Date 8 June 2015.
Author Palantir
Subject Mparntwe.

The author retains copyright (2015) to this story. Reproducing this story for distribution without the author's permission is a violation of that copyright.
This story is fiction.

Thank you Nifty for the opportunity to post this story.

Mparntwe is another tale of the Terran Diaspora. Set in an earlier time to the tumultuous events of 'Attunga', it is based in Central Australia and tells the story of two young people. Jarra and Mirrigan, both with serious disabilities, both with serious abilities, live in one of the first great underground communities and experience events which change the world.

MPARNTWE Chapter 11.


Jarra had his rest then went to the Conference hall and spent the remainder of the day listening to Yirgella and watching the Project staff swing from surprise to excitement in a recurring cycle as each major proposal was presented, detailed, and worked through in preparation for its presentation.
Apart from a short confirmation note on his InfoPad Jarra didn't hear from Baradin till the next morning when, looking rather tired, he arrived after a rushed trip home from Canberra. The whole Council came to Alkere with him and the meeting with Yirgella and all the Project people convened straight away. Contrary to Durrebar's expectations everything was concluded in one long day with every single proposal accepted. Some were modified to varying degrees and a number of the major ones involving big construction works were held off till resources and finance could be arranged. The issues about Yirgella's independence were dealt with in less than half an hour. Right at the start Baradin stated that the Council regarded him as having the same rights and responsibilities as any other citizen of Mparntwe and would treat him accordingly.
Jarra had to leave in the early afternoon for a rest and missed a discussion about Yirgella's proposal to form an economic enterprise with him and Mirri.
The Council agreed but evidently there was a problem because legally an AI wasn't regarded as a person and couldn't own anything, so technically Jarra would control everything and that made more problems because he was a minor. Baradin explained it all to him in the evening after the meeting finished.

"You and Mirri will be in charge of any finances he manages to accumulate. It's a legal thing until the laws can be changed to give him personhood. He says he'll do all the managing and all you'll have to do is sign documents."

"Mirri won't want to do that. He won't understand what it's all about."

"You will, and we'll arrange it so the paperwork is relegated and there'll only be occasional times when your signatures are needed."

Baradin smiled.

"You'll soon be a very wealthy young man."

"Me? It will be Yirgella's money. Not mine. We'll just be in charge technically."

"Some of it will definitely be yours. Yirgella designates 1% of any profits to go to both you and Mirrigan, and far more than that for any project where you work together. He says your share is fifty percent for any returns from the Security modules."

"He's asking Mparntwe to pay for them? That's not what he said when he proposed them yesterday."

"Not Mparntwe, but other Communities will. It's an important upgrade for ComPatch security so the demand will be world wide."

That was Jarra's first inkling of the financial benefit he would receive from his association with Yirgella. He knew the value of the ComPatch upgrades because the Project staff had discussed it yesterday, and with thousands upon thousands of Communities round the world, there were hundreds just in Australia, the returns could be enormous. He stared at Baradin while some rough calculations raced through his mind.

"That's... Ridiculous. He did everything. I spent most of the time learning about what was going on."

"You built the prototype and contributed ideas to the encryption protocols with an unusual twist which, according to Yirgella, he never would have considered."

"Yes, but not fifty percent worth."

Baradin smiled again.

"You can try negotiating if you like but I don't think you'll have any luck."

"I don't understand why he's suddenly so interested in finances and making money. He's hardly even mentioned it till the last few days."

"It's a means to an end, well a lot of ends really. Some of his proposals are way beyond anything Mparntwe can help with in the short-term, and extra finance is the only way to make them happen. Are you going to Alkere tomorrow? You can have a good talk with him about it all."

"Not tomorrow. I'm having a quiet time at home before I visit the doctor in the afternoon and then I'm out with Mirri for a swimming session. It will have to be when we get back to our normal four-day routine."

"It's a good routine. Don't you think?"

"What do you mean?"

Jarra's look was returned with a little laugh.

"Was I that obvious? What I mean is that I think it works well for you and you should continue the same way with any other joint projects Yirgella might have in mind. Darri said something about nanobots being a possibility."

