February 6, 2016: 7:15 pm: Exarthy

Our earliest writings refer to a list of promises made by the original nine. Most of those promises are lost in time as their specifics had been forgotten by the time of written records. All our histories say is that Melarx, founder of our farming made promises that led no, and did not need to be kept. We do not know why. It’s likely he set down plans for farming based on conditions in the old village and which proved unworkable in the special climate of our valley. Whatever the reason, we do not know what his promises were, only that he, like all nine made some and his were not kept. That is still more than we kno about Avez’s promises. We only know she made any because the records all agree there were promises from all nine. But no reference to her particular promises was ever made. And all other references to her was that she was essential as a mother and expert in childbirth. Perhaps her promises related to that in some way but it is never mentioned.

But Vanka’s promises are not only known but still kept bus.

1.) We will never again risk our village by making its location known to those who might harm us. Hence our intense secrecy, even with those we bring here in trust.

2.) We will, in secret, maintain an equal knowledge with those who might harm us.

“But I’ve been told there are three of Vanka’s rules.”

“Yes. It is common to say that. We think of Vanka’s Promises along with what is more properly called Vanka’s Legacy. Legend tells us it was Vanka’s last wish. It is impossible to tell if that is true. It likely did not come from her directly, but arose naturally out of following her intentions. Vanka’s Legacy says that we should, in secret, influence those who might harm us into balanced and if possible, peaceful relations with each other. The aim is to keep them from starting wars that would threaten us in any way. It has become a de facto way to run the world. We are its secr monarchs. Or as our philosophers have dubbed it, exarchs. For we rule from without.”

January 30, 2016: 4:47 pm: Exarthy, writing

Her name was Martina but everyone called her Vanka. In the village language it meant fair or blessed and it was meant as a compliment.

But now as she stood opposed by Nex the son of the dead chief it sounded like a curse.

“Vanka,” Nex spat. “You would have us run and hide like cowards. BUt that is not what my father would want. We must avenge him and protect our lands. We must let Okrex and his hordes know we will not be bowed.

Vanka’s shoulders sank. He made her position sound cowardly and unreasonable. When it was he who was being irrational. Brave maybe, but stupid. She saw the yes of mthe survivors of her village look to her for an answer to him. She knew they did not want to die. But they did not want Okrex to win either.

Vanka spat to buy time. It also eloquently summed up what she felt of Nex’s words. “You sound like fair winds but speak wet dirt. Okrex has given us two options. Fight and die or submit and be slaves. You would have us die. Which is brave. BUt I would have us outsmart Okrex. I would have us live and yet not be slaves. I know the ways through the forest. We can save our village. We can live another day. If venegance we want we can wreak it in the next moons. But if we listen to your words we give Okrex what he wants. We give him our village.”

Nex sputtered at this. She was a fine speaker, she knew. She liked words. She was the unofficial storyteller. But he had not given in to her yet. “You would give him our village too,” was all he managed.

“Yes,” she answered quickly. “But not with anything valuable in it. Certainly not with us in it.” He might get thatch and mud, but that is all. You would give him our bodie.”

Nex gave up arguing with her. She saw it. “We are riven!” he declared, invoking the ancient term for a village that has decided to split in two. It was not what she had proposed. She was heartbroken. More than half their number had died in Okrex’s attack. There was not much left as it was without splitting up.

Nex continued. “Those who would stay and fight, to me. Those who would run and hide, to her.” He didn’t give her the courtesy of using her name this time.

Vanka turned to the villagers. “If you wish to survive, follow me.”

She gathered her things, a pack of the barest essentials and made for the tree line.

Almost two dozen followed her. She would not keep her promise. Not all would survive.

January 25, 2016: 1:52 am: Exarthy, writing

Bil left his house to head to the community center and find Erika. It was an unusually bright morning. In any other place on Earth it would have been described as sunny but in Barnitukku, the sun never appeared in the sky. An odd shelf of rock and trees prevented that. But plenty of sunlight made it through anyway and today more than usual.

