Following is an excerpt from the speculative novel, The Dúns (pronounced Doons). The book was written with the encouragement of readers of The Shushan Citadel who desired to know the fate of the people of those isolated communities inhabiting the futuristic Great Lakes Region. Hope you enjoy!
SEVENTY-FIVE KILOMETRES SOUTHWEST of DúndirkaNoka across Georgian Bay lay the island monastery of Abbey Trádún. Surrounded by high stone walls and possessing a remarkable gateway, the abbey was an oasis of peace—albeit one equipped for peacekeeping. Its sheltering walls, which had long housed hermitage huts built into its northeast section, steadily thickened over time to incorporate market buildings, stables, and sheds along its length. Interspersed amid its sheds, shops, and huts were bunkers for abbey guards, and secret entryways to hangars below.
One entered the monastery’s courtyard from the south through an archway bearing the Latin inscription Justórum ánimæ in manu Dei sunt, et non tanget illos torméntum malitiæ; visi sunt óculis insipiéntium mori illi autem sunt in pace, allelúja: The souls of the just are in the hand of God and the torment of wickedness shall not touch them; in the eyes of the foolish they seem to die, but they are in peace, alleluia.
The large courtyard contained several small outbuildings along with benches and trellises dispersed along paths that wandered leisurely through well-tended gardens. Irrigation was automatically controlled by a system that drew water from Lake Huron as soil conditions demanded. The abbey’s beautiful stone basilica was centred against the eastern wall. Attached to its north side were four rectangular cloisters with enclosed gardens, three for monks and one for retreatants and guests. On the south side were two cloisters for nuns, one for families, and one for residential students. The entire monastery was designed to sink into rock vaults previously blasted into the earth, leaving only its roofs flush with surrounding terrain in an emergency situation.
Beneath the courtyard, eco-rooms housed animals and growing plants. A secret maze of tunnels, conference rooms, and vehicle hangars joined the abbey to caves where the waters of Georgian Bay lapped at the island’s shores. Before the Desolation, government intelligence meetings were conducted here with personnel from Abbey Trádún, DúndirkaNoka, the Canadian Military, and the Ministry of First Nations.
Recognizing the potential of having Intelligence personnel in both DúndirkaNoka and Abbey Trádún, the pre-Desolation government had arranged for both underground communities to have sophisticated security systems and secret military forces in order to function jointly as a highly secretive Intelligence mission. Between DúndirkaNoka and Abbey Trádún existed a triple precautionary system comprising a secret satellite signal, safe.talk chambers, and use of the redspeak code. To outsiders unaware of their covert activities, the relationship between the centres had seemed innocuously natural because of their shared esteem for creation.
The monastery and First Nations communities were physically linked by an advanced land-water-land navigation system. Lurking in subterranean hangars, spherical vehicles known as Waterbugs could speed without detection beneath the waters of Georgian Bay and thence through tunnels connected to the underground cities. When a Bug emerged from water on either side of the bay, it sprouted legs, enabling it to scale the embankment leading to a tunnel mouth. Even more manoeuvrable and deadly than Waterbugs were the Airbullets, prudently inactive since the Desolation. Housed in hangars adjacent to the Bugs, at both Noka and the abbey, the Bullets waited expectantly, hidden from Shushan spies and the Citadel’s fierce Dragonflies which routinely scouted the Great Lakes area.
DúndirkaNoka and Abbey Trádún had also acquired satellite settlements. Refugees from the Wastelands and forests, drifting away from the coarse, violent company of the Lawless, sought out the security and comfort offered by ordered civilization. Those seeking sanctuary at Noka were invited to create communities on the vast protected lands of the Aboriginal nation. Other refugees wandered to the eastern shores of the Bruce Peninsula across from the monastery, where they waited patiently to be ferried to the island by accommodating monks. Soon hamlets encircled the abbey, the new residents interacting freely with each other and sharing resources amongst themselves.
The newcomers tended crops, constructed protective barriers, and assisted Noka and the Abbey in nurturing their lands back to health. Adopting the names Noka Run and Abbeylea, the two settlements carefully fostered the existing varieties of birds, insects, fish, and animals.
Now, five years later, the monastery and Noka had become protective islands in an inhospitable wilderness and allies against the menace of the Citadel whose callous ruler and greedy Governors were re-enacting the plot of the Book of Esther.
Early on a dull April morning, Abbot Joachim and White Owl were enjoying their customary daily space.speak conversation using redspeak code.
“Things seem to be escalating at the Citadel,” typed the abbot.
“Yes. The Patriotic Underground Network is getting twitchy,” replied the Aboriginal linguist.
“What’s Grey Wolf saying?”
“My son says it’s time to increase the frequency of our Peace Council gatherings.”
“That would be wise. Not only are Haz and the Governors gearing up for their Thirteenth Day, but the Lawless are getting bolder.”
“It’s ironic that we owe our current surveillance and defence capabilities to our former national prosperity in a wasteland of global despair,” noted White Owl.
“A further irony is that we’re once again surrounded by a wasteland of desperate people.”
Prior to the Desolation, Canada, like countries worldwide, experienced elevated temperatures and violent weather anomalies due to global warming. But because of its geographical positioning, the nation was spared the extensive drought, famine, and despair suffered elsewhere. It was therefore inevitable that less fortunate countries would cast their envious gaze upon this land of plenty.
“The world failed the neediest nations when it had the chance, North America being one of the guiltiest,” noted White Owl.
“Doubly guilty since we contributed to the problems in the first place through our outrageous waste of natural resources, our unbridled consumption of food and material goods, and our callous polluting of Mother Earth,” added the abbot. “It was inevitable that we were targeted when the situation moved beyond intolerable.”
Anticipating that sophisticated military presence was essential for self-preservation, the Canadian government had funded military and Intelligence projects across the country. Abbey Trádún and DúndirkaNoka had been approached because of their natural seclusion and inherent reticence. Both communities agreed to consider the proposal for the sake of their students. Later they accepted security training which gradually expanded into Intelligence expertise. In the process, the communities became trusted friends and allies.
“Is it time to increase ISD implementation?” wondered White Owl. ISDs, or Insect Surveillance Devices, were tiny solar- and wind-powered spy insects capable of detecting and transmitting various sensory stimuli. They were also able to discharge minute amounts of biochemicals. Their eyes contained lenses and other body parts could detect motion, sound, and molecules. Furthermore, like living cryptic insects, they automatically camouflaged themselves by landing only on appropriately coloured backgrounds.
“Perhaps,” typed the abbot. “The ones we’re testing are working well. Good topic for the Peace Council.”
THE DÚNS is available in paperback: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/the-dúns-the-shushan-citadel/9780888875044-item.html
THE SHUSHAN CITADEL is available in paperback: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/shushan-citadel/9780888873453-item.html and iBook: USA https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shushan-citadel/id684001041?mt=11 and Canada https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/shushan-citadel/id684001041?mt=11