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About this City Journal

Updated whenever I remember!

Entries in this City Journal

astronelson

halcyonsigimage.jpg

Chapter Not A Chapter: I Aten't Dead!

I ran into a writer's block last time I was working on the storyline. Which was in March. Then in April I decided to reorganise my plugins. Then for a while I stopped playing SC4. Next time I opened it up I decided to rebuild Farrer (yet again), so here we are!

Yes, it's been roughly forever.

Who? Wha... Prime Minister Marfan? What are you doing here?

I live here! What, have you forgotten in the six months since you last updated this CJ?

No, no! Not at all. You... er... you look well.

I do? I can't tell, myself. You never got around to giving me a better-quality picture. The only one I had was blurry and had blue lines across it, and now I don't even have that!

That picture... Katzgate's not even in this canon.

Hah, yes. I remember it though. You liked my character and thought you had not done me justice so you recycled me here. You didn't remember it though, you even had to look up what it was called!

I didn't remember, and I'm sorry. Katzgate was badly built, woefully written, terribly terraformed, and inadequately illustrated. And this one can't keep to a schedule. Even when it is updated it's barely better than before. The departure from Hidden Valley was rushed and the Dean comes across completely wrong, and that's just the start of the innumerable errors. I haven't thought this through at all.

Look... while I can't disagree with you on any of those points, you shouldn't beat yourself up over it. You can either try and rescue this, or make a fresh start with a new thread. OK? You should, though, ask what little audience you have left what they think.

Yeah, you're probably right. Well, we'd better make this a worthwhile post and show some pictures of how Farrer's coming along.

rebuildingfarreragain.jpg

Rebuilding Farrer. Again.

What's this, the third, fourth time you've started to rebuild it?

I don't know, I can't remember.

Do I still have a house here?

Of course!

Which one?

Erm...

I don't, do I.

Not as such, no.

I thought as much. Looks like I'm moving in with you.

I'm not entirely sure how that's supposed to work. I mean, you're f...

What? Is the fact I'm female a problem?

No, but you are fictional.

Oh yes... however, I am most certainly in your mind, and I will bug you incessantly about this.

Oh joy.

What was that?

Nothing! Here, have some pictures of bridges.

redbridge.jpg

A bridge. Where does it come from? Where does it go? Is this a rhetorical question?

twobridges.jpg

Two more bridges. Rather close to the water, don't you think?

Yes, why are those bridges so low?

Well, I rather like the look my slope mod gives me, but I'm not going to fool around with the terrain for hours trying to get the bridges to be high enough for ferries to pass underneath. Guess we'll be ferry-free now. We'll end the city picture section with how it looks in the region now.

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The region view. Don't notice the conspicuous airport-shaped hole in the trees to the bottom-right of the picture.

And now to remind you (if there are any of you left) of the question from before: should I try and salvage this, or should I try taking what I've written as a draft, rewrite it so it's something approaching decent, and try again?

astronelson

The Trip Begins

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Chapter 4: The Trip Begins

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The route from Hidden Valley to Dusk Village. The start is the white dot near "START", the end the red rectangle near "END"

“All set?” asked Theo, putting his bags in the back of the service station’s van. Mark had been called away to a farmstead earlier in the morning, so Brendan would be taking the two of them down to the train station in Dusk Village.

 

“Yeah, I’m ready to go. We can stay with Will until we find somewhere to live.”

 

“Will?”

“He’s my cousin in Farrer. He says he’ll need a day to clean up the spare rooms though.”

“Well, we could stop overnight in Lake Marley. We need to do some shopping anyway.”

Juliet hadn’t changed her clothes since the fire the previous day. The previous night Theo had heard her moving around upstairs until he fell asleep. This morning she was found sitting in the armchair, a book open on her lap, having fallen out of her hands after she had finally drifted off.

“You all getting in or what?” called Brendan from the driver’s seat.

