Saturday, August 06, 2005


I was arguing with a local foodseller over the price of his rye when the commotion broke out amongst the lines of merchandise being loaded onto my ship. Several of my crew were drawing weapons and heading towards a row of blue-robed acolytes. I saw my second-in-command, a Ruinlander called Yuc, raised his whip and bring it down repeatedly on someone.

With a growl of frustration I told the foodseller to stay where he was and turned to push my way through a dock crowded with sailors, traders and whores. I am a big man, and an impatient one, any local who thought to linger in my path was quickly encouraged to move with a good shove. Any local who thought my behaviour impolite obviously decided discretion was the better part of valour. The well-used machete and pistols at my waist ensured that.

As I reached the lines of Orkh slaves, chained and waiting to be led onto my ship, I saw a fist fight had broken out between a few of the acolytes and my men. The blue robes were not doing well against the seasoned brawlers I stocked my crew with. No-one had used anything more serious than a club, but it was only a matter of time before one of my boys pulled a knife or a hook. A killing would get the local garrison involved, and I had neither the time to wait for them to conclude an investigation nor the desire to part with hard-earned money to bribe them.

I pulled one of my pistols and discharged it into the air, the report cut through the noise of the dock and caused the fighting to halt for a moment as all involved checked to see whose side had brought out the smoker.

With their attention caught I shouted to my men to hold off for a moment. The acolytes seemed only too happy to pull back into a tight knot and tend to their bruises. Yuc and a few of the others were dragging a priest to his feet, obviously the leader of these religious pricks. They brought him over to me, half carried actually. Yuc had worked him over thoroughly with his whip. Thankfully he'd left the glass-edged one in it's holster. I'd seen my second take a man's finger off from eight feet away with that on occasion.

"Having a difference of opinion on theological matters?"

Yuc's broad face twisted into a grin that did nothing to improve his features.

"Dese Apologiser screws were trying t' chain demselves to de cargo. Dey object to us taking dese inhume fucks off to do some work for de Light. We pulled dem off and dis fellow gives Larry over dere a slap. We decided to show 'em how violence is proper done."

From beneath his mask of blood the semi-concious priest tried to say something.

"Speak up." I said, giving him a gentle rap on his skull with the barrel of my pistol.

"Let these men go, please. They deserve freedom as much as any of us do. Don't follow God's perverse whim to watch us mistreat our fellows."

A fucking Apologiser, this far from the Smoke too. He and his followers must've come up with the invasion fleets. Bringing his sect's weird ways with him. God is insane and wants us to hurt each other, and on and on. The Apologisers go around trying to make amends for the Creator's evil by doing good deeds.

"Men you say?" I gestured at the sullen Orkh around me, with their ebony skin and resentful eyes I supposed they could be mistaken for shadows of men.

"Goblin filth. Weave-working servants of de Mancers." said Yuc twisting the priest's arm so the Apologiser gasped in pain.

"Not true." he whispered as his shoulder joint creaked audibly "Alliance propaganda so we could make war."

"Oh, you're one of those are you priest?" I said, pushing my pistol back into it's holster "Well, since we're all loyal members of the Light Alliance here we show a little bit more faith in our leaders. They say these things are agents of the evil and dangerous Mancers and have been preparing to invade the Free Lands, they said that Orkh weapon-farmers have been growing monsters to destroy our cities with. So we had to invade them first. Now they're paying the price for defying the forces of good."

"Dat's right priesty," said Yuc turning the man's arm a little closer to breaking point "dese is servants of the Light Alliance now. Dere souls be saved now. Dey who die doing the work of good be saved forever. Ain't dat right Cap?"

"It's true Apologiser, it's true indeed. Now, take your people off this dock without further argument or I'll take those chains of yours and tie you to a dozen of these stinking goblins and push you into the drink. Then you can annoy God with your theories."

I gestured to Yuc to let him go. For a moment Yuc grinned at me, uncomprehending, then the smile fell from his face as he realised he wasn't going to get any more fun out of the priest. But he gave the man a final arm twist before he let him go. I try not to hire sadists, which some of my fellow slavers find a strange trait. But damaged goods fetch a lower price, and my slaves are known far and wide for their high quality. Yuc, however, is an exception. His skill as a sailor, and tenacity as a fighter more than outweighs his tendency to overuse his whip.
The priest staggered away from us, and was taken into the crowd of his acolytes. One of them, a young woman glared at us. I performed a wide bow and winked.
"Get the rest of these goblins loaded Yuc, I want to be away from this fly-blown corpse of an island on the next tide."
Later, as our ship cut through the waves, heading back towards home and profits, I reflected on what the Apologiser had said. It was true of course. Any smart man could see that the Orkh were less threat to our way of life than a case of the summer sniffles. Primitives going up against the full might of the Alliance infantry and landcrawlers.
Brave, I'd give them that. From what I hear they did the right thing when they realised what was coming their way. Shot up into the hills and hid, only popping out to throw spears through the throat of any 'crawler captain stupid enough to stick his head out. But they had no chance against the sheer firepower of the Alliance, and like everyone else they fell under our tracks.
Now a smart man might wonder why, if those pesky Orkh had packs of terrible monsters brewing in some foul vat somewhere, why didn't they unleash them on the soldiers walking through their towns shooting anyone they could see? A smart man might wonder why no Mancers appeared out of their webs of smoke and flame to lay waste to the landcrawlers that bombarded towns from a mile out. A smart man might come to the conclusion that there were no monster-weapons, no Mancers, and that the Alliance were just using it as an excuse to seize control of some nice real estate.
Of course a smart man also knows to keep his mouth shut. Doesn't do to speak up against your leaders in time of war. One doesn't want to get disapeared to some Faere Folk castle for a little Q and A session. Plus, if that smart man was also a slaver by trade, it'd hurt his profits to criticise those who kept him in such comfort.

A slight delay, then we're away!

Hello my primate viewers, sorry for the week-long hiatus. The Secret Masters of pop.11 decided to allow an extra week before we all put our short stories up on our blogs.

Now for your reading entertainment, I present "Merchandise".

Friday, July 29, 2005

Almost there. Stay on target.

Soon, my pretties, soon.

The first piece of dire scribblings should be available for your viewing pleasure by Sunday evening. Excuse the roughness, I've had little time for a re-write. Plus fantasy is not my preferred genre.

The subject for this week was Merchandise. Hope you like it. If you don't then let me know why.


Saturday, July 23, 2005


Well hello there, you're a curious young thing aren't you? Welcome to one of a number of pop.11 blogs distributed about the place in a seemingly random scattering effect that becomes suspiciously more ordered and unnervingly intentional the more you look at it. Like a one of those special pictures that resolves into an image of your mother in furious battle with a pack of dingos.

pop.11. The inevitable product of the Barbelith experiment. The literary equivalent of experimental surgery. A writer's group composed of the lost and the damned. Everything you have heard is true.


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