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The Case for Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

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Attar stumbled up the pass, eyes slitted against the glare off the snow. Her thick furs - her Father's second-best (She was a North person.[1]) - and the exertion of climbing brought prickles of sweat to her body even as her face and hands numbed. Hunting had got worse every year and with her Father's death she had been given a choice: be a hero - leave and find new lands for the tribe - or ... not. The elders wouldn't kill her, not unless she did something really bad, but they could just leave her to live or die by her own efforts, which wasn't much better.

[1]Cultural note: The People's other moiety was South people. There are various details concerning her Father's affiliation and the inheritance of furs and which furs it was appropriate for her to inherit which are not suitable for a translation of this kind.

She crested the pass and saw down to the plain. She was hoping for wide green spaces, with rivers and plentiful game and maybe an outcrop or two of flints for weapons and trade. She was expecting something a bit ruggeder, maybe some threatening ice walls and probably a wolf pack[2] or two.

[2]Translator’s note: Pure-bred no-domesticated ancestor canines no longer exist at this point but twenty-generations feral is not an appreciable difference.

She blinked. Squinted. Possibly gaped foolishly for a bit. The pass looked out over... the first thing she noticed were the spikes, huge piles of rock thrusting through the powdering snow like ribs out of a carcass chewed over by scavengers, surrounding a flat almost-square of jumbled black rubble. She didn't know that you could kill land before, but this could be nothing else. This land was twisted in agony around a mortal wound. As if to confirm her assessment, the rest of the land looked lifeless and barren, no green, just some scrubby bushes and patches of yellow-brown where ground-hugging plants had gained a foothold in the stony ground. It was probably possible to scratch out some kind of life there, but it looked worse than the Valley of the People, and you'd have to live in the shadow of the Wound.
Attar had no desire to get any closer, and even if she had, the barren plain decided for her: there was no food here, she'd be better off heading back, reporting back, begging for another chance and setting off up the higher passes, and damn the avalanches.

Chapter Text

Tenth day of Groan, year of Rope
Departed the great port of Pune with the tide and many tearful goodbyes, etc. Was most melancholy to see the great flat-topped bulk of Pune mountain dwindling over the horizon and not knowing if all hands would live to return to its welcoming shadow. Accepted Captain's invitation to dine with him tonight, so must leave this entry here.

Fifteenth day of Groan, year of Rope
Five days at sea. So far the wind is set fair, and we may hope to reach the outermost reaches of civilisation within a few months. The ship is most admirably equipped and skilfully Captained by Lieutenant D_______. The Lieutenant’s navigational charts from the Cape to the Northernmost extent of the continent are complete in all details, and on that head I have no concerns. Once we pass the straits to the inland sea to the north, things get less reliable, but the coastal charts of the Sleeping Continent may be trusted until the straits between the continent mass and the Twilight Isles to the north-west. We also have excellently drafted maps, based on the observations of Mr G______, during his expedition into the interior of the Sleeping Continent, and on the reports of Dr. B_______, who died so tragically during their expedition along the Snake-Back River, as well of course as engravings based on the homeland Reliquary Site. The purpose of this expedition was to identify how sea-level changes had adjusted the coast lines depicted in the Reliquary map, as it is by no means assured that either of the straits depicted in the Reliquary map are still extant, and to ascertain the state of the Reliquary Site marked on the north-west coast of the Twilight Islands. It is possible, although scarce likely, that the savage tribes which doubtless dwell in those distant lands have, through superstitious awe or long-standing tradition or benign neglect and fortuitous environmental conditions, maintained their Site in better condition than ours, and that there may therefore be carvings of superior detail. These carvings will of course be reproduced for the edification of the scientific community[3].

[3]Historical note: Mr Starling is disingenuous on this point. The expedition was clearly made in response to previous successful expeditions to the north-east by the neighbouring country of Steerhill on the east coast of the Fentel continent, which had gained much in the way of prestige from the subsequent publications.

Seventh Day of Banes, year of Rope
Crossed the equator amidst many quaint ceremonies. One must make allowances for the superstitious nature of sailors, especially on such a perilous voyage as this. On the advice of Captain D______, I took part in the ceremonies. It will hardly hurt to be seen to have taken what precautions I can against ill fortune when we start running into the set-backs which are an inevitable part of this expedition.

Twenty-first Day of Banes, year of Rope
Left the tropics. A matter of purely astronomical interest.

