An Audience with AulkThe horses became uneasy as the pair neared the clearing. It had taken them five days to trek through the forest, its undergrowth dense through centuries of undisturbed leisure, its tendrils thick and cumbersome underfoot. Even the great horses of Ander found it hard to press onward through the foliage, and they did not have even those to carry them on their journey. The two riders had dismounted to gain better purchase on the forest floor, picking their way through the maze-like woods.An Audience with Aulk by Whothehellisthat
Jent looked up at the massive tree ahead of them, still visible through the dense canopy. The forest was well known for its giant trees, each with girth even a family of woodsmen could not encompass, and stretching so far in the air a ship could be built stem-to-stern in long, uncut planks cut from the tree. It was said that during the war for the Wide Sea of Prote half the forest was chopped down, each tree made into its own ship. Thanks fully Jent was born long after such troubled times.
But the tree
HickoryTimothy Lukket leaned back in his computer chair. The wheels squeaked as he pushed back, slouching against the curved, ergonomic back. The screen showed a floor-plan of the extrusion room, lights blinking on the robotic arms and moving tables showing their hurried activity.Hickory by Whothehellisthat
Tim crooked his head to one side and gazed at the machinery through the window behind the screen. He knew it wasn’t that long ago that it took a whole day to print something as simple and mundane as augmented glasses, but he always found the five to ten minute wait to build his new creation brought an insurmountable tedium to the whole process.
He straightened his head and, with a flick of the wrist, gestured to switch to the build view. The screen showed each piece that was being built in an exploded view that could be spun and manipulated to inspect the individual parts as desired. As a piece was being extruded, acid-burned or otherwise fabricated, it would be outlined yellow. Once a part was complete and pl
Twenty-meter Strip of SkyThe sky was beautiful. I hadn’t seen a sunset in what seemed like forever. The sun still set, of course, but it was hard to see most days what with the mammoth skyscrapers smothering the city. People like me couldn’t afford to live higher than the mid-twenties. Sunlight was a commodity like anything else, and unless you were making six figures, you had to stick to the shadows and deal with it.Twenty-meter Strip of Sky by Whothehellisthat
People said things were different before. Said the sun shone and rain fell on rich men and poor alike. Apparently we didn’t even need to soak up all that light to keep the city going strong. But such things were nonsense, like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. How could you keep twenty million people alive without all that energy? That was simply impossible.
Nope. The energy-harvesting strategies had done all they could, but they couldn't do anything for us poor folk at the bottom of the rung. All we had was our inherited vocation of keeping the city alive, maybe moving to some p
CleanupCaptain James Sidler sat on the observation deck, staring out at the cloud. The Explorer-class vessel was making its first pass around the anomaly, doing all the usual spectrograms and positional scans, but he preferred to sit here with a nice cup of green tea and watch in peace.Cleanup by Whothehellisthat
With the cryostasis chambers now built in to every long-haul ship, it seemed every moment of wakefulness was full of activity. One minute you were preparing for launch, making final checks on course headings and making sure valves and checks for the freezers were all in working order. And then the next minute you were here, at your destination, with things to do and scans to make, sending back all the data as it is collected until they sent you your next orders. And then the cycle restarts and you’re soon back in the freezer again.
Space exploration was supposed to be fun, wasn’t it? Finding new planets and new species, sneaking around virgin space and trying to not get caught by any alien super-be