Nohon was currently, and had been for the previous 200 years, under Conglomeration Of Allied Nations (COAN) house arrest. At the peak of her power about year 5,200, Nohon controlled the world-militarily, economically and socially. They had military outposts at every major port and their businesses were dominating all large international markets. The nations of the world bit their tongues for many years; since Nohon wasn’t doing anything patently wrong, they were just growing. When they tried to set up shop at the Muutatandjie-Puutatatand-djei the world had enough. Small nations led the verbal charge followed by physical and eventually military efforts to drive the Nohoni influence from their homelands.
This was the only time in history that the Bookht-Shkugaani and the Hondathans had worked together to achieve a common goal. Extracting the “Nohoni cancer” from their midst was no easy task. Nohon had, quite cleverly and patiently, dug itself deep into Continental society. It made itself invaluable in some cases. The military protection it offered certain communities and economic wellness it offered others would not easily be relinquished. The continents actually spent far more time, money and lives fighting one another over the expulsion than they spent fighting Nohon. Whenever Nohon forces did engage in combat with locals it was spun into a case of rogue outpost making decisions without consent of the Crown and/or the right to self-defense. King Kalabu, realizing that Nohon would forever be remembered for causing divisions between other nations and even civil wars inside other nations, issued a complete surrender and withdrawal. His advisors, the governors, and most citizens hated the decision and with good reason. Nohon had done nothing illegal or wrong. The King’s word was always final though.
The Continents, in 5289 formed the COAN, the Continental Order of Allied Nations. They surrounded Nohon with every naval warship in every nations arsenal. They constantly flew airships over the mini-continent. Sometimes for spying, but mostly to remind the Nohonis that the COAN was in control now. Their crowning achievement was “the grid,” a series of massive lasers surrounding Nohon from all sides. Each laser would span the entire mini-continent and connect with a sensor array on the other side. Any vessel that made contact with the grid would instantly be disabled and any person that made contact would be killed. The grid was usually invisible, but on misty evenings the condensation would pick up the beams and everyone would remember that they were in a massive open air prison.
The COAN also employed millions of individuals to monitor all forms of distance communication. To counter this, however, Nohon took 3 measures. First, military communications devices were invented that subverted the eavesdroppers. They were large devices that only connected one person to any other three people that had a device as well. All military personnel were allowed two devices- one for themselves and one for their family. The military devices were eventually simplified and stripped down so the general public could benefit from being able to communicate with one another. Communication was limited to 5 seconds of every 30 and was extremely full of static.
The great Pota-Meian drug and entertainment industry, however, developed a virtual universe where Nohonis could interact with one another. Its primary purpose was gaming, but people began to use it for communications. The COAN caught wind very quickly and began deploying eavesdroppers in the game universes. Ultimately communication in Nohon was a constant cat and mouse game with the COAN. Some Nohonis had nothing to hide and spoke freely. The COAN was obviously not at all interested in those people. Most Nohohis really didn’t have anything to hide; they had been trained for generations though to make the COAN work for every syllable. Communication systems were all designed to allow for quick bursts of conversation, about 3 seconds long. Only after a certain amount of virtual-physical movement could a person then speak more. People usually communicated while dancing or sparring. It worked, but one couldn’t get into deep conversation without being face to face. It was an odd reality. Nohon was a web of very thin but very strong threads holding the provinces, cities and neighborhoods together.
Good, Evil, and Free Will - The Almost Endless City of Pota-Mei
The world may be just an illusion but life seems so real; physical pleasure and physical pain are felt on every level. Mastering this illusion-remembering that the body is merely a horse and the soul the rider - is the challenge that all individuals and nations of every Age of mankind must face. The most glaring paradox then, is why would God bother to create the world and the human race if it’s all just an illusion? Why does it matter if we’re essentially living in an elaborate video game? Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to that question other than to say that this physical world is the most ideal training ground for the perfection of our souls.
Those of us who become too consumed with the lures and temptations of the illusion often find ourselves betraying our fellow humans and our creator. Rarely, however, is any one person or entity made up of Pure Evil. Men may engage in evil deeds though they may not be inherently bad people. Evil begs in with one bad decision, one mistake, one violent outburst whose effects are difficult or impossible to undo. It is often easier to cover up the initial bad decision with another, than to face the reality of what has been done. The accidental killer could turn himself in, face his victim's loved ones in court, serve his time in prison, reflect on how he came to make such a horrible mistake and pray he may have an opportunity to do something good for the world before he dies. Instead he finds himself dumping his victim's body in the river and perhaps killing another who asked too many questions. Before long he is completely entangled in a web of darkness. To turn back now would mean to have to face himself and recognize the pain he has caused to so many people. If he decides to turn his life around he would have to pay for his sins but he knows he could never come close to paying in full with the time he has left on Earth. How can he repent now when all is lost and can never be more than an iota reclaimed?
The evil doer must keep going down the dark path, now essentially devoid of the free will to choose between good and evil, because to choose good now would mean the unbearable pain of reliving his sins. It is at this point of no return, of veritable abandonment of free will, that the good person who made a bad decision becomes an evil person. Such a decision may seem unfathomable to most; how can one just abandon a life once good and sever their connection with the Divine? That question can only be answered, of course, by one who has pondered that choice. Only one who has truly considered removing the yoke of conscience, reason and morality can understand the lure of the evil path.
