Lors Under Technology

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By Grizzly Moose

The one-room cabin that Lors Eride lived in looked no different this morning, his five hundredth birthday, then it had every other morning of his life; he doubted it would change during the next six or seven hundred years that was the average lifespan on Arussia. He pulled his worn, leather pants on and buttoned his rough cotton shirt before tying his bulky work boots; all of which were fifty years or older. He headed to the fields of Legu. He alone farmed the crop to help feed his small world and appease Nuere: The spirit of Arussia.

Lors found comfort in the solitude of pushing the ninety-kilogram, thousand-year-old, cast-iron harvester up and down the parallel rows of four-foot-tall Legu. The tasteful grain was lime-green with a light-brown tint signaling it was ready for harvesting. Pushing the harvester over a small rock he hoped the people of Dodge, Arussia’s only city, were not planning a celebration for him as they had the past four hundred and ninety-nine years.

Lors found comfort in the solitude of pushing the ninety-kilogram, thousand-year-old, cast-iron harvester up and down the parallel rows of four-foot-tall Legu. The tasteful grain was lime-green with a light-brown tint signaling it was ready for harvesting. Pushing the harvester over a small rock he hoped the people of Dodge, Arussia’s only city, were not planning a celebration for him as they had the past four hundred and ninety-nine years.

***

Iseeya proudly smiled to herself knowing she was the only one in the universe who could fix the YT-001 transporter and would soon receive payment from the Superior-Galactic-Association (SGA). She guessed a couple of million credits and at least ten thousand hours of free-space-time would be coming her way. The space-time was more important these days since the SGA watched time banks to the nanosecond and any ship that moved a millimeter without space-time would be shut down and usually grounded for up to three months. That made it hard to work when you traveled between planets, but that’s why the SGA had invented and had begun selling space-time. They touted it as a way to crack down on criminal activity but in reality; it was to assert more control.

She finished wiping most of the grime from her hands and face before sitting in the cockpit of her small, HM-73, spacecraft. She filled out and filed the repair report knowing she now had a couple of hours before the report went through and her payment transferred. She pulled up her SGA map, located Robin, saw she was close enough to make a call and was soon learning about her best friend’s adventures on the other side of the galaxy.

***

By midday, Lors finished filling his tenth burlap sack of Legu, enough to make his sacrifice and hoped it was early enough that he could get in and out of Dodge before anyone noticed he was there. He loaded six of the bags onto his old wooden wagon and harnessed it to Kej the only livestock he could bare to own. He led the trusty mule away from the farm that had been in his family for two generations and three thousand years.
Walking through the sparse, green forest Lors wondered how long he would have to live until there was a way to leave Arussia and why Nuere had never granted him that wish. He liked the work he did here; farming was a simple, but he had found the people boring and dull.

He had always thought his true calling was somewhere beyond this small, isolated asteroid-world. Patting Kej on the head, he knew every farm-boy had these thoughts but at some point, they all accepted that their lives were on Arussia and nothing more. That had never happened to Lors so when his parents had died a hundred years ago he had become even more reclusive. He never went to Dodge more than once a week for his necessary sacrifice and to drink at The Pub. The Pub; that’s the most original title the people in this world could come up with, and it annoyed Lors. He would never go to The Pub if it weren’t for the fact that drinking made him forget about dreaming of other worlds, at least temporarily. Coming out of a small dip in the path Lors saw the town of Dodge. A cobblestone street, lined on both sides with buildings poorly constructed from the ruins and rubble of structures that crumbled in past earthquakes. Lors wondered how they still stood and why the people here insisted on rebuilding them.

He pulled Kej along the main street stopping at the center of town where a large cube of gray limestone sat atop a marble base surrounded by offerings of flowers, wreaths, small clay sculptures and unlabeled, unopened envelopes that were for Nuere only. Lors pulled Kej a few feet from the front of the cube and approached it alone. He twisted a small knob, and one side swung open revealing a hollow, empty interior. The mouth of Nuere is what everyone called it, and this was where they made their sacrifices. Lors began unloading his sacks of legu and wondered if there were people on other worlds, what kind of work they would be doing? After Lars had unloaded the legu, he locked the door and pulled the long, wooden lever on the mouths right. This action would finish the sacrifice and deliver his crops to the spirit of the planet proving his and every Arussians worth.

***

Iseeya completed her inter-galactic chat just as the credits and space-time transmitted to her databases. She pulled up a list of transporter-repair jobs that had recently been filed and scanned thirty pages until she saw something that interested her. At second glance something that she could not believe. An old Nier that was still active and to her astonishment had never required servicing in the four thousand years it had been operating. She knew it was dangerous to visit a world this wild; sometimes local customs became dangerous, and transmitter mechanics found hostility. She shrugged those thoughts off remembering many of her colleges called her the best mechanic of her generation.
The transmitter was on Arussia, a small asteroid colony that she had never heard of because no SGA mechanic had ever completed a servicing job. She checked her coordinates, saw that she was only a short jump away and set her course. Realizing the opportunity she had a smile came to her face. Leaning back in her chair, Iseeya began to dream about what ancient technology she might find within the inner-workings of the Nier.

