Cythera Chronicles: Collusion, chp. 8

  • Chapter 8

    Marchal’s first sight of the Scientific Institute of Mevren, as he followed Talaris and the captain from the dock, was impressive - he surmised there were few building that could match its architecture.

    Its main building was constructed of a material Talaris called ‘concrete’. She seemed to have high hopes for the material, claiming that it was the opinion of most of the scholars at the institute that it would surpass stone as a building material in the next century.

    In the front of the structure was a plaza, centered on a modest bronze statue. Marchal looked at the statue - two men and a woman looked upward, towards the sky. In one man’s hand was a strange disc engraved with tiny runes.

    As they walked past the statue, Marchal read the caption.
    "Our Founders: Salmaris, Talm, Wolmark"

    The words registered with Marchal, he’d met Talm once as a child, but he’d never met either of the others. Of course, everyone who traveled by Zeppelin knew of Wolmark, the inventor of the craft. However, this ‘Salmaris’ was an unknown to him.

    "Who is ‘Salmaris’?" He inquired of Talaris. He couldn’t help but wonder at the similarity between the two names.

    "A person who’s ancestors came to Cythera from another, more advanced world. She made contact with Cytherans on the First Air-Castle, and helped Talm and Wolmark to bring a great number of technological achievements to Cythera. She also happens to be my mother," replied Talaris to the question.

    Marchal nodded in acknowledgement. The group swiftly passed through the glass doors of the building, and into a large indoor lobby. It was tiled in a geometric mosaic, and illuminated by skylights. Marchal had never seen this much glass in one place - pane glass was ordinarily an oddity, requiring hours of work for a skilled craftsman.

    He was about to inquire about the glass when a short, red-bearded man, seeming more Dwarven than human, ran up to the group.

    "Talaris?" The man asked, curious. "What are you doing back here so soon?"

    "Something’s come up, Gum-Whale migration will have to wait. I need to speak to the chancellor, it’s urgent," Talaris responded.

    The man shook his head. "Chancellor Wolmark is in Kandal to help establish an annex there."

    Talaris nodded. "Thanks for your help. I guess we'll have to handle things on our own..."

    She headed down a corridor leading from the lobby area, with Marchal and the captain in pursuit.


    The three entered the great study hall of the institute. Marchal took in his surroundings in awe - dozens of comfortable chairs in clusters of five, each cluster surrounding a table and recessed a step lower than the rest of the hall. Marchal noticed that the illumination level at each table was considerably higher than the surrounding space between clusters. Marchal instinctively looked ceilingward, and discovered why - above each cluster were huge glass skylights. As if that wasn't awesome enough, each was a glass dome, designed to focus sunlight on the tables.

    Marchal's jaw almost dropped in awe! He'd never seen such a thing in all his life - a glass dome! He didn't even know how such a thing could be made with conventional means.

    Overcome by curiosity, in spite of the present situation, Marchal asked Talaris. "How did you make those giant glass domes?"

    "They aren't glass - they're a transparent acrylic polymer material, constructed according to the information retrieved from the air-castle ruins."

    Marchal gave a quizzical look.

    Talaris sighed. All too many visitors to the institute had similar reactions to her explanations.

    Various students were gathered, either sitting in the clusters, reading some large tome, or walking up and down the shelves on the walls. A handful of students stood taking quietly among themselves. The high ceiling of the study room was (where not glass) painted with a huge mural, running the length of the building. Marchal wasn't sure exactly what it depicted, but it was certainly a work of art. Somehow, the mural remained illuminated, despite it's unfavorable location for getting light from the skylights.

    More convinced than ever that this building was a work of art rivaling Pnyx, Marchal could easily see that this room was in every way designed to be conducive to study.

    "I'll check the library. You two go talk to Dervin - he's over there. Talk to him, and ask him to give you his largest elemental lens. Tell him it's on my request. " Talaris said, pointing to a scholar clad in blue robes and giving an informal speech to a gaggle of four or five other students.

    Captain Pynos nodded positively, and went off down the hall, with Marchal in tow.


    Talaris entered the main library. She'd long been desensitized to its awesomeness, but she couldn't help but take a glance around after the time she'd spent away.

    Things were the way she remembered them - one massive skylight illuminated the center ring of the library, which was a three-story tall cylindrical building. Lower levels were light by gas-burning lamps, and oddity to the rest of the world but used as the primary light source in the institute. Slowly, the innovations of the institute had started to spread off Mevren - the iron stove, for instance. But for the most part, the peoples elsewhere were slow to accept new technology. They were rooted in traditionalism, the Cytheran way.

    Her mother had worked all her life, along with forward-minded individuals like her father, Talm, to bring the benefits of the Visitors technology to the world at large. But now, the torch had been passed to Talaris, and to the others here, the next generation of scientists, inventors and thinkers that Cythera would need.

