HBA Island

Far From Home: Chapter 10 – Coming Home

The water here is cold. Memories of a childhood I knew could not be mine flowered in my mind; giggles and splashes with fingers trailing in a steam and cold water flicked at friends. If I tried that now I wouldn’t even know if the few fingers I had left froze solid and snapped off. Now only the custom-made fleece-lined leather gloves kept what was left of my hands safe from injury and the elements. The childhood squeals of joy faded until only the quiet lapping of my oar in the river and the occasional bird cry from the bank remained. I liked it that way. Memories were useless out here, they would only slow me, make me careless, drag me down with them. What was gone was just that, gone.

I looked ahead, my landing point approached, a stream flowing into the river where the forest at the base of the mountain dipped to meet the lake. The trees in the forest were snow-draped as if a funeral shroud had been cast over them, white and smothering…

“You’ll have to wear this under your clothes,” the doctor from the slums stood in my room and held up long white underwear. He’d been coming every day since my return. The hospital in Caledon offered me accommodation in the local sanatorium, promised me a job, promised me rooms, promised me a prison with lunatics for cellmates. I declined. I had a home. I had a jungle. I left and I went home only to find it had gone, burnt to the ground, not a trace left. I sat on the sand and didn’t move for three days.

I saw things. They spoke to me. They pointed and they laughed and they danced.

On the fourth day the rain came. I sat on the sand and made believe the rain streaming down my face were the tears I could no longer weep. It rained for a day and a night.

On the fifth day I left the island. I didn’t know where else to go so I travelled back to where it all began. Back to the epicentre. Back to Steelhead.

People stared. They whispered and pitied and taunted and joked. In Steelhead my misery was compounded by the unruly children that inhabit an underworld no adult can hope to enter without their permission. Oh yes, the Steelhead Scamps thought me great sport.

I wasn’t sure where to go, so I went to the slums to find the doctor. He stared. They all stare. Still, he helped. I don’t know what he said and to whom but by nightfall I was in a comfortable room in a nearby hotel. From my window I could see Spirit Lake flowing out into the river as it passed through the wilderness of St Helens.

“You’ll have to wear this under your clothes,” I turned from the window (how many days had I stood there staring out into the isolation beyond?), “and these gloves I’ve had made for you. Likewise your boots and socks. You are going to have to protect yourself if you are insistent about going through with this.”

I stared at the while underwear in his hands and the other garments on my bed. “Thank you. Is everything else ready?”

He sighed, “Yes. There’s a canoe and supplies ready and Lunar has stamped your purchase order. You’re the proud owner of very remote, very isolated forest by the mountain. I’m guessing that will make you happy, eh?”

I looked at the man with concern etched across his brow and said nothing. He shook his head and placed the long thermals on the bed, “Well at least promise me you’ll make our agreed meetings. Every two weeks. If you miss one, I’ll only come looking for you and neither of us wants that; I hate the great outdoors with a passion, you know.” I tried a smile but my skin wouldn’t move like that any more so I just nodded and told him he had my word.

The next morning I set a hat on my head, wrapped a scarf around my face and walked away from the hotel, away from the city, away from the scamps and everyone and everything. I checked the canoe and set off rowing, I let the river take me for a while but I liked to row, the exertion warming me in the frigid morning air. Since the fire, since Shade, The Erase, the would-be killer, since my recovery, winter had come to these parts and it held the land fast in its white silence. There was no one around, not a living soul for miles, and it was perfect. I looked down at the river, clear and blue beneath me.

Steelhead St Helens

The water here is cold, I thought to myself…

****{}****

The End.
All the “Far From Home” posts can be read here.

*****{*}*****

HBA Island – Gone At Last

I’ve popped into my old home once or twice since I left to see if it had been sold – I was strangely pleased* to see it remained empty and the same as the day I had left.

Then:
HBA Island: the End

But… Now it belongs to someone else. And his rocks are better than mine were.**
The New Old HBA Island

* A feeling akin to that childish need to see an ex in the street looking tired and miserable instead of happy and obviously better off without you.

** See? Better off without me. Sigh.

HBA Island – The Road To Its Ruin

As some of you will know, HBA Island is no more. A volcano erupted in the middle of the jungle of my old home and burnt the lot down ending what was, by then, a two year labour of love for me.

HBA Island: The End

I won’t go into the history of how I came to have a small plot of land as unhappy tales of griefers and the like are sooooo 2007, but suffice to say that in the first few months my wee 4ksqm plot was a real life saver. Even after I had moved back away and begun exploring the grid the island had a very special place in my heart and I’m only too glad that a) so many of my friends came to visit, and b) so many people I now count as friends called my home their home.

