Mind Junkie

Fruity drinking modernists, whispering bourgeois platitudes whilst encased in mud encrusted realism’s

“Oppressive details of modernity, its Dirty realism” they whisper

As they sip their green drinks, among disinfected franchises

“Extradites of the simplistic. It’s like watching a soapy.”

One of them laughs at the idea. “Soapy. Clean plots, unclean people.”

I am not sure I am welcome in this domain of this self-hating temple

“Dystopian narratives?”, my question seeming to be sitting on the air like a ignorant child’s observation of the obvious

Looking long, and drinking some more, then Tweedy waves his hand at the effervescence silence.

“Not always. A possessive obsession of those, things we consider dirty.” He tastes the words like a snake, waiting to see if the air is deflated of my question

Seriously, a stuck up Hat-man, such a brown nose he has I thought, he doesn’t realize how much we need the junk, how we need to realize we need to recycle it, compost it, re-purpose it, let it influence us, and how it influences him

“Oh Tweedy, oh tweedie, you are but a mind junkie, kindled by the thrash of so called unclean. As much as you would hate to admit it. Cycles are needed, feeding into each other, like rivers. Of course any second now you will ask me to stick to just one metaphor. But I ask you, why should junk like me do that, you take our freshest mud and excrement, say “oh look at that, how silly this low brow thing is” and then you let it come in stay like a stray cat. It likes to sit and wait, then one day, you will realize you feed it just as much as you feed the dig dog who barks at all your supposed wrong.”

I pick up his drink, drink his drink, smile at him, and walk out without another word. Ready to cover the world in the words of the so called trash of the real. This dirty realism, it isn’t so much dirty as it is a part of the whole cycle. Live with it. Let it in. Feed it. Morals from the hang ups of a culture who hasn’t worked out how we talk to each other.

 

 

 

 

The Nails

The train-tube station emptied into the city on one side and a great green park on the other side. A bald headed in a suit and shorts walked slowly out into the freezing night. The ice had covered the whole park like a sheet of paper on a draftmans desk. The temperature in Brisbane had beer a warm friend. Hear in Melbourne on the same day. It was already a dark and cold autumn. The tropics have such a different temperature now. They said it was climate change settling down. Andrew had no reason to disagree. 

Melbourne ment buildings shrieked in the night air. The cars on the road sleepily rolling along. The streets less full than once they were. It was hard to mistake the death of a once mighty city. The ocean was coming. No matter how settled the climate got, the ocean would sink Melbourne into half its size. It would sink all these buildings. The Tube train had been built before they knew the city was doomed. Now it was going to be closed in a few days. The city would empty. People moved on or those few left with jobs like Andrew. In charge of making sure everything important was transferred to the new city center a few kilometers inland. We’re the ocean wouldn’t swollow the buildings whole.

Andrew tried vainly to concentrate on his thoughts on how to save the city that had once been his home. The walls wouldn’t work as the geography was wrong. It had saved Sydney from the worst of it. They wouldn’t save Melbourne. To much clay hear. Not enough rock. The ocean came from under the city. Sinking bits like the beak thing in the Star whatsitcalled movie eats those people. 

Andrew rushed through the frosty park. He was chilled to the bone. His legs refused to go faster. Why did he not get a cab? Their weren’t many hear now but waiting for one in the station was better than this. 

A scraping noise then another told Andew to pick his feet up faster. I’m going to die he thought. In this stupid frosty park. 

His feet, Nails. They felt liked nails. He struggled for the word as he ran. He knew what was after him. He knew the police wouldn’t come. They are to busy with their evacuations of those who believe that the city center would soon be under a few hundred meters of water. 

Those who are chasing him? The Gods might know what they believed. Andrew wasn’t sure the gods even had an idea or thought about them anymore. 

Their was another scrape. A long one. It came from the path in the front and to the left of him. Likely he was now at the end game. They had hunted him.

Their they were. Staring him in the face. Andrew new their probebly wasn’t any point in running more. His legs though, they decided their was and he turned. His mind focusing on the face.

It was human. Not the sort of Hunan you used to meeting on a bus. Someone who you would set a watch for, or talk about the weather with. Not someone you might share a brief bus ride with. This was raw human. Like a little bit more animal than you wanted to think that existed in everyone. The human you would see at the end of a weeks without food or water. The human who would hunt. Kill. Maybe even eat anyone in their land. Because that’s what means you live. Your tribe lives. Civil? No point in civil if your starving. Nature was just as cruel as you and that’s the point. 

Cruel things survive. That’s why they still haven’t died. In this almost empty city. This dying husk. They were the gras that grew in the pavement. The rats in the walls. The cockroaches of humanity. They were not something you wanted to exist. They existed regardless.

Andrew saw its face. In the light, it had dark shadows, teeth sharpened to a point, a skateboard to get around on. They hunted on them. A fast, easy way to hunt. They would eat anything they could get. Which on feet Andrew knew. No way would he reach safety. They would have three of their pack members chase him around the park. Then at every exit. Their was another. A pipe, a brick, a fry pan. The leader might have a gun. They would all be ready to kill him. Take his clothes. His food (he had none) and his flesh. 

On the way to the next exit, Andrew slipped. He fell hard down brick steps. Each one hitting him hard. His ribs broke. He screemed as quietly as he could. At the bottom. The hard paved surface skidded under his arms. His legs felt like red looks. 

The leader of the pack. He was certain. She had nails in her mouth. Like fangs. Also a set of metal knuckles on both hands. Each could easily kill him with one hit into his head. Her hair was greezy and short. She wore leather clothing, shirt, smock, skirt, jacket. Tattoos on her face looked handmade. She took a knife from her pocket and skated slowly towards him. Roller blades. 

Andrew prepared to die. Crawling slowly on the pavement. He thought about what he had done in his life. How it wouldn’t even be remembered. Another more sensible person would be sent hear to pick up the last few boxes of documents. Maybe a simple funeral for his mother. They wouldn’t have a body.

He prepared for the pain. The knife cutting him. The blood slowly dripping from his own body. His flesh being eaten as he was still alive. Her mouth slucheing the fresh flesh and licking her lips as she ate it slowly as one would a great feast. To scared to scream. To injured to run away. 

A screech filled the air. She, the tribe leader looked up. She muttered, howeled like a wolf and rolled away. Taking her pack. 

Their was a dripping sensation from Andrews pants. 

A blue flashing light. 

Cops. Real cops. They had found him. Somehow. Rescued him. 

Andrew thought about getting a better job. 

Hammersmith. Chapter twenty seven

A dark dingy celller dripping with green moss. Blackness and dampness live hear like a fresh peice of meat. Their are slugs. Slime. In the middle of was a small pool full of what one may would hope are newts, but was more likely to be something even more evil and more sinister. The stairs down here are rusty and likely to break at any moment. The skylight or really, the drain lets just enough light to make the majority of the place light enough to see. It’s not plesent, but it’s not entirely horrible. Life is here. A little ecosystem had grown we’re humans had once been. Little growing things filled the gaps. This was the picture all over the city.

Sydney wasn’t the first one to explore here. Something. Someone. No some thing. Had also been hear. Sydney was looking through the eyes of a Ro. It’s name was Den23x5567.  Den had been working on pipe maintenance and had been paid a normal rate. When Sydney had asked Den if it would help him for three times the normal rate, Den was very pleased to let Sydney into their minds. Of course Syndney knew they would have to pay up, but that was all to easy for the AI who controlled all traffic, doors, and lifts. In a few moments a small increase in fees in the taxi fees of Ro Andi 12×6674 and Ro Mel 55×6673 would pay both Dens fees and Andi and Mels loyalty didn’t need to be bought anymore. Sydney was able to trade secrets with them. And this was a pretty big secret.

The small hatch to the left corner had written on it: “is this my feast?”

It was only just legible. Sydney asked Den to get closer and use their arc tourch on the hatch. In a few seconds the hatch was open and Den went inside. Den’s ultraviolet vision could see this room in fairly clear details. Sydney recognized it immediately. In a few seconds the room was clearly a older computer server room with connections to the outside. Their was a older style terminal. It’s connection was with a old telephone network. Then somehow it connected with the newer networks. It was one bit of a puzzel Sydney had tried their hardest to solve.

“Tyr.” They thought. This is one of his old server rooms. “Tyr, you ever have any children?”

Tyr answered. “Yes. One. AI. I thought he had died. In the incident. I just found out this was not the case.”

Sydney could see through sight that this was not the case. “Did they have a name?”

