Downloaded following the 2 April release. It opens fine, but no cursor is visible. New mouse, game controller, same problem, Anyone find similar, find fix?
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I have run version 5 from the beginning and I have to say that I saw no difference whatsoever, no new-look Kota and no tidying up of the non sequitur ending. It just fizzled out. It's all rather disappointing, given the amount of work that you say that you have put into it. My rank at the end was Golden Dragon, whatever that may mean.
Here's a though t that may be helpful. Andean communities have long had the notion fo an Apu. This is an entity which gathers on or around a peak near a community, embodying the harmony with which that community lives. A mature apu strives to keep the community in harmony, and so ensure its own health.
Apus can become over-enthusiastic and roboticise their community, forcing people into rote activity in th epursuit fo harmony. This drifts into another state, in which strong feelings, but always negative, are harnesed. This flow is caled "hucha", and results in parasiticisationa nd ultimate destruction fo the community. Echo isa hucha-fuelled apu.
The complex cosmology that supports this notion has two blocks, one of total order, th eother toal disorder, with a flow of th eopposite of hucha, Illya, flwoing fromt he one to the other. Our world constitutes a mebrane that stops these two instantly annihilating each other. It is constructed and maintained by a layer of order called the hanaq, at the orders of another layer, called the uchu. Apus arerooted in the uchu. Other beings - saqras - exist as partial inteligences, spun off from apus and their activities. Echo has a number of such, from the haunted van to Sam rebooted, to ultimately, the unfortunate Flynn.
More on this here: http://www.darksunbrightmoon.com/ See 'plot summary' for a more analytical view of the cosmology.
Worth noting that Hera's (Zeus' wife) had animal familiars, namely the peacock and the cow. She was patron of the stars and the sky.
As was his habit, Zeus became attracted to a human woman named Io. Hera set her servant Argus to watch and guard Io, a task that he was particularly suited for because he had a hundred eyes. Zeus killed Argus so as to mate with Io, whom he turned into a white heiffer and with whom he consorted as a white cloud. (How he did this is not described, but he performed as a shower of golden coins elsewhere, so it can't have been a major problem.) Hera revived he dead her watchman by setting his hundred eyes into the tail of the peacock. Resonance here! BTW Argus Panoptes was a dog with a hundred eyes.
In fact it goes further. Hera found Io in the form of a cow next to Zeus, who claimed to have simply found her, freshly born. Hera demanded Io as a gift, and set Argos to watch her. Zeus, in agonies of randiness, recruited Hermes to get him access. Hermes transformed intoa shepherd, and played a flute to Argos, trying to send him to sleep with all of his eyes closed. (The flute proved insufficient and Hermes instead told boring stories until Argus finally slept.) It was Hermes who actually killed Argus. After the event and the "peacock resurection" of Argus, Hera plagued Io with stinging flies, driving her mad. Io's gadfly-driven wanderings had her cross the sea to Asia, by way of the Bosphorous, which means "cow crossing".
Later, she encountered Prometheus, chained to his rock by Zeus and having his liver devoured by a vulture. He prophesied that Io woudl be turned back into a human and bear children, one of whom would rescue him, Prometheus. Later, in Egypt, Io re-encountered Zeus who transformed her, and she bore him two chioldren, a son Epaphus, and a daughter, Keroess. Epaphus came to found Memphis, a sacred centre in Egypt, whilst Keroessa mated with sea god Poseidon - him, again - and gave birth to a son, Byzas, who went on to found Byzantium on the - yes - the Bosphorous. Keroess married the King of Egypt and has fifty (!) daughters, all of whom whom returned to Greece. A descendant of one of them, Hercules, eventually rescued Prometheus, fulfiling the prophesy.
