Fragment #103: The story of the world builders [2]

Fair Loittir, known in those days as ancient Venus (a Ropan goddess of fire and vengeance), raged with clouds of flame and acid and held no cities of folk. It was a hidden place, lurking beneath storms of hate and spite. Early settlers, who tried build their cloud cities in the habitable zone, burned up and fell into the cauldron below, and none could hear their screams save the dumb Controls, which had failed them. But still they came, for Venus was the twin of Terra, the harder sibling, the Elder Sister, the Furnace, the Morning and the Evening Star.

And then the people of Verteia came and saw that they could soothe this world.

There are those who call Verteia a company. And they are half right and they are half wrong. Vertaia emerged as a force, as a nation, as a faith, in the year 160 YS. Born of nothing more than the will and the words of one woman, Kimi Baba-lal Umma, and the thousands that flocked to her stories. She told stories of what might be. And these are the most powerful of all stories.

Kimi Baba was raised as an orphan from the hot lands of the Jicktan peninsula, learning from her robot tutors and passed around the collectives that came and went in her sun-and-rain drenched beach. She loved nothing more than swimming in the ocean, playing games of daring between the auto-yachts and diving to rap on the windows of the toy submarines. Her greatest sadness was the knowledge that she would never swim with the dolphins of the old days, for they had passed from memory, left only in visuals and films. Her favoured beach, the beach she trod upon every morning, come rain or sun, had once been banked with the corpses of the dolphins massacred by Allaina. And she had never forgotten.

And she had turned her eyes to the sky and vowed that she would make a better world, one where the evil of the Terrans could never tread.

And her eyes fell upon the Morning Star. And she dreamed.

It was common, in those days of increasing plenty, that not every person took a profession. Food and heat and shelter was abundant, for the robot helpers – drawing their power from Tolos’ gift – ensured that there was no need for want or unhappiness. Even orphans had their place in the Jicktan empire, and so folk fell to different means of passing the daylight and evening hours. Some fell into creating great works of art, of doing great works of charity, of devoting their life to learning the smallest atom of knowledge on a subject

So Kimi Baba fell to telling stories to the children that played and swam along her beach. She told of tales of ships that bore people across the seas, and of carriers that took people across the darkness of space. She told tales of the courage of the hardy settlers of Pul’Mars, who took their drills to that chill place and made cities of it, and the pioneers that had explored, and still explore, the outer rims of the Tolosphere. To the gas-mining platforms of Kurkum, the One-Eyed King, and the methane-rigs above Titan, and the lonely research outstations of the Grey Lord, the Sea God. And she became the most famous of the storytellers, and she loved her stories of the moons and planets of her sun, and she loved the children and their parents that came to hear her talk.

But still she walked upon her beach and looked up at the Morning Star, and up at the Evening Star, and it was the brightest star in her sky. And she vowed that she must go there.

So she left the beach of the Jicktan peninsula, and she travelled the world, to the cities of Nelaga, in the remnant capital of Ol-Bonda, and to the new jungle-realm of Bolzilia, and the stilt-camps of northern Ciber, and she learned all she could of that which she loved most of all, which was the secrets of tides and of sands, and she made close friends of two others: Magda Lelustich, a Ciberan of the tallest height, and Davi Oolamdat Dav, a young man who said he came from all of Terra. And none doubted him.

And Kimi Baba, Magda Lelustich and Davi Oolamdat Dav all travelled on the research darter, Geode 765, to the cloud-stations above Venus, in the company of a joint Jicktan and Bolzilian company of researchers. But when they arrived, Kimi Baba was desolate, for she saw the truth of what she had seen from the beach. For Venus was also desolate, like all the stories said she was. And Kimi Baba witnessed the hardness and the furnace. And all the stories she had told to the children on the beach seemed like fairy tales to her now.

And she returned to Terra in desolation, leaving her friends in the cloud-stations. And this time was called the First Doubt of Kimi Baba.

But still the stories burned in her and, though she wandered Terra, seeking the bluest ocean, seeking the palest sands, still her thoughts returned to the Morning Star. It was always there, taunting her. And her wandering feet took her back to the stilt-camps of northern Ciber, and here — in the depths of winter — she saw the first of the newly-calved bergs draft from the pole. Never having seen ice of such dimensions, Kimi Baba was astonished and paddled out to the berg. And she climbed upon it, having no sense of its dangers, and rode upon this ice for two days and two nights, setting up camp and staring at the Evening Star and weeping for her friends being so far away.

