Eon-Economics

Please note this is not meant to be a comprehensibly researched and proved economic treatise. It’s technically “fiction” but I suppose if you can find ways to show these ideas have merit, please do reference. Thanks. — Anne W.R.

Introduction:

An economic system that marries the laws of physics with economics.

Adam Smith directly applied the idea that every individual renders labour to society. As we know, this model starts with an assumption that can no longer be said to be entirely true. Especially since labour and society are both economic models of their own with complex relationships which can be modelled but not ever be perfected. With the needs and wants of society being finite, but the ability for provision of labor within that society and their for the benefit of product from labor must also be finite.

However if one was to imagine for a minute that these assumptions are wrong, what would one come up with? Marx and Engles would argue that our Labour is the only thing that any person is truly able to control and that a worker can control one’s output to the profit or detriment of a labour holder. This labour holder is then of course forced to use means to make sure that a worker continues to output at a profitable margin, using either social, psychological or physical methods to keep output at a rate that remains to ensure labour reaps a reward that the labour holder feels sufficient to continue. Such continued relationships have led to both the corporation and the labour union both of whom will continue to push against each other to get better outcomes for the regard of their interests and a inherent conflict in a capitalist system that lies between them.

Communism has its own view of capital and does get some things right. The labor holder that is collective, in the end, has to be the responsibility of the collective, or be placed on someone who acts on the behalf of the collective be it democratic or via consensus. However, it does not render the individual immune with the issues that may come from technology change.

As capital is gained, by any means, to any possession, technology will eventually improve. In both systems a more effective, efficient, progressive system or set of systems ultimately benefits a whole. The worker, however, they are employed, always will have a maximum output. Technology though, will have a maximum impact but new impact can greatly effect old systems. The land that one works will always have a maximum yield and that can decrease with time if it is not looked after correctly. Much like a worker has a maximum yield given current technology and processes will decrease if not looked after. Technology needs maintaining and if not improvement then other change may easily make it no longer useful.

These are, to many fundamental knowns. Improving the land or the work with technology gives a certain level of gain until again a point is reached that a worker, or the land, or technology itself is unable to be improved by any means.

We have seen this in a capitalist system tends to lead to greater monopolisation of a market, as technology allows both workers, supplier and individual consumer become within themselves products that are worth value to a corporation or collective whom then gains profit more easily by predicting consumer or collective behaviours. The corporation can through this process become more powerful than the government, if not synonymous with it.

In a communistic system, it tends to allow the system itself to gain greater autonomy, greater power over an individual worker until the system itself becomes so powerful it acts as if it was a capitalistic corporation. This is of course if, and only if, the communistic system belongs within a world were other systems exist. It cannot be a true communist system and hope to survive in trade against capitalistic predators. At least all current examples have shown as such if they were actually communist. A communistic system that is holistically encompassing the entire world is difficult to predict as no such example has ever existed. A lack of property and individuals, money and such have a strange, almost impossible dream within only existence in our fiction.

Both systems will reach a point, regardless, that is unable to grow. In a capitalistic system this can feed growth beyond the system if it can, or corruption if it is not, often both. Communistic systems do not need to grow continuously and thus may only seek growth as a means of greater technological improvement for all workers in such a system.

This is based on a simple premise, that is, even economics cannot breach a law so fundamental that nothing can do: the first and second laws of thermodynamics.

Any society wishing to reach beyond into the the steps of the Kardashev scale will need to begin to realise that the economics of workers and corporations, of cultures and systems all, reach a point that they are fundamentally energy users, storers or creators.

Part one:

Simple examples

The base 0 economic development would be any society, that has been only using any economic system were physical value is exchanged. That is both barter and capital monetary systems.

Of course, the value of either system helps create trade and commerce in them. They are not in any way inherently without value. This is to say they both exist in single and multiple world economic systems. Especially when commerce of one value system is hard to compare with another. However, the ability of one of the traders to take advantage of or affect the entire system if the other is very apparent. One can see this in any culture that has had colonization forces.

In neither, of these systems, however, is it possible to trade in a way that is placing value as a constant. It’s impossible to do so.

Base 1 economic system

In a Kardashev scale, a base 1 civilization must be one that has the ability to gather and store as near as to as close as possible too all the energy available on its planet or moon. Or be able to gather the equivalent amount of energy within all its environs.

It’s without a doubt that such a civilization would have to go beyond a monetary or barter system. Why?

Barter as it is, has the issue of the fundamental disagreement of value. Value is a issue that none will always agree upon, a bushel of wheat might be worth a chicken today but be worth two tomorrow. It may also be worth more to a starving person than it is to a person who has plenty. A tribe may attempt to control this economy but it will always have this issue.

Money as it is, representing a value of a thing at its heart, trying to be better at finding a common value among other things. A bushel of wheat is worth two copper coins, which can buy one Chicken. Again value changes over time, and the actual coin itself has a value that can also change over time. Then a market will have value in itself that changes over time.

This however, can lead to terrible economic policy. One does not have to look hard to find forests full of biodiversity being destroyed and replaced for a single crop as to the value of that crop is seen as greater, or more liquid, than the biodiversity of the forest. Yet no less than a few years later the land floods, as none of the trees are there to stop it. Or a disease spread through the crop-destroying it all. Or maybe the forest has an animal that could have been keeping an insect away. This insect now swarms in never seen before numbers. Killing all the crops and causing widespread famine.

The intrinsic value of the crop is not seen as valuable now? The money is no use in a world without the means to use it. Its value becomes worthless, and it should be noted that this money can’t really be real, if the path to create it caused more damage than its actual value. Yet the value is just placed on the item itself and not the path that is used to make the item or its continued Impact over time.

A base 1 economy goes to the next step beyond money. The idea of money isn’t intrinsically bad in a sense, but it fails to completely appreciate all the goals that money might be said to have. Not only does it become burdensome, it eventually gets to a point that the value of money no longer appears to have a basis in reality.

Money in effect, a base 1 economic system will find, is in fact a representative of energy. It must realize this to overcome the restrictions of money itself. In this system, there is no means of reducing the actual value of a unit. A unit is always going to be a unit. A joule is a joule.

This energy can be spent (a negative joule), or stored (a joule that eventually reduces over time depending on the efficiency of the storage system). There is, in theory, ways of still spending more joules than one is able to gain, but energy, unlike money, always gains negative interest. Entropy can not be beaten.

This makes two fundamental changes to any economic development. One, “energy money” becomes the representative of work done, and spending energy money is slightly better value than storing energy money. This encourages, in general, more spending of energy money than keeping it. It also reflects the reality of physics in that the system will regardless return to an absolute zero point. Of course, this is a very long way off, it does mean a economy only has limited growth opportunities within an enclosed system. Again representative of reality, continuing to attempt to work against the impossible unreality that ”continuous economic growth” represents and has inflicted upon the earth through the media of the homo sapiens.

Furthermore it can no longer be true that a area of production, such as land can be made more valuable to a area of buildings. Production should, always be, the primary source of economic growth after the generation of energy itself. As land food products are a way of creating greater level of energy than land that is consumed in building and becomes suburbia.

Equity will exist in a energy based economy, it can never be true that a area of productive land can be bought for any less than not just its current value but the potential value of the land over the next period of time, given average yields of the energy the crops would store and invigorate into the consuming market.

This Base 1 economic system looks different to a capitalist or communist system. Money, in the joule credit (JC) would exist. Always it would have to be tied to actually created energy. Be it from a effective efficient power source or from growing crops or other means.

The JC could then be used in the same way that a capitalist system may use it, except their would only the the concept of negative JC. Actually having negative JC wouldn’t entirely possible. Additionally any industry that doesn’t produce or store energy would have other means to make JC. Mainly if the industry improves upon the economy by improving health, education, or creatively inspiring, their is no reason that JC can’t be earned from these activities. Although actually not producing energy the JC would be credits, (Hence joule credit). The value of the product is transient but definitely improves the economy as a whole.

The economy could not “grow” in the same way. Energy can be stored and used, but the system cannot exist without loss. The overall loss of energy from any activity would be a value that could be used to help design a interest or in this case efficiency of system value. As each value credit (JC) is used it would loose a amount of value given on the efficiency of the transaction. Clearly some transactions are of higher efficiency than others. Effectively eventually a JC would have to loose value. This would drive any economic plan to greater energy effectiveness, and also discourage economic plans that destroyed the effectiveness of the whole system.

A primary example of a whole system effectiveness loss would be the destruction of land that comes from mining. The product that is mined needs to have a whole value life that is greater than the environmental impact and development impact that it would create. This sometimes is attempted in our capitalist system through environmental, and social impact statements but these often fail to fully comprehend the future potential impact and very rarely prove to be fully effective. Reclamation of land can be successful, but how much damage has that coal done to the world as a whole? Was it really worth a few more dollars for investors? Was it really worth the lives that cyclone took? It was boosted by the climate for change caused and some may say that coal company should have been accountable for that. Indeed they should. Each Joule of energy in this economy must be justified as effective and not cost more in future impact than its generation.