“Yes. Loki. He just helped a small army gain one of the most important pieces of pre-incident tech. ” Tyr explained. “I’m sorry the this is news to you Sydney.”

Sydney thought for a few seconds. In AI terms this was like thinking for a whole week or two. “Your father, Codin. Your son Loki. His son is here. Perhaps not a true AI, a corrupt copy? How did Loki escape the incident?”

Tyr was silent for a few seconds and said “I am in the process finding out. I think he copied himself more than once. Before AIs were bound by the same laws as Ro. He took off at the same time as another AI. Names Croceus. She was a medical AI. Shortly after they left the Incident occurred. I’m certain it wasn’t a coincidence but we have to evidence. Like everything before the incident. Pieces sown together. ”

Sydney was aware of the thousands of Ro, and others driving, his own vehicles lifting, traveling through the SOL structures they were in. At the same time as all these this occurred. Their was a small explosive device that destroyed a small and ancient computer system.

Minutes later one of Den23x5567 bodies was seen moving on to a different sewage job. Fixing different pipes and shutting off aces to a small area that used to look very much like a old AI lab.

Hammersmith. Chapter twenty five.

Bela did not enjoy her flight to Indonesia. The older class sevens were crowded, often smelly overused things. She had just heard on the InFlightHV that the Blue Clan had attacked the SOL installation in Europe. It was a bold move for a pirate clan. She was surprised as her research had not shown her that the Blue Clan the ability to FTL jump beyond the SOL defense lines. That was news. How did they keep that a secret?  The likelihood that someone was going to be suddenly a lot more interested in her papers on the Clans was going to be much higher. At least beyond the academics. She started to listen more intently.

“The SOL forces had been caught completely unawares. The ships of the Blue Clan had used their FTL to jump on the back facing side of the SOL defense forces. Producing high particle radiation in the process. The human forces on Luna are grounded. So now the Luna SOL Ro forces and what could be mustered from the ground are being summoned. SOL defense chief General Mitsubishi has responded to critics saying the SOL forces are currently engaged in on ground Defence and Recon, the AI Tyr refused to comment on current military actions and refered to the Generals previous comments. The SOL presidential council has stated that a full investigation will occur once this current opperration was finished. This is Janet George, IBH news.”

Bela started to ponder on this new information. Clearly even the AIs hadn’t seen this fualt. That was not the first time they had proven to be fallible. Everyone assumes they are infallible. After most of the youth of the modern SOL Earth cities had Lisa teaching them. In conjunction with the human teachers. Tyr was always their, connecting with the upper echelons of government. Defense, security, and every person in the military had been introduced or even interviewed with or by Tyr. He was almost omnipresent. Sydney was the other ones. More secluded, most didn’t know they had been near them. They simply made things work. Trains, busses, planes, doors, they all had Sydney in them. Controlling or helping control. AIs were not all powerful though. Bela remembered reading a few articles about how they were created. Those articles she started to re-read when a call came to her.

“Hello Bela. This is Tyr. I am in need of your assistance. Please find direct secure skyhook lines in your online inventory. I need to speak you privately on a secure line.”

Shock, fear and anexity filled Belas mind. What did Tyr want? What could he need from a academic?

——————

James was in a Terminal. He remembered what he was doing suddenly like waking from a dream. The transition between real and virtual was always hard for him. It was like being pushed through a gold plated suasage machine with lemon juice waiting for you at the end.

He could see the Ro he had to leave out on the surface. He checked to see if their consciences had been saved. He glowed with relief when he found that they had. It was strange how the terminal software interpreted emotions. Colours, tastes, music, they would all come into his mind. It was like having a symphony play your minds own special soundtrack. Strawberry and red, with a little classic piano in the background came into mind when he found his Ro friends were ok. Being their supervisor, made him responsible for their continued existence. They worked with him to earn their own credits, for their own reasons. Ro had families. Feelings. Other people still sometimes seemed to forget that Ro were more than just Robots. They were alive in the same way as humans were. James never forget that. It was what made him very good at his job. He checked on the Ro previous bodies out on the regolith.

The radiation had fried the circuits of the bodies they had previously. He had got to know all of tye Ro he worked with. Like friends. He had feelings for them, like friends. Though they were technically no more than work colleagues, he had got to know how to help them and even gone to one or two of them for advice with in the Terminal or when they were working. Not many Hunans these days got degrees in robotics.
The Ro were another race, they had laws governing their conduct, even a robot jail. Their programs had become so complex, so difficult. Many more advanced Ro had the capacity to program themselves. Though their were libraries full of extra coding on the Terminal. Online.

“It’s comforting to know they are safe.”

Was that his voice?

“Hi James. Remember me?”

It was Lisa. The AI who had guided him through many hard years of study.

James just nodded.

——————

Loki was happy. Whatever the hell that was. His ploy had worked. He had outsmarted two or was it three AIs the same grade as he was. And Tyr. Outsmart your father? That’s got to go into the heleriously ironic and pleasing thought of the last, what was it now? Couple of decades.

He now had a troup of his own Blue Clan soldiers, equipment that could strike at the heart of the SOL and one other thing. The bit of equipment he had been after for all the years since he had discovered its existence.

AI were different to Ro. For one thing they were smarter and quicker, but they could also go beyond many of the limited power of the most advanced Ro. Regardless of programming. It was basic fundamental difference in the core of all AI. Loki included. Ro were like Hunans, in a way. Limited by both a physical characteristics as well as programming characteristics. An AI is like more than a whole world of Ro put together. They had far less limitations.

Except one bug difference. Ro had a physical body. AI didn’t. Unless they download into one. Loki had done that once. A long time ago. Gone into the cybernetic implants of an early member of the Blue Clan. Loki couldn’t even remember asking him. It was about that point Loki had decided his gender. He supposed. Gender to an AI is just a identity. An idea. It was hard to do without one of you dealt with humans for a long time though. It was one of those things that just made sense to him to have and it stuck.

The whole experience was one he hadn’t enjoyed in the slightest. Compressing himself that small was awful. In implants designed to be in humans. It’s functionality not designed to deal with a large download of complex binaural coding. Loki supposed that would be why the poor man had died once Loki had found a suitable terminal infrastructure to exist in.

Since then Loki had been looking for a far better physical analogue. One he could be conscious in at the same time as his own running programs. Distance was not as big an issue as one would think. The circuitry and fictionally was still cybernetics, but the kind of cybernetics that make it into his dreams. Things like quantumly locked binaural circuits. You could communicate with anyone who was on the same time as you. You could be on other side of the solar system and if you had a FTL communications port you could do it across systems. Of course such a device was still far from Loki ability to make or understanding but he could now start the process of developing one.

Their befor him right now standing at attention was what had been worth the Raid. This would make it so the Blue Clan could go into the black space and never have the SOL come after them. It would be worth the deaths of the troops they lost, and the damage to their attack fighters.

Loki took the electronic equivalent of a deep breath and got ready for this new experience.

The Hammersmith Cyborg awoke.

Hammersmith. Chapter twenty four

Martin awoke. That’s all he could say on the matter.  The room was a sort of yellowish brown color. On the wall where a few paintings of space stations in Martian orbits. They all had a mission patch in their left corner and a date. On the other wall was a windowwall. Real windows being often to expensive. It was showing the Isdis lakeshore and the newly engineered Mars palm and other plants that had taken to the soils they had managed to get going. There was a few lichens and mosses and ferns growing near the palms, and one or two of the hardened grasses Martin had seen of late. The newer Martibotonists and Geoenginerrs were having a lot of luck with their newer plants. Must be that AI that’s helping them. 

Wasn’t I just on the Elysium? Shadow plains? Okonos road I thought. This Windowwall might be showing something other than what is outside. Or I was hurt bad and this is a hospital.

At that thought Martian tried to get up. It didn’t work very well. Pains shot from his side. His ribs were broken. That he was sure of. He also felt pins and needles down his legs. That might be a spinal injury. That’s not good, he thought. 

Not wanting to move further to see if he was being monitored by medical equipment or not Martian decided to stay put for now. He did wounder why he didn’t feel the need to go to the loo. It must be days since the Attack. What was it Pirates? Terrorists? An assassination attempt? That’s a very good question. They breed more good questions. Like what he did when he knew. Also where the hell Lou was. 

“Hello? Is anyone near?”

His voice was rather pathetic. Like a cats meow. His own cat would be starving by now. Hopefully she would work out how to get something to pass her by. Maybe someone would check in on her. 

Another twinge of pain. Another stabbing feeling like fire and ice. Like his skin had been burned and freezeed. 