No one would ever believe that she got to work on a Nier, one of the greatest feats of human engineering in its long history. Niers were the first commercially viable transmitters invented with the ability to transmit goods and crops up to a billion light years in an instant. It was this invention along with the mapping of the human-aging-genome that had allowed the SGA to expand human life to the farthest reaches of space. This opportunity was the job every single mechanic alive coveted. Realizing this, Iseeya began to feel like an archeologist setting foot in a tomb that no one else had in over a thousand years. She wondered how long it would be until scientists perfected a human transmitter when spaceships would be outdated and the technology she worked on today would be as ancient as the Nier she was about to service.

***

Lors’ muscles froze, his blood turned to ice as the sacrifice stopped halfway through its normal cycle. He opened the door to see all the Legu still inside. He closed the door and tried again. He received the same result. In a panic sweat began to pour down his forehead, half-thoughts and fear raced through his mind; he knew everyone on Arussia would blame him for this. Why would Nuere do this to him? What had he done to upset the spirit? He had never missed a sacrifice, never hurt anyone or broken any of the spirits laws. It came to him in an instant. With his birthday looming, Lors’ thoughts of other people and distant places had increased. These vivid and lengthy daydreams were a betrayal to Arussia and its spirit.

He and everyone on Arussia were in danger. A hundred and fifty years was the last time the planet missed a sacrifice, and all of Arussia had shook non-stop for three weeks destroying almost every man-made structure that the Arussians had ever built. That was the worst temper-tantrum, and most destructive outrage Lors had ever seen the spirit release. In recent times people whispered that the spirit had become more even-tempered. They were thankful because stories of the distant past were far worse. It was these stories that made everyone sacrifice on schedule day after day.
The fear for his life and the calmness over Dodge were broken by a loud, sweeping roar that came from above; Lors stepped away from the mouth and craned his neck to see a black, shiny spaceship in the sky. It was the wraith of

Nuere coming to deliver ample punishment for the blasphemous thoughts Lors had allowed himself to have.
The object stopped almost directly above the mouth of Nuere and began a slow descent before softly landing in the street. A ramp opened and extended to the ground as the hundred residents and children of Dodge, who did not work the fields came out of their homes.

Iseeya, toolbox in hand, eagerly waited as the ramp finished extending before making her way onto the street as she took several deep breaths. She had not been on a planet with natural oxygen in over a decade and allowed its sweetness to fill her nose and lungs. She found the streets rather empty and dull compared to her usual arrivals as she brought news of outside worlds. Turning in a circle, Kade found the cubed Nier transmitter next to a tall, built man who had a rigid pose. She reached the man as he fell to his knees.

“I am sorry Nuere,” Lors begged. Iseeya stared a moment and realized that locals had incorporated the Nier into their myths. She told the man not to be afraid of her and ordered him to his feet.
“My name is Iseeya,” she said, extended a hand, and he took it staring, “I’m here to help,” she continued, and the man’s large, stoic, off-put build succumbed to something softer, more pleasant.
“My name is Lors,” he told her as he realized his dreams weren’t false, there were other places and humans in the universe.
“Well Lors can you hold this for me?”

she asked holding out her toolbox and Lors grabbed it. Iseeya walked to the mouth and stopped on the side opposite the door with Lors following behind like an eager puppy. She gazed at the power of the Nier. It was massive, ancient, and the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. She told Lors to stay put as she walked around the transmitter several times taking in every side, every angle, every spot that was burned or etched into its surface. She thought to herself: No one in over a thousand years has had this opportunity. Finishing the visual examination she stopped next to Lors and searched through her toolbox till she found a universal key that she hoped would unlock the interior latch.Modern transmitters still used magnetic locks, but the code sequences had changed, and she didn’t know if the codes she had downloaded would match the one inside the Nier.

She placed the round key at the center of the square transmitter wall. It attached itself to the rough surface, and she hit the activate button. The perimeter of the key was dotted with LED progress indicators. After a moment the LED at 12 ‘o’ clock lit up indicating the key had located the latch and had begun communicating with it. An LED to the right of the first lit up, and Iseeya’s heart jumped, this LED indicated that the key would most likely work but would take a moment to find the right code sequence. She turned to Lors.

“What do you know of the SGA?”
“Nothing but it’s on your ship. I assume you work for them,” he answered and began looking through the streets as several Dodge residents began returning from the fields.
“I contract out my services to them; I’ll never work for anything that corrupt. They’re only a few million independent artisans left in the universe, and we intend to keep it that way,” she finished as the last LED lit up covering the

perimeter of the key in red LEDs. Lors heard a clank from the inside of the mouth before Iseeya smiled and pulled open the service door. Lors stepped out of the way as it swung open and Iseeya stared in awe at the inner workings of technology she never thought she’d see.

