Star Fortress Adamant
Beyond the stars we call home,
In the places where dark things roam,
Within the folds of stellar mists,
There a grand fortress sits.
At the sight of the Old Empire’s demise,
There Star Fortress Adamant lies,
A bulwark against the horrors of space,
The last protector of our benighted race.
With walls thick and gates never ajar,
Forged within the heart of a neutron star,
Bristling rail cannons and fields of plasma lance,
Launching salvoes that make foes dance.
Never yet have its walls been breached,
Nor the strength of its shields been leached,
The fortress protects from cosmic ill,
We sleep safe at night by their strength of will.
Adamant stands against stellar strife,
Its forces buying freedom with their life,
From its maw its soldiers sally forth,
To lie foes out upon reality’s swarth.
Clad are they in blood-red plate,
Mono-filament sabres held straight,
Astride steeds with hearts fuelled by anti-matter,
Their shod grav-hooves raising a clatter.
Their armour all blows it turns,
From tyrant’s claw to star-dragon burns,
Protection fierce that cannot be broke,
Nor their mighty spirits bear a yoke.
From their course they do not stray,
No matter the cost they are forced to pay,
Their home’s title no quirk of nomenclature,
Adamant by name, adamant by nature
1 Comment | tags: adamant, Poetry, Sci-fi, Space, star fortress, Whimword, Writing | posted in Whimword, Writing
The Ship Breaker (A Tale of Space Fishing)
The mono-fillament line snaked out through the soupy, interstellar morass of the nebula. It spooled out from the primary mass of the Great Xolotar, drifting klik after klik until it floated megakliks distant, rotating gently on its own axis.
The Xolotar’s arcane, machine intelligence tracked eddies in the dust clouds and mapped the bow wakes of far off freighters. From a million different fragments it ran a quintillion different calculations, and pieced together a pixel fine map of the prey-ships within its sensor-sphere.
And with that, it set its lure.
The lure at the end of the line pulsed with a faint EM signature, matching the obscured siren song of standard navigational pulsar 847-2Xp or as the Xolotar’s data files also called it “The Bright Corpse Star of the Sticky Wicket.”
The lure sent out its ersatz radio pulse. Four weeks later it drew an ore freighter towards it, drawn off course by the promise of a safe passage out of the nebula, and straight into the clutches of the Xolotar.
The lure magnetised and clamped onto the freighter’s hull, digging into the plating with barbed snares and jagged teeth. The line snapped taught, and began to draw the ship in.
The freighter thrashed and twisted, cranking its engines into full reverse, but it couldn’t break free. It was caught. Inexorably the Xolotar reeled the ship in. It would not escape now. It would be landed in the grand, rendering jaws of the ancient ship-breaker. Its grinders and cutting lances would shred this ship. The Xolotar would feast once again. It would consume, and it would grow. And then it would do the same all over again. Just as it had done for a thousand years.
1 Comment | tags: AI, catch, fishing, Robots, Sci-fi, Short stories, Space, Whimword, Writing, Xolotar | posted in Whimword, Writing
A Palace for Corpses and the Dead Ghosts of Empire
The plumes of soft, powdery, grey dust drifted downwards slowly under the asteroid’s weak gravity. It had begun to settle around the feet of the landing gear. The ship sank into the thick loamy crust as it compacted the matter beneath it.
Dracnyr stood at the base of the boarding ramp, watching the hull still crackle with the greenish-blue hues of star-fire. It’d be at least a day before the storm of ionised particles from the local yellow dwarf quietened down, and probably another two before it was safe to take off again. Which left Dracnyr the unenviable joy of hunkering down and waiting out the storm.
Dracynr flexed xyr vacuum armoured tentacles and began to inspect the local area. Xe strained with the myriad facets of xyr compound eyes, the dust clouding the deep basin in which the ship now sat, obscuring anything beyond a couple of tendrils. Dracynr blinked and slide the nano-molecule nictitating scanner membrane across their bulbous quintuplet of eyes. The scanners filtered out the noise, interpolating shadow fractals, tweaking photon gain, and splicing in the wavelengths beyond xyr biological capability to see.
The basin began to resolve slowly as the membrane layered the composite images together, scrubbing out the fog of dust and revealing whatever was out there in the cold and the dark.
As the shapes took form they seemed smooth, regular, and vertical, not loose and jagged slopes Dracnyr would have expected from an asteroid basin. Not even the smooth regularity of a cliff-face. It felt far more artificial than that. The walls of basin became coarse and pixelated colonnades nearly half a klyx high. Xyr view traced down from these grand and imposing pillars to the open space on which xyr ship rested. It was a klyx wide and ran in a line for nigh on a decaklyx, bordered by short walls with regularly spaced archways. At its head a titanic portico filled the entire wall. This dead and cold palace exuded a precise and almost offensive grandeur. But how could anything live in the hard vacuum? Why would anything build a palace in a place such as this?
The images sharpened. Dracnyr zoomed in on the majesty of the portico. Its back wall was smooth, blank. The ghosts of what may have been doors or windows flickered on the mass-density scan, all had been bricked over and sealed shut. High above the ground, on this now featureless back wall, there was something written on it. No. Not written: Carved. In great, ragged letters, brutally hacked into façade.
