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Posts: 17
Registered: ‎05-07-2007
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Griff, Conflict & Desire -- Writing Exercise

[ Edited ]

Three thousand years ago the twin catastrophes if the Pulse and The Melting Plague ended technological civilization in human space. One new civilization was born at the same time—The Umatri. They alone possessed the knowledge of Old Earth and climbed to technological heights while the rest of the human worlds regressed.

Each Umatri possesses unimaginable resources, but being nearly immortal their numbers are few, and they are individualistic to a fault. Most have left the universe to handle a threat of cosmic proportions.

The Council (which is more a hobby group than government) has co-opted Arachne to be the High Sherriff and chief babysitter to the rest of humanity.

Arachne is the oldest being in the universe, and the one with the most checkered past. She didn’t want the job but the weight of past sins and a tendency to mettle in human affairs forced her to accept it.

She possesses all the resources of the Umatrii and possesses a multitude of bodies, both machine and human, but bad times are coming and she can only be in one place at a time. She has been seeding technology through the galaxy for fifty years, but time is short.

A unexpected event has occurred—one that could set her plans back centuries. The Kentauri Empire has landed a expedition on old Earth. She had arranged it as part of a plan the meld the two cultures into the nucleus of a civilization able to counter the coming threat.

Tara (Old Earth) was assumed by the Kentauri to be a deserted wasteland, populated by savages. Instead it is a thriving, if chaotic world, filled with genetically engineered wonders, and technology left over from before the collapse. The leader of the expedition (Baron Yamamouri) has decided to keep this from the Emperor and use the lost technologies and resources of Tara to conquer both planets.

Arachne must stop him while remaining a shaddow behind the scenes.

To do this she must recruit local operatives to function as her instruments. She has arranged for a combat ship to make the six year transit to Tara, with her human-born daughter (a potential recruit) , and a contingent of Marines loyal to the emperor. She is also selecting agents from among the more advanced nations of Tara.

What she doesn’t know, is that one of her own doesn’t want her to succeed. And the crisis develops before she is prepared.

Excerpt from “Arachne’s Web”

Prolog: The Tempest

Arachne sat in her library overlooking the Eagle Nebula. She was plotting of course—as was her nature. She sat quietly, legs demurely tucked into the seat of the tattered leather chair and sipped white chocolate coco from a chipped ceramic mug. Neither the awesome display before her, nor the lush taste of the creamy concoction served to lighten her mood. _The Empire would conquer Earth._ That conclusion was inescapable; it was as inevitable as the eventual collapse of the swirling stardust into infant stars and their eventual evolution into stellar ash. She had modeled a million variants of the coming events and all, save one, led to nothing short of utter disaster. The Empire would conquer Old Earth—but could never be permitted to rule the ancient home of all humanity.

_Damn the council for putting me in this mess_; I never asked to be appointed babysitter to the scattered progeny of Terra. She curled a little tighter in the battered leather chair and took another slow sip from the mug.

Observing the towering columns of dust and gasses making up The Pillars of Creation always calmed her. Her vision shifted down spectrum to the point where visible light registered as ultraviolet. Viewed in the lower infrared, the normally opaque columns of gas transformed into an eerily translucent red fog shot through with bands of rich purple and emerald green. Only the densest dust clouds fully hid the glow of the stars burning within the stellar nursery. Even to one as old as she, the nebula was an unyielding shoal in a sea of universal change. It existed eons before she was born, and may still exist long after she was gone. Only chance and technology could determine that.

As she brooded, slim fingers stroked the worn book cradled in her lap. The cover was cracked leather, and the binding brittle with age. Old beyond belief, it was the last original copy of The Tempest existent in the known universe and among the most prized of her possessions. To say that she knew Shakespeare's play would be an understatement of cosmic proportions. With the slightest thought, she could recite the manuscript in any of the three thousand languages in which it had been published, or recall the details of all of the essays, dissertations, white papers, critiques, and monographs humanity ever wrote about it. She knew the work as a librarian knows her library, or a songstress knows her song.

She savored the feel of it in her hands. Arachne loved the truly old things, the smell, touch, and feel of them. Having them nearby soothed her and helped her to compose her thoughts. It was, perhaps, because the book was one of the few human creations in the universe older than she was; the camaraderie of age of made difficult choices easier somehow.

The subjugation of humanity's ancient home by the Kentauri Empire would be a disaster to both Old Earth and Empire. Allowing such a disaster to occur would set her plans back centuries. Sato IV's Empire was corrupt and dying, a contradiction of the moribund and aggressive. Without intervention, it would fracture and crumble, becoming yet another example of humanity's failed attempts to control its own excesses. The rest of human space would follow. The reforms that the Emperor was attempting to implement might slow the fall—but only for a while. The simulations indicated that even if optimally implemented, the reforms only had a 97.4 percent probability of postponing the Empire's collapse for a few meager years, and had zero chance of preventing the fall.

She planned that Tara, as the inhabitants of Old Earth now called it, to be the stimulus required to save the Empire. However, in order to do so, Tara must coexist as an equal to Kentauri Prime not as a vassal world. If not, it would be absorbed into an Empire unrepentant, and crushed under the weight of a falling civilization.

The Empire's death would be long and agonizing. An unchanged Empire would continue to expand throughout the spiral arm, stifling and oppressing all the newly emerging interstellar civilizations it stumbled across. _She could never allow that Empire to exist!_

What she needed was an Empire evolved, one forged into a tool that would embrace and protect all other worlds it encountered while they, and it, grew into a jewel of galactic civilization; A tool with a temper able to counter the threats marshalling in a future rushing headlong into the present.

The two planets were a study in contrast. Tara was chaos incarnate. Humanity on the planet genetically scrambled, scientifically backward, and politically fragmented. It was a cauldron of anachronism with the ancient and the new bubbling and seething, in constant motion, yet never mixing. Thousands of political philosophies, a like number of bizarre cultures, and a hundred religions were constantly in conflict. She was beginning to believe that the only thing the humans on the planet held in common was a history of resolving problems with sword, gun, or beam. In spite of that, Tara was rapidly recovering from The Plague and possessed an abundance of resources, human and otherwise.

(end excerpt)

Message Edited by Griff on 05-12-200711:26 PM

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