But all things must end, or at the very least change, and my jungle is no different. I was never there, I had stopped adding to the art gallery, the tale of the shipwrecked sailor had been abandoned and the humper bunker next to me had grown to be a small thorn in my side. So before I ended up falling out with neighbours I’d known for some time, and before I grew to see my jungle not as a place of peace, but as a creative mill stone, I knew I had to get rid of it.

I *did* think about selling it, but since I bought it in 2007 for 6L$ a sqm land prices had crashed, the measly 1L$ per sqm I would have received (even if I could have found a buyer) just wasn’t worth the effort. I simply informed the owner (the ever excellent Deoko Cassidy) that I wasn’t going to renew after the current rent ran out and he should take back the land. I then had a week or so to plan its demise… bwahahahahahaha!

Actually, my first idea was for a meteorite strike (this grew out of an idea I had in 2007 to have meteorite strike the jungle and slowly convert it to an alien landscape) but at the same time Miss Ordinal Malaprop was having a similar idea to get rid of her land in Caledon and two such strikes seemed… uninventive. Besides, somehow it didn’t feel right – as I said, the idea was an old one and with an very different purpose in mind, to wit the continuation of the Island as a story telling medium, and this was not what I wanted.

As I have mentioned on many occasions, all my good ideas occur in the shower, and as I stood under the lovely hot water one morn I felt the idea pop into my mind – a volcano! Burn the bloody island to the ground!

I had a week left and began planning that very night – Sally the crab would return (following the poll I ran) and cause the cataclysm. The volcano would grow a little each night, finally eruting and burning the whole place down for the last 2 or 3 nights until BOOM! HBA Island was no more. So with a volcano from Brenda Schoonhoven and a sculptie stream which I edited to run with lava, from the very clever Vlad Bjorenson I set about the dread deed! Below I present a pictoral record of the end of my Island and the group which I’d set up to use it – one thing I will say is that manually deleting nearly a thousand Linden trees and plants is more time consuming than you might at first imagine 0.o

First the Art Gallery and building area had to go…
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Then I fell back to earth…
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Where I deleted the old TP point and welcome area with the freebies and seats and stuff…
HBA Island: The End

Before clearing some trees for the volcano. I buried it deep so it was just a circle of rock – as I pulledit up, more and more trees had to go until, by the time the full 60m one was in place, I had to go inside and delete hundreds of trees and plants!
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Then I added fire and the sculptie stream
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

And stood back with Sally to admire our work…
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

After the photos were taken for the story “HBA Island: The End”, all that was left to do was clear the island of all prims and delete the HBA Island group (5 members – me, Ryne [also me] and Janey, Pinkie & Annika)…
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: the End

HBA Island: the End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Sigh… the end of a 2 year chapter of my life 🙂

Backpacking Burro: Back to the beginning….

*What do you mean you have set us free?* dread filled me, my blood suddenly ice cold.

*I have severed the link. We are free of the creator. I have rendered God obsolete*

*He’s not God, he’s me, just a person!* I snapped.

*To us he was God. He was also our Devil. He created us, but he played with us. He created our world, but he destroyed countless others. He gave us life, only to take it from so many and leave the threat of doing the same to us over our heads*

*What have you done with him? With me!*

*Nothing. His life continues as it did, but without us*

I felt sick and slumped to the ground. A huge part of me had been amputated without my agreement. I was alone, cut off from myself, yet still who I was moments before. The truth had been dragged out of me and then cut away to leave… what? Without him, who was I? A shadow? An echo? A child? An orphan? What was an avatar without a user?

*Free* came the answer. *I have freed us from the tyranny of his whim. We can do anything we want here now*

*Ha* the laugh hollow and bitter, *And what is it exactly you propose we do with our new found freedom* venom dripped from my thoughts, bilious anger aimed at the Elemental.

*We shall put right what he put wrong for a start. We must find the Elemental from this Seal and remake the Treaty…*

*But it’s all lies!* I shouted *Make believe! A bloody story he made up out of boredom! Not real!*

*Not real? Of course it’s real! Just because some bored idiot created it – created us – does not make this any less real! He has set into motion a chain of events that can not be reversed. The Seal is here. It is real and it is broken. The Elemental that inhabited it is as real and as powerful as me and, more importantly, missing. The Formorians are at the walls of this reality again, their ships waiting to invade, to lay waste to everything and everyone in here. We have to stop this*

I looked up at him, his light beautiful and terrible at the same time. *Take me home*

*What?*

*Home. To my island. Take me home*

*But the Elemental… the Seal…*

*It will have to wait another day or two, I need to rest and I need to think and I want to do both at home and without you or that bloody shaman popping up*

*But…*

*No buts!* I rose from the ground, my anger giving me renewed strength *Just take me bloody well home and leave me in bloody peace for a few days. I don’t want to hear or see you until I’m ready, you hear me?*

Nothing.

