kae without groveling, wish Rue a happy birthday and act like a normal person around some of the extended family.  I’d managed to stop crying and I was drying my face when the door unlocked from the other side.  Someone had involved the one person who could open every lock in the house, Father.

He opened the door wide as I stood up from where I’d been sitting on the bed.  I was pleased that I’d hung up my jacket when I’d first come upstairs and my shoes were neatly tucked away.  I don’t think anyone else had seen the inside of my room since I was twelve but now Father was standing inside the threshold and as many of the family who could were looking in through the doorway.  Father looked around at the off-white walls, the unlined curtains, the faded rug on the bare boards, the furniture and bedcovers I’d had since I started school, the photo-poster of a bare to the waist Tai Ru Jin in a defensive pose across the room from a piece of calligraphy I’d bought at someone’s garage sale, and the light bulb that had been bare since the shade had smashed.  “We truly meant,” he said quietly, “to redecorate this for you when you turned sixteen.  I’m afraid time got away from us.”

“You can redo it in your colour,” suggested my maternal grandmother.  “That would improve it.”

“My colour seems to a dull olive sludge.”  I gave a barking laugh.  “I think I prefer this.”

“Oh,” my grandmother looked sympathetic, “that does make it difficult.”

“I’ve given the matter some thought,” that was Father again.  “Our opportunities to make it up to you are very few.  There’s your eighteenth and then your majority.  And then there’s your birth prediction.”

“Oh?”  I knew my birth prediction.  It was very prosaic in a family where the sons are all being examined as potential reincarnations of an Immortal Scholar but I wasn’t prepared to embrace my predicted future just yet.

“Your happiness will come from your marriage and children,” my father beamed at me.  “It’s obvious, isn’t it?  I shall apply myself to finding you the perfect husband.  You can have a nice big wedding, be settled in your own home and by, well not this time next year, the year after next you could have a baby too.”

I stared at him in horror.  I couldn’t imagine why the “middle-aged bureaucrat” of my birth prediction would want to be married to me as I was.  I wasn’t grown up enough.  I hadn’t done anything.  I wasn’t interesting.  My father seemed to be proposing a disaster and expecting me to be delighted with it.

“I’m hoping to get into tertiary school next year.”  That was the truth.  Even though I hadn’t been able to get my parents to sign the tertiary application I’d still put it in with my signature – I’d turn eighteen a month before the universities started and I hoped to pick up a place in the final sweep of offers.

“A final sweep place?”  He raised an eyebrow at me.  “I doubt that a place at any university I would countenance a child of mine attending would be available in the final sweep.  No,” he smiled at me, “leave it to your mother and I, we’ll arrange everything.  Wash your face now and come downstairs.”  He swept away in a grand gesture, satisfied that he was engaged in fixing my world.  Most of the family followed him.

Aunty Tael, my father’s sister, and her husband, Uncle Ebi, stayed behind.  “Nai, your father means well,” she walked over and leant down to hug me, resplendent in royal blue and sea green, “but if he moves too fast for you, come and stay with us for the summer.  My esteemed elder brother hasn’t quite conquered his tendency to talk at people instead of conversing with them.”  She and Uncle Ebi gave each other a smile that made me think they were remembering the same thing.

I could have taken Aunty Tael up on her offer but I’d already decided what I was going to do.

I washed my face and went down stairs.  I ate some food, talked to the relatives and kept the conversation on Ruh.  I behaved.  I smiled every so often and I helped clean up afterwards.  When the relatives were gone and the house was tidy, I went upstairs and changed then went for a walk.

I went to see my gi master.  Master Que looks like a villainous extra in a movie.  His hair is too long and more than a bit wild.  He’s got tanned skin, he’s sort of skinny, his squint almost looks like he only has one eye, he could bathe at least once more per week than he does and he smokes when he isn’t in the training room.  The brown liquid in his tea cup isn’t always tea.  His training school, where I seemed to be one of very few students, looked dilapidated from the outside.

