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  1. Sushiquest
  2. Volume 1
  4. Preface
  5. “Pick up your sword 'n rucksack and lets go adventuring!” - Sushiroll
  6. Cute bats, Cash, A Milkshake, True Love, A Restaurant, Fine Realist Literature, The World’s Sharpest Knife, A Parcel (Sieve), Who He/She Is and what they mean to each other, Lucy & Damon, Guinea Goths (Muffin & Lizzy), (Flip the table, steal all the spoons,  walk out, sell the spoons, buy a cat, realize i still love her, call the cat lucy and blame it for all my problems), Spoons Apocalypse
  8. Chapter -1 - Retcon’d lol
  9. Drowning in noise, snow underfoot, hat against head, sleeve against coat.
  10. For a moment, silent.
  11. Slowly, the noise of the outside world returns. The soft burble of the engine, the snap and crackle of the dying fire.
  12. It was moments like these he savoured the most.
  13. With another burst of noise, he took a step back and removed his hat.
  14. Lazy mist dribbled from the exhaust, pooling around one wheel.
  15. A deep breath.
  17. *He sit in he got damn seat and shut hte door*
  19. “All done?”
  20. “Let’s hope so”
  21. She gave a wry chuckle, “You said that last time. C’mon, let’s go.”
  23. Like the good book says, she engaged confidently and without hesitation, pulling away with the polished (though by no means effortless) grace of dearest babushka. Countering the slope with a masterful full body wrench, they were away into the night, snowflakes shining in the headlights dim glow like an NTSC star trek bootleg.
  25. The dim white valley of the winding road stretched far ahead, or at least it probably did. There’s something very comforting about that warm incandescent glow, but there’s a reason these things always have a raft of extra lights slapped on. A project for the new year perhaps.
  27. “Leaves?” She asked.
  28. “Hmm?”
  29. “Leaves!” She said again, craning her neck as if to shout above the fog of noise.
  30. “Ech, not so much. Just silt, mud. Good flow though. Looks like an early melt this year”
  31. “Does that mean we can have the boiler back?”
  32. He whistled through his teeth; “It’ll cost ya”
  33. A sarcastic scoff; “Oh yeah?”
  34. “Mmmmm. Yup.” He paused for a moment, “Not sure what though”
  35. ---
  36. The whine of the transfer case was sharper now, the road that bit steeper.
  37. “Where would you find a giant thermos flask?” She pondered.
  38. Another moment passed, the road grew steeper still.
  39. “A…” He paused. “No, a physics lab”
  40. “Chemistry?”
  41. “Maybe, I’m thinking liquid nitrogen. Cryogenic stuff”
  42. “Hmm… New year trip?”
  43. “Sounds lovely”
  45. The road was at its steepest now, cutting deep into the landscape. The noise was deafening.
  46. “Careful, centre’s still locked”
  47. “Fuck that, front and back’s the problem”
  48. “Bloody vandal.”
  49. “You what?”
  50. “Hooligan!”
  51. “Calvinist!”
  52. “Luddite!”
  54. With the grace of a hungry seal they crested the hill, punching through the snow drift forming  in its lee and crashing down with a screech of rusted springs.
  55. “Could be worse though”
  56. Glancing left, she did the thing. Well gosh darn this needs to change now she has a name
  58. Chapter 0 - Wherein they find a sieve
  59. They both piled into the narrow entrance and began stamping the snow off their boots.
  60. “Do you mind?”
  63. Chapter 1 - The Beginening
  64. “Let’s go adventuring” he proposed.
  65. She cocked her head with a bemused smile. “Hmmm?”
  66. “We’re literally living in a fantasy world, how can we sit here and be bored?”
  67. “Fair”
  68. Breaking the 4th wall already? Cheeeky
  69. “Where should we go?” She asked.
  70. “Dunno, just go and see where what happens”
  71. “Fuck it, why not?”
  73. And so, our brave adventurers gathered their supplies:
  75. “What’s the most adventurey car?” spoke he.
  76. “Depends what kind of adventure dunnit”
  77. “Landy?”
  78. “2CV?”
  79. “Ooo, cute”
  80. “I know, right?”
  81. “Not much space though, what if we find great mythical treasure?”
  82. “What if we find a cute parisien cafe?”
  83. “No.” he said doing a face that was all  “>:c”
  84. “Fiiiiiiiiiiine”
  85. “TGB?”
  86. “I guess...”
  87. For a moment, it seemed as if the excitement of the moment was fading.
  89. “As long as I’m driving” she posited with a sideways glance.
  90. “Deal” he replied, “Let’s get packing”
  92. And so it was, they done did packed, just like that, what do you know?
  93. Rucksacks, ropes, torches, old fashioned miners helmets, cake forks, a sword or two. All the important things.
  95. And then they were off, into the… day? Yeah. Afternoon.
  97. Onwards they drove, over hills, around hills, even through hills!
  98. Until they found…
  99. Hmm…
  100. A… A supermarket!
  101. With a squeal of aged drums they came to a stop and burst forth, “Adventure ho!” they cried!
  102. Flying through the doors with a heroic pose and an electronic dingaling they faced adventure head on! But all they saw was a small shop and a bemused pakistani shopkeeper.
  103. There was an awkward silence, punctuated only by the shuffling of feet.
  105. “Ahem” He said. Literally, like,  he just said it. “Have you got any adventures?”
  106. “noOooo” replied the shopkeeper with an unexpected geordie accent.
  107. “Are you sure?” she asked.
  108. Came his response, “Aye, sure like”.
  109. “Can you check in the back?” Said he.
  110. “oOOOh NOoooo, noo aye noo”
  111. “Why not like?”, she replied with a sympathetic accent.
