asher553: (Default)
[This is set in the universe of "The Queen's Courtesan" but in a different place and time, perhaps on another planet. It's a fragment.]

Bad Girls )
asher553: (Default)
So I got up at my usual 5am after getting to sleep at about 1am. But I slept about an hour earlier in the evening yesterday. So I should get through the day all right.

Nothing quite like getting all your bills paid at 1 in the morning!

The new job is going better than I first thought it would, and the work day generally goes pretty quickly. They let you wear headphones on the job, which is nice, and it allows me to study my Arabic and Farsi while working.

Going to finally, really and truly, finish writing that new chapter to The Queen's Courtesan today. I'm taking my writing pad on my coffee breaks.
http://asher813.typepad.com/fiction/

I've been getting traffic on the Stephanie tribute site, which is immensely gratifying.
http://asher813.typepad.com/stephanie/

Finished editing and tagging all my old entries.
http://asher63.livejournal.com/tag/

[livejournal.com profile] stilken's comment got me to thinking about the intersections between my LJ life and the rest of my-life-in-the-world. More later .....
asher553: (Default)
But she felt so safe.  Nestled in the warm fur of his belly, listening to him purr himself to sleep.  The deep, distant thunder of his purr, and below the fur, the lightning bolt of a scar that crossed his body.  Sometimes she'd wake in the night, thinking the earth was trembling, or that the humans were driving their big machines down the road - but it was only his muscles twitching, and she would watch his paws jerking unsteadily, as if he were running in quicksand.  He never woke from such dreams, only drifting deeper into sleep - as if, she thought, he could land on all fours, even in the world of dreams.

The other mice would have nothing to do with her.  At first, she had tried to keep it from her mother and her sisters and brothers.  But you cannot hide the smell of a cat, certainly not from a widowed mouse.  And you cannot hide the aura of love:  it crawls inside you and compels its ways upon you.  You do not merely surrender to its sickly ecstasy, no, you throw yourself upon it.  And so you have no choice at all, no choice but to spend every idle moment brushing your eyelashes with your paws, preening your whiskers and sitting in the most dangerous alleys, trying to look coy and innocent, trying to pretend you don't know any better.

Finally it was too much.  Unable to bear her mother's look of bewildered disgust, her brothers' muttered curses, and her sisters' stone silence, she looked up over the bread crust, begging for understanding.  "He's different," she pleaded once, helplessly.  And her mother had simply gazed back and said, "You were one too many.  I should have eaten you."
continue )
asher553: (Default)
At the beginning of creation, the Merciful One created all human souls and placed them in the remotest reaches of the Mystery, in the sacred chamber that is the abode of the Spirit Throne. When a baby is conceived, Lilith, the Angel of Night, plucks its soul from its resting place in the recesses of the chamber, and brings it before the Spirit Throne to learn its destiny. The Spirit Throne is shaped like a cube with thirty-two sides, six feet wide on the outside and six billion light-years wide on the inside, and its radiance cascades down from the most recondite reaches of Mystery into the worlds below. Lilith cradles the infant soul in her arms; she nurtures it with the Rose of Paradise, holding the blossom under its chin so that the essence of the Rose flows into the soul, while the emanation of the Spirit Throne fills it with all of the wisdom it will learn in life.

Then the Angel of Souls appears, ready to accept the soul from Lilith. This is always a difficult moment for both angels, no matter how many children are born: the Angel of Souls trembles as she takes the new soul into her arms, and Lilith looks down intently, avoiding her eyes. The Angel of Souls holds the soul over her head, that it may shine in the glory of the Spirit Throne before all the other souls, with whom it will one day be reunited. Now, while the other angel holds the little soul in its last moments in heaven, Lilith reaches down to her side. She draws forth from its sheath the fiery blade of the Sword That Does Not Slay. Ever so gently, she touches the soul with the tip of the sword. At its touch, the soul flees the realm of heaven and the abode of the Spirit Throne, and awakens, crying and frightened, in a baby’s body. All of its wisdom is forgotten, and all that remains is the imprint of the burning sword in the cleft of its upper lip. The child will begin to grow and to live, and will spend the rest of its days learning all its lost wisdom.

Though Lilith’s blade has struck wisdom from memory, yet it has left desire. Desire will spread from that point, and desire will guide the child to suckle, and desire will guide the youth to kiss. Desire will guide the sage to speak, and desire guides our hand when, unthinking and lost in thought, we stroke the mark of Lilith’s sword, as even now we seek the wisdom and the light that we once knew.
asher553: (Default)
In retrospect, it should have been obvious. By a landslide victory, the great minds of LiveJournal gave the nod to "Space Lesbians!" as the favored title for this story. It's short, catchy, descriptive, and to-the-point. And most important, it's fun! Space ... what's not to like? Lesbians ... what's not to like? Well, there you are then.

