April 19th, 2013


Fairy Tale Aftermath II

I wrote this to kelkyag's second prompt, "Something after Fairy Tale Aftermath," which it follows straight on from.

Sir Sander sur Helcrom did let go of Phillipus, so he could draw his sword. Phillipus took the opportunity to get out of the middle of a sword fight before the actual fighting started, backpedalling away from the visiting lord and his men while taking care not to stay between Sir Sander and the king’s men. Sir Wendell and Captain Bouche, for their part, took stock of their opponents. Sir Sander and his vassal men at arms had all drawn swords to face them, with Sir Sander looking confident that their numbers would carry the fight. Sir Sander’s two hireling men at arms had not drawn their swords though and Phillipus thought they looked worried.

Phillipus knew he had no place in this fight, his best weapon for hand to hand fighting was a cudgel or a knife and the archery skills he practised on the green twice a week with the other menfolk of the village weren’t of use here. Besides, he didn’t have his bow and arrows with him. There was one thing he could do though, and he did it. He threw back his head, cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “’Ware foes! ‘Ware foes! ‘Ware Foes!”

“Fie, go to! There are more of them?” That was one of the vassals, drawn sword at the ready.

Meanwhile one of the hirelings was hissing, “Your lordship, these are the King’s men! You can’t draw on them!”

“No-one’s going to go back and tell His Majesty who did for them, let alone the pig farmer or his peasant sons! That’s two of them against seven of us, if you two milksops do your part,” Sir Sander snapped back.

“That’d be seven of us against Brien Bouche and Sir Wendell ald Grenham,” replied the other hireling. “I think I prefer to take my chances on the King’s Mercy.” Some of the vassal men at arms looked at him with odd expressions, those names apparently meaning something to them.

At that point the soldiers of Captain Bouche’s troop charged out from behind the new cow byre and took their places behind Sir Wendell and their leader.

“So, gentlemen, before we begin,” drawled Sir Wendell, “anyone like to reconsider their position?”


Final Shutdown

I wrote this to starlitdestiny's second prompt, "One last memory."

The lights shut off sequentially down the corridor before her, leaving a long dark space with the dome at the end illuminated by the light coming in through its the external viewing window. If the base’s original builders had thought to put in protective shutters on that window, she would have closed them and the place would have been completely dark. That would have suited her mood.

She stepped back into the open lift and pressed the button to take her down to the loading dock level. Royd and Tepene were waiting for her in the last lit space in the base. As she locked down and powered off the lift, Tepene started shutting down the remaining life support functions. Five generations had used, crewed and lived in this space built to keep in atmosphere and warmth against the outside world that flirted with zero Kelvin and vacuum. Five generations and she, Secunda Custodia Tertiadomestica Vigilia, was the last to leave. The Great Migration had passed this point and the base was no longer needed but the inhabitants had insisted that it be mothballed, not dismantled. It held too much of their lives and history for its destruction to be acceptable.

The mothballing was done. The rest of the crew were already in transit, either joining tail-end ships of the Great Migration or darting ahead in smaller, faster ships to join new relay stations further ahead on the long journey. Vigilia’s job was to turn out the lights and lock the doors behind them. Royd and Tepene’s job was to make sure make sure she didn’t change her mind about leaving at the last minute.

Tepene finished closing off life support at his panel and for the first time in her life Vigilia heard the silence that meant the air circulation and filtration system wasn’t running. No alarms went off. Vigilia went to the wall panel and turned off the lights, plunging the loading dock into darkness section by section as she flicked the switches. When she was done the only light in the room came from the airlock that linked their ship to the loading dock. Royd was waiting in the airlock entrance and Tepene was making his way there, so she sighed and went to join them.

There hadn’t been time for the heat to leach out of the base yet, so why did she feel so cold?

“Come on,” Royd was using that funny one-sided smile of his, “time to go.”

“Oh yes,” Tepene sighed. “Let’s go home. I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own cabin again.”

“You might be going home,” rejoined Vigilia in what would have been a tart voice, if it hadn’t been so wobbly, “but I’m leaving home and I can never come back.”

“Come here, Gillia,” Royd pulled her into his arms and guided her into the airlock. Both men held her safe as she sobbed into Royd’s shoulder while the airlock cycled humans out of the base for the last time.