Jul 17, 2019 1:20 AM
Tarinda and Page bring a seed of the super-AI Sing to Cloudbank
Permalink

Cloudbank is a beautiful place, from a certain perspective. Blue sky and white clouds above, all around, and misty white clouds below.

Here is an island of solidity in the sea of sky. The wind is a steady breeze, the floating island sitting just barely on top of a dense, foggy layer of air. It's not an especially large island, perhaps two hundred feet wide and three hundred long all told, curved slightly like the back of some giant beast.

The sandy soil is thin, and wears straight through to a porous-looking sort of rock in places. There are grasses and weeds and shrubs and a few trees, plus a few small creatures. Some familiar, like the wild onions. Some alien, like the thickets of not-quite-grass with flimsy, transparent, bulging seeds straining upwards against their mooring.

A songbird casually swoops from its nest and catches one of these seeds in its bill, while something with tentacles and a large gas-bag clings to the island at the edge, nibbling on the alien leaves of something reminiscent of mangroves, a three-dimensional web of stems and flaxen roots.

And then someone else arrives.

Total: 529
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

It probably can't see or hear her either but she doesn't actually know how sophisticated its instruments might be. The planet being inhabited at all is great news. She will go to the edge nearest it to yell optimistically. Mostly "HEY" but with enough other words interspersed that she sounds like a person and not a weird bird, though they're unlikely to speak the same langauges.

Permalink

It doesn't change course or seem to notice her at all.

Optimistically, the wood-and-cloth construction could be an aesthetic choice. Pessimistically... Well, there's probably no metal available on this floating island. Everywhere else might be the same. Who knows? The small pack of gas-bag critters that landed after the rain and is nibbling on the floating-seed grass probably doesn't.

Permalink

Speaking of which, once the airship is out of sight and she leaves off hollering at it, she goes and stabs one of those to taste it.

Permalink

Tastes like chicken. Not poisonous, and pretty stringy. It's not as substantial as it looked, though. The foot-and-a-half-long critter bears only about half a pound of meat. Maybe half that again if she eats the organs. Its friends fly to the far edge of the island.

Permalink

She doesn't have a good way to preserve it so she eats the entire critter. They seem pretty common so she doesn't feel a need to immediately stab another and scare the rest.

Permalink

They're pretty common, yeah.

The island's descent seems to have slowed. Other islands are a lot more common here, as are creatures of the avian and alien types, and floating tangles of plant matter similar to the mangrove-things hanging onto this island's edge.

...Her bowl seems to be drinking the water stored in it. The level has done down much more than evaporation would account for.

Permalink

How rude. Good thing the tassels work. She empties some into her mouth and soaks up what's in the bowl.

Permalink

Some larger alien creatures are visible in the distance. Huge greenish jellyfish-things, manta ray-shaped creatures, an alien predator that eats the small rays, bulbous things covered in angry red spikes that the big predator shys away from.

One of the islands comes within half a mile of her. It has old ruins on it, the remains of a wooden hut and what look like overgrown fields. It would tempting to glide to it, if her glider were finished and the winds were predictable.

Permalink

It isn't, though. She attempts probably vainly to sail to it with her practice weaving.

Permalink

The island is indeed too large to yield to such a small sail easily. The attempt proves the quality of the weaving, though - while it's heavier and stiffer than a modern fabric sail would be, it catches the wind nicely.

Permalink

That's something. She yells at the island in case anyone on there has an idea.

Permalink

Seems deserted except for birds, alien critters, and a small swarm of pigs.

Permalink

There are pigs and food plants on that island dammit. She watches it pass, wishing it would get close enough to jump to.

Permalink

It keeps getting closer for a while - but then almost seems to change course away from a potential collision. Not that either of the islands do anything visible.

 

Nothing of note happens until sunset. It rains again overnight.

Permalink

Maybe the sky coral has a way to avoid more of itself.

She sleeps under her woven thing.

Permalink

The woven thing proves reasonably proof against rain!

Her sky coral bowl is obviously growing, the next morning. It's covered in the rough little bumps of newly constructed cells.

Also, one of the big green floating tentacle things comes up to the island and starts scooping armfuls of floating seeds into its mouth with the spoon-like ends of its tentacles. It doesn't seem afraid of her. After a few minutes of this, it finds a little hollow and plops itself down, grabbing on to the soil and rock. On inspection most of the main body is transparent, but it has some kind of matted hair or moss over most of its body. It's fairly good camouflage, seen against a plant-bearing island.

Permalink

Huh. She goes up to it and has a closer look.

Permalink

It's sort of like a jellyfish with actual complex organs and so on! It doesn't have a face, but it does have eyes - six of them, in all directions. Two eyes watch her as she approaches. A tentacle shifts languidly towards her. It makes a whistling sound that sounds oddly... Happy?

Permalink

She touches the tentacle tentatively with her little finger to see if it stings.

Permalink

No sting. It's soft like cartilage. The tentacle tries to gently wrap around her hand.

Permalink

Aww, okay.

Permalink

It makes the happy whistle again and then lets go.

Permalink

She attempts to pet it.

Permalink

She can pet it on the green camo covering, which proves to be soft and slightly scratchy, like thin fur! It makes a slightly different happy whistle, almost like a trill.

She can not pet it on the softer underside of the tentacle anywhere past the spoon-shaped tip - it will curl the tentacle defensively with a warning click in that case.

Permalink

Tarinda can respect its boundaries! Pat pat. It probably eats too much to be worth encouraging to stay but it's nice to have something friendly visit.

Total: 529
Posts Per Page: