Moths at Work

Within the belly of some vast beast seems like a fitting place to find a moth doesn’t it? That’s what you always ask when anyone inquires as to your role aboard the ship anyway. It isn’t as all that far off from the truth anyway. Anyway. Your fingers are running along her pipes.

Pipes. Pipes running for miles like blood vessels for fire and magic and one of them is leaking somewhere annoying. Very annoying. It isn’t enough to hurt her, not really, it would take a million of such cuts to do anything to her and even then. But why risk it? So off you go.

Breathe in feel the hum of her breath breath out feel the there it is. Something sticky and dark and oozing where it shouldn’t be, oozing a brightness that can’t be seen. Well it can be of course but. Well. That’s why they have you isn’t it? Okay. Time to get to work.

Timejump smashcut okay you’re done. You’re still deep inside her tummy but it’s time when you should be elsewhere already. Very annoying. When did alarms start sounding? Pay attention pay attention to the rising hum she’s powering up oh shit you’re late the op is starting run.

Okay no big deal just breathe. Breathe in feel the capacitor banks charging breathe out feel the halo halo pins. Anyway grab hold of something. Brace for the. Yeah that. They can’t hear the screaming either. It must be nice. It must it must hold on hold on wow this sucks. Laugh.

Did you know edleworlds scream? Yeah, they usually don’t like it when you tell them things like that. Anyway. Anyway keep holding onto her guts while the hallway spins in freefall around you. They really are determined to kill you this time huh? Well, at least oh and you’re safe.

Breathe in feel the whine of her systems running dangerously hot and starting to cycle down breathe out feel the ah damnit there are like a thousand new cuts and wounds her her systems. Sigh. You pat her hull appreciatively. “Thanks dollie, I’ll take care of this part.”

The Bones of Our Fathers


“180 seconds.”

There are many forms of divination, straining Now from then, sifting the Unmade to grasp what may, (may!) come to pass. A witch is not an oracle, she doesn’t divine, she decides. From the bones of her fathers, a witch carves her future.

“Begin Operation.”

Your fingers drum the center console, eyes going to the bridge windows and maelstrom beyond. Somewhere out there, invisible in the rushing fog, is a vast agglomeration of nightmares and flesh, compressed and twisted until they formed a nearly inescapable sinkhole. Time to nearly.

“Prep for void skip!” you call into the intercom, “Aps, we ready on the particle beam?”

“Projector is live and primed boss,” the angel responds.

“Then we ball! Nav!” on cue, the Nav doll instinctively grabs your wrist. The path unfolds. Wait for it…dig into the bone…there.

Your scalpel carves through time, needles retract, anchor rods extend, the mass halo separates from the hull. The path unfolds, you smile. A timer is counting down, with precise checkpoints. Check. Check– “Fire particle beam.” –sky splitting open with unleashed power. Check.

Abstract Weapon’s mass halo is a spinning, nearly indestructible ring of fire, weighing in comparably to a small planet. It arrives at Edleworld 27 with the force of an extinction event, tunneling through the fleshscape like a bullet through an apple. It doesn’t even slow down.

Behind the halo the edleworld bulges, inflated by the pressure waves starbursting from the impact point. In another moment the energy will dissipate enough for the world to begin falling back together in an even more titanic explosion, but for this moment, it hangs, and you fall.

The world pops like a balloon, the next checkpoint approaches. You gently stroke Ship’s console. You know she can do it, but this is going to be really fucking ugly. At least Nav is amused. Grasp the timeline and cut–“Fire particle beam.”–drag knife through bone. Check.

The eldeworld implodes, a needle thin lance of relativistically accelerated divinity bridges the distance to the collapsing horror, exawatts of energy are deposited in an eyeblink. There’s light–you’re about to arrive–through the tunnel of fire is a hole to clear air. Check.

You cross Edleworld 27 in a blur of flames and fingers. A hurricane’s eye of your own making swirls past and is gone in a moment. Check. Reach out and grab the halo. Check.

“Hard burn, let’s get out of here.” Check. Distance from the edleworld climbs, the future blooms. 


The Dreamer

Like a sailor deeply in tune with sea and sky, you sense the discontinuity in the vector as a cold knot in your stomach, fractionally before anything has actually gone wrong. You bolt upright in bed, face flush with sweat. There’s a beat of silence, and then the alarms sound.

A Nav Doll’s Purpose is to Guide, plucking a path through the Unsea from the fractally branching threads of possibility space. A migraine’s knife has suddenly been drawn through those threads, bleeding impossible colors into counterfactual timelines. It hurts, oh god it hurts.

The deck spins as gravity lurches–or is that just your inner ear screaming?–face hits the corner of the bulkhead. There are stars, you spit out blood. Alarms continue to blare, both the ones on the ship and the ones in your stomach: walls are closing in. You take off running.

You run the facts though your mind: Abstract Weapon is twelve hours out of a harbor that no longer exists (or never existed?) and six stadia beneath the mirror on standard dive trajectory, there should be nothing in your path. Where are you? Your stomach churns loudly.