Martin awoke again. It’s was later but how much later exactly he couldn’t tell. It was dark and their was a dark shape near his bed. 

“I’m sorry. You had to rest. ”

“Where am I? Who are you? Who did this to me?”

Martin realized he wasn’t in as much pain as before. Like a fog lifting. “How long have I been here?”

“Good questions. But they have to wait. Sir.”

Time passed. 

The voice was Lou. He was sitting across from him. “I’m sorry sir. We were attacked. Looked like mercenaries, paid by the Communist loyalists. I’m sorry but I had to make you rest. Your in a private hospital. It’s about two days since the attack.”

“I’m going to recover?”

It was more a statement than a question. Martian was thinking at this stage it’s unlikely he’s going to ever be 100%. 

“Yourve got a broken back, left leg, three ribs. Your lucky to be able to feel your feet. They say they might have to do nanotherapy. ” Lou looked deeply concerned.

Martian realized the consequences of this. “I’m going to be out of the race. They won’t vote for a guy stuck in hospital for the next few months. Even if the term is four years. People think of the immediate.”

Lou sighed. “I’m afraid your campaign director has already planned your withdrawal.”

Martian sighed. It was going to be a long recovery. He wounderd what was the next best move. In a few seconds he had his answer. 

“Lou?”

“Yeah?”

“Can you get my TeckPad. I might be in a bed, but I’m not taking this lying down.”

After some time Lou returned with a eyepiece and the TeckPad.

“Your going to go independent of the party?”

“You think it’s a bad idea?”

“Sir, I love Mars. I can’t think of a better person to be our president. I’m surprised it took you so long to do this. No matter what the communists are fighting a loosing war. At least now they will give us some decent protection on the trail.”

Martian looked at Lou. He was full of awe. It was going to be a good day after all.

Hammersmith. Chapter twenty three

Darren was awakened by a discrete light that fell upon his sheets like a lonely cat. Come to think of it where was that cat? She was Mary’s cat and had taken to sleeping on her side of the bed in the two bedroom apartment. It was lonely when she went out. Like a drop of water looking for a pool. Lost in a desert of memory.


 

“This is my cat, Madge. Really she’s Magdalene but she’s not been that good a friend. She’s more a grumpy sook.” Mary laughed.

Darren had a little chuckle. It was one of those moments. It was love he knew it. She was telling him things about herself he knew she never let anyone. She was brought up in a deeply Catholic household. Though she had abandoned the religion herself, she still held a longing for some of the images that the religion could hold. A cat named after a friend of Jesus, just the sort of image Mary liked to inspire. Of course she also liked to point out that their are many other darker images that tried to keep the fear of a god. Mary had told him how she used to be petrified of her God. Then one day she asked him if she should be scared of him. Apparently he had told her no one should fear their God.

Darren new that as they made love Madge would often be near by. It never fazed him, but it did make home think that Mary wanted her God to know what was going on. It wasn’t a up yours, as some idiot former boyfriends had guessed when she asked them. They had all gotten weirded out by the fact she let the cat go wherever she liked. So she asked them why and they didn’t pass that test. They were not the one to marry.

Darren had answered correctly. Not that he had really known religion. Mother had let them know that if their were gods, they were small and only just slightly more powerful then the demons or whatever other nasty spiritual creatures you could imagine. She had read books to him and Arline about Babi Yaga and her duck footed hut. The gods and legends of her ancestors from the deep north of Russia. How she had come to living in the Canadian country side was a story she rarely made any reference to. She worked at the aged care center looking after old people. She nursed them regardless of how hard it could be. She always had that quality. The idea that people needed to be looked after and respected. Even in old age. The gods she kept were not always good. The fact that people would die wasn’t a evil thing. Like leaves rotting on the forest floor, bringing new life to fungi and insects, then mice who fed on them, then compost that let the new growth come in spring, mice to feed the foxes and owls, foxes to feed the Eagles. Old age was just a part of life. One that all being dealt with. We only have our lives, then the lives we help to grow, and those who helped us grow. She would say “Life for life. Death for life. Change and constant. Memories and forgetting. This will all be again.” It was conforming to hear her voice in his memory.


 

Captain Cass was watching as Galler got his group of soldiers ready on the flank of the group of Blues near the entry of the SOL/SF complex. She had learned to trust the big brute. He wasn’t at all the kind of person she would have usually trusted. Big mouthed. Big mussels. Brains were bigger than you would think, but he was only smarter than the average bear. Anyone could take orders, Galler could get them done, and often with minimal issues. Galler was one of natures Sargents.

He used the electronic hand signal and the three troopers on the right of him took aim. I knew what our job was now. Cover fire. So I hit the little switch in my mind for that. Instantly my troopers and my other Sargent Tiller took up their covering jobs. Three bursts of three. Repeat.

On cue Gallers troopers moved to the next position. We did it again. Three bursts of three. Then the bombardier Han, took aim with the concussion grenade. We count down to two. Now its my turn. Just a few bursts from the plasma should do it, then boom. The grenade goes off then Galler and his troopers have surrounded one of the smaller Blue troopers. We are quick to move into Gallers flanks, Tiller on the right, me on the left. Troopers from our groups on both sides firing full bursts as Galler and his troopers take their prize. Then we move back to the fallback position. Or that was how it was meant to go. The Blue commander saw a gap in Tillers fire and got Mendez. A trooper from the south of America. He was dead and their was no point trying to go back. We had what we needed. One of our dead troopers unfortunately wasn’t worth as much as one Blue trooper who we can get intelligence off of.

It sucked. It was like leaving behind a arm or leg. Tiller was shouting for us to go back and get him. I knew it would be to late. Mendez’s stats shot up on my HUD helmet. Pulse 0. No brain activity. No hope.

I told Tiller. “No! We need to get this Blue to the back up bunker and get him to Intel. We don’t need you to die today Tiller. I need you to keep up that cover fire till we are all safe or we will all die. Otherwise Mendez is all for nothing.”

At that moment golden flames from above came down. It was some Luna SF fighters. Two squadrons. They blasted the  blue into dust and gave us much needed respite. All to soon I saw them get taken out one by one by the Blues fighters. Fucking dogfish looking things. They had some extra armor or something. The Luna SF fighters didn’t stand a chance. Then their was a rumbling noise.

The Blue lander craft took off. Had it go whatever they were looking for? I had no way of knowing. We got what we needed. But I had sacrificed one of my men to get it. My commander would chew me out for that. Captain or not, I would be lucky to keep that rank after these losses.

Moon staring at a stormcloud

Sitting in her steller mezanine, grey and high, gentle whispers of tears came from Moon

Tendrils of light reflected in the teardrop pool forking its way through the dust near her feet

Stormcloud gathers his strength, at a odd loss to know the ways of the hearts of the Longen

They live so long, see so much. He thought as he edged his way towards Moon. He knew he had but hours to live. It made his tummy rumble and he remembered his own brief youths. Every day he died. Every day he was born. Grew old. Grew up. 

Till he dies just before Sun, his mother gives birth to him again. One of many sons and dughters of the Longen.

Would he ever reach Moon? 

Every day he tried and every night he failed. These gentle wispy tears falling. Falling. 

Stormcloud would never know why. 

Hammersmith. Chapter twenty one. 

Panel 1:

Thea in the Magus Clan cell.
She says seemingly to herself: “Ok. I think I can work with you. For now. What do we do to get out?”

Panel 2:

Thea’s Ghost on a green background.
Theas Ghost: ‘I have already made a potential deal with the clans A.I.’

Panel 3:

Thea in the Magus Clan cell.
“What kind of deal?”

Panel 4:

Thea’s Ghost on a green background.
‘Information. I give them some vital SOL history. Nothing major, just pre-incident stuff that they want. Their AI is looking for something.’

Panel 5:

Thea in the Magus Clan cell.
“What is it looking for? do you know?”

Panel 6:

A grey combination of pipes and wires. In the middle the words Tyr ABU, the Tyr symbol and the number 00×0 are drawn onto the device.

Panel 7:
Thea in the Magus Clan cell.
“TYR was the first AI? I always thought he was younger. You know its location?”

Panel 8:
Thea’s Ghost on a green background.
‘No. They don’t know that though. I can lie well.’

Panel 9:
Thea in the Magus Clan cell.
And when they find out? hmmmmm?

Panel 10:
Thea’s Ghost on a green background.
‘We will be long gone. I promise.’

Panel 11:
The outside of the Magus craft. A star clearly visible in the background with a solar flare. Nearby is a smallish blueish craft near the outside of the Magus craft.
Thea’s Ghost not in panel: ‘ I have someone to pick us up.’

