Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Nuegua Book Two: Second Sister Chapter One

I have struggled mightily to get this second book started--the finish is easier--and now I know why.  The working title is: "Second Sister"; and so for simplicity's sake that is how I will write it, primarily from Ariana's viewpoint.

Therefore, Tianara's diagnosis is not a back story, but something the reader is immersed in immediately.  This makes sense because the conversation between Tianara and Strong Baby could not occur anywhere except in the Grotto of the Pregnant Virgin, under a Tialan Sister's command.

A good beginning would be to have Tianara and Ariana hidden in the wagon hauling sick Cactus Mother's out of Clan Redourine precints, and have them explain through argument how they got themselves into this predicament.  The Strong Baby conversation could then be a flashback. 

Rotating Points-of-View
For simplicity's sake, POV will always use:  | Ariana | Tianara |  Berylia | Dianire

Background Questions 

How Does Dianire Fit into this Chapter? Rintiala?
First, Rintiala is busy building Dragonhead when this chapter occurs, and is out-of-contact with Dianire.  Dianire has just finished discovered a open cache of Sky Wanderers' weapons (particle beam, shaped charge) in a suburb of Phoenix and urgently needs to deliver this news to the Combat Instructor of Nuegua, her older sister Tianara.

When Dianire arrives at Tianara's quarters, she is blocked by a Redourine Servant (someone who was not successfully Mothered, and who shall remain nameless in order to indicate that a caste system is forming in Nuegua), who tells her that Tianara is not to be disturbed, due to her delicate pregnancy. Dianire will have none of this obstruction, and marches into Tianara's quarters, only to find Tianara gone. She rather brutally interrogates the Servant, who tells her that Berylia and Ariana have come to take Tianara to Clan Demetra.

Dianire has a quick huddle with her brother Duji--also one of the team that discovered the Sky Wanderer's weapons--and they decide to track Tianara without her knowledge.

Why Does Berylia visit Tianara at this particular time?. 

It is early September, the time for the Apache Trader's Bazaar. She is the representative for Clan Demetra, who have a new type of Mother Fruit, which they claim can not only heal wounds quickly, but can actually slow the aging process, not only for ordinary Nueguans, but Old Humans as well. 

She conducts her transaction with the Second Sister in charge of such negotiations in Clan Tiala at the Healing Temple, who just happens to be Ariana, sister of Rintiala and daughter of Alathea.

Ariana, as a Second Sister--arguably the best in her class--Ariana is also part of the team that has analyzed Tianara's pregnancy complications and the decision that the First Sisters have made.

Upon examining the new Mother Fruit, and being rather taken by Berylia's charming manner, Ariana decides to try an alternative.   Using a concentrate of the this Mother Fruit, and some of the new surgical tools that Dianire has created, Ariana believes that she and Berylia can operate on Tianara, and save both mother and baby.

What are Ariana's motivations in this chapter, and how does it move her character arc along?

Let me quote Ariana herself: "My big sister (Rintiala) does great big things that create great big problems for other people. I spend most of my time fixing those problems."

When Berylia visits Tianara, she reveals that she knows all about Tianara's dangerous pregnancy, which was diagnosed by the Sisters of the Healing Temple in Tiala. Tianara is both furious and curious.  Who leaked this sensitive information to Berylia? Tianara knows that it would need to be one of the technicians--a Second Sister--who was directly involved in the diagnosis.  Berylia smiles slyly, calmly explaining that it wasn't just any Second Sister, but the best of the Seconds, soon to be a First.  They both know who that is: Ariana, the younger (18-year-old) sister of First Sister Rintiala.

Tianara asks why Berylia had any contact with the Healing Temple at all, considering the situation seven years earlier.  Berylia soothingly states that she holds no animosity to the Healers of Tiala, as she has had to opportunity to explore other aspects of Nueguan technology. That is what led to her first meeting with Ariana.  Berylia approached the Healers with a new type of Motherfruit that cured illnessess, healed wounds, and generally energized both Nueguans and Old Humans better than anything before.  Of course, the Healers simply saw this as just another daily, tedious transaction between Guilds, and assigned a Second Sister to the task.  Fate or mere coincidence?  Berylia asks Tianara rhetorically.

Tianara hears about the encroachment of Western Bandits along the eastern border of Clan Demetra, and insists that this is a matter for the Apache Police, not a Builder.  Berylia counters that she does not want the Apache Police to intervene until the Western Bandits have acted in an undisputably aggressive manner, even to the extent of the deaths of Clan Demetrans.  Berylia makes it clear that she is authorized to speak for all Clan Demetra on this matter.  Tianara decides to agree with her on this issue, with two stipulations: one, that she have the authority to call in the Apache Police when she decides there is undeniable violent aggression and that Ariana accompany both of them, so that this upstart Second Sister can learn what happens when you meddle in the affairs of others.

What is the difference between a First and Second Sister? 

That answer is simple: a Second must excel in their skills, but a First must take calculated risks and succeed.  Tianara is a First not because she is the best Builder, but because she is the best fighter and fight instructor in Tiala.  She is the link between the Nueguans and the Apache Police.

