Plugs

I’m taking requests for my January stories. If there’s a person, place, or thing that you’d like to see appear in a Daily Cabal story, please leave a note in the comments. (Be forewarned, though, suggested story elements may be transformed a bit in the writing…)
–Rudi


A swordswoman hiking up a ravine toward the besieged city of M. heard a bird’s song. Not even the whole song, just a string of notes, falling quickly down then rising slowly up. It stuck in her head the whole march, through the silence when they couldn’t even whisper, and she found herself singing it under her breath to the beat of the battle’s parry and lunge. When they’d won and the city was free and the wine was plentiful, she sang it until she was hoarse, and her comrades sang with her.

By the next time they were hired into battle, the song had found words and an air of bravado. A song of attack and a song of victory. Twenty years later, when her war-band had become an army and then an empire, the tune slowed to an anthem, gathering about itself trumpet-glints and timpani-shadows on the morning of her coronation.

In the border-expanding years of the second empress’s reign, it was sung by schoolchildren and marched to in parades that seemed to happen twice a week or more.

When rebellion years sent the fourth empress into hiding, it was sung softly, almost prayer-like, behind drawn curtains late at night.

When the twin empresses eleven and twelve commissioned fleets of exploration, the song was transcribed for hundreds of foreign instruments in a score of unfamiliar scales.

When twenty-third empress abdicated by disappearing into the noonday crowd on the grand plaza, it attained a melancholy grandeur, sung in snatches as a kind of password — until the fifth regent banned it in the course of an anti-royalist purge.

And when, several tens of thousands years later, an explorer from shores more distant than the empire’s furthest borders picked up a music box that had just enough twist left in its springs to play the song (nearly as much of it as the barbarian swordswoman had heard that distant afternoon), it tingled in the explorer’s tentacles and lingered in her peripheral brain’s deeper nodes all the way back up to the comfort of the limit ship. With the rest of her planetside experiences, she loaded it into the memory pool. Next time they slipped through a particle/wave inversion, the ship merged the pool into the wider aether. Then the song quavered to life in trillions of minds on thousands of worlds and, this time, it would not be forgotten.

I’ve done it! I’ve bloody done it!” he cried, leaping into the air, clapping his hands, beaming, the problem finally solved.

Jen Larsen

Although this masquerades as a short story, it actually crams the known universe down your neural network.  Each pixel barrages your retina in photons arrayed to convey a trillion trillion trillion bits of information.  Glimpsing the first letter of this story has made you want to invest a month’s credits into our bank account, but hey, at least we’re honest.

After reading this far, you have the knowledge of three races from the Milky Way’s more intelligent arthropods stored in your brain.  How many of your friends can boast that?  (Shortly, all of them.  You will convince them to look at the first letters of this story, and they will soon sink a month’s credits in our accounts.)

All you have to know about your new knowledge is how to access it.  At present, this technology is limited to Random Access Memory—that is, it may require green tea on your Great Aunt Betsy’s veranda or a quiet afternoon of clinking dominoes at a local café, but it will all surface sooner or later, whether you want it to or not.

In clinical trials, 98.9 % of those about to be crushed by pillow-rock monsters on the planet Xartan are able to recall the necessary escape data in order to skedaddle in the nick of time.  Disappointingly, in the same trials, only 3.4% were able to retrieve data on man-eating orchids, lying in wait just the other side of the cliff face–a problem our programmers are working on as we transmit this data to you).

Of course, next year around this time, you will act on a compulsive whim to purchase The All-New Complete Guide to Complete Guides, 2.0–updated to prevent your desire to buy our competitors’ viral Complete Guides so that you don’t go into bankruptcy buying various guides.  Those that do have a 27.6% probability of becoming schizophrenic, hydrophobic, and apoplectic.

That’s it!  The last of the data is loaded.  Enjoy you new life to the best of your ability.

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