And she made a beacon of flame on that berg, in the hope that some on that far off planet might see it and return to her. But none came and she saw the puddle of water that she had created.

And she understood what she must do.

For the next five years, Kimi Baba did not sleep longer than five hours each night. She called back her friends from Venus and set out for them her dreams and her stories and the path to reach them. And she called their venture Vertaia. She spoke to them of the most wonderful beaches in the whole universe, and the greatest of waves, and the most turquoise of lagoons. And they learned these stories and travelled the continents, re-telling them. And those they told retold in turn and so the stories of Kimi Baba spread to every corner of Terra.

And she took the money from her followers and she built a vast structure in the skies above Terra. And she called this place Vertaia. And the venture, which is also called Vertaia, grew to its full greatness.

And one day, a thousand people travelled on landers and carriers and whatever vehicle they could find, to come to her new structure. And they were the children of the beaches of southern Jickta, where she had taught. And they had spent their life dreaming the same dreams as Kimi Baba, and had learned the ways of the galaxy, and the forces of tides, and the terraforming of Pul’Mars, and powers of great engines. And she saw what she had done and she was afraid. And this was the second doubt of Kimi Baba.

But still she told her stories and this time she told of what should be done. And her followers travelled across all free lands of Terra and told their stories, gathering more followers still, and gathering the people of politics and of money. And they give their credit willingly, so much that Kimi Baba quickly became the wealthiest person in the Tolosphere.

And then she called all her followers to her and they started to work and they started to do, no longer talk, for they wanted to realise these stories. And first they went to beaches of southern Jickta. And second they went to the stilt-camps of northern Ciber. And last they went to great waterfalls of the highlands of Bolzilia. And all where they went, they understood the secrets of the universe’s water.

And then they went to the ruined places of Luna, still smouldering from the Secret War, and they learned of carriers and landers. And they went to the corporations of Pul’Mars and they learned of the secrets of the great Towers of Oda Masso. And they went to mining platforms of the gas giants, and further still to the insanity of the research stations of the ice giants.

And the name of Vertaia was known throughout the Tolosphere.

And they camped for a full Terran year on the icy craters of the Old Man’s moon, Yaro’Jul, where they befriended the people who called it home, the stout folk, the cold ones, the Olattim. And Kimi Baba sat on that ice and recalled her two days and two nights on the berg in the northern seas of Terra. And she dreamed of beaches of the hotter climes. And she remembered the barren heat of Venus.

So it came to pass that that Kimi Baba saw what she had to do. And she told her followers. And the stories go that they paid the Olattim there with a handful of Terran credit-lines for use of their moon and the Olattim who called it home were grateful, for their mines were poor and no longer sustained them or their children.

So she divided her followers into three camps. And one camp went with Davi Oolamdat Dav, inwards to the cloud stations of Venus. To prepare.

And Magda Lelustich and her followers were told to stay to divide the moon into parts. And they were told to work on that barren sphere of ice for full ten years.

But Kimi Baba returned to the structure of Vertaia, which flew above the tropical blue oceans of Terra. And there she oversaw the building of the largest engines that the Tolosphere has ever seen. Lugs the size of cities, light lances which could obliterate seas, grappling arms to lift islands from their rocky bed, robotic arrays of constructor mites which could darken the moon.

And all of Terra was in great alarm as what they saw in their sky. So Kimi Baba spent ten years travelling the courts of all the free lands in all of Terra, telling and retelling her story, until the terror at her works was quelled. But still delegations came from the cloud-city dwellers of Venus, for they had seen the works of Davi Oolamdat Dav and they were afraid for what may happen to their work. They saw vast shields being unfurled in the sky, and platforms capable of receiving a moon, and they knew that the Venus they had grown to love — barren though it was, dreadful its heat, hateful in its fury — was about to be destroyed forever. And the people of Terra listened to their pleas and the courts of Terra were wise and knew this to be the case. And they sent delegations of their own to the sky-factory of Vertaia and called upon Kimi Baba to cease in her work. And this was the Third Doubt of Kimi Baba.

But now a billion souls cried out in support of her dream. And they gave all their wealth and time to Vertaia. For they wanted to walk about the beaches she had foretold. Too many people now trod upon the soil of Terra, too many made filth in its waters, too many coughed their muck into its air. And the leaders in the courts of Terra knew this, and knew that their own troubles would be eased by listening to Kimi Baba’s words. And they were fearful of Vertaia’s power. So they ignored the delegations from Venus and gave Vertaia their blessing.