Lots of people were outside enjoying the light. He knew them all. It was a small place and they all relied on each other. So he smiled genially and hid his worry. Erika had said she would be at he Vistatu, the community center in the middle of town until late but she had never come home.

In most areas on the planet that would have been cause to worry about some kind of accident or crime. Barnitukku was small enough that anything like that would have immediately spread through the town like wildfire. Crimes were not unheard of but they were rare and accidents while less rare were taken very seriously.

So Bil was curious to find out what had kept her. She must have just decided to sleep there rather than walk home. The Vistatu was meant for that. IN fact it had been its originalk and ancient purpose and it still offered beds and comfort to any Barnitukku who needed them.

The Vistatu was very small even by the town’s generally small building standards. It was made of mud bricks that had been replaced many times in its long centuries. In fact it had been patched and repaired so many times none of its walls were made of the original materials, meaning it really wasn’t as ancient as it was regarded. Except for one brick. Legend said it was the first brick put down, but Bil and many others doubted the original builders took the time to commemorate it. Rather it was likely a brick some ancient Barnitukku noticed was one of the few left from the original building and pointed that out. Since it happened to be on the ground the story grew that it could have been the first one, then that it must have been and then that it was.

Whatever the case, Bil gently opened the aluminium screen door attached in blasphemous contrast to its walls of varying antiquity, and entered.

The lights were off and he flicked the switch to turn them on. Some rather old bulbs flickered to life. Erika lay on a couch in the entrance room. That was very odd. The sleeping couches were off towards the back.

“Erika?” Bil asked.

“Vankam,” Erika said greeting him and rubbing the sleep from her eyes, then opening them wide. “Oh my it is morning isn’t it? I meant to just rest before I walked home. So sorry to worry you.”

“No worry,” Bil dismissed the concern. “I’m more curious what kept you,” he lied.

“We have a katarru man from the camanaba,” she said. Erika had a bad habit of speaking in patois. Barnitukku were supposed to speak in English whenever possible in vigilant preparation for any trips outside the country.

“A piece of scrap iron from the outside world?” Bil gently chided.

“Well if you want to be literal about it,” she grumbled. “He’s a systems analyst for one of their intelligence agencies. Was going to pull a Snowden before I found him and convinced him to come with me.”

Bil nodded.

“And he’s awake,” said a voice from behind them both.

Bil turned to see a tall blonde european in modern dress of a t-shirt and jeans.

“And he’s still not sure he’s convinced.”

Bil bowed then quickly realized that was the wrong greeting and stuck out his hand. The other man shook.

Erika had risen and stood between them. “Bil, this is Mattias from the country of Germany. Mattias this is Bil.”

“Nice to meet you Mattias. Welcoem to the hidden kingdom of Barnitukku.”

“So you all call it that. I thought Erika was just the dramatic one,” Mattias said.

“She is,” said Bil. “But not about that. Our Kingdom is hidden.”

“What about the part where she said it runs the world?”

Bil laughed. “A bit dramatic. We guide the Exarthy. But. Maybe it’s a distinction without a difference. Most would say we run the world.”

December 12, 2015: 7:19 pm: Exarthy

I write here what no one should write. I affix what is forbidden to set down. I am Exempt. It is my burden, it is my blessing, it is my destiny and it is my choice. It is the only way one becomes Exempt.

With these words I seal the telling so that it shall not be read or if read not believed or if believed not credited beyond the believer.

For here I tell of the hidden kingdom and it’s relations with the Exarthy. You have been warned.

For more than 15,000 years, the exact number is known but not relevant, the Hidden Kingdom has existed as a haven for the Exarthan Governors. They in stealth persist in their Exarthan Courses and retreat here when necessary to rest and recover and sometimes to die.

The Electarch nourishes them, advises them, and appoints them when that time comes.