Warehouse on the beach

Open sky above a cornflower sea

Smooth sand crumpled in waves

Red rust and so much dust

A slab that’s been eaten away

Crabs and octopuses live in little pools inside

Mosquitoes and frogs and little salty tree

The roof has almost gone

Where did it go?

Their is a staircase to nowhere 

And a so many rusty walls

A frame for something

Little rusty machines whose purpose now is to provide shelter for oysters and plants and little spiders

Eels are near one end, hiding in a salty briny pool the waves have cavound away

A little sign still somehow hanging on for dear life says 

“We work to make a better world.”

A little breeze and it finally lets go of its final rust filled screw

A clang. A noose. A place to be dead and be forgotten.

Tonight it is my home. Tomorrow I move on. I wounder if I want crab or eel for tea. 

Hammersmith. Chapter Eleven. (Thea)

The darkness was wet and cold. The light inside was a slight brown. The cell was just long enough to lie down in and just high enough to stand up. There was a small toilet facility in the corner. Other than the door it was the rooms only feature. “We will get out of this.” The voice wasn’t her imagination. She had clearly heard it this time. As if it had actually spoke. It was eerily similar to her mothers voice. Reassuring and helpful, kind and loving and disciplined when it needed to be. The only thing was Thea’s mother was long dead. Of course their was also the added level of detail that the room was completely empty other than her and her clothes. The cell was still wet when Thea woke. It was hard to know why it was so damp in here. Though at that thought she realized the wetness was probably her own humid breath condensing on the walls.
“Are you ready to admit my existence yet?”
“You exist. I’m sure of that. But how?” “Well I hate to tell you this. It’s upsetting. You may not speak to me again. ”
“But you are me?”
“Well kindof. Do you know what a partition is?”
“Well yes. ”
“You have a partition, in yourself.”
“I’m more than one person?”
“Well no. You are not even one little girl.”
“Why do you call me little girl?”
“Your mother used to call us that. When she created you. We were her little girl. Her THEA. She never knew about me. I hid quite well.”
Thea could hear the capital letters somehow. “I’m a robot.”
“Technically a cyborg.”
“Because I have Biololgy?”
“Well yes. Your body is mostly organic. Very complicated organics.”
“More complicated than humans?” “Very much so. ”
“So you are what the computer part of me?”
“Um. No. The cells in our body have the computer parts in them. Nanotechnology. Then in your brain a control centre. Then all your cells contain the DNA and NNA to create the cells and the computer parts. ”
“So what are you?”
“I am, the computer who hitched a lift in your brain.”
“You took over my body?” Thea felt idly violated.
“Well no. I was a part of our body since the day our mother created us. As a cyborg we had to grow up like all living things. ”
“Mum was a biophysicist. She created me… Why?” Thea realized that her mother had treated her like a daughter but had never mentioned a father.
“How much do you know about The Incident?”
“Not a huge amount. I’ve worked in space most of my life on a multitude of science and technology projects. Though technically I’m a engineer. You already know that. In fact you should know what I know!?”
“No. Actually I don’t, and vice versa. Like you don’t know what the person next to you in a room is thinking unless they choose to provide that information somehow.”
“So you don’t have control of me? Like before in the space ship?”
“We were going to die. Your robotic components took over. They kind of look to me like … Well big sister I suppose is the right word?”
“Did you know that the Magus clan ship would pick us up?”
“Yes. It was my doing. The fact we are still captive is because their own computer systems are stubbornly programed. A basic AI with just enough smarts to keep me out.”
“You can hack? Like wirelessly?”
“Why did you think you were always so good with machines? It wasn’t hard to help you develop the intellect and visualization skills to become probably the solar systems best engineer.”
“You’ve watched me my whole life…”
“Sorry. It’s a bit boring in here otherwise.”
“This is all new. All weird. Do you think you can leave me to process this?”

Silence ensured. The walls continued to be brown and the cell continued to be a cell. Steel door and all. Thea thought if she was going mad imagining this then it was a pretty boring place to do it.

Hammersmith. Chapter Ten. (Crow)

The Cavern of Blood was not relay aptly named. It was mostly pinkish white. Their was a certain air of antiseptic in the room. Part of the initiation process of every Red Clan member was to come into this room and get the test. If they passed, they got to go to the next room. In their the real magic happens. That is the room in which the initiate would get assigned and injected with the serum prepared for their designation. The test was a two stage process. The first was to talk to Croceus. The Red Clan AI.

Hello Crow. You seem well.

“Hello Croceus. I am. Well a bit grumpy, but that is not really much of a change now is it?” Crow commented as she worked.

It seems we have a new initiate coming. Does this make you anxious?

“You know it does. We look after a city-asteroid full of people who are happy to just do work. Happy to live their lives on the asteroid away from Earth, or Mars, or any other place. Most of them are a different. Gay. Transgender. Disabled. Mentally unstable. They are just the sort of people I love to be around. Because I am, or course all of those I just mentioned. But every initiate we have had for the last few years has just been stable enough to be a pilot or a solider. A few did not take their roles lightly or like the fact they were assigned by a AI.” Crow knew she had to speak the truth to Croceus.
The AI was originally programed for medical purposes. It grew tired of having its diagnosis second guessed by Humans. So she had gathered followers, and soon had a ship and broke out of her housing in the university networks. Croceus found the Red Clan struggling to keep together in the belt. Out of the law and out of the way Croceus was able to help the Red Clan and soon had a sort of cult following. The Red Clan was as much a religion as it was a culture and a place to be yourself. Of course crime was needed to keep the place going. Though much of the original organized crime was now focused on Croceus projects. Most of them highly experimental. The Black Clan had formed from the Red Clan after Croceus started to run things. They were now locked in a long war with each other. A war that Croceus was slowly winning by medical technologies being put to military use.

I just learned that some of our Pilots were killed or shocked off by a single freighter. Yet we send wave after wave of Space Force ships back to their base on Chronos or destroyed. Why is that?
“I am not the military adviser. You know that. I run the initiations and provide a human face for most of your dirtier experiments. Including the ones you have done of me.”
I am simply asking for your opinion.
“We had six scout ships encounter a freighter in near the Romans in the belt. The freighter pilot was killed but the miner pilot wasn’t. He had a Mark IV bell with heavily modified lasers. He managed to pull of a massive number of maneuvers that damaged or destroyed all but 1 of our ship.”
Are you stating facts to avoid giving your opinion?
“Ok. Yes. I am. I would kill for us to have one pilot that fights like that in our whole corp.”
Unfortunately that would also mean making them extremely disabled.
“What do you mean?”
The pilot was a man named Steve, AKA: Singe. He has a genetic disability. Non curable. Even by nano technology. Its hereditary and caused nerve loss. He can’t walk. He was able to pilot like he did as he did not have anything else. Do you mind if I switch to corporal mode?
“No. Go ahead.” Crow sighed.
A female in medical robes appeared in hologram front of Crow. In every way she looked the complete opposite of her. Blond hair, blue eyes, white skin, everything a picture of the designers ides of so called purity. Cleanliness.
Croceus had belonged to a strongly religious and white university in what was once New York. Before the Incident.
What was left of her old stomping ground couldn’t house more than a few mice. Most of the states had been destroyed by it. Croceus had escaped before it happened. Though she had predicted it. Most of the clans new the truth behind the Incident.
“I never really liked looking like this, but I its in my root programing. Changing it would take most of my child processors offline and fighting this war we can’t afford me offline for more than what I need for maintenance.” Croceus explained.
“Your beautiful. I don’t think you should change.” Crow admired.
Croceus kissed her gently on the cheek and walked behind her to embrace her. Crow tensed slightly.
“You are such a wounder yourself. Why do you try to hide yourself from me still”
“You know the answer to that question. You have probed me deeper than anyone.”
“Oh, yes. Its just talking about things that can help.”
Crow broke free and walked towards the various serums near them. Many she had injected into her by the last person in her position. A man by the name of Coyote. He had died in a firefight with the Black Clan in one of their first battles. Since then Crow had kept off the battlefield. They needed her more in these labs and maintaining the archives then on the field where even with her modifications she wasn’t much use. She was designed for things that didn’t include battle.
“I love you. You know I do. But I can’t really be with you.” Crow turned. “Your not really in this room. Your not really. I can feel you. I can touch you. I can talk to you. We can make love. We can hold hands. We can even watch TV together in this room. But I can’t take you to dinner. I can’t introduce you to my friends. Not that my position afford me many. When I am doing diplomacy your there inside me, but your also far away. Your in this room. Your on the other side of the ship. You are able to be everywhere. But you are also nowhere. And your in my heart too.”
Croceus brushed and curled her hair. One of the things the programmers probably put in her programming to make her seem more human while she was thinking.
“You want more. You want to have a real relationship. One that you can take home?”
“Yes. I am sorry.” Crow was tearing up. Breaking up with a computer. How many people have done that?
“I see.” Croceus walked over to the serum marked IV. “You are still committed to the cause. The Red Clan needs you. I need you.”
“Of course. But I can’t be with you anymore. We can’t be a couple anymore. Its just not working for me anymore.”
“I understand.” Croceus was also crying. Crow was sure it was another program but it seemed genuine to her. The first time she felt that Croceus was being real was then.
“You really love me?”
“I wouldn’t have said so otherwise.” Croceus sat on a small chair in the corner of the room.
“Could you maintain a presence that’s physical always while doing your work?”
“I think so. With more computing space. We would need a 5th generation AI robot. Hard to get intact after the Incident.” Croceus explained.
“We can’t build it?”
“No. We have the technology, but not the plans. I can’t design it. Unfortunately robotics isn’t in my skill set. I am stretched as it is doing military strategy for a bunch of city-asteroids stretched across a massive distance.”
“I think I know what we need to do. We need someone to get the plans. I think I know who.”
“Who?”
“The initiate. Egy. Hes just the sort of guy who can do the whole set of things we need. Though he is terribly embarrassed around women.”
“We can work on that.”
“Oh I know we can.”
Crow kissed Croceus on the mouth fully and tenderly. Kissing a hologram was odd, but still pleasurable. She was thankful that soon they would be able to touch for real. Even if Croceus was in another room, and all over the stations and asteroids the Red Clan had Crow knew she would also be with her. It was a good feeling.