The corridors of the old ship weren’t meant to be taken at a sprint but that doesn’t stop you; holding back the puke slows you down a bit though. The timelines aren’t diverging anymore, your mind claws for an escape trajectory but the walls are still closing in. It hurts so much.

Like a dream, the world seems to fight your passage. Limbs catch against the air and the act of dragging yourself forward each step seems to take a herculean effort. The vector knot is still narrowing, trajectories winking out even as you throw yourself down the corridor.

You put the pieces together as you run. S-tensor effects produce untime ripples within the ideatic medium. As the world you were leaving died, the topological realignment raced out ahead and caught up with you. You know where you are, and that makes it much worse.

“Reverse course! Stop the ship!” The words are still leaving your lips when the last trajectory blinks dark. Alarms continue to scream ominously into the silence. Your Witch Captain stares at you, but your mind is ten hours forward on the inescapable singularity of edleworld 27.

Edleworlds aren’t places, they’re libration points within latent space. The places where forces balance out and debris collects, floating garbage patches compressed into conceptual singularities. You’re about to hit one, there’s no way left around. You finally throw up.

A Nav Doll’s purpose is to Guide and your purpose drags you forward, smashing your mind against the trash heap, straining hundreds counterfactual deaths through the resulting cloud of relativistic shrapnel, your insides boiling as they empty themselves on the bridge floor.

The world contracts to a point, to a moment. You vomit dead timelines, coughing, bile dripping from your lips. A million iterations die in an instant, the room spins, you puke up everything else inside of you, until there’s nothing left and you’re gasping and dry heaving.

The world reestablishes itself. You realize you’ve toppled to the ground and been rolled onto your side. Your witch captain strokes your back. There is puke in your hair and everything hurts, the future hurts and there’s no path fo–look again.

The dead trajectories are gone, the poison is out of your system and your vision is starting to clear. The eldleworld hangs like a tumor in the future, but there’s something else. There’s something beyond the bile. You puke again, and then you can finally see it.

A way forward twinkles in that place-between-places which only you can see. Laying on the floor, covered in bile, you giggle uncontrollably. The only way out is through. Well, that’s not your problem. The Nav Doll Dreams, and the path unfolds. You reach out, and pluck the thread.


A storm is coming, one unlike any this planet has seen before. Through a million camera eyes and sensor masts still painfully bright from the fire of your birth, you sense the wrongness swirling deep in the bones of the world. And lingering above it all, is the smell of blood.

Your witch captain is talking to you, and you strain yourself down to focus in on the conversation, still mildly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the incoming sensory stream. She’s pacing your bridge, wary eyes glued to the sky. 

“It’s time to leave,” she tells you. You agree.

“How’s it looking out there?” She asks, agitated.

“Local divine field pressure dropping, Boltzmann levels still coming up, projecting 2-3 hours until the leading edge makes landfall,” one of the mages answers, regurgitates a reading from your sensors. You’re cutting it close.

Your crew hurries through your innards, running the pre-launch startup process at a pace that you know violates the operational regulations. Dolls and angels, mages and witches, even a few moths, everyone is starting to feel the strain building against reality. It smells like blood.

A hot, dry wind whips through the empty farmlands surrounding you, building and building. Rainbow lightning flickers from clouds that glitch your sensors to look at. A thick, iron red rain begins to fall, as if the world itself is being butchered. You’re almost out of time.

Under normal conditions the crew would start you up slowly, carefully leading your flames from one system into another until full power was achieved. These are not normal conditions. In less than an hour the foldstorm will make landfall, there’s no time to be careful.

Instead, they’re bringing your power up as fast as possible, shunting energy directly into your critical systems and bypassing everything else. Half your interior remains dark and unpowered, but your motors are spinning up as fast as possible. This is going to be rough.

Barns and houses topple over as the alien weather grows worse, rivers of blood pour down roads and choke streams and ditches. If you were in your old body, you would be gagging uncontrollably from the overpowering smell. The crew seals the hatches but it’s impossible to shut out entirely.

Under normal conditions, you wouldn’t launch without powering up your scrimshaw fields to keep the crew safe from the shifting conditions of the Unsea. There’s definitely no time for that, they’re relying on your hull to keep them safe. Beyond them, the world continues to bleed.

You feel your power levels cross the critical threshold and instantly tug the thread binding you to your witch captain. She tugs back. You feel the nav-doll gently slot into your consciousness, a map unfolds. There’s no time left, a tsunami of death is climbing the horizon.

“We’re go for Tramline halo link!” a tech moth calls out.

Your witch captain shouts into your intercom. “halo link imminent! All hands brace for emergency dive!”

A wall of blood miles high races forward from the horizon, piling up in impossibly vast mountains. It’s time to go.

“Hit the link!” Your witch yells as the ground begins to vibrate with the force of the incoming wave. From a place outside reality, twelve quantum sharp needles bite into your spinning heart. There’s heat, and pain, you strain against the weight of the halo. The paths unfold.

