Spear Gate — Power Core

Tasina stood at the edge of the skydock, staring out into the fog below that always crept up when it started getting late. In the distance, just at the edge of the horizon, she could make out the few hazy spires that marked the Needled Flats. Lex and Neda had left just after sunrise, and there had been no word. Neda was only supposed to borrow her son for a few hours, yet the entire day had passed. Some time ago, a hulking mass of a Third Empire battleship flew overhead, straight for the Needled Flats. It would have cast an enormous shadow if there were no clouds, but there were always clouds. She just hoped that it didn’t signify anything bad for the two of them.

“Hey, Booker,” she called, glancing into the power core that functioned as a house. Where was he? “Booker?”

“Optimal Efficiency, ma’am!” The robot’s voice startled her as he replied from directly behind her. She held a hand to her chest to catch her breath.

“You really have to stop doing that.”

“[STOP]. Command received. Powering down.” Booker’s arms tucked into his chest as he bent down, collapsing into a ball.

“Gods above, Neda said she fixed that,” she muttered as she manually turned the robot back on. A few small blue flashes of the systems rebooting as Booker’s limbs extended once more, his headpiece scanning the immediate area.

“Greetings, friend Tasina. How may I be of service?”

“I need you to run diagnostics on Tink. Neda’s scanning drone. Designation M-80.”

“[RUN DIAGNOSTICS]. Command received. System link initiated. Would you like me to send it’s compacted data?”

“Just the most recent two hours. But I’d like the audio, too.”

“Affirmative.”

Tasina climbed into the power core and turned on the water heater. She had barely gotten anything done today. With the combination of the expedition Neda and Lex went out on this morning and the ship that had flown over head, it was hard to stay focused. Besides, she needed Booker for her current project, but he wasn’t as reliable as he used to be. Maybe all that rust was finally getting into his head. Neda was supposed to fix all that. She was much better at programming than Tasina, anyway.

As the water heated up, she started brewing coffee, then ascended the stairs to the second level and laid onto the bed. The reactor at the core’s center gave a soft orange light as it hummed and warmed the room. That was one perk to the tiny room, at least. You were never cold. She smiled as she remembered the time when she told Lex what the power cores really were: the dead hearts of Centurions, the first generation mech to be mass produced in the Third Empire’s army. As much as Lex hated the scrapyard, that had brought a smile to his face. They quite literally slept in the hearts of giants.

A harsh explosion came from outside. Tasina bolted up. No time to think, just move.

She vaulted over the ledge and onto the first floor of the re-purposed core. Rushing outside, she saw Booker standing stock still. Another explosion sounded, but its source was much closer than she had expected.

It was the sound of the audio file Tink had recorded. A sigh of relief was followed by an immediate inhale of panic. Tink? Explosions? What of Neda and Lex? Were they alright?

“Pull up a visual of Tink’s data storage from today.”

Booker didn’t respond, as it would disrupt the audio feed, which was mostly static and more explosions. Occasionally, though, a human shout could be heart saying something indistinguishable. At recognition of her command, a blue, holographic screen appeared before him. There was a short list of data samples. It didn’t take long for Tasina to find it. The answer she was looking for.

A confirmed reading of a specimen that weighed over 700 cubens. 96% of it was aenendium.

At least she had some answers. But the fact that she now knew exactly where that behemoth of a battleship was headed was no comfort.

“Booker, stop the audio file.”

The sound cut out. “[STOP]. Command received.” Again, Booker folded back into a ball with little ceremony. Tasina scooped him up and headed towards their spare hoverbike.

 

Prompt:

Prompt — Legend of the Lonely Sage

“You don’t look like you’re from around here,” a young voice said.

The man looked up to see a little girl standing a little ways away from him as he sat on the porch in front of the inn. He gazed at her a moment before replying. “I suppose I don’t, but what gave it away?”

She shrugged. “Don’t get a whole lot of new faces this far from the cities. What’s your name?”

“Haven’t you got anything better to do than keep a stranger company?”

“Ma says everyone’s got a story to tell. I ask everyone that passes through.”

