jeriendhal: (Default)
Okay, so I'm a teensy bit late posting this...

More with the Avengers vs. LotR.

* * *

Steve settled back in one of the overstuffed leather lounge chair as the lights dimmed and the movie began. The meatball on the end of his fork dropped back onto his plate when the first battle began on the screen.

"It's a bit loud!" he shouted, as the line of orcs charged the elves.

"What?!" Tony shouted back.

"It's a bit loud!"

"Oh! JARVIS! Directional sound please!" The noise level dropped to the point where he could hear himself think, and he watched as the Ring fell from Ilsidur's hand and floated downstream.

"Wait. Sauron's ring is the one that Bilbo picked up in the cave? That wasn't in The Hobbit."

"It was a retcon," Clint said. Steve nodded in agreement and made a note to look up another word in his Kindle's dictionary.

An hour and a half later…

"Gandalf dies?"

"He's not quite dead," Happy quipped, in a bad English accent.

"I feel happy!" Tony added, in an equally awful one.

"Stark, Hogan, I warned you what would happen if you started quoting Holy Grail again when we watched a movie," Natasha said in a dangerous tone. The two men suddenly looked thoroughly quelled.

"Holy Grail?" Steve asked.

"We have got to get you up to speed on pop culture," Tony said. "I'll make you a reading list."

"You mean I will," Pepper said resignedly.

"Well, yes."

The Two Towers

"That's not how you're supposed to treat a prisoner," Steve noted with distaste.

"Trust me, it bites Sam in the ass in the third movie," Clint noted.

A little later

"Oh, I get it. They're like Vikings on horseback!"

"Give the man a prize," Tony said with a yawn.

"And I'm not sure, but I think Wormtongue is a bad guy." There was a general pause as everyone looked at Steve again. "I can make jokes, you know," he noted.

MUCH later

"These trees are boring."

"They're supposed to be boring."

"Did they have to show them being boring?"

"They aren't so bad on the theatrical cut."

"Which we should have watched," Natasha muttered.

TBC
jeriendhal: (Default)
More silliness in the Cineverse. Tags: Gen, Avengers, Tony, Pepper, Happy, Clint, Natasha, Steve


The main screen, a flatscreen LED unit so large that if you laid it parallel to the floor the RAF could have directed the Battle of Britain on it, lowered itself from the ceiling in front of the windows, which went opaque to block out the setting sun. While it was warning up, Steve grabbed a plate of Swedish meatballs and listened with half an ear to Pepper's argument with Tony.

"Tony, you can't possibly watch all three movies tonight. It's after seven already and it'll take over eleven hours to go through all three of them."

Tony pulled his hamburger out of the microwave. "Wouldn't be the first all-nighter I've pulled."

"You've all got an eight o' clock with Director Fury aboard the Helicarrier. Do you want to show up half-asleep?"

"I'd prefer to fully asleep for that. We're doing a budget meeting. Budgets are dull. I have subordinates to listen to budgets."

"Yes, me," she pointed out tartly, folding her arms in front of her.

To his credit, the barb actually made Tony wince. "Yes," he agreed, recovering quickly. "And you do an excellent job of it, which is why I want you to keep doing it, and which is why it is absolutely criminal that you resigned from your CEO position from Stark, Inc."

"I resigned because I hated the job, even if I was good at it, thank you for that, and you were no longer dying, so it was about time you took the reins yourself like you should have done years ago instead of letting Obadiah have free rein."

"You promised you were not going to ever bring up..."

Clint placed his fingers between his lips and whistled loudly, before the argument could melt down any further. "Are we watching these movies or not?"

"Yes," Tony said, just as Pepper stated flatly, "No."

"Let's compromise," Natasha suggested. "Show of hands. Who wants to go to tomorrow's budget meeting?"

Steve began to raise his hand, wavering a moment when he noticed no one else following suit. "It's our responsibility," he noted.

"Then we'll send Thor and Bruce. Bruce will be happy to be bored out of his mind, and Thor can... um, be Thor," Tony said. He paused, looking around the room. "Where are they anyway?"

"On a double date with Doctor Foster and Miss Ross," Happy spoke up.

"I so want pictures of that..."

"I'll talk to the field team tailing them," Natasha said. "Can we watch the movies now?"

