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 4.

Baradin listened carefully to what Darri was saying.

"He's twelve years old, Darri. You really think ordinary school is a waste of his time? I'm concerned that he doesn't socialise with other children very much. >From what I can see he spends all his time either studying or in company with Mirrigan."

"Yes, it's not normal behaviour but I don't think you need to be concerned. I'm not. His classmates understand that his intelligence sets him apart but he's always friendly and they respond to that. What I do see is that particularly with his maths and science work his teachers are increasingly leaving him to work with the self-paced mastery programs on the school computers because he already understands what the class groups are working on."

"So what do you recommend?"

"It's hard to say. Putting him with older students at advanced levels would challenge him for a while, but he'd eventually adapt and be in the same situation again."

Baradin laughed.

"Do you think he needs challenging? He does that to himself all the time and you seem to be helping him with everything."

Darri shook his head.

"I get him started but when it's something he's interested in I quickly get left behind. Three months ago he was stuck with building his own energy collector after the trip to the array and when I showed him how a differential equation could get him through, he had to know how it worked. After six weeks of tutoring I couldn't understand half of what he was doing."

"Even when maths was one of your degrees?"

"Yes, it means I can show him the way but when he dedicates himself to something he goes way ahead. The first thing I ever showed him was a couple of ancient computers and in the two years since he's built two of his own and taught himself a range of computer languages, including assembler and even a smattering of machine code."

"I don't know what that means but it sounds impressive."

"It's an impressive achievement for anyone, let alone a boy of his age, and he's passed a threshold with his basic understanding of maths and science which means these achievements will happen more frequently from now on."

"He likes making things. That 3D printer we gave him works overtime. "

"Yes, most of his purpose in learning the theory is to help with one of his practical projects. His mini energy collector, for example, works five percent more efficiently than an Alkere panel."

"What? ...Darri, do you realise how significant that is? Why didn't you inform us?"

"The materials deteriorate and the efficiency drops below the Alkere level in only six or seven years so there was no point."

"No point! If our researchers can stabilise the materials there's every point in the world. We'll have to get that model to them."

"It's been recycled but I've been training him to archive everything so I'll ask him to do a transfer. Can we organise that?"

"No we can't. We'll organise a visit to our main research Center instead and he can give it to them on the spot. That way they can ask him anything they want and it will be a major event for him.
Darri, as from next school semester we'll try a year with older students and advanced classes for his maths and science work, but keep him with his current group for general work. If there's any area where you can't help him we'll arrange with the University for someone who can. That will cover all our concerns. Do you think he'll like these changes?"

"He might be worried about the older students for a while but otherwise he'll be absolutely delighted."

"What projects are you helping him with at the moment?"

"Only one really, but it's very interesting. Karmai took him to one of the water storages recently and now he's building his own version of a water vapor extractor. We're looking at plants with water repellent surfaces, condensation science, fluid dynamics and all sorts of other things."


Jarra was nervous and excited. This athletic event was a grand final and, with Mirri representing his local group against every other group in Mparntwe, the whole family was there for support. He'd already amazed everyone by coming third in the hundred meter sprint. He was good at sprints but his real strength was for longer distances, and now there was a feeling he might be better than expected in this full kilometer run.
Karmai, who was really keen on athletics and helped Mirri with his training, had researched the competitors and said they had too much of an age advantage because, while Mirri had just turned fifteen a few weeks ago and was new to the age group, most of the finalists were almost a year older and close to leaving.
Jarra didn't really care how Mirri went. He just loved watching him. He couldn't help hoping though, because he'd been involved with much of Mirri's training with some ideas he'd found on the InterWeb which he thought were helping.
Just before he left for the line up Mirri had confidently told Jarra he was going to win. He did this for every event and Jarra always responded by telling him it didn't matter as long as he tried.

"Oh no! Look what he's doing. We should be out there with him."

Mirri's running shoes were dumped by the track side and he was lined up with bare feet. One of the starting stewards pointed to the shoes but Mirri shook his head. He liked the feel of the grass on his feet and all Karmai's persuasion meant nothing.

"You should be the one telling him he's faster in runners, Jarra. He'd wear them then."

"I don't know if he would be. He might be faster without them because he feels better."

Karmai didn't answer because a hush had spread through the stadium in anticipation for the start. The pistol cracked and fifteen competitors shot from their marks. Mirri mustn't have been ready because he was several metres behind the main pack. That didn't last. As if it was a sprint he caught up, overtook, and then kept going.

"No! No! No! Now he's too fast. He'll wear himself out too soon."

