Interim in Terra

by Nivi

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about

A sequel (or prequel, depending on your relativistic perspective) to Alter Locus, covering events on Earth while the Pyrrhan mission is underway.

credits

released 21 December 2014

Featuring Barry Watson (barrywatson.co) as Doctor Morrin, Peter Shillito (twitter.com/theshillito) as X, Avanna as Timone and yours truly as XI, Pumba and one of the Pyrrha colonists.

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Track Name: Last, or: Reflections on the Failure of the Pyrrhan Expedition
i stand alone

amid what's left of our conveyance
in the crater that it tore
i stand alone

amid the remnants of the corpses
of the entities it bore
i stand alone

----

they're closing in

i see their shadows moving cautiously
they haven't yet convinced themselves
i'm totally resigned
but they're closing in

they chased me valley after valley
they were herding me
but i guess they are now satisfied
'cause now they're closing in

----

with promise in our hearts
the skies we sailed
and when disaster struck our landing
we prevailed
for a time
i wonder how they'll feel in fifty years
when they discover how we failed

----

it's an embarrassment to think
of what we made it through
to get to where we failed

through ice and fire and impact
we survived
a fearful gauntlet
to get to where we failed

----

we had steel and simulations and sustainable supplies
but pomp could not defend us from the impact of the skies
the flags and trumpets tricked us into thinking we were wise
and we pretended

never daring to suppose we could do better
adhering to the overcautious rulebook by the letter
where there were lessons to be learned we held our fingers in our ears
and walked on past
but i still hope we're not the last

----

i think of home

i hope no longer for the now
but for the decades of adventure
that are surely now to come
i think of home

if they can learn from our collapse
take more precautions not to crash
take more precautions not to clash
Track Name: Comfort, or: Four Parables About the Important Differences Between Intent and Readiness
i heard a story
of a girl who studied talking with a book
she had the tongue positions down
she knew exactly what it took

she had the confidence to filibuster
the whole entire day
she was excited
there was so much she had to say

the crowd was buzzing as she stood backstage
preparing for her speech
she had
so much to tell them
a lifetime's worth of wisdom
hers to teach

she took the podium
the buzz died down
a thousand pairs of eyes
and to her surprise
she wagged her jaw
she clicked her teeth

it is easy to convince yourself you're ready
you think it through
you know exactly what to do
and it is easy to believe that you're prepared
that there's no reason to be scared

but if you have a single drop of sudden rain
a thousand closed umbrellas will not help you

----

i saw a man backed up against our hundred-metre wall
weapon in one hand
and wallet in the other

another stood demanding that he throw them in the air
our hero, frozen
whimpering for mother

he had three options: lose life and wallet
keep his life or both
and through inaction, chose the former, lost it all

he had the answer in his hand
but he was not prepared to use it
in the moment, he couldn't pull the trigger
instead he took the fall

it is easy…

and we take comfort
knowing action is an option
and we take comfort
knowing we are far more powerful than them
and we take comfort knowing
if we got wind that they were planning to attack
we'd get them back

and we take comfort…

but if you have a single…
Track Name: Lying, or: Lessons and Assertions About the Past and Future of an Unwanted Inheritance
hey, XI, come up the wall
i need you to see this

see what, X?

here
look at this

what's that?

the fighting on the other side is in its two-hundredth year
it's happening everywhere on earth that isn't here
we are a island, a holdout, a bastion in the fear
a bastion whose oversight by you is drawing near
but i can't just let you take it
there are things you have to know
there are mistakes that we have made
and there are places you can't go
and i know that you are eager
so i'll try do this fast
but please believe me
it's important that you understand our past

so there was one who brought us fame and passion
two who flew the flag
number three survived the outset and
disgusted, let it sag
when she returned, the show was different
a nomadic tinge ingrained
but through it all, the music
the humanity remained
number four was never jealous of the way that three would roam
and so he settled in the bunker which today we call our home
but there was subterfuge and conflict
and four was not a strategist, per-se
and so he perished
in an attack by [faction a]

and five was angry
so angry that she left to join the war
but after seven years of fighting couldn't take it any more
so she came back with guns and pacifism
fortified the bunker with her men
and started broadcasting again
six took the cause one big step forward and began to build the wall
but seven tried too hard to politic and for it, took a fall
instead of eight, we had the morrins for a time, and that was fine
but we came back when we were due, and then i took over from nine

so this is it? this is what you leave for me?
a people too afraid to climb a wall?
an idle people free of all ambition
in a world that has been
waiting for so many years
for anyone but these
these people who don't realise they could
end the war tomorrow if they pleased?