Tendebantque Manus Ripae Ulterioris Amore
Sunt Lacrimae Rerum
The translation banks held all languages alive and dead known to Dracynr’s people. It grunted. Dry. Empty. It did not know what it said.
Leave a comment | tags: Aliens, asteroids, dead world, Latin, palatial, Sci-fi, Short stories, Space, Whimword, Writing | posted in Whimword, Writing
Things have been quiet on the blog for front for a few months. One might assume that this means I haven’t been doing any writing. This is not entirely true. Between the start of October and the end of December I bashed out eleven and a half thousand words for an open submission. January and February were then spent not doing any writing, as I was consumed by the nervous and uncertain energy of “waiting.” In the end the piece wasn’t accepted for publication, but I’m still inordinately pleased with myself that I actually tried.
With the waiting out-of-the-way I got back to working on one of my pet projects. Gayane Al-Taftazânî and her associate Almund Skeete have made their inevitable return. The stories in and around their strange futuristic world now run in excess of fifteen thousand words, so I thought it high time to give the collection a name: The She That Wanders Cycle. Below is part 4 of Gayane and Al’s personal adventure “On a Bright Angel’s Wings.” As ever, it was an uncomplicated joy to write. I hope you enjoy it.
Image by Tebe Interesno
Leave a comment | tags: Adventure, Gayane Al-Taftazânî, Sci-fi, Short stories, Space, Space Travel, Starwatcher, Tebe Interesno, The She That Wanders Cycle, Writing | posted in Writing
I come to you now from a world draped in cobwebs, festooned with skellingtons and dotted with lanterns both Jack-o and Snanny (it’s a Northern thing, we make them out of turnips.) The night covers the world, and with the setting of the sun comes the return of that which does not belong in our world. The dead stir in their graves and walk upon this earth once again. Ghosts, ghouls, poltergeists and malign spirits slip through the cracks in the fabric of existence and embark upon a mission of mischief, mayhem, madness and all-purpose merry-hell. Obviously the only sensible response to this is to dress up, devour high-calorie sugared snacks and inappropriately add the adjective “sexy” as a prefix to thing which it does not rightly belong. Or if you;re me: turn-off all the lights and pretend you’re not in just so people will go away and stop knocking on your door. But even with all this frivolity, frippery and social cowardice there’s a lingering feeling that there really might be something out there in the cold autumn night. Something hungry, prowling darkened streets and hiding in the bushes. Something on the hunt…
2 Comments | tags: Dmitry Maximov, Hunting, October, Pictonaut Challenge, Pictonauts, Short stories, Space, Submarines, Writing | posted in Pictonauts, Writing
Well that about wraps it up for March and with it the end of 2012 quarter 1. How time flies eh? I’m still trying to acclimatise to the “weather” that’s been assailing the country of late. Temperatures are rocketing their way into the low twenties, my face is starting to melt and I’m still suffering from the institutionalised jet-lag of the clocks going forward. Apparently the UK’s heading towards drought and hose-pipe bans again, there’s panic buying in a farcical petrolocalypse, pasties are becoming subject to VAT, a former contestant from Celebrity Big Brother has just been elected to parliament. The very fabric of the country is beginning to tear and rupture as we spiral out control towards oblivion. And all the while the puppet masters of our minority government dance about in their pants quaffing caviare and singing about how great it is to be fabulously wealthy and that the poor should stop complain and do the decent thing and just roll over and die. By and large, things progress onwards much like every other month in recent memory. I suppose I should be thankful for the familiarity, even if it’s less than comforting. On the subject of familiarity it’s the end of the month, another pictonaut wraps up. There’s things to be read. Hop to it.
Leave a comment | tags: Pictonaut Challenge, Pictonauts, Sci-fi, Space, Writing | posted in Pictonauts, Writing
So here we are again. The start of another month and time for more wordascope based shenanigans. We find ourselves in March today, a month I generally feel signals the start of Spring. Spring’s all right I suppose. There will however be no pictures based on, nor tangentially related to: bunnies, eggs, flowers or a seemingly all right chap getting nailed to a big tree because some Romans got drunk and thought it’d be “a right laugh”. As most gamers know there are more important things happening this month.
It was quite clear that last month’s picture had quite a heavy fantasy feel to it. I thought it only fair that this month I should swing to the other end of the spectrum and throw out something distinctly more sci-fi in nature. There is also another reason for this. March 6th finally sees the release of Mass Effect 3 a sci-fi computer game which I am rather looking forward to playing. It’s an action-RPG affair with a storyline that has enthralled millions, some folk on the internet have even gone so far as to call it “The most important science-fiction universe of our generation.” Like Skyrim it also involves everything going horribly pear-shaped because of the appearance of a vast, all-powerful, malevolent entity. While Skyrim had dragons, Mass Effect has evil, robotic, space-cuttlefish (and no, I am not joking in the slightest); adventure and heroism of a sort then follow. Needless to say writing will suffer to some extent.
1 Comment | tags: Any Direction, March, Pictonauts, Sci-fi, Short stories, Space, Writing | posted in Pictonauts, Writing