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Tia of the Kierland

The Dragon And The Gold Or, What is the value of the Recursive Instructional Nexus?

Why do the Synthetics want what Rintiala and Dianire have in every cell in their bodies? That treasure is the Recursive Instructional Nexus, the last great step forward in biorganic engineered intelligence: a learning supercomputer that fits inside a living cell, altering its DNA as it adapts to environmental changes.

This was Sean Landesten’s very last creation. Not only is the RIN within the Nueguan humans, but a lesser version of it exists within the Cactus Mothers, allowing them to also evolve at a much faster rate.

The Sky Wanderers have kept all the technological advances in the last 500 years, and continue to develop them, but they do not have the RIN. Cyl and Tia know this, because though they can detect the RIN easily enough, they can only analyze some of its more basic functions. The deep structure of the RIN is hidden from Sky Wanderer technology, of which the Synthetics have the basics.

So…the Nueguans have the RIN, the Sky Wanderers have the science, but the Synthetics want both. Why? Because Cyl and Tia do not have the resources at the Kierland to make more than two more Synthetics, and daringly, they choose to create a synthetic Rintiala and a synthetic Hunts-The-Ruins, so that Alyria will have sex with them, and the Synthetics can use her naivity to learn more about the RIN.

The goal of the Synthetics is to download their consciousness and learning into the RIN, and then free themselves of their synthetic bodies. They would become the supreme organic beings on the Empty Earth.

Do they see the Nueguans as a threat? Absolutely not; after meeting Rintiala, they conclude that she is the next step in evolution. Then they meet Dianire, the dragon created to protect Rintiala at all costs. To their delight, they discover that Dianire’s RIN (the Redourine clan) is easier to analyze, as its command structure is focused on physical and biological realities.

Rintiala’s RIN (or Tiala clan) is truly the next step, for it contains the DNA of Rain Tellier, the world’s first bona-fide psychic. Rintiala is the larval stage of a paranormal dynamo, something completely beyond the understanding of both Sky Wanderers and Synthetics.

Originally, I was going to call this “The Attack of Doctor Exposition”, but I will endeavour to weave this information into an action sequence, as the synthetic Rintiala tries to convince Dianire to stop fighting them.

What is Dianire’s response, as she battles a giant servitor on the roof of the Kierland? “Very impressive speech, but I’ll take my chances with gravity.”

The Locust in Block Form

Block One: Dianire (D), Hunts-The-Ruins (HTR), Alyria (A), Finds-Water (FW), and Long Jumper (LJ) meet at the East Entrance of the Westin Kierland on September 30, 2578 AD.

Dianire can see the Western Bandits camped out on the north-west border of the property, only metres away from the biohazard signs.

Dianire immediately questions FW about this state of affairs. He answers that the Apache Police have an understanding with the Western Bandits. The Apache will allow the Western Bandits ownership of the Kierland, if Dianire and her team survive. Dianire reminds FW that this was not the agreement with Clan Redourine. FW shrugs, and says the decision came to him from the Council of Firsts. Dianire is forced to obey.

Dianire starts to argue, only to be politely stopped by HTR, who reminds her just how much the situation has changed in the Empty Earth since Rintiala activated the Sentinel. The Apache Police can’t be everywhere, and they would prefer that the Western Bandits be the ‘first responders’ if the Sky Wanderers actually do return, which he reminds her could be at any moment.

Alyria reminds Dianire that she is a Second Sister–like herself–and is not to question First Council decisions. Dianire retorts that when she returns to Clan Redourine, she will become a First Sister, and even take a seat on the First Council, if Tianara’s pregnancy turns out as predicted. And, Dianire adds in a snub to Healing Sister Alyria, that prediction was made by the Healer’s Guild.

Just then, a young stud fires his Sharpe’s Buffalo rifle, and the bullet strikes the pavement a metre from Dianire’s left boot. She stoops down to look at it, and is about to unsling her bow when HTR tells her to resist the temptation. She looks up to see the young stud wave a white handkerchief over his head, a sign of apology.