It is the way that balance and dynamism is maintained in the wider worlds. For the Hidden Kingdom is stagnant. It is safe. It is the heat sink of conflict and the sponge of iniquity.

Only once in its history has an Exarthan breached its secrets and invaded its havens.

This is that story.

August 30, 2015: 11:41 am: Gallian System, writing

Mia gave up. She had reached the bottom of the thing without a trace of what it was. She sat down against a bulkhead to listen to Zay’s response and stare at a glare of light on the opposite wall above a ventilation shaft that sat on what to Mia was the floor.

“You have to keep investigating even if it means bringing in guest salvagers to help. The fact that you haven’t found anything is confirmation that this find is significant beyond its metal value. Who would go to such lengths to remove all identifying marks on a ship unless it was important. There has top be something there,” Zay kept talking.

Mia just kept staring at the glare. She had stopped listening. Then she stood.

“… you have to realize that in the salvager scheme of things, a find like that..” Zay’s message continued.

Why was there a light? It didn’t move when Mia’s light did. What was the source. She leaned over and peered into the end of the ventilation shaft opposite. Was it a ventilation shaft? The metal at it’s end wasn’t a grill but badly folded solid pieces. Through a gap she saw an LED. She pulled out some tools and pried it apart. Below was a control bank. It must be auxilliary control she thought!

“… so don’t give up. Keep moving. Keep pushing….”

Mia resisted the urge to message back right away interrupting Zay before she had finished. Most people might not notice the timing. Zay would.

“..let us know what else we can do. Zay out,” she finally finished.

Mia immediately messaged back. “I found an auxiliary control room. Dropping down to investigate. You were right Zay!” Why not let her feel like she’d had an effect.

The auxilliary control room was a a narrow chamber with a bank of screens and input devices running down the center. That was where the LED had come from. Whatever long-life batteries still existed on the ship still had enough charge to light them.

At one end of the chamber were three dessicated bodies. They were almost skeletons but bits of cloth and tissue clung to them and littered the floor around them. They were all three lying face first into the wall. If Mia had to guess, they must not have been strapped in when the collision happened, which implied an accident of some sort. Or all three bodies restraints had failed.

One screen was still active with a logging program active. She tried to call up previous logs but the screen could not access storage. Likely it was destroyed in the crash. She was about to give up when she noticed that one log entry showed as still in composition. She chose it ad the last log entry, still in the process of being written appeared, stored in the local systems memory for hundreds of years, waiting to be saved to oblivion.

“Gamelt and Stallion have joined me in auxilliary control. The bridge is destroyed in the impact but engines are still active. No idea what caused attitiude to go haywire like that. Suspect foul play. No other explanation. Hold— Stallion reports an incoming airwave. From where? No ship on what scopes we have left but could be missed. Why? Not much time. Trying to fortify shields but little hope. We won’t make it no matter what. This is the ship Gallian signing off. Gallium control—“ And it stopped.

“Leonard you were right,” Mia messaged, sending an image of the screen. “This is the original Gallian Colony Ship. It looks like they were trying to set it down here for some reason and lost attitude control. They suspected sabotage. Poor suckers They had no idea of the early corporate politics. Likely their executive sponsor was just on the wrong side of a dispute. But to wreck the original colony ship because of it. There’s a story there for sure. Mia out.”

August 20, 2015: 7:34 pm: Gallian System

Mya sent three survey drones flying on complex flight paths orthogonal to one another. Most salvagers used one drone at a time and just had it cover all the ground. They might have more than one drone in case of large areas or just to have backup in case of damage but they would only use one of them at a time but Mya had discovered over the years that different drones might often report different information about the same area. So she had developed a system— she called it her algorithm, though it was not technically mathematical. The ‘algorithm’ flew the drones in a way designed to bring out those kinds of discrepancies and resolve them. It led to a huge boost in accuracy for her.

