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To Boldly Go

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The Century Comet Starfighter belonging to Lady Madeleine Smith-Harrington was a wonder. Light-years beyond anything 21st century Earth had created. It had teleporters, replicators ,a cloaking device, an array of weaponry that could disintegrate a small moon or fry the atmosphere clean off a planet…. and yet, with all that, it lacked something incredibly basic. A bathroom.

“So much for boldly going where no one has gone before,” Madeleine Prime observed. She had started thinking of herself in that way to distinguish herself from her alternate versions.

“I apologize,” Lady Smith-Harrington said, “but the Century Comet was designed for short-range combat, not five year expeditions. Therefore, it was believed that restroom facilities were illogical.”

“Well, that sucks,” Mad Maddie said. ‘Cause I gotta go. Like, bad.”

“Can’t you do it in the teleporter pad and beam the, er, waste off into space?” Madeleine Prime suggested.

I beg your pardon?” Lady Smith-Harrington looked positively scandalized. “It’s a teleporter, not a toilet!”

Princess Madeleine of the Grey Castle chimed in then, with a questioning tone. The Century Comet had its own translation matrix. Her words came out as “Verily, why are we not arrived at the place that will take me back to my own land? We must return there at once! The Prince Patrick is in great peril!”

“I am attempting to find an appropriate set of hyper-drive coordinates suitable for creating an Einstein-Selvik bridge that will take us into your reality,” Lady Smith-Harrington patiently explained.

Madeleine Prime wondered how that would sound translated into the princess’s Latin. By the confused look on her face, it seemed she understood about as much of that as Madeleine Prime did herself. “Zounds,” the princess said. “I like this not. If I but knew the proper spell, I would have magicked myself back to my own world and left you to your own devices. Alas, the only magic I can conjure are these blasts of flame.”

“It’s not magic, it’s…. oh, never mind.” It occurred to Madeleine Prime that maybe, on the princess’s world, her abilities were magical. Why not?

Mad Maddie was starting to edge onto the teleporter pads. She might have made it too, but at that moment the ship’s computer wirped alarmingly. Lady Smith-Harrington’s eyes went wide. “There is another one of us.”

“You’re kidding,” Madeleine Prime said.

“I kid you not. I instructed the computer to scan the planet for life signs genetically identical to our own. It appears it has located one. The reading is…odd somehow.”

“Well, beam her up here,” Madeleine Prime said resignedly. “Might as well get all of me together.”

Mad Maddie swore under her breath. Apparently she would not be able to use the teleporter as a bathroom after all.

The teleporters had a difficult time locking on to the life sign. Lights flashed and blared, and the ship’s computer squalled in protest. “Perhaps you should increase the power?” Madeleine Prime suggested.

“I am giving her all she has!” Lady Smith-Harrington snapped. “What next, shall I reverse the polarity?”

At that moment, the teleporters finally got hold. There was a flash and a flare of energies, and yet another Gaseous Girl materialized on the ship.

“Oh, super,” she said, looking around in glee at the ship. “This is fantastic.”

“Hi there,” Madeleine Prime said. “I’m Madeleine, so’s she, so’s you, so’s everyone else. What’s your variation?”

The new arrival giggled. “I’m evil.”  She proved how evil she was by a sudden burst of fire. In a slight failure of engineering, the teleporter pads were located within sight of the Century Comet’s engine room. Evil Madeleine’s blast sliced through the engine room door and shot into the warp core.

Klaxons blared over their heads. “Hey, that was fun!” Evil Madeleine exclaimed in delight. “What’ll we do next?”  Mad Maddie, settled that question by walloping the woman over the head so that she fell unconscious on the teleporter pad.

Lady Smith-Harrington leaped to the controls. Her face went white with alarm. “The warp core’s breaching. Within seconds it will melt down into a catastrophic explosion.”

“Great,” Madeleine Prime said. “I get to die. Again. I’m getting tired of this.”

The princess drew herself up. “If we are to perish, then I must say; it would be my honor to do so in your company. Across the worlds, we are the same person. It seems appropriate that we end our road together.”

Mad Maddie sniffled. “Ain’t it the truth.”

“Quite,” said Lady Smith-Harrington.

This story was written for Grammar Ghoul Press and the Mutant 750 challenge.  You might have noticed a bit of a Trek flare to this latest tale of Gaseous Girl. I, like many others, was very sad to hear of the passing of Leonard Nimoy. I don’t know whether he would’ve appreciated a homage in a story of gaseously-powered superheroines, but then, he was the man who sang the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins. Maybe he would have. You never know.