i could tell you i'd defend them
i'd be lying
i could tell you i would die for them
but i'd be lying

the weaponry we're sitting on does not give us the right
to interfere with what is ultimately someone else's fight
it's not our duty or our aim to be concerned with matters outside of the wall
we've built utopia, to fight would be to fall
and while yes, it is a fact that we could end the war today
we would be throwing several hundred thousand lives — and our innocence — away
for such a sacrifice to ever be considered as defensible
the state of play would be incomprehensible

every day that we do nothing there's a thousand in the grave
incomprehensible
is acting like there's anything to save

you sound like doctor morrin
implying we should be the world's police
assuming genocide would bring the world at last to some kind of peace
extrapolating from the fact that we've done nothing and the current trend is down
that we must thrash our little knives outside our town

but you are wrong
we have remained inert these last three hundred years
and there were times when things were perfect
and there were times when we had tears
but we held on
to our sanity, our empathy, our innocence, our trust
no debt is due, no intervention would be just

who would you nominate, but us, to be the arbiter
who's in a better place to know what's best for everyone involved
it's down to us, there's no-one else, we have to halt this world's decline
and if these people are opposed or simply ignorant, that's fine

i could tell you; lying; etc... (x2)

i can't just sit and listen to you promising neglect
because these people are still people; they deserve at least an inkling of respect
they are the last remaining pacifists, their qualities are rare
and their innocence is worthy of your care
it's not their politics that anger you
it's that they sit in silence
while the world that they inhabit hosts another year of violence
if they knew we had the power
they would end it i am sure
but it would tear them all to pieces if they knew what we were for
Track Name: Go, or: XI's Remedy to His Own Unwillingness to Attend to the Needs of His People
the energy you're wasting with your bickering
would be better spent against our common foe
but most of you are clearly not cut out for that
and the rest of you will march to let them know

a few of you are willing to murder for your cause
but i'm not interested in watching you destroy yourselves
so i'll just go

----

i have advisors who advise me about problems
and i hear about them every single day
we've got a terrorist, a war and people banging at our door
some saying say 'use them'
some saying 'throw them all away'

but when it's time to solve these problems
i can't bring myself to care
so i distract myself with something
i pretend that they're not there
and they go

----

but tomorrow and tomorrow and the next day and the next
they will remain
and every moment i pretend that we're not moments from the end
i spend in vain

----

i won't pretend i ever cared for this place anyway
my apathy will never be outdone
i won't defend as if the king, i will not sacrifice a thing
i will not hesitate
i will not hesitate to run

but indifference is more harmful than a leader who you fear
i'm not malevolent, for sure, and i would
rather be anywhere than here

----

so for now, let's all pretend this is democracy
i'll step down on my own
because my thoughts are intersecting with your voices
at a single point alone

----

i have no reason not to wish you all the best

because as certain as i am that as a people you'd be damned
there must be one of you
who could guide the rest to greatness
when i go

----

the legacy is over; my inheritance is lost
and i am free
and i will wander unaccosted in the desert
being who i want to be

----

xi, this is not what you were born for
so walk away
so walk away

xi, this is not what you were born for
that's what they say
that's what they say
and i read you loud and clear
i'll walk away
Track Name: Horizon, or: Belaboured Deconstructions of a Confusing Series of Ephemeral Social Interactions
in the desert, i expected there'd be misery
in the desert, i expected there'd be pain
in the desert, i prepared myself for enemies
in the desert, i prepared to go insane

with every step i take
i take another final step
with every step i take
i take another

i take another

---

there's nothing to be seen
nothing to be seen
on the horizon

no seas
no trees

----

despite the absence
of corners
around which to see things

i'm seeing things

around every corner

i don't know if they're real

but there
they are
in front of me

----

i see
but i can not be sure
i see
if my eyes deceive me then what are they for
but they've done this before
they've been deceitful and i've been sore

i know
know in my heart it's completely insane
i know
and why i believe is so hard to explain
i know it's all my brain
if it's what i want i can't complain

