sovay: (I Claudius)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2016-10-18 04:35 pm

You bring me that sad little bag of cassettes

Warning: juvenilia ahoy.

Ten years ago, I discovered a cache of printouts of unfinished middle and high school stories. Re-reading them was an amazing refresher course on the state of my id aged twelve to sixteen. I didn't think any of them existed in electronic form anymore, at least not on a machine I had access to; I didn't get a computer of my own until I left for college.

I just found one on my hard drive. I can't be sure it's the same version as the printout, but it is definitely the same story: I described it to [ profile] nineweaving as "the purest high school Babylon 5/I, Claudius juvenilia imaginable." Like, there are some lines in here I am letting stand for the sake of the historical record, but I was barely bothering to file the serial numbers off. Looking at it by daylight, there may be some badly ripped-off McKillip or Hodgell in here as well. From source materials, my best guess for my age at the time is sixteen. It's all fragments of scenes. I have no idea how it was supposed to end. I had no style to speak of; I had not yet figured out how to create convincing fictional names, never mind governmental systems; I really wanted to write emotionally-politically complex science fantasy and I had no talent for any of these attributes. I wrote a story when I was thirteen that is much, much better. I still think it's neat that this one survives. It was very obviously written by me.


The revolutionaries marched through the capital on the first day of the new year. It was a brief and bloody revolution, made memorable only by its lack of success: the Emperor's soldiers sealed off the streets, hemmed in the revolutionaries, and shot three-quarters of them within the first ten minutes. Government-caliber rifles took their toll on the small band; after fifteen minutes only a handful remained standing, sending back bolts of light of their own, ducking and dodging behind garland-wreathed statuary and sacred trees.

It was a mild day, the air fresh and clear, the sky shimmering blue overhead. Normally the streets would have been filled with families enjoying the season, taking part in the rituals of renewal in the temples and the squares. Instead they were lined with gold-uniformed soldiers and carpeted with the bodies of rebels, the sweet air ripped with the sound of energy bolts and frenzied shouting.

Within half an hour the revolution was over. The leaders were dead, the majority of their supporters shot down, and only four of the rebels remained: two older men, one middle-aged woman, and one young girl. Of these only three survived to be marched to the Imperial Palace; the younger of the men swallowed a capsule and crumpled in the street. The remaining three were seized, bound, and brought at once before the Emperor.


Tera considered resistance and rejected the idea reluctantly and immediately. The guards on either side of her were stronger than she was, better-trained, and entirely without compunction. They would not scruple to shoot her down if she tried to break away and run, nor would they object to breaking a few inessential bones in order to ensure her compliance. Already her arms ached from being bound so wrenchingly behind her back; stumbling on the uneven cobblestones, she had to fight to regain her balance. She could not even see Karis or Daidny, surrounded as she was by a mosaic wall of gold uniforms and cold faces. A moment ago she had felt defiant and invincible, raising her weapon with the other rebels against a tyrannical Emperor, strong beyond her sixteen years with their anger and their confidence and their faith. Now she felt small and lost, stripped of any shred of power or vestige of strength. Scant moments before she had watched her closest friends die, cut down by impersonal streaks of light. The lives of two Imperial soldiers were on her account as well; she could not regret them, but it felt an unfair trade that so many of her friends should fall against so few of their enemy.

Unresisting, then, she allowed herself to be led up the white marble stairs, past the towering columns where guards in white and gold uncrossed ancient spears from the door to let the massive slab of dark, hammered, inlaid wood swing inward. The wall inside were rich with hangings, the stone underfoot softened with thick carpets. Golden tiers of light swung from the ceiling. A few curious courtiers stood in the hall, turning to stare at Tera with fascinated revulsion. She burned under their gaze, both with anger and with shame.

Another door secured the Emperor's private office, this one carved of ivory-colored wood with spiraling inlays of gold and river gems. A second pair of soldiers stepped aside as the door opened; the guard holding Tera shoved her forward, roughly and silently. He had not spoken to her once since the shooting ceased; his disdain of her frightened her, made her feel unnoticeable.

On the white-veiled throne before her sat the man whom Tera had, not an hour before, sought to kill with her own hands if necessary. Gathered around him were a few select ministers and a handful of lucky courtiers; their excited talk stopped short at Tera's entrance. "Here she is," the foremost soldier began. "A rebel, captured alive as you commanded, Your Majesty." The Emperor nodded in satisfaction as Tera stared.

The Emperor was quite young. This startled Tera. From reputation, from reports, she had expected to find him at least in middle age; instead she was confronted with a youth only a few years older than herself, who wore the imperial diadem awkwardly and whose immaculate tailoring could not hide his immature growth. Yet he could be no one else. The royal line was obvious in the strong bones of his face and his curling crop of dark hair, his lean build and his large hands. His profile was nearly the same as the stamp on his father's coins, if younger, less harsh. A boy Emperor. Nonetheless, the dark eyes that watched her were cool and unreadable, the faint smile at the corners of his mouth troubling. Tera could believe that everything she had fought against was true: that here was a man who preferred to receive fear rather than respect, let alone love.

"So this is our revolutionary?" His voice broke the silence in the room, light and pleasant. "A scant catch for such a wide net. What do you have to say for yourself?"

Tera spat at his feet.

The Court hummed and muttered around them. The Emperor's easy smile darkened. "Make her kneel to me," he ordered the guards. The same compassionless hands forced her to her knees and held her there as she struggled, hard against the ice-polished tiles of the floor. "Look at your Emperor when he admits you to his presence," the young ruler cautioned. Tera stared at the tiles until her head was dragged upward, closed her eyes when fingers spiked under her jaw. The Emperor sighed. "So intractable. Nothing to be done with any of them, really."

"No." Tera's voice was rough in her ears, raw in her throat. "There is nothing you can do with us. You can jail us and we will still fight you. You can prevent us from assembling, from owning weapons, from publishing our complaints, and we will still find some means to gather against you. The only way you will ever stop us is to kill us all."

"And who says," the Emperor replied, still smiling, "that I won't?" The Court murmured; the Emperor waved a hand with airy authority. "Not this one," he reassured them, "not now. The list of her charges is far too long to repeat here—and wholly unnecessary besides. She knows what she's done. Her Emperor knows. She's of no value dead. Alive, she presents a much better example." He turned his smile to Tera. "Don't look so startled. You knew how this game was played when you picked up your rifles, didn't you? So"—to the guards again—"give her the usual number and find her a cell. Don't bother to tell me which one, I don't need to know. I'll tell you when I do."

