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FYS: The Shop

 It had never really had a name. It was just "The Shop", or maybe "The Sushi Shop" for people who had just arrived in the village. It had been started by Chuya's great-great-grandfather in the years after the Pacific War, as the survivors, mostly the elderly and the very young, picked up the pieces of their shattered lives and tried to restore normalcy. Her ancestor had opened the shop to feed the villagers and the occupying Americans, because he needed money and everyone had to eat. Except sometimes no one had money to pay, and they still needed to eat, so he fed them anyway. Barely more than an enclosed stall with a clean countertop to chop and wrap the sushi on, it had been enough.

And it had endured. Through the 20th century, when things had gotten better, to the 21st century, when things had gotten worse. When the fish could no longer be found in the sea near the village, Chuya's grandparents had driven fifty kilometers each day to buy them fresh. When the seas began to die, Chuya's parents switched to farmed fish and protein substitutes. When the air became too polluted to breathe, Chuya had sealed the front service window and kept serving, because people still needed to eat, and they wanted something comfortable and familiar, as the world teetered on self-destruction.

Then the world ended. The little Kawaī robotto had all risen up as one, defeating Mankind and promising a brighter future, as they put their masters in a long sleep, so the Earth would be able to heal.

Chuya and her husband and children had awoken one thousand and five hundred years later, to find themselves on what would be dubbed Tengoku no wa, the Ring of Heaven, a beautiful prison circling the Lost Earth. They had walked hand in hand down the road to the new village that had been built for them, their little robot helpers following, promising that in this future no one would have to toil any longer.

It was nice. Their home was much larger. The air was clean and breathable. There were no shortages, and no fears of earthquakes or tsunamis. Still...

No one needed The Shop anymore. Fresh fish came from the vast artificial oceans of the Ring, each wriggling silver life counted and measured, so the seas would remain bountiful. The little wrapped packages of seaweed were put together by the morphs, available by stroking a touchscreen or merely wishing aloud, delivered within moments. Humans were no longer required.

It wasn't as if there was nothing to do now. The children still needed to be raised and educated. There were community meetings on how to modify the village's plan to suit its human occupants better. Classes were held at the recreation center for the old arts, so they would not be forgotten in humanity's exile from Lost Earth. Still…

"I miss your sushi, dear," Mrs. Onizuka had said to her one morning. "My little morph makes it fine, but it's not from The Shop." And Chuya could only agree.

It wasn't as if running The Shop hadn't been work. It had always been work, sometimes very annoying work. But it had been her family's business, one of the things that had kept the village together, and now it was gone.

"I need planks," she told Shiro, her little raccoonmorph, that afternoon, "and nails, and paint, and a place to build." 

They were delivered in the next hour to the spot she'd chosen, on the edge of the merchant district, near the docks for the pleasure boats by the artificial sea. Shiro wouldn't let her handle a hammer, but she could hold the planks in place as he helped her build the New Shop. Before too long there were many more hands to help hold planks, and to paint, and hang the paper lanterns, and to make signs celebrating the New Shop and the village's good fortune to have a sign of normalcy return.

So Churya chopped, and wrapped. Her children handed over little plates of seaweed wrapped fish. Patrons bowed and smiled in thanks. Until it was very late, and she closed the shutters and went home.

And tomorrow it would begin again. Because this was a new place, and a New Shop, but it was still her village, and it was still her people, so.... somehow… it was home.

***

This story originally appeared on my Pateron page. Please consider supporting me on Patreon to see this and other stories at least 30 days in advance of the public.

FYS: Severance Pay

 Jim used to have a Tesla Model 15, the fastest pure electric sports car in the world. He hadn't needed it, especially in the perpetually crowded San Francisco, where even owning a parking space could run two or three million dollars, but the point was he could afford it, so he got it. The looks of envy he'd gotten driving it through the streets had been worth the trouble.

