Date 15 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, who live in one of the first great underground communities and experience events which change the world.
Mparntwe Chapter 9.


"Jarra has to play."

"Not now, Mirri. When I finish these specifications for the 3D printer."

Mirri laughed and his powerful arms lifted Jarra from his seat and carried him to the big mat. There was no point in protesting and Jarra had to start laughing himself when the irresistible force sat on him and started gently poking him in the stomach.

"You great big lump. I'm going to squash you flat and tangle your arms in knots."

Mirri laughed even more and tried tangling his arms for himself.

"Funny, JJ. Arms don't tangle."

"Yes they do. I'll make them."

And of course, somehow Jarra was able to turn the tables and become the conqueror. That would never change.


Because it was part of who Mirri was, exploring expeditions happened two or three times a week, though with so much going on it wasn't always easy to fit them in, and the four days at Alkere made things even more difficult till Jarra found a new explore place near the Project which only required a five-minute drive in one of the transport vehicles.
Today wasn't exploring. It was swimming, and Jarra was floating lazily on his back watching Mirri powering back and forth with his laps of the pool. Mirri's current major interest was his new enthusiasm for water sports and under the watchful eye of one of his helpers he was tackling all this diving and swimming with his usual full on involvement. He was good at it too, though not a star like he was with his running, and Jarra, who shouldn't even jump from a diving board, marvelled at the easy way Mirri learned complicated dives with somersaults and twists. The helper said the trampoline, which had been part of Mirri's action room ever since he was tiny, made it easy for him. That would be right but Jarra knew that with Mirri's reflexes and coordination it would be easy anyway.
Jarra started off calling him Superfish, but that was changed at Mirri's insistence to Superdolphin, because he remembered from their trip to Monkey Mia with Karmai that, 'dolphins are like people, not like fish'.
When Mirri finished his lap and duck dived Jarra stopped his floating and put a foot on the body beneath him as if to hold it down then laughed when Mirri manoeuvred to lift him on his shoulders.

"Is this a dolphin ride?"

"Shoulder ride. We have to go home."

Across the pool, up the steps, and then to their gear, the ride lasted till Mirri knelt far enough for Jarra's feet to touch the tiles and he could stand.

"How many laps, Mirri?"


"It was sixteen. You were lazy today."

"Not lazy. Uncle Baradin is waiting."

That was true, and since it wasn't Baradin's normal day to see Mirri the surprise message on Jarra's InfoPad had intrigued them both.

"He will talk about Yirgy."

"He might but I don't think so. We talked about Yirgy yesterday so it might be something else. We'll find out soon anyway."

After a shower and change Jarra and Mirri headed for the lifts with Mirri leading the way because he'd done this particular journey many times recently and knew exactly where to make the two changes needed to get home.
The first change, after a short horizontal trip, was to a vertical lift and a rise of four levels, and the second change was to another even shorter horizontal trip before their exit only fifty meters from home.
Lift systems were vital to the functioning of all Communities, public or private, and mostly worked without fault. Jarra remembered occasional hold-ups at his old Community but never anything in Mparntwe, so it was quite a surprise when the lights dimmed, their vertical lift slowed and halted, and a warning sign lit up to say they were between levels.

"What is happening?"

"I don't know, Mirri. The lift stopped too soon and we can't get out. We'll have to wait for it to start up again."

Just as Mirri began to say something the lights brightened, movement recommenced, and a few seconds later the indicator lights for their proper stop were blinking.

"We're home."

Well, after the short walk they were and as soon as he opened the door, Mirri, completely ignoring the stranger next to him, rushed to give Baradin a hug.

"Uncle Baradin, we went for a swim."

"Yes, I know, and were there any dolphins there? Jarra told me that sometimes he sees a Superdolphin."

"Jarra is tricking. The dolphin is me."

"You're the dolphin? Well that explains why it's a Superdolphin."

