Home > Contributors > Wendy Kawabata > "Regarding the First Conquest," a story by Vincent Standley

 Vincent Standley


        Regarding the First Conquest 

from Historical Documents of the Imperial Archive. 

Catalog Hierarchy:

Primary Historical Evidence.

     1a) First Level Textual Artifacts.

          1b) Non-historical Account of Historical Event; 1b-i) Composition Contemporaneous to Event.

               1c) Textual Fragments.

                    1d) Subject: First Imperial Conquest of the Hinterlands. 



Normal type = Original text as published circa mid-First Imperial Conquest.

Text in brackets = variants. 

Bold type = Handwritten notes circa early-Second Era, approximately 1000 years after date of publication. 



                                                       Fragment One


 Potable water is produced by a simple desalination system initiated by a chain of five-hundred clear plastic balls floating just beyond the first tidal break, parallel to the terribly curved shore. The balls maintain an internal water level approximately 50% of their total volume. They dip and rise with every swell, yet remain in line without drift or roll. Lacking a visible means of moorage the balls appear to be behaving, agreeing not to move. Ballast and anchor are achieved by a metal pipe secured to the bottom of each ball, perpendicular to the surface. Constructed from a series of concentric tubes, the pipe is telescopic, enabling the length to be adjusted; thereby maximizing mooring and stability efficacy while ensuring the requisite half-meter between the pipe's lowest point and the ocean floor. 

  Inlet and outlet chambers are created by a porous membrane that divides the volume of each ball [in half]. An inlet tube connects the inlet chamber to the ocean water source and is fitted with passive filter.  [One inlet and three outlet tubes run from inside their respective partition through a length of the telescoping pipe. The inlet tubes terminate in open water and are fitted with passive filters extending just beyond the pipe end.] Consecutive balls share a union tube allowing a one-way passage of water from the outlet chamber to the next ball along the chain. An outlet tube connects the outlet chamber of the second ball of each pair to a junction box resting on the ocean floor directly below the #250 ball. [One each outlet tube connects to the ball before and after it on the chain, except the first and last, which are exceptions, with just two outlet tubes, the first connecting to the ball before or after it respectively. The second (or third) inlet tube runs to a junction box resting on the ocean floor directly below the #250 ball.] The tubes are channeled through the telescoping pipes to their destination. A single, larger diameter plastic tube connects the junction box to an airless bladder on the shore. Powered by a small solar pump, the desalinated water is transported from the bladder through a copper pipe to a holding tank. As the water is depleted from the balls' outlet chambers, the reduction of atmospheric pressure increases and draws water from the inlet chamber, significantly relieving the load on the solar pump. As the salt, unable to pass through the membrane, becomes more concentrated so does the negative charge inside the inlet chamber, further increasing the flow of desalinated water. Gibberish.



                                                          Fragment Two


Sergeant Legos served in the Imperial guard, though he'd never been to the palace. Captain Sord, in charge of the seven outposts that composed the First Front of the Imperial Hinterland, was the highest ranking official he had ever met. Part of Legos' job required work with wood but he had never seen a tree. He had a wooden leg but usually opted for the crutch. Excluding the villagers of the seven outposts, this region had few occupants, mainly those with official sanction to pursue extended acts of self-deprivation and the roving surveyors who mapped the unclaimed land ahead of the avant garde. 

Legos was responsible for Outpost #3 and oversaw the village's recreation of the two hundred sewing patterns. This always began with the common scarf and concluded with the Empress's gown. The recreations adhered to the mandated one-hundred to one scale in which one centimeter equalled one meter. Upon completion of all two hundred patterns, the village was again broken down and the villagers pushed further into the Hinterland following the coordinates derived from the surveyors' findings by the Imperial Department of Forward Movement. There they began the process all over again, first reassembling the village, then once more replicating the two hundred sewing patterns. Yet no matter how many times a single pattern had already been recreated, the villagers had to wait for a new set of layout coordinates. To Legos the resulting adjustments to a familiar plan seemed picayune, an opinion he dared not voice as the authority granted to a nervous group of translation engineers in permanent cluster around the source pattern--gesturing with protractors and hanging on every new result produced by a dozen abacuses--underscored their significance to the Empire. But following the first several days after a move, the engineers waited in common alongside the villagers as unmanned surveillance aircraft flew over the previous site recording every discrepancy between the original patterns and the one-hundred to one scale replicas. The hours or days that lagged beyond the initial busyness of reassembling the village were filled with a purposeless fret which tested everyone's servitude to the Empire. Privately, Legos referred to this time as the stupidification of all imaginable purpose. Eventually a boat courier would arrive with a hand scrawled list of corrections to be incorporated into the next representation of sewing patterns. 

A consistently flat and sandy terrain typically ruled out geography as a cause of error; rather, flawed calculation and/or installation accounted for 99% of all subsequent requested corrections. Legos functioned as the liaison between workers and engineers to determine the origin of each inaccuracy. When his investigation proved the fault of a worker, either by carelessness or willful subversion, the worker was publicly spanked, a task Legos did not relish if only because sitting with a person draped over his knee not only made him self-conscious about having only one leg, but knowing full well a single leg could not provide a stable surface to accommodate the weight and mass distribution of the abject culprit, who often suffered the additional humiliation of slipping off and falling to the ground. Further, having dusting off and resuming the position over the knee, the accused typically compensated for the missing one by bracing a hand against the ground just long enough to be struck ten times on the backside with a driftwood paddle. 

And yet, when the error was determined to be the fault of the translation engineers, no punishment was exacted, their fluster merely amplified, looking for the backup abacuses lost in transit; their arms waving even more emphatically.            



                                                          Fragment Three


An outline of the pattern was drawn across the sand with powdered blue chalk. By Captain Sord's testimony, each day wood was dumped into the ocean along the faraway shore of the Imperial city. Pegs ware carved from the driftwood as it reached the watery border of the Hinterland, now bleached gray and white by the sun and salty sea. The pegs were tapered, pointy at the bottom, with a small, round newel at the top, which the villagers painted red. 

These were placed according to direction from the engineers at each corresponding stitch.



                                                          Fragment Four

Conclusions sound. Identical results produced by recalculating using new math with the addition of zero.