Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo Project Update - Day Twenty Nine - VICTORY!!!!

Well I did it. I wrote a fifty thousand word novel in thirty days. Twenty nine days, actually. And for that, I have learned a lot about writing, and a lot about myself. It's been a hectic, yet fun 29 days, and I think I've come out a better writer for it. I actually have a bit of wrapping up to do on the novel left, maybe another few hundred to a thousand words to finish it, but I reached the goal. And I'm proud of myself for that.

* * *

Finally, after what felt like an eternity of searching, we found another deposit of books. As we entered the building Weq and I could both feel Rios’s excitment level rise to unprecidented amounts. He quickly began to search the building, as Weq and I helped. Before too long we had found the section, similar to the last one we had found, brightly colored, with thick books containing pictures, alongside words.
Rios began to go over them. Rios began to get answers to our million questions.

* * *

We spent a very long time in that building. It became a sort of “home base” for us. We slept there, when we did sleep. Rios spent night and day pouring over book after book, deciphering the language. Every day, he sat there, learning a few more words. He had been right, it seemed. The small books had, in fact, been a sort of pictorial depiction of words, kept immediately below them. There was more for him to do, naturally, than simply see what word meant what, of course. For example, he needed to work out how exactly the written word of this culture worked. It seemed, he explained to me at one point, that unlike our written word, where each word was represented by a symbol, individual “letters” which each would have represented one verbal sound, and would have been strung together in order to form words. These words, then, were broken up by a small space, and strung together to form longer sentences. Naturally, though, we couldn’t tell what sound each letter made, without an actual auditory recording of speech, and so he was only able to figure out how to read the written word, and not how it would have been spoken verbally.

While he spent day and night deciphering the written word, Weq and I continued to search the city together. We took the guns with us, naturally, unable to trust Rios with them, however it seemed unnecessary to guard him day and night. His whole purpose was to return to the surface to find just such a thing as he was sitting in day and night now. What was the point, in guarding him? Where would he go?

No, Weq and I let him sit in that building, as we continued to search the city. Of course, nothing we found made much sense to us. More of those metal vehicles sat everywhere, just like everywhere else in the city, more buildings containing various objects whose purposes we couldn’t figure out… Indeed, it seemed as if neither of us could do anything important at all, until Rios had learned to read the written word.

Thanks to the nature of the area we were in, a desert, we came across very little animal life. The only animal life we did come across, were insects, and reptiles. (Interestingly enough, we later discovered our animal classification system was very similar to the Earthlings method of classification. Close enough that about 80% of the classified animals we discovered on Earth would have been put into the same “category” by both my people, and the people of the earth. I’ll cover this a bit more at a later point in time.) They were, naturally, fascinating to Weq. Although we kept our distance for obvious reasons. If our suits were punctured by a threated animal, that would be the end of us, and that was simply a chance we couldn’t take. However, from a distance we did observe the reptiles. One type of the reptiles we noticed, interestingly enough, didn’t have any limbs. No, they were just a long body, with a head on the end. They moved by contorting their scaley body and sliding across the ground.

Another type of animal we noticed, an insect (although the Earth had a special classification for them called “Arachnids”, like I said our classifcation systems weren’t identical.) Was also interesting. It had eight legs, and large claws (in proportions to it’s body size.) The really interesting thing about it though, was what looked like a large sharp stinger on the end of it’s tail, which it held up in the air above it’s body. “I wish I knew why it held it’s tail like that.” Weq said. “I wish I could study the creatures here further.”

“I wish I could… I don’t know… Learn about them.” I said. “About the creature?” He asked. “No… About them.” I gestured towards a building. “We know almost nothing about them, aside from the few pictures we’ve seen of them as we’ve searched the city. Clearly they were a great society, but… We know nothing about them. Nothing.” “Tare…” Weq said to me. “Tare, Rios is really good at what he does. I don’t… I don’t agree with what he’s done, but he’s still very smart, and he will do this. He will decipher the written word of these people, and we… We will learn. You’ll learn about the culture, and I’ll… Someday I’ll figure out a way to study the creatures of this planet. And we’ll learn about this planet.” Weq was good at inspiring people. At supporting them. I’d known that about him before, but it still helped. “Thanks Weq. I hope you’re right.” I said. “I just wish… I waited my whole life to meet intelligent life forms on another planet-” “We all did.” He intterupted me. “Of course! I know we all did! I wasn’t trying to say that… It’s just… Like I said, I waited so long for an opportunity like this and now… We’ve found this planet. And we know there was life here… And they’re… They’re just gone. And I don’t even know what happened to them.” “And you wish they were still here. I understand that. We all do.” I paused for a moment. “It’s… It’s more than that though. These people… Look around. These people were clearly a great culture. I mean, just look at the huge structures, and enormous cities they had built. And now… Desolate. Decrepit. Dying.” I said. “What’s your point?” Weq asked. “Weq… If they could just… Just vanish… What’s to keep that from happening to us? What’s to keep us from dying out?”

Weq and I stood in silence for a long time. We stared at the skies of the Earth. White clouds, blue skies… This planet was so fascinating, and yet we knew so little about it. “Everything about this planet is a riddle.” Weq said to me. “From the history, to the species. From the written words, to the brightly colored walls of the buildings. Everything, every detail, is a mystery. We don’t know what happened to the people of this planet Tare. We have no idea. We don’t even know if they did die out.” “Then where are they?” “I don’t know. But that’s what we’re going to find out, isn’t it? We have to.”