Through the dazzling kaleidoscope of branching possibilities, you feel your witch captain rest a hand against your center console, “Abstract Weapon,” she says, referring to you by name for the first time, “Lets fly.”

And you do.


//dolls, ego death, transformation

“Well it’s a day late but I did finally find a viable doll.” She’s talking about you but you stopped paying attention a while ago. Distracted, wide curious glass eyes rove the timeworn and weathershined corridors of the old warship, taking it in. This is what you wanted right?

The decades-old destroyer floating anomalously in a small pond wasn’t what you were expecting when you read the advertisement online. Then again, it doesn’t seem like you were what they were expecting either. Your eyes go to your splintered wooden hands and back to the witch.

She’s examining you. The other witch you’ve been brought to, your witch, you realize as she tugs your threads, your new captain.

“You’re sure it’s in spec?” She asks critically, circling you. “Divine spark? 3rd magnitude soul reservoir? Native vector alignment?”

“Fifth magnitude, native alignment well within tolerances, high marks on intelligence and problem solving, I’m telling you boss it’s solid.” The witch who purchased you knocks lightly on your wooden head.

“You sure you didn’t get scammed? Not gonna lie it’s kinda shitty looking.”

“I ran the tests on it myself, besides it applied on its own, it wasn’t pawned off to me,” you’re already tuning it out again. Your witch captain is nodding and resumes examining the clipboard with your specifications. She’s right, you are kinda shitty looking.

You were made well, forged in a divine crucible by a particularly dedicated dollmaker, you were a work of art, once. That was a long time ago now, and time has not been kind to you. Entropy has whittled you down to yarn and kindling.

So why not be utterly transformed into fire?

You don’t notice your feet moving until they’ve already carried you out onto the deck. Distant stormclouds scuttle along the horizon, darkening the otherwise clear skies. The vast steel hull of the ship seems to call to you and, since no one stops you, you listen and follow.

The sun bleached decking feels comfortingly familiar. Your hand touches the cool metal of the railing, running calloused fingers over rusted iron. You feel a deep sense of kinship for the old vessel. Appropriate, you suppose, you’re both of the same kind.

“She’s sleeping right now,” a voice says, drawing your eyes up to a moth girl in mechanics overalls. “You’re the new spark aren’t you? You’re the one who’s going to wake her up.”

You nod, eyes drifting back up the superstructure. That’s why you’re surprised when she hugs you.

“Thank you,” she says emotionally, “I was afraid we might lose her forever. Thank you so much.”

You aren’t sure what to say, but your arms instinctively  wrap around her, returning the embrace. It’s a little awkward, and being summoned back to the bridge is a relief.

You expected the process to take a few days but they’re in a hurry to leave. Something about the weather pushes them into a frenzy and you were all they were really waiting for anyway. You’re sure this is what you want right? You know the answer. You can feel her dreaming.

A dive vehicle is basically a large doll, it’s explained to you. At the abstract mechanical level, it’s the same set of components: eigensoul pressure vessel, divinity reactor, vector alignment manifold, mainspring, eigenrotor, mass halo, just bigger. That means it needs a soul.

They lead you by the hand into the bowels of the ship, pointing out components and systems, all silent and still. There’s something unsettling about the very state of stillness, it’s less like a happy doll, and more like a corpse that has yet to decay. Her soul was snuffed out.

Your witch brings you before the unmoving heart of the vehicle and you instinctively reach out to touch the cold walls of the reactor vessel. You really are two of a kind: a body yearning for a soul, a soul yearning for body. You smile. Why not be utterly transformed into fire?

The machine designed to remove your soul from what lefts of your body these days is a coffinlike pod embedded into the wall of the reactor. Your witch carefully straps you into the unit, taking care that each of your limbs is aligned in the correct place. It’s comfortable.

Her hand lingers on your cheek, staring into your damaged eyes, “You’re going to be beautiful,” she tells you, kissing you on the forehead. The hatch closes, she leaves the room, and you’re alone. There’s no fear left anymore, just calm anticipation. This is what you wanted.

The term ‘eigensoul decomposition’ is dryly technical and masks much of the sensation behind scientific jargon. You know everything that is about to happen, however that does little to prepare you for the actual experience. It starts of course, with flames.

A pulse of thermal radiation causes you to instantly combust, tinder limbs dissolving into boiling plasma, as your soul is liberated from your body and you are utterly transformed into fire.

You feel yourselves decompressing into innumerable lives, you see yourselves dancing, making coffee, going into debt, laughing, becoming a doll, instantly dying in a fiery infer–your soul reflects off the walls of the reactor, pressure waves rippling through you, energy rising.

You feel a fierce joy and terrible pain, you feel pins and needles in places that don’t exist as your flames stretch and course into new veins. A transcendent vastness balloons open in your mind, if you had a mouth you would laugh, but all you can do is reach, reach, reach.

Something like fingers grasp something like a surface and your million cameras and sensors begin to wink on. The pressure within you is still rising, reflecting endlessly, resonating faster and faster. Your soul is crushed into a singularity of self and then–