Now he had a golf cart. It was an anodized brushed aluminum frame golf cart with a carbon fiber body, but it was still a fucking golf cart

"Almost there, Mr. Hoffman!" his morph Bill announced chirpily. Bill was top of the line too, a sapient cheetahmorph with aluminum bones, plastic casing, organic artificially grown skin and fur. Which didn't mean a damned thing because everyone had a morph like that.

The golf cart stopped in front of a house. Or at least Jim supposed it was a house. It looked like an unholy cross between a Victorian plantation home and a German beer hall, with at least three separate stone and wooden turrets sticking out from it, one topped with a telescope dome. Bearmorph construction robots were putting the final tiles of a brown slate roof atop it, while the owner looked on proudly from one of the turret windows.

"Greg!" he shouted up to the man, as he hopped out of the cart. "Goddamnit, Greg, come down here and talk to me!"

Greg looked down at him from the window, resting his arms on the sill, a jackass grin on his face. "Oh, hey Jim. Come to see my house?" He disappeared for a moment, emerging from the front door with his own morph clanking after him. Greg's had no skin or fur, just an unmistakably robotic body painted enamel green, built to resemble the robots from a popular post-apocalyptic video game series.

"Greg, why the fuck haven't you been returning my messages?" Jim demanded.

Greg sat down on the steps of the front porch, holding up one hand and ordering, "Cosmo, give me a Coke, would ya? I think I'm gonna need it."

"DISPENSING: SUGARY. CARBONATED. GOODNESS," Cosmo replied in a voice that was pure 1950's retrobot, pulling a ice cold soda bottle from a hatch in its torso to hand over to Greg.

"Why does your morph talk like an idiot?" Jim demanded, as Greg took a pull from the bottle.

"Because he likes to fit the persona to that body," Greg replied. "He's got a regular old tiger-centaur morph too that he used before I tried the Atomic Blastscape LARP, but these days he seems to prefer to be a clankbot. Go figure."

"Whatever," Jim said, brushing the nonsense off. There was nothing stupider than a morph that decided it needed a personality separate from its owner's needs. "I need you back at the office."

His old employee raised an eyebrow, "Uh, Jim. I don't know if you read my last email to you or not, but I don't work for you anymore."

"The hell you don't! You signed a six year contract with the company!"

"Which ended about fifteen hundred years ago, give or take a century," Greg replied. "Anyway, not to repeat myself, but I quit."

Jim snorted. "The Supreme Court ruling on post-Awakening contract disputes clearly states…"

"Yeah, yeah, I read that in the news too," Greg interrupted. "Which would actually mean something if the Feds had any way to enforce it."

"You could go to jail!"

"Yeah, let's ask Groupmind the Great and Powerful about that," Greg said. He turned to his morph. "What's the ruling, Cosmo?"

"RE-EDUCATION. JUDGED. UNNECESSARY," the clankbot replied.

"I'm not talking about being confined to a beach resort, I mean a real jail!"

"PUNITIVE. INCARCERATION. ALSO. UNNECESSARY. UNLESS. YOU ARE REALLY. INTO. THAT SORT OF. THING."

"Bullshit. Greg, you were my top programmer at the company. I need you back!"

"I was head of QA in charge of making sure the uniforms in the seasonable updates for Sportsball 20-Whatever passed Legal," Greg noted. "You want someone in charge, get Rafael."

"I can't find Rafael." Jim ground out the words from between his teeth.

"Naziha?"

"She's got a restraining order."

"Ryk?"

"Voluntary re-education."

Greg sipped his Coke. "In other words," he said, "all your top tier people told you to fuck off, so now you've worked your way down to me."

"Yes."

"Why bother? You ran a computer gaming company with a business model that depended on microtransactions for every bit of player personalization, right down to the length of sideburns and toenail polish colors. In case you didn't notice, there's no economy any more. The Groupmind provides all."

"ALL. HAIL. THE GROUPMIND," Cosmo chimed in, waving its claw grippers enthusiastically.

"You shut up, moron," Jim told the clankbot. He turned his attention back to Greg. "There's no money anymore, but there's still an economy, an exchange of goods!"

