The Outcasts

Kin

Mouse followed the outcasts. The man, Mark, refused to look at her. He stared into the darkness before them, deep in though. The woman, Mary, didn't seem too keen on talking either. Mouse couldn't blame them. They were about to bring an enemy into their home. The same revelation made Mouse wonder why she followed in the first place.   They didn't take her gun, which was a good sign, but the way they whispered and exchanged looks made Mouse uneasy.   The further they walked, the more Mouse struggled. She felt lightheaded, covered in sweat despite the cold. She was breathing fast, and her HUD displayed a rapid drop in blood pressure.   Mark turned around, taking note of her rapid breathing, "are you good?"   Mouse shook her head, "I think I'm septic."   He didn't seem surprised. "I figured. We're almost there."   Soon after, they emerged from a wide rocky opening into a large cavern. Metal shacks adorned the walls, the ground, and some were hanging from cables attached to the roof with bridges linking them to the ground below.   The small village was lit by torch and bioluminescent fungi, a massive bonfire burning at its center.   Mouse looked to distance and saw fields of dirt and compost. Men and women rode on the backs of massive canine beasts, a plow pulled behind them. They weren't just surviving down here, they were thriving.   They stopped in front of a large shack. It was neater than the others, more put together. Every piece seemed made to fit.   They entered and Mouse saw the closest thing to a clinic the outcasts had. Various tools littered shimmering metal trays. Nestled in another room behind a pane of glass was what served as an operation table. Several empty beds lined the walls, the sheets and blankets folded and cleaned despite the stains accumulated over the years.   She felt a pinch, the poke of a syringe. Mark removed it before she could react. He pointed to the operating table. "You can walk, or I can carry you. That arm has to go, and you know it."
     
Archivist's note: I am rarely wrong. As The Archivist of Safeharbor, making an error can get people killed. This is yet another burden I must bear alone, for I have spread much misinformation concerning our kin in the depths below.   When Mouse found her way to the surface, she brought undeniable truth. Video, voice recordings, and detailed records written in her own hand.   I feel it fitting to keep these records in their original form, an attempt to retain their truth. As a primary source, rest assured that this entry in the archives is as valid as my own.
 

On Outcasts

A report by Rhey "Mouse" Thakur
These records are meant to be an amendment to existing data and preconceptions on the outcasts, their culture, and their place in the natural order of Safeharbor. I can't really say much beyond what I experienced, but I saw enough to know that our records are hilariously wrong.   Some outcasts are as we feared, both tribal and malicious forces thwarting our efforts to explore the depths. They attack out of spite and hatred, rather than survival, and to protect their way of life.   The worst of the outcasts linger on the surface. The deeper you go, the less you see. Most have moved on, no longer concerned about their exile. They aren't resentful of us. They're terrified of us.

New Charlotte


Let me begin by addressing the shock of seeing New Charlotte. We previously believed the outcasts to be nomads, traveling along the deep roads across a very specific set of levels in the depths. We believed they were isolated to these rocky caverns. The truth is more complex. The outcasts live in isolated communities. New Charlotte is only one of what could be hundreds of such communities.   New Charlotte is an agricultural community, one of several. It is the closest to the surface and most of those who live there provide food and water to small outposts littering the deep roads. Their entire society is dependent on these outposts, each providing protection to caravans that travel between their communities.   These communities are centered around a specific location. The placement is deliberate. They surround the very source of energy we delved into depths to find, a place they call "The Glass Garden." Some of these communities focus on producing fuel or ammunition. Others look more like military forts, a necessity in order to protect themselves from us.

Agriculture

The outcasts have a sophisticated agricultural system. They use compost and clean water drawn from the planet's precipitation systems.     They managed to find many edible forms of plant life, from wild nuts, vegetables, and fungi. The latter grows in abundance. Bioluminescent fungi offer not just food, but a light source.   They've also managed to domesticate various forms of fauna that live below, some of which I've never seen before, requiring more study.

Technological advancement

The outcasts lack many sophisticated forms of technology. Their weaponry, medicine, and even their understanding of the planet are far behind our own. They lack knowledge of grid chisels, believing me, and other wayfarers to be demonic machines that supernaturally alter the planet's functions.   They aren't stupid. They call us demons out of fear. They know the humans on the surface are behind the expeditions below, but without the knowledge that explains how we do what we do, they must rely on more primitive notions. Despite this, they've been able to do things we haven't.   Their ability to reproduce ammunition is impressive given their circumstances. They produce weapons as well. Something that deserves recognition more than anything else is their skill in agriculture.
 

culture

The outcasts are highly religious. It makes sense. That's why we cast them out, after all. From my time with them, I was able to learn of 12 distinct religions, along with numerous denominations of each.   They use dyes extracted from plants to produce their dark clothing, dressing black, brown, purple, and blue. These dyes also assist in art. They paint on the steel walls of Safeharbor much like ourselves.   Their language is the same as ours, though there are minor dialects stemming from different origins. Most are earthborn, and came from different regions back on earth. What's hardest to swallow is how they live in harmony when we were told such differences caused nothing but grief.
   