  112. “It’s full of raats, big ones. I’d kill ‘em but their DEX is so high I can hardly hit the buggers” the shopkeeper explained, with a welsh accent this time.
  113. They looked at each other and shouted in unison: “That sounds like an adventure!”
  115. “Aaaal’right, but if ‘yer ta gOo ye’ll d’well tae take this” the shopkeeper decreed, scottish this time.
  116. His outstretched hands held a snickers duo and a 500ml bottle of irn bru.
  117. Dropping to one knee, our brave adventurers accepted his offering graciously.
  118. ITEM GET! DRUG! BAG! FUCK! Its an older meme, but it checks out
  120. In mere moments they were poised ready at the door. They shared an intense, dramatic moment of eye contact and checked each others stats:
  121. --- HE ---
  122. MINERS HELM            +1 DEF
  123.                 ?  DARKVISION IV
  125. BIKER JACKET            +1 STYLE
  126. ? FIRE RESIST I
  128. CARGO SHORTS            +8 POCKETS
  129.                 -1 STYLE
  135. KNAPSACK            +15 INVENTORY
  136.                 ? EXPLORER I
  140. --- SHE ---
  141. SAUCEPAN            +1 DEF
  142.                 ? COOKERY III
  144. KHAKI SHIRT            +2 POCKETS
  145.                 ? EXPLORER II
  147. DENIM SKIRT (RIPPED)        +1 STYLE
  148.                 ? POP PUNK VI
  150. KNEE SOCKS (CAT MOTIF)    -+-DLC-+-
  154. RUCKSACK            +25 INVENTORY
  156. SHORTSWORD (RUSTY)         +5 ATK
  157.                 ? ADVENTURER II
  159. “Yes”, they thought, “We’re ready”.
  161. Screaming nobly, they kicked open the door with a crash!
  162. But as the dust settled and the screaming subsided, a new scene unfolded before them.
  163. From the door came a cool, dank and enticing breeze along with distant echoes of undeniably heroic screaming.
  164. The great cave stretched as far as the eye could see, not that that means much. Maybe like, a kilometer at most? Not that that was the end, its just that it got awfully foggy down there so you couldn’t really make out what was beyond.
  165. The shopkeeper let out a short yet surprisingly mellifluous fart, a good omen for sure.
  167. Weapons raised, they looked at each other again, even more dramatically this time.
  168. “Let’s do this” he said with a rakish grin and a fresh scottish accent.
  169. And with that, they jumped.
  170. Probably died or something I don’t know.
  172. Chapter 2 - But they didn’t died
  174. Featuring: Bats! Cute ones! Incredible treasure! A milkshake! Explosively pumped flux compression generators! What wonders to behold!
  176. They fell hard upon a rocky slope, littered with loose and limestoney little lumps layered in line with lithological law.
  177. Tripped, tumbling in terror through tumultuous tempest, torn together towards tortuous torment!
  178. Or perhaps not.
  179. In any case, they came to rest at the bottom of the slope, a little worse for wear but generally OK.
  180. “Nyaurgh!” - A mournful groan.
  181. “Nyeeuuurgh” - A forlorn consensus.
  182. “Let’s not do that again” came a hoarse, breathless voice.
  183. There was a moment of quiet, a scraping of metal, a scattering of pebbles.
  184. “Nah… I’d do it again”
  185. Groaning, bemoaning, physically atoning, they took stock of the cave with a sense of foreboding.
  187. Its geology was quite unlike anything any of them had seen before, and believe you me they knew a thing or two about caves between them.
  189. “You know much about caves?”, He enquired.
  190. “Mmm. They’re like holes but sideways” she replied matter-of-factly.
  192. He stood for a moment, blinking at the ground in front of him. Not the sort to be cowed by another’s wisdom, he considered his response.
  193. “Yes… Of course… And sometimes they have bats in”
  194. “Hmm, hmm” she said, nodding gently with the smiling eyes of sage approval.
  196. “Is everything ok down there?” called the shopkeeper.
  197. “Yes, we’re quite alright” he explained, “and thanks for asking” she hastened to add.
  198. “Jolly good, I’ll be shutting up at 5 mind so you best not ‘ang about”
  199. Silhouetted against the open door, the shopkeeper turned and returned to his till, taking his latest accent with him.
  201. “Well” she began, “shall we crack on then?”
  203. -----------
  204. From above the cave seemed, well, big, but from down here it seemed… Bigger.
  205. Well not really, but the general shape of the thing was a little more clear.
  206. They were standing in a fairly round chamber, not quite so tall as it was wide, tapering towards a gently sloping tunnel opposite the door. Behind them it sloped up towards the entrance, above which the ceiling tapered into a steep gable.
  207. The overall impression was rather like a roosting hen trying to get a better view of something but unwilling to get up.
  209. “Well, the big one’s obviously the main quest so I say we have a look around here before we go in” proposed he. She shrugged in noncommittal agreement before wandering off towards the right wing of the hen, sword swinging in outstretched arm.
  211. Before long, they found themselves at an opening, about 6ft across, round, damn, that is a sweet hole you might say. Its an old meme, but it checks out. And it was so terribly dark inside.
  213. Yet again they glanced at each other. Turning slowly with a nervous gulp he made a tentative first move, creeping forward on the tips of pantomime toes.
  215. In close formation they continued in, eyes adjusting to the gloom as the room began to take shape. A bang! A scream! A clash of metal!
  216. Staring into each others eyes, perhaps more dramatically than ever before, they relaxed and began to laugh.
  217. She lowered her sword, he stowed his pipe, but a chilling question remained...
  218. “What was that?” she whispered.
  219. Before he could reply there was another noise, more of a clunk than a bang this time, followed by something new. First a buzz, then a whine, slowly merging into a soft warbling tone, slowly but surely, they turned to face the source of the sound.