Nineteenth Day of Owls, year of Rope
Put into the Western Isles for water. Our last chance to walk on land claimed by the Empire.

Fifth day of Crones, year of Rope
Put into port at the Last Island, which while not the furthest extent of Civilized lands, is the last that we shall see of them. The Governor, a woman of surprising learning, was kind enough to invite the ship's officers and the gentlemen of the expedition to dine at her residence. Here on the frontiers of Civilization it seems that the disagreements between our nations are small, far-away things compared to the chance to have the society of new persons. If only such a reasonable opinion could prevail throughout the land! A most enjoyable evening in charming and intelligent company. The ship is to stay in port for a week for repairs and resupply.

Eighth day of Crones, year of Rope
Farewell to Last island (or "Brokel", as it is written in our host's Drosch-language charts).

Datshan Day, year of Rope
A rather subdued welcome to the New Year, we have by all accounts adequate supplies, but not enough that we can afford to be profligate until we are sure that we can land and take on fresh supplies in the North-West Isles.

Forty-first Day of Hope, year of Brindled Ox
The Isles are not, in fact, isles. Sea-level change has done its work and the maps of the homeland Reliquary are obsolete in this detail. There was some debate before we left as to the Architects’ ability to predict future events, and it appears that we have found a limit.

Twelfth day of Gestures, year of Brindled Ox
Set anchor in an accessible yet sheltered bay in the otherwise rugged coastline. Although the landscape looks awkward, it should not be very difficult to traverse and we are in good proximity to the Isle's Reliquary Site. Our expedition shall take its leave from the Captain and crew and make its way to the site at the earliest opportunity. While we search for the Secrets of the Architects, these stout fellows will make repairs and resupply the ship.

Thirtieth Day of Gestures, year of Brindled Ox
We pressed inland amidst drizzle inter-spaced by torrential rain. The Architects chose a steep but not very high set of mountains for this Site, which has slowed our progress considerably. We have seen no signs of human habitation, which may be a good sign: the Reliquaries are notoriously Unwelcoming places and it is entirely possible that any local inhabitants would shun them. The hunting is good, and fresh food and water contribute to the excellent spirits of the Expedition.

Third Day of Leaping, year of Brindled Ox
Today we crested a hill and looked down into the valley beyond to see the object of our search, squatting huge and malevolent amidst a pleasant green valley. Even the Works of the Architects do not seem to be a match for the rich green moss which grows everywhere in the rain, which has not let up since we landed. I believe that my supply of paper, quadruple-wrapped in waxed cloth, may be the last dry thing on the isles; even if we had not found the Reliquary, I was going to have to order a day of rest so that we could dry out thoroughly enough to avoid foot-rot. As it is, we pressed on to the Site. Unlike the Homeland Site, this one is compact, a mere thousand paces a side. The Markers they used are a rough grid of huge blocks separated by narrow "streets", and at present, covered in a thick blanket of moss, which makes it difficult to guess details or materials that they have used. We will start our survey tomorrow but if it is anything like the other sites, I would expect the grid to be made of rough concrete cubes, shaped to shed water, and that a trick of positioning means that the rising sun fails to shine down the east-west streets at dawn of Midsummer's Day. The Architects are known to have put considerable effort into making things slightly off.
We have set up camp in the lee of the Markers and are trying to dry things out.

Fourth Day of Leaping, year of Brindled Ox
I woke in the night to eerie silence as the rain stopped drumming on the roof of my tent and was up at dawn to start the survey in the light. Unfortunately the cloud drew in around mid-morning, but with my Sunstone I was able to make accurate measurements of the solar elevation, and so calculate our position, thus confirming the location of the Site to the best of our abilities. In the meantime, we have established that the Marker grid is seventy-one by thirty-eight blocks, each roughly ten paces a side, with passages three to four paces wide between them. Some of the lads have peeled back the layers of plant matter and confirm that they are made of concrete, faced with jagged stones on the outer surfaces of the site. I gave orders to clear the plant life off the block nearest to the camp. We certainly don't have the manpower for an exhaustive search, but every known Site is massively redundant, so I expect that the bulk of them will be identical. Somewhere there should be some message stones. It may be that we shall discover a new, seventh language.

