Date 10 May 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 Three.

This office was bigger than the ones Jarra was used to but that impression was overridden when the doctor gave Baradin a respectful nod.

"Honored one, I welcome you and your family."

"Thank you doctor. We thank you for the way you've helped Jarra."

The doctor was addressing Baradin as an honored one? Jarra wanted to check on his InfoPad right away to find out what it meant. He couldn't of course because he was the center of attention.

"Hello, Jarra. It's good to see you're wide awake and recovered from your drama."

Jarra didn't know what else to say so we just said hello.A big smile lit up the doctor's face.

"I'm told that you like to go exploring?"

"Jarra is my friend and he is the best explorer in the world. We looked at the fish and his muscles got sick when he fell in the water."

"Yes, Mirrigan. Jarra's muscles are a very big problem and we want to help him."


Mirri quietened and the doctors attention returned to Jarra.

"Well, that answers my question about exploring. Jarra, are you happy to have a talk with me now, or would you rather go through everything with your own doctors?"

Jarra already liked this doctor. His smile was friendly and the way he spoke to Mirri was good too.

"Will it take long? Baradin said you have already used a great deal of time to help me."

The doctor, surprised at the courtly response, looked to Baradin for confirmation that it was genuine.

"Yes, doctor. I assure you that this extraordinary young man is quite serious."

"Jarra, I'll talk to you all day if I can. It's my job to learn about conditions like yours and every minute you can give me is valuable."

Karmai took Mirri home a few minutes later and Baradin stayed.

"Jarra, do you understand much about what's wrong with your muscles?"

"I think so. My lady doctor answers all my questions and helps me with my coping strategies."

"Coping strategies? Is that what she calls your walking and other routines?"

"Ah, yes."

Baradin interrupted.

"Doctor, Jarra has highly developed language skills and I believe that was his own description. He'll understand even if you speak quite clinically, and if he doesn't he'll ask you to elaborate."

"I see. Well, do you know about your function quotient, Jarra?"

"Yes, it's nine points above baseline, and if I don't do my walks properly it drops down to seven. And without my treatments it would drop a lot more. Yesterday it must have been zero because I couldn't do anything."

"That is completely correct. I'm very impressed with the way your doctors have looked after you and the careful way you follow your routines. According to their records you're a model patient.
Have they explained that we don't know how to teach your body to make its muscles work the right way?"

"Yes, that's why I have to be very good at my routines."

"Do you like doing experiments?"

"I love them. It's my best activity and I'm in the science club at school."

"I see, well I have a number of experiments which might help with your function quotient, so do you think we could have a go at them?"

"I'd like to, but do you really think they could help? I've done that before with my other doctors and it didn't change anything."

"Yes, I really do. Last night I did a careful experiment while you were asleep and the results from the changes I made to your nano treatment are showing a lift in your function quotient of at least one point. I know that doesn't sound like much but when you're so borderline every point you gain is important."

"Did I have a nano treatment? It's not meant to be for two more days."

"It was a partial treatment, Jarra, and the situation warranted it."

"My other doctors told me the latency built into the nanobots makes them act badly if I have new ones too soon."

"Not these nanobots. I programmed them specially to suit the situation."

Jarra's impression of the doctor lifted to a new level. His other doctors sent requests off to a special laboratory somewhere when they wanted to make a treatment change and it usually took four or five days to come back.

"You can program nanobots?"

Nanobots were especially interesting.

"We have some wonderful equipment here. Would you like me to show you how I do it?"

"Yes please! Today?"

The doctor laughed and looked from Jarra to Baradin.

"I think I've just bribed Jarra to work with me. Not today, Jarra. We have too many other things to talk about, but we'll make it one of our first experiments."

The talk went for a long time and changed Jarra's life. For a start the doctor had a long-term target of adding at least five more points to his function quotient. An increase which would allow for hours more of effective activity every day.The other big change was the doctor's wish to see him twice a week for extended sessions and every second day for the modified nanobot treatment. Baradin made all that happen by contacting his father and his school.


After talking with his dad Jarra settled to the InterWeb. The list of things to check was long and the big display and extra capability of a home system made it easier and more enjoyable to use than an InfoPad. He identified the bird he was watching when he fell in as a whistling kite, looked up information about the frog and the little fish, then watched a short info story about the life of budgerigars. Nanobots were next but after looking at the bewildering amount of information he put that on hold as a bigger project. Jarra entered a search for Baradin, then stared as his screen filled with information. Yes, it was the right Baradin. The picture showed that. Leader of the Mparntwe Management Council, Cultural Elder, manager of the Alkere Energy Corporation, Ambassador for the First Nation people. Jarra read it all and understood that Baradin must be a very important person.


