So the site was down for about two weeks, but we’re back now.

Took the time to get some more writing done and think about where I’m going with this site, my writing, and other things.

New story will be up on Monday, and in the coming weeks there will be some announcements on some other projects I’m working on here. Hopefully, you folks will enjoy some it them.

Good to be back 🙂

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Elder of the Conclave

(a short little scene I wrote while brainstorming a science fiction setting)

The Gorgon Fleet was making another run at the warp gate.

This would be their third run within the last year.

“We have firing solutions locked in on all hostiles,” called the primary fire control officer.

Balur nodded, watching the tracking data on his display, scratching the fur at his neck. His heart was racing. He wasn’t nervous exactly, that would be the wrong word. He wasn’t sure what he was. The Gorgon Fleet was small, and they’d spent too much of their strength on the last two runs at the gate. The local guard fleet was more than enough to take on the human vagrants even at their peak a year ago. They were at barely more than half that strength now. At this point, the first salvo was likely to sink or cripple half of the oncoming ships. After that, it would just be a matter of rounding up and boarding what little remained of the Gorgon Fleet.

This would be their last run at the gate.

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Alirio’s War (conclusion)

Alirio hurried down the concrete passage, ostensibly following Koya though there was nowhere to go but straight ahead. Koya had ignored a few dozen identical metal doors that lined the halls down here, below the Taskmaster’s compound. Between them, Jean Claude groaned and let himself be dragged along.

“Where are we going?” Alirio gasped out between breaths.

“We have less than ten minutes before surveillance on this level is back up,” Koya’s head made a jerk and he sped up, making Alirio stumble just a bit as he tried to keep pace, “before that happens we have to get out of the compound.”

“You know a way?” Alirio asked.

Koya nodded, “There’s a service elevator the Johns and Janes use. Leads to a tertiary launch site for emergency use. Sensors in the bay have been out for about a month, but it’s not a priority repair. Nobody worries about Does.”

“What about the one who helped you?” asked Alirio.

Koya smiled, “That’s my Jane. Nobody sees my Jane coming.”

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No Story This Week

So I was hoping to keep my every other week schedule for a bit, but I hit a small snag this week.

I was on a camping trip this past weekend, and being away from my computer, I made sure to bring a notebook to get the story done anyway. Unfortunately, the notebook fell afoul of some water during the camping trip. Completely soaked, ink running, and my story progress lost.

I’m re-writing the story now, but between school and work, I don’t plan to have it up until next Monday.

Because I want to try and get back on my schedule though, I’m gonna be doing two weeks of stories in a row this time. So expect a story next Monday, and the Monday after.

Sorry for the delay, and thanks for reading. 🙂

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Alirio’s War (part 3)

“Nobody escapes,” Alirio said, very sure of it.

“Shaysh who?” the soldier smiled. Or tried to. His attempt made his face even more terrifying.

“Nobody ever has,” Alirio shook his head as he said it.

“Eshcapesh happen all the time,” the soldier insisted, “Maybe not from thish island, not in a long time, but they happen.”

“Surely we would know…,” Alirio started to say.

“Why? ‘Caushe the Mashtersh would be real eager to sshare that with their shlaves?” the soldier made his horrific smile again.

The soldier picked up his helmet, examining the rim and the visor before speaking again.

“Look. I’m gonna make it shimple,” he put the helmet on, his voice replaced with the deep, clear tone that characterized the Taskmaster’s soldiers, “You do exactly as I say, and I’ll help you and your lover escape.”

Alirio narrowed his eyes, “This is a trick.”

“No tricks,” the soldier stood, “Either I blame you for breaking your friend out of here, or…” the soldier made a gesture with his hand, as if implying the rest of his sentence was obvious.

“Or what?” Alirio asked

“Or,” the soldier rested his hand on his pistol, “I could just kill the both of you.”

Alirio looked to the door.

The soldier shook his head, “I wouldn’t.”

Alirio slowly nodded, “If you think you can…I mean…I’m not even sure what we’d do with our freedom.”

“Anything you want,” the soldier said, “That’s the idea.”

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The Fleet [Scene of the Crime]

I turned the body a bit and got a better look at the boy.

It was a boy. Not old enough to call it a man.

Hair was shaved, and the scalp was tattooed like the kids down the Spine like to do. Complicated swirls, bioluminescent in parts, probably others only revealed under UV or other uncommon light. Tendrils of ink came down to coil around his eyes, and and down his neck where they disappeared beneath his shirt. Clothing was loose, good for grabbing, another hallmark of the Spine.

There were scars running down his forearms. Multiple suicide attempts. Again: common down the Spine.

His pants were stained. Blood and other bodily fluids most recently, but older grease stains spoke of industrial work.

