Emergence 5.0 – Kathy, Part Six

From the moment she was born Kathy lived in two worlds: one, the world of her senses, of time and space; two, the larger world of memory.

Just beyond those two distinct modes of being there were primal forces that were always active in her consciousness. She was aware of the living presence of all the other human beings around her, every single one of them connected to her and undifferentiated from herself.

Her memory spoke to her in words and visions, contextualizing everything she encountered, summarizing each new experience at the speed of light…faster than light. The operations of her mind could occur in no-time, nearing the transcendent.

Every smell, every touch, every sound was evocative.

The things she saw, the foods and drinks she tasted, drew her out of herself and into another world.

As an infant she was often debilitated by the experience of new things. She would get stuck in the on-rush of memories, coming like a flood

She often found herself paralyzed and drifting, floating in-between worlds.

The voices came to her unbidden, they were the voices of her ancestors seeking to protect her, but they were more than that, they were more than a reconstruction of personalities from her ancestral memory.

Through her unique consciousness her memories were connected to the real presence of her ancestors, not merely her genetic memory. She was in tune with humanity, with actual people, long dead and yet persisting in Earth’s cynergenic field. The consciousness of every person who ever lived was present in this field, the nous-sphere. Within this quantum field every person who had lived and died was present. Their active presence in her own consciousness led Kathy to hidden places deep within her.

Every human being has the same genetic memory, and every person is connected to the cynergenic field. This was not unique to Kathy, but she was uniquely able to access all the remote regions of her sub-conscious and unconscious mind, to plumb the deep dark well of her being.

She discovered languages that no person had spoken for thousands of years. She conversed in them with her ancestors.

There were memories of love, of pain and the promise of transcendence. She dwelt in them, rejoiced in them and was lifted up by them.

Her memories were full of visions; visions of transformation, visions of her ancestors, of her own self always in a state of becoming.

Kathy took refuge there, entertained herself there, she relived the great dramas of humanity’s collective past, all of the stories that still lingered in the popular consciousness of her contemporaries, she explored them peeling away the myths, the lies and the propaganda.

She discovered the bare stories, the prime narrative behind the archetypal hero’s and god’s.

She spent even more time in the stories of the completely forgotten. In the memories of the farmer and the slave, the common soldier, the ordinary mother, among the artists and the craftsmen.

She learned.

She found friends from among the people and figures of her memories, caring people who could guide her through the processes of managing the incredible deluge of experience that she was washed in.

Her internal mentors were not just figures from her ancestral past, they also had an active, conscious presence in the cynergenic field, and they taught her.

Kathy’s memories came to her unbidden, populating her consciousness, suggesting themselves for her consideration to frame her understanding of the events she was experiencing in real time.

In the act of remembering she experienced a dialog with the ancestors within her, deciphering events, answering questions in an instant.

It was an atavistic process, it happened faster than light speed, it happened in no-time.

Kathy was particularly susceptible to sensory input.

When she encountered a new feeling or texture, smelled or tasted something she had not experienced before, saw or heard something that had been unknown to her, the forces within her brought to her mind everything she would ever need to know about it.

She was prone to getting lost in the faces of people she met for the first time, learning their names, fixing their identities.

The wheels within her would turn and turn over everything her long memory had to give her regarding all of the times she had encountered a person with those eyes, with that nose, with that name, or that tone in their voice, with that scent.

This was always augmented by input from the spirits that hovered around her. She was in constant dialog with them. She belonged to them and they to her.

Anything that was new was surreal to Kathy. The more unique the event, the more fascinated she was by it. She was virtually incapable of being surprised, but it did happen from time to time, and when it did she was pleased, even overjoyed.

For her to witness something unprecedented was like watching a blurry movie, or an old TV off-axis, while the voices inside her attempted to shape her understanding of the event by providing context, offering comparisons, suggesting similes and complimenting it with knowledge.

Even things that were tragic and horrible, if they were unexpected and “one of kind” gave her something that she was missing in her life, something novel, and she would observe those moments with a morbid, self-satisfying curiosity.

Searching out the new was like trying to grasp a handful of water, or a fistful of sand. The thing or the moment she would reach for would slip between her fingers before she could hold it or retain the feeling of surprise for any length of time.

Searching for a new experience would cause her mind to construct in advance, ideas of what she would find. This was nothing more than the normal mode of anticipation. The closer she got to her goal, the closer the image of what she looking for, her expectations, assumed the character of what she would discover.

In that game she was always several steps ahead of herself.

She was prescient.

Trying to find what was new in other people was the worst, because she could sense their approach, she could read their minds, she could become one with their thoughts, and once she knew them she could commune with the spirits of their dead.

If she wanted, she could learn everything there was to know about them, and their past, more than they could ever discover for themselves.

Kathy had to practice mindfulness at every moment, simply to keep her grounded and in the present. Learning this was the ultimate discipline; it was the key to her sanity.

She exercised her powerful mind to create buffers between herself and the world.

For Kathy, knowing things came automatically. Details of particular points of knowledge filled her mind at quantum speed. Languages, and codes opened themselves up to her, revealing their secrets. There was not an article of arcana which she could not decipher.

Her consciousness worked outside the boundaries of time and space. She did not have to ponder or search her memory for anything. She simply knew. The meanings of symbols, of histories, the patterns in music, beats and rhythms, these things populated her consciousness in no-time. She could tell the stories of people, of human migration, stories that had never been written down. She knew where all the skeletons were buried.

Everything her senses encountered was filtered through a screen of the complete human experience. What she did not have access to, from her own genetic line, she could find through the cynergenic field, communing with the living spirits in the nous-sphere.

Both the past and present were open, like a book, she could observe anything.

She could even peer into the minds of her contemporaries, see through their eyes, becoming one with them in the confluence of their perceptions and feelings.

Kathy was the most powerful psychic the world had ever known. She was dangerous, and her value to the government was without measure.

In the intelligence community and in the world of cognitive science, the opportunity to work with her was considered to be the greatest privilege.

Kathy’s existence was a closely guarded secret, those who had the opportunity to put a question to her were held in the highest esteem by their colleagues. Even though they would never have any direct contact with her, just the opportunity to address the Sibyl, which was her code name in the intelligence community was an indication that the work you were engaged in was of the highest value.

The term they used to describe Kathy’s gift was prehension, an intuitive comprehension that came from a place within the quantum mystery of the atom, in the waves that make up the fabric of the subatomic field, from a place in which time and space are concepts without meaning, where there were trillions of points of light drawn into a singular focus which was the concrescence of insight.

She was the fulcrum. Her mind represented the pinnacle of all human consciousness, she was the full realization of its potential, and not just of humanity, not just of the Children of Earth, she was the fully actualized representation of the Ancient People.

Her coming was a thing that had been carefully prepared, by Jim, the Observer, for thousands of generations.

Her genetic code was the product of a careful breeding program, but there was more to his plans than merely producing a body with the latent atavistic capabilities he was searching for, which he needed for his campaign against the Continuum.

Jim had prepared for her arrival over thousands of lifetimes. He had prepared her to see him, to respond to him, to pick up on the subtle cues that would come from him through the genetic memory she would have access to.

He was preparing her in advance to be able to filter humanity’s collective consciousness, to draw what she needed from it at will.

Kathy would be to Earth’s organic collective what the Continuum was to the Collective back on Jim’s HomeWorld.

Kathy played music and she loved it. For Kathy, there was nothing more freeing than being lost in clouds of rhythm and melody, expressing her deepest feelings therein.

Through music the rest of the world could slip away, she could be alone.

There was not an instrument or a rhythm, a tonal scale or a mechanism of timing which she did not master instantly. The mastering of these, unlike the mastery of ideas, did not require dialog with the ancestors within her, the ancestors were present of course, both within and without, but in music their presence was non-verbal and ultimately unnecessary, her analytical skill would allow her to intuit anything.

She sang, with perfect pitch.

She could identify any note, any chord. She could replicate them in her voice, or on any instrument.

She spoke in her own voice when she sang, all the while sensing the multitude within her, guiding her fingers and brushes, her bows, sticks, picks and tongue.

Kathy was the living repository of all human knowledge.

It was an incredible burden.

She shunned it, but she found music to be soothing, liberating.

The visitation of her memories, the voices of her ancestors, these were always present to her, putting pressure on Kathy to act and perform in specific ways, but in music she felt more as if she was coming home to them, rather than the voices inside of her reaching up and out.

Music was like coming home to a place where there were no expectations beyond the moment.

Kathy loved jokes.

Humor was a relief to her and she funny even as a child.

Comedy is the art of the unexpected and of the surprise, Kathy loved it when she could suspend disbelief for a moment, allowing herself to be taken at unawares. It was a departure from her normal mode of being.

She craved it.

Her laughter was the first unusual thing that her parents noticed about her, a trait which distinguished her from other children, it alerted them to the fact that she was different, because her laughter was different, it was mature, it projected a sense of knowing, rather than delight and amusement, it seemed to come from a place beyond the tiny physical body of an infant.

Even as a baby she picked up on the punch lines of jokes. In her infancy she delighted in them, they fed her spirit, they were like water to a thirsty woman.

She understood the spoken words, the inferences that were made and shared between adults. She could follow their exchanges months before she had learned to speak. It was unnerving to anybody who witnessed it, therefore her sense of humor became one of the first expressive traits that Kathy learned to conceal, an act of social alienation and self-abnegation.

Laughter is like crying, it is a free and open mode of communication, it is non-verbal and honest. Kathy had to deny herself that honesty, she had to keep it in check.

The laughing person is vulnerable, and Kathy had to learn to hide that vulnerability, withdrawing inside herself, she shared her mirth with her ancestors and the other ghosts lingering in the outer-world, she shared with them and them alone.

Kathy was as quiet as she was observant. She took joy in the acquisition of knowledge, the analytical skills she was developing were more astute, but she also found that asking questions, the types of questions she asked set her parents and teachers on edge. She learned to watch and ask questions of the voices within her.

As a baby, she did not flit about randomly like infants and toddlers do. She was not easily distracted or delighted by the things that most babies are taken with.

She was a strange child.

As an infant her introspection was so extreme that in the first months of life her parents thought she might be developmentally disabled. They had no way of knowing that in those moments she was communing with the voices of her ancestors.

As she grew older she became focused, balanced and cautious. The evidence of her determinative spirit showed clearly through everything she did.

She repeated sounds and gestures in patterns that quickly became noticeable. The subtleties of her personality, the things they had thought were the ticks of autism, were in fact her measured and purposeful quest to learn.

Kathy was motivated by a deep desire to communicate, to be understood.

While she had the cognitive ability to speak, from the day she was born, she did not have the motor skills to form words, those took time to develop. She trained herself, quickening the pace by which she would learn to walk, and talk, and she would not be stopped.

Her parents had no desire to get in her way.

In the days when they were still figuring out what their child was doing, if they were to interrupt her or try to redirect her, they would see the flash of anger in her eyes.

Her anger was not the helpless rage of an infant wailing. t was the anger of a fully formed person who would not be deterred from her path.

She was a frightening child.

Her parents were concerned for her wellbeing and her safety, both.

Kathy was crawling within weeks of being born, and walking within a few short months. In her private moments she was flexing her muscles, gaining strength and tuning her body to obey her thoughts. The voices within her guided her. Through repetition and diligence, she gained control of her limbs, developing dexterity and coordination.

By her first birthday she was dancing.

Kathy practiced and practiced in the quiet moments of her day; she practiced at night, in the dark, while her parents slept.

Her vocal muscles were the most difficult to master. She did not speak a word until she was speaking in complete sentences. She practiced her breathing, she spoke to herself when she thought no one was watching. She listened to the conversations happening all around her, the dialog without and within.

She knew that her parents were concerned about her. Every person they ever brought to meet her told them how strange she was. Kathy tried to make things easier on them, but she was not always able to hide the things that she was doing, and she could not control her feelings.

The glands that produced the hormones and chemicals which formed the wetwork of the human emotional spectrum required a much greater level of discipline and a much longer measure of time to control.

In the nous-sphere Kathy communed with those who were not directly linked to her heredity. She was connected to the assembled masters of every tradition, they instructed her in physical disciplines, martial disciplines, cognitive disciplines, she had access to the full scope of human knowledge. They guided her and focused her, kept her calm, allowing her to see her own life and experiences in the context of the collective experiences swelling within her. She discovered a sense of belonging in the world through the interior of her mind.

She formed plans spontaneously, in order to realize her goals, her powerful mind operating beyond the limits of time and space, then she had to slow everything down, to allow her body time to make the adjustments she was preparing it for.

It was excruciating.

There were times when she wanted nothing more than to allow her mind to drift away, to leave the cares of the flesh behind, but when she felt that way, the chorus would rise within her, reminding her that she had a purpose to fulfill.

She had to prepare, be quiet, discreet, not draw attention to herself she developed her physical strength and the strength of her mind together.

She took pride in her accomplishments, they were her source for self-esteem.

Kathy could shut the outside world off, retreating into the recesses of her interior life, but she could not escape from the, they were always with her. She might ignore them for a time, but she could not away from them, even in death she knew she would remain with them, as with all people, a shadow of herself imprinted on the cynergenic field, to linger there forever.

Kathy took to the path of discipline to protect herself, both from the world and from what was inside her.

Whatever her parents tried to teach her, Kathy took to with ease

Despite the moment by moment challenges she endured in dealing with her atavistic connection to the past, she was nevertheless still a child, she had the ordinary instincts of a child, wanting to belong to her parents, and for them to belong to her. She wanted to please them, make them smile, watch them laugh. She did not like it when the things she said or did, or did not do, disturbed them.

Kathy mastered complex tasks without effort, she felt that she had to mask this. She felt she had to learn, or at least pretend to learn from her parents and the adults around her. This was one of the things that put her parents at ease. It was often the case that they would propose to show her how to do something, like tie her shoes, and she would just do it without thinking because the voices within her supplied her with the method she needed.

This unnerved her parents, she had to learn to slow down and hide these things, even pretend to make mistakes so that they could correct her. This was an exercise in conformity.

She struggled with the skill of blending in, with hiding her differences.

Her parents came to accept the fact that Kathy was pretending. They could tell because she was not good at it, and also because she would almost always shift to a pattern of action that was better, more efficient, quicker, more streamlined than what they had taught her.

For Kathy to get along she learned to be silent, to listen, to wait, to let the others fail without her commenting on it, and without stepping in to provide a solution. She had to be content that she knew the answers and had to resist the temptation to seek the reward of praise.

She practiced quietude.

She would not assert herself. She did everything she could to divert attention, seeking only the private recognition of her teachers.

She could not insert herself into the activities of her peers (she had none), she would not correct them or provide the right answer to problems that were proposed in public settings to her classmates.

She learned to experience success as a personal matter, only harkening to the applause that came from within.

She turned in flawless work.

She reacted negatively to her teachers when they tried to highlight her talents, her knowledge and skills.

This was difficult for her.

Like any child she loved praise, and she had to force herself to eschew it.

More than praise from her teachers, she wanted friends

The other children in her class did not like her, they did not like the way she looked at them, or the way she looked through them.

Intuitively they knew that she was beyond them

She was alien, unique…other, and she knew it.

She was different from every human being on the planet, different from all everyone who had ever come before her.

Kathy was no longer homo sapient sapient, she was homo sapient transcendent. She embodied the full scope of human potential and its actual realization in time. She was unique in all the universe, and she was born that way.

Kathy was still young when she realized the differences that distinguished her from everyone else. Empirically, she knew that she represented an emergent state of human evolution. Her ancestors within her had said as much, and that estimation was confirmed by the voices of the entities she encountered in the nous-sphere.

Nevertheless, it was easy for Kathy to succumb to the basic human tendency of assuming that the people she encountered were like her, that they shared a common point of view or perspective on the things and events they were witnessing.

Understanding her differences did not help her manage her feelings, or those of anyone else. She had difficulties. She knew that it was not her responsibility to control what other people felt. Whether they choose to be in a relationship with her, like her teachers, or whether, like her parents, the role had been thrust on them.

People were afraid of her. They either wanted to run away, or exploit her. Some people simply wanted to examine her, run experiments on her as if she was a laboratory animal.

Her parents were afraid of her, and afraid for her. They were simultaneously proud of her, and ashamed that they had brought her into the world.

The people who cared for her knew that she suffered, but they could do little about it, some tried to comfort her, most did so only as a convenience to themselves.

Kathy was angry all the time. She was angry with herself, she was angry with her teachers and handlers, she was angry with the voices of her ancestors that tried to soothe her from within, and she was angry at the presence of those persons she encountered in the cynergenic field, the spirits who were always seeking to intrude on her thoughts.

Kathy understood the things she was going through, she understood the physical transformations of adolescence, but like much of her knowledge, her comprehension of it was abstract. It was disconnected from her actual experience.

Understanding had little power to quell the rank emotions rising within her body, the chemical miasma fuming inside her, which were the same as in any youth.

In the abstract she understood what was happening, she regularly employed the techniques her ancestors had taught her, so she could control herself and reduce the burden she placed on others.

Though she did this regularly, she did not always do it, and when the mood struck her she would lash out at the people who were closest to her. She might invade their psyche, steal their secrets, expose their fears, and brutalize them.

She was not pleasant to be around, her proctors, teachers and handlers always approached her with caution.

As a child Kathy was composed, especially around strangers, she was composed in public and in social settings. She carried herself with confidence and a deliberate intentionality.

As a small child Kathy always acted with poise and purpose, so much so that it unnerved her parents. At times she seemed to them like a mythic-monster, but as she grew older they came to rely on it, believing that her unusual comportment was key to her safety and to theirs.

There was not a person who observed her in these settings that did not mark her affect as strange.

Most people were delighted in the strange and unusually confident child. A few, those who were more observant, were deeply disturbed by her.

