Thursday, April 21, 2022

#SFF #AtoZChallenge Prerogative

(Catching Up)

#AtoZChallenge 2022 Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter

A speculative fiction short story from a dreamer

A continuous #sff story during April. May Rose is the main character (🧑🏽 they/them pronouns).

Piers, the baker, led May out the door to the back porch. He pulled out his stone and held it skyward. Thunder rumbled in the distance. 

"Keep your eyes between the stone and the lightning." 

As the flash lit the sky, the stone brightened. For a breath, May saw a rippling curtain of red light dancing along the sky.

"Before the Devastation, thousands of those streaked across the sky."

May blinked a few times, astonished. "How have I never noticed before?"

"You didn't know to look. You would have seen it if you had held the stone up during such a storm." Rain formed huge puddles just beyond the covered porch, threatening to flood the grounds. Near the Parkland apple trees was Overlord Tardigrade, all eight legs covered in mud. Unlike the very serious overlords for whom May worked, this one seemed to be playing joyfully in the rain.

As lightning struck again, May saw the red light and realized that Shell saw them too.

"Yes," Piers said, "he knows. Overlord Tardigrade neither opposes nor allies with O'tien's race."

May finished off the muffin and crumbled the remaining paper. "This has been fascinating. More alien races and more wars. More allies, enemies, and neutralities. Meanwhile, Shell expects me to give accommodations to his pet while dropping a problem in my lap. As if I'm not already drowning in complications."

"What problem has that overlord brought? Just he and his pet appearing early?"

"He accidentally made his pet sterile. The human race is on the brink of extinction, and he altered the DNA of a fine specimen for more convenient travel options. Which is his prerogative, but it killed the sperm. No matter how many visits Opal makes to the Budding room, she'll never be impregnated."

Piers chortled. "He made his pet as useless as you and I to humanity."

May doubled over, laughing so hard that tears squealed out. "And I have to tell Nightingale the top-scoring student favored the winner of the race, but, oh yeah, he can't make babies!"

The two leaned on each other, laughing in the rain. Eventually, they composed themselves. 

"It really isn't funny," Piers said.

"Not really. But hey, why did you wait until now to tell me about the stone? I've been carrying it around, chatting at it, since the A class. Was your love listening to my rants, thoughts, and babble?"

"Sometimes. He has a lot to do. I needed the storm to show you. But I also needed you to have a reason to care. Normally, we barely speak. You do your job, I do mine. Our paths barely cross."

"That's true. It feels like I have the place to myself. It's easy to forget others live and work here. Especially between classes." May went back inside and threw out the empty muffin wrapper.

"Before the Devastation, there were many more red lights for a stone bearer to see. The race was here long ago, back when the first overlords took their remaining kin and left, and then the second overlords dropped off specimens. When humans came seemingly out of nowhere, with minds unlike the other creatures, it drew their attention. So they dropped a few stones. And some of those early humans picked them up. The race entered their minds. Societies formed. Civilizations grew."

May cleaned up the wrapper spittle from the floor. "They sped up our evolution?"

Piers leaned against the counter. "It's not like they handed rockets to cavemen. But pointing out that a sharp stone worked better with a stick as a handle, sure."

"Okay. I still don't see why you had to wait to tell me this." May hopped up onto the counter. 

"The race realized if they entered the mind of a fetus in a stone bearer, they could replicate during the birth of the human. It was the first time in a very long time they were able to create more of themselves. The human often had higher brain functions. Could see the future, hear thoughts, had psychokinesis, that sort of stuff. It should have made them leaders, being more evolved than other humans. Instead, it mostly made them outcasts, sometimes labeled them mentally unwell."

"Fascinating. I've got a pet problem and need to get back to Jade. Piers, you need to make a point."

"It's a lot. Sorry. O'tien's race sensed the Devastation was coming. Just before it happened, they teleported scores of stone bearers and propagators to a mountain area. You recall the story of the people called Chavín?"

"The one with the overlord who takes people to a place where they're wild and free?"

Piers nodded. "Yes. Well, one of the people O'tien was connected to was taken to the place and was transported by that overlord. Which was why he found it odd that you claim she is here and has been given the role of Jade X."

May's eyes went wide. "You know?"

"That the wrong twin was brought here? That the real one would have never been found because she was saved by O'tien and another overlord? Or that Nightingale is going to kill a student shortly after arriving because I already have orders to dispose of Jade's body?"

May jumped down from the counter. "Are you going to coerce us to do something? Make me beg for her life?"

"No. We want to help you both escape to the safe place, to come with me. But you only have one stone."

"She can have mine. Take her to safety. I'll be fine. Once the Z class graduates, the overlords will move me."

Piers pulled a device from a drawer. "About that. I have orders to kill you as soon as the Z class leaves the ground."

A few taps on the device, and May was reading a death warrant. "But… I was promised."

Piers placed a finger below May's quivering chin. "Yeah. So was I. No one working here is going to survive. Not unless we do something they don't expect. Quintilis Cave has a stone. That's how we've kept in touch. That red light in the sky? It links to that stone."


"There's an overlord outside who can get you there and back. I didn't know how we'd convince him. But then you told me about the pet problem. Sounds like that overlord owes you a favor."

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Question: 🎵 My Prerogative 🎵 -- Britney Spears or Bobby Brown?

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  1. This stone is getting more and more interesting! And no, that wasn't a typo :-)

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge My Languishing TBR: P


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