(A of C) aSG: The Ladies Awe-Inspiring: Tailor's Honor #1

Eric Burns eaburns at annotations.com
Tue Jul 10 09:37:29 PDT 2018

     In the Altiverse known as 000SUPERGUY, there was a series of wars
on the planet Earth in the local years (Gregorian, because Gregory insisted)
1997-1998. They were called the Genocidal Wars, because a lot of people died
for absolutely no reason. They involved the Awe-Inspiring Force and their
terrible leader Lady Awe-Inspiring on one side, the Unimaginable League
stitched together through the horrifyingly amplified powers of Geneva
-- once called Psybernet -- on another, and a coalition of heroic allies and
nations and peoples who came together on the third. One of those allied
belonged to Admiral Katherine Morgan of the Bwahaharan Empire.
     And like I said, on 000SUPERGUY... the good guys won. And sure, there
repercussions, but there always are, right?
     But it's interesting. If one crosses through the myriad byways of the
Altiverses, one comes across an entire different Milliversal Sheaf --
headed by
one 000ALTSUPERGUY. And interestingly enough, no doubt by sheer coincidence,
its history was exactly the same as 000SUPERGUY's... until the Genocidal
of 1997-1998.
     In this altiverse, the allies still prevailed... but the Lady and
survived -- the only ones of their respective teams. And Admiral Morgan
survived as well, of course.
     It was 2021 before anyone knew what that survival meant. The resulting
bloody death and destruction was known by many names, but most notably
known as
the Android Tyranny. The old generation of heroes fell almost to a man, but
their children took up the cause, with the daughters of the Lady
and Geneva Roulette standing with that next generation.
     In the process, the Lady detonated a Spam/Anti-Spam Cascade that made
Overly Hyped Drive and all other then-known FTL nigh unusable throughout the
galaxy. Galactic empires that had withstood millenia vanished as planets
out of contact with one another. The "Alamo's Revenge's Revenge"
And the entirety of the Xolchipalian Empire, more ancient than all others...
was simply gone, with only a few ruins scattered throughout a galaxy that
now so far... and so distant.
     It was the end of the Age of Heroic Intent. But it was the beginning of
the Age of Humanity... reduced to one tenth their original population, they
stood up. They rebuilt. They colonized their home systems. They colonized
stars, slowly at first, then gradually finding new ways to do what had once
been done through Overly-Hyped.
     A displaced Bwaha population and the loyalists of the finally-dead Lady
Awe-Inspiring went into a voluntary exile in a series of space stations on
far side of the sun, watched over and steered by Lady Awe-Inspiring II and
Queen of the Dreaming. Their descendents flourished, as two populations on
Station City-States became one... as new humanities appeared on Mars, on the
Jovians, on Progenitor Colony on Titan, and even out far distant among the
stars, making their own way, and gradually making the children of humanity
distinct species for generations.
     It is the year 2601, only a few scant months since the sixteen year old
Lady Awe-Inspiring 16 took the mantle of the Ladyship upon her mother's
But we do not start on the Station City-States, or on Terra, or anywhere in
System. No, we look to the stars... 39.6 light years away, in the Trappist
system, where seven worlds orbit a single red dwarf star...
     And, to no one's surprise, we start all this with a discussion on tea.

                             ALTERNATE SUPERGUY


                                   Book I
                               Tailor's Honor

                                   Part 1
                              Eric Burns-White

Trappist System
Planet Cloister
Dorhety Region (TSZ-2)
North Shielaton
The Teahouse
2061-02-07 Planetary Union Standard

