WiP: Kalinka – simicrant full-conversion cyborgs on the rim of the Solar System

Work in Progress

So I’m five days into a nine-day creative bubble. Took a week off work to write as I’ve managed to nail 13 short stories in the past 6 weeks.  Yesterday I took on the task of writing Kalinka, a novel idea I mapped out last year but now thinking it would make a great short rather than waiting several years to find the time to write it full length. And, as these things go, the opportunity presenting itself whilst I’ve been exploring themes of Deep Space – beyond the First Arterial – and concepts of the human soul (Ku) I thought I’d twist the idea into a totally new shape.

I am having such amazing fun with this one. Past two days have been epic on the scale of living inside my own imagination, like a painter with a room-sized canvas and a million buckets of beautiful coloured paint. Splashing, smearing, seeing what works, following a flow like feeling…

I’m listing to this insanely inspirational mix by John 00 Fleming whilst writing:

PLAY IT LOUD!

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And of course sleeping 15 minutes every hour as part of my da Vinci method. During those periods I whack on music or audio stories. Right now I’m listening to the fantastically atmospheric At The Mountains Of Madness (H.P.Lovecraft), read by the gravel voiced talent of Wayne June.

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Meanwhile, I’m 5000 words in with Kalinka. Here’s a sample, defining the three main characters. Apols in advance for any nasty typos of what-not. This is copy/pasted straight from the MS, very much work in progress but you get the idea…

KALINKA

The light that oozed from the massive machine-built structure of the Nergüi platform was almost like a second star, out here in the far rim of the Solar System. A mix of colours that predominated around amber, speckled with bright blues, greens and reds – much like the astronomical jewels of the surrounding star field.

Dr Galen Goren re-adjusted the filters on his visual cortex with a quick thought-command and turned away from the wide, thin window that overlooked the nearby industrial facility. The large, utilitarian room brightened significantly as the organic part of his brain processed the higher input of light. Staring out at the platform’s super-structure without dampers on always made his head hurt. The space in between this building and the industrial facility was cluttered with the crystal sculptures of his best-friend and lacklustre business partner, Arron Mas, and the bright electric lights tended to catch the myriad surfaces in painful coruscating flashes as the sculptures drifted around in zero-G.

Galen shook his head, the tightly bunched chords of electric muscle around his neck flexing with the movement, as he thought about Arron, the ‘Crystal Garden’ and what an epic demonstration of his remarkable waste of talent.

And time, Galen thought, frustration blending into the first stages of angerArron was late.

The features of his manulf face wrinkled as the synaptic bridge processed his emotions and conveyed them, regardless of the fact there was nobody else there in the temple-like room to see.  He’d opted not to cover his frame with flesh.  It was a top-line model from Kjeld Botonitics.   The blue-grey fibres of synmov – electric muscle – were exposed across his entire figure, so that to some he appeared like a walking, talking anatomical mannequin.  The look was good for business. Out here, where machines outnumbered organics by a considerable degree, functionality was just as important as aesthetics, warping the definition of ‘the look of the success’.

The name Abdur Razzaq, a corporate thug from Dubai (Earth) slithered across the floor of his mind and took the full focus of his growing anger.  It wasn’t Arron Mas who was to blame.  Razzaq – and the criminal syndicate he had latched around Galen like a horse bridle.

How the hell did Razzaq find out?

Galen knew that wasn’t important right now. What was vital was how he reacted to the immediate threat.  Bold action was needed.  And that required Arron to be here as planned.

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She stepped out from the Subtak pod with the grace and elegance of a catwalk model.  Her long limbs encased in highly glossed carbo-plastic, bright scarlet in colour; the tight, stylised curves the best in design from Hitochi Karawaki. She paused for a moment, appreciating the view through arcing walls of fu-glass, of the platform’s dispersed superstructure where it radiated away from the nub-station on rods that were dozens of miles in length. Powerful lights glitered off every surface.

Sansan Kalinko savoured this moment of return – before the feeling of dread swept in like the inexorable tide of an approaching doom. Her human eyes, large, blue, set within a fleshy, organic face that was both attractive and based directly on her true form, swiveled left and directed the slow turn of her head and machine body. She turned and stared past the receding lines of the Nergüi platform, to the inky blackness beyond the glare of the lights, where, out there, some 50,000 AU away, was planet Earth. An invisible speck at this distance.  Place of her origin.  Cradle of her early years of struggle and failure. And now, threatening to tear down the gold-plated walls of her new life of success.

Mother what have you done? And why am I so scared to go back?

Sansan began walking towards the arrivals lounge, a UTOC Marine already opening up the portal at the far end of the fu-glass passageway to direct them to the security check-in.  His gaze caught a fraction of her then did a double-take. She beamed a smile. He didn’t look away.

