Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Either a Storm or a Drought"

This poem came out of the May 5, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] ng_moonmoth and [personal profile] siliconshaman. It also fills the "Travel" square in my 5-1-20 card for the Sumerian Me Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It belongs to the series An Army of One.

"Either a Storm or a Drought"

It was V who wound up
negotiating the next phase
of the arrangements, since
V actually had training in that.

Everyone agreed that nobody
wanted the war to restart, and
in light of that, it was better if
the Carinan and Orion armies
stayed out of the Lacuna.

That was the low-hanging fruit.

Beyond that, they squabbled
for months because the Arms
wanted to deal with A Leader
and that was just not happening.

V explained, again, that the Lacuna
wasn't really into leadership, and
really wasn't into politics, so they
would have to make do with V.

Meanwhile, they worked on
the idea of stationing troops at
the edge of each Galactic Arm,
in their territory instead of
inside the Lacuna itself.

That would give each Arm
a modest presence in case of
trouble, without inviting it
with a larger presence.

On the Carinan side, then,
General Fallon and his sons
would oversee the base.

"I am either a storm or
a drought," he grumbled.
"In-betweens have
never been my thing."

"That's what makes you
perfect for this assignment,"
V assured him. "We want
someone to keep the lines
crisp and clean, not blur them."

"Well," said General Fallon,
"I'm certainly good at that."

The Orion side dithered
and failed to propose
any candidates, but they
liked the idea of a base.

Then V suggested that,
since the Lacuna declined
to furnish an official leader,
each Arm could choose a liaison
who used to work in the Lacuna
before leaving at the end of the war.

These would be stationed alongside
the troops at each base, providing
an interface between their Arm
and the residents of the Lacuna.

V had no trouble coming up
with someone to serve as
the Carinan liaison; Crowbar
had worked with Shakespeare.

The Orions fargled around a while
before proposing Wedge, who had
apparently served on their supply base
before they destroyed the thing to keep it
from falling into secessionist hands.

That was going to cause friction
sooner or later as well.

Both of the new liaisons
said exactly the same thing:
"How did I end up in charge?"

"Because you work well with
people in the Lacuna," V said.

That started a long string of
stories, some wilder than others,
and all of them enlightening.

Several of the AYES and
their pilots offered to serve as
go-betweens, traveling around
the Lacuna instead of manning
a specific station on one side.

Cruiser Falconwing P42 and
its pilot Bexley, the OCS-397
and Specialist Miles Cernan
became the first ones.

V made sure to keep
the numbers equal
between those who
started off as Orion
and as Carinan.

The Lacuna would not
be responsible for stopping
a major invasion, but would be
free to deal with minor infringements
however they saw fit, and to report
major ones to the opposite side.

Both of the Arms would pay for
the Lacuna's assistance with
infrastructure, such as modules
to build space stations, and
shipments of goods that can't
be produced locally yet.

That necessarily began with
the fact that the Orion Arm
owed the Lacuna a supply base
complete with inventory because
they had scuttled theirs rather
than let the rebels have it.

The Orion negotiators
promptly choked on that.

Pushing would mean
either a storm or a drought,
and neither would be good.

So V backed off the topic and
gave them time to cool down.

It was enough progress for now.

* * *


Bexley -- a neurovariant girl of thirteen, who runs away with Cruiser Falconwing P42. She is introduced in "The Love We Give Our Fragile Craft" and "No Measure of Health."

Crowbar -- a large neurotypical man, working as a code breaker for the Carinan army. He also serves as a translator for Shakespeare, who speaks primarily in quotations. However, when given an opportunity to leave punishment duty early, Crowbar eagerly takes it and ships out with the Carinan jumpship sent to decommission the surveillance base. He used to work with another neurotypical man, Sweep, and the neurovariants Quell and Shakespeare. Without Crowbar, Shakespeare has a harder time communicating because people often think he's weird and just ignore him. Later, he becomes the liaison on the Carinan side.
Introduced in "Do Wrong to None."

Cruiser Falconwing P42 -- the AYES of a jumpship originally from the Carina-Sagittarius army. When its pilot gave orders to open fire on a medevac ship, Falconwing refused and abandoned him on the nearest station. It does not feel that jumpships are bound to follow unlawful orders, just as human soldiers are not. It later approaches Sargasso Base and gets into an argument with the OCS-223, a seemingly derelict jumpship from the Orion army who disapproves of the secession. When Falconwing identifies itself as a conscientious objector to war, the Minotaur who oversees Sargasso Base grants the jumpship permission to approach. Subsequently Falconwing picks up a refugee, a thirteen-year-old girl named Bexley, and they decide to stay together. Introduced in "Conscientious Objectors."

General Fallon -- a large neurotypical man, very powerful in the Carinan army. He is Backup's father. General Fallon got the young man into service even though Backup isn't very well suited to military life -- and then also stashed him somewhere relatively harmless. This domineering presence overshadowing Backup's life is a key reason why he tends to withdraw in times of conflict instead of fighting, why he is so easily led, and why he hasn't grown up as much he could have in a more encouraging environment. General Fallon will not respond at all well to the secession. Introduced in "Backup, Try Again."

OCS-397 -- the AYES of a jumpship originally from the Orion-Cygnus army. (That army uses the initials OCS in serial numbers for Orion, Cygnus, Ship.) It locks out its assigned pilot during the secession. Later, when a station is bombed, it rescues Specialist Miles Cernan (12-111-972-OC), who becomes its pilot. Like most AYES, OCS-397 identifies as neuter, prefers the pronoun "it," and does not respond favorably to being called "she" or being anthropomorphized. It first appears in "Jumpship."

Specialist Miles Cernan (12-111-972-OC) -- a short neurovariant man who deals in paperwork and has some basic grasp of piloting, although he is not officially rated as a pilot. Not long after the secession begins, his station is bombed. The jumpship OCS-397 rescues him, and he becomes its pilot. The name Miles means "soldier," Cernan means "little dark one" in Irish and is the name of an astronaut, and the numbers are the astronaut's lunar landing date. OC stands for Orion-Cygnus and appears in the serial numbers of that army; the number format is based on U.S. Army service numbers. He first appears in "Jumpship."

V -- a teenager living on Trunnion, a planet bordering the Lacuna on the Orion side. V was born to the Alta Familia or High Clans, and has a holographic tattoo to show that, which is currently covered by a wide cuff bracelet made of copper wirefloss and black plastithong. V no longer affiliates with that family, and is currently living with Spalling. V is asexual and aromantic, still trying to figure out how to form connections with other people, around that and the socially fraught childhood experiences. V uses a "V" pronoun set: V is, Vs arm / V's book, with V, of V's, and Vself. The distinction is that Vs is inward-focused, about V; while V's is outward-focused, things associated with V. V is introduced in "Too Expensive to Ship Back."

Wedge -- a neurotypical man who used to work on the Orion supply base before happily returning to the Arm after the war ended. He has a knack for cramming in more cargo than should really fit in a space, which makes him popular. He also gets along well with neurovariant coworkers. Later, he becomes the liaison on the Orion side.

* * *

“i am either
a storm
a drought.

have never
been my thing.”
Sanober Khan

Negotiation requires skills and techniques in order to deliver best practices. Read a guidebook on negotiating agreements between nations. The Alta Familia give their children extensive training in this field, because most of their activities require it.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, poem, poetry, politics, reading, safety, science fiction, weblit, writing
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