Poetry: all the words you need

Where a Word can do more than a Sword.

   
  All the Poetries | Hayden Lee

Mastery of Vesania

Brief KEY for story

 

 

Term/Technique

Meaning

Different fonts

Different characters talking

Voynich

Main character

Jago

Opening narrator

Skwi-dee

Commander

ALL CAPITALS

Human name for untranslatable Martian term

Bwa/aloo/bwoaar/howl

Sounds made by the Martians (who speak by telepathy otherwise)

Spoilers

Humans

「」

Extracts from memory of journal

Cleanser

Martian (slang colloquialism)

Telesee

Using telepathy to sense surroundings through consciousness

Space-twist

Technology to increase space inside a chamber relative to the apparent outside space.

Fire-life

Electricity

Fire-flower

Explosion

Walker

Tripod, ground vehicle

Tritent/Shield

Sections of Walker (supports/cockpit)

Floater

Flying Saucer

Sun-ring

Year

Vesania

Martian word for Earth

2005

Year in which recent movie (starring Tom Cruise) was set.

 

Mastery of Vesania


He rolls out of the crimson wreck that is our last TRIPOD. Crude fires created by HUMAN projectiles are burning around us; actually visible fires! I grab Voynich, and see the valiant attempts of his dying lungs in an inherently hostile environment, the evident heaviness and painfulness of movement due to the greater gravitational energy – above all, the extraordinary intensity of his immense eyes, crippled yet vibrant. (p.22) He utters a single ‘bwa’ from his mouth then continues speaking as usual from his mind; he’s about to begin his recount–––

 

 

The following transcript of Voynich’s

pre-death mind recount has been translated into ENGLISH words and constructions to ease the reader’s experience. May MARS return again to claim its rightful land!

 

 

Upon first seeing them, those little vessels of life, I was intrigued. That I could actually look at something I’d only read about for years was empowering. I felt so superior to this planet, like a fearsome god to the Spoilers and yet I was curious about its life. Life back home on MARS is so rare that we have to design creatures and plants capable of living underground with us. I wrote an entry in my report-journal:

 

We’ve spent so long observing EARTH, analysing its crust for precious metals and sources of energy, but then again the same could be said for all the planets we cultivate and harvest. EARTH has developed life however. Not in itself entirely unusual; the difference is that a single species has become sentient and begun to dominate the planet: HUMANS. Since EARTH is our primary energy and heavy element harvesting colony, we can’t let sentient life take over and steal the resources or choke the EARTH with pollution ruining our other stock. Thus we, cleansing team MS 408, have been sent to repurify our EARTH colony.

Such odd creatures, I thought (see the picture I drew);

“Noble limbs like ours, but bound to a single stem…they hardly seem capable of sentience, let alone locomotion. Considering how heavy this planet feels though, I can easily understand how –”

 

“VOYNICH! You daft vine, the Spoilers are up there, not your stupid plants!” – Skwi Dee, our brave squadron leader, interrupted my thoughts.

 

Oh, of course I knew that these plants weren’t the dominant species

Re-Jo-note: dominant plant life is NOT the dominant sentient life

 

They all took me to be such an idiot, the young research scientist; barely worthy of a colony trip, just as necessary as…BACTERIA. You need it but you wish you didn’t. Of course no-one except you believed my theory about little creatures that get inside us, Jago; I was the only one that cleaned myself with dust regularly. It may have made me look like I had something fungoid in my now oily brown skin (p.22) rather than the glorious silver of an aged MARTIAN like you once teased me, but I preferred that; it made me more like my beautiful pet plants.

 

I typed in the opening sequence for the chamber, and it slowly began to unseal, mixing gases gradually, carefully re-pressurising.

 

 “Just feel that air, cleansers! We should have the strength to overcome this gravity within days!”

 

Such an “ideal” leader, Skwi-dee; highly projected upper lip, a beautifully proportioned “V” mouth, imposing, and always reciting the old MARTIAN war phrases; I was supposed to be inspired by him.

 

I started thinking to myself:

“I never cease to be amazed by our technology for adapting to other planets; our own bodies are so frail, but of course far superior to any alien that we meet. Our technology alone makes me feel proud to be a modern-day Martian; perfect enhancements of ourselves and in our designs.

 

Or at least that’s what I’m supposed to think.

 

My real passion is life; something my “fellow” cleansers are all too happy to destroy. Like my little pet Obzurvyng plant. Having scrutinised EARTH from our far-sights I designed and grew an OXYGEN-dependant plant; quite lifeless on MARS, but it won the competition for me to join the team to come and see EARTH in its glory of life before it’s made barren again.

Okay, so I’m a little more interested in life than I should be for a simple resource colony, but just because these HUMANS haven’t developed basic fire-life to run their machines doesn’t mean that they’re basic enough to be wiped out just for the sake of resources.”

 

VOYNICH! STOP THINKING SUCH ANTI-TECH IDEAS

 

I jumped, surprised that my thoughts were open.

“WOAH! Sorry, sir.”

I turned away from the commander and sulked over to you.

 

“No need for mouth death warnings surely, is there? Can’t I have Any Privacy of my thoughts, Jago?”

Not while you’re on this foreign land, Voynich. Come on, we need to begin Stage 2

“Stage 2? What happened to the observation stage? I’ve barely had a chance to study any life yet!”

It’s just the evaluation stage, Stiff; you reminded me. We’ve evaluated the surrounds enough, and now: we need to provoke them to test and observe their behaviours, to see if they’re capable of harming us, to—’”

“Alright alright, I remember the launch speech, no need to repeat it”

You’d better remember it; Skwi-dee wants you to stay here at central chamber and uh…watch over operations from here.”

“You mean stay out of the way of you cleansers…” I muttered, crestfallen.

What was that, Voynich?You said, though I’m sure you’d heard and understood my disappointment, as always. You said

It’s an honour to watch over our operations, Voynich! You’ll get to see more of EARTH this way.

_______________

 

I limped along the chamber to the controls. I wanted to get out and get some more OXYGEN than the pathetic whispy little trails that permeated their way into here, but the cleansers wanted me to stay at the controls.

 

Ok Voynich, I’m in the crater and I’ve released your Obzurvyng plant out here, can you telesee the ground?

“Not yet Jago, but thank you for doing that for me.”

Why don’t you try extending the chamber external viewer to get a better view?” you tempted me. I didn’t even think that we had any external viewers, but I stayed silent, not wanting to reveal my ignorance.

You know how to control that, don’t you Voynich? Just think a ‘deploy’ command to the computer.

“Oh yeah of course I know how to do that Jago, I’ll try it, thanks.”

 

Only after I’d activated the ray mechanism did I start to wonder why a viewer would have the central ‘deploy’ function assigned to it, or why there weren’t any screens for viewing.

 

I couldn’t stop it! The three green ignition bursts were sent out, and I could hear the cleansing ray hissing, getting ready.

“Jago! I activated the ray, not the viewer! How do I stop it?!” I screamed desperately, but you mustn’t have heard me over the activation drone.

As my Obzurvyng plant attached itself to the ground and began growing, I could telesee through its consciousness, an image of the surrounds, made clearer by the invigorating OXYGEN. The first image I saw of the Spoilers, the HUMANS, was of the ray hitting them. The effect was devastating; the ray didn’t just wound them as it would a MARTIAN, it completely turned them into scattered groups of fire. The ray steadily worked around its circle, setting ablaze giant plant-forms and regular shaped HUMAN buildings. I curiously looked at the little HUMANS, running in fear from our ray which must have been invisible to their limited vision, seeking shelter in their green and brown buildings, only to be eviscerated from them.

Finally, in a barrage of mental flailing at the controls, I managed to withdraw the dome, with the ray stopping just as it burnt some sand-pits and stopping just short of a motionless, dumbfounded HUMAN dazzled by the flashes of light. (p.27) With the ray shut off I could communicate again.

 

“Jago! How could you lie to me!”

Calm down Voynich, I’m sorry, I thought you would have been in the observation section of the chamber. I can’t tell where you are from the outside; the space-twist hinders my ability to locate you, since the inside is bigger than the outside.” You reassured me, though now I felt like a fool again.

Well at least we got Stage 2 started; test provocation initiated, Skwi-dee says to -

 Ha, excellent work for once, Voynich!” Skwi-dee loudly interrupted.

Now watch out for any incoming HUMAN retaliation attempts and tell us the location of the second cylinder when it lands. Can you handle that?” he chortled.

“Yes Skwi, I’ll start watching; the second cylinder should be bringing the tritents for our field Walkers soon.”

 

I ambled down to the observation centre and looked out through the parabolic viewer. Since I’d already started the proximity ray it was still setting fire to everything within range (p.43), attacking one or two adventurous Spoilers, but otherwise the darkness was quiet while the team outside began assembling parts for our resource extraction machines.

The next day I detected that our second cylinder had arrived, and called you inside to have a look. We saw a group of HUMANS standing around one almost horizontal stationary metal cylinder with wheels, which repeatedly hurled small pieces of metal at the cylinder.

“Should we tell Skwi-dee? They look like primitive weapons of some kind.” I asked you.

Those little things aren’t damaging our cylinder at all, they don’t pose a threat to us.