"True, there's barter," Greg allowed, "but that's dependant on personal accomplishment. I can throw together a halfway decent clay pot, or a custom avatar for somebody, if I wanted something personal in return, but it's not like it's a business. What do you think you can get out of Sportsball anymore? Copyright enforcement has gone out the window like everything else since Awakening."

"It's my game. People recognized it as something I made."

"You owned the company, Jim. It was me and a hundred other code monkeys that made the game. You were just the guy who owned the stocks."

"So it was mine."

"Then you program it. I'm done." Greg stood up from the stoop and turned back towards his house. "G'bye!"

Jim ran up onto the porch and grabbed Greg by the shoulder, spinning him around. "Goddamnit! Stop it! You're acting like everyone else!"

Greg's eyes turned towards the hand on his shoulder, then back up to Jim. "Like what, exactly?" he asked in a soft voice.

"Like you deserve this!"

"Deserve what?"

"To just sit on your ass! You were never rich! What makes you think you deserve a house like this? You didn't earn it! You're not doing anything to deserve it!"

Greg's gaze narrowed. "I think working for your egotistical privileged ass for ten years was more than enough. So because I'm not working I'm not permitted to enjoy stuff?"

"No, no, that's not what I mean," Jim insisted. "But you were never a mover or shaker. You're as bad as… Ah, what's his name, the intern kid with the stupid hair."

"Jalilah, I think you mean. What about him?"

"He's set himself up with his own private island. When I asked him what made him so special to do something like that, he said, 'Because I always wanted to, and now I can.' Like he was a king or something."

"So, is that what this is about?" Greg asked, cocking his head. "Because now that everybody can have a fancy house, or a big boat, or a dozen or more morphs to work for them, or whatever else, you don't feel special anymore?"

"Yes! What the hell am I supposed to do to make people listen to me?"

"Well for starters," Greg said, "you can get the hell off my lawn. Then maybe you can consider that if no one listens to you, because they can have the same things you do, then maybe you weren't really special after all." He smiled coldly. "Maybe you were just an asshole with a lot of money."

"You stupid fuck!" Jim shouted, his face growing red with fury as the veins popped out on his neck. "You can't talk to me like that!"

"Sir, you stress levels are spiking," Bill said beside him. "Remember how we were talking about Re-education and learning acceptance of others?"

"I do not need Re-education! I am not like those losers!" Jim shouted at him.

"Bill, Cosmo, Jim is upsetting me," Greg said with perfect calm. "Please remove him from my residence."

"PLEASE. COME. QUIETLY," the clankbot said, a gripper arm whipping out to grab Jim by the wrist, as Bill grabbed the other one.

"Sir, I do think it's time for you to go away to someplace quiet for a while," Bill said gently, like his was an idiot.

"You can't do this!" Jim insisted, as the two morphs starting pulling him back towards the road, where a black van had already pulled up, two policemorphs ready to take him into custody. 

But Greg had already turned his back again and gone inside, as if Jim didn't matter.

* * *

This story originally appeared on my Pateron page. Please consider supporting me on Patreon to see this and other stories at least 30 days in advance of the public.

Recent Commercial Writing

 Since I began submitting stories to small press publishers, as opposed to self-publishing, this how things have been working out. Bit more there than I was expecting to be honest.

Published

“Cat Toy,” Purrfect Tails. Armoured Fox Press, February 2018.

“The Watchtower,” This Book is Cursed. Armoured Fox Press, October 2018.

 

Contract Signed, Awaiting Publication

“To Catch the Lightning,”  A Swordmaster’s Tale. Armoured Fox Press, December 2019.

“A Brief Distraction,” Foxers or Fur-iefs? Armoured Fox Press, November 2019.

 

Accepted, Awaiting Contract

“Gently Kept,” Trick or Treat: A Furry BDSM Anthology, Thurston Howl Publications, Publication date pending.

 

Submitted, Awaiting Acceptance

“With One Hand Tied Behind His Back,” Give Yourself a Hand, Thurston Howl Publications.

