Monday, August 31, 2009

House of Cards

This story is inspired from a dream I had. Please feel free comment in the comments section. I intend to write some more chapters for this story and get it to about 5000 words.

House of Cards
By Morgan Lean

Admiral Dirk Grombru gazed out on the lilac ocean, his mind in turmoil as he watched the mirror-calm waters on the southern side of his castle. Thoughts of his ancient lineage bore ponderously on his mind, and its coming collapse left a bitter taste of loss in his mouth. He felt elated at the idea of freedom from rules of court and kind, yet terrified at the prospect of becoming an un-augmented species. After two centuries of life and service to the anachronistic rules and regimes, his line would end where it had began, merely human.

A short walk along the gantry between the shore and the island which was the ancient spire of the pre-flood castle would take him to the chamber of voices, he knew he would commune with the great and noble line of his family for the last time before he sent his poor and wretched, though antique and proper gift to the new patron of house Grey-Star, who resided orbiting distant start Tau Ceti. His vision took hold of what must be a small holographic recorder, placed at an odd angle by its owners agents. Grombru pondered his fate and let the words form in his head for his formal greeting.

Chimes in castle Grey-Star rang out as servant and master bustled along the metal and glass corridors, which appeared to be strung along the sea bed like abandoned jewels on a chain. Outside, great luminescent fish swam in the warm equatorial waters of the surelian ocean. The castle was once an old colony, founded millennia ago by the ancestral people of terra. They had been a mixed colony of all the genotypes of Terra and give rise to a people who spread out among the stars in ships that broke a hole through space and time and appeared orbiting distant gravity wells. That time was long passed mused the young lord Grey-Star. I have trained all my life for this day; my first meeting with a founding house, he thought as his servant busily pinned roses to his tunic. Today I meet The Admiral Grombru of the house S-kali, today will be a great day in the long history of our house.

Grombru stood statue like, his fine cloth waving in the wind ever so slightly the replication from the holographic projector was superb they don’t make them like they used to he snorted, not since the nano wars. Grombru looked up as the young lord of house Grey-Star entered, he was wearing the traditional garb of his house a tunic with trousers and a rose pinned in the tunic. The boy looked no older than fourteen his facial hair had been trimmed recently and his checks looked flush from probably his first shave.

“My lord Grey-Star”, the speaker boomed in ancient commanding voice that smacked of all the authority of a commander ships and armies. The boy, was startled perhaps not expecting such volume and force from the walls of the chamber. “My name is Lord Admiral Grombru Harker S-kali, patriarch of house S-kali and ruler of the cloud of Magellan. I humbly must decline the invitation to the funeral of my great friend your father, and so must send a gift in my absence”. Grombru held up two simple rings of gold, and placed them in a box of ebony. "Antique rings from distant Terra, hopefully they may bring you some comfort in the long years of your reign as they did myself in mine."

“I accept this most excellent gift, Lord Grombru, I’m sure in the long years ahead I will call on you for your wise council as my father did” The boy spoke softly, jarred into saying something of the proper etiquette his lips and mind moved and said the words as a gracious host should.

“Thank you my Lord, I bid you farewell”. Grumbore spoke into the microphone and removed the deck of cards from the console. In castle Grey-Star the boy saw the splendid holographic projection of Lord Admiral Grumbore, wearing the military uniform of his houses Navy shimmer and flicker as the Admiral moved out of view.

Richard Harkrek Vompire stood in his viewing chamber, and addressed the ancient cameras and microphones. They looked like a spiders web with droplets of crystal spun in odd places. The red and green and blue dots from the crystals scanned his form before the transmissions. Buffering the tri video image and sending it in advance, so only a 32 bit audio transmission and the negligible vector transformation information was sent real-time.

Richard has chosen to appear in a diaphanous gown with many tiny lights and micro crystal reflectors. He was the consummate showman, always trying to display his wealth on his person regardless of who he was speaking too.

Today, he was to address the newly appointed Baron of Tau Ceti, an ancient family of a superb bloodline. He was so excited that his aids were having a difficult time adjusting the equipment of the tri recorder, as he jittered and flashed the loud “Ding” of the machine started to get on his nerves. “What’s the meaning of that infernal machine!” he shouted in a raucous voice like waves smashing into a rocky headland. “Please sire, stop moving the machine is having difficulty acquiring your image” sniveled the assistant. “Well of course it does, it can’t possibly capture the spender of the Duke of the Crab nebular! Make it work! Do it now I don’t have time to do this, I must transfer my credits and pack my gifts for the Baron just past.” The Duke continued to jigger and vibrated as if he was shivering in a cold wind or trying to keep his balance on a tight rope.

Sir please sit still the image is recording now. “Oh it will be fine, I will be captured for all to see in my sledded robes of gold and white."

