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[Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come 
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Post [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
I'm writing this in the early pillowfort era.

At this point, I personally have several questions about Tempo's character. We've really only seen her 'on duty,' and it's hard to know what to think of her. So I'm speculating that she's a very dedicated woman who will put a lot of work into making sure that Alex isn't a Hierarchy / Umiak construct. Just in case.

By logical extension, that would mean that she really wants a peak past Alex's lotai. Given that 3 Teidar couldn't break their way in, the Mizol approach may be to try subtlety. To whit: sneak in while he's asleep.

So I propose a writing prompt: Tempo has snuck into Alex's dreams, and has bitten off more than she can chew. I was thinking that whoever is interested could post a story of some kind. This could be a grab bag of one-offs, or something longer. At risk of sounding suicidally optimistic, I suggest adding your own title at the head of your post.

PS: Remember the comic is PG13. So go easy on the ultra-violence.


Mon Sep 16, 2019 12:02 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
Notes:
  • This has been kicking around for days but pesky things like work keep getting in the way. So I'm going to release it in dribbles.
  • It's sadly not going to be as good as Orion1836's Armitage.
  • I'm using italics to indicate thoughts or sanzai.

---------------------
It's full of stars.

Tempo was tired. The last few days had been difficult; first the huge argument with Stillstorm, then trying to comb through as much of the Bellarmin debris as possible, and now they were ballistically falling through space. A trip to Seren had seemed so attractive; she would both get away from Stillstorm and hopefully wrangle some favour with the Seren sector leadership. She didn't want to spend the rest of her life trying not to die in a raider fleet. And Stillstorm knew it, which did not help with their arguments.

Leaving the raider fleet had turned out to be more dangerous than staying inside it.

But she would be able to rest soon. The others had improvised a mattress and found blankets and almost concluded the 'handshake' ritual greeting. Spiral reported no telepathic contact. Reed reported no telepathic contact. Everyone but Firesong, who hand't offered her hand, reported no contact. Except, she realised, she herself hadn't tried. She must be tired; this was an excellent opportunity to see for herself.

She presented her hand to Captain Jardin. He took it in his strangely warm hand and gently jerked it up and down a couple of times.

"Parat Tempo," he said smoothly.

"Captain Jardin." She replied. It seemed to be the expected form. She felt nothing telepathically; his hand was warm, and the faint ghost of electric fields inside agreed with the medical scans. But his mind was simply invisible.

She needed something. Stillsong was possibly right - he might be some kind of Hierarchy infiltrator. But Stillstorm's initial attempt to break the lotai by brute force had yielded three aching Tiedar, one unconscious Humaniti, and no information at all. Clearly, Tempo though, subtlety was required.

She would try again when he fell asleep.

...

It took a while, and some effort to stay awake, but he fell asleep first. She had pulled rank to get a spot right next to him. Beryl had claimed his other side and fallen asleep immediately. That Listel was almost childlike in her desire to know as much as possible as fast as possible. But prone to getting excited and saying too much.

Slowly, carefully, she reached out for Captain Jardin's hand. It was, again, disconcertingly warm. Once the shuttle got really cold, even Fireblade might be interested in lying next to someone so warm.

Nothing.

The security feed had shown that he seemed to sleep in cycles around 128 mammals long. Tired as she was, she could wait. This opportunity might not come again.

She waited.

...

She woke up. She was horribly, totally alone. And she wasn't lying on a nest of pillows and blankets but strapped into some kind of box. She tried to breathe steadily, quietly.

Hello! She shouted.

She heard no reply as she explored the box. It wasn't totally dark, but the lid was so close to her face that she couldn't see anything. A small display to her right showed something she couldn't read. The characters were very simple and angular. Feeling around turned up some kind of buckle over her chest and a little handle by her right hand.

This wasn't a cage. Rather than wait for whoever did this to come and find her, she fiddled around, unbuckled the catch, and pulled the release tab. The lid of the box opened and she saw an empty room.

On second look, the room was strange. It was narrow and long. It was largely white, and when she looked up, she could see ... a round horizontal column and, beyond that, a ceiling with some boxy equipment mounted to it. After a moment, she re-oriented.

A spin ring. Who uses a spin ring?

