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A Tale of Two Islands
Posted: Jan 20 2014, 02:12 PM
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The shores of Schiavonia were once a beautiful place. Fourty-six islands that floated around the NSverse. A place of peace and harmony, a home to sporting excellence... OK, quite-goodness.

But then, the islands floated off one last time, never to be seen again. The people with them.

Only a select few remained. Diaspora, across Atlantian Oceania and beyond. When the time was right, they came back together, united on a tiny island behind a football team based around old men. But they were too old. They gave way to the children of the island, who had amazing succeess. Well, for a bunch of kids.

But then, the kids grew up. And they didn't want to play any more. They wanted a life. And so, sixty years ago, Schiavonia drifted off into the sunset, leaving their tiny island and exploring the NSverse. But there was always something amiss. Something not quite right...

"Hello?"

"Is that Mr Sanderson?"

"Speaking."

"Hello there. I've got a question for you."

"Are you doing one of those surveys?"

"No, Mr Sanderson."

"Or are you one of those people trying to sell something?"

"Please, Mr Sanderson. If you'll just listen."

"Yes, OK."

"Have you ever wondered how your island moves?"

"Doesn't every island move?"

"Um, no, Mr Sanderson."

"I'm sure it does if you look after it in the right way, no?"

"No, Mr Sanderson. Islands tend to be stuck in place. They don't just move about at the behest of the inhabitants."

"Well, out island does."

"Mr Sanderson. I, and the people I represent, strongly believe that you and your nation are not living on an island."

"Well... of course we are!"

"Mr Sanderson, islands are not moveable in that way!"

"Well our one is!"

"Mr Sanderson. I know that your people are good people. However, for the past 75 years or so, what you have been living on has had some sort of sentience."

"What, you mean it is a prisoner?"

"No, sentience. Consciousness. Feeling. It has been alive."

"Alive?"

"Well yes."

"Oh... Hang on, for 75 years?"

"Well... let me put it this way. Where are you now?"

"At home."

"And where is home?"

"On the island."

"I mean..."

"Oh no! It's not an island. It's a thing!"

"I mean, where is the "thing?""

"In the middle of the ocean."

"OK... do you have your co-ordinates?"

"Our... sorry?"

"Mr Sanderson, we represent AORDO. We have been tracking your progress for a while now. Ever since your island started to move."

"Oh. And why have you done that?"

"Well, we're always disappointed when one of our region's nations leaves us. I mean, it hasn't been that tough tracking an island that moves around at about a brisk walking pace."

"So you've been following us?"

"Not exactly. We've been tracking you. We dropped a device off on your island at one of its stops, then kept checking it."

"Well, as I've just said, we've been stuck here for months! What took you so long?"

"You're not a threat to anyone, so we only check it every now and ag... Er... We've just been waiting for the right moment."

"Moment? For what?"

"To bring you back."

"And what makes you think that this is that moment?"

"Well, let me put it this way - have you moved anywhere recently?"

"Come to think of it, no. We've been here for months."

"And do you have plenty of space?"

"Actually, no. The whole place seems to be getting smaller. Areas of the isl... thing have flooded."

"Mr Sanderson... it seems that the creature you have been riding on has passed away."

"No!"

"Yes, Mr Sanderson. It has lived a good life, and you have looked after it well. But now, it's life is over. Indeed, it has been for some time."

"Oh. So... what do we do now?"

"This is why I've called you."

"Oh!"

"To bring you back."

"Of course!"

"So, do you have any preferences as to where you might like to call home?"

"Well... there are still only a few of us. Probably not even 700."

"I've got the perfect little spot in mind for you!"

"Really?"

"Well, actually, quite a few. You've always been a nation of good people. So now, we're going to look after you and help to find you a homeland!"

"Oh. Well, thank you very much!"

"The pleasure will be all ours. We'll send a ship out to you to pick you all up as soon as we can!"

"And how do you know where we are? We don't even know!"

