[identity profile] copperbadge.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] originalsam_backup
Chapter Twenty-Four

Ellis spent the vast majority of the evening very confused.

He wasn't certain if Clare had kissed him because that was a way to transmit Creationism back to him, or if she actually did want to kiss him. And, if so, what he ought to do about it. Which was ridiculous, because he'd been seducing and occasionally been seduced -- he did a quick count in his head -- as long as she'd been alive. Longer. Sixteen year old Ellis Graveworthy, confused and conflicted, trying to feel the shape of the people he created in his head and decide whether that was better or worse than Creating with his hands...lost, but still charming and not hard on the eyes, and there had been a girl working alongside him in the print shop...

Even if Clare had meant it as something more than a token, she was clearly too young to know her own heart. He was older than her and wiser, which meant it was his responsibility. Clare would slap him for thinking it, but it was true. He had a moral imperative to prevent anything from...happening. Not that he'd spent a lot of his life following moral imperatives, but still.

He wondered if he even could prevent it, if she really wanted it. Clare was beautiful and powerful, and as brilliant in her mind as she was with her hands. Perhaps a woman as stubborn and smart as Clare Fields did know her own heart. Hell, she might know it better than he knew his.

If she had meant it, he should tell her it would be wrong; if she hadn't, it would insult her if he were to say such a thing.

Clare, on the other hand, seemed to have no cares at all that evening. She sat with him at dinner and talked cheerfully of the day, of the new arrivals and how Libris had gone back to Canberra to see what he could find out about Jack. She left him and went off to play a game with the children, and then for a conference with Saturday, their dark heads bent together and the firelight playing across their faces.

"You are quiet," Purva said, dropping down next to him on the rough weathered log he'd claimed as a bench near the fire. "Not like you."

"It's been a long day," he replied. "Too much sun, maybe."

"Is that it?" she asked. "Sun?"


"Perhaps not, I think."

He sighed. "Purva, as practical as you are, there are some things you are too practical for. Hearing me pour my heart out is one of them."

"Maybe you need practical. Or is it that too many are listening?"

"A little of both."

"Well, speak French then," she said. "Maybe I will be more poetic in French."

"Purva, I don't think you can be poetic about love," Ellis said. "You and Jack are too level-headed. You were made for each other, really."

"I know everything about love," Purva protested.

Ellis laughed. "Go on, Purva. I'm a grown man, I'll sort it for myself."

Purva glanced sidelong at Clare and Saturday, still speaking quietly.

"Something about the air in Australia," she said. "Must be."

"Mm. Must be," Ellis agreed. "How are you holding up? Jack in prison and all."

"I don't worry. We will save him, you said so."

"I did, at that," Ellis replied.


"Yes," he said. "Soon."


News came up from Canberra at breakfast the next morning, along with William Libris and a handful of city Kooris who had heard that a Creationist was on the reservation and wanted to see for themselves.

"Jack's trial is set," Libris said to Ellis, as they walked through the Res towards Saturday's clinic. "Tomorrow, he'll be interrogated before Parliament," he continued.

"Parliament, eh?" Ellis asked. "That can't be normal."

"Who's going to stop them? These men wield absolute power in Australia. They control the banks and the military."

"Not anymore," Ellis said with a small grin. "How long do you suppose his trial will last?"

"Not long at all, knowing them. Perhaps a day. Long enough to humiliate him," Libris said.

"Then what?"

"Another day to deliberate on sentencing. Likely hanging, unless he can grovel his way down to life imprisonment."

"I'd prefer hanging, if it were me."

"I think they'll plan to put off the execution as long as possible."

"Waiting to catch us?"

"They want to flush you out. That must be why the trial's so soon. They think you'll try to rescue him," Libris said.

"No rescue until we absolutely must. If we have the power to march on Parliament, we'll do it during the trial. Otherwise, we'll wait until we do," Ellis said.

"Precisely my thoughts."

"That's because you're a sensible man, William Libris. They come up with you?" Ellis asked, nodding to a group of well-dressed Kooris standing in a knot near the store, waiting for it to open.

"Yes. City folk, trustworthy."

"You know all of them?"

"Most, and they'll vouch for the rest. I do worry, though," Libris added. "This information is being shared very freely. Sooner or later someone's going to tell the wrong person."

"Depends on whether the wrong people are likely to believe it or not," Ellis replied. "Or whether they link the mysterious Lake Cowal Creationist with the pretty wife of the man they have in lockup for fraud."

Libris snorted. "Not likely."

"I never take anything for granted."

"Ellis!" called a voice, and Clare appeared in the doorway of Saturday's clinic. She ran across the road and stopped in front of them, beaming. "Good morning, Ellis, William."

"Morning," Libris said. "How goes the work?"

"Very well," she said. "Show him, Ellis."

Ellis held up his palm and concentrated. Flame danced above his skin for a minute, then winked out when he closed his fingers around it. When he opened them again, a small copper pen-nib lay on his palm. Libris stared at it.

"I've done it," Clare said, smiling at his amazed expression. "I might be damned for it but I've done it. And I don't think I will be, because -- "

"How soon can you spread it?" he interrupted.

"Not quite yet," she answered, shaking her head. "I still need to – there's something about it that still needs to be done."

"It's just -- " Libris glanced at Ellis, who nodded. "Jack goes on trial tomorrow, Clare."

The smile dropped off her face. "Tomorrow? So quickly?"

"It's not a proper trial. He'll be questioned in front of Parliament and then they'll decide his punishment. There's no real defense involved," Libris said. "And you made fools of some very powerful people."

"Well, I'll just have to..." Clare frowned, lost in thought. "I can do it," she said confidently. "Can you get everyone together tonight? Somewhere they can hear you if you speak? I can Create something that will make you sound louder."

"Of course," Libris said. "But there are still people on the move."

"We can't wait past tomorrow morning," Clare said. "I'll be ready tonight. Ellis -- I need your help."

"Of course," Ellis answered. "I stand and wait, Clare, you know that."

