Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Half Shaman in Space: The Manhole Cover

A manhole cover from Takarazuka in Japan, such as I imagine for the alien ship.
This one collected by Moonlanders on Wordpress

Jeb follows the blip through the crowd, where will it lead her?

Those in the outer ring of the crowd have their heads hanging and their eyes uninterested while they pass me. Coming upon the blip, though, they separate left and right like a combed parting. Nobody seems to want to have the blip touching them. 

Which could be further evidence. I stop at the edge of the crowd, trying to make it look like I’m hesitating. “Can’t we go around the crowd?”  

Kosi does not react. 

Perhaps there aren’t any sensors nearby. I wonder how a previously human entity can live in the workings of an alien starship? 

A murmur starts in the crowd. “Jeb. Jeb. Our half shaman. You going to save us again, Jeb?” 

I see my people pepper-and-salted through the crowd. Limber. Crow. Jackal. Each one alive-eyed for the par-second it takes to answer my glance. 

“How many?” I shape the words with my lips. 

Limber blinks acknowledgement and shuffles to the border of the blip’s path, where he signs down by his waist, alerting me to the possibility of spy-eyes at head height. Ten fingers outstretched, forearms crossed, ten again, forearms again, two. Two hundred. 

Two hundred in the crowd, or two hundred to save? Many more than the eighty-seven that came in our shuttle. I have still only a glimmer of an idea of what is happening. 

I follow the blip’s spiralling path through the crowd. We’re moving slightly faster than the people around us which, when I saw them from above, were gyrating around a central point. 

Testing for the existence of spy-eyes, I flick glances here and there.

“You needn’t search so secretively for your lover,” the entity says. 

The time of me cosily thinking of her as Kosi is done. 

“He isn’t here as I think I told you,” she says. 

If she can see everything at eye-height, she probably can hear quite well too. “Where are we going,” I say again.

“We’re fetching the life-suit, then off we go to the Totem Reality. I had the wolves stock the place with all sorts of interesting prey. Of the small fast animals, I have a meerkat and a mongoose. Of the larger lumbering prey, I have an elephant and a couple of bison ……”

I stop listening when she says mongoose. A mongoose isn’t a runner. It will stand and fight. And my Mongoose will most certainly stand and fight when he finds me in the entity’s clutches. 

“The life-suit had its owner inside it when I knew it,” I say. Hoping for what reaction, I don’t know. 

“The wolves say that,” she says. “They have retreated. The thing inside the suit is very fierce. But I can be quite fierce as well, and I want that suit.”

The blip and I arrive at a circular manhole cover set into the floor. The blip either switches off or dives through the little hole in the centre of the cover. 

“Go on,” the entity says. “Hook up the cover with your fingers in that slot.”

The mass of people surrounding me is almost at a standstill. They encourage me with a comforting murmur. With about half of my people still missing, and probably that many of theirs as well, we all need to know about this underworld. 

I lift the lid. Lay it aside. Look down through the hole. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Half Shaman in Space: All About Alien Technology

A life suit, aka modern spacesuit, being constructed.
Photo in the public domain thanks to NASA

What does Jeb know about the mysterious package in the airlock? 

“Why half?” Kosi says about me being a half shaman.

“Didn’t get to finish my schooling.” I’m lucky there’s still that easy answer available. I make my voice light and my tone light-hearted though I’m thinking dark things about my mother possibly having an Earth-grown body floating about in a silo somewhere in space. “They are dead, the bodies left behind in the silos?”

Kosi knows exactly what I’m asking. “In stasis,” she says. “Don’t worry about them waking up. They can’t by themselves. Enough of that depressing subject. How can I separate the data-waving boots from the mysterious object, so I can have a good look at it?”

We have nicely circled the apparent existence in our midst of the Ark Ship. “What is the object?” I say.

Kosi laughs. “For me to know and you to find out, I think. Be more fun that way.”

Fun for who? Maybe that thought shows on my face for the entity starts into an explanation. 

“Earlier I was thinking we’d borrow a couple of bodies and go hunting. You seem to like the Maremma girl, you could borrow hers. I’ve never been hunting.”

“You’d borrow the Maremma girl’s body?” I say. 

“I don’t need to now,” she says. “The thing in the airlock is a life-suit. I’ll use that. There must be a way I can reprogram it. Hip hooray! It’ll be the first time since I got data-waved that I’ll have arms and legs to do things with!”

She is cheering too soon. A cascade of suspicions follows my memory of the alien entity hidden in the blood-drained woman called Arley who was meant to be have been revived with my blood. Was it him who was meant to have been fed on my blood? And him in the bundle brought to Thyal and Mongoose and me just before we took off in the shuttle? 