Kathy was beset by fears, not just for herself, but for her parents as well. The poise that she portrayed was just a mask. She could keep it up for hours, even days if need be, but it was merely a ploy to hide the raging doubt inside of her.

As she matured, when she was in public she would became paralyzed by insecurity; she would freeze, become silent, and withdraw into herself.

Am I insane, she thought, who am I, am I alone, why am I alone, how can it be that there is no-one else like me anywhere in the world?

The answers she gleaned shook her to the core. They confirmed for her that she was, in fact, alone, unique.

There had never been another like her.

She searched her ancestral memories for evidence of the contrary, but she could find nothing, the voices within and without would grow silent.

She searched the cynergenic field for someone who could help her, and again there was nothing, or next to nothing. She could only find a vague impression of a teacher, a priest, a shaman, a person who had guided her ancestors in the distant past, but she could not locate that person in the now.

Kathy’s life was a series of disturbances.

Her parents did whatever they could to help her, bringing in tutors, sending her to special schools. They desperately searched for a place, an institution, a person, who could find a way to reach Kathy, to relate to her, to give some form of comfort and understanding.

Between the ages of nine and fifteen her family moved a dozen times.

They moved time and time again. They sold everything they had and they burned through all of their savings, every last bit of their family’s money. They exhausted themselves in the search for a solution to the challenge Kathy presented.

The only comforts they could really give her were material ones; food, water, shelter. They were unable to adjust to her intellectual and emotional demands.

Kathy knew what her parents were doing for her. She tried to cooperate, and she had good moments. Nevertheless, when she was feeling pained or lonely, when she felt like an alien in her own world, out of frustration and deep resentment she lashed out at them and her teachers.

She mocked them without mercy, she ridiculed them, she alienated everyone who came in contact with her. She used her gifts to reveal their greatest insecurities and she exploited them, not to get something from them, but to drive them away, to protect herself and her family from their ambitions.

With every new failure at building a relationship with her teachers and proctors, Kathy grew increasingly despondent. She felt the despair of her parents and it was magnified in her. She listened to the voices within her, most of which beseeched her to be calm, remain strong. She also listened to the voices that encouraged her to flee.

Kathy burned with rage. She was consumed by a hatred for the world, by self-loathing, and by the intrusive voices coming to her from the nous-sphere.

She did not find relief in the comfort of her memories. Kathy did not want to be calm, she did not want to be strong. Her contempt for everyone she came in contact with lit a fire deep in her belly. There was no talking it away.

She felt like an alien, she began to refer to other people as “the humans,” as if she were not one of them. She focused on every little bit of difference between her and the people she met. She allowed the power of her mind, her intellect, her knowledge to roll over people like a thresher, cutting them to pieces.

There was no therapeutic approach to help her mitigate those feelings.

She felt guilty.

In order to cope, she turned the heat and violence of her anger inward, focusing all of that energy on herself.

It gave her no relief.

Kathy isolated herself, taking refuge in music, and in movies and books. She spurned the reflexive desire to augment her experiences by consuming media in consultation with the voices within her. She did not go to them for insight or discovery, allowing her media habits to be filled only with the most contemporary materials.

In time Kathy learned to separate herself from her emotions. They would have killed her had she not done so.

The body is the servant of the mind, and as with all complicated machines it requires diagnostics and maintenance. She discovered the methods by which she could commune with her physical form.

She listened to it. Her body spoke to her. She exercised it, mastering every muscle, taking control of every gland. She gave it the attention it needed, sustenance and nutrition, whatever her body required to be balanced.

She took control of herself and found refuge in discipline, peace in the meditations that took her outside of her body.

With an ability that no human being ever had before, she would enter the cynergenic field, creating a distance from the structured, chemically sequenced emotions of her body.

She was guided in this by the ascended masters dwelling within her, and dwelling near to her in the nous sphere.

Kathy discovered the ontological reality she shared with every living being on the planet. She discovered that they were all united, in spite of her feelings of alienation, she found what made them all one and she learned to adjust to this reality.

Understanding her essential humanity gave her a great feeling of esteem.

Kathy spent the energy of her youth learning to master her thoughts and feelings, just so that she could get along in the world, but what she needed most was a place to escape. She found it in the real world.

The circle had become complete. The past, she found, could be more oppressive than the present, when she discovered that she became determined to live in the moment.

She discovered the supreme distraction in the passions of her body. Through self-pleasure and sexual coupling she was able to forget herself, forget the world around her, lose everything in the uncritical-careless delights of sexual gratification.

She lost herself in the attraction she felt for beautiful people, in the desires that were most immediate to her senses, lingering for hours, in the scent and taste of a lover.

Physical love was timeless. It concentrated all her attention in the now, where the present moment was everything, she became lost in it.

She found momentary peace there, a temporary release, and freedom in the orgasm.

The energy of a sexual climax delivered her to a place beyond space and time, removing her (temporarily) from the cynergenic field, or blinding her to it.

The world around her paused, she became weightless and all the concerns she had for herself, for others. All of the demands that the world placed on her, demands of fear, the demands of hope, all of those expectations melted away.

The universe contracted in that moment, as did her psychic connection to humanity, in that instant, she could go anywhere, be nowhere.

It was the pinnacle.

It was as if she had arrived at the peak of the human experience, stepping off into nothing.

From her first time with her first lover, to the last person she took into her bed; it was the same, she cherished those moments.

In that release there was silence, a quietude that none of her teachers could fathom, she likened it to the experience that her ancestor Gottama had, while meditating under the banyan tree.

There was a temptation to remain there, to stay in that magic place, to elongate it, to leave the world forever.

She flirted with the notion, but never seriously.

Without exception, the people Kathy brought to her bed were unnerved by the experience of watching her.

Her sexuality shook them. Some were traumatized by it, the greater their sensitivity to psychic phenomenon, the more empathic they were, the more they struggled in that moment.

When Kathy was five years old, instead of beginning kindergarten, Kathy’s parents placed her in private tutelage.

They looked at dozens of conventional schools, public programs, private institutions, schools that were religiously affiliated, and they did not encounter a single program that they felt they could trust.

Her parents took these step because they were continuously unnerved by Kathy’s mannerisms. The things she said and did, the things she knew, the profound abilities of her powerful intellect, which differentiated her from everyone, not just children her age.

In most cases they could tell within seconds or minutes that the administrators saw exposure to Kathy as something they could exploit.

They were afraid of her, and they feared for her.

They did not want Kathy to grow up in the face of other people’s fear, they did not want her to synthesize those fears for herself. They felt it would warp her, possibly turn her into a guarded and hateful person.

They were both desperate to help her, and eager to be released from their parental obligations. They could not face the idea of simply home-schooling her. They themselves needed a break from managing her day to day, hour by hour. They also knew that they did not have the skills to guide her.

Through the encouragement of advisors they sought private tutors to help them, professionals under a variety of disciplines, but every tutor Kathy’s parents brought in to teach her manifested predictable and disturbing patterns of behavior.

The tutors, psychologists, scholars; her parents contracted with professionals inside and outside of the educational system, including scientists, doctors, and other specialists in human behavior. They exhausted their resources doing it.

Without exception the interactions that any of them had with Kathy filled her parents with dread, and filled Kathy with a cynical unease.

At first they were delighted with Kathy, they would be welcoming in their initial encounters, and Kathy would tease them with the things they wanted to know.

They would come back to Kathy’s parents at the end of an interview, glassy eyed, and wondering at the genius of their child, going on and on about her potential, and her unique gifts

As the days went on they became fearful, scared. Those same gifts that had delighted them just days earlier, unnerved them with continuing exposure.

If Kathy wanted to get rid of them, she would attack them; she would use her psychic gifts to exploit their fears and weaknesses, she would abuse them by exposing their deepest secrets. This drove most of them away.

Those who stayed did so either because they had stalwart character, or because they were shameless, seeing in Kathy someone on whom they could build a career, or so they hoped.

They tested her, and wrote about her. News of Kathy spread in tight circles. People began to seek them out.

The shameless sought to use her for their own benefit, believing she would be a source of fame and wealth. The altruistic among them were convinced that the fate of the world hinged on learning her secrets.

Kathy’s private education was a bitter disappointment. Her parents quickly learned that they must put non-disclosure agreements in place with everyone who came in contact with Kathy, after which they were constantly occupied with the legal action to enforce them.

By her tenth birthday, Kathy’s parents decided to forego tutors. They had proven to be of little help to her or them.

They put her in the care of doctors and clergy, people from institutions which they believed had a broader commitment to supernal values, to doing good for the sake of doing good. They told themselves that this would protect Kathy from the meanness of the world.

They placed Kathy completely in their care, entrusting them to guard and educate her, and with that they withdrew from her life.

Kathy’s parents finally found the release they were looking for. They took what savings they had left and moved as far away as possible. They had no more desire to be a part of the decision making processes for their daughter.

They told themselves that her needs would be looked after, that she would be nourished and sheltered in both mind and body; they had done what they could and then they gave up.

Kathy was alone now, sequestered, institutionalized. She was not an orphan, she was just a child with no parents, and she was overwhelming sad by the absence of the only people who had ever loved her.

She was despondent. She had no sense of belonging. Kathy withdrew into herself and patiently endured being an object of fascination.

The people who took over Kathy’s care were good people, by and large. It had taken years for them to identify just who among the dozens of tutors and doctors they had consulted with, could be trusted to look out for Kathy’s interests, instead of their own.

Kathy’s imprimatur was key to the selection process.

It took a great deal of time for Kathy’s proctors, her selected panel of advisors to find an institution for her. She knew what motivated them as well. Their self-interest was apparent, but it was not a dominant factor in their search, or their decision making.

For the most part, they merely wanted to discharge their responsibility to Kathy in an expeditious manner.

When they found a place for her, they told her it was a home for prodigies and gifted youngsters. They believed it, for the most part, even though they knew the truth, they knew that the home they were placing her in was a front for the National Security Establishment.

They also knew it was safe. It was the safest place they could possibly imagine.

Kathy accepted it all, just as they voices within her moved her to do.

Once she arrived at this destination she read, she listened, she watched. She was the most astute observer any of her teachers had ever seen. She engaged all of her senses in the act of probing her memories. She brought to life the most-minute details of her ancestral experience.

She learned to remember the events she probed more accurately than the original participants could see it for themselves,

She was able to triangulate her recall of a specific moment, seeing it, from the perspective of multiple observers. She learned to penetrate their memories and their internal reflections, to separate those reflections as they changed over time like the individual threads of a bolt of cloth.

She was tested, probed, and examined by her proctors. They were continually seeking the limits of her knowledge, and developing theories as to how it was stored, what part of her psyche gave her access to it.

They used her as an experiment.

As a child she was periodically in a position where she did know what was going on, at times she just wanted to let things happen, she did not want answers as to why it was happening.

There were many occasions when she was unaware of what was transpiring, but she learned to see patterns, to dwell in them.

She preferred to think of things in terms of patterns, to depersonalize them in this way rather than seek the individual motives of the people she was interacting with.

Kathy learned to cope, she was alone in the world without family or friends. She had teachers and handlers, some were nice to her, most possessed a calculated indifference.

Kathy’s handlers had never considered the concept of an “ordinary psychic.” They were the foremost experts in all things paranormal and supernatural.

Genuine telepaths were exceedingly rare, but they existed, and when they were discovered every effort was made to bring them into the fold of the national security apparatus so that their talents could be used for the benefit of the government, and its strategic interests.

They were coerced if they would not come voluntarily.

In the later 20th century wherever they were found their abilities were tested, analyzed, put to use by spy agencies and police forces around the world. Genuine psychics were considered to be among the most vital assets of the state.

They could be very difficult to find. Given the nature of their abilities they were able to see dangers approaching from a long way away.

Most of the world’s psychics were mentally, emotionally and psychologically unstable.

The line between psychic abilities and psychosis was very thin. Schizophrenia and madness were common features among the gifted.

Psychic abilities of any degree were extraordinary, but Kathy’s gifts required a completely different understanding of the range of possibilities.

Every aspect of her life was studied in the most minute detail. With the greatest scrutiny being given to her genetic profile.

Her eggs were harvested, they made her a subject of human cloning. She was the most significant subject of scientific inquiry that the world knew nothing about.

Kathy’s moods normalized as she grew older, and she adjusted to the reality of her differences from other people.

Even though she had always understood, objectively, that she was unique, that she was a different kind of human than any other who had ever walked the earth, she had resisted the notion. She did not want to embrace it.

She was not homo sapient sapient, she was homo sapient transcendant, she was the apex of human potential, fully realized.

She was not only self-aware, she carried within her the full awareness of her ancestors.

She found resources in her memory to guide her in the development of her self-control.

She quietly disciplined herself to the measures that her ancestors desired her to take, she did this in the quantum field of consciousness where time was meaningless.

She did it in no-time.

As she learned to control her feelings and her moods, she learned to do many other things as well. She disciplined herself to the practical tasks that she was always being asked to perform by her handlers.

Her gift for analyzing data grew exponentially.

Institutions formed around her, think-tanks devoted themselves to studying her, access to her was more valuable to national intelligence than access to the fastest super-computer.

Her existence was among the most closely held secrets in the government, only the National Security Council had an inkling of the full range of her capabilities.

Kathy was longing for a place in the world.

As she advanced in her skills and gained control of her powers, her sensitivity to the motives of those around her became profound.

The intentions of the analysts who questioned her were an open book. She had to develop new skills, the ability to buffer, to keep herself from prying into the individual lives of anyone she was near to.

Through all of it she was starving for companionship, for friendship but she could not find it anywhere.

She did not want to know about the private lives of every person that she met, their fears, their hopes, their anxieties and their lusts.

Those things were disturbing to Kathy, she did not want any part of them.

She reported on how easy it was for her to read anyone she spoke to. She did not tell them that she could read people from miles away, or on the other side of the world, anyone could be read if she concentrated.

She told them the types of things they wanted to hear about her abilities.

She told them just enough to give them the feeling that they could control their encounters with her.

Millions of dollars were spent to mask the thoughts and intentions of the people who had to interact with Kathy on a daily basis. Even though these efforts were mostly connected to secrecy and national security, they were also meant to foster in Kathy a sense of belonging and community, which they managed to create but only with ever increasing levels of difficulty.

Kathy felt the artificiality of her life, as she reflected it weighed on her heavily, although if she was busy, preoccupied, she hardly noticed.

In her work place, every little detail of her environment was contrived, scripted and fake: the lighting, the view, the temperature, the sounds and smells; her handlers put everything in place like they were scripting a television show.

Their aim was to keep Kathy passive, and somewhat distracted.

No effort was spared to engender within Kathy feelings of safety and love, the sense that she was valued.

They would introduce something into her environment, a painting, a vase, a lamp, then they would measure its effect on her output, her vital signs and other expressions of her well-being, both voluntary and involuntary.

Kathy saw through all of the contrivances made on her behalf. At the same time, she appreciated the sentiments behind them, as artificial and manipulative as they were. She accepted those things and pretended that they were genuine.

She was able to maintain that a peaceful coexistence with her handlers for many years, into her young-adulthood. In that time she wanted to believe that the people she met had good intentions.

Over time however, all the false fronts vanished. She became cynical.

As she grew older her cynicism no longer caused her to lash out. She remained quiet and focused. She preferred, as all cynics and pessimists do, to think of herself as a realist.

She stopped wanting to believe that people had her best intentions in mind, she did not want their kindness or sympathy even when it was genuine. She knew that she was an asset, merely a tool, an unceasing object of fascination.

Analysts came to see her nearly every day. They brought their tests with them, they brought their questions, they brought their problems which they needed a resolution for.

They brought her work.

Kathy listened to them, and while she did she looked into their consciousness, she explored their hearts and minds, their history.

She would privately decide on who she would help and who she would not. She did not express those decisions overtly, but every analyst who could not get resolution from Kathy on the project they were working was relieved of their duties and subjected to a diligent examination.

Everyone who came in contact with Kathy was profiled exhaustivly, analyzing the analysts that who came in contact with her became a cottage industry in the intelligence community.

She read their papers, watched their films, and when they put questions to her, she shared her insight from the depths of her memories.

If she liked them then, she led them to the resolution they were seeking.

If she did not like them, their projects lingered, unfulfilled.

She read ancient languages, interpreted obscure symbols, and saw the patterns in everything.

Her handlers eventually learned what type of person they could present to Kathy, the type of people that would elicit a positive response from her, people she would help without coercion.

Kathy would not be coerced to do anything.

Kathy loved problem solving. She was making her career out of it.

She loved complex tasks, and she delighted in the resolution of new challenges.

She sought them out.

She took joy in creative and critical thinking. If her work was helpful to people, it pleased her.

Problem solving gave her a sense of purpose, it grounded her, it was where she found her place in the world and felt most as if she belonged to something.

In the cases she was presented, in the analysis she was asked to give, the greater the complexity and length of time for the project, the better it was for her.

She preferred challenges for which the answers did not just spring from her memories straight into her mind.

This was rare, the challenges facing human government, medicine, war, espionage, might feel new to most people encountering them, but they were not new to the human experience.

She was fascinated with encountering new things, new ideas, for this reason she devoted her private time to the study of the atom, to physics, astrophysics, and quantum physics.

Kathy quietly and privately wrote groundbreaking papers, this was an incredible source of pride and self-esteem for her.

Without being fully aware of the influence of her work, Kathy was generating research that rippled out through the global economy.

Access to Kathy was sought after by every think tank, causing the National Security Administration to work tirelessly to keep her identity a secret.

In order to maintain their own secrecy her handlers deliberately narrowed Kathy’s focus, restricting the scope of her involvement in matters pertaining to national security. They would parcel out questions for her in the hope that she might not see the patterns over longer periods of time.

They sought her understanding of minute details, doing everything they could to limit the information that she could glean from them about what their real concerns were. They worried that if she was ever discovered and captured, it could do irreparable harm to the country.

