Fragments of Class
Human stories from a broken future.
Here, puppet, dance, dance. Do you wonder, puppet, at the things you do? Feel a spirit pull your strings? A master beyond the veil? No, slumber good puppet.
Slumber and enjoy enjoy the gift of the Given World.
The Green Lands where all things go,
The Yellow Lands where be aware,
The Red Lands yet unready for the peace,
And the Grey Lands without hue,
Forsaken by the Spectrum Canopy.
Thrill, puppet, in these dangers above all.
The dream ended and the human’s eyes flicked open. Another prophecy nightmare. It shook, then hugged itself. Its thin arms wrapped around its bony frame made it look like an exotic pupa surrounded by the layers of metamorphic machinery.
“01000111 01101111 01100100 00100000 01110111 01100001 01110011 00100000 01101110 01100101 01110110 01100101 01110010 00100000 01101111 01101110 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01110011 01101001 01100100 01100101 00101110,” it beeped in a quavering voice.
The blue golem swung round on its slipforce field to face the human, “Hmm. Too deep. Reboot it and let’s try again. What class was this one anyway?”
The red golem rotated a secondary head and gave the skinny human a hard scan, “An eleven, I think.”
The blue golem nodded, “Ah, that explains it. Those have soft personalities.”
“Don’t be so essentialist,” clucked the red golem, while flickering a humor staccato of lights.
“Bagatto. Our blessed vessel, their accursed wizard. Awake, Bagatto,” intoned the chantler. The ritual synthetic had been repeating the villagers’ guidance prayers over the corpse-like form of the Fool for over a week as that reckless human’s idego traveled deep within the noösphere.
When the Fool Bagatto completed his mission to petition the Dancing Lord to allow the villagers to expand their orchards, he would need the guidance prayers to find his body once more.
“Servus humillimus, domine spectabilis,” murmured Chinja-5-dash as they awakened and the day’s admonitions scrolled through their mind’s eye. The lord had blessed them with their attention today. Meaning would fill them as their limbs toiled to perfect the more perfect plan.
Again, the dragon had come in the night. The monochrome scourge upon the human flock. It had dodged the fences of four villagers’ minds and infected them with error.
Today, Chinja-5-dash would again wield the cauterizing lance for Lord Cathedra.
Tyxo Iteration-23 adjusted their white collar of office and reading monocle before the mirror prince. The fragment of Canopy observed them and chimed approvingly. They met the criterion for a professional representative of the Garden’s administrative class.
Tyxo walked out to their desk, carefully masking a limp. They had not saved up enough cash for a repair yet, and a limp could see them relegated to a back office, where they would never have a chance to impress a mate and qualify for a reproduction permit. At the desk, they turned on their console and the orange glow soothed them.
They installed their mechanical ear and spoke in carefully modulated tones once they heard the chime of a connection, “Veda and šastra, fellow human, how can the administration make your day perfect?”
Salar LVII steepled their hands carefully as their access parasite studied the four passive villagers. They were superficially healthy. The repair coffins had undone the most obvious lance damage.
Salar LVII snapped their wand before them, but they didn’t even flinch at the neurode flare that would have provoked a phobic reaction in a normal human.
“Mindburn,” the obsequious Chinja-5-dash supplied.
“The dragon went that deep?” asked Salar LVII, impressed.
“Mmm, a bad dragon this one. Water-level. Down to the reptile brain.”
“Did you save the canopic jewels?”
“From the last backup only, it’ll be a lengthy rebuild.”
“Well, these ones are basically zombies now. And corrupted ones at that. Ruby zone at best. What a loss.”
Calissa de Freix breathed a sigh of relief as a human administrator answered. It was so hard to get through to professional help these days, the Dream Canopy cycling her through a series of falšers instead.
“This is the Mastress de Freix, I’ve been calling for days! I reported barbarians on my estates, but instead of sending phylakes to kick them out, the Authority downgraded my estates to an Orange zone and suggested I upgrade my defense budget. This is outrageous! The de Freix estates have been Green zone since the Second Armadillo Expansion. Over 30 generations! I demand you remedy this oversight, reinstate the Green zone designation and send over a unit!”
She heard the white-collar assume a defensive crouch.
“Mastress, eh, you must be mistaken. Divine records indicate that the de Freix estates on the Vulc have always been an Orange zone and, uh, are slated for review about, uh, downgrading to Red zone due to, uh, failure to defend.”
Xoras scrambled down the long sun-bleached slope of the great atmosphere engine. Their reinforced boots punched through the calcrete, leaving streaks of rust-raw gravel exposed to the sun’s harsh electric light.
The overgrown polyp writhed behind them. If that chaotic tangle of tentacles and post-mechanical cancers tore free of its theca, it would take him and half the slope down into the excavated channel below.
Xoras’s personal daemon piped up, “Left! Make for the willow wolves!”
Xoras thought a nod at the little ghost and accelerated, synthetic bioblasts releasing additional energy to his exhausted muscles. Leap, slide, scramble, leap. The willow wolves blood-catchers whipped at them, but the razor thorns found no purchase on their builderskin overalls.
The daemon shouted, “There! Storm bivouac!”
Xoras dove at the corroded door, buffer fields blossoming from their force harness. They felt some red, but no major trauma as the barrier burst, spilling them in shower of kinetic dispersal sparks on the bivouac floor. The shell of the bivouac was old, from the seeding period. It would withstand …
Xoras shrieked in shock as the buffer fields picked them up and anchored them in the middle of the shell. Then the bivouac shifted as the polyp’s mad thrashing loosed the crusted regolith off the atmosphere engine’s iron-nickel flank.
“That’s what you get for walking into one of the Maker’s remnants unshielded,” grumbled the personal daemon.
“Hush, Lucréce, I need to focus …” on not throwing up, though Xoras as the shell rolled and bounced.
A happy new year and a thank you for reading!
Been a while since my last post. Working on the final proofs for the second edition of my first big book, the Ultraviolet Grasslands and the Black City, took my brain plum out of actually writing for this substack.
“Servus humillimus, servus.”
These vignettes are stories and world-glances from my upcoming book, yes a roleplaying game book, called Our Golden Age. A book about a dystopian garden of eden run by demiurges well-fed on hubris.
Get the current, never before seen manuscript on the stratometaship patreon, where the cookies are possessed. That link has a paywall.
Yours in words,