And finally, the knife.

What a knife. Neon green plastic. Fabricated from some jailbroke maker probably. Not easily traceable, though I hoped I’d get lucky. Maybe find the killer had used a public maker and forgot the cameras.

It was in his gut. Multiple stabs.

Facing his attacker?

Why? Mugging?

Unlikely. Nothing a spine-rat could afford would be worth stealing.

If he was a spine-rat. Dressing like one and being one were not the same thing.

Without an ID, it would take a few hours to find out. If the kid had ID, it was broken, since I was close enough to touch him and not picking anything up.

“Nic?” the woman behind me asked. Ana, 42, widowed, 2 kids officially, 2 surrogates. Artist; amatuer drug dealer; hates the smell of Rondôn’s preferred cleaning solution.

“Yeah, yeah, almost done,” I told her.

“I don’t mean to sound callous,” she assured me, guaranteeing whatever she said next sounded callous, “But I’ve got customers coming in soon. Nobody’s gonna come into a place with a body out front.”

“Ok, ok,” I said as I stood, “Rondôn?”

Yes? The ship signaled, What can I do for you officer?

“Let’s get the body out of the street,” I whispered to the ship.

Requesting confirmation from Civil Authority.

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Alirio’s War (part 2)

The pain made everything a blur. Alirio could tell he was being dragged somewhere, then hefted onto something, but it was all a vague, broad strokes sort of awareness. All the details eluded him, as even with the implant off, his entire body was still howling with the lingering pain. He could hear somebody whispering over him.

“…knows what it’s about?…the other one…no chance….I’ll sign the order. The Johns won’t question it…”

Alirio couldn’t be sure, but he thought it might be two voices. He blacked out, somewhat aware that he was in a bed, but not in the slave quarters.

When he came to, he was in a room filled with tones of beige. Everything from the walls, the floor, even the sheets of his bed were some variation of a sandy color. A small drone, smaller than Alirio’s head, hovered near the door.

“Good Morning,” it chirped, “Please do not move, as you may injure yourself further.”

Alirio didn’t move. He dared not defy the drone now.

Moments later a human entered the through the door behind the drone. Not a slave, this one dressed in one of the collaborator uniforms.

“Hello, Alirio,” the man said, more chipper than the drone, “My name if John Doe, but you may call me John if you’d like.”

Alirio still didn’t move, just watched the man as he pulled a chair from the far wall over to Alirio’s bed. He was short, with milky pale skin and brown hair, and the back of his neck was covered in small bits of metal poking through his skin. Some flat, some indented into his neck, and a few that stuck out like needles themselves. Alirio had seen this on some of the other collaborators. Most of whom looked just like John Doe. The pale man set a small case down on the bedside table, opening it to reveal several needle tipped devices.

The terror must have reached Alirio’s face, because John Doe smiled at him. “Don’t worry, I’ll just be probing your implant a bit. You will feel a negligible amount of pain.”

John removed one needled device, pulling at the end to reveal a meter’s length of slim cable that somehow had been concealed within the pencil sized implement. He then rolled up his sleeve, revealing more of the metal sticking up through his arm. He held the end of the cable up to one of the little bits of metal on his skin, and there was a click as they came together. He took the other end, holding it exactly like a pencil, and with his free hand pulled the collar of Alirio’s shirt down just a bit.

Alirio cringed as he saw the needle coming closer to his flesh.

“Excessive movement could damage the probe, or yourself,” John Doe said, still smiling, “Please try to be still.”

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Alirio’s War

Alirio heaved the skid forward, throwing all his weight into the ore laden package along with three other slaves.

He didn’t know their names.

More than thirty slaves had died in Alirio’s barracks in the last month.


The Taskmasters had sent in a doctor with a cure, eventually. Curing the disease took mere minutes with the Taskmasters’ medicine, but the doctor had stayed for three days delivering a series of lectures about cleanliness, protocol, and a ‘heartfelt’ speech about how the world outside the slave barracks was full of horrors like that.

The fact that the first three infectees had been sneaking extra food into the barracks had surely been a “coincidence.”

It was important to follow the rules, the Taskmasters’ doctor had said, apropos of nothing.

They’d brought in new people to fill out the empty bunks yesterday. Most of the new arrivals came from the mainland, far away from the Ascenseur, and most of them had spent the evening gawking at the massive pillar of carbon and metal that went from the ground, all the way up beyond the sight of human eyes.

All the way to space.

One had been caught staring up at the thing during the march from their transport to the barracks, and stalled the line. Two the Taskmasters’ soldiers pulled him aside and beat him for that. They didn’t even bother to use the compliance implant, just threw him to the ground and kicked him till he was coughing blood.