I shudder. The life-suit in the bundle will be Arley’s skin. Its occupant will be the alien entity. Where before I merely didn’t like the sound of the project, now I dread it.  

“These data-waving boots …” I begin. I revise what I know about them. They extract human DNA + personality patterns from people stored on spaceships called silos and transfer the patterns to Lotor. In settler parlance, the resulting reconstituted people are the Earth-born. “… whose are they?” 

It seems to me that I must get Kosi to realise the alien origin of the life-suit, the boots and even, maybe, the pyramid-shaped starship we’re in. Because we aren’t in the doughnut.  

“Does it matter?” Kosi says. “Come on.” 

She causes the door panels keeping me in the room to slide apart. I fall into the Maremma girl’s arms. 

“She’s with me,” Kosi says at the girl. “I might need a hunting dog or three? Go find them and bring them to the underworld?”

The Maremma girl shoots me a gaze of such misery before she runs off that I boost my attention to hyper-alert. “Where are you taking me?” I say.

Kosi laughs. “Obviously, I can’t physically take you anywhere. But you’ll probably follow the rainbow blip arrowing along the floor if you want to see your friends again.”

She threatens me and my friends? I take a deep breath. What choice do I have? 

 The blip sparks and sparkles with the same colours as the watch-tower on the cliffs during my last night on Lotor. The cherts still under the skin of my feet liven up too. Prick and prickle. 

I realise two things. The blip is of the same alien technology as the watch-tower, and so possibly also the life-suit, and it is interacting with the therefore also alien cherts. Wish I had a pair of tweezers. Funny that the Ark Ship reconstituted me with them intact?

 The arrowing starts along the upper U gallery and I follow it to the opposite arm. It spirals down the fireman’s pole, and I slide after it to the floor of the hall from where I follow it into the mysterious crowd circling the mysterious mid-point.  

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Half Shaman in Space: Getting to Know You

Silo 23 where Kosi's body is being held in stasis might resemble
a cylinder with solar panels, like the International Space Station (2000 AD)
Public Domain image sourced from NASA. 

Jeb discovers a few facts about the entity ... 

I start the countdown of facts I know. “Earth-born were born on Earth …”

“Check,” she says.

“…And were picked up in a Life Lottery Street Sweep.”

“Check. Me and my friend Jack Fetcher and a couple of the EMBers chasing us escaped the data-waving, once we’d been settled in Silo Ship Number 23, my lucky number.”

I can be very stubborn when I need to be. She was with friends. All right. But, data-waving? Silo Ship Number 23? “The Earth-born like yourself arrived on Lotor as genetic patterns. They were reconstructed by Lotor using materials lying on Lotor’s crust or whatever you want to call it. Skin, maybe. Making you one of the Lotor-made.”

The entity laughs. “I’m telling you I never made it down to Lotor to be Lotor-made. I’d have a body now.” 

She sounds so wistful that I think she must be telling her truth. I rethink my idea. “I guess if you are Earth-born and were on Lotor, the planet would’ve taken you within by now. So maybe not that scenario.” 

“Probably my original body still lies in Silo 23,” she offers. “If I’m still in that time warp. Speaking of time? It progresses. The wolves, as I said, found the most amazing thing down in Reception. In the airlock. You lot were the last. What is it?” 

I try to follow the flow of information. In amongst a lot of things that I have no knowledge of she mentions wolves. I do recall her saying the wolves just before she left earlier. 

“Every object and person on the platform where I woke up was destroyed and remade from their patterns?” I ask. 

“The object was in the airlock,” the entity says. “I told you.”

So much for being near in age. “I’m a married woman, you are a child. Is it a twenty-questions game we are playing?” 

Now she sulks. “Yes to the dais in the Reception Hall. Except for that one thing that was left on the shuttle you came on. Which the Ark Ship’s deconstruction machinery has done nothing with and both the data-waving boots apparently love.”

How will I not to alert her to my interest in the Ark Ship’s deconstruction machinery? It was either re-installed in the pyramid ship or everything is taken down to the Ark Ship? “Data-waving boots?” I say.

I don’t even need to see her embodied to know that she would’ve shuddered if she still had her body. “You want to keep away from those,” she says. “Don’t let their tentacles trail over you.”

“Or?” I say. 

 “Or you’ll be data-waved back to Lotor. Or on to a Silo. There are two boots. I figure they do one direction each. My body is probably still in Silo 23. Meaning that there must be twenty-two silos floating around, all with their cargoes of bodies in stasis? The bodies of the people you call Earth-born, that they used on Earth?”

“How come you weren’t data-waved to Lotor?” I use the word without knowing in the slightest what it means. 