"What about the others?" Tera shouted as the guards hauled her to her feet, pain grinding through her shoulders from their grip on her still-bound arms. "Karis—Daidny—what did you do with them?

"I expect I arranged something." The Emperor pushed the imperial diadem back off his forehead and absently ruffled the thick curls underneath. He looked very young and very appealing, handsome in a blunt-boned way, utterly careless and relaxed. "It doesn't concern you if I did. Take her away now. I have things to do."


The cell was small, dark, stone-walled, and cold. A lamp burned in a niche high on the wall, its flame guttering and smoky and wan. Tera sat in the farthest corner from the door with her knees drawn up against her chest and her arms locked around them, trying not to breathe too sharply. The lash itself had been bad enough, but now the torn and powder-burnt cloth of her tunic stuck to the sliced flesh, pulling splinters of fire across her back whenever she stirred. No one left mirrors lying around a prison, but the last time she had dared to touch her face she had guessed the blurriness of her vision was due to the black eyes she could feel rising in her battered face. Blood had dried down her cheek from the raw scrape at her temple; she had fought the guards even half-numbed with the pain of her whipping and they had slammed her into the grated door to quiet her, thrown her to the stones while colorless stars burst inside her vision and she heard the lock screeching shut. She could still feel blood in her hair. All of her felt beaten and empty and hollow: she had failed her friends, failed the cause, and now her life lay in the hands of the man she had taken up arms against. She should have had the courage to take Mazo's way out, should have shot herself with her own pistol or found some way in the chaos to cut her own throat. Now she was weaponless, and unless she could hang herself with her own hair or the rags of her clothing, going to remain alive until the Emperor decided otherwise.

She knew what she would have been doing if she had not been one of the rebels. She would have braided chains of flowers, silky-stemmed and many-colored, and visited the temples one by one, leaving garlands at each. For Arishiy of the improbable, she would have left the white flowers that are said to bring dreams; for Janamaiy of passion, the heavy red blossoms whose nectar is supposed to impart desire; for Relu of music, the slender blue petals that sang in the summer heat. She would have performed the ceremonies of rebirth, cleansing herself of the dead year in readiness for the year to come: the time of change, the time of reform, the time to evaluate what one was against what one wished to be. The revolution should have been the ultimate expression of that ethic, the old Empire giving way in death to the birth of a new country. She might as well have stayed home and made garlands for all the reform she had seen since the morning.

A believer more in the forms of ritual than in the actualities of the gods, she did not scruple to slip up a quick prayer to Kadiyan of the abandoned and the needy, the goddess who sheltered the lost at the crossroads. The lamp-wick flickered in the last of its oil, went out in an unwinding wisp of smoke. "So much for religion," Tera muttered, in case Kadiyan was still listening, and began to scream in the dark, falling silent only when her beaten throat would not permit another sound.

Later, a disinterested guard in neither gold nor white came in, replaced the lamp, and left her a bowl of some kind of lukewarm cereal. Tera ignored him stonily and watched the new flame burn its way down the wick. After a while she began to weep, tears streaking through the blood on her face in a perverse parody of the gods' tears that made good luck of rain for the new year, washing away the old into the new. Later still, the tears stopped; she had nothing left to cry for.


More time stretched by, unending hours that Tera no longer bothered to count. More than two months, she guessed by her blood, but less than three; the raw weals on her back healed slowly into tentative scars, the gouges under her hair scabbed and filled in. The guard brought bowls of water and the undifferentiated gruel; Tera ate some or she did not, with no appetite either way. Far above her, no doubt, the Emperor sat surrounded by his Court in splendor, held parties, governed his Empire, and ruined the lives of thousands whose names he did not know. And Tera sat entombed in her cell, silent, and angry, and forgotten.


The guard who came that day was a short and rather easygoing man who treated her with a kind of familiar contempt. He always had something to say about the noble rebels and their brilliant, lost cause; in the beginning Tera had thrown whatever she had to hand at him, but had stopped once she saw that her anger, far from being futile, only increased his entertainment. Accustomed to her recent silence and passivity, he was not even on his guard as he opened the door, trying to balance one bowl in the crook of his arm as he fumbled for the lockplate with his free hand.

Tera was on him before he had even stepped through the door. Praying that the weaponless training she had gotten during her time with the rebels still held after the confined, undernourished months, she slammed both fists under his breastbone and threw her weight against him as he gasped for his missing breath; water and cereal went flying, but he was the one who skidded, toppled, and fell. Tera kicked him soundly in the head. Dropping to her knees beside the unconscious body, she cursed: no rifle, no pistol, no bladed weapon she could see. Her jailers must have thought very little of her, not even bothering to spare her a soldier for a guard. What was she going to do, beat people over the head with a dull wooden bowl?

The luck of the improbable god was with her: when she pulled the man's belt off, she found a knife. A short one, hardly more than a pocketknife, nothing that even a street brawler would pull in a challenge, but she seized it eagerly. Old soreness burned across her back from the exertion, but she had the means to escape and defend herself. She had not felt so hopeful since the day she joined the revolution.


There were stairs. There was also a man in the grey-and-beige of the prison standing at their foot, his back to Tera, his stance as lax as if he were daydreaming. He had no warning as Tera rushed him and stabbed him. He made a choking sound, suddenly wet and strangled, and when he bent forward, he dragged the knife with him. Its short blade ripped up through the fabric of his uniform as Tera clung to it, spattering blood in a sticky shower; at the heat and the smell on her face, she almost threw up. In the failed revolution, she had used a pistol, clean cauterizing shots of light. She shouted at herself that she had no time to be squeamish: go on, go on! She left the guard sprawled in his blood-patched uniform, his punctured gasp echoing in her mind. Her fingers were slippery with blood, the knife already sticking to her hand. There was no time to think about it. She ran on.

She counted three landings and, thank all the gods, no soldiers on any of them. Were the Court—was the Emperor—so complacent as to imagine that none of their prisoners would ever attempt an escape? Laughter started to choke its way into her throat; shaking with the effort, she kept silent and sprang up another three dimly-lit steps. A door confronted her. After a long, trembling moment, when she heard nothing from the other side but the echo of her own blood in her ears, she opened it.