She traced the floor off to her left, then watched it curve up, back, around, and reappear on there right. This whole room was a centrifuge, and the pillar must be the central hub. Neither the Loroi Union nor the Hierarchy built like this. On the upside, she couldn't see the whole room and there wasn't anyone else in it.

She looked at the pod she had awoken in. It was fairly simple - a contoured bed, hold-down straps, a few air vents and a thick, translucent lid. Best not let them know I woke up she thought, and closed the lid. She tried to be smooth and quiet and utterly failed when she saw her hands, jerking the lid closed with a thud.

They were brown. She pulled back her ugly sleeves - someone had taken her armour! - and her wrists and forearms were brown too. She felt suddenly ill, but she had to know. The lid was shiny enough to be used as a mirror. Her face was brown. Her eyes were brown. Her ears had lost their points. Someone had taken her. Someone had done this to her.

Someone will die for this. Someone like Alexander Jardin.

--------------
And that's the first instalment. I figured that Tempo is quite pigmented for a Loroi, and would therefore be quite pigmented as a human.


Wed Sep 25, 2019 1:23 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
Quote:
And that's the first instalment. I figured that Tempo is quite pigmented for a Loroi, and would therefore be quite pigmented as a human.


I always thouht she was pale and Fireblade that was pigmented.


Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:49 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
Dang it, you’re right. Must have been hung up on hair colour or something. Oh well


Wed Sep 25, 2019 9:34 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
Still, off to a start that wants me to read more!

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Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:45 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
It seem to me that she somehow have her consciousness uploaded to a human. A human that may or may not regain control of her body from time to time and be curious about her mysterious blackouts. I guess she is onboard a space station in humanity space that still use spin gravity. In Stargate SG1 series that actually found an ancient device that allowed for instant communication over long distances by letting people exchange consciousnesses with each other. Another device where later used in Stargate Universe or whatever the last series was called. You want an edge in the war, well a technology like that could do it.


Fri Sep 27, 2019 9:45 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
My wager is that this is a dream and Tempo is intruding into it.

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Sat Sep 28, 2019 12:42 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
dragoongfa wrote:
My wager is that this is a dream and Tempo is intruding into it.


Is is entirely possible. Anyway Alex DID admit to humanity knowing about the concept of Sanzai as "old stories" Maybe humanity ARE psychically active, at least enough for detection but we are "sending" on another "frequency" that the loroi can pick up. Maybe the frequency change somewhat during a sleep cycle?


Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:12 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
Or the human subconscious can use whatever telepathic hardware exists in our brain, but the conscious mind cannot. In this case, I'm guessing that would be what the Soia built on/modified.

My personal headcanon from the comic is that humans sense Loroi telekinesis as radiation on the visible spectrum (like astronauts will see lights when bombarded by cosmic rays). This is why Alex "sees" Fireblade, but only her because she is very strong and has little control over when she emits. He might not see, for instance, Tempo if she moved a datapad a few inches.

My completely subjective take on relative Loroi skintone, dark to light:

Fireblade > Ashrain > Talon/Spiral > Beryl > Stillstorm > Tempo


Sat Sep 28, 2019 10:34 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
kiwi wrote:
Dang it, you’re right. Must have been hung up on hair colour or something. Oh well


I wouldn't get too hung up on it, we don't even know if Loroi skin tones are caused by the same biological mechanisms as human skin tones. Being a potentially engineered species maybe Loroi don't tan at all and their skin tones, much like their crazy anime hair colors, are just random genetic filler rather then something selected by thousands of years of evolution to improve survival.

Since I assume this is Alex's dream (or at least one created by his mind for Tempo's benefit) there is another explanation. Much like the scientists at Jurassic Park using frog DNA to fill in the gaps for dinosaurs Alex's mind may be using something similar to fill in the gaps of what a human Tempo should look like. Maybe at the academy he had an dark skinned female instructor who talked to him with the same kind of attitude that Tempo does, so now his subconcious is borrowing from that associated memory to fill in the gaps of what Tempo's human appearance should be (In fact even awake our brains actually do this kind of thing a lot with visual information, read about the blind spot to discover just how much of what we think we see is actually fake information our brains are guessing at.)


Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:51 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
It's full of stars pt 2

Here's the next instalment. Sorry about the delay, and the short instalment - I've had a busy weekend.

