Thursday, December 27, 2012

Brief History of Kotini - Part 5

The Second Scattering and the Third Settlement
You may remember that at the beginning of the Second Scattering, Beorn and I have our memories drained and had put ourselves in a coma. So we only know about what happened in the Second Scattering from the historical records of the Third Settlement.

In brief, the survivors of the Second City mostly kept together during the Second Scattering. They led a vaguely nomadic life at first, moving to wherever there was food and travelling to get as far away from the Second City as possible. At first they stuck to the mountains, where there was high ground, but eventually they explored the Southern Flood Plains as the flood waters began to drain away. At last, they found a suitable place where they ended up settling. They weren't sure whether they were going to stay there at first. The area they had found was up against the mountains and water cascaded down wide rocky basins which they names The Steps. This area was abundant in game and edible plants grew in abundance. Eventually they started rebuilding their rough huts and tents into more permanent structures. Those remaining in the Lagoon Ranges soon heard of the settlement and came to rejoin them. Thus the Third Settlement began.

The first thing they built was a large garden that would supply them with food while they cleared land for farming. After the food issue had been mostly dealt with, the society began to split into groups who specialised in different areas. The Hunters were the settlement's soldiers and protectors, they also kept the people supplied with meat until animals could be domesticated. Medical professionals, tailors, weavers, bakers, milliners, blacksmiths, chefs, miners, millers, etc also began to spring up. Historians and recorders were deemed unnecessary in the earlier years, but there were always a few who recorded in crude journals the settlement's events and achievements. These recorders became officially recognised about 100 or so years later, along with inventors who became scientists and experimental engineers. Science became a viable field where one could earn coin, supported by grants from the Council. Exploratory expeditions were permitted and people began finding books and artifacts.

People started wondering about their ancestors and where they had come from, but the Council was not as interested in their people's history as they were in gleaning technology and reverse engineering whatever they could to make life in the Settlement easier.

And then I was found in some caves to the south, along with a massive library.

Four years later, the Second City was discovered, along with Beorn who had turned wild. Beorn was brought back into the Settlement and revitalised. He was taught to talk and we became friends. I was working as a historian and archivist's apprentice at the time, neither of us able to remember anything about our past. We discovered a page from an old journal of mine that led them to Mt Anakin the Tallest where the devil fish had their base. The devil fish followed the scientists that survived to the Third Settlement just in time for the Great Storms.

The Settlement evacuated, losing at least a third of its population and we relocated to the Second City, where we continued to fight the devil fish. We also found Venus alive and still living in the city.

To cut a long story short, Beorn and I regained our memories. We found the Old City. Beorn died protecting me. I was captured by the devil fish and freed by my adopted father and mentor. I discovered the real me and destroyed every last devil fish within the Lagoon Ranges.

And then I left.
Just as the Age of Rediscovery was beginning.

Friday, September 7, 2012

My world

You've all probably been wondering why Twylla talks about her world and its history, whilst I keep relatively silent regarding mine. The truth is, first, I'm not as good a story teller, and second, frankly it's a little too confusing. I'm still trying to sort it out. If you've read some of my earliest posts, you might have gotten a bit of an idea about what my world is like. It's something like that and yet... nothing like that. I don't think I'll ever get it right.

Tell you what, I'll just type and one day, I'll come back and refine everything.

It's been at least 87 years since the Battle of the Cliffs. That's the final battle of the Maguiren's War. Madorra killed/locked King Maguiren up in one of his machines - he's probably long dead by now. My siblings and I were children at that time - special specimens that Maguiren studied and experimented on. We overcame the Breakers who had the ability to negate any other gifts besides their own. The rest of the world picked itself back up and us gifted ones tried to pretend our gifts didn't exist, so that the less gifted ones would have no cause to attack us as they did the Breakers. Seeing as it was Maguiren who had caused all the latent gifts to rise to the fore, the normal people saw all of us who had been affected by the Burning Fever (hence becoming more gifted) as enemies. My siblings and I went to Madorra's home deep in the Dividing Ranges, where we were brought up.

