Note to readers: I had intended to post another entry on this Thursday, but completing it is taking more time than expected, and I want something done and ready with reasonably high standards. I’m still generating material for the draft as ideas come, so I now plan to finish it by next week, when I’ll also publish the next Gods of Terra primer. So this week, it’s my latest 13-word story. The credit for this form goes to S.A. Barton. Thanks. ~Troythulu
A nondescript-looking young woman made her way down the poorly lit street. It was quiet, too quiet this night, and her senses were alert to the slightest disturbance to her peace of mind at this late hour. She was in no mood for threats, so she smiled when she saw the ludicrous — ahem — gentleman — step out of a side alley with shiv in hand, evidently eager to try his hand at gutting her and taking her stuff. Never mind that the only apparent goods on her person were her mirror-shades and her scavenged work uniform. She saw the idiot in augmented reality overlay in her field of vision, thinking he was hiding before he even stepped out into the street. This would be quick.
“All dressed for Halloween, are we, girly? Why the shades at this hour of night? They look good enough to take! Hand ‘em over, and your money, too, or I slit your mongrel face!” She quickly downgraded her estimation of his intelligence by several standard deviations below the mean. He waved his blade “menacingly” just half a meter in front of her, trying pathetically to look impressive and scary. Scary? To a girl who’s killed planets all by herself?
The farce was quickly ended when she casually grabbed him at the waist by his belt, and with a strength and ease seemingly impossible for someone of her size and build, lifted him over her head and tossed him headfirst into a nearby waste bin with a muted “thud,” and what sounded like the “crunch” of a likely skull fracture. Oops.
Hmm. Moron dropped his knife when he took a dive, she thought.
She picked up the blade, balancing the tip on her finger. It’s dull. Badly balanced. Crappy workmanship. Meh.
She tossed it aside, and silently giggled inside at the thought of anyone trying to threaten her with such a shoddy excuse for a weapon.
Not worth the effort of writing, “I got punked by a girl,” on his face with his own blade, she thought.
Fictitious gods. You’ve one hell of a mean streak, said the silent voice within, heard only in her mind’s ear, the constant companion riding around in her skull. She knew who it once was. A digital consciousness deep in her hypershard’s fractal-like q-bits had kept her company since she first regained control of her own mind on a dead planet. A planet that she had just killed as the resurrected Magna.
I make my own rules, Mirus. She responded. Understood. Still, you’re a wanted woman, and you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. Even during my life, I had to travel with an assumed name and identity to avoid bringing the local military down on my head. Thinking with your powers will only get you killed. Really? She asked. You had an assumed name? What was it? That was Murugan Sanchez. My real parents were of Tamil and Filipino descent, and it showed in me, so the name worked. You’ll need one too, at least for the mundane things like forging documents and such. I can teach you how to do that, and to do it well. So, what’ll it be?
The girl thought for a moment. Murugan. That was the name of an old god of war wasn’t it. So I’ll go as Korravi – and I’m stealing your surname, Mirus – Korravi Sanchez, it’ll be. There are few ethnicities I can’t easily pass as with a little touching up, and several hundred years after your time no one will notice.
For those who find out the hard way, my life as the second Magna is officially over, she thought to herself.
I’m the Meera, once the destroyer of worlds. But one day, I’ll be able to walk in the open without terrifying every planet I set foot on.
And that day will be good.
Bindaro the pugilist looked up from his freshly spilled tankard of ale, at he, she, or maybe it, or they, who had just spilled it. The gnoll across the table from him growled chucklingly, in obvious contempt for his peace of mind, and despite his reputation. For you see, Bindaro had never in his long career as a mercenary used a weapon in combat. This was not because of some notion of fairness or honor, though he was no stranger to those. It was because when aroused to fight, his strength made it impossible to wield a weapon in his hand without breaking it, even a bowstring, which snapped when he pulled back to launch an arrow. Even a crossbow was not exempt, as his grip and the strength of his trigger-finger damaged it beyond a single use. So he fought using only his fists, and in battle had a durability to match his strength, permitting otherwise impossible feats. He could brain a mountain giant with a single blow to the skull, and punch through stone walls without injuring himself, it was said. The gnoll, however, apparently harbored doubts, or at least, some strong measure of foolhardiness. Bindaro looked crossly at his annoyer at the other side of the table.