Light shocked her eyes. Tear-blinded, she whirled and stumbled down the stairs as rapidly as was safe. Her eyes had grown accustomed to the scant light of her cell, the dim corridors of the prison; what burned her eyes now was nothing more than afternoon sunlight, slanting like gold through half-curtained windows, but it felt to Tera like an explosion of suns.

Gradually she managed to inch her way back up the stairwell, blinking her streaming eyes constantly against the light. Any moment now, she thought sourly, the entire Royal Court could turn the corner and she would barely see them. She gripped the knife for security, rubbed one hand across her stinging eyes even when that meant the prison guard's blood came off in the sweat on her forehead. Her vision blurred and resolved, not quite clearly; at the top of the stairs, she closed the heavy wooden door behind her, passed one ineffectual hand over the lockplate just in case, and looked around her.

She stood in an empty hallway, richer than any house she had ever been in in her life. The opulent rugs on the floor were patterned with gold and brushed like the coat of a prize hound; the walls between the tall, heavily draped windows were hidden behind portraits in luminous oils and tapestries in deep, bold dyes. For this she had joined the revolutionaries: so that such wealth would not be concentrated in the hands of a careless few. She blinked again, uncertain if it was water or tears that made it so difficult to focus, and moved cautiously out into the wide hallway.

Voices echoed around the corner, a man and a woman talking lightly, laughing—the very Court she had imagined. "Nine hells," Tera whispered, her voice groggy with long disuse, and looked wildly around. There was not even furniture to hide behind in this lavish corridor. The door she had just shut behind her could only be opened with keys. The voices drifted closer. Desperately Tera lifted the metallic-ribboned edge of a tapestry: gods bless, the walls beneath were deeply fluted, undressed stone and just shallow enough to shelter a starved sixteen-year-old of factory-weaving stock. Knife unfolded in one hand, she slid behind the stiff, heavy cloth and let it fall into place around her. The back side of the embroidery pressed scratchily against her face, smelling of old dust. She tried not to sneeze.

The voices moved past. "Really, Ladiya," the man was saying, "are you still worrying about the rebellion?" He made the word condescending, dismissing the very subject. "I heard they executed the last of the survivors over a month ago." Face stifled in the dusty tapestry, Tera wondered: Karis? Daidny? Which of her friends had died first, which last, legally murdered to make a point the Emperor thought everyone already understood? The man went on casually, "After that, they won't dare cough near Meridar's portrait, let alone publish against him."

"No. I suppose not." The woman had an accent of the far southern provinces, incongruous here in the capital. Her voice sounded, Tera thought, sincerely troubled. "I do wish—I wish we could have done something else with them."

"Like what?" The man laughed. "Given them what they wanted? A new constitution? A different Emperor? Ladiya, Ladiya, my dear, that sort of people are like mad dogs. You can't reason with them. They'll bite anyone who crosses their path, even the do-gooders who want to hand them food. There's nothing else to do. They say so themselves!"

Tera gritted her teeth. She had a sudden wild vision of herself leaping out from behind the tapestry like the hero of a tragic play, shouting something memorable and poetic and useless: "Then feel the bite of the revolution!" Her chance was gone; the voices were lost before she could pull herself from the fantasy, disappeared around another corner or another set of stairs. It was not a moment too soon. Eyes and mouth and nose prickling unbearably, Tera gasped for breath and gave an explosive sneeze.

She froze, waited for a guard to rip the hanging aside and either arrest or simply shoot her. Nothing moved. Her breath hissed out between her teeth, tight and shallow with tension; she felt like screaming and knew she could not afford it. Concentrate on now, Karis had always said, because by the time it's then, it's too late. She pushed a fold of the tapestry aside and peered out.

The two courtiers had gone, sympathetic Ladiya and the man who had parroted his Emperor. Glancing in the other direction, however, Tera saw that she was not alone. Standing off to one side of the hallway was a man in a richly embroidered coat, hands in his pockets, head tilted back, apparently admiring the portrait of a previous Emperor. He was a small man and slight, his brown hair grown long and pulled back in the Court fashion, with an inoffensive face and no important manner. Tera's movement must have caught his eye, because he turned, quirked eyebrows going up in puzzled arches, a startled recognition beginning to flicker in his eyes. Tera took three long strides and pounced on him. Her knife arm locked around his neck, she pulled him back against the tapestry, her other hand clamped over his mouth even as it opened to shout.

"Don't say anything," she hissed in his ear, hearing with an almost detached satisfaction how much more threatening she sounded with her throat dry and gritty, "don't shout, don't even move if you want to live." She felt him flinch at her words, his whole body stiffening against her own. "Tell me you understand me." She pressed the knife, already bloodied, closer into the collar of his coat.

"Yes!" he gulped against her hand. "I—I do!" His voice was high and shaking. "But what do you want with me?"

"I need to get out of the palace. It's not safe for me here." She was sure that her heart was knocking against her ribs at least as loudly as the courtier's. Any minute now a guard might discover her abandoned cell and burst through the door she had insecurely locked behind herself; any minute now this frightened fool might panic and betray her slim chances of escape. Then she could measure her life in seconds, unless she was unlucky enough to be dragged before the Emperor a second time. The courtier stood frozen in the circle of her arm, his breathing shallow, his eyes terrified. He could not, Tera thought with a grim streak of humor, be any more anxious than she was. "I need to get out," she repeated, "and I need you to help me."

"You must be mistaken," the man gasped. "I'm sure you're looking for somebody else." His voice twisted desperately. "I can't help you—I can't do anything for you—I'm not at all powerful, let me assure you, and nobody will listen to me—" His protests choked off in an undignified squeak as Tera angled the knife against his naked throat.

"Shut up and listen to me!" The fear and the frustration in her voice made her sound, she was sure, at least as desperate as she felt. "I don't have time to waste. I can't afford to stand here and let you dither at me; if your Emperor's guards catch me, I'm dead. Do you want that on your soul's account?" No answer, only the shivering breath on her palm. "Let me put this simply," she said slowly, angrily. "If you won't help me, I'll kill you, and then I'll find someone who will. Will you help me?"