     The Teahouse didn't have a lot of advertising. There were no digital
or outreaches on Cloister's infinet offering coupons or extolling virtues.
There were no paid-for reviews or testimonials. Even the shop itself lacked
language other than the flat black sign hanging in front of the low wooden
building's door -- the sign was cast iron and depicted an old style of
Beyond that, the building had wide timber construction and panes of glassite
letting in the eternal light in one side. At this point, it had been there
decades, people figured. Centuries was closer to the truth, but thanks to
low profile the Teahouse didn't really attract that much notice.
     But, for those that knew these things and passed them along to their
friends, the Teashop was known to have the best brewed tea on Cloister
-- and probably the best cuppa in Trappist System, if not in all of the
Planetary Union outside of Sol System and Terra itself. Which wasn't bad
you remembered that the Tailor -- *the* Tailor to some, *Mister* Tailor to
others, and just 'Tailor' to friends -- didn't even consider the Teahouse
actual primary business. Well, not as a tea shop, anyhow.
     Trappist System hadn't been the closest to Sol System when
had begun to reach for the stars in the years following the Android
Tyranny. At
the time, the old methods of FTL had been made extremely unreliable on a
galactic scale, which had broken apart ancient star empires even as others
faded away. In the early 21st Century, the galaxy had been moderately
Then, the distances between worlds had become vast once again.
     Trappist wasn't as close to Sol as, say, Hope Colony in Berenice Beta
System (Beta Comae Berenices on the old charts)-- much less Arus Colony in
System (Ross 128b) at a scant 11 light years from Sol -- but the
wave that had distorted the various methods of hyperspatial travel hadn't
as perilous a route to reach the cool, red dwarf star, and unlike almost any
other potential colony Trappist didn't have one or two but *seven*
productive worlds, the majority of which had water and potential bases
could be
placed. Thus, Trappist System became home to the first of the Far Colonies,
they were called back then. Nearly five hundred years later, four of the
had thriving independent colonies that were all Planetary Union members, and
the other three worlds all had permanent habitation -- all orbiting a dim
dwarf not that much larger than a gas giant. The worlds were so perfect for
colonization and exploitation one almost believed the old Authorists had
right -- all seven planets in resonant orbits, tidally locked, with
nigh-unchanging climates. While not all could be lived on without effort, it
was still a bonanza back in the day.
     Five hundred years later, with the Shiftdrive stitching the Planetary
Union back together within days or hours of travel instead of months or
(and moderately safely to boot), millions of people lived on the planets
orbiting Trappist -- so close together that separate worlds looked more like
moons in each others' sky. As the worlds were tidally locked, the planets
had permanent populations saw those populations living along a terminator
right on the border between the eternally sunlit side of the planet and the
eternal night opposite. The thicker and damper the atmosphere, the more
carried over to the dark side.
     Beyond that, the close, resonant orbits of the worlds created a climate
the colonists could work with. On Planet Cloister -- Trappist IV -- the
orbited Trappist every six point one standard days. All the sunlight hitting
the substeller point in the sunward hemisphere caused cloud formations and
to rise rapidly, flowing back towards the cold nightward hemisphere. The
orbital period meant that there was a strong westward flow as well, as the
Coriolis effect did its job. Because the orbits of the worlds were nearly
circular -- which allowed for their resonant orbits to exist -- there was
little climactic variation in Cloister's six day whirl around Trappist.
     As a result, it rained often along the terminator line, but the
temperature didn't change much. The warm air blowing back onto the nightside
let a good number of colonists live in twilight 'bedroom communities' where
sun never rose and work in the eternal dawn or early morning just over the
terminator line. The further over the terminator you went, the warmer things
got and the less likely people would settle.
     The sprawling metropolitan area of North Shielaton was in Sunward Zone
(or SZ-2 for short). The zone, circling the planet North to South, was
considered the "tropical" zone on Cloister. The sun was high enough over the
horizon to be an actual circular star -- mountains willing -- but not so
as to make life unbearable. Beachfront areas along the inland seas were
in this zone. Humidity was high. A lot of people loved visiting SZ-2, but
almost no one wanted to live there. It was too hot, and a bit far to commute
over the terminator line to the nightside hemisphere.
     But, between tourism, industry, agriculture, and a cultural bias
waste, North Shielaton had no shortage of residents. And, as with any place
considered 'undesirable permanent living space,' a good number of those
residents were on the lower end of the economic scale -- with all the
opportunities that came from that type of inequity.
     The Tailor, as most people knew him, had been amused by this since he
emigrated to Cloister -- and he had emigrated long before most of Cloister's
population had even been born. All the terms for crime he'd grown up with
invoked darkness. "Shady business." "The Underworld." "The Dark Economy."
so many others. But on Cloister, those businesses naturally gravitated to
places where the sun never went down at all. It got worse in Sunward Zone
3, of
course. Sunward Zone 4 didn't have enough permanent residents to make a
difference, at least at North Shielaton's latitude.
     Nonetheless, Tailor quite liked North Shielaton. It was convenient for
both sides of his business. On the one hand, there was his tea shop. Tea had
followed Humaniformity to the stars with only moderate local gengineering.
the decades, Tailor had bought and cultivated a lot of land south of North
Shielaton, focusing on rough terrain with lots of hills, mountains and
with very little productive metal but lots of potential for reengineered
Since the sun never moved in the sky, one could use different altitudes on
mountains, sunward and nightward, to create consistent conditions. Adding in
appropriate growth lighting or solar refraction gave him the chance to
cultivate many varieties of *Camellia sinensis,* ranging from modified Wuyi
teas to Assams to various greens and oolongs. Most of the day to day was
automated and programmed into agricultural systems that monitored the plants
and made adjustments from pest control through water levels up to pruning or
harvesting. Still, there were plenty of steps that needed people to
the machines -- the Carlton Tea Company of Outer Shielaton, Cloister was a
moderately large employer in areas where employment wasn't always great.
     Tailor had spent years tinkering with cultivars, hybrids and soils,
finding the best way to produce drinkable teas so many light years from
the evergreen bush that produced all proper tea first evolved. It was
the most relaxing part of his day to day routine. He had also spent years
perfecting tea brewing techniques for Cloister -- every world was different,
after all, with differences of gravity, of atmospheric pressure, of local
mineral content in the water, and so many other intangibles making a
predictable brewing technique that produced excellent tea on Earth produce
undrinkable sludge on Cloister.
     As a result, exported Carlton teas did quite well as a perennial
moneymaker -- and agriculture was a surprisingly good mechanism for money
laundering, to boot. And despite the aforementioned lack of advertising the
