Author Topic: Last of a Kind - An Exilian Chain-Writing Story  (Read 164 times)

Jubal

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Last of a Kind - An Exilian Chain-Writing Story
« on: October 13, 2018, 10:39:08 PM »
Last of a Kind
An Exilian Chain-Writing Story

By Loren, Andreas, ArtDodge, Tusky, Samuel Cook (aka Tar-Palantir), HenriNatalie, Caradilis, and Andrew Conway



If she could wipe out her own race, she would. But it is not time yet.

She allows the idiosyncrasies to snowball and explode in one large sitting, like a black holocaustic balloon of smoke. Anything less would be an insult to her years of precise planning.

She is at best a troll and at worst a misanthrope. The neurosis of her own kind creeps under her skin and annoys the crap out of her. The best part is she understands completely this neurosis, a pattern that has dominated her for the first 18 years of her life. She has been a nervous wreck. She refuses to spawn, even with elite specimens declared the best of her kind, to bring more little maniac Booyians into this already hysteric world.

She is obsessive with staging a reform – one that could turn back the clock and restore life proper on New Earth, and perhaps bring back the long-forgotten prestigious race. One that has tickled her fancy, one that she has for so long yearning to be part of, one that she could turn her back on her ascendants for, one that could undisputedly be the rightful ruling species, one that could be her downfall.

She cannot knock before it is time. Instead, she waits. Btobo is waiting as well, she knows. He is sat upright behind his desk, waiting for her to be done waiting.

'He will see you at 0900 hours.'

This is the statement Btobo's secretary made. It is a reality which has not yet come to pass, but a reality nonetheless.

She looks at her watch, an old thing from an old world, from a dead people, a bit of guidance to cling to amid the uncertainty. She thinks about the reality that is her plan and a shade of purple creeps into her skin tone. A balled up tentacle trembles as her thoughts drift. They had it all figured out, time and words and order, all of it was once theirs to understand, to command, and they are no more.

She will knock in thirteen seconds and Btobo will see no purple. She will speak and her words will not be reality.

At one second to 0900 hours, she raises her arm and it coils around the plain knocker. Thrice, she lifts the iron ring and thrice, at equidistant intervals, metal slams into wood.
The door swings open, their eyes meet, and Btobo nods his approval.

The forgotten race used greetings of varying formality, sometimes pleasantries and even physical contact, but the Booyians only incline their heads, confirming, 'Yes, you are who I expected. You are who I have business with.'

‘So, tell me what happened?' Btobo asks.

‘I had it again’ I answered. ‘Another attack.  Suddenly, I could not breathe, I started shaking and everything turned dark around me. I got lost, forgot where and who I was and what I was going. I kept my focus on my breathing. I do not know for how long. I closed my eyes. And I got lost in this darkness. I felt cold and empty. As if I was about to die; as if this darkness was my path. But I was not afraid. I was just empty… inside’.

 ‘Do you take your medication?’ Btobo looked disinterested.

‘Yes, I do’ I answered. ‘But it is not enough. I need something stronger. It is not working.’

‘I cannot give anything else now - it should be enough. You must keep on taking it and it will work. Now please, you have to leave’

‘But I cannot go back to work, I need to have a break. I am afraid I will make a fatal mistake ‘

‘Just be more concentrated and take your medication. Your condition will improve. Now go. Your time is over’

‘Yes, but what if it doesn’t?

‘In that case, we will find another solution, but you may not like it.’

She found it frustrating that so much of their discourse had to be hidden in code and double meaning. It was a necessary evil, however. The ministry was monitored too heavily and Btobo worked so deep within it that if they ever spoke frankly it would undoubtedly mean a swift end to both them, and the others involved in the plan.

'So you'd like me to leave... now' She asked with a laboured pause.

He nodded.

She had her answer. He'd got to the limits of what he could provide her. It meant the reform was coming, and much sooner than she had expected, or hoped. It was welcome news. Very soon perhaps she could be freed from these afflictions and affectations of a civilization she had no desire to be a part of.

With a slight nod in reply she stood and left. She felt a strange mixture of heady elation and a sense of deep foreboding of what must come next.

She made her way out of the building to the street. Despicable, chittering pen pushers in suits rushed here and there, oblivious to how futile their manic endeavours were. Endless rush hour traffic crawled past. She could see Eress waiting for her in the massive truck across the road. She ran over, dodging a few cars which honked in protest, and jumped in the passenger seat.

'Ok, there's no more' She said.

Eress smiled. She started the thunderous engine, and they pulled away.

Eress asked ‘So, it is time to leave, then?’

She replied ‘Yes. Now. We must leave.’

The rest of the journey passed in silence. Both occupants of the truck were too unsure of what lay ahead and whether the plan would work to engage in any unnecessary and probably pointless chitchat. In all likelihood, they would both be dead soon. Only the occasional pulsating patch of red on their skins belied the anxiety they both felt.

The truck pulled up at the deserted hangar, far away from prying eyes. This was the last consignment of materials and supplies. They loaded them quickly into the vessel, getting ever more nervous as the minutes passed. Surely they’d be discovered? Surely someone would shout ‘STOP!’ any second?

But nothing happened and soon the loading was complete. They both entered the vessel and began the pre-flight checks. Still no sound of sirens or signs of alarm. They couldn’t quite believe that everything was working so far.