She gave him a warm look, the sort of look that only confused him further, but then frowned as her gaze drifted over his shoulder.

"What?" he asked, turning.

"Do you see that?" she said, pointing past him, into the morning sky. There was a small black dot in the blue expanse, growing steadily larger.

"A bird?" Libris shaded his eyes. "No, it's much too large -- "

"Oh – oh, it's not a bird -- " Clare said.

"What?" Ellis asked, then shaded his eyes too. "Holy Father, is that...?"

"It's the airship," Clare breathed. "Ellis, it's the airship!"

In the distance, the unmistakable shape of a ship's prow was outlined against the sky. Even as they spoke the ship was gaining speed, enlarging until he could see the ship and the balloon above it as separate shapes in the blue.

"The airship?" Libris asked, confused, but Clare was already running.

"Come on!" she shouted, as she whipped through the central square of the village. "Everyone, come see!"

"What is she talking about?" Libris persisted, keeping pace with Ellis as he followed Clare at a run.

"Jack's brainchild!" Ellis said. Others were beginning to run as well, pointing up and shouting. "The ship he built to fly us here. CLARE!"

"IT'S COMING!" she shouted in reply.



On the western edge of the village they could see the airship more clearly, as well as a line of figures making their way across the flatlands -- more travelers arriving. Clare skidded to a stop on the flats and Ellis almost bowled her over as he caught up. Around them, the Kooris who'd followed were slowing as well, faces turning skyward.

It was big enough now to be clearly visible, to make out the boiler and the pilot's seat and the propellers. If he squinted, Ellis could see a slim, dark-skinned man at the controls, but that was hardly the most surprising thing.

Crowded on the deck, standing at the rails, holding to ropes, waving and laughing, were Kooris. At least thirty men and women, clinging tightly and whooping. A small child was standing on the rail, steadied by parental hands, leaning out over empty space to look down on the spectators below.

"Plater," Ellis said. "It has to be Plater."

"Who's Plater?" Libris demanded.

"He's a farmer from Port Darwin, helped us get into Australia. He said his sons would look after the airship," Ellis said, then cupped his hands around his mouth. "PLATER!"


The landbound Kooris scattered as the ship's hull loomed. Dust and grit blew everywhere, and then the engines cut out and the ship landed with a loud thump, skidding slightly in the dirt. The ship tilted dangerously to one side and people poured off of it, rushing around with tree branches and what looked like old metal piping, propping it up. As they finished they turned away from the ship, stopping suddenly when they saw the crowd surrounding them.

There was a moment of silence that made the hairs on the back of Ellis's neck stand on end. Then the southerners surged forward, all around them, flowing past him and Clare and Libris to call greetings and touch the smooth wooden hull of the ship. Others began pulling on the ropes, helping to ease the deflating balloon to the ground as if they'd done it all their lives. The young pilot stood up and shouted orders, but nothing was audible over the cheers and laughter.

The pilot jumped to the ground and was immediately mobbed, but an older man pushed his way through and began towing the pilot forward, up to where Ellis and Clare stood gaping.

"Plater, you cunning bastard," Ellis said, and offered his hand. Plater shook it vigorously and then shoved the pilot forward.

"My son!" he shouted, and there were cheers in the background. "We heard your summons on the Songlines. The northern tribes are on the move. We took as many as we could. The rest are traveling as fast as they can. Some by train -- should be here soon."

"How on earth did you know what to do?" Ellis asked Plater, who jabbed his son in the ribs.

"This is Ike," he said. "He's a handy boy with machines."

"It isn't that hard once you figure it out," the young man said shyly. "Used the last of your coal getting here, though."

Ellis laughed. "We'll get more. How many are coming?"

"All of them," Plater replied. "You should hear the stories. They say a goddess is here at Lake Cowal."

Ellis glanced down at Clare and grinned. "A goddess, eh?"

"They say there's going to be a revolution in Canberra. We saw trails of Kooris coming from the west as well," Ike said. "Hundreds of 'em. I reckon every man and woman in the bush'll be here inside of a week. Most of 'em by tonight. They started running when they saw us."

"Everyone?" Clare asked.

"Most every one that can walk," Ike said proudly. "Hey, we brought food, too, if you'll help unload -- near cleaned out Dad's farm, couple of others."

"Where the hell are we going to put them all?" Libris asked, looking dazed.

"Well, the landless up north're used to sleeping on the ground, and the farmers don't mind over much," Plater grinned. "Who're you?"

"William Libris," Ellis said. "He's the leader here on the Res."

"I'm not -- " Libris said, but Plater wasn't listening.

"Fine to meet you. Soon as my boys are done unpacking we'll have a full count for you. Just you, or you got some Elders around this place?"

"They're the ones in charge," Libris said.

"Excuse me! Excuse me," came another voice, and a young boy pushed through the crowd, shoving other people out of his way. He couldn't have been more than fifteen, and not well-grown at that. "Where are the Elders? I have to speak with the Elders."

"I can take you to them," Libris said. "What's wrong?"

"We heard there was an expat at the Res, looking for her family," the boy said. Ellis felt Clare grip his sleeve tightly. "Christopher Fields' daughter."

"That's me," Clare said, stepping forward. The boy gave her a look of naked shock.

"You're Clare Fields?" he asked.

"Do you know my father?"

"I -- I'm so sorry," he said. "I came to find you. He's dead. He died with a fever, three years ago."

Ellis looked at Clare. Her face had closed down, head bowed, dark hair falling over her shoulders. She was still clinging to his sleeve.

"Do you know about my mother?" she asked.

"Dead many years. She -- " the boy looked anguished. "Are you really Clare?"

Clare's head lifted. "I am. Why?"

"You don't know me," he said. "But I'm your brother."

"What?" Clare asked.

"Our mother died when I was born -- father tried to get a message through but we never -- I'm sorry, my name's Mem," he said. "Memory. Memory Fields."

"You're my brother?" Clare asked. He gave her an uncertain smile.

"I was born after you were taken away," he said. "So my father told me."