Dianire then turns to Hunts-the-Ruins and makes it clear he was not her choice as a bodyguard. “Just protect little Alyria. Don’t interfere with my actions.” With that, she begins the half-kilometre march to the Grand Entrance, Alyria and Hunts-the-Ruins trailing behind her, Finds-Water climbing into the cab of the Apache Ford Truck, driven by Long Jumper, now an Apache Trader for the Jicarilla.

Block Two: Cyl and Tia Welcome Dianire, Hunts-The-Ruins and Alyria at the Grand East Entrance of the Westin Kierland.

With D, HTR and A very wary, Cyl and Tia welcome the three in a grand manner in the hotal. D starts to remonstrate about the Western Bandits, but Tia soothes her by saying that Rintiala has thrown such a fear into those vermin that they don’t dare trespass on the hotel’s grounds. Robot servitors arrive with refreshments, and Cyl bowing low, offer to show them to their private suites. All has been arranged.

Cyl and Tia show them their rooms in the most solicitous manner, going on and on about when are the rest of the Sky Wanderers going to return, because the synthetics are concerned that there won’t be enough room. Cyl hints to HTR that this is just for their entertainment, because the synthetics have spent the last fifty years expanding and developing the facility. HTR asks why only the last fifty–hasn’t it been nearly four hundred years since the Leavetaking?–but Cyl only responds with an enigmatic smile.

Block Three: The Noon Meal

Block 4: The Team Deliberates, Then Agrees.

Each member of the team of D, HTR and A has a different agenda given to them by their respective groups. [Reader will be ‘let in’ on these agendas, but they are concealed from the other characters].

D: Find out about the offensive capabilities of the synthetics. For example, is there a weapons cache on the grounds of the Kierland.

HTR: Is there a private agreement than can be struck between the synthetics and the Phoenix Apache (who are still on probationary status with the Apache Traders). For example, is there ‘disease-free’ sheet glass that can be bartered?

A: What are the medical capabilities of the synthetics? Do they have any organic technologies that would be of use to the Healer’s Guild? [Oddly enough, this answer will come from HTR, but by then A will be long gone.]

Block Five: The Grand Tour

Tia shows Dianire ‘Sugar House’, the next-generation solar-powered habitat that is entirely organic. [An explanation of the piezoelectric capabilities of sucrose will be explained here, along with the genetically engineered carbon capacitor batteries that will store the power].

Cyl shows HTR the sewage and organic reclamation systems built by the synthetics, so that the Kierland is about to become entirely self-sustaining. HTR begins to wonder why the synthetics are so focused on organics, but this question is not answered here.

Both Tia and Cyl (or more likely their copies) show what Alyria secretly wants to know, that is have they perfected immersive sex, something still out of range even in the Grotto of the Pregnant Virgin. After a complete assessment of Alyria’s DNA, Cyl and Tia make copies of Rintiala and HTR, and allow Alyria to have extensive sexual relations with both of them. [Later it will be learned that the synthetics’ goal is to determine Alyria’s reproductive capabilities–both biological and psychological. They make their decision about her in this scene, but that is only hinted to the reader.]

Block Six: The Testing

Order is reversed:

Alyria is betrayed by the synthetics during their carefully-orchestrated orgy.

HTR is left to die in the bottom of the sewage system.

Dianire fights a running battle with the servitors of the Kierland, all the way to the roof overlooking the main pool, six stories down. A synthetic Rintiala explains what the synthetic plan has been all along; they wish to include Dianire in that plan, but only if she allows them to vivisect and then re-connect her, unleashing the Dark Queen the synthetics can sense but not fully identify in Dianire’s Recursive Instructional Nexus, or RIN.

Block Seven: The Wicked Agreement

The synthetics decide they do not need Ayria, and release her along with a synthetic Rintiala and HTR. In their remembrance of their humiliation at the Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain, they shoot these synthetics to pieces, and capture Alyria.

