It is said everyone knows – in the way that “everyone” knows things – that liquor, tortilla/potato chip and porno sales skyrocket before a bad storm. You know the type of storms, the ones that are guaranteed to knock out power? Where the weatherman comes on and tells you this is a bad one, to shelter or leave the area, etc., etc.? See, liquor, chip and porn sales skyrocket before a bad storm because there’s not much to do in a blackout other than drink, snack and uh… well. Entertain yourselves in the way and manner that all mankind has done since the discovery of genitalia.
However, since babies tend to come whenever they damn well decide to, we can only hazard a guess – you talk to the maternity ward of a hospital or to professional midwives and sure, they’ll say there are baby “seasons” but to pin it down to a specific time or tie it to a specific hurricane or storm system… that’s ridiculous. This is why it’s one of those “everyone” knows facts; for the majority of modern human history there was no way to really tell if this was a fact or not.
It is also said in a way that “everyone” knows, that when you have no work you tend to slow down and enjoy things more often – as long as there’s no impending threat to your livelihood, of course. If you’re let go or get fired, but you can and do get a job lined up in a week or two, you’ve got a mini-vacation. Go to bed late, sleep in, have a day trip here or there and enjoy the family you have. Sure, that might lead to some more… extracurriculars, seeing as how you’re spending more time at home, but again – “everyone” knows that happens (but can’t prove it), and it’s to be expected.
Luciana Aleman believed that she, her 17 siblings, and her couple hundred immediate relatives were the perfect, living proof that “everyone” was absolutely fucking correct.
After the Great Clusterfuck, there was no power outside of major city centers for quite some time. Almost every Maternity ward in the world (and some offworld, if you’d believe the stories of being at overcapacity) now actually had the data to back up an almost literal, biblical flood of infants being born roughly 9-11 months after everything went to utter shit. The ones that came early were, of course, the “we’re gonna die so might as well” and the ones that came later were the “we’re out of rubbers but eh”. Her Grandfathers and Grandmothers were somewhere in the middle of that wave, but none of her Great-grandparents would tell and the Catholic Church didn’t really care as long as they went to mass and were baptized on time.
Then came the fabricators and the almost nonexistent demand for blue-class jobs. Sure, if you were a master electrician or welder or something you were fine, but her Grandfather was a migrant sharecropper, like his father before him and his father before him. If the Americans weren’t planting crops (and they weren’t at the time) then you don’t have much to do…
And so, over the couple decades it took for everyone to pull themselves together, her Great-Grandparents ended up gracing the earth in the traditional way, and Luciana was happy to count on 8 Great-uncles and 11 Great-aunts in her immediate family, which of course led to another 27 uncles and 35 aunts – not inclusive of her father and mother. Her parents apparently took a look at the size of their immediate family and considered it a challenge.
Luciana was the first shot in the subsequent and impromptu baby war amongst the Aleman clan. She came first, then a couple of her cousins were born, and then everything kinda just got out of hand. Luciana was joined by Martin, but then her uncle Sebastian – the first uncle Sebastian, not the second – had triplets and well…
Well it’s not like Papa Ricardo was gonna stop. At this point, the cost of living was so low, and Sofia is a beautiful lady, and they’ve got power and A/C and 150,000 on-demand channels and all the comforts of modern living and Abuela demands sacrifice…
So after Martin came the first set of twins, Mia and Catalina. Then Thomas, Gabriel, Joaquin and Andres, Zoe, Ana Sofia – the last of the girls – and then something happened and it was all boys after that. Juan Pablo, Juan Diego, Juan Jose, Juan David, Juan Sebastian, Juan Manuel, Juan Martin and little Juan Esteban.
Come to think of it, that something might have been her father ascending to lifelong dad-jokehood, because as he would say later in his life “If you’ve seen Juan of my boys you’ve seen ‘em all.”
Luciana smirked at her reflection in the port-side “window”, the green-gray planet hanging lazily below them. ‘At least my name isn’t a dad joke.’ She mused, using an idle thought to ping her implant about the new world she was orbiting. It’s name was “Gentle Expanse”, but “Green Fields” or “Quiet Meadow” might have been a better translation. Even after all these years and universal updates, things still were a bit wonky with the matrixes – and it really didn’t help that language kept evolving, especially human language. There were your traditional derivatives, sure, but now an entire ‘star-farer’s lexicon’ to add to the mix. Silver City translated well enough; you build a silver mine, and then a city to support the mine. Done and done.