A smile crept onto the traveler’s face. “That’s very wise, especially for a girl your age.” He gestured to a wooden chair opposite him on the porch. “Come, I suppose I do have a story you might enjoy, though it is a little dark. Have you ever heard of the Legend of the Lonely Sage?”

The girl frowned as she hopped up onto the seat he referred to. “The one with too many books, or the one who traveled the world looking for the perfect bride?”

“The one who rides a horse of smoke.”

She grinned and shook her head.

“Well, unlike many tales, this one is true.”

Everyone says that,” the girl replied.

“Fair enough,” the man said. “Now, most people who tell this story speak of the Sage as some symbol of death. He is frail and thin, just like his steed, and those who meet him are sure to die. That version of the tale is a cautionary one. It teaches people to beware of strangers and people that are different. But I think that story is ill-fitting, given our circumstances.”

The child started giggling. “You still haven’t started the story.”

“Of course, of course, my apologies. I was about to say that I prefer a different version of the story, in any case. I never liked tales that present such a negative view of the world. There are dangers, of course, but I don’t think presenting them as larger than they are does anyone any good, least of all somebody like you.

“You see, the negative story claims he received the horse as a gift from the god of death, so that he may travel further for longer, and therefore bring more people into his domain. He is a harbinger of the end times, if it is to be believed. A lieutenant that serves no one but his cruel master.

“But really, the man was cursed. Death doesn’t travel in his wake, he simply has a clairvoyance that allows him to predict how soon people would die. He used this gift to help grant wishes and offer assistance where he could, but over time people began to suspect he had had a hand in the death around him. Town after town would reject his aid, until one day he found a horse that was plagued with a strange sickness. Something told the man that while the horse was very sick, it would not die for a long time. He took it under his care to give it a better life, and though it is still sick, the man took pride that it was happier because of him.

“The man still wanders the world, along with his trusty steed. He gives food to those that need it, and advice to those that wish it. He never tarries very long, though, for he wishes to help all he can, and lingering would both endanger himself and those he sought to aid.”

“So all he does is try to help people, and he gets run out of town for it?” the girl said, visibly upset.

“Sometimes, but occasionally, he’ll meet sweet little girls that show him kindness even when he has nothing to offer them. It isn’t the easiest life, of course, but he does it because it is still rewarding.”

Out of the corner of his eye, a stableboy rounded the side of the inn and called up to him. “Excuse me, sir! Your horse is… It doesn’t look well. It’s snorting and restless, and it’s… bandages… are beginning to fall off.”

The man sighed as he rose from his chair. “I will see to it.” He looked back to the girl and smiled as he bowed. “Thank you for the company, miss. May you lead a pleasant and long life,” he winked.

 

Prompt: 8_by_vyacheslavsafronov-dblqz7f

Spear Gate — Controlled Burn

A snap of the fingers, and the torch burst into flames. The fire was mesmerizing, calming, and encouraging all at once. Shadows danced across the face of the rocks, casting an orange warmth against the turquoise walls of the cave and bathing the large tunnel with light. Zollo loved fire. Fire was everything. A pet to be commanded. A monster to be feared. A lover to be kissed.

Maybe not that last part, Zollo decided. Fire was comforting, but you had to be careful not to get too close. It was insatiable.

It was that insatiability that had guided him here in the first place. The harder a thing was to ignite, the sturdier a flame held. At least, that’s how glyphs worked, but it was fire just the same.

Zollo picked up a loose pebble from the ground and etched the glyph onto it with a claw. He had no idea what kind of rock it was, but even rock ignited easily. Tossing it into the air, he snapped his fingers again.

The stone erupted in the air, and fell to his feet. Within seconds, it began to crack, and once the rock split in half, the glyph faded and the fire died.

These stones burn and die too easy, he thought. That was the exact opposite of what he was looking for. The rumors he heard were lies. This was no ‘Temple of Ancient Fire’, and there was no fireproof relic here. Far from it. A few well placed glyphs and he could have this whole cave engulfed in hours. Maybe minutes, if he found an air shaft. He would show them what real fire was.

But then, he heard something. A soft… flowing? It had to be water.

Zollo let out an involuntary hiss at the notion. To lie about the Temple was one thing, but to send Zollo towards flowing water?

