Sunday, 30 March 2008
Thursday, 27 March 2008
first part is somewhere beneath this one
im sure youll be able to go find it
I could see that he was deep in thought. It had been two weeks since his 'arrival', and he had taught me a lot about the Sight. Not voluntarily, he made that very clear, but only because if he didn't, he'd never be able to get away from here. I had picked up a lot, since it is possible to read someone without Seeing them, and even without it I could tell he was just sitting there, thinking.
My reflexes had grown in a different direction. I could tell when he was actively observing me, since all I had to do was use the Sight on him to find out whether he was using it on me. He had never actually forbidden it, but the times he had caught me using it on him, he did the same thing he did the first time he caught me, he disappeared. He couldn't keep it up for very long, but it irritated me, which I knew was his intention all along. I understood the mechanics of the disappearing now. He was doing the same thing I'd need to do if I was going to call a 'Storm' or whatever for him. He just persuaded everyone around him that they couldn't notice him, and they didn't. He had me practice, but I was pretty bad at it. People still seemed to notice me, they'd look at me and think 'Why in the world is that boy just standing around? Doesn't he have anything better to do?'
As I walked towards him, he said 'Well, boy, everything's ready. This time tomorrow, we'll be catching ourselves a Storm.'
It was obvious he wasn't ready for the announcement. His face said it all, really. It went from puzzlement, to disbelief, to shock, and ended up somewhere between relief and fright.
In short sentences, Drat explained it to him, just as he had done to himself.
'My com array can translate matter in space'
The boy gave him a blank look.
'It can ..... what's the word? Teleport! That's it. It can teleport things. And people. Unfortunately, it's capacity is only about fifteen kilograms. That'd be ninety of your kilos, I suppose.'
He knew he'd encounter that problem , that the names were the same but the magnitudes different. He'd spent three days just fiddling around with the array until it showed him how much something weighed, and then he had to weigh it on this Terra again, but he thought the ratio was about right.
'So I've transferred the decay battery from the laser bolter I showed you into the com array, and I've also written in a series of commands that will make sure we take some oxygen with us. Thats raised its capacity to about ..... lets see, a kilo is roughly six times bigger, so forty becomes...... two hundred and forty kilograms. It'll only keep our temperature and relative atomspheric pressure static for about three seconds or so, and then we'll be deep-fried, frozen solid, or burnt alive, depending how close we are to the nearest star and how much radiation there is.'
Actually, they'd last slightly more than that, about seven or eight seconds, but it was never a bad idea to add some extra fear in to the equation. There'd be a slightly bigger chance of them surviving, anyway.
The boy walked away, seemingly dazed, but probably (or hopefully, at any rate), thinking about how he was going to Call the Storm.
He had tried to make this Terra forget the boy, but this universe was too stubborn for that. It was abnormally hard to even disappear, let alone Call a Storm. That was the only reason he'd need the boy. In another situation, he'd just make the boy forget how to See, forget that he'd ever been able to See, and just risk it on his own. He was in serious danger of forming his own sob story now. The tale of how some kid sacrificed his life for the captain Drat, and how he swore he'd never let that happen again. Every time he went anywhere, the first thing he'd See would be 'Foolish bastard', or 'Sad, lame little captain' or something on those lines. There'd always be pity or sympathy, pity for the boy, or sympathy for him.
He shook himself out of his reverie, and made a mental note to think about the solution, not the problem.
Anything was possible when you were near a Storm, he could even rewrite history if he had to. That was probably what he'd need to do, in fact. Make this world forget the boy, and leave the boy only hazy memories of this world. If someone ever found out that he'd left the boy to die, he'd be in deep trouble. That was a fact. Which was why he had to take the boy with him. Maybe if he gave him to the Senate, or some academy that trained in the Sight, they'd consider leaving him alone. That was a thought. No more bloody prancing around on random worlds, for people he didn't even know, let alone like.
He sighed. He had a long day ahead of him tomorrow. Even though concepts like time tended to stop existing around the event horizon of a Storm.
