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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)

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)

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)

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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)

· · Web · 2 · 6 · 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)

 

daily microfiction 

If my heist is to succeed I'll need probability on my side, which is where Babbage's Engine comes in. I've spent months painstakingly describing my plans and errant factors, which Mr Babbage has interpreted into inexplicable movements of cogs and gears. But he promises it'll work, and if it does, I'll fund his experiments as long as he lives.

With a climactic clunk, the Engine stills. Babbage grins at me.

"Looks like we have a plan," he says.

(4/4)

daily microfiction 

For a thousand years, we dragons have held back the night, and the things that lurk in the darkness beyond.

In days of old, when humans were creatures of habit and superstition, our ceremonial forests blazed in slow, lingering burns.

We are careful custodians, masters of firebreak and blaze maintenance, as we dangle on the thermals above in languid arcs.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

Over the centuries, your people gained greater numbers, a better handle on logistics and battle.

You sent out foolhardy young knights to challenge our destruction, and when news of their demise filtered home we expected our affairs to be left in peace. These lands had burned for centuries under our stewardship, the ashen soils ripe for new growth; who were you to demand an explanation?

And then your armies marched, and war fell upon us.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

Now we are few, and the flames we once tended gutter and dim.

So I come to you to explain why the fires must continue. Why the forests must continue to burn. And to make you promise to take upon the mantle of the dragons.

If ever the surface of the world grows dark and a single flame does not rage, our old foe will rise from the depths of the earth. Then all will be lost, and we will not be here to save you.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

The winter sun was setting behind the mountain when the Revenue men came to call.

The youngest human children were already asleep, tucked up warm and safe in the deep vaults, but their elder siblings-by-association peeked through cracked doors and through ancient crevices at the unwelcome intruders to their guardians' domain.

Not one of them had any love in their hearts for well-tailored authority.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

Faced with a pair of vast, ancient dragons inviting them inside, the two men did admirably well at not cowering.

They shared a - somewhat nervous - glance, before the first man cleared his throat and announced "Per the terms of the Draconic Treaty, His Majesty's Revenue has some questions, regarding the value..."

"...and tax status..." the other chimed in.

"...of your hoard."

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

"We have no hoard," said the first dragon, with a long-suffering huff of smoke.

"What happened to your legendary wealth?"

"Officers," said the other, "you may tour every hall of this mountain, and shall find no lakes of gold, nor tumbling piles of gemstones, only the lost humans under our care."

"Every gold coin has been accounted for," snapped the first. "Every gem sold to provide for those you refused to treasure. *We're* not monsters."

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

The cake was crenellated, icing swept into escarpments and arcane whorls. They carried it into the cosy cavern, careful not to disturb the candles standing dark against the edible slate, like beacons yet unlit.

She gasped at the craftsmanship, traced the lines with a delicate claw, looked up at the expectant faces of her gathered kin.

Then with pursed lips and the delicate aroma of smoke in her nostrils, she blew the candles in.

(for @SnarkyLamassu )

daily microfiction 

When the dragon moved in next-door, it sent a ripple of concern through the community.

After all, dragons were known to be rich beyond human ken, and their wealth made them distant, capricious and unfeeling. And though they might sleep a century away on a whim, no-one wanted to be around when they woke.

So the humans gathered their courage and marched up the mountain to ask the dragon to leave.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

They were not expecting to be welcomed, nor to be admitted to a uncannily-familiar parlour carved from the ash-grey slate. A tray of dainty cupcakes awaited their approval, beside freshly-brewed pots of tea.

"Forgive me," said the dragon, once they were all settled in comfortable armchairs of wide-ranging size. "I would've introduced myself earlier, but I didn't want to seem rude."

The humans shared uncomfortable glances.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

"I'm somewhat of an... enthusiast," the dragon explained, their eyes lighting up. "Your culture's fascinating - though I still don't understand these tiny cakes - and every time I try to take a closer look, it's all just screaming and running."

When the humans marched back down the mountain, the dragon shuffled shyly in their wake.

Introductions were made, proper ones this time, the first step towards a fresh goodwill and cultural exchange.

(3/3)

daily microfiction 

Upon the rising heat I float, ashen wings casting shadows upon where the ground used to be.

When last I trod upon soil, when mud caked between splayed claws, I had no inkling it was something to be treasured. When the incessant sirocco dried the last of the dirt against my toes, when it scoured every remnant of the earth from my scales, I did not notice enough to mourn its passing.

Now there is nothing but abyss.

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

Did you know we sleep upon the wing? That like dolphins our brains slumber half at a time, alternating lazy circles through cloud-strewn skies. It would've been useful to know, perhaps, before the world fell.

How long I've been in the air, I cannot recall. There's nothing beneath, no fortunate outcrops, no high mountains brought low.

My wings began to ache many sunsets ago; with each lingering soar, each tentative beat, my will deserts me.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

A light, in the sky. Brilliant, like sunlight refracted through a thousand crystal prisms.

She is a maelstrom inverse, dragging me from the grip of lightning-wracked clouds and the ruin that awaits. She is the thermal that warms my tired bones, lifts me, grips me with opalescent talons that pierce only my soul as I weep for my salvation.

I am not alone, says half my brain. Perhaps there is hope, says the other, as it greets a new day aloft.

(3/3)

 

daily microfiction 

When I first came to the city, it took a while to find my wings.

My hopes and dreams I'd packed in a dusty leather backpack, while my sachets of tea I'd tucked in pockets of a tight-fitting leather jacket offered by a human friend of the family.

"It gets cold and rainy in the hills," they said as they wished me on my way. "Gotta keep your spark lit amongst the big smoke!"

(1/3)

daily microfiction 

I was glad of the warmth when I arrived, on a frosty day in early spring. My shoulder muscles tensed against their confinement, but I pulled my coat tighter against my scales. I knew all too well the chill of extended wingtips in cold mountain air.

Fumbling with tired fingers, I almost dropped my keys as I let myself into my new shop. It was cool and dark within, but a quick exhalation offered fire to the gathered stovewood.

(2/3)

daily microfiction 

Flickering light caressed the stacked chairs and dusty tables, but I passed them by to fill the kettle. There would be plenty of time to sweep the floor, to expel the stale air and brighten up the walls.

The tea brewed with languid affection, and at last I hung my coat on the battered old rack.

I sat in the gloom and sipped at my tea, my heart warm with the thought of all the drinks I'd sell, and stretched my wings wide in satisfaction.

(3/3)

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Re: daily microfiction 

@WizardOfDocs Me too, honestly :D

The first line has been a resident of my brain for a few years, but this week I realised that Babbage was somewhat contemporaneous with Austen (even if not necessarily with the settings of her novels) , and that set up some delightful implications!

daily microfiction 

@rob_haines

I adore this to the point where I wish that it were illustrated in a little hardcover children's booklet that I could keep on a bookshelf.

Thank you for this, it's lovely.✨🌺☀️🌕🌿✨

daily microfiction 

@IridisSparks Thank you so much <3

I'm really glad you enjoyed it! :D

daily microfiction 

@rob_haines Hehe I love it, thank you!! 💨 🔥 🎂

daily microfiction 

@rob_haines this is absolutely delightful :)

daily microfiction 

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

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