Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Half Shaman in Space: Kosi's Plan

This nonDisney Rapunzel is from
and very thankful I am there are still nonDisney princesses

A few lines from the previous instalment follow to catch up to the action: If anything, Mongoose becomes more vigilant. He steps in front of me, his right front paw on his curved panga. “Choose your fighters, Jeb,” Kosi says. “Every time I win, I’ll let another one of the rest go through an airlock.”

This is a plan Kosi has had for a while. There’s nothing in it about any of us winning a fight or about her giving out information. 

“That wouldn’t be fair,” I say. “The dogs are children. Maremma-alterities. My friends are warriors when they are human, and hunters when they are in their totem-form.” 

Plus, I decide, Kosi’s opening of the doors as a prize for someone falling in combat is not an option. 

“They can fight my wolves. And my bears. And …”

“No.” I make it unarguable. “Your Maremma girl needs her little brothers and you need your wolves.” Company for the long years that she will remain on this spaceship, I don’t want to add. How do machine-patterns die? 

As if she’s reading my mind, she says, “If you go, I’ll be alone again, Jeb. I need you to stay. We’re both girls as I said. We’ll have the whole of the alien’s starship to play around in.”

“I’m a married woman and a half shaman. I have three years of training owing me,” I glance darkly at Thyal. “And after that, I still will not be a girl with time for playing.” Whatever it is I will be doing, will be on the Ark Ship, or on Earth. 

“I will not let you abandon me,” she says. “It’ll be you promising to stay that’ll get me to spill my info.”

Mongoose backs me toward Thyal who leans his striped thylacine’s body against my legs. 

Then I see what he is seeing. The dogs have crept nearer, with the front one half on his haunches, ready for a leap? The dog has eyes only for me. Of course. Kosi is using the best visual and auditory sensors available. 

Thyal twitches his tail and more of the totem alterities crowd around us.

 “A lot of paws and hooves surround your feet on the floor,” Kosi says. “They’re all crowding you? Are you breathless from the squash? Shall I snip, snap, tear them from you?” 

The rest of the Maremma dogs join her. They display with barking, snarling and slavering. 

The wolf growls a deep chesty rumble. I’m in the crowd and I can’t see where she directs her displeasure but I hear the Maremma voices quaver. A couple of the dogs retreat even as they paw the deck. 

Kosi controls them but does she ride them or is she embodied in them? “You’re not alone either,” I say. “You have twelve Maremma totem-alterities and at least one Maremma girl. Where are you keeping her? You have the rest of the wolves…” though it does appear at least one of them has changed sides, “…and a number of very large animals that I heard but didn’t see.”

“The dogs are not human, Jeb,” Kosi says. 

I don’t allow myself to be distracted. “They are as human as I am, Kosi. Good thing you don’t know the totem I was or you might have changed me as well.” Oops.

“Oh! Me guessing your totem can be our Rapunzel game. Wasn’t me that changed the Maremmas, or your people. I told you your ship only wants animals.”

So not oops, a useful bit of knowledge. My people, my totem-alterities, moan at the news that it is the Ark Ship that changed them. 

Did my Earth-born mother ever tell me a story with a Rapunzel in it? It doesn’t spring to mind if she did. My Old-Earthborn father certainly didn’t. “You haven’t yet told us why the Ark Ship changed its people?” I make it a challenge. 

“You’re meant to be a shaman, I thought,” Kosi says. “They know.”

“I’m a half shaman, half-trained I told you.” I squeeze Mongoose’s paw and slide my hand down to Thyal’s head. I feel a snarl of fury on his snout. I whisper. “Talk, old man. Just enough and no more.”

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Half Shaman in Space: What Kosi Knows

A threesome such as Kosi's Maremmas, perhaps. From the Guardian Newspaper site,
Victorian (Aus) Zoos are training Marremmas to guard bandicoots
All kinds of hints from several people including the machine pattern has this section pushing toward a crisis.
Lithe and Limber push a way through the scrum of dogs and jog back to us. The pack follows them but the wolf with her hackles up steps into their path behind Limber and Lithe. 