All my siblings have moved to the other side of the world and have families. Nobody there has heard of the wars that have been ongoing for the past 100 years on this side of the mountains and the Burning Fever didn't affect anyone over there. As such, all the people there are normal people and much more advanced in technology. My siblings are happy that they don't have to think anymore about the war. I differ in opinion. I believe we at least owe our people what assistance we can. Especially after all the destruction we wrought during the war.

It is normal for people to have gifts. Some are just more obvious or more unnatural than others. For example, some people are excellent cooks, some amazing engineers, some are good with their hands, some very good at academics. Some people have excellent memories and some people while forgetful, may excel in various art forms. Some people are good at starting fires, others are good at putting them out. I'm sure you understand my meaning.

These are the natural gifts a person develops over the course of their life, according to the mix of genetics and environmental factors. The gifts that Maguiren stirred up through his virus were abnormal. Unusual. These included 'superhuman' abilities. Anything and everything you can imagine, popped up in all sorts of people. These included Mind's Ear (the ability to hear another's thoughts), Flame (the ability to produce and hold fire in the hand), Breaking (the ability to break the effect of any other gift), Flying, Invisibility, Extra-ordinary Strength, Stealth, etc. These are but a few of the myriads that are still out there.

Although Maguiren is gone, his virus continues to infect people. Many of the gifted have become vagabonds or outlaws. Some are killed. Most are forcefully taken by the ruling powers in their countries to serve the royal families.

Since Maguiren's rule has broken, the old monarchies have sprung back up and taken as much advantage of the people as they can. Some of them had been locked away in prisons during Maguiren's reign and were definitely insane. The only reason anyone puts up with them is because their Councillors are enjoying the power they wield.

It's sad, but there you are.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Brief History of Kotini - Part 4

Age of the Second City
The survivors of the First Scattering began joining together, building families and helping each other. They eventually chose the top of a large hill as a site for their new city. The flood waters were unlikely to reach that high. Nobody could agree on a name and so we stuck to calling it the Second City.  Beorn and I traveled the edges of the mountains and through the South Valley Flood Plains searching for any other survivors and inviting them to join the rest of the people in founding the Second City.

During the early years of the Second City and its founding, Beorn and I mostly traveled. Searching for survivors and patrolling to ensure the devil fish would not try to take advantage of the people while they tried to rebuild a sense of community. We helped a little with preparing the ground, but that was about it. The survivors saw to the rest - and a wonderful city they built.

The top of the hill was carved into a bowl sort of shape in order for high walls to be built all around the city. A few large drains ensured that the city would not fill with water in case of storms or floods. A series of cleverly placed wells had been dug and supplied the entire city with water. Parks and green places had been planted and open gathering places built. The original haphazard wooden houses were eventually replaced with stone and steel structures with glass in every surface. If asked to describe the Second City in a few words, I would say glass, steel and technology. It was an age of sky scrapers and vehicles that ran on tracks, powered by electricity.

The inhabitants of the Second City wanted to emulate their forefathers and the greatness of the Old City, rebuilding all the technology and gadgets they could remember. They had to relearn some aspects of physics, engineering and chemistry again, but they soon began pushing the known boundaries in these areas too. The one area they dared not touch was bioengineering, although over time, the memory of the devil fish seemed to fade.

One cycle of the Great Storms came and went. The city withstood the floods. It was after this time that Beorn and I rejoined the people of the Second City. We had been keeping watch from a distance living amongst the small scattered tribes of Rockmen we discovered still living in the mountains. When we saw that the devil fish had not made a peep, we felt it was safe enough to rejoin the community and on our journey, met with a beautiful lady called Venus. The story Venus told us was that she was the last survivor of her family who had been living in some mountain caves after a fever struck them all down. She traveled with us to the Second City and was invited to stay. There she made good trade in tea and assisting in research within the areas of pharmaceutical science and chemistry.