“Blasphemers… Heathens… Scoundrels…” Zollo muttered, his voice low.

He rounded a corner, and the cave widened, stretching outwards and upwards as it continued on.

Here, it was a veritable cavern. Large enough to build a house in. Or perhaps a Temple… Perhaps there was some grains of truth in the lies he was told.

To one side of the cave was a thick tree, and behind it a stream of water trickled in from above, and a hole in the ceiling directly over the tree gave some hints to the source. The water pooled a little around the tree, and it made something of an island of the flammable blue rocks it stood upon.

Zollo cocked his head. This was no Temple. But it had been too long since he had seen true fire. He would allow himself just this one treat.

Carefully, he dropped rocks above the small stream so that he could safely walk across without getting wet. Still, even with a safe path, he couldn’t help but skitter across hastily to get away from the water.

With a hesitant snort he snuffed out the fire on his torch and set it aside, then, crooning in anticipation, he turned his attention to the tree. Zollo trailed his claws against the bark, feeling how sturdy its skin was. “Yes, yes,” he hummed. “This will burn nicely.”

The question was, how many glyphs? Would one suffice? Probably. Wood remained his favorite, even after experimenting for so long. He glanced back to his tail, and it twitched with remembered pain. He still had black patches. But it was worth the effort.

One glyph would do, he thought, but where? Tapping against the bark, he listened for any good sounds. He tapped for some time before finding a good spot near the base, in between two roots.

He carved the fire glyph into the bark. Zollo was so excited, he almost snapped his fingers before he allowed his other hand to finish the glyph.

As always, the glyph ignited immediately. It burned, throbbing slowly as it tasted the bark. It chewed thoughtfully, almost carefully. It seemed hesitant to burn any more. “Too long, too long,” he cursed. He drew another glyph. Then another. And another. He set them ablaze immediately, but they didn’t burn quickly enough for him. Zollo continued drawing glyphs. More and more. Soon, the tree was littered with glyphs, and the bark started to snap and crack, groaning against the sheer heat.

Zollo scampered away in delighted terror, sprinting across his pebble bridge to reach safety.

By now the tree was roaring, and the inferno scorched the wall of the cave behind it. The turquoise rock started to blacken.

But at that moment, his eyes caught movement at the base of the tree. Not the collapsing of branches or the peeling of bark. Deliberate movement of something else.

Zollo crept up to the stream to get a closer look. A tiny little thing seemed to be rolling around in the flames, seemingly unaffected.

Temple of Ancient Fire, he thought. A fireproof relic inside… Could it be?

He squinted, worried. What should he do? Dare he risk the flames? The answer came immediately. He would never be able to live with himself if he didn’t find out what this relic was.

With a quiet whimper, he scurried across the bridge again and dove into the fire. He held his claws out, desperately grasping for the relic. He caught it. Something smooth. A stone? No time to think. He pulled it out as fire licked his claws. Howling in pain, he dropped it immediately.

The egg, already somewhat fractured from the movement inside, shattered against the impact against the stone.

A huge explosion, and Zollo ducked his head. The tree was starting to collapse. It took longer than he had anticipated, but somehow he didn’t care so much about that anymore. He scooped up the remains of the thing he had dropped, and hustled to safety.

As soon as he was safely across the trickling stream and a good distance away from the blazing heat of the fire, he inspected his burden.

The little creature had vermillion scales and tiny wings that folded over most of its body. It was hot to the touch, now that Zollo had time to inspect it. What sort of cave tree lays eggs, he wondered.

Was this the fireproof relic? He could test it right now by carving a glyph into it. Part of him wanted to. But the thing was so small it would be hard to draw with such precision. Plus, it was easy to carve into wood and stone. Not so easy on scale. Not that it stopped him from experimenting on himself, but fire was everything.

No, this little bird thing seemed different. He would keep it. Perhaps it could learn the ways of fire like he could.

 

 

Prompt: 

Spear Gate — TES Gladiator

Director Tak Wensley surveyed the ship as final inspections seemed to go through without any incident. The TES Gladiator was now the largest support train in the fleet, and the first with an Aenendium-composite engine. It would have the fastest acceleration and speed of any train on the planet, and could provide a tactical advantage anywhere on the continent.