Fifth Day of Leaping, year of Brindled Ox
It is amusing to imagine how the world could be changed without the Markers and the knowledge of the earlier times. Indeed, I have heard that Lord G____ is attempting to raise funds for an expedition to the Other Southern Continent, where the paucity of Sites makes it likely that there are Indigenous Persons who have never known incontrovertible evidence of the existence of the elder days. We shall not think too badly of them if they are extraordinarily arrogant.
One could imagine explorers making land-fall and hastening to raise some sort of standard claiming the furthest extent of Civilization, and thus glorifying the power of their Nation. No one could think to do that on a Site. There is no brave splash of colour or proudly waving flag that one could put over a Marker and not look lost, alone, ephemeral and tiny. It would show not the reach of your glorious Nation, but its pettiness.

Eighth Day of Leaping, year of Brindled Ox
There is almost 70 x 1,000 + 40 x 500 = 90 kilopaces of "roads" on the site, but I resolved that we should walk them all to locate any substantial anomalies, removable artefacts, or signs of previous visitors or interference. The grid of squares is broken in many places. We have finished walking about half of it, and in addition to a handful of what we think will turn out to be (under the vegetation) message walls, we have two oversized blocks which we shall search for entrances, and many of the “parallel” roads in fact merge. This aspect of the Architects’ well-known distaste for regular forms quite took me by surprise. We also have found eight pottery shards bearing inscriptions, not easily deciphered, but each recognisably in languages found on other Sites.

Tenth Day of Leaping, year of Brindled Ox
We cleared the plants from one of the message walls, finding it much as in other sites. The architects had anticipated the extensive plant life and forgone carving the message into the walls in favour of some sort of stone-dying. The letters are picked out in bright red against grey and exist without joints (at least none visible under my hand-lens). They apparently pierce the thickness of the marker stone, as their mirror image may be seen on the reverse side. Presumably the process was roughly equivalent to firing a clay tablet made from different coloured clays?

Eleventh Day of Leaping, year of Brindled Ox
Despite our discoveries, and continued good health, morale is flagging as the members of the expedition spend extended periods in the man-made awkwardness of the Site. I have increased hunting detail and given the surveyors the task of creating accurate maps of the surrounding land to give them all a chance to get out from under the Site. The persistent engraving of anguished faces on virtually every surface got to young Peasforth last night and he attacked the wall nearest to the camp with a pry-bar. I can't say as I blame him - I should perhaps have left the cubes closest to the camp covered with green things. Anyhow, having wrenched one carving down, he exposed another, in better repair, as it had been shielded from the elements. I cannot imagine but that the Architects chose this scheme solely to crush the lad's spirit.

Twelfth Day of Leaping, year of Brindled Ox
Although we have found many identical inscribed tablets, they are all too massive to be taken away for study with the difficulty of transport in this barbarous land. We can take rubbings and if the light is good, photographs and detailed sketches, as well as the inscribed pottery shards.

Fifteenth Day of Leaping, year of Brindled Ox
An exciting discovery! Today, with much muscular effort and extensive use of rope and pulleys, we opened the sealed chamber. It is a narrow slanting room, with just enough room to stand, and extensive inscriptions and shelving for many books, kept admirably well dry and preserved. There are many diagrams much like those reported from other Sites. The six normal languages were present, alongside a blank wall on which had been carved a series of more-recent notes, which I hypothesise are translations of the original script. I shall of course take copies of all inscriptions; it may well be worth making a more thorough exploration of the external carvings to see if we can find any alterations. There is no seventh language. The books appear to be identical. While it is tempting to take them all, such would enhance the chances of them being lost. I shall take one and leave the others. I hope that others should be so careful.
Perhaps most importantly, it is dry in here. I have considered claiming the chamber for myself, but the room is sufficiently cramped without my sleeping roll. Besides it looks better to share the privations of travel with the rest of the expedition.
The arrangement of metals and various chemicals is very nearly intact! An arrangement like this - a grid of boxes eighteen wide, seven high with a chunk taken out of the top and a supplementary grid fifteen wide and two high, many of them containing metal samples or chemicals - is present in every identified site, and it seems to have been very important to the Architects - possibly for ceremonial reasons - but in many cases samples have been taken, swapped or misplaced.
The mystics of the Century of Floating suggested that melting alloys of each vertical column would grant the philosopher life eternal. I could make the attempt.
I say very nearly intact, for many of the locations, while labelled in the Architects’ script, stand empty; careful examination with my hand-lens did not reveal any marks where the missing parts had been removed. Perhaps it was made with the 'empty' pigeon holes as placeholders that were never meant to be filled or represented the Vivifying Principle of Air - for while I say that they are empty, they are of course filled with this all-pervasive Substance. Perhaps they are a challenge to those who come after, and whoever fills them in due sequence will be rewarded with wisdom.
I have of course taken samples for identification - at this point, although the symbols in the boxes are reportedly identical in all Sites, we can't be sure of the sample contents - the hope is that these samples, when identified will be the same as those from other sites, confirming the Theory. Fear not that I should add to the Confusion, for I have labelled the samples most assiduously with both the Letters and their position in the Boxes, and we shall not see a repeat of the mistakes of the past where the sequence was lost.