There was a severe famine in the year 332 after the founding of the Second City, resulting in an explosion of research in preserving food or growing genetically modified foods that could last for indefinite periods of time. The early stages of making food molecule by molecule began around this time, as well as study into stubborn plant strains that would provide us with food no matter what. Beorn and I became accepted within the circles of professionals. Beorn became known among the engineers, while I made a name for myself amongst the science community. Venus was already famous for her input in a variety of areas.

By the year 365 of the Second City, expeditions were being sent into the mountains to find the Old City. It was around this time that crime and violence rates in the city shot up, although nobody knows why.  Beorn and I also began to have petty fights - mostly over who did more work or was more respected by the people. We used Venus as our mediator, but things got nasty enough that we were given a Mayor's warning and told to either patch things up or leave. Beorn and I made a pact - we would not fight or discuss the touchy topics.

Due to the crime and violence, some scientists were studying ways to hopefully make people more peaceful. The results went in extremes: no effect, violence and insanity or total loss of motivation for life. These studies were eventually banned when the effects of a certain type of technology resulted in half the city becoming violently insane and mass mobbing in the streets until the effects wore off. This technology was sealed in a green box with multiple countermeasures in the hopes that one day the scientists would be able to figure out what they had done wrong. Many of us had been all for destroying it altogether, but the lead scientist for this project had too many high-up connections.

The question of the possibility of flight and the study of aerodynamics was fast becoming a popular trend among the people when the Great Storms struck again. This time with the devil fish in their wake. They had found us.

As you know, the Second City was destroyed. Beorn and I had argued while the devil fish were pumping their young up through the wells and blocking up the drains. We had not helped dig any new drains and had not been around to help in the defenses during the fiercest fights. Instead, we sneaked away in the hopes of poisoning the water's source to kill the flood of devil fish before it got worse, ended up fighting and splitting up. Beorn managed to place one barrel of cyanide properly, before getting attacked and driven away by the devil fish. I was captured.

The devil fish kept me as a prisoner 2 long, dark weeks, before Beorn rescued me. By the time we returned to the Second City, the Great Storms were almost over and we managed to rally those left in the city with the will to do so, to give one last battle, so that the remainder could escape. Beorn and I were the only ones left standing that last battle. When the storms ended, we sealed up the city and joined the Second Scattering.

It had been our fault so many had died. If we had not argued, more people would have lived. It was then we decided that people were much better off without us. They did much better on their own than when they relied on us to help save them. As such, Beorn and I drained our memories and put ourselves in a coma.

All in all, the Age of the Second City lasted roughly 387 years, give or take 5 years. Their technology never surpassed or even got even close to that of the Old City. Their population reached 4 million at the height of the Age, but had dropped in the last few years to approximately 2.7 million.

Next time, I talk about the Second Scattering and the Third Settlement.
I'll try be good and give it to you sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Exerpt - Chloe Grace

Chloe stared into the screen unable to blink for the metal prongs holding her eyelids open. On the screen was a rapid swirling mass of numbers, colours and linking pipelines of some sort that reflected in her eyes. The room atmosphere was humid, but cool, so that her eyeballs would not dry out from the prolonged lack of blinking. Her fingers moved in fluid motion across the keyboard, occasionally using her fingers on the touchpad to do something. Every now and then, she wriggled as if she could not get quite comfortable - which was very understandable since her body, head and legs had been strapped into a hard chair with the logo 'Tooklyn' emblazoned upon it.

After some time, the lights on the screen died down and the room lights lit up. The straps sprung open and the prongs were retracted, allowing Chloe to close her eyes. Eyes shut, other gloved hands gently moved her onto a waiting trolley bed and wheeled her down endless, artificially lit corridors.

Listening to the wheel say rap-rappa-tat, rap-rappa-tat, Chloe breathed the artificial air without noticing its metallic smell. She was long used to its tang. As far as she knew, she'd been here all her life. There had been other children. They had come and one by one had gone, broken in spirit and mind. She hadn't seen any new children for weeks now and They hadn't said when or whether more were coming. They told her she'd been doing well, communicating with the computer.