“Yeah, OK!” Juliet replied, climbing in next to him.

“You’ll have to get in the back seat, doc. Careful you don’t hit anything back there.”

Theo climbed in through the van’s side door and took his seat.

“All ready? Then away we go!” Brendan started the car and turned on the radio as he pulled out on to the highway.

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This is Halcyon Radio 5, bringing you the top hits and the top stories. The time is one o’clock in the afternoon, and here are the headlines.

In Chicago, the members of the Pacific League have reached an agreement on the proposed international standard rail gauge. This proposal stated that all rail lines between two Pacific League nations should be required to use the broad gauge of 2140mm. Prime Minister Marfan was recorded as saying, “This agreement bodes well for the planned Amity Tunnel. Initial design specifications called for this gauge, and construction will be able to proceed with this design.” The Pacific League meeting wraps up on Friday.

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Back in Halcyon, the House of Representatives has begun debating whether to increase the HSA’s budget to pay for Project Reach. The controversial project has split national opinion, with 47% in favour, 43% opposed, and 10% undecided on the space agency’s plan. The bill is expected to pass the lower house easily, but may face some trouble in the Senate, where neither party has the balance of power. Independent Senator Leslie McFerguson has vowed to oppose the bill, calling it a waste of taxpayer money. The House is expected to vote next Tuesday, after Prime Minister Marfan returns.

To the weather now, and the low pressure system that brought the storms yesterday is weakening and expected to move off to the south-east, taking the rain with it. Light showers in some areas today, clearing to fine over the 3-day forecast period. A high of 28 is predicted tomorrow, with night-time temperatures to be around 22.

Those are the headlines; these are the hits, right here on Halcyon Radio 5.

 

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“Well, here we are. Dusk Village train station. End of the line.”

Juliet rolled her eyes. “Thanks, Brendan.”

“You sure you want to do this? It’s not too late to go back yet.”

“I’m certain.”

Brendan chuckled. “I never could talk you out of anything. Don’t do anything stupid or dangerous, OK? We don’t want a repeat of last time.”

“That was an accident. It won’t happen again.”

“If you say so. Be careful out there though, OK?”

“OK, OK, what are you, my father?”

Juliet smiled and punched him in the arm.

Brendan laughed. “You two need any help with the bags?”

“We’ll be fine.”

“OK. Call me if you ever need me.”

“We will, don’t worry. The train will be here soon, we’d better get going. Bye Brendan!”

“See you later Juliet. Bye Doc.”

After Juliet and Theo got their bags he pulled away from the kerb and drove off. As they watched him leave, Theo asked “What did he mean, ‘we don’t want a repeat of last time’?”

Juliet looked over at the train station. “I’ll tell you later. Come on, let’s go get our tickets."

 

duskvillage.jpg

Dusk Village, famous for its almost completely pointless clock tower and its icecream.

astronelson

A Shocking Occurrence

Now with added words!

Chapter 3: A Shocking Occurrence

 
Oh dear, looks like those clothes are getting wet.

The rain had just begun to fall in Hidden Valley when Dr. Theodore put down his phone. He was sitting in the waiting room outside Mark’s surgery, Tinkins on the seat next to him, her head in his lap. Dr. Theodore scratched her head absent-mindedly, tapping his chin with his phone.

 

“What now?” he asked himself, staring out the window.

A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts. Looking up, he saw a woman in overalls, her brown hair tied back in a ponytail.

“Hello Miss... er, I don’t think I know your name.”

“I’m Juliet. I helped carry you in here this morning.”

“Theodore. Call me Theo. It’s a pleasure to meet you. And to what do I owe the honour?”

“Oh, I just had an appointment about my leg and took the opportunity to see how you were doing.”

“I’m doing fine. Mark says I’m OK to go.” At this he sighed. “Not that I have anywhere to go anymore...”

Juliet sat down next to Tinkins.

“Did something happen?”

