Imperturbable Calm

“I’ll get Mr. Cameron! He can help.” Partly moved from prostrate to upright so quickly she never heard the Captain croak, “No, wait.”

Partly sprinted around the galley to the pilothouse ladder. A series of four pops and four clangs rang out below deck. The Marcail pitched sharply to a dive as she grabbed a rung with one hand. The deck underfoot became a hill and the ladder overhead an impossible set of monkey bars. For a moment she hung by one hand on the ladder parallel to the Marcail’s deck sharing Captain Munro’s fate, but she caught her toe on the railing next to her. Once she stood to get a second hand on the ladder rung, she also got a better footing on the rail.

Mr. Cameron cursed in the pilothouse above her. She was sure it was one of the few times in his life he’d done so. It was meaningful and brief.

Partly looked down past her feet and past the bow of the Marcail to the trees below. They weren’t coming up—rather they weren’t going down. The Marcail maintained it’s altitude and direction, but it did so bow down and stern up. Then Captain Munro pendulumed into view. Good, Partly thought, she’s still there.

“Mr. Cameron!”

“Just a moment, please,” he replied gently. She heard him grunt and despite clinging to the edge of the ship felt a little embarrassed interrupting his efforts.

“Miss Partly?” Partly manuevered around to see Mr. Cameron had appeared at the doorway at the end of the ladder in what was now the ceiling above her. “I’m going to need your help.”

“The Captain needs you. She’s…” Mr. Cameron put up a hand and stalled Partly’s words.

“Is Captain Munro on this boat?”

“Yes, but…” He slightly moved his palm-out hand. She stopped speaking again.

“Is Captain Munro alive?”

“Yes,” Partly said. Mr. Cameron’s steady voice and imperturbable calm warmed a part of her she hadn’t realized had gone cold. She removed one hand from the rung and brushed the grit and chilled sweat on her shorts.

“The Captain and I have drilled for this, so bobbing the Marcail is unexpected but not unplanned. Take a deep breath, please.”

369 words on day 809

Munro’s Death

Another shell from the would be raiders burst on the port side of the Marcail. The krunk of stone pellets hammering the hull immediately followed. The Maker’s Marcail rolled to starboard then. Partly heard Mr. Cameron’s curse from behind and Captain Munro’s shrill gasp from below at the same. She thrust her head through the break in the gunwale where the rope ladder hung by one of the two rails; Captain Munro swung at the end of the ladder like a knot or the hanged.

“What happened? Are you OK?” Partly yelled down.

The Captain looked up, but whatever it was she was going to say turned into a gulp of air like a drowning woman. The starkness of indecision pressed Partly’s flattened body further into the deck than she’d already pressed herself and the coursing trees and buildings below became a blurred background to the one-woman tableau clinging to the end of the rope ladder. Reaching out was useless; climbing down was impossible; getting up was abandonment. But just watching was worse Partly thought.

“I’ll get Mr. Cameron! He can help.” Partly moved from prostrate to upright so quickly she never heard the Captain croak, “No, wait.”

Partly sprinted around the galley to the pilothouse ladder. A series of four pops and four clangs rang out below deck. The Marcail pitched sharply to a dive as she grabbed hold of a rung with one hand.

233 words on day 808

Ian’s Fleet

A fleet. Ian’s unveiling a fleet, and I don’t know how to keep up with that. I like that it raises the stakes though. The trouble is that a fleet requires an opposition, and he’s not drawn anything like an opposition yet. Which I suppose gives me the freedom to create one for him—for me at least.

You have a fleet because someone else has a fleet. More accurately, you grow a fleet as your opposition grows their own. Or I suppose you grow a fleet to protect something large in anticipation that others would take it from your control. Stockpiling warships is a symptom of paranoia and planning. Insurance. It depletes a reserve of materials, time, money, and personnel which could have been invested elsewhere building commerce or peace or art.

Maybe the natives of Terminus have a bit more power than I’d first imagined they did. What kind of power might that be? They could control similar ships. They could post a biological fleet of some sort with animals like the honga or maybe nothing so huge, but just numerous.

