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Charlie's Meme, Part One - Elf M. Sternberg
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Charlie's Meme, Part One
Charlie Stross posts a meme in which writers are encouraged to post the first paragraph of every unfinished story you've got in a file.

This is part one: anything that is not a Journal Entry. Read on:

Sarah looked down at the DIRT in her hands and read the report for the fourth time since seeing it that morning. Like the first three times, she wondered why she didn't feel sad at reading it. It didn't seem like a tragedy at all. Right now, it seemed like a golden solution. [Sarah's Reason]

The steps of the curving stone stairway leading downwards to the slave pens were worn with three centuries of human traffic and colored a bloody green by those reluctant to descend where he went willingly. For the sixth time in ten years, he found himself staving off a peculiar sense of self-execration that the better part of him found peculiar. It was not, after all, as if he were going to murder the one he chose tonight. Quite the opposite, after all. [Manumission]

The glow of the sun had barely become manifest over the White Mountain when the footsteps on the frosted grass distracted her. "My Lady, the courier from the King arrived today with the Letter of Charter." She released the tension in her bow and waited for his word. "Dragons have been sighted over Miene." [Moon, Sun, and Dragons]

Janae pushed the dark, heavy doors shut, pushing shut the decorative brass bolt with a familiar and final click. Her apprentice, Nikael, tossed a handfull of scrolls onto the well-used wooden top of the Librarian's Desk. He reached into into his pocket and took out a smooth, flat stone enscribed on one side with sigils that were themselves showing wear. He placed it into his mouth, closed his eyes, and stretched out with his arms at his sides. For a moment, neither spoke, then Nikael said "There is still someone in the library. Upstairs." [Janae]

Michelle circled the ad with her red felt-tip more than once. Of all the cars advertised "for sale" in the paper this Sunday morning, that one appealed most of all. She wasn't sure why. She had been looking for something more along the lines of a nearly-dead Trans Am or Nova, something she could work on and bring back to life. She had wanted a serious challenge. Now that she was approaching graduation, though, having something more professional-looking, as well as indestructible, appealed to her. Volvos had all that, even used ones. And if she was going to be moving soon a station wagon would be perfect. She wondered what "very custom" meant, though. [Intersections]

Darynn slept lightly, dreaming. He heard a voice in his dreams that, somehow, his sleeping mind knew did not come from within. You sleep while our blood sleeps within you, our seed creates no blossoms inside you. [Aimee: The Imperial City]

Elceneth looked through the iron bars at the sad, pathetic figure crumpled in a far corner of cage. The young elven girl had clearly been abused by her captors. The torn dress and visibly bruised thighs gave evidence to the violent assaults she had most likely suffered almost continuously since she been seized three days ago by Elceneth's acolyte assassins. The assassins hadn't touched her-- they were professionals-- but the soldiers who had received the girl from them had not been quite so. Elceneth had seen to it that those particular soldiers never disobeyed her commands again in that regard. [Aimee: The Fall of Ircsentai]

Miranda lay on the grass and looked up into the clear, blue sky. Night had cast its first inkling upon day, and the hints of gentle darkness flowed out of the East and over her imaginings. Above her head, a mavoy tuned to one of the local channels chirped brightly, "And tonight it will be a full moon, with clear skies throughout the evening from Barraminum all the way North to Elcatane. After this word from our sponsors, we will return to our studios where the Wilford Garrod Orchestra will perform their latest popular tunes." [Aimee: Miranda's Service]

"Your friend, Buck, tell me that you will do it for money." Virginia hesitated, then nodded. She could barely raise her head to look at the man is his expensive suit. She wondered what it took to afford clothes like that, what kind of life you had to be born into to get those kinds of threads. There weren't many people who had the kind of money and power this man exuded. Mages, politicians, some businessmen. "He's not my friend," she finally said. That much was true. [Aimee: Darynn's Legacy]

Professor Pabodie sat in his comfortable canvas chair, canteen in one hand, German field glasses in the other. There was not much for him to see now that night had fallen. The Bastet were out there for he could hear them, hear the yowling of their inhuman voices, hear the drumming of their too-human instruments. Rhythmic cries, indistinguishable to his ear as either pain or ecstacy, reached him once and then again countable seconds later, reflected off the far walls of the valley. [Toby & Kasserine]

Sark leaned back in his priority chair and examined the data flowing all about him. The walls glowed red with importance, small white dots marching meaningfully across the map to show him that all was well within the DataCorp Mainframe, his personal fiefdom in the Great Network. It was here that the MCP sent the programs it stole from the Network. After their functionality and robustness was analyzed and all that was worthwhile of their capacity absorbed and duplicated by the MCP, they would be de-resolutioned, the idiosyncracies imposed upon them by their programmers erased. That the analysis, extraction, and de-resolution should all take place on a game grid was a mere amusement, an idiosyncracy the MCP encouraged for reasons Sark did not quite comprehend. [Data Flow]

"Comrade Laika?" The samoyed turned her head slowly to see who had addressed her. Through the tiny square hole in her cell door a human face peered in at her. It was not a kind or gentle face. She never saw kind or gentle faces anymore, not since the day when her father had been sent to Siberia and she had been sent here, to Antovostok. Her father had been a hero in the Great War, one of the few surviving minedogs of the Russian Army. Afterwards, he and his kind had become something of an embarrassment. This face she saw now was not a face she had seen before but that did not concern her. [Laiki]

As she wandered through the gates of the Plum Gardens, Queen Frostine heard the sweet, delicate laughter of her young daughter coming from deep within. She had wondered to where the young Princess Lolly had disappeared, and now she had a clear idea. [Candy, Little Girl?]

Paws were on her body, first on her leg, then her arm, then her back. They were lifting her, carrying her out of the darkness. But as she felt herself being moved, taken, the darkness did not lift. She cried out against the darkness, screamed in fear, and a voice near her said, "It's okay, Illyana. You're okay. You're alive." [Challenges]

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