Pota-Mei, the “Almost Endless City” of the 4th Cycle was rife with young men and women spending years of their lives pondering this very decision. These “ponderers” blended in seamlessly with the free-for-all attitude that all Pota-Meians had. The ponderers were mostly womanizers, drug addicts or gamblers, although plenty were worse. Some were simply rebelling against their parents. Many were transplants from elsewhere in the nation or even the world and some were wanted for crimes in other provinces or other nations. All worked brainless jobs; since they didn’t want to think too much while enjoying the good life of pleasant weather and mildly harmless vices. Although they habitually violated moral and criminal laws, most of the ponderers lived by some kind of code. There was always a strictly self-imposed behavioral filter, a “Street Justice” of sorts. Perhaps dating a friend’s ex-lover was grounds for execution. Not that anyone truly wanted to kill anyoneelse; they just held the sanctity of past relationships in high regard. The pnderers also made a point of performing random acts of kindness for strangers, but only when such acts readily presented themselves. Most ponderers held steadfast to such laws for a reason that they were not fully aware; simply put, they didn’t want to abandon their consciences all together. They enjoyed the vices, lures and temptations of the physical world, but also knew deep down that they were blessed to be human; they wanted to maintain their ability to rise above the dirt and see past the illusion. They didn’t want to forfeit their connection with God. They didn’t want to forfeit their sex and drugs either though. This was the dilemma of Pota-Mei, a city and a people suspended in contradiction.
Dr. Heijan and the Black Basin
Dr. Heijan Lived in the Flat Hills. It gained the nickname “Black Flats” though, because of its proximity to the Black Basin or “Black Vale” as the locals has sarcastically dubbed it. Vale was a defunct term probably never used by any Nohoni in conversation even the wealthiest and in the earliest of days. The wealthy Nissappians of South West Topea, however, routinely used that term when naming their exclusive communities. The lower-class folks (of the South West and North East) felt that the residents of such communities had shut themselves up in large open air prisons, just like the Black Basin.
The Black Basin was a large basin with a lot of metal residue in the sand. Depending on the sun or the moon’s position the land would appear either dark gray or pitch black. Soon after the unification of Nohon in 4949, Nomads who rebelled against the King fled the provinces into the wilderness. The Black Basin was always rumored by the native “Sons of Nohon” to contain windows to other dimensions and or at least facilitate strange powers. Rumors were never confirmed in any practical or measurable way, but nomads would arrive and settle by the caravan.
Towards the end of the Unification War all of the rebel nomads were in the middle of the Basin. The very center is the result of two ancient mudslides happening while plates underneath were colliding. The result is an elevated rocky ridge that, from the top of which, one can see for miles in all directions. It was a very isolated, yet defensible position. The rebels could see any attacker from miles away, but the attackers could see any movement at the center of the Basin from miles away. It was a very non-threatening stalemate. All provincial militias and the Royal Guard determined that it would simply be best to let the rebels stay there. They began a siege that lasted indefinitely. Ultimately a tacit agreement formed between the governments of Topea and Gret-Grod.
At First The nomads ran out of food and water. The siege was inexpensive enough to maintain though, so the governments began sending convoys of food and water; better to keep the rebels complacent then to have them angry and unpredictable. They noticed that the nomad population was growing though. A generation in the wilderness had passed and the nomads had found ways to survive, even thrive. They had farms, formed into clans, and were manufacturing all sorts of personal goods, presumably out of the metal in the sands. Fear arose that they might be able to raise a capable army, so the governments began a practice that continued to the very present. They began sterilizing and exiling all of their most dangerous criminals to the Black Basin. Amazingly there were never any skirmishes. There was a legitimate community in the Basin that newcomers either assimilated into or were executed. No free Nohoni ever voluntarily entered the Basin.
The Laws of Man, the ancient merciless code of conduct that kept society in order for the first 3000 years of human existence was apparently in effect. The slightest transgression, if testified to by a single witness was punishable by death. In theory, theft of a single berry was punishable by death; so sacred was personal property to the ancients and now, apparently, the Basin-folk. Death was not desired by anyone. People were often afraid to testify in capital cases, and were grilled numerous times by different interrogators to ensure their account of the events was sound. Given that the penalty for false testimony and/or the perversion of justice was punishable by death, very few cases actually resulted in conviction. Then as now in the Basin though, the Laws served as a deterrent, and ultimately criminals feared the light of day instead of victims, as so often is the case with more "merciful" Nohoni communities.
The security forces of Gret-Grod and Topea eventually realized that the Basin-folk would not be revolting. They had to facilitate the continuance of the community though, as the Basin-folk themselves were the ultimate prison guards. First they needed to ensure that they could control the population. They did so by covertly entering the Basin, kidnapping nomads, sterilizing them and/or performing experiments on them, and then returning them to their respective clans.
Dr. Heijan Worked for the Royal Interior Defense Ministry in . This agency was charged with maintaining security from internal threats. One of their sub-divisions, the department of Black Basin Affairs (BBA), was devoted to operations at the Black Basin. Heijan. was not in charge of any division or group. He was a Master-Jack of all trades. He designed skiffs that could seamlessly negotiate the different desert terrain of sand, rocks and the thick brush that grew in the valleys. He designed turbines that were extremely quiet so security agents could easily Infiltrate the Basin. He designed uniforms that could cloak their movement, and equipment that could render unconscious anyone who touched it. His designs were for the sole purpose of non-violently subduing and abducting people.