Teahouse had a solid, regular clientele. Patrons who came in would be
to one of any number of rooms on different floors, from the workmen who came
for builder's tea before their shift to the parvenus who impressed dates
'this amazing little tea shop I found' and all the way to the wealthy who
rooms of their own set aside for privacy and for spending truly ridiculous
amounts of money on rare and imported blends.
     Still, all that was just a sideline. The Tailor didn't advertise
the Tailor's name was enough of a draw for his real business, and there were
rooms in the Teahouse where that business could be conducted as well.
     The timbers that made the building looked like real wood -- timber
framing, with half-meter by half-meter main beams that looked and smelled
old, weathered pine stained blond. In reality they were grown in a vat and
significantly stronger, as were the 'planks' and joists. Throughout, hidden
sensory kept tabs on every corner, undetectable by almost any standard gear.
Long before Cloister had been settled, the Tailor had had access to
unknown to the Union even today, and he'd only improved on it in the
     Throughout the rest of the building, young men and woman -- some as
as fifteen standard years old, some as old as twenty two -- acted as staff.
Cleaning, seating, tea-making, and servicing equipment -- learning various
skills and trades in private. The Tailor had a knack for finding students
more promise than prospects. Their families generally appreciated their
children having a place to go around their secondary school schedules -- or
appreciated them having work, be it full or part time. Truth be told, more
them appreciated the income than the opportunity, but the Tailor wasn't
a charity himself. That said, if 'one of his' had problems, they often found
themselves with a room on the premises.
     The Tailor himself was back in the Library -- a misnomer, as what few
pre-digital books were in the building weren't kept here. Instead, holostats
gleamed on glassite, showing scenes in different parts of the Teahouse,
with toggles for discretion. One of the services that the Tailor provided
privacy -- that included from himself, though passive sensory would always
him know if someone were stupid enough to start a fight in the Teahouse.
     Courtney was at the host's station, smiling and having runners bring
newcomers who came in the upper entrance. Most workmen entered on the lower
level -- there to drink tea, enjoy the local menu, and yell at the
holostats or
generally have fun. The Tailor had noticed over time that if a pub were
familiar enough and fit the needs of the clientele well enough you could cut
the actual alcohol out and soon enough no one would care. It was amazing how
many people showed up for iced sweet chamomile and valerian blends
if it meant they got to watch sports vids imported from across the Union,
especially if they'd gotten into the habit with their parents or
Or great-grandparents, even.
     The people who came through the upper entrance were either looking for
something more genteel or something more private. Courtney and her staff
sort them out well enough, though the sensory would pick out people and run
them long before they made it anywhere interesting in the Teahouse. There
also an Aft entrance called 'the kitchen door' though it was nowhere near
kitchen processors or cookers. Some of the Tailor's best paying customers
in that way -- they usually didn't want to be seen, and all too often the
Tailor's everyday clientele didn't want to see them either.
     But you had to be an existing customer or have a very specific
referral to
come through the kitchen door. Some prospective 'special customers' came in
lower level entrance, more comfortable with the working class than the
     Some, but by no means all.
     There were three tones of alert as three people walked through the
entrance. Two of them were men, wearing dark blue uniforms -- private
with corporate insignia. The third was a woman in a black traveler's jumper
over bodysuit. Most such things were meant to be comfortable for long trips
aboard star liners or other craft. Some -- like what this woman was wearing
was cut in that style but was clearly significantly more expensive. Her hair
was near-black and tapered to a widow's peak, her skin dusky with a hint of
unnatural blue undertone. Blue probably meant Galloglass Colony --
humaniform-galloglass had been tailored for darker climates and lower
as well as an atmosphere that wasn't quite suited for humaniform-terra. The
tone was just an accent in her case, so she was probably two or three
generations interbred with non-galloglasi.
     The Tailor watched, impassively, as the sensory cataloged the various
weapons and gear the three carried. The two men were clearly bodyguards,
pretty standard kit. Their sidearms were multigun carbines with projectile,
pacifier, hazer and pulse chambers that could be rotated into place.
Worthington D-657s. Pricy but not particularly unusual. Their uniforms were
armored, as was her's. The former wasn't anything unusual -- the latter was.
Some business-folk had basic defensive or comfort bodysuits, but most didn't
bother. When they did, they didn't usually bother to conceal it. She also
had a
bone conductor behind her right ear to feed her audible information, a basic
sensory more advanced -- and automatic -- than the security scanners the
had on their belts, and a higher-end comm that wasn't as off the shelf as it
looked. A couple of goons working for an otherwise sharp magnate who wasn't
up and up as she appeared at first glance.
     The Tailor let the sensors gather data about the three and discretely
place system inquiries. It was always best to identify potential clients
of time. In the meantime, he enabled audio on that screen.
     "Welcome," Courtney said, cheerfully. "Are you here just for tea or
you be dining with us this evening." She didn't identify the Teahouse by any
name. Even 'the Teahouse' was only the place's name by convention.
     One of the bodyguards stepped forward. "We're here to see the Tailor,"
said. Idly, the Tailor watched the system begin adding his voice to the
biometrics it was already collecting.
     "Excuse me?" Courtney asked, looking puzzled. "I'm sorry, we sell tea
here. The garment district is about four bocks down Ninth. We have a retail
entrance if you're looking to buy bulk tea or--"
     "Yeah, yeah," the bodyguard said. "Tea. We're not here for tea. We know
the score, okay? We're here to see the Tailor."
     The Tailor reached down and thumbed a green square on his holostat
It turned yellow. A new holostat window spawned along the glassite and he
three of his own moving to be ready to assist. Not that he expected to need
     "I'm sorry... I really am. I'd be glad to get you a table or booth. We
have public holostat so you could easily find a recommended clothier--"
     "Maybe I'm not making myself clear, little girl." the bodyguard said,
moving closer to the station. "We're here to see the *Tailor.* Now make that
happen or--"
     Courtney's eyes grew wide and she shrank back, but according to the
sensory her heart rate was steady. You had to be good to work the hostess
station. She touched her station's own holostat panel. Behind her, the
invisible glassite panel covering the back wall of the hostess's foyer
into six holostat screens, each showing the newcomers and Courtney from
different angles. "I'm sorry," she said, still managing to affect fear in
voice and posture. "By policy any actions that seem coercive or threatening
automatically recorded and will be transmitted to the Union Constabulary
the security office cancels the transmission. We have no interest in causing
     *That* spiked both bodyguards' vitals. The Tailor smiled a bit. Always
good to confirm a prospective client wanted to stay off the UC's radar. Just
then, a new screen spawned -- this one identifying the bodyguard who'd