The runner-up comes from a poem by Langston Hughes:
Sea charm
The sea's own children
Do not understand.
They know
But that the sea is strong
Like God's hand.
They know
But that sea wind is sweet
Like God's breath,
And that the sea holds
A wide, deep death.


Thanks to all who participated.

Alphabet

Aug. 28th, 2006 03:02 pm
asher553: (Default)

The alphabet, in its more-or-less-close-to-final form.

Some example letters. These are the letters A, S, K, E, R, N, and M. The image appears compressed on my LJ homepage, click on the image for full-size in correct proportions. The rectangular guidelines are to facilitate drawing the letters in the right proportions, 3-5-8 or the Golden Ratio.
asher553: (Default)
For those of you just joining us, my sister's poetry is viewable online here:
Wilderness Vision

My previous fiction is here:
The Rose of Paradise
The Zero Ring
The Death Wish

And the current project:
The Queen's Courtesan
The Gilkesh Chronicles - Background notes on the Gilkesh civilization.

Singularity

Jun. 6th, 2006 10:00 pm
asher553: (Default)
(The Queen's Courtesan: our story so far.)

***


She's not sure when she became separated from the group. All the hallways feel familiar ... but the hallways all look the same. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she thinks she ought to be panicking by now, but for some reason she's calm. Tranquil.

She's not sure what level she's on, whether it's higher or lower than the school area. Did she get on the elevator with the rest of the class? She can't remember.

The girl appears just around the bend in the hallway. She is older than Urkni, not a grownup but mature, confident, and reassuring. She is elegant and beautiful, and she makes Urkni feel tingly in a way she can't quite describe. There's a radiance that seems to come from her eyes, and a sense of peace.

She looks at Urkni for a long moment, silent and smiling gently, as if waiting for Urkni to initiate conversation.

"Can you help me? I'm lost," Urkni manages at last.

The stranger steps forward and touches Urkni's arm. "Oh, no you're not," she says reassuringly. "You're found. Come with me. I want to show you something fun. I know you'll like it! You'll see ... it's a lot more exciting than muscial chairs."

***

The abandoned laboratory is utterly prosaic. Many years ago, the colony on Planet 138 was the site of some very important scientific research for one of the Kathrite clans. Nowadays, no one is sure what it was, exactly, that was being studied; all that is certain is that Planet 138 hasn't been part of the big picture for a long time. The colony's population has remained roughly stable, or perhaps declined a little, and the lecture halls and workshops in the sector have been gradually converted to warehouses or meeting-halls, or simply left vacant. In the old days, the sector was strictly off-limits to the general public. Now, it's not: nobody has a reason to go there, but then, nobody has a reason not to go there, so it's a perfect place to go without attracting attention.

Urkni doesn't know any of this, but by the time she gets there, she knows she'll never ever be able to find her way back to Miss Orizhend's class on her own. The part of her mind that was worried an hour ago has now cried itself hoarse and is has given up on trying to change the course of events; it has resigned itself to looking for comfort wherever comfort can be found.

The stranger - who still hasn't given her name - rests her hand reassuringly on Urkni's shoulder. "Don't be afraid. We're all friends here." The mention of the word "afraid" makes Urkni realize that, come to think of it, she has been feeling something very much like fear; but she's glad to be able to let go of it now.

They are standing at the doorway to a room about the size of her old schoolroom, but it feels a lot different. There are voices - friendly voices, talking, chattering, perhaps telling stories. She can't make out any of the words, but it feels comforting. It feels like home. The older girl walks through the doorway, not looking back, and Urkni follows.

The lamps are off. Instead of artificial light, a single candle in the middle of the floor provides illumination. About two dozen people, young and old, are seated on the floor in a circle around the candle. When Urkni enters the room, conversation hushes and all eyes turn to her. "Welcome, sister," several voices say.

The light of the candle throws dramatic shadows against the walls. From a dark corner of the room, a silver-haired woman steps forward. "Welcome, sister," the woman says, looking at Urkni. Her manner is solemn but reassuring. In the woman's gaze, Urkni has a feling of being taken seriously. It is a good feeling.

Following the older girl's lead, Urkni takes a spot on the floor at the edge of the circle. The woman, who is obviously the leader of the group, stands silent for a long moment.

***

"Once, long ago, people knew the way. But the way was lost. And people became lost. Look at us now - look around. Where is the happiness? Where is the peace? Where is the hope? Where is the love?