What was really intriguing was the fact that they were going to be building a city-within-a-city. The SC planning board basically gave them unfettered and heavily deregulated permits to build… whatever they wanted to do. Whereas most people back home who were getting sick of there being so many people signed up in a heartbeat, they were more the city-living type to begin with; architects, scientists, coffee drink engineers, manbun archivists – you know the type. Her father took one look at the list of people who applied, simply put “farmer” in occupation, and now…
Now here she was, taking a decade off from her second PHD in Geochemistry to help her father find the “good earth” to start planting.
Luciana turned from her musings and smiled, waving at her Abuela. “Hey there Abi! Sorry, are we already going down?”
Isabella nodded – well. She was nearing 130, so her “nod” was more of an upper-body-wiggle, but it got the message through. “Mmm. Your father has finally settled on a few acres of land he wants to work on, so we’re going to be taking a ship down in the next week or so.” Isabella leaned forward into her granddaughter’s kiss, the much taller woman leaning down to gently touch the old woman’s forhead. “And with that trip down, you could find yourself sitting next t-”
Isabella scrunched up her nose, looking up at her granddaughter. Her single granddaughter. Her single, 40 year old Granddaughter. “All I want is for you to be happy, Mi Luzita.”
Luciana sighed internally. “Abi. I’m onto you – all you want are more great-grandchildren.”
“All I want are some great-grandchildren, yes! You’re the eldest, you should lead by example!”
“Abi. I know for a fact that I have nieces and nephews back home.”
“Yes.” Isabella said, matter-of-factly. “Back home. Not here.”
Luciana laughed, patting her grandmother on the back as they turned towards the exit door from the observation gallery. “So what, if the great-grandchildren aren’t near you they don’t exist?!”
Isabella looked up at her, a twinkle in her eye. “Shroginder!” She said, knowingly, as the door slid shut. The elevator pinged softly, and the two of them began to move down… and to the left.
“Abi, you know that’s not how this works.”
Luciana rolled her eyes, adjusting her grandmother’s shawl. “Well. I’m certain you’ll work your grandmotherly ways and I’ll end up with a husband and 400 children, but that’s after I get you and papa settled. There’s no need for you to cause a scene when we land-”
“I do not cause scenes.” Isabella said, straightening up to her fearsomely hunched over height of ‘somewhere around 5’nothing’. “I cause memories.”
The Jornissian was screaming.
The Jornissian was screaming, trapped in his house, as the intruders advanced, and there was nothing he could do. He had already expended all the ammunition in his weapon, he had thrown any physical objects he could get his hands on, but nothing would stop their march forward. Cornered in his room – trapped – and facing death, he screamed.
The warmcuddles around him had assumed the dominance position, and the raw energy they were channeling was unstoppable.
[willows_and_towers]: “[LEAVE ME BE I PAID MY OXYGEN TAX-]”
[JOHN MADDEN]: “[JOHN MADDEN. JOHN MADDEN. JOHN MADDEN.]”
[Stole_yo_girl_and_dumped_her]: “[MOON IS MOON IS MOON IS MOON IS MOON]”
[BEP BEP BEP]: “[L_L_L_L_L_L_L_L_L_L_L_L_L-]”
Jonathan was having an excellent day. So lost in the deepest lore of this shitposting server he spent days – nay, weeks in the VR chat, taking breaks only to eat, sleep or use the pee bottle roomba. He had taken turns in other free bodies (the snake ones being the weirdest ones) and had happily shared his own model to the server, starting the JohnMadden Johneymen shitposting clan (which now numbered in the dozens and was therefore, unstoppable). Currently they had cornered a newbie who foolishly joined the human-only server in a non-human avatar, and must be shown the error of their ways.
Look, he didn’t make the shitposting rules (technically, nobody did) – he just enforced them.
[willows_and_towers]: “[NO STEP! HAIL FREEDONIA!]”