Karmai was right. Mirri was nearly ten meters in front and Jarra willed him to steady his pace. That lead increased for most of the first lap but then, inevitably, he slowed and Jarra's heart sank as the main group closed, passed and steadily pressed on. His Mirri had tried too hard, too soon, and after two an a half laps was nearly twenty meters behind the leaders.

"Say something to him!"

Yes, Karmai was right. Mirri would respond, but how to get his attention?

"Put me on the guardrail, Karmai."

Powerful arms lifted and supported Jarra to a standing position on the rail as the leaders passed just seven or eight meters away.


Jarra called it at the top of his voice, saw Mirri's look, and called it again.


Mirri was gone, but he'd heard and knew they were barracking for him even if he couldn't win. The last two runners passed and headed into the final lap as Jarra was lifted down.


This was Burnu's yell. His son had just levelled with the runner ahead of him. Jarra stared in disbelief. Mirri really was the wind, just part way into the lap and he'd halved the gap to the leaders.
Every runner strained with all their being for the last two hundred meters and the speed lifted. Mirri couldn't do it. It was too much.
There was a roar from the crowd and Jarra's hair stood on end as Mirri, impossibly, kept passing runner after runner. The roaring sound increased and for a split second before his eyes went back to Mirri, just a metre behind the leader, Jarra realised that everyone he could see was on their feet and yelling.
The sound stopped for the last fifty meters. Karmai said later that everyone was holding their breath, expecting Mirri to collapse from exhaustion.
His incredible speed burst was obviously finished but he held, gained, and as he edged in front the roar erupted again then cut off abruptly as Mirri crashed headlong, sprawled and rolled on the grass. Was he all right? There was confusion while the other runners hurtled past but then Mirri, gasping for breath, struggled to his feet and waved with both arms.
The roar sounded again and Baradin said later that it would have happened even if Mirri didn't win because he'd taken their hearts with his effort. Jarra wanted to rush to Mirri but that would have to wait till after the podium ceremony. At the moment he was bent over with his hands on his knees and dragging in every bit of air he could manage.
Karmai turned to one of his brothers and before Jarra knew what was happening he was lifted on their shoulders.

"He did it for you, Jarra. He ran for you and that's the most exciting run I've ever seen."

"I think it's the most exciting run anyone in the stadium has seen. I know I've never seen anything like it. I thought he'd used so much energy in that first lap that everyone would pass him."

That was Baradin. Jarra, embarrassed at the attention, pointed to the podium where a group of officials was gathered with Mirri and the two runner-ups.

"Mirrigan understands about climbing on the podium to get his medal doesn't he?"

"Yes, Uncle. He's done it lots of times."

Something strange definitely was going on. Jarra watched as the second and third place getters took their positions. The officials were pointing to the winner's spot but Mirri wasn't cooperating. He was looking towards his family.


Mirri was calling his name?

"He wants you, Jarra. You'll have to go because he won't get on the podium until you do."

Karmai was right but Jarra was horrified. He couldn't go out there in front of so many people, thousands upon thousands of them, watching. Baradin took over.

"Come with me, Jarra. We'll take it slowly and quietly."

He climbed the railing, gestured for Jarra to be lifted over, lowered him to the ground then turned towards the podium.

"Here we go. We're having a Mirri experience."

That made Jarra smile, and the steady hand on his shoulder as they made their way also helped ease his tension. They reached the officials who watched as Mirri gave his normal greeting hugs. One of them had a startled look.

"Honored one. Welcome to our meeting."

"Thank you. I've brought Jarra to help Mirrigan. Is he causing some consternation?"

"Uncle Baradin, Jarra said I'm the wind. He wins the race."

"No, Mirri. You win the race and Jarra wants you to get your medal."

Jarra nodded strongly so Mirri would get the message and not hold things up any more. Mirri was looking at Jarra.

"Pig ride."

Baradin smiled at all the puzzled looks.

"Mirrigan wants to carry Jarra piggyback while he receives his medal. Would there be any rule against that?"

"Piggyback? Well, not in any of our rulebooks. Go ahead, Mirrigan, we want to give you your medal."

Feeling totally strange Jarra listened to the applause as the third-place getter received his medal.
>From this position on Mirri's back he was looking down at the officials and competitors and towards the crowd in the stand. The applause for the runner up was much louder, as it should be.
While it lasted, the roar for Mirri was overwhelming but faltered and died when the microphones relayed another sound.
Mirri was singing.
The strength of the moment had got through to him and for thirty seconds the strange melody of his voice stunned the now silent crowd. As if nothing unusual had happened Mirri climbed from the podium, took Baradin's hand and with Jarra still on his back, walked to the rest of the family where the first thing he did was make a fuss about Jarra needing a rest.

End of chapter 4.
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