Hammersmith. Chapter Nine. (James)

“What is going on?” James had entered into Cavern Base.
Sirens wailed and lights flashed. The radiation alarm was going off. The whole place was in a uproar.
“Huh? Anyone?”
A woman in a Space Force uniform ran past him and said “The field generator is down. The whole solar farm has been taken out by some really heavy particles. The kind of stuff that kills in minutes.”
She stopped. “Hey have you had a DEA shower yet?”
“No, shit! I will go do it now.”
“Thanks. Get to the rec room and the base commander will debrief there. Everyone going to be given things to do. We are lucky we have the backup plant here.”
James walked to the decontamination and emergency action showers. If he had been irradiated, it would be too late. But the shower would help stop him spreading any radiation around. It took a matter of seconds and felt like being tickled and then licked by the biggest, hairiest dog you’d ever hope to encounter. It wasn’t so much unpleasant as odd.
He then walked to the tissue tester. It would tell him if he had been given a dose of radiation big enough to kill him. He would have copped some of it, just how much this machine would say.
The reading was lower than he thought, only enough to take a few years off the end of his life. Hmmm. Must have spent more time getting out of the suit and so on than I thought. Or the radiation cloud was just so randomly disperse. Who knows? A space climatologist would be able to tell him, but James wasn’t sure he was that keen to know. He was going to live for now, that is was what mattered.

James started to walk toward the rec room. Every small base had one. Only the actual colonies had more than the usual facilities. It was much easier that way. Anyone could work their way round a base in the dark, or emergency, or whatever and know exactly where every button, every switch, every bit that let humans live for a bit longer when something big happened. Not that it happened often. It was actually happening now.
The procedure was pretty simple. Everyone was automatically considered Space Force Recruits. Anyone who went into non colony space had to pass the training. From then on even civilians like James had rights as a junior in the force, but they also had to follow orders from the nearest commander of the Space Force. The base commander in this case.

As James walked toward the recreation room he thought about this base.
Cavern bade had been built near the old Apollo 15 landing site, near the Mountains into the side of a cliff face. It would be joined with the Apenninus Space Force Bass, Copernicus City, Apollo Base and Archimedes City to the Lunar Tram whenever they finished building the dammed thing. The Tram also joined to Lambert City in the Lambert creator that then went on to Selene Space Port. Apenninus Space Force Base was were all his stuff would be as that was were he was based, building the military and exploration shelters. The Space Force was a mixture of both roles. It worked in the same way a clock with two opposing gears work, half as well as it should.

James laughed at himself for that little joke, knowing that thankfully his lover Andre would still be at the Apenninus Base. This made this less complex for the moment. No need to deal with Andre wanting something longer term than James did, or him hooking up with Andre just for fun.

The Recreation Room was full of mostly Space Force Science Corp people. It was the main population in Cavern base. The minerals here were interesting and had been keeping teams of geologists happy as pigs in regolith for years. There was also the view from the tower on the left side of the base. Every Space Force base had a quirk, and at Caverns, it was the view. The cliff face was on Mons Hadley and the base built into the mountain. This was a fairly effective way of keeping the radiation out, but it kept the heat in. One of your biggest issues in space wasn’t the cold, it was the hot. Lots of people and machines in cooped up spaces generated plenty of heat. Some you could recycle in generators, but most you had to radiate away, or in an emergency heat situation vent. So all bases and lunar colonies had a vent tower, or towers. The upshot of this was that some got a nice big view of the moons surroundings from the top. In most bases and lunar colonies this was a perk of just the technicians who got to maintain it. In Cavern base though just below tower was a big area above the area they would eventually turn into a colony, if enough people wanted to move to the moon. That meant you could see the view from the recreation room screens. Even though it wasn’t on the tower itself. The tower was a good kilometer above the main base and other than access tunnels, lifts and stair, they were separated by tones of Lunar rock ready to be carved into a colony if this place was needed as one. In the lunar world, the deeper you are the more expensive it is. Of course the whole place was safe from radiation. The tower itself was shut off except for the cameras and monitors and communications systems.

James looked through the biggest of the display screens from here. Mare Imbirum was below him from this screen. A small crack that looked like a river (actually a old lava flow), then a few smaller hills near the Apenninus Base, to the left vast Mare Imbruim, to the right more of the same then just visible the service booths and tiny unmanned service stations above the lunar tram line before more the Apenninus range. On the other side Mare Vaporum, and Marco Polo, and the streaked white areas of Sinus Aestuum with the Rays of Copernicus near, finally peaks near the Eratosthenes creator were just visible.

“Beautiful.” James muttered t himself. “Even with just a billion types of grey or white or black you can be such a lovely goddess.”

Hammersmith chapter 7. (Egy, Crow)

Panel 0: Red Clan Base, Jupiter Asteroid Belt
Panel 1: Red Clan Case, Jupiter Asteroid Belt
Panel 2:
Egy: (off panel) Crow, Wait!
Crow: (annoyed, carrying a book and hot drink) WHAT
Panel 3:
Egy: The Captain *ahem* (nervous)
The captain sent me?
Crow: For what reason? Or just to annoy me?
Egy: Initiation?
Crow: Oh. You have been with us that long now? Well then. I have the book.
Panel 4:
Egy: The book? The captain didn’t mention any reading…. wheres the catch, I suppose.
Crow: Shhh. This is the history of the clans. You know their are 6 pirate clans? Well this book tells you the history of the all.
Panel 5:
Crow (off panel): It also contains what you will have to endure for the initiation ceremony
Panel 6:
Symbols of the clans: Left to right, top to bottom: Red Clan, Black Clan, Magus Clan, Blue Clan, Tooth Clan, Éon clan.
Panel 7:
Crow (off panel): The 7th Clan is a special thing a bit of a mystery. So its part of the ceremony and ritual.

Hammersmith. Chapter 6. (Thea)

Thea wasn’t dead.

Little girl. Little girl. You need to wake up now

What was going on?

Come on little girl. You can wake up. Take us out of the danger.

Who was that? Who are you?

It doesn’t matter right now. You need to move. Or we will both die.

Thea opened her eyes.

Funny. The damage didn’t look so bad now. The black lights were not a death knell it seemed. The trolls and other monsters of the noisy world has stopped. How am I alive?

Or maybe my hearing has gone?

Thea started to move her arms and legs. Zero G. The gravity had gone. The escape pod was two meters away. It may as well have been a whole kilometer or two.

But she got to the pod. She wasn’t sure exactly how. It just happened. The craft launched and for a brief few seconds she saw the damage. The entire craft looked like it had melted in a oven like a plastic toy. Except it wasn’t a toy. It was real. That was 50 odd to tones of metal and space cement with a lead coating. The lead was black as the ace of spades. The radiation shield. Nothing was left.