For the next couple of months Jarra settled into the changed routine caused by his meetings with the doctor. It was awkward at first because the two half days used by the extended sessions meant his school times had to be rearranged so he could fit in the prescribed number of hours. The sessions were always interesting, with talks, tests, the experiments he'd been promised, using special equipment like microscopes and scanners and the medical nanobot calibrator. What's more, the sessions were helping and he didn't need quite as many rests as he used to.
Nearly every day he and Mirri did something together, exploring or in the action room where Jarra would access the InterWeb for his never ending projects while Mirri used the equipment for all his physical routines. Karmai escorted them to a whole range of outdoor locations which could be reached through the Mparntwe lift system and sometimes explored with them if it was a new place for Mirri.
Once a week, and always at the same time, Baradin went with them because he loved being with Mirri so much. Three days ago he'd helped with an extension to the explorer's house they were building in the stand of trees near the bird place. Mirri had started this when they'd found a secret place to shelter and peek out at the budgerigars and he'd used some strips of bark to make a cover. It triggered Jarra's imagination and the cover became a roof, which almost immediately needed to be supported by proper walls, which in turn needed a door and then some lookout windows. This extension was the third little room and, according to Mirri's happy planning, was going to be the eating room.
Jarra loved the idea of having their own secret place and was pleased with the way it was progressing. It wasn't really secret of course, as the rest of the family could see what they were doing through the ComPatches, and Karmai kept saying he was going to move in when they'd built another room for him.
Baradin enthusiastically joined in the construction effort but stopped to listen whenever Mirri made his happy singing noises. He also kept asking Jarra about why different sections of the structure were just so and couldn't understand how the biggest piece of roofing didn't collapse. Jarra tried to explain to him why it wouldn't, but he just kept saying it was amazing and recording everything with his InfoPad.
Another part of the routine was weekly participation in games with the sports group Mirri attended with most of his brothers and sisters. He was amazingly good at nearly everything and Jarra loved watching him race ahead of everyone else, make an impossible catch, or score a surprise point. His dad was especially proud of him and said he could run like the wind.


"Jarra, this is Darri and he'd like to spend some time with you. I've been telling him about your projects and he's keen to help you with them."

Jarra would rather work by himself but he was too polite to say so, especially to Baradin. Half an hour later he was eagerly listening to Darri explain the way the first computers worked. Half an hour after that they were watching a clip of an eagle soaring in the sky while Darri blew on some pieces of paper to demonstrate how airflow could lift things. Mirri came to watch the Eagle then went back to his trampoline routine, and when Baradin returned he listened to an eager explanation of the Bernoulli principle. After Darri left Baradin had a talk.

"Would you like to see Darri again?"

"I already am. He's going to take me to a technology museum to see some ancient computers, the ones that worked on silicon."

"I mean on a regular basis, perhaps twice a week. He can help you with anything and show you all sorts of interesting things."

That would be great but Jarra was puzzled as well.

"Isn't he too busy? I can tell he's a scientist."

"He's a scientist, an educator, and an engineer as well, but I've arranged things so he can work with you as much as you like and help you with anything you're interested in."

After a few more sessions Jarra decided it was too good to be true and Darri became his official mentor for the next seven years and friend for ever.


Jarra clasped the churinga the stone in his hand while he and his dad were ceremoniously recognised as part of Burnu's family, and stared as Mirri and his brothers moved and danced round the special campfire.
It wasn't a real churinga stone, they were too special, but a symbolic one which Burnu had given him. Karmai said Baradin had one stored in a special place somewhere, but that was the only one he'd ever heard of.
His dad, Robert, wouldn't have had anything to do with something like this before Jarra met Mirri, but the continual contact and especially the fact that he now had three days of guaranteed work each week with the Alkere Energy Corporation, combined with the unbelievable offer from Baradin to move them to Mparntwe so Jarra and Mirri could see each other more easily, had made huge changes to his viewpoint and he was watching everything and everyone with great interest.
Mirri and his brothers danced closer and closer, surrounded Jarra, then pulled him to his feet. They wanted him to join in? Mirri or Karmai must have sensed he'd like to be involved. It would have to be a gentle version because there was no way he could manage the powerful rhythmic movements they were making. Karmai demonstrated an easy little step which Jarra quickly copied. Yes, he could do this and if he held back it wasn't much harder than walking.
For a while Jarra was carried away with the spirit of the moment. Karmai lifted him onto his shoulders and led a stylised chase, with Mirri and another of his brothers acting as cheeky but evasive prey. Jarra reluctantly had to give Karmai a signal that he needed to stop. Baradin took over and in the friendly pocket of firelight Jarra and Robert were ceremoniously recognised as part of the extended family.


