The Master is ahead, climbing with tireless immortal grace up this last shadow-faced sand dune while still lecturing me. “Yes. And as such, the bacterial matter re-purposement systems in this Evolution Experiment serve a greater function. Despite my own predilections: biome aesthetics, as viewed from atop the Tower, are still only a minimally pleasurable byproduct...”
Spilling-bright atop the crest resolves into a bloated red sun hanging low in the blue sky. I join the Fallen-Silent Master atop the dune, and we gaze out…
A semi-chaotic biological environment germinated from a single programmed Organo-Seed. Who knows what might be found out there?
The leafless, black gnarlbranched high canopy of a twisted forest, marked sporadically by branch-cupped islands of symbiotic growth, spreads dark all the way out to the distant afternoon horizon, shoreline unseen.
“Subjects in this particular Evolution Experiment have Abberated,” The Master finally states.
Various parts of The Master’s vast Domain have been long sectioned off into independent geographies, minor vassal facilities, biomass, ambulatory testbeds and much, more. But I have recently come to better understand that the Evolution Experiments are more than the Darwinian game of chance played amongst the immortal Twelve for stakes unknown. Each player would program an Organo Seed with certain basic components for single or multi-cell life, growth and evolution paths set “accelerated” far beyond any natural pace, then plant the Seed in certain ecosystems or neutral testbed locations and monitor the resultant branching, unnaturally accelerated offspring for enough generations for the player’s to either satisfy their opaque goals or become frustrated enough to flash the Subjects with a dose of the Evolution Trigger, which was a highly advanced energy field used to induce explosive evolution in organic/inorganic material depending upon the specific spectrum and frequency set.
The Master has been showing me the local biomes today, and now shares with me a firsthand look at one of its precious Evolution Experiments. Be MOST vigilant.
After a full appraisal of the gnarlforest before me, I turn back towards The Master, and kneel.
Its grey hand softly cups the Id EIS face. “You will be my proxy,” The Master whispers.
Translucence shivers down the Id EIS body, covering it entirely. “Yes, Master Gabriel.”
The Master–induced transformation of the Id Enclosed Integrated System (EIS) is complete.
And its hand withdraws. “Rise.”
I stand, fading invisible…
… while The Master now floats upwards before me, its black robes rippling gently as its white wings spread wide behind it. “Locate. Observe. Return.” A thunderous CLAP, then it soars up into the blue.
I stare up, enthralled by that all-consuming devotion, and love…
Nodding, I turn and leap forward, landing into a slide down the steep sandslope with the Id EIS arms held wide and one knee forward, the other leg straight behind me with sand spilling after. The twisted canopy passes above me, transitioning to black trunks like snarled columns of black roots rising higher and higher until I slide down to the bottom, transition into a cartwheel across an empty stretch of dirt bordering the dark forest and tip forward smoothly into a forward walk through shadows before passing among black giants, gnarled roots sunk deep…
I begin a light, soundless jog…
Increasing the pace, I continue towards deepening gloom…
A far chittering.
… and gradually transition into a soundless run, now passing dark gnarltrunks by, by, by, by, by, by, and –
By by by by by by by by –
I am silently sprinting towards distant brightening.
– by by by by by by by by–
Building sunlight glows softly before shining through the far forward tree line.
– by by by by by by by by –
Quickly nearing a large clearing filled by an immense dirt hill with a sun-flashed stream flowing down it before curving at the bottom, alongside...
– by by –
A gabbling bark!
In reaction: I now leap against a last black gnarlgiant to run a few steps up before transitioning smoothly into a nimble climb, eventually settling silent onto a sturdy lookout perch and gently peering out through gnarled branches…
Yes. It is the Abberant subjects.
Bright red sunlight shines down upon a small group of dark, squat creatures ambling downslope on all fours, tail-arms clutching spears as they leave a middle-belt of gnarltrees girding the immense dirt hill.
I continue to patiently watch.
The Abberant subjects descend beside the rushing stream until reaching the immense hill base where they wade out into the lower bend while scanning about with black, multi-faceted eyes. One points, fanged snout parting to gabble-bark as they emerging onto the other riverbank, climb swiftly up into the gnarltrees and swing off towards the forest interior…
“Closer,” comes The Master’s whisper.