"We've all heard the legend of how Eve was driven out of the Garden by the angel Lilith. So, too, has the spirit of life been driven out of the Universe. We are wracked by conflict and burdened by suffering in our daily lives - and each day, it seems, we sacrifice another little piece of our souls. And for what? We work, we strive, we suffer, we grieve - but our lives are empty.

"Friends, sisters, our generation has lost sight of the great Unity. Like the debris of a dying star, we are drifting farther and farther away from one another, losing energy, losing light. Dying, slowly dying.

"Only one thing can bring us back, and that is the realization of the great truth: the truth that we must live for something greater, for this universe is not our real home. These rocks we live on, these bodies we inhabit - they are prisons. They do not belong to us, nor we to them.

"Our destiny is to return to the Source. This Universe was created from nothing, and it will grow, and then it will turn inward and return to the great Void from which it came. So too with us: like the Universe, our calling is to return to the great Void. Then we will be one with the Cosmos for all eternity.

"One time soon, all created beings will understand this wisdom. But most are not ready for it yet. For now, the secret must remain with a trusted few - those enlightened souls that can grasp the greatness of this sacred calling. We are few, but we are many. We are here, and we are everywhere. We are Gilkesh, and we are among all the sentient races. We are the messengers of rebirth and redemption. We are Singularity."

***

The leader stands silent, her eyes closed, perhaps in a trance. Then a low murmur rises from the group, and resolves itself into a hum, and then into a slow, rippling chant. Urkni can't understand most of the words - they seem to be in another language, yet there's a familiar sounding phrase here and there, and she feels the meaning of the chant hangs just beyond her grasp. She starts humming along with the tune, then repeating the sounds she hears, she's afraid she's getting the words wrong but she wants to sing so badly she doesn't mind if she makes mistakes.

Now she doesn't care if she ever goes back home again, or if she ever sees the silly schoolroom again or not. Now she realizes it doesn't matter if she ever sees her stupid friends again, and anyway, they were never really her friends. This is where she belongs.

Someone blows out the candle, but the song continues. Now, nothing else matters: only the song, and the promise, and the endless night ahead.
asher553: (Default)
OUR STORY SO FAR:
http://shoshanna813.blogspot.com/2006/02/gone-into-night.html


[This dialog is a draft for a section of my story. I'm posting it here but I'm not sure where it will go in the story, so it's pretty much out of sequence. Dess and Joli are talking about hyperspace travel. Joli is a social-sciences person and not much into the "what's under the hood of my spaceship" questions. Dess is the physics geek.]

"Okay, I know I'm not too bright about this kinda stuff," Joli is saying. "Explain this hyperspace thing one more time?"

"Well, there are other universes parallel to this one - maybe infinite numbers of them - and some are almost identical to the one we're in right now. When you make a hyperjump, you leave one universe and enter another. Jumping allows you to pick the point in spacetime where you enter."

"But if I'm going into another universe like this one ... why don't I run into another one of me?"

"It's like musical chairs. At the same time that you're making your hyperjump, the 'other you' is making a jump into still another universe."

"Hmm. I think I see. But in musical chairs, you're always short one chair."

"That's true! And when you hyperjump, there's always a small chance that the 'other you' is making a different decision. So theoretically, there's always the possibility that you might meet her. Hypertravel is never completely predictable."

"Dess, we've both hyperjumped lots of times ... it seems weird to think that you're not the same person I saw before my last jump."

"Well, think of it this way: I'm not the same person you saw yesternight, either. Or an hour ago. I've changed - and so have you. The universe is always changing, and we change with it."

"Can you change the past and future with hypertravel?" Joli asks.

"You don't need hypertravel to change the future. You do that at every moment, with every choice you make in life. But I think I know what you're asking. Suppose you traveled to the future - say tomorrow - and then you threw a pair of dice. You might see an eight on your dice, but if I stayed where I was, and waited until you arrived, I might see you roll a three or an eleven. Why? Because you - the 'you' that I saw leave - are now in a different timeline.

"Now," Dess goes on, "suppose you traveled to the past. Let's say you went back in time, and ... " She's about to say, " - and killed your mother" because that's the example people usually use; but she stops herself, because she doesn't want to bring up painful memories for Joli. So instead she says, " - and, uh, did something to change the future, maybe you visited your mother when she was young and convinced her not to have babies. That wouldn't make you stop existing, because nothing you could do in the new timeline would affect anything in your own past."