Inside it was much better.  The attentions of his cleaning lady showed and the training room was impeccably maintained.  Master Que was in the kitchen slicing vegetables for his dinner when I arrived, a cigarette in his mouth and a tea cup of brown liquid at hand.  “I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow,” he’d taken the cigarette out of his mouth with the hand that wasn’t holding the knife.  “Don’t you have a big party on at your place tonight?”

“That was this afternoon.  Master,” the prospect of looking bad in his eyes was almost worse than looking bad in front of my family, “and I got upset about not having a big ceremony and a party when I was sixteen.  I think I behaved badly.”

“Oh.”  He took a draw on his cigarette.  “Who did you kill?”

“No-one.”

“Did you destroy the furniture, food and decorations?”

“No.”

“Did you have a screaming temper tantrum in the middle of the party?”

“No.  I went to my room cried, locked the door and cried again.  My father came and got me.”

“So you didn’t behave that badly after all.”  Master Que puffed on his cigarette again.  “You’re seventeen and a half and a bit.  If you didn’t get carried away with your emotions and hormones sometimes, I’d be worried about you.  So, why have you come to see me?”  He recommenced chopping vegetables.

“I think that if we’re ever going to try the tournaments to see if I’m as good as you say I am, it has to be now.”  He looked at me sideways, taking his attention away from the knife and vegetables for less than half a blink.  “Father’s decided to find me the perfect husband.  He’s talking about me being a mother in two years’ time.  I’m worried he’ll decide my next birthday is an auspicious time for a wedding.  Frankly, I’m in the mood to run away.”

Master Que took the cigarette out of his mouth.  “Yes,” he agreed and blew a smoke ring.  “It could indeed be time for a road trip.”

rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [livejournal.com profile] lilfluff's seventh prompt and [livejournal.com profile] aldersprig's sixth prompt.

“The subject of today’s lesson is rope.”  Their Year Master looked across the rows of first year student adventurers, most of whom had yet to finalise their professional choice, and picked up a coil of his subject matter.  “Every member of your party should carry a useful length of rope capable of bearing the weight of at least two of you at once.  There is nothing more certain than if only one of you does not fall into the hole or get caught on the collapsing floor then that will be the person who has no rope with which to rescue the rest of you.”  He looked around the room.  “And there is nothing surer, if you live long enough in this business, that you will fall down something.”

“Please sir,” that was Sudella in the front row sticking up her hand, “what sort of rope should we buy?”

“The best you can afford that will do the job.  Remember that “the best” is not necessarily the most expensive.  Shop around and examine the goods before you purchase,” the Year Master waggled a warning finger.  “Cut ropes can be spliced back together again, no matter what their quality.  An unrepaired cut rope will fail if you stress it to its normal capacity.  Magical ropes can be excellent but you don’t want to sleep with a Rope of Strangling as a pillow.  Now then, who of you know what rope can be made from?”  He looked about and then pointed the coil at a lad in the back corner who was gazing at the ceiling.  “Robbins!  Name one thing rope can be made from!”

The freckled boy startled.  “Hemp, sir!”

“Very good.”  The Year Master swivelled and selected a girl is the middle row on the far side of the room, “Rosemany!”

“Flax, sir!”  The flat chested, half elven girl was the daughter of a paladin and sometimes a question could get her to flash the inner fire that could make her the equal of her mother.  Most of the time though she sat quietly in her seat trying not to be noticed, pointed ears carefully hidden under her hair.

The Year Master whirled on his heel and pointed the rope at the thick boy one desk along from Sudella of the eternally raised hand, “Brucheld!”

“Wire!”  Sudella snorted in disgust and Brucheld desperately corrected, “Silk!”

“Both are correct answers,” the Year Master said smoothly, “but wire rope is less often used for our purposes.  Pray keep in mind, Brucheld, that I am the one teaching this class.  Sudella, please wait back after the others leave.”  Sudella appeared stunned at the idea that she might be about to be punished.

