Saturday, 15 November 2014

S.A.L. XIII -- Lana Del Rey

"But why a nuclear bunker?"

Eldna floated above somewhere keeping watch. They were wandering through the woods in Exmure. Rogan's walk was Kosmanarshi's sprint.

"Bomb proof with iron wall tiles. Less easy to read on a radar. Simple."

"Okay. How do you know about it?

"When I left Lumatel I told them it was to do with family commitments. Not the real reason but I knew no one would give a damn."

"What was the real reason?"

"Disillusionment." He sighed. "You weren't the first to be exploited in that way, but when I was there it was only starting to come out. The extent of corruption. The lengths people would go for data. Anyway I didn't like the way things were headed and I mentioned it to a friend. Someone I knew felt the same way. He told me that, well, he had a mind to set up someplace else. He wasn't too keen on having his entire back-catalogue of thoughts used as bedtime reading and these disused depots were the best way to hide your data. They're the only places still left off the radar. Spotter technology won't pinpoint so well."

"Do you think he'll be there now?"

"Who?" He'd already forgotten what they'd been talking about. He was trying to match up the land with the image in his head.

"What if he's there, the man you were just talking about. Do you think he'll mind if we invade?"

"Oh Oscar the grouch? Yeah maybe, but he knew lots of things like that. He was always reading about urban desolation. He's probably got six makeshift palaces on the go." Rogan had stopped walking and was now gazing at a track that went off to the right and dropped away steeply into an abandoned stone quarry. Kosmanarshi gratefully sat down and examined her raw feet. Eldna rejoined them, her hair glowing silver in the sun. "Gravelton quarry, Exmure."

Eldna stood next to Rogan where he was studying the way down the edge. "From what I can see there are many crevices and caverns below us where the cliff has been mined. I don't know if this is the place you mean, but it would be shelter for now."

"We can't be far. Oscar said it was an underground base. The entrance is low to the ground but you can pick it out from a pine tree that's growing on an outcrop just by the entrance."

"That doesn't seem so helpful Rogan." Kos called from somewhere behind them, still nursing her feet. "We're standing in a pine forest."

"I know, but this one is different maybe, because it's growing further up the cliff away from the others."

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

S.A.L XII --- Explosions in the Sky take care take care

"This place is creepy"

"I know just wait a minute." Paul stopped following. "Someone had a fire."

"Say again?"

They were standing in the middle of woodland. A more wistful person might have appreciated the area for its ethereal quality. But Mel and Paul didn't have the right shoes. The path was intermittent.

"Ugh I stood in something."

"Come over here.

Mel plucked her plimsolls out of the mud and moved next to Paul. He was staring intently at flattened grass and fire remains. She studied the disturbed vegetation; the place where a struggle had occurred between girl and angel.

"It looks messy." She wiped her brow. "Do you think it's - "

"Them." He passed her the transmitter which was pointing straight ahead. It's buzzing became more insistent. "Yes." He smirked. "Think we're gaining in them."

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

S.A.L - XI - ///Amplifier -- Echo Street

She knew what was coming. It would feel the same as in the Lumatel labs. That moment she still vividly remembered. Strapped to the chair. Facing the machine with shining razor pincers poised to pluck her data from the back of her neck. The too bright lights. The way everything went blank. That lazor could knock someone out for days. Probably enough to shine a light on the moon. And they though it was OK to use on humans. In fact they liked it that way. Less chance of inconvenient survivors. Only she had survived. Kragg had...helped her. A good sign. Maybe. And Eldna wasn't a thief. She just knew. If she was she could have tried something long before now. According to her, angels have no use for mindcraft. They already see and know everything.

"Mindcraft is a human thing; stop you blowing yourselves to smithereens. I don't know everything, but I know this will work." Cool hands brushed her hair aside. Kosmanarshi tried not to stiffen.

"I'm sorry it just keeps bringing back flashbacks of - when they -"

"Yes. I understand. It will feel strange, but don't worry. I don't even have to remove the chip. I can lift the craft out by itself."

"Okay." Kosmanarshi tried not to frown. "So how do you attach the cloud rock?"

"That happens afterwards. When the mindcraft returns. Until then you'll feel a bit isolated. Kind of empty. Just as the data is about to go back in the memechip, we hold the cloud rock over it and that's when they fuse."