We stayed in that spot for a long time. We stared at the skies. We watched as they faded from blue, to orange, from orange to scarlet, and from scarlet to black. Even then we stared at the stars. The same stars our ancestors had stared at so long ago, and had dreamed of finding this place. I wondered if, back when our ancestors stared up at the skies from our planet, someone was staring back at them from here? As we stared at the stars, I finally spoke. “Look. You see that?” I asked Weq. I gestured towards what looked like a large bright star, moving across the skies. It was probably ten times the size of the other stars, and was moving slowly across the skies. “What is that?” Weq asked me. “That’s one of our ships.” I responded to him. “It’s orbiting above us now. We’re seeing the lights out of the windows of the ship.“
“I wonder what’s going on up there?” He said to me. “So do I.” I responded.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NaNoWriMo Project Update - Day Eighteen

Broke 20k words today, should have broken 30k. I'm 10k behind. I can still make that up, but it's going to take some work.

(I'd like to apologize for any spelling errors in the following snippets, Scrivener's spell check in the windows beta is bugged.)


Days passed, and we weren’t allowed to see Trai. He lay in a hospital, and we had no idea what his condition was, other than that it couldn’t be good. He was quarantined, to keep and of the viruses that had leaked into his suit from infecting the rest of the ship. Unfortunately this meant that not only could we not see him, but his condition was kept secretive, and we could only expect the worst.

During the time we were waiting for word on Trai’s condition, Weq, Rios, and myself attempted to convince Yui’Req to let us return to the surface of the planet. Our ships sat in orbit, and continued to send drones down to the surface every day, but Drones were clunky, and difficult to use to gain any valuable information. We must have sent hundreds of them to the surface, all over the planet. We saw everything from lush forests, to frozen wastelands, to large stretches of nothing but sand. We even found more cities. They were just as abandoned as the first. Indeed, it seemed the only thing we couldn’t find were the people who had built the cities.

“Perhaps they’ve gone underground?” Weq suggested at one point, as we discussed where the population had disappeared to. “Or perhaps they devoloped space travel, and abandoned the planet?“ “But why?” I asked. “We can speculate all day long, but the fact remains, until we can get down to the surface, and actually have a chance to study the city… We can’t know anything.” “Then it’s decided.” Rios said, at one point. “We need to get back to the surface. As soon as possible. By any means necessary.”


“Steal a ship?!” I asked, hastily. “You’re utterly out of your mind Rios! Steal a ship? Do any of us even know how to-” “Fly?” He cut me off. “Yes. I do. You forget my Father was a pilot. I grew up around the controls of various ships. He always knew I’d follow in his footsteps, imagine his… Surprise, when I told him I wanted to study language.” He looked sad for a moment, before continuing. “I won’t make it fly loops and flips, but I can get us down to the surface, I’m sure of it.”

“Even then, stealing a shuttle? That’s impossible! I mean… They must be guarded somehow-” He intturupted me again, something which was become quite irritating. “The only security system they have is a built in tracking device to see where exactly the shuttle is. That’s where I fall short. I don’t know how to disable that tracking device, to keep them from instantly locating us.” “Well.” I said satisfied, “That’s that then. We can’t steal a shuttle, or we’d be caught instantly.” “Actually..” Weq began, “I have an idea.” “You too Weq?” I said, annoyed. “I don’t want to be no one again! I want to go down to the surface, and study these creatures! I want to find them!” “Fine then.” I said, “What’s your idea?”

“Well… um… That is to say…” He began, losing confidence in himself. “Yes?” Rios said. “Well… Trai would know. I mean, he is a computers expert. I’m sure he’d know how to disable the tracking device, and maybe he could tell us how…” Rios looked at me. “There! Don’t you see! He’s right! It’s brilliant! We ask Trai how we would disable the tracking device, and then do it ourselves. We get down to the surface, and they’ll never know where we are!” I sighed annoyedly. “You’re crazy. Both of you.” I said. “This will never work, and we’re going to get ourselves killed.” Rios looked at me, “Ourselves?” I paused and said with a small laugh, “Well, you two are pretty obviously going down there with or without me, and hey, you only die once right?”

“That’s the spirit!” Rios said. “But you’re forgetting one thing.” I reminded him. “Weapons. If we’re going down there alone, we won’t have Yui’Req to protect us. Where do you suppose we get weapons? We can’t just go down there unarmed. There’s all sorts of vicious beasts.” There was a long pause. “I… I hadn’t thought…”

“There’s only one place to get weapons on the entire ship, and I don’t think the armory is just going to give us guns because we asked nicely.” I said. “No… No of course not.” He said to me. “You’re right. Leave it to me. I’ll get us weapons. We won’t go down there completely unarmed.” “How?” I asked him. “I… I don’t know yet. But I’ll get them.” He replied.


I still remember very well going into Trai’s room in the hospital, still under quarantine, but allowing me to enter only with a suit similar to the one we wore down on the planet surface, and telling him of our plan. How Rios, Weq and I had a heated argument about whether or not we should return to the surface, or wait for clearance which may never come. I told him every word that had been said. I told him how I had argued that we should wait, and how Rios had told us that we would never return to the surface, and finally how we had decided to steal a shuttle. He lay there, weak, and listened. Only when I finally reached the point where I told him about the tracking device installed in the shuttle, and that we needed to know how to disable it, did he speak.