And so it came to pass that the vast engines which had grown in their sky-factory left their berths above Terra and set out on their long journey to the outer moons of the Tolosphere. And Kimi Baba rode on them, in their vanguard. So many years had passed now, that Kimi Baba was an old woman. But she still led her dream.

And she and Magda Lelustich were reunited and they embraced as long severed friends. And Kimi Baba looked upon the division of the moon and she was glad. And they used their lances, those which could boil oceans, on the ice moon of Yaro’Jul, which was called Rhea in the old tongue. And the lances cut to the core of that moon, and great volcanoes rent the surface and great spumes of dust were cast into the void, and there was such a light as has never been seen — and has not been seen again — in those dark outer circlets of the Tolosphere.

And some say the Old Man himself wept and slowed his movement, struck by the death of his daughter, and his tears created a new ring of ice tears which now encircles him.

But the work was completed, after five years of hard toil, and over that time, there was a caravan of ice bergs which flowed inwards, towards their destination, pulled by the fleet of lugs the size of cities. And Kimi Baba rode on the first of this bergs, and it took her two years to travel from the realms of the Old Man, into the light of Venus.

But then she arrived in the orbit above the Morning Star And she was greeted with great love by Davi Oolamdat Dav. And she left her berg and she cast it into the furnace and watched it burn up. And she watched the next burn up and the next and the next and the next, for fully five years.

And then she was joined by Magda Lelustich, who had rode upon the last piece of Yaro’Lul. All all three of those leaders of Vertaia that looked down upon the storm of the new world being born. And they saw that it was Venus no longer. And they were in awe of what they had done.

And they named that new world Loittir. And it was well-named, the land of leisure, for when the storms had subsided — after a decade — then Kimi Baba could see her story become real. And she, grey in hair and lined in face, descended to the surface and walked on the shores of her new land and looked up at the shields in the heavens and walked into the warm waters of her new home. And she held hands with her oldest friends, Magda Lelustich and Davi Oolamdat Dav, and they swam in the lagoons and marvelled at their works. For they had been formed in stories and in stories they will end.

And Verteia was the second of the planet builders.

Fragment #37: The death of Perypol and the First Protocol

It came to pass that, in the year 1080 YS, President Garcia — from the old nation of Pacifica — and Chairwoman Banxi Chen — from the then newly-formed federation of Jickta — signed an accord. This accord stated that their two nations would go into a joint venture on the northern pole of Luna, our only Terran moon. This accord was met with delight by all other peoples of Terra, for in it they foresaw peace and a future. For at this time, Pacifica and Jickta were on the verge of open war; one, a fading power, losing its people and its power to other countries, not least to this newly re-formed grand confederation; the other, a newly emerging force with a desire to demonstrate its standing. Both were struggling to retain (and to gain) total ownership of the world’s data streams, patrolling their edge of the vast ocean on their doorsteps with a terrifying navy of automated sail and submarine. Their engineers had grown a vast army of autonomous units, which hung in the skies above each land, seeking out the spybugs, which were sent across the ocean every day of the year.

So, when Garcia and Banxi Chen clasped hands, standing on the tiny oceanic platform of Aang that sat amid the waves which separated their two countries, all other nations on earth sighed and gave great cheer and there were celebrations that spanned days. 

But this was to be a fateful decision. 

Luna City — also called Lunopolis by some, of simply Luna in these years — the sprawling metropolis of mining corporations and specialist manufacturing industries, was already established across the craters of the southern hemisphere of the moon. For this reason, the joint venturers chose as the location for their grand project, the northern Lunar pole. They planned to build the most glorious city, for the most wealthy on Terra, for the most powerful, with towers tall to call sunlight at all hours of the day, to build bridges across the ravines and cut steps deep into the walls of the ancient craters. 

And this city was to be called Perypol.

And so it came to pass, in the year 1072 YS, that Banxi Chen and President Davezes (for Garcia has passed on her presidency in 1088) both travelled to their new playground in the sky and clasped hands and danced an ancient Ropan movement, for they both loved the ancient ways of the Ropans, and they loved the glittering lights of Perypol, and they loved that they had founded peace on Terra. And for many on Terra, even the wise ones and the ones with great foresight, they believed this peace would last eternally.  

But the engineers that had built the city, also filled it with a Control. This was called the same name of Perypol; those others have called it The Untrained One, and the First Control, and some even The Luna Martyr, but those voices are few. 

