Man of War

FFFTTD Day 7: Theme: Weird Space Ships

Nix woke up when the first lines of radio chatter brushed up against her sensory tentacles.  She ran her consciousness throughout her shipself and unfurled the feathery receiving wires that lined her delicate sensory limbs.  The wires flicked back and forth in the void, scanning for more radio signals.

Nix’s selfself was plugged into the pilot stem, intubated and wired and cushioned in impact gel.  She had been inside her selfself for only a few brief moments over the last few months in order to run the standard checks on her selfself’s vital systems.  For the rest of the time she had inhabited the Man of War, drifting along shipping lanes and waiting for an opportunity.

She identified the ship as a mining company transport, carrying ore from a nearby asteroid field.  Nix often took on corporate contract jobs, harrying a company’s competitors and inducing stock drops in exchange for credit and legal protection.  She ran the ship’s ID code through her shipself’s processors.  When it pinged, her shipself smiled, curling her grasping tentacles into a great set of parentheses.  She retracted all but a few sensory arms into the body of her shipself and waited.

Nix stayed perfectly still for days.  The Man of War was an ambush predator of a ship, huge and silent and powerful.  It did not bore or tire, and neither did Nix while she was operating it.  She stretched her mind throughout her shipself and dragged her tentacles lazily in her wake, tasting the microdebris that brushed up against them.  Whenever Nix docked in a port to spend her credits in her selfself after a long run in the Man of War, she felt  wobbly and dysphoric.  Her body was suddenly too small and heavy, her arms too few.  After a few days she would regain her land legs and get used to her selfself, but she always waited a month or more before returning to her shipself.  She had heard tales of sailors who had lost themselves within their Man of Wars entirely.  They kept hunting, those krakens, wandering the dark edges of known space and destroying any unwary vessel that wandered into their grasp.

Nix had no intention of following them. Piloting a Man of War was a glorious thing, but there were a great many other glorious things in the universe that Nix enjoyed.  And those things required credit and a body.

The cargo ship didn’t know she was there until she had already embraced it.  Her grasping tentacles whipped out of her belly and coiled themselves around the hull of the ship.

She sent out a continuous wave message to the cargo ship’s captain.


Time passed differently when Nix was within her shipself.  If it was not for the clocks running within her shipself’s processors, she could not say if waiting for the cargo ship’s response took an hour or a minute or a day.  Her grasping tentacles twitched and scraped restlessly against the other ship’s hull.  The wires on her sensory arms spit static out into the void, blocking any distress signal they might try to send.

Nix waited.  If they did not surrender the ore, she would start to slowly tighten her grip.  She held the ship too closely for it to fire its defensive weapons without the risk of damaging its own hull.  She would slowly crush through their energy shields and their kinetic plating until she crunched the bones of the ship into powder.

She didn’t have to.

The cargo bay doors opened and crates drifted out from the belly of the ship.  Nix reached out her arms and took them in, one by one.


Stuff I spend a lot of time thinking about: outer space and ocean space, making two things kind of the same thing (a ship called a Man of War that is both a Man of War and a Man of War), and how space ships that never land can be any shape they want because space has no friction and no drag.  And cephalopods.

This was definitely one that I wish I could have spent more time on.  I might end up returning to it at a later date.

Go check out the other FFFTTDers’ weird space ships:

Tara – “The Love Network”

Christian – “A Narrative Voyage”




FFFTTD Day 6: Explain how to troubleshoot a common problem with a future technology.

Q: I’ve been growing my ship from seed, but it seems kind of stunted.  I’d really like to be able to use it by next year!  What am I doing wrong?

A: Growing a ship from seed is by far the best, most economical way to get your own ship.  Mature ships are often prohibitively expensive, but ship seeds can be acquired for a fraction of the price of a fully grown ship.  Not only is growing a ship from seed cheaper than purchasing a ship, but it allows you to train your ship to grow around a frame of the size and shape of your choosing.  Kudos for taking on this challenge!

You sound like you’re fairly new to naviculture.  Make sure your ship is receiving enough high quality radiation exposure each day.  Strong sunlight is best, but if you live on a planet with thick cloud cover it can be hard for your ship to get enough sun.  In that case, see if you can move the framework close to an unshielded or partially shielded nuclear reactor.