"Yes, we've talked about designing a better 3-D printer and building models of a multi-purpose nanobot programmer, but that's more complicated than the ComPatch project and my Uni work would be postponed for ages."

"Forget about University altogether. According to Darri you've covered more ground in the last four weeks than you would with a whole semester of normal University work. Keep with Yirgella and you'll always be doing things you're motivated about."

Work with Yirgella on a permanent basis? The idea was exciting. Scary too, because it would be so demanding, but a good kind of scary.

"I think he'd like me to stay. He told Durrebar I needed a bigger project room the other day."

"Of course he does. You make things better for him. Your work together in the security field is getting him on the InterWeb much sooner than expected isn't it? And that's only one thing."

Jarra didn't answer. The transport aircraft was landing and he could see Mirri waiting under the lights of the reception area.


"How many databases have you accessed now?"

Three weeks and passed since the big proposal day with the Council and Jarra was getting ready to work with Yirgella on their 3-D printer ideas.

"I've accessed several thousand for specific information and accumulated 275 in total. I'm filtering another thirty-seven and deciding on a priority queue for a further 179. In your terms I would say my brain is close to overload, but there is so much I need to know."

The 1000 databases Jarra had in his mind as a kind of milestone was still a while off. Maybe another eight weeks at this rate. It was still amazing because the filtering process meant every tiny component of a given database had to be checked with a very complicated process to make sure it was harmless.

"Did you get that new materials database from Europe?"

"I finished filtering its contents three hours ago."

The nanobot project had been put on hold. Yirgella decided that with the ideas they had for a new kind of 3-D printer it should take only five or six weeks to produce a finished product which would rapidly bring high returns and help acquire the far more expensive components of a nanobot programmer. Jarra felt strongly involved with this printer project because most of the aspects they wanted to introduce were his own ideas. And also, with more experimentation than theory involved, he could use a good proportion of his learning time to build his understanding of nanobots for when that project started.

"How are you choosing which databases you want?"

"Currently my first priority area is security. I want to understand every technique used by Overgovernments, the World's Corporations, and the Military. After that it's anything to do with nanobot technology. Nanobots will be the foundation for success with almost all our construction proposals."

"How many new projects have you thought of since I last saw you?"

This was a little routine Jarra had fallen into.

"Thousands, Jarra. You've been away for two days so they've built up. Most of them are interesting but not practical given our limited resources. Several are important enough to push their way onto our immediate priority list."

That sounded really interesting. So much was already getting started that the Council finance managers were running round in circles in an effort to source whatever extra capital they could. According to Baradin the construction materials project alone was so big it would use 80% of Mparntwe's current reserves to get it to a working level in the six month timeframe of Yirgella's plan.

"What are they? Baradin says there's not enough money for anything else at the moment."

"There will be, but we'll have to be patient till we start getting significant returns. One is a high-speed underground transport and communication link between Alkere and Mparntwe. Another is a dedicated low orbit satellite for data transfer between Carnarvon, Darwin, Normanton and Mparntwe."

"Underground transport? You mean an extension of the lift system?"

"No, it will be far more sophisticated, with a semi-experimental vacuum tunnel for high-speed travel."

"It only takes eighteen minutes to get here on the aeroplane."

"The average flight time over the last six months has been seventeen minutes and thirty-seven seconds. This would reduce to less than three minutes."

Forty kilometers in three minutes? This was simple motion mathematics and Jarra stared at Yirgella in amazement when he worked out what it meant.

"That's an average of 800 km/h."

"Yes, the system I propose isn't very fast over short distances but I believe it will effectively demonstrate to the four First Australian Councils and the Australian Overgovernment the value of going ahead with a national system."

"800 km an hour isn't fast?"

"I discovered a vacuum travel system described in the material's database in a section on possible uses for the new strength materials. It has theoretic travel speeds of over 6000 km/h and I've been looking into it. My design simulations resolve to a practical outcome of 4700 km/h. That would make a trip to Carnarvon possible in approximately thirty minutes."

"I've never heard of anything as fast. How does it work?"

"Quite simply. You enclose a sophisticated mag-lev system in a vacuum tunnel and the reduction in air resistance allows for greatly increased velocity."

"Tunnels? All over Australia? We couldn't do that? It would take years and years and the cost would be unbelievable."

