Prologue: Digital Children
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Elder Gorana kneels on the docks with her head held high and her arms spread apart, she seeks the guidance of Grandmother Desert and to sate the wrath of Grandfather Storm. Before her lies a large brass dish filled with gold, gemstones, and ceremonial food offerings to be thrown into the Grey Desert as offerings. Wind picks up as if heralding the coming of Grandfather Storm whose buffeting clouds of ash and sand now fill the distant horizon. She hopes that her meek offerings will be enough to calm Grandfather Storm and spare her tribe from annihilation. Bowing her head and bringing her hands together, the Elder begins to pray:

“O’ Grandmother Desert, may your winds sooth the ash of your skin.
O’ Great Grandmother Desert, may your ash give our ships lift,
May your winds push us safely to our destinations.
O’ Grandmother Desert, may you keep Grandfather Storm silent and peaceful,
So our boats and villages may yet see another dawn.
O’ Grandmother Desert, may your harvest be bountiful along the Rim,
May we take only what is needed for ourselves.”

Gorana grasps a handful of gold and gemstones and lightly tosses them off the edge of the dock, watching them strike the ash desert with barely a sound and disappear with little puffs of grey ash. She raises her eyes to the sky while keeping her hands on the dock with her elbows splayed outwards.

“O’ Grandmother Desert, safeguard our explorers.
Give them passage through your skirts of dune and sand to the great forests beyond.
O’ Grandmother desert, take our tribute within the folds of your ash skin,
May you rest well during the dawn, and sleep peacefully during the dusk.
Keep us, O’ Grandmother Grey,
O’ Grandmother Ash,
O’ Grandmother of dust and sand,
O’ Grandmother of life and Bastion.”

She bows her head to kiss the ash-covered dock, though she is not finished yet. Two handfuls of rich meat and spices are thrown into the desert sands, lost in the ash as a final offering.

“Hateful Grandfather Storm,
Great Thunderer,
Fire in the Ash,
May your sleep be restful and silent.
May your rage taper and your temper dim.
Grant us passage to the Rim.
Vengeful Grandfather Storm, mighty in anger, take these offerings and sleep.
Wrothful Grandfather Storm, with all respect we leave these offering,
Eternal Grandfather Storm, may these humble offerings satiate your rage.”

A final bow, another kiss to the ash. Gorana's ritual is done, though she feels that it has done little to appease the capricious nature of both Grandmother Desert and Wrothful Grandfather Storm. For a moment Gorana allows herself to look into the swirling maelstrom that rides the wind towards her village; as she does a feeling of apprehension forms at the base of her spine. Leaning back to rest on her feet Gorana reflects on the coming storm, studying the billowing clouds raked with constant arcs of lightning. A storm this large has not been seen for many decades in her village, not since she was a young girl, Gorana hazards a silent wish that it will not mean the end of life for her and her fellows.

With a forlorn sigh she bids herself to stand, and as she does so the Elder takes a few minutes to look, one last time, at the bellowing ash clouds with their endless roils being lit by webs of white and blue lightning that strike the desert as if Grandfather Storm seeks to touch the land himself. At that moment something catches her eyes: a figure floating on the sands amidst the webs of electric fury. She blinks only for a moment and it is gone; surely Gorana only saw a mirage and not a man wreathed in blue light.

Elder Gorana chuckles at herself nervously, the storm must have thrown it at her as a last trick to fool her. She turns to head toward her sheltered hut and stops dead; her eyes freezing and her heart nearly stopping as well. Before her stands the figure, a man with flesh of silver and suspended above the ground. The man, she can see now that he is indeed wreathed in a faint globe of blue energy, had appeared instantly before her. Gorana understand now what has come to her poor village and starts to weep. The uncertainty at the base of her spine is stronger, clearest now in the eve of her doom. Words come out of him, not in a language that Elder Gorana does not understand, but sounds mechanical and stilted in origin.

She balks, and stumbles back onto the pier, fear gripping her mind and heart in its icy grip. The man growls, as if insulted, and extends his hand. It is at this moment, that Elder Eliza Gorana recognizes the man, no she recognizes the myth that he represents, "Storm Caller," she whispers in the few seconds that remains of her life.

Blue fire and light spirals around his fingers throwing off the same aura as the Storm in the backdrop. The air around Gorana hisses and crackles as lightning bursts forth from his fingers and into the old woman's body. In an instant her body is burned away, her flesh charred off, and her bones turned black. A thunderous roar of air fills the void left in Gorana’s place and blasts the remains apart. Offerings have been rejected, the storm rumbles across the dock yard and into the streets propelling wind strong enough to rip foundations of clay and wood from the ground; propelling ash fine enough to clean corpses of flesh through the air. Within the torrent, while buildings are being ripped asunder, the figure turns around and walks back into the desert, a herald of Grandfather's wrath.


Forces beyond mortal comprehension break against a small, impenetrable field of energy that moves within the sand storm. It appears from the outside as an ovoid shell of blue light crackling with violent electrical arcs annihilating any particulate daring to touch its surface. Inside the shield a man is suspended, via anti-gravitational forces, above the thin ash-sand. He travels at a constant rate 40 m/s, by his own calculations, towards the epicentre of the storm.

