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Our Shattered World
Hey y’all! My name is Linda. I will be your host on a grand journey through our majestic planet: Shard 2!
Oh, I see we have a visitor to our land with us today. Welcome, sir! Please make yourself at home! Now everyone, buckle up, and let us begin the tour that will take you from a megatropolis to the wild forests and back again… in an adventure of learning across our shattered world!
First off, I’d like to mention the incredible feat of engineering that our shuttle itself is. In the year 4090, a few human decades ago in case you all were curious (y’know, the back in the tree-hugger days when people didn’t like clothes ‘cause they thought that it hurt the environment)the top scientists finished the rail! It stands a hundred feet high and is made of an aluminum-titanium alloy. The car itself is made of three-centimeter thick, shatter-proof glass. The rail system spans the entire length of what remains of our planet, a total distance from north to south of 588 kilometers and 614 kilometers east to west. They run in a straight line, and there is only one intersection at the mid-way point. Our tour follows the east-to-west path, or, “Right-to-Left Road” as it is colloquially referred to.
Ah, look behind you! There is the beautiful silhouette of our sprawling and artistic capital: Flume City! I truly envy the architectural master-working genius of the brothers’ design! As you all can see, each building is placed just so, so that their glowing shadows produce a remarkable stained-glass mosaic of the sun that we can no longer behold. This entire city is a living tribute… and a better memorial couldn’t have been made! Flume is also the residence of yours truly!
Get ready friends! This is my favorite part! This is what makes Shard 2 the best of the three in my eyes. We are now entering the Great Fungal Forest! This luminescent vegetation gives our dim skies an ethereal, hypnotic, and downright enchanting hue. I don’t know why, but these huge mushrooms are about the most beautiful sight I can imagine. They’re so tall and majestic, yet they have almost comical crowns to hide their earthy and shy faces. These quote-on-quote, “Mega-Mushrooms” are, in my opinion anyways, are The Creator’s abstract statues, representative of what our race should ideally stand for. They are an unavoidable symbol; they dominate the landscape for miles around as a beacon of light and mystery! Wow, sorry… I tend to get a bit sentimental when I’m on a personal rhythm. Y’know how it is when you’re on a groove.
The forest may be the signet of the land, but its greatest asset is its major contribution to our survival. We would not be where we are today without the benefits it provides. The fungi were first to recover from the cataclysm; some studies actually seem to indicate that they are made stronger by these current conditions. Soon after The Rupture, it was discovered that not only were the mushrooms producers of light, the flesh was also edible… and not just edible, but also delicious and nutritious! The base portion of the stalk right above the ground has a distinctive earthy taste. It’s almost tangy, and definitely grassy and herbal. The middle of the stalk, or, “trunk” as it is often called, is the biggest staple of our diet. When fried or baked, the flavor is undeniably meaty. Many different recipes use this portion as a main course. The yummiest and favorite with tykes is the crown. Humans who have tried it say that it bears a surprising resemblance to caramel in its taste. Can you testify to this sir? Oh! You’ve never tried either? That will never do! You can not let yourself leave without treating yourself to a bowl of crown gruel! The name is atrocious, but don’t let that fool you… it is amazing. The Shard 2 experience doesn’t count without the inclusion of a steaming bowl of Marty’s Famous Crown Gruel!
In addition to being a source of food, the cores of the fungi are used for making high-end timber which is used in the construction of luxury time-shares and hotels, boats for sailing on Lake Survival, and in the interior paneling of corporate vehicles. It is prized for the smooth texture, fervent coloring, the prominent scent of chamomile and mint, and the sturdiness to survive decades of constant angry skies.
Many people also make affordable, fashionable, comfortable, and sturdy clothing out of its thin silk-like film surrounding the entire exterior. My entire wardrobe is fungal cloth. I swear by the stuff! I love the fact that it glows in the dark even after being treated and stitched into clothing.
We have to remember to thank The Creator for giving us such a plentiful, resilient, and economic friend!