There's a long pause. Dess has a moment of dread, because she's afraid Joli is goiing to ask her whether her mother is alive in another universe. And Dess doesn't know how she's going to answer that one. But that's not what Joli asks.

"Are there people from our future out there? And why haven't we seen them?"

The question catches Dess off-guard.

"Hmmmmm. Well, remember, they wouldn't be our future, exactly ... "

Dess is stalling, and Joli knows it. "But they'd be from a future like ours, right?"

"Yeah," Dess says quietly.

"So where are they? Has anybody seen a Gilkesh spacecraft from, say, 500 years in the future?"

The answer, as far as Dess or anybody else knows, is no.

"Well," Dess says awkwardly, stalling again, "there are limits on how far you can travel in hyperspace. Even our best ships can't travel five hundred years into the future."

"But in the future they'd have better technology, right? So why haven't they ever come to us?"

"Maybe they're just not that interested. We're their past. Maybe they're not all that interested in where they came from."

"But isn't everybody?"

This time, the silence is total. In a way that neither one can articulate, Joli's question has revealed a fundamental difference in their natures.

With no answer from Dess, Joli breaks the silence.

"Well, maybe they can't. Maybe they're stuck inside some kind of space-time bubble or something."

Dess thinks about this. "Yeah," she says at last. "Or maybe we are."
asher553: (Default)
So, I'm thinking of changing the title again, but, whatever. [EDIT: So far this story has had at least four titles.] Anyway, I'm going to spend some time tonight and tomorrow writing down scenes that are currently in my head but not on the page. Then comes the matter of arranging them and filling in the gaps ... and moving forward. Currently missing is some backstory for the main characters, a few critical scientific/technical details that are needed to make the mechanics of the plot hang together in a credible way, and ... well, there's probably a lot more missing, but those are the gaps I've identified right now. As you know, I am writing this "on the fly" in serial format, which is something I've never attempted before - and if I have any sense, never will again. There's always the danger that I will "paint myself into a corner" plot-wise. But I've come this far already, so, what the hell.

Anyway, we've met all the main protagonists - and the villain! - and gotten a feel for the setting and the plot scenario. So I'm going to go ahead with this. Oh, and that new title. I'm going to do it. (It's a line from Langston Hughes.)

I opened a TypePad account yesterday, so in the future I will probably keep the full text posted in one place on TypePad and you can just scroll down for the latest installments. Meanwhile, here's the story so far just in case you haven't seen it all yet.

STORY - COMPLETE TO DATE )

The Egg

Apr. 12th, 2006 08:03 am
asher553: (Default)
Sestris turns the gleaming egg over in her hand, admiring its beauty. A jagged hole in the shell reveals the tiny creature inside, some kind of bird or winged reptile, its eyes closed, its wings folded ... peaceful. All preserved forever in shining metal. It looks as alive as the moment she found it.

She puts the egg back on the shelf among her many ornamental treasures. From her chamber high in the Palace Compound, she looks out on the capital city. So many people, still sleepwalking ... if they only knew. But they wouldn't understand, even if she told them. They are all still asleep, like the creature in the egg.

In the stars beyond, there lies a fragile, scattered band of inhabited worlds. And out there - though very few know it - hides a fissure in the bedrock of space. It has lain hidden like a sleeping dragon since the first moments of creation.

Sestris thinks of the others, the enlightened ones. She only knows the names of a few, but there are many more. She knows what she needs to know, and that is enough - more than enough, since very few are privileged to serve the group in such a high position. But that does not matter; it is the group, with its sacred mission, that matters. They are the ones who will wake the dragon when the time comes. Soon, all the worlds will see the universe as it truly is - as it must be. The beauty of emptiness. The beauty of infinity. The beauty of the great onenesss. The beauty of ...

Sestris waits.
asher553: (Default)
I've previously linked this material posted on another site, but I think it makes sense to put it directly on my LJ as well. It's the background for "Gone Into Night". If you've already seen this, of course, or if it doesn't interest you, you're free to skip it.

Otherwise, you can continue reading ... )

Planet 138

Mar. 12th, 2006 08:59 pm
asher553: (Default)
[This entry begins Part 2 of "Gone Into Night", a story which I have been posting in serial form. To read Part 1 in its entirety, click here: Gone Into Night - Part 1.]


Six generations after its founding, Planet 138 still hasn't got a name of its own, as if its inhabitants aren't really planning to stay. But with a total population that has never risen above 50,000, no ecosphere, and an economy far too small to support an independent space program, they haven't got much choice. Most of the inhabitants live in a single complex, which is divided into three sections. Although the bulk of the colony is underground, three domes can be seen rising above the planet's rocky surface. One part is the city, the manufacturing and residential area; the second is the hydroponic zone, and those who tend it live there. The third part is the library, and where the dead are buried.