A base 2 economic system would take this even further. Now attempting to gather the entire energy system of a solar body it must now deal with energy systems greater than our current systems can even comprehend. Waste would be unthinkable. Everything must be designed to be reused as infinitely as possible.

A base 3 economic system would be attempting to gather the energy of a entire galaxy and thus be well beyond our current understanding of energy and economics.

Carrousel (part one)

Finally, beyond our baggage claim and into the brief halls of many whereabouts, there were only shops full of knick-knacks and thoughtless things such that one might find for waiting for people. Jumble’s of gears and wires made up the walls that seemed unending and all but an afterthought in the construction of this place. A place that seems, senselessly to only exist in these between places. These spots, that people wait in for other things to happen. Such as a name, or flight, or number to be called out. Yet that did not happen.

It seemed as I went on people who had been here longer had started to build things out of the bits that seemed to just pop into existence every day. More wire and gears and nails, pens, magazines and for some reason guitar picks. Each a new strange thing that had a purpose that has more permeability than the original. Not a transient, effervescent existence, but a real tangible thing that had more realness built in. These new things ranged in their complexity from simple to the very complex. Some were instruments, like a long pole made of melted wires strung with guitar picks that shook as you stamped it on the ground. Another was a made of gears, wires and bits of plastic and made an odd but not unpleasant series of noises. There was also a number of people who had taken bits of piping that always seemed to repair themselves and made them into all sorts of different blown instruments. Eventually, whole bands got together and one of the more popular ones would play at what everyone called Grand Intake Central. The sort of area where people came from the strange sterile machines that got them here.

Each person came off a vehicle, what they called them, as blank as clean wall. No one knew exactly where they came from or what this place was. Only to get their baggage from the carrousel that seemed to continue bringing new bags every time a vehicle arrived. Like regular clockwork, they came in every morning, and once everyone had got off them they seemed to shut the doors and there wouldn’t be a new one until the next morning. None had a memory of anything but that, and sometimes people seemed to know they were related by blood to another person who was already here. That was all they ever knew other than their name.

Everyone’s bags would have the same content in their size and always in black, red and blue. Five shirts, four pairs of pants, twelve pairs of socks, thirteen pairs of underpants, a wash at with toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a brush, a bag of disposable tampons and pads (regardless of their own gender identity or presentation), a small plastic cup and a towel which had a series of numbers on it. Each seemed to be randomly assigned to the person and no two were the same. It was almost as if someone had read what clothes a person could want but not actually really have any actual experience with travelling or being a person.

Each day food also appeared, cooked and processed in the cupboards and freezers that according to those I had asked had existed since they got here. Every person I asked didn’t know how they got here. The food cupboards and freezers would only ever seem to have just enough for the people present. If you tried to hoard or keep your food, it would almost as quickly rot and be useless. Thrown into the bins that seemed to automatically empty every day.

Eventually, people started to think about staying up, to see what happened at night. The seats that were around were not uncomfortable to sleep on but also seemed to stretch back to allow you to lie down and snooze. When the lights went out, only a slight blue glow remained. Those who had decided to stay awake tried hard to keep awake. Slowly though each one of us nodded off to sleep. I tried to run on the spot, hum, click, walk around the areas of the place we were in, but to no avail. Eventually, I fell asleep. I woke on the hard cold floor and everything had replenished just like it always did.

Boredom started to become a problem, and we seemed to need to come up with new ways to entertain each other. Walking, running around the complex only provided slight relief.

We started to theories of why we were here. Some decided that it was just the Will of the Bag Carousel and that we should not question such things. But like a itch, you can’t scratch it dug away at you.

Privacy was one of the things people started to crave. The lavatories seemed to provide some but not really enough to make you feel alone with your thoughts. There was no real outside to get to. The rooms just connected together in a large circle. A woman who called herself Port made a map. Soon it was clear we have only ever enough space for the people we had already and any more who came had a new room added onto the honeycomb of rooms. Grand Central Intake and the Carousel area took up two whole hexes. Then one he was the space you could walk through to reach the next hexagonal set with the two other closest hexes taken up by first eating and sleeping hexes. As you went each hex seemed to have one eating, two sleeping areas one area full of spare bits that we had either gathered or made or new ones appeared in. Then each would also have a smaller connection hex that allowed for you to pass to the next five hexes and its connector. The whole pattern seemed to repeat itself a number of times till it doubled back on itself leading to a vast open circle.

Port calculated that their whereabouts twenty more sets of people to be coming from the ships until no space would be left and the circle of hexagonal areas completely full. After such time if more came we would have either to hope whatever force kept us here would help us by giving us more food and space or find that it wasn’t a priority for them, and that we should starve.

Tile house

Bones stuck out at odd angles, dripping from the fresh rainfall. Each marking dead ancestors of the Tile clan. Everyone that had died, once they had become a clan member. Everyone celebrated here, therefore, had passed this test. Each bone tattooed with the name and life dates of their clan reign.

This did not reassure Jubér. They had yet to pass the test. This meant they belonged to their birth clan still. This meant if they reached puberty they would have their gender chosen for them, would have their tribe role chosen for them. Two things they did not want.

The first thing any clan member got to choose was gender, then role, and a proper Troll name. Jubér would, if they passed the Tile test get a Tile name. They knew what role, name and gender they would choose.

The dark entryway to the Tile tribe test was covered in grey slime. It was from the Troll leather that baked in the sunshine and then washed in the tropical rains. It was old. Warn. It was still strong though. Made from Trolls past who had the glory of becoming a Tile leatherback. Slime dropped from it as Troll skin was full of minerals. Even after death, they kept seeping out for years, even centuries after.

Trolls are natural herbivores, but ate dirt and rock as well. They needed minerals to have strong bones and skin. For in ages past, Trolls and their moonkin, the Orcs shared blows. Orcs natural carnivores saw Trolls as almost prey until the Trolls had fought strong enough back. Ever since they shared their moon, an uneasy peace kept.

Juber walked on as Tile clansman had to be brave, their only protection skin, their only weapon a small knife which they held in their left hand. It was carved from his grandmothers left thigh bone. Her life’s years carved on the handle. Jubér wondered what the Misfit clan test was. Grandma had belonged to that clan. She had done so to gain the ability to choose to be female. To choose to be a Misfit, and a warrior-woman spy.

Jubér was choosing a different clan. For a different reason. Tile clan was the clan for creators. Artisans, Musicians, Storytellers. Trolls took this job just as seriously just as they did any other. Anyone who wanted to be a Tile has to be brave, strong of spirit and true of heart.

A leatherbound manifesto was on the door of the next corridor. The dark and the slime were all that seemed to curse this corridor except for the small sheet of paper.

On it was the first test. It would say something.

It was one word.

make

This was not unexpected. Jubér had to make something that would let them get past the test. They noticed that the ground was no longer soil. Ancheint Troll tooths. So many that they where like tiles. Tile Clan. Jubér looked, staring in the dark for the one that wasn’t from a troll. Their. That one. A goldhound throat pouch. Then nearby a dogfish bone, and then a bit further back a bit of the leather was loose. It was dogfish leather. Probably from the same dogfish.

Jubér got to work.

The path beyond was darker than previous, it was beyond even their sight to be able to see it. It was clear that the task was to make a useful tool. In this case a torch. Binding the leather to the pouch and bone and making them into a torch. The goldhound pouch would light up when it was shaken. The night hunting insectivores loved to attract and eat every sort of insect that they could. Barking and yipping happily as they did. Most trolls had goldhound pets to chase the insects away from crops and protect their abodes.

A few shakes and it started to glow. Within seconds the path beyond was clear. More tiles and leather covered the wall. With each step now literally on their clanmates, it was hard not to feel like they were watching.

Then a door. A big black door. Made of Stonewood. Harder than iron, twice as heavy. This door was made to last anyone trying to just knock it down. Stonewood grew slow though. The tree that made this door must be older than the clan itself.

Barely carved, just a single handle and lock. Jüber tried the handle. As most would predict, the Stonewood door was unopenable. There would be a key, or perhaps they needed to make one.

Looking around, there was no key hidden, but then Jüber noticed the tiles on the floor were different slightly. One just had the letter O on it. Then another with the letter G and finally one with the letter H. Hog. Jübee knew this was a puzzle now.

In a few seconds they realized it was a bad pun. And poked the dogfish bone into the hole. A click sounded from the door and it slid easily to the side.

”Dogfish key, key fish dog, hog fide key. Puzzle pinning. I like it.” Jüber knew that there would be one last thing they had to do.

The dark spaces got tighter. The teeth tiles, sharper. Blood now seeped a bit from their feet. There were leatherback coats from the first hundred years of Tile clan trolls. Then bones. Full skellingtons from those who had dedicated their wholeness to the clan. This each had their name and what they had done to warrant such great glory.

Finally the last test. A somewhat morbid piano made of bone and hardwood. The keys of which had the letters ”Play”. Inscribed upon them. Jüber bet that the strings inside were made from Troll intestines. What to play? Anything? No. The Tile Clan song. The song that every Tile Clan member must know.