Lors was just as awestruck but for an entirely different reason. He thought he was looking into the inner workings of the spirit of his planet, which he had been sacrificing to for five hundred years, who’s rules and laws he had always obeyed. His stomach turned over, and he felt sick as Iseeya began feeling the inner components. The circuit boards, the transistors, the ancient soldering, and switches. All of which would find themselves replaced by metals that weren’t known when the Nier first went into production. She deeply breathed as she pulled a ribbon-wire aside to reveal the central processing unit that at a centimeter across was a hundred times as large as anything manufactured today and had as much computing power as a spec of dust compared to a human brain. Lors felt he was going to puke but held it back till a gunshot rang out through the street of Dodge. The shock jolted Lors, he fell to his knees and puked. He wiped his chin, started searching for Keyl, the sheriff of Dodge, the only man with a gun. He spotted Keyl, dressed in his usual rough, black-leather sheriff’s uniform standing at the center of the street, gun pointing towards the sky.

“Well here we go,” Iseeya announced as the streets flooded with people and Keyl approached Lors and Iseeya.
“You’ve done this before?” Lors asked.
“Standard protocol training for civilizations that have no contact with the SGA,” she finished as Keyl put the gun to her back, then put a pair of large, cast iron handcuffs on her causing her to slump down.
“Listen, little lady, were going to have to detain you till you can explain what you are doing here,” Keyl grumbled in an eight-hundred-year-old voice that had always brought chills to Lors’ spine.
“Of course sir,” Iseeya politely answered, and Lors watched Keyl drag her off towards the Sheriffs Office. He wanted to stop at The Pub but felt Arussia rumble under his feet as he stepped towards it. His sacrifice, it still hadn’t been completed, Nuere would be upset; the planet rumbled more intensely causing several windows to fall from the buildings.

Forgetting the pub, Lors quickly ran after Keyl catching up to him as he finished locking Iseeya in the towns only detention cell. He knew the room well, having spent several nights locked-up after having too much to drink. He lived and drank alone which usually meant he drank too much. Lors grabbed Keyl by the collar as he was walking away from the cell and demanded the sheriff release Iseeya. Keyl, standing a full foot taller than Lors, easily pushed the farmer to the ground and roared for him to remember his place. Lors brushed himself off, got to his feet and was about to speak when loud crashing and erratic yelling came from the street. Keyl dashed out the door.

“Round one, society breaks down,” Iseeya said as she looked from the door to Lors.
“Whats round two?” Lors questioned.
“The local law fails, anarchy takes over. I fix the transporter, save the day and am on my way.” Lors knew the people here would never let her close to the mouth again. By opening the mouth, she had defaced their most sacred temple, but that didn’t seem to be a problem since she was locked-up. He heard a clink and turned to see Iseeya pick the lock and step out of the cell. She ran towards the door, and Lors grabbed her wrist pulling her to a stop.
“They’ll kill you if you go out there,” he growled.
“Nonsense,” she retorted, “all I have to do is fix your transmitter,” the ground rumbled again, “allow you to send more crops back to the SGA,” the ground rumbled louder, “and their mainframe will turn off the harass sequence.”
“That’s not the way people here will see it,” he tried to make her understand, “You just killed the spirit of our planet.” She did not listen, broke his grip and ran out onto the street.

The trial happened that night. The Arussians, all holding bright torches, formed a circle around the mouth where Iseeya stood to defend herself. She began by explaining that the Arussians had only come to this asteroid when the SGA terraformed it. They had also installed mechanisms to shake and harass the asteroid if it did not produce goods. She told them that the mouth of Nuere was just a piece of technology that transmitted their crops back to the SGA for sale. She told them that the reason for their unusually long lives was that the SGA promised people that they would alter their DNA if they populated the minor planets and asteroids in the universe. Their ancestors had come to Arussia for the promise of long life not to honor Nuere.

As the rumbling coming from within the asteroid leveled half the buildings of Dodge and began cracking the road Iseeya told the townspeople that Nuere was a lie, a veil to keep the Arussians enslaved. Hearing this the crowds ferocity reached a breaking point, and Keyl pronounced Iseeya guilty.

Lors couldn’t believe how quickly the town had turned violent, and his belief in Nuere began to falter more than it usually did. He couldn’t see how a spirit with the powers that they worshiped would let this happen. He tried to figure out how everyone could overlook this; he instead found himself being sad for Iseeya. She had done nothing to deserve this; she had only come to help. He was the only one she had helped; she gave him hope. He watched as she yelled one last time that she could fix the transmitter and save Arussia. It was only in vain; she had been tried. Keyl held her to the mouth, and someone Lors could not see tied her to it. He looked away as the knife slit her throat and maybe by chance or maybe by fate he focused on Iseeya’s spaceship still resting on the cobblestones.

Walking towards the black ship, Lors knew Iseeya was not going to have a use for it anymore. He stepped onto the ramp as Iseeya’s blood ran from her throat, down her body and dripped onto the violently shaking asteroid.
On board, he found his way to what appeared to be the cockpit and saw a switch blinking red. He flipped the switch, and a voice came from the console.
“Hey Isa, how are things?” Lors figured this was his best chance to learn how to get away from the dying asteroid and asked how he could fly away from Arrusia.

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