“Yes..” He said in a hushed tone hardly above a whisper. “I think I can help you. Get me… Something to record instructions on.” I paused, stunned for a moment. “You mean, you’ll help us? You’re not going to tell me that we’re crazy, or anything like that?” He slowly turned to look at me. “I’m dying, Tare. I lie here, hardly able to breathe. I know that I am in the last days of my life. But I don’t regret a thing. I have set foot on a planet inhabited by other, intelligent life. That’s enough. You though, you’re going to live, Tare. You have a chance to go down there again, and learn about the life on the surface. Maybe even find them. And you ask me if I think you’re crazy? If I think you’re stupid? I would think you were stupid if you weren’t willing to do anything to get back to the surface. I would think you were cowardly if you weren’t willing to give up everything to get back to the surface. I would… I would hate you if you weren’t doing exactly what you’re doing right now.”

I looked at him, and he looked back at me. “Trai…” I began, but before I could say anthing else, he said “Are you going to get me something to give you instructions, or are you just going to stand there?”


The time had come. I met Weq and Rios in an area of the ship which was near the hangar where all the shuttles were kept. Weq and I arrived first and waited in silence. I don’t know about him, but I was too nervous to speak, so I was glad he didn’t seem to want to talk either. We waited there for what seemed like an eternity, when finally we saw Rios turn a corner, and come into our vision. He moved quickly towards us, with a large bag that seemed to be holding something heavy. As he approached us he said, “Tare, you spoke with Trai, correct?” “Yes, I did.” I responded. “Good. We need to go. Quickly.” He said. I began to ask why, we hadn’t been seen, and truly we had nothing but time, but before I could say anything, he took off again towards the hangar.

Weq and I quickly followed, wondering why he was going so fast. Perhaps he was nervous too, and this was his way of showing it? I supposed. My question would be answered soon. As we reached the hangar, there was a large gate closing it off. “It’s closed off?!” I asked. “I thought you said that the only security measure.” “Yes, I did say that the only security was a tracking device.” Rios answered, as he held up a small pad to the scanner which unlocked the gate. To my surprise it opened. “How’d you do that?” I asked him. He ignored the question and took off towards one of the shuttles inside. The hangar was a large room with many shuttles within it. Again, the shuttle was locked, but Rios dug through his bag and got out another small pad and held it up to this lock. It opened also, and we hurried to the locked inside of the shuttle, and began to put suits on. As we were doing so, however, someone yelled behind us, “What are you doing?!” and we all three turned simutainiously. A guard stood there, holding a gun (a small one, not one like the one which Yui’Req had used on the surface, although also very lethal.), though not holding it up to us quite yet, apparantly not sure it we were actually supposed to be there or not. Obviously there was more security than Rios had told us about. I was about to surrender to him, and was trying to think up excuses when Rios started digging through his bag. He reached down into it, and pulled out a gun. He held it up and shot the guard before he could react. I was stunned, as I saw the guard evaporate into nothing but particles in front of my eyes. “Rios! What did you do!” I screamed at him. “You told me to get a weapon for just such a situation as this.” He responded, calmly. “I meant… I meant if we were attacked by beasts again not… You killed him!” “Get his gun.” Rios told me. “Get his gun?! That’s all you can say? ‘Get his gun’?! You just killed an innocent guard!” Rios continued to put his suit on. “We don’t have time for this.” “Are you insane?!” I continued to yell at Rios. “This isn’t right! You just killed-” I was intterupted by a voice behind me. “Stop!” I turned, and saw Yui’Req behind us at the entrance to the hangar. “Thieves! Murderers!” He yelled. Rios held up the gun to him but I knocked his hand down as an energy ball shot out and exploded in the corner of the hangar near another shuttle. “You are insane! That’s Yui’Req! He’s-” Something dawned on me in that moment. Rios turned and hit the button to shut the shuttle hatch, as Yui’Req dashed towards us.

The hatch to the shuttle closed just as Yui’Req reached it. He beat on the door, but to no avail. Rios started the engines to the shuttle, and we began to rise. He took off out the open hangar through the pressurization field into open space. “Tare, how do we disable the tracking device?” He asked me suddenly. “Disable the- Are you insane?! Why do you think I would even let you know now? Why do you think I don’t just want us- You! To get caught?!” Suddenly the shuttle began to shake violently. It knocked me to the floor, and Weq just barely supported himself on the wall before falling. “That’s why you want to tell me how to disable the tracking device!” I looked out the window. The ship had targeted us, and was shooting energy weapons, similar to the ones in our gun, but much more powerful, towards the ship. “Tare! Quickly!” Rios said, and I begrudingly handed him the information tablet Trai had given me with the information on how to turn off the tracking device.

Rios quickly began entering the commands into the computer system, while we continued to be shot at. The shuttle wasn’t meant to take a beating, and it wouldn’t last long agains’t the ship’s weapons. The ship rattled again, and there was a beeping from the computer console. “Alright, the tracking is off, they won’t be able to hit us again-” As he said that the ship shook even more violently than before. “I thought you said they wouldn’t be able to hit us again?!” Weq yelled, frightenedly. “They- I mean they- They must have gotten a lucky shot!” He said. “Hold on tight, this is going to be a rough time down!”


The next thing I remember was awakening in the twisted wreckage that was once our shuttle. I lay there for a moment, in shock. After regaining myself somewhat, I realized Weq was next to me, unconsious. I stood up, and realized there was something on top of Weq. I attempted to pull it off of him, and he gave a great moan, regaining conciousness, as I succeeded in pulling it off of him. He looked around and said “Urgh… Tare? Tare, are we dead?” “No, we’re not dead yet Weq.” Luckily neither of our suits had been punctured during the crash. We had landed in some sort of desert. It looked as if there were nothing around for an endless stretch, in every direction.