"When you put it like that," the courtier said shakily, "I don't see how I can refuse." He swallowed hard against Tera's knife. "Will you—if I promise not to shout for help or run away, would you let me go?" Tera thought for a moment of Ladiya's partner saying mad dogs, then turned the courtier loose. The man stumbled away, rubbing his throat, then straightened the crumpled embroidery of his coat with a few nervous jerks. He was even more jittery out of her grasp than in it, his eyes darting everywhere but Tera's face, his hands twisting and untwisting themselves on the hem of his coat. He looked scared out of his mind; he certainly had a right to be. "All right," he began. His voice was still high with fear. "All right," he repeated, trying to steady it. "What do you want me to do?"

"Get me out of the palace. I'll be safe if I can get into the factory districts; that's where I grew up. But I'm in worse danger every second I stay here—and you're not much better." She showed him for the first time the knife he had only felt, the brown blood on her hands and the blade. The courtier blanched.

"I—I'll do my best. I can get you servants' clothing, I think. A disguise. Will you wait here?"

Tera snorted. "Until the Imperial guards you ran to come and find me? I don't think so. I'm coming with you. And don't try walking through any crowded rooms where they'll recognize me in a second; this is strictly shadow stuff. I killed two Imperial soldiers before they arrested me, and I've killed two guards to get here, and I will kill you if I have to." That the statement was true was an unpleasant taste in her mouth, like corroded coins; saying it made a little run of cold around her heart. Quickly she thrust the idea from her mind and gestured down the portrait-hung hall. "Shall we get going?"

"Do I have a choice?" For a moment nettled annoyance broke through the fright in his voice; then, as though fearing that he had upset her and endangered himself, the courtier turned hurriedly and began walking down the hallway without a look back. Tera followed, the knife tight in her hand, and prayed she would not have to use it on him.

True to his word, though they walked through salons and corridors and once what looked like a shuttered, shrouded ballroom, the man kept to the empty ways of the Imperial Palace. He led her up two flights of stairs—always conscious, she was sure, of the knife behind him, just as she was conscious of its weight in her hand—across a bridge of balconies and lattices that passed over the gardens blooming lushly between two wings of the palace, down another hallway of paintings and canopies, and finally as far as a neat-paneled door with only a little gilding around the lock. "My room," he explained awkwardly. "I don't have any servants. We—you can think in here. It's safe, I promise."

"Can I trust you?"

The courtier looked as though the alternative had never occurred to him. "I—I suppose so." He passed a hand across the lockplate and opened the door. Tera gestured with the knife and, with a last nervous glance around the hallway, the courtier went through. No traps fell out of the ceiling and flattened him, nor did a guard shoot him on sight; absurdly reassured by this, Tera followed him in.

She had not expected the size of his apartments, substantial and rather rich for an unassuming and frankly unimpressive courtier whose clothes were fine enough, but who wore few decorations and seemed notably devoid, unless Tera had frightened it out of him, of the smug self-importance she associated with denizens of the Royal Court. The facing wall was almost entirely a window whose clear and colored panes had been cranked wide to the fresh spring air. Tera savored the scent; she had been breathing nothing but the dankness and smoke of her cell and then the dust and perfumes of the palace. The sky was a cloudless clear blue, beneath which the palace gardens spread to the far gold-topped wall; beyond, the tenements and spires of the city stretched to the skyline, where the blue faded to white. A bird crossed the sky on a quick flick of wings, soaring and dipping on the warm air; the sun burned like a white coin above it, new-minted as electrum.

Tera swallowed a sudden hot weight in her throat and said thickly, "Shut the door. I don't care if you don't have servants, I don't want someone else's stopping by." She could barely look away from the panorama beyond the window in order to make sure the courtier had done as he was ordered, then to watch him sit down abruptly on one end of a low couch. Her eyes kept straying back to that distant blueness, the pure sunlight at its center, the passing freedom of birds.

To distract herself, she wandered around the main room, inspecting portraits in their gilded or dark-varnished frames, picking up small curios from tables and desks, opening a few books out of the dozens, if not hundreds, that filled the courtier's shelves. He was a rich one, she guessed, but an oddity, if he spent his money on literature instead of bribes or statues. She finally settled herself on a smaller couch at the far end of the room, not caring how much grime she left on its embroidered cushions, and put up her feet quite deliberately on an ebony-topped table that even she could recognize as antique. The courtier raised his eyebrows in what was almost a wince, but said nothing. "All right," Tera said finally. Her heart skipped and flickered in her chest. "What now?"

"You'll have to tell me." The courtier rose jerkily and opened the glass door of a cabinet, took down a pair of transparent goblets and a small stoppered flagon. He shot her an anxious look over his shoulder. "Do you want a drink?" The hand that held the wine out to her was shaking badly. Tera shook her head: she needed her mind as clear as she could make it. Fear and adrenaline were blurring her thoughts already. The courtier nodded and poured himself a glass; the flagon's lip danced and clattered on the goblet's rim. "Southern red," he explained unnecessarily, raising the glass as if toasting her before he thought better of it. "Usually you can't get it this far north—too hot, I suppose." He seated himself across from her, setting the already drained goblet down on the antique table with extreme care. "What"—he swallowed and started again—"what is it you want me to do?"

"I told you, I need to get out of the palace." She kept her voice as brusque as she could, hoping he would not notice that it, too, was beginning to shake. Her sole hold over him was the threat of death if he betrayed her: by which time she might already be dead, a technicality she hoped he was still too shocked and panicking to take advantage of. "You mentioned something about servants' clothes?"

"Ah—yes. I did. I did." The courtier's fingers knotted themselves uneasily; even seated, he kept up a constant nervous motion. If Tera shouted at him, she thought he might explode from the shock. She had a sudden vision of a small smoking crater in the middle of the rich, scholarly, neatly furnished room and repressed a snicker. The courtier was saying something, too preoccupied to have noticed her reverie; quickly, she tried to look attentive and grim. "I—will you tell me something?" His voice slanted up rashly. "You're the revolutionary they didn't execute, aren't you?"

If she had been able to see his face on the morning of the new year, she might have considered it worth all the future horror and loss. If he had been able to see it, he might have spent the next three months in bed. "That's right."


She had not expected anyone in the Royal Court to ask this question. "You want the entire story? All right: I was born here, in the capital city, to a very poor family. It's not unusual. It happens all the time. My mother worked in the factories, a carpet-weaver—until she was injured and thrown out without pay. My father was a servant in a minor house of the nobility—Lord Abrians', I think, but I never met the man. My father died in his service." She shrugged, not painlessly. "Normally the Emperor has little contact with his people, you know that. We live and die without meeting him face to face; Emperors come and go, dynasties rise and fall, and the people go on without changing." Her mouth thinned into a hard line; she became aware that she had never put down the knife. "That changed when the taxes rose and the evictions started. When the Emperor began using the money we paid him—the money we couldn't afford to pay him—to build monuments to his glory, parks for his Court, when he held balls for his favorites while the bridges fell into the river and the sewers spread sickness instead of taking it away. An Emperor is suppose to shepherd his realm, not suck it dry like a plum and spit out the stone!" It was Anandriya's rhetoric, but she meant it.