Eighteenth Day of Leaping, year of Brindled Ox
The Architects’ Map is much as it is in all Sites; I have taken accurate drawings and made careful note of every labelled Site. The Homeland Site is clearly marked, as are all the other known Sites.
The Architects left us a scale model of the Site, including the underground sections described in many other Sites. If it is to be believed, then there are several vertical shafts, all backfilled and sealed leading to a series of tunnels at a depth of a thousand paces or more. In the tunnels are buried a large number of barrels - I have made the count of the model to be one thousand and fifty-seven. Certainly the extent of the Site above is correct in every detail. Were it not for that and the vast extent of their engineering works above ground, I would find such claims to be absurd, for mining to such a depth is surely quite impossible, especially in such sodden ground.
Perhaps the strangest thing in the above-ground chamber was what looked to be the full-size version of one of these barrels, cut in half vertically and cemented firmly into the floor. The missing half was covered by a glass-like substance which allowed us to a see the contents: an assortment of broken tools, ancient cloths and some bits of broken glass. The inference is obvious: a thousand paces underground are hundreds of barrels of ancient broken junk. But ... that can't be the whole story. There are hundreds of pages of closely filled printing, millions of cubic cubits of cement and stone above ground, mine shafts deeper than we can dig below ground. And the maps and the recurring carvings, and the fact that so many of these elements are repeated at every Site around the world.

Twenty-ninth Day of Leaping, year of Brindled Ox
We have found the shaft, exactly as positioned in the model! The top sections are filled with layers of clay and sand salted with inscribed and ceramic plates. The inscriptions are as always, of extraordinary regularity. The shaft follows a quite different design scheme from the Site proper- rather than dark, brooding blocks, it is composed of a seamless light-coloured concrete, and within is circular, slightly crumbling, but my measurements show that it deviates from true by less than an eighth part of a finger. This casual perfection shows that the Architects' shunning of such forms was deliberate. From the Site model that they left in the information chamber, I expect to hit a cement plug that will be beyond our capacity to remove shortly. I will have the lads clean it out as well as may be done, make a minute examination of the surface and we will then re-seal with the same alternate layers.

Thirtieth Day of Leaping, year of Brindled Ox
The excavation is flooded. I really should have expected this. Honestly I do not think that there is much to be gained here. We shall back the clay and sand back in as well as we can and I shall keep a copy of each of the inscribed plates.

Fifth day of Fodder, year of Brindled Ox
Today we re-sealed the chamber, to stand sentry over its contents until the next visitors, whoever they may be and for whatever reason they come. Tomorrow we strike tents and head back to the Deutschebracke.

Chapter Text

NOTICE: This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United Pantheon. Neither the United Pantheon nor any church thereof, nor any of their Celebrants, nor any of their aspirants, makes any Infallible statement, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any information, apparatus, divination or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rites. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process or service by trade name, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation or favouring by the United Pantheon or any church thereof. The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United Pantheon or any church thereof.

