History of Jivla

History of Jivla


Keeda - or “Neem Keeda”, to use his full title, which conveyed his training and status as a senior professor of Toba history - leaned against a half height bookshelf and looked at the eager young Toba before him.

“Ok, back up - tell me again, slowly, your research proposal?”

Dylon took a sip of water, then put the glass down on a library table and gestured excitedly with both of his hands. “Jivla! No one ever talks about Jivla!”

“I don’t understand. There are dozens of books about the planet. To say, ‘no one ever talks about it’ seems confused, at best.”

Dylon walked to one of the shelves, pulled a book off, blew dust off from it, and read the title “A Mineralogical Analysis of Jivla”. He put it back and pulled off another and read the title “The Species of Jivla: A Biological Overview”. Dylon pulled a third from the shelf and started to read the title, but Keeda held up his hand. “Yes, yes, I agree with you. You’re making my point – that these books exist, that Jivla is a topic that’s well studied!”

Dylon pushed the third book back onto the shelf and began to pace around the room. “These books are basic science books - there’s no history there! Look at any of the moons in the Aluza system, and there’s at least something written about the history. Early telescope observations, first probes landing, first manned missions, exploration … there’s almost nothing about Jivla. The books skip over all of that and jump right into the science.”

Keeda frowned. “Hmm. You’re sure about that?”

“I am.”

“That is a bit odd.” The professor drummed his fingers on the top of the bookcase he leaned against as he thought. “An under-researched area, perhaps. Still, then, what is your proposed research area? Just an overview of the early observations, probes, and landings? That doesn’t sound like much of a thesis. I’m not sure that there’s enough there to justify a full degree. If you want to be ‘Neem Dylon’ someday, I’m not sure that -“

“Professor, I really think there’s more here than meets the eye…and I’ve already got a lead on how to research it. I’ll get out of this library and go deeper. Government records. Old budgets. The Advanced Exploration Technology Group has records in their archives of every rocket and probe they’ve ever built. There are ancient video logs of news broadcasts in the Guild of Information - there are lots of sources out there.” He paused. “I’m willing to take the risk – if there’s enough here to build a thesis on, then I’ll do it. But if you think that the end result isn’t good enough to make me a senior researcher, I’ll accept your decision.”

Neem Keeda drummed his fingers on the bookshelf again, thinking, then finally nodded. “If you’re willing to take that risk, who am I to say no?”


Barlee stood on the catwalk that clung to one side of the massive atmosphere processing plant and looked out over the wasteland before him. He wore a hard hat on his head - silly, given that the equipment around him was either perfectly safe, or would kill him in an instant, but had no failure mode that might result in a mere bonk on the head, but regulations were regulations.

Next to him his assistant held a computer tablet and scrolled through endless checklists. “Oh, next up - the accounting department says that expenses for soil inoculants are 30% above budget, and The High Council has asked for a formal explanation.”

Barlee sighed. “Formal explanation? What’s to explain? Look!” he gestured over the railing, at the wasteland below, where two massive cargo ships - Advanced Exploration Technology Group type 12s, from their silhouettes - were dumping thousands of tons of topsoil onto the barren rocky ground of Jivla. As they watched, the last of the soil poured out of the cargo holds of the massive hovering ships, and the belly doors swung ponderously closed, and then the ships began to lift, beginning their trek back to Quantum Prime for more loads. “You know as well as I do that the rocky surface here can’t support life.”

The assistant nodded. “Yes, I know. And the High Council knows that as well. But their recent memo asked why the Atomo-Dyne rock chewers weren’t performing as expected.”

Barlee shook his head without answering. Down below, on the rocky plane, the giant force field generators from the Toba Material Handling Phyle had been turned on and were beginning to lift rich black soil from the mountains that had just been deposited, and throw it up into the air, in graceful arcs. Barlee watched as the streams of soil traced parabolas in the air, and then fell back to the surface, scattered evenly in thin layers across the surface. He took satisfaction in watching a job like this done well. Jivla had been born a barren rock, but thanks to him - and tens of thousands of others like him, working on this terraforming project - in just a few generations it would be a sister world to Quantum Prime, brimming with life, providing a new home for his people. There’d been talk recently about renaming the world, once the terraforming was complete. He’d heard a few proposed names bandied about - Quantum Segundus, New Home, Nea Prime, and others. He wondered which they’d end up settling on.


