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Deal 995: Eye Knows All

It always begins with a fount of knowledge. The all-seeing eye that watches and records, and the leak from it back into the mortal world.

Leaks always seem like a good idea at the time.

Some over-confident blowhard is brought down by a well-timed leak. The gods are keeping useful things like “fire” to themselves, but a gutsy mortal, acting on a leak, can steal it.

But all too often, the result of a leak is more scandal, and punishment of the source.

That is partially why Sisyphus is still pushing that boulder, after all.

And even though he has since learned to apply tools to his problem and shave years off his sentence, math tells us that his sentence is still forever. He’s also learned that magic such as levitation is considered cheating, and didn’t earn him any goodwill. Cheating was the larger part of why he was condemned to that boulder in the first place.

In fact, his only way out is to simply endure it, serve his time, and hope that he is laboring in a side timeline that will be looped back into the normal frame of things so that after his infinite service, he returns humbled and can redeem his good name.

They won’t believe the tale he’ll tell, of course.

But the eye will see and they will know.

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Deal 952: Newton’s nap

Ike had been stewing about a number of problems, and making little progress on any of them.

Finally, he decided he needed a change of scenery.

The pub was too crowded, even if they did have some of the best pancakes around. So he wandered onwards. The belfry was still full of bats, which reminded him he had promised to design a mechanism to ring the bells without dropping bat guano all over the ringers. Another time.

His problem was that he knew too much. He knew so much that he no longer knew for sure what he didn’t know. He was starting to take things for granted. This wasn’t making progress on his great work any easier. He stewed about that as he continued on.

As he walked, he noticed that the sunlight reflecting from some of the stained glass was colored differently than either the window appeared or he remembered the spots of light being colored inside the cathedral. He almost stopped and went into the apse to check his memory, but realized that too was a distraction. He set that aside for consideration another day.

After walking for a while, he settled down under a tree for a nap.

But every time he dozed off, an apple fell on him.

It was as if the tree was taunting him by throwing apples at him at moments when it would be most effective.

He looked around. None of the other trees were dropping apples, only the one he was resting under.

So he stood up and moved to the next tree over, and settled back to doze.

Plop!

The first tree was no longer dropping fruit, but this one had just hit him square in the face.

Still nothing from any of the others.

He stood, spun around with his eyes closed, then walked forward until he reached a tree. Sitting down, he noted that there was little wind and all the trees seemed quiet. So he returned to the task at hand. Or really, at trunk.

Plop!

At this point, he realized that despite the gravity of his need for a nap, there was really only one lesson to be learned:

Trees only drop fruit when it is funny.

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Deal 939: Cold

This desert is harsh. Dark and cold, and very hostile to life. And yet, life finds a way.

The ride is long and slow, and transport is cramped, with only a minimal amount of space left over after life support and supplies are packed for the passenger. Almost as if the passenger is only incidental.

Without the passengers, there would be no need for most of the supplies. But without a passenger, would the trip really matter?

There’s a window. But it’s view is limited by the thickness of the wall. It is a tradeoff. Cameras outside provide lots of view, but are fragile. And without a way to see, there would be no way to dock to the station manually if something went wrong. Of course, if something goes wrong, the path to not arriving dead is very narrow and touchy, and highly unlikely to be safely followed.

But here we are, in this cramped space for hours of travel, with almost nothing to do. Communications with the outside world was cut off to only a few bits per second almost immediately after we were under way. Once we arrive, that will be better. But still, that is hours away.

In the meantime, nothing to do but watch the darkness. We have a small light on, but it doesn’t reach more than a few feet away from the window. But it does illuminate the occasional passerby. None bother to try to follow us, after all life out there tends to pick its level and stay there, and we are going the other way entirely. Straight down.

The darkness is nearly complete, and visibility from our light is only about ten yards. We nothing more. We hope the tell-tales are right, and we are on course to dock. If we miss, we face a long haul back to the top, with just barely enough oxygen aboard to get us there.

Suddenly, we see hints that we will arrive safely. There is a regular pattern of lights outside the window. Lights that lead the way to a structure, shaped like a mad conglomeration of soap bubbles. At the edge is a hatch, and that is clearly where we are headed. A small craft all that different from our own is standing off, ready to guide us in and help with the docking if our systems need a nudge. The area is fairly well lit, since the station has plenty of power and has been adding LED panels as rapidly as they can be shipped in and mounted.

We’ve arrived at the LanternFish, a nearly self-sufficient station. Most crew rotate on six month or so schedules, but some find they like the isolation and stay longer. The station maintains a near-surface pressure, despite sitting at about seventeen thousand feet deep. This explains the bubbles, as nearly any other construction would swiftly collapse. Stations at more hospitable depths would include a moon pool and allow divers to come and go. At this depth, people only leave the station in rigid bubbles.

Why are we here?

Humans insist on finding ways to live everywhere.

So why not try each of the least hospitable environments and conquer them one by one?

Besides, we learn things by being down here. There are many nearly unexplored shipwrecks at these depths. The station is a useful model of how a colony on a hostile planet might operate. There are opportunities for biologists too, if they are patient. There is a colony of vent worms nearby too.

But it is a dark dangerous desert out there.