“Director,” his assistant called as she walked up to him. She held a Voice in her hand, and the device glowed with a dim blue of a communications line that was temporarily silenced. “You have a call from the Outer Reaches.”

“We shouldn’t have scouting drones that close to the enemy border.”

“We don’t, sir,” she replied. “It’s from a miner in the Needled Flats. It’s a neutral zone because the landscape is too dangerous for large, fast moving ships. Normally I wouldn’t transfer it to you, but I made an exception, given the circumstances.”

He took the Voice with a sneer. “This better be good.” Shutting the silence off, he held it before him to come face to face with a projection of a woman that wasn’t quite middle aged. She looked a little haggard, but her excitement resumed when she saw him.

“This is Director Wensley,” he stated. “State your business.”

“Miner Neda Bosing reporting from the Needled Flats, sir,” she spoke with a hastened tone, running her words together a bit. “I have something that might interest you.”

“Well, out with it, I don’t have time for pleasantries.”

She nodded, and the hologram glanced behind her. “Sir, I believe I may have found a large deposit of Aenendium, right here in the flats.”

Wensley frowned. “I’m afraid not. Aenendium doesn’t occur naturally on this planet.”

“I realize that, sir. Forgive me for the contradiction, but I am quite certain of my findings.”

He glanced to his assistant, who nodded. “She sent her scans forward, and we’ve confirmed them.”

“Well,” Wensley said. “That’s certainly interesting. How much is a large deposit? Four cubits?” The composite engine of the Gladiator used a compound of nearly ten cubits.

“Well sir, it’s not a pure deposit. It’s only ninety-six percent Aenendium.”

“Any amount of Aenendium would be worth a fortune. Just tell me how much you found.”

The woman in the hologram laughed a bit. “You’re not going to believe this, sir. But the deposit in front of me is over five hundred cubits.”

Wensley’s eyes widened. “Send us your coordinates.”

“She already has, sir,” his assistant replied.

“Good.” He shut the Voice off and handed it to his assistant, walking down the catwalk. “How long until the Gladiator finishes final inspections?”

She followed him as he walked, but he set a very quick pace. “Not much longer, sir. About fifte–”

“Get me Captain Latham. Tell him I want it ready to launch in ten minutes. Are the striker ships docked?”

“I can’t say for certain, sir, but I believe they should be, yes.”

“Change of plans. The TES Gladiator will make full speed to those coordinates and secure the deposit. We cannot allow something like that to get into enemy hands. Whoever makes use of that ends the war.”

“Sir, Miner Neda mentioned something else about the deposit that she didn’t tell you.”

“What?”

“She didn’t seem to think it occurred naturally. She seemed to believe it had been placed there. It could be a trap.”

“Very well. I still want you to get Latham. If it’s a trap, they won’t expect the Gladiator to be the one to fall into it. It’s big enough to ignore the harsh terrain. Now go, there’s no telling how much time we have.”

With a curt nod, the assistant rushed off ahead of him.

He thought the Gladiator would be what finally ended the war. Well, perhaps it would be, in a way.

 

 

Prompt: 067_by_wanbao-dbhk4d8

Prompt — Ascendance and Ignorance

Cha’arnassi stepped into the room to a sea of life forms. ‘Humans’, they were called. Over two hundred of them sitting in this meeting, and one by one, each turned their head to face her as the rustling and murmurs grew louder about the hall. Their faces contorted into expressions she couldn’t understand. Many grew audible at the sight of her, but several others sat there in an unreadable silence. It was difficult to make out without being familiar with this species. She never quite got the hang of body language on races that didn’t have antennae, but it was of little concern to her.

What was concerning, was the lack of any predominant leader of the bunch. Surely there was a head figure amongst this planet-scale operation. This matter wasn’t something delegated to a committee. Her intel must be incorrect. Which meant there was no helping it.

“Rapid resource collection is forbidden by Word 4211 by the Ascendant himself,” she began, curving her mandibles to amplify her voice. “By order of the Ascendant Federation you will cease your reckless actions on this planet immediately and return to your nearest habitable colony. Failure to comply will result in swift military action.” The automatic translator worked well, but the language sounded strange to her. Too many soft sounds, especially for such a hostile species.