The drones reported data back to her but she just let it carry on back to Zactus and SHOE House for Zay to look over. Zay’s report didn’t take long.

“You’ve got a huge amount of metal down there but it’s thinner in the place I marked. That looks very much like a door. Leonard thinks you should try sending a traditional unlock signal to it once you’ve uncovered it. Just in case it has some kind of passive reciever that still works.”

Mya acknowledged and got to work uncovering the metal. It was corroded and dirty but it definitely resembled a hatch of some kind. Faded black and white stripes vaguely suggested a typical hatch warning flag. Mya sent a traditional unlock signal. She cycled through all the major frequencies and then through the rare but known ones. She was about to take the time to have it cycle through all possible frequencies when a mesage from Leonard arrived.

“Try frequency 1120. That’s the one for the Gallian Colonial ship. It won’t prove anything but I have a gut feeling. Zay bet me a sandwich it doesn’t work.”

Mya tried the extremely unlikely frequency. The door made screeching sounds and tried valiantly to open itself. Mya heard gears whining and stripping themselves. She shoved a hand in a small gap that had opened and gave it a push. The hatch slid to the side quickly tearing quite a bit of skin off in the process. Mya knew better but a combination of excitement and impatient had made her risk it.

“The signal worked though the door was so corroded, that it didn’t open. I had to give it a nudge. Don’t know who wins the sandwich.”

Mya was still pulling out light exploratory gear and making the rest of her equipment safe when a message from Leonard came in.

“I win the sandwich.”

It was followed quickly by Zay saying “Belay that sandwich. We need a third party ruling.”

Mya laughed and sighed and sent back, “I vote Leonard. Heading into the structure to explore. May lose messaging.”

Then she walked through the hatch.

July 28, 2015: 11:46 pm: Gallian System

This was when she loved working for SHOE. Away from the drama of headquarters on Zactus but still working remotely with her team there.

Zay was a crack data cruncher. Nobody could match her ability to analyze the stream of information Mya collected for insights and directions nobody else would have thought to even look for.

And Leonard was the hunch master. He took the findings of Zay’s data and pointed Mya in the right direction. Mya’s role was to use their support to dig and make the find. To make the calls that could only be made on the grand when you were looking right at a potential salvage site.

They had done this in the North moons with Zay and Leonard in the ship with Mya. But doing it long distance still felt the same. There was lag to be sure. But the latest reflector technology really helped with that and they had learned to deal.

Mya had been cruising low over an empty plane on the far side of Malaikat. Really just staying close to home because she wanted to knock off early. She was exhausted. The plains had been surveyed a million times but something told her to get a closer look at a set of pipes sticking up out of the ground.

They were noticed on the salvager’s collective maps and unusable, undiggable low value abandoned metal. But Mya decided to see for herself.

The metal was indeed not worth the effort to pull out of the ground. It looked a bit like the remains of some kind of plumbing but there was no record of whatever structure had made use of them.

Mya had made a scan and shot it back to Zactus for Zay’s take.

“I’m seeing slight indications of subsurface metal. Maybe more pipe but it would have to be a lot more to account for this number. Scan more detail about 40 degrees south.”

Mya thought it was awfully close to rescan ut she had learned not to doubt Zay. As she was rescanning she got Leonard’s take.

Pipes don’t come out of nowhere and Zay’s data doesn’t jive well with an abandoned structure. There’s definitely something under there. My guess is a ship. I’m looking for matches. So is Zay.”

A ship? She shot back a message telling them they were crazy along with the rescan. She went back to tlook at the pipes while she waited. It was longer than just the lag time before she got a response. This time from Leonard.

“UH. Zya. That’s a ship. At least that’s what I think. Zay found a match to the pipe configuration. He has his own thoughts though.”

Zay’s message came right after. “The chance of it being a ship are low but it’s still higher than the chances of it being anything else we suppose including wall pipes. Those pipes don’t match any known building code. They’r pretty damn ancient but not older than the common piping codes which haven’t changed in centuries. It matches 14% of ancient long-term voyages.”

