N6

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N6 - SKIIN' USA

The Land We Know was a baby universe maintained by El Shaddai and Bat-El. It was accessed by wormholes through which the planetdwellers (and the elohim who possessed two of them) could move freely between Sol, Rigilkent, Toliman, and Proxima, in time as well as in space. This was a recipe for chronological confusion. Since El Shaddai refrained from taking possession of one of the planetdwellers, the concept of an "absolute" time was simply that time which El Shaddai took to be the present, currently 2005 C.E.

This time-traveling aspect of the Land We Know was a secret rigorously kept from Belial and known only to the other four elohim and the original members of the Gervasi Crime Family (or the bene elohim): Robyn, Jerry, Mike, and Jill. Not even when Abaddon possessed Hunky did hy reason it out.

To the bene elohim the "present" was set twenty years earlier than that, in 1985, which had been true since the first jump from 1992 in Reality I to 1972 in Reality II. This provided a built-in safety margin. If Emperor Abaddon, for example, were to send a fleet of starships lumbering towards Sol through real-space, a journey of six years, they would arrive to find a star system that had prepared for hyz invasion for twenty-six years.

In the Sol system in 1985 everyone used Micros to swap music for free, and over the preceding three years the music business collapsed. On Gorpai and Hybla-Dia, however, nephilim still used analog recordings on spools of thread made from a plant called deathsilk, thin as the silk from a spider but as strong as steel. It could cut anything except other strands of deathsilk, which must be cut with a flame. Deathsilk was also used in blades, which resembled violin bows, used only for slashing, not piercing.

The music of the nephilim occupied a very narrow range between solemn hymns to Belial to operatic post-battle lamentations. No one, in the entire history of Gorpai and its off-world colonies, had ever made music just for the sheer joy of it. Such a thing would be subversive in a way Belial would be ill-equipped to counter. So Talishi laid a challenge before the children of Nyduly Academy: Introduce the nephilim of Centauri system to fun music.

Of the twelve children, only Dory, having grown up in the 2010s and 20s, had heard the kind of "fun" music Talishi was looking for (on her father's Micro) and fun it was indeed, for it celebrated the end of Belial's age. There were melodies running around in Dory's head for songs that hadn't been created yet. But to get the other children to play them, sha had to invent a system of notation entirely from scratch. That's what the academy was for, not only to teach facts, but to inspire children how to think.

Seven of the children weren't performers in Bite the Wax Tadpole, but Nelchael was a budding poet and stepped in with song lyrics to go with Dory's melodies. The lyrics ranged from nursery rhymes to the brainless fun of Fatho hill country bumpkins to the sweaty energy of Belial revival music.

But the thing which really brought the band together was a "field trip" to Earth, escorted by Hope's adoptive parents Victoria and Mark Felton. Everyone went to a mountain lodge at Stampede Pass about a half hour east of the Green River Gorge area. Some of the more adventurous dirks and jists put on skis and hit the slopes, while the dolls, the girls, and the other jists contented themselves with riding on inner tubes. All of them had a memorably great time, but the outing inspired Kishar to write a song titled Skiin' USA which would serve as a template for a flood of other songs.

With Hunky keeping time and Bikol stitching the song together harmonically on bass, Malekwa carried the main melody line on guitar and Kishar kept the whole thing chugging along with improvised chords on her piano. Hope sang Nelchael's lyrics with a voice that was girlish but with rich undertones that belied her age. Other children made costumes or painted cover art. The jen orphans Inanna, Muran, and Dafla learned to operate a micro to record and edit their songs. So they all worked to meet Talishi's challenge.

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