teaches Ferren about the World
a small space of earth between tussocks of grass. Then she picked
up the triangle of glass and started scratching lines. Ferren
sat down cross-legged, a respectful two metres away.
said. 'This is North America here. And South America. Europe and
Asia. Africa. And Australia.'
said Ferren, not understanding.
the continents,' she explained patiently.
of land surrounded by oceans.'
. . . . .
at him. Her eyes were disconcertingly blue, a deep-down blue like
cool clear water. 'Do you understand?'
said Ferren. 'Perhaps I'll just remember it for now and understand
it more later.'
ironically but not unkindly. 'Very well. Let's start with the
continent of North America.'
America is where the great Weather Wars took place. You see, the
Humen here tried to upset the equilibrium of Heaven by generating
terrible electrical storms in the upper atmosphere. But we fought
back by taking control of the tidal currents and prevailing winds,
and turned the whole climate against them. We created the Hundred
Years Blizzard. Now the continent is covered with a permanent
shield of ice.' She scratched a line across North America. 'All
the way down to here.'
'So what happened
to the Humen?'
into a few huge fortified camps, like Fortress Atlanta and the
San Antonio Complex. We keep them pinned down there. They hardly
ever come out nowadays, except on military sorties.'
was impressed. 'So they got beaten?'
'More or less.
They're on the defensive. It's the same in most places. In Africa,
'Yes. You remember
the names well. The Humen in Africa tried to go in over the Endless
a long, long line.
'That's a wall?'
'Yes, a gigantic
fireproof wall. It runs all the way around Europe and Asia. Europe
and Asia are the Burning Continents. The Endless Wall contains
the fire and stops it from spreading.'
the continents are burning?'
the time of the Great Collapse. The land is on fire, and the seas
and lakes are boiling. No-one has ever managed to quench the flames.
But the Humen in North Africa tried. They sent special armies
in over the wall. For a while they even succeeded in setting up
colonies in Sicily and Western Arabia and the Ebro River basin.'
'But not any
'No. We attacked
their lines of communication. Destroyed their overbridges and
their tunnels. Without supplies coming in from outside the colonies
his head. 'I always thought the Humen side had to be winning.
But they're not doing much good anywhere.'
they came to victory was in South America. Yes, there. The Humen
in South America were once a very grave threat. Back in the time
of Doctor Mengis and Doctor Genette. They established their empire
from Panama to Patagonia. The whole continent was turned into
a single vast industrial network, mass-producing their terrible
new weapons. That was when force-fields and magnetic webs were
'What are force-fields
and magnetic webs?'
'I can't explain.
They're too far outside your experience. The thing is, we had
no answer to them. And while we were trying to discover a counter-weapon,
the armies of Doctor Mengis and Doctor Genette actually broke
into the First Altitude of Heaven. They rampaged through our cities
and polluted many of our most beautiful courts and gardens. It
wasn't until the Campaign of the Five Zones that we finally overthrew
'Did you discover
a method of counter-attack. Our Blessed Souls attacked the Plasmatics
inside their machinery. Making everything go out of control. The
whole industrial network destroyed itself. The machines didn't
stop until the continent was torn apart.' She sketched zigzag
lines this way and that across South America. 'South America nowadays
is just a collection of broken blocks, separated by impassable
frowning with concentration, trying to remember it all. He pointed
a finger at Miriael's map.
'And what about
this one? Where we are?'
Who's winning where we are?'