A follow up from Leonard came right on its heels. “What she’s too coy to tell you is it matches a colony ship. Specifically the generation ships that settled systems in the era Gallium was founded. Those pipes are ventral exhaust and effluent. They kicked out what little unwanted fumes and liquids the colony ships expelled. Which wasn’t much hence how thin they are. I’m not going to SAY it’s one of the Gallian Arks but only because Zay will punch me if I make such an unfounded assertion. So I Say dig.”

Mya doug.

May 23, 2015: 6:42 pm: Gallian System, writing

The mood in south salvage was different. She knew tat for sure. Put she couldn’t quite put her finger on why. North salvage ops were small but they were identified with the planetary system. They were one of its unexpected success stories, growing out of the older and more respectable resource management companies.

In South system salvagers were less numerous and somewhat ignored but at the same time they weren’t controversial. They weren’t seen as upstarts trying to steal away the culture of the system. In fact, they were cautiously embraced by the resource management firms and existence and the much larger and only tangentially related Energey Harvesting companies that operated acrossSouth’s various satellites.

That’s what she didn’t understand about her boss’s attitude. This was a fertile field in which to operate. her boss should have been overjoyed that she was here. Instead her boss just seemed jealous and looking for excuses for her to fail.

But she wasn’t failing. She knew that. Her salvage was as strong as ever and buyers were snapping it up. She panicked when she thought about the need to maintain the consistency of her discoveries. She was deathly afraid her luck would run out as would her stream of good salvage. But so far it didn’t seem that way.

She hoped that after a long enough track record, she could be established in south and allowed to solidify her contributions. Granted, she did not want to become tied only to her boss. She loved the ability to do side enterprises. It’s why she had left RCON and signed on with such a small operation like SHOE. But she didn’t want it to end. She dreaded the idea that she might be cut free.

That’s when her comm flashed. It was Brittany from the planet Delvalli.

“Hey Brit, what’s up?”

“Are you sitting down?” Brittany said. “I debated with my husband whether I should tell you this, but in the end it would be unfair not to.”

“What?”

“I just got a call from SHOE.”

Brittany did some freelance work from time to time so that wasn’t that surprising.

“It was from Connor. He offered me your job. They said they weren’t going to keep you on after the next quarter was over.”

“What did you say?”

“I said I’d think about it. But unless you want me to say yes— I mean— I’m not a salvager really. I just thought you should know.”

She sat down. Now what?

March 21, 2015: 2:06 pm: Gallian System

Gallian System

Brief: Settled by Seed ships and pioneers as multi-use system. Early industry primarily mining. Origin system for Gallium Corporation. Site of historical headquarters for Gallium though no longer occupied by the corporation itself. Current primary industries are energy harvesting, resource maximization and salvage.

Inner Planets and moons

Gurun (uninhabited)
Temperatures on the most inner planet make it impractical for habitation though it was extensively mined. It is occasionally used for research or training but no permanent bases exist and all earlier habitation remnants have been salvaged.

Delvalli – Lari
The second planet settled was used as worker habitation and has a strong independent working class tradition. Solar energy harvesting is the main industry.

Gallium – Bask and Provi
The first planet settled and the oldest continuously occupied. The historical headquarters of the Gallium corporation is maintained here by a staff of 6 but is the only presence of the corporation left in its founding system. The planet is the most comfortable for habitation ann the most populous. Salvage operations are protected under local laws but do exist.

Gran Ban asteroids
Settled by pioneers and still occupied mostly by independent resource maximizers raising foodstuffs in hydroponic bays and harvesting energy. However some small-scale salvage operations exist.

Outer Planets

North – Herb, Elektra, Zactus, Verd, Sedang, Friend
The oldest of the outer planet settlements with the first Gallium outpost on Herb, now preserved but not owned by the Gallium corporation. While the Moons and gas giant are mined out, resource maximizers dominate the economy in multiple verticals. Salvage operations thrive here.