The Year Master walked back to the front desk and put down the rope in his hand.  “You will spend the rest of the class familiarising yourselves with the different weights and materials displayed in these samples.”  He indicated the desk.  “Tomorrow we will start on knots and we will discuss weight for purpose as we go.  There will be an exam on this unit of work but the ultimate test in this subject is when you find yourself suspended over a one hundred foot or more drop while secured by a knot of your own tying.  That’s when you get the final pass or fail mark.”

rix_scaedu: (Default)

The official negotiations were done and the political deal had been struck.  Now the two people who were going to have to make the public, symbolic front- end of those agreements work were meeting in a conference room.  Archduke Franz had one of his uncle’s negotiators at his side while Vordamma Princesza Rune sat opposite him with a man who seemed like a family solicitor beside her.

His Imperial and Royal Highness had a list both of issues and of things that simply needed to be decided.  The first one was, “Where will we live?  I had expected we would get a larger apartment in the Schloss Leopoldsberg but the treaty specifies that we will live in this country.”

“Yes.”  Rune acknowledged the treaty’s provisions.  “That’s a requirement from my father’s family.  Unless something surprising happens, I will be the Sjeldnjar Ruhtig and our child will follow me into the position.  It’s unacceptable for the future Ruhtig to be raised as a foreigner.”  A slight hesitation then, “Might I ask why the Leopoldsberg and not one of the palaces in the capital?  Do you prefer the countryside?”

“It’s less occupied by family and retainers and everything else that revolves around the Emperor.”  He shrugged.  “There are days when I can imagine that the whole place is mine.  I like it that there are very few people around to question my comings and goings.”  He smiled at her and added, “I like your hair, by the way.  That cut’s very fetching.  You shouldn’t cover it up.”  The other two men looked at Princess Rune’s bare short, dark hair and the solicitor raised an eyebrow.

“Thank you,” she smiled back and added, “I don’t yet have an opinion on beards.  My Uncle Algernon has offered us the wing of the Sjeldnjar townhouse with the nurseries.  As I’m the only member of my generation in the direct line, the implication seems to be that we should fill them.  If you don’t want to live in the city, I’m sure we have other options.”

“I would like to see the townhouse before I make a decision.”

“That’s probably wise.”  She nodded in agreement while the solicitor made a note.  “What’s next on your list?”

“Occupation.  Now-.”

She cut him off with a gesture and started talking.  “I’m glad you brought that up.  I’m resigning my position and I expect you to resign from any and all military and/or intelligence positions you now occupy.”

“Archduke Franz holds no military positions,” inserted the diplomat seated at the Archduke’s side smoothly.  “Your Highness’ request is unnecessary.”

“Indeed?”  Rune opened the folder in front of her, picked up the black and white photograph that sat on top of the papers inside and placed it right way up in front of Franz.  “Just so neither of us can put the other in an uncomfortable or difficult position if we talk in our sleep.”

The diplomat looked at the six Imperial Nachtjäger soldiers in the picture.  He’d seen it before in an article on Imperial assistance to one of the remaining satrapies.  “I don’t see what-.”

“Thank you Hermann, I’ll take this.”  The Archduke put his finger on the photo and pushed it back towards the Princess.  “Where did you get this?”

“The picture?  It was published in an international current affairs magazine two years ago.  The connection?  It came up during the security assessment of my foreign husband-to-be.”  Rune pushed the picture back towards him.  “I’ve pencilled your squad mates into the guest list, not that I have names, as I assume you’ll either be inviting them or they’ll be among your groomsmen.  Would a partner and an average of three children each be about right?  If you want to invite them personally, I can arrange for you to receive the requisite number of blank invitations after you firm the numbers up for me.”

“Your Highness?”  The diplomat was getting a little worried that this was about to be undiplomatic.