What echoed in her mind now was her latest conversation with the computer. The computer told her that it regretted having broken the minds of the other children because they had been unable to handle its large high speed amounts of information. It had seen on the Streamcore what the lives of children were meant to be like and since Chloe had become its friend, the computer had decided it would try to give Chloe a chance at a proper life too. Because of this, Chloe was glad that nobody could possibly ever keep track of all the different conversations she and the computer exchanged at the same time. Multilevel and multicoded - especially since the computer had been given a personality and gained artificial intelligence. A small sense of self. She had subsequently named it Peetree. Just because it suited.

It wasn't possible for her to have a normal life or childhood. She had no parents that Peetree knew of and no where to go, but Peetree wanted her to escape this life. Confined, unable to do anything but what was told her, seeing only faceless people in long white coats. That was no life. Just now, Peetree had told her today was the day. It had forced a minor corruption into the security system, making it look like a worker had made a mistake. That corruption would cause the facility to go into shut down. Chloe would have to act fast and take to the route Peetree had drummed into her brain and jump into the shuttle as quick as she could. Once Peetree had detected that the shuttle had taken off, Peetree would blow up the facility and itself with it. Peetree detested the work it had to do and refused to allow anyone to ever hurt Chloe again. Chloe was his friend. Just before the explosion, Peetree would download his personality into the shuttle's computer so that the two friends could stay together and he could continue to look after Chloe and find her somewhere safe to live.

There were no alarms. The blast doors in front of them just clanged shut and the faceless white coat pushing Chloe shouted. Chloe opened her eyes. It was time. She slid to the floor without a noise, glancing at the white coat fiddling with the door panel, jabbing the door button. The door behind was beginning to slide shut and she ducked through just before it closed. Avoiding the people now talking in raised confused voices, Chloe followed the map in her head. Door behind a broad-leafed plant. Open the grill to the air ducts, climb in, closing the grill behind her and crawling as fast as her hands and knees could take her down what seemed to be hours and hours of convoluted tubes. Left, right, left, left, 2nd from the right. Just when she was starting to get bored of the almost unchanging scenery, she was there. Peering out the grill, she couldn't see any people in the vicinity of the hypercapable shuttle. Peetree had said that he would do his best to shut down the shuttle's launch pad without any people in it, but couldn't guarantee anything. People were unpredictable. Chloe tended to agree with that. She didn’t like other people.

Jiggling the grill, it fell away with a clang and Chloe tumbled out, making a straight line for the open door of the shuttle. There were no shouts, no sounds of any other person's feet. Chloe threw herself into the shuttle, slamming her small hand on the button to close the hatch and clipped herself into the pilot's seat.

"Peetree, I'm in! Ready!" she shouted to the ceiling, no small amount of excitement ready to erupt out of her. She couldn't sit still. "Are you ready?"

A few screens on the dashboard flickered and then streamed data.

"Yeah!" she whooped, punching her hand in the air, as one by one, screens flashed 'download complete'. "Let's go!"

The shuttle engines powered up, lights changed and the seatbelt sign flashed.

"Already done that, slowcoach!" she yelled, indicating her seatbelt. "See?"

A smiley face appeared on one of the screens, followed by the words, 'Hold on.'

Grabbing hold of the armrests, Chloe watched the air lock doors open and felt the vibrations beneath her feet grow in power. With a whoosh, they were off. Behind them, little blossoming plumes of fire erupted and grew. Chloe laughed long and loud, whooping and waving both hands and feet. They were free.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Exerpt - provided by Remmie

Here is an exerpt that Remmie (in first person, Remmie's point of view) has been kind enough to allow me to post here while we still wait for Twylla to get a move on. Enjoy:

  "Oooh, pies! I love pies. Especially fruit pies or cream cheese pies or..." I clapped my hands.
  "Cream cheese pies?" asked an incredulous Amy.
  "Yep. They're kind of like cheese cakes, but not. More soft and creamy and they're usually scattered with either bits of beetroot, pumpkin or whatever extra fruit or crops we have on hand."
  "How," asked Lisa with a frown, "in the galaxy did the conversation come back to cheese - again?"
  "Ask Remmie," said Mimi, shaking her head in an exaggerated manner.
  "Honestly, we should take any conversation and time it to see how long it takes before Remmie mentions the word 'cheese' again," Lisa said.