Dianire and HTR meanwhile have discovered the weapons cache beneath the coffee shop, and declare war on both the synthetics and Western Bandits. The WBs must leave Alyria trussed up while they go to fight D and HTR, who clobber them with 22nd century weapons.

Block Eight: The Warrior Guild

Dianire confronts FW and Apache Police about their non-interference. She discovers that the Apache Police have agreed upon a plan with the synthetics to defeat the Sky Wanderers. The first stage of that plan was to remove the Western Bandits from the ruins of Phoenix; the second stage was to create a business arrangement between the synthetics and the Apache, to make each other even richer. The synthetics have decided that they no longer wish to serve the Sky Wanderers, because of that group’s irresponsible behavior; instead they agree with FW’s proposal to have Apache and Nueguans interbreed to produce a superior hybrid, and to have an alliance with them. The synthetics point to HTR’s successful testing as an example of what the future might hold for them both. HTR keeps his peace here, further angering Dianire.

Dianire decides that she will only agree to this if the combined groups will allow her to create a new Warrior Guild, of which she will be the head. The synthetics and the Apache represented by FW agree in principle. When all others leave, Dianire decides to walk back to Clan Redourine, and tells the reader that she trusts only one person on the Empty Earth now, and that is Rintiala.

Block Nine: The New Den Mother

The WB’s plan to keep Alyria as a Healer and brood mare fails when they have to leave her to fight D and HTR. The Super Dogs intervene. and Alyria leads them back to Clan Tiala.

Dianire in pain and sorrow

The Locust, Act Two

Two Ambushes, not Just One!

Something I should have worked out a while ago. Cyl and Tia have analyzed the havoc that Rintiala wreaked on the Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain, and have devised a new strategy, now that they know the synthetic diseases will have no effect on the Nueguans.

Instead, synthetics will lure the three in by pandering to their desires, separating them, and then attempting to kill them. Alyria works this subterfuge out first, running out the front entrance with a synthetic HTR and Rintiala.

HTR goes underground, while Dianire has a running battle to top of the crennelated towers of the Kierland. The buildings use automated defenses against them both.

Cyl and Tia come up with a strategy. They have assessed the powers of Alyria as a Healing Sister–but nowhere near the powers of Rintiala–and decide she can be used as a ‘bargaining chip’ with the Western Bandits, so that the synthetics can keep incursions to a minimum. HTR is a hybrid, and the synthetics decided to test his abilities, as he is likely the forerunner of a new breed of humans. If he dies in the trials, so be it. Their real focus is on Dianire, as they have the technology to access the RIN programming that will give rise to the Dark Queen. (Sean Landesten was originally a Sky Wanderer, before he was expelled). So..the synthetics know more about Dianire than she could possibly know about herself. They will test her combat potential, but will not kill her. Unfortunately the torture they inflict on Dianire awakens the murderous rage of the Dark Queen, and the Western Bandits are the first to feel her wrath.

So, how in practical terms, do Cyl and Tia test and torture? They use the automated features of the Westin Kierland against HTR and Dianire. Cy begins his test of HTR when HTR is examining the state-of-the-art septic facilities; although there are no humans yet, food is prepared, animals slaughtered and plant waste processes. Literally HTR goes through shit to get back to Dianire.

HTR nearly dies at the bottom of the effluent reclamation tank, but his super-spleen kicks in, and he has several more minutes of oxygen. He is surrounded by a new kind of creature–one of Sean Landesten’s designs–an electric sturgeon that cleans up the bottom of the tank, and kills others scavengers if they get too close. The bottom of the tank turns out to be a breeding ground for new creatures. HTR fills his canteen with fertilized sturgeon eggs, in the hope that these creatures will be of value to Dianire, which they will be.