“I was going to go teach at Gryphon University, but they don’t want me anymore. I used to live on campus in my previous position, but I can’t go back there.”

“Why not?”

“Let’s just say I didn’t leave on the best of terms. So, now I have no home, no job, and no ideas. All I have left is my car and what’s in it.”

“Ah. About the car... I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s in pretty bad shape after that trip you took. It’s reparable, but the parts are going to take a while to get in and they’re not going to come cheap – in fact, it’s likely that the repairs will cost more than the car is worth. Frankly, you’d be better off just buying a new one.”

Theo put his head in his hands.

“Great. Just great. Could this day get any worse?”

A sudden flash of light was accompanied by an incredible boom. Juliet gave a sharp scream as she simultaneously tried to cover both her eyes and her ears while dropping to the ground. Tinkins yowled and bolted upstairs. Theo, his ears ringing, snapped his head up and looked out across the street to where the lightning struck. Juliet, getting back to her feet, did likewise.

 

You just had to say it, didn't you.

“What was that?”

“MY HOUSE!” Juliet yelled, dashing out the door.

Theo, blinking madly from the flash, leapt up and raced after her. He reached the street just in time to see an explosion about 10 metres behind the petrol station and Juliet running into the garage. Walking out across the street, he saw a house ablaze, the heat noticeable even from where he was standing. Juliet ran back out of the garage toward him, weaving around the people who had gathered, drawn by the fire.

“I’ve shut off the pumps and called the fire department, but they’ll be a while.” she said, her voice coming in between deep gasps, “There’s not much we can do until they get here.”

With this said she sat down on the grass, hugging her knees. Theo sat next to her, and together they watched as her house burned. After fifteen minutes the fire truck arrived, too late to save the house, but in time to stop the fire spreading. Throughout it all Juliet did not move, but just sat and stared impassively. It was only as the fire truck pulled away that she started shaking and collapsed into tears. Theo, unsure of what to do, sat next to her and held her tight.

They sat there together for about an hour, Juliet curled up and Theo holding her. Between the sniffles Juliet managed to choke out “T’nkyou”. A few minutes later she uncurled herself and wiped her nose and eyes.

“Are you OK?” asked Theo.

“I’ll be alright.” A sigh. “I don’t want to live here anymore.”

Theo looked across at her. “Do you have anywhere else to go?”

“I have a cousin who lives in Farrer, we might be able to stay with her until we can arrange something. That is, of course, if you want to come with me.”

Theo looked at her sitting there.

“I think I’d like that. I really do.”

“Good," she said, with a wan smile, "I’ll ask Mark if we can use his spare bedrooms tonight, and if he can give us a lift down to Dusk Village tomorrow. We can get the train from there.”

 

Well, at least the rain is easing up.
astronelson

The Dean

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Chapter 2: The Dean

 

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Gryphon University, Jibson River.

The dean of the College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences looked out of the wide windows facing the courtyard and frowned. Orientation Week was progressing more or less as usual, with the new students getting lost and the old students getting drunk, and vice-versa. What was currently displeasing him was a trebuchet in the middle of the courtyard aimed towards his window. The previous four shots had fallen short of the mark, but they were getting closer. The last one had just missed the garden at the base of the building.

“Higgins!” he said, his deep voice reverberating around the room. “Are you sure they have figured out all the bugs in their design?”

On the other side of the desk, a small wiry man in a grey suit spoke with a soft squeak.

“Y- Yes, sir. They’ve added another two textbooks to the counterweight and moved the sling back a foot. Its trajectory should be right for you. Are you absolutely sure this is necessary?”

The dean turned around and glared.

“Of course it’s necessary! Are you sure they don’t suspect a thing?”

Higgins trembled, the dean’s booming voice stretching his nerves, already tightened from the stress of student orientation, closer to breaking point. Just until Friday, then back to the library he mentally repeated to himself.