My thoughts keep drifting to the planet excuse for answering this question of opposition. If I put these guys on a planet in a Star Wars-like universe I could just make this resource of flying material like spice on Dune or some such thing. Make these guys on Terminus the miners of the resource which powers all the hovercraft and speeders in the universe. I think this is the influence of Firefly on my thinking these days.

259 words on day 772

Mark Them Both, Please

“I am my height. You should not be.” The short man bent down to the floor and jerked the stool out from under Cyril Rockandhammer.

At first the brawl was fueled with Cyril’s surprise and anger, but as the short man absorbed a few punches he hadn’t needed to take and passed over some great openings in Cyril’s defense the two turned to a measured fight between brothers. And just as the crowd grew bored of the unescalated action the short man stood. He offered his hand to Cyril.

“My name is Bogdan Grigoriu. Stand tall, friend.”

Cyril shook Bogdan’s hand from the floor then stood and straightened to his full seven feet on his own. He crashed into a sign which read, “Caution: Low Ceiling.” [lame gag I know]. “Dude, Cyril Rockandhammer. Can I get that beer now?

###

In the back of the beer-door an older priest turned to a younger one. The younger priest shrugged opened his hands.

“I think so too,” said the older one. “Mark them both, please.”

The younger priest manuevered to have a direct line of sight on Bogdan then pinched the air in front of him like he was grasping a thread. He drew back that imaginary thread and a wrinkle of vision—like catching a mote in your eye—drifted out of Bogdan’s back and across the room to the younger priest. Some might have said the effect was like reversing the throw of a dart and slowing it down and with a wrinkle of reality instead of the dart, but still. He manuevered again and did the same for Cyril.

xxx words on day 768

Very Very Tall

A thing I haven’t thought. This is what I’ve been itching for in my writing in the past month or more. Not having it is likely the reason I’ve recycled my meta on Charming and Partly. But I’m thinking this thing I haven’t thought is a red herring. I think it’s a brought flower off the main trail of my half-promise to plot several things this year. I think it’s an excuse to shield me from digging in to anything. I need to find a way to tell it to go fuck itself. What better way to do that then to write the things I promised to write?

Sigh.

I just re-read the plotting I did for Partly to remind myself. Overall I like it better than I thought I would—possibly because I didn’t recognize some of it. I need to make Bogdan an enforcer for the Priests.

Is hard to know the end of your stories. Real stories have no cataclysm, no satisfying denouement. Just…just more life. But usually beginning easy enough to find.

###

Hulked on a barstool in one of the more backwater of backwater beer-doors in Terminus sits a man who named himself Cyril Rockandhammer. He wears a gray canvas jacket because this beer-door—like all beer-doors on Acetylene Avenue is unheated. And it’s cold tonight. He’s about to be on his ass.

“Would like to buy to beer as apology, friend,” said a short man who had forced himself and his belly into the narrow gap between Cyril’s stool and a third man’s.

“Dude, what?” Cyril thought he’d heard the man offer to buy him a beer, but something about the invitation unsettled him.

“I am sensitive about my height, and you are very, very tall,” said the short man.

This was true. Cyril was tall maybe even very, very tall by some standards, but that didn’t seem like something he had much control over. The promise of free beer seemed to be fading. He said, “OK.”

“Is not OK. You slouch at bar trying to be small.”

This was also true. Cyril did have some control over his height after all. He usually exercised it in the form of shrinking himself to fit in with others. At a diner he might slump in a booth. At a bar he might—was—slouching on the stool. Standing around talking in a group he often leaned on something or outright squatted.

“I am my height. You should not be.” The short man bent down to the floor and jerked the stool out from under Cyril Rockandhammer.

427 words on day 767

In Which I Make No Real Progress

I promised to come up with other ways Terminus might end up existing as I’ve seen it painted in the pictures which inspired it.

Part of the original restriction was that I felt I needed to make this a post-something Earth world. The pictures reminded me or picked over airplane graveyards. Newer painting’s no longer do that with as much strength. I never did like my contrived Large Hadron Collider/Spell Gone Awry thing as much as I wanted to like it.

