Wednesday, June 14, 2006


A Legion, and a Pair of Ravens

An even shorter day today than yesterday, again due to that nettlesome life thing, but I still managed to get to my goal for the week, the end of Part One. With only two parts to go, that means I'm on track to finish in another four weeks as planned, provided life doesn't get even more intrusive.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
29,731 / 90,000

Today's bit is just an excerpt, not a full chapter, in which RJ Stone meets a legion and a pair of ravens.

The escort navigated me through the crowd, and in a few steps we came to the group it had indicated.

The three women, who appeared to be of Asian ancestry, looked to be about twenty-five years old. They were completely identical, more alike than twins, each with the same face and build, the same height of 1.5 meters tall, the same dark hair and brown eyes.

“Ah, the legendary Captain Stone,” one of the women said I approached. “So nice to meet you in person.” She stuck out her hand, a gesture I’d not seen since waking, and as I shook it, she said, “I’m Jida Shuliang.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said, and turned to the woman at her side. “And you are?”

The three women looked at one another, smiling slightly.

“Jida Shuliang is a legion,” the eagle on my shoulder said out loud, “a distributed consciousness, the longest-established and most stable in the Entelechy.”

I looked from one woman to another to another. “Distributed? So you’re all…?”

“I am Jida Shuliang,” all three women said in unison. One of them grabbed a drink from a passing tray, and another’s attention drifted to the side of the room, but the third continued to speak to me, a slightly bemused expression on her face. “I first expanded my mind through more than one body in T3017, connected via primitive cortical implants. My original body expired after only a few centuries, naturally, but I’ve I’ve continued to use that original as a template when fabricating new bodies ever since.”

“A single mind in a series of identical bodies?” This was a bit difficult to take onboard.
“Well, as identical as possible. I tweak the design as necessary, of course, with Jida resident on methane-breathing worlds, or high gravity planets, or habitats kept only a few degrees above absolute zero, but I retain as much of the original morphology as is feasible.”

“How many of you are there?”

The Jida with the drink smiled slyly, but the one to whom I’d been speaking only looked at me in mock derision. “Captain Stone,” she scolded, playfully, “that is an extremely personal question. Still…”—she paused, and the Jida whose attention appeared to have drifted to the other side of the room slowly licked her lips—“perhaps someday you’d like to visit me on my planetoid home of Tian Bao Jun? I could show you a few more of myself, and in exchange I’d love to hear more about your life in the Information Age. I’m always so hungry for new information and new experiences.”

“Begging your pardon, Madam Jida, but isn’t that precisely why we’re all here?”

It was one of the two smaller figures that had spoken, with whom the three Jida had been talking earlier.

“Captain Stone,” one of the Jida said, indicating the two with a nod, “may I present Hu Grimnismal and Mu Grimnismal.”

The two were alike enough to be brothers, and the fact that they shared a name suggested that they were. They stood about a meter tall, covered in fine black features, with flexible beaks at the center of their round faces, capable of forming a surprisingly large range of complex sounds.

“A pleasure,” I said, inclining my head, hoping the escort would feed me more useful information.

“The brothers Grimnismal are corvids,” whispered the voice of the escort in my left ear, failing to disappoint, “sentients derived from uplifted terrestrial birds of the order corvidae.”

“My brother and I,” one of the two said, though whether Hu or Mu I couldn’t say, “have proposed a new type of exotic matter with negative mass, you should know. It will revolutionize society, more than any discovery since the establishment of the first threshold.”

The corvid’s tone was boastful, and perhaps a little smug.

“Provided, of course,” one of the Jida said, “that such a thing actually exists.”

“Oh, it exists, Madam Jida,” the other corvid said, rankling. “And those who contribute to the Further fund will be the direct beneficiaries, you can count on it.”

“Just what is the purpose of the fund, if you don’t mind me asking?” I said, but before anyone could answer, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
Okay, that's it for this week. The next writing day is next Wednesday, so I've got a lot of Georgia Patrol in the meantime...

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