Mirri wasn't really listening. With the important procedure of the welcome hug and greeting finished his focus was on the new element in his familiar environment. The stranger standing quietly next to Baradin was being closely examined.

"Mirrigan, I would like you to welcome Jarara to your home. He is a very special person and I would like you to meet him."

Jarra's interest lifted. For Baradin to make a big deal like this meant something unusual must be happening.

"My name is Mirrigan and I welcome you to my country."

"My name is Jarara and it is my honor to meet you, Mirrigan."

The name clicked in Jarra's mind as someone from the InterWeb connected with music.

"Jarara is not Jarra."

Baradin and Jarara didn't understand and Baradin looked to Jarra.

"No, he's not, Mirri. Our names are nearly the same but you can hear the difference."

Jarara smiled and Jarra liked him.

"Jarra is a very good name, Mirrigan. Did you know that it means a gum tree?"

"Jarra is a gum tree?"

"Yes, and my name is Jarara which means a rock with water flowing over it."

Mirri processed that then smiled.

"Jarara is a waterfall.... What is uncle Baradin?"

Wow, he'd really caught on and was enjoying this.

"I don't know that one, Mirrigan."

"My name means wallaby. A little kangaroo."

Mirri knew what wallabies were because of a small colony of rock wallabies near their bird place.

"Uncle Baradin is a wallaby."

"That's right, Mirrigan, and Burnu is a tree and Karmai is a spear."

Mirri laughed because he liked that so much then asked for the meanings of the rest of the family names.

"You left one out. ...Mirrigan."

"Did not forget. What is Mirrigan?"

Mirri was looking at Baradin but it was Jarara who answered.

"Your name is something which people love to watch and think about. Mirrigan is all over the sky when the sun is hiding."

Mirri thought then said moon.

Jarara shook his head.

"All over the sky. Thousands looking down."

Now Mirri knew.

"I am stars!"

"Yes, Mirrigan is a star. It is a beautiful name."

"I am a star?"

Mirri looked to Jarra for confirmation and received a nod then looked to Baradin who had just touched his arm.

"Mirrigan, Jarara has travelled all the way from Kurtaji at Normanton to talk to you about something special. Would you like to listen to him?"

Kurtaji was the name of the First People Community at Normanton. Mirri nodded the emphatic agreement he accorded to any request from Uncle Baradin.

"Jarara says good things. I like to listen."

Jarra wanted to listen too and nodded to reinforce Mirri's agreement. There was a moment of hesitation and Jarra thought Jarara looked nervous.

"I'm glad you like to listen because I do too, and I have some music I made for you. Would you like me to play it with my soundboard?"

"Yes please. What is a soundboard?"

Jarara pointed to several carry-packs and for the next few minutes showed Mirri how they unpacked and fitted together. Jarra noticed Baradin frowning at his InfoPad.

"Sorry, I had this set for no interruptions. It must be something quite important for the override to cut in."

The frown deepened.

"Jarra, you were using the travel lifts. Did you notice anything unusual?"

"Yes, there was a glitch of some kind and we stopped between levels for a couple of seconds."

Baradin gave a thoughtful nod but said nothing more because an experimental little melody sounded and Jarara was looking to everyone for a go ahead.
A sudden crack of sound made Jarra jump with surprise then a strong pounding rhythm filled the room and a strangely familiar melody joined in overlay.
Mirri's body was moving in response and Jarra watched, entranced at the way the movement and sound joined as if they belonged to each other.
Recognition flooded in, then amazement. They did belong.
The melodic overlay was Mirri's song from the race track podium, or at least a version of it. More understanding brought even more amazement. This music was Mirri's race, the crack of the starting pistol, the pounding energy of motion, the sense of strain and speed, the jarring collapse and tumble, and a final melodic cry of exultation. The music stopped and Mirri nodded and clapped. Jarra and Baradin stared in wonder.

"More please. Can you play some more?"

"I would love to, Mirrigan. Did you like your song?"

