Tuesday, July 10, 2007


The Day's Progress

Today was one of those days where it seemed like I wasn't getting anywhere until after I was already there, if that makes any sense. Where I pounded away, seeming to get only a handful of words done at a time, and then all of the sudden I'd just sailed past my quota just in time.

There are days that are just the opposite, of course. Yesterday I was sure that I'd just written at least a thousand or even one-and-a-half after a prolonged bout of typing, but when I went to check the word count I discovered I'd done less than five hundred words.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
60,223 / 90,000

I got within a few hundred words of the end of the second act today, most of which was taken up with the captain fixing the OSFU ("Obligatory Space Fuck Up"). Along the way I spent a bit of time setting the scene by describing the "ignition" of the Aztec ship. To keep things interesting, naturally, it isn't just a matter of turning a key.
There were straps bolted to the deck just before the sacrificial altar. When the Dragon had been crewed by Mexica, these would have been used by the ship’s ritualist, possibly an agent of the House of Darkness itself, to remain in place at the altar when the ship was in microgravity or weightless conditions. The surface of the altar was covered with circuitry and ridges that combined in bas relief to form the image of the Mexic moon goddess, in the process of being cut into pieces by the warrior god of the sun. At the four corners were reinforced metal shackles, where the sacrificial victim would have been secured by their wrists and ankles.

The hemoglobin sensors incorporated into the altar’s surface were positioned at the base of small intake vents, which drew air into them with minor amounts of suction. If any fluid were brought in close contact with the surface, the suction would draw the fluid drop by drop into the vent, and from there into contact with the sensors.

If the ship were operating under centrifugal gravity, it was enough that the victim be bled directly above the altar, but if the ship were in microgravity or, worse, weightless conditions, then the victim’s bleeding form would have to be pressed down against the altar’s surface.

There were diagrams on the plastic-coated pages of the manuals Syuxtun had found, which indicated the proper stance the ritualist should adopt, accompanied by lists of Nahuatl glyphs which spelled out the prayers which should be recited, and which showed how the obsidian knife should be forced down and into the victim’s body, ideally pressing through to the other side, to open a wound on the side nearest the altar’s surface. It was generally understood that blood would drift in globules and droplets in all directions from the cut, propelled by the pumping action of the victim’s still-beating heart, but there were vacuum hoses mounted in the walls and ceiling of the bridge which could be used for clean-up after the sacrifice was performed.

In all, it was a gruesome, gory business. And yet it was one which was carried out on the bridge of every ship of the Mexic fleet, every time they went out into the black void.

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