As promised yesterday here is the story Circumnavigate. Its a long one (a little under 26300 words). I got carried away. I had an outline and I ran with it. Never thought it would end up as long as it did. But here it is, enjoy!
It’s been fifty years since the world ended. No one expected it to happen the way it did. Everyone knew sea levels would rise, but they always believed it would be impossible for them to rise a thousand metres. Until the sea levels did exactly that and consumed what was left of the already shrinking landmasses. Billions were killed as a result and scientists never even saw it coming. Everything in regards to their figures and projections said that they knew without a doubt the density of the ice sheets and that there could be no variance. But it turned out they were wrong and that the ice was much denser than they anticipated.
So as the planet warmed and the ice melted the sea levels quickly reached the levels predicted, but they didn’t stop as expected. Instead, the temperature continued to increase and as it did the ice continued to thaw. It was the beginning of an exponential cycle.
But one man, deemed mad by most, had planned for this eventuality. His name was Donald Cain. He was the first and only trillionaire and used all of his personal wealth as well as the funds from his corporations and their subsidiaries to build a floating city.
Scientists and politicians alike claimed the man was overreacting and that it was a waste of money, but still Donald Cain pressed ahead with it ignoring their words. He hired the best and most brilliant minds to build his grand concept, which he dubbed Shamballah after the mythical Tibetan kingdom. Those that agreed to aid Cain in his dream were given the chance to seek refuge on Shamballah when the floods finally came. Most of his workers never thought it would come to pass but were grateful for his offer. A few believed him a prophet issuing warnings of a cataclysmic event that was destined to occur. This blind faith in the man only grew when the floods actually came and now the people of Shamballah are all that remain of humanity.
Since that day Shamballah has drifted the near endless oceans of the Earth powered by its nuclear reactors. The engines that can propel and steer the floating city are only used to avoid what remains of the land that juts out of the oceans. An impact with said remnants of land would destroy humanities last bastion. But it is not a bastion of hope. Instead, Cain has become a reclusive tyrant. He hasn’t been seen in public for over four decades. He simply dwells up at the top of the tallest tower on Shamballah named after him. His ever present security system watches every move and every person that lives and works upon the floating city. Any dissidents are expelled from its safe confines with only their bunk to serve as a boat. It’s a death sentence and the people know it. But the tyrant Cain no longer cares about the people. Those who bow down to his madness, the zealots, live in the other towers of Shamballah and want for nothing. They live charmed lives in the servitude of their monarch. It’s the position Donald Cain gave himself in the years after the floods. No one had thought anything of it at the time. Everyone had believed that he really did have the best interests of every citizen in mind until it became clear he didn’t. And it was at that time that a societal rift developed between the zealots on the upper levels and the working classes who occupy the low levels of Shamballah. Those in the lower levels live in poverty, always having to fight not only to survive and feed themselves while living in filth, but also to keep the city afloat and running. If they don’t then they will die and they refuse to.
That is not to say that rebellions and revolutions have not been attempted in the past as they have. But each and every one has been put down brutally with the help of the Cain Guard. A group comprised of the most zealous and devout members of Cain’s Law, which is almost a religion to the upper levels of Shamballah who worship Cain, like a saviour. They even believe that if they completely eliminate dissidents from the city then Cain will once more grace the people with his presence and present them with his divine blessing.
And now has come time for another revolution. The people of the lower levels are no longer willing to live in squalor. They no longer wish to live to be in service to their ‘monarch.’
This new revolution is led by a man named Angus Henrikson. He is an engineer and has seen too many of his friends and colleagues worked to death or perish in circumstances that if resources were properly distributed wouldn’t occur. In fact, he along with those that follow him, are sure that Shamballah would prosper if simple changes were made. But Cain and his ilk refuse to treat them as anything other than cattle to be herded, used and exploited.
“Brothers and sisters.” Angus calls to those that are following him. Their numbers are small, maybe eighty in all, but they are strong and adamant to stop this cycle of pain and violence. They are stood blocking one of the major arteries of the lower levels to prevent fellow workers from getting to their shifts. They need to hear what I have to say, Angus says to himself.
“We cannot stand by and watch as Cain sunders us while he dwells in luxury in that tower of his.” Angus continues. His gathered followers are cheering at his words. They are desperate to force a change even if it means they have to fight. They are armed with wrenches, hammers and screwdrivers to name just a few tools that have become weapons. They aren’t much but they’ll have to do.
“We have been exploited too long. Been kept low and made to wade through the muck and corruption for scraps that we have created with our own two hands. The days of oppression are over. We will rise and we will enforce change.” Angus roars gathering energy from his supporters who are growing in number as many of those blocked from reaching their shifts are caught up in his speech. But the cameras are watching. They can’t be disabled and even if they were Cain Guards would still be sent in immediately. Cain Guards are even on their way now and Angus and the rebels know it. They want it, thirst for it. They will beat them back; take the lower levels and then the rest of Shamballah. They can’t be stopped. He is sure of it as the cheers continue all around him. A smile creeps across his face. He is sure of his path, of his destiny as more join his cause.
“Today we take the lower levels. Are you with me?” Angus calls now that he is sure the people are fired up enough to actually revolt.
“YEAAAHHH!!!” The cheers roar from all around Angus. He is sure there are more than a two hundred willing to follow him now. Not everyone present, but enough, for the moment at least.
“March!” Angus bellows as he breaks into a stride. The mass follows him leaving a seldom few behind. The few that remain refuse to take part in this. Most are older and remember the last time such a thing was attempted some twenty years ago. They are sure this revolution will end like all the others, in blood, death and exile. They want no part in it. Some of them lost brothers, parents, sons, daughters and lovers the last time. They still hold the pain and they aren’t willing to add to it. Revolution is for the young some of them think. While most agree that though the lower levels are filthy and brutal they are better than the other option of certain death or exile. They are sure of that.