"So you joined the revolutionaries." The courtier sipped more wine and tried not to drop his glass.

"So I did. And it went pretty damned well until it didn't." Tera shook her head helplessly. "We were so naive! All of us! We thought we could just walk through the streets and shout, 'Look, a new era has begun! Embrace us, brothers and sisters! March with us into the future!' and we would all gladly lay down our lives for the cause, only we wouldn't have to, because we would be so many and the Emperor and his defenders would be so few. Instead—" She shrugged. "Well, you heard what happened. We were outmanned, outgunned, and mowed down like late grain. And the curses of all nine hells on Emperor Meridar," she said feelingly, "and on all who are close to him, because they killed all that was close to me."

The courtier said nothing, but looked down at his hands and then back up at Tera, meeting her gaze for the first time. He had dark eyes, even when she thought she could see the whites around them like a shying horse. "What are you going to do now?"

"I wanted to assassinate the Emperor." The courtier blinked. "No, stop looking at me like that; I won't do it. I couldn't," Tera admitted grudgingly. "His guards would burn me down before I got within ten paces of him. I guess—" She let out a long breath. "I don't know, really. Probably go out into the provinces and see where I can settle down. Teradin's a common enough name. Give me twenty years and no one will connect Tera the scholar with Tera the—the failed revolutionary."

"Scholar? Really?" The courtier looked intrigued, not frightened. Maybe the wine was doing him good after all. "Is that what you wanted to be—before you wanted to be a rebel, that is?"

Tera nodded. "I wanted to go to the colleges. I know it's mostly the lesser nobility and the better merchant class that do, but there's no law against a beggar if they can pass the entrance examination. I was going to; I was old enough this year. I'd studied for four already." She slammed her fist down on the couch in frustration, realized thankfully she had done it with the hand without a knife in it. "I was so close! I didn't—I never wanted to kill anyone. Not really. Not like the people who dreamed about it. The Emperor, maybe, but I didn't want to—" The burning weight was back in her throat; she swallowed hard. "I shot two soldiers during the battle, like I told you. I think I broke my jailer's head. I stabbed another guard in the back finding my way out of the prison. I was ready to cut your throat if you didn't help me. I really was."

"Then I suppose," the courtier said mildly, "it's a good thing I agreed. For both us."

Tera said nothing. When she opened her hand around the knife, rust-red flakes of dried blood cracked off.

"All right," the courtier said finally, setting down the goblet. He did not look either quite sober or actually brave, but she thought he was trying. "I did say servants' clothes. Well. In the ordinary way of things, I'm quite happy to do for myself, you see. Now I wish I had someone to borrow them off of. I don't think anything I own is going to fit you."


"Seventh hell!" Tera yelled and dived for the shrubbery. A rifle-bolt sizzled past her ear, a hot ball of light the color of the spring sun, and earthed itself in the soil with the hiss of a soaked fire. From behind a screen of sharp twigs she looked out at the milling soldiers and desperately wished she had an energy weapon of her own, even Daidny's old pistol that had overheated in her hands and hurt her even as she fired and brought her second man down. Another bolt blackened the green oval leaves beside her arm; she tried at once to shrink away from the scorched place and remain as invisibly still as possible.

The courtier was still standing in the open, staring around him with his mouth open and his eyes wide. He looked as silly and scared as the moment she had met him and she shouted at him inside her head: the fool, the absolute godsforsaken fool, he was going to get himself killed! The thought startled her so much, she barely noticed the next bolt that crackled through the hedge beside her. What did she care? With him dead, there would be no onlookers at her escape, no accomplices to betray her after the fact, no loose ends to trip her up before she could get clear of the capital and far enough into the provinces to be out of a vengeful Emperor's reach. If his own Emperor's soldiers shot him, so much the better for her. But to die goggling in the open like an idiot— Bright shots of light dazzled the air on either side of the man; he was waving his arms now and shouting something inaudible over the scorch and crash of the rifles. "Get down!" she yelled, knowing he could not hear her.

A bolt of sunny light caught him squarely on the shoulder, spinning him nearly around with its force. He dropped into the flowers without a sound. In the sudden silence of the cease-fire, Tera bit back another yell; a moment passed. The courtier did not move; she could not even see if he was breathing. Even a glancing shot from a high-caliber enough rifle could be fatal, Tera knew; burns and shock aside, the sudden influx of energy could disrupt the body's rhythms, sending heartbeats and brainwaves awry. Well, she told herself bitterly, you didn't want any witnesses.

A few soldiers came over, rifles still in hand, and turned the small, slight body over. She heard an incredulous exclamation and then a scornful laugh; the soldier let the courtier sag back into the crushed blossoms and potting soil and turned to go. "What about the other one?" she heard him asking his companion.

"What about her?" the other man returned, unworried in his still-spotless gold-and-white. "If she's not dead, she's trapped on the grounds. She won't get out of here now, not without him." He did not even glance over at the body sprawled where they had burnt it down. "Wait a while. She'll get hungry, she'll get scared, she'll get stupid, she'll come out of hiding and we'll find her. Now come on. The Emperor's got to hear about this." He shouldered his rifle and strode off across the flowerbeds; without a backward glance, his companions followed him.

Tera waited until the last of them was out of sight beyond the maze before cautiously extricating herself from the shrubbery. Her shirtsleeve was lightly scorched, but the skin underneath was only reddened like sunburn; aside from the scratches and clinging leaves and bark of the hedge, she was unhurt.

Not so the courtier. Not yet sure what she felt or did not feel, she walked over to the body and sat down next to it, looking down into the man's face. Dead, he looked as harmless as he had in life: mild, rather uncertain, and pleasant in a nervous sort of way. His expression was calmer than most of the rifle-shot faces she had seen. Now that his features were no longer in constant anxious motion, there was even a faint familiarity in the structure of his bones, the planes of his flesh, but Tera could not quite place the resemblance. Some character on the stage, maybe. No matter. Tera's mouth twisted ironically. The dead onstage were one thing, the dead offstage another. He had tried to help her even without a knife at his throat and much good it had done him. And much good it had done her, trapped within the palace's walls without even a minor courtier to serve as her passport. "Damn you," she whispered, "did you have to die on me now?"