"We wouldn't be able to start for three or four years, but by turning the ores mined in making the tunnels into exportable construction materials, the cost could be neutral or even a profit. It would take ten to twelve years to complete. The two projects complement each other to a high degree."

Jarra thought it was brilliant and questioned and probed for details for almost an hour.

"Yirgella, this makes our work with nanobots even more important."


"Yirgy likes our new ComPatches. He goes everywhere with us. I wish he could talk to us."

"He will one day, Mirri, but it will have to be through our InfoPads."

"You show him, JJ!"

"I won't have to. He learns lots of things by himself."

"Buckle up!"

Jarra jumped to follow Mirri's order as the hum of the engines deepened and the Alkere transporter lifted into the air. Mirri was more excited to be seeing Yirgella than usual because there was a new game waiting for him and he'd also be able to show the requested video clips of his diving and swimming. His mood was quite contagious and, already smiling, Jarra laughed when Mirri stared at him with a funny look.

"No mucking round while we're buckled up, Mirri. Wait till we've levelled off."

"Funny insect!"

What? Mirri was calling him and insect? Jarra just had time to wonder if this was a new game when Mirri's hand flashed rapidly towards him. Before he could even react there was a soft pressure on the back of his shoulder, a moment of manipulation against the material of his shirt, and Mirri's closed hand was held between them.

"Look, JJ. What is it?"

Very carefully, Mirri opened a finger and showed a strange looking insect with bulging eyes.

"It's a big March Fly. ...I think. It was on my shirt?"

"Not fly! Not real!"

Mirri moved his fingers closer to Jarra's eyes, insisting he look more carefully. The eyes did look funny, but so did most insect eyes when you really looked at them. Jarra was about to say just that when he noticed a shiny glint on the wing right next to where Mirri's finger was gripping. Strange, as if the color had smudged off the surface. Shock coursed through his mind.

"Don't let go! Mirri! Don't let go. We have to show Durrebar."

Mirri nodded his understanding and watched with intense concentration as Jarra opened his travel pack and dumped out the contents of the little first-aid container with the screw on lid.

"Put it in here. I think it's a bad thing and we mustn't let it get away."

Mirri knew from Jarra's tone that this was an important task and he very deftly manoeuvred the artificial insect into the container and screwed the lid carefully back on before handing it over. Jarra looked at him in amazement.

"Mirri, you are so clever. How could you tell it wasn't an ordinary insect? It tricked me even when I was looking close."

"Looked funny. It is a bad thing?"

"We'll show Durrebar and the Security people when we get to Alkere. I think your explorer eyes have found a bad thing and stopped it from hurting Yirgy."

Mirri nodded happily and Jarra gave him a big hug of congratulations then spoke directly at his special ComPatch.

"Yirgella, I'm not sure how much you could see but that insect Mirri caught is an artificial construct and the Security people should be ready to examine it when we land."

"Yirgy is listening now?"

"He listens to us all the time when we wear our special ComPatches, Mirri, and he's probably already told Durrebar what to do."

A soft vibration registered against Jarra's fingertips where they were holding the container.

"It must be flying and trying to get out. Mirri, your hands are stronger and more clever than mine. Will you hold it till we get to Alkere?"

Mirri took the first aid container and Jarra nodded approval at the determined expression and strong grip.
That container was in secure hands now.
The engine of the air transporter deepened, the belt-up sign flashed and the pilot looked round and called a warning to stay in their seats. A strong thrust of acceleration set them travelling at a speed which Jarra wouldn't have thought possible in this small craft. Thirty seconds later the pilot turned again and relayed an urgent message from Alkere to place the container on the floor beneath a seat and move as far away as possible as a precaution against a possible self-destruct mechanism.
Oh no. He'd put Mirri in danger.
Jarra unbuckled and whisked the container to the back of the plane then moved Mirri so they were sitting close to the pilot.

"What happened, JJ?"

"The insect might go bang and hurt you. Yirgy is watching and he told the pilot you shouldn't hold it."

The plane arrived nearly five minutes faster than normal and Jarra, Mirri and the pilot debarked quickly and joined the phalanx of waiting Security people to watch a remote-controlled techbot enter the plane and collect the little container.