The room made no reply. She could feel the life force buzzing all about the seats and tables, but there was no one they answered to. Something was very wrong here.

Normally, she would take off the exosuit to get a physical look, but the air on this planet was toxic, and she could suffocate within minutes. It wasn’t an issue, of course. The suit was formfitting and cloaked by default. She didn’t look as though she was wearing anything aside from the Federation’s uniform.

The door opened behind her, and a loud pop followed it. She turned to address it. A new human facing her, extending both of its arms. Where they connected, it seemed to be holding some sort of black tubed device.

She ran the diagnostics. Attempted breach, no signs of damage. Returning her focus to the man, he used the device again. And again, and again.

Cha’arnassi was perplexed. This device was a weapon? Propulsion by combustion, it seemed. It was so archaic. If this was an attack it was a poor one. Surely they knew it would require more force to pierce her suit.

Addressing the rest of the assembly, it dawned on her. Many of these humans were cowering in fear. The mess of items and objects around weren’t from this race’s fondness for tools, or at least, not entirely.

This must be a sub-galactic species.

But that didn’t make sense. Plundering the resources of one’s own home planet? There was so much technology this race already used, largely focused on this planet. Maybe it wasn’t simply a harvesting operation. Maybe they simply had no interest in advancing as a species. Surely such cases have been cataloged in the Federation’s databases. When she returned home to Kla’tak, she would look into it.

But that changed the current matters drastically. No sub-galactic species were allowed to be contacted by the Federation under any circumstances. She had just broken Word 0018 of the Ascendant by revealing the existence of other life forms to these humans. She could hardly be blamed, though. She was operating under orders. But her superiors would have to handle this, once she reported the situation.

The main assembly had seemed to lose its sense of panic. They had stopped using their barbaric weapons, and instead resorted to flashing bright lights from many angles at her. She wondered what would be going through their ignorant minds as she called in the phase shift and disintegrated on the spot without another word.

 

Prompt: Alien explorers come across Earth, see what humans are doing with our oil rigs, mines, and power plants and think we are an alien scavenger race that came here to strip earth of its resources.

Prompt — Stubborn Fire

It had been nine years since Abbo had been home. Even longer since his quiet, happy life in the sun. The Ten-Year Winter had taken everything. First the fun, then the crops, then his family when his mother pushed him out the door, baby sister in hand, to seek help. He had almost died getting to the nearest village. And his baby sister… Well, Ephane wasn’t so lucky. “Stubborn fire”, her name meant, after the flower that so rarely bloomed. The pain of her loss was still clear as the days he so missed.

But now, as he walked along the once dirt path outside the hovel, it was different. Of course, there was still snow. So much damned snow. A world bathed in white had gotten tiring years ago. But for once, it wasn’t all snow. There was tufts of grass peeking out, and long weeds that had grown out of some of the dilapidated walls. He remembered his mother waging a constant war with those weeds every summer. That constant plight now served as a promise that better days were to come.

Abbo walked alongside what used to be long fields of raftheads, his father’s prized crops. Fields that were now an enormous blanket. Fields that hadn’t yielded anything since he was a child.

The iron gate to the house still gave a familiar creak, and he was surprised it still worked. That hinge had always creaked, yet it had braved even the harshest of weathers. An abrupt snort at the irony escaped his nostrils, a visible puff blowing softly into the chilly twilight.

The house was just as he had remembered it: a tiny cottage with a taller roof than most. The door was swung wide open, which couldn’t have been a good sign. After a moment, however, he shook his head. There were no good signs to be had. If his parents had–by some miracle–survived, they wouldn’t be here. Nothing could have survived here for ten long years. Nothing save for the longroot trees, that is. They were all young, he knew. His father had burned all the wood they could find within the second year of the Winter. Like the weeds near the walls, the sight of the trees were both an offensive invasion and a welcome sight.

As he got closer, Abbo realized that the door to the house was not wide open. There simply was no door anymore. Had his parents taken it down and burned it in their desperation for warmth? How desperate would one have to be to willingly destroy the last flimsy shield against the freezing air?

