Chapter 11 "The Village"

219 6 0

The Great Library of Chi-Town

 

There are no clear records as to who assembled the library in the chaos of the Second Dark Age, but we all owe them a debt, which can never be repaid. With most digitally stored information erased or contained on isolated and hard to reach servers, physical media was all that remained of human history. The sources of the library’s vast collection are some of the most revered and mysterious names in history. The Smithsonian, the Old America National Archives, the Library of Congress, and the University of Illinois Library were just the most notable of sources.

 

Many historians credit the legendary Nemans (see separate entry) with saving as much of the knowledge of the human race as possible. It’s difficult for modern historians to confirm or reject that theory. While evidence of the Neman’s does exist, it’s scattered across the continent. Much of it was stored in the Great Library itself, which means like many priceless relics it’s forever lost to history.

 

In 77 PA, the Great Library of Chi-Town was destroyed in a battle with saboteurs and terrorists representing the fragments of the Federation of Magic (see separate entry). The loss in terms of information is incalculable and on par with the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, the Mayan Codices, or the Xianyang Palace and State Archives in Qui, China. While much information has been preserved in libraries and archives across the continent there is no way of knowing just how much has been lost forever.

 

            - University of New Lazlo Database (Updated 100 PA)

 

Old I-94 Trail, The Wheel

            “I’ve always wondered,” Walter asked, “why do you suppose the ancient Merikans built this?”

            He and Marku were having tea before calling it a night. The Black Needles were settled into camp, warriors in small three person camps circling an inner area of non warriors—though to be fair all Black Needles were warriors first.

            “I wonder if they knew two dormant ley lines crossed this spot when it was erected?” Marku mused in response. “And for that matter, my friend, what is a Uniroyal?”

            “I have no idea,” Walter said wearily while sipping his hot tea sweetened with honey and apple sugar. “But it’s been here as long as anyone can remember.”

            “What is the situation with the clan?” Marku asked changing the direction of the conversation. “How are the people holding up?”

            “They are tired and they are worried,” Walter replied—he never sugar coated things for his Liege and friend. “But they are united we are the Back Needles and we will succeed or we will go down fighting.”

            Marku nodded running a delicately clawed hand over his scaly cheek. “I want a contingency plan in place to get the non combatants to New Lazlo if the Thorns catch up with us.”

            Walter nodded deep in thought. In front of them the eight story high black circle of rubber and metal crackled and shone with mystic energy. In the distance some of the Needles’ played soccer and enjoyed some fellowship. The night was calm but Walter feared it might be the last one for a long time.

South of Old Detroit, Village of Red Rock

            “Peter, why do they call this place Red Rock?” Meg asked. She laughed watching a group of children, humans and a pink skinned one with tiny horns, playing a game of hide and go seek amongst the vender stalls of the market. “I mean this is Zug Island,” she continued gesturing to the Detroit River on one side and the connecting arc of the  River Rouge. “You’d think that would play into the village’s name.”

            It was the morning after the incident at the campfire and she seemed to be no worse for wear, but all of the GBMC were keeping one eye on her. After Meg went to bed there’d been a lively discussion as to what to do with her. All options were discussed and in the end it was decided to keep her with the company and take her back to New Lazlo with them.

            “I have no idea,” Books answered eyeing a stack of data drives on a table. “They have a legend about an armored hero during the cataclysm named Redwing, who stood like a rock against the chaos but there’s no evidence to suggest it’s anything but a story.”

            “There’s no way to know what actually happened?” Meg asked.

            The two of them were strolling through the village’s little downtown market area seeing what was for sale. The University group and the rest of the GBMC were getting to work on the first dig site three miles outside of the village. While that was happening, Doctor Cooper and Colonel McCoy negotiated with the village elders for permission to stay in the area. 

            “In some areas it’s possible to get a clearer picture of the past,” Books answered picking up one of the quarter sized data drives and examining them. “Chi-Town, Los Alamo, Free Quebec, Ishpeming, Tolkeen, and Lazlo have some of the best records, but even those don’t go all the way back to the cataclysm without dipping into folklore and myths. I have some pretty concise books you can look at if you want.”

            “That would be wonderful,” Meg said smiling. “This is the first place I’ve seen since dropping into this crazy mixed up world that doesn’t freak me out.”

            “These are good people,” Books agreed handing the stall owner a handful of coins and pocketing the stack of drives. “We’ve been here a few times and every time there are more people and the place is cleaner. There might be twenty-five hundred people here now, give them fifty years and a little luck and they might become a city. I’m really impressed that they built the new walls in the last two years,” he finished looking at the ten foot high modern barrier protecting the town.

            “Does the view bother them?” Meg asked looking north.

            In the distance she could see the collapsed Ambassador Bridge and beyond it the cracked and broken towers of Detroit dominated the skyline. Just looking at them made Meg’s heart hurt. Many of the buildings still standing were unfamiliar to her but the silhouette of the almost completely intact Renascence Center was unmistakable.

            She didn’t realize she was crying.

            “Meg, are you okay?” Books asked suddenly concerned.

            “I don’t know,” she replied woodenly. “This is… this was, my home Peter. I grew up here. I went to Howe Arena for hockey, saw plays at the Fox Theater, school trips to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield village. It’s all gone, all of it forever.” She was sobbing now.

            Books hesitated. He wanted to comfort her but the memory of what happened last time she’d been emotionally distraught was still burned in his mind.  The hesitation lasted less than a heartbeat and he was taking her in his arms.

            “I’m sorry Meg,” he whispered.

            Like a drowning victim fighting to survive she clung to him crying into his broad shoulder. All around them the people of Red Rock did their best not to make them feel uncomfortable.

            A minute later Meg stepped back and wiped her eyes. Not looking at Books she muttered, “Sorry about that, I’m not usually a crying child.”

            “Don’t be sorry,” Books said grinning sheepishly, “I think maybe you needed that. You’ve been in shock since you entered that river.”

            “It was seeing the city… it just hit me that everything was gone,” Meg whispered hugging herself and shivering.  Shaking her head hard Meg changed the subject, “Wanna go get some lunch?”

            Before Books could respond the air was cut with the shriek of sirens.

To Be Continued

            

Rifts Threads: Book 1 "Out of Time"Read this story for FREE!