Saturday, July 28, 2007


July 28th, 2007

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The Announcement

Alternate Historian's Justification: Here's something else new – sorry about all the jumping around lately. I'll settle down on one thing or another before too long. If you have an opinion about which story I should settle down on, email me or leave notes in the comments.

The bazaar smelled terribly, just as it always did. Sonja's nose crinkled for a second, then her filters kicked in, and most of the smell went away. Not all, of course, because some of those smells were capable of bypassing her filters, but at least the worst ones were subdued.
Most of the booths had pheromone attractors, and some of those were bypassing her filters, too. She was glad she had disabled her sex drive before coming. There were bombardment streams at some of the more pushy booths that tried to break into her main interest centers, but she had neural assistants to take care of those.
"This is what you want." The thought popped in, and she felt a great desire to stop at the booth that had supplied it. A second later, that thought was joined by, "This is what you will buy." A second after that, her assistants cleared all trace of that stream from her head. She raised an eyebrow at the expectant storekeep, smirked, then strode away. Several uglier thoughts followed after, which she didn't have to bother killing.
The booth she was heading towards had no need of the flashy ads the others employed. Its owner was an artist known by everyone who needed his talents. He did not wish to attract new customers by artificial means.
Sonja pushed through the beads surrounding his booth and sat on the cushion that faced a man-sized rectangular block. As she sat, the temperature and lighting in the area bounded by the beads instantly changed to what she enjoyed most. Light music began playing, a small piece from the last century that was one of her favorites. He hadn't read her mind to discern it - the booth worked on a thousand subtle clues she dropped as soon as she broke through the beads. Drac never read people's minds unless they asked him to. But the fact that he didn't need to made people respect him all the more.
It also showed that he respected the privacy of others. Whatever happened in Drac's booth was left in Drac's booth. Another great factor in his reputation.
The block began glowing, then slowly warped itself into the shape of a tall man, long and lean, with skin the color of mahogany. The attraction Sonja felt for him had nothing to do with pheromones. "Hi, Sonja. What can I do for you?"
"I've got something pretty hot to trade, Drac." She pulled a thin vial out of her shirt pocket. It was filled with a couple of milliliters of yellowish fluid. "This is Oregon's finest. Militia security culture. Know of anyone with a need to bypass Militia security systems?"
Drac smiled, revealing his fangs. "I can think of a person or two. Is it reproductive?"
She sighed and shook her head. "Unfortunately, this is it. But, this is enough to treat about a thousand kilos of total mass."
"Until they change cultures."
She nodded, a little disappointed that he caught on that fast. "Right, but they don't do that more than once a month. And they just made the change three days ago, so this culture's going to be good for at least three and a half more weeks."
"Have you got the antidote culture to it?"
"No, you'll have to find some way to clear it out. But, someone of your skills should be able to do that with no problem," she smiled, "right, Drac?"
"Of course, dear. I just needed to know whether I had to knock that off of whatever you want to trade that for." He leaned over to her. "What do you want to trade it for, Sonja?"
"I need a new body."
He looked her up and down. "I've always liked the one you currently have. It would be a real shame to get rid of it."
"I don't have much choice."
He frowned. "No, they never do. Why do you need a body from me? That's a very common function; practically anybody can supply you with culture that'll do that."
"Because I need your skill in creating it."
He snickered. "Why all the flattery, Sonja? Are you in that much trouble?"
He raised an eyebrow. He seemed to be wavering in his decision not to read minds. "Am I going to need that Militia culture myself after this?"
She didn't meet his gaze. "It's possible."
"Well, you've been very bad, indeed, little Sonja." He gestured below him, and a hole opened up. "Let's continue our discussion someplace a little more secure."
Her cushion rose into the air, and she held herself as steady as she could on it. It floated to the hole and dropped through, followed by Drac. As the shopkeep passed the hole, it closed, and they floated in darkness for a moment. Then, Sonja felt her cushion land, and a light came on around them.
They were in a cavernous office, filled with tasteful furniture that was at least two and probably three centuries old. Drac strode over to the desk that filled up half of one wall and seated himself in the throne-like chair behind it. He gestured, and the cushion placed itself and Sonja on an impossibly comfortable chair opposite him.
"You have such wonderful taste, Drac. How much does all of this cost?"
He looked around and ran a few numbers in his head. "More than you will see in your life."
"I don't know about that."
He settled himself down to business. "Why do you need a body from me, Sonja? And what sort of modifications is that body going to have?"
She pursed her lips. She had been working out the particulars for several hours, but had yet to hit on any that worked for her. "Well, I'm going to need a reader screen and at least temporary camouflage cultures." She held up her palm and an image of a woman popped up out of it. The face was angular, with blue eyes and high cheekbones. The hair was short and black. The body was a stylish hourglass, with high definition on the muscles of the legs and arms. "This is what I'll need to look like. She's 1.847 meters tall and weighs 61.013 kilos." An image of fingerprints popped up, followed by a retinal pattern. "This is her ID, and I've got a DNA sample for you to culture that you'll have to match."
"You know, I've always liked you as a blond. I don't know if you'd exhibit the same charm as a brunette." He looked her in the eye. "Who is she?"
"Do you really need to know?"
"I do if it's going to mean trouble for me. I don't like to move my shop; my clientelle know where I am, and the furniture gets scratched in transit." She felt a small pressure at her temples, a warning that he was holding a mental probe ready to use on her. "Tell me."
At least he warned her. Most of the other craftsmen she had considered for this job would have probed her the second she walked into their booths. "She's Ben Harrison's daughter, Melissa. Mr. Harrison is the president of Tyr Weapons Systems in Redmond."