"Yes the cloud rock will amalgamate with your mindcraft. They will become inseparable." Seeing the girl's non-plussed expression Eldna continued. "You see, that rock you're holding isn't from this planet. It's from lithier. It has a different form. One of its properties is that when the conditions are right it becomes air. Or a cloud. Hence - cloud rock. And that little cloud will respond to your data like a sentient being. It will reside in your memechip." Now the angel peered at her curiously. "Didn't Rogan tell you its other name?"

"No." Kosmanarshi began to feel lethargic as her lumadata floated out the back of her neck, up though the angels body and up into the treetops.

"Nimbus rock."

Kosmanarshi fell into a heap at the angel's knee, but the angel had foreseen this. The shock of realising that mindcraft is free moving. The data would be back in the morning. Until that moment Eldna the angel would have to guard the girl with her life.


Kosmanarshi stirred to find Eldna leaning over her anxiously. It was just after dawn. The deep, pearly blue of the sky made a fierce backdrop to the silhouettes of the trees and the angel that was shaking her awake.

"Wake up."

Now it was Eldna's turn to sit up in fear. She turned and glared at the man who had appeared from nowhere.

The man stepped closer. "Wake up Kosmanarshi."

Eldna sighed. She knew the use of someone else's energy as a weapon was abomination. She also knew she had no choice. Never taking her eyes of the intruder she indicated to where the mindcraft was now swirling above them in a purple orb. It wanted to return to its rightful owner. "You come one step closer and I will use it on you."

"Isn't it a cardinal sin for an angel to manipulate lumadata?"

"It's a cardinal sin for anyone, but that isn't my biggest concern right now. I have to protect the forememe. Many people's lives are at stake. Like I said. You come one step closer -"

"Whoa. Wait. I know this girl. She lived with me for a while after she ran away from Lumatel. Then she left. I've been following her since then. They're coming, the agents. They've got transmitters and all kinds of stuff. They'll be here before long. You can't stay here - ." The angel continued to stare at him in stony silence. "That cloud rock she's holding right now. I gave that to her."

Eldna raised her eyebrows.

"Rogan!" The half dazed girl tried to get up, but was in the firm grip of the angel.

"Ah. OK." The angel pinned Kosmanarshi down. "OK." She repeated, finally understanding something. Frowning in concentration she leant over to prise the stone from Kosmanarshi's hand, where even semi-conscious she still clutched it. "Right. I see she knows you. I couldn't read you like most humans. Weird - but then even angels are mistaken sometimes. Suppose I'll have to trust you." She looked down at the waking girl who was now scowling. "Will you help me?"

"What are you doing?"

"What do you think I'm doing? Please hold her still while I gather the data up."

Rogan stepped forward. Gently the angel placed the struggling girl in his arms. He whispered something. But Eldna didn't hear. She stood straight and her eyes were closed. Rogan shielded his eyes as the angel arched her spine and a blinding black and violet stream swept through her body into the girl. The gap between his fingers was just wide enough to reveal the face of a panther.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

S.A.L - X // Rammstein - Engel

"So tell me, what are we doing again?"

Mel turned to Paul in despair. "As I've said, I think - uh - quite a few times already, we're searching for a girl formeme."

"But why would she be here?"

She wondered whether to even gratify such a stupid question with a response then remembered that he worked in admin. Of course he was an imbecile. She should pity him.

"Look!" She shot a glare at him. Paul dropped the craft-tracker. "You're going to break it!"

"That's because you aren't grasping the gravity of the situation-"

"-I do grasp it. I'm just not that interested by it."

"Weren't you listening in the briefing?" She picked up the device. It was indicating to head down the left track towards the woods and marshland. They followed unsteadily. "Kragg, you know him?"

"Sure. The hit man."

"He's not a - he - he deals with formemes after their data has been archived."

"Yeah with a lethal injection."

"Well, yeah, that's just it shit for brains. This one escaped. With her original chip, and Kragg was in on it."


"It's true. I asked Kragg for the memechip. It was meant for artificial craft fabrication. It was ground-breaking stuff. And that's the one that happened to 'go missing'. Seems like a big coincidence."

"Maybe, but then how did she escape?"

"Oh I don't know. He claims that he delivered the injection just like he was ordered."

"What did he do when Mr Francis interrogated him?"

"Apparently Mr Francis showed him the list of post-download bodies, but Kragg claimed that it was an administrative error."

"Now he's disappeared."

"You want my opinion? He helped her get away. Maybe she gave him a sob story. I dunno."

"He's going to get wiped when they find him."