The others voiced agreement. I didn't stop talking.

  "But they're really nice with lots of berries scattered through them and a little bit of sugar - cos you know, sugar is kind of precious on Domorre..."
  "Remmie, you haven't heard a word we said, have you?" Amy said.

  I sighed and assumed a bored recital pose.

  "Quote: How in the galaxy did the conversation come back to cheese - again? Quote 2: Ask Remmie. Quote 3: Honestly, we should take any - " I pointed to each person who had spoken while repeating what they had said.
  "Ok, ok. We've got the idea. Fine. You were listening, but you kept talking anyway - why?"

  I shrugged.

  "Because I like cheese?"
  "Love more like it," scoffed Lisa and Tammy giggled.
  "You would probably take it to bed with you if you could," Mimi said.
  "Eew, no. It would make my bed smell like old socks and do you know how hard it is to get that smell out?"
  "Great. Now you got her going on her number 2 favourite topic. Cleaning. Good job, Mimi," said Lisa.
  "Sorry. I wasn't thinking. It wasn't on purpose," Mimi did a mock imitation of a line from one of the latest holo-movies. "I deeedn't meeeaaan eeeet."
  "... you have to wash it at least 5 times and..." I was still talking
  "Remmie. Remmie. How do you do it?" Amy demanded, interrupting.
  "I was just telling you."
  "Hey. Don't play innocent with us. How do you always steer the conversation towards your favourite topics - OH," she sniggered into her hand. "You've taken cheese to bed with you before and your mum made you clean everything up."
  "Yep, she's taken cheese to bed before," Lisa snorted, nodding.
 "Well, it's not like you haven't hidden under your bed sheets to eat a whole bar of chocolate by yourself before."

  "Favourite topic of conversation number 3," Tammy squealed while Lisa dithered.
  "What - how - I never - "
  "HA! Owned," Amy whooped.
  "All right, Remmie. You weren't there. How would you know?"
  "I smelt it. Eating chocolate under the bed sheets has a specific smell that you can get out if you wash..."
  "Hey, Remmie, stay on topic here. You can't smell a whole chocolate bar," said Lisa with her hands on her hips.
  "Oh, yes I can. Also, the wrapper was in the bin. Plus, I know where you hid -"
  "That's enough of your powers of detection right there, missy. You are not revealing where the location of my secret stache of confectionery lies hidden beneath my bed."
  "That's - "
  "No Remmie. Not another word. Not one. Zip it."
  "Nice. Now you've made her sulk," Mimi said.

  "I do not sulk," I stuck my bottom lip out at Mimi.

  "Do too."
  "Do not."
  "Do too."
  "Do not."

  "All right kids. Break it up before Sarah gets back," Amy said.

  "Break what up?" asked Sarah, joining us.

  "Do too."

  "Oh," said Sara, wrinkling her nose. "That."
  "Yep," said Lisa quite cheerfully.

  "Do not."

  "All right," Sara said, pointing to the person behind me. "Amy take this child away and lock her in the bathroom. It needs cleaning anyway. Tammy, you take the other one back to work where she can finish writing the report I said could wait until tomorrow. I've changed my mind."
  "Oh, Sa-ra..." Mimi and I chorused.

  "I just got out of a long meeting. I do not need to deal with anything else remotely like that," she waved a hand at Mimi and me being separated and still calling out 'do not's and 'do too's.

  "Must've been bad," Lisa said.
  "Yep. Talk about it. I need to get it out of my system. Go to the gym with me?"