Barlee startled; he’d gotten lost in his own thoughts. “I’m sorry. What was that?” He licked his lips. Fine dust from the soil building process was in the air and was caking his lips and clogging his nose.

He reached over to the water bottle of Jivla water he’d brought with him, unscrewed the cap, and took a sip. The water was warm and flat. Lifeless.

“The High Council asked why the rock chewers weren’t performing as expected. Why the need to import inoculants?”

Barlee sighed. “There are memos from the Biological Department that explain all of this. The Atomo-Dyne rock chewers are doing their job, pulverizing rock, and turning it into sand and dust, and then we mix that with high nitrogen and carbon humus from Quantum Prime…but the ratio of bacteria, fungus, and all the other micro-flora are off.

The rock here is sterile, so we don’t have to just bring soil from Quantum Prime, we need to bring biological inoculants to. And even when we grow them in multiplier vats, that costs money.”

Barlee turned to his assistant “Can you take care of this? Pull some reports from the Biological Department, attach an assay of typical soil from Quantum Prime - maybe from the Waimod farming district – and another from here, and then write a cover letter?”

The assistant nodded. “I’ll take care of it, sir.”

“Excellent, thank you.”

The assistant turned and headed for the stairs. Barlee took another sip of the flat, warm water, trying to wash the dryness out of his throat, and looked out at the construction below. It would be centuries before it was done, but the work was worth it - they were creating a paradise here.


Dokloka was one of the first to step out of the ship onto the clean new concrete of the spaceport on Nea Prime. Overhead Aluza shone bright, and the sky was clear. He took a deep breath and marveled in the smells - he could detect hints of forest, open fields, and even a touch of citrus like shoavi fruit on the wind. Were there orchards near the space port? Incredible!

Dokloka’s wife Teanda and their two daughters walked down the spaceship ramp and joined him on the concrete. Teanda took a deep breath of the fresh air, and from the smile that blossomed on her face, she was having the same experience he had.

“Do you smell the shoavi fruit?”

“Is that what that is?”

Dokloka nodded. “I think so. There must be orchards near here.”

Behind them there was jostling, and Dokloka realized that they were holding up the other colonists. “Let’s go - the buses to take us to our new home are waiting!”.

The four of them walked across the vast open field of concrete, and to the transfer center, where their luggage was already waiting for them. Dokloka glanced at his tablet. “It says that we’re on shuttle #73.”

Teanda pointed to the shuttles that were currently loading. “Those are number 50 and 51”.

“We’re going to be here for a while.”

“Dad, can Jemi and I play?”

Dokloka glanced down at his daughters, then looked at his wife. She shrugged. “Why not?”

“Sure, girls. But stay close.”

Dokloka turned his attention to the city before them - the white spires, the elevated monorails, the hanging gardens - and was suddenly interrupted by his wife’s cry “Girls! no!”

Dokloka spun in place and looked to see what had gotten Teanda upset - and then saw the two girls a few dozen paces away, leaning over the edge of a decorative fountain, and drinking from the water there.

“Relax, Teanda, it’s fine.”

“It’s a public fountain - it’s dirty!”

Dokloka laughed. “This city is entirely new. That fountain is full of water from aquifers here on Nea Prime. It’s clean – everything here is perfectly clean.”

Teanda looked dubious. “There could be - I don’t know - germs in the water.”

Dokloka smiled and shook his head. “The water is fine. There’s nothing in it - nothing at all.” He saw three new shuttles pull up.

“Look - those are numbers 65, 66, and 67. Our shuttle will be here any minute. Let’s go get the girls ready.”

Teanda smiled and called out. “Girls! Hurry! It’s time to go to our new home!”


Senior Legislator Tokairo sat in the back of the vehicle as his chauffer drove them towards the Nea Prime Grand Assembly building. Next to him on the bench seat were two other legislators, and on a facing bench, separated from them by a low table, were several aides.

Tokairo shook his head sadly. “The situation here is even worse than I had expected. The filth in the streets, the crime - I’ve never seen such a thing. I had one of my assistants check the history books, and nothing like this has ever happened on Quantum Prime.”

