The Matriarch’s camp was situated in a field not far from a river. It was surrounded by a wall made by binding hundreds of thorn bushes together and dragging the assembled chain of brambles into a perimeter line. The wall wasn’t straight at all and so the camp was shaped more like a splatter mark than a well organised military base. There were only two entries to the camp and each was guarded by at least six of the Matriarch’s warrioresses armed with spears, clubs, and bows. There were no towers overlooking the perimeter, nor any huts. There were several open fires burning throughout the camp interior, around them were clusters of tents made from saplings and animal skins stretched over them. There was something that troubled Allaynah about the things the Bellamani built. Weaving brambles and nettles together to create a wall was something the Paximani never did. On the few occasions they had built walls they had used wood, dirt, and stone; that much she knew. But the foreignness of this wall troubled her. It was like a long thorn studded snake weaving its way into her home. While looking at the wall she vaguely recalled the men of her tribe talking about the challenges regarding the building of walls. She wished she’d paid more attention to what the men had said.
When Allaynah’s group first arrived they were made to wait on the grass just inside one of the camp entrances. Small groups of Paximani women were then escorted down to the river allowed to drink for the first time that day. Allaynah was careful to wash Rosha’s wounds. She found some leaves from a herb that helped wounds to heal faster, but lacking a mortar and pestle she crushed the leaves up in her hands as best she could before applying them to Rosha’s injuries. She would have used her teeth but the same herb if ingested would make one sick. Allaynah was aware that the painted woman was staring intensely at Rosha while the teenager’s wounds were being treated.
“Are you a medicine woman?” asked the painted one.
Allaynah shook her head while quietly making eye contact with the painted woman. The painted woman rose up onto her toes and crept closer to Rosha to peer down at her curiously. Rosha’s face had several gashes on it and one of her eyes was almost completely squeezed shut by the swelling. A large purple lump dominated the right side of her face. She looked up at the painted woman and shivered.
Continue reading “The Paximani – Part 2”
The sun was high in the heavens, the wind was low, and the plains verdant. It would probably have been a good day to lie in the sun and have her hair braided by her little sisters thought Allaynah. Too bad most of her sisters were either dead or missing, she thought, they would have loved this place. Wearily Allaynah trudged on with the tip of an obsidian spear hovering menacingly close to her naked back. How long had she been marching through the plains? The sun was almost to the middle of the sky, and it had been deep night when she started out. She heard a grunt from somewhere close behind her and the hairs on her back pricked up around the spot she imagined the spearhead was just over.
She knew her captor was getting impatient with her progress, she’d been slowing down for the past hour and had lost her place at the front of the procession and was now starting to trail. She had had nothing to drink all morning. She didn’t want to look at her feet anymore, not since flakes of torn skin had started poking out from around the edges of her feet. Allaynah had never walked this far in her life, looking around her she could see that all the other women from her tribe were struggling with the pace too. All except the painted woman. Allaynah didn’t know her name, or even what clan she came from, but from her green eyes, long brown hair braided in three ponytails, and the patches of fair skin that weren’t marked with paint, thorn scars, and ink, it was clear: she was Paximani just like Allaynah, albeit an eccentric one to have decorated her body like that. Typically only some of the Paximani men had their bodies marked like hers was. She alone was maintaining the steady march. As Allaynah was gazing at the strange painted woman ahead of her the woman looked casually over her shoulder and glared at Allaynah as though she was irritated by the sensation of being watched by her.
Allaynah flinched and tried to look away but the thirst brought on by their long march had weakened her too much, she stumbled and fell onto her knees. Before she could pick herself back up a hard kick struck her in the stomach. The blow winded her and she crumpled over face first into the turf tearing a gash into her chin on a sharp rock. Allaynah felt sick from the pain but she was too tired to care, she lay there limp as a pulse of sobbing passed through her. She knew the sharp edge of the spear must be very close to her heart now. She wondered if getting skewered on that dark sharp stone might hurt less than how she felt now as a small trail of blood flowed out from her chin.
