Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Great Growling Engine of Change"

This poem is from the August 6, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] fayanora. It also fills the "catching up" square in my 8-2-19 card for the End of Summer Bingo fest. This poem is posted here as the freebie for the January 7, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl reaching its $200 goal, selected in an audience poll. It belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series and will make more sense if you have previously read "The Heart to Rejoice" and "A Perfection That Eludes Us."

"The Great Growling Engine of Change"

[Monday, September 7, 2015]

Small Change loved Manhattan,
even though she hadn't been born there --
hadn't even been born in this world.

She had come to Soho as
a young woman, fleeing
from the Benighted One.

She had a lot of catching up
to do, but that was okay.

Once a hedgewitch, she had
discovered that technology
could do more than magic, and
that the two of them combined
could do even more than that.

It was exhilarating.

She had paid a body artist
to pierce her lip and draw
sharp swirls on her shoulder
using tiny points of steel.

Now she could use magic
and technology with equal skill,
channeling technomagic
through her own body.

Here, nobody cared if
her pointed ears peeked
through her vivid pink hair.

It was Soho: everything
was a little weird here.

Small Change wrote programs
and hacked through firewalls and
built all kinds of zap guns.

She loved technology, loved
the great growling engine of change.

She didn't hesitate to walk at night.

If trouble stirred, she just laughed
and shook loose a length of chain
that crackled with magical lightning.

It kept the hoodlums at bay,
and bystanders dismissed it
as some sort of special effect
spilling over from Tribeca.

Today was special, though.
On Labor Day, Small Change
went hunting with T4pp3r from
Tribeca, and they ranged through
Silicon Alley with their technomagic
skimming off just a little bit from
every account they passed.

They lifted money from
private bank accounts and
store accounts and banks.

They kept a cut for themselves,
of course -- even elves had to eat --
but most of it they sent along to
the Trade Union offices over in
the Cooperative Village.

Nobody would notice
their modest contributions,
lost in a flood of holiday donations.

Small Change and T4pp3r walked
together, the mad scientist witch
and the computer wizard, and
nobody even saw them for
what they really were:

a stoker team eagerly feeding
the great growling engine of change.

* * *


Small Change (Famira / Holly Woodland) -- She has fair skin, black eyes, and chin-length hair of vivid pink. She is an elf with pointed ears and long canine teeth. Tribal tattoos cover her right shoulder. She speaks English and Faellyn. She lives in the Soho neighborhood of the Manhattan borough of the New York suburb of Eastbord, New York. Famira fled to Terramagne as a young woman. She had been working as a hedgewitch, then discovered that technology is even more interesting than magic. She took the name Holly Woodland to blend in, then later added the cape name Small Change. Resourceful and smart, she can learn from other people without formal lessons. Her agility and enhanced eyes make her good at gunplay, and she has built zap guns of various styles. Holly has a drinking problem, not only tending to drown her problems in alcohol but also abusing energy drinks and coffee. She is rarely 100% sober.
Origin: As an elf, she was born with magical abilities. When she moved to Terramagne, her dark hair turned pink and she discovered ways to blend magic with technology.
Uniform: Punk clothes of krevel and dexflan, often with studs. She wears a neon-pink visor both to protect her sensitive eyes from flares of light or magic, and to provide augmented reality overlays.
Qualities: Good (+2) Agility, Good (+2) Computer Wizard, Good (+2) Learning from Other People, Good (+2) Resourceful, Good (+2) Thief
Poor (-2) Drinking Problem
Powers: Good (+2) Super-Gizmology, Good (+2) Technomagic, Average (0) Enhanced Vision
Vulnerability: Sensitive eyes. Without her visor, flares of light or magic can hurt her eyes, or even blind her temporarily.
Motivation: "I wonder how else these things will fit together?"

Small Change #ff1476 is a shade of pink.