It was finally time to leave. Leave this accursed civilisation and, in doing so, destroy it. The viral vials were secure – once they were in orbit, they’d rain death on the unsuspecting Booyians, her own race. They deserved it. And then, with the second set of vials, they could seed the cleansed biosphere and bring back the rightful rulers. The galaxy, if it cared, would thank them for it.

They initiated the launch sequence.

5,
4,
3,
2,
1.

With the buzzing sound of the engine and raising dust the spacecraft took off. All had gone according to plan. Now was the critical moment, the whole plan hinged on. Btobo promised to distract the authorities that heavily guarded the airspace. But would it work? They could not be sure. All they could do was follow the plan.

As they had reached the perfect distance to New Earth, Jurou hesitated for a moment, looked at her beloved planet for the last time - how small and insignificant it seemed now - and pushed the button that released the vials into space. She watched them sail onto earth on their tiny parachutes and saw how New Earth was shrouded by a reddish-grey cloud. A deep feeling of woe swept over her and the tentacles on her head wound up on top of it. The first part of the plan was herewith realised.

Tense, Jurou now looked at her watch. Its arms still moved, albeit according to another time. She had learnt to interpret it correctly, so that she knew when to release the second set of vials. Jurou fathomed that after doing so she will have ushered in a new era. An era of peace and respect. The so-called Prestigious Race would once again not know war nor conflict. Wherever its seed fell on New Earth the Prestigious Race would settle and adapt to their surroundings perfectly. Each population would develop friendly relations with others and together they would prosper anew.
It was time. She turned her chair to the other side of the control panel and her hand reached for the red and black lever that would release the second set of vials. This was the moment all her efforts had been working towards. Her Prestigious Race. They would be so grateful to her for bringing them back. She would be revered, finally. She pulled the lever and a second patch of vials sailed down towards the planet below. Jurou smiled. She had prevailed. New Earth was cleansed and soon the Prestigious Race would be ruling it again, in peace and prosperity, and Jurou, she would be there every step of their way.

But there was not to be peace. There was not to be prosperity. There was not to be a Prestigious Race. It had all been a lie. The Booyians had glorified this mysterious species who had built so many wonders on New Earth. They had named the planet and built the cities. The Booyians never built anything. They never had to. The elaborate structures of stone and steel had been good enough, and they reminded them of what the Booyians had seen as a more glorious time, a time of prosperity and mystical inventions, when great cities were built and when there were still heroes. But the people who lived in those cities first were no heroes. They were monsters, who knew no peace, only greed. And their inventions, they were not meant for mysterious things, as the Booyians had thought. They were meant for war.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sarah pushed her chair away from the monitor and shook her head in disgust. “I guess we can kill this emulation.” She made a gesture in the control space, and New Earth was nothing but a collection of log files.

Sergei looked up from the novel he was reading. “Not again? I thought we had it this time.”
“Yep, total species extinction in 18.3 gigaseconds. Terrorist attack using bioweapons.”

“But they were doing so well. Strong central government, scientific research, a space program… Let’s try again with more deference to authority. Perhaps some sheep genes as well as the octopus, turtle, and magpie?”

“I think it’s time to give up on the air breathing octopuses. We’ve run twenty nine emulations now, and the best one only lasted less than 40 gigaseconds.  We need to go back and look at the bears again.”

Sergei shook his head in frustration. “Environmental collapse every time with the bears. Twenty runs, and they all ended the same way. Overfishing, overeating. You can’t build a decent civilization with a species that hibernates. It has to be octopuses. They are intelligent, they have fine motor skills and mainpulative ability. Just get them out of the water so they can learn metallurgy. Let’s try one more time.”

Sarah shrugged. “OK, one more octopus run, and then we do the bears again. I think there’s a hummingbird sequence we can add to prevent hibernation, and some sloth to slow down the metabolism.”

Sergei nodded, and began to set up another emulation run. Beneath the orbiting DNA bank, an empty planet turned, and the last two surviving humans tried to work out how to repopulate it.






This is one of three stories written as part of our summer 2018 chain writing project. You can read the other two here and here, and find the project wrap-up announcement here.

Editor's Note: This was the one that I'd mentally pegged as "maybe this won't end up as Sci Fi". You... can see how well that ended up. It's a twisty narrative, but I think wrapped up very neatly in a way that actually drew pretty well on the strange octopoid life story that emerged in the early parts of it. This chain was the first to be completed, and holds an impressive record for fastest turnaround time on a section - part 4 of this was emailed back to me twenty-one minutes after I'd sent it to Sam Cook, which is certainly a record marker for future chain writers to have a crack at beating!

The Editor Is Now Concerned About: Whether octopuses and bears are really the best two options here. Axolotls may be underestimated as a possibility?
« Last Edit: October 13, 2018, 11:19:15 PM by Jubal »
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...

Tusky

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Re: Last of a Kind - An Exilian Chain-Writing Story
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2018, 08:51:56 AM »
I love how this one turned out.

It has some big twists in there that subvert expectations.  At first I was wondering where the story was headed, then: oh it's some sort of action scifi and finally the simulation twist - which I think was a neat thing to do to wrap up.

Nicely written. Well done everyone
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Jubal

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Re: Last of a Kind - An Exilian Chain-Writing Story
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2018, 11:19:17 AM »
Yeah, I was very confused after the first few entries but it neatened out really nicely and those first bits were actually drawn upon pretty well in the later sections. This was the only one I didn't write anything on, so it was interesting to see how it developed. And kudos to Andrew Conway on the ending twist which I felt worked very well indeed :)
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...