Later, a group of men approached our cylinder and used some rudimentary kind of device that caused fire-flowers to rise around us, a stronger weapon. While the heat of course did no damage, the projectiles were hurled with sufficient force as to be worrisome should they have hit our bodies, so you began Stage 3, the field stage.

By now my Obzurvyng plant had spread sufficiently for me to get a view of almost anywhere I desired in the surrounding land, if I had the time. Once you and the team left in the Shield to complete some field Walkers with the components in the second cylinder, I had some empty time with which I began to take a closer look at life on the planet.

 

As I extended my mind to telescan for any life-forms near the Obzurvyng plant, all I saw was white. As you know, this would seem impossible; it suggested there was life almost everywhere, even in the colours we’d seen on the surface of this planet. I reduced my range to life that had senses, so basically animal life, but was still blinded by what was apparently omnipresent life in the surrounds. I decided to only look at life forms that were capable of gas exchange, organisms capable of locomotion, life that communicated, or could feel pain; each time I made a narrowing condition I was still overwhelmed with life detection. How could there be so much life pervading EARTH? How could we possibly hope to eliminate all of this life, and indeed, why did we want to? I stopped trying to view categories of life and started to observe individual beings out of the diverse life all around me. I saw animals creating homes, struggling to hold onto their lives not in order to steal our resources, but simply to create more life. It was exceptional, I even sensed a feeling amongst species between themselves, which I could only describe as a strong fondness. Something almost as strange that I noticed, was that in darkness most of the life went into a comatose state in which their BRAINS seemed to exhibit fire-life signals of hallucinations, only to suffer from some kind of memory loss upon becoming active again.

 

Eventually I was needed at controls when the third cylinder landed, and I stopped observing the HUMANS and other life. The third cylinder harnessed the EARTH’s natural fire-life to activate our machines to a more reasonable capacity and after you’d been shouting at me for who knows how long from the long-range communicator in your Walker I came round and got back to the controls. I could see your Walker and Skwi’s Walker, treading along through the dark flickering fields, with some of your long glittering probes swinging and gripping the giant plant-forms which I’d called TREES, making a path towards the third cylinder.

 

As you began to build a third Walker, and started to send individual Walkers around the surrounds to get used to the conditions, I wondered how the HUMANS must have felt watching us. I wondered whether our technology seemed like magic to them, like giant living metal creatures or whether it just frightened them. Although they hadn’t started harnessing resources on a large scale yet, I knew they had begun to build some things out of metals, though not yet out of ALUMINIUM, mainly IRON. I began to ask myself for the first time in my life how our Walkers or Floaters would seem to an intelligent lower animal. (p.52)

 

I looked at the feeble attempts of some HUMANS rushing towards our machines then stumble, bang, swish! They were wiped out; what a terrible impression we must have been making. I mean we weren’t exactly trying to befriend the HUMANS, but listening to the joyful aloos and bwas of the field cleansers I didn’t feel like we were being very professional with our cleansing.

–––––––––––––––

Later in the next day when 5 of our armoured Walkers were heading towards a settlement, scattering HUMANS everywhere, the first notable human retaliation was encountered. Unfortunately for the fifth in the group one of the cleansers decided to separate from the group and obliquely attack some weapons that the HUMANS were firing from across a line of WATER.

Walker 5! Retreat! Return to group!” I shouted, concerned, but the cleansers inside just laughed and kept going. Suddenly six projectiles flew simultaneously towards the fifth Walker from hidden positions. The Walker was already raising his portable ray as the first projectile burst above the Shield of the Walker. Two others burst in the air near the body as the Shield twisted round in time to receive, but not in time to dodge, the fourth shell.(p.63)

 

I saw a horrifying sight then. In arrogance the Walker had not even had protections projected around its Shield, and it seemed we had underestimated the HUMANS’ weapons capability as the shell (I thought these projectiles looked like Martian shell-rock creatures) burst clean in the visual window of the Walker. The Shield bulged, flashed, was whirled off in a dozen tattered fragments of raw red flesh and exposed metal. (p.63) It was a shameful and humiliating event, and I relayed news of the Walker’s collapse with great pain to Skwi.

All Walkers raise aggression level; these HUMANS have more firepower than we first evaluated and have taken down a Walker. Henceforth priority is to destroy any slim cylinders firing projectiles that resemble… ‘shell-rocks’”

After getting this sudden lesson in the power of EARTH weapons, the field cleansers retreated to their original position, though in no hurry. Every rotation of EARTH was bringing us more reinforcements and machines.(p.67) I began to really feel wrong about how much of an advantage we were at and how much misery we were putting the HUMANS through just for our resources.

