ysabetwordsmith: Jump gate showing diamond ring of light (blueshift)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the December 2, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] siliconshaman and LJ user Kelkyag. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. This poem belongs to The Blueshift Troupers project.


"The Liberty Stones"


Gao Fei was a gifted pilot
in charge of the hiveship Jaculum,
a mistico of great speed and agility
working the courier service
from the Annula to the Fimbria.

He did not realize that
there was anything unusual
about his biochemistry or personality

until he had to transport
a critical shipment of medical supplies
through the Weiji jumpgate.

Now Weiji was known for being
semi-functional at best, risky to transit
because you never really knew
where (or if) you'd come out the other side
but it was the shortest, fastest route
between Gaenari and Tanuki.

So Gao Fei and Jaculum made the jump,
and Gao Fei felt a sort of curious tap
against his mind as they passed through.

There was Tanuki on their forward screen,
and they swiftly offloaded the cargo.

That's when Gao Fei noticed that
his game of go had been advanced
by one move, even though he had not
signaled the computer to make its play.

He asked his crew if anyone else
had noticed something odd
coming through the gate, or later,
but nobody had.

When they went back through,
it happened again, a fond nudge
like a friend bumping against his shoulder,
only inside his head -- and sure enough
one of his weak groups had been killed.

So Gao Fei stayed at the console,
this time keeping an sharp eye
on the liberties of his stones,
and he played the game
through until he won.

He shouldn't have been able
to beat the computer at that level,
but whomever he was playing
was evidently not the program itself.

It was Jaculum who confirmed what
Gao Fei suspected: he had been
playing against the jumpgate Weiji.

The pilot had known, of course,
that jumpgates were people
just like hiveships and humans;
but they were very odd and alien people
who had a hard time communicating
anything other than "this destination, please."

Even that was erratic, hence the semi-functional gates.

Yet from that day forward, Gao Fei
never had trouble getting a jumpgate
to work for him, whatever it did
(or did not do) for anyone else,

and whenever he came through Weiji,
they always played a game of go.

* * *

Notes:

Gao Fei is a Mitaman pilot who can make semi-functional jump gates work normally. Due to quirks of biochemistry and personality, the gates just like him and have an easier time understanding what he wants. This is basically background for the Season One story arc.

Jaculum is the Latin word for "dart."

Weiji is a Chinese word for "crisis" whose components mean "danger" and "critical point" (the latter often mistranslated as "opportunity").

Gaenari or 개나리 is Korean for the flower forsythia.

Tanuki or タヌキ or 狸 is Japanese for raccoon dog.

Go is a strategy game played with black and white stones on a grid.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-06 03:49 am (UTC)
corvi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] corvi
This is great! I really love your characterizations of the gates!

WOW

Date: 2014-12-06 04:05 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I like the gate wanting to /play/. It's such a /human/ thing.

Re: WOW

Date: 2014-12-06 04:35 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Weiji is /learning/ to play. That's totally a different set of social buffers.

Do you remember learning to play cribbage, for example? My grandmother taught me by dealing five or six full games with everyone's cards face up on the table, so she could talk me through scoring, good cards to keep or discard, et cetera.

Weiji needs that social buffer to help /learn about humans/, not just to learn the game. It's a ritualized, codified safe space, without anyone having to spell that out /explicitly/. The /more/ they interact, the better their non-game communication, non-GATE communication will be.

Re: WOW

Date: 2014-12-06 07:18 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I was meaning to go to bed two hours ago.
I have nineteen.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-06 05:50 am (UTC)
mdlbear: (happy-turtle)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
I love go. I taught myself from a book, in high school. My junior year I lived down the hall from James Kerwin, who was on his way to becoming the first American professional go player.

I could occasionally beat him at something like a 15-stone handicap.

Wow!

Date: 2014-12-06 05:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
That's awesome. I'm not much good at abstract strategy games, but I do admire the skill. And the game sets; I'm fascinated by things like dice, cards, Looney pyramids, the Piecepack, etc. which are systems that can be used to play myriad games.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-06 08:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rhodielady-47.livejournal.com
Thanks for sharing a really good poem with us.
I enjoyed reading it.
:^)

You're welcome!

Date: 2014-12-06 08:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you enjoyed this.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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