It's recess time.

The suns are out today - and they will be for another five standard days, thanks to the planet's slow rotation - but they are not bright enough to spoil the view of the sky. The girls in Miss Orizhend's third-level class are discussing the mysteries of life as they get suited up for recess.

"I heard they make babies in a big lab'ratory," says Casima, whose mothers both work in bioengineering.

"Uh-uh", retorts Svadhi. "Maybe they do it like that sometimes, but mostly people get pregenant. They grow their babies in their tummy."

"I heard about a lady who got pregnant all by herself. Her spaceship crashed somewheres an' she was stuck an' she decided to have babies." It's Urkni, who has heard lots of stories.

"No way," says Svadhi, dutifully checking the radiation tag just inside the collar of her suit, "a lady can't get pregnant by herself."

Jharid has joined the group. All eyes turn to Jharid, because Jharid is Mature, and she Knows Stuff.

"She can," Jharid says deliberately, "but she's not s'posed to, 'cuz then the babies could grow up all 'tarded and stuff. That's why she's gotta get married. 'Cuz she's sposta have somebody with her when she makes the baby, so's the genes don't come out all the same."

"Yeah," Casima jumps in, eager to prove she's known it all along. "It's like when you clone a bean plant or something, they always get defective later."

"And that," Jharid continues, taking no notice of Casima, "is why you gotta have a Mama and a Nana, a birth mommy and a bond mommy. 'Cuz your bond mommy's gotta be around when your birth mommy gets pregnant."

"Yeah," Casima explains, undeterred, "she's gotta hold her hand an' stuff."

Svadhi, overcome with horrified fascination, says, "An' do they, like, kiss an' stuff?" Grownups kissing is still gross for her.

"Oh yes," Jharid says mysteriously, "an' not just on the mouth."

Svadhi is certain she doesn't want any more details, but somehow she looks at Jharid, silently begging her to explain.

Jharid, deeming her ready for the information, whispers something in Svadhi's ear. Svadhi shrieks and throws her hands to her face, her helmet bouncing noisily along the floor. "Jharid, that's the grossest thing I ever heard! You're lying! I hate you! I'm not ever going to talk to you again! You're a horrible person and I hope you die!"

In twenty years, Svadhi and Jharid will be married. But that is another story.

As Svadhi runs headlong into Miss Orizhend, the teacher is wondering for the billionth time why she does this. She'd been hoping to have a break from watching thirty-five girls (hers and Miss Hara's seventeen) and making sure they don't get lost, rip their suits, or overstay their recess and exceed their radiation exposure limit. Now she has to inspect Svadhi's helmet for damage, and just to be on the safe side, she should probably keep her indoors anyway.

"Svadhi," she says, "was Jharid being mean to you?" Svadhi nods petulantly. "Then I think you should stay inside this recess, so she doesn't bother you." Svadhi isn't sure whether this is intended as a privilege or a punishment, but whatever, she'll take it.

The class from the room across the hall are already waiting, and they file together along the corridor that runs the perimeter of the school level. Miss Hara is there, and it's her turn to hold recess duty. The two classes share the elevator ride to the surface, as they usually do.

Miss Orizhend reflects that, after all, they're not a bad lot. It's hard to say whether things have changed much since she was in school. She'd be tempted to say they have, but she can't put her finger on anything, exactly. They say the older girls, especially, are very well-behaved these days. Some of them have even formed some sort of social club - like a knitting group, she supposes, at any rate it's harmless enough, and those are the girls that seem to do best in their studies. That's what people are saying, anyway.

The elevator door slides open and the two teachers and their girls make their way down the walkway with their helmets on, except for Miss Orizhend and Svadhi. Miss Orizhend nods to Miss Hara, and realizes she's feeling a little relieved, because she's wanted to have some time to talk with Svadhi alone.

And that's when they find the dead girl's body in the airlock.
asher553: (Default)
Gone Into Night


It's a word every schoolgirl knows from astrophysics. And long after she's forgotten all the equations and gotten on with the business of working and raising a family, she'll remember the word. It's just the kind of word you remember.

Atubis is thinking about the word now. It means something else in these times, though, and it has precious little to do with stars or the universe. It's closer to home than a black hole, and much uglier.

For some reason, Atubis finds herself thinking back on her other life, the one she had before she became a Priestess. The life none of her disciples know anything about.