------------------------------------

Tempo looked for weapons. There should be an arms locker somewhere on this ship. She would first find a weapon, then find a person, and then she would find some answers. She began by searching every locker she could see.

She found... nothing much. There was a crude medical kit, crude clothing with no armour at all, a crude tool kit - which did contain a reasonably large spanner - and a surprisingly elegant construction of fine curved wood, with metal strings. After knocking on it and cringing at the hollow, resonant sound, she realised it was a musical instrument.

So, she had a spanner. Apparently spanners were universal because it looked exactly like a Loroi spanner, give or take the writing on the side. Now to survey the rest of the room. There were - crude - computer interfaces and more of the pods she had woken up in. Along the ring to her left, a ladder ran up the the central hub.

She didn't want to open the pods, and she didn't know and of the human English so there was no point trying the computer systems. That leaves the ladder.

----------------------------

The central hub of the spin ring was cramped and white and octagonal. Surprisingly, there only seemed to be the one ring. Right outside the hub was a stationary corridor, also white, also octagonal. It disappeared down to a vanishing point, clearly many mamals long. Bulkheads to the sides lead outwards to ... whatever. And there was a window. Normally, looking out the window of a spacecraft was pointless, but she currently knew nothing about her location.

She saw a planet. A gas giant, huge, with red and orange and cream stripes. Colours swirled between the stripes, like liquids mixing. It was beautiful, and she had never seen it before in her life. She was no Listel, but she had studied all the reports and looked at no end of planets. I would remember this one.

She stared, transfixed. A tiny crown of aurora swept over the pole and into her vision. Eventually, a new weather pattern turned into view underneath her. A huge red spot slowly came over the horizon.

"Tempo." She spun around. Alexander Jardin had snuck up on her, damn his lotai.. And somehow, horribly, he had the spanner. "Oh, sorry, I startled you. Did you sleep well?" She stared at the spanner. She had just been holding it.

He manoeuvred into place next to her deftly. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"

She struck out with her psychokinesis. She wasn't very strong, but she was precise. A squeeze on his heart would let her take control of the situation.

Nothing happened. Nothing. She had no sanzai - or no one close enough to sanzai who didn't have a damned lotai - and no psychokinesis. And he had the spanner. Oblivious, he continued. "I could stare at the king of the gods forever." He smiled at her. "But we need to be careful of our dose."

And then she realised she was utterly screwed. Because he wasn't speaking trade and someone had taken her psychokinesis out and stuffed a whole new language in.

EDIT: fixed italics oopsie


Last edited by kiwi on Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:30 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:01 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
This is interesting.


Sun Sep 29, 2019 9:00 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
Dreams are weird.

But if she can remember it after waking up, it'll tell her a lot about Humaniti....

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Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:17 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
It's full of stars pt 3

Well, I successfully managed to draft this without accidentally hitting 'submit.' I'll count that as a win.

One of these days I may even pull out all the stops and proofread something :)

Edit: added last minute idea to make it worse... or better?


----------------------------

I am Loroi, Tempo thought, I will succeed. As the person not holding the spanner, or the telekinesis, she would need to use her words. In fact, she would need to try the horrible trait of non-telepaths: small talk. The human seems to respond well to it. "It is a very striking view," she ventured.

Alex smiled. "You can see it from Earth with a telescope, but there's nothing like seeing it face to face. I could watch it all day."

That was interesting. This planet was in the same system as Earth. And for some reason Alex expected her to know that. And, he hadn't made any reference to her being brown instead of blue. Exactly what is going on?

There was a silence. Come on, come on. What else can I say?. This had always been difficult for her in training - the Loroi tradition was to be concise. Give her something of value to say, and she would say it. So she said "Frank would have loved this." What? Who is Frank?

"Yeah, he would have." Alex sighed. "What a time to break a leg." He tapped the spanner against his right leg, then waved it at the window. "Still, you got the biggest 'told you so' in history."

She remembered now. Frank had always loved his motorbike, and simply refused to slow down. She had told him time and again that he'd crash one day, and a month before launch he'd slipped on some unexpected glass fragments. "At least he was wearing the pants," she said.

Alex smiled. "You know why he wore the pants." They stared out the window a little while longer. "Sam would have loved this too.

"Let's go get some breakfast. I didn't want to eat without you."

Oh, of course. Humans don't segregate their males, so they would eat together.