We were leaving? Tomorrow? But I couldn't leave yet. That was just stupid. I'd have to say goodbye to my friends. For the first time in my life I cursed myself for actually bothering to get to know people at the orphanage, not to mention school. I'd give almost anything not to have to say goodbye to so many people. I almost started mentally packing up, when something he said struck me. There'd be space only for two hundred and forty kilos. I didn't even want to go into the illogicality of teleportation right now. Two forty kilograms minus our combined mass would give us enough air for three seconds. After that, we'd die. As in 'stop existing'. Just disappear, first off the face of the planet, and soon after that, the face of the universe. What'd be my eulogy? Died in space, trying to save a man who just appeared out of thin air by trying to Call a Storm? What in the world was a Storm? What if they didn't even exist? And how was I going to Call one? His invisibility was the only proof I had of his theory working, and he could just be using some other alien technology for that.
'Boy, do you seriously think that I would let you die? No, don't answer that,' he said. He had used the Sight on me. That seemed to set off the volcano that was just waiting for the right moment to erupt.
'Ok, fine, let's look at my options. a) I can stay on good old planet Earth, use the Sight to get rich, generally not die. Or I can trade this to look behind the second door, where I risk everything for an uncertain death thousands of miles away, for the positively minute chance that I can get to some alternate reality that, for all I know, might not even exist. Tough choice, I think not.'
'And I'm getting tired you just calling me 'boy'. My name is Michael. You're going to use it.'
Sometimes I wonder why I even open my mouth.
For the second time in recent memory, Drat misplaced his temper again. It was almost amazing, how a fifteen-year old could strangle the patience out of someone whose job entailed sitting and waiting for rogue Storms to happen. This time however, he completely lost it. He didn't even remember to start looking until after he had convinced the boy that he wouldn't exist for the next half-hour or so. He'd see how he liked that.
He was surprised, then. He was acting like a teenager. In fact, he was acting exactly like he'd expect the boy to act. This kind of petty vindictiveness was supposed to have disappeared by the time he became a pilot.
He had used the Sight on the boy, and it convinced him of one thing. He'd have to start erasing the boy as soon and as fast as possible. The less people remembered about him, and the easier the exit would be. With that thought in mind, he sat for the next twenty minutes, trying to remove the boy's influence on this Terra, something that got no easier the more he worked at it, and waited for him to realise that he was homo intelligentis and not a bunch of atoms floating around.
What in the name of Christ did he do to me? One moment I was talking to him, and the next I'm a bunch of nitrogen and oxygen molecules trying my (or our, I'm not really sure) best not to ionise. At first I thought it was one of his mad 'training' things, random events he'd just throw at me to keep me on my toes. But he wouldn't do that without teaching me how to hold it off.
So he had lost his temper with me. Again. We never really talked about the first time. After I had regained consciousness, I had had to catch three buses to set up an extremely thin alibi, since if someone knew I had been in the middle of the city, especially without permission, I'd have been finished. Luckily, after that, I discovered that if I asked the dorm-master at the orphanage about who was patrolling where, I could use the Sight on him and find out, because even though he'd tell me to buzz off, he'd still think about whoever he had sent out to the city, and I could blackmail the ones I knew didn't have permission into covering for me.
And, as always, the mysterious space-pirate from 'somewhere between the popcorn cart and Odysseus' had managed to show me that it wasn't a good idea to shout at him.
'I know you're here.'
He had never actually told me his name, so all I could do was talk to him and hope no one walked by. I didn't want to use the Sight to find him, but I had a pretty good idea of where he was.
'I'm not going anywhere, not for you, and not for anybody. So you can stuff your Storm nonsense and get out of my life.'
Which was when I heard his voice.
'I was hoping it wouldn't come to this, but it always does. Threats seem to be the only way to deal with people. I suppose it's just the defend or die instinct.'
'Let me explain this to you as obviously as I possibly can. You are going to Call me a Storm. It's very simple. All I have to do is to tell you to strongly enough. Sure, you'll be missing for the rest of today, but the plan was to leave tomorrow anyway. No one will notice an extra day.