Jarra didn't expect Mirri to catch on but he did.

"Is that my song?"

"It certainly is. You gave it to me and now I'm giving it back so you and your family can enjoy it whenever you like."

Mirri was confused. Jarra was too till Jarara went on.

"I was told about a boy whose happy song held thousands of excited people spellbound and when I listened it was so special I had to play it my own way."

"It was your wind race, Mirri. Jarara liked it so much he made it into a song."

"Your race, JJ. You made me be the wind."

Jarara looked at Jarra and then at Baradin who explained.

"Yes, that's right. When Mirrigan and Jarra are together all sorts of special things happen.... Do you remember when Jarra took us to the Valley of the Eagles, Mirrigan?"

"The King of Eagles talked to us."

"And you talked back. Mirri, would you be happy if we showed Jarara? He makes songs and he thinks your voice is music. He'd love to see your Eagle talk."

Mirri nodded, happy with anything Baradin asked of him.

"More music first?"

Jarara had a big smile now.

"Yes, let's have music first. Would you like strong music or jumping music?"

That was interesting. He knew Mirri's term for dancing music. Baradin must have had quite a talk with him. Mirri asked for jumping music of course, and as soon as it started was moving and bouncing the way he always did. The life and exuberance caught Jarra too and if Baradin and Jarara hadn't been there he would have joined in with his own more reserved type of movements. This music was wonderful and Jarra was surprised when Baradin, who still had his InfoPad out, touched him on the arm and indicated the next room.

"I have to leave for an emergency meeting of the Council. That glitch you experienced in your lift affected the whole transport system and our security people are saying it was deliberate sabotage, probably directed against Yirgella.
I'll get back as soon as I can but till I do you need to take my place as host for Jarara. After he finishes playing could you show him the Eagle greeting? As you heard, he's been inspired by the unique nature of Mirri's singing and he'll be here for four or five days getting to know him and very much hoping to experience one of his singing moments."

"Does he want to make more songs like the race one he just played?"

"I hope so, but he says he won't even know till he's heard for himself. I must go, Jarra, and if I'm delayed in getting back just follow your normal routine and involve him however much you're comfortable with."

Jarra watched Baradin leave and stayed for a while, thinking, before returning to the interesting sounds coming from the next room.
Sabotage against the whole travel system? What did that have to do with Yirgella? People could have been killed just like the recent breakdown in Asia.
Yes, that was it. They blamed an AI for those troubles and maybe they were going to do the same thing here, except Yirgella didn't have anything to do with the lifts or anything else in Mparntwe.
It didn't make sense. Maybe Baradin would know more when he returned from the meeting.
The music stopped and Jarra heard Mirri's laugh and some conversation. It was time to get on with what Baradin had asked. Four or five days would mean Jarara could go exploring with them at least twice, if Mirri was happy about it. That would give the best chance for him to hear any singing first hand. Where would be the best place to take him?

"JJ, this is the best music and Jarara wants to see my action room."

Mirri was certainly excited and very happy about Jarara, and with demonstrations of his prowess with the trampoline and various other equipment and features, more than half an hour passed before Jarra's big display screen came to life with the ComPatch clip of the Eagle and Mirri talking to it.
Mirri laughed with his usual delight at seeing the Eagle King again but Jarra was feeling some ambivalence about an outsider sharing such a special time and he carefully watched Jarara's response.
What was he doing?
It almost looked like he was turned into a statue, motionless and staring at the screen as Mirri's greeting sounded.
The clip finished and when he still didn't move Mirri looked at him in puzzlement. Jarra wasn't puzzled, just surprised at seeing such a strong reaction. They were both startled though when Jarara came to life and leapt at Mirri, enveloping him in an impulsive huge hug.
Mirri returned the hug because hugs were important, then looked to Jarra for guidance about this man who wasn't acting the way most people did. Jarra was smiling though so it was all right.

"Mirrigan, you are a spirit from the Dreamtime."

