Clarion Call #12: Fair Vessel

This week it’s time for more fun with ambiguity.  What is a “fair vessel”?  Tell us all about it.

There are only two rules for Clarion Calls:

  1. If you choose to try the assignment, do not read the comments section before you post yours.
  2. This is a critique-free zone, and that includes critique of your own offering.  Save your analytical skills for Mondays with Lynda.

With that in mind, I invite all of you to give it a try.  At the end of the year, I have a special honor in mind for the person who most often posts an answer to our weekly Call.  So have fun, and stay inspired!

11 thoughts on “Clarion Call #12: Fair Vessel

  1. “The autumn harvest fair is almost here, Momma! Will they come this time? I hope so. I can’t wait.” Little Shaira clasped her chubby fists to her chest. “So pretty with the bright colors.”

    “Perhaps, sweetling.” Her mother folded the laundry from the line, clean and sweet with the autumn scents of herbs ripening in the garden.

    “Look, Momma! They are coming.” Shaira’s hand flung to the sky where a rainbow colored airship descended from over the mountain passes. “The fair vessel is coming. Clowns, acrobats, fire breathers, and monkeys. I can’t wait. May I go to the town green and watch them land?”

    “Go, child, but mind your step and stay safe. Watch the animals and the harvest stands. And come home before dark.”

    Shaira dashed through the garden gate towards the town green and the promise of the exotic passengers of the fair vessel and it’s brightly waving flags.

      1. Thanks for posting the writing exercises. Right now, it’s about all the writing I’ve got time to do. I’m getting a lot of new story ideas, though.

  2. “She’s a fair vessel,” the man admitted, circling the woman. She wore clothing meant to attract a buyer, chosen for her by the merchant, ridiculously slinky and decorative, at best. “Will she do as she’s told?”

    The merchant smiled. “Answer the man.”

    The woman turned so that her face lined up with the man’s, her eyes looking into his eyes. “I do as I have been made to do. I contain and am contained.”

    “A fair vessel,” the merchant leaned in, “for a fair price. What is it to me what you do with her in the cold reaches of space? What is it to me if you go away without her, alone for another long journey? I have no shortage of buyers.” He shrugged. “I offer her to you first because I know what it is to be young and on assignment, nothing but AI to guide you. An old man doesn’t mind playing chess-karack with a computer, but young men, you think with a different brain.” He nudged the man, who blushed.

    The negotiations were over quickly enough, and the fair vessel was stowed aboard the ship. He did not bring her out until they were well underway, unsure if this was a part of the Territory that had banned the use of Vessels. Many of them had, for moral reasons if nothing else. There was no doubt that they were not human, but the resemblance was too close for comfort, too uncanny, subtly wrong.

    She seemed undamaged by her treatment as cargo — he would have been disappointed if she had been terminally compromised — but she merely watched him as he circled her. He was too aware of the AI recording his actions, and dreaded the conversation this might spark with the machine, but there was no way to stop the record. He made a few clumsy advances, for his sake alone, and was startled when she spoke.

    “I am contained.” Her blank eyes met his, unfocused. “You wish for containment?”

    “I wish for you to do as you’re meant to without talking,” he growled, frustrated.

    “Very well.” Her lips locked onto his, and his surprise was followed in quick succession by every emotion he was capable of producing.

    When the ship landed, the dockers got a message from the AI that the captain had been unwell and was unable to leave his chair. The dockers looked to the medic, who sighed and put on his bio-gear. Once aboard, he found the captain in his chair, unmoving.

    “Hey, buddy. What happened? Did you disconnect your antivirals?” The medic prodded him with a reader, checking his stats.

    The captain turned his head and met the medic’s eyes with his own. “Nothing is wrong. I contain and am contained.”

    The medic leaped back and looked around. “Scan the ship and close the yard! We’ve got a Vessel on the loose!”

    Curses broke over the com and lights flashed as the dockers shut the yard. If they found it quickly, they might survive. Chances were good that the entire dock was compromised, and they’d be purged alive out of existence with a super-heated gout of flame to keep the infection from the rest of the station. Compared to an encounter with a Vessel, being incinerated in a moment of intense heat was a blessing, and the dockers prayed to their superiors to make that choice when it came.

  3. Dr. Connor blinked, resting his eyes while the nurse patted his forehead with a cool cloth. He dared not breathe while the genesis device awaited insertion, he dared not think of anything beyond this OR. Not even about his wife who left him for his ‘insanity’, which of course made him think of her more deeply.


    He grunted and returned to gazing through the microscope at his patient’s brain. “There are two which will do well, now to choose. Which vessel? Integrity appears stable. Blood flows are strong. Genesis will attach to either, regeneration likely in both. There isn’t any reason to choose one over the other.”

    Yet, his hesitation was exposing his patient’s delicate brain to open air, even if it was the sterilized air of the OR. Comatose, nearly dead, this woman had been in the passenger seat in a head on collision the day before. The patient was his ex-wife, who had been brought in as a Jane Doe, and Connor didn’t see the need to change that. Especially since her boyfriend had already passed on.

    “Starboard,” the nurse said, her eyes glittering. She knew his secret.

    “It’s what got her into this mess, maybe it’ll get her out.” Dr. Connor smiled. What better proof of ‘I-told-you-so’ than saving her life? “Starboard, it is. At least there’s one fair vessel in her body…” There definitely wasn’t one in his.

  4. Frontier town on a frontier world.

    Despite all the insta-tech, things weren’t much different to those times back on Earth – Jack’s town (and it was his town, even though he never asked for it, never wanted to be the Provost Marshal-elect) was filled with just as many hopeless utopians, ruthless capitalists, and rank outsiders as any Ballarat, Fort Zeelandia or Pilgrim’s Rest.

    Running from, or running to – they all ended up here, or in a place like here, a little pimple on the face of the planet, filling it up until something made it burst –

    Like it had last month.

    Jack waited alone on the sole piece of tarmac, shielding his eyes as the SS Astrea IV lowered itself to the surface, kicking up clouds of red dust that bit and stung.

    He waited to see the face of justice emerge from her shiny hull. The Judge. The Magistrate. The arbiter of The Law, of Fairness.

    He breathed a little easier as the ramp extended, and locked into place. At least these days there was no frontier justice, no mob rule. Jack did not have to be the frontier between right and might. That was the job of whoever was in the ship.

    He didn’t envy them.

      1. Cheers!

        These exercises are making a great start to my week. Monday lunch time seems to becoming a routine…

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