Fragment #103: The story of the world builders [1]

Pul’Mars, the home on dust, was not always as it is now: a wasteland of ruins of deserted tunnels. Neither did Lottir, which once was Venus, always run deep with oceans full of life and wild with storms of rain. Nor could plain folk, such as you or I, once walk upon the surface of Jar’Frir, the Garden of Ice, as though we stroll through a park in winter time. These were once landscapes of hell, where none could breathe and where blood in your veins would freeze or boil in an instant.

And those that changed these rough wilds into homeland were called the planet builders, and they were three.

Pul’Mars, or simply Mars as it was known then (an ancient word denoting ‘Red Planet’ or ‘The Red Dust’) was a desert of rock and ice, much like it returned to after the Catastrophe that befell those unfortunates. But for a while, for a fleeting thousand years, it teemed with life. You and I could walk upon its rich highland pastures and walk in its beautiful ravines, heavy with the scent of oak. And this was all because of one man and what he accomplished; the genius of Oba Masso.

The first settlers of Mars – men and women of my own – were spoken of having arrived in the year 1100, or thereabouts. They were sages-research and engineers, pioneers who were staking the ground for others of their kind to follow. And they came in ancient craft, fragile and pale, without the aid of the Controls and shielding of our modern landers. As we all know, the first settlement was called Ancilia, named by those folk from Pacifica, itself a name from their forgotten past. But Ancilia perished shortly afterwards, within less than a year, all its folk taken by the harsh wind and cold everlasting winter of this roughest of planets. But their sacrifice left a beacon on the red dust of Mars, a promise that more would come.

Those that followed came from the Jicktan Aggregate, with immense plans composed in the four libraries built into the mountains of the Hima. And for here it was that Ida Masso was brought, as a child, from her homeland in Africk, the third child of a poor engineer. Here she grew up among the sages of the mountains, learning all she knew of the universe. She moved between the four peaks, those ancient centres of Jicktan learning – Makalu, Makaslu, Nanga and Namcha – learning from her father and learning from those around her. Her talent was recognised and she was picked by the sages for great education. And she committed her life and her family to be part of the next great quest to Mars. 

So it came to be that she rode on the famous module, the PiercingOrchid, as it flew towards the red planet. On this flight she met Bee, a quiet man who thought only of leaves and sunlight, and they fell in love. When they landed, in the settlement they called Deyi, Ida and Bee were the first to be married in that new land. And their children helped to grow Deyi from small beginnings to the vast city that it became. 

And Ida’s second child kept her family name, and this was Goda, and he became an engineer on the red planet, and built a vast empire and built vast wealth upon the rocks and ores that he mined from his home. But still he walked upon the surface of his planet in a protective suit, unable to breathe the air. And this saddened him. But he could not see any means of changing the will of Tolos. And he sent his children to Terra to learn all they could of how he might make Pul’Mars a home for the one million that had now arrived upon its highlands and ravines.

And the first of his children was Oda Masso.

In Oda Masso, all the genius of his forebears burst into fruition, in a young man who could see all of nature as one and could manipulate it to his will. So it came to be that Oda Masso returned to his grandmother’s centres of learning in the peaks of Hima, travelling from Makalu, to Makaslu, to Nanga and to Namcha. And they taught him all that they know, but still it wasn’t enough. Then he travelled through the new cities of Ol-Bonda, of Pacifica, through the libraries of the Ropan Confederacy, even making the journey across the seas to the people of WesterIsle to be taught the secrets of Controls. And he learned more during this time than any before him, for he had his father’s will spurring him on. 

But still he had not learned how to make the air sweet to breathe on Pul’Mars and he returned to Nanga, full of sadness at his failure. So he left the confines of the steep towers of the library and took longer and longer walks. And as he walked higher and higher on the rocky slopes of the mountain, he looked out across the clouds passing beneath him, and he saw the vultures soar and he struggled to breathe in the thin air.

And then he saw how it might become right for his homeland. 

And so he returned to his dying father, where he promised him that he would remove the domes that imprisoned their cities. And his father was glad. And Oda Masso inherited the company and he used the mining company’s vast wealth and he began to build. And Masso ceased to be a company that was known for what it mined to be one that was known for what it built. And Masso built upon the dust and built in the sky, vast barrel orbiters, composed of the grit of asteroids, decades to build and decades to sail, and parked them above the green plains of their new home, Pul’Mars. 

But Masso’s best work was the Towers. And they built the North Bisect, the South Bisect and the Equatorial Ring of the towers, the vast conditioners that rose above the deserts. And when they were flooded with the power of Tolos, and they received the signal package from the sages of Terra. This was the Control called by many names but one we remember was simply Niord, the device which would control the towers, and which would make the clouds and the rains and which made the air so that you or it could breathe and could bask in the light of Tolos. 

And the weeks and months passed, and even the years, but it came to pass upon one bright morning, when Tolos’ rays warmed the assembled masses that Oda Masso stood before them and removed his helm and took the first, sweet breath of his home, the home on dust, Pul’Mars.

