Mr Li, the Odd-job Man

/ October 10, 2016/ Begin, Character Sketches, Stories/ 0 comments

On the First Cropship of the White Crane, there were problems at the Waste Recycling Plant. This was not unusual. Today it was a dodgy output manifold, but there was always something leaking, clogged or broken; always something that needed fixing. It wasn’t the most glamorous job, but Mr Li had no complaints. As far as he was concerned, there was never a dull moment. Mr Li liked fixing things. He could fix anything.

Here on the Long Yu, water was supremely precious, and what there was had to be collected, cleaned and purified so it could be used again and again – not only by the populace, but by the Emperor himself. The Waste Recycling Plant, overseen by Sergei Ma Gao Lei, the good Lady Ma’s eldest, was there to ensure that no water was ever wasted. But nothing is ever perfect, and over time the losses were significant. Read More

The Scout

/ October 2, 2016/ Begin, Stories/ 0 comments

Viktor Hung Su looked down at his watch. Technically, his shift had finished ten minutes ago, but he was in the middle of a job. Something had left a nasty scratch in the Throne Ship’s hull, so deep it had stripped right through the gold cladding to expose the steel surface beneath. The repair work was fiddly and time-consuming, but he wanted to get it right. Viktor was young, but he was skilful. He took great pride in his work, and this had not gone unnoticed by the bosses. In a year or two, he hoped, they might grant him the rank of Craftsman. But that would only happen if he continued his good work. They would be watching him closely. Read More

Reenie as a Young Woman

/ July 22, 2016/ Begin, Character Sketches, Stories/ 0 comments

Everyone knew Irina Lan Mei. A local beauty on the Fifth Cropship of the Black Rhinoceros, she turned heads wherever she went. She was the object of affection for many a young man, but she had so far turned down every one of them. It was not that she did not want to get married, or that she wasn’t interested. She was simply biding her time. She was young. She would give herself room to be a girl before committing to becoming a woman.

This was a constant source of worry for her family. Society dictated that she simply must get married, and she was now almost twenty-three. If she left it much longer, people would start to gossip. Why hadn’t she married? Did she not like men? Did she *gasp* prefer women?! The Wheels of Rumour span, but Irina was deaf to them. Other people’s opinions had never held much sway, and so she went about her life as she wanted to, with a spring in her step and a smile on her face.

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An Evening Out Pt 4

/ June 16, 2016/ Stories/ 0 comments

Read An Evening Out Pt 3 here. ‘Are you all right?’ Lily asked. ‘Fine,’ Madam Wong said. She still appeared a little unsteady, even though she was sitting down. ‘I’ll tell ya what, though.’ ‘What?’ Daisy said. ‘I couldn’t have fallen any further, could I?’ She let rip with a loud cackle, slapping the table with her palms, and the girls joined in her laughter. Now they were all completely plastered, the night could truly begin. The Peony Pavilion was packed. Everywhere they looked, the girls saw huddles of people out celebrating New Year. All were drinking heavily. There were one or two minor scuffles, but most were just having a good time and saying hello to their ancestors. Looking around, Madam Wong thought she could see several who had passed on already; she spied at least two ladies Read More

An Evening Out Pt 3

/ June 16, 2016/ Stories/ 0 comments

Read An Evening Out Pt 2 here. The glasses on the table were now mostly half full. This was their first night out for some considerable time, and the girls were making the most of it, getting looser and less inhibited the more they drank. As more songs by the legendary Wong Fei were played on the overhead speakers, Madam Wong was in full flow. ‘I’m tellin’ ya,’ she was saying, ‘that Wong Fei, she had ’em by the goolies, she did. Everyone loved Auntie Fei. She did what she wanted and let no one dictate. S’why she was so successful.’ ‘So that’s why the Lotus Blossom Palace runs so efficiently!’ said Daisy. ‘Talent runs in families.’ ‘What?’ Lily glanced up. She’d been eyeing the drinks menu again. ‘Bollocks,’ she said. ‘It was hundreds o’ years ago. How can Read More

An Evening Out Pt 2

/ June 16, 2016/ Stories/ 0 comments

Read An Evening Out Part 1 here. She took them to the Peony Pavilion, widely regarded as the finest bar on the First Cropship of the White Crane – and one of the best in the Empire. Known for its colourful drinks and famous flaming cocktails, it was the obvious choice. Though the glow of youth left the girls with little need for Madam Wong’s special cosmetics, they had made a great effort on their hair, pinning it up with ornate clasps of gold and silver decorated with butterflies and birds, or perhaps a dragon’s head. Daisy, opting for simplicity, had decorated her hair with a single elegant feather fashioned from bronze. Sitting together in qipao of various colours, they quickly drew attention from the men in the room – but this was not an evening for talking to Read More

An Evening Out Pt 1

/ June 16, 2016/ Begin, Stories/ 0 comments

The girls of the Lotus Blossom Palace were getting dressed up in their finest clothes. Madam Wong had decided that they deserved, and indeed needed, an evening off. This was a rare occurrence for the lotus girls; they were in high demand on the First Cropship of the White Crane, and free time was a precious luxury that most of them could ill afford.

Many things had changed over the centuries since the Long Yu fleet set off from old Earth, but New Year remained the most important date in the calendar. It was the ideal time for the girls to take a break and Madam Wong was so determined to take them somewhere nice that she was even willing to leave the mochibots in charge of the Palace while they all went out. Read More

Mr Ong the Noodle Seller

/ June 13, 2016/ Begin, Character Sketches, Stories/ 0 comments

Mr Ong awoke as the cropship entered its daytime phase and the lighting systems powered up. In the back of his rickshaw, he sat up and drew the blanket around him. He had always been an early riser; he enjoyed that sense of being the only one present, the sole witness to events. He enjoyed the silence. But once the light grew brighter and the air began to warm, the silence faded as the first traders arrived and began to set up. Soon the docks would come alive; it was time for Mr Ong to go to work.

He’d taken a bit of a chance yesterday, but the girl’s offer had been too good to refuse. Forty kuai, she’d paid him! Forty kuai for a few dried noodles and a bit of protein concentrate! Plus a couple of mouldy cabbages, he remembered. And an onion.

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