    As they left the institute, and returned to their respective lands, they would carry with them the knowledge and skills to help start a revolution - not a rebellion of violence, but an ideological paradigm shift that would ready the children of the future to embrace change.

    Talaris wondered if that dream would ever come to fruition. Honestly, she doubted it would happen in her lifetime, but, as her parents were so fond of saying, it was future generations that would benefit from the work done here, today. Resigning herself to the fact, Talaris headed off into the library to research what was known of the Shroomish.


    "And so, I maintain that if the chemical elements can be broken and combined, it must also occur with the corporeal elements - to produce known effects, there is no other reasonable explanation." Dervin concluded his speech to his fellow students. They gave a quick round of head-nodding, and Dervin sat down. Next, one of the other students, a pale, elven woman, stood up.

    "As well delivered as Dervin's hypotheses was, I propose a counter postulate - that the chemical elements are of an unlike natu..." The woman's words were cut short by Captain Pynos. "Excuse me, sorry to interrupt, but I need to talk to Dervin."

    The elf gestured to Dervin. "There he is, but please be quick about it. We're in the middle of a rather significant intellectual dispute here."

    There was a hint of indignation in her voice, evidently shared by the other students. None of them, Dervin included, seemed too happy about the interruption.

    Pynos began. "Dervin, we have a request from Talaris. We need your largest elemental lens. Quickly."

    Dervin flashed a bemused look. "Oh, so Talaris said this, eh? I was under the impression she was out studying whales."

    "She is back here, for reasons connected with this need. Personally, I don't know what an elemental lens is, but I know what Talaris said."

    Rolling his eyes, Dervin spoke. "An elemental lens is a device used to enhance an elemental force over the others in an area, allowing it to manifest it's pure effect at the apex of the device. Obviously, such a device represents grave danger if put into the wrong, untrained hands. Such as, presumably, yours. I'm afraid I can't give up any of my lenses, let alone my largest one. I'll have to hear it from Talaris."

    Pynos had anticipated that form the start. "Fine, we'll go get her."

    The elven woman resumed explaining her theory to the other students.


    Marchal and the Captain encountered Talaris on the second concourse of the library. Talaris was reaching for a brown book atop a shelf.

    "Talaris?" Asked Marchal. Grabbing the book, she turned to Marchal and Pynos.

    "Did you get the lens?"

    "No. Dervin says he won't give it to us unless he hears it from you."

    "I figured. Come on, I'll have a word with him." Talaris placed the book on a nearby table, and headed back to the study hall.


    A second interruption came to the elf speaking, much to her chagrin.

    Talaris approached Dervin. "I need the elemental lens." Dervin nodded.

    "Okay, I'll get it." Dervin nodded as he stepped up and walked off.

    "Not a trusting lot, are they?" Inquired Captain Pynos.

    "No - nor should he be. If an outsider were to steal the elemental lenses, it would not be good. The world outside isn't ready for them."

    Marchal nodded. It seemed the people here had a superiority complex, if only a small one. They probably had their reasons, though, so Marchal did not argue the point.

    The elemental lens was unlike any 'lens' Marchal had ever seen. It was a rectangular box, having several of levers on the top - four of them - and an aperture on the front. The device was festooned with various mechanical things.

    "Fascinating," said the captain, examining the contrivance. Marchal could not help but agree, though it seemed unlikely that this device would do anything. It then occurred to Marchal that he had no idea what the device was supposed to do!

    "What is it supposed to do?" He asked.

    "It focuses elemental power at the apex..." Talaris began

    "Er, I mean, what will it do, not how will it do it."

    "Oh. Well, I intend to use it to destroy this 'Overmind'. It will - should - do so by focusing the fire element. It will be a heat-ray of sorts."

    Marchal nodded at the explanation.

    "Overmind?" asked Dervin.

    "I'll enlighten all of you about it when we get back," Talaris responded.

    Dervin gave a disappointed huff.

    "We need to get the lens down to the Airship bay now. There's not another moment to lose!" Talaris said, as she started down a hall. Marchal and Pynos fallowed, baring the elemental lens under Dervin's scrutiny.

    Entering the airship bay of the institute, the group went after Talaris as she approached one of the docked craft. It was certainly quite modern in design, considerably more so than the older hydrogen-lifted craft they'd traveled in earlier.

    The tiny sun-crest on the tail fin of the craft Marchal recognized, it stood for the fact that this was a helium zeppelin. He'd seen posters at the Skydock proclaiming the safety of the crafts. He'd not cared much of it when he saw it then, but now Marchal really and truly recognized the significance of air safety.

    The cabin of the craft was open in the back, but covered in the front, probably to protect against inclement weather conditions. Altogether, the cabin was around twenty feet long. The wooden structure was augmented with a dark black substance unknown to Marchal.