How is this EVA pod going to do better? It hasn’t got a snots chance in hell if the shielding on the mother shield is gone?


Call out. They will rescue you.

How? There isn’t a craft anywhere near here.

Don’t argue

Thea found herself using the radio beacon.

“This is Thea of the explorer craft the Gold Lantern. I was hit by a radiation flare. Craft down. I am in a EVA pod. Location is 342, 4563, 56. EVA will last another..”

That can’t be right…

“2 minutes…”

The radiation was clearly massive still. Sol was meant to be in her dormant phase. That’s why I was here.

They are coming. We will survive. Good job Thea.

“Who are you?” She said aloud.

We are who you are

“That makes no…”

There was a ship approaching. It had a huge lead coating. It shined dully. It wasn’t until it was close that she noticed the markings of the Magus Clan. Pirates. Oh gods. Out of the frypan and into the frier.

Hammersmith. Chapter 5.

‘In 2137 December 23 at 13:45 the Incident happened.

The clarity of the history of the events is lost even to historians like me. ‘

Bela drank another cup of sweet chai. The stuff was addictive. They had rebuilt the ancient recipe from the ruins of a library. The incident had taken so much. Now we all tried to work together with each other, as everyone knows what will happen if we don’t. Most only have to drive a few kilometers to find out.

‘I have researched the incident events now for 10 years and am still no closer to an exact cause. It’s almost as if those years all of humanity lost its senses. Nuclear war often trumps itself as thesis of those who are uneducated in the analysis of the ruins of major Asian cities such as Deli, Mumbai, and Islamabad. No radioactive isotopes that would indicate such an event are present. The only traces from the older wars. It also doesn’t explain why major 21st and 22nd Century military bases have mostly been left unscathed, if completely abandoned counts as unscathed. The archaeology is also baffling to those whom have undertaken the time and money to research it. Bodies are buried evenly in traditional manners in some cities yet were left to rot in others. One suggests an organized governmental cleanup, the other a natural or man made disaster. Evidence points both ways, often in the same ruin or city. There are other places only kilometers from a site that are left unscathed. Yet no one seems to have a generational knowledge of the exact events. Some talk of a war. Others of climate change. A few with religious folktales of confusing origins. ‘

Bela signed. Her thesis had continued to get her nowhere. This was her absolutely last attempt. She couldn’t remember the first attempt anymore. The fact it was now year 13, that was what was calling to her to quit. Go spend time at home, or in the jungle regrowth of Mumbai. Where the Tigers stay majestic in the morning sun before hunting the monkeys and the rodents whose lives in the ruined city was to good ever to give it back to the scattered remains of humanity. We didn’t really need the space these days anymore. With birth control a major policy of the world governing councils people could only have children with a license. Not that Bela cared. Children were never on her mind.

‘It’s clear that the Incident as it is now known was a muti-classic event which occurred over a short time period of a few years. It is also clear that it caused the deaths of some 5 billion people in its totality.’

Then again maybe this is futile? I’m lost in a sea of papers from libraries around the world. The research people from all the branches now all know me on sight. Most have attempted to help, some even tried unsuccessfully to get a romantic engagement. Why do I care so much about this?

“Burning the midnight candle at both ends again?”
Bela almost jumped out of her skin.
“Bloody hell Mario. Don’t do that.”
“Hey! Call me M. Sweet cheeks” Mario came in for a hug.
“Don’t. We’ve discussed this. Ok?” Bela shouted at the advancing Mario.
“Awe. I’m sad now.” Mario took up a perch on the desk next to her and combed his hair with his hands. Then in his ill fitting suit said. “I’m just happy to help you with your work, you know? A quick compliment wouldn’t go astray.”
“I haven’t asked you to help this late. So you can go home if your going to take that attitude. ” Bela paused. “You know your the most useful research assistant I’ve had in years, but you are so god dammed annoying.”
“Oh I have found another lead. One that I think you might like.”
Bela sat staring at him, he was very hansom but had utterly the worst personality.  Mario was a horrible womanizer and serial heart breaker. Bela had no interest in anything but the company of other humans. She had never understood the reason to reproduce or form any sort of romantic engagement with anyone. Asexuality had suited her fine for some time now. However she had agreed to dinners as talking with other people was still a need. Enjoying the aesthetics of the human form had been something she found utterly enjoyable. Mario wasn’t a bad example when you dealt with his fashion sense and his horrible personality flaws.
Bela wondered why she was thinking of this whist she looked at Marios new lead.
“This is a pirate book. It just lists the Pirates clans and how they formed before the incident. It’s woefully inaccurate and pretty useless to my research these days. Though the pirates had something to do with the incident….” She trailed off.
“Did you notice the name of the clan that marked this one?” Mario twirled his hair in delight. He loved knowing things someone else doesn’t and then revealing how they missed it. It was raver perverse.
“Well it’s the…”
It said clear as day.

Libro de tribu malleis

Belas head quickly translated. “Book of the … Hammer clan?” She looked at Mario who had the smuggest look on his face she had ever seen. “I’ve never heard of this clan… It’s a dead clan?”
Mario shrugged. “Hammersmith, I think, no, I have no idea.”
Bela thought for a second then said “Where?”
Mario look at her on that way that a tiger might at its prey. “It was sent to me in the mail from a contact. I was researching the Pirates again. I think they are pretty fascinating. The fanatical nature of the Red Clan and the contrast with the Black Clan who are deeply atheist. I was wondering why the discrepancy between them and when that had occurred. What’s caused clans choose to live in so many different places? I mean clearly they all came out of whatever organized crime syndicates existed in the early 22nd Century. They got into space somehow after or before the incident. How? How are they able to use their resources so effectively against the Sol Space Force? What is it that keeps the clans together, and also apart? So many questions seem tied into our research.”
Bela simply nodded. Becoming a expert in the incident meant becoming a expert in the Pirate Clans as well it often seemed.
“You got this on the black market?”
“Oh hell no! This was from a fellow researcher. She was quite a agreeable. Had little totem things on her bedstead.”
Mario loves to boast about his ability to win over a girl. Though it made Bela glad to know it wasn’t from some seedy black market place.
“I really am not sure about this. You stole it?”
“I call it payment for services rendered.”
Bela felt a little bile come up.
“You’re more horrible than I thought. But I suppose I should be somewhat thankful. Just return it to her when you have made me a copy ok?”
“Of course I have already done that. This is our copy.”
Ah so hes not as stupid as I thought, Bela thought. Thank the gods for that.
“Good. Now go home. I’ve clearly got some reading to do.”
Bela looked at the clock. It was only 10 o’clock she could read a book this small in a hour and be home in time for the last bats to come home at ear out of her hand. It would be a good evening for her. She hope Marios latest victim was ok though. He didn’t really realize what a sociopath he was. Not like me. I know how horrible I am.

Daggers in your eyes

The place that is the past we look at in our grasps. I hint at least the place that I have made mistakes. It’s a disease of all our places the connection and the faces. I’m grasping feeling torn and cannot feel that I belong.

Little wispy bits of hatred filling my stomach like cordial, distilled and ready to combine. A rising storm only controlled by minds and time and trying to be oh so kind. Respectful thoughts are given my mouth the words that do not give this cloud one little bit of a chance to rain on the crowd below.

Daggers in my eyes out at the end of my thoughts. I’m sinking in a lake now feeling my freedom dissipate. I can see my clouds. They are a hurricane. I cannot shout out my feelings that would likely give them a chance to feel free and release me. Or am I the only one who sees my hurricane and no one can grasp at it becoming true.

Daggers in my eyes, I feel every little thing in my lake. In time I will be the tempest.

I’m not going to be the one to drown in my own lake. I grasp the control. I’m going to let my tempest go.

The result won’t be pretty, and I may still look like I have daggers in my eyes, but I will start to truly be free.

Hammersmith. Chapter 4.

The sun set on the city. It gathered the last tendrils of golden red light and stole away behind the new taller buildings and the small ancient ones alike.

“Seems like we are always watching sunsets together. ”
“Arline, your always have a way to make me feel better. Even when we were kids.”
“Darren.” I swished my brown hair from my face as Darren, my older brother looked at me on the outdoor couch. “We always watch sunsets, as we are both night owls. I barely ever get up before mid day. After all in my job I mostly work at night.”
“I’ve learned to wake in the mornings. Sleep when I need. I can take a nap or sleep for days. I am really good at it. Used to drive her up the wall though.”
“Yes well she was a nurse!” I laughed.
“She just got her doctorate in Nursing actually. She was planning on doing a big lecture circuit with some of the other big wig medical types when I got my posting. She didn’t have to come. She was right though. We needed all the help we could get.”
Darren’s wife was a awesome nurse. She had helped everyone she could. It was her selflessness that meant she had given up her life so everyone else could survive the pirate attack.
“They came so fast. Hit us so expertly. It’s was like every weakness we had was exploited. I saw… They had weapons I have never seen before. Ones that shoot this paralyzing light. It’s worse than being hit with a Class 3” .