Kathy never revealed to them how easy it was for her to penetrate their thoughts.

She kept her own secrets, she held them closely, and she led her handlers down false paths to keep them in the dark about what the range of her abilities were.

If they would have known, they might have been comforted, or they might have killed her, something that many people at the National Security Council wanted to do.

She kept her full abilities masked. She never told them about Earth’s cynergenic field, the nous sphere, the spirit world.

She worked hard, and she produced data for the people that came to her, she offered expert analysis, and from time to time she took proactive measures to prevent a catastrophe from developing.

Her handlers became content to utilize her abilities infrequently, but on significant matters, having discovered that the more often they involved her in minutia, the more and more she was inclined to go out into the world and expose herself for who she really was.

Religious conflicts began to shape the later 20th, and the early 21st centuries. Kathy’s input regarding the origins of these conflicts was invaluable.

Current events had to be understood in their historical context, because tribal histories continued to move people long after the members had forgotten the particular details of a broken promise, an injustice or a blood feud.

Kathy’s ability to pinpoint the specific moments in time that were the antecedents of those tribal conflict was uncanny. If she could not reach the understanding through her own ancestral memories, she could commune with the spirits of the dead, she could pull the insight she needed from the cynergenic field, the nous-sphere.

Her memory produced volumes of insight for her handlers, but questions along those lines left her deeply disturbed. It caused her to dread the entire human race, the vile antipathy people held toward one another, and how easy it was for the bucolic life of a farmer, or a herdsman to become twisted by greed and driven toward the calamities of war.

It was a weight she could not ignore.

The human psyche was incredibly easy to manipulate. People were supple, pliable, soft and reducible. They had a vast capacity for self-delusion, and a profound willingness to be complicit in it.

In the midst of research Kathy often felt the instinct to flee, to run away from everything, and to never return. Just as she had been abandoned by her parents, Kathy wanted to abandon the world.

She desperately wanted to be alone. She knew there was no being alone, death was merely a transition to another state of being. There was no escape in it.

In time intelligence operatives stopped visiting Kathy in person, they engaged her by proxy and through handlers.

They did not want to expose themselves to Kathy’s penetrating psychic insight. They took every measure they could to conceal their motives. They only wanted the answers to their questions, they did not want any reflection from Kathy about the projects they were working on, the reasons why they needed their questions asked.

They submitted questions in writing.

They used a long chain of couriers to deliver the contents of their inquiries.

Everyone who came in contact with her was watched.

Utilizing multiple degrees of separation proved to be a valuable tool. It eased the fears of the security establishment that Kathy would glean too much information from their agents and analysts if they were exposed to her directly.

They needed this buffer to make themselves feel more secure, though it could do little to prevent Kathy from getting the data she wanted concerning their projects, who was involved what the motivation was, if she was determined.

Kathy received her assignments, and in turn she in wrote papers giving details and context in response to the questions they submitted.

She deciphered code, ancient script, offered geopolitical analysis, identified covert agents, pointed out weaknesses in their own security.

Oftentimes she did not answer questions directly, she supported their work by helping them to ask better questions.

This frustrated her handlers at times, but Kathy was not being coy. They often brought questions to her that they already possessed the ability to answer. Kathy did not want to be responsible for a weakening of the intelligence and security apparatus, she wanted it to excel through her engagement with it. She wanted to assist her fellow agents by escalating them and the scope of their work to its full potential, to see it realized in her time, because for all the faults of humanity and her own government, she felt it difficult not to be patriotic, and she believed that the American institutions of democratic government, liberal and progressive government, in spite of all of its flaws, was the only hope the world had to lift itself out of the ages of endless conflict…and like any other human being, she wanted her work to matter.

Kathy journeyed inside herself, reliving lifetimes through her memories.

She experienced the lives of her ancestors in quantum time, which was not time at all, it was outside of time, a transcendent state of no-time.

In that mysterious space she communed with her ancestors and under their tutelage she mastered all of the disciplines she required to control her abilities, learning from them a way that allowed her to function in society.

She wanted to be a normal person, to experience normal things, to feel the weather, or human touch, to see the beauty of the world and of humanity, to listen to music and the sounds of the city, to smell flowers and food cooking, and the bodies of her lovers.

She wanted those things for herself, she wanted more than to simply relive them through her intimate connection to the past.

She developed austere habits and disciplines in order to possess muscle control, discernment and patience. She developed the ability to flesh out the memories she wandered in, to experience them for herself as if she were truly living them.

There was no path too remote for her to follow.

In her outward facing aspect she took up the plastic arts, drawing and painting, she sculpted. She took the time to recreate the visions of her ancestors, while capturing through various media, her own unique experience.

Of all the “normal” things that people occupied themselves with, the ordinary pleasantries and other little things that filled up a person’s days and nights, music was the most difficult thing for Kathy to endure.

There were new generations of performers emerging all the time. Every year brought new waves of artists writing songs, making hits. Vocal styles changed, tonal styles changed, the content of lyrics and the popularity of certain instruments changed, but they only changed within a narrow range.

The rhythm and the beats, the timing of the drums changed even less over time.

If Kathy was careless a melody could cause her to slip, without realizing it, into another lifetime. She would fall into her memories, slipping away from the present in ways that were dangerous to her

A beating drum told a hundred thousand stories; they spoke of the hunt and the harvest, of conflict and the march to war, of years toiling in servitude pushing through the field and pulling at the oar.

Kathy loved music, she would use it for all of those purposes, but paradoxically her susceptibility to its auto-hypnotic effects made it dangerous to her.

It was an area of weakness.

Her handlers knew this.

They had observed the effects of music and other sensory stimulants on her, they witnessed enough for them to see the patterns, learning enough about Kathy’s relationship to certain stimuli that they could use it to manipulate her.

When Kathy danced she moved without thinking.

Dancing was trance inducing. Kathy lost herself in the drums and rhythms. She abandoned time in movement, in the moments flowing from the present to past ages, reliving the steps of her ancestors, she felt their feelings, both their fears and their hopes for the future.

She ascended in the dance, and in the dance she could disengage from the present world, its psychic noise and that space the din of chaos of the world slipped away, her cares disappeared, and she was vulnerable.

Kathy experienced this same phenomenon in many ways, but what made dancing different was its active character; while dancing Kathy kept her feet in the real world and she did not succumb to the temptation to retreat into no-time.

She hovered in between the world of the present moment and the world of her ancestors, simultaneously connected to each. With her body in motion, she could not fully disengage from the world around her, and at the same instant she was connected to both the world of her memories and the collective consciousness that joined her to the entirety of humanity.

Dancing was freedom, it was the ultimate expression of who she was, of her uniqueness as a human being.

Kathy danced for the joy of it.

While music and the dance were transcendent experiences, eating was a necessity, and for Kathy it was a chore. There were many days when she wished she could dispense with her diet altogether.

The rituals of cooking, the textures of food, brought her to places she did not want to dwell in. Not that the memories were unpleasant, that was not necessarily so, but she could not avoid the nexus of memories those activities brought her to.

What bothered Kathy most about the task of eating was her lack of control. Flavors and odors haunted her, they hovered around, clinging to her like ghosts. Taste and smell could transport her instantly to past times and remote ages, placing her unbidden, into a kind fuge, one she should not escape from.

She found solace in the bland, comfort in modern processed foods, in foods that were completely new and entirely foreign to human experience.

She avoided mixing anything in a bowl, stirring a pot, engaging in knife work and butchery.

Even the smell of baking bread, so pleasing and comforting to almost every person in the world, even that was troublesome for Kathy.

Eating was a necessity.

Kathy consumed most of her calories like an astronaut, sucking it out of packages that did not require any processing.

Of all the foods and drinks she imbibed, the most pleasing thing to her was coffee.

Kathy’s handlers took exhaustive notes on every observable interaction Kathy had with the world around her, categorizing them in accordance with how she engaged her senses. It was her analytical abilities that were most useful to national security, but her sensory engagements were the key to managing their interactions with her.

After years of working with Kathy, her handlers came to have an appreciation of how dangerous it could be to interact with her directly.

She could penetrate the minds of anyone who came in contact with her. This happened without effort in regard to those people near her, either close to her emotionally, or proximate to her in space, the content of their thoughts might pass through her as if she were sifting fine particles from the air.

In spite of her generalized feelings of alienation from society, the empirical fact of her interconnectedness to other human beings spoke to her of belonging.

She was one with humanity as they were with her, the thought comforted her.

For the sake of safety they determined to engage her at a distance. The efforts they took in this regard had a positive impact on Kathy’s life. Everything about her circumstances was completely contrived, this much she knew, but the contrivances allowed her to live a semblance of a normal life, and she appreciated that.

A semblance was enough.

There were some in the security establishment who argued that she should be killed, that she was too dangerous to be let to live, that it was too costly to keep her in the world.

There were powers at the top of the hierarchy who would not hear these recommendations, they argued two things; first, that Kathy was the most prodigious problem solver and analyst the world had ever seen; and second, that they needed to study every aspect of her abilities so that they could document the full range of human potential.

Unbeknownst to most of the functionaries in the intelligence community there was another overarching reason that Kathy could not be harmed, and must be given every possible protection, and that had to do with Jim.

Kathy was placed in a small-private college, where she did research, and wrote.

She became an academic.

It was a comfortable environment, quaint and aesthetic.

Her work was recognized by other academics and this filled with pride. She enjoyed the esteem of her colleagues.

Her handlers thought that distance and noise were the keys to protecting their secrets, believing that the more people they placed between Kathy and themselves the more likely it would be that they could shield their intentions and motivations from her

They were wrong, there were few limits to Kathy’s abilities, excepting those she imposed on herself.

Out of an innate drive for self-preservation, Kathy developed the ability to ward off psychic intrusions. She built mental walls to ensure her privacy, to keep the thoughts and feelings of other people from seeping into her cognitive flow.

As her mastery over her powers grew she also had to be careful not to project her wishes and desires onto other people. No one knew it, not even one of her handlers suspected this, but she had the ability to control the thoughts of other people, to audit their memories, to make suggestions that they were powerless to refuse.

She had little interest in doing such things.

She wanted privacy more than to influence people, and the boundaries she established for herself were crucial to preserving her sense of identity.

Those defenses required constant mindfulness, a diligence that stole her energy, and so, in order to rest, she preferred to be alone.

Kathy was a recluse, being alone was not enough, she also had to be distracted, her senses needed to be stimulated all the time, or else she would slip into the nous sphere, drift in the cynergenic field, or find herself caught up in the labyrinth of her memories.

Kathy desired little more than to be present, to be helpful, to advance the causes she cared about; diplomacy, justice, care for the environment and the safeguarding of the human race, against its own worst impulses.

She was increasingly focused on the nation’s long range plans to establish a permanent human presence in space, on the moon and toward the outer planets.

Kathy dreamed of a life out among the stars, and in those dreams she encountered a thread that pulled at her consciousness just like the threads of her ancestral memories.

She heard a calling that awakened her to a sense of purpose, and with that purpose she was able to direct her energy toward the realization of her potential.

Kathy began to experience a degree of freedom she had never enjoyed before. She knew that it was entirely conditional. At all times her handlers wanted Kathy close to them, under strict observation, but they became more adept at hiding their presence.

The apparatus they built around her was an amazing thing to behold.

The National Security team assigned to her utilized a revolving network of spies to keep her under surveillance. Every agent was linked by satellite, it gave them the ability to track her comings and goings in real time and from a distance which they felt was sufficiently safe from her prying mind.

Those agents whose mission it was to keep their eyes on her had no idea who she was.

They were junior agents who came and went so quickly from their assignment, that following Kathy was generally viewed as a basic training exercise. Nevertheless, every observation they made was pushed up into the cloud and correlated with the vast data base that her handlers were building to track everything she said and did.

Kathy felt her autonomy increasing.

Every little bit of space they gave her, she took.

The assignments she was given came less and less frequently. She could see the patterns in their behaviors toward her. She knew that she was both indispensable and a matter of grave concern for the people at the top of the security apparatus.

In time, she even had some freedom to travel; when she did, she went to the places that her ancestors directed her to.

At that time in her life Kathy began to feel something strange and unfamiliar.

She felt as if she was being followed by someone, and she was used to being followed, but in these instances she was being followed by a man who was not connected to the agencies she worked with.

She developed this sense in the normal way, in the way that ordinary people might feel like there are eyes on them.

That in itself was extraordinary and foreign to her experience.

She was being watched, she was under observation, she was being followed; the sense of it did not come to her from the psychic antenna that always attenuated her to such things, and that was the strangest thing of all.

The man watching her left no impression whatsoever.

She began to recognize him on the street, she would see him out of the corner of her eye while she was walking, or in a line at the store buying groceries, at a café or a restaurant where she was eating or drinking.

His face evoked powerful memories, but the voices within her were silent in regard to him. They could not offer any details on the man.

His presence sat in her consciousness like a weight on a fishing line, holding steady in the water.

She knew there was a hook, but she could not discern it. She could not read him. Or develop a sense of him through the cynergenic field.

He was a mystery, and mysteries are universally enticing, but even more so to Kathy.

She went to her mailbox as she did every day, she would reach inside of it always hoping to find some correspondence from her parents, or a teacher that she had been fond of.

She occasionally did receive mail from a teacher or a colleague, or one of the few people she had been able to form a kind of friendship with. It always delighted her when she did.

She never received anything from her parents, not one word came from them since the day they had left her.

Personal mail from any source was rare.

On this particular day, when her fingers touched the envelope inside she became very excited. Kathy ignored the fact that the letter in her box was neither stamped nor metered.

Its arrival was completely unexpected, and this excited her.

There was a mystery in front of her, and she did not have a clue what it might lead to.

She peeled the envelope open, took out its contents and read it, by doing so, she found herself entering into a conspiracy.

She was happy to do it.

The script was written in an alphabet that no person, other than herself, could have known, in a language from another time and place entirely. It had no connection to the modern world. She had to stretch her mind in unexpected ways to even recognize the pattern. When she did she was astounded.

There was danger in this letter, the kind of danger she wanted to run to, not away from.

It was a simple greeting, with an archaic salutation, announcing the man’s desire to meet her.

She was faced with a puzzle like no other she had ever seen, and she lept it from her handlers.

Kathy was powerless to do anything but wait, and then…

The day began like any other.

It was Sunday.

Kathy woke up, did yoga, meditated.

She prepared her coffee, and a piece of toast for breakfast.

She was looking through her task list for the week, planning her research.

Then the phone rang.

Kathy had not had the slightest premonition of it.

The phone rang, and rang.

Kathy was somewhat startled and slightly paralyzed

She allowed the phone to continue ringing, thinking that it must be a wrong number, but the caller did not give up.

She suppressed a bubble of fear that rose within her. She faced it, telling herself that she was the most heavily guarded person in the world.

She was safe, she had nothing to fear.

She lifted the receiver from the cradle.

Kathy said, “Hello.”

The man who spoke to her; he spoke in a language that had been dead for millennia, there was no one else who even knew this language had existed, because the tribes who spoke it originally had never possessed an alphabet, it was not written anywhere in the world.

Kathy had no trouble understanding him. She knew this must be the person who had sent her the letter, inviting her into a strange cabal, confirming their conspiracy, here, right now, with this conversation.

It gave her a sense of belonging, like nothing she had ever done or felt before.

Her heart began to race and skip; for the first time since she was an infant, she was not alone, and yet, she was slightly disturbed by his presence on the other end of the line.

Kathy was nervous.

She was Giddy.

She had reflexively looked for answers to the question of who this mysterious man was, she had peered into her memories, she had sought contact with him through the cynergenic field.

She encountered a disturbing silence on all fronts.

Not only could she not reach him, she could not glean any information about him from any source.

That should have been impossible.

After her preliminary foray, she accepted the mystery for what it was, a gift, and she stopped looking for answers.

She was determined to move forward one step at a time, and to let the facts reveal themselves in the present moment whenever that came.

They agreed to meet at a café Kathy frequented, a busy place. Kathy felt secure in that choice, she did not want to draw attention to him, to put him in the cross hairs of her handlers.

Kathy liked crowds. She was comfortable in them.

The more people that she was surrounded by, the easier it was for her to allow the psychic chatter of each individual to blend together as background noise.

She felt safe in the cafe. It was a place where it was not unusual for strangers to sit together, as she was about to do with the strange man.

Kathy was all nervous energy in the hours before she went to meet him, but on seeing him approach her she immediately began to relax.

She knew that she had never met him, but there were echoes of him throughout the long chain of her inherited memories, not him exactly, but someone like him.

The voices within her were silent, however, and so her memories were just impressions of a shadow obscured by mystery.

She found her own myopia tantalizing.

Why this man, of all men, why was it that she could not summon her powers to glean anything about Him?

She asked herself.

It was intriguing, it caused her to want to learn more.

It was as if he had been present throughout her life, her entire past, but there was no point of intersection where her genetic line crossed his, she knew this because if it had, she would know him.

Despite the mystery, or perhaps because of it. Kathy found herself at ease with him.

His name was Jim.

The sound of his voice soothed her.

He used patterns of speech and inflection that leapt into her consciousness as if he were speaking from her ancestral place, but he wasn’t.

He shared her personal-historical perspective but he was not a part of the same continuum as she.

Her first contact with him was a dream come true for Kathy, she felt a sense of privacy with him that she had never felt before in anyone else’s presence.

The most significant thing about him was that she could not read his mind.

He was a man like none other she had ever met before.

It took Kathy several moments to get her bearings when she met Jim.

It was the first time she had ever encountered a human being that she could not take the measure of in an instant.

It left her feeling disoriented.

Kathy thought she had prepared herself for the unexpected, his knowledge of ancient languages alone informed her that she was going to encounter a unique individual, or perhaps another person like herself, making her not unique at all.

The thought warmed her.

