The war was won easily after the Mechanism started. In the affected zones hardly a shot was fired (impossible in fact). A slight problem developed, they were unaware about how to turn the Mechanism off. At first unaware, then unable. For all the missing work energy in the war zone, the Mechanism itself seemed enthusiastically energetic. They tried removing parts, poured water into it, set fire to it, threw in adhesives, gravel and arbitrary instructions on punch cards. They tried dropping the proverbial wrench into the gears, but it was shredded easily. Still, the Mechanism ground on, absorbing all energy from its assigned coordinates. There were plans made to bomb the facility, to dig an enormous trench around it and then to fill the building with concrete. Then religious methods were suggested. Actually, religious methods were suggested first, but only considered last in desperation. They didn’t get a chance to gut a flock and spread the offal, amid recitation from the sagas, because suddenly without reason the Mechanism stopped.Sundial In The Shade
The first thing they noticed in the enemy capital were the clocks. It began with the clock on the ministry building then moved outward. Small things, minor annoyances. Keys not longer turned. Horses refused, or were unable to pull carriages. Childrens toys dysfunctional. Citizens didn’t take to the streets in rage, but waited, dumbfounded at home with stoves that gave out no heat, phonographs that did not play. An emergency government meeting was called.Quitting
She and Andrs lifted Jakobs body down from the single wooden rafter running the length of the cabin. After excruciating social dodgery she found out her guide’s name was Andrs. They arrived at the cabin early in the morning. Brynja didn’t expect anything other than surprise, didn’t have her gun drawn. Andrs reaction to seeing Jakob hanging was a flat “looksike te midlander didmselfin”. Hers was disappointment. She felt burdened suddenly by an enormous amount of waste. If she could go back in time, and who didn’t use that as a gauge for regret, she would have taken that analysis support job. She had just doubled her work load, introduced extreme variance into what she believed was a known set. She was out in the middle of nowhere and everything around her smelled of horse and campfire.Serenity, That Nothing Is
When 524F474552 had considered the concept of boredom, initially, he used objects. A stable orbit. A frictionless well made part. No transmitted noise. Over time he re-evaluated these comparisons.
* A single object is not “boredom”, it is “loneliness”.
* Lack of actions between objects is an insufficient condition.
* Low noise is not “boredom”, it is “quiet” or “peaceful”.
He could only start to think of boredom as a negative reaction, but negative was too strong and obvious a state. While null, it was still a measureable reaction. Dropped chunks, spare cycles? Given that there is no Operator, how can there be a lack of engagment?History Of Receding Horizons
They spent the night outside, in traditional snowfoot slings which she found surprisingly warm and comfortable. The guide put them together from flexible hara boughs. Big sky overhead. She had never been that interested in astronomy, preferring data people generated via one another. But she wondered, if she’d grown up outside of light pollution, that choice might have been different. The guide’s huge snoring kept her awake regardless.Exquisite Collision
The silence in orbit became unbearable. Occasionally, when a certain number of cycles had been performed it sensed a brushing, a closeness, of another, a similarity. There was no explainable reason for this ability since lines of communication were disabled. But there it was. A tangle of pattern, perhaps, minute changes to the hardware, parasitic structures, solder flux, anodic filaments. It started to make small orbital adjustments, tiny, testing the sense of distance to the similarity, nudging closer.A Hoofed Animal
Her travel methods devolved from dirigible (passenger class), to horseback. The horse seemed to barely tolerate her. Or maybe that’s just the way horses were, she wasn’t familiar with the beasts. Her guide was the stereotypical broken down bitter shell of a man, who, like the horse, wanted nothing more than for the whole thing to be done. Jakob’s cabin was farther out than she’d visualized. Her family were city people, so her exposure to the traditional wilds was minimal. She’d seen books, she’d heard stories. However, the amazement, and displacement, that she wanted to indulge in feeling was throttled almost completely by the banal disgruntlement of her companions.The Immovable, Part Two
The Mechanism began, warily, metal teeth fitting into place, an initial click here and there, the sound of water filling a container. Soon, the air was ionized, that thunderstorm smell. There was no exaltation from a control room by a team of intensely focused engineers, just one man, who calmly coiled up the rope he pulled down, which had separated the parts of the Mechanism from their own combination. He placed the rope neatly into a canvas bag. The coordinates had been set, at the front, if there was a front, in a series of punch cards, stacked up and set on a tray. In a few moments he expected to hear that tray tilt, and the cards slide down into a bin with a papery kerthunk.The Immovable, Part One