The dogs pause, seem to think the better of their situation and lay down in a half-circle. Awaiting developments?  

Limber starts talking at a fast clip. “We think the machine pattern inhabits the dogs. The Ark Ship has doors within doors. Sometimes they’re lined up, sometimes not.” 

“I got the idea we inserted people into a lot of different habitats,” Lithe says. “Ark Ship spooling?”

The machine pattern that calls itself Kosi Lionhair chuckles. That sound burbles from one of the dogs. “Only one of the tricks of the Ark Ship,” she says. “On a different track entirely, I believe the Engineer is preparing to bail out? He finds me a deal harder to cope with than his previous mistress. Funny that I never found anything resembling what he says he looks like when he’s embodied. He’ll take his shuttle because he’ll need all of his support systems. He’ll be making for Earth, I suspect. Won’t bother me. Good riddance to bad rubbish I say.” 

Her doggy laughter goes lost in a piercing steam-whistle-like scream coming from the top of the pyramid. We run to stand in the gap between the cliff and the disk and stare upward, paws or hands over our ears. We get a face-full of the hot dust roiling down and sudsing through the cavities of the stricken totem reality. In a few seconds, the scream becomes as shrill as a Lotor wind over sand, then to a metal-on-metal screech, and finally to the full-throated roar of a desert storm. 

We all fall down—the floor shakes under us like a Lotor-quake—when the alien’s shuttle lifts off. 

The silence afterwards is deafening. 

In a while we recover enough to rise and dust off. 

“What amazes me most about this event …,” the machine pattern says. The dogs have come forward and mingle with us. “….Is that we didn’t shake loose from the Ark Ship? I did a fine fine thing getting the two stuck, wouldn’t you agree?”

  “A fine thing? What is the machine on about?” Uncle Puma says. 

The lead dog barks dog-style to get Uncle Puma’s attention. Continues with the human-sounding voice, pulling his mouth in impossible ways, for a dog. “If I hadn’t got the alien’s ship stuck in the Ark Ship’s torus, I wouldn’t have been able to warn you of the Ark Ship’s temper tantrum?” 

Uncle Puma’s attention is riveted. I recall that I’ve heard the machine pattern before about this. Not so my companions. 

“Just because the Shamans jumped ship all those years ago doesn’t mean that they let the generations following forget the reasons for jumping,” Thyal says. 

The reasons-for-jumping more than we know from Soowei’s stories? I am interested! And I’m not the only one. Everyone in the younger set waits for Thyal to elaborate. He shakes his head. Now is not the time. 

Fine. Sometime when we’re all sitting around a campfire back in the ArkShip perhaps. 

“Let the machine-girl tell us what she has discovered in the two centuries,” Vulture says. “It sounds like we might find out something more.”

“More recent information is bound to be helpful,” Uncle Puma says. “How to get it out of a machine pattern mixed into a dog-pattern is our next project. Any ideas, given that our knowledge is two hundred years old?”

Thyal just shakes his head again.

“I could fight one of the dogs,” Meerkat says. “I will choose information as the prize.” 

“Oh good!” the machine pattern says. “I needn’t put Jeb up as a prize then. I need her to stay.”

If anything, Mongoose becomes more vigilant. He steps in front of me, his right front paw on his curved panga. 

“Choose your fighters, Jeb,” Kosi says. “Every time I win, I’ll let another one of the rest go through an airlock.”

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tha Half Shaman in Space: Wren is Taken

Fluttering wren from
Jeb and the others in charge send the small Totems through the airlocks. What possessed Wren to take the risk she did? Likely it's something we all have to wait to find out until the survivors meet again. 

The crowds by the airlocks decrease whenever the airlock doors slide apart and people manage to clamber in. Some then help haul up those coming after them. Some encourage the incoming farther into the little room. The doors slide shut. 

