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Book 6, Chapter 9 – Trade Negotiations

 Hellflower was occupied with her work in the labs when she received the communication from Cloudhawk, asking her to meet him. It came as somewhat of a surprise. She knew the man and knew he wouldn't ask her to leave her work unless it was important.

So she left to answer his summons. Upon arriving he launched right into the situation.

"I have a surprise for you. We're going on a field trip."

In the early days, when Hellflower and Cloudhawk first met, she'd told him about her desire to learn about the history of their world. A scientist and Seeker through and through, her thirst to learn all the secrets of what happened was ever present. It was part of what motivated Hellflower to keep learning and improving in her field.

She was the first person Cloudhawk thought of when he found New Earth. There was no one better suited to explore the Ark. He first made his way to the proto-human base, then opened up a portal for her to step through from Greenland. The moment she stepped through and laid eyes upon the scene, even she couldn't hide the shock on her face. It was expected, of course. A settlement of this type, of this size, was unimaginable.

New Earth was bustling and fantastical.

Hellflower rubbed her eyes to make sure it wasn't some sort of illusion. Everywhere she looked there were markers and architecture reminiscent of pre-cataclysmic society. From the buildings, to the people's clothes, all of it looked like they came from the ancient texts.

And most importantly, those who lived here were actual ancestors of original humans!

"Crazy, right?" Cloudhawk explained what she was looking at. "I couldn't believe it when I saw it. Who would have imagined there was a piece of the old world all the way out here in some distant corner of the universe. Amazing that they have survived for so long - thrived, even."

Hellflower was bursting with questions, but they were all pushed to the back of her mind. She was too impatient to waste time talking. "Let's go look around!"

The two changed into local clothing, but even still attracted a fair amount of attention. They were unique looking even without their wasteland garb. Walking down the street, many curious gazes followed them.

The base's interior switched to night. Electric street lights flickered to life. People walked back and forth through the city, minding their business.

It was the end of their work day and people were commuting home in levitating cars and maglev shuttles. They wore vintage-looking suits and dresses, but the material was a high-grade composite. Men hustled from one place to another with briefcases in one hand and handheld communicators in the other. No one but Cloudhawk and Hellflower were surprised by the scene.

They passed by parks where grandparents were playing with their grandchildren. Robot street cleaners shuffled endlessly along picking up debris.

Because they'd been in such a hurry to evacuate, the proto-humans couldn't bring all of Earth's technology with them. The barren and inhospitable environment of this new world limited how much they could develop. As a result, even after a thousand years New Earth could not recapture its old glory.

These days New Earth was pretty asymmetrical in its advancements. Agriculture, computers, manufacturing were all what they were back in the twenty-second century. However, their space, biology and quantum technology were all stunted.

Anyone who grew up here in this city had no idea what the outside world was like. As far as they were concerned, this Ark was their world. There was no other nation but New Earth and it was the perfect place for them. It was modeled perfectly after the lost cities of Earth, complete with simulated weather and a day-night cycle. After so long the citizens had practically forgotten that the world they emulated no longer existed.

"What do you think?" Cloudhawk cast a glance at Hellflower, walking by his side. "This is the surprise I wanted to show you."

Hellflower felt moisture gathering in her eyes. She was not an emotional woman by any stretch of the imagination, but in this moment she was having a hard time holding back her feelings. Cloudhawk had met many incredible women over the years like Dawn and Selene. They all held a special place in his heart, but it was Hellflower he was most similar to.

They'd both been born into humble beginnings, were raised in the wastes, and fantasized about the past. As a scientist, Hellflower's yearning to explore that lost civilization was even more intense than Cloudhawk's. To her, there was nothing that could move her more deeply than this very moment.

"Thank you, Cloudhawk."

"Don't even worry about it. We don't have much time, let's keep going."

As they toured the city, Cloudhawk explained all he knew. He told her about the history of the Ark and the artificial intelligence that watched over it. Although Father agreed not to try and expel their manufacturing base, it also refused to help Green Alliance in any capacity. The Ark and its city would remain completely neutral. It would not join their fight or participate in their war. It was a shame.

New Earth's technology and production were under Father's control. If he'd managed to convince the program to help Greenland, they could have been given a whole army of mechanical soldiers. Fighting Skycloud would have become a whole lot easier.

But Cloudhawk felt no regret.