“One of my friends was a very clever computer operator.” 

“Your friends are here too?” I say. 

“I don’t think so. I’ve searched everywhere. I probably did something young and stupid. They were always telling me off for that. They all went back to the silo probably and are back home. If they got rescued. You must get married young on Lotor.” 

I laugh. “Is that all you can come up with to distract me? There are no human people remaining on Lotor. There was no specific age for getting married apart from the fact that you had to have lived the equivalent of at least sixteen Earth-years. What is your name?”

“Now you’re trying to distract me,” she says. “When I was a flesh-and-blood human girl my name was Kosi Lionhair. I named myself that when I was six. I picked Lionhair because I could fluff my hair out big and feel proud and strong.”

 I wonder what reasons Earth-born girls of her time might have in their lives to need to feel proud? And I wonder how long ago she lived? Though she did mention a time warp? How would that work? “I’m Jeb. Half shaman by trade."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Half Shaman in Space: The Ark Ship and the Entity

A rough sketch of the interlocked spaceships. The Ark Ship is a torus, or more popularly, a doughnut. The shuttle that Jeb and her people came on is at the rightmost apex of the mysterious tetrahedron-shaped starship.

Two short scenes, the latter marking the intersection of Jeb's and the entity's lives.

My clothes re-appear. I dress faster than fast. 

Then the sensori-matting is restored. The doors too, though they stay shut even when I back up against them. 

I look up. Something is happening on the back wall. A small blue light races over the surface of the wall outlining a … my heart nearly bursts out of me with excitement … the shuttle we came in! I run there.

The outlined shuttle glides toward a scramble of lines that in no way resembles the doughnut-shaped Ark Ship I learned about in Shaman School. But why do I expect that? Any of the places where I’ve been so far, don't call to mind anything I learned about the interior of the Ark Ship, except that the small outlined ship is definitely our shuttle. 

It stops in front of me. I’m blinking tears away as I trace my call sign on it, ZA. 

The letters vibrate. The Ark Ship knows me. Now I do cry. No blood is needed. 

The blue light splits. One bit continues to outline the shuttle and the other flits to the mess of lines, where it starts to outline a doughnut-shaped ring surrounding a double pyramid shape. The ring could be the Ark Ship. The pyramids, I don’t know. How they came to be melded, I don’t know that either. 

I trace AZ on the ring. The blue light takes over and retraces the letters several times very fast. I guessed right. 

 The blue point goes on to show me where the Ark Ship’s docking ports are. In Shaman School I learned that a shuttle would be able to dock at any one of the four ports on the inside of the ring. 

The little light shows me that all these ports are covered by the pursed-mouth-like corners of the joined pyramid shapes that are wedged? Contained? in the centre of the Ark Ship’s doughnut. 

Now the little blue light races really fast over the diagram, lighting up new lines and fading out old lines, making it so that the design seems to turn over like a dumpling so that I can see that the second identical pyramid sticks out from the other side of the hole in the doughnut-like ship. 

What it all looks like to me is two pyramids stuck together at their bases wedged in the Ark Ship’s centre. The light racing round the shuttle’s outline and bringing it nearer, docks the shuttle on the top of the uppermost pyramid. A small version of the double pyramid shape is docked at the bottom point of the pyramid underneath. As if that small double pyramid is also a shuttle. 

Alien if it is. 

“Empty,” the entity says. “You are no fun at all.” Her voice is directed to toward the doors. 

 All the lines fade instantly. The little blue light extinguishes and I turn to face the centre of the room. 

“I had you picked to be my special friend, we have so much in common,” says the entity.

Luckily the entity is still talking at the doors. I laugh from the relief that probably she didn’t see anything of the little blue light and its doings. It has given me a lot to think about. 

I fire a bunch of questions at the entity to steer her attention away from where I was, while I walk to the place she’s speaking toward. “You are settler-born from Lotor? You were in prison? You are a half shaman? You are married to a man called Mongoose?” I ask her everything that I can think of that I am. “Your mother and father died of the Earth-born disease?” 

“We are practically the same age,” she says. 

She might have been near to the the-age-I-am-now just before her pattern was taken, but to my calculations, she’s now hundreds of years older than I am. Though she doesn’t appear to have matured. 

The entity continues. “We’re both girls. I used to be as different from the rest of my people as you are from yours. I was in a prison, it was called the Tween House. I am Earth-born if you mean being born on the only planet in the Universe called Earth”

I don’t know enough about Earth to know whether it sounds true. I decide on a snippy tone. People being snipped at by other people often give more information. “So you’re an Earth-born. Don’t know how you got away from Lotor?”

“I’ve never set foot on Lotor.”