Crete was first settled by Zeus, who abducted Europa there in the guise of a white bull. She married one King Asterion, and had no children. Asterion therefore adopted Minos as his successor. Minos exiled his variours brothers, and suffered a crisis of legitimacy. He prayed to Poseidon for help, and got it in the shape of a beautiful white bull. (Bulls again.) Instead of sacrificing it as he ought, Minos kept it. Poseidon turned it rabid, rampaging all over the island until Hercules (again) captured it and took it to Greece. Prior to this, Poseidon turned Eros on the wife of Minos, with the bull-fancying outcome that we all know. Originally called Asterios, the creature became the minos-bull, or Minotaur.
OK: fair points. So here is a modified development, repeating two paragrpahs of the original to give context:
Chase watches it in action, and notes that humans have developed a means to manage its influence, at least under mild challenge and at a distance. Close to, however, all is overwhelmed. Not humans are, though, utterly vulnerable to its effects. He himself comes too close and is noticed. The entity, curious, uses Flynn's demonic avatar and its usual tricks to disrupt social order at the containment facility. Chase escapes, pursued by Flynn, and discovers where he has been held. He meets with familiar local characters, who hide him.
In the middle of this ramshackle hunt, Amicus arrives, having heard of Chase's confinement. (Chase is tagged so that he can be tracked by the Galactics, separately from the Parents.) Reunion is punctuated by Chase's horror that his lover, unlike native humans, is utterly vulnerable to the Darkness, which latches onto his mind. Amicus and Leo are manipulated into confrontation. With great difficult, persuasion and a sharp blow to the head, Chase is able to fight the influence off and get them both off planet.
Amicus had cut and run from negotiations on Khemia, and it is there that they have to return. The flight dynamics also prescribe this trip. During the flight, Chase is subject to an onslaught from rival groups of Monitors, themselves in harsh debate about the Parents and their tactics. What has been learned from the Darkness and Chase's aggressive interactions with it apparently raises fundamental issues. One group fear that Khemia will be contaminated, another fears that the structure in which the Parents themselves exist will need to be sacrificed, a third favours aggressive technological development using the information gleaned. Amicus, still muzzy from his attack on Earth, is directly contacted by rival groups of Parents, which further complicates the flight. Exhausted, they arrive on Khemia to a furious reception from Virginia and the Wolf delegation, and general concern from the Khemians. The truth about recent events leak to Khemia, and from there inot general political debate. A furore begins.
Ultimately, the opinions of the Wolves do not matter, as Amicus is the only one in direct contact with the Parents. Not so amongst the Kehemians, where interests form into factions, reflection the debate on the flight. Those favouring the Gotterdammerung scenario - the extirpation of the Parents, feeling fear of wider contamination - are fed data on the general manipulative nature of the Parents and their sacrificial behaviour with the Wolves, and they begin to leak this to political effect. This have a strongly religious component to it. They call themselves the Veto.
The Khemian court, represented in negotiations by Neferu, tries to shut this faction down. He is delighted with Chase and his progress and seeks to "weaponise" the knowledge that has been obtained by him. Cue access to the Khemian technology base, with the Veto, which permeates the military and security complex, attempting to hinder every step. Chase, without Amicus but with Neferu, travels to an isolated laboratory in space, funded by the royal family and supposedly loyal. Plugged into Parental equipment in this facility, Chase witnesses a cosmic battle amongst the Monitors. He is able to glean something of the tools that are used, and when he himself is attacked he strikes back with something left smeared on him by the Darkness on Earth. It has cataclysmic effects on his attacker.
From this, the Khemians scientists and he are able to build a toolset, from which to construct "weapons" likely to be able to strike into the domain that the Darkness (and the Monitors, and the Parents, exist.) This has to be kept utterly secret, which - given the mind reading capacity of the Parents - is like not thinking of "hippopotamus" for half an hour. Deep mind control is applied to everyone who accesses the toolset, so that they can only use the toolsin a trance, thinking in symbolic terms about what they are doing, essentially, dreaming their way into engineering.