-----------------------------

Breakfast consisted of unfamiliar, round, foamy objects from a dispensing machine, and equally unfamiliar yellow fruit in a very suggestive curved tube shape. Tempo had chuckled while Alex scowled.

"Hey now, we've been saving up this meal for monolith day. Don't make me feel weird about the bananas," he said.

"I just remembered why he wore the pants." No I don't. I don't remember why he wore the pants. And what is monolith day?

Alex looked concerned. "Surely it was to protect his legs in the event that he fell over!"

They ate. The 'pancakes' were largely tasteless until covered with sugary 'maple' syrup, after which point she nearly inhaled them.

-----------------------------

And now they were ready for the day's mission. They had crammed into an observation ... cupboard ... it was tiny, and they bumped shoulders and shins as they squeezed in. There was a viewfinder for an optical telescope sticking out of the wall, basic mechanical controls, and the irritating noise of air fans.

Alex had dived in first, saying, "I was going to say 'ladies first,' but after the pants joke, I claim first viewing."

And so her stood in front of the telescope, head pressed against a retaining strap, and fiddled with the controls. "Jovian shield is in place. It should be coming over the horizon about now." He fumbled around and hit a button marked 'transmit.'

"Alexander Jardin, recording first observations with the optical telescope. Tempo Poole is waiting her turn." More fiddling. "I think I see a corner. Yes. Just visible now. Right on target. Taking photo one." There was a mechanical noise, and then some whirring. "I'm seeing a right angle corner, like a large brick. It's occluding stars and widening. I don't see any thickness yet.

"I've got another corner now. They form two corners on a rectangle. Taking photo two. Edges appear to be parallel.

"The object is getting a little thinner. Taking timed photos three through eight.

"I'm not seeing any reflections. It's all black.

"Oh, the other end has come around the curve. Taking photo nine. It looks about twice as long as it is wide.

"It's getting thinner as it twists. Taking photo 10. Testing the automatic tracking... still on target. I'm setting up the long timed exposure set... done. All right Tempo, you're up."

He slipped away from the telescope and she slid into his place. She may not know how to operate the telescope, but she absolutely wanted to see this object. After a moving her head back and forth a little, she got a clear picture through the eyepiece and saw the largest Soia artefact in history. It was a huge, absolutely black, rectangle. Clearly thousands of mamals long - she didn't know the proper scaling - and had just risen above the planet. She could only see it as a shadow against the stars and faint light of the planet's exosphere. This is huge! This could be an active artefact - in a human star system! Why don't they have better technology than this.

The telescope was actually quite good, if primitive. It maintained tracking as the object grew thinner and thinner. She watched, confused and entranced, as it slowly shrank to a thin line. It began to widen, and on the other side, she could see writing. "Alex, there is writing on it."

"Can you make it out?"

"Not yet."

They waited. The object got slowly wider as Tempo stared. The writing was white and stood out very strongly, but was still too slanted to see.

Alex began: "I never expected to see writing on it. That could tell us so much..."

Finally, she could start to see individual letters. "I can start to make out letters now. There are several lines of text. It's nearly turned over."

All ..... E ..... ........

After a few moments, the letters came into focus. Strange, English focus. "It says 'All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there.'" Alex had mentioned that his language, English, was quite young, so that meant The Soia live! Somewhere, they are alive and watching over us!. Somehow, somewhere, the Soia had chosen her to come to a human system and see their first message in millennia. She had been worthy.

"In English?" Alex interrupted her thoughts.

"Yes"

"Fuck."


Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:21 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
English is one issue.
The letters are another.
And the naming of Europa (Jupiter's moon Europa) is a third one.

Mayday, mayday, mayday, we have a first-contact situation where the other side knows ALL about is that there is to know.

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Wed Oct 16, 2019 1:47 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
Since it's labeled 'Writing Prompt', I decided to add my two cents in here. Hope I didn't derail things too much :)

Quote:
Think, Tempo, think. Let's recount the facts. We're in a shuttle, adrift and dead in space, he fell asleep and I tried to establish sanzai contact... Then, what is this place?

She tried to list off possibilities in her mind.

For one, I could have been mysteriously transported to who-knows-where on an unfamiliar space station... but then I'd still be myself, and not in a human body. Except... it would be just my mind that had been moved, into a human body. Of one human Captain Jardin is familiar with.