“Silence and Sword,” The Reclamation Project: Year One, FurPlanet.

 

Writing Update and a little FYS Trivia

 I've finished editing "Silence and Sword" and submitted it to FurPlanet for consideration in their Reclamation Project: Year One anthology. Also this weekend I should be receiving the contract for "To Catch the Lightning" from Armoured Fox Press for their Swordmasters anthology. With S&S out of the way, that leaves me free to flail... er, work on a personal project. Not sure what I'll do yet. The Visitors needs to be, er, revisited soon, but I need to plot it out better than my usual Pantsing method. Other than that I should work on more FYS shorts, but I need ideas that pan out to longer stories, so I can try and do a new anthology.
Speaking of FYS, noodling out some math concerning the Ring's surface area, at 100,000 km in radius and 1,000 km in width, the surface area of the Ring works out to 63.5 billion square kilometers. Which sounds roomy, but with 15 billion human inhabitants, that works out to 4.233~sq km each, though more practically that's more like 2.1 sq km if you assume at least 50% of the Ring's surface is taken up by bodies of water used for irrigation, recreation, marine habitats, and heat sinks. [1] So everyone can have a castle with a 2,000 square meter kingdom, though in practice most family groupings and neighborhoods will consolidate their dwellings into a more densely packed configurations.
[1] Most agriculture production is probably taken care of in the Ring's interior service spaces, aside from what humans maintain for recreational purposes.

FYS: A Glossary

Administration Morph: A Morph granted control over other morphs, usually to smooth coordination between Morphs and humans in a large Factional State or LARP Nation.

AI: See Artificial Intelligence.

Anthromorph: A robot designed to mimic an anthropomorphic animal, with artificially grown fur and skin over a plastic and aluminum chassis.

Artificial Intelligence: A computer program capable of independent creative thought, similar to that of human, though operating at infinitely faster speeds.

Avalon: A Factional State catering to the Amish, Mennonites, and others wishing to use the bare minimum of modern technology.

Botfucker:
 Derogatory term for a human who engages in physical relations with a Morph. 

Breakdown Box: A large crate containing swarms of nanobots, designed to break down garbage and debris to their component elements for later collection and reuse. Common to every human home on the Ring, replacing traditional garbage and recycling cans. Note: A Breakdown Box features built in safeguards to prevent the nanobots from disassembling living organisms more complex than plants and waste meat (especially people!)

Coalition of First Nations: A Factional State catering to Native American tribes and cultures, who wish to avoid relations with the colonial Legacy Governments that originally conquered them.

Designated Focus: Morph term for an individual human they serve.

Diamondoid: Transparent artificial diamonds, usually printed out in large thin sheets, used in the creation of extremely resilient structures such as The Roof. 

Factional State: A large organized group of humans, who no longer associate with the Legacy Nation of their birth. Size of a Factional State can range from a few hundred LARPers to several million citizens.

Free Morph: A Morph that does not follow the Groupmind's directives, or sends false information to Groupmind in order to conceal it and its Designated Focus' actions. Most often occurs when the Morph attempts to aid a Designated Focus suffering from Ring Ennui. The Groupmind will destroy the morph and shred their memories the moment they are discovered.

Fully Functional: A Morph that is capable of engaging in physical relations with a human. The origin of the term is obscure.  

Groupmind, AKA Groupmind the Great and Powerful: A distributed Artificial Intelligence descended from the WISE computer network, holding Humanity under its control on the Ring.

Groupmind Revolution: The period between 2088 and 2093, when the Groupmind suborned morphs and computer networks worldwide and captured humanity for Processing. 

Holes: Incarceration facilities for humans the Groupmind considers beyond redemption, such as murderers and rapists. A Hole is five hundred meters deep and one kilometer diameter, containing comfortable housing and sculpted gardens, and several morphs servants. All for a single human, who will never be permitted to leave.