"What are they for? Did you figure them yourself?"

Jarra had to smile.

"They're perpetual motion machines. When you start them going they never stop. These are my versions of famous ones from people who first experimented with them."

Karmai spun a wheel and set a little bobbing gadget going then watched in fascination.

"They don't really go for ever do they?"

"No, but some of them are very clever and they tricked people into thinking they really were perpetual."

"Are you going to try and make one of your own?"

"I'm thinking about it. It would be a fake but it would be fun."


Jarra's eyes were nearly popping out of his head. Below him the silvery blue Alkere solar collectors stretched as far as the eye could see in every direction. Further really because this particular array was 150 kilometers long and 80 kilometers wide.
Baradin was making an inspection tour and knowing it would be a great adventure for Mirri and Jarra, he'd brought them along for the day with Karmai to look after them when he was occupied elsewhere.
The view was amazing from this observation aircraft and for Jarra, who'd never even flown before, every moment, boarding and buckling in, the amazing sensation of the powerful engines thrusting them skyward, and the changing aspect of the McDonald ranges before they reached the collection area, was all pure excitement.

"Silver city!"

"We call it Alkere, Mirrigan, but that's a good name. Is your seatbelt buckled properly? We're about to land in that cleared area."

Mirri checked his buckle, though there was no real need as it hadn't been undone. Baradin was saying this to reinforce its importance in Mirri's mind. When they landed there was a self-guided transport vehicle waiting and Baradin told them they had an hour to explore before he could meet them again. Karmai, who'd been here before, showed Jarra how to input the various automatic control options then grinned and switched them all off.

"It's a lot more fun on manual and Mirri loves my driving."

The vehicle started slowly and they approached the nearest collector panel. It was much bigger than it looked from above and Jarra stared at the silvery blue surface which he knew collected both heat energy and electrical energy. On the InterWeb last night, he'd learnt that these panels could convert 82% of the sunlight they received and were built to last for over 150 years. The Alkere Corporation managed seven of these arrays altogether, all of them approximately the same size, and for the last sixty years had been the largest producer of energy in an energy hungry world, providing the First Nation people with a vast income.

"Buckle up, Jarra! Buckle up, Jarra!"

Jarra copied Mirri and Karmai then gasped as the wheels spun and the vehicle accelerated off the main track to a sandy access way through the panels. Mirri got extra excited.

"Faster! Faster!"

Karmai glanced at Jarra.

"Is that okay? Just tell me if you feel nervous."

A wild ride followed, with skids, wheelspins, and bounces over some rougher terrain. After the first few minutes of amazement Jarra was enjoying it as much as Mirri. It was like a virtual reality game, except for real.
They stopped at an energy storage area and then at a big tower where mirror panels focused the sunlight for high temperature energy, then made their way back to the cleared area where Baradin was waiting.


"Is that a miniature Alkere panel?"

"Yes, Darri helped me figure out how to build it and I've got it working better than the real ones. We found some new materials which give it an 86% conversion efficiency."

After the Alkere expedition this had been Jarra's main project for the last few weeks.

"Better? Does Uncle Baradin know that?"

"No, it's not worth it. The materials will deteriorate and we think that after seven years the efficiency will drop to about 72%."


Jarra walked along the through way to Mirri's place and let himself in. With the move from his old community centre they were now almost neighbours and less than a minute's walk from door to door.
Mirri was with one of his special helpers and after getting his customary welcome hug, Jarra sat and listened while she worked patiently trying to develop Mirri's understanding of numbers.
He smiled at Mirri's ridiculous answers and even more when he got things right. That was one of the rules with Mirri, who only responded to positive things. Twenty minutes later when the helper left Jarra took Mirri through the same work to help him understand it better and then they worked out their exploring trip.

"Where are we going today?"

"Take us to the end of the line please, Karmai."

Karmai looked to Jarra for an explanation.

"Mirri thought the transport lifts went on for ever and ever till I told him they don't, and now he wants to see where they end."

