maleo

Avid reader of all sorts and sometime writer of short stories. Main account @[email protected] This blog hosts microfiction based on Fediverse prompts; longer reads over at https://www.wattpad.com/user/maleodk

With thanks to @[email protected] for hosting.
Vapour emerged from the egg as it opened, a hatch, now cleared of its protective atmosphere, presenting the occupant to the assembled crowd. It was a small thing, a mere speck; it looked at us with inquisitive, flitting eyes, its lips opening slightly as it took us in.
“Hello – welcome to Qera. I’m the Mayor of this town and my name is Lhmo. Who are you?”
It looked at the Mayor as if he had spoken in Tpon.
The assorted voices of the crowd began to pipe up.
“It doesn’t look a lot like our kind, Mayor…”
“Where did it come from?”
“It’s very small…”
“Why is it so pale? Is it cold?”
“Is it food?”
It broke the melee with a sound, shrill and clear; it’s eyes twinkled in the midday sun as its lips curled into what we thought looked like a smile.
We leaned in; my hand, unconsciously, drifted forward above the egg. The creature, in response, held up a tiny, chestnut hand and grasped at my amber thumb.
“I think… I think it’s a child.”
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#SciFiPrompt 55: Creature by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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Excitedly, she shouts, “Gurrl, look at this!”
“What it?” His sleepy eyes are rubbed, a yawn clears cobwebs.
“Found it floating in the wreckage of that ol’ star cruiser – must’ve been exploded in the Wars.”
“What it, though?” His eyebrow rises. “You didn’t fetch me outta dreams for nothin’, right?”
“As if I dare! Look, here – it’s a…”
Simultaneously: “…BAR O’ GOLD!”
“How much could it be worth?” Her breathless anticipation is palpable as the daydream of early retirement arrives, warm and welcoming like a well-tended hearth.
“Nishpatang, fam; ‘member they found that metal asteroid, loads of gold, copper, nickel – platinum too. All the metals we rinsed Terra for, they errywhere out here.” He waves his arm vaguely at the viewpanels.
“Woulda been worth a fortune back then though, right?” The echo of disappointment wobbles in her chords, as his friendly hand rests delicately on her shoulder.
“Yeah, like – that mighta been part of The Unity’s treasury, but they long gone. Hey, at least you found something cool from the old days.”
“Might just keep it anyway, looks like we rich up there on the shelf.” The bar of gold is placed above the navigation computer – still, more delicately than its apparent value would suggest.
“Now, you find some painite out there, we talkin’. That stuff – one payday forever.”
The dream, almost diminished, is stoked and rages like wildfire once more.
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#SciFiPrompt 54: Space Junk by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

With thanks to @[email protected] for hosting.
It’s an old tale: xe meets they; a first kiss; the fireworks. Impact on society? Microscopic.
When one considers the extent to which the work xe does benefits the planet (stratus engineering isn’t a small trick, but has effectively saved all of us from suffocating or burning), what point is there for my silly little words, the biography of our biology?
Nobody else can tell the story of the Macdee’s Menu Mixup or the Night of the Nanocomp Nonsense or the Case of the ChatBot Confusion. That one time xe came home late from work and jumped into the decarbonator without realising xe’d left xir clothes on. The night I’d focused on helping to relax xem, which had ultimately required three rounds of cacao pudding and an hour of classic video games. The virtual wedding and xir parents, confined to a clean-zone retirement home, to protect them from the pathogens, weeping as the digital registrar pronounced us married.
Little, microscopic truths; two lifetimes of joy.
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#SciFiPrompt 52: Microscopic by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

With thanks to @[email protected] for hosting.
Emerging from his ship, his feet touched the ground and he immediately spread roots. The soil tasted nutritious; he paused and absorbed some of the liquids present. He gorged on it, after that, the nourishment after his long journey much needed.
He became aware of some small mammals around him. They moved quickly, skittish even; they held small pieces of metal and glass; they wore coverings on their bodies that clearly weren’t grown.
Ignoring them, he spread his arms and let his hair down. The wind was refreshing, the light emitting from their star was abundant, they had a lot of tasty gases in the atmosphere; easy to process, too. The little mammals eventually diverted a small river to keep the soil moist beneath him; he’d been grateful for this, and had borne fruit for them to consume as thanks.
After four or five rotations around their star, he realised that the carbon in the atmosphere was running low. He’d consumed a vast amount of it, becoming strong from it. Thus, he reflected, it was time to move on and find somewhere new. He retracted his roots, smiled, and walked back to his ship, leaving the waving mammals behind.
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#SciFiPrompt 53: Growing by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