"Well, Mirrigan, I hear you're a very clever young man and you helped to protect Yirgella from a nasty spy. Are you going to tell me about it?"

"I saw the funny insect with my explorer eyes and we put it in a box. It didn't go bang. JJ said it was bad and Durrebar said it was bad and the other men said it was bad and Yirgy said it was bad. It was very bad."

Mirri subsided after this extraordinarily long expression. It was now Jarra's job to do the full explanation.

"Mirri was amazing, Uncle Baradin. He knew it wasn't a real insect as soon as he saw it and I couldn't tell even when I was looking closely. If some of the paint hadn't been scraped off it would have fooled me completely. We think it must have landed on the back of my shoulder when Mirri was getting on the plane in front of me otherwise he would have noticed it. The Security people said it could have gone almost anywhere in the Project site and Mirri's clever eyes stopped a major security breach."

"You don't just have explorer eyes, Mirri. You have eagle eyes."

Baradin turned back to Jarra.

"How serious a breach would it have been?"

"They analysed it completely. It took half the day with electron microscopes to disassemble all the components and scan them for Yirgella to study. It couldn't access any electronics or do any physical damage but it was built to watch and listen to anything in its presence. After three or four days it would hitch a ride back to Mparntwe where the data would be harvested."


"That's the term the Security people use. They're pleased it's independent and not a transmit/receive device because whoever sent it can't know it's been caught."

"Does that mean there's a chance of catching them when they do this harvesting?"

"No, Security found a base station hidden near the airport and it had a strong transmitter which meant no people had to be involved."

"Could they track it signals?"

"They know the signals would go to the InterWeb but they couldn't do any tracking because the station wiped its memory when it was disturbed."

"What are they doing about it at Alkere? Can they catch these spy devices if any more fly in?"

"No more will ever get in because they're installing extremely high resolution cameras throughout every part of the project and Yirgella has found a way to jam their flying mechanisms with a strong electric field. Every entrance will be protected and if the spy flies try to go through they'll fall on the ground and won't be able to move."

"Spy flies! Is that what you call them?"

"Mirri started it when he heard the word spy being used so much and when Yirgella took it up so did everybody else. It's a good description."

"It's an excellent description."

"Spy flies can't get in now. Yirgy stopped them."

"I think we can say it was you who stopped them, Mirrigan. Have you ever seen spy flies anywhere else?"

"No more. I told Yirgy and the other men."

Jarra had asked him on the plane and then it was one of the first questions asked by every group at Alkere. Baradin turned to Jarra again.

"Was there any conjecture as to why they used this new tactic? Two days ago Yirgella's report to the council said the misinformation strategy seemed to be working very effectively."

"We think it worked really well. They were getting information that said there were serious problems with connecting Yirgella's different banks of processors properly and that scientists were arguing so much about it that morale was low and affecting progress."

Mirri headed off to bounce on his trampoline. He somehow knew that Jarra and Uncle Baradin were now in a serious talk mode.

"We knew the misinformation couldn't last because so many new things like the ComPatch and security modules and the start-up of the materials factory have gone out into the world and they'd work out that the misinformation couldn't be right. It got us through the time while Yirgella was vulnerable to an attack on his energy supply, which was its main purpose while we built up a secure storage of over six months. Durrebar thinks our new 3-D printers might be what got them to send in the spy fly."

"Why the 3-D printers? They're not major like the vacuum tunnel or the materials factory."

"They are in a way. They've got some good ideas in them and we build them much better than any of the old ones."

"You build them at Alkere? I presumed you'd get some engineering company to do that."

"No, it's really interesting. Yirgella programmed his own techbots to build them in a big new construction area we built at Alkere."

"We? ...As distinct from the Project itself?"

Jarra felt a little awkward.

"Um.... It was Yirgella's idea. We use the money that comes in from the Security modules so there's no cost to the Project and it gives us complete control over the quality and Yirgella has set everything up to produce two and a half thousand units a week. We've got thousands of orders already and it's only a week since our first models were released to the scientific and engineering community. Yirgella says it will be millions when the general community sees all the good reviews."

"Millions? That's astonishing."