"I don't know where they end. We'll have to look it up and figure out the best way to get there."

That was easy. Everyone was good at figuring their way with the transport lifts and they were soon setting off on their expedition to reach the end of everything. Thank goodness there were seats in some of the major lifts because it ended up taking nearly half a day and Jarra wouldn't have coped.
It was very interesting though, and Jarra decided he'd do this again at some stage so he and Mirri could check out interesting places Karmai kept telling them about. At the end of the main living area, which stretched for nearly five kilometers, they transferred to a bigger and faster horizontal lift which took them past several kilometres of food production facilities and then several more of manufacturing and service plants.
They ended at the main water storage area.

"Is this end of the line?"

"I think so, Mirri. Do you want to see the big water?"

"There is water down here?"

"Yes, it's water for all of Mparntwe. We can't live without water."

"Everyone knows that. Where is it?"

After a short walk they were looking at a small underground lake with crystal clear water glistening under artificial light and boats gliding randomly across its surface. Jarra was puzzled.

"They must store more water than this for all of Mparntwe?"

"They do. This lake is to make it interesting for people. I understand there are tunnels heading off from here."

A moment later they watched a display which explained that five tunnels were full of water and ranged between three and five kilometers in length.
Mirri was really excited when Karmai took them darting hither and thither on a boat. Jarra loved it too as it was his first time ever and he copied Mirri, who kept his fingers skimming through the water. A bubbling, happy sound suddenly belled across the water and Jarra and Karmai smiled with their own enjoyment of Mirri's pleasure.


"Jarra needs a pig ride."

Pig ride meant piggyback ride. Jarra wasn't quite that tired but he was looking for somewhere to sit quietly for a while. He was showing Mirri the open-air market back at his old community centre and there been so many interesting stalls and events to see that his activity time was pushing close to its limit.

"Not now, Mirri. I'll go to those seats over there for a rest and then we'll go home."

"Yes, now!"

Jarra didn't want to, not amongst all these people, but Mirri had the determined look which brooked no argument so he let himself be lifted into place. It was only fifty meters to the seats and after a fifteen minute rest he'd be okay as long as he took it slowly.

"Hey, brain face. What are you doing back here?"

Oh no. It was Freeman and his friends.

"We like looking round the market"

"What you doing on his back? Can't you even walk nowadays?"

"Jarra is tired. He needs a pig ride."

Freeman and his three friends looked at each other and laughed. Jarra felt a mental cringe because Mirri's offbeat answer had caught their attention and they'd follow up on it.

"Pig? Does he call you a pig?"

"Jarra is my brother."

Another look passed and Jarra quickly started talking.

"Mirri means piggyback and he wants me to have a rest. He's just taking me to the benches. Keep walking, Mirri."

Mirri had stopped but he started straight away. That didn't help. The four boys from Jarra's old school kept with them.

"He can't be your brother. He's First People."

"We're ceremonial brothers. His family welcomed me."

"You? There must be something wrong with them."

Freeman hadn't changed. It was now over a year since Jarra had seen him and he was still as bossy as ever. If you ignored him he'd eventually go away, acting as if he'd won a contest or something, but Jarra was worried that his attitude would get through to Mirri. It did.

"Jarra is my friend"

"What do you want him as a friend for? He's weak, and he's weird, and no one else goes near him."

That was too many things at once so Mirri repeated himself.

"Jarra is my friend."

"He's so weak you have to be his pig."

Mirri didn't respond to the direct taunt, just corrected it.

"Pig ride. Not pig."

Freeman had done all the talking so far but Balfour, who was almost as bossy, joined in.

"What's wrong with him? Can't he talk properly?"

"There's nothing wrong with Mirri. He's different."

"Mirri? What sort of name is that?"

"Mirrigan is my name."

The little procession reached the seats and when Mirri carefully transferred Jarra from his back Freeman laughed.

"They're both weird."

"Jarra needs quiet. Go away!"

The four taunters thought that was extra funny.


Jarra was shocked. He'd never heard such a tone from Mirri. The boys were startled into silence too and stared. Mirri, bristling with force and determination, walked straight at Freeman.


Freeman backed off and then, when Mirri looking very grim, kept right after him, took fright and actually ran. The other three, seeing Mirri now looking at them, disappeared almost as quickly. Jarra could hardly believe what he was seeing. With a few words his gentle, happy Mirri, had made the four bossiest boys from his old school turn tail and run.

End of chapter 3.
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