Something in the way he said this subdued her. She frowned. "I hope not. I like Kragg. We were good friends once."

Then they were both quiet. They had driven over a hundred miles South of HQ. Now they stood at the edge of woodland. The path was getting stony.

"Well I have to admit, you wouldn't come to a place like this unless you had something to hide."

Mel turned and nodded in agreement. Then swallowed. "Do you have a good torch?"

Monday, 26 May 2014

Some Angels Live - VIIII //Antonin Dvorak -- Piano Quintet No. 2

She spent a long time deliberating whether to start a fire. If there were bandits around they'd spot her; but without the fire she'd freeze. Yet however much she embraced the cold, she couldn't ignore her dead numb hands and feet. Besides, warm fingers grip daggers close. Warmth could be a weapon too. She lit the kindling and banished her misgivings but remained vigilant to a point of rigidness. For the next hour she sat frozen, raised shoulders glued to earlobes.


The voice came from nowhere. An arrow of fear shook her. They'd found her. Lumatel was here. In the woods. The fire was in full blaze. Who said that? Did she imagine it? She peered around with narrowed eyes. Nothing. Just shadows and branches. But wait. That silver mist. Over between the track and the line of trees. She'd put it down to tricks of the light. She'd been too exhausted to examine it further. It wasn't just smoke. Something was illuminated. She stood up suddenly, aware it was too late to run. Part of her wanted to leap forwards. Chase it off. Icy fear extinguished that desire. Cursing herself for not braving the weather, she paced with uncertainty towards the strange light.

"Hello?" Silence. She now stood in a glowing cloud. Another camp? She'd have noticed it before; heard the crackling of burning wood. Besides, this didn't look like flames. It was more like yellow air. "I won't hurt you if you tell me who you are." The yellow cloud was turning into something. In terror and amazement she watched as the chaotic haze began to take shape.

"You can't hurt me."

It was a human. A winged human. Made of silvery yellow air. As the strange being approached she made out legs, arms, long hair and curves that could only belong to a woman. The angel was a woman. Kosmanarshi gaped. She knew she should say something but no words came out.


"You're mighty quick-brained for a survivor."


"You aren't safe here."

"You're an angel aren't you?"

"It would seem so. Why haven't you used the cloud rock yet?"

"...I didn't believe him. When he told me about you.."

"You've got to do it now before the agents come."

Mention of agents snapped her back into the present. "Wh - what's your name? Where do you come from - "

" -Somewhere else, I've been in angel form for many centuries." she fired back. "My name's Eldna, but we don't have time for this Kosmanarshi."

"How do you know my na -"

"You are a forememe. One of the few remaining with an original chip. I spotted your torus from far off. That's how I know you. Protect yourself. Take the cloud rock and use it. I will help you."

Kosmanarshi was dumbfounded. She realised to her shame she'd forgotten about the gift Rogan had given her. That funny-looking stone. It was nestled at the bottom of her bag. She hadn't taken on board what he'd said. Go somewhere secluded. Let the lumadata float away.

"How long will it take?"

"Not long but already we waste time."

"Will it come back? My lumadata?"

"Yes. Almost certainly. But you must do it now."

For a moment Eldna and Kosmanarshi stared at each other. One in impatient urgency and the other in wonder and awe.

"Please." said Eldna emphatically.

Kosmanarshi obeyed.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

S.A.L - VIII --- [Duke Ellington - Take the A- Train]

Mel sat in her office clicking the end of a ball point pen. It was two days since the strange conversation with Kragg. She weighed it up. He was a friend and she was prepared to let minor faults pass, but Mr Francis would call into her office later. He'd smell a rat. She could play innocent, but she was curious about this mysterious creature Greta Kosman. Maybe the disposal unit would know. They dealt with bodies after all. She put down her pen.

Her arrival took the pathologists by surprise. They tended to be introverted at the best of times, and didn't like her sudden appearance at the morgue.

"Mel isn't it?"


"What can I do you for?" He was still holding the scalpel like instrument above a greenish cadaver. There's never a good moment to interrupt a pathologist.

"It's regarding a female that passed through here about three weeks ago."

"U-huh." He placed the scalpel in a tray and began to laboriously remove the soiled gloves. "You were hoping to, er, see the body? I'm afraid you're about two weeks too late."

"No please don't stop because of me. I just wondered if you kept a file of names."

He wiped his brow and gave a forced smile. "Well I'm about ready for a little break anyhow. Sorry, I'm Petr. Nice to meet you. I'd shake your hand but I'd better, um."

He waved bloody greyish fingertips at her.

"Wash your hands. Yeah. No problem."

"Can I ask why you want to see this?"

"Oh, a newbie started on the archives. You know how it is. He got the right name-tag but the wrong date. Some of the chips got mixed up."

"So you're hoping to match the body with the chip."

"If it's not too much trouble. Just to get the date and time of the operation."

"Okay, well. You'll need my help with the list. There's two main sections. Accidental death and post-download euthanasia. Do you know which one the lady was?"

"I believe her to be post-download. That's the department I work in. Her data was - is - going to be used for artificial luma fabrication."

"A unique gene type."

"Yes her lumadata produced some, frankly startling results."

"Follow me." He pressed basement level on the elevator.

The lift opened into darkness. As her eyes adjusted Mel made out broken plastic chairs. The sort you found in tedious after-work meetings. These ones were hidden under tarpaulin to protect their dignity. But Mel knew the chewing gum was still there. Clinging to the filthy plastic underside like tiny amoebas. She dragged her gaze away from the shadows to where Petr was indicating. There was a door. Petr managed to locate the light switch. It came on mean and feeble, just enough to illuminate the brass plaque: Post-download eutha - . The remaining letters had rubbed off. She didn't need the rest to guess she'd come to the right place.

"Do you have the name of the deceased?" He gaped at her over his spectacles, evidently relishing the opportunity to delve into these rarely seen files.

"Greta Kosman. With a K."

"And the date of the euthanasia?"


"Please be as precise as you can."

"Okay let's see. The intern mixed the memechips between the 24th and the 25th." Her throat felt dry. "And we've already checked the 25th.."


"So it must be the 24th." She coughed the dryness away, where was her composure?. "Yes, the 24th of March three weeks ago."

"Excellent. Great. Bear with me a moment." He traced his fingers over the names, finally coming to 'K'. "Aaah here we are."


A baited pause.


"What do you mean?"

"The name you requested isn't there."

"It has to be."

"I'm afraid not."

"Can there be a mistake-"

"Our administrative team is highly thorough. If the body of Greta Kosman had passed through this department, it would be registered. Right here."

He showed the page to Mel, tapping at the gap where the names skipped from 'Knutson' to 'Langdon.' Already she was beginning to dislike Petr the pathologist.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

S.A.L - VII -------- Ministry//Land of rape and honey

"Don't you want my help then?"

She sighed and looked back one last time. "No you stay in your cave. I'll be fine."

He grinned. "You don't look it. What will you do if it rains?"

She turned to adjust her too large rucksack. "Find a different cave."

"I doubt you'll find a better one than mine, but good luck."

She had had to force herself not to turn back. It wasn't that she missed him as such, but after living in close quarters to someone you get used to certain things. "It's not safe anymore. Can't put him in danger. Mustn't." Her jaw was clenched in resolve. I must look scary as a Rottweiler. So why did she still feel shaky as a lamb? Two people alone wasn't much better. Was it? At least she had an entrance code now. She remembered what he had told her about the torus and the droids and the distant planet they came from. Were these weird space machines watching after her? Maybe they were aware she had stolen her mindcraft chip. Then again, they could be on her side. Maybe that was enough.

She'd hardly forgotten her urban roots, but now she dreaded discarding the cow hide cloak given to her by Rogan. It was better than the black duffel coat from before but too conspicuous, despite the wild bandits she'd seen roaming around. The duffel coat however, had long become a stove cleaning implement of Rogan's who had looked in disdain at her functionless garb. She began to regret this fact. She hugged the cloak around her against the bitter wind. Praying no-one would find her as she trudged along she strained to make out the way ahead.

Everything seemed abnormally bright and harsh, but there was a certain beauty in these barren surroundings; a haunting cacophony of ferns slowly unfurling; an interminable littering of broken bracken. To the right was a scree-ridden cliff edge. To the left a narrow stream and a steep hillside. There were no trees except for twisted blackthorns and gnarly haws. She would have to find somewhere to sleep soon. Rogan was right: she wouldn't find a better place than his.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

S.A.L - VI

Mel saw Kragg before he did. He'd been too busy contemplating the filing system, standing at the door to the archives when she caught his arm.

"Kragg what are you up to?"


"What do you mean nothing? You never gave back the data chip for that girl you tested last month."

"I know, I can explain."