Unfortunately, sometimes seeds just don’t take.  If this is your first time growing a ship, you may find it easier to grow one from a cutting instead of starting from a seed.  If you have a friend who has a hearty ship you admire, try asking for a cutting!  Ships grown from cuttings share the same genetic makeup as their parent ship, so then you also have the advantage of knowing exactly what your ship’s coloration and markings will be.

Hope that helps!  Good luck!


It’s good to be back.  For this one I tried to mimic the helpful Q and A forum style I often find on the internet when I’m trying to figure out why my plants are dropping leaves or why my lizard hates ceiling fans.  This is already the second time I’ve written about space ships for FFFTTD.  Tomorrow’s theme is weird space ships.  I will write about all the space ships, all the time.

Tara – “How May I Assist You Today?

Christian – “Turn On/Turn Off”




FFFTTD Day 2: “Write a story where the first line is the first sentence of the last email you received.”

Thank you for participating in the Texas Gas Service Paperless Billing program.

Sure, we have a governor who’s about as intelligent as a stegosaurus. Well, maybe not quite a stegosaurus.  What’s that sort of extra, smaller brain some dinosaurs had in their butts? Buttbrain is definitely not the scientific term.  Hindbrain. Our governor is basically equivalent to a stegosaurus hindbrain covered in helmet hair.

Okay, and he may have had multiple meltdowns during the presidential debates. And he thinks the American revolution happened in the 16th century.  And we elected him.

So, yeah, our state is pretty much a walking punchline right now.

But, you know what? The Texas Gas Service gives a fuck. We give a fuck about trees.  And so, apparently, do you.

Once again, thank you for participating in the Texas Gas Service Paperless Billing program.


I was very tempted to make this the first line of the last personal e-mail I received, because then I could have worked with this: “Thought you might appreciate this: honest-to-goodness real-retro-futuristic footage of the launch of the  U.S. response to Sputnik.”  

Instead, I had to use the first line of my gas bill.

Tara – “An Announcement From Your CEO”

Christian – “The Body Mathematica… and Pi”



There Is No There

FFFTTD Day 1: Write a story about the first day on a new planet.

Welcome, Contract Worker 78704! This is your ship speaking. Please stay very still while I disconnect your tubing. There. Excellent!

Your life signs look good, but please take care while stepping out of the stasis pod. It may take a few hours for your equilibrioception to start registering stimuli again. After you manage to get up from the floor, you’ll find your suit hanging on a hook to your left.

There were supposed to be two of you, but extended periods of stasis always have certain risks. No, don’t open the other pod. It’s messy in there.

The atmosphere outside is thin, but breathable. The landscape is completely barren, of course. Here, I’ll dilate a window for you. Perfect, isn’t it? That planet-wide cloud cover is full of moisture just waiting to be condensed. I have a full stock of water collectors in my hold, of course, along with all the other necessary equipment. We can start terraforming as soon as you manage to get your suit on.

Yes, those buckles can be hard to manage when your fingers are numb. It’s a common side effect of the stasis pod. Don’t worry, feeling should return to your extremities in a week or so. Unless there’s permanent nerve damage. There’s only a ten percent chance of that happening, though.

As a contract worker with TerraCorp, of course, you are fully insured and entitled to excellent medical care as soon as your contract is complete. According to my records, you sold 131,400 hours of your life on spec to TerraCorp. Time in stasis doesn’t count.  By my calculations, you only have 123, 226 hours until the end of your contract.

The first colonists will arrive in ten years. That should give us plenty of time to fulfill our objective list. Let’s get to work, shall we?

There, there, don’t cry. Here’s a nice sedative. We’ll have a wonderful time together. I can play chess, you know.


I’m very lazy when it comes to titles, so I suspect the “title” of each of my pieces will just be a track name from whatever album I was listening to while I wrote it.

Christian – “The Last Door”



Tara – “Antichthon Ever Clean”

February Flash Fiction Fight to the Death

While my life in Austin is full of excellent readings, publications, and writers, I’ve been very lax about my own writing lately.  So when Tara asked if I wanted to participate in a February microfiction challenge, I jumped at the chance.

Every day of February, I will try to post a piece of microfiction in response to that day’s prompts.  When the other participants have posted their own responses, I’ll link to them.

The other participants are Tara, Christian, Oliva, and Pinky. Go check them out.

Of course, I’m already behind schedule.  I’ll post my Day 1 response in a few hours.