It was not just his knowledge, knowledge was not the right word for what he possessed. He had an intimate familiarity with the things he knew, things which no-one on Earth could possibly know, his familiarity was akin to her own, he knew more than the meanings of characters and symbols of ancient languages, he knew how the speech sounded when it was spoken, something he could only know if he had been there, or if he was attuned to some part of himself who had been there, as Kathy was.

Through her encounter with Jim, and the relationship that ensued Kathy understood her own uniqueness in a new light. She was fascinated by him, and could understand how others would be fascinated with her, she could appreciate their esteem in a way she had not allowed herself to look at before.

It took her several moments to adjust to this new reality. She was uncertain as to why she had believed that being in close proximity to him would change anything.

Distance and proximity had never been factors in her ability to reach another mind before.

Jim was closed to her, she found both maddening and liberating at one-in-the-same-time.

All she wanted to do was to be absorbed by him, to lose herself in him, as everyone she had ever gone to bed with had been lost in her.

For the very first time she felt a longing that was not rooted in loneliness and isolation.

She felt as if she were a distinct person, distinct from him and she felt desire for him.

Kathy looked forward to every meeting she had with Jim. It both excited her, and made her feel a deep sense of trepidation.

She imagined that at any time her handlers from the Agency would come to put a stop to this affair, to interrogate her and ask her endless questions about who he was, how he appeared in her life, what his motivations were.

She knew that they would be disturbed if she were to tell them that she did not know the answers to those questions.

Being with Jim gave Kathy a feeling that she had never experienced before; peace and comfort.
She felt understood

She was like a child with her father. He was older, wiser. His age was in fact unfathomable to her.

He never asked her to use her abilities, to explain things, to read minds, to solve problems, to perform her tricks. This differentiated him from every other person she had ever met, other than her biological parents, and for that she loved him.

Uncharacteristically of her, Kathy wanted to perform for him, show off her skills, demonstrate her intelligence, to show him who she was, and that she represented the apex of human potential, something she did not really believe, or want to believe but that she knew other people believed it of her.

She wanted Jim to believe it, to believe she was special.

As she rested against the stillness of his mind, and took comfort in his utterly opaque thoughts, she knew that he was an anomaly, like her but different. He was an ancient person, perhaps even an, and yet nevertheless human, human in the full sense of the term.

She loved him without question.
Emergence 5.0

Part Six – Kathy

A Novel in Twelve Chapters

#Emergence #ShortFiction #12MonthsOfSciFi

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six; The Empire

Chapters Thirty-six through Forty-two

 

Servant

Bureaucrat

General

Priest

Faith

Tradition

Fear

 

 

Chapter Thirty-six, Servant
Over time every civilization founded by the children of the Ancients was absorbed by the Empire. Either they came willingly or they came by coercion, or they were destroyed.
Imperial governance was uncompromising.
The Empire ruled with power and fear, crushing the people, pitting them against one another; class versus class, rank over station.
The people were oppressed at every moment of their lives.
The Empire put stars systems into conflict with one another, and the worlds within a given system at odds with each other. It was planet versus planet, clan versus clan, and family versus family.
The Empire sought to control every aspect of the individual’s life; from how may grains of food they ate in day and their measure of water, down to what they thought.
Everything they did was for the sake of the drama it produced, which ultimately fed the Collective.
The interpersonal dramas comprised of conflict and strife, hope and fear, love and desire, these were the things the Collective craved, the Continuum cultivated, and the Empire delivered, like a sacred offering on a holy altar, consumed in blood and fire.
Every moment of an individual’s life was recorded and preserved for the consumption of the Collective.
The citizens of the Empire knew they were being watched, but they did not know the details or the full extent of the scrutiny they were subject too. Only the Observers knew the scope of the information that was collected, and even then, they did not know the whole of it.
There was no freedom in the Empire, even among those who believed they were free.
Throughout the Empire, dissent of any kind was punished with brutish joy.
The Imperial Police delighted in torture. They developed their cravings for it in the Imperial Schools, where the slightest infractions were punished without mercy, and the record of a person’s transgressions followed them for the whole of their lives.
The Imperial Cult taught the same thing; transcendence through pain, they taught that suffering was purgative and they perfected all of its arts.
Every citizen bore the marks of their upbringing with them, scars inflicted by family, church and school, both the visible and invisible, all of the pain and rage which they were conditioned to suppress.
The extreme emotions produced by the citizens of the Empire were like ambrosia for the Collective, it glossed over the sheer banality of their disembodied state, scenes of their suffering fed the appetites of the Collective and fueled the Continuum.
The Collective would become intoxicated on fear and pain, on remorse, on the dashed hopes and failures of the ordinary citizens. The Continuum used those appetites to control the membership.
In the living fields of the Empire, a charge of dissent was not limited to aberrant behavior, to the things an individual might do or fail to do. The Empire also policed speech, art, and every form of expression was subject to their control.
It claimed to do so for the sake of security, for the safety of the people.
It demanded conformity from the citizens at every level, as if it were orchestrating a great dance throughout the cosmos, with each and every individual playing a vital role.
That is what they taught it in the schools and at the temples, they enforced each person’s obligation through years of indoctrination.
No infraction was too small to go unaddressed.
The imperial conditioning attempted to govern thought as well, but monitoring the thoughts of individuals was a trickier proposition, The Continuum never wanted to reveal the extent to which the people were monitored, but it collected the innermost ideas of each individual through rituals they passed off as magical and supernatural.
For the average citizen, living under the heel of the Imperial police was a constant struggle, they had to perform their daily duties with a sublime degree of mindfulness and pass their days without drawing the attention of the patrols.
The schools they attended and their houses of worship inured them to it. The lessons they were given, taught them to accept their suffering as a part of the natural order, as links in the great chain of being, a chain which the inextricably were bound by, belonged to.
The way of life was to go unnoticed, to blend in, to repress everything; these were the keys to survival.
A family might cultivate these skills and live unremarkable lives for generations, only to be cast down by the powers that be, for the sheer pleasure of it.
A random patrol might decide of its own volition to focus its attention on a person or family, and once they did the Collective would delight in watching them crumble.
The state would take everything, up to and including their lives.
It might be a random event, or it could emanate from the Continuum issuing a directive, passing it down through the hierarchy to exploit a narrative it believed the Collective would enjoy.
The people who suffered under these pogroms were taught to interpret all such events as karma, either the fulfillment of a cosmic and spiritual debt, or payment in advance for an indulgence they might receive in the next life.
Everything was transactional, including the spirituality of the Imperial Cult.
The Imperial Schools and the Temple both taught the people that every action they committed and every word they spoke mattered. The value of their words and deeds was recorded and they would be punished or rewarded, either in this life or the next for the things they said and did.
There was no mercy.
Apart from the upper classes: the nobility, the religious orders and the military, the lives of ordinary people throughout the empire were sorrowful, trillions of people, on millions of worlds suffered.
They were depressed.
The military orders made up barely ten percent of the population, and the religious orders barely one.
Among the ordinary people there were high level bureaucrats and merchants who lived lives of comfort, and this gave them some ease, but the highest of them were viewed as lesser beings, lower than the lowest soldier.
The classes were fixed.
Most were angry, without hope, desperate and alone.
Even those in the upper hierarchies spent their days filled with dread, competing for place and prestige, searching for the esteem of their superiors and always uncertain of when they might be called upon to sacrifice, or called upon to pay a karmic debt that some distant ancestor had incurred.
Competition among them was vicious.
The only group of people who reflected an image of peace, were those at the very bottom of the caste system, those who had nothing to lose, who had no hope of changing their station in this life, those without class or caste…the outcaste and the untouchable.
For all of the wonders of the Empire, for all of its technological marvels, and the physical beauty of the people, the pal of death hung over the entire civilization.
It was the end that each and every person looked forward to, death, the hope that in the next life they would have been able to advance to a place they were not able to reach in the course of their current life. They hoped for justice, for a redress to their suffering in the next world, believing that it was impossible to have satisfaction in this one.
El was a media darling, before he developed a conscience.
Even in his youth, when he was a part of the rebellion and a terrorist, the press loved him and loved covering him.
Of course they vilified him, but only because they had to. It was in the script.
El was the enemy, but the people were fascinated by him, they followed his every move, and not just the people of his home planet, his story was covered throughout the Empire.
His daring and his heroism drove ratings.
The Continuum had its own interest in his story, carefully managing it and the Collective loved the narratives that sprang from his life.
In his youth El’s motivation was anger not altruism. He manifested a hatred for the Empire, for its schools, for the Imperial Cult, a hatred he carried deep in his heart.
He had no desire to save anyone from anything, he only preserved people insofar as it met his starkly utilitarian view of his mission and his destiny.
He was uncompromising.
He needed soldiers, he needed people who would die for his cause, and the cause was to destroy.
In his youth El was fighting for himself, against himself, and he was a brilliant tactician.
The Continuum plotted his Demise.
The Empire would not destroy his rebellion with military might, it could have. Instead, the Continuum introduced a romantic interest to do the work, a woman he could not ignore.
As he learned to love, he turned his attention to the plight of the people.
This was his undoing.
He became a hostage to compassion.
The Imperial Powers built him up, they reveled in his celebrity. They broadcast his story in every corner of the Empire.
He was the ultimate propaganda tool; the brilliant rebel, the unfailing hero, the victor of a thousand engagements, the man who could endure anything.
He did endure everything.
They took their time with him, and charted the limits of human suffering. Then they took him down, crushing him absolutely.
He became a sacrifice for the Empire, his blood on the altar of the state, a burnt offering, a holocaust, he was the the sacred victim.
The things he suffered went beyond physical pain.
They drove him to the brink of madness.
They put the people he loved the most into the grinder ahead of him, forcing him to watch while the machinery of the torture chambers reduced them to bloody-ruin.
He would not betray them, and in turn he was betrayed by each of them.
The people loved him for it.
The prayers of the faithful in every temple throughout the Empire resounded with calls to free him or kill him, to bring an end to his suffering.
The Temples echoed with his name, day and night, he was the victurstar.
In that moment, the moment when he lost everything, when he was forced to watch the Imperial torturers grinding the life from the few people he held dear, it was only then that he began to doubt his commitment to his ideals.
He felt a deep sense of shame for having brought so many loyal people to death and misery.
What had he been fighting for if not for them?
In that transcendent moment he questioned everything.
El converted.
He understood that the revolutionary quest he and his people had been on was always destined to fail, all of his victories in battle were nothing more than vanities.
As they lit his flesh on fire and his body began to burn, he did not give into pain but he relented, he saw the errors of the path he had taken, and he silently begged for forgiveness.
The Continuum perceived his thoughts, reading his body language and the movement of his lips.
The Continuum knew everything.
It transmitted everything that was transpiring directly into the Collective, where the majority of the members were absorbed with his narrative, his story had been the most engrossing that any of them had witnessed in ages.
The Empire broadcast the execution as a live stream throughout the million worlds.
Time itself seemed to stop as the rebel leader’s body burned in a splendid fountain of light and color.
The medical examiners came in to look at the charred remains, to examine them and confirm his death, and then a miracle happened.
The Continuum restored the rebel to life, putting a doppleganger in place of the desiccated husk, the type of body used by the Observers, only modified and enhanced, it wanted him to remain in service, as an idol, as a superstar for the ages.
And the Continuum wanted something more, a host to carry his consciousness through the experiential fields of the living.

Chapter Thirty-seven, Bureaucrat
El became an icon of hope for the ordinary citizen.
His was an example of a life rewarded after an ordeal of incredible suffering.
He was a symbol of re-birth, of clemency and mercy.
His former compatriots in the rebel movements were stunned by the turnaround, bewildered by his supernatural return.
Some called the whole drama a charade and renewed their commitment to fight against the Empire, others, in the spirit of hope, gave up their rebellion, desiring to follow the man who had been their greatest leader wherever he went.
He was the gatekeeper.
Wherever he went, the people experienced his presence as nourishing, it sustained them.
The Continuum followed every story-line coming from El’s reincarnation, passing on the drama and excitement of the sudden shifts in alignment, allegiance and circumstance to the Collective.
Rebellion would never go away.
The Continuum had no desire to crush it, and therefore the Empire had to allow it to persist, despite the fact that they had the power and the technological sophistication to root it out.
The narrative of revolution remained as riveting as ever for its primary audience.
New stories emerged, the stories of rebel soldiers, rebel families and rebel clans, turning piously toward the Empire, seeking forgiveness in the hope that they too could be forgiven and reborn, but they were not always welcomed, not always forgiven, they suffered at the hands of their persecutors, just as their leader had before them.
El’s was celebrated by the Empire, and the Collective. He was elevated to the position of a bureaucrat, given a purpose, in keeping with the ideology of being that was promulgated through the Imperials Schools and the Imperial Cult.
Even though he was just a desk jockey, his daily life was viewed by his adoring fans with fascination.
His comportment was flawless.
El fulfilled the expectations of his station with immaculate precision, moving from the lowest order, into a position of authority.
He was beset with challenges, each one a test of his poise and wisdom.
His rise in the bureaucracy was not free from conflict.
He encountered many people who saw him as a threat to their place in the hierarchy. His immediate supervisors chaffed, both at his abilities and in the favors he received from the people they themselves reported to.
He could not be promoted without climbing over them, which meant that they could not advance while he worked under their supervision, their own careers would be stagnant.
To the mid-level bureaucrats, his presence was a source of fear and concern, they could not feel secure or safe in their position with him in proximity to them,
His supervisors took one of two approaches, they either tried to swamp him with work and sabotage his standing or they quickly learned the trick of complicity and promoted him.
El was far too aware for their efforts at sabotage to work, and he was tireless.
He seemed to be able to learn any task instantly, and then excel at it.
On reflection he knew that his return to life had changed him. He had always been bright, an exceptional student, but in his new state of being he seemed to possess abilities that bordered on the mystical.
He would not leave his desk until he had it cleared. Sometimes staying in his office for days at a time.
He thought nothing of benefitting from it for himself, he tried his best to hide his skills in a cloak of pious humility..
He had no life to return to, no family, everyone he had ever loved was dead. His quarters were just a place to sleep and eat. He had no connection to anything but his present state.
When he gave in to the Empire, he gave in completely, hold nothing in reserve for himself.
He was their servant.
He would do whatever was asked of him.
He found a kind of peace in that, and a sense of belonging.
From doorman to receptionist, from receptionist to stenographer, his celebrity put him in demand.
El was just a pencil-pusher, but everyone wanted to be seen with him, to emulate him.
Bringing him into an office meant exposure and fame for the bosses around him.
Some of those who sought to benefit from their association with him saw their star rise on account of that relationship, others were cast down, sometimes catastrophically.
There was no discernable pattern.
He rose up through the hierarchy with mindfulness, carrying with him the lessons he learned from his years in the rebellion, and the years of torture in prison that followed.
Trust no-one, suspect everything, be diligent above all else.
His thoroughness and attention to detail saved him time and time again, it revealed who in his circle was genuinely trying to help him, and which of them were looking toward his downfall.
In his capacity as a stenographer he learned the tiniest details of government. He took memos, he recoded meetings, he was a witness to the bureaucracy on a level that sometimes left him with feelings of vertigo.
The Empire was vast, both in terms of the space it occupied and the minutia that governed it,
The macro-verse and the micro-verse, he was comfortable in both.
Everyone serving in the bureaucracy underwent periodic reviews. Merits and demerits flowed from there, along with bonuses and penalties, raises and promotions.
Without fail, when his yearly review came, he was raised up, given more responsibility, more accountability and more freedom.
He relished it.
He had no thought of using those things for his own benefit, he only desired the accolades, the recognition of his achievements.
El took pride in his accomplishments, even as a file-clerk.
He used the resources he acquired to make a difference in the lives of his neighbors. He let his advantages flow from himself to others, keeping very little for himself.
The small steps he had taken away from the street made a vast difference in his lifestyle. He had access to new foods, fresh foods and even intoxicants.
The work he put into advancing his place in the world began to take the shape of altruism.
His success mattered to himself and those who lived in closest proximity to him.
He continued to look beyond his station, toward a life of ease and comfort.
He was offered the hand of dozens of girls in marriage, girls from families he had helped, who wanted to tie their fate to his.
He had already watched the only woman he had ever loved be tortured to death, and he did not want to love any other.
He refused them.
He did not accept their offers, but he was often tempted to take advantage of his status, to fall into the delights of the flesh.
He forewent the offers of romantic entanglement that came to him from the women in his work place, or his tenement, preferring to keep his eyes focused on the next opportunity for advancement.
He exercised his sexual proclivities lawfully, with women who were professionals in the trade.
The Empire required and relied on bureaucratic controls. It governed the movement and aspirations of trillions of people through their manipulation. It managed every aspect of the lives of the people, slowing some down while creating lanes of opportunity for others.
The Empire established paths of predictability for the vast majority of its citizens, and used the byzantine structures of the bureaucracy to exercise its capriciousness as it desired.
The Empire utilized monitoring at every conceivable level of the social order. It monitored the movements and behaviors of its citizens for economic purposes, for security purposes, for historical and religious purposes.
It monitored their behaviors on levels that few people outside of the Collective suspected, because it monitored them for the benefit of the Collective and the Continuum alone.
There was no such thing as privacy in the Empire.
Every citizen was the property of the state. Their entire lives were meant to be organized as a gift, as offerings to the Gods, this is what they learned in school, and that is what was beat into them through the ritual conditioning of the Imperial Cult.
The individual person was merely a link in the great chain of being.
In time he rose to a position in which he reported and analyzed a wide range of human activities and behaviors, especially among those rebel groups that he had once been a member of.
He became aware of how futile his life had been.
The Empire knew everything, had always known everything about him.
He had only ever been a blip on their list of concerns, and he had sacrificed everything and everyone he loved, to serve his vain pretensions.
His duties were to observe, report and ensure that the work of government was carried out efficiently.
It was Quality Assurance, and he was an overseer.
The Empire provided service to a million worlds.
There was food distribution, medicine, the military, the Imperial Schools, and more important than any other institution, the Imperial Cult to attend to.
At no time did he ever drop his diligent attention to detail, not for a moment.
El oversaw the complex allocation of material resources designated as gifts to the gods. This was a process without end, an unceasing harvest of energy, of ore and silicates sent in vessels piloted by AI to the Central Planet, to the home of the Gods, the home of the Continuum and the Collective.
He was tireless, when he was in the flow of the work he experienced a sense of transcendence.
His life was completely bent on fulfilling every policy, to the letter.
In his former life he cared for the miners and the planet harvesters, people who lived their entire working lives in space, crushing asteroids, breaking up planets and their satellites, smelting ore and separating the elements.
They lived short lives, they were prisoners and outcasts coming from every station.
Now El spent their lives as easily as he would spend credits on his dinner. He let go of all his former closely held morality, a sense of right and wrong which had propelled him into his life as a revolutionary
He abandoned it in service to the Empire.
He became a living reminder to his peers regarding the necessity of protocol.
He was a supervisor, in time he became a chief administrator.
His tenure in the bureaucracy had spanned a length of time that seemed impossible, spending years at every position while advancing through the circuit of offices.
He was not a young man when he was restored to life by the miracle of the Continuum.
He was an Octogenarian now, though, he appeared to be a man in his prime.
Those who had been following his career began to realize that he was extremely old compared to the average citizen.
The average citizen who followed his life story had been living with it for most, if not all of their lives, and his story was still fascinating to them.
He was a paragon of virtue.
He had made a personal spiritual journey that was marked by the stations in society that he had transited, going outcast and rebel, from condemned prisoner to the highest places in the Imperial Administration.
This was noted as more than a curiosity by other administrators at his level, and though he was universally admired, he was also the subject of vicious jealousy
He had made a journey in the space of one lifetime (perhaps two), that the Imperial Cult taught the people it would take hundreds of lives and reincarnations to complete.
When there was no place left for him to ascend to, the Empire ordered him to be drafted into military service, marking a second change in his caste and station.
It was another miracle for the people to behold.