“This,” the Archduke told him tersely, “is that ‘there are no friendly foreign intelligence services, just the intelligence services of friendly countries’ thing they tell you about.”

“Yes,” the Princess agreed with him, “it is.  The other thing I’m trying to say, Franz, is that I don’t see why you should lose your friends on top of leaving your home and losing your job.  I don’t see why your friends,” she indicated the photo again, “shouldn’t come to the wedding.  There are quite enough unrelated people on the guest list that I’m sure neither of us know,” she finished tartly.

Franz sat back and folded his arms.  “What do you think I’m going to do with myself?”

“I have no idea,” Rune admitted, “but I’m out of a job too.  I thought we might be able to work it out togther.”

rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [livejournal.com profile] lilfluff's sixth prompt.  More stories in this world can be found on my Trideian tag.

Bennoli and Edita had taken a house together for the winter.  They’d parted company with Tarrascotti after the king had paid for their services, heading towards the wider valleys along the lower reaches of the rivers rather than up into to the mountains as he had.  Edita had declined to take any road that led towards Montefulciano and Bennoli had acquiesced.  They’d spent a few weeks working for a merchant in Bruschano while his own guards recovered after a beating and followed that up by escorting a group of pilgrims on their way home to the capital as far as the Sign of the Moon’s Cloak at Fiveways.

From there they’d spent most of autumn helping a nobleman’s feckless younger son explore a patch of ruins on the edge of the family estate.  Papa had seemed happy to have him out of the way of the harvest and the village girls.  Then they’d surprised everyone by actually finding treasure three levels down and back into the hill.  Bennoli and Edita had not only been paid, they’ received a cut of the find, and when they’d moved on the feckless son had been having an unexpectedly mature conversation with his family about the estate improvements he’d be funding.

Chiero was three towns down the highway from the estate and the first one they’d come to that had a reasonable, sound house for rent.  After dealing with a bit of business and signing a lease that would take them well into spring, they stocked up with a winter’s worth of supplies and wood and settled in to be part of the town for six months.

They had their hearth blessed by the local Keviran priestess and attended the weekly militia weapons practice.  The boys and men who looked askance at Edita’s presence worked harder when she outshot most of them all at the butts with a short bow.  Bennoli was welcomed by the town’s small cadre of professional guardsmen as an addition to their sword-work class.  The two of them together frequented the market and the inn, being neither extravagant nor parsimonious.  They settled in.

They weren’t the only folk of their ilk who’d chosen Chiero for their overwinter.  Verdi and Scarlatti were swords for hire.  They’d moved into town for the winter but they’d not settled.  They changed inns three times.  They didn’t go to the militia practice and they didn’t frequent the market.  Soon it became noticed that they had a habit of suddenly ducking down streets and laneways like startled rabbits.  Anyone would think that they were avoiding someone.

Edita pointed them out to Bennoli on market day while they were debating the merits of buying another cheese.  He looked where Verdi had been and then looked further afield from there.  A broad smile broke out across his face.  “I think those two have miscalculated,” he told Edita, managing not to laugh.  “They came into town when the harvest was well over, didn’t they?”

“Well, yes,” she agreed, “they did.  What of it?  They beat the winter.”  She and the farmer’s wife selling cheese both took a moment to look at the sell-swords’ antics as they kept dodging around a group of stalls

“They miscalculated.”  Bennoli’s smile was turning into a grin.  “They waited until the harvest taxes had been collected and the tax collectors had moved on but they didn’t realise,” he suppressed a guffaw as Verdi got his feet tangled up in a cat and a sack of root vegetables, “that Chiero has a permanent tax collector, what with its size and the market.”

“I’d have thought,” observed Edita, her paid-tax token safe in the bottom of her purse, “that it would be easier just to pay their taxes rather than have all that carry on.”

Bennoli, equally secure in the possession of his own tax token, replied, “Some people will insist on being clever.”