That sounded quite far fetched, but Tempo was ready to go with this theory, just before she hit another snag.

No... that doesn't work. The Captain is here, too, and he doesn't seem to be disoriented. As if he's in a place is supposed to be. As for me... it seems like a mixture between 'me' and 'someone else'. I remembered who this Frank was, but the food was completely unfamiliar. I now understand English better than Beryl, but cannot read their writings. There are things I'm obviously supposed to know, but don't.

Well, scratch relocation off the list, for now. There'd be too many inconsistencies to follow up the line of thought.

What else? Is it some sort of dreamscape? That would completely explain why Captain Jardin is at ease with the environs - he created them, after all, I'd be just a guest. And him being in command of this place would explain why I'm missing my sanzai, my telekinetics and how I appear to him... He wouldn't even know about the first two, and he put me in a form he's comfortable with.

Another thought came to her mind. Would that mean that he prefers females with a tan? Well... Tempo cut off that line of thought.

So, let's assume it's a dreamscape. I'm still me, and possibly I don't know English and we can understand each other because we're talking mind-to-mind without using any language, after all. That would also explain why I cannot read their scripts as well. And, he referred to me as 'Tempo Poole'... This is not how Loroi are named, but still it contains my spoken name... So... did his mind put me up with a human name to go along with this human body?

That ... actually makes sense.

But where
are we, then? The human homeworld's solar system, so much I gathered. Though, is there an actual habitat orbiting a brown-red gas giant, and had he been there, on an observation mission, or is this just a figment of imagination?

Tempo wasn't sure. Her training covered altered mental states, in case a Mizol has to lift information from a damaged or delirous mind, and while each case was unique, there were two methods of accomplishing the goal. Either to directly challenge the reality of the mindscape, make the recipient 'see' and display the actual truth, or to let things play out, trying to 'read' the metaphors of ... well, everything there is to be seen.

And that message on this artifact just outside, the black.... yes, monolith ... written not in Loroi Trade, but in English?

The meaning is quite clear, at least the Captain considers ... whatever this means ... to be a revelation to the humans.

'All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there.'

A promise, coupled with a warning. If this artifact is no actual object, but a metaphor, what does it mean? Is this how he sees us? A blessing, but with a hidden danger?

Having been left with even more questions than answers Tempo decided to 'play along' and let the events unfold. And, maybe, when they wake up again, to carefully prod him about the things she had seen.


Wed Oct 16, 2019 1:51 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
Well, if I don’t want others to pitch in, then I should write faster :D


Wed Oct 16, 2019 12:52 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
:shock:

(Also, the loroi base unit of distance is mannal, not mamal.)

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Wed Oct 30, 2019 12:33 am
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
a can lot happen in dream states . . weird stuff, horror stuff, prophetic stuff, please continue


Thu Oct 31, 2019 1:39 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
Yes, dreams can be very strange. I thought they could be a good way to drop Tempo, unprepared, into some of the stranger aspects of the human subconscious.

I’m currently working to put out the original planned ending for It’s Full of Stars, and may well pick up the more nuanced option Novius put down. It offers more opportunity for Tempo to learn stuff.


Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:05 pm
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Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
It's Full of Stars, part 4A: alternate ending

OK, so Novus pitched in, and I think it offers more dramatic opportunity because gets to make choices rather than live the dream. However, that would make it the middle of the story rather than the end.

In order to clear out some brain space, I'm going to write out the now alternate ending (safely contained within a Spoiler tag), before attempting to grapple with the version of Tempo who's worked out what's going on.

Author's notes:
  • please note that orbital dynamics do not work well in this dream. Because it's a dream. Future androids may well dream of elliptical sheep
  • techincally, they should take a pod each for redundancy, but I didn't want to get hung up on piloting
  • autocorrect keeps changing "lidar" to "liar." This does not bode well
  • in the absence of different font choices, I'm using (bad) German to represent Alex speaking a language the Loroi can't understand.

EDIT: typos


----------------------------
Spoiler: show
"Well, " Alex said, "Mission Control really isn't going to like this.

"We've got about ninety minutes until they get back to us with instructions, so we should work up the passive observations while we wait."