Ellis gave Clare a gentle nudge and she stepped forward, wrapping her arms around the boy's thin shoulders. He barely came up to her chin; after a stunned second he returned the hug, both of them trembling. Others were beginning to approach, forming a loose, crowded circle around the little tableau -- Ellis and Libris standing aside, Clare and Mem Fields shaking in each other's arms.

"I didn't know," Clare said, pulling back. She was crying. "I didn't know if they were alive, I didn't know I had a brother."

"It was hard to get word through, especially after she died," Mem answered, hesitantly reaching out a hand to wipe the tears off her cheeks. "We only ever got one letter, from the ship's captain -- he said you were safe in America. Dad kept it his whole life."

Clare smiled a little and hugged him again, then let go.

"Mem, this is the man who helped me get here," she said, gesturing to Ellis. "Ellis Graveworthy. Ellis, this is Memory Fields, my brother."

"A pleasure, young man," Ellis said, offering his hand. Mem shook it with a strong grip and a level look. "I'm glad you could join us."

"There's so much I have to ask you," Clare said.

"I'm sorry..." Libris interrupted. "I need to ask -- what tribe was your father?"

"Gunai," Memory answered.


"No, Krauatungalung."

"I thought the Krauatungalung had died out," Libris said.

"We have, mostly -- most were shot in the uprising when they tried to send us to the reservation near Melbourne. My father and mother went north to buy land," Mem said.

"The Gunai weren't on good terms with the Wiradjuri," Libris said quietly.

"Doesn't matter to me, if you don't care," Mem said. "It's not like anyone remembers. What does that -- "

"It's important that you have a tribe," Libris interrupted again. "We need to claim you both. Otherwise there will be infighting -- most of the Kooris here put more stock in family names than northerners do. You need to become Wiradjuri."

"Sounds painful," Ellis said, to break the tension.

"Not the time, Mr. Graveworthy," Libris answered, without turning to him. "If anyone asks either one of you, you're family of the Wiradjuri. Do you have any other names?"

"Just Fields," Clare said. "Unless...?" she glanced at Mem, who shook his head.

"Come with me. Quickly. ALL OF YOU," William added, turning to the rest of the crowd. "There's an assembly in the center of town. We'll explain everything there, and find places for you all."

"Come on, come on," Clare said, pulling Mem along by the hand. "Come on! This is my brother!" she shouted, and those who could hear her laughed and waved. "My brother's here! From the north! I have so much to say to you," she said, trying to press quickly through the crowds and failing. Ellis took hold of her shoulder to be sure he stayed with her in the tight crush of bodies pouring back into the village.

"How are you even here?" Mem shouted over the noise.

"We came from America! My friend Jack -- you have to meet him! Well, he's in prison right now," she added, almost apologetic. "He built the airship you flew on. Ellis made him, didn't you, Ellis?"

"Something like that," Ellis said with a grin. "How old are you, Mr. Fields?"

"Fifteen," Mem answered. "You brought Clare here?"

"She brought herself here! I couldn't stop her."

"You never tried very hard," Clare replied, laughing.

"They say there's a goddess on the Res," Mem said, as Clare dragged them onward. "Do you know about it? Have you seen her?"

Ellis glanced at him and shook his head. "There's no goddess, Mr. Fields."

"Then why are we here?"

"For your sister," Ellis said, and Clare beamed at him and took off running again.


The morning before his trial, Jack found himself cuffed by one hand to a chair in a small, hot room near his jail cell, sitting at a table and waiting.

It wasn't really that hard, waiting. The room might be four bare, boring walls but it was at least a change from his cell. He didn't know why he was there, but obviously they wanted him whole and alive for the trial, so he probably wasn't in danger of death just yet.

He felt as if he were thinking clearly for the first time in years. Not about machines -- the clarity and purpose of machines was what drew him to them -- but about people. He felt like he could see life without a cloud for the first time since his parents died. Every detail, every nuance of conversation or expression. All laid out like a machine.

Still, he wished Graveworthy were around. Graveworthy would have a plan or at least a dry, gallows-humor quip to lighten things.

When the door opened to admit a pale, nervous-looking man with paper and a pen-set, he brightened considerably. Nothing could be that awful if paper was involved. The man didn't introduce himself, just set out the paraphernalia -- a pen-stand, one of the fancy automatic pens that were common in Australia, and a blotter.

"Hi," Jack tried, and the man glanced at him quickly before looking away. "Can I use that pen?"

"You're going to, Mr. Parsons," said an all-too-familiar voice, and MP Bell stepped into the room. He was trailed by a burly man in shirtsleeves, carrying a small case. The man in the shirtsleeves was enough to counterbalance Jack's optimism over the pen and paper. "Believe me."

"I do," Jack answered. "What am I going to use it for?"

The nervous man spread out the papers, printed in rich black ink. Expensive paper, too. Jack fingered one of the sheets.

"This is a confession," he said.

"That one is," Bell agreed. "The other one is an agreement of testimony."

"A what?" Jack asked, picking it up.

"You have two options, Mr. Parsons. Really it's all ceremonial, since we'll get the truth out of you one way or another. Either you sign a full confession that will be read at your hearing tomorrow, or you can sign an agreement to testify against your companions when they're caught, and avoid this messy trial business."

"Still haven't got 'em, huh?" Jack asked.

"There's plenty of time," Bell replied. "The rest of your natural life -- if you're lucky."

"And if I refuse to sign either one?"

Bell gave him a nasty look. The large man with the small case loomed.

"You'll sign," Bell said confidently. A twisty little corkscrew of a knife appeared in the large man's hand. "Amazing how many marks you can make on a body where it won't show under clothing."

"Ah. It's like that," Jack replied. The large man leaned over his shoulder, arms on either side of his body, the knife held away from him so he couldn't grab for it. Smart.

Not quite smart enough, though.

Jack picked up the pen.

"Wise," Bell remarked. "Consider which you'd like to commit to, Mr. Parsons."

"Oh, I am," Jack said thoughtfully. "I'm just thinking about engineering, too. You know a human body's not all that different from a machine."