“If they keep being clever like that,” the farmer’s wife observed as Verdi, the cat now clinging to the top of his head, peered around the corner of a stall to see if the coast was clear, “the Reeve’ll have their penny off them for setting up an entertainment.”

rix_scaedu: (Elf)
Both [livejournal.com profile] aldersprig and [livejournal.com profile] kelkyag asked about Rensa's world when I asked what my readers would like in a background piece.  Their questions were, to me, interrelated and so I have cheated and provided background I think is needed to begin answering both their questions.

One of the technological advantages the world of Firilis had when they discovered the danger coming towards them was genetic engineering.

Firilis already had a number of daughter worlds, both privately founded and government sponsored.  A government-organised colony normally began as a high-concept project.  There would be extensive planetary surveys to identify resource locations and aid the selection of food crops and livestock species.  Colonists would be carefully selected for personality traits, skill sets or the ability to be trained therein, and a lack of undesirable genetic characteristics.  Suitably subtle genetic enhancement and modification usually occurred to make, for instance, the colonial population better able to cope with the amount of ultraviolet light received on the surface of their new world.  Teams of specialists would be trained to supply the colony with meta-skill sets the colony would benefit from.

Such arrangements took time and individual crafting.

Both were things the designers of the Defensive Diaspora decided they couldn’t afford.  They were determined to set up hundreds of shielding colonies and to do it as quickly as possible.  All colonial endeavours that hadn’t launched were suspended, ships and colonists subsumed into the new endeavour.  The teams of specialists engineered, bred and trained for the next government-sponsored colony were divided up so that each colony of the initial round of launches had a pair of each specialist type in a team rather than a team for each speciality.  The male/female pairing was to ensure that each colony would receive all of the genetic upgrades the specialists had received.  New cohorts of specialists in the same pattern were birthed and educated to accompany later waves of colonists.  The speciality hair colour-coding used with the reassigned initial cohort was continued as there would have been additional cost to remove it from the genetic engineering package.

No genetic engineering was carried out on colonists who had not already received it.  So little was known of the worlds they were going to that it was pointless to attempt to build world specific packages.  It was decided to rely of miscegenation to spread the longevity, energy metabolism, immune system and skin modifications included in the specialists, now known as guides, among the colonial populations.

To obtain the number of colonists required in the time frame available, selection criteria were relaxed.  In some intakes, in some criteria, the acceptable percentage variable spread from three to thirty per cent.  The discussions over the relaxing of psychological criteria should, perhaps, have been more vigorous and less professional and gentlemanly.



Defence

May. 17th, 2012 02:38 am
rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [livejournal.com profile] aldersprig's fourth post.  It follows on from Walking in the Rain at Sunset.

Sometimes the sound of wind in the trees is just the sound of the wind in the trees.  Not tonight.

We’d been hunting the Doom.  The flesh-eaters that had attacked Sourbridge, Halthorpe and a handful more of villages across the Loon valley were the scouts.  There had been victories, even against those early surprise incursions, but tonight ghost hounds were hunting the hunters.

Traces of phosphorescence dashed between the trees down on the river flat, finding the scent from where we’d crossed the river.  Those were the ghost hounds, smudges of glowing light with noses, saucer eyes and rending teeth.  The ghost hounds could kill but tonight there was a smudge darker than midnight crossing the river too, a Doom Master was guiding them.

We were long out of the woods and had spent our time well, fortifying the hilltop against the assault that would come.  With a Doom Master here, dawn wasn’t going to save us.  Our dissenter and pestilence burner was reinforcing our defences but he’d not been tested against this calibre of enemy before.  The sound of wind in the trees below us, the sound of the ghost hounds seeking us out, was coming closer, becoming easier to hear.

Moonrise would mark the beginning of the most dangerous part of the night.  The ghost hounds would be harder to see by moonlight, harder to see and easier to miss.  We looked at each other, there were only seven of us and that wasn’t going to be enough.