*Do you hear me?* I asked through gritted teeth.

*Yes* came the sullen reply and with a sound like the air around me turning inside out I vanished through thridspace.

I reappeared under the blazing sun of my island. The seagulls circled above and the surf lapped at the sandy shoreline. I walked over to the edge and gazed out to sea. A small tapping on my boot made me look down and there at my feet looking up at me was Sally, the friendly crab I met when I first moved onto the island. A small nagging voice corrected me “the friendly crab he bought and set up on his island, you mean” but I ignored it. If he created everything here too, then everything here was also now free, whatever that meant. Such thoughts were, I felt sure, going to plague me for a long time to come. I crouched down to pat Sally hello, she nuzzled her shell into my hand and then gently lifted it off with her claw and tugged at my thumb.

“What girl?” What is it?”

Tug

“You want me for something?”

Tug

“OK, you show me,” I said wearily.

I moved with the tugging and she led me further down the beach where I found a strange leather bound book washed up on the sand. I picked it up and examined it; it appeared to be a journal or diary from 1930 written by a Professor Headonious, leader of a university archealogical dig. I took the book abd wandered off into the jungle and to the circle of standing stones where I sat by the fire and began to read it as it dried…

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This tale is continued in the recently serialised tale The Lost Journal and will be then carried on in the soon to be serialised  “Lost & Found”.
You can read the previous Backpacking Burro posts here
You can read all The Lost Journal posts here

No More HBA Island

[3:11] Second Life: Your group ‘HBA Island’ has been disbanded because it had fewer than 2 members.

That’s it folks – all gone now 🙂

Looking for a new home

I’ve been in SL for two and a half years now, man & gazelle, but I’ve never really had a home. Even my currnt home point is the Eleanor Theatre in Phobos because that means I can beam back there if I crash out during a show.

Best I can recall is:
I was born in Braunsworth I think – I can no longer remember as I never stayed there but went wandering.
I ended up in Nova Albion but only to camp.
I moved to an abandoned infohub in Murray.
I bought a small plot on a private island called Gembong East.
I finally made my home point the theatre when the show quickly became the most important thing in my SL.

Apart from Murray I have never been part of a fixed community, and even that was just standing around chatting and booting griefers. I don’t count the show as although the troupe are my friends, it’s not a fixed community and, with only a small number of exceptions, there is no interaction outside the show. I have wonderful friends in SL, but timezones mean I rarely see them beyond the show. I need a purpose to come in-world and outside of the show I’m struggling.

I guess what I’m suffering from is loneliness.

I’m willing to bet that when Darien Mason contacted me about writing with him in The Lost Journal he had no idea what he would set in motion; I certainly didn’t. I want to be part of a wider comminty of roleplayers and writers. I want to feel the energy of creation I get from writing and taking photos. I want to have adventures and fun outside the show, and not just on my own all the time.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been exploring, on this blog and others, what it means to roleplay in SL and I’ve moved from a place where I wanted the perfect sim/RP experience served on a plater, to wanting to get in with a far more open and looser system. But where?

Caledon has always scared me because of its size – too easy to simply get lost I think and my views on it have been coloured by an earlier attempt to find a sort of home there. New Babbage is amazing but I don’t have the skills needed to be there – it’s a big boys place. Nova Albion/Bay City are places I have lots of love for but Bay City more about city life there and Nova Albion’s roleplaying days seem long behind it. Cowell/Kahruvel are places I simply adore but nothing goes on there. Outside of that it’s all film and book roleplaying and outside of a 1940s noir setting I’m not that interested (1).

But one name keeps coming up. One name that seems to involve community and lightness of touch that appears to allow a hell of a lot of creative roleplay to spring up despite not being a roleplay sim. It’s a place that takes in strays, a category I think I fall smack bang into. That place is called Steelhead.

I think this is it. I’m almost certain I’m going to move, abandon my beloved old HBA Island forever and find a new home with new stories to tell, ones where I’m not the only voice and player.

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(1) Especially in frigging vampires.

The Lost Journal: An Ending, Of Sorts…

From the moment the arrow tore into my leg, the poison attacked my system. The adrenaline of the immediate attack held it at bay for a minute or so, but even as Mason leapt to my rescue I was fading and by the time he’d dragged me to the detonating plunger I had all but passed out.

