Monday, July 29, 2013

674 - Never Do God's Work Less Than Perfectly

The Temple choir had just paused for one of the ten silences during the day, so the only sound was the whisper of wind through the ceiling vaults. Birds that found their way in and not yet caught by the priests and novices chirped distantly above.
... I pray to the Ten... Help us. Guide us. We are in trouble without You... Minis had long ceased whispering his prayers out loud, but the refrain ran through his head still, even as the sun rose in the sky. Atzana would just have to reschedule his appointments. He'd been praying, instead of sleeping, and the words were finally running into a vast, echoing hum in his head devoid of any meaning, driven only by the intense feeling of need.
Just as the choir resumed its round of hymns, a 'click' sounded but before Minis could raise his head his whole body stiffened. ## ##### STATUS FILES FOU### EMERGENCY BIOHAZARD PROTO#### FILE DAMAGED ###:::: ILE# Numb::er## It was as if all Ten gods were shouting in his head at once in the most ancient of Arkan. EMERG### He could understand perhaps one word in ten and even those made no sense.
...I can see only light, it is too bright, it is too loud. It looks like Risae's cold, white workrooms, screaming, I hear screaming. I can see bodies thrashing on a white surface. Men somehow shrunk to the size of a glass box on a table, blood flowing bright. A window into another place where stars shine stark without twinkling... A vast glass marble below... the Earthsphere turning. Above. Minis flung his arms over his head, afraid it would fall on him.
Risae is not here. There is a short, round woman with fessas cut straight hair and spectacles. Her hair is dark. She watches the glass box of men killing and torturing one another with cold eyes.
They aren't dying fast enough, Ruth.” The voice comes from somewhere, disembodied. Muunas?
We just need to be patient,” she answered as if the man addressing her were there.
No. Our patience is being tried by the Almighty. You need to come up with some way of killing them off faster. We'll never get out of orbit at this rate. The apostate must be gone before the children of the Divine go home.”
I'll see.”
Doctor, believe that the Most High will guide your hands in this. You will create an illness of surpassing elegance and efficacy.”
The woman leans back tapping a pen against her lips. “Prophet of God, you'll get your illness. Soon. Which of the eugenics projects will you have me set aside for this?”
Get one of your students on it. That should be sufficient.”
I have just succeeded in making the eye-colour dominant,” she says. “I have the other physical tweaks complete and I am about to go into one of my own tanks, Murray. I won't be able to monitor any of my students as closely as necessary. Especially when setting them to build terminal illnesses for use on the damned.”
Let them start. You can put finishing touches on it once you come out in the image of the chosen, the blessed that you are creating.”
I suppose I could.”###$$####$ %^^#$%^* NNNNNNNNNNNNN###Ile no# #####
Then it is Risae standing in the middle of the metal room, she looks somehow uncertain in her own skin, if a God can be uncertain. It is as if She is not used to Her own skin. She regards the sealed glass vials in an open metal box. It clearly has a curse mark painted on the side.
Now, Charlotte, very nice work. The cure for this is where?” The girl next to Risae looks like a fessas and wrings her hands as if she were panicked at being less than perfect.
Um... Doctor... I just did the one.”
Idiot girl. You never, ever bioengineer an illness without its cure, it is part of its construction or you are no proper biotech. Go back into your notes and do it. Never do God's work less than perfectly.”
I am chastened.” The girl;!%$@###### #### ### FILE DAMAGED casts her eyes down as she says this. Then she takes up the box and bows out. “Praise the Lor##.”
Minis blinked his eyes open, staring at the bottom step before Muunas. There was so much noise in his head he could almost not hear the choir. He felt bruised inside and out. “Praise the Ten,” he finally managed to whisper. His mouth was dry and his whole body, still stretched on the tile, ached and stank of dry sweat. Was that my answer? The Ten ordered this plague to be created?

Monday, July 22, 2013

673 - I'm Just Going to DIE

“... as is set out in the infant Arkan constitution. The Assembly of Arko sits five times per year, thirty-six days each, so as to allow sufficient time for the work of the Empire as a whole, and to allow sufficient time for each member to spend working time in their constituency. This also a/l/l/o/w/s/ permits the government to not interfere with the Arkan religious calendar.”