“Pick up the pace you fat filthy pig!” Hissed the woman holding the spear to Allaynah’s back. Continue reading “The Paximani – Part 1”
The evening sun was waning over the abandoned city, and the cats were on the prowl. Leo Socks was walking down what he believed was an empty alley way just minding his cat business when from out of a bin sprang a red fox. Leo regarded the newcomer with consternation. He’d seen foxes before, but few as bold as this one. He was after all deep in cat land.
“Say, what brings you here Mr. Fox?”
The red fox skulked as he crept sideways yet was careful to maintain eye contact with Leo.
“Who are you?” Croaked the fox.
“Socks, Leo Socks,” said the cat coolly.
A broad toothy grin slipped across the fox’s face. Leo instantly recognised the meaning of this grin and bounded forward just as the fox did the same. They connected in mid air except Leo landed on the fox’s back and sprang back off again driving the fox’s nose down into the ground in an dramatically uncontrolled landing. The baffled fox snarled uncomprehendingly at what Leo had just done; cats generally run away from foxes not attack them head on.
“You’re very brave for a cat!” Hissed the red fox. Continue reading “The Tuxedo Terror”
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Space was at a premium in the Comptoni underwater settlement of Deliverance. Whereas on Earth a submarine pen would be a large spacious structure for a submarine to emerge into, free of the risk of bumping into other vessels, in Deliverance submarines had a very different function. Underneath Comptoni settlements were a series of large one-way tunnels for submarines to travel through as though they were underground trains. They emerged in tiny rooms that looked remarkably like subway stations. Indeed, passenger submarines that ferried Comptonians from one settlement to another ran frequent routes. The submarine carrying our heroes emerged in one such station pen.
Relieved to get out of the cramped conditions of the submarine the group soon observed that Comptoni settlements were not much spacious. The under water city was full of people sitting and sleeping in the corridors. The overcrowding was deplorable and the faces of the people they passed were long pale and sullen.
“Why is this place so over crowded?” asked Kimberley, “the last time I was here it wasn’t like this.” Continue reading “Space Fall – Part Nine”
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Submarines on Earth are almost exclusively for research if they are small, while if they are large they are almost exclusively for warfare. On Proxima Minor the situation is quite different. When the Ferrens and the Comptoni decided they were not going to leave the surface of the planet, but rather dig in to resist the flooding coming their way, for the first time commercial sized freight submarines had a market. Thus the submarine our four adventurers are currently travelling on is not like any submarine found on Earth. It has a small crew quarters, a humble sized engine, and a massive cargo bay. Like all submarines though it is incredibly cramped for the crew. The room our four adventurers were staying in was tiny but incredibly had four bunk beds crammed into it. There was much curiosity about the latest person to join the adventure. Fiona was an Aeron who had heroically prevented an attempt on Kimberley’s life by one of her guildsmen. Continue reading “Space Fall – Part Eight”
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The triplane started moving slowly at first, then as the engine drank in the open throttle it started picking up speed. At the end of the tunnel the soft yellow light of the sky got bigger, faster and faster. The landing gear hovered off the ground, landing gear that included pontoons for sea landings. Alfred had to make quick adjustments to avoid hitting the roof as the plan started to lift.
“Where in the asteroid belt did he learn to fly a triplane?” Cried an astonished Kimberley.
Harold laughed, “Red Baron 2037,” he answered simply.
The plane zipped out of the launching tube and into a sky filled with hot air balloons. Alfred yawed, pitched, and banked to avoid colliding with them. He was sloppy at first but within minutes started to show confidence in his handling of the aircraft. From the gloftoons children could be seen pointing at them and making excited ‘o’ shapes with their mouths. The city of Pearl was shrinking away much faster than it is appeared to them when travelling there earlier that morning.
“Ok, now we’re escaped, where do we need to get to, Kimberley?” Asked Alfred.