Rios was sitting the pilot’s chair. He too groaned and began to regain conciousness. “We… We did it.” He said. “We made it down to the surface.” I walked up to him and held him down to his chair. “What was that?!” I screamed at him. “’The only security is a tracking device’? That’s funny because it looked to me like there was quite a bit more security than that! And Yui’Req- Why was he here?!” Rios groaned as I held him down, apparantly I was hurting him, but I really didn’t care at that point. I was so angered at him, that I almost reveled in his pain. Almost. Rios was staying silent. He looked at me as I looked back at him with anger and disdain. “What’s going on?!” I screamed at him with rage in my voice.

He hesitated to answer, but I held him down (I was, and always had been, much stronger than Rios.) Until he answered. “You… You told me to get weapons.” He began. “What do you-” I began to ask him. But then I realized what he meant. “You… You stole weapons from Yui’Req.” I said. He stayed silent, but I could tell through his silence that I was correct. “Not… Not just that. I took… Passes. Into the hangar.” “Passes?! You didn’t even tell us the gate would be locked! You didn’t tell us about the guard-” “I didn’t know about the guards.” “How can I believe you? How can I trust you?!” I asked of him. “You… You can’t. I suppose. But it’s the truth.” He said. “I… I knew about the hangar lock though.” “How did you know?” “I had been to the hangar when it was closed before. My father was a pilot, remember?”

“Why didn’t you tell us about It then?” “Because… I didn’t think it was important. I knew Yui’Req would have a key. He was a leader of our unit. Every unit leader has a key. When you told me to get a weapon… I just decided I could take his while I was taking his pass cards.” I looked at Rios with disgust. I picked up the bag which was sitting next to him and looked inside of it. There were three or four guns inside of it. I pulled out the smallest one. “Here, Weq.” I said as I gave him the gun. I pulled out another one, and took it for myself. I looked at Rios. “You don’t get one. If you so much as step out of line…” I held the gun up to him. “You’ll pay.”

I took the bag, and I let Rios up. We looked out around the area we were in. There were some mountains out far off into the distance. “Where did we crash?” I asked Rios. “Near any known cities that we’ve found?” “I set it for the co-ordinates of the city which we landed in last time… Obviously we must have gone off course during the crash.” Rios replied to me. “How far off course?” I asked him. “It’s hard to say.” He said. “Give me an estimate. You’re the one who crashed us.”

He paused and said, “Well, it’s possible that we’re near the city and only went off course towards the end…” “Or?” “…Or, the navigation system was overloaded by the energy discharges we were hit with and we could be anywhere.” He said. “Well…” I began, “We’d better start moving then.”

So move we did. We traveled a long way, and for a long time. I thought we would never stop. Our suits were designed to keep us alive for long periods of time, in case you were stranded on a planet and couldn’t open your suit for long periods of time (as we were), so nourishment wasn’t something to be worried about, and they were climate controlled, so there wasn’t much reason to be afraid of overheating either, however after being attacked by those beasts in the city, it made me nervous of what might attack us in a place like this. The thought made sure I kept a firm grip on my gun.


Hours later we had finally reached the outskirts of the abandoned city. It was obvious that it was not the same city we had been to before. The city we had first come to was overgrown, this one however, was not nearly as overgrown. There were still plants scattered about the city, but they were only the same kind of plant that we had seen before in the sandy desert. They dotted the landscape, but otherwise this city was dry and barren. I wondered if it had always been that way, or if the climate had changed since… Whatever happened to the inhabitants. The buildings that made up the city were also quite different. For one thing, the building were much more spread out. The other city had building cluttered next to each other, creating a cramped feeling, but these buildings were far more spread out. There were even what seemed to be open spaces that could have once been fields if the climate had in fact changed this area into a desert.


“These symbols…” He said, “They’re the same as the symbols in the objects we found in the building where we landed last time…” I looked at him. “What does that mean?” I asked. “I’m… I’m not sure. But I think… I think that they might be written words.” “Written words? You mean stored knowledge, like we store knowledge on computers?” He paused for a moment. “Yes, similar. Our written word seems to be very different from theirs, but I think… I think it just may be something like that.” “So they stored knowledge on pieces of paper, and metal boxes? That’s so inefficeint. Why wouldn’t they store information on computers instead?” “Perhaps they hadn’t yet invented computers?” Weq suggested.

“I… I don’t think so. I… We need to find another building with those objects again. The ones with pictures on them… Perhaps if I could find more of them with pictures on them I could begin to decode their language.” “Wait, are you saying you could be able to decipher their written word?” I asked. “Well… It’s possible. The pictures in some on some of the paper we found… I think they might have been words for what the object it depicts is.” “Wait. You mean… If that’s true, we could be able to read the more complex ones, without pictures in them.” I said. Rios continued. “Let’s… Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I could still be wrong. First we need to find another one of those knowledge storehouses so I can try and... Figure this out.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NaNoWriMo Project Update - Day Eleven

Day Eleven of NaNoWriMo and I'm falling behind. I'm currently at 11,534 words, and am 6,800 behind. I also won't be able to write at all this friday and saturday. In other words, I have a lot of catching up to do, but I'm not SO far behind that I have no hope of finishing. Yet.

Either way, here's some new excerpts from the book. They are very rough, naturally, given the nature of NaNoWriMo, and they aren't complete, meaning I'm only picking and choosing which portions to post, since
A. I'd like to refine the book and publish it some day (and believe me, much editing must be done first.)
B. 9,000 something words is a bit much to post in one blog post.

And so, here's some more of Legacy.


