Table of Contents
Lost Waters - Chapter 8
"So, give me an example of this sub-creation
of yours" Harmon, the human psi from the Golden Hinde both mind spoke
and verbalized her curiosity to Luuko and Goothib. Her excitement and
anxiety to learn more disturbed Luuko deeply, and he quietly set up walls
around his few fleeting memories of Telkai engineering skills. Goothib,
being more a pure engineer had no reservations about teaching his craft.
It's all around you, Harmon. You're
looking at two products of sub-creation right now, Luuko and myself. See
how our wings are of a different coloring and nature from the rest of
our bodies? Well, they're a powerful addition, and central to the history
and teaching of the Telkai study. Without hesitation, he flashed images
to Harmon and Luuko both, of the ancient, wingless Dimar, and the engineering
design for the chromosomes that would make the now familiar wing structure
a permanent addition to most members of the Dimar species. During the
Flight, a time of great turmoil for our species, it was discovered that
through careful study and exploration of the systems in our bodies that
generate our forms, alterations could be made to allow us to better survive
in even the harshest conditions. Using a cell permeation technique on
miruls, we created the ill fated turraks, that, unfortunately, did not
breed and quickly died due to a poor initial design. But, the groundwork
was laid for what has become the central art, and the key to success of
the Dimar species: the art and study of Telkai, named for the great healer
of the barryd at which the first of the experiments were done. Every species
has been affected in some way, tested and improved by both selective breeding
and by cell permeation Telkai engineering. Even our barryds are engineered
for optimum environmental impact, and we're improving the design every
In a panic, Luuko interjected on a private
bandwidth. Goothib, is this wise? Do you not sense her anticipation
of your every word? Learn her intent before you tell her of the high arts!
What if she comes from the Mulkai culture from Earth, and will make war
like the Mulkol at every chance? What if she'll use the gift of the Water
to destroy someone, or against us, it's true Waters-born children?
Luuko held back on the scalding reprisal, tempering it with a tone of
worry, hoping to convince Goothib that what he was doing truly was dangerous
for the barryd. He felt Goothib's defensive wall go up in his mind — but
not against Harmon, only against him. He had not reached him; he had been
Goothib snarled at him, Fool! She does
not have the Water, nor does she yet fully understand any of this. But
she'll need to, very soon. Have you not been listening to the council
reports? We're going to be taking these people in, as our own kin, to
teach them a new way of living, and to learn from them. It's a new age
of peace and exploration, and this person deeply wants to be a true child
of the Water. It would dishonor my guild and my rank not to teach one
so sincere in her curiosity. You may go. Goothib's indignation was
clear, and his tail lashed back and forth during their private exchange.
Harmon watched intently, unable to break the walls they had both carefully
constructed around the exchange to keep her out. Luuko could feel her
prying in, to try to get a glimpse at why they were arguing. He really
must explain to the alien Talents that prying is in poor form.
Luuko turned to leave, but paused. He sent
a feeler out to the Great Mother, but she was soundly sleeping. Her first
acolyte was on watch, maintaining the fire line with two others, but even
he was not in a position to make a call on this issue. It was the divine
duty of all the Telkai students to increase the knowledge of others who
wished to know more of the high art of subcreation. The issue of the student’s
planet of origin had never arisen before. The newer students of the Telkai
were often unaware of the havoc their creations could wreak, and didn't
consider consequences carefully in much of their decision making. If Luuko
left now, he'd have no idea what Goothib would teach Harmon. If he stayed,
he'd at least have the knowledge of how much she knew. In a way, Goothib
was right. If they were to take in the humans and Arrallins, then it would
be proper to teach their talents as much of their culture as possible
to start the integration process. Despite the fact that the subject matter
desperately bored him, Luuko reached out to Goothib apologetically.
You are right, Goothib. She does need
and deserve to learn of the Telkai ways. And I could use some work on
my Telkai as well. Do you mind if I remain in the conversation? Luuko
managed to feel some measure of true remorse for his distrust of Harmon,
and the sentiment rang through his apology to Goothib.
Goothib quickly dropped his mental block
and enthusiastically welcomed him back into their three-way mind exchange.