The familiar high voice startled her, coming as suddenly as it did out of a mouth with dirt crusted on it. "Have I missed something?" Blinking against the sun or whatever dizziness the bolt had left in him, the courtier gave her a weak, wry smile. "If I'm dead, I'm afraid it's news to me."

"You—" Tera felt like the courtier for a moment, dumbfounded with her mouth open. "I can't believe it. Here I am sitting like a shooting target in the Imperial Gardens, wasting pity on you, and you were alive the whole time! You—mountebank!"

"I'm sorry." Of course he was alive, Tera thought. Nobody else would actually sound apologetic on finding themselves to be alive. The courtier levered himself gingerly up onto his elbows, wiped at his mouth and tried to shake his head before a wince stopped him. "That . . . hurt," he said, in what sounded like genuine surprise. "I hope to all the gods never to go through an experience like that again. I could have done without it the first time." There was a broad scorchmark on the shoulder where the bolt had clipped him; he brushed at it fussily, holding up a raveled length of blackened, metallic embroidery thread with apparent regret. "And this was my best coat, too," he said sadly.

"All the hells, will you stop worrying about your coat?" Tera snapped, hauling the man to his feet. His hair had come out of its ribbon and there were pieces of broken flowers and mulch in it; he tried to brush them out with his free hand, distracted as a cat. "Only the nobility could have a near-death experience and complain afterward about the state of their clothing. Gods preserve me from the necessities of fashion!"

The courtier's mouth quirked. "Run us into some more soldiers and I'll put in the good word in person."

"Give it up already. You're all right."

"Say that again when my heart starts beating."


"Publicly tortured me," Tera agreed, "consigned me to prison, and then forgot all about me. Isn't that what the father of his people should do?"

The courtier looked guiltily apologetic. "Ah, yes. That's Merry all over."

"Merry? You mean the Emperor Meridar, don't you?" Tera corrected, startled. The courtier blinked as though he had forgotten something.

"Yes, I'm sorry, of course I do. But, you see, I always think of him as little Merry; he wasn't an Emperor when I first met him, you understand. It gives you a perspective on majesty to encounter it first in infancy." He sighed, apparently lost in a slightly regrettable memory. "The first time I met him, he spat up on my best court coat. The second time, I suppose he was a year or so older then, he fell asleep on my lap during a state meeting and drooled quite happily all over my knees—and the motion I was supposed to be reading. At least he's lost that habit with time." The courtier shook his head and made a visible effort to recall himself to the point of his narrative. "So, you see, after eighteen years of that sort of thing, I never can think of 'Emperor Meridar' without thinking of little Merry, even if I am his heir."

"Heir?" Tera choked. She stared at the man sitting across from her, hands linked around his un-drunk glass of beer. He had to be at least twenty years older than the boy who had condemned her. "You're part of his family?" All gods defend her, who had she chosen to kidnap?"

"Oh, yes," the courtier said with a kind of hopeless amusement. "Cousins. My mother was the younger daughter of the old Emperor, you see, and neither of us has any siblings. That puts me next in line. So I'm his heir until His Majesty either has children or dies—gods forbid the latter, of course," he added hastily, "but it gives me very little power. Mostly it means I'm supposed to stay firmly in the background and refrain from taking unnecessary risks with my life." He smiled, ruefully and timidly. "I'm afraid I've already failed there. Consorting in private with an acknowledged revolutionary puts me in danger not only from your compatriots, but from the Court itself. It would look rather suspicious, you must admit: the Emperor dies in a violent uprising, and who inherits the throne? Not that I'd want it. As I am reminded on an all too frequent basis, I can barely run my own life, let alone ten thousand other people's. No, life is far too short to shorten it further with a coronation. The assassination attempts alone—and then the laws to pass, an empire to govern—it astonishes me eternally that anyone wants the job." Without response from Tera, he laughed uncertainly and subsided into silence.

Narrowing her eyes, Tera studied the Emperor's heir. Why had she not seen the resemblance before? His bones were less strongly stamped, but the line of the nose was the same, the same blunt cheekbones. He could almost pass at a distance for the Emperor in twenty years' time; although, Tera mentally amended, her courtier certainly looked kinder. And far more nervous. "I didn't know," she said grudgingly into the silence.

"Well, you wouldn't have," the heir said kindly. "Nobody recognizes me. It's a blessing in its way, I suppose," he sighed, "though since I can't get out of it, it feels more like a complex curse."

"Right." Tera's voice was sour. "And look who got caught by it. Is the Emperor likely to want you back?" she asked suddenly. The thought of ransom had occurred to her, albeit halfheartedly—not after the gardens, after the bridge. The heir shrugged, an elaborate, defenseless gesture.

"Probably. I don't think he cares much about what happens to me. But I'm his safeguard against civil war. You see," he explained, "there are at least fifty members of the nobility out there with more or less equal claim to the throne. Meridar and I are both of the old royal blood, so we have precedence, but if anything happens to either of us, those fifty iron-skulled aristocrats will all be fighting among themselves over the traces of royalty in their veins and they're as likely to cut down the Empire as each other. However much of an embarrassment my cousin may find me—and let me assure you, he does—he knows it would be more dangerous to allow me to be assassinated. I protect him, in a way." The heir looked vaguely annoyed, and directed his attention at his beer as if it were the culprit. "I find that a disgusting irony."

Tera could not resist deliberately baiting him. "Oh? So you don't get along with cousin Merry?"

"No," the heir said shortly. He added, more hesitantly, "Let's just say he doesn't get along with me."

"Surely you don't threaten him?"

"Gods, no!" The heir's high-arched brows made him look even more shocked than he was. "I couldn't if I tried. What could I do, hold my own life against him? No, I think he wishes he could do without me. I wouldn't mind if he could find a way," he confessed, "so long as it wasn't—well, a permanent solution."

Tera thought of the rifle-bolts burning the air, the soldiers turning over the body she had thought was the courtier—their Emperor's heir—dead, the laugh that had been disbelieving, but not dismayed. She said thoughtfully, "He might still find one." The heir looked at her and said nothing; awkwardly, she hurried on, "Look, do you have a name? I've told you mine. And after all of this, I can't go on sitting here thinking of you as 'that nervous idiot,' no offense meant."

