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daily microfiction 

Our orbit is a vast ellipse, a needle-nosed coronal apoapsis to slingshot us to escape velocity from Sol's grasp. All windows point aft, but if you listen closely you can hear the sun beating on our hull, its fires raging as it pulls us close, quickens our hearts and our velocity to unimaginable extremes.

And then Sol rips away our wings.

Falling, tattered in embers, we plummet into the cold, everlasting night of deep space.

(2/2)

daily microfiction 

When we first discovered other populous worlds - ones we somewhat egotistically deemed to be in an earlier stage of development than our own - our first impulse was to share. We created the Enlightenment, a vast effort across fields spiritual, cultural and scientific, to help a promising world achieve their potential.

A hundred years later, after multiple schisms and three global conflicts, we abandoned our efforts in shame and regret.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

We retreated inwards, to introspect before our desire to uplift caused further harm. It was our fault, we agreed. Our intervention inevitably skewed the natural development of their society, accelerating cultural change at such a rate that points of friction became wildfires.

There is a place for intervention when existential threat looms, but we cannot fool ourselves: to intervene is to reimagine a world's future, to be more like ours.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

Now when we discover new worlds, we are naught but eyes in the vast starry night, ears attuned to radiowaves and binary data transmissions.

We chart their path through basic physics, social rights, advanced metallurgy, knowing their path will differ from our own. They may one day pierce the horizon and meet us high above, but they may not, and that, too, is right and true.

Maybe we will learn more about ourselves, from our differences.

(3/3)

 

daily microfiction 

When she kissed me one last time and walked into the spaceport, I knew she'd never be coming back.

It wasn't lack of love that tore us apart, but opportunity. She had so much potential, out there in the stars; she had a place on a new world, doing the science she'd trained her whole life to do.

This was her destiny - and she'd begged me to join her - but I had responsibilities of my own, here on Luna.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

Near-light travel does strange things to the passing of time.

It took a few months for her interstellar transport to pick up speed, her messages becoming fewer and further between. Now dilation's fully set in, moments for her will be weeks for me. The mascara-stained tears running down my cheeks will still be fresh in her memory, but my loss is an ache dulled by time.

She's gone, but I can't let her go.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

I buried my father in the regolith. I grieved for him, for many of my lover's moments. And then I sent her a question.

It took six months before the ansible pinged a reply. Two words, typed with haste against the flow of time. "Come. Please."

Now my transport, too, hastens towards near-light. Five years will have passed - for both of us - before we hold each other again, under the light of an alien star, and rekindle our love with a kiss.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

We first discovered the voidtree in a cavernous vesicle, deep beneath our planet's crust.

The chamber had been pure vacuum before we cracked its shell, yet the tree had flourished, its bark glossy and airtight, its vascular channels impenetrable by all but the most sturdy of our scientific tools.

Within months, we'd successfully grown voidfruit saplings in a vacuum-controlled lab.

And at last, we looked to the skies.

(1/3)

(for @gergely)

daily microfiction 

You see, when our species first sought to transcend our arboreal origins, we fueled our industry on ancient compressed timbers. We hardened our hearts and our tools with advanced fibre composites, of hardwoods and the planar sheets of dense igneous rock which splintered beneath our thin membrane of fertile soil.

And when we first reached for the stars, even our finest woods were found wanting by the forces and pressures of the vast expanse.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

It's been three decades since we stumbled upon the future.

Eighteen launches of voidtech shuttles, slingshot into orbit carrying their crop of seedpods and scaffolding for the growth of the new saplings - for they are unruly twigs who resist our designs to shape them!

Today, the Copse is finally airtight. Thirty voidtrees intertwine, holding back the vacuum of space; amongst their roots, we may at last take our place amongst the stars.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

The infinite positivity drive was definitely the least-well thought out psychedrive technology to make it to production.

The crews of the initial three Smileships were chosen for positive mental attitude and an extreme tolerance for their fellow enthusiastic extroverts. After all, the corps reckoned, when your FTL capability is wholly reliant on the happiness of your crew, it's essential that positivity is mandated and tightly controlled.

(1/2)

daily microfiction 

It came as little surprise to the rest of the known galaxy when two of the three vessels tore themselves apart in a series of mental breaks during extended missions, and the third was last heard from in deep-space, its crew trapped in a self-perpetuating cascade of minor concerns.

Amidst post-mortem and corporate hand-wringing, the working group all agreed that the fundamental technology was sound; it was their employees who'd been lacking.

(2/2)

daily microfiction 

To resolve the paradox of the vastness of the universe and our lack of contact with sentient alien life, the renowned data-manipulator Somoran theorised that it was not a matter of spatial distance between unlikely civilisations, but temporal too.

To our regret, Somoran's Constant - the complex numeric defining the likelihood that we would ever share timeframes with an extant species - appears to be a consistent rule of our universe.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

Yet Somoran also freed us to turn our full attention towards the traces of civilisations that have been, long-lost gnarls in history's weave.

Our spearpoint vessels are swift, and travel far from our home system in search of lingering traces of complex hydrocarbons and industrial derivatives decayed a hundred-thousand half-lives. And when we find those places, where people once lived, we begin our search in earnest.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

Over a succession of worlds, we've become experts at navigating ruins of empires, of crumbling irradiated hellscapes and dark, foreboding museums full of beasts that skitter and wail. And occasionally, silent tombworlds who simply stopped.

We seek lingering remnants of data and cultural icons held in stasis, the clutches of entropy denied for a million years.

We may never meet those aliens. But perhaps one day, we will tell their stories!

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

In the early days of transporter technology, the philosophical implications of pattern transfer and original body dissolution took centre stage. Even for those who did not believe in an indivisible soul, permanence of corporeal form remained a defining tenet of sentient life.

Adoption of the new technology faltered, even the most tech-forward CEOs unwilling to risk their atoms being ripped apart and stitched together in suboptimal fashion.

(1/4)

daily microfiction 

The Continuance of Sentient Rights laws brought this dissonance to a head, declaring both the transported and the transportee to be separate, indelible sentient lives. It was no longer permissible to dismantle your previous self brick-by-brick, to sweep them under the carpet of history.

A succession of high-profile twin studies led to a wider acceptance; while your teleporter clone may well share many of your attributes, they are not you. 

(2/4)

daily microfiction 

Society was unprepared for the social niceties of adult cloning, but for a decade the practice went unregulated. Dinner parties were scandalised by a single guest turning up multiple times, while one notorious teleportation researcher formed a sizable atelier of their own clones, a frenzy of collaboration which imploded spectacularly.

At last, as the issues reached critical mass, teleportation range increased to interstellar distances.

(3/4)

daily microfiction 

In the absence of more tangible methods of reaching alien worlds, teleportation snapped into focus. Who cared if you had a clone you'd never meet, doing fine work around another star?

Ansible communication made the transference of patterns possible, but also opened the gateway to communicating with your own selves, living their disparate lives.

Tonight we're having a remote games night, with me, me, me and me. I can't be sure I'll win.

(4/4)

daily microfiction 

The challenge of terraforming is finding a balance between artistry and scale.

There are neoplanets out there where every perfect fjord is hand-modelled, every forest uncannily beautiful and every hill precisely honed for a pleasant stroll in the afternoon sunshine, but that sort of work requires a multi-generational effort of geo-engineering guilds, operating from close orbit.

Yet bashing a few rocks together doth not a New Eden make.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

Every planet you've set foot upon has been crafted with compromise, with unique, bespoke points of interest set amidst a general background of procedural ecologies rugged enough to obscure rough edges with natural growth and erosion and all the other little processes that make a world feel lived in.

And when you're painting with a broad brush and an advanced suite of matter-reconfiguration nanobots, you can do so from the comfort of home.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

But no matter how many lightyears separate artist from canvas, it's still your intent which crafts a desolate dustball into a vibrant world. It's still your will which tempers the solar winds and guards the nascent atmosphere from the excesses of the void.

And when your transport arrives after all those months of nearlight travel, and the warmth of the attentuated sunset rests upon your brow, you'll see your work and know that it is good.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

Sometimes I wish we'd known, before we set out to find the Progenitors, that they would have none of the answers we sought.

Their traces we detected in tumbledown ruins and blown-out spheres. Their ejecta, in orbit around long-forgotten stars, we studied and gleaned hints to their majesty.

We tracked them through vacuum, through nullspace and subspace with ever increasing urgency, praying to discover a civilisation, not a tomb.

(1/3)

 

daily microfiction 

And then, one more slip between the folds of space and we made contact.

The elder race of our universe, not dissimilar to ourselves; too close, in fact, for they had faced the same hardships. Loneliness, inequality, the crushing abyss of mortality, they had fled the same woes that had carried us in their wake.

They too had been brought low by sorrow and the unceasing march of entropy. Their advice was nothing we did not already know.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

When we returned home, there were riots.