In 1941, at Sidi Omar on the Egyptian border Loose Cannon Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence took a massive gamble. Lawrence was a natural risk taker, often driving his motorcycle with such abandon that he betrayed the death wish which had gripped him since his disastrous loss of integrity in November 1917. Actually, in 1935, he had almost died when he had swerved to avoid two small boys and struck a van driven by German agents. Yet these letters he had written between 1931 to 1934, posing as his own Uncle to John Bruce were something else - a threat to his family. A threat to his missionary brother, and anchoress mother who had already lost two sons to the war.

~ variant from Steve Payne: extensive use of Susan Shwarz original content has been made to celebrate the author's commanding genius.

In 1970, António de Oliveira Salazar had been dead for just twenty-four hours. Labelling the African Unity Organization a Marxist movement, Salazar had fought the Winds of Change sweeping the southern hemisphere; "Proudly alone" was the motto of his final decade as the dictator of the Portuguese Republic.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

For we who grew up tall and proud
In the shadow of the mushroom cloud
Convinced our voices can't be heard
We just wanna scream it louder and louder louder
QueenWhat the hell we fighting for?
Just surrender and it wont hurt at all
You just got time to say your prayers
While your waiting for the hammer to fall

~ Lyrics to “Hammer to Fall” - Click to Play Sample
Apocalyptic Childhood
The apocalyptic influence of the Dropshot War (World War III) and how it affected members of the band and their childhood. The lyrics are detailed in full at at Lyrics Freak
~ quotation by Co-Historian Steve Payne from Counter-history – You're the Judge!

In 1940, former New York DA Allister Park and new wife Kuurikwiljor depart the Tawantiinsuujan capital of Kuuskoo in an airwain, a scaled down aircraft with steam engines on either side of the wing. Unexpectedly, the Wheel of If turns once more as the airwain is forced to land in a Mexico City that repelled the conquistadors. The reason for the repulsion is apparent, the City is ruled by an ancient demon of the Aztec world Mictlantecuhtli. The Lord of Mictlan plans to sacrifice the newly weds at the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlanthe very next day..

~ variant from Steve Payne: extensive use of original content has been made to celebrate the author's genius.

In 1942, USSR leader Joseph Stalin issued Order No. 227 in response to alarming German advances into Russia. Under the order all Soviet forces retreated behind the armistice line. Comrade Stalin had intended to organise a series of hit and run strikes from Siberia, however his politburo colleagues executed him for betraying ..
.. the revolution due to his cowardly decision to quit Moscow.
~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1976, in China an earthquake measuring 8.2 magnitude flattened Tangshan, killing 242,769 and injuring 164,851. Many people in Tangshan reported seeing strange lights the night before. A thousand chickens reportedly refused to eat and acted wildly, along with several hundred geese who reportedly tried to eat each other .. Tangshan earthquake
Tangshan earthq..
.. in desperation and frustration, and sheer terror. Dogs would not stop barking and goldfish jumped out of their bowls. The source of this catastrophe was not understood at the time. Only later did Earth Scientists discover the extent of the underground damage caused by the Tunguska impact event of 1908, and the south-eastward trajectory of the Neutronium.
~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 2005, the Provisional English Republican Army (The PERA) called an end to their ..
.. thirty year long armed campaign in Southern England. In so doing they had finally heeded the advice of Taoiseach Éamon de Valera from 1942. During the disastrous State Visit of the 32nd US President, he had responded to Winston Churchill's call to action “Something has to be done”. de Valera argued “The English must now move forward from 1533 and stop arguing about the past”, a reference to Henry VIII actions in breaking with Rome which caused the collapse of English power at the hands of Catholic Europe.
~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1809, Sir Arthur Wellesley's British army defeats a much larger French force under Joseph Bonaparte at the Battle of Yorktown. Wellington had arrived in North America to set the clock back to 1776, and he meant business.Wellington Wellington

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

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