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 7.

Darri laughed as he talked with Baradin.

"Don't you dare take him anywhere for at least another six months. I've been run off my feet trying to keep up with all his new interests."

"Six months? You picked that well. I have a trip to Cape York in roughly that time-frame and since they loved Carnarvon so much I'm planning to take them again. Karmai can guide them to see how the Great Barrier Reef is regenerating."

"And that will probably bring on a study about the life cycle of coral reefs. At least it won't be as difficult as energy transference through ocean wave motion or understanding dolphin intelligence. We don't have anyone at our universities who knows much about either and I've had to make long-distance links to find suitable people."

"The dolphin interest is from Karmai and their three days at Monkey Meyer and the waves must be from their visit to Quobba Beach. I missed that because of meetings."

"You shouldn't have. He showed me his InfoPad recordings and the wave-breaks are quite astonishing."

"Have these new interests taken over?"

"Yes and no. He's still as absorbed and dedicated as ever, but he's started prioritising his own time a lot more carefully. Two days at least go to the Artificial Intelligence study and one to getting ahead with coursework from his older age groups."

"What about his special projects? Is he working on one at the moment?"

"Yes, but you won't believe it. He's building his own nanobot."

"... You're right. I don't believe it. Is that possible?"

"I didn't think it was but seeing how far he's come with that 3D printer I'm starting to think it might be."

"Nanobots? Where did that come from?"

"He has an infusion of health bots every second day and he sometimes watches his doctor design new ones."

"Of course. Silly question. They're part of his life. ...How is the work with the older age group going? He sounds happy enough when he talks about it."

"In another six months I recommend direct University involvement."

"Involvement? You mean enrol him?"

"Ordinary enrolment wouldn't work. It would hold him back too much. He's better at research than most final year students while at the same time there are large gaps in his knowledge. He would need a course specially designed for his particular interests and needs."

"That's not a problem. We've got an expert just for that purpose."

"We have?"

"Of course we have. Darri, Jarra wouldn't be where he is without you, and you know it. No one understands his intellectual abilities and needs better than you and I'll make sure the universities listen to every word you say. Design a course as you see fit, working with him of course, and we'll make it happen."

"He'll be very excited."

"Do you think he'll be daunted by his age? He's just turned fourteen."

"Not unduly. He adapted to working with the older age group faster than we expected and I think we'd see that again."

Baradin nodded his agreement.

"Just one more thing. What's happening with his involvement at Alkere? I know he's visiting regularly and very enthusiastic about everything."

"He gets on well with Durrebar who's given him an open invitation, and he went to two of their most important planning meetings. It's quite extraordinary to see the leading scientists treat him as if he's part of their team."

"Well, he is."

"Not with regard to expertise. They're nearly all leaders in their particular areas."

"How long will it take before the AI is functioning? They've been working for over six months now and Durrebar's most recent report to the Council was decidedly vague."

"That's because they really don't know. The backing you've given them has allowed them to be far more ambitious than the terms of the original proposal. The current consensus seems to be another six or eight months."


"Jarra, it's temporary. It's exactly what we expected and you just have to manage it with your routines."

Jarra was very concerned because his energy levels were going haywire and playing havoc with all his study and activities. He did understand it was caused by the hormonal changes in his adolescent body and he had been expecting it to happen, but coping was hard.

"We only walked for ten minutes yesterday and Mirri carried me back to the lifts and then Darri waited for two hours while I was asleep and when I did wake up I didn't want to do anything."

"And two days from now you'll feel the best you can ever remember."

That was exactly what had already happened a number of times.

"Jarra, I'm as certain as I can be that it's simply a matter of being patient while your body adjusts. In six months I expect your energy levels will be back on track and you'll be feeling even better."

"Better? I thought my levels are as good as they'll ever be?"

"They are, but growing will give you more body mass and resources to draw on and your perception will be that you're stronger."

"Do you think I'll grow very tall? Mirri is much bigger than I am."

"How old is he?"

"Sixteen years. He has his birthday two months before mine."

"Well, he should be bigger. Does your size difference worry you?"

"Not really. It's just that it would be good to be the same size as he is."

"In two years when you're sixteen you might even be taller."

The doctor laughed.

"I know. I'm telling you to be patient again."

"If I'm feeling good can I do extra to make up for the times when I'm not?"

