Date 20 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, who live in one of the first great underground communities and experience events which change the world.

MPARNTWE Chapter 12.


"Darri, Jarra tells me he plans on staying at Alkere indefinitely. Evidently Yirgella and Durrebar both want him there."

Darri and Baradin were having one of their regular talks about Jarra's progress and activities.

"Want isn't a strong enough word. I think Durrebar and all the other scientists would go into a state of panic if he left."


"Well, not panic, but they wouldn't be happy. There's an interaction between Yirgella and Jarra that makes unexpected things happen and they don't want that to stop."

"Is unexpected good when we're dealing with an AI?"

Darri gave Baradin a funny look.

"Baradin, by nature an AI doesn't think the same way we do so the unexpected is what we have to expect... Is that a tautology or something? Of course it's good but there's an interaction between Jarra and Yirgella which has a kind of compounding effect. Look at their new project. It's going to change the world. The whole Alkere team can hardly believe the potentials it offers."

"Change the world? That's a bit strong isn't it? Jarra said it was important as a tool for Yirgella."

"Primarily yes, which in itself is astonishing. Yirgella will be able to use it to design and make improvements to himself quite independently, but it's the secondary uses which will impact human society so much. Has Yirgella's proposal for a vacuum tunnel system reached the Council yet?"

"Between Mparntwe and Alkere? What do you mean? The work has already started."

"Um! ...Yirgella must be holding back till he has more definite plans. The Mparntwe/Alkere tunnel is the trial version for an Australia wide high-speed travel system where a trip from here to Carnarvon would only take half an hour. This NanoFactory project, if it works as well as they think it will, would make it possible to complete the whole system in just seven or eight years."

Baradin was quiet then shook his head.

"Darri, that is astonishing but even if it's feasible it won't happen. The cost would be so enormous we couldn't contemplate it, even with help from the OverGovernment and every Australian Community.... Why are you smiling?"

"Yirgella wants to do it all as a kind of goodwill gesture. The only help he'd need would be in providing enough energy to run everything, which from the sound of it would require a rather large new solar array."

"I know you're serious but I find it hard to believe what you're saying."

"I know, and that's just one of the possibilities. An even bigger one is the changes they're talking about with construction work. Yesterday they were arguing about whether a thirty percent reduction in time and cost would be possible within twelve months."

"They? We're talking about Yirgella and Jarra?"

"You should hear them. They throw ideas at each other and argue whether they're possible. Well, the imaginative ideas come from Jarra and the practical ones from Yirgella.
Why don't you come and work with us for a morning? Or even several days. It would be a real eye-opener for you to see first hand just how capable Jarra is at research. They usually start with a general discussion before doing anything else. I know Jarra would love to have you there and Yirgella is always interesting."

"I will. Seeing him once a week with Mirri isn't the same."


A week later Baradin asked Kyrra, as Mparntwe Council science advisor, to accompany him to Alkere and pass the day in Jarra's project room. It didn't take any persuasion because Kyrra had the highest interest of anyone on the Council about what went on at Alkere. Right now they were listening, amazed, as Jarra and Yirgella discussed the pros and cons of living in the space habitat which, at Jarra's request, Yirgella had just designed with several minutes work on his simulators.

"It's too unwieldy, Jarra, and the energy requirements for building it make it impractical."

"That wouldn't matter. People want to explore space and if you already live there it's a lot less energy than if you take off from a planet."

"There are seven functioning space stations and two abandoned ones. Space exploration happens from those without the need for a habitat."

"Abandoned? Did something go wrong with them?"

"Nothing went wrong. The consortiums running them didn't plan well enough and when the energy cost sent them bankrupt they couldn't do anything else."

"So how do the other seven pay their way then?"

"They don't. They are all run at a loss by various governments."

"If we built the habitat a lot closer to the sun there'd be a lot more energy available from solar arrays. They work well in space."

Yirgella answered after a gap of about two seconds.

"The energy supply would be sufficient but radiation problems and resource supply still make it impractical."

"Would you like to live in space? A lot of electronics work better and are easier to build there."

"I don't know, Jarra. I have only just started learning what it's like to live on Earth. I don't think you would. Where would you and Mirri do your exploring?"

Jarra laughed.

"We'd have to have our own spaceship to visit the moon or asteroids."

"Totally impractical."

Jarra laughed again.

"When you design a fusion engine it won't be."

There was another several second wait for an answer.

"Totally impractical!"

"Where's your imagination? A fusion engine sounds really good and what about an impulse drive or a warp drive?"

"A warp drive is a fictional construct. The impulse drive is possible."

"It is?

Jarra shared his look of surprise with Baradin and Kyrra.

"Yes. When completed it could travel from Earth orbit to the moon in approximately seventy-four days."

"That's useless."


"What's Mirri doing at the moment?"

"I presume he's swimming. His ComPatch shows an unchanging view of the locker room ceiling."