Stardate Yesterday

by

Stamper

first met her for

drinks. She had Martian rum.

It’s scarce now, since the war. Sad. She

liked it.

The yeahwrite poetry slam this month was cinquains. Five lines, syllables 2-4-6-8-2. I decided to write a vignette about Mr. Stamper, the space otter again. if it works, I might attempt a space otter lanterne. Betcha never read a space otter lanterne before.

In Which I Discuss a Serious Topic

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I don’t usually discuss real-world events on this blog. This is partly for purely mercenary reasons. I want people to read and enjoy my stories. I also want people to buy them.  (Which you can do on Amazon! And if you order right now, I’ll throw in a free set of Ginsu steak-knives!)  I decided to go the self-publishing route, because, why not? It worked for Fifty Shades. On the other hand, that series was a unique circumstance (it caught the tail end of the Twilight boom, right when e-book readers were coming up, so lots of people could read it without letting other people know they were reading it). Also, I can’t write that material. If I tried to write that sort of thing, or even the standard stuff you’d find in romance novels, I honestly couldn’t do it and take it seriously. Moral objections aside (and I do have those), I’d probably be giggling all the way through, and it would sound horribly stilted. It would be like the Ember Island Players version of a romance novel. “OH I’M TEARBENDING!”

Anyway. Getting back to the point, I naturally want people to read my work, and once you get into serious discussions, you lose people reading it for the sheer joy of reading. Instead you either have people reading what you write in order to attack it (That person said a Horrible Thing! Shun the non-believer!), or people reading what you write uncritically and praising it to the skies (That person is on Our Team! They must be defended!). You get the idea. I mean, I do have political opinions, but I prefer to keep them to myself in online formats, and mostly discuss them offline with people who I know will still be my friends afterwards. It’s more difficult to maintain civility online. (He said, somewhat obviously).

However, there is now an issue about which I cannot keep silent. I must speak out.

The dress is white and gold.

There. What I have written, I have written.

Afterwards

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“Okay, mum. I’ve poisoned the apricot. One bite and the princess is done for.”

“Excellent. Finally I shall ascend the throne!”

“Then what, mum?”

“Then? Well. I’ll have the flags switched, naturally. And there’s that trade agreement with House Charming that needs signing.”

“You’re not going to ruthlessly oppress the populace? Imprisoning innocents, burning things down at a whim?”

“Honestly, Sludgepipe. I’m evil, not a fanatic.”

This post was written for Grammar Ghoul Press and the Chimera 55 challenge. Thanks for reading!

Empire of Dirt

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There was nothing to do. She had the whole place to herself, and she was bored. Incredibly, wildly, out-of-her-mind bored. And she just hated being bored.

She thought about watching a movie. But then, she’d watched them all. Five times. She was out of popcorn, too. Time for another grocery store raid, she decided. She flew over to the nearest one, stepping through the shattered glass of the automatic door. Popcorn was near the soft drink aisle, she vaguely recalled. There was only one box left. “Crap,” she said, her voice muffled through her respirator mask. She’d have to fly to anther store soon. This one was about picked clean.

She left the store, and hovered above the crater that had been the parking lot, musing over her fate. She had popcorn, but what to do with it? She’d run through her movie list. Maybe there was a television show she hadn’t seen yet. Perhaps the library- then she laughed. She had almost forgotten that she’d torched the library a year back. She’d been bored back then, too.

Maybe something had survived? She flew over just to see. She had nothing else more pressing. Just as she remembered, though, the library was a wreck. A cockroach skittered out from beneath the shattered remnants of a wall. “Oh, hey!” she said. It was the first living thing she’d seen in… a while. Easy to lose track, these days. She gave the bug a friendly wave. It ignored her, going on about its roachy business. She was offended, and squished it. When it twitched, she flamed it with a white-hot blast that left nothing but a scorch mark in the dirt. That had been fun. Now she was bored again.

“Y’know…” she said. “This planet stinks. I need to leave.” It was an idea that had been growing in her mind for several months. One of the last scientists she’d seen had said something about other worlds. She’d flamed him shortly after that, down by the river. Or had it been the park? No, she remembered, she’d already vaporized the park before that. It had been the river, surely. All that steam and boil had been so fun. The scientist had turned red. She liked red.

Now that she’d settled on the idea, it took a while to get it moving. She had to find the military base again. The scientist had carried an ID badge from there. She hadn’t been to the military base since she’d lighted off the atmosphere. That, she figured, was probably why she was so bored now. There was no one else around anymore. Setting the planet on fire would do that. Oh, well, time for the next one.

