Tuesday 23 April 2024

Lanthanide Horizon Vignettes

This is a draft trade - my mangled document of halfbaked gun rules for two vignettes set in Archon's wonderful megastructure setting. I wrote the third of these, to complete the post.

Art by Calder Moore

In a dark room, lit only by a single spotlight, is a clear plastic box. Inside that box are tunnels. Inside those tunnels are people.

They drink from a spring in the lowest sections, and use its water to grow grains and leaves. They sign to each other (as the walls do not permit sound) and chisel histories and myths into the walls with bone tools. Private places are coated in mud and surrounded with curtains.

You can see in - the spotlight ensures that. They can't see out - the darkness ensures that. And, indeed, they are seen. Cameras watch their signed conversations and read their legends. They measure who has died, and when. How many are fed, and how well. When the people are angry, and when they are happy.

Above this dark room is another. And another. And another. And another. And another.


A plate a mile wide, patterned with holes, is lowered into a machine.

It is cratered with ponds, filled with moss and crawling things. Around you, your fellows pack them into bags.

A wire like a telephone pole is drawn up through one of the holes.

The top of the wire, stories above you, rains down water. The wire glows, and then moves. It is time to leave.

It cuts through the plate in a thousand places, sending pieces down some immeasurable depth.

You are already gone, to share the harvest. There will be another one soon, you hope.


Ten days from home. The plain stretches mirrored and vast. Not quite soil - dust that reflects, shiny, glittering as it falls from above. Your language does not have the word snow - and snow is not so hard, sharp, toxic, or invasive.

You walk. The dust falls.

The shrine is dragged by friends and relatives, unrecognizable under their protective cladding of thick plastic, bunches of wires tying off the crude garments. Your people were very sedentary, and very peaceful. In the days before the foreigners came, you had not even weapons. Now, armed with long swords, clad in thick green plastic, you march across the endless dust.

Heads down. Dragging the shrine by cables.

You walk. The dust falls.

Home is where you lay your head down. Your home is in the vast emptiness given to you by the taking of your old home, where water fell from above. On the ground, the water settled into green plants, not the harsh mirrored infinity that beckons you, beckons you. To have nothing is to be offered everything, but seeking everything leads quickly to nothing.

Priests take measurements. The journey continues.

You walk. The dust falls.

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