“I- I’m sure, s-sir. H-Harold is eager f-for whatever marks he c-can get. He’s, uh, he’s o-one of our m-most loyal students.”

The dean turned back to the window and scoffed.

“Bah, I still say you can’t trust any of them. These textbooks – they are the Winston’s, are they?”

“Y-Y-Yes, s-sir.”

“Fourth or Fifth edition?”

Higgins consulted his clipboard.

“F-Fourth editions, sir.”

The dean smirked at this.

“Good. The Fifth editions would have carried the roof. Ah, now look! They’re preparing to fire.”

The crowd of students in the courtyard stood back. One of them raised his hand above his head, held it for a moment, and dropped it down in a swift motion. Another student, watching him, released the counterweight. It dropped slowly, and, through the principles of levers, transferred kinetic energy to the lettuce in the sling. As it reached the peak of its motion, the sling released, sending its projectile on a graceful arc towards the window.

As it passed over the flowerbeds, five sensors detected it, triangulated its position, calculated its velocity and acceleration, and from this extrapolated a trajectory. This was sent to a missile launcher concealed in the pipes hanging under the roof. This fired at the lettuce, destroying it in a small explosion. A set of lasers build into the brickwork around the window took care of the remaining shreds. The total time elapsed from detection to destruction was 0.13 seconds.

The dean roared with laughter, while Higgins quaked, his hands over his ears. Outside, the crowd of students was dispersing, as a light rain started to fall. The dean turned around.

“Now! What was it you wanted?”

“I-It’s about that n-new p-p-professor w-we’ve been t-trying to c-contact. H-He’s in a s-small town c-called Hidden V-Valley, in w-western Halcyon.”

“Ah, yes. What was his name again? Tybalt, Terence, something along those lines. And? Did you tell him he was no longer needed here?”

“Y-Yes sir. H-He s-seemed more d-disappointed t-than anything, s-sir. I, uh, I t-tried to explain the s-situation, b-but he d-didn’t want to hear it.”

“Good! Nice to know there are no hard feelings then! Can’t abide hard feelings! Was there anything else you wanted, Higgins?”

“N-no, sir.”

“Off you go then. Oh, and Higgins!”

Higgins froze, and slowly shuffled around again.

“Go and get someone to clean up the lettuce from the path, will you? Can’t have the place look untidy!”

“Of c-course, s-sir.”

The dean turned back to the window as Higgins left the room, and lit a cigar as the defence system took care of a rock thrown in his direction. Smoking wasn’t permitted indoors, but no-one had complained to him.

Odd fellow, that Higgins, he thought to himself. Can’t be healthy, spending all your time among books. He needs to get out in nature more. I know! I’ll organise a hiking trip next teaching break. A bit of fresh air is just what the staff needs.

At this the dean chuckled and sat down, his chair creaking under the weight. Pity about that doctor, he thought, leaning back, but I won’t be having any of that in my College. Don’t know why he’d choose such an unnatural way of living, but he’s just going to have to live with the consequences, and I have no choice but to deal out those consequences when they are to be dealt out. Taking a final drag on his cigar before stubbing it out, the dean turned on his computer, and with the muffled sound of the rain outside punctuated with occasional explosions, reviewed the remaining applicants for the professorship.


Since we're in a new city this time, how about a look around?

Most of the business in this city takes place on the southern shore.

jibsonriverforeshoreday.jpg

It lights up quite nicely at night, don't you think?

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The business district extends a bit further to the east. In this area a few residential towers can be found as well.

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And, of course, the night time shot.

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astronelson

An Accidental Visitor

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Welcome back! It's only been a bit over a month since my last update - I'm accelerating! I have made a few minor changes to the Hidden Valley, adding a few farms and a clinic.

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Hidden Valley: City View - The A37 runs east-west, the A28 is north-south. In the town they become Marksborough and Templeton streets, respectively.

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Region View - Hidden Valley Area. Hidden Valley is to the left, on the edge of the region.