Baradin and Kyrra watched the ceiling view replace Yirgella's image for a moment.

"Do you check what Mirrigan is doing very often?"

"Sometimes, when I've forgotten his program, but not very often because Yirgella watches through the ComPatch and tells me if something interesting is happening. Mirri's hopeless. He likes taking his shirt off and all we see for ages is something like that ceiling or the material of his shirt. The ComPatch should be stuck on his forehead."

"That is also impractical, Jarra."

"I know. What about on a pendant round his neck? If we made it waterproof he could wear it even when he's swimming."

"Then you'd have a problem when he finished. He'd put his shirt on and cover it."

"He would too, but if the shirt ComPatch kept watching it wouldn't matter."

"That's a feasible idea. A pendant ComPatch would be far more durable with better vision and sound capabilities. Here is one designed to look like an eagle."

"Yirgella, you'd have to call it a ComPendant not a ComPatch, and a dolphin design would be better at the moment."

"What design would you like? Mirrigan would expect you to match him."

Ten minutes later, after some discussion about designs of their own and a concentrated session between Jarra and Yirgella on the big 3D printer, four new pendant style ComPatches were ready and somewhat dazed at the speed of it all, Baradin and Kyrra were fastening them around their necks.

"These look more like personal jewellery than communication devices. If all the Council members decide to use them in place of a normal ComPatch other people might want to copy."

Baradin smiled.

"Our Council setting a fashion, Kyrra? That would be a first."

That gave Jarra an idea.

"They'd have to use ordinary ComPatch circuitry but if people wanted them as pendants we could sell them as the first jewelry ever made by an AI. Yirgella, could we use any design people wanted for the casing and make them with this 3D printer?"

Baradin interrupted.

"Jarra, you sound like a real entrepreneur. But what about the circuitry? That can't be made on a 3D printer."

"It can on this one because it's got extra features which need Yirgella's input to work. It helps us get things done much faster."

"Individually designed jewellery? What if several thousand people wanted them? Wouldn't that be a waste of Yirgella's time?"

"Yirgella, work out how much of your time it would take to make 1000 different jewellery ComPatches."

"Based on the four we just produced my involvement would be approximately nine tenths of one second and the production time with the 3D printer would be nearly seventeen hours."

Kyrra was startled, but not as much as Baradin.

"What? You can design a thousand different cases in less than a second?"

"The process involves far more than just the cases. The circuitry has to be configured to match the physical properties of each case and then a batch process with instructions for the 3D printer built and stored. My involvement is quite variable as it depends on the priority I assign. By using ten percent of my resources instead of the low two hundredths of one percent I just used, the one thousand count would increase to just short of half a million."

"Half a million in less than a second! So, in the time it takes me to count to ten you could do all the calculations necessary to produce an individually designed ComPatch for every man woman and child living in Mparntwe?"

"Providing your ten count took more than five seconds and I had all the necessary information available, yes, that would be quite a simple task."

"Astonishing. How long would it take to do the same thing with our special ComPatches? About eight or ten seconds?"

"That is correct for the calculations, but I would be reluctant to implement a system of that size."

For whatever reason, Baradin and Kyrra both looked to Jarra for an explanation.

"Our special ComPatches are highly complex compared to ordinary ones and Yirgella is monitoring high-resolution imagery and sound non-stop from every unit that's connected. If there were two and a half million of them instead of the current thirty-four I think he'd be swamped with data."

"Jarra is right. Monitoring that number of people would be a constant demand on a significant proportion of my resources."

"I don't believe it. We've come up with something too big for you."

"Not really. With major design changes and structural alterations I believe I could limit the use of my resources to between ten and twelve percent and still operate a system of that size. There are far more efficient ways to improve security for Mparntwe though."

"More improvements for Mparntwe security? How would you change what we're already doing?"

"For a start I would replace all your security cameras with more capable ones and increase the number to surveil every public space."

"Every single door, walkway, or place where people gather? How many cameras would you need to do that?"

"Several million for the coverage I would recommend."

"Several million? Wouldn't that need a similar amount of resources as the special ComPatches?"

"Significantly less. A dedicated Intelligent Security System could be designed to do most of the work under my oversight."

"Could you watch everyone on Mparntwe for twenty four hours of the day?"

There was a distinct pause before Yirgella answered Kyrra's question.

"That would require surveillance of all private living space and an increase in the number of cameras used to something in the order of twenty million. I could manage but the constant demand on my resources would be unsustainable."

"Kyrra, we wouldn't want to watch people in their homes."

"I know. I'm testing my understanding of Yirgella's capabilities. Twenty million cameras running sounds ridiculous. How would you make that many? Would these nanobots do it?"

"Cameras are easy, Kyrra. We built the high resolution ones for picking up the spy flies at Alkere entrances on our 3D printer so we wouldn't need nanobots."