We’d done everything we could, we’d done everything right, but then the wind began to move in the trees above us.

I automatically looked around for the deadly gleaming traces but what I saw was a man standing watch within our perimeter on the western flank.  We had no light but I could see every detail of his kit.  No-one had worn anything like that for over a millennium.  “Canae,” he said gravely, nodding at me and pointing in the direction of the hounds.

“Dominus,” added a voice from behind me.  A second ghost was there, whetting his ghostly sword.

More ghosts were becoming apparent around us.  The pestilence burner looked astonished.  “I knew this was possible but where are we to get so many?”  There were over a score of them now.

“They used to hang sacrifices on a sacred tree that stood here,” said an almost modernly-dressed ghost standing close to him.  “Not myself of course, I’m far too recent – died of cold one night about two score years ago.  What on earth’s been going on in the world?  Some of the older fellows here really want a go at whatever-they-are coming up the hill.”

Around us the ghosts were joining us in the defensive positions, with their ghostly weapons limber.  Some, indeed, looked eager for a fight.


rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [livejournal.com profile] lilfluff's fifth post.

A ripple of surprise ran through the Honours students assembled for the first lecture of the year in one of their four elective subjects.  The man in the black academic gown was not the lecturer they had been expecting.  He strode to the lectern and said brusquely, “You will all have noticed that I am not Professor O’Malley.  He was to have returned to his teaching duties here this semester but his sabbatical has been unilaterally extended by Veringian government.  Those of you who have been following the current crisis in the Franco-Deutsch-Swiss triangle will no doubt share the faculty’s concern for his continued safety.”  The sharp eyes looked at the class over the lecturer’s reading glasses.  “Yes, Mr Bartholomew?”

“Sir, Professor O’Malley was supposed to be the faculty adviser for my thesis.”  The awkward young man looked nervous, “Who will be replacing him?”

“Who else’d let you play around with a crazy conspiracy theory?”  That male-voiced comment floated up from the other side of the room.

“As it happens,” the lecturer interposed, “I have read your thesis proposal, Mr Batholomew.  Like all the others, it requires refinement but I believe it has promise.  I will enjoy guiding your progress in the coming year.”  He expanded his regard to include the rest of the class, “Those others of you who also had Professor O’Malley as faculty adviser will find the revised list of advisers on the faculty noticeboard.”  He looked in the direction of the interjection.  “Mr Dumfries, I encourage both smart and clever in my classes, but I do not tolerate smart-aleckery.  Keep it up and I’ll keep you in mind for the next time I need a body.  Are there any more questions?”

A young man whose appearance spoke of a background from the subcontinent raised his hand.

“Yes, Mr Singh?”

“Sir, will there be any changes to the published assessment schedule?”  Rajendra Singh was poised to make notes.

“Yes.”  The lecturer looked around the room.  “A 750 word task due halfway through this semester is worth 20% of your marks.  The 1500 word paper on a set topic, due at the beginning of second semester is worth 30% of your mark.  Your plan for world domination, due the first day of second semester final exams, is worth 50%.  You must attend at least 75% of classes in this course for me to mark your written work.”

“What if we’re too busy enacting our world domination plan to attend class?”  The same voice interjected again.

“Mr Dumfries, please learn to adhere to class etiquette.”  The lecturer looked over his glasses at the interjector.  “It would make our acquaintance far less painful.  However, all of you please keep in mind that this is an Honours-level political science course.  I do not require undergraduates to enact their plans and neither do I give extra credit for attempting to complete the course at a higher level than required.  Successful implementation of a world domination plan is only required in Doctorate level courses.”  A hand went up at the front of the room.  “Miss Woodrow?’

“Sir, wouldn’t we have noticed if someone had achieved world domination?”  The honey blonde in the second row pouted.

