The Ingenious Inventor

Keelah's story

The First Flight of the Maonods

Maonods were the last known species to make it into space. Their home planet, Siple, with its devastatingly beautiful landscape, is devoid of some fundamental resources that are prolific on most others. Minerals, ores, and metals are all scarce. Likely because of this, for most of their recorded history the Maonod’s have taken a strong anti-science standpoint, remaining afraid, even openly hostile towards most technology. As time went by however, a rift grew in the level of tolerance afforded to ‘scientific discovery’. The Northern hemisphere of Siple became a safe space for those who strove for knowledge, and while most ‘scientists’ were still considered a little eccentric, they were allowed to live and conduct their research in peace.

The South was a wholly different matter. Scientific thinking was met with intolerance, persecution and even ritual murder. Despite this, the ideas that would lead to the most monumental advancement in the history of Siple came from the South.

This is the story of the first flight of the Maonods, and it’s a story that begins and ends in tragedy…

At 12 years old Keelah was living an idyllic life with her parents. She adored her father Damascon, who taught her endless exciting things about the world. Damascon was a scientist, and worked zealously in secret, to further his knowledge and pursue research on all manner of technological advancements. With an incredibly sharp mind, he was only held back by the need for secrecy and their humble origins. This didn’t stop him from inventing, but many of his greatest works existed only as blueprints in his treasured notebook. Some of Keelah’s earliest memories revolved around that notebook. She remembered vividly how she’d sit with her father beneath a patchwork of stars, as he leafed through the pages, showing her the machines he would build to one day fly among them.

These dalliances with science came at a price. Word of Damascon’s activities eventually spread. A local tribe leader took it upon himself to act. One night he sent a group of men to break into Keelahs family home, where they murdered Damascon and his wife. Keelah escaped the attack, hiding in the crawlspace beneath the floorboards and watching the struggle from between the cracks. When the sun rose and the house was still painfully silent, she crawled out and wept for hours. Orphaned and still in danger, she had no choice but to leave, and roam North stealing and scavenging along the way to survive.

The cities of the North were different to the tribal villages of her home. Carrying nothing but her father’s notebook she lived on the streets for many weeks, collecting supplies, and putting them to use. Reading her fathers tightly cramped handwriting was her only source of comfort for those first lonely nights, but she did more than just read and reminisce. Keelah was blessed with her father’s skills and she quickly put them to use. She built devices to help her break into locked buildings for a place to sleep, as well as elaborate contraptions for helping her steal, or conceal herself. It didn’t take long for her exploits to catch the attention of others who lived on the streets. Her prowess at thievery and her inventions soon lead to her initiation into an infamous band of thieves - the ‘Red Sky Gang’. The gang was mostly children her own age, but was headed by Garvin. With one eye and a face adorned with scars, Garvin had long ruled the underground of the city, and was as cunning as he was ruthless.

For years Keelah ran with Garvin and his crew, learning how to live and defend herself on the streets. Garvin profited greatly from Keelah’s inventions, but made sure very little filtered down to the rest of them. With her confidence and abilities growing, Keelah felt the disparity very keenly. She argued with Garvin relentlessly and strove to share more with the other children. The tension grew as she got older, and Keelah made plans to leave Garvin, and was intent on taking those who wanted to leave with her.

One night, not long before Keelah planned to leave, Garvin led the gang into a major heist. They targeted an old mansion, at the farthest end of the city, in an area reserved for the very wealthiest of Maonods. Using a number of tools created by Keelah they succeeded in breaking through into one of the most secure vaults on Siple. After emptying the vault of its riches, Garvin turned on Keelah. With unflinching cruelty he beat her, and left her unconscious before sealing her in the vault and making his escape. Keelah was left to take the fall, and the punishment for a crime such as this was likely to be death…

When Keelah regained consciousness she was not, as she had expected, dangling from the walls of a prison cell. No rough looking guards were threatening her with torture, and asking questions she couldn’t answer. Instead, she was in a giant four-poster bed, covered in sumptuous linen, with a nurse by her side.

As it turned out, Daslo, the sole owner of the mansion, had decided to protect Keelah, rather than committing her to the authorities. After being alerted of the break in and discovering her alone in the vault, Daslo felt a deep sympathy for Keelahs plight. On discovering her father’s notebook and some of the devices on her person, his sympathy was quickly mixed with an even greater curiosity. In their first conversation after Keelah had recovered from her injuries, Daslo offered Keelah work and a place to live. He had been living alone since his wife and daughter had died, and needed help keeping the house together. He would enjoy the company.

While trust took time to build, Keelah grew to love Daslo like a father. He was kind and generous, eccentric and fanatic in many the same ways her own father had been. He even shared her father’s love for the stars. At the top of the great building Daslo had built a makeshift observatory with a fully glass ceiling and a magnificent telescope at the centre. They spent many fond nights together gazing into the celestial abyss wondering and contemplating.

Throughout this time Keelah continued building devices from her fathers notebook, and inventing new ones of her own. Through Daslo she now had access to a vast wealth, and resources she could only have dreamed of before. Word of her skills travelled quickly and her inventions became highly sought after. Through Daslo’s connections many of these even became household staples across the city. Years went by like this. All the while there was one invention that Keelah longed to create most of all, and eventually Daslo agreed to help her build it.

Keelah set out to build a star ship. Plans for this had been laboriously detailed by Keelah’s father, but it was still an enormous undertaking with a host of unanswered questions. Her father had hypothesised about the difficulties of space flight, and together Daslo and Keelah sourced the materials they needed to combat them. News of the planned launch sent excited ripples across Siple. Many spoke of it with wonder, while others regarded it with fear. These disagreements and rumblings of dissent were unwittingly sowing the seeds of war between the North and South.

That fateful launch day went down as one of the most important in the history of Siple. Keelah and Daslo were met with crowds of avid watchers and hostile protestors in equal measure. Standing hand in hand before their ship it was only then that the true weight of their mission bore down upon them. The ship took off successfully, but after entering the harsh environment of space the structure quickly began to give way. Water and air in the fibres of the wood expanded and they quickly came into danger, having only been mildly prepared for the vacuum of space, the true intensity took them by surprise. During the chaos, Daslo was sucked into the vacuum of space while Keelah, unable to help, clung to the collapsing ship.

Miraculously this was not the end for Keelah. A neighbouring Xylak vessel had been monitoring Siple from afar. After witnessing the space flight event and noticing difficulties arise as the ship left orbit, the Xylaks accelerated to help, and were able to pull Keelah from the wreckage. Distraught, at yet another devastating loss and terrified by her first contact with an alien species, Keelah spent weeks aboard Xylak ship adjusting to her new reality, and planning the next move for herself and her people. She eventually returned to Siple with a small Xylak contingent and after many more months of discussions and political debate, it was agreed that the North would become home to Siples first space port. Thus began the Maonods relationship with other galactic races and they soon spread throughout the galaxy. Keelah, was one of the first to leave. Everything she had loved on her home planet was gone and so she sought refuge in new adventures.

Meanwhile on Siple, the animosity between North and South had grown to a fever pitch. Hardliners from the South condemned the aliens as demons from other realms and war soon broke out….

Read about the war on Siple (Coming Soon)