"I told you before, we've been tracking you! You're not far off the west coast of Pacitalia."

"Oh, are we? That's not too far from where we started out!"

"We'll be on to you right away."
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Posted: Jan 20 2014, 08:48 PM
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"So you're sure that none of the islands are to your taste, Mr Sanderson?"

And they weren't. Some were too big. Others were to cold or too damp. Nowhere seemed to have that feeling that it was Schiavonia. Or maybe Kenny Sanderson V had simply set his standards too high.

"No, sorry. I really appreciate what you are doing for us, but there just hasn't been the right feeling to it."

"Well, don't worry. There are two islands still to go. Hopefully one of them will be to your taste."

Kenny thought for a moment. It would be a terribly un-Schiavone thing to turn down every single homeland offered to them. So, wherever it is the ship next pulls up to, we'll call that home. It only seems fair.

A couple of hours later, and the Schiavone liner pulled up on the shores or another island. The climate felt good, but it was bigger than a lot of the islands that they had turned down. And there was this great mound in the centre of it.

And something else. Something that they had not seen on any of the tens of other islands that they had seen.

Some sort of rudimentary shelter.

As the fitter Schiavones began to disembark with the AORDO officials, they approached the hut. The first to it was the grandson of the leader, Benny Sanderson. He walked tentatively towards it, then untied the driftwood that formed the doorway.

A voice came from a dark corner.

"Who are you?"

"I'm sorry. Is this your home?"

"Get away from me!"

"I'm sorry! I'll leave you be."

"Who are you!?! Tell me!!!"

"My name is Benny."

"Get away from me, Benny!"

"Look, I'm sorry! I didn't know that this was your home."

"This is not my home. This is where I escape to."

"Escape to? From what?"

"From the others."

"The others? What others?"

"The flat-chests."

"The... I'm sorry, you have me confused."

"And your skin! It is so... brown."

"Well... yes."

"It is not red."

"I take the sun well, what can I say?"

"No. I mean, you are an outsider."

"Outsider?"

"Not of this land."

"Well, actually, myself and my colleagues are in search of a homeland..."

"Then run!"

A hand appeared from the darkness. As the voice had said, the skin was kind of red.... though probably more maroon in colour.

"Are you OK?"

"Run before they get you!"

"Look, I've never seen anyone with skin that looks as sore as yours before. And you are hiding. If I put two and two together, that tells me that something is wrong. So tell me again. Are you alright?"

"Please. Go!"

"OK, I will go. But we will be back, you know. Because if there's something in the world that Schiavones are not good with, it is people who are suffering."

"Don't worry about me. Nobody else does."

But Benny knew that he would. And when he got back to the ship, so would the rest of is countrypeople. But when he got back, his first words were to his grandfather.

"We're having the other island!"
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Posted: Jan 21 2014, 12:38 PM
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The door opened. The momentary beam of light broken by a hulking silhouette.

"Where have you been?"

She shook, curled up in the corner. "Nowhere."

"Don't lie to me!" His massive palm crashed into her tender cheek. "Now tell me, where have you been!?!"

"Nowhere! I told you!" Her shrill, vulnerable shriek filled with fear.

"So why was the door untied?"

"People came. Outsiders."

"DON'T LIE!" The tension in his frame mounting, "There are footsteps!"

"But they are not mine! Let me show you..."

"You are staying there!"

"OK, but look at the footprints. They will be big. It was a flat-chest who came. An outsider, of brown skin."

"Outsider?"

"Yes."

"Brown skin?"

"Yes."

"There are no such people!"

"There are! And he came!"

The lumbering shadow went outside to reveal a muscular maroon-skinned man. He looked into the sand. The footprints looked... different somehow. Wait... no toes!

"OK. I believe you. But you should not let them in!"

"He just untied the door. He saw me, and left."

"I will get him!"

"He left. They all left."

"All?"

"There was many. Maybe hundred?"