Junior Legislator Galpoka said “I’ve asked several commissions of scientists to look into this. They investigated several hypotheses: radiation, poisoning from some chemical in the surface rocks, a virus, something wrong with the food -“

One of the aides cleared his throat. “It couldn’t be the food, sir. It’s all grown here locally, but it’s derived from the same animals and vegetables we eat back on Quantum Prime.”

One of the other aides objected. “Derived from - but not identical. Many of the crops were bred to be variants of what we have back home.”

Junior Legislator Galpoka silenced both with a wave of his hand. “The scientists looked into that. They took seeds of the crops here and grew them back on Quantum Prime, and animals fed the feed were perfectly healthy - unlike similar animals fed food imported from Nea Prime, which showed increased aggressiveness and decreased cooperation. No, it’s not the species or breed of crops - it’s something about the planet itself.” He paused, then said, “It’s almost as if it’s cursed.”

Senior Legislator Tokairo gave Galpoka an annoyed look. “Let’s not get superstitious. I’m sure there’s a perfectly rational explanation for all of -“

His sentence was interrupted by a crash - he looked up and saw that the front windshield of the vehicle was starred with crazed lines.

Something had hit the vehicle - a rock?

The driver yelled out “There are rioters!”.

Galpoka felt the vehicle accelerate.

Tokairo said “Rioters? What are ‘rioters’?”

Galpoka said “I think it’s a term they use here on Nea Prime to mean a group of Toba who are committing crimes at the same time.”

Tokairo looked out the windows nervously, and for the first time saw the crowds that surrounded the van on both sides of the road. Another rock slammed into the window, covering it with white cracks.

Tokairo recoiled.

He looked around nervously. “I don’t understand why this is happening. Why are they throwing rocks at us? All we want to do is talk to the leadership of Nea Prime, and explain our plan to reduce crime and -“

He was cut off as the van crashed into another vehicle that had pulled out in front of them, to cut them off. The three Toba legislators slammed forward, to the limits of their seat belts.

“Driver! Driver! Get us out of here!”

There was no response, and Galpoka saw why - the driver was face down on the steering yoke, his face bloodied.

Now Galpoka was as nervous as Tokairo. “Look - out the windows! The crowd is advancing on us! What are they doing?”

One of the aides spoke in a resigned tone. “They’re going to kill us.”

“Kill us? … like in ancient warfare?”

The aide nodded. “I expect so.”

“Why? Why? This doesn’t make any sense.” Galpoka shook his head.

“We’re trying to help them. Don’t they realize that we’re trying to prevent the Fallback Protocol?”

The aide laughed again, fully hysterical at this point, as the rioters reached the van and started using shovels and crowbars to break out the windows, but a moment later his laughter turned to screams as the crowd turned the tools on the legislators and aides who died, still having no idea what they had done to deserve it.


The High Council of Quantum Prime sat around the circular table as the video screens showed the latest images from the stealth probes that had landed on Nea Prime.

One screen showed a gang of Toba, armed with improvised weapons, chasing other Toba through the streets. When they caught one of their prey, they used their shovels, bars, and spears improvised from knives lashed to sticks to kill the target, laughing all the while, before turning to look for the next victim to chase.

A second screen showed a single Toba walking down a city street, kindling small fires under abandoned vehicles, laughing as each caught fire.

Other screens showed scenes even more horrible.

“Enough! Turn it off!”

The screens went dark.

All eyes turned to look at the Toba who had given the command – The Prime Councilman. He paused. “What is to be done?”

A junior member of the Council spoke. “I think we need to understand what caused this -“

He was interrupted by another member. “We’ve spent ages trying to understand the decay on Nea Prime…and we’ve learned nothing. Enough research. Enough dawdling. We need to solve the problem.”

The Prime Councilman looked around the circular table. “I agree. It’s time to solve this. …but how?”

There was a long uncomfortable silence, and then one of the legislators spoke. “The level of criminality on Nea Prime is unprecedented. We need to end it.”

The Prime Councilman turned to him. “ ‘End it’? That’s a euphemism. Speak clearly. What do you suggest?”

The other legislator cleared his throat, then spoke. “We all know what needs to be done. The infection needs to be sterilized.” There was a long silence.