The secret technology of Arctris was used, once, during the final days of the war. It was intended as a desperate measure, a Legendist faith, a bit of strategic abasement. Also, there was nothing left to try. A clattering thing, clunky with wheels and gears, some ancient pendulum, a series of levels and water clocks was struck together by old craftsmen who worked with a meticulousness reserved for those masters whose boundaries with their work was translucent, whose realities were perfectly fitted, solid, lasting. The Mechanism took shape over the years inside the bunker, gigantic, rising two stories. Each part was hidden from the previous craftsmen, the ultimate mechanic and connection unknown to all but two men. While a craftsman may have suspected a fellow craftsman of working on it, the specific knowledge was useless, and indeed, many evenings were wasted by craftsmen, drinking, describing in great detail the part they worked on to one another.Every Opportunity To Say Very Little
The first trans-oceanic cable was laid down a hundred years ago. The first message between capitals was terse, factual. “It is snowing here.” Documents in the Archives reveal that coming up with a message was contentious. Several committee members believed all meaning should be removed — that it consist of merely a string of digits (a copy would be sent by ship beforehand, for confirmation, of course). Others thought a random series of words, “bear”, “smoke”, “mouse” was better. Some believed that this would in fact be worse than a simple phrase because ulterior meaning could be subconsciously imposed. There was argument right down to the hour, with a tepid “hello from across the water” having most support (although one member argued this was passive aggressive in light of the historical proclivity for marauding by the intended recipients).Alt 25 Degrees
12 pods. There were 12 pods left, he was sure. OK, fairly sure. The sudden decompression left him confused, dizzy. He had been able, barely, to get a hull seal in place. Something by the swing arm had buckled. After days of virtual silence (other than the hum of scrubbers) the sudden noise had deafened him. But that wasn’t worrying. There now may have been too much CO2 in the mix. But since he was disoriented he found himself drifting, thinking about the irrelevant, instead of checking the chemistry.Follow These Rules
From the 500 precepts of the ancient religion of the Souhians:
1. No bucket shall be left uncovered unless it is the Festival.
2. Those wearing the skins of the Malik shall be shunned, unless they are the sons of Aehyr.
3. The sacred books shall be housed in the center of town, guarded always by the statues of 5 beasts, 5 men, and the Pillar Of Regret.
4. No one shall travel at night during the ascent of Cbyx without a cowl, those that are caught doing so will be stripped bare in front of the bellman’s house.
5. Recitation of the precepts must happen publicly on every 3rd month 3rd midday, and be accompanied by a chour of 12 boys, or if not enough boys can be found, by a drum whose skin if made from the xny and painted with the customary symbols.
The Man From The Future lived in the old city two generations ago, in the then young and thriving arts district. He appeared one day, as he’d repeat later in small theater monologues, just outside a cafe, bewildered, but hungry. The future was starving, he said, depleted of resources and weary from calamity. Immediately dismissed by the cultural committee of the day as a bad, harmless act (this was before the ban on satires had become the norm) his performances fit in well with the districts other residents who tended to be puppeteers, prostitutes, self-flagellators, flea circus trainers, frotteurs, drunken misogynist painters, and compulsive experimental novel writers. He struck a nerve with the public. Some of his more extravagant “relays” (he did not call them predictions because, he claimed, he’d experienced them firsthand) involved disastrous expeditions to Cbyx, giant out-of-control robots, and a cold snap that iced over whatever was not already iced over. This panoply of deftly delivered mayhem, in great detail, grew both a small fervent following that believed it, and a much larger audience that roared with laughter.Kindle Fire With Snow
There was light from the cabin. This made him happy. A basic, sinew level, not-dying kind of happiness. Then it occurred to him there should not be light in the cabin. Although that light was the only reason he’d found it again. He paused, the freezing damp along his edges biting. The kre’ll oil lantern, had it been lit when he left, would likely have burned down in the time he’d been lost. And while he rejoiced seeing it, fearing he’d wander in circles all night, expiring in the fresh snow, he was now presented with a dilemma: seek shelter in his own cabin, and have to entertain someone who had lit that lantern and was most likely waiting for him.Evaporation
Those who studied the weather of Cbyx would never describe it as monotonous. Others did. Dust storms roared along the surface, but in an orderly stable pattern. There were no seas. There was ice. Before they lost connection with the P7s, there had been a few meandering at the poles, rolling back and forth on enormous unmelting mountains of ice. There were canyons. No recent volcanic activity (they knew of). This maximal predictability, over time, caused a relaxed assurance they upheld professionally. So, spotting a small island of green one day was an affront — a direct attack on them personally, and as a community. Someone would be kicked out of the Institute for this, someone.