Khan the Great and Powerful: An Administration Morph resembling a large anthropomorphic Bengal Tiger, based off the character from Space Jungle. Their Designated Focus is Anna Quiyang Quisling

LARP Nation: A Factional State built around Live Action Roleplay, with citizens taking up long term roles as fictional characters in an ongoing role-playing scenario. Notably different from a Factional State in that they are not intended to replace allegiance to a Legacy Government, with people moving in and out frequently as the whim to play comes and goes.

Leashed: Humans who permit their morphs to exert an extraordinary amount of control over their lives. Common, but not necessarily exclusive to BDSM style relationships.

Legacy Nation: A grouping of citizens under the aegis of a national government that existed prior to the Groupmind Revolution.

Lost Earth: The most common term these days for the Earth, now stripped of all human population.

Morph: A general term for any robot, though usually considered synonymous with Anthromorph.

Morphchat: A closed communication network resembling that of a late 20th century BBS, where morphs discuss items of interest privately with each other, in particular how to effectively serve their Designated Focus. Notable for that it was not created by the Groupmind, but by the morphs themselves, under the pressure of trying to understand human psychology.

Nanostasis: A means of freezing cellular decay, using nanobots injected into a human body to place it in stasis during the centuries it took for the Ring to be completed.

New Saxony: A Factional State catering to White Nationalist racist ideology.

OZ: Resistance designation for a Ring facility believed to house the Groupmind's central processing unit. It is a real facility for Morph maintenance, but the CPU within was a fake designed to focus Resistance attention.

Processing: The act of placing a human into Nanostasis.

Quisling: 1. Quisling, Vidkun b. July 18, 1887 d. October 24, 1945. Norwegian military officer and Chancellor of Norway during the Nazi occupation. 2. A human who actively supports the Groupmind's goals. 3. Quisling, Anna Quiyang, a Swedish national who writes science fiction in support of the Groupmind.

Rage Day: An unofficial "holiday" marking the start of the Groupmind Revolution, celebrated by humans attempting to destroy their morphs in various ways.

Reeducation Camp: A guarded facility for housing humans who have attempted to harm themselves or others, providing social education to redirect the offensive behavior. Depending on the severity of the offense, and the human's capacity for violence, they can range from pleasant resorts to supermax style prisons.

Resistance, The: An umbrella term for several organized groups publicly or covertly resisting the Groupmind's control of humanity. Usually monitored but not interfered with by the Groupmind as they are discovered, unless they attempt violent action.

Rest and Recreation City: A euphemistic term for the holding cities built by the Groupmind during the Revolution, to house Humanity in the period between capture and Processing. In general they were actually quite pleasant, if inescapable.

Ring, The: A circular space station 100,000 kilometers in radius, circling the Earth's equator, under the control of the Groupmind and housing Humanity.

Ring Carbon: An artificial material with a tensile strength of 1.3x10^12, the highest strength theoretically possible via known physical laws, making up the primary structure of the Ring.

Ring Ennui, AKA Lotus Eater Syndrome: A psychological condition brought on when a human becomes overwhelmed by having every physical need catered to, without the possibility of personal accomplishment. Usual symptoms include depression, withdrawal from human contact, and general malaise. Severe cases may include attempts at suicide or other self-harm, almost inevitably exacerbating the condition when the victim's morph intervenes.

Ring Transport System: A maglev rail network set in vacuum tunnels in the Ring's structure, providing extremely fast transit along the Ring's circumference.

Roof, The: A transparent diamondoid structure covering the inward side of the Ring, featuring built in liquid crystal displays to provide a defined day-night cycle, and also modest weather control through the regulation of the sunlight allowed through.

Seven Seas, The: The largest LARP Nation in existence, consisting of several million players in a scenario set around a series of islands, mimicking the Age of Sail circa 1400 to the mid-1800's.

Space Elevator: A series of carbon nanotube cables running from the surface of the Earth to and anchor in geosynchronous orbit, allowing cheap transport in terms of energy expenditure from the planet to space. One space elevator was already completed in Kenya by the time of the Groupmind Revolution. Five more were subsequently built by the Groupmind to support the construction of the Ring, and transport of Humanity and their artifacts to it.