I'm glad to hear you embrace our new
barryd mates, Luuko. And I'm excited to have the opportunity to teach
not one but two avid pupils. I do so love to teach! Goothib rumbled
happily as he continued the conversation with Harmon, quickly updating
Luuko on Harmon's questions and his answers.
Luuko reviewed the images, amazed at the
turn the conversation had taken. Goothib, true to the Great Mother's request,
had not revealed the Water, but Harmon wasn't really curious about how
subcreation was done. She wanted to know exactly what subcreation could
do. Weird creatures, the likes of which Luuko had never imagined, flickered
through Harmon's side of the conversation, and Goothib was joyously eating
them up. Harmon had only just heard of subcreation, and already there
were things she wanted to make. She settled on an image of a winged human,
and began to concentrate.
That design would be more difficult,
Harmon. You see, the wings don't fit well with the sides of the body.
We ran into a similar problem placing our Wings back before the Flight,
but a simple modification of the shoulder structure rectified it. Well,
simple, no... it took years of tinkering and modeling to create the perfect
match of strength and flexibility for our wings to work as they needed
to. But, yes, it can be made. Harmon, how do you think the wings should
mesh with the body in that design of yours? Goothib was comparing
an image of the winged human along side an image of a Dimar. Goothib was
clearly flattered by her desire to become more like a Dimar, and have
wings, but her wings were of a different design. He was trying to coax
her into the first step of Telkai design, encouraging her to truly understand
the form she was trying to create, from the inside and out, and create
a solution for the design problems taking factors of blood flow, muscle
stress, weight distribution and center of gravity into account. Harmon
struggled, slowly, taking pieces of the Dimar shoulder design and altering
them to fit in with the human structure. Very good...now, let's see
if it will fly.
Luuko gasped. He was going to call the
design into the simulation system back at the barryd and test it. It would
be integrated into the stores of designs. It would be accessed by students
of the Telkai for generations. He wondered if Goothib understood just
how historic this occasion was, and if it might have negative repercussions
with the head of the Telkai. Her design could be fatally flawed, and result
in the death of the first human it was tested on...if it was tested on
one. Did they understand the fundamental shift the Telkai changes could
cause in their people? Could he understand the change it could cause in
the Telkai art? Luuko's head spun. He had been trained, as all Dimar were,
to consider every ramification of an action. Goothib was just glibly pushing
ahead, treating Harmon like any hatchling in the Telkai Seventh Class.
Blocking his concerns from Harmon, he channeled his concern, all walls
down to Goothib, hoping to reach him just this one time.
Goothib turned, with a look of concern,
his ears forward. Luuko, perhaps you are right. I will not use the
central testing stores, but instead I will use my smaller personal testing.
It will not be as thorough as the central, but it will do, and it will
not release the design to all Telkai stores. I will clean it out after
the test, and store it. He released his block, and reached out to
the barryd far to the north, letting both Harmon and Luuko watch the results.
This will take some time. This testing store is not as fast as some
others, and this design is completely new for it.
After fifteen nervous minutes for Harmon,
Goothib and Luuko, the image signal returned to Goothib. He broadcast
the human figure, wings held outstretched, and they watched as it ran.
The wings flapped, generating lift through the Wind — a feature Goothib
had added, and the figure lifted off the theoretical ground. Awkwardly,
it flew, legs hanging down uselessly below it. The wing joint flashed
yellow on the image, an indication from the tester that there was a serious
design problem, and red as tendons in the wing snapped under the weight,
denoting a critical failure. The figure fell, and as it rushed toward
the theoretical ground, faded. Harmon was crestfallen, and did little
to hide her disappointment.
It was an excellent first design, Harmon.
We can improve it. You will fly someday. If it's possible for a Dimar
to add wings and fly, so it will be for humans. The problem really is
quite simple. We need to add a system to transfer lift energy near the
hips of the human. That avian design you chose lacks the wing membrane
connections along the sides the Dimar have. We can hide the membranes
beneath the lifting surfaces you chose, and the overall image will remain
much the same. Goothib was hacking away on the design in his mind,
pulling the connections down, and strengthening the organs that would
harness the power of the Wind as it moved by the wings. Remembering his
student, he returned the design to Harmon's control, reverting to the
older, failed model. Did you understand those changes? Do they make
Yes. I know what I did wrong this time.
