Against the sea of stars behind her, Kee seemed to shrink into herself, saying nothing, “I don’t have an easy answer. Back when we were young, when Lee, Nataw, and other friends of ours first came into this universe, we loved to travel, he more than most of us. I think he may have been the last of us to give up traveling simply for the sake of travel–if he ever did. I think he still did even after our people divided up into factions. As one of the first members of the Live faction, the smartest thing he could have done was hide, but he kept on moving instead, never staying anywhere long enough to be found.”
Watching her face for any reactions, I said, “A lot of people would see that as a pretty good tactic for hiding.” Continue reading Never Go Home: Part 6
Where I was, I didn’t know for sure. I’d asked before, but she told me that I didn’t have words for it. My best metaphor so far was that it seemed to be Kee’s personal breakout room in ancient, eldritch social media.
She’d raised her eyebrow when I’d suggested it the first time and while she didn’t roll her eyes, it felt like she was nearly there. Anyway, I knew better so I didn’t push it. To me, it seemed more likely that it was her personal demiplane. I mean, if you’re basically a deity, why not create your own mini-universe for conversations that you’d prefer to keep private? Continue reading Never Go Home: Part 5
“It’s complicated, but the short version goes like this: we didn’t begin being creatures that spanned universes. We began as small reptilian creatures in a universe that may not exist any longer. We grew, changed, and after a time learned how to modify ourselves. We’d always had a small talent for existing out of phase, but we expanded it, allowing ourselves to move from one universe to another and connect to other versions of ourselves. Continue reading Mere Anarchy: Part 34
The smaller presence rattled off a reply. “Impossible. We all agreed that there were enough of us and then we rewrote ourselves so that there wouldn’t be more. We’d all know it if they changed it back—if it’s even doable—which I doubt.”
Though there was no air to breathe, I heard the larger presence sigh, “Nevertheless, there was a child.”
“Impossible—” the smaller presence began. Continue reading Mere Anarchy: Part 33
Marcus pursed his lips. “There’s no chance that you’re pregnant, right? I mean, you said you’d had that… turned off, but I didn’t even know who you really were at the time, so…”
Kee’s face darkened, but she kept on talking. “I was telling the truth. In our true form, we’re not fertile with humans. I’m not sure you’d even recognize what we do to reproduce as sex, but when we embody ourselves, we have to create something that can connect back to our true selves.
“So we could have reproduced, but if we did, our child would have too much power for your world to handle, and too little to defend itself from the Destroy faction for a long, long time. I’d never risk that.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 34
Whatever my reservations, it didn’t matter. The bubble expanded to cover the entire battlefield and that included all the troops that had been waiting in the wings and beginning to charge.
Connected to Kee’s not-quite-telepathy, I could sense how far it went—more than one hundred yards away in every direction.
Past the edge, the Xiniti that had promised to show up and help stood, staring at the bubble. Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 33
“What I’m asking is probably simple for you—take out the people who are trying to kill us or hide all of us or maybe move us somewhere else? I don’t know. A teleport would be ideal.”
She didn’t say anything but I could feel flickers of her emotions, much as I felt Daniel’s when I was back home. It wasn’t a telepathic connection or maybe it was, but if it was it felt different—bigger—a forty room mansion instead of your standard four bedroom house.
That’s a terrible metaphor, but I don’t have anything better than “bigger.” Continue reading Trees & Shields: Part 32
I became conscious of her brown eyes watching my reaction. Running still sounded like the wisest choice. I stayed still and didn’t say anything.
After a pause, she said, “Was it the King? The Queen? The Warlord? The Wise Ones? The Schemer? The Beauty? The Traitor?”
I tried not to show anything more than curiosity on my face. “Are there more?” Continue reading K’Tepolu: Part 6
We spent the next hour talking about jump, blink, and near-space physics and how they related to drive design. As we talked, it became obvious that she didn’t just know more than I did, but that her knowledge eclipsed mine. At the same time, she never talked down to me. It felt like the better sort of independent study. She asked questions and I answered, but from my answers she somehow noticed knowledge that I was missing and explained it to me.
The longer we kept talking, the more faster than light drives made sense. It felt like talking to my grandfather, Dr. Nation, or anyone who could talk about technical issues at exactly the level I needed to understand them. My mind burned as connection after connection fell into place. Continue reading K’Tepolu: Part 5
I’m also fairly sure that decorative plants don’t give people “the frond” when someone cuts in front of them on the way out the door. Being no authority on rude galactic gestures, I might not have noticed, but the Xiniti implant was.
Marcus laughed as the door shut and the train silently pulled away from the station. “I wonder what it thinks of vegetarians?” Continue reading K’Tepolu: Part 4