beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
It was sort of a timelapse history of humanity's first leap to the stars, all told in conversations between one of the project engineers and a simulation of his best friend. There was no warp speed, but stargates worked, so we had to be the gate builders with no shortcuts. Ben stayed behind to protect the project base on the Earth gate end, Cruz took ship and was going to sleep all the way to their nearest neighbour. But everyone that shipped out left behind an experimental imprint, an upload, that could run in then equally experimental VR. That way they could lend their expertise even while they were gone. So Ben started talking to that Cruz, and all we see of their world is these two, an aging engineer who starts out a dreamer but comes to think he missed his chance, and his eternally optimistic best friend, captured at the single moment he gave everything to give humanity hope.

So there was worldbuilding and politics, there were gates built on every continent before the ship left to carry their other halves to the new world, and initially investment was high, but it was going to take almost a generation to get there, and the gates came to represent what their olders had thrown away instead of investing in them. Inert lumps, the masses weren't believers, had no reason to be. And then one day things Ben comes in looking awful, low and like he hasn't slept in an age, and he has to explain to Cruz, they bombed the gates. Some set of radicals bombed the gates. And some of them didn't get through, and some only did superficial damage, but one continent? They used radiologicals. And that gate is now going to bake anyone who tries to use it. They bombed the gate and humanity is 1/8 closer to stuck here, and there's no fixing it, and he's just... so tired. Of guarding these things, and waiting on a future that's... it's going to be so alien to everyone who tried to build it.

So Cruz says show me, and Ben updates the VR. So now it's running like google maps, streetview plus, simulated three dimensional environments, all sorts of good stuff. But there's nobody else in their sim, it wasn't designed that way. So there's just these increasingly alien aesthetics in the new buildings. And Cruz likes wandering around as much as the next guy, but, he also knows he's in a sim. With really good physics. And a suit they used this to teach him to use that's meant to compensate for muscle wasteage but at full strength? Pretty much makes makes him a superhero.

Parkour!

So Ben, not to be outdone, brings his latest designs in to test out, and he's built himself dragon wings. So they're charging around this empty world, Cruz bouncing off buildings, Ben flying down streets that really never meant for this, and it's all golden awesome.

And like, it doesn't change the world outside, but that's not what talking to your friends is for. Whatever the world does, Ben has this. And he has hope again.

And then gate day arrives... and passes.

And then the extension.

And then all their margin.

And now? Now Ben is really low. Because his darling optimist best friend can't see it, can't change that much, the program would call errors on it. As far as he's concerned there's a dozen, a hundred, reasons for delays. They could still be on course. Have a little faith.

But Ben pretty much thinks he's lost his best friend. So he starts treating sim Cruz different. He's not just waiting, keeping on like they ever did. He's moving on.

So he kisses him, and Cruz kisses back, and it's golden.

But it's years. Years after gate day. Cruz the same young man he ever was, Ben getting distant and focused on the world outside. Thinks this is some kind of escape, all the things he never had. Doesn't believe there's future in it.

Then comes the day that light speed will show them what happened to the ship. And Cruz and Ben watch the feeds together. And it's textbook, it's perfect, the ship is exactly where it's meant to be, but only the automated stuff ever happened.

So the simplest explanation is Cruz just never woke up.

And Ben could hear that and go one of two ways. He could give up - on his golden time with his best mate - or...

But that's where the messages end. That's the last time the sim was woken up. There is no more.

On that end.



Years later than expected, out around a cosmically close star, Cruz wakes up, now the adverse condition is finally cleared out of the ship. And he gets his messages. And despite the sim's fears, he is incredibly happy with all the sim's choices. He'll take them on. He'll call them a memory. And he's walking around grinning, and his crewmates are like, why? Didn't Ben just dump you?


And Cruz is just, no. No way. You don't see it?

Ben is on his way.

He'll be here with the backup crew.

We just have to make it good for when he gets here.



So when the working day is done, now Cruz curls up with sim Ben, keeping him updated on the work they're starting, the planetary surveys and placing the gates, in total confidence he's on his way there.

Because Cruz is ever the optimist, and Ben is the engineer.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
You know when a story seems good enough to be worth waking up a couple hours early and actually typing?
And then I sit down at the computer...



So the dream was really interesting, because it was set after VR and fast enough servers means most people interact by Avatars. You can set your house Av to be famous actors, if you can afford the image rights. But the era of famous actors was way back in my youth, because after a while the studios realised how to generate novel appearances and emotes from the bank they already had, and AI personalities rule the vids now. But you know what happens to old actors? Conventions. (And Big Finish Audio.) So those of us that still care, really really care. Even in an era of telepresence, we want to go stand in a queue to smile nervously and blurt half our carefully prepared statements. And some of us will even pay extra for a meet and greet where we stare at famous people from much closer to. Yes, even famous people from twenty years ago. Twenty years is nothing, I've stood in line for actors from before I was born, and it was awesome.

So I was pottering around the house with my house AI on, the Av set to the Commander, being gently encouraging and asking the important 'have you taken your meds yet' question at the prescribed intervals. So when the Commander asks me if I'm ready for the con this weekend I just chat back and say I'm so not ready, I'm not even sure what the theme is. And he gets this wounded voice on and says 'I'm standing right here.' So I spin round and he is, twenty years older than last we saw him, all silver and smokier voiced. And my eyes go O.O and I stutter, like, the parties! I can't remember, what should I pack for the parties? And he grins at me and says he doesn't know but he's sure we'll have a great time. And winks, and fades away.

Read more... )



So that was a pretty great dream. (And, okay, less eloquent at the time, and there was a whole sequence of climbing ladders like Donkey Kong to get into the hotel that I didn't feel added to the mood). But then it seemed like, well, he would know all that. I mean, you'd hope the actors know. But sometimes it's easiest to write ourselves out of our own story, like to see how everyone else does it so smoothly, and we're just paddling here. So I don't know.

But I do know that even after the CGI gets so good it can replace the actors, that won't be the important part. It'll still be about people. Dreaming together.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Rachel stumbled through the door, unbalanced by the unexpected opening. Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
“Alright, kid, I’ve got the go.” Mickey turned back around from the comm panel and grinned.

“For serious? The control room? *Yes!*” Kasim punched the air and did a little dance.
Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Malcolm kept catching sight of himself in the mirror, and it kept on startling him. Ridiculous, of course. But the image of self from the outside, without the echoes of his wife’s thoughts, felt cold and unnatural; he kept reaching for the connection every time it happened, and every time he kept bumping into the nothing where the door should be, like a bee into a window pane.
Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
People who only travel one stop never get why we call it the Ladder. It’s a long, slow, haul up or down to the Gate, a carefully choreographed high inclination dance with every other packet and carrier waiting, then one flash of blue white light, and back down or up to the dance in the next star system. One bright hoop does not a ladder make.

I lay cradled in flight gel, secure from all g-shock any human could survive. Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Believing that omens attend upon beginnings I just spent the last three hours writing. So I've got 1400 words of original fiction, all new characters, all new world... at least if I filed the serial numbers off enough, I know who they're played by, I just weren't intending to show it.

Unbetaed short story below the cut:

***

There were two shadows in the window. Ten minutes before opening, the dockside lights behind them competed with the displays of the last shift’s bar signs, setting the two blinking back and forth. It added to the swaying both managed on their own.

Read more... )

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beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
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