The creation of Digital Temtem

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The creation of Digital Temtem 📚 is a short story posted on Temtem Kickstarter update #42 on April 30, 2019. It features Professor Víctor of Briçal talking with an unknown stranger about the creation of TemCards, Digital Temtem, and Dr. Hamijo being expelled from the research team after he wanted to build off these discoveries to create new varieties of Temtem specifically to serve humans.

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"It sure looks like rain," said Professor Víctor of Briçal as he looked out of the window. The gloomy Arburian skies were steadily turning a darker shade.

"Well, I suppose we have time for a story, then. Let me put the kettle on…"

The old armchair creaked when he dropped on it again. He took off his glasses.

"So, Digital Temtem, it is? I'm not surprised you'd ask about them. They are the newest, shiniest variety after all. And all that tech we have running on the same principles, like commcasters… or TVs, like you youngsters call them. But I suppose you want to hear about the Digitals themselves, right."

"I was there, you know. When they were first developed. I was a young research assistant, fresh out of Properton College. I jumped on an airship as soon as I got the message, and rushed to Cipanku just in time to join the team. It costed a fortune too! Mind you, that was just before TemCards, so if you wanted to bring your favorite Temtem to Cipanku you had to book berth space for it too… Anyway, so I made it to the lab and met my first boss, Dr. Sasaya. Let me tell you, she was by far the best scientist and most intelligent woman in…"

The whistling of the kettle interrupted him. He served two mugs of fragrant tea and gave the stranger one of them. He cupped his in a hand, inhaling wistfully.

"Very à propos – Cipanki black tea, with a touch of Denizan jasmine. Reminds me of home, but also of my times in… but I digress. So, Dr. Sasaya. She was already a legend when I started working at her lab in Nanto. She had been investigating the information-storage properties of Omninesian volcanic crystal, and that's how we came up with TemCards. It was pretty unexpected, trust me - Sasaya was never much into Temtem anyway. I was a Temtem fan, so I suggested we tried "storing" Temtem in them, and voilà, we came up with TemCards."

"It's difficult to exaggerate how important that breakthrough was. Before TemCards, Temtem had to be physically carried from one place to the other. That was a nightmare, believe me – many Earth Temtem were too heavy for airships, Fire ones were just too dangerous to handle, Water Temtem couldn't survive for very long on dry land... It was a headache. TemCards provided a safe and easy way of carrying around dozens of Temtem. That's what made Temtem taming the affordable pastime it is today. Before TemCards, you had to be pretty rich or influential to own more than a couple of Tems. No other invention has been as liberating as TemCards, after the development of airships…"

He sipped some tea, then nodded.

"But you were asking about Digital Temtem. Yes, yes, bear with me. So, of course, this generated incredible enthusiasm in the scientific community. It was a collective effort, you see - these principles had been described by Arburian theorists, but TemCards had been developed in a Cipanki lab, using Omninesian crystals and drawing on Kisiwan taming expertise during the trials. Everyone agreed that major tech breakthroughs required extensive collaboration. Nanto Labs used that prestige to bring in the best experts, people from all around the Archipelago. That was the team which developed Digital Temtem…"

The professor sat back, his eyes distant as he reminisced.

"And what a dream team it was! Professor Konstantinos from Properton did the theoretical groundwork – he was so young back then… Tihani of Nanga oversaw the Temtem breeding trials, a Dojo undergrad but already the best breeder in the Myrisles. Yareni of Quetzal, Nalla of Vumbi, the very crème de la crème was there… But Dr. Sasaya wasn't interested in the Temtem side of the research, she was always more of a pure technologist. She wanted to concentrate on the applications of the tech itself, so in her stead, she put Dr. Hamijo, her most promising pupil. That turned out to be… a mistake."

He gulped down some tea and left the mug over a precariously-balanced pile of books.

"Sure, generally speaking, it was a success. Digital Temtem were born! And that was no mean feat. It was well beyond our initial scope too - funny how nobody remembers this, but our initial brief was to create Crystal-Electric hybrids. Digital Temtem were a little happy accident! And it made sense too - we had loads of experience working with crystal from the development of TemCards, and Tihani showed us how to choose the best volcanic varieties. And most of the research assistants were Cipanki, so they really knew their Electric Temtem."

"So, who knew you could theoretically code information as ones and zeroes? Professor Konstantinos, building on Dr. Sasaya's research. But, to use electricity to store that information into crystalline formations? That was Dr. Hamijo's genius. And who knew how to tame those new Temtem and develop ways to communicate with them so that they could be taught? You guessed it, young Tihani. It all came together like magic."

A shadow fell on the professor's eyes. His mouth twitched a little.

"But as amazing as this invention was, it was just the tip of the iceberg. Digital technology had many more uses, as we all know now. Communications, transport, pansolar energy. We leaped a century ahead, all in mere years. It was intoxicating. For the first time, the Archipelago was coming together... I guess all this went to his head."

"Dr. Hamijo thought the team shouldn't stop with Digital Temtem. He wanted to push forward and create more varieties of Temtem, specifically suited to serve humans. Now, this raised ethical issues within the team – Tihani and Nalla said that was inhuman towards Temtem, but Hamijo just doubled down, proclaimed he wanted to create a new race of Temtem slaves. Konstantinos tried to mediate, but it was too late."

The professor sighed, lacing his fingers together.

"In the end, Dr. Sasaya had to intervene. She had been busy developing most of the Digital-derived technology we have nowadays, including the HealTem machines you can see in any Temporium. There was a meeting, a vote, and Dr. Hamijo was expelled from the team. He didn't take it well. He just disappeared, and nobody has heard from him ever since."

He shrugged sorrowfully, recovering his tea mug for another sip.

"But that was years ago. We all moved on. Nanto Labs carried on developing new Digital Temtem, and the tech spilled over. Now it's everywhere. Everyone went home. Tihani became Dojo Master. Konstantinos has been traveling around, last I heard he was in Deniz researching meta-mimetic Temtem. I returned to my alma mater and these days I'm teaching Lore at Properton. It's more laid back… oh, Dr. Sasaya? She still writes. She's back in Nanto, working on some crazy "instant matter transfer" experiment, whatever that is…"

The stranger got up suddenly, something in his hand. The professor caught the glint of something flashing. His eyes went wide...