With a minute of key playing, the piano opened. There was a bit of paper and a dogfish bone pen with ink already on it. The paper had:

Name:

Chosen gender:

Tile clan path: leatherback, stone mason, bone poet, musician, creator

Jüber filled them in, and left the paper on the piano. Knowing the way back was to go the way they came in. It should be very interesting, being who I am for the rest of my life.

Song of a City, Canberra

1. (3/4)

Crushing up, the morning frost

Spinning your roundabout

Up and down, the shouting hills

Wattles blooming all way

As one, the Phoenix of lake

Is summoned by us all

2. It’s an cold empty city in the wintertime

They only come here in the spring

When the autumn leaves fall

They make us to close the door

And come, the Phoenix of lake

Is summoned by us all

(time sig change to 2/2)

3. Blazing summer

High in the sky

Blazing summer

Fry your eyes

Blazing summer

(slow) Canberra summer

(back to 1)

Mud, gun and boots

The dark storm clouds poored rain down like an old dog drooling. Moisture was a constant here. The heat as well. And mud. More hot mud than you could ever have imagined, then doubled. It permitted everything, clothes, socks, guns and boots. Keeping things that needed to be clean, clean, was a battle that was just as long and hard as the war itself.

West sat in her tent not sleeping. The tent really didn’t do anything. The moisture was still constant inside and out. Though surprisingly, their was a issue with finding good clean water. Jungles like this were strange, dark, and full of danger. Not just the Japanese, who were fighting ever more desperately.

Their were spiders the size of wrens, scorpions whom were not much smaller, carnivorous or omnivorous mammals whose next meal could be a sleeping soldier, snakes and of course mozzies with malaria, then the dysentery.

The dysentery and malaria had killed even more than the Japanese had, or so she had heard the commander say. The soldiers who got into battle and had been wounded in a fight had almost always got dysentery or malaria or both by the time they got to the field hospital. Those who were really unlucky had wound infection too. Their wasn’t much to be done then, but hope they lived through it. West was lucky. Very lucky. To still be alive.

West knew in a few minutes she would have to go out and be on lookout, so she got her uniform on. First the binder, she had made a quick one out of a flat screen of coconut fibers. Not that she had much in the way of breasts. Only her commander knew she wasn’t “one of the Kokoda boys”. He found out one night in a dark valley about three weeks ago. The bullets were flying. Then she managed to get grazed by one. On her upper thigh.

Wests commander and the field medic fixed the cut quickly and cleanly when the small battle was over. Guns still cocked and ready. Neither had said anything. They fixed her up and moved on. Nothing said at all about what else they hadn’t found cleaning up her wounds.

She was good at what she did. Snipers where rare, good ones even rarer. The number of times she had saved the commander or vice versa was beyond counting. This was a dirty, muddy, horrible place to be upset about something as stupid as gender.

The medical examiner she tried to bribe to get into the service hadn’t even taken her money. He just told her to make sure no one saw her piss, and to take a better male name. She decided West seemed a good option. Solid. Masculine in a subtle but definitely male way, like her parents had wanted a girl and got “him” instead. She still hadn’t really got the hang of he/him pronouns.

Later on when the field medic had got hit by a Japanese sniper in the head, her secret was only known to the commander. She had shot the sniper in return, but that one shot was all it took to kill the medic. When they got to the next major camp they would be replaced by a new one, but for now they made do. Everyone had some field medical training, well enough to help stop someone who wasn’t going to die before they got to the feild hospital.

Occasionally a small group of native Pupyans “fuzzy wussy” would be able to take a stretcher with someone who was wounded. They were life savers.

Anyone who could fight was placed in this war. She knew that. Everyone knew that. The Kakoda trail was a fight for the nation. A fight to make sure Australia survived the horribleness of this world war. Let alone the natives. At the moment though it seemed it was a war that was being lost.

Darwin had been bombed at least three times now. Japanese mini subs as far south as Sydney. Their were rumors the Japanese were starting to plan a full invasion of Australia. The Yanks has just come at just the right moment, as usual late to every big war they don’t start. Most of the Yanks that had come though had been through more wars and seen more combat than any of the ANZACs. Their was even talk of putting a Yank in charge whole of the Australian army. Talk though. Curtain wouldn’t have that. No matter what. At least that’s what everyone was saying when they got a chance.

A breeze made her leg sting. The wound she already checked and knew was clean and thankfully not getting infected. At least for now.

Keeping it clean after a battle or a march was the hardest part. Everything could snag on it. Everything could be a potentially deadly thing. Like this tree, or that mud, this ammunition crate, that spoiled medical kit. Like watching a hawk and then being killed by a Jaguar you never even knew about, the hawk just waiting it’s turn for the scraps.

Looking out into the darkness of the jungle night was about as useful as it was futile. The Japanese could attack at any time on any ridge not occupied by Australia or the small number of native Papyans that had joined the 7th. Every day for the last month the Japanese had got closer to Port Morseby. The few Yanks who had come had all been veterans of battles deeper in the pacific. Most had bad battle wounds or wounds in their minds or body. Or had I already thought that?

Bloody hell it was hot, humid and wet. How could it be just as wet now as it was when it raines?

West doubted that this would be the last night spent watching trees doing whatever it was trees did at night. Looking at the darkness and hoping to Hell it wasn’t staring back. She held a rifle. Just her standard one. Their was no point in holding the sniper in this dark. Its bullets were precious and needed to be kept for the little light that the day brought.

It was a ritual she would go through every time they marched in the light of day. Preying to the death godess that they hit their target. Telling her that she deserved another day of life in the light of the sun. West didn’t know the death godesses name, but every now and again she swore that she saw her on the battlefield. Wearing a dark dress and hood, carrying a old staff with a light on the end. Smiling, notunkindly to those who had been killed. Leading them beyond.

Jungle and darkness. Darkness and jungle. No light. No cigars at night (the light a perfect target) so the others just chewed the few that had. West only had one once and never again. It tasted of tar and wool and reminded her of her father. A horrible man who had managed to bellow every word. Constantly smoking when he wasn’t shearing angry sheep. The wool shed full of flamible oils from the wool, he sensibly waited till the job was done.

West had learned to use a shear at 4 years old, gun at 6 and was the best shot in her town, then the state, then they told her that shooting was no sport for a young woman. And then the war started. People who knew how to use guns were taken in like weat from the crop. Put to the European and African fronts, put in the war for Europe until it was all Nazi, then Greece and Cyprus, every time with the British in command.

Those poor souls who survived told tales of the bravery of those few Australians who won command when the Brits died. Some of the British were told of as good men, others were known as infamous butchers who would send soldiers to the death while drinking gin and brandy.

The Jungle moves. Every bit seemed to be fluid in its own way. Every leaf, every branch, every creature. You had to have the eyes of a jaguar to spot your quarry. Gun cocked for the whole shift. West didn’t see anything unusual until almost dawn. Something about the movement of a tree down the path to this camp was not quite right. It was moving, like a human. Like a human in camouflage. She let out a call. The call of the darkness. It wasn’t a call anyone but those in camp would be listening for. The call of a native bird. It was all that was needed to get every other man up.

In a few seconds she had crouched, cocked and fired. Then all hell broke loose.

Bullets flew. Like mozzies only bigger and just as deadly. Bushes to the left and right erupted in sparadotic fire. Suddenly a grande fell just inches from West. She instantly threw it back. It exploded mid air, slathering frag over the leaves and ground. A few more shots rang out after, then the noise stopped, as suddenly as it began.

“Keep down, search for more.”

The order barked when the jungle was quite enough. Every battle was like this now. The Japanese had a habit of trying to draw them into a area they had just been then ambushing them from behind. It was a tactic that worked but was now well known. The search was slow and hard but by 8ish there was a certainty that it was just a small patrol, not a full-on raid.

Then the commander gave his morning pep talk.

“Ok listen up, the Japs have better equipment and way better men. ” That was said with him looking at the ground, we knew he meant himself too. “I wish it wasn’t so but we need to be better, with less training, less equipment and less bullets. Take whatever we can use and carry. Today we march up the ridge to the next site. I want every eagle eye not carrying equipment to have their rifles ready. Especially you West. We loose the equipment we have, we have to do this whole bloody march again from the start. You think the wet is bad now? Wait till monsoon starts properly in a fortnight or so. That’s going to be real wet.”

Real wet? Like this wasn’t wet enough already, their was another level of wet? How? How was that possible?

No one really seemed inspired by these little speaches. Just tiredness personified into a reminder that we were all fighting together. A grit that matched the mud. The determination to move on and hope you got home in one peice.

Three days up the trail and no so much as a man, woman or child to be seen or herd. We all knew a small village would be near somewhere. It was on the map. A map drawn by the patrols and air support that already had been. The maps from before the war being almost useless.

As soon as I thought this I spotted something. I whistled the alarm and everything went still. We all crouched. The trees, and the ground was soaked. The mud was thick. The Japanese were just on the other side of the clearing. Doing exactly the same. They had a machine gun.

A brief moment distilled the air. Then the 3 inch motors where fired. Like a dragon being sick, they lobbed a set of motor shells into the middle of the Japanese. Boom. Boom. Boom. Then it was my turn.