"I disagree, Jarra. A nanobot production device would be far more efficient for such large scale production"

"What is a nanobot? I know they're tiny and can make things but that's about the extent of my knowledge."

Jarra looked to Yirgella's image.

"Will I explain or will you?"

"I suggest you make a quick explanation then set up several examples to examine with the electron microscopes. Start with your healthbots and show some of their different functions."

Baradin and Kyrra spent some time looking at different types of nanobots then watched quite amazed as Jarra used his InfoSystem to design one from scratch.

"Jarra, we've been here an hour and a half and so far you've given all your time to us. We thought we'd be watching your normal routine."

"Most days start with a lot of talking and playing round with ideas so it has been fairly normal. You're not going to just watch though. We've got a special job for you designing the interior layout of the tunnel train."

Baradin and Kyrra shared a look.

"Are you serious?"

"We'll help you of course, and with the simulators and some VR devices you'll have it done in a couple of hours."

It took longer than that but when Jarra returned from his midday rest time he was enthusiastically presented with the finished result.

"What's this sign you've put on the seats and the doorways?"

"We joined a symbolic caterpillar with a representation of the sun to show the connection between Mparntwe and Alkere. It was Kyrra's idea and we chose from a range of designs Yirgella made for us. I think it would be a good logo to use for all the joint projects."

Jarra liked the idea but didn't get to talk about it because Baradin and Kyrra were keen to hear the plans for the rest of the afternoon.

"Yirgella and I will be looking at different techniques for programming nanobots but it's fairly technical so you might like to do something else. He also needs a human viewpoint to help plan a new type of lift system, otherwise you could work with him on the miniature waste recycler we've been studying. And I know Durrebar wants to grab you for an hour as well."

Kyrra went to a different part of the project room to work with the lift system while Baradin said he'd watch the nanobot programming then leave to see Durrebar after about an hour. That pleased Jarra because it felt good to show something of what his main project work involved. Half an hour later Jarra was giving a quick explanation to Baradin about the section of programming code they were looking at when the InfoSystem screen flickered. It was instantaneous but it had never happened before and Jarra looked to Yirgella's image for an explanation.

"Jarra, our external power supply has been interrupted and, while there is no apparent threat to the project site, it would be prudent to move quickly with Baradin and Kyrra to meet with some of our Security staff in the third level basement area. We should know more about what's happening by the time you get there."

Jarra jumped to his feet and motioned Baradin and Kyrra to follow. He knew exactly where to go and the quickest way to get there from the emergency drills the Security people and Yirgella had worked out after the Mparntwe lift incident and the spy fly attempt. In the corridors the purposeful movement and strained expressions made Jarra wonder if there was something Yirgella hadn't told them and he felt grateful when Baradin took his arm in a comforting grip.

"This isn't a practice drill is it?"

"Not from the way Yirgella spoke."

Jarra was walking faster than he should and when they reached the basement room he acknowledged Professor Allerton and some of the Security people then walked straight past them to sit on a comfortable chair. Baradin, immediately concerned, sat next to him.

"I'm all right. It took me by surprise that's all. Do you know what's happened, Professor?"

"Only that there has been an interruption to our power supply which warrants moving..."

The display screen on the wall, there was at least one in every room of the Alkere project, flickered to life with Yirgella's image.

"The precaution of moving you all has proved unnecessary as the single event which occurred nearly seventeen kilometers away at our project solar array appears to be quite isolated. A security team with forensic equipment is headed for the site and will shortly provide us with a clearer picture of what has happened. At this stage we know an explosion has destroyed power connections to our site and the period for reconnection will depend on the degree and type of damage. A backup system is functioning without fault and you are free to return to your ordinary activities. Durrebar would like to meet in the conference hall with all department heads, and anyone else interested."

Jarra's nanobot work could wait. He most certainly wanted more information about what had happened and if it was another sabotage attempt, and he didn't have any doubt that it was, Baradin and Kyrra needed to be involved as well. Three quarters of an hour later when Jarra looked round the conference hall the only people who weren't there were from Security. A big image of Yirgella appeared on the large hall display screen and there was immediate hush.

"The damage is extensive and since the main transformer and outlet connections have been destroyed there will be several days of repair work before we can return to normal.
I have planned a set of techbots and with help from Jarra with his 3D printer they should be functional in approximately three hours time.
Residue traces identify a sophisticated military grade type of explosive with properties designed to make it particularly suitable for use with the stealth device which must have been used for its delivery."

Yirgella's image was replaced with views of the damage that had been caused and after a stunned moment Durrebar voiced the question everyone was wondering.

"How can that possibly be fixed in two days? It's a rebuild, not a repair."

"The purpose-built tech bots will make the difference. Standard practice would take a week or more even with fast tracking."

Jarra stood up and started moving. The techbots sounded important and he needed to get to his 3D printer immediately.


End of chapter 12.
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