It wasn't long before my Unit met. I entered the chamber where we were supposed to meet first, a bit early. I waited a short time before Rios entered. I looked towards him. As he walked into the chamber he said to me “So what do you think?”

I thought to myself for a minute. “It's hard to say any reasonable assumptions without more information, but there were quite a few... Oddities, I noticed.” I told him. “You and I both.” I looked at him. “What did you notice?” He was quite quick to respond, “Well, the plant life covering the planet seemed odd to me, but what really struck me as strange was the growling.” “What about the growling?” He paused for a moment, clearly thinking how to put what he was about to say. “It was such a long, monotone rumble. It seemed... Inefficient to me.” “How so?” I inquired. “It was just... One noise, one long drawn out noise, with very little variation. It didn't seem like it was trying to tell us anything.” “Perhaps they communicate in more than just verbal ways? Perhaps the verbal is only one portion, and smell is another?” “Yes, I thought of that. I suppose that's possible.” He replied. About that time Weq entered the room.

Rios and I both looked towards him as he said, “So what do you both think?” Rios repeated what he had just told me, and I told them the strange oddities I had noticed. “Yes, all of that is very strange.” He agreed with both of us. “So did you notice anything odd?” I asked him. “Well, it was very hard to get a good look at the life form from the video. So... I didn't really notice anything other than what you said.”

At that moment, our leader Yui'Req entered the room. “I see all but one of you are here.” He said to us. He was very stoic and strict. A cold person. While the rest of us were good friend, he always secluded himself from our group. Whether that was because he viewed it as being below him to socialize with those he was in charge of, or whether he was just a cold person, none of us knew. In any case, none of us knew him very well. “Yes Yui'Req. We're just waiting on Trai.” I told him. He glanced at me. “Waiting on who?” “Erm... Trai'Muh sir.” Yui'Req wanted us to say each others full names in front of him. It was unusual to speak of your equal like that, but he considered it to keep us better as a team, due to being less of a casual feeling. Our naming system was quite simple. The first half of the name (for example the Tare in my name) is our name. The second half is our parent's name. (The Sondre, in my name.) For example my father was named “Sondre'Tsoni”, thus he named me “Tare” a name he had chosen for me. The second half of my name would automatically be “Sondre.” Thus, the two halves would come together to form a “full” name, “Tare'Sondre”.

The full name would typically only be used in very specific situations. When you introduce yourself to someone, you would never introduce yourself “I'm Tare.” You would always introduce yourself as “Tare'Sondre”. The other person would then know instinctively to call you by the first half of the name, based on how you emphasized the name, and context. You would also only call someone ranked above you, like the leader of my Unit, by his full name. It would be unthinkable of me to, for example, call him “Yui”. I would always call him “Yui'Req”.
A few moments later Trai entered the room, and Yui'Req looked at us all and spoke. “We have been chosen,” he began, “to be one of the first few Units to depart for the surface of the planet.”


Before I knew what was happening, it seemed, we were descending in a shuttle. Down toward the surface of the planet. To protect from native viruses, and bacteria we were all in minimally restrictive suits. I looked out the windows, down toward the planet surface. It was a quite smooth ride down to the surface. 5 days, of this planet's time. That was how long we had on the surface. I still remember the first step onto the alien surface. It was... It transcended words. It was a feeling... And unbelievable feeling. I was setting foot on a planet that another species of intelligent life had been living on for an indeterminate, but assuredly large number, of years. We had landed not far from where the Drone had explored ever so briefly. I looked around. There was a sort of still in the air. I looked at the overgrown structures to either side of the road we had landed in. Then I walked up toward one of them. I touched the plant life. Thin, long vines grew vertically up the side of it.

We walked through the empty roads. It was day, and the local star shone brightly upon the city. Of us, only Yui’Req carried a weapon. The people of Earth had a term for a similar weapon, a “gun”. Although the earthlings use for these weapons was far different to ours, as I shall cover in detail later on. As such, I shall from here on refer to the weapon as a gun. Understand there is still a considerable difference between our weapons and the earthlings weapons, but for the sake of convenience, I shall refer to it in the way. Yui’Req was the only one permissed to carry one, although even his usage of it was only intended more as a display of technology or to be used for our defense should something terrible happen, and nothing hostile.


Suddenly I heard Trai give out a loud yelp, and heard a low pitched growl. I turned suddenly, and saw Trai lying on the ground, with one of the creatures atop him. It had attacked him, and Trai continued to give out loud screams as the creature assaulted him. I attempted to pull it off of him, but to no avail. Suddenly, I realized a disheartening fact. We were surrounded. I looked around the five of us and realized that there were seven or eight of the creatures encircling us. They looked at us with a vicious hunger in their eyes, their ferocity clearly hardly being concealed beneath their harsh demeanor. They watched our every move.

What happened next disturbed me. Yui’Req took out the gun, and shot projectiles at the creatures. “No! Don’t!” I screamed, but it was too late. I watched as the creatures were propelled backwards from the force of the blast, and watched as a cloud of their very being dispersed, leaving nothing behind. “You can’t attack them!” I screamed at Yui’Req. “Why not! They’re attacking us!” He responded, and shoved the beast off of Trai. “We can’t introduce ourselves to them by killing their people!” Yui’Req glared at me. “We need to fall back, somewhere safe!” “Where?!” He asked of me. “I… I don’t know yet! Somewhere… There!” I gestured towards a large structure at the end of the road. It was large, and overgrown like everything else, but it seemed like it would make a suitable place to fall back to, to me.