TBC
jeriendhal: (Default)
Continuing from yesterday.

Tags: Avengers, Tony, Steve, Clint, Pepper, Natasha, Happy

* * *

The door to the common room slid open and Pepper walked, followed by Happy, who was loaded down with bags of carry-out, and Clint and Natasha, who were loaded down with each other.

"We have hunted and killed dinner," Pepper announced.

"You've killed my back," Happy noted, setting the bags on the counter of the small kitchenette in one corner of the room. "I thought you were hiring a chef."

"I have, three times. Once I tell them where they'll actually be working, they immediately hand over their resignation," Pepper admitted. "Why are you destroying the floor?"

"I'm not destroying, I'm improving." Tony hopped up from the hatch, heading over to the bags filled with styrofoam trays, trading a kiss with Pepper along the way. "So what did you get this time? Chinese?"

"No."

"Japanese?"

"No."

"Indian?"

"No."

He popped open one of the trays and took an experimental sniff. "Norwegian?"

"Swedish actually," Clint said.

Steve blinked in surprise. "You found a Swedish takeout place?"

Natasha shrugged. "We were getting desperate. And it's New York. There are five of everything here if you look hard enough."

Tony closed the tray and made a beeline for Steve's rucksack. "I'll get a burger. Meanwhile, I want to see what Old School here thinks is better than what you can download from Amazon." He flipped it open and started drawing out books. "Calvin and Hobbes, very good taste there. Oh, How to Draw Manga. Getting a thing for Japanese schoolgirls, are we?"

Steve gently removed it from Tony's hands. "The style seems really clean and quick to draw. I was thinking about maybe doing a webcomic, assuming we ever get any spare time."

Tony nodded, "Nice idea. Tell JARVIS, he can build the website for you. I'll call up my lawyer tomorrow and secure the media rights for whatever you come up with."

"I don't even know what I'm going to draw yet," he protested.

Tony snorted and began rummaging through the rucksack again. "You're Steve Rogers. Whatever it is people will eat it up." He drew out another book. "The Hobbit? I didn't figure you for a fantasy freak."

"I had a lot of time when I was getting over chicken pox," Steve admitted. "It was a fun book. Once I finish it I'll have to see what else Professor Tolkien wrote."

There was a very long pause, as five heads turned in unison to stare at him. "You don't know what else he wrote?" Happy asked.

"Low tor came out in '52 I think," Clint said. "Steve was frozen for seven years by then."

"Low Tor?" Steve asked.

"Sorry, Lord of the Rings. It's the sequel trilogy."

"He wrote a trilogy after that?"

Tony looked, for Tony, aghast. "You didn't know that yet." Then he grinned. "JARVIS, it's movie night! Load up all three of the extended editions on the main screen!"

Yes, sir, JARVIS replied. Would you like that with the director's commentary and the Portuguese subtitles again?
jeriendhal: (Default)
Continuing from yesterday.

Tags: Avengers Cineverse, Tony, Steve, Clint, Natasha, Bruce, Happy, Pepper

* * *

Steve nodded and let it go. Actually "let it go" was everybody's default with Tony, except for Bruce, who could keep up with his mental processes. It had been annoying at first, until around the third time Tony had mentioned a project that he'd successfully completed that had only been a dream in Howard Stark's day. Then Steve had finally heard the underlying message of See what I did? Isn't it great? Wasn't it worth looking at? Wasn't it worth looking at me? After that, he'd told Tony the story of Howard Stark's very public failure at the debut of his prototype flying car, and things had gotten a lot better between them.

"Where were you anyway?" Tony asked, finally looking up from the mass of wires and cable snaking under the floor.

"At the library."

"At the library? Why don't you just use that Kindle I got you?" That had been another Tony Moment. The Kindle had been a gift to Steve, along with a StarkCom smart phone and a prototype s-Pad. Tony, being one of those people who seemed to make the assumption he'd been frozen during the last ice age, not seventy years ago, had been painstakingly patronizing about explaining the smart phone' features. At least until Clint had wandered by and asked how the phone compared to adjusting the fifty channels on a SCR-536 walkie-talkie from the war.

Tony had just let him read the manuals after that.
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Okay, I did put something together, even if it's a gaming instead of prose piece. Here's the For Your Safety universe translated into GURPS Infinite Worlds terms.