Contents

1 Terms of Reference
1.1 Areas of expertise
1.2 Recruitment process
1.3 The panel
2 General description of the Sites
2.1 Distribution
2.2 Materials
2.3 Common Features
  2.3.1 Surface structures
   2.3.1.1 Megalithic structures
   2.3.1.2 Carvings
   2.3.1.3 Earth works
  2.3.2 Information rooms
   2.3.2.1 Maps
   2.3.2.2 Site Plans
   2.3.2.3 Table of the elements
   2.3.2.4 Texts
  2.3.3 Subsurface structures
   2.3.3.1 Buried tablets
   2.3.3.2 Imported earths (Magnetometry)
  2.3.4 Deep structures *
   2.3.4.1 Seismic surveys *
   2.3.4.2 Ground-penetrating radar *
3 The purpose of the sites *
3.1 Apparent intent*
  3.1.1 Art sequences
   3.1.1.1 Interpretation
   3.1.1.2 Ambiguity
  3.1.2 Symbolic representations
   3.1.2.1 Accuracy of maps
   3.1.2.2 Accuracy of local plans
  3.1.3 Architectural design
  3.1.4 Text and translation efforts *
   3.1.4.1 Summary of Text *
  3.1.5 Unanswered questions *
3.2 Other possible intents *
  3.2.1 Communication with co-temporal entities *
   3.2.1.1 Status symbols *
   3.2.1.2 Misleading intent *
   3.2.1.3 Polemic intent *
  3.2.2 Communication with succeeding entities *
   3.2.2.1 Distraction *
4 Case for Intrusion
4.1 The need to know
4.2 The 10,000 year mark?
4.3 Safety under assumption of accurate communication
  4.3.1 Security of aquifers
  4.3.2 Innovative mining techniques
  4.3.3 Security in case of unknown hazards
4.4 The case for the WIPP
  4.4.1 Human geography
  4.4.2 Geology
  4.4.3 Internal evidence
4.5 Widening the search: surveying away from Sites ?

 

1 Terms of Reference
This report strives to correlate evidence and arguments about the nature and intent of the advertent surviving relics of the pre-Discontinuity civilization. The Discontinuity is defined as a point some 8450 +/- 250 years before the present, before which there was a great earth-spanning civilization, and after which there were isolated pockets of human societies. Speculation as to the cause of the Discontinuity is rampant and beyond the scope of this work. Evidence for the pre-Discontinuity civilization includes a range of inadvertently preserved evidence: midden heaps, the content of ice cores, geological strata, mined-out geographical formations, ruins and an orbital debris belt. These sources will be referenced briefly when they can be used to support or contradict parts of the arguments central to this work. The pre-Discontinuity civilization also left 16 megastructures which by their design would, barring massive demolition projects, direct nuclear strike, meteorite impact, severe glaciation or other unknown mechanism for landscape rearrangement, come to the present day with detailed carvings and even printed materials intact. Each of these structures, referred to as Sites in the following text, includes location data for the others.

1.1 Areas of expertise
1.2 Recruitment process
1.3 The panel
2 General description of the Sites
2.1 Distribution
2.2 Materials
2.3 Common Features
  2.3.1 Surface structures
   2.3.1.1 Megalithic structures
   2.3.1.2 Carvings
   2.3.1.3 Earth works
  2.3.2 Information rooms
   2.3.2.1 Maps
   2.3.2.2 Site Plans
   2.3.2.3 Table of the elements
   2.3.2.4 Texts
  2.3.3 Subsurface structures
   2.3.3.1 Buried tablets
   2.3.3.2 Imported earths (Magnetromety)

  2.3.4 Deep structures *
On-site plans at well-preserved Sites make substantial effort to indicate the location of underground structures between 1,000 - 2,000 strada depth. Generally a few vertical and near-vertical shafts lead down to a substantial arrangement of tunnels within a single layer of strata. In 81% of cases, the tunnel structures are beneath water-bearing strata, effectively rendering the site inaccessible to non-industrial civilizations. Full reproductions of the on-Site plans are given alongside remote sensor data in Appendix II.

   2.3.4.1 Seismic surveys *
All Sites are within the depth-range of modern reflection-seismology investigations. The resolution of this technique is insufficient to confirm the arrangement of passages, and they may be expected to have experienced various collapses. Reflection seismology data is subject to multiple interpretations and is strongly dependant on assumptions about the acoustic properties of the minerals, but voids (i.e. caverns and tunnels) give strong responses. Surveys reveal substantial void-like anomalies in the mineral layers at the locations indicated by on-site scale models and plans.

   2.3.4.2 Ground-penetrating radar
It is well known from the dawn of electromagnetic imaging, that many Sites have extraordinarily high reflectance. The 87% of Sites so marked are clearly visible as bright spots on even large scale surveys. Further investigation has revealed that the topsoil has in these cases been salted with minerals of high electromagnetic reflectivity, and that the distribution is clearly artificial, conforming to the edges demarked by other methods.