South – Malaikat, Naran, Doug, Winter
The more financially successful although younger of the two habitable gas giant systems. Also the cultural center of the system. Energy harvesting and resource maximization dominate the conomy though some salvage operations have taken hold in recent decades.

East – Numerical (uninhabited)
Mined out and all mining operations reclaimed.

West – Numerical (uninhabited)
Mined out and all mining operations reclaimed.

Related subjects

Gallium Name
The first settled planet was named for its prodiguous amounts of bauxite and zinc which yielded a relatively enormous amount of gallium(III).

Gallium Corporation
Early seed ships brought the founders of mining operations that formalized as the Gallium corporation, named after its home planet and the first principle export. Expansionist in nature, the corporation expanded to a nearby system in the days before generation ships and eventually took to acquiring other struggling mining systems. When the Gallian System was mined out the corporation moved its headquarters to the Allium system, reducing staff to public relations and historical preservation.

Principle Salvage Operations
RCON – Engaging in resource maximization and salvage in the North gas giant region, based in Herb and Gallium

Montrose – Respurce maximization company based in Gallium but with significant slavage operations out of Herb.

SHOE – (Salvage Headquarters Open Everywhere) a small but successful salvage operation that showed salvage-only companies could survive. Based off Zactus.

Menemui – Resource maximization company based on Provi. Got into salvage by acquiring Herb-based salvage company Tiga.

XFCon – Spinoff from Gallium mining ops that baceme an independent resource maximization company out of Bask and Herb and operates some salvage ops.

Suara – Gallium based salvage operation with significant operations in the North gas giant system.

Titor – Founded in Elektra engaging in Resource maximization then expanding to salvage and Energy harvesting now predominantly operating out of Malaikat. One of the largest operations in the Galian system.

December 18, 2014: 1:26 pm: humour, internet, Technology

A: 132 divided by 26 is about 5.

B: How do you know.

A: Because that’s how division works.

B: Doesn’t make sense that you can just say that. I mean I think we should investigate all sides of the issue. Who benefits from 132 being divided into 26 parts? Why does it have to be 5?

A: But when you divide 132 by 26 that’s the answer you get.

B: OK OK. Explain to me like I’m 5.

A: We don’t teach division to 5-year-olds.

B: So you can’t explain it. :)

A: Fine. So in this case let’s say you want to separate 132 things into 26 groups.

B: What things?

A: Doesn’t matter.

B: I think it could but let’s see where you go with this.

A: The idea is to find out how many things would be in each group.

B: So gather 26 twist ties say. And I spread them out until I have 26 groups. But not every group will have the same number. That doesn’t give you one answer.

A: Well you can keep shifting the groups around until they all have the same amount but there’s an easier way if you know how to multiply. Which as a five year old you would’t.

B: So this is all sounding like a runaround. The simple truth is you don’t know what 132 divided by 26 really is. You can’t prove it to an average person.

A: Multiply 26 times 5. You can teach a five year old to use a calculator.

B: If you trust calculators. But OK, for the sake of argument. Hold on. 26 times 5 is 130 according to my caluclator NOT 132.

A: Right there’s a remainder.

B: WAIT. So you’re trying to convince me that 132 divided by 26 is 5 but when I use MY OWN CALCULATOR It shows that is demonstrabvly NOT the case.

A: I was rounding. It’s actually 5.08

B: (PAUSES) NO! 132.08

A: Well yeah there’s a decimal but we usually round that off.

B: So your “SCIENCE” isn’t so precise after all. If you can just round things off why can’t I round things off. Why can’t I say 132 divided by 26 os 6. I’m just rounding off!

A: You do that.

B: See? You can’t win a fair logical argument can you? WHY CAN”T YOU HANDLE THE SIMPLE TRUTH? Stop trying to ruin this country!

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