    In the rear quarters was a brass boiler, the mode of propulsion was supplied by two propellers on the sides of the cabin. Marchal saw no wood or other fuel.
    "Where's the fuel?"

    "Compressed, in that cylinder." Talaris said, gesturing to a brass tank.
    "It's manufactured Coal-Gas. It's far more convenient than carrying coal or wood around in terms of space, and thus, weight."

    Talaris stepped into the pilot's chair, Pynos and Marchal got in after her, placing the elemental lens in the cargo space behind the seating. A dockhand, earlier summoned by Talaris, came beside the vessel and opened a small door on one side of the ship.

    He stuck a flaming tube into the door. "Gas on!" He said.

    Talaris opened a valve near the floor and a small hiss signaled the ignition of the boiler.

    The dockhand closed the tiny door and bid them farewell.

    "It'll take a couple minutes before the boiler is ready. I'd wish Cator would finish his engine designs. We'd not have to wait more than a few seconds to take off."

    "These engines, how do they work?" Asked Pynos.

    "Well, we obtained data from the air-castle ruins describing a device called an internal-combustion engine. Unfortunately, the data was fragmentary and we don't have any precise data on materials or even appropriate fuels, let alone actual plans for a practical one. Cator is currently working on building one, using alcohol as a fuel. He's met only limited success, he thinks he needs a fuel with more kick than grain alcohol. He hasn't come up with anything yet, though." Talaris explained absently, as she gave a glance to a pressure indicator.

    "You have some amazing things here, I do say. Like nothing most of us can even imagine," Marchal stated truthfully.

    Talaris nodded. "We're faced with a growing technological divide on this world, as we rediscover more of the visitor technology. The population of Cythera, though, is highly stagnated technologically - because psionics were possible in the system, technology was viewed as unneeded. Perhaps it was true. But with Jalos killing off most of them, there just aren't enough to handle Cythera's medical needs, let alone legal matters or more mundane work. The people need to understand that it's time to embrace technology, as a crutch to pull them though tough times. The sooner people come to terms with it, the sooner we get out of this rut, and into the future." Finishing her monologue, she examined the pressure indicator. Judging form her expression, Marchal guessed that they still had some tie to wait.

    Captain Pynos began making small talk about gum whales, and their place in the future. Marchal drifted form the conversation, back to his wife on Cythera. He hoped she was unaffected by all this, safe and sound.

    She's probably worried sick over me, Marchal thought, quickly noting that she had every reason to do so, even if she didn't know anything about the Shroomish.

    Marchal relaxed slightly in the airship's chair. The material was soft and comfortable, but coldly artificial in feel.

    "Ah, finaly." Talaris remarked in response to checking the indicator gauge. Talaris adjusted some controls and the propellers whirred to life. In response to a yank on the levels of the craft, it began a gentle lifting turn out of the skydock.

    Marchal watched slightly dizzied as the ground and the isle of Mevrin twirled down far below.

    "Where is this 'Overmind'?" asked Pynos.

    "In the coldest parts of the high mountains. We won't be overtop the mountains for quite a while yet, I'll let you know when we get there." Talaris said, giving a glance to the controls and instruments of the craft.

    Marchal let loose a sigh. They were off to - hopefully - end the Shroomish menace once and for all.

    Or die trying.

    (To be continued)

    (This message has been edited by moderator (edited 07-09-2002).)

  • Excellent work, Bryce. I particularly enjoyed this chapter. Please try to use a spellchecker in the future, though.

    Slayer's guide to Cythera:

  • Excellent, Bryce. You covered those two points I raised very nicely. :)

    It's difficult to express a desire to see more when I've already seen how it turns out, but one thing I can say is that I'm enjoying reading about your very different view of the Cytheran world. I hope this series won't be the last you write! :)

    The e-mail of the specious is deadlier than their mail

  • Thanks everyone!
    I do have another chrons seris planned, though I have not started on it yet.
    It will probobly involve the great sinkhole in Surmourdac as a passage into a massiv underground cave system.

    "Why do these candles say T-N-T?" - (famous last words 104)

    Where do you want to (url="http://"")teleport(/url) today?

  • Very nice work... as cache said, a unique and intriguing look at the Cytheran world.

    Bronze: the other gold metal. | | And so the space toaster hardened the outer layers of the doughy, ooey-gooey ancient Earth...
    Bacchus Publishing: (url="http://" &category;=guides&display;=date&file;=ChroniclesByJake101.sit.hqx")Chronicles by Jake101: the unposted chapters(/url).

