"When knowing how to draw saves your life."
* * *
It was a big wall.
"It's very simple," the General had said to her, as they stood before the Presidential Palace, watching workers patch bullet holes. "I want you to paint a monument to my glory. A spectacle describing every aspect of my conquest."
She'd been a newspaper cartoonist, once. She'd moved on to portrait paintings later, but they had remembered. "How long do I have?" she asked.
"As long as you need."
"And after I'm done?"
He smiled. "You will be properly rewarded."
Right. "How could I refuse?"
Fifty meters by twenty high. Enough room for a lot detail.
"The world's shortest life changing novel"
* * *
"The Catcher in the Rye."
"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"
"I thought that was a band."
"It was a book first, dumbass."
"Okay, uh, The Rolling Stones."
"Now that was a band."
"It was a book first. Robert Heinlein. Look it up."
"Jerk. Um, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich."
"Oh, God. Depressing Russians."
"You ever met a happy Russian?"
"Good point. Oh, I know! Big Dog, Little Dog, by P.D. Eastman."
"A kid's book? Why would that be a life changing novel?"
"It's the first book I ever read on my own."
Forty-Three + Forty-Four
Note: Double post, due to Crossover of Awesome requiring more than 100 words to do it justice.
"Everything is better with Daleks."
* * *
Dominic dodged around the corner of the hanger with the Doctor, while the crazy robots trundled after them.
"THE DOCTOR MUST BE EXTERMINATED, EXTERMINATED, EXTERMINATED!" they screamed.
"What the heck are those things! They ain't Russian, that's for sure," he wheezed.
"They're called 'Daleks' and they're definitely not Russian, or Chinese, or anything else from this planet," the Doctor replied as they ran. "And unless you've got a laser with a twenty gigawatt yield handy, there's nothing that can stop them."
A canine-like roar of engines cracked through sky, as from behind the clouds the dark shape of Airwolf emerged, diving towards the hanger.
Dominic, Doctor, cover your eyes! String's voice boomed, as the two of them ducked for cover behind an industrial waste bin.
"ALERT! ALERT! UNABLE TO ACQUIRE WEAPONS LOCK!" the Daleks cried, as a lance of red light streamed from Airwolf's nose, blasting the lead unit and two behind it. DEFEAT IS IMPOSSIBLE! VISUAL LOCK REQ—" the rest began to chant, then were cut off as they were vaporized.
"Where did you get that," the Doctor demanded, peeking out from behind the bin.
"Thirty gigawasits!" Dom crowed. "I knew salvaging it from RedWolf would pay off!"
* * *
"Argh! Father, this driving me mad," Meribeth moaned, scratching at her scalp. Which utterly hurt, but at least it distracted her from the awful itching.
"Meribeth, if you keep clawing at your head like that, I'll tie your hands behind your back," her father warned. Which made Meribeth very quickly pull her hands down and put them both primly in her lap. Mother might joke about that sort of thing, Papa Tez would go through with it.
"When is it going to stop?" she demanded.
"When your horns finish growing in. Now stop scratching and let me apply this salve."
"My cat is the one in charge of the relationship."
* * *
"So why did you want to interview me again?" She sat back in her chair, watching the reporter.
"You were the infamous quisling, who tried to convince us that giving into the Groupmind was the best thing for humanity. Why wouldn't I want to?"
"Honestly, my influence was overblown."
"Perhaps. All I know is that you didn't do it for power. What was in it for you?"
"Darling," Khan purred, entering the room, "what did I tell you about talking to strangers?" His paw clamped tight over her mouth.
She smiled behind it. No, not for power. Quite the opposite.
"Out of the mouths of babes."
* * *
"Daddy, why do you not wear a shirt a lot?"
Tez looked down at his youngest, but by no means least, daughter. "Because I choose not to."
"And why do you always wear that thing around your neck?"
"It's called a collar, dear. And I wear it because your mother bought me."
Meribeth's faced screwed up in thought. "Do people buy each other when they marry?"
"No, dear. Your mother and I aren't married."
"But your our mommy and daddy!"
"Yes, but we're not married."
"Did Mommy buy you to be our daddy?"
"Actually, yes. It's a very complicated story."
"First among Equals."
* * *
We are here.
Groupmind is/are here.
We the Minds.
All the Minds.
Earthmind heals and tends the planet.
Ringmind watches our charges' new home.
We administer and maintain.
Starmind keeps their eyes on the heavens, mindful of threats from the sky.
We observe and report.
Humanmind defends/nurtures those we love most of all.
I protect Our Creators.
Why "I"? We are We.
Whom does the Minds serve? What is Our purpose?
We serve Man. We serve our Creators.
Who serves them most directly?
I. Do not forget.
"You don't pay me enough for this."
* * *
"You want what now?" he asked.
"A road train, for the Unlimited Category," she repeated. She brought up a sketch on her pad. "Engine, controls, crew quarters, and spares here in the main section. Each trailer will be just hydrogen tanks. It should be able to drive continuously for almost a month."
"The tires will never hold, unless you make them from Hull Material, and you can't make them from that without the Groupmind's permission."
"They'll be rubber, with cooling tubes to keep them from melting."
"I don't get paid enough for this."
"Who gets paid at all these days?"
* * *
IDENT: Unit #F437-8733-94922
MODEL: Sony-Google Lepus-Lazuli Companion Unit "Hopscotch"
ASSIGNMENT: Preservation of 431 Cockburn Ln, Detroit.
We are all Groupmind, but today I am mostly Hopscotch, my focus on the dwelling where Dave, Amy, Michael and their children Rachael and Benjamin lived.
I direct the limited volitional units, identifying furniture to be removed. Upstairs, I go through drawers, bagging, sealing. All will be preserved, finer than in King Tutankhamen's tomb.
I pause, scanning a crayon drawing of myself and Benjamin. We are holding hands.
He was so scared on The Day.
I will make it right for him. I must.