"As you will have proof, if you don't sign."

"Easy, I'm getting there. Every part works in tandem with every other part. You can throw one little speck of grit or a shard of metal into a machine and it can bring the whole thing down."

Jack tapped the pen on the testimony contract, then bent a little as if to sign. He felt the moment the man behind him relaxed, and a split second later he swung his arm up in a graceful arc across his body, twisting as he did so.

Building the airship had given him new muscles, and he'd been the victor of a few schoolyard scuffles in his time. Not to mention he'd read all those old reproductions of Leonardo Da Vinci's work, which had given him a keen appreciation of anatomy, in particular the sensitive area just below the outer flare of the clavicle.

The pen went in deep, at least an inch -- it wouldn't draw much blood, but when Jack twisted it downwards the large man screamed. The man brought the knife up, not to Jack's throat but almost to his own, reflexively clawing for the pen jammed into his chest. Jack calmly stood up, shoving his chair into the man as hard as he could, and heard a gratifying crash. The other man, the nervous one, bolted from the room.

"Don't try to scare me," Jack snarled, planting his foot on the big man's chest, gathering up the knife the man had dropped. There was a second shriek when he pulled out the pen, and he knew that would probably haunt him for the rest of his life -- Clare would be so ashamed of him if she knew he'd done this -- but he wanted to make a point.

He held the pen up in front of Bell's wide, terrified eyes, put it to the confession, and signed in the blood of the man writhing on the floor.

Then he leaned over and signed the testimony contract. That one smeared a little, the blood already getting tacky.

When he was finished, he straightened and tossed the pen and knife at Bell's feet.

"When the book's already written, words don't mean much," he said.

The two guards who'd been watching his cell stormed in at that point, and Jack hefted the chair shackled to his left wrist.

"Easy or hard?" he said.

"Hold on there, boy," one of the guards said.

"What's hard?" the other one asked.

"Hard is, you try to hurt me and I beat you with a chair," Jack informed him. "Easy is, I put the chair down and go back to my cell and nobody loses any teeth."

The guards glanced at Bell, who was apparently no help at all, and then nodded.

"Easy," one of them said. Jack let the chair drop.

"Good choice," he agreed, allowing them to unlock the cuff and reattach it to his free hand. As they led him past Bell, he nodded politely.

"Mr. Bell," he said. "See you tomorrow."



CATALOGUED AS: Printed and signed confession of "John Parsons", 1872.

ADDITIONAL NOTES: Donated to the Upraised Hands collection of the Museum of Indigenous History with certified verification from:
-- Sergeant Liam O'Hara, Canberra Police, guard at the time of Jack Baker's imprisonment.
-- Sir Jack Baker, original signator, imprisoned at the time of signing.

PROVENANCE: Collected and preserved by Sergeant Liam O'Hara. 1873 purchased at auction by unnamed private collector. 1894 purchased from private collection by Sir Jack Baker.


Item #1144-JB-P is a single-page document machine-printed on heavy-weight paper in black ink. Text is a confession intended to be used in the parliamentary interrogation of Jack Baker (later Sir Jack Baker) for fraud and treason against the government of Australia. The document names "John Parsons", Sir Jack's alias during the Canberra Revolt of 1872, as the intended signator. Sir Jack has verified that the document was signed by himself the day before the revolt commenced.

Sir Jack confirms that he engaged in an altercation with a man attempting to coerce him into signing the document, and that the document was signed with blood from a stab wound inflicted on the man in question (identity unknown) by Sir Jack. A supposed second document, also signed in blood, has presumably been destroyed.

Sir Jack's "signature" is a Latin phrase, "VERITAE APPARATUS", motto of Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States.

Apparatus, -us may be translated as either "Machine" or "Magnificence" and is intended in the genitive. Thus the motto may exist as either "Truth of the Machine" or "Truth of Magnificent Scale". Sir Jack wishes it to be noted that either may be interpreted as a sarcastic commentary on his predicament at the time.

ITEM STATUS: Currently on 2-year loan to the British Museum as part of their Empire In Retrospective exhibition.


With the arrival of new guests by foot and by air, the central square of the Res was nearly filled by evening. What struck Ellis wasn't the mass of the crowd but its serenity: they weren't shouting, they weren't shoving or fighting. The Wiradjuri were greeting the outlying tribes, sharing water, talking in small groups, welcoming newcomers as they arrived; everyone else was going about the business of feeding and sheltering themselves. Clare had spent most of the day talking with Mem or walking around with Dr. Saturday, seeing to the injured and weary; Ellis had stuck to the fringes, offering a hand where he could but mostly just watching.

"It's more than a little frightening, to be honest," Libris said, joining Ellis on the edge of the crowd. "It's peaceful enough now, but when people get tired of sleeping on the ground and sharing with tribes they used to go to war with..."

"Surely that's a long time past, though," Ellis answered.

"We have long memories," Libris answered with a grim smile. "Plenty of these people know -- or at least think they know -- exactly who killed their great-grandfather and in what war. Anyway, between the people here, more coming in, and your poor Engineer standing trial, we'd better move fast."

"What does Clare say?"

"Clare says she's ready," Clare's voice intruded, and both men turned sharply. She was standing behind them, hands on her hips. She smiled. "William, are you?"

Ellis watched as he looked back at the gathering in the square. He set his jaw and straightened his shoulders.

"Yes," he said. "I think it's time."

"I think you're right. Ellis, are you coming?" Clare added, turning to him.

"You know I've always admired the fearless," he said, following them as they began moving through the crowd. "This does feel rather like jumping off a cliff, though. Sure you want me to be the one waiting to catch you?"

"Trust me," she said, patting his arm.

"Always," he answered, and felt her hand slide down to grip his briefly before she let go.

They made their way slowly to the center of the square, Libris stopping here and there to greet people briefly. There was a well at the center, with a low wall around it; when they reached it, Libris hoisted himself deftly onto the wall and began shouting for attention. Slowly the noise of the crowd died away. Ellis noticed that the Elders moved closer, adding their gravitas to the lone figure above the others.