“We need to reach a Vegani settlement, they live on the ocean surface. So fly down and look for one, preferably with a floating runway! They have some big trading ships that can accommodate an aircraft like this one.” Continue reading “Space Fall – Part Six”
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When the Kirons opened the spatial rift they chose to open it six kilometres above the surface of Proxima Minor. They were fearful of it being too close to any place inhabited, but also they wanted to flood a specific area with water for the test. The Oblique Plateau was a vast shallow depression on the surface of Proxima Minor with no settlements on it as yet, and thus it was perfect for creating a new sea using the water from Proxima Major. That was the plan at least. When the spatial rift generator was activated a perfect circle with a diameter of several hundred metres across appeared in the sky and immediately the largest waterfall in history started to gush forth from seemingly nowhere. The water fell six kilometres in a straight, almost clear, tube downwards and pummelled the Proximian ground with seismic force.
Since the spatial rift was a tear in the fabric of space, it had no substance. Looking at it sideways it was so perfectly flat that it simply could not be seen. It was not like looking at a piece of paper from the side at eye level, one can still see the paper no matter how thin: One could not see the spatial rift looking at it side one, it was perfectly two dimensional. There was merely a solid pillar of water pouring down below, and above a clear yellow Proximian sky. The other side of the rift was a perfectly reflective surface, like a mirror. However, while a mirror reflects visible light, this surface reflected all wavelengths of light, and with perfect efficiency. With an ordinary mirror one can fire a laser at it and melt a hole through it. With the upper surface of the spatial rift one could fire a laser at it and the laser would bounce off without any loss of heat in the process. In fact, one could drop a bouncing ball and, if it were not for the atmosphere, the ball would never stop bouncing on the surface of the rift as there was no matter there for the energy of the ball to transfer to each time it bounced. Continue reading “Space Fall – Part Five”
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The capsule was winched high into the sky and at one point Alfred decided to poke his head out of the hatch to see what was happening. The ocean was already a long way down and all he could see was a big dark silhouette against the yellow sky. He pulled his head in and felt sufficiently sea sick now to have regretted his curiosity. When Harold asked what he saw he said simply it was big and shaped a little like a pentagon.
The object hovering in the sky was in fact a rather sophisticated innovation in hot air balloon technology. Instead of just one balloon it had five balloons holding up a large basket shaped like a pentagon. It had five balloons because if it had only three or four then the lost of just one balloon to an accident would lead to a catastrophe as the basket holding the thirty odd inhabitants would spill over pouring them and all their belongings into the ocean below. However, with five balloons the basket would remain sufficiently stable for the damaged balloon to be repaired. This was essential, even without accidents, because the balloon craft could seldom land now the planet was flooded and often most maintenance had to performed in flight. Continue reading “Space Fall – Part Four”
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The capsule screamed through the atmosphere tearing a perfectly straight orange gash into the Proximian sky. When the capsule had slowed down sufficiently from the re-entry a series of parachutes ejected from it and each one slowed the capsule down progressively; until the last and biggest parachute opened which brought the capsule safely onto the surface of the infinite Proximian ocean. There it bobbed gently on a perfectly blue ocean and a perfectly yellow sky.
Inside the capsule the three passengers were exhausted with the excitement of the dramatic re-entry experience. The strange woman was the first to release herself from her harness and she sank to the baggage laden floor with a soft ‘wee’ sound. Harold and Alfred decided they had better get themselves free and instead of gently falling to the floor with a fluid motion the pair flopped down like jelly dropped on concrete. Groans of pain soon filled the cramped space inside the capsule. The woman was the first to get up and she immediately opened the hatch. Fresh, and surprisingly unsalty, sea air flooded the cabin. Continue reading “Space Fall – Part Three”
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The space liner Icarus was in free fall as it tumbled towards Proxima Minor. The co-pilot was frantically trying to call the captain. In the confusion of the panic the co-pilot had mistakenly turned on the ship’s intercom instead.
“Come in Captain! Come in! We need sub light engines soon or we’re going to crash into the planet!”
Throughout the passenger compartments the shaken voice of the co-pilot rang out. The tension that had been brewing on board quickly matured into terror. Passengers started shouting “abandon ship!” and “to the life boats!” Harold and Alfred got swept up with the throng of people clawing desperately at the emergency escape hatches in the floor of the space craft. Continue reading “Space Fall – Part Two”