September 23rd – The Festival of Considering the Immortals

As we all know, Buentoille’s power supply is essentially vast but still limited, and certain decisions must be made about how it is allocated. Storage is a massive growth area, as there are often points of the day when excess energy is generated and this can be rerouted to enormous batteries and other such technologies such as liquid air storage (when needed, the liquid air is rapidly decompressed, driving a motor in the process). In recent years new sources of generation such as wind turbines and solar power are being developed, but these have not been sufficiently advanced to provide any considerable extension to the daily power pool. The burning of fossil fuels are generally avoided to stem the production of pollution which is known to reduce life expectancies.

One of the projects which is, every year, considered for energy supply reduction is the Immortal Bank beneath Dimitri’s Park of Bathing. The entrance is fairly easy to spot, although many will not know its significance; a large white marble triangle sloping into the earth with a hardwood door on one side, marked only with the letters ‘IB’ in gold. The door is flanked with two circular lamps of white frosted glass on golden sconces, which throw out a curiously cold light. For most of the year it is locked, and the only other evidence of the Bank’s existence are the baths heated from beneath by the hot air vented from within. It’s only today that the door is unlocked.

Since 1964, today has been a day in which anyone who wants to can delve beneath the park to see the bodies stored there in cryogenic sleep. Access to the actual room where the bodies are kept is still restricted, as it is dangerously cold, and the addition of the moisture from human breath and perspiration would lead to the build up of frost on the bodies, which could damage them irreparably. Instead, the bodies can be peered at through small glass windows in the observation tunnel, where only caretakers can usually venture. The Bank is some way down into the earth, and is accessed by a spiral staircase that eventually cuts straight into the bedrock, where it is easier to maintain the constant temperatures required to keep the bodies frozen.

There are a number of preservation techniques on show through the little glass portholes, ranging from straight-up freezing of human flesh in ice baths (which are strangely similar to those regular baths above) or liquid nitrogen caskets, to more complex attempts at dessication or chemical preservation, with the cold only acting as part of the process. In some instances there are trails of glass tubing piercing these fragile human forms, carrying salinated water that is pumped at sub-zero temperatures to avoid the formation of ice, and therefore the destruction of cells.

It is this last consideration, the formation of ice, which is thought to have irreparably destroyed most of the bodies beyond the facility’s stated aims of not only preservation but also resurrection. Except for those which have been dessicated by chemical and other means, all the bodies presumably cannot be saved at a later date, because the water in every cell in their body will have expanded and inevitably burst the cell upon freezing. This is, however, a controversial subject, as there are those who believe that Buentoilliçan medicine, the scientific area into which most research is poured, will progress to the point that ‘nanobots’ or other such means will be able to repair this damage.

In this is the central crux of the argument, which today’s viewing and subsequent debate and vote, are supposed to settle for another year. Usually, however, rather than being settled the argument rages on well over the apportioned limit, and the bodies are left as they are, given the benefit of the doubt in that the power supply that keeps them frozen is not cut. There are strong beliefs and complex issues on both sides, and it would be a mistake to favour one side or the other, without at least knowing something of the dispute’s context.

Regardless of whether or not we will be able to resurrect these bodies, all of which died very shortly before preservation, leaving the brain seemingly intact, the argument also extends to whether or not this is a desirable thing to do, or whether the Buentoillitants who legally died deserve such a feat of technology. With the exception of Accidental Charles, the body of Charles Yannae which was accidentally mistaken for that of his rich brother, who died in the same poisoning incident, the bodies contained within the Bank are exclusively those who were rich enough in life to afford the services of the Everlast Corporation, whose owners fled the City during the Revolution.

Some people argue that the Corporation had no intent to actually raise these folks from the dead, and simply wanted to gather large sums of money from the rich who were nearing their deaths, and that therefore we too should not be conned into wasting resources maintaining their sham facility. Others argue that the owners, the Barecast brothers, left instructions (which were ignored) to have themselves preserved at the facility when they died, and that therefore there was clearly at least a belief on their part that the process worked.

Similarly, some folk say that the industrialists and aristocrats do not deserve to have a second chance at life, given how they exploited others on their first run. Others argue that, not being children of the Revolution, they would make good test subjects for future attempts at waking more deserving cryogenic subjects, or that human life is sacrosanct despite political inclinations, or that it would be fun to gall these people used to having vast power over their fellow citizens with the new egalitarian society. Others say that the energy taken up by these rich folks could be put to better use elsewhere in the City. Some think that the place must justify itself, being opened to the public all the year around as a tourist attraction. The chances are that today, as with all previous years, the dispute will once again rage one beyond its allotted time, and the bodies will remain in situ, ready for next year’s viewing and argument.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Sharpening the Claws
  • Aaron Art’s Day
  • The Festival of Energetic Magnetism