Earth's original people had lived here in peace and prosperity for a thousand years. That harmony should never be disturbed. If it was their choice not to join the fight, then so be it. His enemies were many and they were strong, but Cloudhawk had a plan.

"What's this place?"

The two wastelanders stood before a large door where a number of young men and women were passing through. They were definitely unique, for they had neither the hard and brutal air of wastelanders nor the haughty arrogance of Elysians.

This was a school. More specifically, a university. It was named after an old learning institution from ancient Earth.

As they walked passed the school Cloudhawk made a number of the young women blush. The boys, on the other hand, seemed eager to capture Hellflower's attention. However, when they saw her walking with Cloudhawk they scowled and sighed with regret.

New Earth's universities, hospitals, even their bars were all made in the old style. Hellflower and Cloudhawk even passed a number of churches. Old Earth's religion even persisted here after so long. Cloudhawk noted that there were some similarities in their architecture and icons to what he saw in Skycloud.

The ancient religions focused on doing good deeds and achieving inner peace. Some of that was present in Skycloud, but it was more about worship and service. Perhaps that was inevitable, since their god was real and present. It was more real, and the living god was a powerful symbol.

All in all, the city was filled from one corner to the other with incredible things to see and experience. Coming here was like taking a portal to the past, where the old civilization still thrived.

Eventually they made their way to the administrative center of the Earth Federation. An audience was granted with president Tang Zhonghua.

Tang Zhonghua knew Father's directives, but still greeted the two denizens of his old planet with warmth and congeniality. "Father was very clear la, we are not to participate in disputes of na mother world. But from my own view, mu hopes new humans and original humans can build a close relationship. After all, we come from same root ba."

Cloudhawk nodded his head. "I hope so, too. That's why I'd like to introduce you to Green Alliance's chief scientist."

Tang Zhonghua turned his eyes to Hellflower and his brows raised in surprise. In his world science was a complicated, mysterious field. It was the elderly who had the time and learning necessary to excel in that area. Although it was difficult for him to know precisely how old Hellflower was, she wasn't the seventy or eighty he was expecting.

Cloudhawk went on. "Hellflower is the most outstanding scientist in our Alliance - probably the entire world. She is a master of many fields of study, especially biology, quantum physics and advanced materials. I was hoping we might introduce her as a liaison so that our two peoples can learn from one another."

Tang Zhonghua knew well that new man was very different from his people. For instance, Cloudhawk could probably destroy an entire army of proto-humans on his own.

He had strength Tang Zhonghua could only imagine. His scientist and military leader, Hellflower, had a mind comparable to their best computers. She had spent years wandering the wastes with a single-minded mission to learn everything there was to know, and she'd largely succeeded. A lot of what she knew could indeed provide what the Earth Federation lacked.

Tang Zhonghua gave voice to his curiosity. "What do you want to learn from Earth Federation?"

It was Hellflower who answered. "I am very interested in your optical computing."

The computer was an incredible engine of human development in the ancient times. Some simpler machines had been restored to use in the wastelands, but their functions were limited. In the wastelands it was difficult to get the materials and energy needed to make the better computers work.

As they'd wandered around New Earth, Hellflower had noted computers that employed light and calculated extremely fast. If she could learn more about this technology and bring it back to Greenland, it would benefit both her research and their military.

Cloudhawk nodded. Father would not allow New Earth to participate directly in their fight, but it hadn't forbidden communication between their people. If they traded some of what they knew for the secrets of the old civilization, it would benefit everyone.

Tang Zhonghua did not agree immediately. He turned his attention unto Cloudhawk. "What else?"

"I'm hoping for books and data," Cloudhawk answered. "I want our children to learn about our shared history."

That was a tall order, but as a matter of procedure Tang Zhonghua was expected to consult with Father before allowing it. However, after meeting the two new humans himself Tang Zhonghua was struck by their earnest nature. "I will allow your requests. We welcome Miss Hellflower, mu excellent scientist, as cultural and knowledge liaison. We hopes she can be a visiting professor at our university, ba."

Tang Zhonghua gave the order to see their requests done.

New Earth had no books. Trees and other flora were precious, so they weren't going to use the material so frivolously. However, once Green Alliance was able to build more advanced optical computers, all the data Cloudhawk hoped for would be available to access. It would even include precious databanks and backups of ancient knowledge for use as he pleased.

And thus, Cloudhawk's goals were achieved.

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