  • After I finally got around to reading your chronicle (all four parts), I feel obliged to comment...
    Let's get to the positive aspects first (yes, I have negative criticism): it's quite obvious you put a lot of work into this series, and the story so far is rather intriguing and interesting (you're not, by any chance, a Star Trek fan, are you? ;)).
    But it would all be so much better (imho) if it weren't for all that technological development your Cythera has undergone. To be frank, I really don't like that (the one thing I especially object to is the elven woman at the institute! Seriously, elves and technology just don't fit), and I hope you don't integrate too much of that into the TSes... it's not a world my non-human characters would stay in.
    Besides, magic is so much more environment-friendly (and I get enough of modern technology every day)... :p

    Wer denken kann, ist klar im Vorteil.

  • You know, she has a point. I've been on edge about that aspect since I first saw the bit about the steam cart - you may remember I said something about it not being a likely development when the island was so small. I think it might also have something to do with my reasoning that the Ronin wouldn't want to have much to do with the 'Leader Maximus'; even having Wolmark associated with the Mevren Institute makes me feel a bit uneasy.

    And before anyone says anything about my own inventor, Wolmark, you might want to take note that he's using technological items less and less - since he is a fairly powerful mage, after all. For example, his explosives are all gone, and he won't be making any more. At this point, I have no plans to use any gadgetry at all in book 3 of the Ronin Saga.

    That being said, I'd like to repeat something I've said before: not all chronicles have to be set in the same 'history'. There are some things I know Bryce has planned for the future that I personally wouldn't want to see happen in the universe my stories are set in, but that's no reason not to enjoy Bryce's tales in their own right. :)

    The e-mail of the specious is deadlier than their mail

  • Quote

    Originally posted by Moonshadow:
    **the one thing I especially object to is the elven woman at the institute!

    I can quickly offer four expanations for the elven woman:
    (1) She is a half-elf, raised by her human parent
    (2) She is not an elf, but some other elf-looking race.
    (3) She was raised by non-elf parents for some reason.
    (4) She is simply an unconventional elf. Perhaps even elves have less conservitive factions.


    Originally posted by Moonshadow:
    **But it would all be so much better (imho) if it weren't for all that technological development your Cythera has undergone

    Then have Moonshadow (The charicter) kill Salmaris. Talm too, just to be sure. Cold-blooded and evil though it might be, it would nip the whole thing in bud.
    While you are at it, destroy the submarine.
    Finaly, this will be hard for you, but kill Wolmark and destroy his Zepphlin. Destroy any plans for it as well.
    Be sure to seek out and destroy all of the Shards as well, they are, after all, technological.

    Simple, no?

    To explain the steps - Killing Salmaris is fairly obvious, she is by and large the reason for serious technical advancement. After all, she hails from a race advanced enough to create a vessel that can sail between the planes of reality. Since, unfortunatly, she has spent time already with Talm and given him grand ideas about the future, you'll have to kill Talm as well. Of himself, he preresents only a small reserve of knowledge, but he already has the submarine made by Salmaris, Wolmark, and himself. With the submarine, he is capible of going to the ruins of the Air-Castle, and retriving more hated technology to poison the world with :rolleyes:

    You'll have to kill Wolmark because his Zepphlin reresents the ability to travel to other, more open minded lands. Destroying the Zepphlin and the capibility to build another one goes hand in hand.

    Now, one last thing - keeping Cythera stagnated will be easy enough, but there is the rest of the world to deal with. Those heathen are bound to invent air travel and drop in one day, breaking your lithoid culture and gasp changing things! Be sure to adopt a strict xenophobic stance, and kill all outsiders with impunity.
    Remember - only you can prevent progress!

    Blah. That was fun...

    "Why do these candles say T-N-T?" - (famous last words 104)

    Where do you want to (url="http://"")teleport(/url) today?

  • Quote

    Originally posted by cache22:
    **You know, she has a point. I've been on edge about that aspect since I first saw the bit about the steam cart - you may remember I said something about it not being a likely development when the island was so small.

    I belive I mentioned it was military surplus from another, larger area.


    Originally posted by cache22:
    **not all chronicles have to be set in the same 'history'. There are some things I know Bryce has planned for the future that I personally wouldn't want to see happen in the universe my stories are set in

    Great, the universe is fragmenting. Something must be done, before it is too late...

    "Why do these candles say T-N-T?" - (famous last words 104)

    Where do you want to (url="http://"")teleport(/url) today?

  • The future is fragmenting, which is precisely why last year I withdrew from it. Too many things going on that I could point out heavily contradicted one another.

    "I hate that! Your answers are always short, precise, and utterly useless!"

  • Quote

    Originally posted by Avatara:
    **The future is fragmenting, which is precisely why last year I withdrew from it. Too many things going on that I could point out heavily contradicted one another.

    Obviously you had the foresight to see this coming, so why did you do nothing?

    "Why do these candles say T-N-T?" - (famous last words 104)

    Where do you want to (url="http://"")teleport(/url) today?

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