***

Amira stares into the screen, trying to glean some information. There's more to the picture than Kathris has told her, but she can't see it. She doesn't know what to look for. All she sees is the tiny blips of an alien fleet advancing slowly, steadily, toward an even tinier blip. She squints to see the writing beside the blip, but it tells her nothing; it is simply a number: 138.

***

Kathris fingers the pages of the printed book. There's something reassuring about printbooks, and somehow she's glad that, no matter how far civilization advances, people never seem to lose the need for the simple permanence of the printed word. "Durable media", the technologists like to call it. She has a need of durable things these days; everything feels as if it's slipping away.

A search of General Information would be too dangerous, even with the highest levels of Imperial security. The encyclopedia before her tells her nothing, only rehearsing familiar truths about zero denominators and infinite quantities. It is, literally, a lot of nothing.

The comfort of her private study is all she has now. Surrounded by the old books, she wishes she could stay there. But there's work to do, and not much time. So little time. She stares around at the volumes of physics, poetry, astronomy, philosophy, history. Where to begin?

The scrap of paper is moist in her hand, tattered as she clutches it, unable to look at it, unable to erase its one word from her mind.

***

Dess descends to the lower section of the Hunger of Lilith, to get ready to go planetside. Her teacher is already there, seated in the reclining chair and facing the rear of the spacecraft in preparation for the twenty-minute deceleration and atmospheric entry. A deep-space craft would need much longer, but the Hunger of Lilith, coming through the hyperspace portal, has no spatial velocity except the orbital speed of the portal itself.

For the trillionth time, Dess wonders why her teacher has to be the most beautiful woman in the universe. It just isn't fair. But now it's worse than that: something is troubling Atubis. Dess wants to ask her what's weighing on her mind, but that would be inappropriate. Besides, what comfort could she, Dess - barely more than a girl herself - offer to the silver-haired woman? And deep down, there's the worst thing of all: If something is worrying Atubis, with all her wisdom, she's not sure she even wants to know what it is.

***

The Hunger of Lilith doesn't like the smell of the atmosphere.

There's not too much time to ponder it, with three organics in a hurry to get planetside for reasons of their own. (Well, Dess isn't just any organic, but she's trying to be professional about this.) The Hunger can't quite put her finger on it, either - figuratively speaking - because there's nothing specific: no biological pathogens, no radioisotopes, nothing to indicate something badly amiss with the life-forms on Shakti. And yet, something isn't quite right.

Well, time to think of that later. Two of the organics are already belowdecks, impatiently waiting for her to start decelerating. The third lingers.

***

Somehow, the thought of seeing Amira again fills Joli with both longing and dread. Dess and Atubis are down below, and Joli makes herself an excuse that Dess probably wants a few minutes to be alone with Atubis. She knows all about her friend's crush on the older woman, of course, and finds it charming - and refreshingly innocent.

If only her own life were so innocent.

Joli wonders how Dess manages to be unaware of the Hunger's feelings (yes, she's sure that's the right word) for her. Probably it's never occurred to her; but stranger things have happened. Joli's been around, and she knows full well that intelligences of very different species can sometimes bond in the most surprising ways. It amuses her to think of Dess as part of a love triangle.

Yeah, she tells herself, biting her lip, I guess I ought to know about those.

The Hunger's voice is gentle but firm; it seems to come from all around. "Atmospheric entry in ten minutes. You are advised to be seated in a G-seat belowdecks."

"Acknowledged," Joli says. And now that she's got the Hunger's undivided attention, she thinks of something she's been meaning to ask. Just a chance remark she heard Dess make once, and Dess herself probably thought nothing of it. But Joli never was very good at minding her own business.

"Hunger," she says, "informational question."

"Proceed."

"What is Singularity?"
asher553: (Default)
and your desire shall be for your husband


The Shadow

With the first shafts of light piercing the land and the sky, even before she can make out the shape of the land, already there is a silent rushing, and a feel of something taking flight. And as the morning breeze begins to rustle its feathers in the treetops, she thinks that, for a moment, she can still see the Void, endless and pure, hiding behind the dome of the still-dark sky in the west. And now she can see the shadow of its wings, vanishing into the land beyond the sky. And the day comes.

From the hilltop, looking into the abyss above, she can see with her inner sight, and she can see past the veil that shrouds the world. In the form of a flower, she sees the rhythm of things: creation, emergence, communion, culmination, and rebirth. She sees all of the land, and the living things on it. She can see beyond the land to the great ocean far away, and she can see all the creatures in its depths: the fish, the whales, and the Great Serpent, Tahmatu, who has made her home in the sea-bed since the beginning of time. Looking at the moon, she sees its form reflected in the round shape of an apple hanging from a branch, and in an instant grasps the mystery that holds the apple and the moon in their places. She sees how the stars came to their places in the sky, and the secret codes they spell out in the night. As the lights in the sky travel in their courses, she counts their cycles, and their patterns grow into a glowing tree in her mind; and sometimes she can hear the tree singing to her. And beyond it all, outside and inside, wrapped in layer on layer of mystery, she sees the gateway to the Void and to the only feeling of peace she knows.