The Rape of Clan Demetra (Synopsis)

Section One: An Honest Proposal

This chapter begins in the Shrine of the Lizard King, the central administration building of Clan Redourine (aka the Guild of Builders).  Berylia of Clan Demetra has come to negotiate with Tianara of Clan Redourine concerning the combat training of her new organization, the Companions of Demetra.  The Companions are the 'hetera' or 'temple prostitutes' of Clan Demetra; all are exceptionally beautiful and curvaceous young women who have been treated using a variety of Motherfruit to make their vaginal secretions (modified Bartholin glands) extremely addictive to any male who has intimate contact with them.  Fully sexual intercourse with a Companion allows the young woman to completely control the mind of her male lover. Note that Tianara knows nothing of this plan; she is simply the best combat instructor in Nuegua.

Why is this interchange loaded with problems?  Because Tianara is in her eighth month of an ectopic pregnancy.  The Healing Temple of Clan Tiala had used its Pregnant Virgin technology to determine that  though the female foetus had been implanted outside the womb, a rich blood supply from a uterine fibroid along the outer uterus wall had nourished her with a rich source of blood.   A simple laparatomy inside a Cactus Mother would suffice for a successful delivery, and an healthy mother and child.  The Healer's Guild has decided against this because Tianara has already had two miscarriages due to ectopic pregnancies;  she has been denied the right to bear a child by the Guild of Healers.  The reader must be reminded that a First Sister has complete control of her fertility; for Tianara to choose to become pregnant again is an act of defiance.

Berylia claims that a successful outcome is possible in Clan Demetra simply by using new varieties of Motherfruit (she is purposely vague about their properties) and the new Mothershell scalpels that Dianire Redourine (Tianara's sister) has created.  They are made of the same nearly indestructible carbon fibers as is a Cactus Mother, but the edge of the blade is only one molecule thick.

Tianara reluctantly agrees after consulting with her youngest sister Alope, who though born a Redourine, is in training as a novice for the Healer's Guild.  Alope is convinced that she can talk her new instructor Ariana (sister of Rintiala) into going on a field trip with the two of them.  Since Ariana is a Second Sister of the Healer's Guild, this would be extra insurance of that successful outcome promised by Berylia.

Why does Berylia even make this offer?  Danger is brewing at the southernmost tip of the Clan Demetra precincts.   The Western Bandits are gathering there on the eastern wall of the Aruvapai Canyon.  (Clan Demetran precincts begin at the Western Wall.)  Normally, the Apache Police would station themselves at the edge of Clan Demetra near the Mother Goose Temple and easily dispatch the Western Bandits. The catch however, is that Berylia does not want to reveal her weapon--the Companions--to the Apache.  Clan Demetra's relation with the Apache Police is that the Apache have free use of any young woman of Clan Demetra that they want.  This practice appalls the elitist Clan Tiala (the Healer's Guild) and raises serious concerns with Clan Redourine.  

Berylia coyly mentions some of the lesser powers of the Companions to Tianara, who agrees that these young women need to be used strategically, not merely as entertainment for the Apache.  Berylia seizes upon the opportunity of the agreement to convince Tianara that the Companions will need the combat training that only Tianara can provide.

It is always a problem in a story with a large scope to move characters around in a natural way.  Most of this conversation will occur on the way to the Healing Temple, as Tianara needs to consult with Alathea, First Sister of the Healers and mother of Ariana. Berylia is calm and gracious throughout all the interchanges with Alathea.

Someone who has not read the first novel will need to know that Berylia and Rintiala (Alathea's first daughter and her pride and joy) have been at odds for the last seven years, since they were part of an Guild inception ritual known as Mothering Day.  Rintiala was accepted by the Guild of Healers, and has now cemented her position as the most powerful (at the tender age of nineteen) First Sister in the history of Nuegua; Berylia was rejected by all the Guilds, and not allowed to use a Cactus Mother at all.

Tianara and Berylia arrive to find Alathea in a very bad and distracted mood indeed.  Rintiala has successfully become a First Sister, and in the process, has unwittingly changed the balance of power among the nations of the Empty Earth.  Alathea and Rintiala are not presently on speaking terms, and Tianara (Berylia's presence doesn't help here) can't get a straight answer out of Alathea as to what really transpired in Scottsdale Arizona.

All Alathea says is that the Apache Traders and Police are no longer to be trusted with the security of Nuegua, and that the Western Bandits are a real and true threat.   Seamus Espinoza Sr. and his son Seamus Jr.  will be seeking revenge for the humiliation that Rintiala has caused.   Alathea agrees to send Ariana and Alope down to Clan Demetra as supports for the very pregnant Tianara; she basically says that Ariana (Second Sister) and Alope (Novice) are exemplary Sisters; she adds that she personally forgives Tianara's decision to have a third pregnancy, but as First of First Sisters, she had to agree with age-old Nueguan tradition concerning mothers who have a history of dangerous pregnancies. (This is a good place to illustrate just how Darwinian the Nueguan mind-set really is.)

The basic plan is:

  1. Scene: Berylia presents her proposal to Tianara;
  2. Transition: Berylia and Tianara travel to Clan Tiala to make an arrangement with Alathea;
  3. Alathea presents her concerns about Clan Demetra, and reluctantly agrees to allow Ariana and Alope to go with Tianara in case there is a medical emergency. (A Second Sister would have approximately the skills of a practical nurse). 
Section Two: A Questionable Plan

 Here we meet our villains Seamus Espinoza Sr. and Seamus Jr. They have only one thing on their mind, and that is to punish the Nueguans for driving them out of Scottsdale Arizona, although the real agents behind the expulsion were the Apache Traders and Apache Police.  The problem is that the Espinozas (or any other person who isn't Apache) don't know anything about the Nueguans.  They only thing that they do know is that this south-eastern tip of Nuegua is bordered by the Galiuro wilderness.  The Galiuro is the dumping ground for Clan Redourine or Clan Tiala failed Nueguan biotechnology, primarily faulty Cactus Mothers.  Because the Cactus Mothers all contain thousands to millions of termites, the entire Galiuro is saturated with termite workers and soldiers.  Clan Demetra has grudgingly acquiesced to this state of affairs, but they do not collaborate with it.  What happens to failed Clan Demetran Mothers--and there must be some--is a mystery to Tianara.