However, I do like the idea of these folks being interlopers in the land of others. I like the conflict and the out of placeness feeling that gives me. I’ll try to stick with that for at least a couple scenario changes.

I suppose one thing that might keep nearly everything intact that I’ve supposed so far would be if these natives were attempting to summon metal because their world was lacking in that resource. When they connected with Earth they were able to collect anything metallic which wasn’t grounded, so planes and helicopters are good candidates. I’m not sure I’m employing the proper meaning of grounded there, but I’ll check that later. They could have picked up Partly because she was falling and had money in her pocket or something less totally lame.

I’d need to come up with a reason they’d think that a summoning spell was the best way to obtain metal and how they were so successful in retrieving hundreds of thousands of tons of it. That’s a tough magnitude to get to accidentally.

We could go with the common post-apocalyptic Earth. Initially that feels like a cheat, but I also feel I’m working pretty hard to explain something like this in the first place. It would be nice to circumvent some of the work.

Maybe I’m thinking this the wrong way. Maybe I’m going the long way around to explain a light switch.

Hundreds of ships in the air need to have a reason to be there. A substantial military needs to have a reason to have become so large.

xxx words on day 767

Magic in Terminus

I should have noted yesterday that the 700 mark cruised past 1000 Days somewhere in the Texas Panhandle between San Jon, NM and Amarillo, TX. The 70s era Chevy still mounted the original engine but donned a new paint job. And, while it took a bit to get up to speed, it eventually out paced us and shrunk over a hill-assisted horizon. Yes, West Texas has hills.

I haven’t given much thought to the magic of Terminus—nor the size. I think it’s time to get serious about that oversight.

What I know: magic helped to swap the indigenous people with folks from Earth [I need a story suitable reference for that], that there are still some magicians remaining in Terminus, and that the way the boats hover and fly may be some branch of that magic if not directly that magic. I feel as though magic should be diminished in this place. Maybe the only way to get big magic is to have lots of people gathered and focus their energies, or maybe the skip event used up loads of magic that can’t be gotten back or need to be refreshed over a long time.

Minimal Magic Requiring Groups – gives some built in restrictions on magic use so that you can’t just run out and conjure a unicorn if you need a ride to town. I like that collective magic imposes a need for charismatic leaders or despots able to gather folks into a crowd, or that a crowd needs to have it’s own collective purpose. This supports my thinking that Terminus needs to have factions and cultures and societies all at each other throats. Assuming I keep the practitioners at a low headcount or that I keep the full headcount in seperate factions conflict will arise in many forms. SOme groups will try to recruit members, some will try to enslave them, some will try to eradicate their foes, other will try to convert them. If any one group attempts to do magic more substantial than it’s numbers allow they’ll be punished with wearriness and become vulnerable.

Post-Skip Diminished Magic – would set a slow pace to the rise of powerful magicians in Terminus. It would help focus efforts on more mechanical endeavors because people wouldn’t be able to rely on their handy poof-unicorns to get them around. GAH, I JUST GOT SCREWED BY MY KEYBOARD LOCKING UP AND REPEATING A BACKSPACE KEY STRIKE. But I’ll press on instead of trying to recreate those thoughts. An entirely different tack might be that use of magic is highly sanctioned so that they might bring it back to full power, thus only a few special people in power are able to weild it and all others are punished. Somethign like this might take generations and by the time there was enough magic, the use of it would have changed significantly.

Conversion of Magic into Other Resources – I left the title vague, but I specifically am thinking magic might end up in these flight rods I’ve not put much thought into. Before the skip magic was more ethereal and available to all who desired it’s use; after the skip magic has been concentrated in the form of a mineral-like substance that can be forged into these flight rods. In a very tangible physical form, magic would be easy to fight over and hard to obtain without a foe knowing. Plus it would be easy to regulate and might even be easy to forget it was formerly magic. Depending on the circumstances of the conversion ‘miners’ might not even be aware the substance was converted magic—they might just think it was some artifact of the skip.

615 words on day 702