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The Half Shaman in Space: The Human Machine Pattern

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Lithe calls me and beckons. "Jeb!" Hurry. As in, there’s no time for either the Chief’s fireworks or whatever is causing me my red-faced excitement. He’s right. We need to get everyone we can up here in one crowd. I join him on the other side of the hole.
I drop to my knees. “How can I help?” I say with a wobble of suppressed emotion.
“You’ve got an idea?” Lithe says.
I nod. “All of us came on board through Reception. The rest of the humans apparently came directly from the Ark Ship and were delivered either here or in the over-world now below us?” Lithe nods.
“Through what doors?” I say, nodding in various directions where airlocks might be expected to show on the horizon. A few moments more will at least give me someone else who understands.
Lithe rises. Looks around. I see his glance slide over the corner where the reflective membrane stops us seeing it. I see him hesitate over the rectangle in the corner directly behind us where the shadow tried to disappear. He kneels back d…

The Half Shaman in Space: Uncle Puma

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As I struggle to stand upright someone hugs me to him with strong meaty arms.
The man catching me against his chest is broader and he has neither Mongoose’s smell nor his voice.  It isn't Mongoose.
I wrench loose.
It’s Uncle Puma. I catch his expression—glee? Can’t be—as he blinks it away. “I’ve counted through this crowd a couple of times to no avail, as I’m sure you have searched through the crowd in the over-world,” he says. “So you might as well accept that Mongoose is lost.”
Never never will I accept that Mongoose is lost.
“We’ll also need to do without Thyal, a far greater loss in my opinion, and a half dozen more, your friends Ant, Wren, and Meerkat among them.”
A lot of unnecessary words when I have already read his meanings in his touch and his eyes. I control my voice. “I’ve been busy.”
It sounds like an excuse. Why does Uncle Puma always make me feel like I haven’t done enough? I use a well-worn strategy to get his attention off me. Indicating the doubling I ask, “What’s happe…

The Half Shaman in Space: The Underworld

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Remember the manhole cover last week? Jeb lifts thehatch cover. Lays it aside. Looks down through the hole ...
I need to close my eyes and swallow and swallow. I peer between my eyelids but the vertigo is ongoing. Close my eyes, pretend to lift the hatch cover; pretend to lay it aside; pretend to look down through the hole.
Peer between my eyelids. All still the same. The walls and ceiling down there follow the same lines as the ones of the place I’m in except that they are upside down. I see an airlock in the nock of the pyramidal ceiling, far away. The new place is like a reflection, its base is the underside of the floor I’m kneeling on.
I dip my head down and through the hatch into the reflection. There is no disturbance, like rippling, so it isn’t a water reflection. My face and upper body leaning into it aren’t reflected, so it isn’t a mirror.
Weird but good. There’d be one more of me than I could cope with, I think as flippantly as I can to generate the next bit of courage needed.
I…

The Half Shaman in Space: The Manhole Cover

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Jeb follows the blip through the crowd, where will it lead her?
Those in the outer ring of the crowd have their heads hanging and their eyes uninterested while they pass me. Coming upon the blip, though, they separate left and right like a combed parting. Nobody seems to want to have the blip touching them. 
Which could be further evidence. I stop at the edge of the crowd, trying to make it look like I’m hesitating. “Can’t we go around the crowd?”  
Kosi does not react. 
Perhaps there aren’t any sensors nearby. I wonder how a previously human entity can live in the workings of an alien starship? 
A murmur starts in the crowd. “Jeb. Jeb. Our half shaman. You going to save us again, Jeb?” 
I see my people pepper-and-salted through the crowd. Limber. Crow. Jackal. Each one alive-eyed for the par-second it takes to answer my glance. 
“How many?” I shape the words with my lips. 
Limber blinks acknowledgement and shuffles to the border of the blip’s path, where he signs down by his waist, alerting …

The Half Shaman in Space: All About Alien Technology

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What does Jeb know about the mysterious package in the airlock? 
“Why half?” Kosi says about me being a half shaman.
“Didn’t get to finish my schooling.” I’m lucky there’s still that easy answer available. I make my voice light and my tone light-hearted though I’m thinking dark things about my mother possibly having an Earth-grown body floating about in a silo somewhere in space. “They are dead, the bodies left behind in the silos?”
Kosi knows exactly what I’m asking. “In stasis,” she says. “Don’t worry about them waking up. They can’t by themselves. Enough of that depressing subject. How can I separate the data-waving boots from the mysterious object, so I can have a good look at it?”
We have nicely circled the apparent existence in our midst of the Ark Ship. “What is the object?” I say.
Kosi laughs. “For me to know and you to find out, I think. Be more fun that way.”
Fun for who? Maybe that thought shows on my face for the entity starts into an explanation. 
“Earlier I was thinking we’d bo…

The Half Shaman in Space: Getting to Know You

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Jeb discovers a few facts about the entity ... 