"And all gone?" The look on his face increasingly confused.

"All gone."

"This seems crazy."

"But you saw the prints. They are not of our people."

"They are not. Then I must tell the High Council. I have found outsiders!"
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Posted: Jan 21 2014, 08:50 PM
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"So, I guess this is home, then?"

To be fair, the island was perfect. It might have been the last one they had to visit on their tour, but it suited the Schiavone people down to the ground. Not too big, pleasant weather, no high ground... and enough raw materials to get on with putting some sort of home town together.

Indeed, it seemed good enough for everyone to live on in a very similar layout to their previous homeland. Except with a little space to spare, for whatever they might want to use it for. Farming and expansion, I guess.

The Schiavones helped one another in putting a community together. They built homes for each other, planted seeds, even put the structures around The Field, as in their old home. Only a few could remember why there was room for so many people, and they would often not be drawn upon it. As it was, The Field was home to any great celebration the Schiavones had. And there were plenty of those.

But there was still something bugging the Schiavones. The woman on the neighbouring island that they had heard Benny talking about. It didn't seem right. And not just because the AORDO officials had said that all of the islands they were visiting were uninhabited. There was more to it than that.

The fact that she was hiding. What from? The flat chested? It seemed quite peculiar.

There was only one thing for it. They had to go back and find her.
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Posted: Jan 23 2014, 05:02 AM
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The High Council of Garundia meet daily in Old Valae, atop the hill in the centre of the island. It is so called because of its physical location, rather than because of the status of anyone involved. Indeed, any Garundis can attend the High Council, and are granted a set number of work holidays per year that can only be used to attend. They meet here so that the whole island can see the High Council, and vice versa.

The only permanent members are the Leader, currently Mokri Kalimbaa, and the speaker, Kali Korau. The former is selected in a shouting contest, the latter because they are the oldest person on the island.

Kali Korau introduced the next topic to be discussed.

"Next, we have a claim from Roki Makoo that outsiders have visited Garundia."

Kalimbaa seemed interested. "Outsiders? Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Did you see them?"

Roki knew that he hadn't, but remembered what had been said earlier.

"Yes. They had brown skin and no toes!"

"No toes."

"Yes. They left footprints."

"And where are they now?"

"I don't know."

"Well, where did they go?" the Leader asked, puzzled.

"They just disappeared."

"Disappeared?" Kalimbaa looked more disbelieving with every work Roki uttered.

"Yes."

"Why did you not bring them to High Council?"

"Because they disappeared."

"Roki Makoo, this does not seem very real. There are no such things as outsiders! We are the only people!"

"No, leader! The old tales are true! I have seen them!"

"Do not waste my time any longer! Speaker what is next?"

The speaker turned to the next page in his book.

"Next, we have a proposal for increased protective clothing for kickball players."

"They seem to submit this every week, now! It's like they've gone soft!"
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Posted: Jan 24 2014, 04:08 PM
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"Where the hell is it!?!"

Despite sixty years of sailing around the NSverse on the back of their island, navigation was still not the greatest skill that Schiavones possess.

"Er, Johnny... that's starboard. Look to port."

Common sense was not always their strong point, either.

"Ah... LAND AHOY!"

The Queen of Schiavonia sailed over. The crew disembarked onto the beach, upon which they were part of the Schiavone hordes that had explored the area just days before. In the distance, they could see the hut where Benny Sanderson had seen the scared woman. However, they were soon stopped in their tracks.

"Oh my! Oh my!"

Benny pushed forward to the front of the delegation.

"Oh your what?"

"You are real!"

"Well, yes. Of course we are. I've been real since the moment I was born."

"Brown-skins! And white-skins, too!"

"Well..."

"You must all come with me!"

"Sorry, but we are here to help out the woman in the hut."

"The... She doesn't need help."

"Well, she seemed in quite a terrible state when I saw her the other day."

"She is fine. I promise."

"And who are you?"