At the beginning of this chapter, there is no one on Empty Earth--Nueguan included--who can traverse the Galiuro without having their flesh stripped from their bones.  (Spoiler alert: Alope will save the day because only she can move through the Galiuro, as only she has even born to one Guild but trained in another).

Seamus Sr. is busy overseeing the building of towers between the mesas so that the Western Bandits can raid Clan Demetra.  A system of cables and pulleys will allow his men to traverse the Galiuro from a safe height.   The plan seems to be working because everything that the Western Bandits wear and every hemp rope they use on the cables and pulleys is soaked in orange oil  (limonene) as well as the wooden towers themselves.   Seamus has taken great pains to advance slowly through the Galiuro, never unloading a new tower in fewer than three days.  When the chapter begins, the Western Bandits are halfway across the Galiuro or about three miles.  They are visible to the Nueguan eye, but no Clan Demetran or Apache Police would dare to enter the Galiuro, rough terrain as it is, and every inch protected by the Wild Cactus Mothers and their termite minions.  Berylia explains that in the past, the Apache Police tried, but the termite soldiers chewed up their solid rubber tires like soft tortillas, and they all perished within an hour.

Tianara asks "Why don't the Apache Police simply outflank them?"  Berylia's answer is that there are far  more Western Bandits massed at the eastern border of the Galiuro, and that although they are horseback, they are heavily armed and well dug in.  The Apache would have to call on the King of New Spain to support them with the King's Guard, but this would be an invitation to all-out war.  The Western Bandits are desperate enough to die to the last man, as they and their families have no where safe to go on the Empty Earth.    Berylia also hints that this is the result of Rintiala's meddling in affairs she cannot possibly understand, and putting large numbers of people at risk for her own prideful accomplishements.  Tianara nearly agrees with her.  Ariana is much more sympathetic to Berylia, and Alope has her loyalty to her own Clan Redourine tested.

When Tianara, Ariana, Berylia and Alope arrive at Clan Demetra, they meet with Long Jumper, a Jicarilla who is now a full Apache Policeman, due to his successful involvement with Rintiala and Alathea, and their joint defeat of the Western Bandits.  He tells quite a different story of Rintiala's exploits, making her seem very heroic.   Tianara finds his version much more palatable than Alathea's griping, or Ariana's "nobody knows my big sister better than I do" attitude.  We found out in the course of these conversations that Alope was originally Rintiala's star pupil when Rintiala was a Second Sister.  Rintiala's dramatic elevation to First Sister hasn't made Alope particularly happy, although she does have a grudging admiration for Ariana's competence.   We see Ariana's competence first when she tinkers together a safe vehicle to transport Tianara, so as not to cause a miscarriage. 

Important Underlying Questions:

Why Does Berylia ask Tianara to come to Clan Demetra in the first place? 

This is part of Finds-Water's and Berylia's plan, which is to force the Nuegua women to intermarry with the Apache.  Finds-Water had planned for both Alathea and Rintiala to die a heroic death fighting the Western Bandits; instead Rintiala has changed the rules of combat in the Empty Earth. Try as Finds-Water might, too many people have seen the activated Sentinel at Sanctuary Mountain.  His backup plan is to discredit the Western Bandits as much as possible, in the process create heroic deaths for both Clan Redourine and Clan Tiala.  Tianara's pregnancy---which she naively admits to Finds-Water--gives him the opportunity he needs.  Tianara will travel to Clan Demetra with a Second Sister from Clan Tiala, and both will die at the hands and guns of the Western Bandits. He did not calculate for Alope's abilities, which she did not know she had either. 

Why does Finds-Water allow the Western Bandits to raid, rape & pillage Clan Demetra?
The answer is that it follows from his dialogue with Alathea (in Scottsdale) about the best chance of survival against the Sky Wanderers, which is intermarriage with the Apache. Alathea vehemently refuses.  Finds-Water, undeterred, choses to use the Western Bandits to terrorize Clan Demetra, who at this time are more and more opposed to the leadership of Clan Tiala.   Berylia is his greatest ally in this fight; at the time of the Western Bandit attack, she is the mother of one of his children.

His plan is to allow the raid, capture the Western Bandits, execute a few as an example, and send the rest of them by cattle-cart at night to Albuquerque in New Spain.  Albuquerque is a city of the dead filled with the Sky Wanderers' shrouded buildings. No New Spaniard has entered its precincts in centuries.

It is a risky plan, but he has bribed the King's Guard with gold, silver, and exotic (and very addictive) Motherfruit.   This strain of Motherfruit acts like a combination of cocaine and steroids, but without the damaging properties of either drug.   It is the King's Guard favorite, especially before combat, as it heightens and focuses the senses.

Once the Western Bandits are within Albuquerque precincts, they must stay there or be hunted down by the King's Guard.  It is a devil's bargain, and the reader should get hints that Seamus Espinoza Sr. will only put up with it until there is a way out.