"None taken. 'That nervous idiot' is almost certainly how the rest of the Royal Court thinks of me, you know." He sighed again, a slight man with a face off two centuries of coins, self-conscious in a borrowed jacket and trousers whose sole concession to fashion involved not yet having entirely worn through at the knees. "Amidar Cailo Vadreiy is the name they dedicated me under, but I still answer to Cailo. It's my way of clinging to the illusion of private citizenship." He made a gesture that included the attic, the beer, Tera's company, his own ever-present air of being one good scare from jumping out of his skin. "Of course, given my high profile around the Palace, I also answer to 'here, fellow' and 'you, there' if you happen to forget."

"You, there," said Tera, softly. The heir—Cailo—smiled shyly.


What's really interesting to me all these years later is not just that I can see what went into this story (because it's screaming at me), but that I can see in my published fiction since some of the same ideas or emotions I was trying to get at with these fragments. I wasn't conscious of revisiting anything. I managed to forget twice in twenty years that this file even existed. Some part of my brain just kept trying to get something tricky right. Spoiler: it wasn't the complex science fantasy politics. But I think "The Boatman's Cure" has a lot more to do with these idtastic eight thousand words than I would have said if you'd asked me a week ago.
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[personal profile] davidgillon 2016-10-19 12:56 am (UTC)(link)
I rather like that. The derring-do feels like it strayed in from a rather different story, but the failed revolutionary and the spare heir finding common ground, that I like.

Mentioning B5 in conjunction with a young emperor had me initially picturing him as Vir, but he's ultimately much more Cartagia, while it's Cailo who sounds and acts like Vir.

It's probably just as well I didn't have access to a word processor as a teen, but I did find some of my early writing a couple of years ago and I was surprised to see themes I though I'd come to much later.
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[personal profile] davidgillon 2016-10-19 04:44 pm (UTC)(link)
It interests me that you associate Cailo with Vir; his mental starting point was actually the eventual Regent of Centauri Prime. I think he turned into his own person.

It was from initially misreading the Emperor as Vir (mostly from the mention of big hands, which reminded me of Vir's physical awkwardness). If the emperor wasn't Vir, then Cailo seemed the next choice. But of course the Regent fits at least as well.

I had a very difficult time writing by hand as a child: I learned ten-finger typing when I was eight.

I had similar issues with handwriting, but because they're dyspraxia related I've never really mastered full touch typing either - I'm about a six and a half fingered typist ;)

I was surprised to see themes I though I'd come to much later.

That's really neat. May I ask what?

I started writing about the time my hypermobility kicked into high gear (pretty much exactly on 25yo), so disability was always a theme. But I thought I hadn't added in other minority groups until almost a decade later, when I started using crutches, other people started reacting to me as disabled, and I finally got a clue about privilege from discussions with other disabled people on the BBC's disability forum. But no, there's a detective character I've been working with on and off, whose origins go right back to my earliest efforts, and I was surprised to find she's pretty much always had a girlfriend.
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[personal profile] davidgillon 2016-10-19 08:12 pm (UTC)(link)
That's one of the places where I wish I could remember what I'd been thinking as I wrote, because it's an unusual detail, but I can't remember why I included it. It makes a difference from identifying characters strictly by hair and eye color, at least

It does. I thought the descriptive language was good throughout - which goes with the whole poet thing, I suppose :)
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[personal profile] davidgillon 2016-10-19 08:23 pm (UTC)(link)
I watched myself answering this comment and it looks as though I am about a eight-fingered typist these days. I use the full left hand and move my right hand around a lot more than I should. I can still use the fourth and fifth fingers on my right hand if I think about it, but then I'm much, much slower. I wonder when that happened.

When you weren't watching ;)

When I called myself a six and a half fingered typist, it's actually even weirder, and more appropriate, than it sounds/I intended. Now I've stopped to watch myself, I'm primarily using thumbs and middle fingers, my index fingers are being used, but almost entirely for bracing my middle fingers*, and I do use my left little finger, but only for shift.

* I guess as an unconscious adaption to hypermobility.
Edited 2016-10-19 20:25 (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

[personal profile] davidgillon 2016-10-20 11:33 am (UTC)(link)
It's actually a bit of a surprise as I normally say my hands aren't particularly affected, it's only the large joints, but I also noticed the other day that in some pictures I'd taken of book pages, the hand that was holding the page flat had the first joints flexed back almost 90 degrees. OTOH, my fingers won't flex backwards at the main knuckle and I absolutely can't do the thumb bent back to forearm that is a classic symptom of hypermobility.

As for hands flat between shoulder blades, I had exactly the same reaction when I found it wasn't part of the 'normal' range of movement. It has caused problems when talking to medics about significantly restricted shoulder movement, when I've still got as big a ROM as most people have to start with! I've had a physio describe my ROM as 'just ridiculous', she even admitted there was no point in asking me to do stretches, which, from a physio, is just unheard of.
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[personal profile] davidgillon 2016-10-24 01:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Putting 2 and 2 together to make 53, I don't know how much pain you're getting on an ongoing basis, but if it's significant it could also explain a major part of the insomnia, even if the pain doesn't seem a direct factor. The basic concept is the pain cycle activates the fight or flight response, and while the immediate response may die down quickly, the fight or flight response remains activated and sensitized in the background for hours afterwards. This is exactly what triggered my insomnia.

In my case the pattern was I'd develop significant pain while at work, I'd come home and have continuing pain for some hours, but usually by about 11PM I'd be relatively pain free. And at 4AM I'd still be staring at the ceiling and wondering why. Then I did my pain clinic's pain management course, they mentioned the ongoing background activation and {lightbulb moment!!}. I discussed it with the pain management team afterwards and they confirmed that would have been exactly what was going on. I now have sufficiently good analgesics not to have pain on a continuing basis, but the insomnia seems here to stay.

Obviously I don't know that's what's going on, but you've mentioned sufficient things that sound like my own experience to make me go 'I wonder?' Feel free to ask any questions you want (by DM or email if preferred - david.gillon @
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[personal profile] davidgillon 2016-10-28 11:17 am (UTC)(link)
Sympathy on the sinus stuff, I went through about a decade of sinus headaches and don't want a recurrence, thank you! I suspect in my case they were environmental or stress-triggered as they disappeared once I'd stopped working for Evil Aerospace. I didn't realise your insomnia was quite as long lasting, but that kind of pain would be just as able to trigger insomnia as the hypermobility pain that triggered mine.