I think moving the membranes too far down might make walking more uncomfortable.
Can we put lifting organs in the legs and feet, and pull the membrane
up? The legs won't hang that way. With surprising skill, she re-altered
the image in the simulation system, copying and pulling the representations
of lifting organs down to the calves and arches.
The lifting organs take quite a bit
of energy to support. A small frame like this would not survive having
more than four. There are ways of augmenting the amount of energy a body
can produce, but I do not know enough of human structure to be sure they
would survive these changes. We need to do a full permeation study of
you and get detailed designs... Goothib mulled the problems out loud,
halting at the mention of the study. He connected with Luuko on a private
channel to discuss the problem further.
A study would require immersion in the
central Waters. We can't do that with her yet. She'd broadcast the Waters
to every Talent — including the ones that are starborn currently. Luuko
reminded him of what he already knew. Perhaps Ekal's tiny Water stores
would do for the study? If they are moving in, we will have to show them
the Waters eventually, and teach them how to use all of the Telkai equipment.
I wish the Great Mother would awaken. We do need her advice on this.
Luuko sighed, realizing that everything they did today was truly history
When can we do a study? Do we need an
embryo to make these changes on, or can this change be made directly to
an existing adult human? Can this work with furries…I mean… Arrallins?
They're similar to us in design. Harmon was hopping up and down, her
blond curls falling into her eyes. Her hands flew from some unseen form
in front of her up to her face and back, continuing to improve the design
image. She filled out the very rough image of the human with proper organs,
bones and muscles. Completely engrossed in her work with the simulator,
she was unaware of how silly she looked.
Luuko and Goothib exchanged amused, and
then worried glances, retracting their minds from the three way conversation
to ponder the situation.
She's got real skill in design, and
I can tell that she'll stop at nothing to master this art. I've been there
myself. Goothib's mental tone was tinged with pride, and he was obviously
impressed with his new student.
You saw all those things she's got running
around in that mind of hers. Who knows what they'd do to the environment
if she did actually create all of them? We need to teach her balance and
care in her creation, or we'll end up with another Deadland. Luuko
called up images of the southern desert, created by a set of fast growing
plant eaters designed by a well meaning but careless barryd engineer.
It had taken the five neighboring barryds four cycles to bring the creatures
back under control, and then dispose of them, and the region that had
once housed a sprawling, successful barryd was now the slowly recovering
Deadland region. However, you're right. She's very, very good at Telkai.
She'll probably win awards at the Mirrai Festival.
The Mirrai? Yes...yes. She'd take the
Seventh Class design competition, no crosswinds to bar her. She's possibly
good enough to be in Sixth Class, except that she lacks so much of the
fundamentals of Telkai, it wouldn't be fair. I'll continue to work with
her. Goothib reached out his mind to rejoin Harmon and the design
tester, and reared back as he saw her progress.
Luuko hurriedly resumed his contact, and
gave a celebratory roar. She had the human flying, and it was a good solid,
level flight. The wing joints, formerly glowing yellow and red with failure
warnings, were now a light green, the color for success, and were operating
flawlessly. She had restricted the design to four lifting organs, one
in each wing, and one dispersed along the calf and toward the ankle of
each leg. That, coupled with her wing design, which provided lift in a
traditional way, with air pressure differences above and below the wing,
was enough to give the human very respectable flight capabilities. Luuko
could feel her happiness, and looked at her face. She was bearing all
her teeth at them, and wrinkling up her eyes. He made a note to associate
this with happiness and success.
Sighing with the effort, Harmon dropped
to the ground, retaining a link with the tester to watch the human model
fly through virtual space with endless energy. Goothib, the watchful teacher,
monitored her exertion level. Harmon, it takes much energy to generate
designs and test them. I think you've made excellent progress this first
day, but you should rest now. There is much more to Telkai then visualizing
and testing the design, and you need to learn it all before we can proceed
to actualize your design.