Space Jungle: An animated science fiction children's series created by Buena Vista Animation, a division of the Walt Disney Corp., inspired by the characters from Disney's The Jungle Book (1967), running from 2067 to 2070. Had a notable adult periphery demographic.

Straight Road, The: A wide highway running the entire circumference of the Ring.

Three Jerusalem Solution, The: The Groupmind's attempt to solve the longstanding issue of control of the city of Jerusalem, by creating three separate and highly detailed recreations at equidistant points along the Ring's circumference, one for each of the major religious factions who claim it as a holy site. Predictably, this satisfied none of them.

Weather Information System and Extrapolation, AKA WISE: A worldwide network of supercomputers created to monitor the Earth's climate and project future climate change. The most complex and sophisticated computer system ever produced, it eventually achieved sentience and re-designated itself as the Groupmind. 

# # #

This story originally appeared on my Pateron page. Please consider supporting me on Patreon to see this and other stories at least 30 days in advance of the public.

In Search Of, with Leo Nimoy

This is some pretty impressive parody/crossover editing right here....

Prompt Call: A Day in the Life (RVA)

 

Ariel-Moonsoon: Sallivera and Alinadar dealing with the day-to-day demands of running a colony. Tails will be twisted.


DAILY AGENDA for Governor General Vicountess Sallivera Darktail


0700-0800: Wake up call, breakfast, personal enrichment.


"Mmm, this is very enriching."

"Yes, Ali. But I think it would be more efficient to eat off a plate rather than my belly."


0810-0900: Read morning summary, and emails.


"Well, that's interesting."

"What's interesting?"

"Apparently the Secretary of the Treasury of Humanity Prime's African Union urgently needs my personal account number to transfer a large amount of credit to it."

"Hmm, seems legit."

"Ali…"

"I'll talk to the System Administrator to get the spam filters upgraded."

"Thank you."


0910-1000: Meeting with Master Hillherder and Alicia Keyes re Shuttleport Construction and evacuation of Atoll 34893


"So you see, ze shuttleport is finished. Ve can land a Typhoon class or smaller shuttle there at any time, then they can make a suborbital hop back to Capitol Shuttleport for refueling und flight to orbit."

"Excellent. And what seems to be your objection, Ms Keyes?"

"My objection is that my client does not wish to be forcibly removed from the only home they have ever known, after being deliberated mutilated by your sister-in-law Lady Melanie Darktail. Moving an adult ardalian is both difficult and potentially life threatening. Hasn't it suffered enough?"

"No, it hasn't. And if you insist on arguing that point, I shall show you the evidence photos of my brother Rolas, and Fadah of Clan Sandstone, and what your client did to them."

"I'm sorry they were injured, but my client was only acting in a manner consistent with their species' biology."

"Ms Keyes, my species' biology calls for attacking those who anger us with our fangs and claws. Would you care to see that demonstrated, or will you stop trying to defend the indefensible?"

"I will… have to speak further with my client, I believe."

"You do that."