Ilesias put his pen down and wiped his inky fingers on his kilt, and took a drink of juice. Then he stared longingly out the window where he couldn't see anything but tree-tops anyway. “Gian... Most honourable teacher... my essay isn't due until tomorrow. Perhaps I could take advantage of the daylight and go riding?”

The young man at his own desk in the Heir's schoolroom, where Ailadas had sat presiding over his older brother Minis and the pack of boys around him. He looked up as the rest of his class tried not to be too obvious in their pausing. “Ili,” he said mildly. “How many pages do you have completed in rough?”

“Um... nine. And a bit.”

“And your assignment for the Senior tutor?” Ailadas still critiqued Ili's work, though Gian did the bulk of the daily lesson grind. It was a major coup that the older man would take time from his busy professorship at the University to assist in the Heir's training, despite his age and infirmity.

“Um.” Ili looked down. “Ten pages. But I have a whole page of references!”

Gian got up and picked up the much-despised essay as the others in class returned to their own work, still listening even as they pretended industry. “Hmmm. Hmmm? Hmmm.” I just hate it when teachers make that noise. It means so many things you can never guess what this hmmm means! I want to go out and ride. Or skate. Or run with the kennel dogs. Or practice my sword-work or--

Spend another tenth on this section that explains what the House Whip's job is and the House Cudgel. Then you will be able to re-write it perfectly this evening after dinner.”

“Yes, teacher.” A whole tenth of a bead. I am just going to DIE.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

672 - Hit the Cascade!

Inensa leaned down to adjust her left faib skate. The fans of the Onyxine Razors sat raptly in the stands, watching the Mahid girls team warm up. In her whites, with her hair braided tight, she looked like every other Mahid woman on the team. She was sitting as second back up, the seventh woman on the team.

She wasn’t truly up to the skill that the girls had cultivated with all the focus and dedication of Mahid men, but sitting on the bench supporting them made her feel good. It was so unlikely for the 'mysterious seventh Mahid woman' to be the proper and decorous Dowager Imperatrix that no one had even been close when guessing who this new player might be.

Jorasa soared up out of the bowl and settled next to her on the bench. “Go in, 'Nesa!” She tapped the back of her glove on Inensa's shoulder.

She swooped down into the bowl, doubled braid whipping out under her helmet, thumping against her back. She found her face stretching in what charitably might be called a grin as she fitted herself into the pattern of passing and weaving and firing the disc at the goal, swooping up and back and between, ducking one disc, jumping a second, catching the third, darting between Amitza and Borasa.

She missed her first shot on goal and her second, but by the third she soared up, over the edge, feet higher than her head faster than she'd made it before and somehow clawed the air and felt the goal behind her as if it glowed. She made her shot and the fans cheered, even if it was just practice.

The team needed three more players. Four if she was truthful with herself. She knew she was the least, but Goddess Selinae it felt good. It felt good to be moving and moving so fast, stretching her muscles as hard as the precision dances hammered into her as a girl. Her self-made wind felt as though she had wings.

“'Nesa!” Coach whistled her out and she turned herself out of the practice pattern, onto the edge for several slow laps to cool down, before settling back to her place on the bench.

The coach was pressing her to allow other aitzas girls and some solas to try out for the Onyxine Razors, ad she knew she would allow it. Her father had, in effect, given over the management of the women to her.

Her father sat in the stands, up and back, to one side of her. He watched the practice, letting his bespectacled gaze slide over her as any other of the team members. She didn't do more than glance at him with the usual Mahid impassiveness.

She was shocked at how tired he looked to her. He was a very old man but he usually didn't show it so openly. A faint thread of words came to her ear from him, pitched exactly to reach her and go no further in the noisy, rumbling, cat-calling whistle filled, echoing bowl. “See me, after. You do well, First, to so stay ahead of your charges.”

“I hear,” she said, her lips barely moving, looking straight ahead. “Have you slept?”

“Irrelevant. Duty,” he said.

There is trouble enough to worry him, to keep him awake, possibly for a full night or more.

She stood up, flexing her shoulder. “Coach! Minor injury!”

“You're out, 'Nesa. Hit the cascade!”

“Yes, coach!” She gathered up her helmet and the towel she'd used and glided around to the door under the stands. No more playtime.