She flew over the remains of the military base. The science part was beneath the largest crater. She had to dig through rubble for a bit, which proved an interesting if somewhat laborious distraction. And there it was, the portal thing the scientist had been blathering about. He’d had friends too, and they’d fought hard to save the portal. She giggled. Now that had been fun.

The portal beeped in the silence. Oh, good, she thought, it was still running! She would’ve hated to fly all this way across the burnt landscape for a portal that didn’t work. She spent the next two days eating popcorn and puzzling out the controls. There wasn’t an instruction manual. She’d probably torched it when she’d come before. Oops.

Finally, she figured out how it worked. If it went right, she’d find herself in another Earth, one she hadn’t wiped out. There might even be an alternate version of herself, one who saved people instead of flaming them. That didn’t seem fun. Maybe she’d have to flame the alternate. And then replace her! And the innocent civilians wouldn’t know the difference! Sweet.

With a push of the button, the portal fired up. She stepped through. As the burned-out old Earth faded out, and a shiny green new one faded in, Madeleine Smith laughed, high and cold. She wasn’t bored anymore.

This was written for the Grammar Ghoul Press Mutant 750 challenge. It’s also a bit dark, as you might have noticed. The mind of a supervillain is a scary place, let me tell you.

Stamper Alone

by

It is generally acknowledged that when one is on an exploding spaceship, the thing to do is to get off it as quickly as possible. Sarah May Raxenpaxerflirk had lost sight of this fact, having rapturously fallen into the tentacles of her one true love Domingo. Mr. Stamper, by contrast, was not distracted. He very calmly keyed in the coordinates for his shuttlecraft, grabbed the entwined squidlings by the first tentacle that came to paw, and shoved them onto the teleport pad. As the pad fired up, Sarah May detached herself from Domingo long enough to realize that the space otter hadn’t joined her. “Hey!” she squeaked. “What-” Then she and Domingo vanished in a spray of teleporter energies.

Mr. Stamper was alone again. He liked it that way. Now he could set about the real job. Mr. Stamper had promised to retrieve the Orb That Should Not Be Named. He was not an otter who failed in his word.

He ran swiftly back to the Shadow Vault. Panicky aliens ran past him, and several times he had to switch to different corridors because the one he wanted had exploded in fire. Just as he reached the Vault, the lights around him flickered and died. Mr. Stamper almost smiled as he produced a flashlight from a pocket on his belt. This was perfect.

Ordinarily it would’ve taken months to assemble the technology necessary to hack the Vault’s extra-dimensional pocket security system. But that pocket was maintained by Mark V Tardisian Flux Generators, the same ones that powered the lights. When those generators failed, the pocket collapsed right back into realspace. And so, when Mr. Stamper shoved the Vault door open, he saw the Orb lying conveniently on the floor in front of him.

It was round and shiny, as Orbs are wont to be, and had a faint outline of a stylized purple Whangdoodle in its center. Mr. Stamper did not pause to contemplate its ethereal beauty. He snatched it up from the floor and bolted. Now, he just needed to get back to the sickbay teleporters-

Then he saw it. He had just rounded on a corridor with a long viewscreen that looked out on open space. A stark warship floated by, bristling with all sorts of deadly weapons systems with which it was tearing the Charlotte’s Moon apart. One of those weapons systems had caught Mr. Stamper’s attention. He recognized it instantly. It was a mass driver, a device used to hurl asteroids from orbit at a defenseless planet, usually with devastating results. Mr. Stamper had never seen it in action himself, but he had reviewed videos, reviewed them over and over again. He knew that weapon. He knew that ship. That ship had taken his only love.

He forgot all about the Orb he was carrying, all about Sarah May and Constance the angel, all about his mission.

It was payback time.

Previous stories in the ongoing adventures of Mr. Stamper can be found here. Thanks for reading!

Plots

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“Well, Sludgepipe, my trusted minion, how shall we do it? Apple? Enchanted spindle?”

“Er, sorry, mum. They’re inspecting apples since that White business. And the princess has got a thimble. Yellow Fairy gave it her, I think.”

“Curses! How can we murder the princess now?”

“A sword, mum?”

“A sw-what?”

“We take a sword and hit her in the head, mum.”

“Sludgepipe. How gauche.”

“Sorry, mum.”

This story was written for the Grammar Ghoul Press Chimera 66 challenge.

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