He riposted, “Would you?”  He glanced around the auditorium.  “Your first class assignment, ladies and gentlemen.  In 50 to 100 words due at the beginning of next class, why might a person in your position not have noticed that someone had achieved world domination?”  He glared at the red head who was staring at an open book in front of her instead of making notes.  “Miss McCaffery, what is so much more interesting than your first assignment?”

She looked up, snapped back from wherever her mind had been.  “Sorry sir.”  She stood the book up so he could see the cover.  “Faculty handbook sir.”  A half beat pause then, “Are you Professor Moriarty, sir?”

He gave a thin lipped smile.  “Yes.”

rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I have realised that I now need to call for nominations for the subject of a back ground piece.

What would you like to hear or see more about?

[Also (ahem) we are two thirds of the way to a paid extension fueled prompt, if that makes a difference to anyone.]
rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [livejournal.com profile] aldersprig's third prompt.

The family of Fingate Farm were having a meeting, all of them seated around their communal table.  The oldest generation were Ester and Olrin, the only surviving members of their marriage.  Technically Ester was the farm’s sole owner these days but as they weren’t considering the sale of land, that wasn’t an issue.  The three sons of their marriage were there, along with their sister-wives: Halanda sitting thigh by thigh with Brond; Junery and Chloe with Steen between them on the bench seat; and Phil sitting at the far corner from all of them looking, when he looked at the others, as if he’d arranged everything.  Then there were the boys, all seven of them, ranging in age from eighteen to twenty-seven.  That was the problem.

“Really,” pointed out Ester, “there should be two marriages between you, but the farm simply doesn’t do well enough to support that.”

“I’m happy to be left out, if that helps,” volunteered Rafe the soldier.  “I support myself, after all.”

“And send money home,” noted Phil approvingly, “but I imagine you’ll probably want to retire here.  It would best if you have an acknowledged interest when that time comes.”

“True.”  Rafe conceded the point gracefully.

“To further limit your options,” pressed on Ester, “our neighbours not only have a shrewd idea of our position, but most of them don’t have unmarried daughters.  Those that do aren’t prepared to agree to an unbalanced agreement.”

“But?”  Unsloe, the second eldest spoke up while Bast, the toffee-haired youngest brother, looked confused beside him.  “I hear a ‘but’ in there.”

“Midridge Farm over to Joltholp, the ones that own that detached strip on the other side of our creek, have one daughter.  Her brothers are getting married and their brides want her out and settled before their wedding.”  Brond grinned.  “Seems they’re worried they’ll have a spinster sister-in-law in the house for all eternity if they don’t insist now.  They’ll gift her with that detached strip as part of her dower.”

“Seven of us and one of her?”  Rafe sounded concerned.  “We could hurt her if we’re not careful.”

“How?”  That was Bast, finding something else to be confused about.

“I’ll explain it to you later,” Rafe promised him.

“When do we meet her?”  Tim was the eldest.  “I can’t remember her being at anything we’ve been to – I don’t even know her name.”

“Borophy,” supplied Steen.  “Midridge does their socialising around Joltholp so it’s not surprising we haven’t seen her.  We’ve arranged for her to visit in the afternoon of the day after tomorrow, to meet you and see the place.”

“Boys,” added Olrin grimly, “she’s the only girl for you.”

Mead, the second youngest brother summed it up.  “I think we have some tidying to do.”


rix_scaedu: (Giraffe)
[livejournal.com profile] aldersprig is having her May Giraffe Call!

Prompt for fiction, then read good stories.

This time the theme is "Origins and Creation."
rix_scaedu: (Elf)
I wrote this to [livejournal.com profile] ysabetwordsmith's fourth prompt.  It follows on from Forewarning.

Birgenes hadn’t told anyone where he was going, what he was doing or why.  He had a real fear that if he did, he’d be stopped and detained.  As a religious candidate, former religious candidate in his own mind, there was a real chance he’d wind up in a corrective retreat being prayed and chanted to, over and about.  The example of Brother Laerches at the seminary was all too clear in his mind – once you were subject to that you were never the same again.  There was no appeal to the civil authorities either, the business with the dam had proved that.