Ground-penetrating radar has a maximum depth of 20 strada in dry sand, and consequently is only suitable for confirming the location of shafts and plug assemblies with single-strada resolution. In recent years cheap computing power has rendered 3D imaging of all known sites practicable, revealing a plethora of data. In the main, this has fallen into the two main categories - broadly in line with on-site plans and incredibly noisy and resistant to interpretation due to the presence of pockets of highly reflective minerals.

3 The purpose of the Sites *
This section correlates existing evidence for several possible purposes of the Sites. Accurately understanding the intentions of persons and organisations more than 8,000 years ago is a difficult proposition even without the additional distancing effect of the Discontinuity. The Sites appear to have been constructed with a clear purpose to communicate a singular message, which we believe to have been interpreted accurately. However, making estimations of the accuracy and honesty of the intended message is a task well beyond our capability for fully analytical reasoning. Bayesian analysis also collapses, giving answers which are indistinguishable from the base assumptions; in this case, "expertise" can be founded only in an extensive knowledge of other people's speculation.

3.1 Apparent intent*
The Sites appear to be an attempt to communicate with future inhabitants the presence of buried waste at the marked locations. The attempts to communicate include sequential art, extensive text, architectural design, and symbolic representations including maps and plans.

  3.1.1 Art sequences
   3.1.1.1 Interpretation
   3.1.1.2 Ambiguity
  3.1.2 Symbolic representations
   3.1.2.1 Accuracy of maps
   3.1.2.2 Accuracy of local plans
  3.1.3 Architectural design

  3.1.4 Text and translation efforts *
Each site features massively redundant text, both inscribed on megalithic structures, buried ceramic, plastic and sintered alumina plates, and printed on a range of long-lasting paper-equivalents in vaults with passive environmental controls to ensure cool dry conditions. The texts are repeated in six standard languages on every site, and in 69% of cases include one or more additional languages. The messages include instructions to make modern translations available where possible. This redundancy and the good work of many nameless scholars throughout the centuries means that despite the Discontinuity and the succeeding millennia of linguistic mutation, one of the languages could be translated with some confidence. Having made the translations, interpretation of the other Site languages became possible, and it was possible to make assessments of the descent of modern language groups from one of the Site languages. Two descended languages are still spoken with regularity by geographically isolated groups, and four of them have no known modern equivalent. Of these, three have no know post-Discontinuity use; the other has a single use on one of the Site message-walls.

   3.1.4.1 Summary of Text
The text seeks to convey the same message in a range of ways and levels of detail. The simplest message is that the Site is dangerous in case of long-term exposure, or alteration of the hydrography. This is followed by explanations. They claim that the Site above ground exists to mark a system of artificial underground tunnels. For the existence of the tunnels, we have convincing evidence, although our ability to confirm the detail of the underground plans is limited. The site below ground is stated to be a repository of contaminated materials from their various nuclear research, energy and weapons programmes. We believe that we have successfully interpreted words which are the names of the programmes for 63% of the Sites. The rest of the text details the hazards associated with the material, its half lives and inventory at point of interment. The text also states what the contaminated material consisted of, generally metals, plastics and wood-pulp products. It is an uninspiring list; it could almost have been chosen to dull interest. 31% of the Sites include text which claims that there is a sample of uncontaminated waste above ground, although it is absent in all cases, presumably removed by collectors across the millennia and then lost.

Other areas covered in detail by the texts include the local geography and hydrography, the precise design of the underground system and astronomical observations to allow the time since the Site's closure to be estimated to the nearest 500 years; the current estimate from this method is 8,500 years. These descriptions have, where possible, been checked against observations. Certainly their maps and geographical records have become dated, but they remain broadly correct - any deviations could be explained by 8,000 years of weathering. The astronomical charts could of course have been forward- or back- dated, but weathering patterns on the Sites lead to similar estimates. Ice cores reveal substantial increase in background radioactivity as one would expect from the development of an atomic civilisation at 8450 years ago.

  3.1.5 Unanswered questions *
The effort of burying the waste is understandable from a long-term safety standpoint; radioactive waste is dangerous and should be disposed of responsibly. The sheer effort involved in the surface marking system is well out of proportion to this relatively mundane purpose. It is inconceivable that civilisation on this scale did not have many competing needs to address, many of which would have been more effective investments. Ice core data show alarming increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and decreasing layer thickness; this civilization was clearly facing environmental catastrophe. Additionally a world-spanning civilization seems likely to have some form of pre-existing land-use registry, which would have made it possible to forbid alterations to the hydrology in the area in the absence of Discontinuity. That waste interment took place under water-bearing strata would protect any recovering nonindustrial society in the event of a Discontinuity.
In the effort to communicate the message to leave the alleged waste alone, the pre-Discontinuity civilisation has made an overwhelmingly large investment to mark the Site, but they do not explain why they chose to incur these additional costs. We are therefore left uncertain as to their motivations. Without this data it is impossible to fully trust their apparently nonsensical investment.