The Veto find the laboratory and launch an attack on it. Chase and Neferu escape, deeply entranced and imagining themselves to be lovers fleeing a hostile medieval l court to kill a magic beast, but in fact heading back to Earth to test the tools. The assembly of the toolset is programmed to resemble a lovers' quarrel, which is unhappily broadcast back to Khemia on their arrival. Amicus is broken hearted by the apparent betrayal, and becomes vulnerable to the Veto's attractions. He is to head a fleet that will obliterate the Earth altogether.
The toolset is successful in destroying the Darkness concentration, but has the effect of stunning the minds of most of the Earth's population. They only begin to recover their wits after a week or so, during which time Chase and Neferu also emerge from their imposed mental state. War in Heaven stops as a result of the successful outcome, but Chase is warned of the impending Veto fleet's arrival. It will take a few tens of years, but the Sun will be caused to explode. The Monitors tell Chase about Amicus and his state of mind, and he and Neferu place themselves at the mercy of the Veto fleet in order to speak with him directly. He refuses to see them, and they are thrown into prison. Scipio is able to intercede with Amicus, building a reconciliation. Chase then enjoys a perfect reunion with Amicu, and the fleet is disbanded.
What to do with the oddity that is Earth, and how to manage the influence of the Parents are now the prime issues of the day. Earth has already been contacted, and the odd events that it has suffered and the relief from the nagging pressure of the Darkness on its collective mind primes the species of Earth to accept reality and integrate with the Sapientiae. The broader issue of what has since been called "leaving home", abandoning the oversight of the Parents, becomes a bumpy road for the galactic community.
Hard to argue so definitively from the purely hypothetical. How can you assert size-related limits to something that we do not at all understand. How can a squashed bit of sand process data? It's far too small and limited. But if you have a better alternative story line, be my guest...
If the Parents exist in a framework, then that framework can be used to construct tools. The tools demonstrably work on the mundane world, as with the "Parent tech" that forms in the injured neck, the seeing helmet and so on. Chase is given an interface to this environment, but only is akle to see how it "works" when he is invaded b y the Other at the containment facility.
In the Adastra world, the Parents are concerned by the Other, by the encroaching Darkness. They need to know more about it, but how to probe it without provocation or getting contaminated? Earth offers a welcome opportunity.
Earth is an anomaly in three ways: it is a physical host to a chunk
of Darkness, it is, uniquely, home a multitude of intelligent
species which have self-uplifted to full sapience. Third, whilst it
has been contacted on numerous occasions, it has always thrown off
those contacts and all local memory and external records of them are
lost, apparently erased in the Sibling databases by some alarming
The Parents need to observe this last process in action, in order to
secure their data structures. Hence, contact is needed, using a
sacrificial sibling species of no great intrinsic value. The wolves
will do just fine. Their ability to travel interstellar routes is
immediately rescinded in order to isolate the culture. The Parents
also want to observe the potential for contamination through third
party carriers, and in order to find such a carrier, they look at
records for past human interactions with the local instance of
Darkness. The famous student post by Chase on the Echo riots comes
up in the search, and so they look into Chase.
Motivation of Amicus is also started. Due to his social status, he is the only wolf over whom they have strong influence and for the same reason, the only potential interstellar traveller. Examining records from Earth, Chase's social media posting about his history with Leo comes up, suggesting strong
wolf-human interaction potential. Chase becomes the target carrier of the Darkness, and he is invited to speak at a paranormal interest seminar in Rome, specifically on his Echo experiences. Delighted by the escape from his closed off world, he accepts. The rest proceeds as scripted. You would need to
increase the currently-naive MC's sophistication a notch in the early scenes to
catch Chase's world weary cynicism, and there is a later graphic
showing distinctly human genitalia. Nothing there that an Photoshop
intervention wouldn't fix. Chase and his love of water needs playing up in the lakeside scenes.
The riots that start shortly after Chase's arrival on Adastra are taken by the Parents as a sign that contamination can be spread by a carrier. earth, with its several Darkness hotspots is, therefore, seen as a dangerous source of contamination. Consideration is given to its destruction by one faction, whilst another presses for containment and further study. Earth is, after all, nowhere near achieving interstellar flight on its own.