Why can't the Wild Mothers spread into Clan Demetra territory? 

The Wild Mothers are a mixture of many generations and Guilds; as such, they are constantly at war with each other, sometimes forging allegiances, sometimes betraying them.  During times of conflict, the floor of the Galiuro appears to be a roiling sea of insects.  During times of alliance, the Wild Mothers form a webwork of communication, but it is flawed and weak.   The Wild Mothers at this time cannot unify themselves to attack the immensely stronger webwork of the Clan Dementran Mothers. 

  1. Building a Tower
  2. The Apache Police are Stymied
  3. Just Out of Range. 
Section Three: The Battle of Redfield Canyon

The Western Bandits--men, women and children--about 900 in all are dug in on Bassett Peak in a last desperate attempt to establish themselves in Empty Earth, which they believe is their birthright.

Transition One: The Slow Approach

The Western Bandits are in no hurry to cross Redfield Canyon, much as Seamus Jr. wants revenge for his humiliation at Scottsdale.  Seamus Sr. has gambled that the Apache Police have neither the forces nor the interest to defend a dangerous dump ground, a living biohazard.  He explains the 'slow attack' mode to his son, citing Julius Caesar's attack across the Rhine.  The purpose is twofold: demoralize Clan Demetra; draw out the Apache Police into an area where they can be outgunned.  Every man, women, and child capable of using a firearm is present on the ramparts over Redfield canyon, or dug into Basset  Peak.  Seamus Sr.'s sources have told him that there are only 100 Apache Police on duty at any one time in Apacheria, with another 100 in reserves.  If the situation escalated into a war, the Apache Police could call on the 1,000 trained-and-ready Kings' Guard of New Spain, fresh from their defeat of the Comanche. Seamus proposes that only about 25 Apache Police would be able to defend Clan Demetra.

Scene: The Grand Attack

 Seamus Jr. will lead the attack on the Gates of the Mother Goose Temple.  Before that, however, the ramparts will fork, with three tines: one north and one south of the central tine, which will stick out the farthest.   Seamus Jr. and his men will be dressed in heavy cotton quilts soaked in lemon oil; they will need to run the last three hundred meters from the central tine, through the entwined Wild Mothers (and their termite minions), then up the Great Stairs to the Gate.  They will only be safely distanced from the Wild Mothers once their feet touch the Great Stairs, which are controlled by the Demetran Mothers.

Meanwhile on the northern and southern tines, dozens of the best sharpshooters among the Western Bandits have their Sharps buffalo rifles trained on any movement along the Clan Demetran border.  If there are no sudden gusts of wind in the canyon, their rifles will be lethal right up to the Gates. 

They do not suffer any losses crossing through the Wild Mothers' area, and this piece of luck elates the attackers.

The plan is to attack the Gates, then force their way into the Temple by blowing the doors off with a 100 lbs. of concentrated bat guano explosive.  Although they have watched Demetrans going in and out of these doors for the last two weeks, when they view them close up, they discover that there are no hinges. The technology that created these doors is centuries beyond what Seamus Jr. and his team can understand.  Undaunted, they attach the explosive to the doors, and try to shield themselves from the explosion at the base of the steps, only to find to their dismay that the doors cannot be breached, and the shape of the entrance is such that the blast is funneled outward into a cyclone-level force.  Seamus Jr. watches as half of his men are flung spinning across Redfield canyon to their deaths.

While the Western Bandit attack team is still reeling from the explosion, six powerfully-built Dementran man, armed only with appears to be glass staves marches out to meet the attackers. Before Seamus Jr. and his men can gun them all down, the lead Demetran lands a collosal blow to his right kneecap, shattering it.


When asked by Tianara why the Apache Police don't simply go in and exterminate them, thus permanently ending the threat, Long Jumper speaks on behalf of the Apache. "We remember Geronimo, and how the Gringos finally defeated him.  We aren't Gringos; first we will defeat them in honorable battle, then we will relocate them.  Finds-Water has a plan all worked out."

Tianara disagrees vehemently.  "Extermination is a permanent solution.  This rabble has nothing to offer us."

"Us? You must mean Nueguans," Long Jumper counters.

"She probably means only Clan Redourine," Berylia chimes in, revealing a bit of her complicity in Finds-Waters' plan. "Tianara, you are here to train and advise in matters of hand-to-hand combat, not to make decisions on the fate of Clan Demetera. Leave that to me."

Long Jumper continued.  "We believe that they are using bat guano explosives, dug into the trails all around Bassett Peak.  Without a guide, the Apache Police will suffer heavy losses: they have the high ground, and control all the way to the base of the mountains.  Clan Demetra's Cactus Mothers are strictly defensive; unlike a Clan Redourine Mother, they cannot order their termites to attack humans."

"Our best defense is to let them enter the eastern border of Clan Demetra, and then fight them on the ground." Berylia added.

"But won't that create heavy casualties?" Tianara asked.

"No. We have a plan, and to make that plan work, we need your help.  We will have two weeks before the Western Bandits can build platforms all the way to our eastern border. Train our Companions. Do your best to make these young women ready."

"But not your men?" Tianara queried.

"Our men will have other tasks to perform," said Berylia.