"I am Roki."

"Rocky," Benny offered his hand to shake, "I am Benny."

But Roki didn't shake. He grabbed Benny's hand, and dragged him away.

"You must come with me."

"Let me go!"

"No! Come, now!"

"Let him go!" a Schiavone voice shouted out.

"No! And you must all come, too!"

"Where are we going?"

"To the Leader."
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Posted: Jan 26 2014, 08:52 PM
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The Speaker stood up.

"Next, we have Roki Makoo, who has reports of outsiders."

"Was he not here with this last week?" Kalimbaa sighed, "Bring him in."

Roki entered the High Council chamber, still dragging a protesting Benny behind him.

"Look, I don't know why you are taking us here. It's not like we're aliens or some..."

Benny met eyes with the leader.

"Good day, kind sir. Look, we're awfully sorry to trouble you, but this man here has brought us to..."

"QUIET, OUTSIDER!"

Benny looked momentarily petrified.

"Ah, yes, sorry. As you were."

"Roki, we are sorry for not believing you. You are a good flat-chest. You have done Garundia proud. Well done."

"Thank you, leader."

Kalimbaa turned to Benny.

"Outsider. Where have you come from?"

"Schiavonia, sir."

"And where is this... Skiing phobia you speak of?"

"It is on the next island."

"Next what? There is no other island. Just Garundia and the waters."

"No! There are other lands beyond here. Hundreds... Thousands!"

"So why have no others come to us?"

"Well, you're terribly hard to find. I mean, we had been right around the region, and yours is the second from last island we came to. It is very remote."

"This is true. We have never seen any other lands, even from our boats."

It was then Benny had a thought...

"Hold on a minute... if you have never had outsiders, how come you speak the same language as I do?"

"The same what?"

"Language. You know... words... sentence structures..."

"Um... it is just what we have always spoken. Us, and the generations that have gone before us. It could just be a... what is it... surprise?"

"Coincidence."

"Yes, a... one of those."

"That we both speak the most popular language in the multiverse."

"Well... yes!"

"This is far too unlikely. "

"Look, this is how we speak. What is your problem?"

Benny recoiled slightly; "No problem, sir. In fact, it is a great thing. It means that we can become friends easier."

"What do you mean, friends?"

"Well, in Schiavonia, we like everyone to get along. We think the world is a better place when we all get along with one another. So... we are hoping that we can get along with you."

"But... we have many things to ask you about."

"OK. Well, ask away."

"I would rather ask to you."

"No I mean... go ahead."

"Oh. OK. Well, first of all, how did you find us?"

"AORDO brought us here."

"Who?"

"AORDO. They're, like, a bunch of peacekeepers in the region."

"Region?"

"Yes, region."

"Where is this region you tell of?"

"Atlantian Oceania."

"And where is Land Ear Nosh Ear that we are close to?"

"What? You mean Atlantian Oceania? Well, it is all around us. It is the area of the multiverse that we... you are part of."

"And what is the multiverse?"

"The multiverse is... well, everything. The world, the sky, everything in and on it... some things you could only dream of!"

"Wow."

"In some cases, literally."

"What does that mean?"

"Oh, that's just a part of everything. Only get bogged down in the details of that as and when you need to. There are much bigger fish to fry for the time being."

"Yes. And we like fish. Let us go down into Valae Town, where we will fry fish, and we can talk of our homelands, and tell tales of the multiverse!"

"I didn't mean literally fry..."

"Speaker, High Council is adjourned for today... Everyone, down the hill to Valae! It is time for a feast!"

Then he remembered something.

"Wait! How did the region know we were here?"

"You mean AORDO?"

Kalimbaa nodded.

"I don't know. They knew where we were, and we'd been floating around all over the place for sixty years."

"Oh."

"It's just one of those things. They seem to know more than we do."

"Oh. Well... To town!"