  220. In the far corner there was a box, or perhaps a crate, framed by an ethereal white light.
  221. Next, a short glassy tinkle, as if something ever so small were trying to escape, a quick flash, then a blinding light.
  223. “Bwaaugh!” they cried, recoiling from the harsh light.
  224. “What is it?”, she asked, recovering a little more swiftly from the initial shock than he.
  225. “I don’t know, my eyes are still closed”
  226. “Oh, ok...”
  227. “Well go on then, what is it?”
  229. -----------
  230. What was thing? What do it do? Tune in next year to find out more!
  231. ---------------------------------------------
  233. Chapter 3 - The Restaurant at the end of the Store Cupboard
  235. Mettle, Paramour, Nietzsche, personal enrichment, Reticent? Or Demure? Mamihlapinatapai!
  237. Sitting down at the table he was met with a sudden sensation, equal parts tranquility and creeping terror.
  238. His world came rushing inwards like a Hitchcock dolly zoom, trapped in a room surely no bigger than their table though the short distance between them might comfortably swallow the Okavango delta.
  239. Hitherto he had never struggled with intimacy, their relationship had drifted along with the unconscious fluency of walking. Now however, under the full weight of his attention, it had acquired the deeply uncomfortable character of walking under the conscious mind’s direction.
  240. The sensation consumed him.
  241. Had his mouth always been this shape? He felt sure there had been some natural place in it to rest one’s tongue beforehand.
  243. They looked at each other, in a realist, introspective sort of way.
  244. “Oh heavens”, thought he, “Had she always been this beautiful?”. He longed to say something, anything, but dared not open his mouth for fear that the heartache swelling in his chest might escape.
  246. Staring back at him, she felt a strange sense of ennui.
  247. She thought, perhaps, that this was what she always wanted, but could not even be sure of that. It was a nostalgic feeling, reminiscent of a time not long after they first met.
  248. But she gave up on that feeling, too strong to suppress, it was woven into the fabric of their friendship, the oldest joke in the book. Bwahahahaha
  250. She realised then that despite all the time they had shared, she knew him only as well as her bathroom mirror, looked upon every day and yet, could she even say for sure what colour it was? No, because she didn’t see him, she saw a world through him, all she knew were the faintest hues he had imparted.
  252. With a clink of glass the outside world came flooding back. No, there could be no return.
  253. But in lieu of that, thought she, you might as well push on forwards, wherever that may be.
  255. Yes, from existential thoughts allayed, a vision in her mind now played
  256. A future like the present grim, with place for her, and not for him
  257. Now certainty can be defeated, torn apart by actions heated
  258. Should she desire satisfaction, time was high to take some action.
  260. An ornate, fluted sundae glass, trimmed with gold for a touch of class.
  261. With vision clear and movement swift, the spoon below she deigned to lift.
  262. Held out before her creeping smile, it plunged into the creamy pile
  263. To ferry back a tasty bite, her target though was clear in sight
  265. Afore her mouth could take a lick, she sent it flying with a flick
  266. A simple act of provocation, masking noble motivation
  267. Perhaps, thought she, he really knows, why icecream now adorns his nose.
  268. It matters not though.
  269. For things will be different now.
  271. He looked back with the expression of one who has found their most intimate personal philosophies written down in better words than they ever knew.
  272. Frustration, confusion, wonder, peace.
  273. All had become clear.
  275. “Hey… Uuh...” he paused, ice cream still dribbling down his face. He knew exactly what he wanted to say, but couldn’t quite find the words with which to address her. His usual ‘you’ seemed, well, a little brusque for such an intimate moment.
  276. I suppose, he supposed, what I’m after is a name… He cleared his throat with an awkward cough.
  277. “Hey… So, umm… My name’s Damon”
  278. Her eyes widened a little, her mouth open as if it were ready to reply but hadn’t got the script yet.
  279. “I’m… Lucy” she replied after the lul.
  281. Chapter 4 - Far from the Madden Crowd
  282. The silence was deafening as he slowly took a lick of icecream from his lip.
  283. That instant, a shiver ran right down his spine. “No” he thought, “no its not right, its just not right”. A great wave of emotion came flooding in, sadness, grief, angst, all boiling over into raw seething anger at the world.
  284. With that  he stood, throwing the table and everything on it to one side.
  285. “Uh.. Damon...” she began, but it was too late.
  286. “IT’S NOT RIGHT!” he screamed, shaking, blinded by rage.
  287. “Damon!” she protested, but to no avail as he turned away, desperately looking for an escape.
  289. He stumbled from table to table, furiously stuffing spoons into his pockets as he made his way to the door. “Don’t try to find me!” he blurted tearfully as it slammed shut behind him.
  291. And so he ran, as far and fast as his legs would carry him, the world but a blur in his past.
  292. By the time he reached the shop he was a mess, falling hard on the counter he began sobbing softly. “What have I done?” he cried, “What have I done!”, louder this time. “I had so much, and I blew it! I threw it all away!”.
  293. He became aware of the shopkeeper, and for a moment started to panic before he was hit with a sudden resolve. “Do you have cats? I think I really need a cat.”  he said looking up with tearful eyes.
  294. No response.
  295. “I… I have spoons” he offered. “A lot of spoons, here” he said emptying his jacket pockets onto the counter.
  297. Chapter 5 - Urgh, so predictable
  300. “Ugh, you know what? I’m done, so done with caves. Let’s go, fuck this shit.”
  301. “But how? It’s so much effort!”
  302. “Just talk about it and shit’ll happen, that’s how it works at times like this”
  303. “Oh, sweet. Can we go to space? I kinda want to go to space”
  304. “Yeah, why not. Let’s go build a spaceship”
  305. “Fuck yeah, lets go!”