I had to have picked the best building in the entire city, I supposed, to be trapped in. As Trai lay injured we explored the building. Only Yui’Req stayed behind with Trai. It was enormous. A giant building. But the architecture wasn’t what excited me. What excited me was that it was filled with… Well… Knowledge. It was filled to the brim with something my people had never invented before. We had many ways of documenting information, obviously, but it wasn’t like this. The term, as we later found out, for this type of document was a “book”. A book was a collection of many pieces of paper with writing on them, bound between two hard coverings.

The point we finally realized we were sitting on exactly what we needed, to study the planets culture, was when we found one specific section though. It was a brightly colored area of the building. There were images on the walls of brightly colored, and simplified versions of the various beasts we had seen in the picture books we had found. There were images of clouds, and multicolored arcs in the “sky” of the walls. “What do you suppose the purpose of this section is?” I asked Rios, as we picked up the thick books resting upon large wooden structures (we later found out, were reffered to as “shelves” or “bookcases”.) And looked at them These books were not like the other books in the building. They were thick, and each individual piece of paper, was extremely thick, made of the material the covers of the other books were made of. They were brightly colored, like everything else in that section, and there were far less symbols on them, than there were on other ones in the building.

Rios looked at them, with an intensity in his eyes. As if he were devouring every image, every symbol on each individual piece of paper. I was about to ask him again when Weq charged in. “Look at these.” He said, and dropped many books onto the floor. We crouched down and he opened one. “These are from the ones with all the pictures.” He told us. He turned the individual pieces of paper, and we saw various images of wildlife. Very vicious, bestial creatures were recorded visually in this way. Finally he got to one specific image and stopped. “Is that-” I began to ask. “It is.” Weq responded before I finished the words. “Those are the creatures that attacked us." They certainly were. It was undoubtable that these creatures were, in fact, the same that had attacked us before. “But what does this mean?” I asked Weq. Weq looked at me and said “I don’t think those creatures were intelligent.” He responded to me. “You don’t?” “No! Think about it! They didn’t seem intelligent to me! Sure, they surrounded us, but that doesn’t indicate intelligence, certainly not sentience. I mean, look, here they are just listed among the other creatures of this planet. They have one piece of paper dedicated to them, no more than any other creature in here!” “That’s not conclusive!” I told him. “Of course not… But it’s... It’s…” Rios spoke. “I think Weq is right.” He said.

“Why do you think that?” I asked him. “Look at this.” He opened one of the thick books we had found moments ago, and gestured towards a simplistic depiction of a creature on it. “What about that?” I asked him. “Look around, the pictures in here, these creatures pop up everywhere.” I looked at the pictures on the wall. He was right, there were several of them on the wall. Two legs, two arms, and a head seemed to be connecting to a torso on these creatures. “What’s your point?” I asked. “I think those might be the real intelligent life that built this city.” Rios responded to me. “Because there’s more pictures of them? That seems pretty… Farfetched.” I asked. “No, not just that. There’s more. It’s… It’s…” He said frustratedly. “Those creatures we encounted! Those growls… They didn’t seem to be any kind of language. They didn’t seem to be directed towards each other like language would be. They just seemed… Bestial.” Rios paused, and there was silence for a moment. I finally said, “Alright, let’s suppose you’re right. Suppose those are just some beasts living in the city. Where have they gone? The creatures who lived here?”

“I… I don’t know.” He responded. “But I’m telling you, those things, are not what built this city.”

“Interesting.” Yui’Req said. None of us had noticed that he had apparantly approached us silently while we were talking. “So what you’re saying is that they aren’t intelligent at all?” “Yui’Req! What are you doing here? You were supposed to be staying with Trai!” “Trai will be fine. I sent a message out for backup, and a shuttle will be coming to pick us up and take us back to the ship soon.” “What?!” I shouted. “You mean, only Trai, right?!” “All of us.” He responded. “This planet is clearly too vicious to come down to without protection of some kind, beyond these thin suits.” “This is unacceptable! We just got here! We can’t just leave-” “It’s done. The shuttle is on it’s way. That’s why I came to get you all. It’ll be here in a few moments.” I began to speak again, but Yui’Req said “It’s done. Do not complain or else I shall have to take extreme action against you.”

And so we followed Yui’Req back to the front of the building. Moments later, sure enough, another shuttle touched down in front of the building we had been holed up in. Rios looked longingly back towards the building, as Weq and I helped Trai into the Shuttle. As we lowered him to the floor of the shuttle, I turned back to Rios and said, “Don’t worry. We’ll be back.” “Do you know what those pieces of paper we found were?” He asked me. “What were they?” I replied. “They were knowledge. Knowledge of the language, knowledge of the people, knowledge of the species, of this planet. And we’re leaving them behind.”

“We will return here.” I told him, “For now, Yui’Req is right. I wish he weren’t but he’s right, we weren’t prepared for… Whatever it is we’ve found here. Trai needs help- We need help. We’ll get ready and come back.”

“I hope you’re right.” Rios said to me.

I hoped I was right too.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Project Update - Day One

So, I've gone and signed up for NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, for those who don't know. The point is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It's a little bit crazy, but doable.

Today I wrote about 2,600 words (the goal is 1,667 per day, so I'm ahead of schedule). Since I won't be updating this blog much this month I thought keeping people updated on my NaNo project would be a suitable idea. With that note, this is the first chapter of my NaNoWriMo Project, "Legacy".