Breathe in … out. 

“We’re down to fifty, Half Shaman Jeb.” 

That could only be Shaman Thyalsene making a small joke to lighten the dark we are in. I’m the half to his whole, being only half-schooled. There’s so much I want to learn yet. I notice with a start that in his totem-alterity he’s as whole as I am, where in life he is missing an arm. 

“The machine pattern is a ten-ways liar,” says someone darkly-furred and the size of a wolf. “I’ve been watching the intake rate. She closes the doors on a whim. There’s no system to her rescue.”

I don’t recall a wolf in our troop after Thayne was taken back on Lotor, and nor in Isis’s group. Only wolves I know of are the ones in the over-world Kosi told us about, and I never saw them. Is this a trojan wolf carrying the pattern?

“The pattern is teasing us,” I say, controlling my anxiety. “She probably realises we’ve been adding totem-alterities to the mix. She was a human teen of thirteen when she was converted into a machine pattern.”

“Forever an inexperienced yearling then,” the wolf says. “In a wolf-pack, she would soon be dead through her own stupidity. Here and now, it is we that die.” 

So wisely said, I want to say. I don’t because I suspect this alterity to be …? What? Not a carrier of the machine pattern it sounds so denigrating. It seems to know things wolfish things like how a wolf-pack operates that she could’ve learned in totem study. 

“This fighting the pattern expects to …?” Meerkat says.

I shrug. Shake my head. I don’t know. 

“Thyal, can we break such a pattern?” Mongoose says. 

“It was her in conflict with the Ark Ship,” I say. “She says. She hints of things that she knows about our ship that we …” I search through appropriate words, totem-alterities just will not do “… of the Old-Earth-born need to know.” 

Vulture flies back in under the overhang and perches on the wolf’s head. “You thought the chief abandoned you? He wouldn’t miss this fight if you paid him,” she says. 

It’s Vulture and I take her word as truth.

Uncle Puma limps into the circle. “Getting the last of them through was always going to be the problem. No way to raise the ones being the pyramid,” he says indicating a handful of people resting on the floor at the base of the righthand airlock. “Took a tumble myself,” he says shaking his leg. 

“Any ideas about the fighting? The how?” He urgently asks everyone, but most particularly me. 

“Keep this overhanging place for our haven and guard it,” Meerkat says.

“That’s a given,” Uncle Puma says. “Her fighting us we can deal easily.” 

“She hasn’t got the life-suit anymore,” I say. “It’s a long story,” I add to his disbelief. 

 “Or she’ll make us fight each other,” Mongoose mumbles as though we haven’t decided that Kosi can’t hear us if she’s listening by way of sensors hidden in structural fittings. 

I stare at the wolf. She/it has shouldered into our circle. With her head slightly askance and the upper ear turned toward whoever is talking, she’s listening all right. 

Uncle Puma nods. “That’s one way.”

“Red-tail made it into the airlock,” Meerkat says. “Crow too.”

The left-side airlock doors slam with finality. We can have no idea what happens next in there. Go well, Red-tail. Go well, Crow. Perhaps we’ll meet again. 

At the eastern airlock a cacophony of barking, yammering and whining breaks out. 

I see the missing Maremma dogs. A dozen pale golden shapes leap and bite at Lithe and Limber boosting Man-of-the-Forest toward the centre airlock opening. 


Wren flutters from the airlock. She jibs and jives among the dogs, taking their attention from the struggle. Half crazy, they snap and bite, managing to graze each other and the air where Wren was. 

Isis wedges her feet against the half-closing doors and with an almighty effort manages to pull in Man by one of his long ape arms and a handful of his red hair. They tumble backwards and the doors slide together. Go well, Isis. Go well, Man of the Forest. 

Snap! One of the dogs sports a mouthful of feathers. 

Wren is taken. Ant? I don’t know.