  306. “What are we gonna make it out of?”
  307. “The car I guess, probably some convenient junk”
  309. mouse, screen, glass, napkin, notepad
  310. beds couches fridges ovens and bay windows
  311.  ABB Robot
  312. Cupboard Car Place Elephant House
  313. A knife
  314. “Umberlla”
  315. Little red book of Mao
  316. Ikea Chair
  317. Card
  318. Kirk Bobblehead
  319. Lidl!
  320. Lamp
  321. Stove
  322. 1) Table 2) lamp 3) hob 4) washing machine 5) tumble dryer
  323. Blender, slow cooker
  324. Stuffed Crocodile
  325. Challenger 2, Sink, Tornado GR4, Boat, Airport
  326. -----------------------------
  327. Starship Lidl:
  328. Bridge w/ bay windows
  331. Turbo Deltic
  333. Rymdbil:
  336. “This is starting to look like a lot of work” he said, ruminating on something or other.
  337. “You don’t want to do it?”
  338. “No… No I’m just thinking, if we’re putting this much effort into getting to space, why don’t we go further?”
  339. “Hmm?”
  340. “Like, we could only stay for a day or two in the TGB right? The moon would be a real stretch. Let’s go bigger, go find some real cool shit”
  341. “Like, mars? Or are we going full Kirk?”
  342. “We do already have the bobblehead, I’m not sure the physics actually work though”
  343. “Physics is just equations and numbers, if they don’t work with the these numbers we can always get new ones. They’re basically free, you can just keep making them up”
  344. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. We’re gonna have to do this properly though, actually design things and stuff”
  345. “Mmm, mmm. I think this means we need a drafting office, I’ve always wanted one you know”
  346. “I think B&Q had some nice ones, shall we go now?”
  347. “Are you sure they’re not just sheds?”
  348. “Not really, but a shed’s basically better right?”
  349. “Yeah tbh”
  352. “I think I might pop to Lidl, want anything?”
  353. “It says here we need an incredibly thin loop of dense, exotic matter. If you could grab something like that that’d be cool”
  354. “A’ight safe fam”
  355. About 20 minutes later she returned, laden with carrier bags.
  356. “The thinnest, densest exotic thing I could find was these weird Italian sausages. They’re like, really long pepperami”
  357. “Oh, cool”
  359. “This is gonna take some crazy power”
  360. “Like a 2JZ?”
  361. “Bigger”
  362. Her eyes widened for a moment, then settled into a wide grin.
  363. “How about a deltic?”
  364. “Umm, I don’t think you fully grasp the scale of energies needed for interstellar travel”
  365. “A turbo deltic.”
  366. “Oh, yeah, that’ll do it.”
  369. “So, we take this encapsulated exotic matter”
  370. “Sausage wrapped in foil” she interjected.
  371. “Yes, the foily sausage” he continued, “And we fire it out the back of the ship.
  372. Now, all objects with mass exert a gravitational field which distorts spacetime. Like a magnetic field, a rapid change in field propagates through space as a wave”
  373. “Ok, I get you”
  374. “In the trough of the wave space is compressed, so moving at normal speed within the trough covers way more ground in real space. Now, I know what you’re thinking: ‘But Damon, it requires an immense change in field to make a tiny gravitational wave!’. Well, the thing is, its the rate of change of the field not overall magnitude that matters. So if we induce a tiny change in field insanely quickly, we’re good. Still takes phenomenal energy, but we’re good.”
  376. “So, the sausage is packed in foil with an anti-sausage. Everyone knows sausage/anti-sausage annihilation produces an almost pure relativistic release of mass energy, but it also requires immense energy to overcome nuclear repulsion. What we do is we fire a fuck ton of energy at the foilysausage, the foil is immediately vapourised, the radiation pressure from the foil plasma should be enough to initiate sausage fusion which should provide the energy and pressure for annihilation. The reaction should start on the side we lasered, so the immense release of energy will propel the foilysausage away from us at relativistic speed as it annihilates. As its speed increases, its mass decreases. The rapidly collapsing field creates a wave of decreasing frequency due to the relativistic doppler effect, giving us more time in the trough. Radial arms on the ship bearing more exotic sausage are then used as a sort of waveguide to focus the wave’s energy into sausagey retroreflectors at each end, this acts as a resonant cavity, capturing the the wave when it hits the tuned frequency and  establishing a standing wave around the ship.”
  377. “Oh shit, that’s good”
  378. “The sausage reflectors aren’t perfect, so the wave rapidly decays. In practice I suspect the sausage will break down and release the wave before it collapses onto the ship, but we’ll see”
  379. -------
  380. “Ok, so that’s the science, now how’s the engineering coming along?”
  381. “Power plant’s nearly done, should be ready for a test run soon”
  382. “Noice”
  383. “So, basically, it’s a really boosted deltic. 18 cylinder, opposed piston, 2 stroke diesel, with a few mods. All uprated internals, higher compression pistons, the original unit injectors are fed from a high pressure rail and there’s a new set of injectors I’ll get to later.”
  384. “Ooo?”
  385. “Oh, and for boost there’s a pair of hacked up RB199 engines from a Tornado I found”
  386. “Niiiice”
  387. “So, it’ll start up on diesel like normal, then slowly run up about to about 6000 shaft, that’s about where the injectors run out of chooch. We then start fuelling the turbine combustion chambers directly to bring the boost up even higher. Oh, and the turbines are top and tailed so each one’s fan feeds the other’s compressor, cute right?”
