First of all, thanks to everyone who shared, bought, recommended or otherwise helped spread word of the Exodus sale earlier this month! And to everyone who has reviewed Genesis, a huge thanks. With the Exodus Trilogy complete, it is great fun to go all in with Rift, which is set on Earth a few centuries after the events in Exodus.
If you´re not familiar with Rift, let me just mention that I blog every scene, raw, unedited, and if you like following the process, you are welcome to do so here on the blog. If you prefer to save yourself for the final edited novel, just skip these posts. Either way, expect the novel to be quite different, as I tend to change everything a lot throughout the editing process.
Alright then, some background for this scene. After writing the scene in which Dave had gone to the Cottage, and discussing the economic/political system of the Covenant, I realized I needed to flesh out the background for the Covenant a bit. What kind of place is this? How did it become what it is? Who are the Moon people? Why do they wield such power? What does the Wardens do? And what is the Rift?
That, and many other questions will, to some degree, be answered in the next scene. So here it is!
RIFT - Scene 10:
Dave was struggling to find a comfortable position, sitting with the other initiates, while a Warden, probably not more than a couple years older than him, lectured.
"You all know the story, or at least the parts taught in schools, and I expect you to know the basics already. Yesterday we covered the Fall, where humanity descended into darkness. The Fall is where the history books all begin, so let´s just leave it at that for now. The Dark Age lasted for almost half a century, and there was no hope in sight, just a scattering of surviving groups, soon only descendants of those who survived the actual impact, which killed most of humanity." The Warden intoned, clearly bored from having told the same story too many times. Dave was finally finding a good position, and tried to pay more attention. He´d never been that interested in history, so occasionally there were nuggets that he´d never heard before.
"Then came the Descent, in which the Moon People brought salvation. Shortly after landing, they began gathering the scattered groups and communities, one by one. In the beginning, the people were simply cared for; sheltered, fed, protected. Then, as more joined in, this started to become increasingly difficult. So, just a few years after the Descent, the Moon People made one demand. In order to receive help, a number of people had to make a contribution. For seven years, those selected would serve obediently, in order to feed, shelter and protect the others. Thus, the first Covenant was born. The first service was the Corpus, and it was back breaking work. Cleaning rubble, clearing fields, road building, sowing and plowing, building, constructing. Hard manual labor. Many didn´t make the seven years, but the Moon People demanded that everyone stayed until their term was up. And through those hard years, the form and shape of the Corpus that we know today, was created. Eventually, the need arose for different kinds of services, and the Janissaries were created. Enemies were trying to capture revived lands, both in the north and the south, and the Janissaries became the most powerful fighting force on the ground. Supported by Moon People air and sea power, the Janissaries swept south and subdued all enemies all the way down to the Floral Sea. With the south conquered, it quickly became apparent that there was no way the Moon People could control such large areas of land unless the conquered peoples became part of the growing nation. And so, twenty years after the Descent, the second Covenant was formed, in which the southern peoples committed to the same allegiance to the common good as those that had gone before them. They would be eligible for Service, the first years only in the Corpus and then later in the Janissaries, and in return the families of those serving would receive enough food and goods to live out the life of the serving family member. Eventually, most of the fertile lands of the south became State property, run by the Corpus, although some parts became ordinary towns and villages as well, such as Charlestown and Stonehaven." The Warden paused and Dave thought of how he´d never realized there had been more than one Covenant. The pact that bound them all together, must have been revised several times over. In school, he´d always thought the Covenant to be something that had always been there. Now, as he listened intently, despite the lecturer´s obvious boredom, he found that he was learning something new with every sentence.
"So now there was peace in the south, and the second Covenant lasted for thirty years. In the north, the wars lasted for months and years at a time, but there were no clear winners. The nortern enemies never managed to capture land for more than brief periods, while Legacy never wanted the barren lands of the north, simply because they are worthless, and the cost of making a final push north would be too high. Also, another threat appeared, that not even the Janissaries could contain alone." Dave cocked his head. He´d never heard of this.
"Far to the west, even further than we are now, lies the Rift. A deep depression, created by the Fall, that separate the furthest reaches of the Covenant from a wasteland far more dangerous than anything found up north. A poisonous river runs through the Rift, creating a natural barrier, and sheer cliffs rise on both sides of this depression. Beyond the Rift there are people, descendants of other survivors of the Fall, but very different. Disease and radiation have changed them into aggressive predators, fighting amongst themselves, scavenging. Some of the tribes are cannibals, others have turned to some sort of twisted religion, and human sacrifice are common." Dave shuddered.
