Hinterlands Cedar

While imagining the world in which “Scifi Girl” lives, a few things come together rather quickly. The world is post-civilization and Earthlike, though not necessarily apocalyptic. Perhaps it is Earth in some alternate form. Some untold series of events caused a rapid destabilization of the food supply, power grid, and medicine. Humanity killed itself efficiently with hubris, bypassing the need for firing weapons or dropping bombs. Crumbling books and history by oral tradition are all that remains of the old world. Bits of working technology still exist. For those who are able to coax them back into working-condition, these relics become an overwhelming advantage over the people who are only able to live off of the land.

SciFi Girl now officially has a name, “Cedar”. She is one of those who have a natural knack for understanding old-world technology. Her world and the events that will come to pass, find inspiration from a book I read when I was a kid, titled “Heiro’s Journey” with a bit of “Damnation Alley” mixed in, as a nod to my favorite author. Cedar’s story begins many centuries after the end of the “Information Age” and the fall of civilization. It is a “dark age” similar to that which followed the fall of Rome in 476 AD. Some technology has been retained but the capacity for cities, states, and nations to feed and defend their populace has vanished. Humans have returned to living in tribes and villages. The human population has eroded from eight billion to a few tens of millions. And what remains has re-learned to fend for itself.

I also realized that Cedar’s world would be low-fantasy. People do not possess unexplained abilities or powers. Advanced technology exists, but the skill needed to operate and maintain has mostly been lost to time. The world has no magical beasts or heavily mutated creatures. Still, I wanted to create an exotic environment where traveling through the hinterlands is considered risky and venturing into the wilderness is outright dangerous if not suicidal. Having studied the history of Florida, I marveled at some of the drawings of alligator hunting made by the local indigenous peoples before Europeans arrived. Some of these beasts were many times larger than modern-day alligators. Much like those pre-historic times in our world, nature has reclaimed much of Cedar’s world. Wildlife predators, having no natural enemies to cull them, grew to become large beasts. They rarely are seen inside the ruins, however.

Cedar lives in a tiny, dying village populated mostly by women. There was a time before she was born when the village thrived. It had become known for its opposition to enforced reproduction. Now, she is one of three adults who are still young enough to bear children. The few remaining elders realize the situation is hopeless and have instructed the youth to find new villages that will accept them. Two of the three, a mating pair with one infant, have agreed to join the nomads when they pass through the area again. Cedar is reluctant to do so. The nomadic people live off of the land and reject tools and machines left behind by the old world. They are staunch in their beliefs and punish dissension harshly. Mandatory reproduction is accepted as necessary to keep the clan strong and to avoid a scenario where it dies out in the way Cedar’s own village has withered.

Cedar is an adventurer at heart and sees no obligation to produce children. It is an unpopular perspective in this world and considered haughty and irresponsible by some. So rather than spending her time finding a new village, she combs the ruins by day searching for relics of the past. As she returns home after patrol, Cedar is greeted by a sight that is both impressive and terrifying. Aside from the nomads and the people in her tribe, she has never seen another human. And she has seen the large predators from afar, but never one this close. It is a situation unlike any she has ever had to deal with before today.

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