"You can, but monitor yourself as carefully as you always do and you'll quickly work out your limits. Do you have any trouble sleeping?"

"No. I have trouble waking up."

"Good. That's normal. I recommend you try for at least an extra half hour of night sleep till your hormones balance."


It took longer for Jarra to stabilise than expected and his University enrolment was postponed till not long before his fifteenth birthday. His school and other activities suffered too and many times he became despondent when his plans went awry. Several times he had to cancel visits to Alkere and his nanobot project took twice as long to finish as he first expected. Mirri was a wonder, somehow knowing whether 'quiet' Jarra was reacting to his condition or just feeling low about it and either making him rest or cheering him up with his company.


"Two more months? What went wrong?"

Jarra and Darri were talking with Durrebar in the big laboratory where the huge banks of special processors were being tested.

"We've been having consistent failures with the more complex processors and since all our diagnostics said there was nothing wrong we couldn't understand where the faults were creeping in. It's taken nearly five weeks to track down the problem and the extra two months is what it will take to ensure it doesn't reoccur."

"Were the processors a bad design?"

"No, they were perfect. The problems were all caused by electronic sabotage and we're reworking our security systems which were badly compromised."

Jarra was shocked.

"Someone damaged the processors on purpose?"

"Yes, we don't know exactly who, but the sophistication of the intrusions was quite extraordinary, and if the Mparntwe Council hadn't backed us with extra resources we wouldn't have been able to proceed."

"How did you find out it was sabotage and not a real fault?"

"We didn't. An advisor to the Council thought our trouble might be linked to all the external pressures being brought against the project and they provided a special troubleshooter to look into it. It was a shock to us all when he discovered the security breaches."

"You said, 'all' the external pressures. I didn't know they'd even started."

A look passed between Durrebar and Darri.

"Yes, the pressures have been very direct and the Council has had to stand strong against them."

Darri took over.

"It's been happening for months, Jarra. Ever since the leading team took up residence really. The Council has been dealing with it quietly but the more we advance the more it escalates and recently the InterWeb has been producing some very strong condemnations of Artificial Intelligence. When our AI comes online Baradin expects things will get even worse."

"Months? And I haven't even heard about it?"

Another look passed between the two adults.

"You've been having a hard time for a while now, Jarra, and we didn't want you taking on any extra worry. Talk to Baradin if you feel you must. He's the Council man who's been dealing with it all."


"We've all been concerned for you, Jarra, so we insulated you from the efforts being directed against our AI project. Your doctor said you needed to be as stress free as possible for awhile so we arranged with everyone to only show you the positives. He says you're pretty much stabilised now though, and since you've been getting more active on the InterWeb in the last week Darri decided it was time to talk to you about it."

Jarra wondered why his use of the InterWeb was a reason for telling him.

"Darri only told me about the sabotage. He said there were other things but you knew more and I should talk to you."

"Yes, I've been directly involved because of my position on the Council. I suppose I have to tell you everything?"

Jarra nodded. Of course he did.

"The pressures we worried about right from the start became active as soon as our scientific team gathered at Alkere, with diplomatic communications demanding we abandon the project because we were breaking all sorts of international laws and treaties. We were ready for that and our legal people showed that we weren't. The next threat was a form of economic blackmail which completely backfired and ended up gaining us support from across all of Northern Australia."

"What happened?"

"Eighty percent of our energy production is exported to countries all around the world and we were told those countries would source their needs elsewhere if we didn't comply. It's our economic lifeblood and they thought that necessity would leave us no choice."

"What did you do?"

"They didn't understand our links with all the other North Australian communities and their associated energy producers, and when they shifted their contracts to the Carnarvon and Normanton communities the world shortage meant our energy was just redirected through those outlets."

"Carnarvon and Normanton have to use our energy?"

"They would anyway because of our agreements but their own supplies are already completely committed so they have no choice."

"What if the contracts got shifted to Africa? They've got nearly as much energy collection as Australia."

"They won't. Africa's supplies are just as committed as ours and the extra demand would still have to come from us. With all the redirection and supply agreements involved it would be a costly change for them."

"So changing their contracts was a waste of time. How did it give us more support?"

"I took your proposal to our Communities at Darwin, Carnarvon and and Normanton."

Baradin smiled at Jarra's reaction.

"We're very closely linked, Jarra, and if the project works as well as we expect the other centers will all start their own, with the benefits of any advancements we make here."