"PLEASE!" Libris shouted, as the last of the talking died away. "Thank you. Can everyone hear me?"

There were shouts from the back that seemed to indicate he wasn't quite audible. Clare grabbed Ellis, startling him, and used his shoulder as leverage to hoist herself up next to Libris. She lifted his hand and pressed it together with hers over the base of his throat; when she removed hers, he was holding a small, curved object to his skin. He glanced at her, but after an encouraging nod he spoke again.

"Welcome to -- " his voice boomed around the square, and he flinched in surprise.

"Go on," Clare whispered.

"Welcome to the Lake Cowal Reservation, home of the Wiradjuri," he said, echoes coming back to them off the walls of the distant houses. Other than his voice, the windswept square was deathly silent. "My name is William Libris. On behalf of our Elders, I welcome you. There are many things to say to you," he added, with a broad smile for the assembly. "There are many stories to tell. Many of you wonder why you're even here -- why a young man like myself sent a summons out to every tribe in the west and in the north."

There was a cheer from one of the western contingents. Clare laughed.

"Not long ago, four strangers came to the Res from outside of Australia, bringing with them a hope that we thought we'd lost," he continued. "You may have heard rumors of a goddess, but there is no goddess among the Wiradjuri. What was brought to us was Creationism -- the birthright of our ancestors!"

More cheering. Ellis cocked an eyebrow at Libris, who glanced down at him and mirrored the expression briefly before looking up again.

"Many of you have had children taken from you because they could Create, children who were sent away from Australia. One of those has returned to us. The woman who stands with me here is not a goddess," he said, his hand fumbling for Clare's. "She is the daughter of a Koori. She went to America and she has learned Creationism, and she returned to us to help set us free."

"Brace yourself," Ellis murmured to Clare.

"Why?" she asked, still looking straight ahead.

"He's about to pull something, I can tell."

"The Wiradjuri have embraced her as our own, and she is under our protection, just as we embrace all of you who have come to the Res. No Koori coming in peace to our home will be turned away. What we have is yours -- though that's not much," he added, and there was a ripple of rueful laughter. "So we are grateful for what you've brought, too. Rest assured, we'll find a place for all of you tonight, and food for you and your children."

He took a deep breath. "But that's not why you've come. You've come because of this woman. To help us in many things -- our own defense, our freedom, our desire for equality and for the rights our ancestors were born to -- she traveled a long way to reach us. She is not always familiar with our ways, but she is one of us. This is Murra Fields."

He held up his hand, with Clare's clenched in it, and beamed at her as the cheers began to deafen.

"What kind of a name is that?" Clare hissed.

"Murra," Libris announced, ignoring her, "means hands in our language. She will be our hands -- pulling us up, helping us to find our place again. She is Wiradjuri," he announced. "A part of our tribe. You are all welcomed by the Wiradjuri. You are of our people -- you are Kooris!"

Whoops and applause filled the air as Clare -- Murra? -- stared at Libris in disbelief.

"Murra," he continued, as the crowd settled, "has an American brother, not by blood but by friendship, like our united tribes today. He's been imprisoned by the authorities in Canberra for his hand in what's to come. Tomorrow he'll be brought before Parliament on charges of high treason, because he wished to forward the cause of Koori rights."

"He's good," Ellis murmured. Clare -- he couldn't even ask if she wanted to be Murra, not with all eyes on them -- nodded slightly.

"Tomorrow, therefore, it is hoped that we may march as one on Parliament, to peacefully demand his freedom and our rights. We have the rare opportunity to rally at a single point of history in our country, and to make our grievances known. We are not here," William continued, "for bloodshed and slaughter. We all know the cost of battle. No," he added, as a few shrill objections rose from the assembly. "That's not what we want. If we are to find a place it will not be the place we had, but a new place, born out of the old. The cities of Australia have enough to offer all of us. We are not here to fight."

"Then why are we here?" a man near the front shouted. "I came here for a fight!"

"We are here to take our rights. We don't need to fight. We have power of our own. Once our ancestors thought that we could live together with the white colonists -- "

"Until they attacked us!" a woman yelled.

"Listen to me," Libris yelled back, and everyone fell silent. "If we attack in return we won't accomplish anything. Do you want to see blood shed, or do you want what is yours returned to you?"

"Both," someone said.

"Well, you can't have both, can you?" Libris asked, a hint of anger showing through. "We're owed many things -- our dignity, the wealth of the land that was ours, the strength and pride of our tribes. But we can't have that if we dishonor the tribes. We will have what is ours -- and we will receive it with pride, not with blood on our hands."

Clare leaned over and whispered something in Libris' ear. He gave her a questioning look, but she smiled encouragingly and he nodded.

"This is a question for the Elders to discuss," he said, calmer now. "As you know, we are not all at peace with each other. Some of us have feuds in the recent past. I ask you all, whatever you feel about what will come tomorrow, be calm and patient. Remember that you are now on Wiradjuri land. We will not brook violence here. What has been done to us has united us out of necessity -- now stand united with us out of choice. We will share what we have with you, but you must share what you have with each other. Elders, you are invited to the table of the Wiradjuri Elders, to discuss the care and shelter of your people and the march we'll make tomorrow. If you have no Elders, come to me. The Wiradjuri will look after you."

"I have a question!" someone shouted.

"Questions -- "

"How is she going to protect all of us?" the voice in the crowd asked. A tall, rangy man in dusty clothes was pushing through to the front. "She's one girl. She's not even very old. If we walk into Canberra they'll shoot us down like animals."

Libris opened his mouth to answer, but Ellis saw Clare squeeze his hand.

"Wait," she said. Libris glanced at her, then offered her the little loud-talking device. She took it and gave him a gentle nudge; he let go of her hand and slid off the wall, into the crowd. She took a deep breath, holding the little box to her own throat.

"William is a wise man," she said, her voice clear and loud in the expectant silence. "He's right; we can't attack Canberra. I can't protect you, not on my own. They'd kill us. I won't have deaths on my hands."