Fight Sequences

  1. Seamus Jr.s' Posse versus Companions: The Successful Seduction
  2. Berylia versus Seamus Sr.: Protecting Her Daughters
  3. Tianara versus Seamus Sr.: Redourine Powers Revealed
  4. Alope & Ariana versus entire Western Bandit contingent
Ariana discovers Old Bess

The battle does not go the way that Finds-Water intended, as Seamus Espinoza Sr., seeing that Seamus Jr. has given into his worst nature, is now in an ambush. Seamus orders his sharpshooters to kill anyone in Clan Demetra who is not a Companion--men, old women, children--and then begin moving the Western Bandits into the Mother Goose Temple (center for Demetran administration).

In the confusion, when the real fighting starts, Alope and Ariana descend to the floor of Redfield canyon, to the place where she has seen the old obsolete Clan Redourine Cactus Mothers entwined with a few Clan Tiala Cactus Mothers.

In a moment of sheer terror, both young women are overrun by the new type of mixed soldier termite. Just when they think that they are to be stripped down to their bones, the termites part in waves, one flowing towards a Redourine Mother, the other towards a Tialan Mother.  As Ariana walks toward the Cactus Mother of her Clan, she recognizes it as Old Bess, a Mother who had become senile when Ariana was a Novice Healer, and had to be replaced.  Old Bess recognizes Ariana as she approaches, and opens to her. 

  1. Apache Police versus Western Bandits: The Roundup
Ending: Yassah Learns His Checkers

This chapter ends with Yassah and Shassay snuggled together beneath the open window to Alope's bedroom in her home in Clan Redourine.  She is singing the 'Sister Song' of Clan Tiala to them while they hum along. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Two: Second Sister.

Book Two begins with a more serious tone.  The first chapter pulls no punches, and it titled: "The Rape of Clan Demetra".  I am going to introduce only two new characters in this chapter, Yassah and Shassah, who are genetically engineered Graspers. Thoughy they look like a cross between a Utah raptor (although even larger) and a Great Horned Owl, they have a nearly human intelligence. Yassah would be a bright five-year old, and Shassah a normal three-year old in human intelligence terms.

All of the potential clashes that would have occurred in 'Ghost Sickness' happen in the chapter: Seamus Espinoza Jr. vs. Nueguans (as a whole); Tianara vs. Berylia (which has an unforeseen outcome); Graspers (under the command of Ariana and Alope) against the Western Bandits.

Clan Demetra is the home of the Guild of Gardeners, who have requested that First Sister Tianara of the Guild of Builders come to them and personally train their new group of young women--who are called Companions--in hand-to-hand combat.  The First Sister of the Guild of Gardeners makes it clear that she will not send these on to the Healing Temple to be tested as Sisters; although the Companions are physically and physiologically the equals of the Sisters (Tianara does not know this yet), they have accomplished this be breeding Mother fruit that significantly enhances strength, longevity and intelligence by vast increases in neurological efficiency. 

Tianare is eight months and two weeks pregnant at the time of the request, and has already lost two foetuses to miscarriage.  Her own Guild does not want her to attempt another pregnancy at this time, so Tianara jumps at this opportunity because Berylia--who has relayed the Guild's request--makes it clear that the new Mother fruit can increase Tianara's chance of a successful birth.

At the same time, the Western Bandits, fresh from their expulsion from Scottsdale, plan a revenger attack on the least protected area of Nuegua, the far southeast corner where Clan Demetra is situated.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Healing Temple of Clan Tiala: A Storyline of Its Own.

The story of the Nueguans can essentially be boiled down to the events around the Healing Temple: the One-Hour-War (2111); the creation of the Temple and the formation of the Guilds(2200?); the recreation of the Temple as Rintiala's First Sister trial(2528); the destruction of the Temple by the Warrior Guild(2528).  When the King's Guard are allowed into Apacheria to survey the site in 2578, all that is left is an abandoned, silted-up ruin.  [This last point will be important for the third book in the series "I Will Tread The Earth Once More"].

So...let's go chapter-by-chapter to see how the world of Nuegua will unfold for the reader.

  • Mothering Day: we meet all the Clans, and through the perspectives of Rintiala, Dianire and Berylia the reader is introduced to the extent of the geography of Nuegua, its people and its politics.  The reader is only shown a small part of the potential of the Healing Temple, for she will only experience Mothering Day the way a Nueguan girl would, no more and no less.  We get a hint of the power of Oldest Sister in this chapter as it is she who passes the final verdict on Berylia.
  • First Sister: here the focus is only the Healing Guild in its full power.  This is the chapter where we meet the Pregnant Virgin, the organic AI at the heart of the Healing Guild.  It is imperative that the appearance of the Water Woman be within the control of the Pregnant Virgin; it is she who decides Rintiala's fate, not the Water Woman.  In this chapter we see all the Guilds bowing to Rintiala's vision of a new Healing Temple, as both Builders and Gardeners are also needed to create architecture of this scale.  Here also is the nearly instantaneous creation of Dragon Head, the new administrative center of Nuegua, as part of the agreement for helping to expand the Healing Temple. 
  • Furniture of Paradise: here the focus is on Rintiala's new understanding of the technology of the Healing Guild, and how she can override the Pregnant Virgin to allow the technology of the Builders Guild to infiltrate the Healing Temple. New to this chapter will be the specialized Cactus Mothers (created secretly by Berylia) that sound the alert of Rintiala's and Dianire's 'hacking' of the Healing Temple.  This has to be down as a shift of perspective to Berylia, so that Alathea the leader of the Healers does not know; this will need to be quite sophisticated. This approach allows a resolution of the first conflict between Dianire and Berylia that the reader experiences in 'Mothering Day'.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Nueguan Physiology Explained

Nueguan Physiology Explained

Sometimes it surprises me how much world-building I've done that I take for granted.  I've never fully written down all the changes in the human genome that went into the New Genetic Woman Project, or Nuegua (for short).