With a final groan of effort, the four of them finished pushing the skid up the ramp and into the cargo hauler. A security drone hovered just inside the door, demanding the four slaves pause for scanning. They did, and Alirio felt a brief but sharp pain in his chest as the drone tested the compliance implant. It cleared them and they finished securing the skid inside, next to a hundred other skids full of tungsten ore.

Alirio didn’t know what they needed so much tungsten for. He doubted he’d ever know.

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Let’s Get Political

So let’s talk about something terrible.

Over the last week or so, I’ve seen a renewed concerned over a possible Muslim registry, especially in light of the ban on entry from some Muslim majority countries. Now this is horrible, and very likely not super legal, but quite a few people have announced, and many made this announcement the very day such a ban was even suggested all the way back in 2015, that they would help to defend the Muslim population of the US by registering themselves as Muslims if this should happen. I’ve seen this compared to a story about the King of Denmark, Christian X, who allegedly wore a Star of David in protest of Nazi Germany’s policy of forcing Jews to wear the same badge identifying them as such. Snopes says this story is false, but the sentiment is a good one.

Unfortunately, there is a problem.

There will be no ‘registering.’

If this does happen, and I’m not saying it will (but it could), it won’t be something you get to sign up for.

If the orange man, or congress, decided to implement this database of Muslims in the US, they won’t ask for cooperation, because they won’t need it. They will simply use the tools of data collection already available to them. They will look up who the people going to mosques are, who the people buying halal are, who is googling passages of the Quran, and who follows any prominent Muslims on twitter.

The state of data collection is currently such that not only could they do this with zero cooperation from the populous whatsoever, they may already have done it.

The orange man has been the executive for over a week now, and he could have asked for such a list day one.

And the worst part? The orange man didn’t have to do anything but ask, because we did this.

This is the surveillance state we built since 9/11.

We should be proud of ourselves for that, I suppose.

There are still ways to muddy the water. It is still doable, but you’ll have to make a real effort.

First and foremost, you can’t talk about it. If you utter a word of your intention to anyone just about anywhere over the internet, then that’s almost certainly the end of it.  Next you’ll have to stop going to whatever your current (if any) place of worship is, and start going to your nearest mosque. No I’m not kidding. You’ll need to start reading and following Muslim authors and thinkers, you’ll need to make professions of faith, you will have to start being a Muslim in all visible ways.

And even this, even essentially converting to Islam, may not be enough, because we built a surveillance system so pervasive and powerful, and all in the name of keeping Americans “safe.”

Not a happy thought, but this is the state of things.

Good luck to everyone.

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Allison was in a room with green carpet. She found it hard to believe that any government office would ever put in lime green carpeting, but her brain wouldn’t process R values anymore. Everything else was fine, but no matter what she tried, she couldn’t get her vps to see red anymore. She’d been surviving on community patches for years, ever since the UI update in ‘29, which she hated. The legacy OS she ran had great user support though, and an awesome community, so she wasn’t worried. Still, nobody could figure out the R value problem, so it was probably time to upgrade. And so she sat, as far as she knew, on a black (or red) plastic chair, in a room with green (probably more brown) carpet, teal (off-white maybe?) walls, and a stars-and-stripes flag in corner, which to her eyes as black, white, and blue.

She contemplated her number, ‘85,’ as she looked around the waiting room. The people looked even weirder than the carpet. Filling the allegedly black chairs of the room, waiting for their own numbers to be called, sat about a dozen beings colored variably turquoise to almost forest green, like extras from a cheap science fiction show.

“Number 83, please report to room 2,” called a musical, synthesized voice over the intercom.

One of the bluish-green aliens around Allison stood up and walked back to the offices. She settled into her seat, checking her feeds. There was a lot of really nice words of encouragement from friends and family on her social media. Her son had mentioned her brain augment problems to a friend and word had gotten around. Her feed was also full to bursting with ads for upgrades and brains-transfer services though, so part of her wished Leon had kept his big mouth shut. Though her grandkids had already offered to help her crowdfund for a transfer if Medicare didn’t cover her particular issue, and it was nice to know little Sarah and Leon jr. cared enough to offer.

She googled her problem again. She’d done it a half a hundred times, but she wanted to be informed when she was talking to the social worker. She check a few forums again, looking for any quick fix or some user made patch. Still nothing. She could barely find anyone with her issue at all. The closest was one user who made a post five years ago. Same augment brand and model, and they got a few suggestions, responded saying none of them worked, then stopped posting, without leaving any post about the solution. Either they gave up and just transferred to a new brain, or never bothered to post the solution they found. Poor forum etiquette, as Allison understood it.

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