Fantasy Drabble #318 "Casual Gamer"

"My Lord."

Midz-Aset interrupted his chewing to peer up at where Winnis the Oreiad sat on a rock overlooking the hoard. A piece of plate armor fell from the corner of his mouth to clatter across the cavern floor. "Mmph?"

"More adventurers, my Lord, come to plunder your treasure?"


"You are no doubt aware that it would be child's play for a powerful dragon such as yourself to close off the entrances these fools are constantly using to steal into your lair?"

He finished chewing, swallowed. He rumbled testily, "Of course."

"But you'd miss all the fun, wouldn't you?"

SF Drabble #406 "Nature Preserve"

From atop the hill, through a break in the trees, he could see the looming forest of metal and concrete and glass. He hadn't been this close in forever. He made his way down through the brush to the edge, to the Wall.

The construction automatics built right up to the limit of their reach. If the suppression field waned for even a moment they would push further in, laying foundation, extending maglev track, unspooling fiber optics.

There were open computer access ports, mindlessly installed facing outward, blinking 'ready'. He moved along the Wall, stuffing dirt and leaves into them.

Metal Fatigue

He walks stiffly, clanking and clattering, groaning and hissing with each step. The newer models glide past him, around him: they carry lighter loads and can move faster than he ever did when new. To them, he is an obstacle to be negotiated.

He hooks up to the Dispensary via a 'legacy' connector. He talks to it in an accent it must find quaint. Screens flash yellow warnings, orange cautions: he is decades out of warranty. But work must be done, and so his tanks begin to fill with the biopacket.

He is even slower leaving full than he had been arriving empty. His progress away from the Dispensary must, to the newer models, seem glacial. He makes for the open waste.

There are specific, inviolable rules to it: the area must be a certain distance removed from any existing patches of Earthlife, within a certain distance of an existing settlement, and flat enough for him to perform the entire programmed biopacket dispersal pattern without interruption or deviation.

The ground must be broken, turned over, mixed. This is where he is still valuable: the smaller models dig fast, but more shallowly.

The new patch of living soil will spring to life, sprouting with bacteria and then grasses and then trees. It would happen naturally, were the process left to nature, but humans are impatient.

He turns to head back to the Dispensary, but something is wrong; his weight shifts oddly, his gyros attempt to correct and fail, and he falls to the ground across the boundary between dead ground and the newly seeded soil.

He goes into diagnostic mode. Among a litany of issues one is new: his right leg, rusty and weakened by years of stress, has broken in two. He knows there will be no replacement: he was built on Earth, and no one is making spare parts.

He doesn't shut down to save power; there would be no point. The grass begins to grow around him, and then the trees.