  388. “Hella”
  389. “So, air comes in, hits a fan, hits a compressor, intercooler, fan, compressor, deltic, turbine, combustion chamber, turbine. Oh, and a little bit of bleed from both stages goes into the interburner just to freshen things up. This gives us a mean cylinder pressure of like a bajillion atmospheres which lets the secondary injectors do their thing”
  390. “Not being funny, but this seems like it burns a lot of fuel already. Any more’s just gonna make this completely unworkable”
  391. “Well that’s where you’re wrong, kiddo. The secondary injectors aren’t really injectors to be honest, more like tiny linear accelerators. We feed in cryogenic hydrogen, ionise the fuck out of it and blast it down the tube. Some kind of plasma electrode thing restores most of its charge at the end before its dumped into the cylinder”
  392. “Jesus mackerel, are you bending my banana?”
  393. “Nope. Its getting hot in here~ Makin new isotopes~ My en-gine is so hot, I should really take these clothes off~”
  394. “Why are you like this?”
  395. “Seriously tho its gonna be hot like Fukushima we should really get a better containment shed”
  396. “Probably a good shout, I’ll pop down to B&Q after lunch”
  397. “What is for lunch?”
  398. “I don’t know, what do you want?”
  399. “Something that’s cool, something that’s fun…”
  400. “Something that beats anything served in a bun?”
  401. “You got me fam”
  402. “I’ll call the falafel broker”
  404. Chapter 5.5 - The ascent to stardom
  406. He slapped a wrap down on the bench with a weighty thud, “grilled veg special, extra cheese”
  407. “Yeaaah boiiiiiiiii”
  408. “Starting to have serious doubts about you”
  409. “I’m sorry, I’ll stop. boii~”
  410. They stared at each other again, his expression neutral, hers shit eating.
  411. “Aaanyway…” he continued, “you’ll never guess who I met in the car park”
  412. “Craig Charles?”
  413. “Close, it was a guy from the BBC. He’s recording a series about… Something to do with artists? I can’t really remember, I was thinking about falafel, but I told him about the ship and he wants to interview us tonight.”
  414. “Mmnnfflgrmphhu?”
  415. “Yeah, tell me about it. I said about 8pm if that’s cool with you?”
  416. “Mmmn, yeah, shounds good”
  417. “In the meantime, I was thinking we could go over the energy distribution grid again. Try and get all those little architectural niggles down”
  418. “By niggles you mean all the things you want me to change for literally no reason don’t you”
  419. “I just think there’s a whole lot of space up there and we don’t need to sleep in the same bit of it as the terrifyingly hypergolic propellant”
  420. She paused with a serious look on her face as a small chunk of falafel escaped her wrap and fell to the ground.
  421. “Alright. Fine. But I won’t back down on the turbogalley” she said with resolve.
  422. With a sigh and the lukewarm smile of a parent recalling their youth, he relented. “Yeah, go on then”.
  425. Chapter 6 - Your face is dumb
  427. “Alright guys, shocking mixup, terribly sorry, but what I’m going to need you to do is have a philosophical debate” said the strangely suited man.
  428. “What?” they replied in unison.
  429. “Wrong crew you see, we’ve actually got the moral maze guys here and it's supposed to be going out live soon”
  430. “Can the other crew not do it?” she enquired.
  431. “Oh heavens no, no absolutely not. It's not in their contracts”
  432. “Oh, I see”
  433. “Anyway, you’ve got a minute or two to come up with a character and a viewpoint, the topic for today is non binary genders”
  434. “Can we not just be ourselves? I thought that was how this worked” he said.
  435. “Oh my child, bless your naivety. Do you really think anyone would go on public radio with such frightfully unfashionable opinions under their own name? Now, hop along and get miked up, we’re live in 2”
  436. --
  437. P(resenter): Hello ladies and gentlemen, we’re a little behind schedule today so I hope you don’t mind if we get right to it. Today's guests are a pair of distinguished… Well, we’ll let them introduce themselves shall we?
  438. H(e): Good evening, my name is Dr Bernard Shaw, I am a senior lecturer in the department of environmental sciences at Dundee university, and I am very much opposed to most things which may be considered progressive.
  439. S(he): Good morning, my name is Nancy Corbett, I’m a pastry chef at la pâtisserie rouillée in Doncaster and I enjoy playing tennis on Thursdays.
  440. *brief, yet polite applause*
  441. P: now, down to business. Our topic of debate this week is non-binary gender, once again we’re a little pushed for time so we’ll get right into it. I’m sure you hoopy froods are all well familiar with tumblr by now anyway. If you’d like to start by establishing your views
  442. S: I think the existence of non-binary genders is undeniable, and that the growing cultural acceptance thereof is both an empowering movement and a symbol of a colossal shift in society. Not just cultural, but genetic, I believe before long we will witness the first true mass speciation event in human history that can ultimately lead only to global conflict. I for one welcome our new, more empathetically predisposed overlords and hope they spare me for my progressive beliefs.
  443. H: I think its a load of bollocks and everyone needs to grow up, move out of their proverbial mothers basements and accept the dismal reality of the world like I have.
  444. *extremely short burst of applause*
  445. P: Well, there we go. Have at it!
  446. H: Well, first things first they definitely aren’t real.
  447. S: No, no they are
  448. H: Alright, well let's suppose I believe that, which I definitely don’t.
  449. Someone can be male or female, that’s fine. They might wish to change, be a bit of both, maybe they don’t really feel like either, that’s fine too. It's not, I’m just pretending so I can argue at a different level. But, is that not just an aspect of their personality?
  450. Surely in a free and progressive society they can be whoever they wish to be. If there’s no need to conform to any particular gender role, why does it matter what gender you are? Surely pushing for acceptance of these new genders is just denying the expression of the individual and forcing them further into some sordid little box that defines their very being.