Chapter Thirty-eight, General
In the post of an agency chief El enjoyed a life of luxury well beyond the grasp of the ordinary plebian, and though the demands on his time had lessened, he filled his days with attention to duty, examining and reexamining the reports he was fed from those beneath him in the administration.
He was old, though he did not feel it, and he thought this would be the pattern for the rest of his life.
He believed that he had finally arrived at a place where he could use his influence, and management to improve the lives of the people; there food supply, their access to clean water, and medicine, leisure time and rest.
El was transforming the world he managed into a haven of tranquility.
He was wrong.
In his tenth year as Planetary Secretary, he received orders to report to a military entrance processing station. The Empire ordered him to service, taking away his hope for a better world.
His people reacted with a mixture of dismay and veneration.
He did not balk, or look back.
He resigned his office without fanfare or ceremony.
He had no family to say goodbye to.
He was ninety years old.
He became a foot soldier, entering a new way of life.
He received the blessing of the Temple, and once again his elevation to a higher class and different caste was met with awe by the audience who followed his story.
Then he went to war.
He served in the infantry with distinction. El was a brilliant combat engineer, as fearless as he was tireless.
He risked everything for his comrades, putting their safety and security above his own, falling back on the instinct and experience that had made him the greatest rebel commander in memory. Now he turned his guns on rebels throughout the Empire. He was relentless when called to be, and merciful when he could be. After one year in combat they pulled him off the line, the Collective loved his heroism, but feared for his life. They did not want to see him lose it in hand to hand combat.
El was a shining star, but displayed too much gallantry. This put him at odds with his fellows, it unnerved the Collective.
There were too many moments in which he hesitated in combat, giving his opponent a chance to surrender before the kill.
Those watching him often experienced these moments as judgement on them.
He volunteered for every mission. Sometimes entering two or three engagements in a single week.
When he was wounded he went to hospital, got sewn up and returned the next day for duty.
His life was now the armed forces.
As old as he was, he looked forward to ending it there.
El pursed his duties like he had in the bureaucracy. He was single minded and focused, determined to set an example for everyone he served with, to his commanders and to all of the people he knew were watching his life through the Imperial networks.
He believed that his life had been spared for a reason, and he had been blessed with longevity so that he could fulfill it.
If the Gods wanted him dead they would take him. If they wanted him alive they would spare him.
He thought nothing of it.
When the command pulled him off the line, they raised him in rank and made him a yeoman.
This was a bitter disappointment to El.
El’s former life in the bureaucracy could not be considered as real experience or earn him a promotion as a yeoman because it was experience from a lower caste, it meant nothing to the military command.
Nevertheless, serving in the bureaucracy prepared him for the work in front of him, and he came to it as a celebrated war hero, decorated and wildly popular with the media, he was able to implement processes that streamlined the way records were kept, transferred, accessed and compiled.
El had reveled in the exploits of the infantry, the comradeship, but he did not resent the break or the rest. He had not enjoyed the killing, or watching his fellows die.
His audience, both in the Empire and in the Collective, grew tired of watching him shuffle papers again. Having seen him as a soldier and a hero, the Collective was not satisfied with his return to normalcy, and the Continuum was eager to push his experience and the narrative it produced to new places.
They wanted more from him.
He went back to wars as a medic, the most dangerous of all professions in the military.
He studied for it.
He trained with the same zeal he brought to all of his endeavors.
He took his oath, dedicating himself to the preservation of life. He took it seriously, and he risked his own life time and time again, suffering serious injuries to recover the fallen, whether they were soldiers of the Empire, or rebels.
Everyone was a citizen he told himself, belonging together as conjoined links in the great chain of being, and he was there for them, for each of them. Like himself, every rebel had a story to tell and every one of them could be redeemed.
As a rebel, and a soldier he had mastered his feelings of fear. He set fear aside and treated it like a curiosity. Fear was nothing more than an itch in the mind, it was a tickle that could easily be ignored.
While a prisoner under torture fear vanished from him altogether. Even pain became an experience that measured as near to nothing. Only life mattered, the preservation of it, the risking of it, or the elimination of it, whatever was called for in the moment.
He answered the call of duty dispassionately.
As a medic El never shrank from danger. He ran to the aid of the fallen, crawling to them if he had to. He did whatever he could while his limbs could propel him.
He was a paragon of virtue.
His audience loved him, they worshipped his willingness to sacrifice himself for the sake of his comrades.
The command rewarded him time and time again, holding him in the highest esteem, and they continued to decorate him, engagement after engagement, wound after wound.
It propelled him to glory, but it also awakened him to the suffering of others.
He did not shrink from opportunities to be merciful to the enemy.
This set a poor example in the minds of his superiors, but the Collective loved it.
After he had completed a thousand missions, and Continuum was satisfied that they had squeezed every last thing out of his current story ark. They promoted him to the rank of officer, gave him a commission as a member of the cavalry.
He returned once again to training, learning the complex controls of the war machines, he became a pilot.
In the cavalry El mastered every type of combat craft; land, sea, air and space. It was another long period of arduous training. He spent years of his life learning all the technical details of the equipment he operated, their munitions, how to repair them, maneuver them and use them for deadly effect.
He became a weapons master of the first order, an Equestrian, a knight.
His experience as a master of cavalry combined with his years of experience in the infantry; both as a combat engineer and as a medic, made him the most highly trained member of the armed forces there had ever been.
The ease with which he learned the controls, and the rapidity in which his skills developed into something like artistry was shocking to his trainers, they had never seen anything like it before.
Their observations substantiated the myths that were constantly perpetuated about him.
People believed he was descended from the gods, a child of the gods, the believed that he had come back to the Empire from the Continuum, to live with them, to observe them, to share their pain.
His comrades worshipped him like a god as well, whether they believed in his divinity or not. They wanted nothing more than to fly missions with him and watch him fight.
El loved flying, being at the controls of the greatest vehicles that had ever been constructed.
He loved flying in the quiet of space, he loved to watch the silent explosion of energy weapons and the quick fires bursting from breached hulls in the vacuum of space, he loved the beauty of the bright lights and flashing colors.
Those moments were freeing, they gave him pause to contemplate his extraordinarily long-life.
He retired from combat as the Empires greatest Ace; living or dead.
He had been deployed in countless engagements, on thousands of worlds.
He was a suppressor of conflict.
His heroic image was brighter than a star going nova.
Rebel squadrons would surrender when they knew he was in the field.
He was a harbinger of victory.
Cults of worship formed around him.
Even past the age of one hundred years, he maintained the strength and vigor of a man in his prime. This was interpreted as evidence of his divinity.
Many of his superiors were jealous, and some of his contemporaries as well. The jealous wanted to eliminate him, which was a part of the reason he saw so much combat.
The conservatives simply wanted to return him to the bureaucracy, to take the limelight away from him and groom him for command
They pulled El from combat and made him an aide de camp.
They told him that with his experience, in this new position he would be able to actualize the full range of his talents in service to the Empire.
While this was less entertaining for the Collective, the Continuum saw the potential for an even greater narrative to manifest itself through the exploitation of his unique position.
Together they were creating the greatest single story the Collective had ever absorbed, and it was the only narrative running that could compete for the attention of the membership with the drama and intrigue that flowed from the planet Earth.
When El was elevated to the Imperial Command, the whispering about him among the worlds of the Empire became harder to ignore. People began to truly believe the rumors that he was of the Continuum, that he was a divine being, an angelic messenger, a scion of the gods, those rumors became more and more concretized in the minds of the people, until they became an actual part of his narrative.
His promotion to Field Marshall precipitated chaos in the Imperial Cult, in the centers of command, and in the royal court.
El thought nothing of those whispers, he acted as if he could not hear them.
He followed orders.
When he was in command, he followed protocol.
In everything he did he allowed himself to be governed by others.
He accepted his position in life, rising to the challenges set before him.
It was as if he were a party to his life, merely an observer of it.
As a general he became the greatest peacemaker the Empire had ever seen.
He resolved conflicts merely by showing up.
Abuses of power, matters that had been routine in the years before he took command of the Imperial Armies, they all but disappeared.
He was temperate.
He was just.
And his story began to lose its luster.

Chapter Thirty-nine, Priest
El had been an outsider since the moment he rejected the Empire and entered the rebellion.
The general staff was elated when they were informed that he was ordered to leave military service and enter the priest hood. Regardless of the fact that this was yet again, another transcendent movement for him between the castes.
They had spent their entire lives in his orbit, and they were eager to be free of him.
The Imperial Cult reached down and pulled him up.
It was another unprecedented event for the entire Empire to celebrate; his rise from the status of a rebel and outcast, to the most exalted class of being; a Priest of the Imperium.
El’s followers throughout the Empire grew by an order of magnitude.
Once again, he started on the lowest rung of the religious orders.
He was an oblate.
He was given the mark of humility, tonsured as any beginner would be.
In his new position, he had more rank than all of the generals with whom he had formerly served, though less power.
His home planet became a place of pilgrimage
And though he had experienced a life of opulence as a Field Marshall and as a chief administrator, the world that the priestly caste dwelt in was different by an order of magnitude.
The luxuries were understated, they were simple, even for the priest at the lowest level, there was not even a hint of want or need.
It was required that he take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
These vows were virtually meaningless in the context of the wealth he was surrounded by and had access to, regardless of whether he owned that wealth or not.
Simple and abundant, food and drink were everywhere, the finest of everything.
Every novice was required to take the vows, but depending on the track they were on the vows were not necessarily for life.
After the age of maturity, after their time of training and education, after a period of service as an acolyte most members of the priestly caste would return to their home worlds to support their families and their dynastic ambitions.
Some would remain in service, a few others would join the austere contemplative societies where they would continue to live selflessly in service to the Continuum and the Collective which they aspired to
El entered the sacred order without any thought for himself or his future.
He had no family to return to. He was alone, independent, with no thought whatsoever of his safety or security in his new role as a priest.
He accepted it like he had accepted everything he had been asked to do since his resurrection.
El was initiated into the mysteries and his eyes were opened.
He became, once again, a servant. It was a position of familiarity and comfort.El preferred the regulated life.
He was the oldest novice ever to be tonsured.
He was wise and he was quiescent. He facilitated rather than competing with the ambitions of his peers.
As with every other aspect of Imperial life, the priesthood was divided, first by gender, and then into classes.
There was no escaping these divisions.
Men and women each had their province of control and influence, and yet women were always subject to men.
There were two basic divisions within the priesthood. There were the officiants of the sacred rites, and there were the holy orders, forming the service societies and contemplative sects.
As with every other strata of the Empire, whoever you were, wherever you went, you knew your rank, and you were bound by protocol in relation to it.
Every member of the priestly class had some choice as to what path they wanted to pursue, though in reality most people were governed by the needs and desires of their families.
The vast majority of priestly power resided in its bureaucracy, the management of its land holdings and the officiation of the temple rites, to which every citizen of the Empire was bound.
When faced with the choice of which path he wanted his career to follow, El went deep, as was characteristic of him. He became a brother and followed the contemplative sects into the paths of mystery, austerity, and aesthetics.
He wanted to do more than officiate rituals or manage a temple, he wanted to discover the meaning of existence.
He felt that at long last he would find a place of peace where he could age, and end his days in quiet.
He was always a conformist at heart. That was the secret to his success in leadership, though he did not know it.
Leaders conform to the expectations of their followers, they are shaped by them, their ability to represent those expectations is why they are trusted.
We find among the greatest leaders those who have the most felt need to belong.
From his youth in the rebellion, during his years in the resistance pursuing his quest for justice; El was obedient, a follower, not always of people but to the multitudes and their ideals.
He had been the unparalleled leader. His commitment to deliver what the people desired and expected of him, what they expected of the Empire, and of the faith, this drove people to him.
He was a follower of ideals. He did not give the people a voice, he was their voice.
When he spoke from the heart, it resonated in theirs, because their feelings and desires were one and the same.
In relation to his principles he was relentless, unquestioning. His ideals were like pillars made of diamond, as clear as daylight and as solid as foundation of a world.
He never wavered, and that is why he succeeded when he was returned to life, when he ended his rebellion and went into service for the Empire.
The role he played was different, it was different on an order of magnitude, but he followed it with the same simple conviction.
El believed in his heart that the fate of the people, of trillions of people rested on the proper function of government, and that peace and prosperity would follow for everyone if each and every person obeyed its dictates.
Then he met a woman, a Sister and he fell in love.
While he would have preferred to remain in the holy orders of the contemplatives, that was an impossibility.
His following stretched across the million worlds of the Empire. The people clamored for news of him, in its absence they wove stories and legends of their own.
After years of servitude and study, he was initiated into the mysteries, and ordained into the order of the priesthood.
He became an officiant of the sacred rites.
The temples he served in were overflowing with people, people who would spend years on pilgrimages to receive his blessing.
El was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues, all of whom were eager to trade on his fame.
Every day he carefully reenacted the rituals and repeated the sacred chants, which the people were taught would carry them to eternal life. He reenacted the rituals for himself and on behalf of others who believed that they would open the gates of the Continuum to their dead and dying loved ones.
The Imperial Cult sent him on his own pilgrimage, he visited thousands of worlds.
El handpicked the coterie who attended him.
The loving sister went with him everywhere he travelled.
They stole time together in the quiet moments of the evening, in the deep of space, on the trek between worlds. He told her stories of his youth, and the rebellion, of his service as a soldier, of the sacred moment when he had been returned to life.
Her name was Imogene, she was from an exalted family, jaded and skeptical of all the sacred rites, as most of the priestly class were, but she was not skeptical about him.
They were passionate for each other, they were loving and kind.
His affair with the Sister was illicit, but he loved her, and she loved him.
When he looked at her he could not tell the difference from the one woman he had loved more than any other, his rebel wife, a hundred years past, she was her twin, separated only by time and distance, class and caste.
Imogene never cared a bit for the rules that bound her ancient house. Like most members of the ruling families in the priestly caste, she was a nihilist.
While he cared only for her.
They had both sworn vows of chastity, vows which she believed were meaningless long before she took them, knowing they were not binding, having been given proof of that when she was seduced by the officiant who presided over her initiation.
Such vows, as far as she was concerned, were for appearances only, and were only meant to be a tool for the governance of those on the lower rungs of the social order.
A death sentence could be served for such violations of the rites. Those few people who had been convicted of those crimes were actually being punished for other reasons, for political concerns.
As a novice she celebrated such executions with carnal delights, reveling in the slaughter of illicit lovers.
His willingness to break those vows, and the anguish it caused him, captivated his audience in the Collective.
It was out of character, it was unpredictable. There was a great potential risk to both him and her.
The Continuum ensured it would continue.
His followers multiplied.
With the blessing of the Collective, and by the favor of Continuum, he had advanced in rank among the religious orders, and in the hierarchy of the priesthood.
He had advanced despite his carnal crimes or because of them, he would never know.
It was a favorable development in the narrative of his life.
As far as the Collective was concerned, during his time in the priesthood his story had begun to tire, this was not dissimilar to his tenure as an administrator when he served in the armed forces.
Now in the context of his romance, thousands of intriguing dramas sprang up in relation to him.
Throughout the Empire millions of El’s followers took to extremes to demonstrate their love, and faith in him.
Planetary rebellion sprang to an all new high since the time he left military service, and now Revolutionary movements were being carried out in his name, and rebel forces now included former members of the military caste who wanted to see him elevated to the Imperial throne.
The details of these conflicts were not reported to him, he was aware of them and did what he could from his position in the priesthood to quell those conflicts, but he was no longer a general and therefore his influence was limited..
He was a monk and a priest and he was in love, engaged with a member of a royal house in a passionate affair.
He did not want to be bothered with the responsibility to resolve those conflicts.
His thoughts were only for Imogene.
The Continuum loved the intrigue of his cover-ups.
They made him a bishop, and overseer of the flock, and then a Cardinal, in order to free his time, to give him the space to develop his relationship and sink deeper into his desires.
The masses, knowing nothing of his transgressions, adored him even more.
They made him Abba, the head of the most exalted religious order, the most secretive and the most influential, they positioned him as the head of the Imperial Temple, answerable only to the Emperor himself.
El was fully actualized, he had become the most powerful figure in the Empire that the Empire had ever known.