Silicon Alley: Originally a portion of Manhattan in New York City, specifically Broadway, the Flatiron District, SoHo, and TriBeCa. Now encompasses the general NYC tech sphere.
The name is a riff on Silicon Valley.

In Terramagne-America, Soho has taken on a weird blend of bohemian and geek cultures, sometimes called bohopunk. The artists moved in during the 1960s, and by 1967 the city -- thrilled by their interest in otherwise unwanted real estate -- rezoned the neighborhood as live-work space and assisted in upgrading facilities such as adding bathrooms to loft apartments made from old factories. During the 1980s, they saw a new wave of arrivals and innovation from computer technology, particularly in fiber-optics, who also liked having big spaces to work. As technology improved, the neighborhood became an early hub of gizmology, and super-gizmology such as cybernetic implants. Soho's characteristic cast-iron ornaments also make a very welcoming environment for technomagic, granting an upshift to it throughout the neighborhood. These features have fended off the gentrification seen in L-America, as middle-to-upper-class people shy away from weirdness.

Just to the south, Tribeca forms a center for the performing arts, with a keen appreciation for theatrical technology. Farther south, Radio Row is a center for zetetic developments based on radio, while Battery Park City specializes in energy storage. Not far to the north, the Meatpacking District provides a place for clandestine body modifications, safely outside the boundaries of Soho where body jewelry and implants are actually made and often worn. To the northeast lies the Cooperative Village, an intentional community dating back to 1930 when its first housing cooperative appeared. This is a source of many customers for the neighborhoods of Silicon Alley, and occasionally it contributes new members of the arts.

See Small Change with a lightning chain and a bottle of booze.

Here is a map of neighborhoods in Manhattan, Eastbord, New York.

T4pp3r (Jack Drummond) -- He has fair skin, black eyes, and long straight black hair usually worn in a braid down his back. He is three-quarters elven with long pointed ears. He lives in the Tribeca neighborhood of the Manhattan borough of the New York suburb of Eastbord, New York. T4pp3r is an exceptional computer wizard. His fast hands and attention to teamwork make him a capable thief too. Unlike most elves, though, he has no sense of the natural world and fares poorly in the wilderness. He blames his human grandfather, and resents the fact that other elves tend to tease him or pity him for the lack.
Origin: He was born with magical abilities, and later learned how to harness technology.
Uniform: Punk clothes of krevel and dexflan, usually black. He wears a lavender visor both to protect his sensitive eyes from flares of light or magic, and to provide augmented reality overlays.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Computer Wizard, Good (+2) Fast, Good (+2) Teamwork, Good (+2) Thief
Poor (-2) Naturalistic Intelligence
Powers: Good (+2) Technomagic, Average (0) Enhanced Vision
Vulnerability: Sensitive eyes. Without his visor, flares of light or magic can hurt his eyes, or even blind him temporarily.
Motivation: Money.

Here is a Leetspeak alphabet and background.

* * *

“The great growling engine of change – technology.”
Alvin Toffler

Zap gun -- any weapon designed to fire bolts or beams. The effects of beam rifles last longer than those of bolt pistols. This is super-gizmology and not widely available, although some organizations hire a super-gizmologist to equip their troops in significant numbers. They typically have no recoil. Most models with recoil are inferior; this is a sign of some flaw in the weapon mechanism. Force guns do have recoil but it can (and should) be compensated. Note that the visible emission is typically not a beam or bolt of pure light (which would travel at light speed) but instead a beam or bolt of glowing material (which moves at less than light speed). Compare this to a flamethrower rather than a laser gun: the flame consists of burning particles or fluid. Sometimes the bolt or beam is quite straight and not subject to outside interference (i.e. by wind, magnetic fields, etc.) while others are more malleable. Zap guns are often color-coded to indicate the effect. Disintegration is crimson, heat is vermilion, pain is orange, death is green, freeze is sky blue, and sleep is indigo. Various nonlethal things are pink.
Tags: #ff1476, cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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