Start new topic
Holding Back The Sands
Posted: Sep 15 2016, 04:54 PM
PMEmail Poster
 
(OOC: This will become a Krytenian claim for the former Ibex at the appropriate time.)

It began, as these things often do, with something small and insignificant: a grain of sand.

OK, let's be honest here, several grains of sand.

Blown by the wind, these grains of sand were nothing unusual; mere specks on the breeze common with Calanian southerlies.

But it had people wondering. People of intelligence and curiosity; people employed by the University of Ousevale's earth sciences department. For many months now, they had gazed from afar, watching the Great Calanian Desert slowly creep northwards, enveloping what had once been the thriving nation of Ibex.

The country had long been abandoned, the population disappearing in unknown circumstances. Did they perish in the arid climate? Did they abandon their settlements for pastures new? And more importantly, what now was there to stop the encroachment of the shifting sands upon the United Provinces? The Bekk's macroclimate might help, there, of course, but this was an ecological risk these men were sure we would be naive to count on.

Some days prior, the university had petitioned the Krytenian government to fund an expedition to the Great Calanian Desert. They hoped to find answers in that forbidding vista. What had happened to Ibex? Why was the sand moving, threatening the livelihood of many millions? And most importantly, what could be done to halt - even reverse - the seemingly inevitable expansion?

Happily, the request did not fall on deaf ears. Not only did they secure funding, but also support from the Krytenian Army, who would provide logistical assistance and ensure the expedition's supply chain was kept going.

Professer James Blower, a man of twenty years' experience in the field, was to lead the adventure into terra nullius. The day had come, and the ATVs and trucks that sat in this army base, on the outskirts of the southern city of Wick.

They were to head into the unknown. And they were to make it known.
Krytenia
Now With Added Bekk!
*****
Posts: 661
Quote Post
 
YahooMSNTop

,
Posted: Oct 29 2016, 07:36 PM
PMEmail Poster
 
As one crosses the border from the south of Bucchinia province to northern Ibex, they would be forgiven for not noticing the change. The deciduous woodlands south of Wick don't conveniently end once you leave Krytenia; the forest continues for miles afterwards, providing a welcome shade from the subtropical sun.

Or, at least, that used to be the case. Gregory Johnson, a naturalist brought along by Professor Blower to document the desert wildlife, had travelled this route before, having driven to Xi'antler many times in his younger years. He knew something was off here. He radioed to the lead jeep to stop, and the convoy halted a few hundred yards from where the treeline ended.

"Greg, what's up? See something unusual?" Professor Blower was intriguef as to what had caused this abrupt pause to the journey.

"Nothing, James. But then, that's the point. I shouldn't be seeing nothing."

"What do you mean?"

"This woodland. It should be extending far further out. A good fifteen to twenty miles, if my memory serves. Now I'll admit I'm no botanist, but that does seem...off, wouldn't you agree?"

"And you're sure you're remembering this correctly?"

"Hang on." Johnson quickly returned to his jeep, returning with some old maps. A few members of the convoy followed behind, wondering why they'd stopped. "Right, do you have a GPS tracker?"

A man in Krytenian Army uniform interjected. "Sargeant Oliver Uran, sir. My PDA has tracking; it's linked direct to the COPS satellite network so should give us an accurate location."

A few of the university boys murmured a disappointment at the sargeant's tautology, but nevertheless, Johnson's map was unfolded onto the back of a flatbed truck. Uran read the co-ordinates, and Johnson marked the point on his map.

"You see? According to this, we should be in the middle of a forest. In fact," Johnson grabbed a ruler, "we should still be under tree cover for...roughly eighteen miles south-east on this road."

"Hmmmm." Blower pondered a while. "This could be checking out. I'll go speak to the Brig."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Night fell on this strange place, the borderlands twixt verdant north and desolate south. Brigadier Charles Carstairs, leader of the military section of the expedition, had ordered his men to set up a base camp. A prefab construction, quick to put up, quick to take down, and providing...adequate protection from the elements, it was surrounded by tents of various sizes. One of the uni boys had christened it "Camp Sandalwood" - though the trees were not sandalwood, there was sand and woods in the vicinity - and someone had made a little sign announcing it as such using a dry-wipe marker and a plastic clipboard.