And these huge towers stood firm for a thousand years, letting the second planet of the human species spread their work. Until they were lost in the Catastrophe. And the winds of Tolos blew away the air from their homeland, and they left their cities and their farms and their woodlands empty, for their people had retreated to the orbiters, and to the other planets and moons, and never again would they walk in their highland pastures or their oaken ravines.

But still they remembered Oda Masso, for he was the first of planet builders.

Fragment # 221: The Three Endings of the Dolphins

A Terran leader, Primary Allaina Alphaniedes Lajpana, once lived in an archipelago of islands in the southern oceans, called the Melvief Isles. She ruled a vast oceanic empire, the Melian Empire, from the subcontinental seas to the coasts of ancient Africk and around the disentangled shores of Indonia and Oz. Her peoples’ power came from the nutrition of the red seaweed farms that floated upon these rich waters, and the ruthless drone pirates that protected them. The most exotic fish that graduates from her famous School of Water could breed swam in the artificial reefs, and lived among the fronds of the seaweed. And she herself was famous for her skills in breeding fish, and in diving the reefs and in racing her school of swordfish pets. But none were to know that she was about to commit the worst atrocity of all Terra.

Allaina was the great-granddaughter of the master reef-builder Primary Kaey Lajpana, who built up his Empire over the course of his lifetime, setting off hundreds of farming platforms onto the turquoise seas, to ride the monsoons and to return to his archipelago, swimming under their own command, when they were fully grown. But his son, Alphaneides Hutti Lajpana, was slothful and lazy, taking on the throne late in life, and letting their enemies steal the seaweed platforms, letting their wealth slip away. His fell into his dotage and the power of his people waned, until his daughter suggested calling upon the protective arm of the pirate enclaves up the shores of Oz and the tip of Africk. After much querulous argument, the old man finally agreed to these plans and they sent out ambassadors to the pirate enclaves. Most were returned to the Primary as rough parcels of meat. Of those that returned unharmed, they spoke only of indifference from the pirates. So Secondary Allaina, as she was known at that time, set out herself on her war catamaran to visit all the pirate enclaves. Over the course of two years, she spoke with eachl of them, travelling every coast and aquainting herself with the coves and lagoons of her future empire. As she travelled, her father expired, drowning in his private sea, to be picked at by frigate birds, and she inherited his crown. So strong were her words and so powerful was her will, that the pirate chiefs agreed to her conditions and they formed a bond and an alliance. They were augmented by the autoyachts of the Ol-Bondan people, bought at great expense, which arrived to usher her back to her island palace in Melvief.

And though the people of the Melvief were wary of Allaina’s plans, though they did nothing for they saw that her father had been slothful and useless and they hoped that she might carry something of her grandfather’s greatness. And they were rewarded, for the credit repaid itself a hundred times over, and the pirate enclaves and the seaweed farmers together formed the most powerful empire the southern oceans had seen, keeping their turquoise Terran paradise safe and letting their people educate and civilise themselves. And the coasts of Oz and the tip of Africk were no longer wilderlands. And they grew great observatory towers and sank deep aquariums. And the decaying Jicktan settlements on the subcontinent once more rang with the credit of their magnificent days.

But one day, Allaina heard tales that there had come into her realm a new species of sea mammal, one that had not been seen before. It was a breed of dolphin, a black creature with a blue wave upon its beak. And these dolphins spoke and sang to one another, and they could learn to understand the speech of humans. Tales were told that these were a new species, intelligent like humanity, but still growing and seeking to understand how to live in the world. None could say whether they had been engineered to this path by other intelligences or whether they had been born of nature, evolving naturally to exist in the new playgrounds of the oceans.

But though they were intelligent like humanity, they were also crude and wild and misbehaved, and they enjoyed nothing more than to play in her reefs and to steal her beautiful new breeds of fish. And she grew tired of their play and demanded answers and that they were to be brought before her. So the pod of these speaking dolphins were called to her palace in the Melvief isles and she brought interpreters and held counsel with them, demanding that they desist from their actions. But they were wayward and comical and made jokes at her expense and sprayed her and her retinue with water. She dismissed them from her sight but, a day later, she heard word that they had entered her imperial lagoon and taken all of her swordfish pets, leaving their mangled remains. And all her thoughts were bent towards revenge, for Primary Allaina, though clever like her grand-father, had also taken on his pride, and she was wroth with the dolphins and wanted them dead.

So first she sent out word to all her pirates that they were to slaughter all dolphins they came across. They asked her if she wanted these dolphins, the black dolphins with the blue wave on their beak, to be eliminated only? And she told them, no, eliminate all dolphins they could see with their eyes. But this was not enough. So she sent word that they were to chase and hunt down all dolphins they could identify on their sensors. And this came to pass and the seas of the southern oceans ran red with the blood of the mammals and their carcasses floated, rotting in the sun, until they sank beneath the waves and the crabs of the sand and the worms of the deep feasted for long weeks on fresh flesh. And this was the First Ending of the Dolphins.