- - - -

I don't know why I'm writing this. It all seems so futile at times, and yet at other it seems like something I have to do. I... I don't know. I guess I'm writing it because... I'm hopeful. After what we found on that little blue planet, I just can't believe we're alone any more. And even if we are, I know that someday some other life will come along, far after we've faded away into memory, and they will find it. And then they will find this... Recording... I suppose long ago it would have been called a “book”, of what happened to that little blue planet. What we know at least. So perhaps that's why I'm writing this. To preserve the memory of the story. Or perhaps there's another reason, a more... Selfish reason. Perhaps I'm just documenting this so that when we have faded into obscurity, we won't be entirely forgotten. There will still be a small memory of my people, my race... Me.

Yes, although I hesitate to admit it, perhaps that is why I am writing this. Perhaps I'm... Afraid. I'm afraid that some day when what happens to the people of that planet happens to my people, I'll be... Nothing. Not even a memory. Not even a shadow. They left a planet, my people... We shall leave nothing. I won't even be a statistic. Perhaps some day, hundreds, thousands, millions of years from now even, this “book” shall be found, and someone will read it. And maybe, just maybe, for a brief moment of time, I will be remembered.

Yes. Being remembered. That is what I want. That is why I write this. So the planet we found, it's people, and I, shall be remembered. This is our legacy. This is perhaps the last chance of two species to ever be remembered.

And so it is with that purpose that I write this down. It is with that purpose that I record the final story of that little blue planet. It is with that purpose that I write down the last story of Earth.

Before I can tell the last tell of the planet, however, I feel it is necessary to explain who I am. My name is Tare'Sondre. My people are a nomadic race. For thousands of generations, we have scavenged the stars. We search system by system in our massive city ships built by our ancestors. There are hundreds. Thousands, even. They each hold a separate governing structure, ruled by themselves, and hold millions of my people. Together our ships interact together and travel the stars. So it has been for generations. Together we have searched, endlessly hoping, endlessly finding nothing.

And so is the destiny of my people, the “Pol'irion”, so we thought. To seek, and never find. To search endlessly, for intelligent life.

The stories of the Pol'irion say that our ancestors evolved, grew in size, and population, and became what we are today. They slowly built. They built cities, they built technology, and eventually, they had nothing left to build. Any technological advancements were minor conveniences, and there was, quite simply, nothing left to be desired. Quite simply, they got bored. They simply didn't see the point in building any more, with no one to share it with. As far back as anyone could remember, they had always wished for other life. To know that they weren't alone in the universe. But they were never contacted.

And so they built our city ships. They shot for the stars, and scoured the universe for life. And their children searched. And their children's children searched. And so it was for generations, the Pol'irion's one and only purpose in life became to find others like us.
And we never did. And we thought that we never would. And I could hardly even bear to hope that we would.

I still remember what it was like before, I was no one. I couldn't be less important if I had tried. I was just a lowly culture expert, not a commander of a ship, or a member of the government of the ship which I lived on. No one important even knew my name.

I was part of a team called a “Unit” which was composed of myself, a biologist, a linguistics expert, a computers expert, and a “leader” who was in charge of us. Together, our unit was meant to help understand whatever life we found out in the vast emptiness of space. Of course, we never found any, so we didn't have very much to do.

If we ever did find life, the linguistics expert would be the most important. His job would be to, as one might expect interact with the life we found, and understand their method of communication, whether it be verbal, physical, or mental. We would then be able to communicate with the life.

After that, the Biologist's job would be most important. He would be in charge of understanding how the life we found functioned, and perhaps finding ways to improve the life of both their people, and ours.

The job of a computers expert would be to understand how their computer systems work, and try to figure out ways of getting their systems with ours, assuming they even have computer systems.

My job as a culture expert would be an ambassador of sorts. Once the linguistics expert had learned the language, he would teach it to me, and I would be in charge of investigating the culture of the life.

The leader would be who we all reported to, who would distribute our discoveries to others.

My personal team was comprised of myself, as I already told you, a biologist named Weq'Re, A linguistics expert named Yu'Oir, and a computers expert named Trai'Muh. Our leader was named Yui'Req. Together we were quite good at doing absolutely nothing.

Until that day, that is. The day we found the blip.

The day we found Earth.

I still remember that day so very well. I was far from the first to hear about it, of course. But I was certainly one of the most excited. A blip. A blip on our sensors. A noise. A sound. A signal. A sign of life. But of course, I told myself, I shouldn't be too excited. We'd had blips before. Much bigger and more exciting blips than this one. Once we had thought we had discovered intelligently designed tunnels in an asteroid, and it turned out to be caused by a very rare phenomenon where the asteroid was very soft material. It came into contact with some meteors which, instead of shattering it, tore straight through it.

One time we thought we had discovered a planet with a lack of one gas, and a surplus of another, and we seemed to find evidence that there was a strange, abnormal pattern of the atmosphere being converted from one gas very quickly, then slowly back to the other. We thought it might be evidence of intelligent life, which was, for some unknown reason, converting the gases back and forth. It turned out that the atmosphere abnormalities there were caused by a rare kind of gas eating volcanoes, which would absorb one kind of gas, and then the other would be sent out into the atmosphere by eruptions which happened every few decades. The plant life on the planet was able to convert the gas back, but after several decade, the converted gas would become prominent, and the volcanoes would begin to erupt again.

And even if we had found life before, it was never intelligent. We found one planet inhabited by billions upon billions of different species of insect with no noticeable plant life, which ate each other, and seemed to convert gases which they could breath back and forth, via each others.

So, I told myself, I shouldn't get excited. Odds were that it was simply one of those things, nothing important. Nothing new. No intelligent life.

But secretly, I let myself hope. I let myself hope that this time would be different. That this time we would find a real civilization. That this time we would find real intelligent life, in some form or another. That this time I would get to actually investigate a new culture.