Dianire on the other hand is introduced to another Landesten design, a century cactus that converts wind energy to stored electrical energy by use of piezo-electric sucrose fibers. The synthetics very much want Dianire to go along with their plan, until she discovers that they intend to vivisect her.

But they alter their plan at the last minute, because Alyria has unwittingly given them the final touch they need to create a synthetic Rintiala, one who has made love to Alyria, with Alyria modifying the synthetic’s responses until they are as close to human as possible. Cyl and Tia will seduce Dianire, if combat fails. This betrayal-both by Alyria and the synthetics is enough to make Dianire leap from the roof of the Kierland, supposedly to her doom.

The two trials can be summed up as HTR = Darkness and Dianire = Light. HTR is shown the latest effluent reclamation by Cyl, featuring nanotechnology filters, engineering lost to the Empty Earth, while Dianire is shown by Tia the solar-powered air conditioning and heating systems, using carbon fiber super-capacitors, another lost technology. Cyl traps HTR in the bottom of the effluent processing station, warning him that synthetic booby traps have been laid out for the Apache; Tia explains that the synthetics wish to vivisect Dianire, but not kill her, as they believe such torture will unleash Dianire’s power to the full. The synthetics believe that what they are doing is just, because they also do not know what kind of Sky Wanderers will return. If the returnees are malicious, then hybrid Apache and Nuegua warriors will be needed. It is for a good cause, repeat Cyl and Tia.

Dianire is the one the synthetics want to keep, so that they can vivisect her. Their DNA assessment indicates that she is the larval stage of a new kind of highly aggressive human, and they wish to steal the secrets locked in her RIN (Recursive Instructional Nexus). They trap her on the top tower of the wing of the Kierland overlooking its massive wave pool. Dianire dives into its deep end from four stories up, and hits the bottom hard enough to shatter her left clavicle, The pain of this turns on the first flowering of the Dark Queen, and Dianire rises from the water as an avenging angel. She meets up with HTR–fighting numerous copies of Cy and Tia along the way–until they hole up in the coffee shop, while the synthetics look for a way to burrow under said shop.

HTR and Dianire meet up in the coffee shop at the north east of the Westin Kierland property, and discover that this non-descript building holds the weapons and armor they need.

Locust Flow Chart in nine blocks
(with only one subdivision at block 6

The final and greatest indignity that the synthetics have come up with is that they know more about the Recursive Instructional Nexus than even Dinaire does. She uses the power of the RIN, but does not have the skills to analyze it. Neither do the synthetics, but they are presently putting forth all the intellect to do so. Why? Because they agree with the Nueguans: organics are the future, synthetics are a dead end. The synthetics intend to unravel the mysteries of the RIN so that they can transfer their consciousnesses to nearly immortal and easily reproducible organic bodies. This perversion is the straw that broke the donkey’s back for Dianire.

Finds-Water’s Strategy

One of the problems of a project the size of the Nuegua Trilogy is that one can lose sight of the motivations of a character, because building the world is so much fun.

With that in mind, let us see why Dianire Redourine is in the Ruins of Phoenix, fighting for her life at the Kierland, the last known gathering place of the Sky Wanderers.

Going back to ‘Ghost Sickness’, the reader will know that the Sky Wanderers have left caches of treasure and weapons for their eventual return. Finds-Water, the oldest and cleverest of the Apache Traders, has not been able to convince Alathea of Clan Tiala that her clan must intermarry with the Apache, to create a new, superior breed of human, to combat the Sky Wanderers.

Instead, Alathea commissions Dianire to locate any and all Sky Wanderer weapon caches that she can. The Kierland is a logical place to start. Rintiala is deep in the building of Dragon Head, and Alathea will never put her oldest daughter in jeopardy again. Dianire agrees, because simply reconnoitering the Kierland will likely be a high enough acheivement to promote her to First Sister.

Dianire succeeds, although the Kierland has only a small cache of weapons, most of which have been converted into tools for the aid of the synthetics, the old ‘beating swords in plowshares’ metaphor.