  452. S: That was a shockingly reasonable point that I can’t help but agree with in part, so I resent it on principle. I hope that in time gender will as you say become immaterial, but if that is the case why the insistence on only two? Being different as a young person is difficult, sometimes just finding there’s a word for how you feel can be enough to break the cycle of anxiety. It forms communities, builds strength. Are we to deny people this relief for the sake of linguistic conservatism?
  454. H: Well, first of all I despise young people, anxiety is a symptom of adolescence which itself is a disease the world would do far better without. Secondly, I don’t think it builds strength at all, I think it builds dependency. If we encourage this sort of labelling, the formation of small culturally homogenous groups, are we not just telling people its ok to desire that? To avoid the challenges of integrating into a diverse society in favour of staying within ones comfortable like-minded circle. I believe we must stand resolute in opposing change, lest we raise a generation who genuinely have no desire for it.
  456. S: So you think we need to be dicks to our kids so they’ll care about theirs?
  458. H: No, but I said it anyway
  460. S: Right, well, surely… Where does it end? Surely if that works, they’ll come to the same conclusion and be cunts to their kids too. What the point, it's just a cycle of oppression.
  462. H: Ah, but in adult life they will come to understand the actions of their parents and see the error of their own ways. It provides the gulf of understanding between child and adult that is needed to keep them apart. Change will happen, it's unavoidable, I think we just need to put a bit of a damper on it to keep things from going too far to fast. If change is painfully slow we avoid the risk of destructive overshoot, societal instability. Also, I just think we should shit on kids because I hate them.
  464. S: I see what you...
  465. P: Ah! I’m afraid I must interrupt you, news from higher up. Dear listeners, please tune in at normal time next week for the remainder of this programme, we now go live to a celebrity’s nipple.
  466. --
  467.  With alarming rapidity the crew upped sticks and bundled into the van, and in a puff of diesel smoke they were gone.
  469. She was first to break the silence: “Wow, rude”
  470. “I know right...? What now?”
  471. “I don’t know. I was getting pretty into that, don’t really feel like going back to work.”
  472. “Yeah…”
  473. “Fuck em. Fuck it. Let’s get fucking parro cunt”
  474. “fukkn righto m8”
  476. And just like that, they got absolutely wankered.
  479. Chapter 43/7 - Straya cunt
  481. “Mate, that was fucking incredible. We need to go out again sometime.”
  482. “Omg, yes. What did we do, where did we go? Who knows man, but it was fuckin brill”
  483. “Totally, well worth the 48 hour hangover. Actually, good point tho. Where did you go? Like, I just lost you at like 3AM heading past charlies. Did you even get back yesterday?”
  484. “Oh shit yeah. Fuck. I forgot about that.”
  485. “What?”
  486. “Aww shit… I need to go check on something”
  487. “Wait, what? What’s up?”
  488. “Sorry, I really need to go, I’ll be back. Argh, fuck.”
  489. “No, no hold up. Wait a minute. Did you do drunk science again?”
  490. No response
  491. “Fuck meeeeeeeeee. Right, I’m coming with you. ”
  492. “Ok, but, let me go in first, just for a few minutes.”
  493. ---
  494. “Ok, so, I found us a crew”
  495. “What?”
  496. “Or… Kind of… Made us one...”
  497. “Oh?”
  498. “Remember that time we were messing about with retroviral data transfer?”
  499. “Oh no...”
  500. “I uuuh… I taught some rats english”
  501. Though she covered her mouth with one hand, the stern expression was clear.
  502. “Do you not perhaps think there are some ethical questions that should be asked here?” she said softly.
  503. “I know, I know. Is it right to grant human like intelligence to a creature that should only live a couple of years, etc etc. But we’ve had a chat, and they’re all cool with it. The first couple were totally down once I said I could offer them a job on a spaceship, and they both went out and brought back a load of their mates too. It sounds like they’ve been reading up on maths and stuff for the last day or so and they all seem pretty keen”
  504. She let out a heavy sigh and considered her reply.
  505. “I guess we need another shed”
  508. Chapter 6.3 - Sodium Flame
  509. “Magic is just science that can’t be arsed”
  511. “Why aren’t they brushless?” he enquired,  “I thought that was the new hotness”.
  512. “I mean yes, but no. Sauces for horses, different cloaks for different blokes.”
  513. “Oh right?”
  514. “Little guys work well, crazy speed, great efficiency, you know the drill. Buuuut just like DC, permanent magnets only get you so far. If you want real power you need serious field strength.”
  515. “Sooooo….” He pondered.
  516. “Well, that’s a problem in itself. Strong magnets are expensive, fragile, and it’s really hard to build something that keeps sticking to itself with incredible force. And even if you manage it, it’s a little sub-optimal. At high power sure, it’s great. But back off and what have you got? An immense spinning rotor field being carefully nudged around in a de-energised coil? Literally just a giant eddy brake, it sucks.”
  517. “Oh… But...”, he trailed off but was swiftly interrupted.
  518. “But induction, hoooooweee. The diesel of electricity. You want power, you got power. Crank up the amplitude, slip like a motherfucker and burn all the power you like. Buut when you back off so does the rotor. No slip, no rotor field. Better yet, negative slip and you get your money back.”
  519. “Oh. Cool.”
  523. “Alright, file in”
  525. “Role call: Hank, Grass, Portia, BK, Morris, Zara, Giraffe, Tony, Duck, Spoon, Ritz, Isuzu, Greggs, Lynx, Kumo”
  527. Chapter 9 - Rotaratotayota
  528. “You should just like, like, what do you, you guyyyss… Should just like, get togetherrr”
  529. “Yeah… Nah… I’m good” she replied.