The glass garden

Warning

Callback received: Glass-Garden
Information Lockdown in Effect


Archivist Overide in progress
Cutting Strings
Activating covert encryption: Alpha
The Knowledge Will Flow
     
Mouse opened her eyes and yet still sat in total darkness. She couldn't remember anything. Where was she? Why was it so dark? The blanket was warm, comforting. She felt it brush against her skin. Her suit and uniform were gone. She sat up, attempting to hold herself with her arms. One obeyed, the other did not.   She dropped to the mattress and heard movement from the other side of the room. "Who's there?" She called.   A voice answered, one she knew but couldn't tie to a name or face, "Rhey, it's me." The anesthetic was wearing off. As the man lit a lantern, the resulting light revealed his face. He had been crying.   Mouse wondered if it was a dream. How could he be here? "Dad?" The man nodded and smiled, fighting back against the lump in his throat. He only managed to speak when Mouse tried to sit up again, "Easy, little mouse. Always in a hurry."   The memories came back. They began as a slow trickle and quickly flowed. She refused to look, her eyes fixed to her father's face as if her life depended on it.   Her father sighed. "You'll be staying here for a bit. This kind of thing isn't easy. They notified me the moment you arrived." He stopped and gave a nervous chuckle before he continued, "You're lucky I show your picture to everyone I meet." He stared at the ground, finally aware of how she prolonged the inevitable. "You need to look, Rhey."   Mouse shook her head violently, her lip shaking as tears formed in her eyes. After a moment she glanced over, just enough to see the bandages. She knew it would be like this. Part of her felt like she deserved it. Her eyes glanced further and confirmed it. Her arm was gone, the wound bandaged and cleaned with skill.   Her father opened a book, her bible. "That was a clever hiding place. It took me a while to find it. You've been reading?"   Mouse nodded. "Yeah, why do you have it?"   "I thought it might help."   "Dad, I'm not really a believer, especially now."   "This isn't about believing someone was swallowed by a whale." he began, "It's about the principles taught and how some of those around you live and breathe these lessons. You certainly do believe, whether you like it or not." He opened the book and scanned the pages. "An example, and one you should keep in mind as you slowly venture beyond these walls: It is one thing to believe, it is another to put it into action. 'For I was hungered, and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink. I was a stranger, and ye took me in..."


Cover image: by Melanie Wasser

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
18 Jul, 2021 09:09

Love the structure of this and your other recent articles - moving from narrative to report and back again. It really helps immersion. AND ratchets up the tension with Mouse finding her Dad, and losing an arm. Is there a narrative order to the articles you're writing?

Check out my world Shadowfire, and my Summer Camp progress
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
18 Jul, 2021 16:25

Thanks so much. I really enjoy playing around with it. That's actually a great question. yes absolutely. You can check the narrative order in full by clicking the box on the left side of the page. I try to keep the linear nav updated. at the bottom of each article should be the previous and next article in order (provided I've written the next) thanks so much for the kinds words!

Master TimeBender
Unknown User
18 Jul, 2021 21:37

I love your style of writing so much! I figured she would have to have her arm amputated. Poor Mouse! :( But a great article as always. :D

~TimeBender~ Here's my main Summer Camp world: Knights
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
18 Jul, 2021 22:16

Yes indeed. This a sad day for Mouse.

19 Jul, 2021 15:59

Oh, I want to know about the glass garden so badly, please tell me it's coming soon. AS always, I absolutely love this :D

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
19 Jul, 2021 16:20

It is coming soon for sure! Thanks so much!!!

Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
20 Jul, 2021 06:31

You made me cry with that last bit. Poor Mouse. But she's alive. That's what counts, right? I am also very curious now about the Glass Garden. Can't wait to learn more about it. I also really love the concept of these outcasts. It shows just how resilient humans are in adapting to new environments. And how we have a tendency to stick together, or destroy each other.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
21 Jul, 2021 03:44

it is a sad day for mouse. =[ Thanks so much!

21 Jul, 2021 01:13

Okay, now the army is stepping on the archivist's toes by censoring information? they just keep getting worse. Of course, nobody's ever got the better of him for long...   I like to imagine there's a bunch of kids who eat glowing mushrooms just so their tongues glow when they stick them out.   On the subject of glowing mushrooms, how do they taste? I imagine they're quite bitter, but that's just because fireflies glow that way to remind predators of their bitter taste.   So... is this the sort of world where mouse can get a cool robot arm, or will she have to settle for something significantly more janky?   Also, is Mouse's dad in New Charlotte, or was she moved back to the colonies?

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
21 Jul, 2021 03:49

This is true, the archivist can easliy override lockdowns, but he hasnt had to do it till now.   Thats... such an awesome idea. i didnt think about kids playing with the glow. hmmm... may wanna use that at some poiint.   The mushrooms themselves tastes slightly sweet actually. It doesnt have a need to disuade pests and such so doesnt need to make a deterrent. I like the idea though., I ddint know that about fireflies.   Mouse's father is in new Charlotte, but the informational article itself takes place after she leaves. wanted to hype up the garden a bit...     As far as prosthetics, humans cant produce advanced prosthetics... humans have similar to what the cutting edge is now... humans...

Powered by World Anvil