----

and there
they are
on the horizon

they move
they wave
and i stand still
Track Name: Criminal, or: An Exile's Criticisms of an Idealism that Refused to Suffer Their Existence
they wanted me
to be something that i did not want to be
they wanted me
to not be me

they built their world
on the unshakable foundation that the sinner can be saved
so they can't condemn
one who is one of them

----

even as i left
they tried to change me
not one of them could bear to say goodbye
because the person that they thought i was
the person i projected
wasn't me
nor who i want to be

----

i can not be
i'm a persistent deviation from their new philosophy
and now i see
they're scared of me

they want the very best for everyone
who happens to be standing on the right side of their gun
i see hypocrisy
they see a flaw in me

----

even as i left
they tried to change me
not one of them could bear to say goodbye
saying i'd be more than welcome
if i exorcised the devil in my mind
they think it kind

----

hate the crime, not the criminal
that's what they said
while they drugged me and planted things into my head
hate the crime, not the criminal
hate the crime, not the criminal

they preach this understanding
of people who do wrong
and so convinced are they it's noble
that they just trundle along

they are so blinded by compassion
for the victims of these flaws
that make us to the things we do
without what they perceive as cause

but it is part of me
despite their disbelieving and ideals
to have my friends attempt to kill it?
oh, you can't know how that feels

----

but there is one place in the world i'd be accepted
and it's the one place i can never ever go
the place that you escaped from 'cause to you it seemed like hell
is home to me
it's where i long to be

----

even as i left
they tried to change me
not one of them could bear to say goodbye
because to them i'm still a victim
still a patient to be cured of my disease
don't try to save me please
Track Name: Plan, or: Unsolicited Offers of Assistance in Engagement in Exchange for Weaponry
the stronghold that we thought was inescapable
has proven of itself that that's not so
and if one man can escape from atop the tower
then surely we can take what's down below

----

we want to end the war; that's our priority
we want to go back home a little, too
so we've been wandering the desert, plotting hopelessly
we have ambition but we cannot follow through

but when we were at our lowest, giving up and lying down
we hear your footsteps in the distance and we smile
because we're hoping you're the answer we've been waiting for
and we are hoping you will go the extra mile

for miles and miles around it there is nothing to be seen
there's just the ruins of the cities of the past
but we can take it, turn it, use it for the good of those remaining
and bring the slaughter to its epilogue at last

----

eleven, here's the plan, here's what we'll do
we'll take it all and bring it back to you
and all we ask of you is a bomb or two
and we'll be on our way
what do you say?

----

together we will grind them into dust
together we will strike so hard
they will not know what hit them

together we will grind them into dust
and they will not know
they will not know what
they will not know
they will not know
Track Name: Friends, or: A Final Message From XI to the People of His Former Home
we'll tear into you
we'll tear right through
we're kicking at the walls
and we're cheering as it falls

----

last time i was here
i ran away in fear
but this time i brought friends

and they won't be so
and they won't be so forgiving
Track Name: Throne, or: An Arrival in a Room
here's you
the only person qualified to lead
and simultaneously
the last one i expected

i thought for sure that doctor morrin
or an underling of his
would take the throne
make it their own

here's me
tossed maliciously
a spanner coming home at last
triumphantly returning from the wild

but my attempt
is met with hate and contempt
i left a child
and i came back reviled

----

i saw it happen
i watched you falling from the sky
i watched you die
but here you are
your eye as ever
penetrating me
what does it see?

----

does it see through me to all of my allegiances
does it know that i made friends outside the wall
or does it see past all that
that i intended all along
to do them wrong

but you're telling me you see them in the basement
and you're showing me they're fighting even now
and i realise what is down there
i realise what i've done
and i am frozen
they have won

----

…i left a child
and i came back a child
Track Name: Anthem
before our hubris melts our eyes
let's turn our gaze towards the skies
they're somewhere out there, looking back
i hope they do better