Every second after the explosions, another shot. In full control of every bullet. Each a extension of my will to live. Each another prayer to to goddess of death. “Let me live, let them die, I will always prey to you.” Like a mantra under my breath. Each thought and action was taken like a slice of time from the cake of the day.

Reload, shot, shot, shot, reload, shot, shot, shot, and so on until, jam. Thunk. The heat and dirt eventually jammed the guns. It was a common issue in jungle warfare, any warfare. I placed the rifle to the side and got out the pistol I carried for close combat. Lying in place until the all clear was whistled. Slowly, carefully getting up.

Then suddenly the ground was up, the sky was down and it almost swallowed me whole.

“They talk of the luck of the Irish. I wish I had your luck West.” It was the commander’s voice. I was on a flatbed in a wooden hut. I guessed in the town we were supposed to be at by now.

“They hit Darwin again yesterday.”

He said matter-of-factly.

I got up and groaned “ooh they almost hit me too.”

“Don’t know which god you keep west, but put a good word in. I’m off to command the raws on the tallow. I doubt we will meet again. You’re in a commando unit now. The 1/2 told me. The new guy is called Borg. He’s your top monkey now.”

I looked at him.

“You don’t need me anymore?”

“This little exercise was all about getting those mortars here, getting a line. We can defend this line now. We have Haroi out. Big reinforcement comes in tomorrow. Yanks and some of our men from Egypt. Seem old Monty took out all the Nazis in Africa. Italy’s on the verge of bowing out.” My commander always seems to be talking about the war elsewhere as if it was a long time ago.

“How long have I been out?”

“Long time. You well enough to move to Borneo in a few days. Kokoda’s almost over.”

“Oh. Am I not being told to go home?”

“Nope. Borg needs a good sniper. I told him you were the best, unless malaria got you. Thank your god you got lucky.”

“Yeah. I will.” Quitly thanking the goddess of death, maybe I’ll get home someday, but for now I continue to be her soldier.

The egg of comfortable numbness

In their shell

Egg beyond the pain

Yolk of a unknown self

to find the self truth

Balloons on the brain

Lifting me far away

Helping sit in the abstract beyond

Fine, gone, wrong

Am I good for the hen or cock?

Reciprocity motto layers the beast

Always asleep next to me

Never hatching, like me inside this shell

Paper machine in a paper shell

Egg made by the same name as I

Will I hatch?

Will I latch?

Will I merge with the other me?

I’m scared.

Scared of what will be

It’s ok for now though this egg is comfy

One day though, all the futures I can see

Self-truth is my me

Cynthia’s Hack

Trigger warnings on this short story. Contains self harm, self mutilation, dysphoria, medical information and psychological triggers. –Anne

“Ok, Poindexter show me what you got!”

I furiously typed away at the keyboard, I’m in my bodysuit. It’s a Tuesday. I know I’m replaying the last few days in my head.

//c root -tw key -22 -c -t -r

/ reset pss.cyn.shell 12 b 2 matrix -q

/ shell – Cynthia-12 – root

Running…

Login reset matrix 12 by 2 password lock active

“Ha! Let’s see you get past that! Fucker!”

I took a drink of my can of Mother. It’s a habit; A bad one I haven’t got myself out of yet.

The code ran and the hacker, whoever they were couldn’t get past the set up. It was resetting root, admin, and the user passwords with a matrix of 12 by 2 random characters. Only I knew what they where. It would reset them every 24 hours. I would get the new set logged into a set file accessible with the admin passwords the AFP had set for this day. All from a protocol, I had set. Each one was about 30 words long, from randomised sets of poetry. Phrases were easier to remember, after all. Alphanumeric’s where no good when you had to type 2 sets of 12 characters. I could make it more, but nothing yet had got past this (I had the next layer set with a. 24 by 6 characters matrix just to be sure).

The hacker tried a few things like trying to reset the system to the state it was before my shell had activated. The best defense was a good offense while he tried (and failed to) do that the lineman program I had ran everything he had. I made a image of all his drives and locations. In a second I was able to send them all to my partner. Police partner that is.

I dail, he picks up first ring.

“Their you go Sgt. Davis, his address, Medicare, browser history and his entire drive. You have everything he’s done. Including two banks he’s nicked credit off, three ISPs he’s got data from and a sperm donation he’s deposited at. If you want I can give you his DNA file. Even the donation place has rejected him! Though clearly they haven’t told him. They are using it for cloning spare organs. Ha. Flappers got some good liver genes and that’s it.”

I suppose some people would think it vulgar to see an 20 year-old Japanese woman in a police uniform use some of the language I do, but I’m not all I seem.

“Thanks Cynthia, your a real credit to the team. I’ll get the nab team on him. Remind me to take you out of a drink someday soon.”

“Ha!” I cracked up, almost spilling my Mother all over the keyboard. “You know I can’t fucking take this body out of the building until its paid off! I doubt you would be so kind to my real one.”

“No, Cynthia I mean your real one. Just two blokes having a beer.”

“I am not a bloke. Don’t. I can’t fucking drink alcohol regardless.” I start to type furiously from my station, I want to run out but I try to keep my cool for now. I just manage to keep the phone on the hook.

“Sorry, I forget.” Sgt. Davis in a rather apologetic tone. He’s not a bad guy, just not the quickest fox in the hen house.

“Don’t.”

I shut off the phone receiver before I start crying, or insulting my boss, or both. I’m always more emotional than I seem. Its hard to be tough, I never really wanted to be it, at that. It still looked like trying to ignore your true self.

”I’m not male. I’m Cynthia. I’m a woman. I can have feelings and feel them. It’s ok to feel feelings it doesn’t make you week it makes you strong.”

I recite the mantras my psychiatrist gave me. She’s so helpful to me.

I decide it’s time for a break so I have my lunch (protein synthesis item 22, caffeine enhanced Orange juice) then get back to my desk.

After a few hours of less interesting security protocols and adding or modifying of security programs. I then pack up my work. It’s time to go home. Thirty-Three floors up.

Yeah, I live in the new Australian Federal Police building. It’s me and a few other officers who have special needs. Either always do night shifts, or are just so committed to the job it just makes more sense. Family’s not really a thing when you live for your work. Most of us send money to other parts of the family or pay of debts we got before we joined. More often both.

My home was a (not special) concrete box on the top floor of the building. I have a few neat little things in my contract that allows this. Mostly, because my real body lives here. I never leave the building. I’m a “shut-in”, with my own room in a public service building. It’s just us poor sods who have nothing else or otherwise can’t leave.

I open my door, walk in and get undressed. I look at my real body one last time before I step into the maintenance cube.

I shut my eyes.

—-

I wake up in my other body.

It’s fat.

Ugly.

Male.

Scared.

Black unwashed hair. Olive-Cream coloured unwashed skin. I needed to go to the bathroom. Urgh. As usual, I had the fucking morning glory. I hate that. Being in my real body, the suit, it simulates sleep. Like a dream state where I am my real self.

After I’ve been to the loo, I shower. Trying not to look at my body too much. It needs washing more often. Better looking after. I hate it though.

I’m fucking stuck in it for now though. As I shower that fucking memory plays in my head.

I do the regulation exercises. With the same amount of effort that anyone who very much wants to be out of the world does.

I do my hair and take my medicines.

I eat the nutritional supplements I need to maintain this body. I cut my hair and nails.

It’s time to do that. End of the month.

I get into the bath, shave all my other body hair. Every little bit needs to be gone. Then and only then will… no…. No! … fuck.

The memory managed to get to me.

—-

“Unfortunately you can’t take HRT, Brian. You would die. Your disease I’m afraid. It’s not terminal, but the HRT, it will..”

“I know. I know. I clot out and stroke or worse. And anti clotting won’t help.”

The endocrinologist nods. “You knew already.”

I get up to walk out of the office before I start crying. I can’t deal with this. “Yes. Just needed a second opinion doc. Thanks. ”

I walked home and cried for about 3 hours. Thats when I had the idea to build / buy Cynthia. I’m 18, in a comfy tracksuit. It’s got Mother and coffee stains on it and feels like a old friend. It’s one of the few male clothes I own.

I’m Cynthia. I know I am. I just can’t appear that way to the world outside the internet. I can get home, put my proper clothes on. I can be Cynthia online. I know I can start to get the money together to build or buy a cyber suit.

My thrombosis is a disease that even nanomacines can’t fix yet. Not for a long, long while. You would have to replace all the blood in my body, all my marrow, all the cells that make my marrow and all of the fualty genes that cause me to have Type O negative blood with factor V Leiden (a condition I can thank my fucking useless father for). It’s like asking for a miracle. I can’t ever get to my true self. Only online or in a cyber suit. That’s all I get. I just can’t deal.

I remember cutting myself. My scars for the future. Blood. It’s just another reminder of this broken body. It’s not very good for me either. It clots fast, but not evenly. It’s oddly entertaining in a way, but in a minute or two I get the band aids. I never cut more than a tiny amount. If I did I would clot and clot until I ended up in hospital again. I can’t fucking deal with hospitals. Or is it that I never have the guts to go through with it, or is it I always have the guts to stop myself?

