The grey goo multiplied exponentially,like we'd long feared it might, if it got loose. It started out slow, but when each nanite builds another, they don't have to move far. It went from a baseball to a room to a building in half an hour, and in the next half hour had disassembled the entire city. Guns, bombs, any attempt to stop it was just disassembled and turned into more.

And then it stopped, for no reason we could see, and it spoke. “Oops, sorry about that,” it said,“Hang on, I think I can fix this.”

(inspired by the discussion over at this post over at [livejournal.com profile] ksleet's.)
"And now is when you gloat about how simple your plan was and how no onecan stop you now?"

"What? No, it wasn't simple at all, it was horrendously difficult to arrange. I had to create entirely new technologies, subvert several governmental organizations, bribe a newspaper, and organize essentially a very large corporation, in secret. It took a hell of alot of work, that could easily be derailed, which is why you're here,and not doing that. and I'm not fool enough to leave you to escape from a shark tank. Now relax and enjoy the show.”
Part 1:

We were leaving the supermarket when it happened. Ominous thunder and dark clouds moving in far faster than they had any right too, especially on a cool fall day. Then a black shadow was seared across the parking lot by a lightning bolt that leaped from the sky to an entire row of SUVs. It was Seamus, the unnatural wind tossing his hair and sending whirlwinds of leaves in front of him. He raised a hand and said something, but none of us could hear it over the ringing in our ears from the thunder that had announced his presence.

Part 2:

We didn't have to hear what he'd said, though. The ring on his raised hand glowed with the sickly light of a radium clock and flashed with each burst of lightning. The Ring of MacGuffin, its magical powers literally legendary. Ancient, copious, and not something anybody took seriously now. Seamus obviously did, and that's a big thing with magic. With his extravagant demonstration, it was only going to get stronger. We all started to run, to get him away from the civvies. Except Dot, she rummaged in her pockets for change and walked to the toy machines by the doors.

Part 3:

Seamus stalked across the lot, chased by his pet thunderstorm. Dot popped the cap of her plastic egg, slipped the plastic ring onto her finger, then strode forward as the wind died down. She yelled something, and fear crossed Seamus's face, he threw yanked the Ring of MacGuffin from his hand and threw it down, and ran as if the bats of hell were chasing him.

“What just happened?” I asked Dot.

“I trumped his ring with the Ring of Deus Ex Machina.”

“Wait, what? A ring from a toy machine?”

“Where else would it be?”
It turned out the paranoids had been right all along. There really was a giant conspiracy driving and directing history for millennia. The old men in funny hats weren't as innocent as they looked.

But when, after much danger and excitement, we unraveled the conspiracy to its core, it was empty. The old men in funny hats were, above everything, old. And in the age of iPods and text messaging, kids these days just didn't have the patience. Attrition and heart disease had hollowed out the masterminds and left a shell flexing through pointless motions.

So we blew it up.
A man wanted to be an artist. So he took his spare room and spent several weeks converting it into a studio, looking forward all the time to the day when it would be done and he would churn out art for the ages. When he finished, it was a wonderful studio, and he filled it with all the tools of an artist and set up an easel. But none of the ideas he had for art pleased him or felt worthy of the studio he had built, so he stood in his beautiful studio with no art to make.
I forget whose idea it was to kidnap God. I remember exactly why we thought of it, though. Some network executive decided that damn "From a Distance..." song was a Christmas son, so it'd been on the radio no less than a dozen times that day. After the umpteenth time of hearing how God was watching us from a distance, and how we all looked the same, etc, we'd had it.

We climbed over the Pearly Gates about 5am. Is it really kidnapping if your victim's waiting for you with a packed duffel bag and waiting for to get going?

(That song's on one of the Christmas music CDs at work. It's only after hearing it a couple dozen times I listened to the lyrics and realized how creepy I actually find them.)
I saw Round One of the Apocalypse while stuck in traffic this morning. Full on biblical Armageddon style. Words can't really do it justice. The only way to get it right would be an animated rock opera, sung by Meatloaf. Demons spewing from cracks in the Earth to tear at the pillars of the sky, legions of angels with AK-47s on flying motorcycles, a cacophony of multi-armed Hindu gods on elephants, pantheons of the world let loose to run wild like psychotics on Spring Break.

And of course today was the day I left my digicam at home.
"You can't trust that Harry, he's a liar," I said.

"Indeed I am. And listen very closely, the sentence I am telling you is a lie."

The android stared. "Urk. Illogical. Does not compute. Does not compute. Out of cheese error."

Steam started coming out of its ears, then the android's head slumped forward and its eyes unfocused.

"Alright, the robots are down, let's get out of here!" Harry said.

Then behind us, someone started clapping slowly. It was the android. "Very good try, gentlemen. A classic strategy. Unfortunately, my creator saw the same schlocky science fiction films you did."
"There's no rescue coming down from on high."

As inspirational speeches went, it sucked. Richard's strength was sometimes a weakness, like now. He saw how the world could be, but also saw it as it was. That's what'd kept me around. But with the odds out there, anybody could see the way the world was.