I start the countdown of facts I know. “Earth-born were born on Earth …”
“Check,” she says.
“…And were picked up in a Life Lottery Street Sweep.”
“Check. Me and my friend Jack Fetcher and a couple of the EMBers chasing us escaped the data-waving, once we’d been settled in Silo Ship Number 23, my lucky number.”
I can be very stubborn when I need to be. She was with friends. All right. But, data-waving? Silo Ship Number 23? “The Earth-born like yourself arrived on Lotor as genetic patterns. They were reconstructed by Lotor using materials lying on Lotor’s crust or whatever you want to call it. Skin, maybe. Making you one of the Lotor-made.”
The entity laughs. “I’m telling you I never made it down to Lotor to be Lotor-made. I’d have a body now.” 
She sounds so wistful that I think she must be telling her truth. I rethink my idea. “I guess if you are Earth-born and were on Lotor, the planet would’ve taken you within by now. So maybe not that scenar…

The Half Shaman in Space: The Ark Ship and the Entity

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Two short scenes, the latter marking the intersection of Jeb's and the entity's lives.
My clothes re-appear. I dress faster than fast. 
Then the sensori-matting is restored. The doors too, though they stay shut even when I back up against them. 
I look up. Something is happening on the back wall. A small blue light races over the surface of the wall outlining a … my heart nearly bursts out of me with excitement … the shuttle we came in! I run there.
The outlined shuttle glides toward a scramble of lines that in no way resembles the doughnut-shaped Ark Ship I learned about in Shaman School. But why do I expect that? Any of the places where I’ve been so far, don't call to mind anything I learned about the interior of the Ark Ship, except that the small outlined ship is definitely our shuttle. 
It stops in front of me. I’m blinking tears away as I trace my call sign on it, ZA. 
The letters vibrate. The Ark Ship knows me. Now I do cry. No blood is needed. 
The blue light splits. One …

The Half Shaman in Space: Contact with the Ark Ship

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In which Jeb possibly makes contact with the Arkship.
My mind roils on. Our ArkShip was said to have been locked in a struggle with an unknown entity when it dropped my settler ancestors off on Lotor. I feel hot and cold in quick succession, hot from fright and wanting to run, cold from terror and freezing in place. What if our ArkShip didn’t win? 
I want to think it all through again in more detail, maybe find the solution already in my memories. I laugh. All this? In my memories? Even Soowei never made it off-planet. I need to explore. Find out more. 
So I’ll need to leave something in this place where I stood, to show I’ve been here already. When it is walking in circles, it is about not getting anywhere. 
I step from the path at the base of the wall into the forest. Grasp at the bottom end of a streamer of bark, to rip it loose from its tree. If I get a lot, I’ll be able to dress too. Missed it. My hand seemed to move through it. 
Try again. Missed again. 
Slowly this time. 
When my hand…

The Half Shaman in Space: Thinking Through the Problem

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Alone in the Reality that Jeb was meant to 'furnish', she analyses where she might be and comes to a conclusion only about where she probably isn't ... 
The plastic wall feels real. How would it feel if it wasn’t real? I cast about for comparisons. Back when I was in the black cell … no, forward away from there. I escaped.  
The second night after I escaped, Mongoose and I and Ant and Uncle Puma joined a larger group and we all spent the night on the second platform. Thyal, the group’s real shaman—other than me, the half shaman, I mean—despite that he had no amulet at the time encouraged me to think myself into the Totem Reality he hoped to see on the Ark Ship. 
Yes yes, I know it was an imaginary place in our minds. But. Were there any walls? 
I recall the blue sky at the top of the Totem Reality. And I flew over a deep valley with a white water creek rushing through it, at the base of the Reality. One one side cliffs, the other a steep hillside clad with low green vegetation…

The Half Shaman in Space: Make a Fire? With What?

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Can a fire be the solution for Jeb when the entity takes her clothes?
I’m standing there pressed against the glazed stone. Unclothed. No one to see me but the machine all around me, so what do I care? I step away.  
I feel the cold before I notice the goosebumps rising on my arms. The temperature is dropping? I start to shiver, more from consternation I decide than from cold. But then I start to shiver in earnest. I crouch down and hug my knees so that where my skin meets skin I can stay warm. “I’m cold.” 
“On Earth, ages ago, you might’ve made a fire to keep you warm”
“Me personally, or anyone?” While I talk, my teeth don’t chatter. 
“Anyone and especially you personally”
“My mother, whose pattern came from Earth, talked about making fires. She and her little brother used to for survival skills. Where she lived there were trees and dead wood.” I gesture with my head. No reason to wave my arm and let the cold in. “No wood here.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure,” I shout. I expect my voice…

The Half Shaman in Space: The Nothing Reality

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Please be patient with Jeb. Would you swear if an entity took your clothes? Jeb does, though she considers it a step backward. 

The Maremma girl and I come to the end of the row. The guard-rail curves around and joins the wall. We overlook the rear-wall of the hall but right next to me is the final set of sliding doors along this gangway. 
“The reality in here is special,” the girl says. She still has not volunteered her name. 
Of course I’m supposed to say, Special how? “Exactly right for a learner shaman, I bet.” 
She’s edging me toward the still-closed sliders. “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never pushed anyone in here yet. A first timer will give me five credits.” She punches the air. “I’ll be the alpha-bitch when I get back to the kennels tonight!” 
She comes forward against me, growling and slavering from a fierce dog-like expression and I am so shocked I fall back against the doors. 
Which slide open and cause me to fall into that reality.
The doors slide shut. 
I turn on my butt. Scramble up …