The three other passengers, all sweaty flesh and creased clothing, who had also travelled through from the other side of the First Arterial gave her a wide-berth, as if wary of encroaching on her personal space, both intimidated and impressed by her blend of machine-design and raw, unblemished human beauty.  Icon of the Hitochi Karawaki fashion laboratories.

Her pace slowed as something her attention drifted out through the fu-glass to a nearby industrial facility.

Goren-Mas Corporation.

Long forgotten memories pushed through the filters of her past, and abruptly she recalled her years of working there, next to the Crystal Garden and a life occupying the chassis of a dull, grey Sony Houseman.  She’d given up her body back on Earth to pay off her debts and shipped out here to start a new life at the bottom rung of the ladder.  All the sacrifices she’d made had led her to this moment.  At a crossroads of risk to help her only remaining family, versus an assured future of growing fame and reward.

Her eyes lingered on the view.  There were many more sculptures in the Crystal Garden. Arron Mas had been busy during all these years.

Arron Mas, a fond smile touched her human lips and expanded across her face.  Focus of her earliest immature fantasies.  The one she had always yearned to be loved by. Her knight in shining carbo-plastic armour.  Who would have swept her away, like he did so many others, and inject her life with excitement and luxury.

“Welcome to Nergüi,” the UTOC marine greeted her. His youthful features were stitched by uneasy attraction to her form.  “Security is this way.”

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Arron Mas couldn’t believe his luck.  The creature that came walking out of the arrivals lounge was like something from a classic Manga stim.  She was incredible, stunningly crafted scarlet plating covered delicate bundles of the finest woven synmov he had ever seen; limbs, torso and skull, all gleaming in the building’s soft illumination.  And central to the visage was the human face; white skinned, blue-eyed, pink glossed mouth and the hints of naturally blonde hair on her eyebrows; the low, broad and smooth forehead terminated where metalled prongs of the cowl pinched down through flesh and defined the merge with machine.

He’d only come to the Subtak nub-station to see off a male friend who had shown up earlier in the week; several days of drinking cocktails and smoking stim-pipes and gongs.  His brain chemistry was scrambled but he still had enough focus to know that Galen wanted to see him at some point today. Actually, Arron knew he was already late – but the female figure held onto his attention.

Who are you? The question seemed to burn with such intensity that she actually looked his way. The faintest flicker of recognition on her fragile porcelain features, or was it shock?

A resolve settled into the woman’s expression then, and Arron recognised the hallmark of female guile. She strode across the hydrogel padded floor towards him, flicking out long scarlet legs that ended in high-heeled shoes made of blue metal, a subtle wiggle to rotational-jointed hips, a smirk spreading across her lips.

“Arron Mas.” She called out as a greeting.

He was stunned. Heads turned his way.  People were  greatly interested and obviously impressed.  He gave his adamantanium skull a quick shake.  Like his best friend, he’d gone the whole full-conversion route, zippering his mind from flesh into a Rikan Alpha-CYB3, diplomatic model.  The complex alloy chassis was wrapped in vat-grown flesh and muscle, giving him the standard Riken Alpha build of a stocky weight-lifter but with a far better aesthetic appeal than the standard combat models.  Unlike Galen, who actually had his entire brain, nervous system and core organics surgically stripped out and transplanted into a machine-frame, Arron had gone for a black-ball approach and had his entire state of self recorded and placed within a piece of cybernetic hardware the size of an adult thumb: the cerebral codex.

“Cat got your tongue?” she asked playfully as she came to a stop in front of him. She was tall, very tall, and very thin.

He was staring. Covering it with a backward step and guffawing he allowed a natural smile to spill across his face.  “Do I actually know you or is this something my so-called friend has put you up to?”

She cocked her head to one side, a glaze of nostalgia coating her eyes.   “Dr Galen Goren.  No. I’ve not seen him in a very long time.  Your brother from another mother.  How is he?”

He shook his head again. “This is surreal. How do I know you? Or rather why do I not remember who you are?”

“I was a very different person back then. Are you going to give me a ride? I’ve booked a room at the Kuruvinda hotel. It’s near the Mirror Palace isn’t it?”

Arron smiled. The woman, whoever she was, knew he had a taste for piloting expensive power launches. “Absolutely. Of course. Step right this way…miss?”

“Kalinka. Sansan Kalinka.”

The Mirror Palace. That’s what they called the architectural spectacle where Galen lived and worked.  Not because it was coated in any kind of reflective material; on the contrary it had been built from fused volcanic magma generated on a captured asteroid.  It was called the Mirror Palace because the lower levels were an inverted mirror image of the upper levels, joined to the Nergüi platform by a single fu-glass transit tube.  It was impressive but nothing compared to the grandeur of the truly wealthy who had made Nergüi their home.

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David J Rodger – DATA

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