Tag Archives: ninja pirate robot

The Horse, the Dog and the Emperor

Part of my ninja pirate robot universe.

I think having a ninja pirate robot universe is a very fun thing to have.

The Emperor is a robot.

I just have a lot of fun with this universe.

Originally published 17 Apr, 2007.

Today the Emperor recieved a petition for pardon from a man who had used his neighbor’s horse to sire foals that he sold for a great deal of money. His neighbor involved the shogun, who decided that the appropriate punishment was to kill all the horses involved that they not cause temptation and unrest. The petitioner argued that it was inevitable that horses were bones of contention by reason of their value and by reason of their usefulness.

The Emperor computed, and sent back a reply asking how it was that a foal was sired using only one male horse and one male man. The Emperor had thought that the laws clearly stated that a male conducting itself to the point of coitus with another male was subject to beheading in any case. The emperor also wondered as to how two creatures such as they were had achieved projeny given what it understood of the biological process that resulted in foals.

The petitioner sent back his humble apologies, and his explanation that the foal had been sired on a female horse belonging to the petitioner that he had owned for many years and bought legally. Included with this letter was the bill of sale, which the Emperor dutifully examined and found valid. In cross-referencing the bill of sale the Emperor did find that the seller was a horse thief condemned and hanged the year before. Since it had no record of a missing horse fitting the description given in the bill of sale, the Emperor considered this information null and void in relation to the case in question.

The Emperor considered the problem late into the night while the Imperial concubines rubbed it with oil and checked to make sure that its hardware was in tip-top physical condition. The Imperial concubines were the finest mechanics the planet had to offer. It relaxed under their gentle ministrations and considered the problem of horses.

That night and late into the next morning, the Emperor sat and thought about law. It then downloaded the revised laws (all of them) that it had created into the Imperial Database, from which its drones drew their operating code. It also sent simplified versions of its revised laws to its human shoguns, that they might warn their people of the new way of things. It sent copies of the laws also to the imperial family, the far-flung nobles who still lived and ruled despite the Grand New Order. It did not expect them to listen to its laws (they seldom did), but it did expect them to read the revisions.

Considering as it did that humans placed value on things that was not concrete and inherent, it had in the night calculated the exact values it felt were appropriate for each material, by weight and usefulness, so that there might be no more talk of ‘value’. Each thing had a value per weight, and each job had a value per time/skill ratio, and these values were now fixed throughout the empire. To pay anything other than these prices was punishable by pirates, and the Imperial Drones stood by to enforce the new price scale.

This did not work as well as the Emperor had hoped. Unhappily the Emperor reverted its code back to, scrapping all revisions inherent in and going back to the drawing board on the matter of the value of horses.

The morning after that, the Emperor decided to test whether the Empire would work better if the humans were the beasts of burden and the horses were their overloads. To be fair to the other animals, all other domesticated beasts were included. Violence against a beast on the specified list was punishable by death (after all, yesterday the reverse had been true). Beasts were to be taken care of to the best of the servant human’s means and capacity, and the beasts were to do no work they did not want to do.

After betatesting, it decided that while having the beasts running the country worked very well in keeping the complaints down, it had also spurred a turn towards violent rebellion among the humans that the Emperor was loath to ignore. Once more, the Imperial code reverted to and the Emperor considered the petition.

That very afternoon, before it had a chance to consider its next code upgrade, a message came via dog. The dog had a red ribbon around its neck, and the Emperor’s database indicated this probably meant it was female. It executed a perfect bow, muzzle to the ground and paws out in front, tail high, and then trotted forward to lay the scroll it held in its teeth at the Emperor’s feet. One of his concubines retrieved and read aloud a retraction of the previous petition and a declaration that he would submit to the divine will embodied by his shogun.

Throughout the Emperor’s thinking about this development, the dog showed no signs of distress. It sat quietly and wagged its tail, tongue hanging out slightly as it panted.

This drew the Emperor’s attention.

“You are not afraid of me in the slightest, are you, dog?”

The dog barked happily.

“I thought not. Would you like to be my grand vizier, dog? I have need of someone who will speak her mind freely and be not afraid of me.”

The dog barked again.

“Very well. The position is yours. Serve well and faithfully.”

The dog barked.

Respite: Taking a Moment

Originally published April 9, 2007.

There’s a moment in-between moments where all the moments rest.

She lifts her pen from the page, and watches a drop of ink grow on her pen and drip onto her paper, and considers that she just made a mess of a perfectly good thought. It used moment too much (using the same word too much is too wordy), but she liked it.

She sets her pen point-first in a little stand for just that purpose, next to her inkstand, and stretches, rolling first one shoulder, then the other, then twisting, first to the right, then to the left. Then her neck, to the right, to the left.

Back to center. She considers getting up and making tea or cakes, feeding the cat or watering the plants, and then she doesn’t. She’s in her quiet place, and all those important things fade away into her conciousness and get lost in the ripples.

It doesn’t matter who she is or what she was doing or why she was writing. It doesn’t matter where she is, what she thinks of her cat, or what sorts of plants she grows.

What matters is the moment she was writing about, the one in-between. She isn’t doing anything but staring into space and thinking to herself that she should dust, because of all the cobwebs.

It isn’t a very exciting story. Oh, there are ninjas out there, but she’s indoors. They can’t reach her here. There are pirates, but she’s on dry land. Their cannon-fire is a distant echo, easily ignored. Her calligraphy is done for the moment, ruined, so that doesn’t matter either.

There are robots in this story too. She’s writing her letter to the robot emperor, explaining why she doesn’t want to marry as he wishes her to. It’s a very polite letter, but she doesn’t feel like finishing it.

She’s wearing a plum-colored kimono with plum blossoms patterned in black. Her hair has sharp hairsticks in it, perfect for a woman who doesn’t want to wear visible weapons, and her fan has a sharp edge.

She stands. She turns. She kneels before an altar, prays, lights incense.

Perhaps it matters a little, the world outside this room and this moment. A little. But not enough to phase her, to let her expression change.

She claps her hands once, and is surrounded in a flurry of handmaidens.

“We shall fly our kites today,” she informs them, and they scatter to certain posts that are their jobs on kite-flying days.

Two stay with her, her attendants and fellow kite enthusiasts.

“Princess,” one says, “We must take the long route. There is a mess in the garden.”

“How tiresome,” says the princess, but she does not feel like walking in the blood of enemy ninja today.

She and her attendants take the long route. They travel through many rooms kept apart by paper screens that slide, each decorated in its own beautiful, unique way. In some rooms, such as the room filled with the sound of water and wind, she chooses to sit. The kites will wait. In fact, if she never reacts the kite meadow, it would not matter. Sitting here is an equally good use of her time. She stays there, in the room with the small stream running over elegant pebbles down the middle of the floor, an indoor canal, and listens to the players playing the sounds of wind and birds on their instruments, and she is content.

She imagines flying a kite, how she would slice through the strings of her opponents kites and send them fluttering to earth, claiming them as her own. One of her handmaidens has a green kite decorated in an exotic pattern of leaves that she wants badly, which is why that handmaiden must always fly her kite against the princess when the princess feels like playing kites.

The princess has lost five kites to that handmaiden this season. She finds it tiresome, and likes her imagination more than the actual competition. Today she would have lost her peach kite, and still not been given the green one as a token of her mastery.

It was better to dream. In her dreams, the leaf kite was hers and her handmaiden knelt before her, foolish arrogance forgotten.

It was a good dream. It was a good way to spend a day.