There followed about 4096 solons of disgustingly primitive measurement and geometry calculations. With Tempo operating the telescope while Alex took down notes with a primitive pencil and paper. He then proceeded to manually do the calculations with reference to a booklet of mathematical tables. If humaniti was still doing important calculations on paper, they were likely useless militarily.

"All right, it's 2.0 kilometres long by 0.9 kilometres wide by 0.2 kilometres thick. Near as damn, thats a 1 to 4 to 9 ratio again. Just like the one on the moon."

One on the moon? There's more than one of these in humaniti space?

----------------------------

Mission Control first issued instructions to do nothing, then instructions to observe the object, then instructions not to approach the object, then instructions not to retreat from the object. Following the latter two would prove difficult, because they were on a slightly different orbit.

"Right," Alex said. "I'm calling it. We'll coast ballistically for now, and wait for Mission Control to make up their minds. In the mean time, how about lunch?"

I just ate a few hours ago, how could we have an... "Yeah, lunch would be good." Tempo was surprised at the words coming, unbidden, out of her mouth.

Lunch turned out to be something called 'stroganoff.' It was bland, and Tempo confirmed once again the apparently universal law that military food was terrible. Alex commented, "Aren't you glad we saved one of the nice breakfasts for this morning?"

----------------------------

At long last, instructions came to approach the Monolith in an EVA pod. Tempo and Alex rushed to the pod bay - an the largest space she'd seen on the vessel so far - and put on ugly flight suits with clunky life support packs. The crude construction and - ugh - sanitary undergarment left a lot to be desired, but there was no way Tempo would miss out on a closer look at a Soia artefact.

The EVA pods were, surprisingly, a good idea. Alex and Tempo squeezed into one via a simple bulkhead hatch, closed up the hatches, closed up the EVA pod hatch, and launched. That's a good design. Maybe these humans aren't as useless as they look.

"Alex Jardin and Tempo Poole out for EVA in pod 1." Alex said. "We are proceeding to the monolith."

As they approached, the Monolith got larger and larger. The text disappeared from the side, leaving a rectangle of absolute black. Tempo stared, overcome by the sheer size of it. This featureless expanse was the least comprehensible Soia artefact she'd ever seen, but it was active and she was visiting it and - human body or no - she would damn well learn whatever she could.

Alex piloted the EVA pod closer to the Monolith, eventually making a careful circuit. "It's totally opaque. I don't see any reflections." He glanced at the crude instruments. "No radar returns."

"Any lidar return?" Asked Tempo.

Alex stared. "The lidar wasn't ready, and you know it. What's up with you today, Tempo? You've been acting weird."

Oh damn... Tempo thought. He mustn't find out. "I..." she briefly considered killing him and taking the pod, but she didn't know how to fly it, and who would believe an accident killed just him, and there might be surveillance in the pod, and...

"... didn't sleep well?" Alex asked. It was remarkable how he kept offering conversation...

"Yes!" Thank goodness he can't sanzai.

"A lidar would be nice, but we have to make do with a strobe light." Equipment shortages were clearly not just a Loroi specialty. He reached out and flicked some toggle switches. A faint whineeeeeeeeee-click-whineeeeeeeee-click filled the cabin. "Well, either the strobe's broken or the Monolith doesn't reflect. Going in closer."

As they got closer to the Monolith, the surface remained absolutely black. It almost hurt Tempo's eyes to know that there was something very large there that could only be seen by occultation.

"Alex..." she began, trying to gauge the object's size. It didn't help that she was very hazy on exactly how long a meter was. "... are we too close?"

"The inertial navigation unit says we should be a couple of kilometers away. Unless it's moved."

She stared at black edge of stars going out. "It's moved! Back away!"

Alex slammed on the controls, causing the pod to lurch backwards. "Gonna be tight! Emergency!"

They stared out the viewport as the black line seemed to extend across the whole universe. As it got closer and closer they could finally see something in the darkness. Alex kept talking "I don't think we're clear. Seeing depth inside the target, like a black tube. Something at the far end. Light emitting. My god, it's full of stars!"

And the blackness enveloped them.

----------------------------

Tempo woke suddenly, horribly. Her ear hurt, and there was a lot of sanzai happening.