These changes can be divided into: (1) reproductive strategy; (2) brain structure and function for organic virtual reality; (3) immune system response; (4) aging; (5) miscellaneous.

The approach I will use is "show don't tell";  this means that there won't be any long-winded exposition about Nueguan physiology. 

Reproductive Strategy

First and foremost, the male to female ratio is nothing like homo sapiens; there is one male to every four females. That biological change alone would cause a major change in culture.

Second, Nueguan females can consciously control their fertility.  They cannot be made pregnant against their will, one of the most brutal and ancient forms of male domination.

Third, the Nueguan female body (and to a lesser extent the male) is optimized for sexual attraction and sexual response.  The female is the idealized erotic model of our time; this ideal is further developed by Berylia's Seducers. With the Seducers, a combination of sexual encounter with a Nueguan female, plus the eating of (altered) Mother Fruit causes a permanent addiction to that particular female.

Fourth, a Nueguan female--if accepted by the Guild of Healers--begins lactating at age twelve, and doesn't stop until they permanently enter the Dreaming Grotto of the Pregnant Virgin (short form the Grotto). 

Brain Structure And Function

Although all Nueguans have high intellectual functioning, only Nueguan females have the adaptation that allows them to access the Cactus Mothers.  When a Nueguan female enters into the Cactus Mother, the female immediately goes into Alpha sleep, while the Cactus Mothers spins out a carbon nanotube (less than the thickness of a human hair) that passes through the female's earlid (a genetic alteration that combines hearing protection with access into the occipital lobe) .

A Nueguan female brain has a much higher level of integration of visual (occipital lobe) and dreaming (right temporal lobe) functions than either a Nueguan male or an Old Human.  All Nueguans, however, have integrated amygdalar pathways not found in Old Humans; this self-therapeutic network means that Nueguans do not have priests or therapists, any more than Old Humans need someone to chew their food for them.

Immune System Response

All Nueguans, and to a lesser extent the Phoenix Apache--have a vastly redesigned immune system that makes it virtually impossible for them to catch an Old Human disease. This is a direct result of the Recursive Instructional Nexus (RIN), a supercomputer in each and every Nueguan cell.

Since Nueguans have had so little contact with Old Humans, since they only interact with Apache Traders, it is not until the time of the chapter 'Ghost Sickness' that the real power of their immune response becomes  apparent.  Alathea has hit upon the idea of using her Nueguan breast milk to instantly heal the Apache Traders when they go out as a team to investigate and secure the treasures of the Sky Wanderer cities such as Scottsdale.

Due to the combination of the advanced genetic alterations from this experience, and from the close contact with the diseased of New Spain, Rintiala alone of all the Nueguans becomes Remade. Not only her breast milk, but related body fluids such as saliva and sweat can heal and alter the Old Humans in her physical presence, even without close physical contact.   The New Spaniards, Indio and Mestizo near her during her first convulsive transformation are Remade or optimized within their bodies' limits. Many die as a result, but Maria Sepulveda, Constanza Baca and to a lesser extent, Benedetto Sepulveda are also remade.  The greatest change occurs to Maria's fifteen-year-old maidservant, who is Remade very close to the Nueguan ideal, which is the reason she later goes over to the Nueguan camp.


Nueguans age differently than Old Humans, sexually maturing earlier at age twelve, and then reaching full physical maturity at nineteen or twenty.  There is then a sixty-to-eighty year span when aging stops, only to start up again around the century mark.  Aging is quite rapid after that, with most Nueguan males dying before one hundred, and all Nueguan females dying around one-hundred-and-twenty.  This is the reason that no one knows for sure the exact age of the Oldest Mother; the likely number is one-hundred-eighty to two hundred, as she is being maintained by the most advanced of the Cactus Mothers.


The Nueguan body is essentially an Olympic-class athlete, with sexual enhancements.  They have very little body hair below their eyebrows.  The most important distinguishing feature are their eyes, which are not mammalian, but avian, having no blood vessels in the retina.  This  gives a Nueguan four to five times the visual acuity of an Old Human.  For this reason, the Hopi and Navaho have legends about 'the witches of the Clear Eyes'.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cast of Characters: From Shadowed White To Dark Grey

Cast of Characters: From Shadowed White To Dark Grey

It's time to line up the characters and to decide which ones will be 3d and which will be 2d; or which have arcs and which are plot devices.  I am going to describe them in artist's colors. Italics indicate primary and permanent motivations.


Rintiala (Shadowed White)

The reason the whole story was written: the Rise of the Bright Queen, and the End of the Sky Wanderers.
Rintiala's arc concerns the Greek concept of hubris--blinding pride--she simply cannot see the mistakes she is making until it is too late.  Her decision to tamper with the technology of Nuegua, as noble as it appears at the time, is the decision that alters the fate of the Empty Earth.  Ariana dies because of it, as does Alathea, and also Don Benedetto.  Dianire becomes a monster as result of Rintiala's decision. I use the Pregnant Virgin's warning in 'The Furniture of Paradise' the same way Euripides used the Sphinx in 'Oedipus Rex'.