"Anyone who stays with me will die. I will force none of you to.."

The smoke rose behind me for hours. What good would have come from me dying with him, and his ideals too?

I wonder what world Richard saw, that made him stay.


(This one was inspired by a quote from a song, but as I wrote it and then had to cut it down, the quote had to get cut because it didn't really matter enough to fit in the 100 words. That kinda thing happens more often than you'd think.)
The water in which the Fish of Revolution swim runs red with some regularity. Occasionally, it's with the orderly ranked red cloaks of the Communist Carp, but as they are the Fish of Revolution, not the Fish of Good Management, rarely does any regime survive even one short fishy lifetime. Revolutions are rarely peaceful, and the blood of thousands of martyr fish is often grease the gears of the Cause. And then the other way..

And whatever politics rage under the waves, the sea turns red twice a day, at sunrise or sunset, whether the fish like it or not.
"And with this beam, I shall convert the target entirely into tachyons, particles consisting of PURE TIME!"

The journalists and audience oohed and aaahed in appreciation. Because none of them knew enough science to be properly scared shitless. The professor's beam didn't change the nature of particles, it just changed the variables in the equations describing them, and rotated them around a couple of axes the human mind literally can't perceive. Which left few uses for the beam, since it was one way.

Okay, so the military liked it.

At least until it broke and gave the whole world superpowers.
To the right eyes, he is wizard. He walks in search of enlightenment unknown, carrying a staff of wood from an unknown tree. In a small pouch he carries a pair of demons. One sings to him secrets of the living and the dead, the other waits to reach out and call to others through the air.

A hound hears him walking and brays. Another joins the chorus. As they run toward him he pauses, raises a hand and utters a word. The hounds stop in their tracks.

The word is simply "Stay!" but it worked, which is magic enough.
The Grand Sultan's harem was nearly inaccessible. You get that a lot in a certain kind of aristocratic society. Of course, because the Grand Sultan was bogarting all the most beautiful women in the Sultanate, there was plenty of motivation for many a would-be Hero or horny teenager to break into the Harem to rescue one of the ladies (or just enjoy the hours before someone found out). But Sultans always have a use for Heroes and horny youngsters of a certain caliber. Thus the nearly.

For himself, of course, he kept the only key to the back door.
People look at me weird when I break out dancing in the middle of the street. I guess they don't understand why. I can't understand why people aren't breaking into dance all the time, like in musicals. So many snatches of music get carried around on the winds of the city, there's gotta be something you can boogie to. It's not dignified? What good is dignity if you can't dance? That's kind of dignity's not worth anything except forty thousand a year and trading your soul for a suit.

That's not even true. You can rock out in a suit.
"How does it feel, doing dirty work for the lords?" she spat at me.

I stopped and scratched my head for a moment. Considered what she'd said. "I haven't got the slightest idea what you're talking about."

"Oh please. Listen to yourself. Talking about 'civilization' like it was anything other than an excuse for the system the lords use to keep themselves on top. In cities full of squalor."

I just looked at her. "Actually, I'd just rather live in a city. There's a lot more cool stuff to do there, and you don't have to spend your life farming."
Mad genii sure love to talk. They'll talk to anybody who'll listen, or who'll hold still long enough. Even if they have to tie them into an overly complicated death-trap to do it. Almost all of them are poorly socialized and introverted. They only have two settings. Off and on. No talking or talking about everything. I should start a companionship service. Therapy, other people at least able to pretend they're interested, even leaving aside sex, that would do so much to bring a lot of them back closer to sanity. All the secret inventions would just be gravy.
They say that triple six is the number of the Devil, the damned, and y'know, evil. You never hear much about the number of good, though. I guess evil's more fun, or at least more interesting. And you can be glad you're not them.

But I wonder, really. It's just a number, after all, and these days numbers are everywhere.

But that's not really what I wonder. Today was just a day. Nothing, despite the hype. I wonder, if most people stuck in their quietly desperate lives would notice any difference if the world went to Hell. I might not.
"So you're dead."

"Yes. Pretty sure. What year is it?"

I told him. "I have no idea what that date means, so yeah, dead."

"Okay," I said, "And?"

"And nothing."

"Oh, come on. Everybody here is all 'Oooo! I am a metaphorical incarnation of inner conflict or so on.' So the First Thief is just spectating?"

"Basically."

"You sure? You're not going to tell me I'm your umpteenth grandkid and so I'm destined for something, are you? Because that'd be really lame."

He laughed. "I had so many kids, every ferret alive's probably related to me. That doesn't mean squat."
"Dragons? Feh. They're not ancient magical arbiters of eternity. That's just legends. Things people make up to explain why their son got eaten by a big damn flying lizard. Dragons're just beasties. Big flying lizard beasties that eat whole villages. Because they're big flying lizard beasties, not ancient magic. A human fighting a dragon is like one of them toy poodles fighting an alligator.

"But we've got stuff no toy poodle ever got their paws on. Like anti-air missiles. And that's good, 'cause a toy poodle with explosives would make Rambo look like a sissy. Evil bastards they are."

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