Book 6, Chapter 44 – Formal Contact
A summit was being held in the heart of Greenland. Discussions centered around the future of the wastes and plans for development.
Wolfblade offered his thoughts to Cloudhawk. “The Green Alliance has a stable population of roughly ten million, but they are spread out and non-uniform. Much of that population remains nomadic. We should be focused on making the population more concentrated.”
Cloudhawk followed up. “What’s your suggestion?”
Wolfblade was ready with a response. “The typical wasteland city ranges from a population of a few thousand to tens of thousands. Those with larger numbers are very rare. Smaller settlements have much fewer. With wastelanders so spread out, it makes instituting new systems and bringing order much more difficult. Most importantly there is no cohesion. Considering the situation we find ourselves in, I think it’s time we go forward with the creation of proper urban areas.”
The Khan of Evernight, Hellflower and the others agreed with his assessment. Even Dawn, who was suspicious of everything Wolfblade did, couldn’t disagree with his logic. Now that Skycloud was under new leadership its posture had changed from offensive to insular. At least for the time being, conflict was low on the priority list.
However, that did not mean they could afford to rest easy. Cloudhawk still had the threat of the gods to consider. No one knew how Mount Sumeru would react and as far as he knew the gods could appear on his doorstep at any moment.
The tranquility they enjoyed was a fragile one. Once it broke the real life or death struggle would begin.
As leader of the alliance, it was Cloudhawk’s duty to do everything he could to prepare for the coming storm. Resources had to be used efficiently and coordinated across a vast territory, in addition to the need for diplomatic ties with the Elysians. If he could forge some measure of understanding with Skycloud they might stand a chance.
Wasteland megacities… it was time to put it on the agenda.
There were a number of cities established across the wastelands these days. But while they were called cities they were more like makeshift dens for pockets of humanity. Most shared a number of characteristics.
Firstly, many tried to remain secret. Fishmonger’s Borough, Fallowmoor, Nucleus – these cities were all built in places where few people could or would want to tread. It made communication difficult, by design. The inhospitable environment had helped these places develop without threat from Elysians.
Second, they were often tightly sealed. Using the aforementioned cities as an example once more, any outsider would find it nearly impossible to earn entry. Outsiders and strangers especially were treated with outright hostility. After all, the law of the wastes was to always be wary, for the darkest parts of humanity prevailed. It wasn’t just the Elysians they had to be on guard against, but one another as well. Everyone was hunter as much as they were hunted.
Third, cities remained small and independent. By virtue of their secluded tendencies and distant locations, these cities all operated independently. They consumed only what they could produce and only opened up trade with other settlements when necessary. Each city’s rules and ways of doing things were different, but nearly all focused on keeping population sizes limited.
However, the Green Alliance had succeeded in taking control of the wastelands. For the time being, conflict was at an all-time low. Wastelanders didn’t need to live like each settlement was an island in order to survive. On the contrary, banding together and creating larger cities was the path forward. It was time that currency, language, rules, troops and even units of measurement were standardized. From soldier training to education, it could all benefit from management and uniformity.
It was how order was formed, and woke up the wastelanders to a new era. In these cities culture, education and technology would thrive.
Of course it was easier said than done. Just the construction of a large city was unprecedented in modern history. While a labor force was readily available, what the wastelands lacked was materials. And then what to do once it was done? For a city like Skycloud, with for or five million people, managing the city itself would be quite an undertaking.
Water, food, social order – what was the best way to maintain it all? That was the most important and most crucial challenge.
As leader of the alliance everyone was looking at Cloudhawk, waiting for him to make a decision. He did not ponder long and after a moment revealed his decision.
“I propose Oakstead, Greenland and Woodland Vale as capitals. All of the smaller cities, settlements, camps and scav populations within a thousand miles of each shall be gathered up to bolster their population.”
Cloudhawk had made up his mind. Greenland was capital of the southern wastes. Woodland Vale would be the center of the Northern Barrens. Oakvale was already the capital of Meadow. Each occupied important positions in the three major wasteland areas. What’s more, they were already well developed and boasted good resources. These locations were most likely to be successful as megacities in addition to sporting formidable defenses.
The others nodded in agreement. It seemed like the best course of action.
“There are two other things that must be done. Number one: Greenland has to increase and deepen ties with Ark Base. I want to foster closer relationships to allow Greenland and Green Alliance scientists to learn what they can from the base’s residents.”
“Second: Our migration to other planets must continue. Before this year’s dry season I want human population on other world to be no less than a million strong.”
Wolfblade chortled. “My king is ever more meticulous in his deeds.”
While Cloudhawk’s plans didn’t seem related to the grand scheme on the surface, in truth they were very important.
