A brief catalog of daydreams

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4 years 5 months
Submitted by SuperSayu on Sun, 03/18/2018 - 11:42

For whatever reason--depression, a lack of discipline--I never manage to write down the stories that circulate in my mind. This is a synopsis of some I've had over the last few years.

System Defender: In an era where holographic technology (computer-controlled digital matter) was just taking off, a man experimenting with holographic space ships becomes a key player in thwarting an alien invasion of the solar system. Earth doesn't have enough warships to hold off the fleet, but by open-sourcing his design, suddenly a number of amateurs could rise to the defense of the Earth. And as happens with open source, the design is tweaked here and there, becoming better even during the invasion itself. But the national militaries and space forces are not exactly thrilled by the fact that just anyone on the planet can have an armed, fusion-powered flying spaceship, either...

Scavengers: Humans who have just discovered faster-than-light travel stumble upon a graveyard of abandoned starships. They jump-start one, only to find that each has a powerful, sentient artificial intelligence left on board. It starts to react as a hostile, then calms, and they learn to communicate, bit by bit. They only have enough fuel to take one ship back to earth, but the newly awoken starship is large enough to bring back more. The news of the find, when it reaches Earth, starts a hubbub, but there is still so much to do. The pilot comes back with more fuel, and an academic to teach the language to the AI--teach one, they reason, and they can teach each other. As they start up one ship after another, they end up at a warship whose AI insists that one particular ship--the largest of the group--be next in line. That warship is just barely alive, with all available resources keeping one system active: a cryostasis pod which has been keeping a woman alive for thousands of years. At the same time, one of the activated AIs reports back to their home civilization, unbeknownst to others. Grouchy aliens show up, only to discover that they have unmasked a mystery from long ago: the woman is a princess long missing, and it was widely believed that a suborned AI had killed the entire fleet. This belief had led them to reduce the intelligence of their own ships, and left them prejudiced; they want to destroy all these ships to prevent another such tragedy. But the humans now running the ships, especially the few scavengers who spent countless days and nights getting to know the AI, just can't bear to watch the sentient beings be killed out of misplaced fear, and the princess, now awoken from her stasis, has just enough influence to keep it from turning into a diplomatic disaster; they are after all, her ships. And the respect shown by these humans makes them a more worthy group than her own people, who seem intent to romp around with abandon...

Archmage of the Floating Castle: In the *isekai* tradition, a modern human is dropped in a medieval world of magic. He uses his powers to shape the earth and create a geothermal generator sunk deep into the earth, which transfers a steady trickle of magic energy to him constantly. Leveraging that, he builds an enormous tower with special materials and building techniques, combined with some rudimentary enchantments, which remains empty since he has no meaning or purpose. After a while, the kingdom which claims the land discovered the tower and came knocking, demanding taxes; he rebuffed them and continued his work. They showed up at his doorstep, but the siege weapons were not massive enough, nor their wizards powerful enough, to break the tower, so he ignored them, enjoying the display of power. Some time later, a group of wizards showed up at his doorstep, declaring that they were the continent's council of archmages and they had decided to hold their biannual meeting at his tower. Somewhere between begrudging and thankful for the company, he lets them in, and discovers that they tend to rotate through the towers of mages above a certain skill, in part to put pressure on them to join their council. After talking with them a while, he is struck with the idea of making a vacuum airship with special materials and a minimum amount of magical power, and over the next few years, assembles an entire floating castle based on the concept. As part of it, he ends up working with another archmage, who freely takes some of his weapons designs. When that archmage ends up participating in a war between nations, the protagonist decides to intervene so that the archmage cannot use any city-destruction-class weapons. Because of this, the protagonist's flying castle becomes a legend, as it intercepts an enemy airship fleet and protects a city from a powerful weapon.

Archmage of the Sunken City: Much of the setup is similar to the above (these are daydreams and not written stories); an mage uses a geothermal generator to make his home. This variant story has him creating an underground city kept warm with geothermal pipes, which ends up attracting a large number of refugees from neighboring towns. The city was never planned with self-sufficiency in mind, so he creates portals to connect to other cities, enabling trade in a way that his otherwise remote city would never have had. This story "ends" with the mage being more or less content with what he has created and dying of old age, peacefully in his city.