Ah! I was hoping that this would occur today! See those little black specks falling all around us? It’s sooting! I simply adore the way that it fades into a dark haze in the distance! For the human aboard, sooting is a natural phenomenon that you would likely call “snowing.” The only difference is that the addition of an artificial chemical, Aionnoxide-12b (added for purification), increases water’s freezing temperature and reacts with crystallization to turn the color of the ice pitch-black. Ma always used to tell me a story about something I said when I was little. Apparently I was two years-old when I first experienced soot. She said that I ran outside beaming, but still somewhat concerned, and yelled, “Mamma! The chimney sneezed!”
Hehe, look at the awe on our human friend’s face! Sir, I don’t blame you… I’ve still never lost my sense of wonder at the contrast between the softly shifting blues, greens, grays, and browns, and the solid black blanket beneath a solid black sky.
Hmm, our trip is nearing its end now; we are just about to enter the final leg…
Welcome to Cradle City: the biggest mass grouping of technological wizardry in the entire known universe! Behold the center of invention for the most agile minds alive! The scientific elite gather here, constantly trying to make the next new thing for the improvement of our lives! They have been helping us in our quest for survival and betterment in more ways than we could ever give them credit for or even imagine!
In 4000, our top dogs realized that our planet was on the verge of splitting, and they started a think-tank community to try to prevent our total demise. Their original work produced the temporary space city that was to be our fallout shelter, the weather moderation system, the artificial gravity field, and probably most important: the atmospheric shield! Our survival hinged solely on these devices working. Obviously they worked perfectly; we survived the destruction of our planet; then we were able to re-inhabit the fragments! We have returned to a somewhat normal way of life again quite quickly. Things are harder now, and a lot different. For example: There is always 100% cloud cover now; we cannot see the sun. Therefore, we have had to invent unnatural sources of light and heat to supplement the huge mushrooms. Also, now artificially generated greenhouses grow all vegetation that contains chlorophyll. The weather also is an average of ten degrees Celsius. It’s a little dank and cave-like for my taste, but I’m being whiny now. The work these men did was necessary and saved all of our lives.
Over there on your left! The tall, prominent building is the location of first contact! Yes, in that exact place, our techies uncovered the signal sent out by humanity. The courtyard below us is where our leaders first met the foreign emissaries. That was a history-changing event! The world was changed forever with that monumental moment.
Well everyone, we are officially at the end of the line. Before you get off, I’ll ask you folks to let me ramble on about one more topic of interest: The Flipside…
Ahead of us you can see the end of the planet. This is the Eastern Drop-off. Because of the cataclysm, each shard of our former planet has two sides: A topside (The surface of the planet that supports life), and a flipside (the former crust of the planet that was exposed to the atmosphere and slowly solidified). The Flipside is a rugged, unmerciful, dangerous, and flat out evil place. However, resources are abundant and the alluring possibility of a pretty fortune enticed the government to set up a giant elevator to take miners, researchers, and foolish young adventurers over to brave death.
Anyway, I hope that we aren’t ending on a too depressing note… I hope you found this to be a fascinating and insightful tour across our shattered world! May The Creator guide your path!
The human was still stretching gingerly as he waited for his order of Crown Gruel to arrive. He carefully picked up the steaming bowl of succulently scented gray paste and sat down at a corner booth. An aging native approached him. The human, a young scientist from earth who was named Stan, waved him over and the older fellow slid slowly into the other seat. His grin showed off the three yellow teeth that he still had, and it pulled his wrinkled leathery skin taut. It was actually surprisingly jolly looking.
“So, how did you enjoy the tour?” he laughed.
“Oh, it was wonderful… I just have one complaint , though: why does your race’s physique have to be so short and tiny?” This comment resulted in a friendly but rough punch in the arm.
“No, seriously, that Linda gal could’ve been a babe if she’d had that face on a human body!”
“Actually, when I went on this tour again for the umpteenth time (as a chaperone on my grandson’s field trip that time), we had that Linda girl too, and my boy was completely crushin’… I just found her a little too annoying.”
They finished eating then took an amiable stroll toward the Flipside Lift.
“Okay, to business now! Tell me honestly, do you want to do this?”
“Linda’s warning’s sold me… I’m totally in!”
“She downplays the danger… and the potential gain.”
“Trust me, I’m sure. This is the real deal, the reason why I dreamed of coming here.”
“Excellent, I’ve already got the perfect team. These guys are the best and will be completely willing to sign on.”
“Perfect! We’ll leave as soon as possible for… The Flipside.”