Luuko added, You have laid the groundwork
here for the first human Flight. To be successful, we must proceed carefully
with your design, and, in all honesty, we must consult the Great Mother,
and the Council, before we allow you to sprout your own wings. Luuko used
his gentlest tone, not wanting to disappoint her at her moment of triumph.
He caught a spike of an unexpected emotion
from her as she released the image. She didn't want wings, but had another
design in mind for herself. She suppressed the thought too quickly for
Luuko to get a glimpse at her other design concept. So, tell me about
this Flight of yours, anyway. You keep mentioning it, and it seems important
to the art of Telkai. Harmon discreetly probed Luuko to see if she
could tell what he had caught from her, and felt relieved as she realized
that he had not seen her other design. Her curiosity for the tale of Flight
was genuine, and she pressed them for more information.
Ahh...The Flight. It's been a while
since I've had to recite the presentation. You'll have to learn this too,
Harmon, to rise to the Second Class in Telkai. Let me see... Goothib
paused for a moment, scratching his scaled belly absently with one paw.
In the darkness of the War with the Isle, now 1120 cycles ago, in the
barryd of Telmirrai, Telkai studied the healing arts to save her kith
and kin. Barryds and waters were new in that age, little more than shelters
and pools for drinking. Mulkai studies (War studies) were the dominant
art of the time, and most engineers worked to develop a more defensible
barryd, where the very walls would work to actively repel invaders. The
same was wished for the water pools. They would fill with water that could
recognize residents from invaders, and act accordingly. Telkai was called
in by the Mulkai council to instill in the waters the will to heal. She
knew of every creature's internal plan, the genetics by your human term.
She created in the water an active cell virus that would find the plan,
compare the plan to wherever it was within the magnetic field of the individual
in the Water, and, drawing on the energy sugars and proteins in the Water
rebuild whatever was missing from the creature.
Goothib carefully illustrated each major
point with a carefully rehearsed image. The first scene was of towers,
blood red, twisting with what looked like a knotwork of veins, ending
in a sparse leafy top — the first war barryds. He began to illustrate
the pools of water versus the new Water, but halted. The image he called
was not like the first. It was improvised. Luuko hoped Harmon would not
realize the deception. They could not learn of the location of the pools
until it was time. Goothib chose to show Harmon two vials: one clear,
like stream water, and one with a greenish tinge, the Water. Goothib returned
to the standard images of the recital, showing the wingless Mulkai leaders
— in drab browns and dark greens, with Telkai — a shining white Dimar,
her wings outlined as a shimmering blue halo, in the prime of her molt,
with flowing white fur tufting out under the last of her molting firescales,
standing before them. Luuko secretly wondered just how accurate the image
was. Goothib worshipped Telkai as much as he, Luuko, worshipped the Wind.
The Mulkai council saw the genius of
her work, and with the darkness in their minds, they wanted to push it
further, toward the end of destruction. Telkai was ordered to create a
cell, that when given an internal plan would convert the entire being
within the particular magnetic field to the form the cell was given. Telkai,
working with a host of others, created a system by which genetic code
can be examined, tested and released into particular pools of the Water.
Telkai, flanked by her team of eight wingless
Dimar, each of a different primary color, stood in a line before the first
tester. The scene was pure fantasy — no one, not even the Leaders Council,
had records on who had worked on the first Telkai engineering testing
system. Luuko wiggled his ears, realizing that Harmon was amused by the
scene. Goothib was off in his own world, continuing the story obliviously.
The Mulkai council used this new wonder
badly. They turned Great Leaders of other barryds into hideous beasts,
or killing them by turning their own cells against them. The deaths were
horribly cruel and painful. Waters-lost, wandering through the supply
of regular water would kill entire barryds, even friendly ones, seeking
out only Dimar code and altering it to die.
Luuko stopped laughing as these scenes
played out, and laid his ears back instinctively. These images were based
on actual execution recordings, and were painfully real. He thought of
Mulkol, one of the last of the war barryds just a half day's flight east
of Telka, and wondered just how many captured Telkans had ended up in
those pits. Harmon broadcast a clear emotion: horror. The battle scenes
had not bothered her, but the scenes of the horribly painful slow deaths
didn't sit well with her. Her mouth hung open and she covered it with
one hand. Her skin was very pale. Her eyes were wide, and moisture formed
at the corners. Luuko made a mental note that this was horror.