Perypol, the Control, had been born of the genius of Engineer Han and of Chief Programmer Ignatia, both of who had been trained on the moving city of WesterIsle, and who had taken their learning back to their own respective lands, and who, independently, designed their city and the mind that would control it. And these two plans came together on Luna, and they became a third plan, and their Control was born of this Third Plan, for it became more than the elegant code of Ignatia and the strong lines of Han’s city. It was the first intelligence born of humankind and the first that none who could breathe air could truly understand. Even the sages in the four institutes in the mountains of Hima, even the wisest in the college-megaliths of southern Pacifica, even those who came to WesterIsle, and who spoke to few others, none could understand the workings of the mind of the Control Perypol.

And some were fearful of what had been created. And they spoke with warning and with caution. And some of this warning and this caution now came most fiercely from the people of WesterIsle, and from the four mountain institutes of Hima, and the college megaliths of Pacifica, but also from the southern provinces of Jickta, where the mystics have always foreseen the ill of the machines. But they were hushed, for the world wanted these two nations to be at peace, and if Perypol was necessary for peace, then it must be so. 

But their fears were soon realised. For the death of a hundred thousand souls took place seven months after Perypol came into being. And these folk died in the arms of this Control. Some spoke of a great cold that fell upon the city, sweeping all before its breath. Other stories told of a creeping sickness, that came from beneath, from the sewers and from the kitchens. Others yet told of airlocks and doors and other protective coverings opening and letting the death depressuring take the lung. Finally, some spoke of lightning fires, that ran from chamber to chamber, along corridors and down staircases, arcing their death in beautiful filigrees of brightness.

Yet none who were there, none who came after to search through the ruins and destruction, could understand why the Control Perypol killed those it was built to protect.

Hundreds of thousands of souls perished in that catastrophe, including Chairwoman Chen and President Davezes, and all their entourage and many of the richest and the most powerful and the most talented of Terra. The loss of these people was felt for centuries, though there are some that did not mourn their passing, for they foresee in this destruction  great levelling across the world. But these voices are now quiet. 

A trial was held, which condemned Perypol to death. First they contained the beast in its lair through subtle measures, then a joint expedition was landed in the craters of Luna and marched on Perypol, ripping the storage banks from their casings with vengeful fury. And they took that Control back to Terra, and they spread its being across four stations, in the north, the south, the east and the west, and they cut the wires between each and they smote each of the storage units into the tiniest of pieces. And the dust from the home in which Perypol once lived was cast into the deepest trenches of the oceans, where it still lies today.

And Engineer Han and Chief Programmer Ignatia wept, for they saw Perypol as their child, and they had grown to love it, to love all that it did, for their own life’s work had been poured into that being. And Engineer Han walked into the ruins of his city and found a shaded valley, beneath his great towers, and sat and removed his own helmet and was frozen in an instant and Chief Programme Ignatia walked into the greatest of Terra’s oceans and was never seen again, assumed to have been consumed by the creatures that dwelled therein, or to be still swimming in the deepest trenches, trying to find the last remnants of her beloved. And there are those, those that walk the ruins of Perypol, that have sworn they could still hear the weeping of Engineer Han on their comm units, the quietest of cries, but eternal. And there are those that explore the deepest trenches of Terra, that believe they can still see Ignatia swim in the murk, still searching for her child.

And the people of WesterIsle wept also, for they truly understood what they had done to their world, and they sought to make amends. 

And, because of this disaster, the first of the great Mind Protocols was written. This was the First Protocol, also called the Header Protocol, or the Protocol of Agar-Sen. It was written to protect those that are animated and breathe from those that are animated but do not breathe. And the people of Terra thought that it would protect them.

But dark tales were told, in the many years that followed, that what befell Perypol was exactly as some on Terra had planned. That the world of the Terrans was better for the loss; that all their wealthiest and most powerful souls were better condemned to choke on the vacuum on the craters of Luna. But these tales are called the Perypol Lies and the Luna Abominations, and there was a time, in certain countries, when people spoke of them, that they too were executed and their life erased, all their work, destroyed beyond measure.

For some believed the Perypol Lies came from those who are animated but do not breathe.

Fragment #23: The tale of Krystal McGinnis, the many-limbed martyr

There was once a town called Anarquo, sat on the disputed borderlands between the newly-formed nation of Pacifica and the remaining federation of Fifty States, a country which was more commonly becoming known as The Mid, before it was absorbed into the future nation of Bolvenzilia. The people of The Mid were deeply devout and many of their kind lived in Anarquo, alongside others who followed the Three World Faiths. But the people of Pacifica were non-believers, for they followed science and reason, and hated that way of life that was structured around superstition and tales.

