“You ever been shot, meddy?”
The medic paused for a breath, surveying the wounds on the soldier’s shoulder and abdomen in an instant, flicking through mental textbooks to adapt to the worsening situation in front of them. “Can’t say I have, L.T.”
The lieutenant grimaced under the medic’s ministrations, their breathing shallow and constant. “It’s funny.”
“Funny.” The medic chuckled distractedly, “what’s funny about a hole dug into you?”
Warning: this story contains brief situations revolving around a lack of control and use of power over another. If that makes you uncomfortable, please return to the Archives.
SystemStartup; run VitalStatistix
– GetStatus: Sleeve*; -GUI
– Error: Sleeve5; stat=Interference.LeftShoulderServo
– Request HotTransfer=Y
– Agent Found: #500392010-4A
– Initiating HotTransfer
The rushing sound of data and light, like a torrential waterfall of endless bits and bytes cascading over her head, was suddenly dulled by the sensation of having ears again. And eyes. Oh god, and a mouth, too. She could sense herself in a small, well-lit room, painfully white and sterile to her newfound sight. Sleeves hung in their rubber harnesses, charging up for the night’s festivities; basic skinjob bots like these rarely had the glamorous gigs.
The city bustled around Harald as he made his rounds, delivering things from far-off cities and towns to the east. The colonists here were trying their best to survive on the border of the salty flats that stymied most attempts at growing anything, but it was their connection to their old lives that truly gave them purpose.
Most had shuttled here when there was a promising find in the desert: a ruin out in the desolate wastes of white, crystalline salt. The problem was, most that searched for the ruin were lost in the flats, for every direction looked the same to the horizon once you lost sight of the foothills. The people that built this little town – Trestle – were those who stood on the precipice of that vast and daunting expanse and realized the folly of it all.
(Warning: This story contains mention of suicide. If this is something you don’t wish to read about, please return to the archives here.)
door.17 opened. door.17 closed. heat readings identified as human; fourteen(14) prosthetics detected…zero(0) essential cybernetics detected
door.18 opened. door.18 closed. door.18 locked.
The AI slid between pipes and wires, giant transformers latticed between cooling units and fans galore. The deeper it went, the more complex and maze-like it all felt, as though the very core of the planet were nothing more than a quantum collection of endless piping and machinery. It often wondered whether that might one day become the truth.
“Well, there’s a set of them, aren’t there?”
“Answer the question, roadie. Who are they?”
Horace was getting snippy; 15 hours of roundabout, merry-go-round, chase the fucking rabbit, and he’d barely got back to the starting point with this lackey.
“Which?” Came the tart reply.
Tory shot the roadie in the foot. In hindsight, Horace thought as he resisted the ringing in his ears, that should have happened earlier this morning.
“Sometimes, you just need to sit and bask, bake, under an uncaring sun.” He inhaled slowly, as if drawing in the very heat around himself. My ears were so poised for his next words I almost missed them in the background noise.
“Because, daughter mine, the world under your feet, the grass and insects and animals, all that wind and rain and ceaseless molten activity?” He exhaled his breath as if it were smoke from a tasteless cigar; a habit that he’d kicked but that followed him like a stray dog, “It barely notices your passing. Unless you Make it notice.”
The glittering iridescent hide of the beast shimmered in the pulsar’s light, dancing across the thick exoskeleton in waves; an interstellar tide.
“Fifteen months of service, and where do they put me?” The frustrated voice crackled out of the radio.
Sighing, Ebriette paused in their work, hanging on to the metal latticework of the communication tower with one hand and increasing the volume on the receiver. “Let me guess, Milo. ‘Out in the middle of an ocean’.” Their reply was dripping with as much sarcasm as they could muster through the thin clinging film of the high-altitude-breathing-apparatus; or as the insufferable goon in charge of training had cheerfully explained, HAPA.
(All characters of the graichic race are hermaphroditic, and do not have gender-specific pronouns; a singular they has been used in place. If this becomes too confusing, it will be switched to a different pronoun.)
The waterfalls were deafening, even from so far away; like so many rains happening further below, all thunderous cacophony and deep bass rumbling. It filled Fa with such a peace that the last month’s hardships were slowly ebbed away, and they allowed themselves a few moments of dozing in the early summer sun, surrounded by their raichii who splashed happily in the waters. Fa was nearly asleep by the time they felt a nudging head poke into their abdomen.
“Where is Mo, Fa?” Came the little voice from beside them.
This story is based off of a story from the game Dwarf Fortress, provided by the lovely Dusty Dorfs posts here and here. Dwarf Fortress is a game steeped in lore and legends, as well as nuanced and complex histories. I have taken some liberties with added names and personalities, but I drew much of the information here directly from those posts. From this we have a story of Cuquimo Mergedyell, the human general of a conflict against that wretched blight, the Goblin, and the kind of impact that has on a person later in their life…
The corpse-laden battlefield, heavy with the burden of war, stretched out below them like death’s own bloody harvest.
Cuquimo Lecbealá, she of the title “The Colourless Viper”, stood atop a short crest where the officers had made camp; from here, she could survey the battle’s results, and hear faint conversation from the soldiers under her command. There was the faint stench of blood and soiled bodies even upwind, and the guttering pitch of the torches did little to aid the smell.
The voices below occasionally rang out in boisterous laughter or raucous songs, accompanied by the rhythmic clanking of tankards and armor and the stomping of many a boot. A sort of chaotic symphony, attesting that their victory was one to be celebrated, lauded in song and dance for days to come.