With thanks to @[email protected] for hosting.
It was strange being the last. For a while, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I jogged – like, a lot. I lost all that weight I’d been pestering myself about. Then, I drank it back on. I learned Cymraeg. I read a tonne of books.
It was in the boredom at the end of all this shit that made me learn HoLog. It took about a month to generate a pixelated love interest; another month, and he had a little dog too.
Ar ôl blwyddyn, I had generated a full scene, depixelated the lad, and changed the black lab for a less needy tabby. I built furniture, the house in which it was contained, fucking wallpaper.
The cat ran away. The computer just deleted the code, like she’d been knocked down by a digital bus. The love interest lost interest. I deleted the whole programme.
I preferred being alone.
I took up jogging again.
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#SciFiPrompt 51: Hologram by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

With thanks to @[email protected] for hosting.
“Remind me when we lost contact with them, specifically.”
“June 24th. They were fine on 23rd, then just stopped replying. Took Central a week just to get a ping back from their servers; looks like someone just woke up and decided it was time to communicate one last time.”
“Do we have a transcript of that ping?”
“It was just a bunch of numbers, boss.”
“I want to take a look anyway.”
“Your dollar, your time.”
She passed the dataslice over to her. A few minutes passed; she played with her fingernails as she waited for her boss to finish scrutinising the sample.
Then, suddenly: “Look, here.”
She leaned into the screen, seeing immediately what was being pointed at. “Is that… code?”
“It is; an app, hidden in the stream, almost as if it was wrapped on purpose.”
“Want me to compile it?”
“Yes, then run the code and show me what they wanted us to see.”
The conversation ended as the gentle clicking of keys being tapped took priority. Shortly after, the screens flickered and changed.
“Looks like it activates the food printers – hold on, there’s a DNA signature embedded into the program; it’s already sent it to the stem cell converters.”
“The food printers? Why would they be sending us a recipe?”
“Not a recipe – just looks like some novel species of mushroom, from the preview image. Should almost be done, so the printers will have ejected by the time we get down there to check them.”
“Mushroom?”
“Yeah, a fungus.”
“Don’t they release spores?”

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#SciFiPrompt 50: Fungus by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

With thanks to @[email protected] for hosting.
The cheer from the assembled scientists was deafening. The creation of a self-sustaining star, abundant energy for the paying planets of the Solar Union, for countless generations to come.
We’d designed the Dyson sphere first, originally to find a star beyond our system to contain; once we’d realised it would use more energy to get there and to get the energy back than we’d generate in a lifetime, we’d pivoted to stellar engineering, thinking closer to home. Years of research, of development of new photovoltaics, a whole new field of mathematics…
Let’s be honest, there were plenty of options – we just needed to learn how to control them first. We’ve never found any other use for Saturn, anyway – and the rings look very elegant surrounding our obsidian sphere.
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#SciFiPrompt 49: Sunrise by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

With thanks to @[email protected] for hosting.
The change in the gravity was almost imperceptible (unless you’d been paying attention to the minute details of it for a decade, as he had) – but, as he’d had drilled into him back down on Earth before coming up here, by an elderly blue-collar who had no hope of escaping, ‘even a 0.01g shift in the Theseus’s artificial gravity network, if left unchecked and uncorrected, could have a cascade response as the automated systems attempt to maintain gyroscopic integrity and could kill everybody on board.’ Thus, Johnny took his responsibility seriously.
“We’ve got a 0.0067g shift, Al.”
“Not another one! Johnny, can’t you keep it stable for even a day? Carl, how are you with gravnet code?”
Johnny scowled. “Look, Al – you try taking turn-of-the-century tech and make it work up here perpetually. I’ve rewritten this programme fourteen times now; I don’t actually know where the disconnect is between the code and the circuitry.”

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With thanks to @[email protected] for hosting.
Oh, but they hadn’t always been here. My grandparents used to speak with hushed voices about their arrival, all those years ago, almost as if frightened they were listening. They’d rejected the gifts, determined that they were bribes for some future terror; so many old folks had. We blamed it on the games they played when they were younger, outsiders representing nothing more than death and destruction.

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With thanks to @[email protected] for hosting.
“Sit down, please – siéntate, por favor.”
She pulled the metal chair from beneath the glossy table and, as instructed, placed herself upon it. She glanced around the room, her gaze flitting from the cameras in the corners opposite her to the mirrored wall to her right (of course, she wasn’t naive enough to believe it was anything other than two-way), to the door on her left through which she’d been led. Her eyes settled on the officer opposite her, handsome and commanding in his suit. She reached for the glass of water in front of her and, slowly, took a sip. It helped.

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