Westergren, Henry Alfred - Age 26 Std
Citizenship: The Jovians
Registered Planet of Residence: Galloglass Colony
Registered Employment: Madraí Caomhnóra Security Services contracted to
Planetary Visa Status: Union Freedom of Movement (Tourist Ultd, Business 8

     There were a few background flags reflecting some trouble with the law
his past, but nothing that would disqualify him from security work. Almost
quickly as Westergren had been identified, the system pulled up his fellow
bodyguard -- Romuald Handal, late of Mars, now like Westergren a Galloglass
resident contracted with Madraí Caomhnóra and assigned to Ceardaí
Handal was a few years older -- almost certainly more seasoned. Seven to
Handal let Westergren do the talking to keep his own neck from being
     The system hadn't found the woman yet, but it was undoubtedly going
through registered Ceardaí Industrial personnel as well as crosschecking the
visa lists. Not all the checks were strictly speaking legal, of course. As
watched the system identify the three, the Tailor kept an eye on the trio.
guards were both anxious now, shifting to cover the woman. The Tailor's own
security was poised -- if they decided to make a move regardless of the
or didn't respond quickly enough...
     The Tailor tapped a few controls on his holostat panel, feeling the
haptics in his fingertips. Sending a hold to security and discretely
Courtney of that fact. His eyes stayed on the woman... *she* wasn't anxious,
but she was flushed with annoyance...
     "That absolutely won't be necessary," she said, stepping forward out of
the protective cover of the two bodyguards. She smiled a very professional
smile. "Some tea sounds absolutely lovely. Preferably in private -- I have a
few discreet calls I need to make and I need to discuss a few things with my
     The Tailor smiled. He knew this couldn't have been her first time
the block--
     Another window opened -- this one listing out her statistics:

