It is said that from time immemorial, stories began with the words “once upon a time.” Even true stories.
There are many true stories, and many stories that tell truths. Truths about our slice of the multiverse; truths that are so in every slice.
Once upon a time, there was an Earth, just like so many others, some with slightly different names, Eorth, Erth; some with radically different names, Terra, Mans-Haem, and so on. Our Earth was full of flat land, and cities built upon those flat lands on the edges of rivers that washed the soil into the seas. Once upon a time, there were billions of people, the Ancients, true-humans as the Herballists would say. And, once upon a time, that Earth was invaded.
The people of our Earth didn’t know that there had been an invasion until it was too late. For the invaders looked like everyone else. Human.
But the humans that invaded had no intellects of their own. They were the hosts for a hive mind, the Uthinin. The Uthinin replicated through spores. They were a fungal infection that thought when it reached critical mass. It was utterly alien. And yet, it originated on another Earth in another slice of the multiverse.
How were the Uthinin discovered? There, the historical record is conflicted. There are narratives that claim one thing or another thing. But it simply is no longer known which story is true. More than ten thousand years have passed. Knowledge has been lost. Some has found again.
Here’s what we do know for certain. There were three scientists, Edwin Sirpinski, Elnora Sirpinski and Cornelius Blood. Most sources say they were siblings. Cornelius was a quantum physicist, the first quantum mechanic worthy of the name. Edwin was a quantum engineer. They were the ones who defined the quantum sciences. But Elnora. Elnora was a geneticist. She is the mother of us all.
The Uthinin stole the technology for passing from one slice of the multiverse to the next. They looked for slices like their own. Slices with suitable hosts that had opposable thumbs. They infected all useful creatures and set out to exterminate those that were not useful. This was their solution to using up their own slice. Find another slice to use up.
They were intelligent but lacked intellect. Contradictory. They had the intelligence to make use of the technology they found in other slices. But they lacked the creative spark.
A fortunate thing.
The Uthinin had encountered a slice of the multiverse where the indigenous sentients had self-destructed in biological warfare. Those beings had created what we call the Blight. A strange pathogen that devoured all life. Their scientists had created an “antidote” but their military only deployed it to people they considered important. The blight devoured everything, not just people. Those people who survived the blight eventually starved to death.
The Uthinin brought the Blight with them to our Earth, to our slice of the multiverse. Ironically, the Blight saved our Earth from the Uthinin.
We did not have the “cure” created by the Blight’s creators. Rather it was through genetically engineered Dougall firs that the cure was found.
The Dougall fir was an economically important tree to the Ancients. It’s wood was used to manufacture products, if you can imagine such a thing. Trees grew plentifully and were regarded as disposable. Use it up. Another will grow. Except that more trees were not growing. The Dougall firs were afflicted with a mutant pathogen that combined a bacteria and a virus that killed the tree’s embryo in the seed.
A consortium of tree-cutting companies joined forces to find a “cure.” The project that enjoyed the greatest success introduced a new gene into the species that produced special bodies made of the then new material called buckystone, but which we know of today as bloodstone.
Elnora Sirpinski was the lead scientist on the project. She had created the first “Sirpinski” organ in a living organism using the new quantum scientific principles pioneered by her brothers.
For the curious, there are still living specimens of these original trees in the Spine of the World Mountain Range in the vicinity of the Corson Divide.
Nevertheless, the Blight didn’t just suddenly and magically take the Uthinin out of the picture. They were in a hurry to run away from the Blight. They didn’t understand what was killing them. Their solution was to open massive portals to bring in as many Uthinin hosts as possible to conquer our Earth. They had no concept of hazmat gear and suits. Intelligence but no intellect.
The portals were placed at the poles where there were no population centers. Over a period of many decades, the Uthinin forces entered into our slice of the multiverse. The waste heat generated by the portal melted the ice resulting in the rising of the seas.
It is a poor commentary on our fragmented species that the nations of the Earth failed to unite even in the face of these threats. Human nature hasn’t changed much since then.
The Sirpinski twins, Edwin and Elnora, and Cornelius Blood were Ganejans. The symbol of their nation was, fittingly, a tree leaf. While the leader of Ganeja sought to persuade other nations that cooperation was vital to the survival of the human race, she realized that her people could not sit around waiting for that to happen.
