Friday, January 14, 2022

Some Fiction

I've had the firstlings of a story in my head for a few weeks now. This is the preface to whatever this thing might be... it's set in the world of Shards of Tomorrow. I hope that the formatting works :)


Kirby was a lonely bot.

      That was what he had decided after 300 years. Lonely was the correct adjective. While he wasn’t given to melodrama or excessive use of adjectives, and he avoided adverbs as a matter of principle, Kirby had to ultimately acknowledge that lonely was the most appropriate descriptor. Precision mattered. Lonely was precise.

      He had been bound before. She was a lovely woman, kind and well-mannered. She cared about decorum and fashion and precision. Her name was Lanya, which was a lovely name. He had truly enjoyed saying it, and hearing it, and being in the presence of the creature that bore that name.

      But, of course, she was dead. The Windswept had crashed here on Banquo’s Tooth 814 years ago. None of the mortals survived, and most of the bots were destroyed in the terrible event. It had taken several decades for his memory banks to move all of his experiences with Lanya into deep storage. Even now, he had pangs of something when he thought of her, although he assumed this was some error in the programming. However, he also accepted that, since he had not been able to bond to another mortal in the intervening 8 centuries, his systems were dredging his deep storage for some semblance of mortal life to affix to.

      He was a bot, after all. That was his purpose. No mortal = no purpose.

      To be fair, Banquo’s Tooth was not entirely devoid of options. Crystal Wyrms were mortal (he had learned from the corpse of one he saw on the Veth Tundra three centuries ago), and he could theoretically bond to one of those. They exhibited some cunning. They wouldn’t wear silvered gowns and drink ganth champagne, but it was better than nothing.

      A Crystal Wym was also better than his only other option: a Mirdan Scavenger. Those tribal warriors were always upon him, trying to bludgeon him and skewer him and crush him. Just last decade, one had caught him at close quarters with a blast rifle and he had lost an arm. Kirby had tried to re-affix it, but he needed parts that could not be found on Banquo’s Tooth. Theoretically, the ruins of the Windswept may have contained such parts, but that was on the far side of the Veth Tundra, where dark things now dwelt.  

      That was not an option. So, he carried his lost arm strapped to his side, making do with the one arm he still had. It was, mathematically, fifty percent better than no arms, although metaphorically was thousands of times better.

      The starships still passed overhead frequently, presumably headed for the dark side of the moon, although Kirby no longer attempted to hail them. For several years after he first noted them, he spent every moment in the same pursuit; he would put all systems in passive mode to maximize scanning. When a starship entered the 44-kilometer range of his sensors, he would hail the ship: he broadcast greetings in 142 languages, reflected light from the surrounding crystalline landscape, waved his arm with vigor (although never vigorously, since that was an adverb), and imagined the Lady Lanya at one of her dinner parties, trying to get the attention of a noble from Iago III. No ship ever answered his hale, or slowed its passage, or gave any indication that it had heard or seen him. However, the ships gave a glimmer of hope, and that was better than nothing.

      Better than nothing had become something of a mantra. Everything he had, everything he found, and everything he experienced was better than nothing. Nothing was the only other option; all he had to do was disconnect his own central battery while leaning over a cliff or at the bottom of some frozen ravine, and it would all end. He would cease to be.     

      Kirby was still looking for purpose, he finally decided, and would not be satisfied until he found it. Thus, when the faint beacon from the buried ship registered on his scanning system, he felt a tinge of purpose. He had to wait three days for it to ping again, but he was nothing if not patient, and three days was a small sacrifice at this point. That second ping gave him a location: 48 meters east-north-east and 21 meters under the ice, where the icy layer of Banquo’s Tooth’s surface gave way and its crystalline crust began. 

      Eighteen days and six pings later, his arm’s digger attachment hit the second engine turbine, and fourteen hours after that he had dug his way to the upper access hatch. 

      Three minutes and twenty-eight seconds after that he first saw Sky Stalwart. As you might imagine, he bonded immediately.






  1. A Stalwart and a Kirby! The universe has a certain poetry to it, eh? This was a great piece, Doc, and as always, I remind you that I would read (and that means purchase!) entire works of fiction by you set in any of your universe! In fact, I've finally started writing, inspired by your Doc Stalwart "issues" format.

    1. Thank you. I am starting to think about releasing serialized stories of like 5-10,000 words on Amazon at maybe 99 cents a pop. I like working in shorter narrative chunks, and I think Amazon would give me some more visibility. For example, I think my Doc Stalwart stories hold up really well, but nobody can see them because I have them buried in a far corner of the Internet. Rather than giving them away for free, I might take them down, re-package them, and try to sell them on Amazon. Maybe put up the first one for free as a trial, and then package them in groups of three stories (or so). I think I've found my narrative voice, and it doesn't read or feel like derivative SW fan fiction to me at all. I thought the Timothy Zahn books were okay, but they felt like a fan writing - there was always this pandering to the original movies ("Luke remembered - this was just like that one time on Bespin. Yeah. That was awesome.")

    2. Amazon has that "Kindle Vella" format for serialized fiction now, and I've read one story so far that way and really enjoyed it. It's for phones only, at least for now, as it's focusing on "reading on the go," etc.