Fireblade: We might have to kill it :evil: .
Berly: No! I am in charge of him, and we're not killing him :x !
Fireblade: Yet
Talon: This is my shuttle, and I don't want anyone getting killed :shock: .
Cloud: Why is this such a big deal. You talk in your sleep all the time, Fireblade
Fireblade: This is a totally different situation. You have no idea what shell trick this might be. And I wake up before someone nearly rips my ear off.

Tempo shouted "What is going on?"

Fireblade: You're awake! Good :!: What did that thing do to you :evil: ?

Now that Tempo opened her eyes, she saw Fireblade glaring at the sleeping outsider. He was pushed over towards a bulkhead, Cloud was aiming her pistol at him, and everyone else had cleared off to the opposite bulkhead. This was a mess.

He groaned. "Uhhhhhhhhhh. Was passiert?" He opened his eyes, saw Cloud's pistol, and hurriedly asked, "What is happening?"

Beryl, excitable as she is, jumped in: "Tempo was calling out and we couldn't wake her up! We thought you had done something!"

Alex looked around the room. "What? I was asleep. How could I do something while I was asleep?"

Tempo stood. "Stop." I was trying to see under his Lotai. I fell asleep and woke up on a human ship and saw a massive Soia artifact - it was thousands of mannals long and active :D ! She paused. "What was that artefact, captain Jardin?"

"What artefact?"

"The Monolith*"

Alex stared. "What monolith?" His eyes flicked from Tempo to Berly to Fireblade and then back, solidly, to Cloud. Tempo wished she could see his mind.

"The one we just visited."

"We didn't visit anything." He was definitely hiding something.

Tempo glared. "We were just there moments ago. We were on a space station and went to see the monolith in some kind of maintenance pod."

"Tempo, we didn't go anywhere. I lay down on this shuttle, I went to sleep on this shuttle, I just woke up - after far too little sleep - on this shuttle." He rubbed his face and took a deep breath. "I had a traum**..." He looked up and stared hard at Tempo. Fireblade shifted a little closer to the imaginary line between them, brows furrowed.

"Tempo, what did you see?"

"I saw a great black prism, it was 2 tilometers long." Thousands of mannals. I'm not sure I said that right.. Alex's looked anxious. Tempo found it strange that he was clearly thinking, but she couldn't sense any of it. Time to press. "Humaniti clearly has a number Soia artefacts in your native star system. At least one of which is active. You somehow took me there to see it."

Now Alex looked sad.

Beryl - damn her - helpfully sent You didn't go anywhere, Tempo.

Shut up. "It was an active artefact, it had writing on it. The artefacts never operate on their own, so somewhere the Soia are alive and monitoring it. This information is of upmost priority, and I need to know everything about it." This would be the assignment that made her. Not just a new species, but new Soia artefacts, maybe the Asoka themselves!

"I understand now," he said. He prepared to stand up, but stopped at a small noise from Cloud. He sat up instead. "You broke into my dream." There was a pause. "You broke into my dream! That is a major invasion of my confidentiality - nein.... - privacy!"

Tempo scowled down at him. "You have not been honest with us. You told me humaniti had no contact with the Soia, but I saw the proof myself."

Fireblade stalked closer, and Alex twitched back. He spoke fast; "No. I haven't hidden anything, Tempo. You broke into my head - which most humans would consider criminal assault - and got back disinform... fiction***. An old story, made up."

Fireblade: Lying scum. Say the word and I'll break his legs.

Beryl: Don't! I'm responsible for his well-being.

Tempo: I can get the information out of him. If nothing else, he'll have to sleep eventually. "Captain Jardin, keeping secrets from us is not the way to succeed in your diplomatic mission. Loroi do not lie," Shut up, Fireblade, "and we demand the truth from others."

"I haven't lied, Mizol Parat Tempo. I have a question for you: what happens when you sleep?"

"That's not relevant."

"Yes, it is relevant. It is very relevant. Do you see things in the night?"

Beryl spoke: "Yes. We see memories in the night. We sort them for later recall."

"It's similar in humans. Sometimes we see whole memories, sometime disorganised fragments. Other times, we see things which aren't true and don't make sense." His face suddenly softened, and his voice became calmer. "They can feel very real, but when we wake up and examine them, they don't make sense."

"It must have been a memory. It was so perfect. The artefact is an amazing opportunity. You. Should. Have. Told. Us."

Now Alex looked a little sad. "Ohh, this one has really stuck to you." He looked at Beryl, then continued: "Are the images you see in the night just memories? Not fresh information?"