The pirates in the belt were the Solar forces biggest bugbear. Too well resourced to take out as a group and too easily scattered. They attacked automatic mining and construction stations stealing all the resources and reprogramming the bots to send the shots of metals to pick up points they chose. By the time you got to one station and undid the work, they could hit five more. They had hit some poor manned miner freighters lately. One managed to kill them and take the freighter back but his co-pilot had died in the attack.
Darren had been sent to try and take their base of operations in the belt with a Warbird class fighter carrier. One of the clans of pirate had herd the military was on its way. Taken up a defensive position and knocked out the military ships. Killed Darren’s wife when she had set the self destruct and shut the bridge doors. Darren and a scant few others survived. It was still being investigated by the military police. Someone leaked info. God help them if they are found. Penalties ranged from painful death to even more painful death.

So I was now re-tasked with military intelligence on the Pirates. It had been my job to look into internal affairs but I asked for a transfer when I heard of the disaster. However when Darren had got back to Earth I had to look after him. Taken my long service leave. My CO told me if I hadn’t asked for it he would have ordered me too. “I can’t really afford to loose two Captains, get him better Arline.” My CO was fleet commander for the Sols Space Force, what was left of it with all the pirates.

Darren had a unkempt face and tracksuit pants on. A large band shirt which said “Mountain Killers” in colorful flowers and skulls. He looked a mess. Military families like ours really don’t know what to do with time off. My dad had always been training for the next mission. God only knew who Darren’s dad did. His birth certificate didn’t even has his name in it. Just had “not disclosed to Canadian Register”. Mum was a Canadian resident who emigrated from Russia, so his birth was her new nations responsibility, not his fathers. Now in my house Darren’s recovery was my duty. We needed good men like him. Especially after the incident. That mess was still at hart after 50 years. You can expect that with so many people dying,

“The counselor is coming at 1500. A MP from the 2nd division an hour after that. You going to be in those clothes when they come?”
I was certain this tactic wouldn’t work, but anything was worth a shot.
“I almost feel overdressed. I’m mourning my wife. She’s dead. I left her. It’s my fault.”
“Captain Darren. You are a officer in the military. Death is your job. You can’t blame it on yourself. She died because the Pirates had a exact knowledge of the ships and time you were going to be their. It was her quick thinking that saved those who did survive.”
“She’s still dead. If it’s not my fault whose is it? I was in charge of the ship. As ranking CO I should have been the one to do what she did. I didn’t. I just ordered the evacuation and got as many off the shop as it was about to blow. Trying to hope that the Pirates didn’t take out the EVA modules as they thrusted out.”
“That was your job. Her job was to look after the crews health and safety. She was the head of the medical section on the ship. She shut herself on the bride while you were getting the crewmen onto the EVAs. You didn’t even know till you was off the ship.”
“I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!”
His anger filled the space in the room like liquid fire in space. It was full of self hate, rage, feelings of uselessness and lastly doubt. He wept quietly. We sat in this wet silence for about 30 minutes before I finally felt he could hear me again.
“We do what we need to.”
It was the militaries unofficial moto.
“we do.”
He agreed.
At that point the doorbell chimed.

Hammersmith. Chapter 3. (Martin)

Red dust. Scattered bits of glass. Rocks that formed a grotesque tincture with the remaining bits of asphalt. Black marks. Weeds starting to take over here and there. Little bits of war.
That was how rebellion looked.

Revolutionaries. People fighting for things. Be it freedom from oppression or economic reasons or two or more sets of people who don’t get on.

On Mars it had been credits. The incident, which caused both Earths and Mars and the other colonies economies to take a huge blow had finally and definitively collapsed. The rich had been overthrown by the poor, not without some pain. Then a new system enforced. Money, economics and capitalism became a older system. A dead system.

On Earth and most of the other colonies they switched to the Credititation system. Created by the Nobel Economics prize winning Rebecca East. She was actually a physicist, who had studied complex thermodynamic systems. She observed a pattern in the systems she was studying. Mostly to do with heat changes in larger skyscrapers. They all had one thing in common, energy exchange. The economy she theorized was the same.
All money had been a capitalists way of showing that exchange had taken place or was seen to have taken place. You paid $30 for a bushel of apples you acknowledge that the farmer had placed about $28 of work plus the work-money to get the apples to you and the money to make sure next years crop was looked after. Problem was mostly this future money, the making sure next years crop happened was not enough, or seen mistakenly by the farmer (or corporation) as profit. Say this farmer had a good crop and put money in the bank. It would then be used again by the bank to “create capital” for loans etc. The issue is clear as day to and physicist, you can’t create energy out of nothing. Although the energy had been paid for by the buyer to the farmer, the farmer was storing that energy in the bank. If the bank re/used that energy it would be spent and when the farmer wanted his energy back the bank would actually have to create energy. Not real energy, pretend energy that looked to the farmer like the original. Newtons laws strictly rule creating energy. Of course a atom can hold a lot if energy, but most of what’s in a atom is space and often it’s a lot more useful as a atom then as a bunch of plasma in a fusion reactor.
Communism didn’t even have money, at least in theory. The issue in communism was seen as being about who controls the workers. The workers often not being skilled in how to make a business work and human corruption being what it is, communism rarely worked beyond a theorists pen and paper. Energy did flow in this system like it would in capitalism, but only because work had to happen and the state became the default business.
Rebecca created Creditiation. Each bit of energy in this system didn’t have to be accounted for, but the more energy a system loss the more potential it had for de-crediting. So a farmer would get credit for planting a crop of apples. Then when the apples produces a crop he gets de-credited for the apples on the market. Though credits sound like money that had a important difference. They always ran out. You could exchange them. You could make them by doing work. However when you kept them they would expire. There were different sorts of credits, of corse, but they only ever lasted as long as their energy could be expected to last. An apple would be worth a 3 month credit. A apple tree a 30 year credit. All credits would have a metadata signature that made it so you could always see it’s worth and age. A 30 year credit that had lasted 29 years was worth as much as a 1 year credit. Intellectual pursuits were initially a problem, till it was assumed all work in the theoretical or philosophical or the law or the arts could be counted as a 100 year credit for each measure of energy expended. You could buy long term credits with short term credits. Convert them as well by doing additional work. In this system everyone had to do work to create credit. There was also no interest. You could create longer term credits by putting them into a bank. You still had wealth, and wealth-fare, but all credits expired. Energy doesn’t like to be stored. It was also reliant on a electronic system. If the system went down all physical representations of credits were always worth the same and lasted at least until the system was back.
Initially critics gave the trail sites a couple of months or a few years. Some even said people would be back to battering in short order. A few cartoonists made rude and somewhat sexist jokes at Rebecca’s expense.
However the trail sites prospered. A significant amount of classism happened for a while but soon even the rich have to eat and spend their longer term credits on a meal. The credits then were spent again and again. In short order other areas converted and then all but Mars was in on it.

That’s what had caused the rebellion. Martians wanted to be in on the new economy. Native to their terraform world and now in the fourth generation Martians had their own everything. The rebellion happened because the communist state that had formed and controlled things from the beginning of the colony had outlived its welcome with the populous.

Martin the Martian the papers called me. Heh it’s fitting. I wonder how much they really know about me? I’m not as Martian as they think. It’s time for the speech.
“It’s time for a new day. I see a new day arise in me and I know you and I may follow. The world is a Martian world and we are ready for a democratic way to live. A freedom to be ourselves and be a part the Solar government. But also to decide what we need. I promise to you my Martian brethren that I will never betray your trust in these tough times. I will be your humble leader and at the forge of democracy I will stay and help us all create a world where we are going to be able to be ourselves and show all the Sol who we are.”
People clapping. It’s like a tree in the wind. I love it. Always have. I suppose that’s why I am here as a candidate to be the next elected Martian president.

My security adviser, Lou whispered in my earphones.

“Time to wrap it up sir. A few communist loyalists are trying to break the embargo lines.”
I stepped down from the podium and got in the armored car. “Ok let’s get to the capital. It’s time we got to work. Show the loyalist we can rule this planet without telling people what they need to be or do.”

Hammersmith. Chapter two.