Ariana (Shadowed White)

Bubbly and vivacious, and also the single most beautiful woman in the Empty Earth, Ariana is the ultimate party girl: sociable, funny, able to laugh at herself, yet loyal to a fault, especially when it comes to her older sister Rintiala. She feels deeply betrayed by Rintiala's handling of the crisis in 'The Furniture Of Paradise', and so begins to lose her faith in the Nueguan mythos. She decides to drop out of the Healing Guild, only to hear her mother Alathea threaten "You either are part of the Guild, or you serve it. You do not just leave." Ariana rebels, by accepting an offer from Berylia to become a Companion to the Apache Traders, a subordinate group to the Guild of Gardeners.  When it is clear she is expected to be a prostitute, not just a geisha, she jumps at the chance to help rugged, handsome Apache Trader Hunts-The-Ruins help the Jicarilla Apache.

Don Benedetto Sepulveda (Shadowed White)

Finally, Don Benedetto The Remade One is the last character who is primarily good, with only one flaw. However, that one is a doozy.  As strong and noble as he is, he totally misunderstands and misreads the women in his life. Luckily for him, he is surrounded by strong women: his mother, his fiance, and finally the mystery woman out of the desert.

Dona Maria Sepulveda (Light Grey Warm)

In order for a character to have a Light Grey Warm arc, they must be basically motivated by good intentions, but have absolute positions that they will not yield.  Dona Maria Sepulveda is aunt (and foster mother) to King Carlos Sepulveda, mother of Don Benedetto Sepulveda, and mother of the missing (and considered long dead) Don Genaro Sepulveda.  She will preserve the Sepulveda position at the apex of New Spanish (and therefore all of Empty Earth) society, and is willing to do anything that fits into her moral world view.  If a decision agrees with Family, New Spanish nobility, and Catholic Religion, she will do it. 

Hunts-The-Ruins (Light Grey Warm)

Hunts-The-Ruins is an ambitious young (25 in 2528) Apache civil engineer with a specialty in irrigation and sewage who wishes to become a full Apache Trader, the highest position in Apacheria society. When we first meet him in 'Ghost Sickness' he is single-minded about this goal; the Nueguan Sisters are simply a means to an end. Since his tribe--the Phoenix Apache--are not considered one of the Seven Apache Nations within Apacheria, his elevation to Trader will life his entire tribe, not just himself. A lot is riding on his performance at the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale. If a moral decision agrees with his ambition to become a Trader and raise the status of his tribe, he will do it. This helps to explain why he would talk confused Ariana into sneaking off with him to help the Jicarilla, a forlorn group of Apache who live within New Spain, perilously close to Santa Fe and King Carlos.

Alope Redourine (Light Grey Warm)

Alope is a twelve-year-old Healing Novice; when we first meet her, Rintiala is her personal tutor, and Alope worships her teacher. Alope is the first Redourine to ever be accepted into the Healing Guild; her family are the leaders in the Guild of Builders.  When push comes to shove, she declares for the Redourines, for Nuegua, and for war against the New Spaniards. This occurs because she is placed in mortal danger in 'The Furniture Of Paradise'; under a Second or First Sister's guidance is never allowed to happen.  Ariana is blamed for this as well as Rintiala. Alope is so infuriated by the injustice of it all that she runs away with her pet Graspers Yassah and Shassah.  We do not meet her again until Dianire's Warrior Guild is chased into the Galiuro by the combined King's Guardsmen and Apache Police.

Alathea (Medium Grey Warm)

Alathea is First Among Firsts, the Papess of Nuegua.  It is she who inaugurated the reclamation of Phoenix project in conjunction with the Apache Traders.  She is a Darwinist to the core. This is the reason that she had a child--Rintiala--with the last of the Sky Wanderers, a handsome blonde explorer who accidentally got left behind, and died as a result of the Sixty-Minute War.  She believes in the Nueguan ideal, and sees all other humans as a lesser species; she tolerates the Apache because the Nueguans need them, but looks forward to the day when Nuegua rules all of the Empty Earth. 

Finds-Water (Medium Grey Cool)

Finds-Water is an opportunist, who makes moral choices based on 'enlightened self-interest'.  He has a wife in every Apache tribe, and dozens of Nueguan half-breed children among the Guild of Gardeners. Selling Nueguan medicines has made him rich, and now the prospect of controlling an entire Sky Wanderers city has led him to a moral precipice.  His seemingly noble decision to accompany  Rintiala to New Spain (where she will meet Don Benedetto and Dona Maria) is a scheme; he will hand her over to Alejandro Baca, to be taken to King Carlos.  Finds-Water has been informing on events in Nuegua for at least ten years when we meet King Carlos in Santa Fe in the chapter 'The Business At New Al Cazar'. This is his downfall; once Alejandro has an actual Nueguan woman in his charge, he has no further need of Finds-Water, who has become a liability.

King Carlos Sepulveda (Medium Grey Cool)

King Carlos is the visionary mastermind of New Spain. He is determined to see New Spain rule all of the Empty Earth. To do this, he must (at minimum) plunder the treasure cities of the Sky Wanderers and eliminate the homeless Western Bandits, who constantly challenge the peace of New Spain, enforced by the King's Guard.  As cold as he might seem, he develops a genuine affection for Ariana (it would be difficult to see him as entirely selfless in his love for her). Her assassination throws him over a moral cliff, and his worst tendencies dominate thereafter.

