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25 May 2018 @ 07:46 am
_Marooned_ prologue  


Steve Chou held his breath. Do it! Do it! Step into the circle of judgement!

Six months of cautious surveillance had pinpointed the single most important individual in this horrifically dangerous coalition of worlds, of Empires. Not the only powerful individual—there were a dozen more that could be usefully killed. Or perhaps modeled, used. But this one was dangerous. Incredibly dangerous.

Gary Yong eased forward. “I’ve never seen anyone so deep. Even the Bushy Jaejong and the AnnaKarina.”

“And everyone says the rest of this ‘Disco’ is a hollow shell that he uses to deal with paperwork.” Steven narrowed his eyes. “He’s doing it! He’s in the circle.”

“Hush! I can’t hear . . .”

And faintly from across the crowd, “You destroyed a World.” The Judge raised his staff, angled it toward the tall World Killer, and brought it down hard.

Tame lightning leaped from staff to man, who convulsed and fell.

The judge touched the controls on his chair arm, and as the people below surged forward, the circle transported.

“Yes! He caught the full blast! He must be dead!”

Chapter One

“. . . heart beat is highly irregular . . .”

And it hurts! Healing spell . . .

“He’s waking! Quickly the Death!”

Xen twitched . . . tried to twitch . . . failed . . . A stinging pain on his upper back.

“If you want any information out of him, you’d better hurry.” The man’s voice again. “He’s not going to last long.”

“Not really, he was just a weapon to remove from their hands. Is there anyone else to Transport?”

“No. I’ll have the techs fire up the rings and he can die out of sight and away from the scrutiny of those tiresome . . .”

The voices faded, hopefully with distance.

Stay with it, don’t faint. This is a very dangerous place.

He tried to pull power . . . nothing. Dammit . . . he forced his eyes open as he was stripped, manhandled into something stiff, scratchy and orange that sent screaming pain up his leg and across his chest.

Then they left him alone. Thank god . . . no dammit, here came one of the tall ones.

The twist of a powered gate scrapped over his nerves. A boot to his ribs and he rolled . . . fell and hit immediately.

Long grass, lumpy ground. Soft, a bit damp. He rolled flat on his back and tried to look all around. Nothing but grass. Unmown, a foot high with seed pods reaching up higher.

Xen rubbed his temples. “Dammit. I can sort of remember . . . parts of it. Maybe tomorrow my head’ll stop hurting . . . And my chest . . . And whatever is trying to sneak up on me . . .”

matapampamuphoff on May 25th, 2018 12:54 pm (UTC)
Or something along those lines.

Now subconscious, if you would just behave for a couple of weeks . . . no wonderful new ideas . . .
(Anonymous) on May 25th, 2018 01:31 pm (UTC)
I liked the original opening, but that prologue you've added is awesome.

matapampamuphoff on May 25th, 2018 03:56 pm (UTC)
I'll fool with it a bit, get the best of both, hopefully.
(Anonymous) on May 25th, 2018 01:38 pm (UTC)
How could a spy who was there long enough to learn about Disco (Xen's paperwork service) fail to learn what the Helios actually were? For that matter fail to learn that Xen did not kill the world?
(Anonymous) on May 25th, 2018 02:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Cannibals
Just my 2 cents: Based upon that brief scene, it seems like they're collecting a lot of rumors and mumblings and grumblings as much or more so than real facts. I don't think the fact that Eldon destroyed a world with a bomb built upon some unknown principles is one of the things any of the polities involved really want to bandy about in public. Xen is the heart of Disco and rest are just window dressing is probably a pretty common rumor, OTOH, with a kernel of truth, but Disco's been building up its strength, and not just from Comet Fall. If they weren't zapping them on the carpet before transporting back, I imagine Jaejong and his thugs would have had a handful dealing with many of the magical personnel Disco is fielding.

matapampamuphoff on May 25th, 2018 04:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Cannibals
I'll stick something in somewhere, giving more information about them. Basically, the not-quite residential news corp has taken to camping. On the beach, in the maze, whatever. Raining? Too cold? Too hot? Check out the next world in the maze.

The spies have a drop point in the maze, and the newsie camp was the first place they encountered people. And got "news" from a dozen biased sources. Dress up like the other newsies with obvious cams and recorders, and no one gives them a second glance. Identify this "Xen Wolfson" who, depending on who you ask, either walks on water or breathes fire. But _no one_ doubts his power, be it magic, political, financial, or military.

One casual stroll past was more than enough for the spies to send home a picture of the most dangerous person in the coalition of worlds.
(Anonymous) on May 26th, 2018 01:48 am (UTC)
RE: Re: Cannibals
How did they get there? How does the drop box work? Their machinery is so energy intensive and must make a lot of "noise" when it arrives to a world. How did they even find the maze?
This story like all your work is fascinating and addictive. But I really think you need a strong viewpoint from within Xin Zhong (excuse spelling) so we can get a feeling for their culture, as their rationales seem irrational.
matapampamuphoff on May 26th, 2018 02:18 am (UTC)
Re: Cannibals
AK was one of the best Tellies at finding worlds.

She saw something strange--Helios merging with the primitive world--and grabbed a group of soldiers and politician at the merge center as Xen attacked it.

And then saw an entire world destroyed.

The captured Helaos were questioned extensively, then Transported.

AK spotted the high activity worlds, then noticed the permanent gate links,and put her spies down in a world connected to the busiest world through several worlds with no other dimensional activity. And on a regular schedule, dropped in so they could throw in reports and recordings, or jump on if they needed to return home.
(Anonymous) on May 26th, 2018 02:00 am (UTC)
RE: Re: Cannibals
All those people who have been training. And maybe Xen's kids are interning at Disco?
Have you thought of someone spouting a theory of cultural and technological cycles to explain why these cultures recovered from their devistating wars into something very like what was around a thousand years ago rather than something very different? I mean Disco across the worlds? Oh and is there a disco ball in the foyer yet? And an Embassy discotheque. Also remember that disco started out of jazz as part of French underground rebellion against Nazis, when they couldn't risk live bands. It's inherently radical and subversive.
(Anonymous) on May 26th, 2018 03:59 pm (UTC)
On balance, I like it better without the prologue from the Chous pov. Maybe necessary information can resurface through Xen's memories of being questioned?

(Anonymous) on May 27th, 2018 02:19 am (UTC)
According to the later story, somewhere between ZAP and Wolf World Xen looses all his bubbles. (And he usually carries a lot of stuff.) As the scene at the Xin Zhonggou transporter lacks anything that could help explain this, it becomes even more mysterious.

(Anonymous) on May 27th, 2018 02:48 am (UTC)
If that's kept, rather than just being an artifact of being temporarily unable to access them due to being starved of magic, quiet action by AK, or an effect of the transporter, seem the most obvious explanations.

matapampamuphoff on May 27th, 2018 02:05 pm (UTC)
Or Xen being semi-conscious and not aware of anything happening.