"Three more AI centres? Will they all be independent like ours?"

"Most certainly. Durrebar and his team have us completely convinced in that regard."

"Does Darri know?"

"Not that part, but you can tell him as long as you keep it to yourselves. Word spreading about three more independent AIs would most likely cause an overwhelming level of pressure."

Jarra quickly picked up on that.

"There are other parts?"

"Yes, pressure through misinformation on the InterWeb to make us appear irresponsible and callous about human life. It's involved very clever disinformation and some nasty personal character assassination."

"Darri told me that but he didn't say it was personal. Is it against Durrebar and the scientists?"

"He wouldn't tell you, Jarra, because some of it was against you and until now your doctor has insisted we keep you insulated from it."

Jarra didn't know whether to laugh or disbelieve.

"Me? ...That's silly!"

"Of course it is, but they depict you in a very negative way as a means of ridiculing the project."


Jarra repeated himself while thoughts chased round inside his head trying to think what they might have said.

"What did they say? I can't think of anything I've done wrong."

Baradin rested a reassuring arm across Jarra's shoulders.

"Yes you have. You are a fourteen year old making the proposal, you have a health condition and your lifestyle and interests aren't normal."

"... What?"

"Look at these quotes I collected. They'll give you an idea of what they're saying."

Jarra looked at Baradin's InfoPad.

'The Mparntwe Council has been influenced by the deluded ideas of a sickly and abnormal child.'

'A radicalised youth who has been influenced by extremist InterWeb conspirators.'

'From his ivory tower of privilege and nepotism this misguided freak has broken all levels of common sense and led an Australian community down a path fraught with danger for mankind.'

"It goes on and on, Jarra, and now that we've taken the filters off your InterWeb activities you'll see it for yourself."

"My InterWeb has been filtered?"

"Your doctor's recommendation and the Council's order."

"What's nepotism? I don't know that word."

"It means your influence comes because I'm on the Council and you're part of my family."

"Have they been saying things about Durrebar and the Project leaders too?"

"Yes, and all the Mparntwe Council members as well. Several are so angry they want to identify the sources and cut all their energy supplies."

Jarra smiled. That was a good idea. ...No it wasn't.

"That would make things worse wouldn't it?"

"Yes and quite unresolvable without causing hardship to people who aren't involved. Our official position is to publicly laugh it off as utter nonsense. That's what it is and I want you to treat it the same way. If you do see something upsetting, and you will, I'd like you to talk to Darri or myself rather than make any response of your own."

Jarra nodded his agreement straight away. He could tell Baradin had thought about it and had some kind of strategy in mind.

"I'm on the InterWeb? ...Like news or something?"

"You certainly are. Famous and infamous. Karmai has been dying to tease you about being a notorious Webstar. Hmm! That was a mistake. I think I just gave you an extra incentive to check what they've been saying."

That was right but Jarra wanted to find out everything from Baradin while he could.

"What else has happened to stop the project? It sounds like there are other things."

"Yes, they've involved governmental agencies and Communities Australia wide. We've had questions from the Overgovernment, the States, and every Independent Community. Some of them have been very concerned and I've had to personally explain the real situation to them. That's why I've been away so much."

Jarra jumped in surprise as a bunch of gum leaves landed on his head and Mirri's laughter peeled from the rock above.


Starting at the Mparntwe University was a big change.
At first it was nerve racking but Jarra quickly adapted to the size and complexity of the place and developed a routine for his movement between departments, and with help from Darri found places where he could rest or sleep when he needed to. Everyone being two or three years older hardly even registered, mostly because he was used to that from his work with the older age group, but also because a growth spurt had stopped him looking quite so young. He hadn't caught up to Mirri yet, the doctor was now quite definite that he would and his muscles would never be firm and strong looking of course, but being almost as tall as Mirri felt good when they went out.
Mirri took great delight in the monthly check of their heights when they stood against a special place on his wall and made a mark to show any changes.
The special course which had been worked out with Darri and various University people was very challenging in parts and needed a new level of concentration and effort. The maths and computer subjects were easy because of Darri's help, and science and engineering were exciting, but the big drawback was not having nearly as much time for his own projects as there were always tasks and assignments which could only be completed out of normal study time.
Mirri decided he didn't like university because it made Jarra too busy.

End of chapter 7.
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