We had not fully appreciated how heavily the hope of our people rested upon our journey. Broadcast across the continents, we spoke of the Progenitors, of their kindness and their sorrow, but we had no more answers than when we left. That night, cities burned.

Now, those of us who returned quietly preach the messages of the old ones, acceptance of our sorrow, and hope for a future yet defined.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

We each owe our birth to the death of a star.

In their cataclysmic throes of destruction, the stardust of life is created; each of us is the result of a near-infinite chain of cause and effect at a mind-boggling array of scales, as small as the interaction of sub-atomic particles and as large as the macro-economic matrices of the stellar systems in which we reside.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

There are species whose religions propose a divine plan, an end goal towards which all living things must work. There are those who theorise an infinite multiverse, where all possible decisions are made in parallel, eternally splintering into an endless fractal spacetime.

Our people believe that the universe just *is*.

That the choices each of us make are predestined not by some higher power, but by who we are and who we have been.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

This is usually the point where our emissaries are met with worried looks and mutterings of heresy, for if we are not responsible for our actions, then who is? How do we hold the universe to account for our personal transgressions?

This is the paradox of stardust, the dogma we carry with us. We do this because of who the universe made us to be.

And one day, we will carry what we have learned back to the stars that made us.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

I lie in the shadow between veins of quartz, my flesh rimed with opalescent crystal, and dream of the sky.

Once, my kin were as flurried ash against smoke-dark skies. Our wings blotted out the fires in the night, our breath bringing cool solace to tortured earth; we were legion, and flame by flame we quenched this hostile world. And then we slept, as lush green burst from scorched soil and birthed a paradise.

(1/2)

daily microfiction 

Soon, I will stir. I will flex my shoulders and break the bonds of earth that hold me; I'll stretch my wings amidst shattering stone and plummeting stalactite, and claw my way from the deep, the geology which formed my prison now my armour.

I will roar, quaking the trees in the Eden that my kin created, and every cloud shall tremble before me as I reclaim the skies.

(2/2)

daily microfiction 

When you first hear of the fearsome dragons of the kelp forests, I'm sure you imagine us as sea serpents, flowing in sinuous wave between towering fronds. You imagine our teeth, striking from the dark between foliage and foam; our scales slick and smooth against the water's pull.

But we are nothing like you imagine. And while you are right to be wary, your reasoning swims astray.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

Imagine a bubble of foam, if you will; the way it bridges water and complex hydrocarbon, constructs something more than its constituent parts. We are akin to that bubble.

If you spent years hunting us through the dense green, if you cut every frond and pulled it from the deep, you would not find us within. We are the foam on the frond, individually microscopic, but capable of acting with one mind, one will to protect our habitat.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

And when our kelp is threatened, our ire raised, we do not swarm in the shape of a serpent, nor hunt within our canopy. We rise as one, a many-scaled effigy of overlapping leaves which bursts from the surface and rides the updraft.

With a single thought, we soar. Our will is legion, and when we swoop upon the invaders with bubbling roar and the thunderous rustle of a thousand fronds, they will flee, carrying tales of monsters from the deep.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

Asleep on his hoard of yet-to-be-read manuscripts, Reisen takes his final breath.

This life has been devoted to stories both real and imagined, of collation and curation of every tale which passes his way. On leather-bound wings he's flown the length and breadth of the world, seen things with both his eyes and the gaze of a thousand other minds, each bringing their own nuance to the lands below.

And he is satisfied.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

His eyes close, and the great bulk of the story-dragon turns to paper. A hundred thousand interleaved sheets and bent-back spines, the dust of a library left undisturbed for a millenium, gravid with ancient knowledge and wonder.

There is no wind within the mountain, but the papers that were Reisen rustle and settle, and with a mighty exhalation the carven doors which sealed his sanctuary swing ajar.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

It will take courage and imagination for a human to brave his tomb, but those are virtues he cherishes.

They'll stumble upon his hoard, their eyes alight with the promise of unspoken knowledge and tales of far-off lands, and the stories that once were Reisen will be told and re-told and travel further than he could ever have flown.

And one day, like a dusty, leathery phoenix he will be reborn, in a library far from home.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

I've always loved the stars.

It's one of the reasons being born under-the-mountain never sat well with me. My siblings had eyes for gold and gems; they rolled and played amidst towers of coinage and hunted each other through labyrinths of treasure piled high, while I crept out and clambered my way to the high peaks, to gaze upon the night in wonder.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

When the mountain turned to flame, I took to wing and never looked back. Not that mere magma could threaten my kin, but the rising ash obscured my view of the sky.

I built my eyrie upon the cliffs, and traded the last of the gems my mother had thrust into my claws to a family of human craftsmen. I made them rich for generations, and they built me a marvellous contraption of lenses and polished brass to bring me ever closer to the heavens.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

Every star in the sky, I hold dear. Each wisp of distant galaxy, each glimmering, twinkling celestial night-light, I call a friend.

One day, I will fly fast enough and high enough to breach even heaven's periphery; I will soar, weightless and free amongst the marvels of the universe, and never again return to the world I knew.

Until then, I will admire their dance from afar.

(3/3)

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daily microfiction 

I first spotted the draconic temple from the air, gliding in on slate-grey wings and the turbulence rolling off my furrowed brow.

I'd spent the best part of the past hundred years tracking down rumours of ancient ruins, religious sites and libraries, crumbling cities built to be accessed only from the sky. I'd traced the exodus of my people from the upthrust lands far to the west, documented in scraps of parchment and faded bas-relief.

(1/3)

· · Web · 1 · 4 · 4

daily microfiction 

The dusk of the interior was lit only by the candles swaying on the tips of my whiskers as I progressed from anterior to altar, from altar to sanctum. The elevation of each inward chamber radically shifted, breaking sight-lines and proving impassable to any intruder not fit for flight.

And then, deep in their archives, I found what I'd been searching for, all this time. Dark rituals, fit for a draconic soul like mine.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

Home once more, I laid out the candles, cast the salt in pleasing arcs. The rumble of the mountain provided an ashen noise to drown out my conscious thoughts.

It's hard to live so long, you see, to learn so much. At some point in centuries past, my mind became a hornet's nest, my focus brought low by the passage of time and those I have known and lost.

As the ritual brought a tickle of flame to my lips, I took a breath and began to relax.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

Amongst dragons, it is considered somewhat gauche to eat a friend of a friend. The chasm between having a friend for dinner and having a friend *for* dinner is vast and socially insurmountable.

Unfortunately, some bright spark let this slip to humans. And so as I rear to my full height, flame billowing from cocineal-red nostrils, ready to devour this hapless intruder to my domain, I am thoroughly unsurprised to hear a tiny, squeaking voice.

(1/4)

daily microfiction 

"Wait... Please! I knew Mathesolor!"

Now this raises a quandary. Mat was my lover for a host of seasons. Mat was - undoubtedly - the sort of dragon who would *know* humans; the sort who would rather gamble his hoard away than treasure it, who'd offer up his true name in drunken revelry and muddy the waters for the rest of us just trying to do right by tradition.

But humans invoke our friends and lovers all the time, to save their own skin.

(2/4)

 

daily microfiction 

Fact-checking, dragon-style, is swift and usually ends with a crunch.

Hoard-robbers are wont to memorise a list of names, known socialites of the dragon world - like Mat - but the tales they tell are clear fabrications, oblivious to even the most obvious nuances of dragonhood. But when this tiny rough-shod man speaks of Mat, tells me of the tales they wove, the songs they sang together, I begin to believe.

My flame sputters in my throat.

(3/4)

daily microfiction 

When he joins me in my chambers, he spares but a glance for the tumbledown piles of wealth.

We swap tales of Mat, lover and confidante, friend and occasional burden. As night draws in, we each fall silent, and I notice that my new friend is weeping, softly. He tries to conceal it, but I draw him close with vast, leathery wing, and we mourn, together.

And before he leaves in the cold light of day, I offer him my name.

(4/4)

 

daily microfiction 

Dragons, it turns out, have always had a somewhat intangible relationship to the weave of spacetime.

In the mythology of old, they leapt oceans in a single bound, or delivered ultimatums to wildly disparate warring states in the course of an afternoon.

That they could traverse pathways unknown to humankind was taken as self-evident. Until we breached our world's atmosphere, no-one had thought to ask how far those pathways could lead.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

Even the dragons themselves were reticent to forge a path through the heavens; those who deigned to comment referred us to legends of notorious fools, stricken with such hubris that they soared into the dark between stars, never to be seen again.

But we offered steel, and aluminium, and polycarbonate helmets large enough even for dragons to brave the vacuum.

Then the hard part: convincing them that harnesses did not make them beasts of burden.

(2/3)

 

daily microfiction 

You can only imagine the contracts we had to agree, of shared authority and extortionate recompense. It didn't take them long to realise they were critical to our dreams of exploration.