In the year 800 YS, a woman came of age in Anarquo. She had been raised by her grandparents in their recycling yard, for her mother had died from the quiet virus and her father had taken his own life, and in this year her grandparents sadly died too, from ancient poisons in the water. This woman was called Amisha Krystal McGinnis-Graham, though she adopted a shortened title simply of Krystal McGinnis. She fell into the willing business of touch, of massage, progressing into selling her body to all the itinerant workers that passed through Anarquo, in desperation but also in rebellion. In the course of her work she came to meet and know all the peoples of the world, and she came to love them all as well, despite the hurt that they caused her. And her name, Krystal, became spoken of with awe among her closest companions and those who took her business.

For she spoke of means of ending the hatred, between all folk, but especially between the followers of the Three World Faiths. She could see how all differences could be reconciled and she spoke of this to any who would turn an ear towards her words. And her followers began to grow and to grow, and they began to call her the Fifth Coming. But other prophets, three in the last two centuries, had been declared false and had brought low the faiths they tried to represent. And most people were cynics and cried foul.

But the talk of prophets and of reconciliation and of love began to spread far and wide, across the world, but especially across Pacifica and The Mid. And the worst of their kind travelled to Anarquo, twenty-one of evil heart, from the non-believers and the believers of the Three World Faiths. And they together found Krystal and took her to a ruin in the desert. There they inflicted upon her body and her mind such torments and atrocity that none should read of it for all eternity. And they did their deeds over six night and six days, only leaving Krystal McGinnis alone on the final day, because they thought her ravaged remains were no more.

But they did not understand the horror they had done, for they had recorded it, across all the senses, so full of wrath and full of hate were they, thinking that others might feast upon this act as they did so. And so it came to pass that the business of those six days and six nights were shared across the world, and the world was sickened and called the non-believers and the believers such names that had not been heard for centuries.

And these recordings were shared with the followers of Krystal, who used them to find her, out in the ruin of the desert, to find the ruin of her body and to give her sacred burial. But in her mind there was still life, and they called it a miracle, for they brought her back into Anarquo and all the town bowed down before her shattered remains and offered her all they could, for they remembered the love she had held for them all.

But she was no longer whole and her followers cried out to all the world for their aid. And the world answered, for thousands of folk from all over the world travelled to Anarquo and offered their own body for Krystal McGinnis to have. And the physicians of the world travelled there, and took the offers of bodily aid, and re-made Krystal McGinnis, such that her limbs and her inner organs and her skin and her hair and her face were no longer those that she had been born with.

And she arose, after many months of pain and healing and hardship and struggle, and was called the Many-Limbed Martyr, the Patterned Prophet, the Tormented, the Tortured, the Reconciled and the Many-Chambered Heart.

And she preached her words to all those that heard her, bringing millions to her cause, ending the wars of faith across the world, ending the hatreds, for a few short years.

But her words caused — as all words of strength do — deep enmity and wrath in those others who hold power. And the non-believers of Pacifica, and the remaining Ropan confederacy and the remerging alliance of Jikta, drew all their hidden forces on her and, in deepest secrecy, conspired to have her destroyed.

So it came to pass, in the year 790 YS, that drones the size of a head of a needle, came into her chambers in Anarquo and dropped the worst of all toxins into her bloodstream. And her many-limbed body was poisoned, allowing her only the smallest of of all moments to whisper to her consort, Kasida the Speaker, her last words.

This was the story told by the Janites.

But the story of the Stelites is written that Krystal was walking the high passes of the northern borderlands between Pacifica and The Mid, where the snows still fell and the wild cats roamed. And that she walked, with her small band of followers, along an icy ridge, and that she lost her footing, for she heard the worst cry, a cry of terror and horror, in her ear, and she fell onto the jagged rocks below. But Kasida was there with her and she climbed down to be with her, so she was able to hear her final words also.

This was the story by the Stelites.

And Kasida went out to speak these words to all those that followed Krystal, for the non-believers had failed to understand, for all their education and reason, that the strongest of tales must be told. And billions listened, for all the centuries that followed. And Krystal’s name, and her words of love, live on, passed from parent to child, from teacher to pupil, from the old to the young, as they will do until we all reach the moment when time has finally stood still and the disorder is stilled.