Friday, August 14, 2020

Microstory 1430: Hidden Depths

If Fort Frontline was designed to protect the Durune humans from the monsters by standing before them, Hidden Depths was designed to hide themselves away. Watershed was a fairly difficult place to navigate. It was the only place with fresh water, but getting to it required climbing over rocks, and negotiating other impediments. While Parade was built as close to it as a surface town could be, while still on dry land, it wasn’t technically the closest place, full stop. Watershed was located at the bottom of a foothill that was up against a small mountain range. On the other side of the hill was a valley. This valley received none of the water from Watershed, and none of the seeds that were still being randomly transported there from Earth. So it was a lifeless place, rocky and dirty, and unfit for settlement. Unless that was exactly what you wanted. With a little bit of tunneling, water could be sent to this location. People had just never thought to do it before, because there was little point, but when the sixth town was first being conceived, they decided it was time to change that. They figured that the time monsters would not be able to find them there, precisely because it was so remote. Just because it didn’t look like a logical place to find humans to attack, didn’t mean they couldn’t be there. The workers dug that tunnel from Watershed to pipe water directly to them, and they built more tunnels for living spaces. They used their water source to irrigate hydroponic gardens, and slept in their underground bunkers. They were like a true group of survivalists. Other people thought they were weird for wanting to do this, but it made perfect sense to them. Doomsday preppers on Earth were all waiting for the world to end, and the residents of Hidden Depths determined that this was exactly what had happened. They were trapped on a mostly dead planet, faced relentless attackers daily, and technological advancement had all but been halted. If that wasn’t an apocalypse, they didn’t know what everyone else was waiting for.

Travel to and from was restricted. They had no reason to believe monsters were capable of surveilling them, but if the people living there wanted to stay hidden, it seemed a little weird to make that more difficult. Visitors weren’t illegal, just limited. If someone did want to see what Hidden Depths looked like, they had to go there with a very specific mage, who was capable of camouflaging a small area with his time powers. Basically, what she did was show any outside observer what a given spot looked like when she and her group weren’t standing there. That made them effectively invisible, so if a monster ever did try to find the location of the sixth town, they wouldn’t be able to follow anyone there. Hidden Depths was completely self-sustainable, and did not interact much with the other towns. They didn’t hate the others, and the others didn’t hate them, but their values were too misaligned to justify taking part in a lot of trade, or the same celebratory events. Mages protected this new town, but there were fewer of them, and since the word border had to be replaced with the term above ground in their case, they didn’t really patrol. They just kept themselves available, in case anything went wrong. They were more successful than anyone else in their mission. In the three decades they were around before the Monster War finally ended, they were not attacked even once. And when the Mage Protectorate fell immediately afterwards, they were the only ones truly prepared to thrive during the Interstitial Chaos that followed.

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