  530. “Noooooo! No really, like. Come oooon. He’s really cuUuuute? ”
  531. “Haha… Yeaaahhh...”
  532. “Whadya? Nooo! No its not, like, you? No you’re really great too, you’re like… You’re super attractive you should really just… You just need to be more confidnent… You just gotta, gotta, uuunf. You know????”
  533. “Yeah… No, no I don’t think I do, not gonna lie”
  534. Sophie leaned in, resting her chin on one hand, then slipped and fell heavily on the table.
  535. “Aooowwww… ” she groaned. There was an uncomfortably long pause before she spoke again, making herself comfortable amongst the cutlery.
  536. “Fuhhh… Come onnnn… There’s like, so much sexual tension between you guyyss! Seriouslyy!”
  537. “Nah.”
  538. “Seeerioousslly! Try ittt!”
  539. “A’ight, I’ll try. Watch this. HEY DAMON! WANNA FUCK?”
  540. At once the bar was all but silent, he raised his head and looked across with furrowed brow.
  541. “Uuuh… No thanks, I just ate.”
  542. Slowly but surely the noise returned, and with a satisfied smirk she returned to her conversation. “See?” said she, more statement than question,  but alas Sophie was now comfortably asleep.
  543. “Oh well”, thought Lucy, “It’s getting pretty late to be fair, I should probably head back”.
  544. She waved her goodbyes and set out on the long walk home, but somehow, for some reason, that brief exchange stuck with her. Yes, she thought, it’s time for a pointless monologue.
  546. Is there sexual tension between us? Do I want that? Am I worried about that? Who else thinks that? So many questions, or just one question… Hmm…
  547. Ok no, no there really isn’t, you saw what happened back there. Even if I tried he just wouldn’t see it, its just not a thing. Unless he just doesn’t want it to be a thing… What if he heard just fine and he just brushes these things off because he doesn’t have the heart to tell me he’s not interested… That… That bothers me… But, why? I mean, no but, I’m not. I’m really not interested, but I’m concerned that I seem interested? I guess I’m worried that, if he thinks I am that might make things awkward between us. But, this would only be a thing if he’s definitely not interested so that’s really not a problem… No wait, but it is, that’s the point. I don’t want it, he don’t want it, but he thinks I want it so he acts cold so I back off. But I don’t want it, but I still want to be close to him, so I don’t want him to think I want it… Does that mean I do want it? Nah… Ok, where am I going with this… Do I care? I guess, I don’t care? No, I dont, I definitely don’t. I don’t care because I’m not interested, that makes it stable. Is it normal to think about this? I feel kinda crazy. That’s literally it, I 100% don’t want it, but the way I’m overthinking this makes me thing I must do just because it explains the crazy.
  548. No, no don’t care. The fact I’m having to think about this means its fine, like, if his signs that I should back off are so subtle I don’t know if they’re signs he’s clearly not that bothered. I just need to carry on as normal, act natural, act like i’m not having these crazy person thoughts…
  549. It doesn’t work like that does it, argh. I hope I forget this by tomorrow.
  550. No, its fine, its stable because I don’t want it. If he doesn’t think that then life goes on, if he does, he’ll actually express it. In a way that is not so vague. Then what? I say ‘yh nah dw, we cool’, life goes on. Its ok, because I don’t want it.
  551. Shit what if he does? Fuck. Then I do care. Now I feel so irresponsible, I am totally leading him on when I know I don’t want shit. Fuck, he… No. NO. NO NO NO NO. noooOOOO.
  552. This all started because I thought he was kind of acting like he didn’t want it. I am not doing this, I am not going full fucking psych loop. Fuck this. Done. No more.
  553. Fuck me. Why am I like this.
  554. Urgh, I want coffee, but it’s late and I want to sleep. Why does decaff have to suck so much.
  555. No, why do I care? Fuck your shit, I want coffee, I’m gonna get coffee. I’m a free woman, I ain’t gotta explain shit, I drink what I want when I want. Damn straight nigga.
  556. No. Why. Why am I like this.
  557. Oh shit, home already… I feel like that conversation wasn’t long enough, like, I should have got further by now… I guess I was doing that drunk tired thing where you think every sentence over 5 times before you make sense of it.
  558. Mmm… Coffee time.
  559. Hmmm… Why am I like this? Serious thought… It feels like I’ve not had enough time for thought lately, always been doing stuff, talking to people, holding up the me mask.
  560. It’s been so long since I just had a break from it all, I said I wouldn’t do that. Note to self, schedule some me time, alone time. Time to crack open the bleed valve and let the crazy out, maybe just time to get to know myself better. I think I need that you know. Sometimes I feel like I’m just a character, like I don’t really understand the things I do, I just see them happen. Is that weird? What if I am just a character in some shitty fanfic? What if this is just some pissant authors lazy attempt at character development and the reason my own thoughts seem so stupid is because they’re not mine, they’re just some guy’s dumb shit he’s projecting onto me because he doesn’t feel like sorting it out himself. Hmmm…
  561. Why did I assume they were male? Oh yeah, men are all trash. But so are people in general so… Meh. Mmmmmm… That’s good. Oh that’s real good.
  562. Cool breeze, warm cup, comfy life. This is what it’s all about.
  563. I kinda wanna put some music on, but I also don’t want to spoil the mood here. It needs to be something complementary. Cool, soft, smooth. Clay. Conative culaaayy… Mmm, yeah, let’s have a rummage.
  564. Mmmm. Oh yeah, that’s good. Bamboo vibes man.  Mmmm… Bamboo… I want to live in a bamboo house, sweet and temperate, ahaa… C’est la vie, ma cherie. Pfft. Haha, oh boy. Phew. Deep breaths. In, and out. Iiiinn… And out…
  565. I should do some tai chi, I used to love that shit but I can’t even remember the last time I thought about it. I guess it just takes time to think doesn’t it...