I nod, then slide down the gnarltrunk, stalk out into the sunlit clearing, slip into the water, swim soundlessly across and emerge, river water ablating off the inviolate sensory protection The Master imbued me with, to begin walking up the immense hill towards the middle-belt of gnarltrees. The Id EIS eyes are scanning…
Motion there, there, and much more. A fair number of the Abberant subjects wait on the gnarltree border: perched up on lookout branches, hanging by webbing extruding from subject EIS base, or just lurking among sprawling, gnarled roots, but all with spears.
Immune to mortal senses, I pass inside through the defensive cordon. Lighter gloom spreads beyond, and lighter underbrush as well, with thickets of dark copses off to each side. I increase to a jog while gabbling barks sound upslope and a youth runs into view, playing with others. Skirting wide around, I pass upwards towards an age-mixed this performing some gathering activity. Then another group can be seen, and another, and another…
Until it is obvious that the area is settled.
This is more complex than I knew.
I cross upslope through growing crowds, avoiding adults peeling hardfruit or dragging filled sacks made of webbing. Dodging around little ones running underfoot, and teens in between, surrounded at all times by gabble-barking, the sound varied, obviously structured…
… then I am through. Broad shadows spread across the slopes ahead, plank platforms clustered high among the canopy. I jog through while elders pontificate in thin, wheezing gabble-barks above me…
If I stay here long enough, the language will become increasingly apparent. But The Master desires that I take it ALL in, so…
I continue heading upslope, leaving the outskirts of the settlement behind me, wending up steadily through the gnarltrees towards the immense hill summit red with sunlight. The Id EIS eyes scan: empty but for a few stark black giants looming at center.
I pass back outside into sunlight, treading across old dirt and shriveling weeds before slowing on approach through the long shadows of those stark black gnarltrees standing alone…
Hm. These are old, dessicated, and…
Stopping before them, I raise a hand to touch black bark, sliding the Id EIS palm gently up it. I lean close and sniff it.
Mm. Dead. But it provides an excellent vantage point from which to continue a general survey for The Master.
Skipping back for space, I DART forward with post-human speed to leap against the dead gnarltree, running a few steps up before smoothly transitioning into a swift climb, reaching –
High-pitched BARKS approach.
– and I pause, hanging one-handed from a branch halfway up while gazing out towards a hillslope leading back down into the forested middle-belt.
A runt scampers into view, followed by a group of larger youth.
The Id EIS eyes narrow.
Although the runt is fast, the larger youth have the numbers. It zigs and zags, but they spread out, barking and herding it back, yipping.
The runt is forced back, and back, until with nowhere else to go it finally darts up this same tree.
I swing out of the way, branch creaking.
Yelping softly, the runt passes wide around the creak and settles onto a higher branch, panting from the climb.
HOOTS drift up…
I look down upon multi-faceted black eyes staring up from the larger youth ringing the dead gnarltree.
The runt hoots down at them.
Growls and yips drift up.
The runt hoots down again.
One of the larger youth growls, then unexpectedly nips another and runs off, chased by it. The rest gabble-bark with excitement and race downslope after them, all quickly disappearing back amongst the gnarltrees until the sounds fade, and silent returns.
I wait. Patient.
The runt remains upon the gnarlbranch above me, breathing softly…
Hm. Then if IT won’t move…
Slowly, I reach a hand down to a nearby gnarlbranch, gripping it slowly, then easing –
An impact against the Id EIS torso.
I stare down upon the ball of webbing cracklesliding down until it drops off of me, falling through the warm air to finally land amongst ancient gnarled roots with a soft PLOP.
I look up.
The runt is drawing more webbing from beneath the runt EIS tail-arm, staring towards me.
So I let go, wind whistling before I finally land lightly into a crouch between two big gnarled roots, and stare upwards…
A HOOT on high. The runt EIS black eyes appear in the branches, peering down…
Playful? Why not?
I skip away, turning, and watching...
The runt quickly slides down the trunk halfway, then pushes off to fall, landing in a tumble before leaping up again, growling, EIS tail arm twitching aggressively while it slowly advances towards me, nosing about...
Smiling, I dart off downslope, disappearing back into the forested middlebelt of twisted gnarltrees.
The runt BARKS once, then follows.
I lead us downslope, wending through dark trunks towards the broad shadows beneath the platforms high above in that section of the canopy.
It won’t touch me.
The runt bounds after me, lunging –
But I dodge it, darting away again through the broad shadows.