This is the story of how it all happened -- the woman and the man and the garden they left behind.continue reading )

Dess

Dec. 26th, 2005 07:54 pm
asher553: (Default)
The Queen's Courtesan


She isn't sure she's heard correctly.

"Joli ... did you say you're meeting one of the Queens?"

"Uh huh." Joli has quit playing with her hair and is now biting her little finger instead. Dess has only seen her do this two or three times, and it's never a good thing.

"Well, that's ... that's great!" she says, hoping for some response from Joli. Nothing.

Finally she tries the direct approach. "Um ... you don't look excited. Which one is it? Kathris, the scary one? Don't worry, whatever it is, it must be important." She pauses. "Of course, if it's something you can't talk about ..."

Atubis sees it's a good time to be elsewhere, so she says, "I'll be downstairs getting ready for the surface if you need me." Dess hears her climb down the ladder into the quarters below the skydeck.

"Amira," Joli says, almost inaubibly.

There've been times lately when Dess feels she doesn't know Joli anymore, and maybe never did. This isn't one of those times, though, and suddenly Joli looks like the girl she grew up with, out on a minor planet in the middle of nowhere. Something is wrong - badly wrong - but she knows she can get through to Joli somehow. She's got to.

"Hey," she says, and touches Joli gently on the forearm with just the tip of a finger. "You remember that stupid game we used to play back there on Planet 138? The one with the chairs?"

Joli cracks a smile, she can't help it. "Hmmf. We were really bored! They'd put a bunch of chairs in a circle, and someone would play recorded music for a few minutes while we marched around the chairs. When the music stopped, everyone had to try to find a seat, but we were always one chair short - "

Joli is laughing now. " - And there was that one time you and I both tried to sit in the same chair. I got there first, but you tried to sit in my lap. And I said, 'Does this mean we hafta get married now?' "

" ... And that was the closest we ever came to being lovers!" Dess adds. And, she thinks, this is why. She wants to know what's going on with Joli, but she doesn't want to read her mind, doesn't want to make love to her. She just wants Joli to tell her.

Now they're embracing, and Joli's body is shaking; she's not laughing anymore, she's sobbing. "Dess. Dess. Dess," she says softly, forcing the words out of her mouth. "I'm having an affair with Queen Amira."

Dess steels herself and takes a deep breath. So that's it, she thinks. Well, now I know the truth. At least things can't possibly get any worse.
asher553: (Default)
The Queen's Courtesan


Starlight through the tall windows casts a gentle, shadowless light over everything, like a light snow on a sleeping town. To human eyes, the inside of the Imperial Palace would appear dark, like the interior of a dimly-lit restaurant. For the nocturnal Gilkesh, it is aglow with the rich and subtle colors they favor: the lavish cushions of the furniture, midnight blue with silver trim, and the polished quartz tiles of the floor, a deep violet that seems to glow from within.

Kathris is looking at the map display on the wall of the great bedroom, its ornate circular frame decorated with carved dragons. Inside the display, stars and galaxies shift, rotate, zoom in and out. The holographic picture seems artificially deep. Kathris stares at the display intently while moving the controls. Amira watches her from under the warm blankets. She stirs audbily but Kathris does not notice her.

"I'd love to know what the Fao are up to," she says aloud without warning; Amira is genuinely uncertain whether the remark is addressed to her or to the map. She waits patiently for clarification.

"Look at this," Kathris says at last, from which Amira infers that she is not speaking to the map. A cloud of small dots appears around a nearly invisible star; at a motion from Kathris, the dots are labeled with the crest of the Fao Empire. "These images are twenty-seven standard years old - that's how far away this system is - but look how fast they covered this distance." She toggles the control to show the alien ships making a preternaturally fast journey.

Now Amira is getting interested. "Hmmm. That's easy enough to do if you use hyperspace ... but the Fao don't like to do that. They hate the idea of leaving their old universe for a new one."

"Exactly. So whatever it is, must be important enough to persuade them to break with tradition and use hyperspace like the rest of us."

