J.L. Weinmeister

We reach the mountains and are a day’s hike away from the portal. Tonight is the last night you’ll spend on Kareena. Tomorrow night the portal will close, and visitors will be completely forbidden once more. I hope you’ve learned enough about Kareena and the scientists who live here to share their stories with the world once you’ve returned home.

There is one final question you have for me regarding Kareena and her inhabitants. When we were travelling on the other continent, you had to keep watch at night because of a mysterious man named Sireva. You want to know who he is and why he’s so dangerous.

Listen well, for his is a story I don’t care to repeat.

* * * * *

On the other side of Kareena on the continent Mistaza, there was another team of scientists who lived in an underground bunker to protect their nation’s knowledge and genetics. This team was smaller, composed of only six members. Five of them were well-learned in genetics, biochemistry, and neuroscience. The sixth was an assistant who kept meticulous records of their scientific activities. Being so obviously inferior to the others, he was also responsible for all of the chores. He prepared their meals, kept the bunker clean, did laundry, washed dishes, made repairs, and tended to the plants and animals they raised for food.

The five scientists treated Sireva with contempt. He despised all of them. The only reason he agreed to live in the bunker is because he didn’t want to die. Being their assistant was the only way for him to survive the climate crisis. He did his work in silence, careful to hide his hatred for them. There would be an end to his servitude. He just had to be patient.

Almost immediately after moving into the bunker, the scientists began experimenting with immortality. Their first attempt was unsuccessful. Sireva was charged with disposing of the scientist’s body. The task didn’t bother him. Now there was one less person for him to provide for.

Three of the other scientists were unhappy with these events. They believed the leader was doing a poor job of directing their experiments. The second-in-command murdered the leader in his sleep that night, and Sireva was given another body to burn.

Life was somewhat better for Sireva after the deaths of the two scientists; however, the remaining three were frustrated at their repeated failures with immortality. Finally, after five decades of struggling, they succeeded in making themselves immortal. Luckily for Sireva, they needed him too much for him to be excluded, so he received genetic treatment as well.

One of the scientists had problems adapting to the genetic change, and he eventually died of complications. Sireva burned his body like the rest, leaving him with only two masters.

Sireva worked for them as quietly and efficiently as he had the other scientists, biding his time. He knew it would be many centuries before they could return to the surface and some sense of normalcy, though life would never be normal without all the durmiads who had perished due to the climate crisis.

Sireva’s parents had been powerful in their lifetimes. His father was a diplomat, and his mother was a former spy. As such, both were well learned in magic, and they had taught him everything they knew. Sireva experimented with magic in private, steadily growing his abilities. He knew about the fifteen scientists on Shika and what their intentions were once a thousand years had passed. If he were patient, they would do all the hard work of restoring the planet for him, and he would be able to live on the surface again.

On the day they sent Horatio to the surface, Sireva enacted his plan. He murdered the other two scientists in their sleep, leaving him to enjoy his solitude. A year later, he was able to move out of the bunker and onto the surface. He lived a life of luxury, relishing in his aloneness. He was the master now.

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