3.2 Other possible intents *
Beyond the very mundane features of marking a location in the landscape, the Sites serve no practical purpose. They are however well thought-out examples of the communicator's art. We may infer that in addition to the mundane communication of the extent of the buried waste they were intended to send another message that would be understood by those with a suitable cultural background. The following interpretations are not exhaustive, but are indicative of the breadth of possibilities that are consistent with the evidence. More importantly, they serve to establish the feasibility of alternative interpretations for the Sites.

  3.2.1 Communication with co-temporal entities *
The obvious target for any attempt at communication is one's peers. The diversity of languages and several passages in the text at various Sites suggest that despite the unity of purpose and approach of the Sites themselves, pre-Discontinuity civilization had a range of strong divisions. The text at 25% of sites reveals that all or some of the waste present was generated for military purposes. Presuming these divisions run deep enough, it is readily conceived that these groups should want to communicate with each other using an unstintingly honest signalling mechanism. This concept may require some explanation: it is easily possible for a plausible spokesperson or leader to stand up and declaim a list of values and aspirations. If they are believed or not will depend largely on the observer's credulity. It is harder for a social group to state that they believe something to the extent that they will commit thousands of man-years of labour to some symbolic purpose, but, significantly, if they are believed or not depends on the production or otherwise of the symbol. Vast building projects are therefore an ideal way to communicate with external groups with which one has significant antipathy.

   3.2.1.1 Status symbols *
The Sites are clear indications of significant wealth, engineering skill and commitment. Creation of one would have clearly identified the builders as having these characteristics. As such they would have elevated that group over other groups that were unable to make these commitments. However, once the first Site was complete, later Sites would have been expected to outdo it in some way, in order to advertise greater wealth - there is little point in advertising that you are poorer than your competitors. While the Sites cover a wide range of sizes and designs, there is no obvious indication that later sites are larger or otherwise more impressive. Moreover all Sites are made from low cost materials and there is often significant evidence that the designers took steps to give the impression of slipshod design and little effort towards "finish" .

   3.2.1.2 Misleading intent *
The pre-Discontinuity civilisations state that some or all of the waste that they allegedly stored at the Sites was produced for military purposes. It is possible that relevant elites would have built shelters to allow continuation of themselves and existing power structures in the case of Use. These constructions would have been vast underground building projects readily observed through various means of surveillance. It is possible that some or all of the Sites are attempts to hide these building projects in plain sight.

   3.2.1.3 Polemic intent *
Much of the text translated from the Sites lingers on the cost and dangers of fission and transmutation products, to a point far in excess of their actual dangers. In a militaristic civilisation, which we must assume that any civilisation which produced and kept nuclear weapons was, vested interests may render it impossible to have a meaningful debate about the wisdom of maintaining these weapons. Persons with anti-authoritarian views who could not speak or act counter to the prevailing opinion without having some cost imposed on them may still be able to influence debate by inflating the perceived or actual costs of the related field of nuclear disposal.

  3.2.2 Communication with succeeding entities *
The Sites are certainly information-rich and engineered to survive for millennia. While this does not guarantee that we are the intended targets for communication, it would be negligent in this section on possible intents, to fail to cover theories which make this assumption. These theories are arguably the most important as dishonest communication has the capacity to cause harm to citizens of the UP.