Telkai and her rankmates were deeply
troubled, and set about a plan to end the War of the Isle while there
were still Dimar left to survive. The War had begun because the Mulkai
of the Island Continents were swimming through the Great Sea to settle
on the shores of Mainland. They were different, and more powerful than
the Mulkai Dimar of Mainland and of the southern archipelagos, and because
of the differences the fighting had begun. Dimar of Mainland saw the weakening
of the western barryds as a great opportunity to take lands from them.
Trapped, members of the western barryds could do little but fight to stave
off their attacks.
The Island Continent Dimar were perennially
in disfavor with the Mainland Dimar, and Goothib was not particularly
fond of Dimar of the Isles himself. The images reflected this, showing
hulking, gray bodies climbing up on shore on stocky legs. Instead of the
graceful heads of Mainland Dimar, Goothib showed the Dimar of the Isles
as block headed, with flat, blunt snouts and thick necks. Luuko had seen
Dimar of the Isles in his travels, and knew that they were actually just
a more sinuous, smaller variety of Dimar. He broadcast a revised image
to Harmon, not letting Goothib know that he was correcting him.
Telkai would free them. Telkai would
give all Dimar wings, so that they might mingle freely in the air safely,
or flee attacks to restart barryds elsewhere when greed takes hold of
their neighbors. Telkai allowed Dimar to transcend their war, literally.
Working in secret, Telkai and her team
tested and re-tested the design. It had to be perfect, and breed true
in all the Dimar subspecies. The cell had to be released somehow into
every barryd's water supply. Every barryd had to be given the secret of
Water so that the cell could work. Any time a Dimar was immersed in Water,
the cell could act, adding wing structure code to each Dimar little by
Telkai betrayed her barryd to save it.
She left her Barryd in the West and went to the other side. She seeded
the Mainland conquered barryds of the East, and the north and south twin
continents, teaching them of the healing powers of Water. Soon, all barryds
were producing Water, seeded with his special cell, set not to act until
the appointed day. Once all barryd-dwelling Dimar were set, Telkai had
to devise a way to infuse the cell in the Dimar from the Isle, who did
not have barryd technology.
In what was seen as an act of ultimate
betrayal, Telkai taught the Isle Dimar the key to disarming Telmirrai
— her own home in the West, and the last outpost of free Mainland Dimar.
In the bloodiest of all battles, it fell to the Dimar of the Isles. The
surviving Telmirrai leaders regrouped at Iladinal barryd in secret to
discuss what had happened, and there, Telkai turned herself in to suffer
her fate. The Leaders of Telmirrai immersed her in a pool of flesh-eating
cells — the most horrible execution ever devised. It is told that at the
moment of her death, a great cry went up all over Dimar. Her wing-making
cells awakened, drawing all Dimar inexorably toward the Water to soothe
the flaming pains that consumed them. As she slowly decayed in the pool
at Iladinal, all of Dimar grew wings.
Luuko chuckled inwardly. Harmon clearly
understood that this was a romanticized version of the truth, if near
the truth at all, and was amused by the sugary sweet propaganda Goothib
was tossing at her.
Goothib emerged from his reverie sighing.
If only I had been around in that time, to live to see the great one
give us the power of Flight and subcreation. I, no doubt would have been
a key member of her development team. Goothib chuckled, wiggling his
ears and crooning smugly.
You probably would have ended up on
the wrong end of a war-oolar's tusks in some stupid battle, Goothib. Most
Telkans that were conscripted ended up as fertilizer, Luuko admonished
him. Goothib looked crushed, and looked away. Thinking more positively,
he reminded him, and if you'd been there, then you wouldn't be here
to teach Harmon, the first non-Dimar, the art of the Telkai studies. Your
place in history is here, Goothib — doing the true work of the true child
of the Water.
Goothib brightened considerably, whuffling
toward Harmon. Shall I teach you the image-ballad so you can work your
way toward the Second Class?
Luuko had had all he could stand of Telkai
for the day, and excused himself. Learning ballads of Dimar long dead
was not his style, and he trundled off on all fours to find something
useful to do around the encampment.