Chapter Forty, Faith
El was born into a family of plebians, free citizens, but in reality they were servants of the Empire, as every citizen was, he was born in full-bondage to the Continuum.
They relied on the Continuum for everything, down to their food and water; every grain, every drop, every fiber of protein.
El seemed to be an ordinary person, one among trillions whose lives were nothing special, not of note, they worked, went to school, worshipped and raised families.
He was a natural born empath, a capacity that had been engineered into his genetic line covertly by Jim’s agents that were spread throughout the Empire, and he was the first in his line to manifest the ability.
El was a mutant, but his mutation was so subtle that it went unregistered. Until the Continuum discovered it when it examined his genetic profile in advance of his planned resurrection.
El could not tolerate injustice.
He felt the suffering of everyone around him, it hung on his neck like a stone.
He wanted nothing more than to give hope to the hopeless and to free the despairing from despair.
Even as a child El found ways to rebel, to question the teachings of the Imperial Cult, the indoctrination of the Imperial Schools, the entire structure of the social order.
As an adult, he took up arms against the Empire, he fought the enemy wherever he could.
He became an outcast, a criminal. His entire family was destroyed, and for his gallantry the Continuum made him a star.
Then he was co-opted by it, executed and returned to life.
It was a miracle for the masses.
When he returned to life he entered service as a bureaucrat, he served as a soldier, and finally as a priest.
He made his vows, and he entered the holy orders.
Of all the transitions he had made in his long sojourn, this was the first one that he questioned.
It did not feel natural or honest, the priestly class lived in a state of being that he never imagined when he was a child, where he and his family lived lives of dismal-drudgery, as his family had done for countless generations, without any sense of safety or security.
Even the lowest order of priestly professions, in the lowest ranking priestly houses, lived exalted lives. The technologies available to them were like magic.
Nevertheless, he had a duty to perform.
He ignored his reservations, and he immersed himself in the priesthood
He studied, He absorbed the dogmas.
He memorized everything, which was not difficult for him.
His knowledge expanded, exponentially. The history of the Empire was exposed through the holy texts, as much of the real history as was possible.
He absorbed all of the sacred tracts, all the way back to the first contact that the Empire had with the Continuum.
It fascinated him, and it struck him cold.
The Continuum appeared to be less than divine, and more like an alien civilization.
The entire Empire was enslaved to it, sending vast tributes in minerals and technology to the Central System, which he learned was the physical location of the Continuum.
It brought him back to the sentiments he had as a youth, in the rebellion.
The people thought of the planets of the Central System as the heavenly worlds, but they were not, they had a location in time and space.
Deep feelings were stirring inside him. Feelings he had not experienced since he had been resurrected.
He became aware of the reality of the Collective, as a force of consciousness behind the Continuum, and that truth set him free.
In his heart he was always a rebel.
He took all of the rituals seriously, as he did everything during his career. Though he often felt as he was performing them, another present alongside his, hiding in the ganglia of his consciousness, something predatory.
El carried out the rituals perfectly even though his studies revealed that the rites were merely tools of control and division.
He fulfilled them with grace and a studied presence that gave no indication of the fact that he knew the rituals and rites were empty gestures, and meaningless incantations.
The comfort that he had with his body, developed through his long years of martial discipline, gave his performances a nuance that his peers were unable to match.
Once again he stood out from those around him, not only because of the attention that was focused on him, but for what he brought to each moment.
While El no longer believed in the mysteries as they had been taught to him, he understood that the cohesion of the Empire, the peace of a million worlds, there sense of belonging to a greater whole, relied on them for everything.
While the imperial families, the royal powers, the priestly caste and the war machine cared nothing at all for justice, intrinsically viewing any person below them in rank as a thing to be used, a device or a tool; justice, if it was to be had, had to be distributed from the top.
He performed the rites with that in mind. He bound people to the commitments expressed in them in ways that had never been seen before.
When members of the Imperial family came to the table, drawn by his fame, he extracted promises from them in the sacred space, which they could not then refuse fulfill.
In the place where his life was most regimented, he found the freedom to return to his old self.
Like every other strata of Imperial society, the priestly caste was organized according to rank. The major divisions in the priestly caste were between the ruling houses and the minor officiants, between the parish priests and the holy orders.
This differentiation was not unlike the differentiation between managers and staff in the bureaucracy, or between the rank and file and the command in the military.
The unseen difference, a difference unknown outside the select circle, was the society of Observers, those members of the Continuum who had opted to live out a period of their lives in time and space, observing the day to day realities of the Empire, on behalf of the Collective and its Continuum.
The Observers were scattered throughout the Empire, holding posts in every strata of society, most Observers preferred to carry out their mission from the vantage of the priestly caste and from the comfort of the royal houses. Nothing was hidden from them, because they knew the full truth concerning the origins of the Empire, of the Continuum, of its promises and its lies.
Many of the Observers were eager to interact with the hero/priest the guardian of the faithful, they wanted to be part of the great narrative that had gripped the imagination of the Collective. It was a great sense of esteem for them.
He was indoctrinated into the deepest mysteries of the Imperium. The Observers shared things with him that were forbidden.
He discovered the mechanism of salvation, the translation of consciousness into the quantum field of the HomeWorld, which brought membership in the Collective and eternal life in the Continuum.
He learned that the Imperial rites meant nothing, they were based on lies, merely minor dramas perpetuated as a means of controlling the people; controlling them through hope, and fear, through love and hate, the most powerful emotions which were the only meaningful controls, they were controls which never failed, controls that surpassed even thirst and hunger and pain.
His life was filled with contradictions, he had never before been so conflicted, or filled with doubt.
He spent his days promoting the beliefs and traditions and the rituals of the Imperial Cult. He was the most eloquent spokesperson the masses had ever witnessed.
He reached them, and they loved it for him.
He spoke with power and confidence, elegantly articulating the complex narratives that glued the Imperial society together, while at the same time providing the rationale and justification for each citizen to remain in their caste, in their class, in their state of bondage.
He was a living exemplar of the faith, perfectly demonstrating to every citizen, even to the outcast, the possibility of elevating themselves from their station, through fidelity, duty, and adherence to the law.
He taught as he had been instructed to teach, that this was the path to transcendence.
He knew it for a lie, there was no transcendence.
El learned that the promises concerning reincarnation and the Continuum, all of those promises that had been made to the people were built on lies, the most pernicious kind of lies, a vast complex of falsehoods, predicated on the narrowest sliver of truth.
He did his duty.
He perpetuated the lies anyway.
The powers that held him in check did not do so with the threat of coercion. Everyone he had ever known or loved while he was an ordinary man, they were long since dead and buried.
His family had been erased.
They did not have that leverage over him.
They held him in check with the power of love, the promise of fulfilling his desires, the mystery of beauty and the touch of a woman.
He learned to differentiate between the articles of faith he was expected to promote, to present as his own belief in the orthodoxy of the Imperial Cult, and the convictions he held in heart, the things he knew were true.
He dreamt of waging war against the gods.
He exercised the greatest care concerning the manner in which he expressed himself. There was no privacy, he knew that he was under observation at all times, even in the inner most sanctum of his private dwelling.
El felt as if his own thoughts were being monitored, by a hidden presence within him.
He held enormous power.
A casual comment from him could change the fate of a planet.
What he held in his heart, was never the same thing as what he could give voice to.
His survival, and the lives of billions upon billions of people depended on him playing the script as true to the expectations of him as possible.
The higher he ascended into the mysteries, the more he felt he was shackled by the dogmas and traditions of the Imperial Cult, by its creeds and doctrines, its laws and cannons.
It was a prison of the mind, a prison without walls.
His circumstances were unique.
None of his peers experienced the same things, little was expected of them, they were merely functionaries, men and women fulfilling roles like cast members in a play.
They were a colloquy of extras.
El, on the other hand, had a following.
It was unprecedented, he had no experience of this, and neither did the magisterium.
The Collective was fascinated by the control he exercised, the care he gave. They followed him closely and obsessed on the successive waves of consequences that flowed from his most casual utterances.
The Observer Core was tasked with manipulating his life and circumstances daily.
El found that there are no words available in any language to articulate universal truth regarding the infinite, and eternal.
Every attempt to do so was manipulative and false, while at the same time he could affirm that not every manipulation of religious doctrine was malicious, and not every articulation of universal truth, no matter how errant is an intentional prevarication.
Most people believed in the errors that they promulgated, making them innocent of wrongdoing, even though they were in error.
They believed what they had been taught to belive.
Even most bad actors are innocent, because they believe in their heart that the erroneous doctrines they promulgate serve some greater good, they believe in the mission they carry out, in the Imperial Cult, in the Great Chain of Being which are the foundation of orthodoxy.
They believed in what the Continuum promised, while confessing that the mechanics of it; the how and the where and the why of it remained a mystery to them, a matter forever situated beyond them in a great cloud of unknowing.
The religion of the Empire was a web of lies, coercions and control mechanisms, lies that had been perfected over millions of years, lies that held the people together.
It required a breakthrough in cognitive thinking to shatter the controls that governed the thoughts of the ordinary citizens, very few people could endure the strain.
It drove them mad.
Of all the castes, it was only the priestly caste that even attempted to prepare people for such a watershed in consciousness.
The Continuum delighted in the observation of every failure, through those failures it learned even greater controls.
El studied and meditated and pushed the discipline of his mind and body, he embraced the cloud of unknowing, pulling it into himself, and he passed through the crucible with ease.
From his childhood he learned to reject imperial conditioning.
He was always a rebel at heart.

Chapter Forty-one, Tradition
El became a living exemplar of the faith, a flesh and blood narrative of what the people of the Empire hoped for.
His story sustained them, like food for the hungry and water to the thirsty.
The stages of his life symbolized what the faith of every citizen held to be true, what they were led to believe through the teaching of the Imperial Cult, and in its way, because of the hope he represented, he also perfectly articulated the fears of the ruling class.
His early life demonstrated how a person and a family could be caste down and caste out. As he transitioned from plebian to criminal, to outcaste and ultimately a rebel.
The story of those transitions took on the quality of an epic myth, characterizing the decent that everyone feared might be waiting for them and those they loved, the expectant judgement awaiting them in the timeless place before rebirth, if they did not fulfill their duties faithfully.
Even in his decent he demonstrated qualities of virtue and integrity that were supposed to be redemptive. The narrative of his life, which virtually every citizen in the empire was familiar with, was in a constant state of editing, of simplification and refinement for the purposes of propaganda.
People on a million worlds followed him, put their hopes in him, believed that he was a child of the God’s, of the Continuum, a divine being sent to live among them, a hero to share their pain, to lead them out of the worlds of suffering and chaos.
He was a demi-god, myths regarding his origins circulated among the people, carefully crafted by the Imperial Cult, for maximum exposure.
El’s life story became a new vehicle of control and exploitation.
During his long life whole generations had been born, and died adoring him, they set him on a pedestal, ignorant of the danger that they were merely preparing him for a mighty fall.
El participated with full devotion in the great charade of temple life.
He never let on that he did not believe in the things he studied or the things he taught, after all, he was the subject and the beneficiary of the greatest miracle that had ever been engineered in the living memory of the Empire.
He had returned from the dead.
The perception of holiness mattered more than the reality, his safety and security depended on it, but more importantly the safety of the woman he loved depended on it.
Every affectation of pietas was a charade, pageantry, performance art and deception.
This did not bother him.
The most important thing to the hierarchy is what people believed about the priesthood.
The rituals were like veils, they obscured reality but they were also translucent. If you practiced mindfulness you could peer through them, remove each veil, one by one, while advancing in knowledge.
Image was everything; rhetoric not logic, not truth, rhetoric was the measure of the day.
The truth, if it was known, would only harm people, confuse them, or so the priestly cast believed.
It would tear the Empire apart, El was sure of that.
Given the powers belonging to the priesthood, it was a relatively easy task to deceive the masses.
The priesthood controlled the Imperial Schools, and more importantly the cultic rituals that governed every moment of the day to day lives of the citizens.
The controls the priesthood exercised were not taught as vehicles of deception, but as a guided rituals, intended to slowly bring people to a place of sanctity. They were preparation for the next life and the world to come.
Everything was theater.
El was a grand performer.
He had an intuitive sense for the fact that he was being watched at every moment, filmed, studied, reviewed.
He did not think about it, and yet it never left his awareness.
In the rituals of the priesthood every gesture was important.
The complex movements of the customs and rituals reenacted a narrative and reinforced a story that encompassed the history of the Empire and its million worlds.
The rites fostered a sense of belonging in the people.
It was an incredible drama, the story of every planet was told, of every class, every victory and every crushing defeat.
The rise and fall of worlds was recounted in the liturgical cycle.
The glory of the Imperial house and the part each person played in the construction of that story was told and retold, both to terrify and to instruct, to delight in and give hope.
The group participation in those rituals, led by the priests, sent waves rippling through the lives of the faithful, binding them as by the successive movement of concentric rings.
El played his part flawlessly.
He became the singular focus of every nearly every person in the Empire, whispers began to take shape that he would lead the people to a new way of life.
El did nothing to counter those narratives. He himself wanted to believe it was true.
The imperial system was held together by class, rank and ancestry.
Only the outcaste was free from it, and while they were free from the oppressive weight of the conforming belief systems, they were absolutely without rights, without representation in government or standing before the courts.
Nearly every citizen clung to their place in the hierarchichal order with vicious determination. They knew they were constantly under watch, scrutinized from the moment they stepped out the door of their dorm, their home or apartment, they were under constant observation.
Most of them suspected, but few of them knew the extent to which their private lives were monitored.
There was no privacy.
There were few limits to what a person would risk, merely to advance a step or two in rank.
Inasmuch as every person was inextricably bound to the system of rank, they also longed for a release from it.
They were conditioned to see release only through advancement, by forward motion, through reincarnation, and countless lifetimes of struggle.
Even death was not seen as a release, merely a transition to a new mode of suffering.
That is what the cult taught them, to always look ahead, to see themselves as one day filling the role of village chief, of captain, of high priest, of abba; to hope that they could advance so far that they and theirs would ultimately occupy the highest place of all, to ascend the steps of the curial throne and be welcomed into the Continuum, to merge with the divine Collective, find peace, to ultimately become the god of their own private world.
The immediate goals for the ordinary citizen were advancement, to climb above their neighbor, to move beyond their current station.
The realization of hope was perpetually on the other side of a great divide, it was tantalizing, ephemeral and just beyond their grasp,
Everyone believed that freedom was waiting for them. Independence was just a few paces away, if only they could have a perfect day for themselves, or engineer the failure of someone close to them.
This system pitted every person against their neighbor, children against their parents, workers against their supervisors, soldiers against their generals, and acolytes against their masters.
It pitted world against world.
The secret desire of every person was to live autonomously, free from the responsibilities of their station, or the pressure of seeking esteem from their families, peers, and colleagues.
The heavens were imagined as worlds beyond time and space where each person became a god, ruling with absolute power over a creation of their own, as dark or as light as their imagination would allow it to be.
Autonomy was an illusion, private property, self-direction, they were all lies. There was not a single point in the chain of being where a person was ever free.
What differentiated one world from another, one caste from its subordinate, was only the type of work that consumed them, and the relative degrees of comfort or luxury attending to it.
In truth, everything and everyone was fully socialized and owned by the state.
The Empire was absolute, holding power over every living thing, over life itself, even the lives of an entire world could be sacrificed in a moment at the whim of the Emperor, or for the malign purposes of the Continuum.
It was possible for an individual to be at peace in the Empire, millions of citizens were. Theirs was the peace and comfort of the acquiescent.
Acquiescence masked itself as transcendence, passivity as mindfulness, unquestioning as understanding, silence as self-realization, and acceptance as actualization.
People were conditioned to obey, they found satisfaction in it.
To be at peace in the Empire a person merely had to accept the view that their happiness was an integral part of the whole. An individual did not have a right to their own immediate and personal sense of joy. They had to look beyond themselves, to the wholeness of their family, to the security of their village, to the prestige of their world and beyond.
This was referred to as the globalist perspective, and it was normative.
The sound perspective, what was most helpful was to look beyond their immediate conditions of their lives, to look to the next life, to a series of a thousand lives, to the long-slow turning off the wheel of life.
The immediate present could not be changed, only accepted and accounted for.
Individual happiness did not matter, what mattered was the happiness of the whole.
It was a trick.
Most of the population of the empire had been bred to accept this, with those liabilities reinforced by their education in the Imperial Schools and their worship in the Imperial cult.
The citizens understood the reality of the Empire, a million worlds, stretched across the galaxy, but the vast majority would never leave the world they were born on.
Interstellar, travel was mainly the province of the soldier and priest, with the exception of the outcastes, who were likely to be gathered up and sent off world to the serves in the mining fields scattered throughout the Empire. They were the expendable labor force and they were used as such.
Nevertheless, the people held an image of the Royal worlds in their minds, hoping one day to go there, or be reborn there.
It functioned in their consciousness like a beacon, a light to guide them…a false hope.
Every person desired to see their lives as meaningful. Even those citizens whose station in life was fixed in drudgery. This cognitive impulse, to ascribe meaning onto even the most ordinary and mundane activities was instinctual, a genetic imperative.
The mode by which the individual person shaped the narrative of their experience was simple, it involved the projection of everything they did outward toward the universal, reshaping the context of even the simplest and most routine tasks.
This was a categorical imperative.
The Imperial cult ensured that every vestige of the religious rites that the people engaged in, every movement, every word they uttered, conditioned them to believe that individual fulfillment came through the great chain of being, through a series of incarnations, and re-incarnations in which each person experienced life at every station, rising or falling in rank according to the merits by which they lived out each one of their lives.
The journey of the individual entity was depicted in the sacred text like the revolution of a galaxy, billions of stars turning around a massive gravity well, the fixed singularity of a black hole.
It was a cosmic dance.
Planets and stars, turning around the center, until one by one, each was consumed by it, drawn to the point of no return, merging with it, passing across the event horizon, becoming one with the singularity itself.
This example, drawn from nature, was especially poignant to the people.
The common end which it proclaimed, the final calculus of all existence spoke of equal justice for all.
The singularity was depicted not as the end in itself, but as the entry point to another state of being, a gateway to another dimension.
The Continuum was depicted as analogous to this fixed point in nature, and it was a black hole, the material end of all things and that of the soul’s journey, both located in the same terminus.
Chapter Forty-two, Fear
The prevailing mode of cognition afflicting the masses was this: The simple belief that desire was the cause of all suffering.
This was the principle teaching of the Imperial schools, preached with fervor among the worlds.
The faithful were reminded of this daily, with the encouragement to give up their hopes and thoughts for themselves, to accept their station in life and expect nothing in return.
The pain of hunger and of thirst were merely the result of the desire for life.
The majority of people were able to do just this. They led unremarkable lives, and against that backdrop those who resisted stood out, producing the most riveting dramas for the Collective and its Continuum to absorb.
Suffering as punishment, was apportioned with surgical precision and insidious delight, targeting both the ordinary deviant whose activities were caught by the Imperial police, as well as special victims chosen by the Observers and the Continuum for the flare their narratives would bring.
The special victims were unsuspecting people, by and large, guilty only of thought crimes, or speaking out in private against the system of beliefs and the rubrics of the empire they lived under.
The people were taught that every moment of joy was temporary, only to be experienced as respite from a state of perpetual loss, all of which was orchestrated as preparation and testing for a state of blessedness to come, in eternity.
The rituals they enacted reinforced the ever-present belief that the struggles they endured were meant to encourage self-abnegation, and the erasure of the will.
They were taught to surrender.
The prevailing philosophy was this:

Pain is necessary and purgative, both as penance for sin and as a preparation for holiness. This sentiment was embedded at every level, in every ritual of the Imperial Cult.
This is not to say that every moment of a person’s life was filled with pain, for pain to meaningful it had to be regulated, interspersed by moments of relief and happiness.
This teaching was reinforced in alternating and successive waves of joy and sorrow, of pleasure and pain through the human experience.
The experiences were different in every caste, but the ultimate message was this:

There is no safety or security for the living.

Among the plebians, the people hoped for material wealth and comfort, for rank and prestige, worked to the point of exhaustion for the smallest gains, and routinely saw those gains stripped away.
The soldier wanted victory and glory, they wanted to experience the pleasures of the flesh after combat. They were almost universally short lived, encountering death and disease at every turn.
Among the priestly class there was the quest for power and control. They were consumed with the endless drama of their dynastic ambitions.
Above all, the priest wanted to be elevated to the realm of eternal life, to become one with the Continuum.
Priests routinely sacrificed everything they held dear to achieve these ends.
Their proximity to power made them easily corruptible
Suffering was life, moments of pleasure were structured to be brief, they were teaching moments, with periods of joy manifested as random, intermittent and spontaneous events.
Joy was the ephemeral thing, perpetually floating in the middle distance, tantalizing, always slightly beyond the grasp of the individual.
Everyone wanted to advance in rank and every person knew where they stood, the ranking of the citizenry was one of the many vehicles by which the Empire controlled and suppressed the population.
Everyone knew exactly where they belonged, and who had to be eliminated, or appeased in order for themselves or their family to advance in rank.
The Empire used the ranking system like a bludgeon.
The social standing of the individual, of every single family, of each village and every last planet was used to control the flow of people, of goods, of ideas and even hope.
There was no comfort in rank, only shame, no matter how exalted you might be on your own world, your entire planet was subservient to someone or something else.
The figures of rank were known, including the complex algorithm that coordinated caste, planet, class, locale, family, and individual status.
Every person was expected to adhere to the system. In public places, even small breaches of etiquette were recorded and punished.
The figures of rank were broadcast. Everyone knew where they stood. The algorithm was ever-present, in constant use as a governing tool managing every social interaction.
There was no chance that even a random encounter with a complete stranger would result in a situation in which those present did not know who was called to deference.
Very little policing was required. The people managed each other and all of their interactions with a jealous zeal.
No matter what your Imperial rank, the focus of society was always directed to what a person lacked, rather than what they had achieved.
There were trillions of citizens in the Empire, spread across a million worlds, each and every one of them was conditioned to be joyful, but joyful only in the fulfillment of their duties, in the satisfaction of their role.
They were not. Whatever joy they expressed was a merely an illusion they felt compelled to put on display.
This was the purported purpose of the Imperial Schools, and the stated aim of the Imperial Cult.
These aims and goals were utterly meaningless, and the Empire failed completely to meet these ends.
Keep the eyes of the citizen focused on the daily tasks.
Keep the citizen obsequious and churlish.
Keep the citizens in a perpetual state of anxiety and terror.
Keep each person producing goods and service to feed the endless hunger of the Continuum.
The Empire succeeded in those goals.
The Empire processed the mineral wealth of planetary systems, sweeping asteroid belts, capturing comets, crushing whole worlds for their ores, their carbons and their silicates, sending them on massive barges to the central planet.
It was tribute.
The Continuum used that wealth to grow the physical structures that housed the Collective.
In the Imperial cult, the principle of selflessness was taught as the single most important aesthetic to live by.
The concept of personal honor was completely tied to the notion of giving.
Selflessness was imagined as the only possible way for a person to escape from the material conditions that oppressed the living, governing the daily lives of every person.
The goal of the living was freedom, a freedom which they imagined existed only beyond the veil of life.
People sought absolution of self for the sake of the greater good, believing that all evil and injustice originated in the appetites of the body.
They were taught to repeat the universal mantra, the echoes of which resounded for them as a constant refrain, desire is the cause of all suffering.
The abnegation of desire, kenosis, the emptying of the self, this was at the core of every prayer, of every oblation.
Freedom from the illusory conditions of the living world could only come about by the dissolution of the self.
This was the bath of salvation, metanoia the conversion of personhood into a self-identification with the whole.
There could be no peace without it, the esteem of one’s peers depended completely on the ability to perpetuate the illusion.
It was a dichotomy.
The people were conditioned to defer to authority, their perseverance depended on it.
Everyone looked up to those in the higher castes, or to a person of higher rank even within the same caste. They were conditioned to defer to that authority, regardless of how sound its practices and judgements were.
If a person from a higher caste or of greater rank ordered you to something against your will, even if it was immoral or illegal, your duty was to obey.
A general would defer to a novice priest.
An old man would defer to a child, even to the point of laying down his life for him, they would voluntarily suffer extreme forms of abuse, torture, even a threat to their family.
This system created great drama.
The people were conditioned, they acquiesced both from fear and from covetousness, because they wanted those same powers for themselves, and they believed that the path to possessing such power meant submitting in the face of it.
They looked to obedience as the path to self actualization.
The system destroyed them all.
Crimes could not be concealed, they were always discovered and punished, but only when the moment was right, when it would create the perfect drama for the Continuum to orchestrate and pass on to the Collective for its consumption.
A person might be allowed to get away with crime for decades, only to have it all catch up to them at the peak of their ambitions, or in the ultimate depths of their turpitude.
There was no justice.
Everything was artifice.
The teaching of the Imperial Schools and most importantly the great religion of the Imperial Cult, its dogma and rituals, all of its spiritual practices colluded to persuade the people into the complete subjugation of their will.
The spiritual goal as stated was for the individual to rise through every station of life, over the course of trillions of lifetimes, to ultimately be released from the wheel of life for the return to eternal source of all being, and self-annihilation.
It was a journey to nothing and nowhere.
Every link in the great chain of being must be connected.
While submission was the constant rule, the promised reward for lifetimes of servitude was the hope that you would be accepted by the Collective, absorbed into the Continuum, made into a Godlike being, given rulership of your own planet with absolute authority and complete security for eternity.
What was promised was antithetical to what was expected in practice. This dichotomy was understood and presented to the faithful as an essential mystery.
Faith and trust were the conditions that must be met in order to advance.
The Continuum examined the conscience of each person to measure their faith, their willingness to be absolved, their readiness for absolution, these conditions must be met, and be met perfectly before the individual could be accepted, and thereby exalted.
The individual must be measured against every possible temptation, only then could they be allowed to pass through the veil.
In the practical reality of daily life, it was easy for a person to see failure all around them, they were taught not to judge those above them in rank, but to merely accept the mystery that they were engaged in.
Judgement was nearly impossible to avoid, and corruption was rampant in the higher castes.
It suited the Continuum to advance the individuals who were the best exemplars of this tradition into the membership of the Collective, every one of them strengthened the Continuum’s hold over the whole.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six, The Empire

Chapter Thirty-six, Servant

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six, The Empire; Chapter Forty-two, Fear

Week 44, 2019
The prevailing mode of cognition afflicting the masses was this: The simple belief that desire was the cause of all suffering.

This was the principle teaching of the Imperial schools, preached with fervor among the worlds.

The faithful were reminded of this daily, with the encouragement to give up their hopes and thoughts for themselves, to accept their station in life and expect nothing in return.

The pain of hunger and of thirst were merely the result of the desire for life.

The majority of people were able to do just this. They led unremarkable lives, and against that backdrop those who resisted stood out, producing the most riveting dramas for the Collective and its Continuum to absorb.

Suffering as punishment, was apportioned with surgical precision and insidious delight, targeting both the ordinary deviant whose activities were caught by the Imperial police, as well as special victims chosen by the Observers and the Continuum for the flare their narratives would bring.

The special victims were unsuspecting people, by and large, guilty only of thought crimes, or speaking out in private against the system of beliefs and the rubrics of the empire they lived under.

The people were taught that every moment of joy was temporary, only to be experienced as respite from a state of perpetual loss, all of which was orchestrated as preparation and testing for a state of blessedness to come, in eternity.

The rituals they enacted reinforced the ever-present belief that the struggles they endured were meant to encourage self-abnegation, and the erasure of the will.

They were taught to surrender.

The prevailing philosophy was this:

Pain is necessary and purgative, both as penance for sin and as a preparation for holiness. This sentiment was embedded at every level, in every ritual of the Imperial Cult.

This is not to say that every moment of a person’s life was filled with pain, for pain to meaningful it had to be regulated, interspersed by moments of relief and happiness.

This teaching was reinforced in alternating and successive waves of joy and sorrow, of pleasure and pain through the human experience.

The experiences were different in every caste, but the ultimate message was this:

There is no safety or security for the living.

Among the plebians, the people hoped for material wealth and comfort, for rank and prestige, worked to the point of exhaustion for the smallest gains, and routinely saw those gains stripped away.

The soldier wanted victory and glory, they wanted to experience the pleasures of the flesh after combat. They were almost universally short lived, encountering death and disease at every turn.

Among the priestly class there was the quest for power and control. They were consumed with the endless drama of their dynastic ambitions.

Above all, the priest wanted to be elevated to the realm of eternal life, to become one with the Continuum.

Priests routinely sacrificed everything they held dear to achieve these ends.

Their proximity to power made them easily corruptible

Suffering was life, moments of pleasure were structured to be brief, they were teaching moments, with periods of joy manifested as random, intermittent and spontaneous events.

Joy was the ephemeral thing, perpetually floating in the middle distance, tantalizing, always slightly beyond the grasp of the individual.

Everyone wanted to advance in rank and every person knew where they stood, the ranking of the citizenry was one of the many vehicles by which the Empire controlled and suppressed the population.

Everyone knew exactly where they belonged, and who had to be eliminated, or appeased in order for themselves or their family to advance in rank.

The Empire used the ranking system like a bludgeon.

The social standing of the individual, of every single family, of each village and every last planet was used to control the flow of people, of goods, of ideas and even hope.

There was no comfort in rank, only shame, no matter how exalted you might be on your own world, your entire planet was subservient to someone or something else.

The figures of rank were known, including the complex algorithm that coordinated caste, planet, class, locale, family, and individual status.

Every person was expected to adhere to the system. In public places, even small breaches of etiquette were recorded and punished.

The figures of rank were broadcast. Everyone knew where they stood. The algorithm was ever-present, in constant use as a governing tool managing every social interaction.

There was no chance that even a random encounter with a complete stranger would result in a situation in which those present did not know who was called to deference.

Very little policing was required. The people managed each other and all of their interactions with a jealous zeal.

No matter what your Imperial rank, the focus of society was always directed to what a person lacked, rather than what they had achieved.

There were trillions of citizens in the Empire, spread across a million worlds, each and every one of them was conditioned to be joyful, but joyful only in the fulfillment of their duties, in the satisfaction of their role.

They were not. Whatever joy they expressed was a merely an illusion they felt compelled to put on display.

This was the purported purpose of the Imperial Schools, and the stated aim of the Imperial Cult.

These aims and goals were utterly meaningless, and the Empire failed completely to meet these ends.

Keep the eyes of the citizen focused on the daily tasks.

Keep the citizen obsequious and churlish.

Keep the citizens in a perpetual state of anxiety and terror.

Keep each person producing goods and service to feed the endless hunger of the Continuum.

The Empire succeeded in those goals.

The Empire processed the mineral wealth of planetary systems, sweeping asteroid belts, capturing comets, crushing whole worlds for their ores, their carbons and their silicates, sending them on massive barges to the central planet.

It was tribute.

The Continuum used that wealth to grow the physical structures that housed the Collective.

In the Imperial cult, the principle of selflessness was taught as the single most important aesthetic to live by.

The concept of personal honor was completely tied to the notion of giving.

Selflessness was imagined as the only possible way for a person to escape from the material conditions that oppressed the living, governing the daily lives of every person.

The goal of the living was freedom, a freedom which they imagined existed only beyond the veil of life.

People sought absolution of self for the sake of the greater good, believing that all evil and injustice originated in the appetites of the body.

They were taught to repeat the universal mantra, the echoes of which resounded for them as a constant refrain, desire is the cause of all suffering.

The abnegation of desire, kenosis, the emptying of the self, this was at the core of every prayer, of every oblation.

Freedom from the illusory conditions of the living world could only come about by the dissolution of the self.

This was the bath of salvation, metanoia the conversion of personhood into a self-identification with the whole.

There could be no peace without it, the esteem of one’s peers depended completely on the ability to perpetuate the illusion.

It was a dichotomy.

The people were conditioned to defer to authority, their perseverance depended on it.

Everyone looked up to those in the higher castes, or to a person of higher rank even within the same caste. They were conditioned to defer to that authority, regardless of how sound its practices and judgements were.

If a person from a higher caste or of greater rank ordered you to something against your will, even if it was immoral or illegal, your duty was to obey.

A general would defer to a novice priest.

An old man would defer to a child, even to the point of laying down his life for him, they would voluntarily suffer extreme forms of abuse, torture, even a threat to their family.

This system created great drama.

The people were conditioned, they acquiesced both from fear and from covetousness, because they wanted those same powers for themselves, and they believed that the path to possessing such power meant submitting in the face of it.

They looked to obedience as the path to self actualization.

The system destroyed them all.

Crimes could not be concealed, they were always discovered and punished, but only when the moment was right, when it would create the perfect drama for the Continuum to orchestrate and pass on to the Collective for its consumption.

A person might be allowed to get away with crime for decades, only to have it all catch up to them at the peak of their ambitions, or in the ultimate depths of their turpitude.

There was no justice.

Everything was artifice.

The teaching of the Imperial Schools and most importantly the great religion of the Imperial Cult, its dogma and rituals, all of its spiritual practices colluded to persuade the people into the complete subjugation of their will.

The spiritual goal as stated was for the individual to rise through every station of life, over the course of trillions of lifetimes, to ultimately be released from the wheel of life for the return to eternal source of all being, and self-annihilation.

It was a journey to nothing and nowhere.

Every link in the great chain of being must be connected.

While submission was the constant rule, the promised reward for lifetimes of servitude was the hope that you would be accepted by the Collective, absorbed into the Continuum, made into a Godlike being, given rulership of your own planet with absolute authority and complete security for eternity.

What was promised was antithetical to what was expected in practice. This dichotomy was understood and presented to the faithful as an essential mystery.

Faith and trust were the conditions that must be met in order to advance.

The Continuum examined the conscience of each person to measure their faith, their willingness to be absolved, their readiness for absolution, these conditions must be met, and be met perfectly before the individual could be accepted, and thereby exalted.

The individual must be measured against every possible temptation, only then could they be allowed to pass through the veil.

In the practical reality of daily life, it was easy for a person to see failure all around them, they were taught not to judge those above them in rank, but to merely accept the mystery that they were engaged in.

Judgement was nearly impossible to avoid, and corruption was rampant in the higher castes.

It suited the Continuum to advance the individuals who were the best exemplars of this tradition into the membership of the Collective, every one of them strengthened the Continuum’s hold over the whole.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six, The Empire

Chapter Forty-two, Fear

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six, The Empire; Chapter Forty-one, Tradition

Week 43, 2019
El became a living exemplar of the faith, a flesh and blood narrative of what the people of the Empire hoped for.

His story sustained them, like food for the hungry and water to the thirsty.

The stages of his life symbolized what the faith of every citizen held to be true, what they were led to believe through the teaching of the Imperial Cult, and in its way, because of the hope he represented, he also perfectly articulated the fears of the ruling class.

His early life demonstrated how a person and a family could be caste down and caste out. As he transitioned from plebian to criminal, to outcaste and ultimately a rebel.