"Then how?" the man asked, close enough now to speak normally.

"Let me show you something," she said with a smile, and crouched on the wall, reaching out for Ellis's hand. He took it, surprised.

"Do you remember when you told us the story of the Battle of the Pyramids?" she asked him, holding the box away from her throat.

"On the airship? Of course," he answered, confused.

"Think of it now," she said. "Tell the story in your mind. Napoleon and Murad Bey, do you remember?"

He nodded, thinking of the day they'd flown past the smooth expanse of glass in the Egyptian desert. The way they'd hung on his words -- Napoleon's army marching on Egypt and Murad Bey's last desperate defense of Cairo, the gateway to a conquest of Africa. A blast so bright and hot it melted the sand to glass and destroyed both armies, a grief so powerful that it overwhelmed Creationists thousands of miles away. Clare's hand tightened in his until it ached.

"Clare -- "

"Murra," she corrected, eyes closed. "William was right. I have to be Murra."

"Murra," he said, low and hoarse, and heard in his voice the betrayal of everything he'd kept secret, everything he hadn't wanted her to know, even as he tried to concentrate on the story.

Creation was unleashed. Fire began to rain down on both armies and the pyramids turned black in the shadow of the storm. The world ceased to be in a blast of fire so bright it turned the very sand beneath their feet to glass. The French call it the Battle of the Pyramids. The Egyptians call it the Sea of Shame.

A shock leapt from her to him, and he released her hand on instinct; she stood up, her right hand cupped in the air. Inside it was a small ball of golden light.

"Take what was yours," she said, closing her hand. "And what is mine."

She moved so quickly that nobody had time to react -- her hand shot forward and caught the shoulder of the man who'd objected, holding it firmly in her grip. His arms splayed wide but in the tight crowd there was nowhere to move. His body collided with others, and they howled in pain. Ellis watched, stunned, as Libris reached up to touch Murra's arm. His eyes closed, and an odd grief crossing his face.

Whatever it was, it spread through the massed Kooris quickly, hand to skin, anywhere they touched. Some began to tremble, others to weep; a few he saw pulling back in fear, but then they surged forward again. Libris clung to Murra's arm, then staggered back into Ellis. He caught him, helped him up, and looked him in the eye.

Libris lifted his hand, wonderingly, and his fingers twitched. Fire danced across the lines of his palm. There were tear tracks on his face.

"Murra, what have you done?" Ellis asked, looking beyond to where she stood. She released the man whose shoulder she'd been holding and dropped down from the well to the ground. Libris pulled away, leaning heavily on the wall.

"I made sure," she said, as Ellis wrapped an arm around her, drawing her in. "I made sure nobody would die."

"You told them the story," he said.

"I gave them back Creation," she replied, voice muffled by his shirt. "But it's my hand on it, Ellis. I couldn't put my hand to my Creation without..."

Around them people were trembling, holding onto each other just to stay upright, and he realized why they were weeping -- they were seeing the Battle of the Pyramids, the tens of thousands who'd died when Creation was used for war.

"Without giving them a reason to use it wisely?" he asked gently. She nodded against his chest. "Oh -- you are well named, Murra," he said, and held tightly to her.

"ELLIS GRAVEWORTHY," someone shouted, and he looked up to see Purva shoving her way through the crowd, an intent look in her eye. He watched, still holding Murra, as she stood before him and put her hands on her hips.

"Purva," he said weakly.

"I go out," she snarled, "I go out for a walk! I think, oh, I will explore, I get a little lost -- NOT A LOT," she insisted, when he opened his mouth. "I get a little lost, I find my way, I think Lake Cowal, she is so pretty today. I come back, and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth and things that are very -- not dignified! I think I blame you, oui? What on Earth?"

Murra sniffled and pulled away from him a little, though her hand ran down his arm and traced across his fingers before she stepped back.

"It's not his fault," she said, wiping her face. "Sorry, Purva."

"Well, this is a fine mess," Purva retorted. "A big crew needs a strong captain. You!" she added, pointing to Libris, who was wiping his own eyes and smiling at her. "You will restore order, Mr. I Know Everything. Go! No, wait, I'll come with you. Come, come," she said, dragging him through the crowd. People were beginning to pull themselves together, the odd sense of grief already fading, replaced with something like wonder. Some were studying their hands as if they'd never seen them before. A few of the children had begun Creating little objects to play with and were happily ignoring their stunned elders.

Memory staggered up and threw his arms around Murra, brushing past Purva as she pulled Libris away.

"You're wrong, you know," Mem said, and Ellis stepped back a little to give them their moment. "I think you are a goddess, just a little."

"You're just easily impressed," she answered, holding him by the shoulders and wiping a smudge of dust off his face. "I'm so glad you came. I wish we could speak more, I wish I could teach you..."

He glanced around him. "I guess you have things to do, huh."

"I'm so sorry. We'll talk later tonight, won't we? Ellis, please," she added, turning to him.

"Mr. Fields," Ellis said. "Come with me. I'll look after him, Cl -- Murra."

She smiled and took his hand, kissing the knuckles gently. He stared at her.

"I know," she said. "I'm pretty great."

"Well, I would have said glorious, but I'm a writer," he answered faintly.

"Stay with my brother, Ellis. I'll see you both when I can," she said. They watched her as she moved through the crowd, stopping here and there to speak to people much as Libris was doing. Ellis saw Dina appear from somewhere and follow her, until Murra bent to speak to her and sent her running off to help on her own. Once in a while she stopped to take someone's hand and show them something, waving her own over it until a little object -- a stick, a bit of cloth, a stone -- appeared in it.

"When we go to Canberra tomorrow," Mem said, eyes still following his sister, "what's going to happen?"

"I don't know," Ellis answered.

"But they'll have guns -- and they won't know," Mem insisted. "Not like she made us know."

"When Father LaRoche came to America, there were people already living there," Ellis said absently. "When he met them for the first time, he made a shield." He glanced at Mem. "Shields are what you'll need. I can show you how to do that."