"A zone was created, two hundred kilometers wide, between the Rift and the Covenant. A forbidden zone, where only a few select people, in Service to the State, would be allowed. These people would be rangers, soldiers, scientists, independent thinkers, who knew when to act and how. They would be sworn to secrecy, because the sights they would see out there, and the things necessary to do to protect, was something Legacy decided to spare the people of the Covenant. These were the first Wardens, and this camp is located in the forbidden zone." Dave jumped a heartbeat, and looked around. Others seemed surprised as well, even Liz, who always seemed to take everything in stride, never letting anything faze her.
"When the first Wardens began patrolling the zone, there were still only Moon people officers in the Services. Eventually though, non- Moon people had to be put in charge as well, because the Moon people, even though they have multiplied since the Descent, were only so many. And when disloyal Janissary and Wardens revolted, it was non- Moon people commanders who put down the revolt. In recognition of their Service, Legacy decided to extend the privilege of citizenship to all who serve honorably to their term´s end. Also, because of the mortality rates among the Janissaries, their term was reduced to three years instead of the usual seven. A good many other laws were passed in the final year of the second Covenant. So many that by the turn of the century, the third Covenant was proclaimed. Among the new laws were the creation of the Students, the service where the University and the Academy would select the very brightest young men and women to be groomed into scholars." It still stung. Dave knew he should have been among the Students, although he´d fit in just fine here in the Wardens. But still, the way the lecturer had just described Warden service, he now felt a pang of regret, for not being up in Legacy, with Chas and Felicia.
"For thirty years there was peace, and then the first Corpus revolt happened. It was put down hard, and ever since, life in the Corpus has remained… well, let´s just keep it at that. Corpus service is a sacrifice, something that someone must do for the common good of all the rest of us. Those who manage three years in the Corpus are usually transferred from mining and farming to factory work, which is a bit better. Still hard work, but those working the factories have earned the right to better conditions. I´ll put it this way, in the factories there are foremen instead of whippers." The Warden seemed to have eased into his lecture a bit more, and it seemed less of a recital, now that he was approaching modern times. The initiates also seemed a bit more eager. Now and then a question would arise, and the Warden would try to answer as best he could.
"Why do those people on the other side of the Rift try to come here?" someone asked.
"Well, there may be several reasons, but I suspect life out there can be pretty unbearable. Unfortunately, disease and radiation has mutated their genes so badly we cannot allow them to pass the zone. Sometimes it shows, and those we have to fight, and put down the hard way. Other times the damage is invisible. Then we stop them and help them return to where they came from. Next question?"
"Does anyone ever go the other way?"
"No, or at least, they won´t get too far. We have motion detectors and sensors all over the zone, and if someone should enter from the east, they will be turned back. The zone is forbidden. The Rift is something only a Warden should see. And the wastelands beyond, well, I wouldn´t want anyone to go there. Crossing the Rift is death. Next!"
"What caused the Rift?"
"The Fall. Or rather, the thing that caused the Fall. Next."
"What caused the Fall?"
"A disaster. Only the Moon people knows. Only the Moon people are allowed to know. Next."
"The Moon People come from the Moon, right? What were they doing there?"
"I am not privileged to that information, and neither are you." Dave noticed the questions were taking a turn away from the history lession, and the lecturer seemed to tighten up by it, like he wasn´t supposed to talk about some of these issues. Warden initiates all seemed to be like him; curious, and although this line of questioning was interesting enough, Dave wanted to know more of the history.
"What happened after the first Corpus revolt?" Dave said. The lecturer looked almost relieved at the question, and eager to answer.
"Well, when the Corpus first revolted, the third Covenant was deemed to have come to an end. After that, Legacy decided there would only be "the Covenant", where new laws and orders could simply be incorporated into the old system." He paused for a moment, thinking hard.
"Since the first revolt was put down hard, you should expect there to be a long period of peace. But the opposite happened. The third Covenant ended almost seventy years ago, and in the first twenty years, there were three major uprisings. Now, this is classified information, not to leave Warden territory, you got that?" He waited until everyone either nodded or answered yes, before continuing.
"All evidence point towards outside involvement. And not just towns and regions in the Covenant. No, there were insurgents, terrorists, from outside the Covenant as well."
"From the north?" someone asked. The lecturer made a gesture.
"Who knows. Could be that, or someone from the less damaged populations out west. They do have weapons out there, you know. Either way, the last revolt was fifty years ago, and the Covenant has been very prosperous since then. Nowadays, I don´t see an uprising as a likely thing to happen. The economy is good, The Corpus seem quiet, the Janissaries are in control of the northern borderlands, and we have noticed nothing unusual out here. A few intrusions now and then, but they are swiftly deal with, and it doesn´t seem organized in any fashion. No, I´d say this is a good time to serve, and hopefully you´ll all earn your citizenship in a time of peace and prosperity." Dave couldn´t agree more. As long as there was peace he would deal with the challenges his Service would throw at him. But as the lecture ended he wondered if his time of Service would be as quiet and uneventful as the lecturer had expected, or if the last fifty years had just been the quiet before the storm.
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