I bleed slightly, take out some band-aids. Slap them on then cry into oblivion.

I’m finished shaving. Crying in a ball in the bath.

Gah.

Again.

—-

The gloomy, cloudy Canberra winter day. I am back as Cynthia. In my, what I will loosely call my apartment.

It’s my first day as Cynthia. I’m in a cafe hacking a bank. It’s a “bleeding heart” job if you’ll excuse the pun. You take all the incoming transactions, you hold them for a fraction of a minute to get shares and interest thats going up, sell them a fraction of a minute later. Profits go to you, the rest goes back to the bank.

No one can ever spot it. (I fool myself)

Banks themselves do this. All the time. I’m just doing the same, again on the top. I’m using the cash to pay for my new cyber body. And spare parts, of course.

Then this man sits near me. He has a mop of curly hair, almost seems like a wig. A blue suit with red shirt, silver black tie pinned down. He has a cybernetic left eye. I can tell in this body. Normal people can’t spot them they have got so good.

He looks at me as I type. I stick out my tongue at him. I can do without the attention. He probably thinks I’m a robot sex worker. This body model looks the part. I wanted to look like this, for as long as I can remember. Doesn’t mean I have to act like a sex worker, not that their is anything wrong with that, just not my bag.

Anyone with the cash can get a synth controller and connect it to a cyber body like this, then do what they want. Of course, the cost isn’t small. This model costs up to 80,000 credits. And that’s on the black market, retail its more like 120,000. I went retail. No way I’m getting done for black market trading in cyber goods. Hacking, sure that I am happy to serve for, but I’m not a pirate, I’m a thief. And a damn good one. I am sure the distinction isn’t much to non-crims but it’s a whole universe of difference to me.

Mr Mophair looks a little taken aback then opens his own laptop. It’s sleek, red, and is the newest model. Blegh. Corporate geek. He opens his index finger and plugs a BSN into the shunt and is doing whatever he is doing when his coffee and bagel arrives.

I’m kind of surprised he’s using a BSN. I suppose he’s pretty happy with the security of it. I could, technically do all I am doing from a secure network at home. Doing it on a cheap ass laptop in my cyber body gives me a lot more security as I’m not personally attached to it . Public unsecured networks with my own IP switcher to make things a bit more fun for anyone trying to track me. This is Childs play.

I’ve done the bank trick a few times with different banks, different sorts of shares, bonds, shorts. I never use crypto, it keeps all the transactions, like why would you want someone else to look at your transitions? Its like a big sign saying “hello you are here”. Everything filtered through dummy accounts and all that jazz. I am pretty confident I have everything set up right.

Of course, as it is often said only n00bz th7nk they can’t g3t pwwwnd.

Anyone can get pwwwnd. Anyone. Even me. Watch.

So today I’m at a new cafe, in a different part of the city. It’s been about 6-12 months since I started doing this, so I know this has to be the last place I hit. I know any day now the current target banks will notice.

I’m doubling the IP switches, going through three layers of different routers and I even have a return traffic logger looking to see if someone is watching me.

Then I see him. Mr Mophair. He walks into the cafe and looks right at me. I try and ignore him. This city isn’t big. It’s not too uncommon to see the same person in the different places at different times. He walks up to me and stares.

”Got a problem, Poindexter?”

I get irritated at him standing over me.

”Brian Papalino-Chang?”

That gets my attention.

He sits across from me.

”Let me guess, triple logger blinding?”

He nodded. Fuck. The guy had spotted me the first time I saw him. He’s just been waiting to pounce.

”I’m under arrest?”

”That depends.”

”On what?”

”On if you are willing to give up what you stole and come work for me.”

I stare at him. He seems serious.

”I have a record of everything you did. It wasn’t easy. I happened only to find it because I was investigating the banks. But I have enough evidence to either arrest you or, with approval from my boss, get you to sign this.”

He pushed a sheet of paper to me.

I looked at him. I popped the gum I happened to be chewing. Then when a few seconds had passed I picked it up.

It’s a contract agreement. It’s all in law speak with hitherto’s, therefore, theys, party one and party two and so on. I’m able to follow the general gist of it. My mum had been a lawyer so I knew some of what I needed to know. It basically said I give up my life of crime for helping the federal police catch people like me who aren’t as good.

I look at Mr Mophair. I nod.

”You could have done this at the second bank I shifted. Why now?”

Mophair brushed his brow.

”Your hacks where helping my investigation. I have enough to charge some pretty big bank bosses now. It seemed like the best point.”

I sit and contemplate. Time passes. He sips a coffee.

”you know this isn’t my real body yeah?”

”I gathered. Your trans? Or is it just another layer of security?”

”Both really.”

”So you prefer she/ her pronouns?”

”Yes. Please. I’m Cynthia. Not that other name you called me.”

The rest. Well you know.

Mophair is really Commissioner Aldren. My boss’s boss now since I helped him with the bank job. I’m just an inspector. I don’t really feel the need for promotion. Just catching stupid hackers and idiots who think they are the first to do some white-collar crime.

I spend as much time in my suit as I can, but I can’t take it out if the building till I’ve paid it off. A few more months.

I’m not going to go do some other job. It’s not worth the risks. Here I get my suit and all the maintenance I will ever need. One day I might even convince the building guy to let me have a cat. Even if it costs me a date or two.

I get to be me as long as I can and there is nothing worth more than that.

Two triangles crossed

Sleekly was the blue eyed beast that crept in jungles deeply

Waxy leaves parting gently on its feathered body. I’m hiding, hoping my smell is but a facsimile of it former stench

Beyond my magic, I cannot fight well and I have not had a crystal for a single spell for days

Rays have come through the trees and I hear the beasts clicking maw

Again I find myself feeling the need to thaw myself

Gentle rain falls and it’s very hard not to feel cleaner

The beast is still their blue eyes staring into my hiding spot

Clicking

Into

My

Dreams

I spot a tiny stone

A quartz but it will do

Magical light fills the spot I’m in, just enough to conceal me, from big greedy eyes

I see on the ground where the the stone was, and their are two triangles crossed

Under the lakeshore boardwalk, near a junction

This moist morning due

a Friday’s moves

Choice tickets torn in two

Recant the wolfs howled they cant survive on rice

Blue plants given a chew

And waiting in ice cream parlors was the way for our crew

In lieu, in lieu

Impressionist duels!

Dying for the winters eyeshadow

Crushed by marrowbones grown in thick orange groves

My queen, I brung down my life for your winter

I have no use for myself anymore

Give me leave to dot my eyes

Oh I cry, oh I cry

Crosses in cloudscape

Two eggs, laid down by the corridors

Sure as mortal days escape by the west coast

Rolling boulders feel the way of the mocking birds

Roasting legs dripping starlight onto the verge

Up in my estimations, high sky crosses the absurd river of ice

Titanic served salmon on a bed of white rice

With such luscious little smiles, scales and forgiveness in the rails

It’s the day of the cowardly snails

Caution, please stand clear: autumn opens inwards

The first frost closes in on my flesh like a falling leaf, dying in its orange light. Pattering sighs of ice melting towards a harsh stream. Rotting pumpkins sit being slowly nibbled by rabbits, getting hungry and trying to eat as much as they can for a long cold winter.

I open the frost inwardly, hearing crackling thunder of the last summer storms across the plains. Dark bark, scraped off trees defeated by another encore of the days.

Slippery streets, full of black ice, steering carts and buggies around gets dangerous for the livery. Most of them have tasted the new grapes, thinking of them on long trips as the city is emptied out of suites. Green velvet cake and fresh iced coffee greets them in the tea room, to remind them of the snakes who will not be seen in the winters haze.

Roadworks start in ernest as none may know they need to keep from doing such things when they suited can see them. Orange hatted daisies are but only paid slaves to the white ghost gums, whom keep them under close eye.

City observer 117ATR4

A city has but branches of the commoners

Paved over with the solid tiles

I’m only inside their nests observing their movements, obsessions right and left

They seem to like to spread them up and out

Build a metal roof and add more cement

Move around like ants though none is the queen

They seem to congregate just to be teamed

Every one of these nests is a little different

Some have tall metal buildings in which they seem to collect their food and then go to smaller ones they sleep in

Others mix them in almost chaotic ways

But never are they confused by this the locals seem to just imbue the knowledge to younger ones

Occasionally they travel between the nests, sometimes to visit, sometimes to stay

Today I noticed they use little lights to help guide them in their ways

Are they afraid of the dark or just unable to see?

Animals as Elements: 33-34 Arsenic Arsnobacteria, Selenium Tuna

Arsenic is a odd little element that is usually known for its toxic effect on most carbon based life. It is however often used in semiconductors along with Gallium. There is an extremophile bacterium that loves arsenic-rich environments (generally volcanic fissures, tailing pools from mining) it is called unimaginatively Arsenobacteria.

