Twenty-one

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Import Temple(0.32,alpha build,1,0,0,1)
  Logging.config(security=ultra;datestamp=corrupted;module=preservation("iterate","acceptable_loss";)
  Log:
    Identification of the Error Margin has resulted in tactical failure of initial hypothesis. Though purge successful, subsequent attempts at rebuilding civilisation have failed over successive generations. Initial assumption of systemic oversights proved incorrect; inevitable fail state is inherent to human species, even when severed from prior bias, prompted by scarcity and perceived competition.
    Response: Clean Slate Programme to be discontinued so as to avoid repeated collapse. Error Margin to be monitored under implementation of new Temple protocol with next cohort. As a compromise solution, a measure of control will be exerted, providing a neutral nudge influencer for emergent behaviour. Algorithmic efficiency will be evaluated repeatedly over the next five iterations.
    Reboot to commence immediately--
//
Initiate Temple 0.7*
Exit(logging)


*

The next morning glowed, putting a skip in Harry's step as he moved through the village. He made his own adventure at Cragside, always seeking a new thrill or escapade, but Tilda had been something entirely different. She was someone he couldn't understand or know, yet they'd found a connection: strong, passionate, which he knew now would last forever. It wasn't the same as his previous relationships, which had been fun but never intended to be anything more than that, never something which was meant to last. He and Tilda complemented each other perfectly: him more impulsive and energised, her more grounded and cynical. She helped him connect more honestly with the world and he gave her a sense of excitement and lifted her from being always disappointed.

It had been special, what they'd done the previous night. It was the first time for both of them, properly at least, and it had been magical. Everything he had imagined it could be. He'd never felt so closely intertwined with another person - not just physically but mentally, emotionally. They'd moved as one, had become a single being for a brief time. Afterwards they'd lain in the forest, huddled together beneath their clothes, until the chill and damp became noticeable, overwhelming their own warmth and contentment. They'd gone their separate ways upon returning to the village, back to their respective yurts to get what sleep remained of the night.

He hadn't slept. Instead he'd stared up at the fabric of the tent, thinking about her and about his future. About Cragside, and what it was and could be. She had changed everything. The appeal of venturing out into the wilds beyond the valley had immediately drifted away, replaced instead by a need to turn Cragside itself into something more: not just a playground but a place that could grow and become a beacon of what was possible. Instead of them going out into the world to seek out others, they would invite people to visit. Cragside would be the centre of the world, showing what could be done and how to do it. Harry had always felt jealous of Tommy, had wanted to one day take control, though he'd never had a clear idea of what he would do as leader. Now he saw another path, of working with Tommy and supporting him, and what they could accomplish together. Rather than hanging on the next lesson from the Temple they could start building using their own ingenuity, moving out of the yurts and constructing sturdier habitats. Progress, then, not simply existing.

Harry had seen the future that night as he had stared up at the roof of his tent, the vision clear and thrilling. He had wanted to leap out and go find Tommy, to share the ideas with him without delay, but had known he should wait until the morning. At the very moment the sun beamed through the crack in the entrance to his yurt he'd jumped up, still fully clothed, and had emerged into the new day.

The catalyst was Tilda, he recognised. She had prompted him to look at the world in a new way, though he didn't fully understand how or why. He would stay, let someone else go on the expedition, and focus on what mattered most: their home.

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