 


Chapter 1: An Accidental Visitor

It was nearing midday, and Juliet was restocking the fridge.  Outside, a lone bird chirped in the distance and insects buzzed softly between the flowers. The wind had died down a little, but the clouds in the east were still slowly growing.

A faint rattle in the distance caused Juliet to look out the window to the west. It wasn’t an immediately familiar sound – she could identify most of the machinery around here by sound alone, and certainly all of the vehicles. No, this was certainly a car coming from across the desert. By the sounds of it, it had barely made it.

The noise continued to grow louder and developed a more serious tone. Grabbing her cap and the keys to the truck, Juliet walked outside and looked along the highway. Presently the car came into view. It was a battered station wagon, covered in red dust. As it approached the intersection it gave an almighty jolt. The front-right wheel came free. The sudden increase in friction dragged the car into a right turn, where its momentum pushed it up into a precarious two-wheel balance, a position it seemed to hold this position for an impossible time before crashing back down on its three remaining wheels. The fourth wheel, rolling along freely, caught the stop sign a glancing blow, wobbled slightly, and continued onwards.

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Hidden Valley - Clinic is to the south, across the street from the service station.

Mark, the town’s medic, came running out of the clinic across the street, bag in hand. Juliet broke into a sprint as well, grabbing the traffic cones inside the door of the garage before heading towards the vehicle. As they reached the car, the driver’s door opened and a man staggered out, took two steps forward, and slowly collapsed. Mark caught him under the arms, bending his knees to soften the impact. Juliet hurriedly placed the cones around the car before meeting up with Mark.

“Do you need a hand?” she asked, as Mark gently laid the man down.

“Ah, Juliet! Could you get the stretcher from my surgery, please? It’s next to my desk. I’ll need some help carrying him indoors when you get back. Thank you.”

Juliet nodded, and then walked briskly over the street to the clinic. Tinkins, Mark’s cat, was asleep in her basket in the corner of the waiting room, but aside from her the clinic was empty. Fetching the stretcher, Juliet headed back outside. The man, while still dazed, had regained consciousness, and Mark had given him a bottle of water. He looked up from his patient as Juliet set the stretcher down on the ground.

“OK, we’re just going to take you into my office now. Juliet, could you lift his legs on to the stretcher? On the count of three, one, two, three, lift!”

Together they put him on the stretcher and carried him into the clinic. Tinkins opened an eyelid and watched them enter, then went back to sleep. After placing the man on the bed in the surgery, Juliet walked back over the street, got the truck, towed the car off the road, and put the traffic cones back in the garage. Today was shaping up to be more interesting than she expected.


Since it's not really that interesting looking at the same town for two updates in a row, I thought I might share a few pictures of one of the other cities in Halcyon. Today we'll have a look at Stewart Island.

Stewart Island in Halcyon's southwest. There are a few islands out around here, but this is the only one with significant developent on it so far. The island is named for Dr. James Stewart, a mathematician and one of the first residents of the island. Dr. Stewart's calculus textbooks are used around the world.

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Stewart Island - downtown.

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Stewart Island: East - Farmland and Industry.

I fear I may have gone slightly overboard with the contrast and brightness settings in these two pictures.

astronelson

A Small Town Girl

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First, my apologies for a lack of updates. Real life gets to us all, and I haven't really had much time to play SC4.

With that said, let's begin, shall we?

 


Prologue: A Small Town Girl

We begin our tale in Hidden Valley, a small community in the far east of Halcyon.

hiddenvalley11.jpg
Hidden Valley and surrounding farmland.

Hidden Valley is the last stop west for anyone taking the A-37 (running east-west) out of Halcyon. The service station runs a rescue truck for those who forget to buy petrol or suffer some sort of car trouble within 100km of here. Beyond that, however, you're more or less on your own until you get within range of one of the other services run by the small towns sparsely scattered throughout the dry interior.