Urbanizing the wastes was imperative, but in the process they were certain to come across many challenges. Many could be reduced or eliminated with better technological advancements. Better tech meant more efficient production as well as a better foundation for future battles.
As for immigration? Why was that important?
In fact the idea was simple; Cloudhawk wanted to make sure not all his eggs were kept in one basket.
Once urbanization started everyone would begin to gather. While this meant combat strength and cohesion would rise, it also meant there was no backup. What they faced was a largely unknown, advanced civilization hell-bent on total subjugation.
What if these grand cities were destroyed? What if their populations were wiped out? If that occurred at least there would be humans somewhere that could continue the species. It was a gloomy outlook but necessary for Cloudhawk to plan for as the alliance’s leader. He could throw himself into the path of destruction, but he couldn’t do that to the Green Alliance.
His proposals were adopted without question. Specific implementation of these plans were left up to Wolfblade. A never before seen effort to transform this barren expanse was now officially underway.
Cloudhawk turned away from the others and looked out a nearby window. He felt the hot wasteland sun shine on him. He cast a stoic black shadow, like an immortal guardian looking out over his charge.
Cloudhawk saw an increasingly prosperous city splayed out before him. Greenland had become a land full of vigor, risen from practically nothing a mere two years ago.
Passed the dense forests surrounding the city was a mess of ancient ruins. He would awaken them, bringing back the civilization that had slumbered for so long. The ruins would be given new life as citizens of their burgeoning society built upon their foundation. One day, where destruction had reigned for millennia a new metropolis would emerge.
A dazzling wilderness dynasty was on the horizon. Cloudhawk’s eyes burned as though he could see the grand event a thousand years in the future. Maybe that was the answer he’d been looking for. The answer to his destiny, and his place in the world.
He stood in silence looking out of the window, but his stillness hid the excitement roiling in his heart. Still this grand accomplishment he envisioned could turn out to be a flash in the pan. All he could do was work his hardest to protect the seed he was planting.
Lost in his thoughts, Cloudhawk was shaken back to the present by Dawn’s voice. “Cloudhawk! Come quickly, Selene is here.”
Shock took him when he heard the news. Hadn’t he heard she only just recently assumed the Governor’s position? With her new status what was she doing all the way out here? In the eyes of Elysians the wastes were a place of evil.
No matter. He would know once he saw her. He had something to speak with her about anyway.
A dozen Elysian warships hovered in the sky. It was a small entourage, not enough to threaten Greenland. The location Selene had chosen for their meeting was unassuming and out of the way, the remains of a smallish encampment in the ruins. Years ago it had a name. Blackflag Outpost.
Judging by the scale and arrangement, the Elysians were not here in a military capacity. Selene was here to talk. When she emerged she was flanked by Janus Umbra, High Priest Aquaria, Commander-General Phain and a contingent of Skycloud family leaders.
Cloudhawk met them as a representative of the wastes. He had his own retinue consisting of Wolfblade, the Khan of Evernight, Abaddon, Dawn and other officials of Greenland.
Cloudhawk took a minute to look over the pretty figure standing opposite him. Tall, with raven black hair dancing in the harsh winds. Her expression was cool and aloof, with all the bearing of a person of authority. She carried herself like a princess and appeared to have taken to the role of Governor well.
She didn’t have the strength or gravitas Arcturus had wielded, but Selene Cloude was a woman of limitless potential. With time Cloudhawk was confident she would be more than a match for the shadow Arcturus left behind.
The leadership of Skycloud and the wastes met face to face. They could hardly be more at odds, as compatible as fire and ice. Incredible to imagine that it wasn’t long ago Cloudhawk and Selene had met in this very place. Of course no one but them knew the story. It was some of the purest and most sentimental times of their lives.
Cloudhawk maintained a professional demeanor and addressed the visitors directly. “Governor Selene Cloude. You’ve come a long way to speak with me.”
Selene’s response was equally calm and measured. “I come at our master Cloud God’s behest. It was he who requested a meeting between our people.”
All of a sudden Cloudhawk’s face stiffened. He felt a sudden rise of power in the air, potent and dangerous, no less threatening than Arcturus had been. It was a sense Cloudhawk was familiar with, because he’d encountered it once before in the heart of the Temple.
A shrill noise preceded the electric light emerging from Cloudhawk’s hand. Ruin appeared in his grip, and with eyes narrowed he stared into the sky above. Hovering there was a perfect figure encased in dazzling light. The being peered upon him like a giant curiously regarding an ant.
The Cloud God!
Color drained from the faces of the other wastelanders. For most of them it was the first time coming face to face with a god!