The runt RACES after me.
Leaving behind the pontificating elders, we approach the central crowds, gabble-barking slowly enveloping all sound…
Enough of this.
I run swiftly into the crowds. Dodging, leaping, faster and surer and…
Yipping excitedly, the runt barrels in behind, crashing immediately through a big pile of fruit. A bellowing adult cuffs it. It yips once, then louder…
I continue on, passing through the final gnarltrees before the Abberant warrior encircling cordon…
Ok. That’s that, so –
The Id EIS eyes narrow. Abberant warriors now turn, facing back towards the commotion and gabble-barking deep-throated concern as I pass them by to head back out into the sunlight, leaving the rising storm of gabble-barks behind, one shrill voice cutting through it all…
I pick up speed, SPRINTING downslope towards the stream at the base of the wide base of the immense dirt hill before briefly gathering extra strength within the Id EIS legs to post-human LEAP, soaring over rushing water to land well clear, and straight into a series of backflips through the gnarltrees which ends with me finally knifing upwards into a twist-spinning flip-stop, landing perfectly. Breathing evenly while standing among the shadows, I stare back out into the clearing…
Hm. It still…
The runt barrels down the immense dirt hill towards the encircling stream, easily staying ahead of a group of Abberant warriors providing only desultory pursuit. Most point with spears, hooting adult mirth about the trouble it had caused.
Closing the distance, the runt finally leaps out over the rushing waters, lands halfway across, splashing, after which the current pulls it downstream, thrashing.
Nonplussed, I jog around the riverbend…
… to find the runt now struggling ashore, where it eventually clambers free of the current and trots forward tiredly up the bank and into the gnarltrees, shaking itself off there, shivery.
“Touch,” comes The Master’s whisper.
I nod, then dart out from cover and frontflip over the runt, slapping a hand down slightly on the runt EIS snout before landing. Turning…
The runt turns with me, snarling before. The runt EIS multi-faceted black eyes widen now, because that touch had granted it sensory perception of me. Backing away, it whines and brings the tail-arm forward to shield…
I nod, turn, and jog through the gnarltrees towards the gloomy interior of the dark forest.
A solitary HOOT behind, and it follows.
This is fun!
Bright slivers show through the dark trees ahead as I dart aside again, and the panting runt struggles after me again, growling. I dance aside twice more before jogging forward through the thinning forest outskirts where the trip had original begun, red sunlight streaming through the area increasingly...
The runt scrabbles after me.
I tense, but no play attack comes. The runt struggles up beside me, matching pace. A smile spreads across the Id EIS face as we finally emerge together back out into the bright afternoon, a stretch of empty dirt bordering the forest, after which rises a steep sandslope with the familiar kilometers tall black Tower looming against the blue sky. I shout happily…
… and turn, backwards-walking.
The runt is now hunkered down back by the treeline, breathless, sniveling, and evidently unwilling to come the last distance.
I shake the Id EIS head at such grossly ignorant fear of divinity, then turn back again, towards home…
A last, strained gabble-bark.
Slowing before the dune, I turn.
The runt is trotting forward, somewhat hesitantly.
Wanting to encourage it: I squat down on the Id EIS haunches, gesturing with both the Id EIS arms to urge it on.
It hoots, summoning up a hidden burst of energy to bound over…
Smiling, I hold both arms out wide…
The runt leaps –
– and it explodes into furious motes of pale green luminescence which slowly fade through me.
A KEENING sounds above.
Slowly, I stand once more, and face them.
The Griffin plummets down on wide amber wings to land HARD, but The Master glides down gently on wide white wings, landing softly. “No race was agreed upon,” it chides.
“Fine,” the Griffin rumbles.
The Master turns, humming while now gazing upon the dark gnarlforest. “Mmm. An interesting one… but not to spec, and not to pleasure.” A sad shake of its crowned bald grey head.
The Griffin pads over, standing close to looks up into the Id EIS face.
I look up.
The Master floats back skyward, its spreading white wings now dissolving to windblown ash. “You will design a unique biological agent to fully clear this biome. Once complete: await my summons.”
I bow. “Yes, Master Gabriel.”
A FLASH from the distant Tower –
– and The Master FLASHES in response, immediately winking from existence.
We pause a moment…
… then turn to head back, retracing steps.ns 220.127.116.11da2