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Full Circle
I wrote this to aldersprig's prompt "Are there people left in Rensa's universe who know why these worlds were colonized?"

Cirian first appears in Return Visit.

Cirian was a week early to the meeting. She had thought to do some sight-seeing first and find out how Firilis had changed in the centuries she’d been travelling the stars. Perhaps do some shopping, she’d never touched her account with the Central Bank so there should be more than enough in there for a few luxury trinkets. Assuming there hadn’t been so much language drift that no-one understood the way she spoke anymore. It could happen, it had happened on some of the colony worlds on her beat.

Things had changed all right. The belt of space stations was still there but only automatic systems answered her hails. She boarded one that still held what was supposed to be a viable atmosphere but the heating had been off for so long she wore a spacesuit to prevent freezing. Some of the station had been carefully closed down with major systems mothballed, while other sections showed the signs of panicked packing and others again looked as if the occupants had just walked out without a backwards glance.

The communication logs didn’t tell her as much as she might have hoped, although she was glad to see that her logons and passwords were still recognised, so she took a copy to set her own computer to deciphering what had happened. Back in her own ship, she began to make the orbital observations she would have made of one of the diaspora worlds if she had just arrived there. She looked for lights at night, smoke plumes, discoloured water from runoff and discharge and signs of agriculture.

The others turned up in the next week, all except Sevan and Durcis. It turned out that Sevan had managed to get a subspace message to Lian, a miracle he’d gotten the temperamental thing to work, to the effect that he was stranded on one of the daughter worlds with a burnt-out drive but was otherwise safe. No-one had heard anything of Durcis and they all found the empty places at their gathering sobering.

It was Lian who raised the subject when they’d covered the agenda set down centuries before. “We were supposed to be reporting in to the central authority here, but it looks like no-one expected Firilis to disintegrate under its own weight. Do we even have a contingency for this?”

“Not that I know of,” admitted Cirian and the agreeing murmur went around the table, “so I suppose we’ll have to come up with something ourselves.”

“It’s not that long before the drift fleets reach the outermost worlds of the diaspora,” pointed out Karl, “barely four generations. Is that enough time for us to bring what’s left of Firilis up to scratch and keep the diaspora worlds on their timelines?”

“It’ll have to be,” replied Nirilan arching her hands in front of her while her elbows rested on the table. “So who’ll take the lead and where should they start?”

This is followed by Choosing A Starting Point.

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oooh, I want more of this do you want to trade wordcounts?

Also: is "up to scratch" Australian idiom? I can guess its meaning from context but I'm not familiar with it.

(Suspicious comment)
Hrrrm. My husband (from Buffalo, NY) has heard it "in an old-timey sense," (i.e. from people more than 50 years older than him), so maybe it's just me.

You moved on faster than the rest of us?

*gigglesnort* I doubt that.
We're the home of Kodak; we're forever stuck in another century.

Maybe it's a parallel one?

ah, my mum growing up used a lot of older phrases and words, so perhaps that's where I got it.

This is beginning to sound like we're so last century, or the one before. After all, we still use fortnight in everyday speech and writing. :)

I do as well, though not terribly frequently.
I do not think of it as a bad thing, just expanding folks's horizons.

I have heard it and used it, meaning "good enough". Maybe it is a British commonwealth idiom? Or maybe I am just "old" (46). I did expect to see "up to speed" in this context, though.

Edited at 2014-01-06 12:58 pm (UTC)

I think I just live in a tiny bubble.

But I like the fiction your bubble inspires! ;-p

Hm. I am familiar with the idiom, and am not from australia [raised in Houston].
english-for-students. com/ up-to-scratch. html has some background. so i'd guess it comes from England.
[marked as spam with the url inside, so i added some spaces...]

Thank you for the link. It sounds a better way of testing for concussion than just standing up. I wonder why they changed it?

We may be able to come to a word count trade arrangement.

My dictionary has the phrase "Come up to scratch" meaning to reach a standard, so yes it is an idiomatic phrase but I'd assumed it was particularly localised - looks like I was wrong. :)

Could just be my particular micro-region that hadn't heard it, too, since T. has heard it.

Also, whee on word trade.

"Up to scratch" is an idiom I'm familiar with, too.

Maybe I'm just ignorant!

I'm a US native, originally from NYC, age 65,* and I've always understood it as meaning approx. "able to do the job". Dictionary here (American Heritage 3rd edn) says:

(informal) 1. meeting the requirements. 2. in fit condition.

* which may seem an odd set of details, but in my line of work it just seems routine to provide the dialectologically relevant demographics.

On rereading, I'm reminded of Poul Anderson's The Boat of a Million Years, even though it really doesn't look like that premise.

η: After reading Return Visit: Maybe not so different after all. Hm!

Edited at 2014-01-08 06:04 am (UTC)

I haven't read that one, that I can recall. This group are extremely long lived but they were genetically designed and engineered to be that way.

Ciarian first appears in Return Visit.
Cirian was a week early to the meeting.

Which is it? Ciarian or Cirian?

I will read more later but now my spoons have escaped and I need sleep.


I have fixed that. Thank you.

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