Ganeja was not the first nation to send manned flights to the moon, but they were the first to establish a base: Appleton Station. It was there that Elnora Sirpinski expanded her work to the creation of Sirpinski organs or glands for all life forms. Including humans. In time, over a thousand scientists from many nations had joined her team.
Elnora, relieved of the responsibility of designing Sirpinski glands herself, was free to devote her time to other projects. She became fascinated with the idea of designing an enhanced Sirpinski gland that would not just serve to protect the human body from disease organisms of every kind. No, she envisioned a semi-organic quantum computational device that would allow human intellect to flower fully. She envisioned humans that would live long enough to utilize the full capacity of their brains. She envisioned dragons.
When she introduced her ideas to the scientific community, she was surprised at the hostility that most scientists greeted them with. There were attempts made on her life whenever she visited earth. Many feared that what she proposed would result in people who were not human any longer.
To a certain extent, they were correct.
The means by which to provide humans with a basic Sirpinski gland that would protect against the Blight was made freely available. Most governments accepted the necessity of providing the glands to the populations of their countries; or, those deemed worthy.
During Elnora Sirpinski’s lifetime, the Blight had spread into most parts of Ganeja. The government was supplying Sirpinski glands to the populations at risk as quickly as possible but it was not fast enough to save everyone. Elnora Sirpinski had made the decision to manufacture only the enhanced glands for Ganejan citizens. She wanted the people of her country to have every advantage in the future.
Edwin and Cornelius were drawn into her plans. Edwin pre-programmed the glands with certain functions related to the manipulation of the quantum potential. And so the stage was set for meta-humans: dragons, trolls, sentient trees, jinn, vampyren, elves, the cetaceans, sea giants and others. Some of the meta-human variations were not as successful as the ones that have persisted to this day.
The Ganejan government and its allies, the nations of Sawidia, Goryea, and the Gadeleg nations (which came to be known as the Scamerian Alliance) began moving their citizens to the Moon. The first people to arrive were the engineers to build underground housing. It was there that many of the structural techniques still employed today were developed.
In this volume, we will expand upon the expeditions were made to recover the Nordheim vault of seeds, the Avalon vault of animal sperm and ovum, the search through the dead cities for sperm banks, libraries, the war on the moon to seize control of the biospheres as food grew scarce, the struggle to find a way to obliterate the blight from the earth; the last desperate attack of the Uthinin. Most harrowing of all was the decision to slag the Earth, to cleanse the surface of both the Blight and the Uthinin. To reseed the Earth. And at last, the founding of Skaga, the first people to re-populate the Earth.
To be sure, the Earth was not completely slagged. Just those areas that had were the centers of Uthinin activities. Still, the action had many unintended consequences for the Earth.
The scientific community imagined that the radiation would dissipate in a hundred years. The reality is that radiation levels increased all over the planet and in the end it became necessary to redesign the Sirpinski glands to provide protection against it. Even so, genetic problems plague every modern nation. Even after 9 1/2 millenia, a strict breeding policy is in place in most modern nations to deal with the ongoing problem of dangerous mutations and non-viability.
Here, in Skaga, our policies are the tightest, our protocols the most protective. The sterility levels here are the lowest in the world: only 22.4%. The ratio of fertile females who survive to adulthood is also the highest in the world: 29.6%. There is zero tolerance towards those who deliberately breed with forbidden persons. A child who is conceived in violation of the breeding regulations and who cannot survive outside the womb is considered to have been murdered.
In Skaga, we are descended from those in the Ganejan Alliance who volunteered for what many considered to be the most extreme enhancements. We became trolls. We became dragons. We were the first to return to Earth. We worked actively to heal the Earth. We built the great dams. We carved the great city-keeps out of the mountains tops. We created the Groves to seed life back out onto the Blighted landscape. We left the Sanctuary on the Moon and returned home first.
It was during those days that our people adopted as motto, and anthem, the following scrap of poetry adapted from a poet of a more primitive age:
“Though I walk through the gloomy vale,
Where death and all its terrors are,
My heart and hope shall never fail,
For the three are with me there.
“Amid the darkness and the deeps,
They are my comfort, and my stay .”
– Excerpt, An Exceedingly Brief History of the Skagan Nation
Orrando Daphis Tharpe