Carstairs was not a scientist, but he did know of the adage "knowledge is power". Whatever the boffins could find, whatever secrets they could uncover and solve, would surely serve the nation in some fine way. He smiled to himself as the moonless sky twinkled with the lights of eternity.
Krytenia
Now With Added Bekk!
*****
Posts: 661
Quote Post
 
YahooMSNTop

,
Posted: Oct 29 2016, 07:37 PM
PMEmail Poster
 
Sandalwood had been a success - at least in terms of knowledge gathering. It had become clear on the first morning after their arrival that the trees in the area had been felled, leaving the undergrowth and topsoil vulnerable to the creeping sands. Here, at least, it was clear that the issue was a manmade one, and thus reversible. After a few days of soil testing, grass sampling, and general dirtying of hands, it was time to move on.

Their destination was miles ahead, and though time was perhaps not of the essence, the team was keen to press on. Professor Blower was keen for answers, and the least time everyone spent in this less than hospitable landscape, the better.

A few miles northwest of Xi'antler, the group stopped at an oasis. There had been a few of these scattered around, and at each one there would be a speedy replenishment of water supplies. Occasionally, they would find some ripe trees, allowing for a treat of fruit - usually dates - to bring a welcome break from their rations.

This oasis, though, would be different. Not because of what was there, mind - fresh water and a small amount of vegetation - but for what would happen there.

As the team set up camp for the night, the clouds began to descend upon the oasis. The temperature dropped, slightly but noticeably, and the ambient light became noticably more gloomy.

And then, the heavens themselves opened.

For three days solid, it rained. Sometimes as a storm, sometimes a mere drizzle, but the water kept coming down.

On the fourth day, the sun came out, and when Professor Blower emerged from his tent, he was amazed at what he saw.
Krytenia
Now With Added Bekk!
*****
Posts: 661
Quote Post
 
YahooMSNTop

,
Posted: Oct 29 2016, 07:38 PM
PMEmail Poster
 
The rain had washed away much of the loose sand and sediment, leaving exposed the topsoil. Here, often, is where one would experience the strange sight of desert blooms - flowers and plants waiting for water to germinate before unleashing their multicoloured glory.

There was none of this, though. The ground was still as barren and hard as ever.

Wait a minute, hard? Professor Blower touched his hand to the ground. It felt damp, but solid, as if the soil had somehow become impermeable. He raced back to his tent, and started attempting to collect samples.

He started trying to dig into the ground. The trowel bent as it struck the hard, unforgiving earth. He attempted the same with a mining pick, with similar results.

"What the hell?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It turns out the Krytenian military are quite useful for something after all. Minutes after the Professor had explained the situation, a pneumatic drill - the sort of thing you'd expect to see on the site of your average roadworks - had mysteriously been produced from one of the army trucks. Several minutes of pounding later, and splinters of rock hard soil wee ready for collection.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Fascinating." Professor Blower studied a small fragment of the rock-soil through a microscope.

"What is it?" Doctor Stephen Hammond, one of Blower's subordinates, hung over his shoulder.

"Well, according to this, it's soil. Supercompressed soil, though. And what appears to be small fragments of silica and metal within it, too."

"What does that mean?"

"It means that there appears to be small amounts of concr-whoa!" The professor was somewhat surprised by the slide shooting off the microscope, narrowly missing him. It shattered on the outside of Dr Hammond's pocket as it hit something hard. A startled Dr Hammond pulled a small fridge magnet out of his pocket.

"Lucky charm," the doctor explained.

"I'm pretty sure soil isn't supposed to be that magnetic." Professor Blower looked bemused. "Curious."

Just then, a flare shot up into the sky from a distance.
Krytenia
Now With Added Bekk!
*****
Posts: 661
Quote Post
 
YahooMSNTop

,
Posted: Oct 29 2016, 07:39 PM
PMEmail Poster
 
It was an eerie sight.