Sage of the Beginning: When magic is born into the modern world, it might have become a cataclysm; fear and a lack of discipline cause powers to run amok. One man makes a name for himself calming people down, and creates a discipline to magical workings to give him an edge over those without it. Because of this, he gets called to diplomatic incidents, and in one he discovers the source of magic: a spiritual sage in Shangri-La, who seems content to die now that his work is completed. Eventually the man tires of being in the spotlight, and settles down to do engineering and architecture, quickly making a fortune by creating buildings without a team or equipment, with only himself and magic. He finds peace here, until one day when a portal of dark magic opens and demons come spilling out; he charges off to help, but discovering that it is beyond him or, he believes, anyone else in the world, he creates a magical generator to amplify his own power, and uses it to force his magical discipline on everyone in the world in hopes that they will mature enough to tackle the threat. Burnt out, he forces his way through the portal and absorbs its dark magic into himself to force it closed. Overcome with the madness of darkness, he closes himself off from the demon world, using what scraps of magic he can grasp just to keep the darkness from corrupting him, and keeping himself just barely alive. Until later, he is awoken by an adventurer in the darkness, who leads him back to Earth. He discovers that twenty thousand years have passed, and the magic discipline, and the magic generators that he left behind, have combined to create a far different world than the one he knew. Grouchy that his mistakes have changed the world so deeply, he sets off to set it right, facing the threat of demons on the one hand, and an evolved form of humans on the other, one born with have stronger power and discipline than he ever had. His choices might disturb the order of their world, but he believes those choices are right...

The Final Countdown: Inspired by the song, an invading human force attacking an alien world is all but wiped out. Three survivors--one crippled--manage to land, and spend a year surviving an alien jungle. Not sure whether the military will ever actually come back for them, or when, they pour all their efforts into one mission, to keep their sanity: find a way to disable the planet's defenses so that, if they ever do return, it won't be a repeat of the last disaster. Fortunately, the aliens, however advanced, are also arrogant and slothful, leaving just enough room to survive, if they don't make any mistakes...

Dragonshadow: Although part of this story is written down, I actually ended up more or less "ending" it in my head, and then couldn't bring myself to finish writing the middle parts of the story. A full immersion MMO using a neural interface focuses on people on two sides warring over territory. The sides are divided thematically: one side gets their power from technology, the other from magic. We focus on a high ranking player on the Northern Continent's Mystic (magic) side, one who has gotten bored of the stability of their part of the world. A stirring begins, one where maybe the tides of the war will turn and the Northern Chaos (tech) Alliance will win and dominate the northern continent. But the Mystic Generals are all monsters, and no matter how much the NCA brings to bear, it all comes down to what happens when they finally are let off their leashes. The finale stars the generals unleashing their admittedly broken characters and showing off the full extremes of the MMO's abilities--the highest level weapons, the highest level summons, the highest level magics, the greatest Overdrives (limit breaks/desperation moves)--as they tear through the endlessly respawning enemy army. A full twenty four hours of straight combat later, the protagonist "Deus Exterra" finally falls, the player and character both spent, and a game event that will be remembered for decades comes to a close. Meanwhile, there is a minor subplot about ongoing research in the real world into using neural technology to enable people in the real world--and some people who have a peculiar interest in seeing people who know the game's "magic" being a part of their research. The player of Deus writes them off as idiots at first glance, but strange things are coming, too...

(Untitled): Inspired by the Japanese metal song "What's up people", only because its beat, rhythm, and growling aesthetic remind me of a variety of weapons. An undying war over an undying city, a dream without words. Scenes of carnage shift constantly; in each scene, heavy weapons, heavier machinery, and dozens of different types of weapons beyond comprehension shift the balance of power one after another. The city is an endless expanse of enormous high-rise buildings, and across it are a nearly infinite number of battles, each trumping the other: chainguns spitting endless streams of percussive fire, close air support with enormous laser and plasma weaponry, obliterating everything that moves, enormous giant mechs (and people) that destroy buildings just by moving, hidden snipers and elite troopers scattered throughout the buildings, air-dropped reinforcements headed off to death without a shred of fear, but with overflowing determination. There is no plot and no ongoing characters; most characters die, or else the scene shifts away from them when their own fight has become sufficiently one-sided to no longer be interesting. Occasionally megaweapons like orbital death superlasers take out larger threats. This daydream exists only to put the focus on kinetic action on a personal level (or local disaster level) and does not set up anything, has no dialogue, does not take a grand scope, and has no overarching themes. There are no protagonists or antagonists, just endless death.

Dungeon Master: I have been trying a few combinations of dungeon-master-themed stories, the one I had the most success with was another in the style of the archmage ones above, but with the protagonist not having a power generator and having to feed off the power of monsters and slowly building out what he has, while nearby nations hunt him down and send "heroes" after him. Has some dark themes, some light themes.