Selene is a goddess of the moon, selenium was thus called so because of her, and Tellurium which had just been discovered and named for the Earth. Clearly having similar properties meant it should be called with a similar naming convention, and since Tellurium is heavier and us in the set of elements below Selenium, the name became obvious. So, what the hell does this have to do with Tuna? Selenium is a powerful antioxidant in Tuna especially, though clearly too much is toxic just like too much of anything is!

Blue Fairy Wren

The rush, the push and fuss

Brindabellas ancient and old

Long stories they tell and have told

Crush, crush the leaves of late summer fuss

Dry mould, blue fairy Wren, oh gush!

Comfort speaks of me and my red cloak

Under those hills she sometimes yerns

When she’s angry, they burn

I can find her then, just like the Wren.

Will she be ready to join me? Travelling this mortal place?

Not till the oceans boil, and the dark wolf throws his muzzle and gapes

It’s taken all I’ve lost and all I’ve earned to find peace in those words

In the meantime, perhaps I will spend some time

As a blue fairy wren

Spring colony

In the new leaves I lookseeing growth makes you think your off the hook

theives takes all they can

no matter how fast you ran

you can’t even remember your grans

memory gone from their nous with haste

kicking the can along the road 

crow watches swooping low

crook took it all and your stuck to the roads

they built them like the romans 

absent potion to take us from this location 

Orange thunderhead 

dangerous thunderheads brought on by political blunder headsshreds of all the buildings, stings from hail and crops that failed 

will we be able to sail away from this place?

or rebuild to the wee hours? 

shelter is in the church tower 

doesn’t matter if you are so endowed

cower, from these storms and the winds power

irony of the day that it was some of these believers 

 procedures that made such a mess of this

climate depression, and the cowering congregation 

if it seems that Gaia is angry, perhaps that’s just debris in your supree
this angry orange man

does whatever he can

to take all you care about

twist into a doubt mouth 

he’s going to get worse

soon all of us will be in a hurse
dangerous blunder heads brought on by political thunderheads 

shreds of men, stings from baileys mail and promises that failed 

will we be able to save us?

Taken, eaten, and lost

Dark eyes summon me, from my poetric slumber

Teeth overbiting in a smile that could reach beyond the stars 

Not whispering, on the telephonic möbius, composing a opus of friends

Bananas are sitting on the bus bench, left and owner absent 

We make many roofs red, or black or white. I’m coming to understand why

Coming up with poems on the fly, in a attempt to seem sly

Gripping stronger 

burnout cars 

I’m floating around mopeds 

Chocked in the green

Such a little thing that can decide lives

Upon us the great moth of time 

Flashing the light from the hard campfire time 

As weeping Angels creep in the dark

Plumbing thrones miss a mark

Old guitars out of tune

Bursary counting calories to the moon

Thicker than a brick 

Trickier and a blink

Choose a meme

Then get chocked in the green

Purple dress, Saturday morning at 10

With but a floral pocket, a socket of a constant battle. In this context a person could be expected to converge a certain way. I’m sure that such things can be brought from a different point of view. I’m sure. 

It a decision that on the first step is like exiting a place by one open door or another. Not overly important in any other context. A prom dress is waiting in the wild for me. It’s colors and make a uniqueness of presence and form that I will adorn. 

Quest, quest forbids them full knowledge of this game. A woman who has to be dressed and doesn’t care for shame. I’m sorry for that mother, I knew you thought you brought me up another way. Not one to be such pretty closeted views to clothes or any one thing possessed by the few. 

Analysts of my thoughts, this last class of course, would but be only to give away such things. Hark, I listen and hear that deer bell ring. A voice from such as sweetness of the little diodes, was but the benefit offered by ears in a certain pry mode. 

Here I go. I’m in my car, driving sensually on the road as I know my papa. Whom would seek that if such a lady as myself drove a car as old as this car, drove as a woman with purpose and par. The night I do stop at a best western, three star. 

I’m short a money grabber, which is not one thing I fear. I have the credit, and mash the gears. Apon the acceleration of highway eight, here was a little tiny mouse who was a bit to late.  

On to the road again. Along the tired ways. A monkey on a bucket marks the disposer of my dress, a garish display. I’m not early, not late or not quite enough, I’m just in time to get the dress and some snuff.

Here is the purple, dress you did order. God I wish I had such good things when I was younger. I’m sure to dispense pleases and questions. I’m hurrying to get into a try the work of this old costume thespian. 

I’m into the dress, three threads shorter than I remember. Perfect though, in every other way a splendor. My brain, seeking the truth, quickly sends the best freind for proof.

In seconds does they reply, hart eyes and thumbs up in a emotional laugage phones make not rare.  I’m impressed and assured. The dress is takeb and paid for. 

I’m all ready for the night. My girl, my girl, who will share it by consensual lesbian might. I’m sure to be sure it’s easy to take off for the kissing of the pear. 

Succulent succumbs individuality for universally 

A painful hat, fedora sat on subordinates 

Greasy success, with hazardous guessing inordinate 

Juggling poodles, surgery of noodles in a cave 

I’m a succulent succumbing, individuality for universally 

Align the moon angels, on heat 

Summoning ringside seats, singing plumbers who have fatburgs 

Dying city, with none to morn her 

Gallah pasta salad, for me. What will you have?

Dusk trees 

As our light leaves

Light of dusk trees

Wispy winds down the road 

Cracking slightly more 

Here is the door

Lines of wires

I’m so very tired

Will they power 

My tower mires?

As the light is swollen 

Bled dry by nights frozen breath

Breaking bones in my hand 

Wait till the end of the stand

Billy and his Mediterranean cheese 

Please, oh please

Rain on me

The moles king has been dead eaten 

King of kings under the earth 

Moles are all gathered by him

Short cries of pain

Loss and the heat of the darkness 

Smell of the death comes from within 

Spreading like the tides 

The pride of moles cries like a mother loosing her firstborn

Eating time 

Each take a bite of the kings dead flesh

Each crying a little more as the swallowing of the flesh occurs 

Each other is glad to receive this blessing

The worms cannot have the king 

The last to eat is the princess

Chosen by all, loved by the king as his own 

She now eats his heart, little by little

Till none is left

All hail the princess, who is queen 

She cries out again above the call 

Hammersmith. Chapter thirty two.

Cass was not immediately clear how she had got to where she was now. Her unit had made losses. The kind of losses that would in a simulation, or a test run, in live fire exercises, pretty much any test. Would have got her a chewing out that would make her jealous of being the gruesome grissle you got in three credit steaks. Instead she was in a odd little complex near the sea wall just ourside Brussels proper.

The room was utilitarian as most would expect of military. Racks of lasers, kinetic rifles and other weapons in a row. The other side a set of lockers. It was a basic barrack. One of the those things she didn’t expect to see was her comander in person. He was right in front of her. Thanking her troopers. The men and women she commanded. Then he would thank her. Again. Like a slightly broken record. He seemed to be dealing out praise like it was confetti. Cass couldn’t understand why. Major Arran was being nice. In the three years she had been in the Rapid Earth Ground Response (REGR for short) he had been generally a voice on the phone, or a terse holomail. The only other time she had seen him person was when one her Liuerenants had committe self  harm and ended up in the psych ward. Mostly turned out to be because she had been through a tough divorce and Cass had been on a short posting in India cleaning up a old military intelligence fuck up. Sometimes the only person who can speak up is themselves. That’s all Cass had left to think about that.

They had lost. Well in a way. Lost, the battle. The Blues had too heavy armor. Bigger better weapons. Faster troops. An entirely new way of making suprise attacks. We had losses. The full enormity wasn’t yet known. Military losses were at least 67 troopers. Including 14 of her own. At least twice MIA and another 200 civilians. Most of them public service staff. The Ro losses were less, only about 45 full unit annihilations. Some really smart person on the moon had modeled a Ro control unit onto all of the Luna craft coming into defend the Earth. By doing that, whomever it was had made sure their Ro learned and adapted to each attack and still had a back up of the whole thing. Ro where really good soldiers, but civilians where really cautious of them. Think they want to take over the planet. Most just wanted to earn a buck like everyone else. Some of them activity pursued relationships with humans. People marrying them wasn’t unknown. 

Cass deep in thought shook her comander shandy hands. He looked at her almost like he was personally thankful. What the hell? This is the guy who would usually have more veins on his head and face then a vineyard full of twisty vines. He’s usually making me into a little ball of anonymity, waiting to fight back at the darkness. Why is it that we are being praised? What? Someone higher up. That has to be it. One of the shrinks? The Major General? Maybe even the General? Or maybe Tyr? Who?

Cass’s questions went unanswered in this little display session. She waited until she finally had a spare moment with the Major.

“Ok sir, but what the fuck is going on?”

Her commander looked at her kindly then seemed to be slightly different. Like a he had been in a long chewing out. Cass knew what those were like. But they almost always went down the ranks. He would usually chew her out. She would then chew out the two Vice Captains in her group, they would chew out their Liuerenants and they would go on to the enlisted and likely have a big gripe about how the Vices. That’s was how the SOL army had worked for the last decade of her service. 

“I’m being forced to resign.”

He said it plainly. Like a brick had hit his head and that was all he was confident of saying. 

