“So tell me, how it is that your people can build such wonders?”

Denmark was lying naked on his back, lifting his new leg up in the air and admiring the craftsmanship. Mayotte lay beside him, resting on her side, propping herself up with an elbow. To say that she was underwhelmed by the coital experience she had just endured would be an understatement. She had been more fulfilled by putting her clothes on this morning.

Denmark’s technique consisted of some less-than-delicate groping,  being shoved face first on to the bed, a rough mounting, some aggressive thrusting (she counted about eight thrusts in total) and finally being shoved aside so he could collapse onto the bed, spent. She was tempted to ask him to masturbate in to a cup so that she could impregnate herself without having to feel like a used side of meat. Unfortunately that would entail a conversation to explain why it was she was attempting to become pregnant by him.

She swallowed her pride and smiled warmly at him.

“Well, how much do you know about the time before the Purge?” she asked, gently tracing a finger across the network of scars on his chest. This was pretty much her favourite thing about him.

“I don’t know what you mean?” he replied, lowering his leg and turning to look at her.

“You know, ‘The Purge’, when all the earth was laid to waste by the great storm of fire?” she asked, a hint of incredulity entering her voice.

This was met with a blank expression.

“Really? You don’t know what I’m talking about?”

“You’re talking about the Skyforge?” he responded tentatively.

“Well yes, sort of.” She said, “We call it the Firewall, but yes, it was part of the Purge. The Firewall is what remains. We’ve been monitoring it for thousands of years now.”

“Anyway,” she continued, “the people that we Northlanders are descended from were part of a great civilization that existed before the purge. Most of the ‘wonders’ you refer to are variations of things they created.”

“What do you mean ‘before’?” Denmark interjected. “The Skyforge is eternal. It is home to the Elementals that forged man from the iron of the Earth. There is no ‘before’ the Skyforge. It has always been and always will be.”

This belief, common to the Southland tribes stems from the fact that human flesh appears to melt after prolonged exposure to the heat and radiation of the Firewall. According to the Poan mythology, this newly forged Man needed a servant, so he created woman from a soft river clay baked in the heat of Firewall.

“I don’t know what to say Denmark.” Mayotte said soothingly, “Maybe you will understand if I teach you a bit of what my people understand to be the history of our planet?”

Mayotte tries to explain to him that what he calls the Skyforge is actually the remnants of a larger catastrophe that befell the planet many millenia ago. When she realises that he doesn’t know what a planet is, she describes the Earth as giant orb that hangs suspended in the sky and explains that the firewall separates the Earth into two hemispheres, the Northland which is her home and the Southland which is his. Neither side knew of the others existence until the Northlanders managed to complete the gateway and send scouts out into the Southland.

Needless to say he is somewhat confused by this explanation as it completely contradicts everything he has come to believe about the world.

“You expect me to believe that we are on the other side of the Skyforge now?” He was utterly incredulous about everything she had just explained but this one really stood out as nonsense.

“How am I still alive? I have seen what happens to a man who ventures too close to the Skyforge.”

Having no concept of a time before the Firewall or for that matter, a world beyond it, Mayotte has to explain to him that it is actually the result of an event that the Northland archaeologists are still trying to piece together. She tells him about the massive engineering project that the Northlanders started to open a gateway through the Firewall.

“You were brought here through this gateway.” she explained.

Denmark is still skeptical so she sticks her visor unit on his head and shows him an archive that contains material discovered by the archaeologists. She explains that the archive contains thousands of incredible accounts of the events prior to and during the Purge, but they are somewhat confusing and in certain cases contradictory. The prevailing theory that the ancient civilizations were attacked by another advanced civilization, but there is little agreement on who exactly the antagonists were. Many accounts lay the blame on a race called the Chinese, some accounts, specifically those from the Chinese, place the blame firmly on a people known as Nato.

The most important account though is one found in a place known as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. A single female held out in the vault and survived the purge. The discovery of this cache of seeds is what helped ensure that the Northland civilization was able to recover very quickly from the purge. The account from the Svalbard vault implies that the attack may have been extraterrestrial as they were able to intercept a garbled communication from the Chinese that appeared to be referring to spaceships. The woman appears to have lived alone in the vault  for a few days, eventually succumbing to suffocation. She kept detailed logs of her life in the vault. The most important of these are dated from 2017. There is no way to identify exactly how far back in time this date actually is as it appears to be an arbitrary date based on a calendar that the Northlander have no record of. Their best estimate is that it is in the order of 4-5 millenia ago.