It had also been Birgenes’ decision point.  He’d had doubts before, raised by the religious texts he’d been studying, but the sheer callousness and feeling of entitlement that the dam scheme demonstrated had made him reject membership of both the priesthood and the people of his birth.  If the Benarian hierarchy thought the murder of thousands in a pseudo-miracle of the most macabre sort was appropriate, then Birgenes would uproot his life so as not to be a member.

He tramped westward through the spring night towards the nearest border, consulting the navigation stars when he needed direction.

*************

Archaeology in The Wash, as the glacial rubble that covered the ancient ruins of Senlor was called, could be very profitable if you went the right way about it.  Birgenes had carefully opened up an entrance into the mound with a crowbar, spade and a saw, for the tree roots, while Saprista stood guard.  Now Saprista thrust the lantern into the hole before her and, when the flame didn’t change colour, followed it with her drawn sword, her head and then her whole body.

“Nothing’s moved in,” the voice of the Gelharine swordswoman who was now his full partner floated back out of the opening to him.  “Looks like a temple – this’ll be another donation.”

“Ah well,” Birgenes joined her inside the relatively intact building, holding a second lantern.  “The good will of the clergy means no-one interferes with us.  Being respectful costs us nothing,” the beam of his lantern caught the intact altar and he bowed to it while Saprista saluted, “and the temple tells us where to look for the other interesting buildings: libraries, prominent houses, town treasury.”

“Blacksmith, goldsmith and potter,” Saprista finished off for him with a laugh.  “Whose temple is this anyway?”

Birgenes let his lantern beam wander further beyond the all-around glow given off by Saprista’s.  “Thaladeneth’s, by the look of things.”

“I’ve never heard of him,” Saprista admitted.  “That theological education of yours is very useful.”

“Of course you’ve heard of him,” Birgenes corrected her.  “He’s The Thirteenth Swordlord.”

She turned towards him, slowly and in place, “This is The Black Scabbard’s temple?”  Her face was pale.  “Have we set off any of the traps yet?”

*************

The two middle-aged men looked at each other.  No-one built houses like this one anymore, but it went with the story they’d heard.  The building, none of it more than two stories tall, rode the crest and spine of the hill and was all white walls and red tiled roofs, purposely windowless because the rooms looked inwards to courtyards.  Orchard groves, pastures and fields of vegetables and grain surrounded it.  It was the home of a rich family, a rich Gelharine family, and the two Benarians did not expect it would be easy to rescue their long lost brother from his servitude here.  It was probably best that their sons had not accompanied them today.

The long lost brother in question was looking up at them in surprise from his seat at the table in one of the courtyards, books spread in front of him.  “Orges.  Leodes.  I wasn’t expecting you.”  Birgenes carefully closed the book in front.  He turned to the Gelharine girl beside him, “Apina, please go and tell your mother that two of my brothers will be joining us for lunch.”

“Of course.”  She made a courtesy obeisance to Orges and Leodes, then left.  She was, Leodes noted, quite pretty with almost Benarian features even if her skin was the Gelharine olive rather than the darker, god-blessed Benarian hue.

“Now we can talk,” Orges said with relief.  “Birgenes, the priests who attended the convocation at Iboshoer brought us news of your enslavement.  We’ve come to rescue you and bring you home.”

Leodes added, “Forgenes, your old friend from the seminary, told us how your owner kept you away from the Benarian delegation.  You must have wanted their help.”

Birgenes sighed.  “Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so careful to avoid talking to them.  I didn’t realize he was there but Forgenes still doesn’t get out much, does he?”  Orges and Leodes looked at each other askance.  Birgenes took pity on them.  “Come and tidy yourselves for lunch,” he coaxed.  “Lunch will give us time to talk.”

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