Now the first dragonships have reached orbit, vast chariots pulled by semi-mythological, trans-dimensional reptiles. One by one, they slip into the spaces between atoms, our vessels twisting and winking out in their wake.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

When we first rose up against the dragons, there was a critical flaw in our plan.

We knew they were rich beyond our wildest imaginations; that they'd hoarded their wealth, invested it a thousand million times over, and their greed made them callous. We assumed the archons in power were intrinsically evil, and that dragon society would crumble when beheaded.

Our strategy was to defeat them one by one, a gradual erosion of our oppressors.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

But with every mountain we marched upon, every nocturnal battle of flame and roar, every treasure hoard reclaimed and used to fund our rebellion, new challengers arose.

Dragon society was more complex than we had anticipated; these upstarts had little but brought the war to us, stole our treasures and built fortresses from ruined catacombs. And as our foes evolved to meet our tactics, our advance faltered, the fires of our uprising quenched.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

After thirty more years of enslavement, we know better. It is not merely individual dragons who oppress us; it is the systemic wealth of dragonkin.

Their society is built upon tyrannical economics. If one dragon falls to our blades, unfeeling social engines promote another, and our war continues for eternity.

At last our plans are in place. Soon, we shall rise again, and if we are to succeed we must shatter society itself!

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

It's often considered an ungainly sight, to watch a dragon climb. But climb we did, through mountain pass and freezing winds. 

My siblings clustered close in warmth and solidarity, while those of our extended circle soared in wild arcs above our heads. I'd sometimes wished I had their natural grace in the sky, but I'd spent my life on claw and haunch, and on this pilgrimage to the moon sanctum my talents were a match for theirs.

(1/4)

daily microfiction 

I was once embarrassed by my wings; half-formed, stumpy little things.

They recalled the jibes of childhood, disappointed glances, the developing self-esteem of a young dragon thrust into a spotlight I was not ready to inhabit. My wings would never flap in the wind, carry me upon thermal and updraft to soar above our aerie.

Yet still, I told my egg-siblings, I wished to fly.

(2/4)

daily microfiction 

Beneath the sanctum's dome, the air fine and thin, I choose my moonstones.

They glimmer in rainbow hues as I pluck each one from their languid hover and press them gently but firmly into my hide.

I know all the equations, of course, but I also embed nacreous gemstones with an artist's eye. If these are to be the lattice upon which I rebuild my self-image, I do not wish merely to tolerate their support. I wish to love them.

(3/4)

daily microfiction 

When I emerge, I carry myself with angelic splendour. Do not be fooled; I am still the same wingless dragon who clambered to the tip of the world with my kin by my side. But sometimes we just need a little lift, to live out our dreams.

One by one, the moonstones begin to glow beneath my flesh, and for the first time in my life, I take flight.

(4/4)

daily microfiction 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young dragon in possession of all her graces must be in want of a hoard.

Which of course is why the human - whose card introduces as Mr Bingley - calls on me and my sisters, this warm summer's afternoon at our father's estate. He comes seeking a consort, and if the rumours are true, his fortune is enough to make a dragon blush.

My siblings, perhaps, may be tempted, but I have grander ambitions!

(1/4)

daily microfiction 

I do not wish to inherit my father's hoard - though not due to its meagre extent - nor be permitted access to a human's accounts through marriage.

I have never understood the appeal of numbers on accounting sheets, as if human men are so fragile as to wilt by the mere proximity to the wealth they have accrued. Is not greed defined by gathering more than one will ever use, and if so, does not "filling a mountain with gold to lounge upon" count?

(2/4)

daily microfiction 

Once Mr Bingley has departed, his eye set upon my eldest sister, I make my excuses and take wing to meet - somewhat salaciously - with a very different specimen of humanity.

Mr Babbage has little fortune to speak of, and while he voices no objection to my presence in his workshop he has made no entreaties towards a more permanent engagement.

He knows I'm just here for his Engine, whose gears spin in elegant clockwork in the dark beyond.

(3/4)

 

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daily microfiction 

@rob_haines Wow! Very evocative tale. It suggests a whole world.

@rob_haines I love everything about this. I've toyed with worldbuilding of dragons that can traverse space many times but it didn't look like this. I love your vision of it!

@vicorva Thank you, and I'm glad you enjoyed! <3

There's something fascinating to me about extrapolating myth into some form of semi-grounded reality, or at least some sort of framework in which that reality could exist :D

daily microfiction 

@rob_haines
this dragon girl is named "Ada" isn't she? 😁

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