The people of Halcyon are nice enough. Most work on the farms surrounding the town, in the petrol station, or in the larger town down the range to the east. Life here is simple, each day much the same as the last. For some this is perfect, for others, however...

Juliet rolled over in her bed, the persistent buzzing from her alarm clock telling her it was 6 AM. She lay there for a few minutes, watching the dust floating in the rays of light coming through the window. Another day. She sat up slowly, yawning widely. Another day.

After a short shower, she shuffled into the kitchen, turned on the radio, and made herself breakfast.

"... legislative assembly is expected to debate the bill by Friday. In other news, Prime Minister Marfan's week long trip to the third annual meeting of the Pacific League, this year held in Chicago, got off to a good start yesterday. Melissa Jones is reporting from..."

Juliet gazed off into the middle distance. Alexis Marfan was originally from Hidden Valley herself. Even during high school she was preparing for politics. While others were busy following the latest trends in fashion, she was following the latest voter trends. While others read about the newest celebrity scandals, she read about the newest legislation passing through parliament. Others, of course, made fun of her for this, but it was almost as if she was in a world of her own. Juliet got her fair share too, but being the only girl taking an apprenticeship as a mechanic gave you a tough skin.

After glancing at the wall clock, Juliet washed the dishes and got ready for work. Brendan was about to come off the petrol station night shift, and Juliet's day was about to begin. Checking she had the keys to the store and the rescue truck, she locked her door and walked down the street. A cool southerly was blowing, and clouds were gathering to the east. The forecast was for thunderstorms this afternoon, continuing through the week.

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The service station and Juliet's house (next door, to the north).

Juliet opened the door to the service station and walked in. Brendan was sitting at the counter, reading. Placing a bookmark between the pages, he looked up and smiled.

"Quiet night last night, Jools. Not a single call."

"Plenty of time for you to catch up on your reading, then. What book is it this week?" she asked, as she poured herself a cup of coffee.

Brendan looked at the cover. "The Life and Times of Harold of Saxony. Historical thriller." Putting the book in his locker, he gestured to the stack of newspapers.

"Have you heard the news? Lil' sis is off in Chicago for a week."

"Yeah. You ever think she would end out like this?"

"What, a politician? Well, she always had the brains for it. I'm just sad I can't protect her any more."

Brendan was always close to his sister. One particular time, after three boys had teased her enough to force her to tears, they needed three months to recover fully from their injuries. It was never proven that Brendan was the one who visited revenge upon them, but any time they were within sight of him they kept their distance, and they never teased Alexis again.

"Well, I'd better get myself home and have a good long sleep" yawned Brendan, looking at his watch. "See you later."

"Bye Brendan," responded Juliet, taking a sip of her drink and her place behind the counter. Opening her own locker, she got her book out, turned to the page she stopped on, and began to read.

Another day had begun, so far the same as any other day.

astronelson

halcyonsigimage.jpg

Welcome to Halcyon!

 

Halcyon, a region of hopes, a region of dreams, a region of... well, quite some size. The region is Drunkapple's Bris Vegas map. 80km long and 74km wide, it is a region of almost infinite possibility. Because of its size, I can't post full region pictures, so please, don't ask for them. Region Census won't load it.

Compared to the size of the region, the population is tiny - 388,851 people call Halcyon home. Most of these - some 300,021 - live in the city of Farrer, on the main river.

 

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40,074 of the rest live in the city of Jibson River, located in the far north.

 

 
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The region is, obviously, far from complete. Stick with us and watch it grow.

Now, on to matters of what to expect from this CJ. Frankly, I don't personally know. The future of Halcyon is as much a mystery to me as it is to you. War, peace, space travel, time travel, politics, sport, hot dogs, blatant stealing from good movies and plays - they're all distinct possibilities. Only time will tell, unless that time travel bit is true, in which case time has already told.

Until next time, in the words of Walt Disney, and Halcyon's motto:

Keep Moving Forward!

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