What Dianire does discover is the map of all the Sky Wanderer’s weapons located in the American South West, or the ‘Empty Earth’ in Tialan parlance. Finds-Water insists that she share this information with the Apache, but she flatly refuses. This fuels his suspicion that Clan Tialan and Clan Redourine will ultimately rule the Empty Earth, leaving the Apache and the rest of the Native Peoples as second-class citizens. This has ramifications for Rintiala, because when she delivers her grand scheme to have all Apache women bear their children in Clan Tiala, Finds-Water is convinced that his suspicions are correct.

The Second Tome, or the Final Synopsis of ‘Second Sister’

I’m going to use the month of September 2019 to finish ‘Second Sister’ as all the individual chapters have been written, some as long as twenty-five years ago (!) So here goes:

The entire story is read during the second session in Carlsbad Abbey by Queen Ariana, so we have the same guests in attendance (in order to improve continuity). So, the entire second story is wrapped inside the Second Tome of Queen Ariana, A.D. 2578.

The first section is ‘The Locust’ or the coming of the Dark Queen in the form of Dianire Redourine. This is the wrapper around ‘The Ruins of Phoenix’. This section also contains ‘Strong Baby’s Dream’ and the entire section ends with Tianara’s successful surgery and the defeat/expulsion of the Western Bandits from the known Empty Earth.

The second section is ‘Second Sister’ proper, and is the story of Ariana’s entrance into New Spain, her triumph of opening the Sky Wanderers’ treasure-trove in Los Alamos, and ends with her murder at the hands of Dianire. (I”m going to write this as manslaughter, but King Carlos of Spain won’t see it that way).

The third section is ‘Queen, Saint or Goddess?’ and is the story of Rintiala’s failed attempt to extricate Ariana from New Spain, Dianire’s attack on Santa Fe, and the final decisive battle at the Healing Temple in Tiala.

All three sections culminate in Queen Ariana finishing the Second Tome, and then meeting her mother, Rintiala in the flesh. They go out of the Great Meeting Room to walk on the southern balcony of the Abbot’s Residence, and there witness the Sky Wanderers’ landing their ships a few hundred meters away.

That ends ‘Second Sister’, setting up the conditions for the third and final volume of the Nuegua Trilogy, ‘War in Heaven’.

There are also going to be extended appendices, mostly notably ‘Desert Frigate’ where Prince Carlos, Benedetto Sepulveda and Alejandro Baca drive back an attack on Soccorro by the Western Bandits.

A second addition is ‘The Cities of Quivera’ where we meet Don Benedetto’s older brother, the adventurous and doomed Don Genaro.

The Masters of Luridity: A Study of “The Mesa Of Lost Women”

Or, how one of the worst movies ever made became the inspiration for my life’s work.

First, check out this unintentionally hilarious (and lurid) trailer:

The Mesa of Lost Women (1953 Trailer)

Now, let’s do a quick precis:

“Hidden the mesas of New Mexico, a disgraced but brilliant scientist creates a new type of human female, altering their genetics to include the powers of a spider”.

Uh…wait a that “The Mesa of Lost Women”, or “Nuegua”?

The truth is that the Nuegua storyline is an update to and rewrite of “The Mesa Of Lost Women”.

To show how close the world-building is. let’s take a look at my villainess, Beryla.

Hmmm…that’s Tandra Quinn from “The Mesa Of Lost Women”! I dimly remember watching this movie on a Saturday afternoon when I was no older than twelve, maybe only eleven.

The image stuck. Here’s a better one:

As all modern rewrites do, Berylia is a ‘dark grey’ character; her motivations are logical, but cruel. She is a master manipulator, determined to overthrow the elite of Nueguan society.

As for the soundtrack of “The Mesa Of Lost Women”, it was disastrous attempt to fuse (I won’t go so far as to say ‘integrate’) Flamenco guitar with Schoenbergian piano.

And again, much of my Nueguan music does the same thing, hopefully a little better.