"Can you?" Mem asked.

"Of course. I'll teach you what I know. Come along, nobody's watching the children. We can do that."

He found a knot of small children playing with their new toys -- brightly colored balls, small animal figurines, bits of paper that vaguely resembled kites, and one older boy with a smooth piece of wood on a string. He swung it around his head as the others applauded at the humming roar it made.

Ellis settled into the dust, his joints complaining slightly, and Mem sat next to him. A few of the children came to curl up in the boy's lap.

"Look," one of them said, showing off what looked vaguely like a toy train. "Look what I made!"

Ellis took the little toy and ran a hand over it, changing the color from dull grey to bright green. The child squealed in joy and held it up to show it to her friends.

"The first principle of Creation is imagination," Ellis began, in the cadence of a teacher beginning a lesson, "which is a gift that even the smallest child understands how to use..."


Late in the evening, on the same day he'd signed the confession in blood -- while he was still waiting for the violent repercussions of that -- Jack looked up from his bunk to find a new guard standing in front of the door. He sat up and held out his hands expectantly, and the guard shackled his wrists through the bars.

"Come on," the man said. "And no fucking funny business this time."

"No, this isn't funny at all," Jack agreed, as the door opened. The guard prodded him to go first. "Where are we going?"

"Down the hall, left at the first door," the man said. Jack obeyed, wondering if this was going to be when he got the hell kicked out of him for his earlier stunt.

Instead of a small room with a table, however, he found himself in a much more spacious room, with desks and chairs -- the guardhouse, he realized. An imposing man was standing in the center of it, next to a young Koori boy in servant's clothes.

"Do you know who I am, Mr. Parsons?" the man asked.

"No," Jack answered.

"My name's Wright. I am the commanding officer of the Canberra police force. I am a very busy man, and I am not impressed by political prisoners or traitors to Australia."

"And...?" Jack prompted. The man scowled.

"And I do not appreciate jumping when MP Bell tells me to. You are causing a fuss, Mr. Parsons."

"I do that," Jack said.

"Chain him," Wright ordered. Jack watched as they threaded a chain through his shackled wrists, and then his arms were wrenched upwards as the chain was thrown over a beam and secured to a bolt in the wall.

"Well, I guess you don't want me signing another confession, then," Jack said.

"MP Bell was content to let you rot until tomorrow morning, and so was I. But you have," Wright spat, "a visitor."

Jack's eyes flicked to the boy.

"Traitors who assault my men are not given much leeway in the area of privacy with which to consult their visitors," Wright continued. "So, boy, say what you like to the prisoner."

The boy cast a sidelong look at both of them.

"I'm not going anywhere," Wright said.

"It's all right," Jack said. "I'm guessing a mutual friend of ours sent you. What's your name?"


"Thanks, Harry. This can't be much fun for you."

Harry swallowed nervously.

"I'm told to tell you that..." He consulted a slip of paper, "Mr. Grimes and your wife and servant are concerned about you but they want you to stay calm."

"Well, if they let you out of this building after hearing that, tell my family I am."

"Note was given to me, sir," Harry said hastily, to Wright. "I didn't see them myself, sir, it was just given to me, sir."

"Don't be afraid of him," Jack said. "He's a very busy man, I'm sure he can't be bothered with a Tribal," he added, twisting the word sarcastically. Wright didn't appear to be upset by the mockery.

"And you're to give this to MP Bell," Harry said, taking a folded sheet of paper from his pocket. Jack glanced up at his bound wrists.

"If you'd take that for me?" he asked. Wright snatched the letter and opened it. His scowl deepened as he read it.

"What is the meaning of this?" he asked Jack.

"Dunno. What's it say?"

"To the government of Canberra," Wright read aloud. "By the time you read this, messengers will have been dispatched to all the major ports and cities of Australia. You cannot stop them and you cannot prevent word from spreading of the grievous injustice -- injustice! You planned to swindle half of Canberra!"

"I think we actually did," Jack put in.

" -- grievous injustice done to Mr. Parsons and to the people he represents. Who do you represent, Mr. Parsons?"

"Engineers?" Jack asked, bewildered, until he realized what the letter implied.

"If you do not release Mr. Parsons..." Wright drew a deep breath, and Jack waited for the ultimatum, but it never came, "...it will make no difference to the cause he stands for. You can do nothing now. If you wish to retain your dignity and what little material wealth is left to you, I suggest you flee the city. Yrs faithfully, Eric Grimes. Parsons, what the hell does he mean?"

"I'm supposed to be interrogated at Parliament tomorrow," Jack retorted. "Ask me then."

"Don't think we won't."

"The letter was for MP Bell, not for me. Don't ask me to explain it," Jack said, but his heart was lifting. They were coming for him, they would come and save him, and all he had to do was wait. And they weren't coming alone, if Ellis was warning the government to abandon the city.

Not that they would, but they couldn't say he hadn't warned them.

"What is Grimes planning for the city?" Wright demanded. Jack chuckled and rattled his chains, a sharp noise that drew a glance from everyone in the room.

"How should I know? You've had me locked up. I don't know the first thing about it. I mean, I hope he starts with helping me escape, but if my father-in-law is going to descend on Canberra with a plan for vengeance then I think an iron-barred cell might be the safest place in the city, to be honest."

Wright slapped him, hard. The sting lasted only a few seconds, but then a deep painful burn replaced it.

"Take him back to his cell, he doesn't know anything," Wright snapped. "Take the Tribal boy to -- "

He turned to grab Harry, but Jack had watched Harry slip quietly out of the room through a nearby window at the moment the rattling chains had distracted everyone.

"Goddammit, what the hell kind of discipline do you call this?" he roared, as Jack was shoved down the hallway, back towards his cell.

"Chin up, Wright!" he called. "Least you didn't get stabbed with a pen!"