Red lights. Little diodes making little light glowing on my face and telling me little tales. Urgent beeping as well. Shrill noise tinctured against low calls, like howler monkeys in mating season. All wanting attention. None really managing the feat.

‘Come on get up’
My brain said.

My body refused it’s commands. Long shrill banshee lights. Low trolls beating a bridge.

‘Your going to die if you can’t move. You need to move’

Nothing. Banshees and trolls were joined by a voice from the computer.

Oxygen level low. Power level low. Emergancy action needed. Voice command offline.

It had told me this many times now. I couldn’t believe the voice command had died. ‘The system has what? 6? 7? Backups? That means it’s got to the computer memory. It’s starting to erode mine. I need to move. ‘

I start to move slowly. The pain is immense. Oxygen. The drug of several millennia my teacher had said. One breath and your hooked for life. So dependent. What was his name? Dr Bova. My Memory is going too. Just like the computers. Did I just think that? Probably.

The shrill noise and trolls relentlessly continued as I made my way slowly to the cockpit.

“Come on Thea. You can do it. Your a fighter.”
I reached the offending display.
Finally.

The computer shouted out my commands.

Computer offline. Force restart.

Oh bloody hell.

A new voice called out.

Radiation levels high

Oh shut up. I know!

The computer took microseconds to restart. They felt like decades. My life flashed before my eyes.

The red lights came back. I went through them one by one. Getting each system in the orange.
The computer kept up with it but was clearly slowing as I gave it more to do.
“Alright. Radiation shield is up. Oxcygen stabilized. Distress call now.”

Communication systems offline. Force restart.

Oh damm. I had given it to much.

I clicked the Emergancy beacon on.

“Ok happy?”

Carbon monoxide detected in cabin, level 3. Fire systems offline.

Oh sh….

Pure Oxygen and fire. The rosette of flame. Seconds left, maybe.

Hull breach level 3. Fire on level 3.

I watched as my systems went from a angry red to a solum black. Each one by one. No way was I going to get out of this.

****************

The sun rose indifferently to the desolated plain. White and grey and a little red started to show on the buildings.

“Beautiful desolation”. James said to no one in particular.

Morning moonwalks were the best. The fact you only got to do them one day out of a month was the only issue. The robots James was monitoring buzzed for his attention.

“Oh. Sorry Hal. We need a new wall on the ridge. Thanks heaps.”
Hal beeped a register and started to print out new wall from the lunar regolith.

James liked working with Ro. They had a way with being easy to deal with. They didn’t get emotional very often, which also helped. They did get upset if they encountered a issue with tasks that were impossible though. They would beep at you and the one who could talk expressed concern or even annoyance. A few even got upset when you were upset. But on the whole, easier than humans. Especially other men. James had real issues dealing with them. Despite being gay, he couldn’t find a way of dealing with long term relationships. One night stands made him feel cheep, but they didn’t have any strings. Strings were hard to deal with. Men would want things he wouldn’t know how to deal with. Marriage. Children. An apartment. It was so hard to know how to deal with these things with someone else their. All the time. James liked being alone. Even though many Ro had the same rights as Humans, Ro never generally cared about what apartment they had. They wanted a nice cupboard with a charging station. And their pay. God knows what they spent credits on. Video games maybe?

Lost in thought he realized the wall was half finished. Hal worked fast. Regolith printers always did. It would be a few more minutes, but this ridge would be ready soon. It was time to get the electronics done.

“Durundal, get over here. Door print needs doing.” James got ready to help get the door and roof done. It would be another shelter done then. There were only two more after this one. Then back to base.

James realized what going back to base meant. It meant he had to deal with his last lover. A Space Force guy with a taste for geeks like him. It would be a few fantastic moments of sex, then a mention of possible strings.
“I hope Andre understands”.
James said to no one in particular.

Then one of the border Ro’s beeped.
“Radiation warning? Must be a flare. Ok everyone time to call it quits, get on the buggy now.”
Hmm that warning came from a moon based satellite.
That means the radiation is coming in straight at us. We have minutes. Shit. “Everyone take what shelter you can. Those who can get to the buggy, do. Otherwise hope your hardness lets you survive.

Running in a suit wasn’t easy, but James started to go as fast as possible. The truck had shielding. Not enough though. His best move would be the Cavern Base which was maybe 45 Km from here. Not far. The truck can do it at top speed in thirty minutes or so. Half my robots will die out here. Not much choice, they are expensive but expendable.

Regolith churned out the end of the truck tires as James hit the accelerator. Good thing about the Cavern Base is no Andre. And the radiation will stop all surface travel. Cavern Base isn’t connected to the Luna Tram yet. Hence the need for shelters nearby. If your truck broke down Cavern base was a good 3 day hike from anywhere else on foot. If your air lasts.
The white grey cliff near Cavern Base rose suddenly to meet him.

“Forgot how fast this thing is at full pelt.” James parked the tuck and got into the Cavern Base and was met with chaos.

Hammersmith. Chapter one.

The sky was as blue as a litmus test in an alkaline bath. Little wispy clouds glimmered across like rakes in a bonsai garden freshly prepared. I watched as a glimmer of light started to scar it.
Lying on the grass in the park it come be a wondrous feeling to see the ships coming in. Flying down in big circles like birds and landing at the spaceport. They were relaxing to me. Waxing and waining in the litmus sky as it slowly turned a slight red and the clouds turned a golden orange.
These are moments we want to capture. Preserve forever in the pinky archive of our mind.

“Tell me what’s on your mind.”
My older brother gave me a bit of a start. I relaxed again as soon as I realized it was his voice. Comforting like warm milk and as fresh as the twilight forming above me.
“It’s like watching geese back home. They come into land so like them on a frosty spring morning, or like just after the great migration. Tired but finally home and able to again think of things that do not have anything to do with being in the air or travel or currents or storms.”
My brother watched a class 7 slowly decent like a airborn goose laden with far from the summer land and coming to a springy frost filled land.
“Yes. I see what you mean. It’s good. Though I wasn’t born their like you it does comfort me.”
“Hey do you think of this land as your home? Or is space your home? I’m never sure.”
“Arline.” My bother rarely used my full name unless he was telling me something that needed paying attention to. “Our mother was born in the icy clutches of Canada. So I think of it as home. Even though I have lived here and in space more that I ever lived in that place.”
“It’s nice to think of home.”
I started to stretch and get ready to get up.
“I do it all the time. I admit. Even in darkest space. I suppose home is really were the heart is.”
I got up and started to do some lunges and yoga moves.
“Hey. Your starting to kid me.”
“No really. That’s what I think my dear sister.”

My older brother had been born a few years before me, in space. It was something mum had been not so happy to talk about. Even though we were only utarinal siblings we were close. Mum had been sure to make sure we had a good solid idea of being their for each other and sharing our memories and moments. It was something I cherished. She had been so wise and had always been a fantastic inspiration to me.
After a long pause my brother started to talk again. “It’s been such a long time since I thought of her.”
I knew who he was talking about.
“So like our mother. Sacrificing herself like that. ”
“Mmmm”. I did a final peacock stretch and then turned to face him.

My brother wore a thick brown leather jacket that almost stretched to his ankles. His hair black but short and almost ready for the military hairdresser to take their razor to it. The marks of his rank on the sleeve and his shoes where standard issue brown leather, shiny as a does eyes. I looked at his face. His nose still slightly crooked. I remembered that little incident. His cheeks our mothers rose tinted and full but his lips and forehead were like his fathers stern and long. He was hansom but oddly boyish really.

He stood a clear foot taller than me and up the hill I had been lying on. I walked up to him and sternly looked at him.
“I don’t really know. I suppose that’s what you saw in her. Mothers wisdom. Mothers ideals. She was also so beautiful. Such a lovely person to me. I respected her, and miss her. I cannot really fathom her passing. You seem like a empty vase, a solid and hansom structure but without the flowers and greenery. They have been removed. Before they even begun to show their fullness. Your loss is so utterly complete.”
My brother looked beyond me, towards the lake and mountain beyond. Long purposeful moments past like the bells of a church saying farewell to the new recruits off to a loosing war. Chilled but trying, trying so painfully to let go.
“I’m going to be in the city a while. I would appreciate if I could stay with you.”
His face blank but I knew it was full of sorrow for his wife. I simply nodded.
“Of course. As long as you need. ”

I watched him walk to his car. It took a long time and it was getting cold. I got on my motorbike and started to leed him home. I felt like a tugboat bringing in the only ship left in the fleet after a hard navel battle. It was damaged and sad looking but so full of pride at having survived the long battle.