“You’re saying that we need to kill off all of the inhabitants of Nea Prime.”

The junior Toba answered. “You’re questioning me like this is a new idea. It’s not. We’ve talked about the Fallback Protocol on and off for years. We’ve already developed the rockets, the warheads, the chemicals. All I’m saying is that it’s time. The situation on Nea Prime is terrible, and it’s just getting worse with each generation.”

The Prime Councilman looked around the room. “Does anyone disagree?”

There was a murmur of voices, but no one spoke loud enough to be heard.

“No one?”

The Prime Councilman steepled his fingers. “I fear you’re right. But -“ he hesitated. “We’ll need to put this before the populace – we can’t make a decision like this ourselves.”

The junior councilman said “Wouldn’t it be better to just do it ourselves? For the sake of the common Toba?”

“For their sake? How so?”

The junior councilman chose his words carefully. “The decision needs to be made, yes … but the guilt of this. How can our society live with itself afterwards? Would it not be kinder for us, here, in this room, to put the guilt fully on our own shoulders, and then take it with us to the grave, decades hence?”

There was murmuring around the table. “He has a point.” “This would be a stain on our people forever.” “We need to discuss this.”

The Prime Councilman considered, then raised his voice to cut over the chatter. “This decision is too momentous. We can’t take it on ourselves. Not only law forbids it, but basic morality. But -“ he paused. “- you are right about this being a stain. If, after the populace weighs in, we move forward with this, I suggest that our society forget this ever happened.”

“Are you suggesting censorship? That is not the Toba way! We have no right to stop Toba from speaking or writing about whatever they want to!”

“No, no - not censorship. I’m merely suggesting that we allow this episode to be forgotten. We won’t burn any books, seal any archives, classify any reports. But there’s no need to go out of our way to talk about it. We can teach a simplified history, gloss over this entire troublesome interval.”

“You can’t just destroy 1,500 years of Toba history!”

The Prime Councilman shook his head. “Again, I’m not saying that we destroy our history. I’m not even suggesting laws, or policy. I’m just saying that I think that once we close this regrettable book, our society as a whole will not have much interest in opening it again.”

There was silence.

“If there’s no further debate, I suggest we put it to a formal vote.”

Another Toba legislator said, “I suggest we phrase the issue as ‘The High Council votes to recommend applying the Fallback Protocol to Nea Prime, subject to any objections in a general referendum, across all of Quantum Prime’ “.

The Prime Councilman nodded. “I think that phrasing captures it.”

He looked around.

“All in favor?”


Dylon finished his presentation and turned off the screen.

Neem Keeda shook his head. “This - all of this - is real?”

Dylon nodded. “It’s all from the archives. My written thesis has details - archive record numbers, video indices, ship numbers, declassification letters. You can check any of it if you want to, but…” he trailed off.

Neem Keeda opened and closed his mouth, unable to come up with words.

The senior professor next to him - another member of the academic committee convened to judge his research - spoke. “I can’t believe it. I mean, I do believe it, I see it there before us. But - this is amazing. We Toba terraformed Jivla - turned it from a lifeless husk into a sister planet. We sent colonists there, built a civilization…and then saw it rot. And so, we - we - “

The third senior professor on the committee finished his sentence.

“We eradicated all Toba life there. A genocide. And then we covered the whole thing up.”

Neem Keeda reached out to the pitcher on the table before him, poured a tall glass of cold water, and downed half of it. “Your thesis is accepted, of course, Dylon - ah, make that ‘Neem Dylon’. Congratulations. But … what do we do with this information? This upsets everything we thought we knew about our history. This changes -“

Neem Keeda was interrupted by a knock on the door and turned around in annoyance. A secretary let herself in.

“You were told that we were not to be interrupted until after the thesis defense -“

“I know, and I apologize Neem Keeda, but there’s an Official here. He’s from the government, and he says that he needs to speak to all of you.” She glanced out into the hallway beyond, then turned back to the academics in the room. “He insists.”

She opened the door fully, and a tall Toba wearing the dark robes of a functionary of the High Council stepped through.

“Thank you, miss. You may leave us now.”

The secretary stepped out and closed the door behind herself.

The representative of the High Council verified the door was shut, then turned to the council of historians. “We need to have a long talk. A very long talk.”