It was our third day at sea. We were on our way to Grandmother's house when the storm hit. My brother, Lucas, and I had been lucky we were near the raft when the cruiser smashed into pieces. Luckier still, the raft did not fall apart. But that is where our luck stopped.
As the sun rose, it was getting hot again. “Mia, I'm thirsty”, Lucas complained, “Really thirsty.” I wouldn't let Lucas drink the sea water – it would only dehydrate us more. The storm had pushed us past the sea border, we were floating in the Exclusion Zone – an area outside of our people's lands. Here, all communications were blocked by the dwarves. No human would know we were there or be able to cross the line to save us.
We floated some more.
It seemed like forever. We held each other and thought of our parents.
Suddenly, we lurched. A dwarf fishing vessel came out of nowhere at incredible speed and grabbed us in a net full of fish. We were scared at first, then Lucas said, “I don't think they have seen us, but they are dragging our raft toward shore.” I agreed, “We can hopefully get their attention on shore”.
We didn't know much about the dwarves. They keep mostly to themselves to protect their gold. Ever since they put up the Exclusion Zone, humans had left them and the elves behind it to themselves. As we got closer, “Look at that!”, shouted Lucas.
Handicapped and elderly workers lined the street, begging for handouts.
Walking was hard and lasted a long time. Lucas was homesick and I was starting to worry we would never see our parents again. She told us about the great Exclusion Zone the dwarves had built to keep the elves from meeting humans and destroying the dwarves' markets. It was really nice to have Ava to explain things. She assured us the elves could help. “We have finally made it – this is the land of the Elves!” Ava shouted with glee and a flourish of her hands. “Amazing!”, Lucas and I said together. From our overlook, we could see that all of the region was bountiful and beautiful. There we re no ugly alleys here, just waterfalls, trees and simple, elegant houses with odd rooftops.
“There is something else I just don't understand. Where do you get all of your raw materials? Do you have mines like the Dwarf mines we saw?” Sophia said “It is ugly.” My heart sank as I pictured elves in a horrible mine. After a short ride in a tube-train, we get out at a dump. Our mouths fall open as we realize we had gone all the way around back to the dwarf garbage pit. Elf recycling robots (recyclebots) scavenged recyclables to turn into feedstock for 3D printers and other digital fabrication tools that run elf society. “We have made more complex machines that provide an abundance of freely-available goods and services to all elves, liberating us from menial labor, debt and servitude. We can now devote our time to non-economic pursuits that interest us. I like design and Liam likes farming. We all share our talents.
We decided on a vehicle and our team started in on the electronics. Some of the elf children helped Lucas understand circuit diagrams. Emma 3D printed a pair of safety glasses that matched hers and gave them to me so she could teach me how to solder. I had never done anything like that before, but it was fun to learn new skills and to work together with the elves. Everyone was so excited to try new ideas and to share them with the groups here and on the outer edges of Elf Land. The elves were not afraid to make mistakes. “It's just a learning experience”, explained Emma when my first design sparked and left behind a trail of smoke. Finally, I got it and with the help of the elves, Lucas and I designed a guidance system. We were so proud!