Mysterious fane on the banks of the Sea of Ohkotsk

Mysterious fane on the banks of the Sea of Ohkotsk

Monday, 24 March 2014

Tools of the Ancients

Two lives lost because of the detritus of a pointless war long ago.  

But the weapons deployed by humans pale beside the cunning devices wielded by the Ancients in the war that ultimately led to the end of the First Age of Earth civilizations. Our "Great War" was a pillow fight in comparison, if translations of the few Progenitor tablets thus far found can be trusted.  What strange things were left hidden in the Precambrian muck, buried under kilometers of sediment, and only now working their way back to the surface as we delve ever more deeply?

Would we understand how such things work?
Would we be able to defuse them, or even contain the forces unleashed?

Would we even recognise them as weapons?

And what happens when someone inadvertently triggers one?

Or wakes it...



Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Secret epidemic

When the first few made their complaints to their doctors, they were dismissed - it was a psychiatric pathology, they said, an obsession.

But then the numbers grew - hundreds of people, all suffering from an infestation and the itch that came with it.

Their reddened skin, their sores, the growing desperation in their eyes...Still some dismissed it as in their minds, but others tried to solve the mystery.

Just an overactive itch reflex, said some - your body wired to imagine unreal insects, your mind concocting explanations to match. A few brave researchers, immune to the mocking voices of their peers, determined to look a little closer, if only to prove to their patients that this was nothing, all in their mind.

What they found blew their minds:

Tiny fibers - setae? spines? Something like the irritating urticating hairs of an insect thrusting up through their skin.

And they moved.

The hairs twitched, waved...and sometimes travelled across the surface of the skin to create a new lesion elsewhere.

Samples were taken, biopsies secured.

The hairs seemed attached to nothing...but then what were they? Were they left behind by creatures that had as yet escaped scrutiny?  Were they tiny fragments of irritating fibers?

Tests were done - the objects were examined under microscopes, chemical analysis was done, and meanwhile those who suffered endured the unending itch, the sense of something moving just under their skin.

Tests were inconclusive.  Some dismissed it - it was little sharp fragments of animal hair, of nylon, of cotton, they said.  But others said: yes, some of them are, but others...

There was too much silicon, strange chemical ratios, results that didn't match any database...

But these researchers were ridiculed, and they struggled to get funding to find out more.

And meanwhile, the earliest patients were beginning to change again...


Monday, 3 March 2014

Meanwhile in the Tragic Kingdom

Name the movie:

The tale starts with the birth of the brave and powerful King’s son, driving yet another wedge between the king and his brother who – despite being physically weak – is the more canny of the brothers and resents the way in which he has been marginalized.  The King makes matters worse as time goes on, teaching his son to treat the kind and intelligent Court Advisor as a fool, publicly humiliating him by making him the butt of practical jokes, and instead favouring the semi-coherent ravings of a half-mad mystic as guidance for his rule. 

As the Prince grows, he becomes ever more spoiled and arrogant, going so far as to deliberately disregard the Advisor’s warnings in favour of a frivolous adventure that takes him into a dismal slum populated by the kingdom’s oppressed underclass. The young Prince trespasses and mocks the conditions in which the underclass lives, and finds himself on the sharp end of trouble when he’s cornered by a group of toughs.  The King, however, has been warned by his loyal Advisor and uses his own power directly to slap down the toughs and make personal threats of retribution against the people of the slum if the Prince is ever harmed.

Despite this near-miss, the Prince becomes even more obnoxious, and at last the Royal Uncle can take no more – dissatisfied with what he sees the future holding for the kingdom, he goes in secret to the slums and makes contact with the fierce fascist revolutionaries there, harnessing their ability to mobilize the downtrodden in support of his try for the throne. Together, they formulate a plan to assassinate the Prince in a hunting “accident” and when the King leaps to his son’s aid – ever the brainless “hero” – the Royal Uncle takes advantage of the situation to kill the King as well.

The Prince survives this assassination attempt, but horrified at what his incompetence has wrought, he flees his responsibilities and eventually takes up with a pair of ne’er do well fools who spend their lives in dissipation and idleness. As the Prince grows up in the company of these sodden idiots, the Usurper’s grip on the kingdom begins to crumble:

He eliminated all the real challenges immediately of course, using the muscle of his fascist allies, but the ladies of the court are resisting him in every way they can, using their position to stymie attempts to get the economy working properly after the confusion of the coup. Knowing that only the Advisor has the brains to truly challenge him, he has him jailed and kept nearby, but the Advisor turns out to be too loyal to the old regime and willing to watch the kingdom fall apart rather than help the Usurper in any way.

Desperate for some way to save her homeland, one of the young ladies of the court flees the kingdom, throwing herself into self-imposed exile as a way to hone her skills and perhaps return one day to dislodge the Usurper from the throne.  One of the two dissipated fools who adopted the young runs afoul of her, and as she is about to skewer him the Prince Prince – who has grown into a fine bully-boy to protect his two “uncles” – arrives to save the day. The two cross swords, but are an even match, having been trained in their youth by the same masters.

In the course of the battle she recognises him as the rightful heir, and begs him to return with her to set things right. At first, the Prince refuses – not only is he still wracked with guilt for his recklessness and cowardice in running away from responsibility in the first place, but he has grown used to the indolent lifestyle of his “uncles” and reluctant to make any major changes.  She puts her charms to work, however, and ultimately seduces him before manipulating him into joining her to at least see what has become of his kingdom.

Arriving, they discover that the ladies of the court have given up all hope of help coming from outside, and have attempted a counter-insurgency only to be beaten mercilessly by the fascists, who are now straining at the flimsy leash the Usurper holds on them. Seeing that a full fascist takeover is imminent, the Prince and his Consort organise the royals for one last attempt at regaining power.  In the final battle, the Prince is brought face to face with the Usurper, and is forced to kill him.
In the aftermath, the fascists are driven back underground, those loyal to the Usurper are forced into exile, and the Prince re-establishes the power of his line – reinstalling the Royal Advisor, but also using his power to offer positions of authority to the dissipated “uncles” and other cronies, and once again looking to the addled mystic for advice.
And so the cycle begins again.