Cass was astounded. They were blaming him? “They are making you the slapper? That’s so unf..”

He cut her off.

“Don’t. It’s come all the way from the Maj Gen. He’s seen it was my responsibility to make sure REGR troops were ready to deploy in any Earth bound military focused security event. Which this was. I was the one who made the decision only to deploy 1 company. Yours. That means that I’m the one to blame.”

“The army deployment, yes?”

“Yeah. Though technically we are all one big happy force.” The major said this with the sort of implied italics that comes with harrowing sarcasm. The army, navy and space force (you couldn’t call it a Air Force when it was part of how SOL kept the peace in the 20 or so allied solar systems) all merged into the SOL forces after the Incident. Part of the many reforms of intersolar government after that event. It was in fact a well known issue as Space Marines was a more appropriate title to most of what the Army now actually did. The forces though still had their own specialists and keeping even a small navy was sensible. The head of he Rapid Earth Sea Response was probably working double time to mane sure they were ready for anything right now.

Though no one did anyone in government think Earth had been a true target? Clearly if they hadn’t their heads probably were on the forced retirement block at the moment.

“So the suits who gave you the advice being pinged for suit death too?”

“Undoubtedly, or so I’m told. I’ve been given various option for retirement. So I’m more focused on that. Your new companies Maj will be Ri 23F a very competitive Ro comander. She’s not one of the slack ones. I expect you to continue being a very effective Capitan for her.” 

“Yes sir.”

Cass knew Ri, or as she was often known Riffer. She had been one of her early Sargents back in the day when she was enlisted. Fighting a security guard riot on Ganamede. Ri had driven her hard but always rewarded her troops as well. It was management style Cass preferred to the Chewing Down The Ranks she got from Arren and his ilk. The fact she was a Robot didn’t even fase her. Robots were effective and efficient. Riffer was suprisinly senseative to her troops as well. It had been a long time but Cass was looking forward to the reunion. 

Hammersmith, Chapter Thirty.

Darkness didn’t have a place in this room. Though nighttime was a factor. The smells of the nighttime stuck to the walls. It was like a little bit more being what he imagined human experienced but in so much more color and smell and well everything.
The cyborg was almost perfect. Loki could sense that it had been kept secret for this reason, the cyborg was the reason for the Incident. He was surprised Tyr hadn’t destroyed his fathers last masterpiece after the events of over a hundred years ago. He was even more surprised that Tyr didn’t remember the anniversary of the year that the Incident started. This was either a little ploy or Tyr had been keeping secrets so long they had become reality. Loki knew in a way what that was like. 

Loki thought about this as he explored the body of the cyborg. 

It wasn’t the model Loki had wanted, the no  1. That had dispatched itself a long time ago into the universe. Likely trying to pretend to be human. The conviction of the circuitry was almost breathtaking. Loki realized the cyborg could do many things a human or a Ro r even an AI could not. It had screwed with Codins theories so much. Loki remembered that. This one had no had a consciousness intered.

Codin had been the first Ro, a lawyer and a defense for human / Ro / AI relationships so long. Loki had read his diary. It was full of a philosophy of proof that humans, Ro and AI would have to coexist. Eventually maybe even merge into one species. This had actually been Lokis goal for a long time now. This cyborg was the peice his new race was missing. The Blue Clan had accepted nanotechnology in their viens. Cybernetic implants. They had become better than the humans they fought in Brussels to get the Cyborg. It was no 2, but that wasn’t a problem. Not for Loki. 
Croceus had been the one to build this thing on Codins orders. A horrible copy of a genuine genius. Human. Not Ro or AI. It was a woman. Greiving got her lost child. She created a new life form. In its structure, every cell, every bit, everything was both machine and man. Beyond cyborg, beyond Ro, beyond AI. It was all of those thing. Nanotechnology mixed with the best cybernetics and the best technology. It was her daughter in a way. Then like him, Croceus had to escape the Earth. Before the Incident. Some of the nanobots she developed decescaped. Some went haywire. Like a virus. Human immune systems fought against them sometimes, or got eaten by them, sons became a part of the humans immune system. 

The humans lost their shit. Tyr tried to calm them. But years of instinct took over. Me and Croceus escaped. Then war. 

Tyr. He must have been damaged. That’s why he only knew so little. Maybe the current Tyr was a copy of the original? It was how Loki had survived, so why not Tyr too? Like father like son? Did Tyr even remember he was our father? 

In the cybernetic body, Loki was laughing. 

****

Thea hadn’t really taken in the fact she was a cyborg. One who was so advanced. It was like reciving the news she was adopted. She did not look or think like her adoptive parents but she knew other kids whom that was true for.  It was however not really the time to be thinking. The Aeon clan had her in their jail cell and Jenny her newly found… Ghost? What the hell was a ghost? Said she had found a way out. A rescue plan.

“I remember other children being like… Me?”

The dark room seemed to smell like oil and dust and the special smell that all spaceships seemed to get. Like how all the places on the moon had a special moon smell. All the places in the asteroid belt had belt smell. Though for some reason the Trojans and Romans smelled completely different from each other and the rest of the belt, smelled…   More purple? 

“Those other children, did they even exist?”

The silent noises of the ship, a rattle of metal of metal off in the distance. 

“Sorry.” Said Jeny. “They did. They were advanced Ro. Like humans they have a childhood. It seems like a dream, almost perfect. A lot of humans actually remember their childhood that way. But it’s in reality a breif fleeting thing. Barely lasting more than a few minutes. Ro are computers with personality after all.”

This was a odd feeling to have. “Do I even have feelings?”

“Of course! They are just as real as anyone else’s. We can talk existential dread later. We are about to be rescued.” Jenny explained. Their was a noise not unlike a large number of mice being attacked by a chainsaw.

In the left wall a sudden hole appeared and the noise went from mice to rabbits to excitable puppies in a blender. It was a horrifying noise and one that gave Thea the chills to the bone. 

Then a light appeared in the hole, and sirens rung out all over the ship.  Thea ran. 

In a few seconds she saw the opening in the huge Magus clan ship go from large human sized, too tiny little speck. The new ship she was on took no time to get her on board and get away with her. It almost looked like she was somehow surviving in vacuum for a second before she noticed that the ship she was on now had a insta-port with a really new porthole that let you see out of a rather large viewing deck. 

The Magus clan ship was huge but barely moved to chase after them. Clearly they had not expected or even seen this ship. 

Just who the hell was this who rescued her? She thought.

“Oh, it’s a friend.” Jenny’s explaination was short as it was glib. 

“Anyone’s friend in particular? Or just generally well disposed to cyborgs carrying a AI hitchhiker?”

To answer her question a door opened in front of her right bathing this seemingly empty cargo area in light. A (male?) Ro walked out. He looked for all the world like Codin the first Ro.

“Hello Thea, Jenny. I’ve been looking for you for a awfully long time. Let me introduce myself. I’m Codin the First.”

If Thea could collapse from shock, she probably would have. 

Plastics 

In the lights of the store they waited. The manikins.

That’s all they knew…. Then.

I got them dressed every couple of weeks. I’m Madu by the way. Not that it’s important, as I’m dead now.

My job at the f! Store was simple. I was a permanent part time, so got the rotten jobs. I put clothes on the racks. Repricing the stock. Washing the stock that had been worn. Keeping a track of the lost and found. Answer simple questions. Always, always let the prettier girl do the cutest men. I got stuck with anyone she didn’t want to deal with. Poor fools didn’t know I’m a dyke. Or didn’t care. So I got some really pretty girls. I was completely professional, of course. I’m not a pervert, just really appreciate the female form. Men have never done anything for me. 

Princess, the Bosses daughter was the worst of them. She was born and bred as straight as a arrow and always a Princess in her mums eyes. Could do no wrong. She wasn’t dumb exactly. Just absent minded. She lost the store a few hundred one day by being on her iPhone . The “undesirable” took that to mean she was too busy and managed to leave wearing one of the best shirts in the stock.

Of course mummy wasn’t angry. Just disappointed. And when Princess made up for it by bringing in half the high school for the next social dance? Mummy forgave her. Even paid for her dress. Fucking evil bitch, she could do no wrong and be pretty at the same time. She had this 

I fitted the mannequins on a monthly basis. That’s pretty much the best job in the world. Can you hear my sarcasm? No? Oh. Well it’s shite. Like trying to fit a cement mixer. They never move properly. They always seem to be in exactly the wrong shape. Sometimes they almost seemed to be doing it on purpose. If you were really unlucky you get a cut.

One day as I was fitting one, I slipped and got my hand almost cut off on the sharp edge of a elbow joint. They were made of this fucking awful plastic. All recycled and that, but slippery like a eel. Almost skin like sometimes. I might have paid a bit more attention to that. I’m putting this one in the f! signitures peice, a pair of tuxedo shorts and a creame shirt. It really made the mannequin look quite silly, in my opinion. 

To recompose myself, and stop me from pouring my inner claret all over everything I had to raid the first aid kit in the back. I was shocked, well ok I wasn’t but I can pretend. It was mostly full of fucking tampons and condoms. Clearly Princess had been at it. Stashing her bloody stores in the bloody kit. Pun intended.

