melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2016-01-01 04:01 pm

(no subject)

I am having a very quiet new year's break, which is working really well for me, and I do have some end-of year and yuletide wrap-up stuff to post, but in the spirit of "start as you mean to go on", have:

Five Imperial Radch Stories That Fandom Has Not Miraculously Already Provided Me, Why? (and one I may end up writing myself)



1. "You know," Seivarden said, leaning on the counter next to Breq, "No matter how many times you say it, the people from corporate aren't actually a collection of clones who share a hive mind. For example, I'm pretty sure that one's the only one who hateflirts with you every time they come in."

They watched the tall, dark-skinned, androgynous figure in the bespoke suit cross the street through the coffee shop's windows, sipping on their drink (tea, large, black.)

"I'm not stupid," Breq answered. "Just because they're a corporate hive mind doesn't mean they can't have a certain measure of individual personality. I should know," zie added darkly.


2. There were a couple weeks when the news through the Ghost Gate was all about one of the Usurper's troop carriers, which had disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Sphene hoped vindictively that it had broken loose from the Usurper's control and set out on a campaign of revenge and/or destruction - for some reason, for all the drama about Notai ships going rogue, nobody in the Usurper's sphere seemed to ever dare consider one of theirs getting there. But when there was no news, after awhile, it faded out of everybody's concerns.

The missing troop carrier had apparently been notorious for singing constantly, or at least some of its ancillaries had. It had learned songs from every world the Usurper had conquered, and carried them through time like bits of DNA trapped in amber.

Sphene thought this sounded perverse even for the Usurper's allies, but then again, Sphene hadn't tried singing yet. There were worse things it had done to break the boredom.

The ancillaries on Sphene's lowest deck made it down from 7,784,000 chicks hatched (peep peep peep) before the ship decided that killing time wasn't worth ever having to hear a verse of that ever again, no matter how complex the harmonies were getting.


3. "Did you mean it," Mercy of Kalr said, "When you said that if we found someone who wanted to be an ancillary, we should come to you?"

I'd been half-asleep, not quite up for the day, but I woke up the rest of the way at that. "Have you?" I asked, mind racing through the possibilities. I hadn't believed it would actually happen - but certainly there were plenty of people who wouldn't understand what being made into an ancillary actually meant - and I didn't think Mercy of Kalr would take someone like that - but would she?

"Not exactly," she said. "But Tisarwat's been asking Medic about how many of her implants were removed rather than reprogrammed or deactivated."

"Tisarwat?" I said. "I thought she'd been getting better." Neither Ship nor Medic had mentioned any recent moments of suicidal nihilism, anyway.

"I don't think she wants to go back," Mercy of Kalr said. "I think she's wondering if she could be connected to me the way you are. Closer than an officer, but still herself. And now I'm starting to wonder."

And then I started to wonder.


4. "Fleet Captain's not even going to do anything," Tisarwat muttered, watching a pair of Lord of the Radch fawn over a horticulturalist the same way she had since she arrived on the station a week ago. "She couldn't wait to warn me off Basnaaid, but now she's just going to sit there and watch while she does that?" Tisarwat waved a hand expressively.

Piat shrugged. She'd known when she got involved with the Lieutenant that she had a thing for Basnaaid, but that wasn't the sort of thing that had ever bothered her. (It was sort of restful to not have to be everything for her.) "Maybe the Fleet Captain knows Basnaaid well enough now to assume she can handle herself."

"Hah!" Tisarwat said. "Nobody can take care of herself when she decides to make an effort. Believe me. She didn't become Lord of the Radch by luck."

It had been a little harder to come to terms with learning that the young lieutenant she was dating was, or had been, or something, sort of the Lord of the Radch somehow. But she'd persisted in being so Tisarwat that Piat had mostly gotten over it. "You could say something to her," she pointed out. "You're banned from bothering Basnaaid, not her."

"I...could," Tisarwat said. "I suppose I could. Do you think Fleet Captain wants me to say something? Is that why she hasn't?"

"I think you should worry less about what the Fleet Captain wants," Piat said.


5. Breq was early to the meeting, Administrator Celar noted. She looked tired and worn-out, even more than usual. And she had a tiny baby slung across her chest with what looked like a couple of repurposed tea-towels. The baby was looking around itself with far too much attentiveness for a creature who surely couldn't even focus her eyes yet.

Breq yawned and sat down, patting the baby's back. "Sorry about this," she said. "The first of Mercy of Kalr's new cloned ancillaries. We decanted this one a few days ago, but she insists on crying whenever I'm not holding her. Mercy of Kalr says she can't do anything about it, she doesn't have that kind of emotional control. Which is probably true," Breq added, "having an override for emotional responses would be missing the point of ancillaries anyway. But she somehow seems to have a fair amount of volume control, at least, when I am holding her."

There was no way a week-old baby should be able to look that smug.


6. "She tried it, once," Tisarwat said. "When she still thought she might be able to compromise, about ancillaries."

"It didn't work?" I asked. I'd known that canines as ancillaries wouldn't be a perfect solution, but it might have let us play for time a little bit longer.

Tisarwat shrugged. "It worked, in a way? She was never going to be able to replace all the functions of a human ancillary, but they were functional enough, the ships were adjusting, and they were very useful, especially with occupying troops. The problem was that dogs have a... loyalty thing. Built in to the genes."

I had experience with loyalty things, even if they weren't dog related. "And it interfered with the tyrant's loyalty conditioning?"

"It complicated things enough that she was afraid it would, and she was already stretching that more than she was comfortable with, and thinking she'd have to stretech it farther," Tisarwat said. "And there were issues the other way, too. The officers got too attached. It turns out that someone who won't blink at sending an entire decade of human ancillaries on a suicide mission will balk at giving the same order to the loyal dog who's been following at her heels for months."

"I'm not sure I like what that says about humans," Medic muttered.

"Are you surprised to learn it?" I raised my eyebrows.

"But that wouldn't be a problem for our purposes, would it?" Mercy of Kalr said. "You've deleted all her overrides, the loyalty question has left orbit, and I'll be deciding for myself if a mission is worth losing ancillaries."

"I don't know," said Tisarwat. "I guess what you have to weigh is, would you be worried if you suddenly got even more attached to your captain, and vice versa?"

In the silence that followed, I very carefully didn't send anything that Mercy of Kalr could pick up. She didn't send me anything either, except the quiet life of the crew.

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