  568. Chapter 8 - Hey girl, cute diesel ;)
  569. The intercom crackled into life, echoing through the steel walls of the engine room.
  570. "Testing, testing. (coughs) Everything seems to be in order."
  571. “Did you just say coughs? What?” he asked, but to no reply.
  572. "All right, Damon. that suit should keep you comfortable through all this. The sausage will be delivered to you in a few moments. If you would be so good as to climb up and start the motors, we can bring the deltics up to 80 percent and hold them there until the carrier arrives.”
  574. He wondered to himself why the motor controls weren’t in the control room, as it seemed to him like a very good place for controls to be. Putting that aside for now, he climbed up to the balcony and approached the control panel, before running his finger down the array of toggle switches with a rather satisfying zip. After waiting a moment for the readings to stabilise, he popped out the decompression stop then punched the start button.
  575. With that the engines came into life, starting from a throaty growl at the exhaust before rising to a beautiful harmony of phasing gears.
  576. Finally, he took a moment to survey his handiwork before reporting back: “Pumps on, needles in the green. Comfy at 650rpm”
  577. "Very good. We'll take it from here."
  579. "Power to stage 2 injectors in 3,2,1. I'm seeing predictable boost arrays."
  580. "Stage 3 injectors activating...now."
  581. "Damon, we cannot predict how long the system can operate at this level, nor how long the sausage will last. Please, work as quickly as you can."
  582. "Overhead capacitors to one oh five percent. Uh, it's probably not a problem, probably, but I'm showing a small discrepancy in... well, no, it's well within acceptable bounds again. Sustaining sequence."
  583. "I've just been informed that the sample is ready, Damon. It should be coming up to you any moment now. Look to the delivery system for your specimen."
  586. Slowly, the microwave rose from the floor, its interior flooded with convulsing arclight.
  587. He readied his tongs, and as he approached the light faltered and died leaving only a dull red glow.
  588. He popped open the door and retrieved the foilysausage, then carried it carefully to the airlock door.
  589. The intercom started up before he could reach it, “Standard. Insertion. Proceduuuuuure, Damon” came the voice.
  590. He looked up at the control room, clearly unimpressed. She was at the window making some kind of hand gesture but he couldn’t say for sure what it was.
  591. With a shrug he turned and drop kicked the sausage into the waiting airlock.
  592. The door slammed shut behind it, and at once the firing sequence began.
  594. “Alrighty, let’s get… Oh dear! Damon, get away from the...” No sound could be heard above the roar of the engines, but he felt the explosion in his chest.
  595. “Shutting down-no, attempted shutdown. It's not-it's not, it's not shutting down! Brace for misfire!”
  596. And with a deafening FweeeeEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIOOOooop, everything went black.
  605. I
  607. Chapter 9.2 - It does down you fuck
  608. “Damage report!”
  609. “Engineering, OK”
  610. “Kitchen, OK”
  611. “Science, OK”
  614. Chapter 10 - Cake but Pork
  617. Chapter 11 - Compost Mentis
  620. Chapter 12 - My legs!
  623. “Why? No… How?
  624. “WITH VALVES!” she cried manically.
  625. “Ok no. Why?”
  626. “VAAALVES!” she replied, with guttural power that was metal af.
  628. “They had this agro-industrial kinda thing going on where everyone worked the fields in summer and mined all winter, it was kinda cool but they didn’t really get anything much done. Turns out that’s because they were taxed to fuck, they have to work all summer to get enough food for winter to produce a fuck tonne of metal just so they’ll have enough left for tools and shit.
  629. The Mayor was pretty cool, he was well aware that it sucked and had some pretty cool economic plans to get shit going. He was pumping everything they had into getting some high value industry, rare metal refineries, clockwork and shit, but they just didn’t have the resources to spare to get it started.
  630. He introduced me to this clockmaker, I pitched up in the back of his workshop for a while doing a bit of machining work whilst I drew up some plans.
  631. I realised with just a bit of knowledge I could industrialise them to fuck, but they’d need to commit to it. I pitched it to the Mayor and his crew, he liked it, but didn’t know if he could accept the risk. Rog, the clockmaker was sold though, so we came up with a few demos.
  632. Built a little uniflow ploughing engine fueled by coke, ploughed some fallow fields just the two of us, made a bit of a show of it and they were sold.
  633. Over winter we’d go full industrial, coking plants, a whole range of mass production engines, get pumps and lifts fitted to the mines to go deep, new refractory furnaces fueled by the coke gas. And proper mechanised agriculture, seed drills, ploughing engines, oh! And we built an ammonia plant, started extracting phosphorus for fertilizer. The plan was to be basically screwed by the end of winter, but because we could farm with like, a tenth of the people everyone else could stay in work to make up for the shortfall. We were also getting a crazy yield with our fertiliser, the soil was dead as fuck from overuse and they’d been compensating by planting huge fields, so with a bit of NPK magic we had a huge surplus we could sell off.
  634. So then…”
  635. “Look, I’m not being funny but can you cut to the chase. I’m running out of time here.”
  636. “Oh excuse me mr busy man with places to be and a god damned time machine. I’ve been working my ass off for 3 freakin years but noooooo! You don’t have time for a bit of dramatic exposition! You might be late for afternoon tea!”
  637. “Alright, I’m sorry, carry on”
  638. “Nah, I feel you. I’ll make it quick” “It worked, we got mad rich, pumped all the money into the right places. 2 years in we were like 1920s industrial and central government was mad as hell. Civil war and shit, we won. Then we kinda fractured, there were these nationalists, we warred them too”
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