“Young fella,” Bindaro began, “…do you have any idea what you’re getting into?” The scaly lips of the gnoll curled upward, showing serrated backward-pointing teeth. It growled with amusement as did its companions across the tavern room. “You, my friend, are a special kind of stupid. Let me show you why.” “Hurr, hurr, hurr! Man-thing think him scary…Urk!” Bindaro’s fingers had gripped the gnoll’s neck, as the humanoid was lifted off its feet with one arm, gasping uselessly for air. Bindaro’s eyes shone with a seething orange light as his inner source fueled his strength, hand tightened around the gnoll’s windpipe. Rather than kill the humanoid, he tossed it across the room like a wet rag doll, unconscious, bruised, and limp. “Never piss me off like that again, or I won’t be so kind next time. That goes for all of you. You won’t like it when I’m angry.” He turned to sit back down and ordered another ale.
“Excuse me, Sir. Would you be Bindaro the Pugilist?” A young wizard, wet behind the ears by the looks of him, had seen his display of strength, and seemed either wanting to interview him, or wanting to hire him for something. He was hoping on the latter. Cash had been a bit short lately with no local battles to get involved in. “It depends, my boy. What’s it worth to you?”
“My associates and I will pay you handsomely for your skills if you accompany us to an abandoned monastery in the Baskona mountains. Twenty-five gold sigmas downpayment plus five gold sigmas per week, and a 20% cut of whatever we find there.”
Bindaro thought about it for a second, and responded.“Will there be danger? If so, have anyone in your group good with a pen who knows contract law draft up something, talk to my legician at the local barristers’ office, and meet me here…” Bindaro handed the young wizard a slip of parchment with his current lodgings written on it.
Well, he thought, as guests filed out of the tavern at closing time. It looked like I’ll be able to pay my rent and upkeep for another year…Finally, a job!
To be continued…
I am Samdrumani Amhadiraan Natalanaana Paruul, and I am proud, for today, after months of digging at the gravesites of dead civilizations, my teammates and I have made a most unusual find on our most recent excavation. We are, my team and I, archaeologists from the esteemed Madutraada University, main campus, on the homeworld of my species, mighty Sirug, city-continent Avatrumuulat.
We have found an anomaly, a very old one, too old, indeed, older than the origin of my people on our adopted planet, the capital of the Galactic Exarchate of Sirug. But I get ahead of myself, and shall related things as best I can for posterity’s sake. Should anyone recover this journal, they will know that this finding will shake the galaxy, and end our bitter war with the Giants of Tokmolos.
We had been at dig site after dig site on this dying world, its resident biosphere already on its last gasp as its stellar primary began to brighten too much and boil away the oceans, its stellar wind stripping the once breathable atmosphere to dangerous thinness and exposing the ruins of the surface to lethal levels of stellar radiation. We must all wear protective suits since our stay here, only the simplest forms of life, the hardiest microbes analogous to extremophiles living on my homeworld, remaining. Of those, only species far beneath the crust and its dead mantle will continue, for a time, at least.
We were at a newly identified location on this planet’s northern hemisphere, where the icecaps once covered the pole some million years ago, before the planet’s sun began to die. We had gotten some very strange readings from a site that looked barren, no surface structures, yet our readings indicated that something was emitting terahertz radiation, something far below the ground, something that could only be technological. At arrival, we zeroed in on the readings, locating our spot, and set down, garbed in our suits.
After months of fruitless digging, spurred on only by what was left of our funding and the readings of our instruments, we were about to give up, pack our equipment, and head back to Kai’Siri space, when we found it, or rather, them. It was our group’s assistant excavator, Khamudraht Vaasa, a brilliant young man barely out of his teens who uncovered them, alien artifacts in a set of three, all broadcasting a radiation signature that was off the scale from all previous discoveries.
Relics. Relics billions of years old, relics predating the evolution of life on Sirug. This was an impossibility. There had to be something wrong with our method of dating the findings, but after recalibrating our instruments over and again, the readings checked out. Young Vaasa was killed instantly. Or so it seemed. Probably some sort of security failsafe built into the relics, or a malfunction, whatever. It was a pulse of radiation that went off as soon as the digging was complete. He was closest to it, instantly disintegrated. After an impromptu funeral, sending a starfold courier drone with the news to the nearest Kai’Siri outpost system, we looked closer…
They were shining spheres — well, not quite spheres — but constantly shifting back and forth between sphericity to things altogether different, as the radiation died down and we examined them closer, in relative safety given the local conditions. Made of some kind of bizarre alien crystal, they seemed to rotate in and out of space-time dimensions higher than the usual four, barely tangible to our sort of matter. We were forced to hold them using instruments employing Kurtz-Dunar fields to grasp them at all, much less in safety, once recovering them from their casing, a sort of stasis box.
It was then we made our next discovery. Instruments showed fossils below us, probably the ancient remains of native life, or so we thought, until we made sense of the scan we were getting — it was a fossilized human skeleton, dated at fifty-five million years old, and it matched the measurements of Khamudraht Vaasa, our comrade who only hours before had been seemingly destroyed…
To be continued…