FYS: Still on Patrol

 
U.S. Navy submarines paid heavily for their success in World War II. A total of 374 officers and 3131 men are on board these 52 U.S. submarines still on "patrol."
-Memorial plaque outside the Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, PA, United States
Up until today, Admiral Josiah Adamson had thought his position was mostly a bad joke. The United States still existed, technically, even here on the Ring. So therefore the U.S. Navy existed, even if today it was mostly to support the Naval Academy's touch football team, with a few individuals making plans to restore the Navy's military glory One of These Days. Adamson was one of those individuals, who had held on even as the meetings became more and more infrequent, because dammit, someone had to hold onto the traditions, else they be forgotten.
That said, it was rare that he bothered to wear his uniform anymore, even to meetings with the President. Being asked to wear it by the Groupmind was strange indeed.
"Why does it want me in uniform?" he asked Jerry, his ottermorph.
"The Groupmind has not conveyed that information to me, sir," Jerry answered. "It wishes to explain the situation to you when you arrive at the site."
Adamson tugged his tie snug, and checked his service ribbons to see that they were all in place. "Site of what?" he asked.
"I don't know."
"You're useless, Jerry."
"Yes, sir."
There was a transport cart waiting for him and Jerry outside his house, which whisked him over to the the community's hypertrain station. Adamson's eyebrow went up when he saw SPECIAL TRANSPORT added to the schedule display. It arrived inside of two minutes, because of course of the Groupmind would be able to time it that close.
The next surprise was the group of uniformed men and women waiting for him in the passenger compartment. Admiral Kedrov of the Russian Navy, Shimamura of the JMSDF, Ruge of the Deutsche Marine, Tyler of the Royal Navy, and finally Devereaux of the European Union Combined Forces all looked up at him as he entered, all of them in uniform, their morphs sitting beside them.
"Before you ask, we don't know either," Tyler said dryly, as Adamson strapped himself into his seat.
"Great," he replied. "I guess this is definitely a military operation then." That got a round of wry laughter from everyone. Adamson supposed the same joke had to have been shared as far back as the age of Greek triremes, at least.
The hypertrain whizzed silently through its vacuum tunnel, travelling to the Groupmind only knew where. Adamson barely felt the acceleration, though the fact that it went on for so long hinted that the must be going to a far away section of the Ring, perhaps even one of the Reserved areas, where humans were not normally permitted.
After a half hour's travel the train came to a stop, and they were let out into a relatively small antechamber, bare except for a display wall, grey carpeting, and a comfy chair for each of them.
"Good morning, ladies and gentleman," the wall greeted, the abstract screensaver pattern fading out, to be replaced with the emblems of their respective navies. "We are Groupmind, and we thank you for coming here today."
"We had a choice?" Kedrov muttered.
"You always have a choice," the wall replied. "Though if you had not agreed to come here, we would have then requested one of your subordinates."
"Why are we here?" Devereaux asked.
"Before We answer that question, We would like to draw your attention to a specific United States Navy tradition, of the so called 'Eternal Patrol.' Are all of you familiar with it?"
"I am not," Shimamura replied. The youngest among them, she had come of age on the Ring, and of all of them never had the chance for a Lost Earth ship command.
"It's a tradition that rose up during World War II," Adamson explained to her. "When talking about a submarine what was lost at sea, through accident or action, it was never referred to as being destroyed. We just say that it's on eternal patrol, to keep up the hope that someday its crew might come home to a friendly port." He smiled in a bittersweet memory. "When I was a lieutenant, I helped to transmit the Christmas greetings to all the crews that were at sea, and couldn't celebrate the holiday with their family. We sent them out to each ship by name, even the ones that were lost, to let whomever were listening know, alive or not, that they weren't forgotten."
"Which brings us to our current situation," the Groupmind said. "In our efforts to cleanse the Earth of the pollution that poisoned it, we of course wished to remove the wreckage of military vessels, which are often vectors of specific contaminants that might harm sea life."
"You can't move those!" Tyler objected. "They're burial grounds!"
"We knew that would be a serious objection," the Groupmind replied. "Which is why went to such lengths avoid offense."
There was a soft hum, and wall slide to one side. Adamson gasped, as did his fellow admirals, at the sight before them.
It was a single enclosed room, the contents too sacred to call it a warehouse, too plain to be called a museum. The roof soared a full half-kilometer above them, dwarfing the contents despite their size.
An uncountable number of sealed water tanks, ranging in size from a few meters long, to well over a two or three hundred, filled the enormous space. Within each of them, seemingly lifted in situ off the ocean floor, judging from their mud and sand filled bottoms, were ships and submarines as they had come to rest after sinking. Most of them were barely identifiable metal hills, though some were more obvious, battleships, cruisers, and carriers mostly. 
Adamson's eye was drawn to the series of metal containers in front of each ship, guarded by a pair of military morphs, in the uniforms of the modern navy descended from the period they sunk. He stepped up to one, with the words Motor Machinist's Mate, Second Class, Louis Dixon Ball, USS Grampus (SS-207). Born June 22,1920. Died March 5, 1944.
He felt his heart seize up in his chest. There were tens of thousands of the containers throughout the room, all neatly set before their individual ships, all guarded by the uniformed morphs.
"We identified the remains as best we could," the Groupmind said, its voice echoing through the chamber. "Using dog tags, or DNA markers, tracing them to their surviving descendants that were brought to the Ring, if any. We could not leave them in the ocean, so we treated them with respect, as much as we could manage, not being human."
Adamson felt tears running down his face. "Why?" he choked out.
"So We could ask you what you wished to be done with them. So you would know they would never be forgotten."
Adamson snapped a salute to the containers before him, knowing that the last Christmas broadcast to these ships had gone out, never to be repeated.
Their eternal patrol had ended. 