But still the dolphins were there. And her people told Allaina that she had ended the life of the intelligent strain, that all that were left were the dumb creatures of before their coming. But still she wasn’t content. She was afraid that they were waiting to emerge from their hiding places, that they would evolve again, that whoever had released them upon the world was going to do the same. So she bred sharks of such savagery that they would rip the dolphins to shreds and she sent them, in secret, out to all the oceans and rivers of the world, to do her dark work for her here. And the oceans of all the world ran red with the blood of all dolphins. And this was the Second Ending of the Dolphins.

And by these deeds, she raised the ire of the Ol-Bandons and the quiet folk of WesterIsle and even the fury of their trading companions the Jicktans, who loved the sea and loved the dolphins most of all, and they sent their navies to patrol their waters and her waters. But the damage was done, for the seas of all the world fell foul of the rotting corpses of dolphinkind.

But, though she had destroyed so much, she knew all the seas and even some of the rivers of Terra still held her enemy. So, though the navies patrolled her empire and watched every act of her people, cautious of her hatred, still she pursued her wicked end. And, in secret, she used her knowledge and the knowledge of the sages in her School of Water, to breed a virus that would only pass between dolphins but that would lie dormant across all the reefs and wrecks of the world. And, on one night of full moon and raging waves, she swam out to the reef around her island palace and herself released the disease into the waters in the form of a small black, poison fish.

It took weeks, months, years before the full truth became known, but by that time the horrible deed was complete. There were no more dolphins swimming in any waters of any oceans, any seas, lakes or rivers of Terra. And none could breed more from their secret archives of code, for fear of the dormant virus re-emerging and destroying them once more. And this was the Third Ending of the Dolphins.

And the whole of Terra, never commonly united, in this age rose as one and fell upon the small empire of Primary Allaina Alphaniedes Lajpana, taking her red seaweed farms and disarming their pirates, and destroying all the poison fish from her breeder aquariums.

But they were too late, for the dolphins had perished, and could not return for the disease lived on forever in the corals, and they were saddest of all, for they were the only other animal from Terra with whom they were close to conversing with of the complexity of existence and of the beauty of abstract thought.

And the people of Terra never forgave themselves for letting this come to pass, and the three endings of the dolphins will remain forever as a warning to those who were to come after.

Fragment #445: The rise of WesterIsle

It came to pass, in years between 250 and 260 YS*, that a band of the wise and the rich of the Fifty States, together with a few from the Five Eyes and early Ropans, spent their credit lines in building an archipelago of floating devices and setting them in the waves of the the Holy Pacific. Starting as only a few hundred, then a few thousand then tens of thousands, they made their way to these floating homes. But it was not the destination of all people, for those who came to live upon these devices had to pass mighty tests of intellect and of the best values, such that they were deemed worthy to live among their elite peers.

And these islands were named WesterIsle.

Pacifica was the nation closest to the archipelago of WesterIsle and they grew rich on the trade, selling necessary food and clothing to the people of the islands, who sold them incredible technologies in return. And Pacifica became a mighty military power as a result, which made their neighbours envious and their enemies afraid. And they found means to steal the resources from the rest of the world, without their enemies knowing they were there, through silent drones and secret warfare.

And WesterIsle built their home to greater heights, extending their people onto cathedrals of learning on Luna, into beautiful orbiters and also with some of the earliest outposts on Pul’Mars. Over the course of two hundred years, this exclusive tribe of people built their own heavenly realm on Terra, living to being the most educated, the most distinguished, the most cultured.

But they became too powerful, too proud, too excluded from their fellow Terrans. They were almost a different species on their own planet. And there came a time when the Lowly Alliance formed, among nearly all the remaining nations and conglomerates of Terra and they moved on all of WesterIsle’s beautiful palaces and libraries and they threatened their destruction.

And the people of WesterIsle, though proud, were farsighted and saw their downfall, at least in their current earthly incarnation, so they dismantled their academic institutions, they sank their gardens of orchids and lilies into the Holy Pacific, they opened their doors to all on their Luna and their Pulmartian settlements, and they gave away their wealth to all, slipping away themselves to live among their fellow beings.

There were tales told of these days, where the members of Lowly Alliance, still angry and embittered, tried to make life hard and painful for the people of WesterIsle, but they found they were unable to hold their victims for long, for though they lived alongside them, they were a farsighted folk, who seemed able to predict all of their enemies’ moves before they knew it themselves. So, the resentment remained, but there was no longer a target for their rage. And the memories of WesterIsle’s magnificent gardens and cathedrals of learning passed into history and legend. But the people who once called themselves people of WesterIsle kept their memories, for the retention of their learning was their calling, and they created the first archive, spread across all of their descendents, kept secret, encrypted and secure.

And eventually, a thousand years later, they walked upon the dust of the Galilean moons, on the volcanoes of Firmellion, and they looked up at the birthing orbiters and they knew that their greatest work was about to be born.

* Years of Sol