For as far as the eye could see, charred wood and flattened buildings. The buildings, though, were not flattened as though demolished; rather, it appeared that something had crushed them utterly from above. Reddish-brown smears pockmarked the broken asphalt. Clearly, once, this had been a city; just as clearly, whatever happened here had left no survivors, material or organic.

"My God." Professor Blower's face was ashen. "It's...my God. I've never seen anything like this. It's...it's horrible."

"I have seen something like this, once. Only in pictures, though." Brigadier Carstairs' tone was sombre. "Did you hear of a place called Lopinka?"

"It rings a bell somewhere, Charles. Remind me though."

"It was a city in Vilita, many, many moons ago. It suffered a fate like this, thanks to a Xilean superweapon called LUCIFER. The satellite crashed to earth and was never recovered...though perhaps, now, we have discovered what happened to it. Ibex didn't exist when LUCIFER did. It's entirely possible that this was its resting place...but for it to still be active! That doesn't make sense, surely it burned up?"

Another voice piped up. "Not necessarily." Lucy Pascal, one of the university team, approached the two men. "It's entirely possible that the satellite entered at a favourable angle. It's certainly feasible that the shielding on the this was heatproofed, too. Sure, the impact may have deadened the force of the electromagnets inside somewhat, but with it working at close quarters...a stray spark or cable in the wrong place and CRUNCH. Explains the trees, too."

"What do you mean?" The Brigadier looked puzzled.

"Ah, you see, there's one sure-fire way to demagnetise something; heat it up. Every magnet has something called a Curie point, the temperature at which it loses its magnetism. They must've burned the trees to do it; also explains why LUCIFER would have been heatproofed. At least, though," Lucy pointed at a soldier holding up a twisted, melted, hunk of metal, "it won't be happening again. Professor, check the soil here, I'm curious."

"No need, Lucy. Look!" Professor Blower pointed to the remains of a building a few hundred yards away. There were wisps of grass growing through the cracks. "It's fertile!"

"I thought as much. When they burned the ground, the magnetised fragments demagnetised, allowing water to permeate. All we need to do, is do that on a large scale. Brigadier, sir, may I make a recommendation?"

"What would that be?"

"Get a -explicitive removed-ton of napalm and all the garbage trucks you can muster. We're going to have a barbecue."
Krytenia
Now With Added Bekk!
*****
Posts: 661
Quote Post
 
YahooMSNTop

,
Posted: Oct 29 2016, 07:39 PM
PMEmail Poster
 
Two years had passed since our intrepid explorers had discovered LUCIFER and the fate of the Ibexan cities. Fire had become the devil's friend, and the devil marched under a banner of sky blue as the earth was scorched to cinders. Cinders, though, could be swept away.

Through science and brute force, the Krytenians had brought fertility to these artificially barren lands. Xi'antler, once the capital of Ibex, had become a hive of activity as Krytenian military and Krytenian construction crews began to restore at least some semblance of glory to the city, now renamed simply Xian. It was here that a rudimentary authority had been set up, arranging logistics and building works all over the former colony.

The researchers, too, had their share of the action, but it was by this point clear that the goal was, and always had been, expansion. Still, Professor James Blower mused from his state of the art laborotary at the heart of the brand-new Desert Research Facility, at least the sand is answering to us.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In his chambers at Colony House, Governor Charles Carstairs pored over documents and blueprints. Ibex was dead, long live ... how did they pronounce it? Eye-bee-cha. A Spanish - or was it Catalan? name was fitting, as many of the Hispanics of the mother nation had moved down here to make a new life for themselves, and he'd been given the box seat. He knew, of course, that sooner or later there'd be elections, and a democratic government, and his power would become simply that of a figurehead...but he'd be sure that until then, he'd keep this new country running, dammit.

He offered himself a wry smile as he watched the red, gold, and black flag fluttering out in the square. Fire, sand, and ash; the elements from which Xian, and Ibixa, had risen.
Krytenia
Now With Added Bekk!
*****
Posts: 661
Quote Post
 
YahooMSNTop

,

Topic OptionsReply to this topicMake a quick replyStart PollStart new topic

 



[ Script Execution time: 0.1231 ]   [ 13 queries used ]   [ GZIP Enabled ]

-->