"What was her name, Greta Kosman?"

"I know, look please don't tell anyone but er..."


"I had to dispose of the data."

"You threw away some data?"

"I did."

"You could get done for that. Nothing is supposed to be removed from there."

"I had to because there was something wrong with it. I made a miscalculation."

"I see." She put her fingers to her chin in a ponderous stance. "You made a mistake so you decided to hide the evidence."

"Yes exactly. That's what happened."

"It's not like you to care so much about your work. Why did you even bother?"

"Just forget about it Mel." She was looking at him suspiciously, whispering Greta Kosman Greta Kosman...

Saturday, 1 March 2014

S.A.L - V --- Rudimental

Kosmanarshi scrubbed the floor. It felt like that was all she'd done since being there. There must have been moments when she ate or sat by the fire to engage in intermittent talk with Rogan, even if animated conversation was too far a stretch; but no sooner as it was done there were plates to clean or bits of dead animal to clear up. She did not feel she had the right to complain. When the skin began to peel from her thumb where she had wrung dry the linen cloths (it was futile to hang them dripping wet as the freezing climate held them in a permanent state of cold dankness) and there was no-one to whom she could lament her pains, she began to see just what he had meant by the "two month" rule.

There was little point in letting him know how much pain she was in. That would be the final resignation to defeat. He had been right. She was a weak city-bred who expected something for nothing. She was superficial and superfluous. Maybe it was true. She didn't have that much experience of the wild, but it seemed a shame to be reduced like that. Her, a survivor of luma piracy who'd travelled half-way across the world just to find ...him. She hadn't found him, she'd found Rogan, and Rogan insisted that anyone who vanished during a raid had more than likely been wiped. Just give up. Move on. But then Rogan measured happiness on a broader scale than she did. WERE YOU GASSED BY NAMELESS ARMED SOLDIERS TODAY? WERE YOU BOMBARDED IN A NUCLEAR RAID? HAVE YOU SUCCUMBED TO MINDWORM?

"If you answered 'no' to all of the above then the chances are you are some variant of happy and if not happy then at least mildly contented." He glanced up suddenly. "Where you headed?"

The dreaded question. She had to decide. "I'll keep my word. At the end of this month I will head to Lumatel HQ. "

"Well." Rogan scratched his neck and grinned, "you made it past the two-week mark so congrats, but that packet of biscuits is still mine."

"I was wrong you were right. Ha." She looked over hoping to soften him. His eyes remained unyielding. "I want to see what he's found out."


She had said too much. Perhaps.

"It's a...friend."

Rogan looked incredulous. "You have a friend in Lumatel?" He laughed.

"Maybe..I don't know. He sort of saved me, well actually he was going to kill me but...But I woke up despite losing my chip, in the forensics lab. Afterwards Kragg told me that had happened only once before. That last person was a kid. They killed him anyway. Kragg had to poison him to keep his job. He told me it was the worst thing he'd ever had to do. He was in tears telling me this. He vowed never to do that again. He isn't on their side anymore. He knows they've gone too far." For some reason she trembled. "Murdering people just to protect their precious blueprint? They're money-grabbing opportunists, using the people they claim to protect to further their aims. Each day they gain more power and it won't get better, it will get worse. Someone has to do something."

Rogan stopped laughing and was silent.

"You remind me of him. You have all the answers except when it's on your doorstep. Then you have nothing to say. You haven't got a better idea, have you?"

He took a step towards her.

"No Kosmanarshi I don't, but you can't just swan in there. It's a dangerous place and well secured against intruders. Besides, mere faith in this man who once helped you won't suffice. In your absence they will've lured him back into the fold on the premise of better pay and 'a revised approach to luma-testing.' But we both know that that's a lie, and nothing will change."

Now it was her turn to look downcast. "He said he w - would keep working there as a spy and l- let me know what he found out."

"Is that so?"

The man facing her raised his eyebrows. "And where is he now?"

She wanted to say more, but her throat tightened with the trace of an angry sob somewhere in the pit of her stomach. She knew he was right, and felt foolish.

"Fighting your cause or not, Kragg cannot leave the ranks of Lumatel without revealing his true identity, and a big fight on his hands. You won't see this man unless you go to him, true. Whether you should do that alone, I don't know."

"There is no-one who can help me."

"You aren't alone Kos. You're staring right at a Lumatel ex-employee."

"Don't toy with me."

"I'm not! I wonder if the entrance code is still the same?"