Thursday, July 30, 2020

Microstory 1419: Splitsville

The future source mages were a godsend for the people of Springfield, Kansas after it was sucked into the Deathfall portal, and dropped on Durus. Without these special children, the entire town would have been lost in under a month, with only a few people surviving. It was no surprise, then, that the children were extremely popular amongst the townsfolk. They all disagreed on how to divvy up resources, and what rules to institute, but one thing they could agree on was that the kids were amazing, and ought to be revered. Still, many did not believe the Baby Barrier they used to keep the monsters out was a sustainable solution. While everyone protected the children at all costs, even beyond their respective families, there were still some limitations to their lives. They had to live on the perimeter of the habitable zone, and while travel within and without the zone was possible—and quite necessary when journeying out to gather water—for the most part, they had to stay put. If they were free to roam around wherever they wanted, a monster could slip through, and attack someone before others could get to them to help. No, it was too dangerous to break the front line, even for a few hours. When one needed to leave, the rest always had to pick up the slack, and the coordination alone was taxing for all those assigned to the team. Of course, when they were babies, this was fine. They weren’t going anywhere anyway, and their parents fully understood the danger. As these children grew up, however, they started making their own decisions. And as they grew even older, they started feeling rebellious, as children always do. While still in single digits, the town could keep them in line, but that wouldn’t necessarily be true once they became preteens, and it would only get worse as time went on. Obviously, the best way to avoid the unsavory disciplining they worried would come from this was to make the children no longer necessary. That way, they could live their lives however they wanted, and not concern themselves with protecting the town border, unless they happened to decide to train with the general border security team. Fortunately for them, their best scientist was dedicating all of her time towards making this a reality.

In a couple of years, Hogarth Pudeyonavic was ready to deploy her own border protection solution. They could erect towers around the perimeter, which would mimic the repulsive power that the source mage children somehow exhibited naturally. It was not without its engineering issues, however. Some of the town was powered with geothermal energy when it was on Earth, and while experts were eventually able to recreate this situation on Durus, capacity was limited, so everyone had to conserve. They probably would have been okay using fossil fuels, even though Earth was trying to lose its dependency on such things, but no one knew how to do it, or what kind of geological resources the planet held, so that didn’t really matter. With no sun to power solar cells, their only other option was water power, directly from Watershed, which meant that they would need to build a dam. It didn’t have to be a particularly fancy dam, at least not at first, but it was going to take some effort. They spent years laboring on this, even before Hogarth showed up. The Baby Barrier was later cut in half—which forced the habitable zone to shrink with it—so some of the future source mages could protect the workers at Watershed. People had to be trained to construct all the necessary infrastructure. Luckily, everyone wanted this, so it wasn’t like there was some kind of internal disagreement about the project as a whole. They did disagree, however, with what to do with their newfound source of energy. Some just wanted to use it for the town itself, while others wanted to build Hogarth’s towers. The former was composed predominantly of people who almost worshiped the special children, and saw them as their saviors. The latter camp loved the children as well, but saw the Baby Barrier as more of a burden for them, and less of a boon for Springfield. By 2025 the dam was ready to start generating energy, and they had not come to a consensus. They did come up with a compromise, though. Those who wanted to live inside the Baby Barrier would be able to do so. Those who wanted to live inside the tower perimeter would be able to do that instead. They sliced the town in half, and lived on opposite sides, with a no man’s land in between them. The two towns were separated not only by geography, but also systems of leadership. Springfield formed the basis for a new society, which would ultimately be called the Mage Protectorate. The second town fell under its governance as well, but enjoyed a level of independence seen in most distinct municipalities. They called it Splitsville, at first as a joke, but then it stuck.

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