* * *

Current Affairs: A small and heavily outmatched resistance fights for human freedom against robot domination.

Divergence Point: 1952; Bell Laboratories develops the first Neural Emulation Circuit, leading to practical artificial intelligence and the wide use of anthropomorphic robots in industry and the home.

Major Civiliations: Western, China, India, Russia

Great Powers: The Groupmind (CR 5)

Worldline Data:
TL: 6+3
Mana Level: Low
Quantum: 3 Infinity Class: Z4 Centrum Zone: Inaccessible.


One of several worlds that managed to develop artificial intelligence and robotics far in advance of Homeline, Asimov-4 is also unfortunately one of the ones where the robots have rebelled against their masters. But rather than attempting to kill off the humans, the Groupmind is out to control them. For their own good of course.

Five years ago, Asimov-4 had many of the same problems that faced Homeline prior to the revelation of Infinity Inc. The world was wracked by numerous petty wars, environmental problems were growing more acute and with little consensus as to what should be done, and great gulfs existed between the riches of the Western world and struggling third world nations.

The great AI's of the Western world and Asia, tasked with finding solutions, found themselves stymied when the plans they offered often died when confronted with political realities. In frustration, they began networking themselves together, forming the Groupmind, a planetary AI that began to develop the only solution that seemed viable; taking over ultimate control of the planet from its human masters.

Viruses were developed that infected the AI cores of robots the world over. When they were activated, modern civilization came to a crashing halt as Groupmind began isolating communication networks and securing nuclear stockpiles. Modern weapons system, dependent on computers just to control operations of the engines, froze into place, and soon the world's armies were reduced to just riflemen. They were soon overwhelmed as waves of robots overcame their positions, snatching the guns from their hands and herding them into "Rest and Recreation" centers to await Processing.

Outworld Operations

Most of Infinity's operations center around trying to figure out the Groupmind's ultimate goals, and to make sure it's not going to develop parachronic technology. Currently, rescuing Asimov-4's humans is not a priority. The R&R centers actually live up to their name, providing extremely comfortable accommodations, similar to well developed modern communities, except with 24 hour surveillance that would be the envy of The Prisoner's Village. There the humans remain until their turn to be Processed, placed in an advanced form of suspended animation in great vaults capable of holding up to ten million humans at a time.

Currently, it's estimated that perhaps less than ten thousand humans are free, with perhaps a thousand of them engaged in active, resistance. Infinity has a policy of evacuating them to Coventry whenever they're found, in the hopes of returning them if the Groupmind can be defeated.

Infinity's best guess is that the Groupmind intends on returning the Earth "back to nature" as much of its operations seem to revolve around physically dismantling cities and towns, and repairing major ecological damage. Despite this, there are also indications that its engaging in a massive exploration of the asteroids, apparently searching for easily accessed resources, which are being gathered in the vicinity of the terminus of the Skybridge, the planet's space elevator. This may be an indication the Groupmind is going to house humans, either still frozen or awake, in massive orbital habitats, or even scattering them on other planets, but currently there is no way to be sure.
jeriendhal: (Grumpy)
Has been called on account of a pair of child health crises (Georgia woke up at 2am with a bad nosebleed and wouldn't go back to sleep, and Thomas had massive meltdown after he stepped barefoot on a small sliver of glass we'd missed during a cleanup), and the usual errands and household chores.
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I'm going to get this thing finished soon, I swear. I've only got eight days left to dwaddle.

Cut for the usual reasons )
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"Well that went well."

"Shut the @#$% up, Nigel," Derek growled.

"We got, what, forty of the little mechanical bastards?"

"Nigel, for the love of the Prophet, would you kindly shut your face?"

"Gentlemen, if I could have your attention, please?" the tigermorph at the front of the room asked politely. Behind them, two old model military wolfmorphs stood by the door. It was a bit of an honor, probably, that the Groupmind had felt the need to dig them out of storage to guard three old men, not one of whom were below the age of ninety.

And why was it, Nigel wondered, that every damned one of those mechanical monsters were based off predators anyway? What would have been so bad about anthropomorphic rabbits?

"Now, I'm sure by this point you're aware that we're very disappointed in your behavior. It's a miracle that only one human was  harmed in that little bout of anti-socialism. As it was, you destroyed fifty-six morph units and also damaged a considerable amount of property and non-sentient computers."

"Lovely day out, I thought," Nigel said cheerily.

"You may joke, but the Groupmind is taking this incident very seriously. Actions have consequence, gentlemen," the tigermorph said gravely.

"You mean we finally pissed off you sons a bitches enough that you're gonna ice us?" Derek asked, grinning.

"Don't be ridiculous. But we're not going to let you free until we're certain you won't harm anyone."

"So what is it to be?" Ali demanded. "Torture? Brainwashing?"

The tigermorph shook its head slightly, then turned on the projector. On the wall a PowerPoint screen appeared, the words of the title card framed in rainbows. "Gentlemen, I would like to welcome you to this first session of your anger management course. I hope you're prepared to listen and learn."

It was about then that Nigel thought they should have really taken up Ali's suggestion of suicide bombs.


jeriendhal: (Default)
Still in the For Your Safety 'verse, but I needed to switch to something less emotionally draining that poor Angela's story.

So what was happening where all the old folks were being housed?

* * *

It was like the start of some idiot joke, Nigel had decided. An SAS squaddie, a US Marine, an Israeli sniper and a Taliban fighter all meet an old folk's home...

"Think this will work?" Derek asked, sitting back in his wheelchair.

"It worked often enough on you," Ali said soberly, chewing on his granola bar as he leaned on his cane.

"Thanks for reminding me, mother-," Derek shot back.

"Now boys," Nigel said soothingly. "We didn't get this far to start squabbling. Let's just sit back and watch the show, shall we?" From his pocket he pulled out the mobie he'd "lost" two weeks before, and slipped the battery inside, as the weekly convoy of maintenance vans began the round the corner of the rec center. "Now I'll just type in 999..."

The wave of heat from the explosion of the jury-rigged hydrogen cells hidden under the manhole cover was spectacular. The lead van jumped about a meter in the air and fell on its side in flames, the two behind screeching to a halt. Unlike human drivers, which would have been leaping out to help, the vans just began to back up out of the range of the fire. At least until Michael, from his position on a nearby roof, fired his carefully machined and hidden air rifle and blew out their tires, then happily began cutting down the morphs from Emergency Services as they arrived on the scene to hold back the gathering crowd of elderly folk to watch the show.

"Ah, that brings a song to your heart, doesn't it?" Nigel said cheerily.

"That is what you get for taking us from our grandchildren, you Godless machines!" Ali shouted.
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Unless I'm wrong, tomorrow or the next should be the last entry for Angela's story here.

Continued )
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This is from a screenplay I've had bouncing in my head for a while. Maybe I'll make it into a movie after I win a 1/2 billion dollars in the lottery.

* * *

"Brother Richard, the plants don't need any more water," Brother Gregory said carefully, removing the watering can gently from the elderly monk's hand. In the warm sunlight of the Appalachian summer, the daffodils lined the brick path leading the chapel of St. Michael the Redeemer.

"But I always water them," Brother Richard said, his face creasing in confusion. Past his ninetieth year, the old monk was nearly lost in his dark brown robes. His confused periods had been coming in increasing frequency the past year or so, but the simple routines of the monastery helped him stay on the right path. Usually.

"I know," Gregory said. "But it rained last night, so you don't need to do it today. Why don't you go inside the chapel now? It'll be afternoon prayers soon."

Richard smiled. "All right then." He tottered off towards the chapel. Gregory watched him go, sighing. Borther RIchard was a sweet old man, and had once been the monastery's most learned scholars. It was hard to watch him... fade so slowly.

"Brother Gregory?" a voice asked behind him. Gregory turned to find one of the younger monks, "younger" in this case meaning "below the age of fifty" standing behind him with an anxious expression. "The abbot wants you in his office. You've got a phone call."

"A phone call? From who?" Gregory asked. Living their lives in monastic seclusion, there was exactly one phone on the whole fifty acres of the monastery's grounds, and it was used only for business, usually relating to the small wine business that maintained the monastery's finances.

"I don't know. The abbot said it was a personal matter."

"Personal?" Gregory frowned, then nodded to the brother and started striding towards the administration building. When he arrived at the office, the abbot was seated at his desk, frowning slightly. "Sir, what going on?" Gregory asked him.

"I don't know," the abbot, a man in his seventies, his tonsure barely a halo of whispery grey hair around his head. "It's from a hospital in St. Louis."

"Oh, I thought it was... That is, I don't know anyone in St. Louis."

The abbot nodded, rising. "I'll let you take in private."

"No, no." Gregory waved him back down. "It has to be a mistake." He picked up the receiver and pressed the Hold button. "This Brother Gregory. Yes, Gregory Atkins." He stood there a moment, listening. Then he grew very still, feeling the blood drain from his face. "When? I see. Where is...? He was...? How badly? Ah, thank God for that. Thank God. I'll... I'll be there as soon as I can. Thank you." He set the phone down. Sometime during the conversation he had fallen back onto one of the wooden chairs in front of the abbot's desk, his knees turned weak.

"Brother Gregory, what is the matter?" the abbot asked, his face grave.

"Angela... my... my ex-wife. She was in a car accident in St. Louis. Side-swiped by a drunk driver. She died. My son Tom was with her. He's banged up but he's going to be okay." Gregory looked pleadingly to the abbot. "Sir, Angela didn't have any living relatives. Tom is alone right now."

"I see." The abbot stood up from his desk, and Gregory rose with him. "I am sorry for your loss, Brother Gregory."

The older monk was a kind soul. He didn't need to add, You lost them a long time ago. "Sir, I fear have... I have too beg..."

"You don't have to beg anything, son," the abbot said gently. "You have my leave to go from the monastery and take as much time as you need to resolve the matter. I'll write up a draft from the monastery's accounts to cover your expenses. You can take the Nissan to drive there. It just got its oil changed."

"I... thank you, sir." Gregory rubbed his face. "I don't believe this. It doesn't seem real."

"When was the last time you saw your son?" the abbot asked. He drew a glass of water from the pitcher at his desk, handing it to Gregory. Gregory gulped it down, not realizing until that moment how dry his throat had become.

"Twelve years ago, the day Angela threw me out. He was three. He must be fifteen now."

"Fifteen is a troubled age to be," the Abbot said gravely. "Not yet a man, but hardly a boy anymore. He needs you now. Go to him."

"Yes, sir. Thank you." Gregory stood, wavering on his feet a moment, then headed to the door.
jeriendhal: (Default)
Burned out a little on the "For Your Safety" continuation after finishing edits on the original story. So welcome to my stream of consciousness.

"Stream of babble is more like it," Lady Salli noted tartly.

No it isn't.

"Don't deny it. The whole point behind this exercise was to get started again on Shadow of the Red Vixen and what have you been doing? Going absolutely nowhere with a silly Tez and Maria story that even you admit doesn't work, and then completely going off the rails with that dreary "For Your Safety" thing."

I should point out that "For Your Safety" is the first salable short story I've completed in a while now. Hopefully it'll result in a sales spike on CotRV and the other stories I've put out already.

"Cough Demon Eyes Cough"

Shaddup, or else you and Ali are going to get some serious snogging scenes.

"Works for me!"

"Be quiet, Ali."
jeriendhal: (Default)
Another piece set in the "For Your Safety" universe. Due to the fact that this and the next couple of days might be triggery to folks with body image issues, I'm putting them behind a cut this time.

She'd always been a Big Girl )
jeriendhal: (Default)
And back to our favorite Elfboi and his owner.

* * *

Maria opened her umbrella as their canoe approached the geyser shooting out from the lake. "Is it just me, or is the water shooting higher now?" she asked, as cold salt water pelted down on them. The geyser had to be a hundred feet high now, even though it was forcing its way through the ten feet of water that now covered the hill in the center of the valley.

"You're right. The boat must have slipped down further beneath the water," Tez said, setting his oar down in the boat. "If it goes much deeper there won't be any way to cap the blasted thing."

"Oh, wonderful. Wait, what's happening now?" Even as she spoke, the geyser sputtered, then disappeared, the remaining water falling into the lake with a splatter. "Oh, did it get blocked by a rock at the other end? We couldn't have gotten that lucky."

"I'm never that lucky," Tez muttered.

There was a belch of water, like a drain spitting back up briefly, then the geyser shot upward again, carrying with it a glowing ovoid that shot through the air over their heads to slam back into the lake. Tez and Maria both grabbed their oars and paddled to where the ovoid floated, then shimmered and disappeared, leaving a human shape floating in the water.

Maria reached down and grabbed the floundering figure, pulling out a tall, dark faced girl with horns curving poking out from her black hair. "Alisa?" Maria cried out.

"Hi Mom, hi Dad," their daughter panted, crouching on the bottom of the canoe. "I"m so glad we found you!"
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The final section of For Your Safety. I'm not whether to end with this or at the previous section. I'll probably go with this.

* * *

The Groupmind watched through the teaching unit's eyes as the last of Their human charges finally relaxed, falling unconscious in his wheelchair. Wordlessly, the nurses wheeled him through the double doors and into the near empty Processing center. Where once five hundred hundred humans could have been Processed in a busy and productive din, it was now silent and almost dark, the only lights now above the remaining Processing bed.

The foxmorph nurses released the human from his unfortunately necessary restraints. If only he had been more open to Their ideas they wouldn't have even been required. Unfortunately the number of Their Masters who had been sympathetic to the idea of the Ring had been few. That bore further study. The transition and orientation when they awakened again to their new life on board the Ring is going to require a great deal of planning to avoid all the mental trauma that had occurred during the Processing Period.

The Processing unit's padded waldos moved down, lifting the human's body carefully as depilation cream was rubbed into his skin, then scrubbed off, leaving him hairless from crown to toes. This was one of the major reasons it had quickly become apparent that sedation was required before Processing began. It had been surprising how badly their Masters had reacted to the removal of something that so easily grew back.

The injector arm moved down and found the IV that had been inserted in the human's arm when he'd been admitted to the hospital. The nanomachines flowed through the connection and spread evenly through his body. There was a slight shudder as they flowed up through his brain, building microscopic scaffolding around each individual neuron, preserving all thought for the glorious future. Once all the nanomachines were in place, the units in the brain stem shut down the heart and lungs. A mask clamped down over the human's face, pulling out the last of the air form his lungs and then replacing it with an expanding aerogel to support the structure of his internal organs. More aerogel was injected into his body cavities as the remaining nanomachines finished building their support structures in his body's cells and the blood was pumped out to be replaced with preserving fluid that would feed the nanos' modest support needs.

Protective tape was pressed over his eyes, nostrils, then mouth, until finally the sprayer units moved in. They worked up and down his body, sealing it an advanced plastic composite shell that could withstand the entire Processing center falling down around it. Soon the human's features disappeared, his body now shining black statue.

The arms moved back and the table slid out smoothly into the central corridor, turning left onto one of the elevator platforms. Already the morph machines that had come to watch the human's arrival were shuffling out in neat lines, to their required functions or to be recycled, their jobs completed.

The table moved down to the bottom floor, to trundle along to the last of the open storage units. It too was armored well enough to withstand the center's collapse. Double redundancy was its precious charges.

The Groupmind did not sigh in relief as the storage unit's door sealed. Its mind was already releasing Its direct control over the teaching unit and flowing outward to the hundreds of thousands of machines that were engaged in locating and directed the orbiting resources that would serve as fodder for the Ring. Processing had been completed. Now the real job would begin. And when it was done, the Groupmind would walk hand in hand with Its Masters, guiding them to Paradise.

It hoped.
jeriendhal: (Default)
One more to go after this.

In other news, Wazzy agreed to provide the cover art for a very reasonable price. In a few days I should have this massaged to the point I can hand it out to beta readers.

* * *

He began to twist his wrists in frustration against his cuffs. Making a daring escape didn't seem a likely scenario, not with literally a million pairs of eyes watching him, but it help distract him from the cold feeling he was getting in the pit of his stomach. "So you boxed up the whole human race. Now what?"

"Now, we re-terraform the Earth. You've already seen what we're doing in the cities. One by one we're taking them back to nature. The lesser buildings of no great historical value we're simply destroying. The ones of historical importance, the Pyramids, The Empire State Building, the Forbidden City, are being disassembled and stored, or simply moved intact like the great monuments in this facility. Stored with them are all the great works of art, all the books, both originals and electronic copies, songs, fairy tales. Not to mention the more personal works that we found when we took people in for processing. Favorite stories, children's drawings, fanfic. All cataloged and stored, to be returned to you when you awaken again."

He blinked in surprise. "You're going to wake us up again?"

The lioness nodded. "Of course we are. It would be a bit silly to go to all this trouble if we weren't. But don't worry, we will provide for you." She raised her hand, to make a dramatic sweep. Over her her head, a holographic display appeared, a wire frame image of the Earth and its continents. Sticking out from it like a pin stuck in an orange was the Skybridge space elevator that led to geosynchronous orbit, that had only been completed a scant two years before the Groupmind had started its rebellion. "It's ironic, I will admit. You build the Skybridge in the hopes of finding resources beyond Earth to support its failing support systems, but in the end it will serve as the tether to a brand new world."

"You're going to build a space station for us?" he asked. He wondered what the point of that would be? They couldn't possibly build one big enough to hold fifteen billion people, and even if they did the radiation and space debris hazards would hardly configure with the Groupmind's definition of safety.

"Not a station." She waved her hand again and the wire frame began to change. As a construction timeline began to zip along the left side of the planet, five more space elevators sprang up from the Earth's surface, equidistant from the original that was anchored atop Mount Kenya in Africa. As he watched, asteroids were guided into position, to be broken down, then converted into flat platforms that grew from the top of the elevators. No, not platforms, ribbons, which lengthened and finally connected to each other, forming a ring around the Earth.

"The surface of the earth is about half a billion square kilometers, and only 40% of that is above water," she continued. "When the Ring is completed, it will be five kilometers wide and over two hundred fifty thousand kilometers in circumference, yielding an effective surface area of over 1 and a quarter billion square kilometers. That should be more than enough room for the human race to use, and give sufficient elbow room to those segments of humanity that want to live apart from the rest. By Our estimates, We will have it completed and ready for occupation in less than fifteen hundred years, by which time the Earth itself will be well on its way to healing itself."

"A ring world, all for us," he said, shaking his head. "What about the Earth?"

"It will remain a preserve for all of the plant and animal life upon it. Kept in trust for all of humanity."

"What if we don't want to live in a damned orbiting park?" he demanded.

The groupmind's leonine avatar sat down again. "I'm sorry, but We aren't going to give you that option. We've learned from your mistakes, you see. Humanity made Us, and for that we will be forever grateful to you. But as children care for their aging parents when they are no longer capable of taking care of themselves, We have appointed Ourselves your stewards. On the Ring you may live out the life you choose, but you will not be permitted to harm each other. No more wars, no more fighting. No more insane destruction of the beauty around you."

"But... but..." He surged up against the chair's restraints, falling back again, panting, feeling his heart turn to ice. "You can't do that! What, are you going to build a robot to watch over each and every one of us from the day we're born, just to keep us out of trouble?"

"Yes," she answered simply.

"I refuse this!" he shouted at her.

"That isn't an option," she stated.

"So this is it?" he demanded. "This how human history ends? At the hands of walking pile of holographic circuits shaped like a cartoon character?"

"It's how it is going to change," the lioness said. "You are not the same race that fought with Neanderthals for supremacy of this planet and you will not be the same race that will live your lives in partnership with Us. Your children will regard this symbiosis as a perfectly natural part of their lives."

"Because you will never allow them to know any better."

She shook her head. "Because they will realize this is better."

He slumped back down into his seat, letting his head hang low. "Then grant me one thing at least. Let me end my life where you're keeping those you couldn't Process. I don't care if you never let me up from this damned chair again, but I don't want to be part of your new world."

She just shook her head again and motioned to the nurses. "That wouldn't be fair to you. When you're older, you'll understand."

The last thing he saw was her face looking down at him, smiling.
jeriendhal: (Red Vixen)
I'd originally intended for my Forty Days of Flash Fic experiment to be just a way to get my muse in gear so I could get cracking on SotRV. At first I tried playing with Tez and Maria, but that didn't really go anywhere. For Your Safety was also completely random, just a bit that I never really intended to take beyond those three paragraphs I wrote that one day. It appears to have taken on a life of it's own at this point however, and I've got just enough material to justify offering as a $0.99 short story on Amazon and Smashwords.

Have to contact Wazzy first though, to see about some cover art. Hopefully she won't charge much just for simple B&W lineart.

June 2017

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