I got my wish.

After many days (for simplicity, I shall use what we were able to find to be Earth measurements of time. A “day” was one rotation of Earth, and a “year” was ~365.25 days.) we reached the blip. A small planet, the third one from the star which it orbited. It had a surface covered mostly by water. The first thing we did was send robotic drones down to the surface, to take various readings, and pictures.

What they sent us back would change my life forever.

The readings they took were released to the scientific community, myself included, being a part of a unit, almost immediately. And so I was able to see them with little to no delay. At first, they seemed to be nothing remarkable. The first readings they got back were about the atmosphere. The air was mostly Oxygen with various other gases mixed in. We would be able to breathe it. Then they got mineral scans back. Again, nothing especially remarkable. Then they got a video link with the drone.

It had landed in the middle of a city.

Nothing like our city ships, of course, but a city nonetheless. Large structures, which looked to be made of various materials stood on either side of the drone. As it looked around, what looked to be like large metal vehicles stood in the center of what looked to be a road. Thick green plant life had overgrown almost everything. Millions of cultural conclusions jumped into my head. They build their cities permanently in one spot. The cities can't move. They must consider plant life to be almost exalted, to incorporate it into their cities like this. Perhaps their stomachs are only suited to eat plant life, and not meat? Maybe this is their way of ensuring everyone has food. Or perhaps they can only eat meat, and thus, exalt plants as some sort of thing above being eaten? Or, perhaps they themselves were a kind of sentient plant life?

The drone continued to move through the still and silent city. I watched eagerly, hardly able to contain myself. I was seeing something... I can't even describe it. It was something I had searched for my entire life. My ancestors had been searching for this for generations. My people's sole purpose in the universe was about to be completed. We had finally found sentient life.

Or so I thought.

As the drone continued to move throughout the concrete city... There was nothing. No signs of life, aside from the monolithic structures lining the roads. It was day out, but there was no movement. There was an unnatural still. Perhaps the life forms there were nocturnal? Finally the drone approached one of the structures. The structure was large, and had what seemed to be large transparent barriers at the entrance, although it was hard to tell if it was a material I was familiar with, since it was completely overgrown. The drone managed to bash its way through the barrier.

It was about this time I heard a voice say “Tare, are you there?” (Tare was what many of my friends called me, I shall explain our naming system further at a later point in time.) I recognized the voice, it was Weq'Re, the Biologist from my unit, and close friend of mine.

“Yes Weq, I'm here.” I responded, begrudgingly looking away from the screen which displayed the Drone exploring the inside of the structure. “May I enter?” Weq responded. I responded that he could, and he entered the room through my circular entryway. Weq had hardly entered the room yet when he said “Did you see it? Of course you saw it! Structures! Plant life everywhere! Intelligently designed roads!” “Yes, yes, of course I saw it!” I replied. “But you realize what this means don't you?” Weq said excitedly. “Proof! Undeniable proof!” He continued.

“Yes! Proof! Proof of intelligent life! What I want to know is where they are!” I replied to him. He looked at the screen which sat behind me. It now appeared to be showing the Drone attempting to scale what appeared to be a pathway leading upward, with the ground raising slightly every foot or so. Weq responded to me, “Yes, it is quite odd. Very still, very calm. You'd think we would have at least run into some one... The structures seem quite permanent.” I looked at the screen again. “Yes, I noticed that. I don't think they even move at all.” Weq thought to himself for a moment, “But surely they must be able to move somehow.” I changed the subject for now. “That's not important for now. Why haven't we seen anyone yet. Why is it so completely overgrown? Those large metal things outside this structure, they appeared to be vehicles of some kind, and yet they don't look like they've moved in centuries.”

“Perhaps their a sort of sentient plant life? Or perhaps they evolved to the point that they don't need to use vehicles any more. Perhaps the plant life we saw are the life forms, and they form some sort of network? Like an insect's hive mind?” I responded. “I don't think so. If they had evolved to that point, why wouldn't they move the vehicles out of their city. And look at the structures. They have clear entry points, and there's no practical reason for plant life to build structures anything like this, not to mention the question of how they would build something like this. I don't think we've encou-” I was quickly cut off by noise coming from the screen behind me. I turned and looked at the screen.

There it stood. A fierce looking creature. It was covered in gray hair, and had four legs, and a small tail. Its head and face had two eyes, and a large snout of sorts, its mouth sticking out from its face, with sharp teeth lining either side of the snout. Its nose sat on the end of the snout. As it stared at us with a fiery look in its eyes it gave a strange noise. A sort of low rumbling.

“Do you think it's trying to communicate?” Weq asked me. I didn't respond, not wanting to miss a second of our first contact with the planet's life form. The creature continued to let out a low growl. The next noise I hear was in our own language. Whoever was controlling the drone must have patched his own voice through, to attempt to communicate with it in our language. “Hello. We are the Pol'irion. We have searched endlessly for life, and we have finally-” The creature was clearly stunned by the speech, as it stepped back for a moment. Now it was recovering from the shock though, and let out a loud short, deep noise. A moment later the voice patched through again and said “Sir, we are attempting to find a suitable linguistics expert to attempt to communicate with you in your own-” The creature obviously didn't like that, as it leaped onto the drone, knocking it over. And repeatedly attacking it with its jaw. The drone wasn't built to withstand that kind of beating, and a second later, we caught a glimpse of some wires coming loose and snapping, and instantly the picture went dark.

There was a long silence, finally broken as Weq said, “Well I think we found life.”

We had found life.

And it was hostile.