"I am Mirrigan."

"You speak to Eagles with the music of your voice."

Mirri looked to Jarra once again and Jarra took over.

"Mirri, would you make three juicies for us please? It's time we all had a drink."

Ever since he'd been told that juice drinks from fruit and vegetables were good for Jarra's muscles he'd loved making them and he nodded eagerly now and headed off.

"He didn't understand your behaviour and what you were saying, and because he likes you it was worrying him. Metaphors are hard for him."

"I haven't upset him have I?"

"No, playing your music for him and watching his activities has already made you part of his world, so if you say or do anything unusual from now on he'll just accept it as what you do."

"Jarra, I was overcome. His race song was wondrous but this is even more so. Baradin told me he sings to other animals. Does that happen very often?"

"He loves animals. The very first day we met each other he sang to a stick insect."

"And you have the recordings? Your uncle said you've been collecting them."

"Yes he's been insisting we archive them into the house InfoSystem every time it happens. We'll transfer the whole file to your InfoPad if you like, though some of them aren't very good because the ComPatches were obscured or facing the wrong way."

"But the sound and the situation will be there?"

Mirri arrived with the juicies and while he happily explained to Jarara what the different ingredients were, Jarra made the copy to the InfoPad.


"And they're certain it was sabotage?"

"Absolutely. If it wasn't for the legacy of Durrebar's improvements to our main Intelligent Systems we would have had a disastrous breakdown. The primary transport controls were disabled and the automatic backups as well. If there hadn't been a third level of redundancy designed in, the Community would be crippled."

Baradin was back from the emergency Council meeting and answering Jarra's insistent questions.

"Do they think it was connected with Yirgella? You said it might be."

"We know it was. Reports appeared all over the InterWeb saying our lift system had broken down and linking it with our uncontrolled AI."

"Yirgella doesn't control the lift system."

"And the system didn't break down, but the reports were fed into the InterWeb at the same time as the incident occurred, so they were obviously preprepared with content of what was expected to happen."

Jarra was quiet for a moment.

"They're going to keep doing things aren't they?"

"We believe so. The project has become a nightmare we're not sure we can manage."

"...What?. ...What are you going to do?"

"We're not closing it down, Jarra. After the talks we've had with Yirgella no one on the Council will even consider that, but it does mean we have to implement a whole range of new security functions to protect both Mparntwe and Alkere.
We didn't even think of action against the general community as a possibility when we started the project, and that's meant we've had to ask for any outside assistance we can rely on."

"Does that mean Carnarvon and the other First Nation communities?"

"It does, but less than we'd like because Mparntwe is more advanced in most things. Darwin is sending an elite team associated with the big defence establishment there and Carnarvon is sending some specialised surveillance equipment from their manufacturing facility, but because this was a malicious act against Australian citizens our biggest protection will come from the Australian OverGovernment. I'll be in Canberra tomorrow talking to them."

Baradin gave more details about the the emergency meeting then asked what had happened with Jarara.

"He's in the guest room and I think he's watching every single recording of Mirri singing. When we showed him the Eagle meeting he said Mirri was a Dreamtime Spirit speaking through music."

"He did? That's wonderful. I knew it was a good idea to invite him here when he contacted Burnu. Does Mirrigan like him?"

"Of course he does. They spent half an hour on Mirri's activities and then Jarara taught him a little tune on the soundboard. Will he make more songs like the race one?"

"I expect so, Jarra, though I have no idea what form they might take. His talent as a composer is regarded with a degree of awe in the music world but the unusual approaches he sometimes takes with his works can be very disconcerting to the more conservative critics."

Jarra laughed.

"He disconcerted Mirri and me when he turned into a statue."

"A statue?"

"He didn't move the whole time he was listening to Mirri's Eagle Song, then he jumped at Mirri and hugged him."

"I wish I didn't have this other worry. I think you're going to have an interesting time while he's here."


End of chapter 9.
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