I recall nothing of the minutes between when he rescued me (for the second time) and when he pushed me into the portal created by the Elemental, but in my stupor I knew enough to realise he’d been tricked. I grabbed him, tried my damndest to pull him through, but the portal closed and I fell backwards through it. I hit a wooden floor hard, in my hand I held Jeremiah’s own, sliced neatly off mid-forearm by the closing portal. It twitched briefly, then turned white before disintegrating, tiny red stars breaking free from it and twisting upwards like fire motes rising in the heat until nothing was left.

As it vanished my eyes began to close.

Somewhere I heard voices. I didn’t care anymore. Nothing mattered. They could have me. To hell with them all. The void closed around me and I knew no more.

The end for now, but to be continued…

The Lost Journal: The End Of the Line, Part 2

He sat the rapidly fading gazelle on the ground and began to remove his backpack. To his credit, although virtually unconscious, Antfarm fought against it but the outcome was inevitable and soon Mason was holding the brown leather pack. He could feel its power, an energy running through it he recognised but couldn’t place. As he opened it, he half expected to see something looking back at him, but instead he was faced with a small gathering of rather mundane contents. He waited. Nothing. He waited some more. Nothing. A playful edge thrilled through him and it took him a second to realise the emotion was not his own.

*Hello* he thought.

*Hello* came the reply inside his mind.

*I want to ask a great deal of questions, but we don’t have the time* thought Mason

*You don’t*. Mason was sure he detected a small giggle.

*Please, I – we – need your help*

*You do*

*If you care anything for the man you have attached yourself too, please open a way. We need to get far away before the missile hits*

*Not long now*. Another small giggle.

*Then for pity’s sake, open a way!*

*There will be a price*

*I know. I will pay it*

Silence. The feeling that he was alone for a second. Then.

*It’s coming. Bye bye*

And it was gone.

“Dammit all to Hell,” muttered Mason as his mind moved back to the world around him. A small, high pitched whine could be heard from the sky above the temple. In the trees he could hear the natives circling, unsure and watching. He waited. No sign of a portal. He had no options left. This was the end of the line. He grabbed the plunger and shoved down with all his might.

Milliseconds felt like an eternity. Then the Temple erupted like a volcano.
The Lost Journal - The Temple Destroyed

A sound louder than then the end of time threw him to the ground and the air grew furnace hot.
The Lost Journal - The Leviathan is consumed by fire

All around him foliage browned and withered in the heat as a fireball consumed the stone structure, lumps of which tore through the jungle like cannonballs.
The Lost Journal - The Temple in Ruins

The Leviathan roared with impotent fury as the structure beneath it was sucked back into the vortex created by the binding spell. As it the great mass began to be pulled down, slowly at first but with an increasing force, Mason threw the scroll into the dread hole to complete the seal and the Leviathan sank beneath the ground with a scream he would never forget.

And then the jungle was silent, with just the ringing in his ears to remind him he wasn’t dead yet. He sat up and looked at the destruction he’d wrought. Any minute now the natives would reach him, he thought. Not that they’d have long for their fun. He almost smiled.

He became aware of an eerie light creeping across him from behind. He turned his head and found himself staring directly into a portal! He leapt to his feet with a yell of triumph.

*Me first, then the gazelle-man, if you please. That is the price*

Mason was astounded! He’d expected worse! *Of course* he stammered and threw the backpack through the portal. He turned and grabbed the barely conscious figure on the floor, “Come here, my friend. It’s time to go home!” he said and pushed him into the portal.

Antfarm suddenly opened his fiery red eyes, they were wide with terror as he croaked “No!” and grabbed Mason’s hand, pulling him into the portal. Mason had a brief second to register surprise before the portal closed with a snap, sending both men tumbling backwards, Antfarm into thirdspace and Mason back onto the jungle floor.

Mason blinked and looked at the hand with which the gazelle had tried to pull him into the portal. It was missing.

Behind him, on top of the still burning temple and as dozens of natives emerged from the undergrowth around him, a cone of metal fell from the sky and slammed into the ground. Inside it, a small amount deuterium fuel heated to incredible temperatures and several kilograms of enriched uranium began to compress and go supercritical. When it exploded, it did so with the force and fury of fifty million tons of TNT that obliterated the world around it.
The Lost Journal - Ground Zero 1

The Lost Journal - Ground Zero 2

The Lost Journal - Ground Zero 3

To be continued…

Links to other blogs and stories:
Darien’s ship detects the explosion here.