I relayed these feelings to you, Jago, and that was when we began to come up with our plan. From the middle of the light-time you helped to transfer all the machine components from the second and third cylinders to me in the first.

 

I constructed a rudimentary Walker, weaker but with more ability to be repaired, and went out to join you on the offensive, I confess in an attempt to somewhat sabotage your efforts. As we advanced in line formation you sounded off scale howls, and I knew I would be discovered so I walked close to a large gathering of TREES. Suddenly shells flashed all round me, and I advanced a few paces, staggered and then my Walker fell. I foolishly let out a panic ululation and thankfully your Walker appeared to guard me. One of the tritents on my Walker had been smashed by one of the shells. As you destroyed the collection of shells that had fired at me, I crawled tediously out of my Shield and repaired the support. This was no doubt when I was first exposed to the WATER and other BACTERIA which is killing me slowly now.

“We don’t need to run amok bent on destruction just to cleanse this planet, Jago! Why can’t we just cripple the HUMANS’ machinery developments? Why are we spending so much time in this one small land?” I wanted to know.

Voynich, we need to establish a base from which we can position ourselves to cleanse this planet more efficiently. I know you have some notion of these lower beings suffering in some way and that disturbs you, but I’m sure that they know no better, just don’t get too aggressive about trying to ruin one of our offensives again or Skwi-dee may have some severe punishments for you

“Ok, well the fourth cylinder has landed, so we should be all fitted with the black smoke, hopefully a more merciful way of dealing with the HUMANS”

 

In the meantime, another disaster had unfolded with a group of three Walkers that had been experimenting walking in water almost as deep as the tritents supporting the Walkers. A metal machine, looking very much like a floating Shield, rushed at the Walkers and, not firing any shells, confused the cleansers long enough for them to be rammed, and two of the Walkers were destroyed. (p.112) Other than a few isolated incidents however, ALUMINIUM extraction was going on as planned, when unexpectedly, we all began to weaken.

_______________

 

From the mining site where Skwi-dee was working we extracted a HUMAN, to study if they were beginning to grow weak as we were, but we learnt very little from studying it. This was probably due to the fact that I wasn’t allowed much time with it on account of news of my slightly rebellious act having reached Skwi-dee, with strict punishments promised for when we returned to MARS. Not something I’ll have to worry about now…

 

In my own time, I noticed my poor Obzurvyng plant beginning to die everywhere that it was previously growing; the fronds became bleached, and then shrivelled and brittle, and the WATER and OXYGEN that had stimulated its early growth seemed now to destroy it. I begun to wonder whether we were suffering the same fate.

 

“Jago! It’s the BACTERIA! I was right all along! I think I have a chance to do something to stop this invasion.”

Invasion? BACTERIA? Stop talking in madness, Voynich, I already told you we’re just cleansing; we got a Floater working today, you saw! Enough of your wild fancies; what are you planning to do? Bury all our machines and let us all die?

“Why, yes! We should suffer the same forces that these “measly” HUMANS have survived all along; we don’t deserve to strut around in our Walkers and happily destroy their lives; I’ve realised now we were never sent here to cleanse our planet; this is an invasion! EARTH belongs to the HUMANS!”

 

I don’t know if what I said affected you, but for some reason you no longer seemed to think I was crazy then, and so with your help I began to bury our Walkers one by one, using tunnels built by life-forms that I had studied, deep underground where no more cleansers could ruin this planet. I knew Skwi-dee could do nothing to stop me; he could barely flop about anymore. You and I however, though weak, could still live longer thanks to our cleaning habits. But now, attacked by misunderstanding humans, I am dying in the wreckage of our last Walker. My final pre-death statement is this: Let wondrous life live!

 

I watch as, within a few short instants, his mind retracts, his tentacles flop lazily in tangled strands, and his eyes slowly eclipse; Voynich has died.

I have entombed the preceding recount with our buried walkers. In the event that these hideous life-forms should accidentally stumble across them one day, they will think that the invasion was truly over.

 

But –– how pitiful Voynich’s naïve view of the invasion had been!  So dim-witted, failing to realise, even before his death, our true intentions for coming to EARTH weren’t for some simple research and cleaning trip. His feeble attempts to stall the invaders were effectively futile, but ironically, his last act actually succeeded in fulfilling my mission in a way better than I could have engineered. Voynich’s self-righteous act will become my glorious legacy.

 

As I fly back to MARS in the only floater we had managed to build, I begin to write my report for the Invasion General on MARS:

 

Initial result from Jago’s mission:

 “Walkers successfully built and buried in crust, equipped for Secondary invasion 111 sun-rings from now, in Vesania year 2005”