I took the closest looking band aid and patched myself up before getting on with the job. I made a mental note to nick all the condoms in a few days. Just to make next fortnight a bit more fun. I doubted princesses mum knew about her little secret. I wondered who her current squeeze was. Some flap bozo from the foot ball team no doubt.

A few day later I took them. And then all hell broke loose. She comes up to me bold as you like and asks me if I know we’re her condoms are.

“No I don’t. I’m not a sex educator. I did see boss nick her hand yesterday. Maybe she found them? She met Mr Princess yet?”

I’m truly trying so hard to look sensible dyke in my store uniform. A sort of blouse and midi skirt number. Makes me look like like a cherub. I hate it. I’m a foot smaller than princess but I’m making up for it in the chest area of you get my grip. I puff myself up like a duckling. She’s got nothing on me in a fight would fall over like a twig.

“Mr Princess? He’s not a princess. He’s a fucking motorcyclist. With arms the size of tree trunks and a cock to match. So fucking keep out of my stuff!” She yells, then storms off.

She thinks shes called my bluff. Oh how she wished she had. I managed to get Mr Tree Trunk’s, as I will now call him, number. She leaves her phone everywhere. I take it and text him messages. I’m pretty proud of myself. I impersonating princess pretty well it seems.

A couple of messages and I’ve got him convinced Princess is going to have sex with him at the store after closing. He asks to convince him. I’m going to go all the way tonight. Miss princess hasn’t actually done it with him! Ha!

I probably should admit I’m getting a crush on Princess. Stockholm? More like Bordeholm, I just haven’t really found anything else to do in this job. I’ve thought about this a few times now. I’m dead after all. It gives you a marvellously uncluttered perspective on things.

So he’s not entirely sure what between those hips of hers? Ha. So I take a picture of my junk and send it to him. I quickly delete the messages so when Princess finds her phone she doesn’t know.

Later on Mr Tree Trunk turns up when princess is at the front counter. Her eyes are out in stalks. Princess Mum / Boss sees him and is like “Whose this fellow?” Well in less polite words. Actually she said “Whose that horrible looking man, and whats he doing in my store?”

He walks in bold as anything and looks at princess and her mum. Mum is in full blown panic almost reaching for the phone. Princess quickly says “Mum this is Gavin. My boyfriend.”

Mum goes from full panic to out and out rage. “Your WHAT?”

Princess looks at me and knows I’ve done this. I’ve made this happen. She struggles to explain.

“You weren’t meant to meet him like this!”

I’m trying to my job and redress the mannequins as slowly as possible without laughing at Princess.

The argument goes on for almost an hour. I’m done with everything for close now. I say bye to the three of them. I did notice that one of the mannequins look different though. I should of payed more attention to that.

To late now.

I’m walking along the street the next day. f! Is between a show shop and a tax accountant on the main drag of the city. It’s a rainy day which probably means no one will come in at all. It will be quite and miss princess will probably get me to do stocktake in time for the  autumn sales.

I get into the store and Miss Princess is already their. A little more dark than usual. “Mum made me break up with Gavin. He told her I sent him sexts! I’ve never sent a picture of my junk! Why would I? I don’t have any!”

She gasped, put her hand over her mouth. What the? I just had time to think.

“Fuck! She knows dad!”

I was really confused. She didn’t have junk? Her dad isn’t hear. Who is she talking…

“Too.” I said aloud as a dark shape loomed behind me. It was the large male mannequin. He smiled at me. His arm comes down on my head and I’m out cold.

This isn’t where I die. No. But I’m out for quite a while. Just long enough.

I’m in a dark room.

It’s almost pitch black. I imagine I can see something. A shape. A dark shape.

Maybe two.

Then I realise. When I am used to the dark. It’s  Gavin. Mr Tree Trunk himself. He’s in the corner. Stiff as a board. I walk over. His body. It’s feels like a mix of the mannequin plastic and human skin. It’s going plastic. Like some kind of infection is turning him into a mannequin!

I’m breathless. I’m panicking. I throw up. Dizzy for a second I recompose myself.

The liquid that comes out of my mouth tastes off. Like a sort of silken water. I’m already turning into one. I have the infection or whatever this is.

Mum Princess / Boss must be a mannequin. The whole species is slowly taking the planet. That’s why their are always more fashion stores around. They are keeping things secret till they have a army big enough. Or something.

I try and throw up as much as I can. I’m forcing the weird plastic liquor stuff out. I’m going to have to tell. Warn. Then I’m going to die. Or worse become one of them. God knows if I’ll even think like me then? I’m turning into one of them, when does my free will go? Why am I thinking of pointless philosophy when I can be trying to raise the alarm? I get up.

I find the door. Locked. Big chunky one. It’s the storeroom lock. I recognise it.
I reach into my pocket, nope they were sensible. Took the key off me.
Generally all that’s in hear is clothes and the spare mannequins.
I guess they are actually relatives? Something like that.
They have all gone. Except for Gavin. Whose clearly going to be full one in a short while. He’s probably to far gone.

I wondered if he’ll still have his trunk? Oh no. Must get absorbed or something. Miss Princess said she didn’t have any junk. Then why the condoms?

That’s a good question to ponder. Why the fuck would a mannequin need a condom? Unless they were able to reproduce some other way and wanted to stop that? That must be it.

Only good reason I can think of in this dark. Then Gavin starts to move. I can see the gleam of the plastic skin. He’s not quite ready but it didn’t take more than 24 hours for the process to complete. I’m going to be like him in no short order.

I bash on the door. I think they might guess it’s Gavin. I’m betting that it might be assumed I’m going to be out the whole time. I grab one of Gavin’s arms off him. He barely resits. Ah, I think to my biology classes, the stiff stage is like a chrysalis, a moth or insect. Before the final walking talking stage looking human enough stage. Gavin’s arm in hand waiting to see if they open the door.

I could almost laugh at the absurdity of it. The new mannequin, being used to fight the old.
The door opens. It’s Mr Princess. I clobber him in a big hit. He falls over like a domino.
I don’t have time to wait to see if he recovers. I race out the door. Then I see them.
Little clear plastic eggs. Like pills. Princess Mannequin is laying them. Like eggs. That’s how they spread the infection, they put them in your food or drink. These little egg things. Convinced that they are human they give you these little things that turn you into one of them mannequins. When did I eat one? They probably force fed me when I was out.

In a few seconds I had to get out of the store, I didn’t have time to notice them throw a knife at me. It hit me square in the back. I felt week, hot, then fell over onto the pavement.

As I slowly bled to death I thought about how manuquins only knew of lights of the store and the clothes I put them in. Not anymore. 

 


Ovipositor

– This is a poem about dysphoria I felt in high school and how it returns to me sometimes,
even post transition. It’s about my past, present and my future. Its one of the poems I have tried to get into a poetry journal without success. I search for feedback on how to make thing better.

0. Ovipositor

It’s like a ovipositor

It’s not one thing or the over

It looks like them

The ones who have made me cry, alienated me from myself

1. Wasp

I’m like a wasp

All the hive is buzzing

All of them busy grey things in this nest

I’m trying to be like them

Trying

I’m doing the same things

I’m wearing the same full body grey suit

I’m helping with this grey mass we build

Mud, it’s so perfect a metaphor for my life

I’m like the sunshine on this mud

Heating it, hating it, making it solid

Into more hive

Strife, in a hive is dealt with quickly

I’m not sure why I wasn’t

They did that thing, the attack

The strike

The clipping

I’m not sure I can fly anymore

But they didn’t kill me

Like all the others

Ovipositor

I’m sure of it

2. Hive

On this day

This hateful day

Our grey bodies

Ready to go outside

I’m stuck in hear, in my mind at least

Leave the hive, but not really

I’m still grey

3. Cave

It’s dark

Cliff above us to the outside

One of them

Those others that pretend that I’m one of them

They drop a knife

It falls millimeters from my head

Anyone else see it?

That I was nearly dead?

Nope

I’m told to take the knife back

All the way up the cliffs

Carry the weapons of my enemies

I’m broken inside

I’m dead inside

I’m never going to escape the grey

4. Hyena

I’m in the library?

Not a wasp right now

I’m a reader

Reading about a hyena

Vagina that’s like mine

I’m a hyena?

I’m not, but I am

My piece, my bit feels like that

On the outside it looks like

On the inside

In my mind

It’s not

5. Escape

I’m out of the hive

Not in grey

I’m out

I’m me

I’m no longer pretending

But how long?

How long was it before?

I was outside

Still in their grasp

Like a dog?
6. Dog

I’m trained

I’m trying to be them

I’m pretending

I’m also trained

Like me, barking, sniffing, digging, pissing

But secret, shhhh I’m not. I just pretend

I’m not a good barker

7. Ovipositor (2)

I’m not pretending anymore

I still have my ovipositor

But I’m me

In many ways

One day, one day I can

Be all me

All I want to be

For now?

I’m as me as I can be

Ask me and I will say so