Writing: The Dawn & Agriculture

by Beauchamp Art

Extract from the work in progress Motherland of Exiles.

The exact date is both debatable and irrelevant. It has been 184 years, by best estimation, since the incident which plunged the world into the great revolution; the earth turned but never was the surface the same again.

This took place some time in the late 21st or early 22nd century, by the old calendar, but so arbitrary is this consideration that outside of historical academia, it bares little relevance on the day to day lives of the average citizen.

The precise number of revolutions around the Sol is somewhat obscured by the sheer scale of the calamity, and the inevitable effects on appropriate archiving, due to the unique problems that such a circumstance causes, and the needs for humanity to survive and re establish stable society take priority. Thus it its more than understandable that a standard point be set for reference rather than exactitude, as usually a date is only needed for scheduling events and placing one moment in contrast to others by a constant series of units.

Nevertheless, the annual seasonal shifts on climate will occur whether called by name or known instinctively by the senses and observations of the elements. So a year is useful in order to establish routine, much as a day or week may be for assigning time for labour, leisure and rest. Regardless, given the short and long term effects of the incident, which should have ended the race man strides, the seasons have been blurred and subjected to change unprecedented by the early climate science that has been unearthed from extensive research into historical perspectives on the potential for this phenomenon.

This has probably had a greater impact on the new civilization which rose from the ashes than the more overt and deliberate changes in social science, structure and engineering, thus the role of the individual. That is to say, society, in any vaguely familiar form, is founded on agriculture. The end of nomadic culture saw the birth of modern man, though this development had to be repeated in a hasty form after the great day of wrath, before man took his role in his brotherhood, by first tilling the soil once more, then learning to build walls to protect his crop, and share with his kin, and keep the beasts at bay.

However, as the fallout that followed that nuclear Hell fire did turn the world to a long, arduous and discontent winter, and the skies have never fully recovered. The summers of old are as alien as the storms of Jupiter to most men, only the keenly curious will did out aged images of clear blue skies and nights of pitch, but even then they are but novelty, never truly believed.

Needless to say, reliance on unchecked solar activity and precipitation in the production of the necessities of life: energy, as chemical food, electricity and other resources derived from the labour enabled be the use of these two.
Thus most required plants, crops, grains and so forth, are grown in vast, controlled environments, using a combination of subterranean irrigation, nutritionally supplemented hydroponics, and artificial UV lighting, in conjunction with a refined selection of fertilisers, insecticides, and genetic engineering, along with a sub culture within the proto farming enterprise, that is bee breeding. Not done to indulge a mass honey based hysteria, but the need for producing pollinators that are as efficient as the crops that supplement is just as important in the agricultural process. Not only do they have to be effective add passing the necessary genetic material between flora, but also must not contaminate the crops nor be contaminated by the insecticides designed to eliminate unproductive insects and other unwanted parasites.

Most of this is done underground, beneath the Castra in some of the most secure sections of any city, as not only do armies march on their stomachs, but nothing incites sedition fast than famine, though false scarcity can be useful, but only when it is controlled. To overlook this minor distinction is the difference between sustained vigilance and unstable violence. Even so, there are some plants grown on the surface, both orimentally, in public gardens, and for other practical purposes, such as maintaining air quality, increasing social prosperity, and some plants are just too stubborn for their own good and just refuse to grown anywhere but under the Sol, in the state of semi nature which may thrive, even within the great domes of the Metro walls.

There is also an increase in study of new varieties of flora unique to the Wastes. Though caution should be applied in abundance with any vegetable that grows ten times its natural size, particularly if it glows, even more so if it works. And if you notice them muttering, then that first taste probably was a lapse in good judgment, and is unlikely to result in any repetition. That is not to mention the range of fungi that flourish in the areas surrounding the cities, particularly around the water pumped out from the agricultural waste, once it has been used and recycled as many times as deemed healthy.

Some about all that fertiliser and GM biproducts that seem to make mushrooms more virulent than is healthy, particularly for any poor soul that stumbles across them unprepared. Never mind the hallucinatory and psychotropic effects of certain members of the fungi family, nor the lethal qualities of many a toadstool, there’s records of unfortunate, and possibly mythologised, incidents of individuals losing limbs to the things, or paranoid parables about spores that spread into the brain, and eat the rotting body from within, whilst puppeting them like some macabre marionette. That is not to say that such events are beyond the realms of reason, but any such examples would be known to the Metro and more explicitly studied. Regardless of this, it is not recommended that any citizen consume anything grown or cultivated beyond the security of the state, and any resulting afflictions or deviancies are the responsibility of that individual; though there are no explicit regulations against this, sympathy will be minimal.

Indeed, law in any form is fairly abstract and pragmatic within the Metro system, though that is not to say there are not rules by which people live: what else is society than a collection of persons whom desire to conduct their lives in similar ways, whether they be cooperative or exploitative.