March 26th, 2013


Conflicting Orders

I wrote this to jeriendhal's prompt "Chains of Command".

“This is going to be interesting, isn’t it?” Prince Eustarius, more usually known in his squad and on the ship by his call sign of Carbon, lounged back in his seat in the ready room as he regarded his cousin and squad mate, Steel. He, in turn, was reading a letter from the Office of the King’s Household to Prince Castaris, which was not a problem as he was also that royal gentleman. Their other two squad mates, Maze and Dark, had turned to look at them from where they were playing darts.

“Yes,” Steel agreed. “On the one hand, we have been ordered to attend Admiral Gastenev’s cocktail party as a place of parade by our Captain, who in turn is acting on orders from the Fleet Commander. On the other hand, the Office of the King’s Household advises me that on no account am I or any of my companions at arms, to wit you three by name and rank,” he waved his letter inclusively to encompass the three of them, “to cross the King’s will and attend Admiral Gastenev’s soiree of the same time, date and location.”

“See the Captain,” suggested Dark, looming over Maze with darts in his hand. “Perhaps we can get an exception or a duty roster change?”

A few hours later, the Captain was asking, “So, Steel, just what do you hope to achieve by this meeting?”

“I’m hoping to get my two sets of orders deconflicted, sir. I have the greatest respect for your authority, but neither can I disobey my uncle.” Steel let that hang in the air, the Captain knew who he was talking about.

“If this had come from the desk of His Majesty’s Military Attaché, I could do something with it,” the Captain told him regretfully, “but as it stands, the Office of the King’s Household isn’t in my chain of command. The Fleet Commander is.”

“I, on the other hand, sir, am sworn to obey the legitimate orders of both. Might my squad and I offer to stand duty for the watch of the cocktail party?”

“Regretfully, no.” The Captain grimaced. “As we are in a secure port, a protective squad on watch is not considered necessary.”

“So, sir, which leaves me one possibility.” Steel’s face tightened as he asked, “What do I need to do to get us locked in the brig for the night of this party?”


The Birth Of A New World

I wrote this to thnidu's prompt "Chains & commands."

The trick was to get the chains on the dragon, everyone knew that, including the dragons. One loop around a foot was enough, then the words engraved on the chains could take effect. The dragon, desperately trying to get away, would dive and weave, holding its limbs close to its body so the flung chains wouldn’t catch. Sometimes the dragon would eat one or more of the hunters. Sometimes the dragon would die. Usually the hunt would end with the dragon being dragged across the ground back to town where proper command chains could be welded around it and it could be put to work.

Dragons hauled, dug and carried under the control of men. They did enormous amounts of work and you didn’t have to pay them. They really didn’t eat that much, given their size and the work they did. Some men grew rich on cheap dragon labour, and began to think that all their labour should be that cheap, so they went to the wizards who made the chains and got new chains made. Chains with smaller links and slightly different words…

Men started turning up in chains then, men with clever hands who turned the ores the dragons dug up into metals. Men with sad eyes whose chains compelled them to work as hard as dragons. Clever men who realised that dragon talons could scratch metal, even enchanted metal. Clever men who realised that the dragons had not been forbidden to damage the chains of the human slaves.

A few careful scratches and the human slaves were free of their orders. A few chisel strokes and they were free of their chains. A lot of chisel strokes and the dragons were free. Then the civilization of the dragon-takers died in flames of hot vengeance.

The mages that crafted the chains engraved with commands were dead and nothing that survived was strong enough to oppose the rise of the dragon borne and their partner mounts.