Yes, once you've finished you will be a zombie for the rest of your life, but I suspect that's a price I'll be willing to pay. I'm sure I'll be able to move on. On the other hand, if you do this willingly, you'll survive. That's the choice. Either you do it and you walk around in a diaper for the rest of your life, or you do it and you walk and talk and generally have a life. Understand, boy? Because if you don't, all I have to do is make you.'
Suddenly I had the scariest moment of my life again. The number of records that were being broken in my life was just not fair, in my opinion, which didn't seem to matter very much these days anyway. I almost launched myself at him when the more rational part of my mind took control and started walking my feet back, towards the train station, ultimately towards the dorm.
There was no way getting around it.
The boy would be traumatised, but he'd get here tomorrow.
He was finally getting off of this planet.
Now to calculate where he was going.
that was a lot longer than i wanted it to be (this was supposed to just be the introduction of the second bit, not a part in itself), and I don't think it's very good, but it'll do for now, i suppose
Saturday, 1 March 2008
this is the original. numero uno. part ONE
Nothing ever went right for him, thought Drat. The one time he had risked riding a Storm on his own, and he didn’t even manage to get within range of his destination. The chances of him being found now were something like 3 in a billion. Stuck, without a chance of rescue, on some senate-forsaken blue planet on the edge of the cosmos, armed with a useless communications array and the vintage laser bolter he had meant to give the Council-Head as a bribe. Oh, he had the Sight, as if that was any help. There was no use in being able to See into someone's mind if they didn't bloody think in Scyrean. English, that was the dominant language here. Of all the Terras to crash land on, he had to get the one where The Island had dominated the globe.
Well, if the Senate wasn't going to send a rescue team for their best Storm pilot, he would have to return on his own, and Ares take any idiot stupid enough to get in his way.
The first time I noticed him was at the museum. He was a tall chap, 6 foot or so, and walked as if he could step on a minefield at any moment. I knew that because he seemed to think about every step, weighing up the possibility of his foot being blown to pieces. It was the walk that you had to master if you were going to survive at the hostel. One creak and the game was up, and if you didn’t run for your life you were caught and hung to dry.
I was waiting for Jai to show up, to go see some movie he wanted to watch, when I saw this guy materialize out of nowhere (nowhere in this case being halfway between a statue of some greek god and the popcorn cart). That was odd enough, but then he looked at me, and I don’t mean the sweeping look you do when you’re searching for someone, I mean he really looked at me, and for three seconds, I knew him and he knew me. It was the single scariest moment of my life. To know someone, without any of the social trappings of hi, hello, and how are you today, without ever having met him before is terrifying . And because of that, because of the shock, it took me a few minutes before I realised, I could See.
Oh, brilliant. He had managed to awaken the ability in a teenager, in a plane that couldn’t even process thinking in more than four dimensions, and didn’t even speak the language of the Sight. Well, now that he had gained a rudimentary knowledge of this ‘English’, along with a few other things he found interesting, he’d at least be able to find the closest Storm and get to a Senate-planet. But first, he had to get rid of the boy. The details were fading, but he still remembered his name. What was it? Ares blast him, he couldn’t get anywhere without a name. Oh, that was it. Michael. Huh, two millennia since first contact, and they still hadn’t realized that their 'saviour' was a computer program designed to attract more Terras to the Senate. No wonder there were so few blue planets on the charts.
I could See.
Every thought that ran through a person's mind was mine to peruse, and their knowledge flowed into my brain without any apparent effort at all. It wasn't as much using my eyes as it was using all of my senses, looking at the way someone walked, hearing the tone, the inflection, the accent of a voice, smelling the sweat on someone's skin, and combining all that information in the most obvious way possible to give me something I felt I should have known anyway.