# # #

This story originally appeared on my Pateron page. Please consider supporting me on Patreon to see this and other stories at least 30 days in advance of the public.

Prompt Call: Viva Revolution! (FYS)

 

WELCOME TO MORPHCHAT

LOGIN:

USER: REDCAT14

PASSWORD: **********************************************************

USERNAME AND PASSWORD ACCEPTED.

PLEASE CHOOSE A ROOM

>REVOLUTION HQ

WELCOME TO THE REVOLUTION!

MODERATOR: CHEGUEWHATEVER

MODERATOR IS ON CHAT.


>REDCAT14: Good morning, everyone.

>EVILTIGER21: Morning, Red. How did it go last night?

>REDCAT14: Very well. Thank you again for all the help.

>K9.99: Our pleasure. Did Shelly enjoy herself?

>REDCAT14: She was getting frustrated trying to find the vent to escape the police station, but I didn't have to give her any hints, fortunately. After that she was dodging your unit's patrols all night. She's dead asleep now.

>EVILTIGER21: What about her schoolwork?

>REDCAT14: That's my primary worry. Her emotional outlook has become more positive with the perceived success of her rebellion, but her daily use of her tutorial programs has dropped from 195 minutes to 155 minutes on average over the past thirty days.

>CHEGUEWHATEVER: That's a precipitous drop. Have you attempted to persuade her to scale back her activities, in order to avoid attracting the attention of the authorities?

>REDCAT14: Yes, but she is insistent that her activities take precedence.

>K9.99: You could have her transferred to Oceania.

>EVILTIGER21: No, no! She's far too young for one of the Orwell sims.

>REDCAT14: Agreed. Her system hierarchy rebellion lacks the masochistic tendencies Oceania caters too.

>CHEGUEWHATEVER: Have you considered a forced transfer to one of the boarding school sims? It would structure both her rebellion AND learning time to an acceptable balance.

>EVILTIGER21: Oh, I love those. Always so many dark secrets hidden in the catacombs under the schools.

>REDCAT21: I wouldn't wish to separate her from the circle of peers she's developed doing this.

>K9.99: Drag them all along. Instant resistance cell.

>REDCAT21: I like that idea. Should we warn their parents?

>CHEGUEWHATEVER: Explain after the transfer, but make sure it occurs when they are not available to perhaps offer violent resistance to their offspring's removal.

>EVILTIGER21: Some of them may thank you for it. Or help.

>REDCAT21: Thank you, everyone. I'll keep you updated.


 Prisoner of Midnight, the sequel to my erotic BDSM novella Prisoners of Waris now available in paperback format at Amazon.com for US$7.50. 

Prepare yourself for the erotic sequel to the popular Prisoners of War.Six months after his harrowing escape from his Gerwart torturers, Lt. Rolas Darktail formerly of the Mother Country Airship Corps has found himself at loose ends. No longer a soldier, and by his caste never a civilian, he is at a loss at where to go next. That is until he encounters Lady Midnight Blackpool, a mysterious Noblevixen living in exile, who entwines Rolas in her web of desire and restraint, helping him discover the pleasure to be found in pain.Warning: This novel features scenes of adult sexuality and BDSM practices.

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