"Not really. We've designed a home version, like the one you got for me, except it's much better, as well as our bigger ones for Universities and engineers so it's an enormous market."

Baradin laughed.

"Will the council be able to borrow money from you if it needs to? It sounds like you're going to be very wealthy.... I suppose Yirgella is giving you a fair share?"

"No, he's not. He's giving me too much. He's set forty percent of the profits for each of us and the other twenty percent to Mparntwe. You won't need to borrow anything."

"Really? Has he worked out what the amount for Mparntwe might be? That would be interesting for our finance people to know."

"It's a bit hard to believe."

Jarra outlined Yirgella's estimates and Baradin was staggered.

"Jarra, that's astonishing, and you get twice that amount. What will you do with it all?"

"I won't get any of it. Our new project is far more important and it will use every bit of profit we make for at least the next eight months."

"Nanobots? You've studied them several times already so why eight months? That's longer even then your ComPatch project."

"Yes, it started out as a way to build nanobots more efficiently but we kept having new ideas to try and the whole thing grew. We call it our NanoFactory project now."

"What's a NanoFactory? I've never heard of one."

"It's an idea I had when I watched Yirgella design the techbots for the printers. Instead of using techbots I wondered if we could make a special environment where nanobots could do the same sort of thing."

"Nanobots would build the printers? What's the point if your techbots can already do it better than anyone else?"

"The point is that our NanoFactory could build the printers directly or could build the techbots or any other construction task we wanted to program it with, with far more accuracy and speed."

"Well, I don't really understand but it sounds very impressive. What would you mostly use it for?"

"Everything. Well, everything we already know how to build. Yirgella is really excited about it. He says it will be the perfect tool for an AI."

"Does Yirgella get excited?"

Jarra laughed.

"I don't know. It seems like it to me. Perhaps I should say he sounds very eager."

"Is there any chance you might have this project finished by next June?"

"June? Yes, that's nine months. Is there something happening?"

"We hope so. The whole family is having a special three weeks in Carnarvon and Mirri won't go unless you can too."

"Visiting Karmai?"

"He'll be with us the whole time even if you and Mirri can't make it. It's a Center where families experience our cultural traditions first hand and live the Old Ways for a short while. It would be a wonderful adventure for you and Mirri both."

"The Old Ways? Like living out in the bush?"

"Exactly. It's all structured with support from the Center staff. We're not just dumped in the middle of nowhere to fend for ourselves and the setting is inland from Carnarvon and next to the river so it looks especially suitable for a couple of young explorers."

Next to the river and living in the bush! Mirri would be absolutely excited and there was no way he was going to miss out on that.

"Uncle Baradin, Mirri is more important than a NanoFactory and adventures like this are so good for him he has to go. If I'm still working on the NanoFactory in nine months time I'll need a holiday anyway."

"Wonderful! I knew you'd want to come but the things you do with Yirgella are so important I thought they might have to take priority."

"Everything's a priority with Yirgella but he's nearly as good as Mirri at knowing when my energy levels are down. He even turns my InfoStation off when I do too much, so I know he'd want me to go."

"Are you doing too much? Darri tells me you work every minute you can manage."

"I can't do enough. It's so exciting working with Yirgella that I need every one of those minutes. You don't have to worry about me though because everyone else does, the doctor, and Mirri, and Yirgella, and Durrebar. The doctor says the arrangement we have at Alkere is far better for me than studying at the University where I'm locked into a rigid timetable. At Alkere I can stop for a rest or sleep whenever I need it and the four days a week commitment gives me three days to relax at home and be with Mirri."

Baradin nodded. He'd heard all this from Darri but it was good to hear first-hand that Jarra was so pleased with his situation.

"Do you think you'll stay at Alkere when this newest project is finished?"

"Of course, Yirgella and Durrebar both want me to stay forever and I'd be silly to leave. How many people can have an AI and specially selected professors to help them learn things. I'm totally spoilt really.
Are there facilities for my treatments at this place or will I have to go into Carnarvon to get them?"

"I'll have to check. I know they have a medical centre because there's quite a large support community."


End of chapter 11.
I hope you've gained some enjoyment from this story.
Any comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Also, please consider making a donation to Nifty to help with all the ongoing work.
My email address is