"Of course. Where would fresh information come from?"

Tempo waited. Let the humaniti try more lies.

"It was memories of an old fiction story, mixed up a bit. You broke in and got a role to play. The thing about dreams is that you don't have your full mind working on a problem. You ignore ... Unstimmigkeiten ... uhh, facts which do not all agree with each other, you don't think about other options.

"Didn't you think it was strange you could speak English?

"Didn't you think it was strange we could eat the same food?

"Didn't you notice how we moved from one time to the next with nothing in between?"

He stared at her again. She suddenly realised that, like other aliens, he would be adept at reading faces and bodies. And that, unlike other aliens, he was effective very familiar with Loroi faces and bodies.

"Yes, you know it. But you don't want to admit it to yourself. So, Tempo Poole, who is Jack?"

"My Ehemann****." Oh no, that's not right.

"Where did you heiraten*****?"

Tempo had nothing. Even Beryl, who normally was as subtle as a hand grenade, had picked up that something was badly wrong. Tempo's Jack, with the tight pants and the motorbike and the read smile, had not broken his leg. He didn't exist.

None of it existed. The station, the artefact, the idea of Jack, nothing. She had been taken in and tricked by this human, who claimed to have no telepathic skill. She was a senior Mizol operative, and she had taken the bait.

Beryl: Are you all right, Tempo?

No. Stillstorm would never let her forget this. And Beryl, naive, excitable Beryl, would remember everything. Stillstorm was sure to ask for a viewing...


* It turns out to be the same in English and German. I love it when that happens. English is such a mish-mash that there are all kinds of 'friendly' words, but you've got to keep an eye on 'bekommen' or you'll get what's coming to you.
** Dream. I'm betting Alex doesn't know this vocab.
*** My head cannon: the words are 'disinformation' and 'fiction' are close in Trade.
**** Husband (explicit form, generally just shortened to Mann)
***** Marry (I have no idea what to do in terms of conjugating this example, because English and German conjugations don't really line up and English doesn't support du / Sie)


Mon Nov 04, 2019 4:11 pm
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Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:35 am
Posts: 84
Location: New Zealand
Post Re: [Fanfiction] Writing Prompt: For what dreams may come
All right, it's been a month since Novius contributed.

After days of procrastinating, tidying the house, doing lots of laundry* and accidentally losing the first time I tried to write this a few days ago (O back button, I repent! Please set aside your wrath!), here are some plot thoughts for those who care to see how the mess is made.

Spoiler: show
What does Tempo know:
  • worked out it's a dream
  • worked out she's getting extraneous 'knowledge' / behaviours from somewhere
  • has decided to play along
  • is aware that things may be symbolic/metaphorical

What does Tempo want to know:
  • is Alex a Hierarchy trap?
  • have humans seen Soia artefacts?
  • is humaniti useful to the loroi?
  • gain impression of human technology / operations

Where could story go from here?
  • Having worked out what's going on, I feel that Tempo's wants should influence what happens
  • Could bring in HAL9000 as a metaphor for the Pocket Historian. (Not too keen on that, because I don't want to tangle too much with the real mainline story)
  • Could have a sudden change of venue, as dreams sometimes do. (Would have to be careful to avoid railroading... I'll think about it)
  • Alex could transition to lucid dreaming and become properly aware of Tempo
  • Tempo could attempt to mine as much information from the dream-ship as possible. (And be thoroughly mislead by the age of the source material :D )
  • Tempo could learn many 'useful' things about humaniti. (In accordance with the traditions of Commonwealth countries, this feels entirely unrealistic, so instead she will get the wrong end of the stick and proceed to learn the wrong things about humaniti)
  • Tempo could learn about Alex's background
  • Alex could learn about Tempo's background. Maybe he's a good listener when the fate of the human race isn't resting on his shoulders


* We hate clothes shopping, and wait for ages, then end up with a huge pile of clothes to launder before we can wear them. Also, for some reason, a crapload of women's clothes these days are 'hand wash, line dry flat in shade.' I think the chain just puts that on all their clothes (i.e. are lying pains in the arse), but the cost of finding out I'm wrong is really high...

On the other hand, we've got a house and clothes and all, so life could be a lot worse.


Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:24 pm
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