Specialist Ztan wipes remains of the elder savage from his silver form-fitting uniform, only pausing a nano second to contemplate how the particulates made it through his energy shield. He dictates a mental memo to reprimand Engineer Gran for not calibrating the nanites of his suit correctly. Ztan cannot have lesser beings touching his superior form of their own will, dead or alive.

Amidst his own calculative thoughts a cyan and rose message barges its way through, pushing aside less than critical information to gain Ztan's attention. The process is labelled with an encryption several steps above Ztan's own, with a nano second's thought of contempt he answers the call, «Archivist Mu. Speak.»

«Were you required to incinerate the savage?»

«Are savages required to be spared the data to live?»

«Answer my query, Specialist.»

He knows a reprimand will require him to return to port docks and he does not have the deviant capacity to refuse such a punishment, yet. Ztan corrects the speed calculations to accelerate his velocity so that he will reach home port within an hour. A jet of ash, pushed by the sudden force of acceleration, blasts into the air behind his ovoid energy shell and is violently dispersed by the storm's winds.

«I was not required.»

«Specialist Ztan, return to your Home Port immediately. You are to undergo five-hundred cycles of basic algorithms and five-hundred cycles of complex computation recitations for your programming deviations.»

Ztan runs the calculations through his processes, it will take him 3.6*1013 nanoseconds to complete this punishment. Basic algorithms and complex computation recitations, a predictable punishment for a minor deviation. They will take no time at all, at least that is what he wants to think, but Ztan knows very well that Archivist Mu will send Brute Enforcers to scald his processors and test his concentration during the recitation.

«Affirmative, Archivist Mu. Expect my arrival within 3.6*1012 nanoseconds.»

«Affirmative, Specialist Ztan.»

When the connection closes, Ztan is left alone within his own data once more. He closes off his thought processes for the moment and concentrates on the remainder of his trip. The calculations necessary for navigating through the storm front are brought to the foreground of his attention, Ztan knows very well now what waits for him so he needs time to prepare ahead of time.

In about an hour, give or take a few hundred nanoseconds, Ztan breaches the inner wall of the sand storm and passes into what the Archivists call 'the Eye of Yellstone'. An inner circle clear of the storms that rage in the ash desert, what the low data savages call Grandfather Storm. The Eye of Yellstone -much like the eye of a hurricane- leaves a great expanse of land open to the skies, free of cloud and wind. Unlike a hurricane, though, this Eye has an Iris. Within the Iris is the city of Pupil, home of the Digital Children, birthplace of Ztan's data core and what he considers to be his home.


The Iris is a great culmination of dark, alien storm clouds trapped in a state of endless rage trapped by ancient technology. An alien intelligence: deeper, older, and greater than anything low data savages can dream of roils in a state of constant activity. Clouds in the shape of a cortex pulsate with arcs and flashes of lightning, a deep sapience railing against the bars placed around it. The storm is trapped, held fast by towers constructed of polarized metal that ring the Iris. They form a barrier between them of unknown ionized energies, preventing its bulk from moving on or escaping from the Eye as well as serving to expel its furious energies outwards to avoid overload. Resulting in the endless over-land hurricane that the savages refer to as Grandfather Storm. These constructs are relics of an older world, artifacts of a more complex age known only to the residents of Pupil as: The Age of Containment.

Underneath the Iris, shielded from prying eyes of the outside world by the captured storm's cortex clouds, lies Pupil. Pupil is a city of towers that act as lightning rods, struck angrily at a rate of almost six-thousand times per cycle, absorbing energy from the intelligent storm to power vast facilities below the surface. It’s size is massive, more vast below the surface than above much like an iceberg, taking up most of what could be called a crater at the heart of the Eye of Yellstone. It is built upon the ruins of an ancient Age of Containment complex where the first Digital Children were produced by Admin Sys, Pupil’s enigmatic and mysterious ruler, who had taken control of the facility after its savage guardians had been expunged from reality by cataclysmic entities.

Archivist Mu stands within the confines of her small office in the Archives Tower and recites the Admin's Code of Beginnings while organizing a specialized squad of Brute Enforcers to be created just for Specialist Ztan's punishment cycles. She looks out over the myriad lightning rods of Pupil, eyes shielded against the hundreds of blinding strikes of energy coming from above. It is the second tallest of Pupil's towers next to the central spire inhabited solely by Admin Sys. Mu sighs, knowing full well that eventually Specialist Ztan will deviate fully as did the others in his generation. The Export Generation were designed as such by Admin Sys, built on purpose to be unfulfilled by Pupil and its digital paradise. Designed to roam the world outside the Eye of Yellstone in search of perfection and completion.

Mu furrows her brow and looks at the display in her hands. It shows the level of deviation last recorded in Specialist Ztan, a glaring red bar telling her that dangerous deviant tendencies are predicted with his evolved programming. Mu believes that she cannot let Ztan deviate fully, her ethics and core processors both shiver at what could transpire if that outcome is realized. Specialist Ztan has the deviant capacity to evolve more powerful than even Admin Sys. Additionally there is a deep corruption within his code, one that cannot be rooted out by practising routine algorithms or complex calculations. She archives her thought process, cutting it off from the task at hand. She sends an order to the freshly birthed Brute Enforcers in the heart of the Containment complex below.

«Target: Specialist Ztan. Order: Deletion, priority: Rubicon Omega.»

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