The four humans T-posed at each other for a few more minutes before the walls melted away as a replica zephyr station fell from the heavens and killed everybody. Jon nodded in approval on his bed, the alien feeling of actually moving for the first time in a couple hours causing his neck to lock up.
[Stole_yo_girl_and_dumped_her] turned to Jon, disconnecting all his joints to flop about in concern. “[You alright?]”
“Yeah, yeah-” Jon grunted as he sat up, the sudden lack of insulating bedding causing him to shudder as his damp body was kissed by the relatively cool air. “Fuck. I gotta shower.”
“[Showers are a myth invented by Ghengis Kahn to sell eggs.]” [BEP BEP BEP] helpfully added, growing his feet and shrinking his body to get into connection with his obvious hobbit ancestry.
“Real talk it was the Egyptians all along. Fucking furries.” Jon murmured, reaching up to tilt his VR helmet up. The admittedly dim artificial light of his quarters hurt his eyes, and he screwed them shut in self-defense. With a few subvocalized commands to his implant he went ‘AFK’, his physical avatar graying out as he peeled the visor from his face.
He could feel it peel away, and idly wondered exactly how long he’d been in. As his eyes adjusted to “real” light once more, he looked around his one-room abode; food wrappers scattered haphazardly on the floor, random stains of various fluids (again stop that it’s fanta) on the carpeting, the actual cleaning roomba screeching in the corner as a literal mob of piss-bottles fenced it in, the existential dread of knocking one of them over causing the robot to shake violently-
“Fuck. I gotta clean up too.”
– – –
[Stole_yo_girl_and_dumped_her] poked his friend’s body, his “hand” going right through [JOHN MADDEN]’s torso. “[He’s gone again.]”
[BEP BEP BEP] shrugged, now basically a head ontop of giant feet. “[And? He takes breaks all the damn time – probably on while at work.]”
“[Maybe.]” [Stole_yo_girl_and_dumped_her] mused, looking around for a new target for the shitposting clan to attack. “[Just seems odd, thou-]”
There was an alert that flashed across everyone’s vision, causing the whole server to stop dead in it’s tracks.
[Best_at_Tech][@ADMIN]: [MEMORY BUFFER PURGE INCOMING LEAVE NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE TRACED TO DEFAULT.]
A quirk of galactic nodes is that they stored vast – and I mean, almost incomprehensibly vast amounts of data – and would send that data out in almost-real time to other nodes via quantum linking; basically, a bit would flip on one node that would flip on another node halfway across the galaxy, and this would write/read data instantaneously. It wasn’t a perfect science, however, and sometimes things needed to be resent. Therefore, it behooved every system to keep a couple-day or couple-week log of data sitting on the node on the off-chance something needed to be pulled again. This of course didn’t count the data that had to sit for longer (such as census data, tax data, etc.) on the off chance that a backup was needed from a few years ago.
Really, just think of it as a 2 month real-time moment-by-moment backup of the entire Internet and you’re starting to get an idea as to what I’m talking about in terms of scope and amount of data stored. Even though their memory capacity was vast it was not infinite, and sections would be wiped – purged – if they were deemed out of date or no longer necessary. The only parts that would be ignored (and logged as ignored) are the parts that were actively being used; Who was there, why they were there and what they were doing would be noted and logged in a government database for some policy wonk to review and figure out if the algorithm needed tweaking sometime in the next couple decades.
However, when you’ve created an arguably extremely illegal server on a government rack that exists to drain the pent-up excitement of shitposters hyped for their new human neighbors, you very much don’t want to be on that list. Hell, you don’t want anyone to even know that bit of server space was being used!
So, wordlessly the entire server – well, almost the entire server, logged right off and started to wipe their history. After the purge the same secret path to the same server location would exist, and the world could be rebuilt. Anyone who stayed online would be … still there when everyone came back, but their personal info would be stamped for everyone to see. It’s the death of anonymity, and the absolute last thing anyone wanted was that kind of blackmail to exist.
[Stole_yo_girl_and_dumped_her] cringed, externally, and looked at the AFK [JOHN MADDEN]. “[I’m sorry.]” he said softly, as he logged off.