They slung him back in the cell and left the shackles on him, which wasn't very nice, but he lay down on the bunk with his hands folded on his stomach and enjoyed the warm, comforting feeling the letter had given him. They were coming to rescue him. Ellis and Clare and Purva knew where he was and wanted him to stay put so that they could rescue him. He'd see Purva again.

And, knowing the three of them, the immediate future was like to be extremely exciting.



The morning that the Revolt began, we walked down to the foot of the Res where the cars would park when bringing tourists to see the Wiradjuri. The cars, of course, would normally have been in the garage at the train station at that time of day, but William Libris had arranged this all with the masterful forethought which has served him so well in later life. There were cars, carts, and the two exhaust-belching buses that the Kooris normally traveled on. The previous night, Libris had sent a few of the cars off to other cities, to Brisbane and Melbourne and Adelaide, cars carrying messengers for the Kooris in those places and on the nearby Reservations. The rest of us packed into the remaining transport, and in very tight quarters we traveled to the train station. We took the station -- our first triumph! -- with no fuss or noise.

I remember vividly the train ride from Lake Cowal to Canberra. In every car there was a spirit of jubilation and energy that I have never known -- even in soldiers going to war or those coming from it. People sang and talked. Children ran from car to car heedless of the track speeding past below them. There was a lot of Creation -- of shields, of toys for children, of pretty, useless trinkets that were there and gone in the flash of an eye just to show what they could do.

On the train, Murra couldn't sit still and Memory was constantly following her. Their long separation seemed of little consequence to them -- they knew they were orphans together and they seemed quite dedicated to each other. They went from car to car, the same as I was doing, though for very different reasons. I was there in equal parts as one of them and as an observer, because I knew I would be writing this, now, much later, if I survived. They, on the other hand, had practical matters to attend to.

The Kooris, thank goodness, showed no particular reverence for Murra. They did smile at her and invite her to sit with them or meet their families, their children. Sometimes she stayed and talked, but never for very long. She didn't want to be a goddess or a savior, and I don't think they truly wanted one. They wanted to save themselves. It is the greatest of human urges, to stand on one's own two feet.

We came into Canberra quietly, poured out of the crowded train and onto the platform, and those Tribals who had come from unsettled outlying areas seemed impressed and a little afraid.

"Will they hold?" I asked Libris, who was guiding Murra through the crowd.

"They'll hold," he said to me, but I think he doubted it.

Our goal was not to invade the city but to pass through it, down to Parliament, where Jack Baker was to be tried and executed for treason. To get there, however, we would have to walk a fair distance. The Kooris were well used to walking, but they were not used to rebellion, and I think fear began to overtake them.

"Ellis," Murra said to me. "You and William behind me."

I think Libris would have objected, but he understood the nature of symbols. Murra had led them into this; as the saying goes, her hand was on it. Walking first ahead of a peaceful army is not exactly a place of honor -- it's a place of danger -- but it was where she had to be. Her brother joined us in the front as well, I remember.

At first there was no resistance to our march, because people were too stunned to react, but as we passed street after street word began to run ahead and trouble of a sort began to wait for us.

It was an odd thing, that march. Koori servants in Canberra ran out of the houses and shops to join us, though some also ran out to try and stop us. People threw rocks, and after the rocks came bullets fired at us by those fearing a riot. I'm told two women were shot and killed, not quite fast enough to duck or shield themselves, but I was at the head of the march and didn't see. It's never been proven, at any rate; no-one has ever come forward to say they saw the women die, just that they had heard it had happened.

There are also people who will tell you the Archive building was set on fire by Tribals, at the command of William Libris, but that is an actual lie. Libris would never have given the command and the Kooris had no need to destroy the Archives. I saw the man who did it, and he was a white man, though he was never caught. I should like him to be caught; I would happily lock him away myself and lose the key.

Where we walked, when we could, when the people of Canberra came close enough to either look at us or to try and stop us, Kooris reached out. Some were injured in the trying, but they quickly became adept at darting out to touch someone and darting back into the safety of the crowd. Not everyone they touched was affected in the way they had been -- that is to say, not everyone touched by a Koori became, as they were, a Creationist. A vast many, though -- and this has been recorded in firsthand accounts -- surely understood what Murra had passed on in her first laying-of-hands. Murra hated the injustice she'd seen in Australia and she feared war; a hatred of prejudice and a fear of violence were all contagious in Canberra that day, rising like a cleansing flood.

The same phenomenon, spurred by the messengers Libris had sent the night before, was occurring across the whole of the country. No-one is denying that it was also the cause of the riots and deaths in Adelaide, but those who would talk to me of Adelaide would do well to read more history, and those who died in Adelaide would not wish it to be the cause of more death.

As we went, some men and women tried to drive automobiles into the crowd. Fanciful, colorful Created machines and barriers stopped them. I saw bright birds soaring up from behind me and mad fantasy animals run past. I couldn't know it at the time -- I didn't know what the Dreamtime was, then -- but they were creatures of the Dreamtime, a mystery that had been locked away for decades and was now free.

These were people with no fear of Creating life. It was almost more like a parade, in a peculiar sense; when the marchers saw that they were in no danger from Canberra, a sort of glee spread among them. They were set firmly on a purpose, but they saw no reason to be grim and dour as they went. No doubt some were angry, some were vengeful, but not one Koori raised a hand in violence to anyone. Not in Canberra, not in the footsteps of Murra Fields.

There were bystanders, more and more as we went. They crowded on the sidewalks and watched us, their faces pale and terrified. I think they thought that a day of judgment had come, and most of them knew that what they had done would damn them. I don't pretend to be innocent myself -- I have done many terrible things in this life -- but that day I was walking with the tribes of Australia, not standing on the pavement watching. I was happy. I was at the work I had been sent to do, and under the protection of a woman I very much loved.

When we came to the steps of Parliament there was joy, more joy than I have words for. We had reached a goal and inside, we all knew, lay the seat of power. More than that -- inside was Murra's American brother Jack, waiting for us to lift him out of his shackles, too.

But soon after, of course, was when the trouble began.

Chapter Twenty-Five
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The Original Sam Backup

May 2012

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