Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Disassemble Stratagem)

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‘Disassemble’ Stratagem

(17:3:28:5:38:24.7)

“Take it apart,” Bombi nearly whispered as she stared deep into the device.  She didn’t have the slightest clue what she looked at, but she did feel a deep twinge, an animal urge to curl up inside it and keep warm by its ceaseless electrical knowledge.  “As far as I’ve seen, speed running is the process of taking apart the world.  Why should we treat this thing any differently?” Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Using the Tool Stratagem)

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‘Using the Tool’ Stratagem

(17:3:28:5:38:24.7)

“It’d be a shame to let any of its power go to waste,” Bombi said, examining Chagrinn’s eyes for signs of approval.  He gave her nothing.  “Our path will be of wonders whether or not we risk destroying ourselves, so let’s… simply… not risk it.” Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Unquestioning Stratagem)

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‘Unquestioning’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:12:40:27.9)

She nearly asked the question a hundred times, even opening her mouth twice, but in the end she kept it to herself.  She let quiet rule the rest of their glide along the amber and instead focused on the slight singing note of it, like the wet rim of a glass.  That was her answer.  Chagrinn couldn’t or wouldn’t tell her the truth if he didn’t want to.  She was at his mercy.  The only truth she had access to was all around her.  Everything she learned as a runner was her answers and it wasn’t his fault, the strange empty man that he was, if she didn’t know which questions to ask. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Bait stratagem)

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‘Bait’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:12:40:27.9)

She wanted to stop.  She wanted off the crazy golden slide so she could stand tall and have a serious conversation with the man.  I’ll never get that.  Even when the ground flattens out he’ll keep moving.  He won’t even miss a step.  It was to happen there then, even as the amber directed them lower and lower.  If Bombi was to be discarded and have to crawl back up with nothing more than the adhesive she could lick onto her palms, then so be it.  She would at least know what to expect on the way back up. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Worship Stratagem)

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‘Worship’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:12:54:13.8)

Bombi wanted to be a speed runner; she wanted to run so far from her old life that ever returning to it was impossible, but she couldn’t bring herself to harm the star projections.  She knew they were innocent in all this and didn’t deserve whatever Chagrinn had planned for them.  An apprentice was not a slave, so she was free to do as she wanted. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Battle Stratagem)

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‘Battle’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:12:54:13.8)

Everything around her was so foreign, so strange, that she had to struggle to keep a realistic angle on things.  There were starry animals before her, frightened of her, and an old woman who just wanted to be left alone.  According to Chagrinn, and according to what she’d experienced, deserving of pity though they were, they weren’t reality. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own Speed Run (Arm Climb Stratagem)

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‘Arm Climb’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:10:03:05.0)

Chagrinn was already thirty feet off the ground.  If she tried to help Twixit now her mentor might fall, and there was certainly no convincing him back down.  There is a problem with compassion after all.  It’s slow.  We’ll never get anything done if we’re slow, and it takes an age to even say ‘compassion’.  Bombi walked up to the Win State woman’s face and tried to look her in the eye.  Her fluttering eyelids prevented it, but Bombi said her piece anyway. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Appeal Stratagem)

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‘Appeal’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:10:03:05.0)

Bombi finally pulled free of the paralysis.  It was the extra glance at Twixit’s tortured unconscious face that did it.  She didn’t want to cause pain.  She wanted it to exist.  She wanted others to feel it as she had, but Twixit’s suffering was different.  It wasn’t the pain of draining hope, of a life of servitude.  The pain had knocked her out, and there was no way to think about what she’d done if she wasn’t awake.  The young runner grabbed the Win Stater by the shirt and, before Chagrinn could look down and yell at her to stop, wrenched the woman away from the stone. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Free Morphib Stratagem)

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‘Free Morphib’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:8:50:32.3)

Bombi lunged back to Morphib, grabbed his stuck foot, and wrenched it loose.  Both she and the creature tumbled backward.  Bombi bounced off a leaning lily pad, but was stopped by Chagrinn’s vice grip on her shoulder.  She looked past him, and the pain of his grab, to see Morphib stumbling back and forth across the stone. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Leave Morphib Stratagem)

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‘Leave Morphib’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:8:50:32.3)

Pity cannot be my choice here, she realized.  There are creatures everywhere that deserve pity.  I could run back to the city right now and use my duplication to free all those in servitude.  If I do it once I should always do it, at every chance.  There would be no speed.  I would be dragged down by every pair of desperate hands.  If Morphib wants out he’ll need to learn to make decisions, no matter how painful. Continue reading