At the other end, the tri video projector fired into life and image was downloaded, to castle Grey-Star of Lord Richard, Duke of the crab nebular.

Young Jasper Grey-Star waited as the image arrived, this took a lot longer than Grumbore he thought.

Raucous laughter and shouts cracked out of the speakers and a strange polygonal star emerged in the projector with sections of clothing, coloured lights and pale almost luminous skin coming into view. The image was garbled, strange textured triangles jutted out showing black or grey spaces in-between as the three dimensional shape of Duke came into view.

Jasper stood perfectly still knowing that on the far side his image would appear in front of the Duke.

“Nice flower my boy,” yelled the red and green triangle in front of Jasper. “Sad about the old man" shifting two dimensional three eye head roared.

“Welcome to house Grey-Star, my Duke I hope to see you soon at my fathers funeral."

“Yes, about that! I decided that as the old man was a dear friend of mine, that I will pay for the funeral and the broadcast across the network a paltry sum of 4 trillion credits.”

“Your highness is too kind indeed.”
“Not at all, I have these gifts for you too.”
Still pictures appeared as if frantically spliced in by the technicians on the other side, two dimensional pictures of a book bound in leather bearing the words Applied Politics 2031. A small case with two silver rings, and two full decks of transactor cards.

“Thank you sir, these are indeed fine gifts, and thank you for the gift of money.”
“No problem my boy” Said the 3 dimensional star with shooting jagged lightning flashes across its stretched and distorted face. “Welcome to the Nova Court, call me Dicky and call any time I’m always here.”

The room went quite as the technical difficulties on the other end must have finally caused the recorder to crash.

Jasper day dreamed about the great man on the other side shouting at his subordinates. To be a noble meant you must communicate, and make strategic decisions concerning whole worlds.

Since the collapse of the wormhole technology which allowed man kind to travel to a myriad of distant stars nobles had held the empires of Terra together in peace through a system of etiquette, communication and the network.

The warp ships that remained in service were so slow that to contact all aspects of the empire was so expensive and daunting that most elected to simply stay home and send gifts on the fast postal ships rather than travel. Of these gifts chief among them were the Decks, cards that recorded thoughts and feelings from their owners’ weather they handled them or not. Nobles initially could purchase many hundreds of decks at a time, however now the cards had become scarce, as their method of manufacture was lost in antiquity.

A system of etiquette had formed around the Nova court, just after the destruction of Terra. They would send the cards as gifts to truly convey their feelings and emotions to distant nobles orbiting distant stars. A gift of money, was considered crass as anyone can send goods of value or money but only the nobles of the Nova court had the cards, sending a gift of cards meant that you were sending yourself your inner most thoughts and desires and this had brought ever lasting peace for no one would dare send a gift to an enemy and everyone would quickly find out about such strife and put a quick stop to it.

This made the nobles supreme rulers of the stars, no one could challenge their power and many tried over the thousands of years they had held the empire together. If a noble had no more cards, he had no purpose within the court, as sometimes cards were lost the court shrank ever so slightly over time.

Jasper was started by the arrival of his first gift, two simple gold rings, and a simple deck of cards. He saw the distant lilac oceans and the pelicans of blue and gold and the warm and determined feeling of a man who would no longer hold the responsibility of court and the fate of worlds. Jaspers' own feelings flooded in, the sorrow and loneliness of long century or two of service without the truly great man, the Admiral of the Imperial Navy Grombru. How he wished, the Admiral would remain at court, and so his first gift meant more to him that the bawdy and brash state funeral supplied by the Duke of Crab nebular. His first gift was the last the Admiral had to give. He knew why his father had lived for so long and respected the man from the distant star.


Ransico said...

I think it is a good concept, one which can be expanded on within the next chapters. I like the idea of a young lord taking power before he is ready, flung into a world of subtle pain (and no doubt brutality)

I would suggest a simple read through before hitting the submit button - I can see where your thoughts are going but sometimes you let yourself run away on tangents or change direction too quickly. Need to really hold on to the rails, provide a very clear and concise train of thought to the reader. I think a simple grammatical proof read could go a long way to making the text more flowing.

Other than that, looking forward to the next instalment - I can see you have vivid pictures of the scenes in your mind, and I think that they were conveyed successfully.

MacBane said...

Thanks Rans, I have now re-edited the storys first chapter. Put in much need punctuation and cleaned it up.

Zig said...

Cool story Morg, reminds me a bit of the opening chapters of Dune set on Caladan.

My comments:

- The dialogue between characters doesn't really flow that well, I think that the sentences need to be broken up or something. It seems like the characters are rambling at themselves sometimes.

- There are a couple of huge sentences without punctuation.

- Lots of bold imagery, which is good!

- Grombru's name changes to Grumbore about half way through!

MacBane said...

Thanks for all the comments, ill try and fix it up for my final short story but i think i should write the rest of it first.