He decided it was probably for the best that he didn’t enter the house. If his parents had stayed till the bitter end, it would be like defiling their grave. Beyond that, he couldn’t bear to see what state they might be in.

He had seen his fill. Reassured that his old home would return to normal along with the rest of the world in the wake of this nightmare, he set off to go back the way he had come.

A spot of orange against white caught Abbo’s eye on the way out. Crouching down, he found something he hadn’t seen in years. A small flower bud, shaped very much like a candle flame, flowed gently in the breeze. It stood defiantly against the snow around it. “Here I am”, it seemed to say. “The springs will come!”

Abbo all but fell to his knees before the stubborn fire. He couldn’t even remember the last time he had seen a warm color in the natural world. Yes, things would return to normal. This could be a proper home once more. Under a clear sky, it would be the ideal place for the perfect childhood.

Some day he would return with a daughter of his own. And he would name her Ephane.

 

Prompt:friday_morning_by_seven_teenth-dbahj8q

Life — May Update

Alright, we’re back in business, folks! From now on I’m going to resume my daily schedule as normal. As far as the blog goes, nothing new is on the horizon, so in typical order of a monthly update, I’m going to talk about writing plans, video games, reading/listening, school, and other things.

 

My writing plans are a little hectic right now. I never finished Windcaller, and never started that Spark Novelette, a story I tentatively titled Breach. More than likely, I’m going to make some edits to what I have with Windcaller and then finish it up before moving on. That might take about a month.

The reason I don’t really know what I’m going to do in the near future is because I recently had not one but two awesome ideas for books. One idea is the premise of a book, and the second is very large scale worldbuilding; one that can span different series on different planets without them being directly related to each other. In fact, one idea can fit into the other one pretty seamlessly. The problem with these ideas is that they’re entirely new, and they require a ton of forethought. I don’t usually have to plan stuff out because in Nacre Then, I already know where everything is going, I just need to write it down. In short stories, I don’t even need to know where it’s going, I just need to write it down. But with these new ideas, I’m going to need to plan ahead. Way ahead. So we’ll see where those ideas go in the future.

As far as video games go, there isn’t much to say. Now that school is over, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to myself because I’ve been so busy (which seems so backwards to me). When I get some free time though, I’ve been playing Heroes of the Storm pretty much exclusively, and I also played through Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild over the past several weeks. I’ll talk about that more later.

I am a little ashamed to admit I haven’t been exposing myself to new media lately. The only thing I’ve read or listened to in recent weeks was Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson. I do plan on finishing up the Writing Excuses podcast soon, though. Also, once summer begins in earnest, I’m going to actually try to physically read more. We’ll see how that pans out.

There isn’t much to say about school, either. The spring semester is over, and I might try to stay in touch with a few people I met in those classes, but I don’t think the chances are very good. So there won’t be any more school related news for a few months.

Lastly, and most importantly, I’ve got some big summer plans. I was originally going to move to San Fransisco for a few months, but that fell by the wayside, so it looks like I’m staying home for now. That said, I’m not going to let the days fly by twiddling my thumbs. I plan on actually writing more. Way more.

I set this into motion with three phases to help change my place and my mindset. First phase was to deep clean my room. I went through everything I owned and tossed out most of it, and rearranged my decoration to give my living space a visual upgrade. This took me close to sixteen hours worth of work (moving lots of boxes, organizing things together, that sort of thing), but phase one is complete.

Phase two and three are a lot more simple. Phase two is just a wardrobe change. I’ve been running out of usable clothes lately (I had to do my own laundry every week), so this just means buying more clothes so I can wear new things. This will be easy, as it’s just a couple hours worth of shopping.

Phase three is the day planning. I’m going to set a daily schedule that organizes everything I should be doing on a given day, and when I should be doing it. For example, 11am to 5pm would be “writing time”, when the only thing I am allowed to do is writing related work. If all goes to plan, this schedule will get more and more strict as I acclimate to it. We’ll see how this goes.

Once all that is finished, I’ll be in prime condition to boost my writing output substantially. And hey, even if it doesn’t work, I’ll still end up being much more productive the first few days, and I’ll be left with a bit more insight as to what does and does not work to help my writing.