We see that the attack by Cato on Amicus and Chase was engineered by the Parents with the specific end of installing a neck-based device to monitor Chase's interactions with the Darkness after he is returned to earth. Back on Earth, the 'convenient' outbreak of bird flu that he causes has him sequestered by the US Government in a secure facility in Arizona, 'coincidentally' close to Echo.
In isolation and confinement, his neck collar comes into action. Chase sees the universe as the parents do, as a multilayered structure in which various classes of intelligence have their particular domains. He explores this, meeting the Monitor which instructs him in how to understand this new situation. The local geography is dominated by the Darkness, which exists by virtue of the disorder that it can create in aware minds. Chaotic disorder will not do: it has to be a falling from potential, from grace, on behalf of conscious minds for it to feed. It sets out to subvert such minds and to pull them from their possible attainments.
Chase watches it in action, and notes that humans have developed a means to manage its influence, at least under mild challenge and at a distance. Close to, however, all is overwhelmed. Not-Earth based intelligences are, though, utterly vulnerable to it effects. During his exploration, he proves to be too conspicuous and is noticed. The entity, curious, uses Flynn's demonic avatar and its usual tricks to disrupt social order at the containment facility. Chase escapes, pursued by Flynn, and discovers where he has been held. He meets with familiar local characters, who hide him.
In the middle of this ramshackle hunt, Amicus arrives, having heard of Chase's confinement. during or subsequent to the escape. (Chase is tagged so that he can be tracked by the Galactics, separately from the Parents.) Reunion is punctuated by Chase's horror that his lover is utterly vulnerable to the Darkness, which latches onto his mind. Subsequent Leo-Amicus-Salamander dynamics are spectacular, and the Darkness is fed by them.
Chase goes into full White Knight mode, developing weapons to assault the Darkness in its lair. He transforms Flynn back to his former self and fights along side him. Amicus is preserved and a major reunion occurs. This victory opens the Darkness's archive of victimhood: can the preserved victims be restored to life, but stripped of their imposed negatives. Is that tantamount to destroying their identities, 'censoring' them? Flynn has strong opinions, the stronger when the restoration of Sydney becomes a practical possibility. The Monitor becomes a part of the debate: what is identity, what should and does survive death? And is the view of the Parents absolute, or merely imposed because they have power? The Monitors, hundreds strong, begin to question the eight Parents whom they serve. The mechanism by which Earth contains the epidemic Darkness is studied for its urgent potential use.
The role of the Parents becomes clear to the Sapientiae and the casual experimental use of the wolves chills all of the evolved species. If them then why not us, too? The revelation of Parental bad faith brings a system-wide political pot comes to the boil. Are the Parents kind overseers or manipulative opportunists? This can be a major plot thread in Khemia.
Insight into autopsy of the Darkness remnant casts light on the nature of the Parents. Both exist by virtue of an infrastructure: to eliminate the one, you would have to destroy the other. Will the Parents sacrifice themselves to Save the Universe? So what are the Parents? Kind nurturing entities of players of games? Wait for our next instalment.
I think that you need to have absorbed Adastra to make sense of Echo and the Smoke Room. The underlying concern in Adastra is the encroaching Darkness, which threatens all existence. We are told that there are fragments of Darkness scattered through the galaxy, and Echo plainly has one of these, activated by the mining work. The Adastra universe is layered, with the the "Parents" occupying a level that only the Darkness touches, and the intelligent species living in the material world, a layer 'down' from that. The Parents generate useful technologies for these species, and manage much of their lives, much as the Darkness impacts on humanity in Echo.
It is easy to spin a narrative that links these two. Imagine that Chase is the kidnapee in Adastra, finding his super-wolf and acting as a probe for the Parents towards the Darkness on Earth. He is selected precisely because of his Echo-derived public on-line profile and his ease with wolves.