Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Mad Engineer"

This poem is spillover from the October 7, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from technoshaman, ng_moonmoth, DW users Zeeth_kyrah, and Chordatesrock.  It also fills the "It's a trap!" square on my 9-11-14 card for the Halloween Bingo fest.  This poem has been sponsored by ng_moonmoth.  It belongs to the series An Army of One.

The Mad Engineer

When Cayson flipped his switch
and started trying to drive
all of the Orion expatriates out of
what had once been Carinan territory,
everyone turned to Hootowl for guidance.

Hootowl got that feeling again
that dealing with this kind of thing
was way above his pay grade.
"What do I know about dealing
with a mad scientist, anyway?"
he grumbled over the ciphernet.

"Technically, he's not a mad scientist,"
Operetta pointed out.  "He's not testing
a mad hypothesis or taking mad notes.
He's just modding abandoned battle tech
and aiming it at people he doesn't like.
That makes him more of a mad engineer."

Hootowl wondered what he was
supposed to go and do with that.

He knew, of course, that some people
had gotten themselves stationed out here
because they liked to do things that
would never be permitted in a laboratory
back in either of the Arms.  Evidently
what Cayson liked to do was blow shit up.

"That doesn't help me figure out what to do.
Besides, I was Orion; Cayson won't listen to me,"
Hootowl said.  "Router, you were Carinan.
See if you can get through to him."

"Well, I can try, but it's pretty hard
to get someone off his passion," Router said.
"You guys can really get stuck on stuff.
So far Cayson has trapped twelve people
from three different teams for straying into
what he considers 'his' space."

"I'd love to pick his brain," said Estelle.
"Nobody has ever been able to duplicate
the things he could do with weapons.
If I could work with him, though, maybe
we could turn that tractor field into
a better comet trap for harvesting ice."

That gave Hootowl an idea.  "Why don't we
propose moving the Mad Engineer to that
little yellow dwarf on the Carinan edge?
It has a big belt of comets around it."

"That doesn't help us get the ice anywhere
useful," Estelle pointed out.

"Cayson is a mad weapons genius,"
Hootowl said.  "If we get him away from
the people he hates, then tell him that
he can catch giant space snowballs
and throw them across the Lacuna,
I think he might go for it."

"I'll see what I can do," Router said.

Before long, the Mad Engineer was
safely ensconced at the edge of the system,
trapping comets and lobbing them at his enemies
who melted them down for much-needed water.

It may not have been the most civil of solutions, but
it beat falling into the same trap over and over again.

* * *


Although the trope calls for mad scientists, a lot of them are really mad engineers.

"It's a trap!" is a popular trope.  A tractor field or beam makes a great comet trap too.

A mass driver can be used for cargo transfer ... or shelling your enemies.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, weblit, writing

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