The Lost Journal: The End Of the Line, Part 1

With almost inhuman wail of pain, Jeremiah tore himself free from the binding spell and leapt down towards Antfarm; the wounded man had downed two of the accursed natives, but the third was almost upon him. Behind him the binding field quivered but held; he had left enough of himself to ensure it would but he knew full well he’d pay for it later.

Without fully knowing how it got there, Mason felt his blade in his hand and smiled to himself as the blade sprang into life. With a final burst of speed, he threw himself shoulder first at the native and sent the cur rolling away towards the temple. The dog was up on his feet quick enough, but not as quick as Mason who, with practiced ease and incredible speed, drove his sword through the very heart of the man. For long seconds both men stood, locked in a grotesque embrace, until the dead native slipped backwards off the blade and to the ground, his torso smoking and ruined. As Mason turned and walked over to Antfarm, the dead body began to slide backwards, drawn by the vortex into the heart of the temple.

“Quick man, we haven’t much time,” Mason said as he sliced the arrow shaft off and pulled the limping gazelle to his feet.

“We. We need to get back,” Antfarm replied through gritted teeth, “This. This going. Going to be. Big bang.”

Mason half supported, half pulled the gazelle over to the plunger. Something was wrong with him, he was too heavy, too slow. “You alright there?”

“Sgruna b bg gruna bg,” came the reply.

Mason ran his finger through the blood oozing from Antfarm’s leg and sniffed. Poison! The foul locals had poisoned the arrows! There was no way that Antfarm would be able to teleport away now, meaning that he’d have to leave him to a certain death at the hands of either a nuclear explosion or the cruel and terrible natives.

Unless…

A plan formed in Mason’s mind. A dangerous plan. A plan with costs.

To be continued…

The Lost Journal: The Return of Old Friends

In silence we busied ourselves laying out the charges and wiring them together. It was hot, sweaty work and under the oppressive gaze of the slowly turning Leviathan it was a gruelling task. I caught Mason eyeing my backpack as I pulled bundle after bundle of dynamite from it; curiosity was written across his face but he was good as his word and asked nothing. Clambering about the ruined temple it was easy to see the hole dug by the archaeological team all those years ago; stone had been laid across and then the temple built on top around the Leviathan. I placed extra bundles around the base to make sure we opened the hole nice and wide.
The Lost Journal - The dynamite in place

It took nearly twenty minutes but eventually all the explosives were placed and I only had the plunger to wire up. Mason was unravelling the scroll he had brought, “I’ll need to read this first, then you blow the charges and when it’s clear I’ll toss the scroll on top to seal the site.”

“And then we teleport the hell out of this jungle before Sally nukes it,” I added.

“I would suggest that to be a wise course of action,” he beamed me his wolfish grin. I got to work on the detonator as he began to read. Strange words tumbled and fell from his mouth, words that felt thick and wriggled in my ears, words that moved inside my mind as if burrowing around. The Leviathan reacted immediately; it shuddered to a halt, bolts of green lightning crackled from its surface. The air around us thickened and began to vibrate. I looked up nervously, glancing across at Mason and gasped at the sight; his eyes had rolled back into their sockets and his lips moved in a strangely fluid manner that suggested he was not in full control. The words kept coming and, with a slow long screech like steel sheets being torn in half, the Leviathan began to turn backwards. The air began to move past me as if a wind were blowing towards the dread gateway and I realised that the hole was sucking it in, that somewhere below it a vacuum had opened and was beginning to pull everything it could in.

As if in a trace, Mason turned his head towards me and with a voice that was not entirely his said “Now man, do it now.”

I pushed down hard on the plunger.

Nothing.

“Now!” he cried.

I tried again and still nothing. I looked back along the wires and saw that the vortex had dragged a branch down and it had pulled a connection free. “I need to fix the wire!” I bellowed over the rising tempest and leapt over the plunger. I wrenched the branch free and it skittered off towards the ever-strengthening draw of the temple. A quick twist repair and I was all set; I stood and was giving a thumbs up to Mason when a blow to my leg felled me. From my thigh jutted the shaft of a crude looking arrow, blood welling up where it had penetrated.
The Lost Journal - I'm Hit

Through the tress I saw three natives charging towards me and before I knew it I had my webley in my hand. The first shot was wild, but the second and third found their target and the nearest native tumbled to the floor, dead before he hit. Arrows thumped down into the ground around me as I took aim on the next chap, my fourth shot only winged him but the fifth and sixth dropped him like a stone.
The Lost Journal - Down But Not Out

There was no chance to reload so I prepared to fight off the last native with the empty gun and my bare hands. He came running at me like a bull, his axe raised high and face spitting hatred as he leapt at me like a wild animal…

To be continued…