Consuela Baca (Medium Grey Warm)

Beautiful, lustful and cunning, Consuela Baca rules Casa Baca with an iron fist. She is respected, but not loved by her Indio and Mestizo servants. When she is remade, she seizes the opportunity to replace the Sepulvedas with the Bacas at the apex of New Spanish society.   Her upcoming marriage to Don Benedetto is purely political, but he does not see that; only Dona Maria does.

Long Jumper (Medium Grey Cool) 

Of all the Apache, the Jicarilla have fared the worst. While Apacheria rises to power, the Jicarilla, living only a day's ride from Santa Fe, have been kept in poverty by their own pride and by King Carlos' ambition. When cholera breaks out among the Jicarilla, Long Jumper uses this plague to cement his relationship with King Carlos, Finds-Water, and finally Nuegua, by supporting Hunts-The-Ruins and Ariana. After taking control of the Jicarilla, he intends to give Ariana to King Carlos as a concubine.

Alejandro Baca (Dark Grey Cool)

Alejandro's family--the Bacas--are in competition with the Sepulvedas for the control of southern New Spain, centered around Socorro. A New Spaniard noble with pretensions to Kinghood, Alejandro is King Carlos' left-hand man; the one who does all the dirty work. Oddly enough, his family estate is wealthy enough that he does not have to do anything of the sort; this only makes his actions all the more reprehensible. 

Berylia (Dark Grey Cool) 

Frustrated, humiliated, and brilliant, Berylia is the mirror image of Rintiala.  She has cold revenge on her mind at all times.  Rather than attack the Guild of Healers, and the Guild of Builders, she intends to render them irrelevant. She first intended to do this immediately after Ariana ran off with Hunts-The-Ruins, but after Ariana's assassination by Dianire, she needed no pretext to convince the Apache to disband the Nueguans. 




Older brother of Dianire, twin to Tianara, betrothed to Rintiala.

Oldest Sister

Unknown age or origin; she has been part of the Dreaming Grotto as long as anyone in the Guild of Healers can remember. She is only a legend until the events of 'Mothering Day'. Her salvific death in 'The Furniture Of Paradise' is the beginning of the end for Nuegua.

First Sister of the Guild of Builders
First Sister of the Guild of Gardeners

Voices and arguments in the Council of Guilds, which is convened three times, in the chapters 'Mothering Day', 'Traders' Bazaar', and 'Warrior Guild'.


Old Anna Sanchez
Pedro Sanchez
Felicia Sanchez
(future Abbot) Gaudentio Sepulveda

First encountered in the 'Laughing Sickness'. 

Federale Generale of the Flagellantes
Various King's and Queen's Gaurdsmen

Don Antonio Sepulveda
Dona Carmencita Sepulveda
Lieutenant Alfonso Sepulveda

In the 'Meeting At The Green Lake Room', and in the intermissions between readings. 


(We only meet Hunts-The-Ruins, Finds-Water, and Long-Jumper) Everything and everyone else occurs off-stage.


Yassah and Shassah, a Grasper pair
Amtel, a Super Dog (or Spirit Wolf)

Western Bandits

Carl Reineke
Seamus Espinoza Sr.
Seamus Espinoza Jr.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nueguan Storyline: Chronology Versus Narrative

When writing a complex story, it is critical to separate out the chronology from the narrative.  In this case, the problem is where to put the chapter 'Desert Frigate'. Should it be chronological, or used to further character development?

Carlos Sepulveda is heir to the throne of New Spain, but he is no older than twenty-one at the time of the events of 'Desert Frigate'.  Since he is thirty-two when we meet him in 'Business in New Alcazar', which occurs in 2528, this sets the former in 2517.  This becomes problematic, as it would have to be inserted between 'The Meeting In The Green Lake Room' and 'Mothering Day'.  That would mean a digression, because the current introductory structure is: 'No Mercy In The Cathedral'; 'The Meeting At The Green Lake Room'; 'Mothering Day'.

The better approach would be to locate it after 'The Laughing Sickness', and to use it as a vehicle by which Rintiala and Don Benedetto get to know one another better.  It adds depth to Carlos' character just at the point where the reader is convinced he is the villain of the piece, and makes his reaction to the assassination of Ariana all the more believable.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

How Is It That Dragons Can Fly?

How Is It That Dragons Can Fly? 

A Lecture given at Carlsbad University, in the Twenty-first Year of Bright Queen (Anno Domini 2599)

Br. Zhilogous Baca OSB, Curator of the Nueguan Archives

Since the emergence of Dragons in the Empty Earth during the last decade, many attempts have been made to eradicate them, or conversely to tame them.  My talk today is not concerned with either option; what I wish to do is to explain how it is that they can fly at all.

I will use two sources to explain this intellectual predicament: my own observations as an amateur ornithologist, and my background in Landesten studies, my specialty in Nueguan archival work.

First, I want you to consider your favorite flying bird. Perhaps it is a crow, or a gull, or a hawk.  Note their wingspan; each and every one of them has a single wing at least the length of its body, or longer (in the case of the gull).  Combine those two wings, and you have a general calculation of 'flight requires a wingspan of at least two body lengths'.

Now consider every sighting of a dragon in the last ten years; think of all the highly accurate drawings made by trained observers. Not one...I repeat...not one of those dragons had a wingspan approaching even one-half of its body length.  Some were measured at less than a quarter by the King's Guardsmen who lived to tell the story; some have essentially no wings at all, just web feet with claws.

Yet they all fly!