Amira is standing behind Kathris now, still in her nightgown. Kathris is fully dressed in a long black skirt and a silk blouse with a geometric pattern in green and gold pastels. The tassels on the sleeves are an unusually frivolous touch for Kathris, Amira thinks, and they make her look vulnerable and irresistible. She slips her hand under the front of the blouse and strokes Kathris' tummy. Kathris starts to protest, but the night is still young.

Amira knows Kathris' mind as well as she knows the halls and windows of the Imperial Palace, better even, for she's never cared overmuch for the duties of office. If she had to do it over, she might almost ahve stayed a mid-level estate manager - but for Kathris. Amira spends most of her free time wandering the grounds of the capital compound, though there's precious little time for even that anymore. But it doesn't matter.

Their eyes meet, and Kathris seems to be asking a question. Amira ignores it, because it comforts her to know that Kathris usually has the answers. Even during amira's turn as Primary, she usually defers to the tall, commanding woman.

Undeserving. That is how Amira has always felt in Kathris' presence - Kathris, who brought the Seventeen Factions together under a single rule and a single law; Kathris, who had opened up a new golden age of learning and exploration; Kathris, who had made the planet Shakti a united world for the first time in its history.

Amira has always felt intimidated by Kathris' beauty - felt herself so small, so frivolous. What could Kathris possibly want with her anyway? What could she, Amira, ever give her?

Only this, she thinks, only this. Pleasure, joy, ecstasy; and for herself, when Kathris reaches bân and her psychic defenses fall away, a fleeting glimpse into that beautiful mind. She runs a forefinger playfully down the front of Kathris' blouse, where an invisible seam splits under her touch. The blouse falls to the floor like a flower melting.
asher553: (Default)
... yes, it's a new story ... first two installments already posted here, much more to come ... finally got a pretty clear idea of all the characters, their universe, and how i want the plot to go ... but still a lot to discover ... that discovery only happens in the process of writing ...

... one person commented that they saw death as being a common theme in my writing, which seems strange to me ... if my fiction is "about" anything, i think it's the repudiation of death and the conscious decision to embrace life ... but of course each person will see it in their own way ...

Amira

Dec. 10th, 2005 08:55 pm
asher553: (Default)
The glare of the sunlight is deliciously obscene. Amira's unbuttoned clothing lies on the rock around her. High overhead, the three suns beat down on her naked breasts, her thighs, her ... no, not there. Another girl is gently kissing the lower part of her body ... it must be Terimi, Amira's first lover. It is all coming back now: their mothers are asleep and they have stolen away together in the daylight. Amira moans softly and looks down, as the other girl looks up. Amira gasps, realizing that it's not Terimi. It's ...

No. She must never say that name aloud, not even think it, not even in her dreams. Not here, not now.

Gradually Amira becomes aware of another figure some distance away. Sudden taste of fear in her mouth, the dread of discovery. First she thinks it is her bondmother ... no, it's her birthmother ... she gasps, struggling for air as the dream-girl vanishes and the sunlight fades. She wakes in bed, alone.

She steals a glance at Kathris, who is standing by the window, taking no notice of her. Kathris, tall and confident, strong and dignified, loving order and reason ... Kathris, who is all the things Amira knows she can never be. Kathris, dearer to Amira than any being in the universe, except ...

Except.

The suns are setting, the night is unfolding, and Amira sobs quietly into her pillow. It is like every night.

Kathris

Dec. 9th, 2005 03:25 pm
asher553: (Default)
The faint glow of the suns is still in the sky, but she's awake already. As always, looking for the stars. Amira still sleeping ... no doubt dreaming of the future of Shakti, the world they rule together.

Amira's dreams? The one realm of the universe closed to Kathris. Amira, wonder-filled, passionate - yet unable to surrender to ecstasy under Kathris' caress. What Kathris craves, what every Gilkeshni craves: the opening of the soul that comes with pleasure.

Looking out the palace window, Kathris watches the nightships rising majestically into the sky, bound for other worlds in this sunsystem, or for portals to take them through hyperspace to other ages. How ironic: here, at the heart of the Gilkesh federation, a deep emptiness.

But all will be well. Their wedding years ago set the course for the future of Shakti and the Gilkesh race: to be the focal point binding world to world, galaxy to galaxy. The tribes loyal to Amira, the factions loyal to Kathris, now allied and working together.

The lights come on in the city below, as millions of Gilkeshne wake to the starry sky: each with dreams, hopes, and fears, each with plans and memories, each one in her own world. The suns are down, and the ships keep risinig upward into the world without wind, into the great abyss ... into the big night.

[To be continued.]

July 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
91011 12131415
1617181920 2122
23242526272829
3031     

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:52 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios