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12 October 2015 @ 08:35 am
_Not Fallen_ part 7  
 

They were saved soon enough by the need to load up in the limos and drive all over to find the perfect spot for an Embassy. The spot apparently indicated something of ones affiliation. Comet Fall Allies to the north. One World to the west, Earth to the east. Neutral to the south.

The Bishop wanted something near the Arrival Embassy, until he realized they were staunch Comet Fall Allies. Then he reluctantly admitted that the Ambassador had the right idea, staying to the neutral south. They finally settled on O-eight. The Bishop grumbled that it was too near the blasphemous hospital. The Ambassador refused to shift further away from the center plaza.

"We aren't some primitive backwater!" He glanced at the tree trunk wooden palisade of the corpse-like people whose hair came in all shades of purple and blue. "We want people to see our modern construction methods, and our elegant, civilized embassy."

Back at the Disco building, they took over a conference room and proceeded to argue about architectural styles. The Ambassador wanted a modern office complex. The Bishop wanted a copy of the Cathedral at Sahara.

The Captain set his two spies to outer perimeter guard duties. Miles moved out to the entry vestibule, while Johann went the other direction.

The young woman who'd greeted the delegation yesterday sat at a desk reading a thick book. She looked maybe twenty and her gleaming black hair had a dramatic white streak through it. Her eyes were crystal clear with a pale blue tint. "Good morning. I see you all survived breakfast. New Worlds don't usually get so much attention."

"It was very informative. I'm Miles Tregarth."

"Dagger Peterdaut. I'm a witch. You feel a bit like a Mage, or are you double sourced?"

"Double . . . you know, I need an explanation of how the magically inclined have organized themselves on Comet Fall. Our waitress mentioned a master wizard, and arch mage and someone named Answer. I didn't think wizards had enough power to bother with a hierarchy. Heck, I didn't think they organized at all."

"Hmm. Do you realize that excessive male hormones interferes with the proper brain development for wizard type power collection? We suppress the hormones of young wizards until they're twenty-two or three. Then they're powerful."

"I'm afraid to ask how you do that."

"Magically. We sort of stop the clock on puberty just as it gets started."

"Bleck! So, what sort of organization do these wizards have?" That explains those boys, last night. Definite ick factor here.

"Well, Master Nil has a school. Wizards come and go however they wish. 'Organized' isn't a word you hear associated with it very often. The Mages are more rigid. Boys grow up learning all the Compass chants, and their fathers arrange low level compasses for them as they start to handle power. Minor compasses are four mages, major compasses are eight mages. Greater compasses are rare, usually to choose a new archmage. They have at least sixteen, and usually more, in increments of four. Witches grow up to become part of their mother's pyramid, unless it gets so large that it splits. They usually work three at a time together. Triads, we call them. How different is your system?"

"Well, for starters we keep a very low profile, so as to not upset the neighbors. And don't do whatever that is to wizards. Wizards are solitary and low in power." And often found lynched. "Mages stick together, and work four or eight together, as you say. I don't know much about witches, other than the Church is especially strict with their transgressions."

"Hmmm. Sound like ripe ground for selling concealment charms."

"Applying magic to non-magicians is forbidden."

"I meant for magicians to hide from the church. But what about healing? I mean, you can act all medieval if you want, but most 'magical' healing is nano- and micro-scale protein molecules beefing up the body's own healing abilities."

"Xen threatened to unloose an Elixir of Youth. Magic like that is highly illegal."

"Huh. That's just proteins to repair and lengthen the telomeres on the ends of chromosomes, and regress a percentage of cells back to type two stem cells. We create micro factories with telekinesis, and the micro factories churn out the proteins. Other than using mental manipulation as a manufacturing method, what is there for the Church to condemn?"

"Making it sound good does not remove the taint of evil." Father Leonardo stalked in and looked at the young woman disapprovingly. "We have decided upon a location."

"Excellent. Let me take you up to Andrai Andrews. She is in charge of records." The girl jumped up and headed up the steps on the southern side of the lobby.

"Is she a witch?" Father Leonard stalked behind her, and Miles followed.

"Oh no, she's from Earth. The original one."

"Ah, one of their four appointees?"

"No, we hired her to get the paperwork under control. Director Hackathorn and Julianna Prescott are the assignees from Earth. Everyone seems to be conservative and just send two people at first. If they send any. Most come for a couple of years, then go back home. Often they aren't replaced, because it's usually boring around here. I mean, one group of criminals we only rarely find, and wars spring up unexpectedly. We yelled for help, with the Cannibals. Wow, talk about nasty people!" She swung into a tidy office. "Andrai Andrews, this is Father Leonard, from Not Fall. Or whatever we finally call their World. They've picked a block."

Andrews stood and shook hands firmly. "Good to see religion holding its own on some of these magical worlds, Father. Which block do you want?"

She quickly filled out both paper and computer copies, and handed over a sheet labeled "Title" and a thin sheaf of papers. "This is a list of equipment, materials and services available locally. A few local regulations. We place very few restrictions on what you may bring. Is slavery legal on your World?"

"Certainly not!"

"Delighted to hear that. So we don't have to worry about slave labor. No animals for intended release to the wild, please. There are no large indigenous animals, here. After some consultation, we've added two species of antelope, domesticated cattle, horses and song birds. We're waffling about rabbits and rabbit predators."

"I see. I'm a bit surprised you've added any."

"Well, we always worry about stranding, if something happened to the gates."

Father Leonard looked alarmed. Miles felt his own stomach clench. "Does that happen often?"

Dagger shook her head. "Oh no. Occasionally one of the gates will weaken, and need to be replaced, but we've never been unable to reattach gates. It's just a precaution."

"A rather frightening one." Father Leonard shrugged the thought away. "Thank you so much for your time."

"My pleasure. Welcome to the Multiverse."

***

The Ambassador and the Bishop each sent reports home with gofers, and received in return truck loads of panels, ready for assembly. In five days they'd moved to temporary quarters on their quarter mile square piece of home.

 
 
 
matapampamuphoff on October 12th, 2015 02:29 pm (UTC)
This is as far as I've gotten on this one, that is to say, it's sat on the shelf for years. If I take it up again I'll probably merge it with another start, so I can have a mix of professional and amateur sleuths when the Bishop is murdered in the middle of a fete at the Earth Embassy.

I'll post bits of the other story next.
(Anonymous) on October 13th, 2015 05:42 am (UTC)
I've spent the last month or two reading through the last year's archives of your blog. a couple of points.

1. Like some of the others, I prefer books at novel length, but the group of stories you put together as "Growing Up Magic" worked well. If you feel you need to release a lot of short stories separately, please consider releasing them later as an anthology, with timelines or other dating mechanisms included. Personally, I'm more likely to buy collected stories than all the individual stories.

2. Consider putting one story into the Baen Free Library? That might get a newer crop of people looking for you. Also, if you can release your books in such a way as to get them included or eligible for purchase by public libraries, you also might reach a new set of readers.

3. In the set of stories grouped around Eldon and the cross-dimensional criminals, you have had them start using a spell with the short name "Happy Mommy Spell". It's hard to judge, since you've posted those stories erratically and mostly out of order, but after thinking about this, this particular spell feels more like a serious rape than just the Wine of the Gods. Most of the Joy Juice has been used under conditions that make it seem funny, or with serious intent to get pregnant, or with the pregnancy side effects as a serious topic. However, the "Happy Mommy" seems to be used by bad guys just to spread genes around. If you intend to use this detail, I think those characters who are either "growing up" or otherwise becoming more ethical and/or moral need to realize how serious this rape (or maybe sexual slavery) seems to be. In one story you have external authorities remarking on how some of the victims really want to carry the babies to term, while the authorities themselves seem horrified.

Yes, abortion or any other means of eliminating a pregnancy can also seem horrible, but this feels like a rapist making the victim not only give birth to what violated her, but "Like" it. It's one thing to reach this conclusion because of your own religious or ethical feelings, but to have it done to you without your choice is still a serious violation. To me, a character who uses this will never be truly sympathetic until this violation is recognized.


4. I still want to see something that gives depth to the mermaid characters and their culture choices. Maybe a relatively "modern" story exploring how someone might join that society? (or leave it?)


darqref
matapampamuphoff on October 13th, 2015 09:13 am (UTC)
On book length, these recent shorter works were partly a response to the early KU policy of paying per title, partly due to grumbles about too many POVs and confusing stories, and partly an attempt to boost sales numbers and author ranking by generating multiple sales for the same amount of material.

The general consensus is that it's not working. KU changed their policy to a per page payout, so the number of titles doesn't matter. Amazon reviews have gone from "confusing" to "simplistic" or worse.

But my author rank is now hovering around a thousand (in Science Fiction) rather than the wild swings between 2000 and 4000 that had been the rule.

All things considered, though, I'll probably aim for longer works, from now on, although I suspect most of the problem was pulling apart complex stories, that won't be present in "written short from the start" stories. The recent Directorate stories, the roughs have been from 24K to 53K and seem to work well.

"Happy Mommy" Yes. They are very nasty Bad Guys. When those stories get around to polishing for publishing, they'll probably get toned down, now that I've written far enough ahead to know what the characters will eventually be doing.