But Angus and his followers are fired up, hell-bent on change as they march the streets, splitting into packs. Some urge and enlist new followers to the cause, while others help to create barricades and choke points. Everyone knows the Cain Guard will come but Angus and his rebels are determined to be ready when they do. They are only men and women after all. They can be beat whether they are zealots or not.
“Secure the farms. Take the reactors. Block the gateways. We must prepare for the stand, for our victory.” Angus continues as his follower’s race about the maze-like lower levels. They are a flurry of activity until the area is secure and then they post a few of their number, just enough, and move on.
They take the maintenance tunnels and hatchways first. Locking them down and securing them. They doubt the Cain Guard will try infiltration through such avenues but they refuse to take the chance. Then they move onto the reactors and check they are still in the rebels’ hands. They are and Angus with his ever growing following posts three times the people here compared to any other location. Most of them are fellow engineers who work in this area daily. Angus knows that if they control the reactors then they control the city. It dawns on him to wonder why no one has ever done this before. He knows there have been rebellions and such, three he believes in total before his own. But why has no one ever taken hold of the reactors. It is the weak link for Cain and his zealots. They need, no rely, on the power that is created here. He thinks Cain and his followers’ fools for their arrogance as he marches for the markets, which are deserted. It’s too early for them to be setup yet, but many of the stall holders have already joined his revolution. He leaves them to secure this place, the place they know best, before moving to the second most important section for his success, the farms. It’s where all the food for Shamballah is grown. Another mistake by Donald Cain and his ilk and for it the tyrant will pay, Angus thinks as he helps to sure up the defences against the attack everyone knows is coming. His rebels must number more than a few thousand by now, he guesses.
What if you fail though? The voice in his head suddenly asks. He sneers at it for even mentioning such a thing. He won’t fail. He can’t. But what if you do? The voice asks again. Then we all die, he thinks as he helps to lift solid metal beams into place so the narrower routes are made impassable. He wishes he could do this to every route of the lower levels, but the avenues are too great in number and their resources and time too slim. He has to make the best of what he has. He’s a resourceful man, all engineers are. They have managed to keep this floating dream of Cain’s afloat with welds, scrap metal and determination. After all, this city was never built to last forever. Everything has a life; Angus thinks as he gets word that the Cain Guard are on their way.
Angus isn’t surprised as it is just as he expected. It took them longer than he had thought though. He was sure they wouldn’t have this much time to prepare. But then again he and his fellow conspirators had been planning this for months. No one, not even Cain spying on them through his security system, had been able to predict or argue against as to why certain items were being stored in specific places. The truth was that it was strategic and all in preparation of this day. Angus’ supporters may have started as only a few dozen, but it had been enough. Plus he knew many just needed a catalyst to start a revolution and he was prepared to be that catalyst.
When the Cain Guard come they will find much of the lower levels under his control. He will beat them back. It will be a display to the entire populace of Shamballah that the people of the lower levels will be oppressed no longer. Then he will take what remains of this cesspool, the water purification and recycling plants, the housing district of his workers and the trade schools. He wishes he could have taken them already, but they are on the far side of the lower levels and the rebels were only ever going to have so much time. He opted for the two most important sections, as well as a few other lesser areas that the linked to them.
“Angus we have more recruits.” One of the rebels calls.
Angus turns and finds a whole swathe of farmhands willing to join them. All of them armed with tools like shovels, forks and scythes. They aren’t built to be weapons, but they’ll have to do. Everything in the lower levels is about using what you can to achieve a task and this revolution is no different, Angus knows.
“Welcome, brothers and sisters, to the cause. It’s the dawning of a new age. We will make Shamballah truly great…together.” Angus says giving one of his short speeches.
As usual the response to his words is a round of cheers. The response makes him smile. He can’t put into words how good it feels for him to see the determination and conviction in his fellow low levellers. He had worried that his following would not gain ground and that he would be left with but a seldom few. It was a fear he’d never managed to shake. However, these people, like him, are sick of the conditions and the exploitation. They, again like he, want a better future, a fairer future. A future for the many, not one built solely for the few.
Many of his initial followers had made sure to help spread word of the impending revolution and all of them had informed him how widespread the support was, but still he’d been concerned. Support in theory is not the same as actual support, but he knows now he’d been wrong for his fears. The support is all around him and that is why he and they will succeed in their fight against Cain.
You’re getting ahead of yourself again, the voice in his head remarks. He is getting sick of this voice. He knows its simple doubt and that everyone has it, but he doesn’t want or need it here, especially not at this time. Right now he has to lead these men and women, possibly some of them to their deaths. It’ll all be worth it, Angus tells himself as a young man comes running up to him.
“Angus, the Cain Guards are heading for the reactors.” The young man, Angus guesses he’s about seventeen. Not really a man, not yet at least. He hopes the boy will live to become a man, but he can’t guarantee it. People will die today, on both sides. He isn’t naïve enough to believe any different.
“Is everything ready?” Angus asks as he looks at the blonde haired boy with brown eyes. He looks very young he thinks in comparison to himself. Angus is in his late thirties, has short brown hair, green eyes and stands at a little over six feet tall. His arms are wide and bulging with muscle from his twenty years of working as an engineer shifting heavy metal pipes, supports, braces and such.
“It is.” The boy confirms.
“Kara, finish up here. I’m needed at the reactors. Join when you’re done.” Angus calls as he breaks into a steady run. The young man still out of breath turns on his heels and races after Angus to catch up. He wishes the larger man, the leader of the revolution, would slow down, but he understands why he does not. He can’t and the boy knows it. The Cain Guard are coming. Everyone knew they would, but no one quite knows what they’ll be faced with.