   3.2.2.1 Distraction *
It is an entirely predictable outcome for the existence of the Sites that a great deal of work has been put into investigating them. They have been a focus of geological surveys of all kinds, extensive translation and semiotic studies, studies of materials weathering and architecture and civil engineering. Over the post-Discontinuity period, these investigations have tended to advance these sciences rather than slow them, but it is easily understood that this could not be predicted ahead of time. It can also be imagined that the Sites were designed to draw these investigations, removing them from other fields, both literally and metaphorically. It is impossible to know what sciences and technologies we have not developed due to the focus on remote sensing and archaeology. Equally it is impossible to say what reflection seismology investigations would have revealed had they been distributed at random across the planet's surface rather than being concentrated at what are deemed to be the Sites of maximum interest.
Deep geographical facilities without attendant Sites would be virtually impossible to locate with modern technology after so long, but the presence of the Sites ensures that we do not look for them. Equally the warnings placed at the Sites ensure that having identified the attendant deep geographical facility, we do not perform an intrusive investigation.
It is hard to imagine what the pre-Discontinuity civilisation might have deliberately hidden from us, but we know for a fact that they were capable of building to last on this time scale. Equally it is hard to imagine that they had any particular sense of antipathy towards us, but the Sites themselves claim that they had feelings of duty to reach forwards to 10,000 years (the "period of regulatory concern").

 

4 Case for Intrusion
4.1 The need to know
4.2 The 10,000 year mark?
4.3 Safety under assumption of accurate communication
  4.3.1 Security of aquifers
  4.3.2 Innovative mining techniques
  4.3.3 Security in case of unknown hazards
4.4 The case for the WIPP
  4.4.1 Human geography
  4.4.2 Geology
  4.4.3 Internal evidence
4.5 Widening the search: surveying away from Sites?
5 Acknowledgements

 

Appendix I: List of known/reported sites
Appendix II: Plans of known sites
Appendix III.a: Full translation of text from Site 1 (WIPP)
Appendix III.b Full translation of text from Site 2 (Yucca mountain)
...
Appendix III.o: Full translation of text from Site 15 (Onkalo)
Appendix III.p: Full translation of text from Site 16 (Westnewton)

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Chapter Text

Book 2
CHAPTER I. Of a damosel which came girt with a sword, and what she told them.

Now, it so happed that in the time of King Æthelwulf, that there came to his company a damosel that came girt with a sword, whereof the king had great wonder. Sir damosel said the king, by what mean art thou girt with that sword, for it is disseemly that a damosel should wear such warlike array. Sire, said that damosel, It is in this wise that I am so armed. It so happed that I passed aways in a forest, and then by sudden adventure was I ware of a fountain, and by that fountain lay a knight that gave the most piteous complaints, for she was neigh unto death. What knight was that, said the king. Sir, said the damosel, that was even my speech, but she answered not as would be seemly, for she was much in distress, and therefore I call her the knight of the Strange Device, by reason of the strange device that was upon her shield.
Now wit thee, said that damosel, that I gave her such help as I may, for she was a goodly knight and I misdoubt me not that she had given succour to many damosels. And so searched I her wounds, but I found but little hurt, so I gave her drink, and a little meat, and recovered her a little, and then she told me of a strange adventure.

CHAPTER II. Of the adventure of the knight of the Strange Device

Now wit thee, said that knight, that I have had the most marvellous adventures that ever hath befallen a knight. For it so happed that I rode aways from the forest of adventures, and through many strange countries, over marshes and valleys, unto a laund, and thereby I found many strange things. For there was beyond our marches a building like unto a great castle, yet ill-made and of grimly aspect, and so passed I to that castle, that was the castle of the Strange Device. Right so I reached that courtelage, and blew motes upon my horn. And then was I ware that it was no castle, for it was dispeopled. Then searched I aways, for I might find a place to lay me down, for night drew nigh upon me, and wit thee that it giveth no shelter, but only the most grimly carvings. And it seemed me that the people of that castle had been disparpled many years since.

Now the device of the castle was this: that there were many great blocks of stone as tall as a knight on horse and as wide, and as long, and so many that they might not be counted. But it had happed that some had fallen ruinous everych upon other, and some had fallen flatling, and some stood as they had been made, but everych of them was overhylled with grimly carvings, and in parts icripture in strange tongue.

Now bethought me that I should take this strange adventure, but in no wise could I win worship there. And so me list that I should depart upon the morrow, and seek better cheer. And so passed I that night in mal-ease, for though there was but little wind, ever did it howl, and thereby I had terrible dreams. And so I bethought me that this strange adventure was not for me, but for some other knight, so upon the morn I parted, and yede me onwards.

Now, said that Damsol, the whiles she told this tale, the Knight of the Strange Device was of mal-ease, and therewith this knight gave up the ghost and died. So by this wise I carry that knight's sword, and I misdoubt not that that the knight to whom the quest longeth shall draw that sword from that scabbard, but that if the quest longeth not to a knight then they may not speed them.