And off they went, Schiavones and Garundis together, in one excitable rabble.
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Posted: Jan 27 2014, 02:16 PM
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The fried fish was going down a treat with everyone in Valae. And the friendship was growing between Schiavones and Garundis alike. Tales of traditions from both sides, and Schiavones telling stories of their travels. And there was much merriment to be had.

And then, Kalimbaa made an announcement.

"Man of Schiavonia, come with me!"

"Hang on... Man?"

"Yes, man. That's what you call flat-chests in your land, no?"

"Well, kind of... but, what about the women?"

"What about them?"

"Why can't they come?"

"Because they are women."

"That's hardly fair, is it?"

"Why?"

"Why should men do one thing and women another?"

"Woman have babies. Man don't do that."

"That's a biological necessity, not a choice!"

"That's a what? A by your..."

"Look, in Schiavonia, man and women are equals. They have equal choices. Either we all go with you as one, or we do not go anywhere."

"It is our homeland. You will do as our rules say. Man come with us, woman stay here and clean."

The Schiavones looked at each other. Benny, muttering somewhat, said to the group, "Look, for now, we'll do as they say. It is the done thing to respect the traditions of a host. But this is not a situation I approve of, and I doubt any of you do, either. We'll get out of here and we'll be back in Newer Kingsbury before you know it."

Benny turned to the waiting Garundis. "OK, as your guests, we shall come."

The men followed their Garundi counterparts through a small wood to what appeared to be a dustbowl, around the sides of which were rows of wooden logs, laid end to end, while at either end of the base of the bowl was a rectangular frame.

"Visitors, we show you, our game. Kickball!"

"Sir, we used to play kickball."

"Really?"

"I think so. Something like that, anyway. The playing area looks the same. We've even played the occasional game on The Field."

"How do you know kickball? Kickball is a Garundi game. Nobody has been to Garundi. How do you know this?"

"The world plays it! And it is football, not kickball!"

"No, it is kickball. Why don't you play it with us?"

"OK. Do you have a referee?"

"A what?"

"A referee?"

"What is a referee?"

"A man who makes sure that both teams play fair."

"Fair?"

"Follow the laws."

"Laws?"

"Laws... rules..."

"Rules?"
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Posted: Jan 28 2014, 08:10 PM
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The boat back to Schiavonia was quite a quiet place to be. It wasn't the defeat in the game of kickball. It wasn't even the fact that the game finished 22-1. It was more the fact that kickball was not actually football. And they had the scars to prove it.

As it turned out, kickball had no rules, other than only being able to touch the ball with one's legs. There were no goalkeepers, no offsides, no throw-ins - although teams were penalised if it was thought the game was getting too far away from the goals, the game often spread out into the stands - and, most tellingly - no fouls. Except, the Schiavones didn't really realise this until it was far too late, and they were deep into the game.

It made for violent, high-scoring encounters. However, the violence now has seen all of the men in the Schiavone party sporting injuries, with the women sailing the ship back. One thing was for sure - they were not going back to Garundia again in a hurry!

But so was another. Their experience had ignited a passion to prove themselves on an international stage. The need to prove - if only to themselves - that, actually, sport brings people together and that, possibly, Schiavonia might one day be a force to be reckoned with. Well, as much of you can be on an island of 700.
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Posted: Jan 29 2014, 11:18 AM
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The High Council came together. The visit of the people from Schiavonia had been a success - not least because it proved that there were outsiders.

The leader stood in front of a packed Council room. "People of Garundia - the visit of Schiavonia was a success! And there are a number of important things that we have learned.

"Number one, there are outsiders! We need to find ways of getting out of Garundi, into the region and the world! To do this, we must take a boat, and sail it as far as we can, until we hit another land! From there, we will find ways of spreading the name of Garundia around the world!

"Number two, kickball is the game of the world! We must hear from the world, play other teams. If we can beat Schiavonia so easy, we must be one of the best in the world!

"What else was there... er... That's enough for now! Let's go and do all that stuff!"
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