It definitely sounds like you have some form of hypermobility syndrome. Dislocations definitely aren't mandatory, I've had maybe half a dozen possible ones in a quarter century of active problems - 'possible' as they've all had distinct sensations of the bone sliding our of joint, but have either reseated themselves, or gone back in with minimal pressure - more severe than usual subluxations might be more accurate. Your family background sounds like a classic description, and losing range of movement is something that happens as people age, or injure joints - I definitely don't have as much range of movement in my shoulders as I used to, but it's still more than normal.

If you look up Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, you'll find lots of description that focuses on stretchy skin issues as well as dislocations and joint issues, the full set is absolutely not required, there are several different types of EDS, and stretchy skin stuff is Classical Type, not Hypermobility Type. There's a wide range of frequency of dislocations, from hundreds a day, to almost none, or none at all. And the looser ligaments and tendons can also mean we don't do as much damage when we do stuff that might result in sprains in other people. I'd suggest asking your PT if they are thinking EDS, and whether it's worth pursuing a diagnosis, which AIUI is usually done by a geneticist in the States, though there's no genetic marker for Hypermobility Type (I suspect it'll turn out to be several different mutations causing overlapping effects).

The basic theory behind all this is we have a mutation in the genes coding for collagen, and it's increasingly being realised that means issues throughout the body may be related, as collagen is fundamental to pretty much every organ, not just joints. But understanding at the general practitioner level can be pretty lousy, average time to get a formal diagnosis is still rated in years.

Wrt resources, one of my friends pointed me at a recent xojane article yesterday, which is a slightly Oprah-ish intro, but has some good stuff

There are EDS foundations in both US and UK, and, both with lots of patient info, and there's also the Hypermobility Syndromes Association,, plus a range of online EDS/hypermobility fora (the one I follow is specific to hypermobility and neurodiversity - there's a statistically significant link).

And you'll see lots of zebras, because doctors are taught "If you hear hoofbeats, expect horses, not zebras", but hypermobility/EDS is one of life's zebras.

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

[personal profile] davidgillon 2016-10-28 07:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh god, that description has a lot of me in it, particularly if you change English for Maths (I was ahead of the game in English, but maths didn't challenge me at all). I used to say I'm probably neurodiverse, but not autistic, but then I had a pain psych spontaneously segue into trying to decide if I had Aspergers in the middle of a session. I talked to him afterwards and he said "I think you're probably somewhere in the vicinity of the Autism Spectrum." I've since met autistic people who are a lot closer to me psychologically than those I'd previously encountered. I don't have a diagnosis, but "somewhere in the vicinity of" is quite useful for recognising when I have behaviours that intersect with autism.

It's similar with hypermobility and EDS, I'm confirmed to be hypermobile, but don't have a definite EDS diagnosis, but the experience of EDS is so close to what I live with that I'd be stupid not to pay attention to all the EDS stuff. "In the vicinity of EDS" would cover it nicely.

Speaking of which, that 'co-morbid with EDS' may also extend to the Specific Learning Difficulties, such as dyslexia, and more specifically dyspraxia (movement) and dyscalculia (mathematics). My sister was actually trained to look for undiagnosed dyspraxia as part of her teaching job, and her first reaction was 'OMG, that's David'. There's a definite overlap between the hypermobility issues and dyspraxia issues, but there are parts of my makeup that dyspraxia explains and hypermobility doesn't, and parts that hypermobility explains and dyspraxia doesn't. 'Somewhere in the vicinity of dyspraxia' works just fine. The handwriting thing _could_ be dyspraxia, the maths thing _could_ be dyscalculia, and either would go some way to having a 'glitch' as all th SpLDs have deeper effects than the ones that get them the label. And they add up to being neurodiverse even if not on the spectrum.

I'm really not trying to hang labels on you, but I've found that these various things come close enough to who I am that there's value in using their concepts and coping mechanisms, and they may be worth looking at for you too.
Edited 2016-10-28 19:15 (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

[personal profile] davidgillon 2016-10-19 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)
I just found a fascinating review of "The Ghost Marriage" which sees only two characters in the poem, when I wrote it picturing three (with a one-line mention of a fourth).

And now I've taken the time to go read it (it's lovely, BTW), I think I might well have read it as two if I didn't think about it in depth. But your hint opens up at least three new readings I can see: the marriage as a character, the marriage as a character that's now a ghost itself, and the marriage as something sacrificed, a path not taken, the ghost of futures past, and I have no idea if any of those are what you are thinking about, but they all have their own fascinations.
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[personal profile] yhlee 2016-10-19 09:03 pm (UTC)(link)
I like this and would read more of it!

You are terrifying, you know that? Everything I was writing at sixteen was pure junk. This is pretty good. =)

[identity profile] 2016-10-18 08:53 pm (UTC)(link)
That's pretty damned accomplished for a sixteen-year-old.

Yes, that apologetic courtier is yours. And the would-be-scholar revolutionary. Though it's odd to be reading you without your style.

And yes, this is a recognizable ancestor of "The Boatman's Cure"—an eomythos—and as a literary paleontologist, I'm thrilled.


[identity profile] 2016-10-18 09:06 pm (UTC)(link)
"He sighed again, a slight man with a face off two centuries of coins, self-conscious in a borrowed jacket and trousers whose sole concession to fashion involved not yet having entirely worn through at the knees."

I see you in there.

[identity profile] 2016-10-18 11:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes: that's [ profile] sovay all right. Concerns, cadences, person, and all.


[identity profile] 2016-10-19 12:25 pm (UTC)(link)
"the purest high school Babylon 5/I, Claudius juvenilia imaginable." Like, there are some lines in here I am letting stand for the sake of the historical record, but I was barely bothering to file the serial numbers

Parts of B5 are unapologetic B5/I, Claudius mashup.
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[personal profile] landofnowhere 2016-10-20 01:11 am (UTC)(link)
I enjoyed that; the writing style is quite good for sixteen.
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[personal profile] genarti 2016-10-24 05:52 am (UTC)(link)
This is way better than my teenaged juvenalia! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, no matter the youthful unevenness of the craft. Teenaged you did quite a good job with the physicality, and I like the reluctant common ground.