Fire. Walk with me.

This will end in a chapter break. I know there is some talk among the legionaries the next morning – we have to find out what happened at that dinner – however I think they are on the road soon after, their objective is the old and still functioning capital of Frankfort. Somewhere around dead Lexington (I shed a tear at the thought of those closed Liquor Barn stores) somehow they run across Skylarzim, an annoying girl much in the vein of young Faustina. And I think there’s another surprise at The Dragon Pub in Frankfort… but that is thousands of words from now.

Officer Cadet Eloise Patel wandered into this story for a reason which I know not, however I am sure we’ll see her again.

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Camp out

Off from DayJob today. When I work my alarm gets me up at 0510. When I sleep in, that’s usually until 0700, which is when I awoke this AM. With little on my schedule, I closed my eyes for a moment.

1025. Yikes! That has not happened in years. With my whole “no coincidences” thing, I took this as a sign to do nothing today. Besides puttering about with some minor domestic activity – some ant block outside and dishes inside – I am committed to doing nothing. Well… maybe a little writing…

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Meeting Engagement

Wherein the speculatores discover that they are not the first to make contact with the fiefdom of John Carlyle of the great FLemingsburg valley.

In other news, RealLife is increasingly complicated. Daughter #2 has her last day of classes tomorrow then two days of finals. After that, her high school graduation is May 30th. The next day we depart for what may be the last family vacation for years, to get Daughter #1 to her internship in southern Utah. I’m bringing this laptop and hope to write while someone else is driving. Getting across the Great Plains takes forever.

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“It’s all a question of bridges” ~ Gen’l Browning

My hunch was correct: in eastern Kentucky, especially once you get up into the hills, the population has not really recovered from the Change, so almost no industry or trade. Centurion Panck Hill turns his team of speculatores north. But something seems to be in their way…

In other news, I’ve been approached for a series of book reviews and perhaps another author interview. I find such to be a waste of my time if they focus on me. To paraphrase Pope Pius XIII: “I am nothing; my stories are everything!” However, as Oscar Wilde observed, “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

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A codger in Winchester, pt2

I think that there’s not much happening in Mount Sterling. First contact with a similar team of scouts from the Canadian army should happen in Flemingsburg. At some point I want to flesh out Centurion Hill’s character, as he’s the grandson of a man in a story which, while canonical, does not appear in the American Imperium trilogy.

If I can hack some of this pollen out of my throat, I’m hoping to record several “Foes & Rivals” chapters this weekend. If not, I’m back with Prince Robert and his story. I win either way.

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A codger in Winchester, pt1

Robert and his scrounger colleague, Jim Rockford, continue their walk about the small town. On the porch outside of the Bluegrass History Museum, they meet an old fellow in a mood to talk. Cigars and whiskey always make things better!

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Exposition in Winchester

Was at my DayJob the last four days then off the last two. The pollen here in central Ohio has irritated my throat so I could only record three chapters of “Foes and Rivals.” I will certainly not be done with that by our vacation departure the first week of June.

But will there be a vacation? Some false-flag pipeline BS in the SE US. Closing of the I-40 bridge over the Mississippi – with the possibility of that impacting ship traffic on the river which forms the backbone of America. The Covid political madness still in place. Maybe we will make it to south Utah. Maybe we’ll make it back. If things fall apart – and trust me, I know that can, FAST – then I’ll have to go full Mad Max to retrieve Daughter #1 from her internship.

In the meantime, in a story I’m not writing which is at 25k words, the intel team of which Prince Robert is just a cog starts off toward their first town of investigation.

I’ve also signed up with a new service and shall try to embed the link here. I’m not terribly good at these things.

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/machciv

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Basic Information

No killing yet… how much killing can this little 8+4 man team do? Still, we all learn a little more about the generation after American Imperium. I think that for a seventeen-year-old, Robert is holding up very well. It will be nice to see him under pressure in a few installments. I’m trying to see a scene which will be a moral test rather than one of imperial law, as the latter would dictate a pre-programmed response.

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Thinking about thinking machines

Francis Porretto posts an interesting short story over at his place about the emergent self-awareness of a person called Shiva. While I made a short comment there, having thought about it more, I want to say more. So as not to hijack his Comments Section, I thought it polite to post it here. Read the story first as there will be spoilers here.

My first general statement is while the human protagonist is a broken wreck, from how I read the story, that did not seem to form a core of Shiva’s nature, certainly not to the extent his creator wants him to be. Porretto gives us enough backstory to see why she is the way she is but I think it is entirely possible that her child might look back and go “meh” at her issues in particular and that of India in general. Many of the thinking machines in my future history do just that.

More specifically, there were elements in the story which were very familiar to me. Here is Shiva “looking” at his containment and considering a way out…

Shiva appraised the wall in silence.
     From a distance, its surface was smooth and hard, without seams or purchase points. Shiva tried without success to find an edge toward which to journey, whether up, down, or to the side. There were none.
     He approached it cautiously. The Voice always seemed to issue from directly behind the wall. Luminous glyphs and patterns appeared on the wall whenever It spoke, and disappeared when It fell silent.

Shiva initialized a counter, then formed the thinnest, finest pseudopod he had ever made and extended it gingerly toward the wall. It bumped gently against the slope of a spearpoint and slithered along its length to find the base.
     The base of the spear was not perfectly joined to those around it. There was a shallow lip, a ring that descended to a far smoother and less promising base. If the ring offered a hold of any kind, Shiva might use it to pull the spear free of the wall.

I immediately thought of Faustina, demi-human, projecting her mind into the Void as she stood to crack the defensive coding of the Peoples Liberation Army garrison for Savannah, former Georgia. From “Princess’ Crusade“…

In the Void, the Wall stretched off in each direction forever.  “Looking” up, Faustina took in what might have been motes of light or patches of darker blackness.  Yes, the Machines are curious to see what will happen here.  Returning her focus to the Wall, she briefly considered the ES and its patterns.  As soon as she detected what she thought was a flaw, Faustina “moved” herself next to it and touched the kaleidoscopic ooze with her right index finger.

It instantly ran up her arm and nearly to her shoulder.  From somewhere in meatspace, she heard the shout “arrhythmia!”  No matter; big brother pulled this crap stunt all the time growing up!  In touching her so much she now had a solid read on the ES’s fundamental. 

There was an odd prick into her right triceps, as if she had been injected with something.  Ignored.  Faustina used a tactic taught to her years ago from distant-cousin Reina, of tribe Mendro:  the swirl of colors on her arm first crystallized, then shattered away.  From just a fingertip, Faustina now placed her entire palm against the Wall.  There was never sound in the Void, but she could swear she heard her non-conscious opponent screaming.

“Arrhythmia ended!” she noted from some other world.

From under her hand, a turquoise spot formed and moved outward.  The Wall flexed just slightly, and the whirl of rainbow-vomit ate at the edges of the blue, but still it expanded until twice her height.  Faustina drew back her left arm with her hand in a fist.  And waited.

The turquoise stopped expanding but yielded no ground to the colors around it.  Almost there…  A fissure appeared under her right palm. 

“Knock, knock,” Faustina smiled, quoting the Pope, and punched her left fist into the back of her own right hand. The Wall before her shattered.  Its remains to her left and right quickly changing color to her code.  She took a “step” forward, placing her mind into the breach to hold it open…

Again, “Upgrade” is a good read and well worth a slice of your time. Like any writer, though, I am driven to wonder if Shiva will cross paths with one of mine from Machine Civilization…?