Clemmont, Cassandra - Age 34 Std
Citizenship: Galloglass Colony
Registered Planet of Residence: Galloglass Colony
Registered Employment: Ceardaí Industrial - R&D Division (Exec Vice
Board of Directors
Planetary Visa Status: Intracolonial Business Fellowship Member (unlimited

     Below that were the basics -- her business affiliations and honors. She
looked like management instead of an actual technologist, but she was high
in. There was enough in there to suggest she'd been under suspicion of some
shady dealings in the past, but no convictions for her nor direct
back to Ceardaí Industrial. Ceardaí itself seemed like one of those
parent companies that owned a good sized chunk of the total business on
colony. Beyond that, it had some investments in Sol System, Trappist --
directly impacting the Tailor -- Mercer Colony and elsewhere.
     Most importantly, the Tailor knew her credit rating -- both the
one for business purposes and the unofficial one that was the Tailor's real
interest. He smiled just a bit. Always good to up cash flow from new
He tapped a few commands into his panel.
     Down below, Courtney didn't react visibly, but she did reach over and
cancel the recordings. Well, the official ones. Unofficially... you don't
into a person's place of business and issue threats. Not and keep guaranteed
privacy. "Of course, ma'am," she said, getting her smile back -- though she
managed to look spooked at the same time. Courtney really was a good
"Why don't I bring you down to one of our VIP booths. It has a station
built in
so we can brew the tea in front of you."
     "She said private--" Westergren started to say.
     "That sounds lovely," Handal cut in, firmly. The Tailor could
that. There reached a point where keeping your neck covered just exposed
back, after all.
     Courtney nodded. "Of course. Xingyue? Would you please show our guests
Lower Suite B3?"
     Xingyue was actually one of the security operatives -- smart on
part -- but when she stepped around she looked like a standard secondary
student picking up easy part time work. "This way, please," she said with a
smile, and began leading the two to lower level B. It was below the
pub level, with a lot of extra security -- not to mention being literally

(Part B Follows)
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