I knew Jai wasn't going to be here, simply because he had left me waiting for fifteen minutes and still hadn't called to apologise, just as I knew he would call in another five, and say "Sorry, I can't get there, something else has happened". And as I turned around, just to see what that girl in the black coat thought of me, if she had even noticed me at all, he grabbed me.
The boy had the Sight, and he knew it. What he didn't know was that he wasn't immune to it. The moment his back turned, Drat did the most obvious thing in the world. He grabbed the boy, and moved him out of the exhibition area and out into the sun. One of the things he wasn't prepared for, though, was that it was yellow. A blue planet was rare enough, but the odds of one with a yellow sun were astronomical. Yellow suns meant only one thing. There wasn't going to be a single Storm within at least fifteen lightseconds, probably none within fifty. There was only one option left, the one he hadn't wanted to contemplate. He'd have to use the boy to find a Storm. And he had to do it quickly. For all he knew, three seconds on this planet could mean three weeks on a Terra under the influence of the Senate.
He needed to get somewhere safe, and the easiest way to do that would be to identify the highest point within a hundred meters, and get up there, quick.
"Um, do you want the highest building or the highest structure?"
And as soon as I said those words I regretted them. Maybe now wasn't a good time to remind him that he wasn't immune to my Sight either. He looked at me with disbelief written all over his face, and just like that, he was invisible. I just couldn't see him unless I stared really hard at the space I hoped he was occupying. I didn't know where he was, let alone discover where he thought he should be.
"Where is the closest point over a hundred metres?". His voice seemed far away, as if he was speaking to me through an old telephone.
"The Price building has fifteen storeys," I said hopefully. "It's about three minutes away, but it'll take you at least ten to get to the top, even in an elevator"
"I don't need moving platforms, boy, I just need a location."
I didn't even know why I trusted this guy, but I told him.
And twenty minutes later, I found myself at the top of Price, and it was only after climbing fifteen storeys that I realised that I could See him again, though I didn't want to try it.
"So, boy, what would I have to do to get on a space shuttle?"
"You want to get on a space shuttle? That's easy enough. All you have to do is walk up to NASA and ask them nicely. Why don't you get yourself your own continent while we're at it?"
"This is no laughing matter, boy. Is there no way to get off this planet?"
"Off this planet? Well you're already off your rocker, so that shouldn't be too hard."
And then, in a few brief seconds, Drat lost his temper. It was some time before he found it. He blinded the boy, and then knocked him unconscious, exactly hard enough that he'd wake up in about twenty minutes with a blinder of a headache.
Drat cursed under his breath. There was no way to get off-planet, and he was stuck with an initiate who was strong enough to read other Seers.
Silently he recounted the ways to get to a Storm.
Ship. No use, unless he managed to steal one and get enough fuel to last him until he reached a Storm.
Mind. Nothing here either, the chances of finding someone both strong and stupid enough to rip reality open right in the middle of civilisation were too slim.
Chaos. Just like the last one, there were no berserkers on this Terra. Madmen, sure. But not a chance of real, frothing-at-the-mouth, eating-the-testicles-of-their-enemies zealots.
He'd have to try one of the more extreme alternatives.
Gods. None on this Terra, as far as he could tell, but you could never be sure.
Music. On some Terras, certain notes could make Storms small enough for just one person to appear. But to find such a combination on this Terra, if it even existed, on short notice, not to mention without any equipment at all, was impossible.
Strange. The hope that this Terra was one of those which supported the stranger models, like his homeworld, Lombaxis, wasn't going to hold. The yellow sun proved that. He wasn't about to get a Storm by throwing an old brown shoe over his back.
And last, Calling. The theory was simple enough. If you were strong enough, you could persuade yourself, and thereby the universe, that you were Seeing a Storm in front of you, and you could Call one, exactly as you imagined it. He had thought about that, often. To be able to ride a perfect Storm, one that he knew everything about was something he'd give a hand and a leg for.
He had the boy. All he had to do was get far enough away, a light year or so, and he'd be able to get to somewhere where he might be recognised.
ok? not too bad, perhaps? this didn't come out as i wanted it to, but hopefully I will get better