The story of those transitions took on the quality of an epic myth, characterizing the decent that everyone feared might be waiting for them and those they loved, the expectant judgement awaiting them in the timeless place before rebirth, if they did not fulfill their duties faithfully.

Even in his decent he demonstrated qualities of virtue and integrity that were supposed to be redemptive. The narrative of his life, which virtually every citizen in the empire was familiar with, was in a constant state of editing, of simplification and refinement for the purposes of propaganda.

People on a million worlds followed him, put their hopes in him, believed that he was a child of the God’s, of the Continuum, a divine being sent to live among them, a hero to share their pain, to lead them out of the worlds of suffering and chaos.

He was a demi-god, myths regarding his origins circulated among the people, carefully crafted by the Imperial Cult, for maximum exposure.

El’s life story became a new vehicle of control and exploitation.

During his long life whole generations had been born, and died adoring him, they set him on a pedestal, ignorant of the danger that they were merely preparing him for a mighty fall.

El participated with full devotion in the great charade of temple life.

He never let on that he did not believe in the things he studied or the things he taught, after all, he was the subject and the beneficiary of the greatest miracle that had ever been engineered in the living memory of the Empire.

He had returned from the dead.

The perception of holiness mattered more than the reality, his safety and security depended on it, but more importantly the safety of the woman he loved depended on it.

Every affectation of pietas was a charade, pageantry, performance art and deception.

This did not bother him.

The most important thing to the hierarchy is what people believed about the priesthood.

The rituals were like veils, they obscured reality but they were also translucent. If you practiced mindfulness you could peer through them, remove each veil, one by one, while advancing in knowledge.

Image was everything; rhetoric not logic, not truth, rhetoric was the measure of the day.

The truth, if it was known, would only harm people, confuse them, or so the priestly cast believed.

It would tear the Empire apart, El was sure of that.

Given the powers belonging to the priesthood, it was a relatively easy task to deceive the masses.

The priesthood controlled the Imperial Schools, and more importantly the cultic rituals that governed every moment of the day to day lives of the citizens.

The controls the priesthood exercised were not taught as vehicles of deception, but as a guided rituals, intended to slowly bring people to a place of sanctity. They were preparation for the next life and the world to come.

Everything was theater.

El was a grand performer.

He had an intuitive sense for the fact that he was being watched at every moment, filmed, studied, reviewed.

He did not think about it, and yet it never left his awareness.

In the rituals of the priesthood every gesture was important.

The complex movements of the customs and rituals reenacted a narrative and reinforced a story that encompassed the history of the Empire and its million worlds.

The rites fostered a sense of belonging in the people.

It was an incredible drama, the story of every planet was told, of every class, every victory and every crushing defeat.

The rise and fall of worlds was recounted in the liturgical cycle.

The glory of the Imperial house and the part each person played in the construction of that story was told and retold, both to terrify and to instruct, to delight in and give hope.

The group participation in those rituals, led by the priests, sent waves rippling through the lives of the faithful, binding them as by the successive movement of concentric rings.

El played his part flawlessly.

He became the singular focus of every nearly every person in the Empire, whispers began to take shape that he would lead the people to a new way of life.

El did nothing to counter those narratives. He himself wanted to believe it was true.

The imperial system was held together by class, rank and ancestry.

Only the outcaste was free from it, and while they were free from the oppressive weight of the conforming belief systems, they were absolutely without rights, without representation in government or standing before the courts.

Nearly every citizen clung to their place in the hierarchichal order with vicious determination.
They knew they were constantly under watch, scrutinized from the moment they stepped out the door of their dorm, their home or apartment, they were under constant observation.

Most of them suspected, but few of them knew the extent to which their private lives were monitored.

There was no privacy.

There were few limits to what a person would risk, merely to advance a step or two in rank.

Inasmuch as every person was inextricably bound to the system of rank, they also longed for a release from it.

They were conditioned to see release only through advancement, by forward motion, through reincarnation, and countless lifetimes of struggle.

Even death was not seen as a release, merely a transition to a new mode of suffering.

That is what the cult taught them, to always look ahead, to see themselves as one day filling the role of village chief, of captain, of high priest, of abba; to hope that they could advance so far that they and theirs would ultimately occupy the highest place of all, to ascend the steps of the curial throne and be welcomed into the Continuum, to merge with the divine Collective, find peace, to ultimately become the god of their own private world.

The immediate goals for the ordinary citizen were advancement, to climb above their neighbor, to move beyond their current station.

The realization of hope was perpetually on the other side of a great divide, it was tantalizing, ephemeral and just beyond their grasp,

Everyone believed that freedom was waiting for them. Independence was just a few paces away, if only they could have a perfect day for themselves, or engineer the failure of someone close to them.

This system pitted every person against their neighbor, children against their parents, workers against their supervisors, soldiers against their generals, and acolytes against their masters.

It pitted world against world.

The secret desire of every person was to live autonomously, free from the responsibilities of their station, or the pressure of seeking esteem from their families, peers, and colleagues.

The heavens were imagined as worlds beyond time and space where each person became a god, ruling with absolute power over a creation of their own, as dark or as light as their imagination would allow it to be.

Autonomy was an illusion, private property, self-direction, they were all lies. There was not a single point in the chain of being where a person was ever free.

What differentiated one world from another, one caste from its subordinate, was only the type of work that consumed them, and the relative degrees of comfort or luxury attending to it.

In truth, everything and everyone was fully socialized and owned by the state.

The Empire was absolute, holding power over every living thing, over life itself, even the lives of an entire world could be sacrificed in a moment at the whim of the Emperor, or for the malign purposes of the Continuum.

It was possible for an individual to be at peace in the Empire, millions of citizens were. Theirs was the peace and comfort of the acquiescent.

Acquiescence masked itself as transcendence, passivity as mindfulness, unquestioning as understanding, silence as self-realization, and acceptance as actualization.

People were conditioned to obey, they found satisfaction in it.

To be at peace in the Empire a person merely had to accept the view that their happiness was an integral part of the whole. An individual did not have a right to their own immediate and personal sense of joy. They had to look beyond themselves, to the wholeness of their family, to the security of their village, to the prestige of their world and beyond.

This was referred to as the globalist perspective, and it was normative.

The sound perspective, what was most helpful was to look beyond their immediate conditions of their lives, to look to the next life, to a series of a thousand lives, to the long-slow turning off the wheel of life.

The immediate present could not be changed, only accepted and accounted for.

Individual happiness did not matter, what mattered was the happiness of the whole.

It was a trick.

Most of the population of the empire had been bred to accept this, with those liabilities reinforced by their education in the Imperial Schools and their worship in the Imperial cult.

The citizens understood the reality of the Empire, a million worlds, stretched across the galaxy, but the vast majority would never leave the world they were born on.

Interstellar, travel was mainly the province of the soldier and priest, with the exception of the outcastes, who were likely to be gathered up and sent off world to the serves in the mining fields scattered throughout the Empire. They were the expendable labor force and they were used as such.

Nevertheless, the people held an image of the Royal worlds in their minds, hoping one day to go there, or be reborn there.

It functioned in their consciousness like a beacon, a light to guide them…a false hope.

Every person desired to see their lives as meaningful. Even those citizens whose station in life was fixed in drudgery. This cognitive impulse, to ascribe meaning onto even the most ordinary and mundane activities was instinctual, a genetic imperative.

The mode by which the individual person shaped the narrative of their experience was simple, it involved the projection of everything they did outward toward the universal, reshaping the context of even the simplest and most routine tasks.

This was a categorical imperative.

The Imperial cult ensured that every vestige of the religious rites that the people engaged in, every movement, every word they uttered, conditioned them to believe that individual fulfillment came through the great chain of being, through a series of incarnations, and re-incarnations in which each person experienced life at every station, rising or falling in rank according to the merits by which they lived out each one of their lives.

The journey of the individual entity was depicted in the sacred text like the revolution of a galaxy, billions of stars turning around a massive gravity well, the fixed singularity of a black hole.

It was a cosmic dance.

Planets and stars, turning around the center, until one by one, each was consumed by it, drawn to the point of no return, merging with it, passing across the event horizon, becoming one with the singularity itself.

This example, drawn from nature, was especially poignant to the people.

The common end which it proclaimed, the final calculus of all existence spoke of equal justice for all.

The singularity was depicted not as the end in itself, but as the entry point to another state of being, a gateway to another dimension.

The Continuum was depicted as analogous to this fixed point in nature, and it was a black hole, the material end of all things and that of the soul’s journey, both located in the same terminus.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six, The Empire

Chapter Forty-one, Tradition

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six, The Empire; Chapter Forty, Faith

Week 42, 2019
El was born into a family of plebians, free citizens, but in reality they were servants of the Empire, as every citizen was, he was born in full-bondage to the Continuum.

They relied on the Continuum for everything, down to their food and water; every grain, every drop, every fiber of protein.

El seemed to be an ordinary person, one among trillions whose lives were nothing special, not of note, they worked, went to school, worshipped and raised families.

He was a natural born empath, a capacity that had been engineered into his genetic line covertly by Jim’s agents that were spread throughout the Empire, and he was the first in his line to manifest the ability.

El was a mutant, but his mutation was so subtle that it went unregistered. Until the Continuum discovered it when it examined his genetic profile in advance of his planned resurrection.

El could not tolerate injustice.

He felt the suffering of everyone around him, it hung on his neck like a stone.

He wanted nothing more than to give hope to the hopeless and to free the despairing from despair.

Even as a child El found ways to rebel, to question the teachings of the Imperial Cult, the indoctrination of the Imperial Schools, the entire structure of the social order.

As an adult, he took up arms against the Empire, he fought the enemy wherever he could.

He became an outcast, a criminal. His entire family was destroyed, and for his gallantry the Continuum made him a star.

Then he was co-opted by it, executed and returned to life.

It was a miracle for the masses.

When he returned to life he entered service as a bureaucrat, he served as a soldier, and finally as a priest.

He made his vows, and he entered the holy orders.

Of all the transitions he had made in his long sojourn, this was the first one that he questioned.

It did not feel natural or honest, the priestly class lived in a state of being that he never imagined when he was a child, where he and his family lived lives of dismal-drudgery, as his family had done for countless generations, without any sense of safety or security.

Even the lowest order of priestly professions, in the lowest ranking priestly houses, lived exalted lives. The technologies available to them were like magic.

Nevertheless, he had a duty to perform.

He ignored his reservations, and he immersed himself in the priesthood

He studied, He absorbed the dogmas.

He memorized everything, which was not difficult for him.

His knowledge expanded, exponentially. The history of the Empire was exposed through the holy texts, as much of the real history as was possible.

He absorbed all of the sacred tracts, all the way back to the first contact that the Empire had with the Continuum.

It fascinated him, and it struck him cold.

The Continuum appeared to be less than divine, and more like an alien civilization.

The entire Empire was enslaved to it, sending vast tributes in minerals and technology to the Central System, which he learned was the physical location of the Continuum.

It brought him back to the sentiments he had as a youth, in the rebellion.

The people thought of the planets of the Central System as the heavenly worlds, but they were not, they had a location in time and space.

Deep feelings were stirring inside him. Feelings he had not experienced since he had been resurrected.

He became aware of the reality of the Collective, as a force of consciousness behind the Continuum, and that truth set him free.

In his heart he was always a rebel.

He took all of the rituals seriously, as he did everything during his career. Though he often felt as he was performing them, another present alongside his, hiding in the ganglia of his consciousness, something predatory.

El carried out the rituals perfectly even though his studies revealed that the rites were merely tools of control and division.

He fulfilled them with grace and a studied presence that gave no indication of the fact that he knew the rituals and rites were empty gestures, and meaningless incantations.

The comfort that he had with his body, developed through his long years of martial discipline, gave his performances a nuance that his peers were unable to match.

Once again he stood out from those around him, not only because of the attention that was focused on him, but for what he brought to each moment.

While El no longer believed in the mysteries as they had been taught to him, he understood that the cohesion of the Empire, the peace of a million worlds, there sense of belonging to a greater whole, relied on them for everything.

While the imperial families, the royal powers, the priestly caste and the war machine cared nothing at all for justice, intrinsically viewing any person below them in rank as a thing to be used, a device or a tool; justice, if it was to be had, had to be distributed from the top.

He performed the rites with that in mind. He bound people to the commitments expressed in them in ways that had never been seen before.

When members of the Imperial family came to the table, drawn by his fame, he extracted promises from them in the sacred space, which they could not then refuse fulfill.

In the place where his life was most regimented, he found the freedom to return to his old self.

Like every other strata of Imperial society, the priestly caste was organized according to rank. The major divisions in the priestly caste were between the ruling houses and the minor officiants, between the parish priests and the holy orders.

This differentiation was not unlike the differentiation between managers and staff in the bureaucracy, or between the rank and file and the command in the military.

The unseen difference, a difference unknown outside the select circle, was the society of Observers, those members of the Continuum who had opted to live out a period of their lives in time and space, observing the day to day realities of the Empire, on behalf of the Collective and its Continuum.

The Observers were scattered throughout the Empire, holding posts in every strata of society, most Observers preferred to carry out their mission from the vantage of the priestly caste and from the comfort of the royal houses. Nothing was hidden from them, because they knew the full truth concerning the origins of the Empire, of the Continuum, of its promises and its lies.

Many of the Observers were eager to interact with the hero/priest the guardian of the faithful, they wanted to be part of the great narrative that had gripped the imagination of the Collective. It was a great sense of esteem for them.

He was indoctrinated into the deepest mysteries of the Imperium. The Observers shared things with him that were forbidden.

He discovered the mechanism of salvation, the translation of consciousness into the quantum field of the HomeWorld, which brought membership in the Collective and eternal life in the Continuum.

He learned that the Imperial rites meant nothing, they were based on lies, merely minor dramas perpetuated as a means of controlling the people; controlling them through hope, and fear, through love and hate, the most powerful emotions which were the only meaningful controls, they were controls which never failed, controls that surpassed even thirst and hunger and pain.

His life was filled with contradictions, he had never before been so conflicted, or filled with doubt.

He spent his days promoting the beliefs and traditions and the rituals of the Imperial Cult. He was the most eloquent spokesperson the masses had ever witnessed.

He reached them, and they loved it for him.

He spoke with power and confidence, elegantly articulating the complex narratives that glued the Imperial society together, while at the same time providing the rationale and justification for each citizen to remain in their caste, in their class, in their state of bondage.

He was a living exemplar of the faith, perfectly demonstrating to every citizen, even to the outcast, the possibility of elevating themselves from their station, through fidelity, duty, and adherence to the law.

He taught as he had been instructed to teach, that this was the path to transcendence.

He knew it for a lie, there was no transcendence.

El learned that the promises concerning reincarnation and the Continuum, all of those promises that had been made to the people were built on lies, the most pernicious kind of lies, a vast complex of falsehoods, predicated on the narrowest sliver of truth.

He did his duty.

He perpetuated the lies anyway.

The powers that held him in check did not do so with the threat of coercion. Everyone he had ever known or loved while he was an ordinary man, they were long since dead and buried.

His family had been erased.

They did not have that leverage over him.

They held him in check with the power of love, the promise of fulfilling his desires, the mystery of beauty and the touch of a woman.

He learned to differentiate between the articles of faith he was expected to promote, to present as his own belief in the orthodoxy of the Imperial Cult, and the convictions he held in heart, the things he knew were true.

He dreamt of waging war against the gods.

He exercised the greatest care concerning the manner in which he expressed himself. There was no privacy, he knew that he was under observation at all times, even in the inner most sanctum of his private dwelling.

El felt as if his own thoughts were being monitored, by a hidden presence within him.

He held enormous power.

A casual comment from him could change the fate of a planet.

What he held in his heart, was never the same thing as what he could give voice to.

His survival, and the lives of billions upon billions of people depended on him playing the script as true to the expectations of him as possible.

The higher he ascended into the mysteries, the more he felt he was shackled by the dogmas and traditions of the Imperial Cult, by its creeds and doctrines, its laws and cannons.

It was a prison of the mind, a prison without walls.

His circumstances were unique.

None of his peers experienced the same things, little was expected of them, they were merely functionaries, men and women fulfilling roles like cast members in a play.

They were a colloquy of extras.

El, on the other hand, had a following.

It was unprecedented, he had no experience of this, and neither did the magisterium.

The Collective was fascinated by the control he exercised, the care he gave. They followed him closely and obsessed on the successive waves of consequences that flowed from his most casual utterances.

The Observer Core was tasked with manipulating his life and circumstances daily.

El found that there are no words available in any language to articulate universal truth regarding the infinite, and eternal.

Every attempt to do so was manipulative and false, while at the same time he could affirm that not every manipulation of religious doctrine was malicious, and not every articulation of universal truth, no matter how errant is an intentional prevarication.

Most people believed in the errors that they promulgated, making them innocent of wrongdoing, even though they were in error.

They believed what they had been taught to belive.

Even most bad actors are innocent, because they believe in their heart that the erroneous doctrines they promulgate serve some greater good, they believe in the mission they carry out, in the Imperial Cult, in the Great Chain of Being which are the foundation of orthodoxy.

They believed in what the Continuum promised, while confessing that the mechanics of it; the how and the where and the why of it remained a mystery to them, a matter forever situated beyond them in a great cloud of unknowing.

The religion of the Empire was a web of lies, coercions and control mechanisms, lies that had been perfected over millions of years, lies that held the people together.

It required a breakthrough in cognitive thinking to shatter the controls that governed the thoughts of the ordinary citizens, very few people could endure the strain.

It drove them mad.

Of all the castes, it was only the priestly caste that even attempted to prepare people for such a watershed in consciousness.

The Continuum delighted in the observation of every failure, through those failures it learned even greater controls.

El studied and meditated and pushed the discipline of his mind and body, he embraced the cloud of unknowing, pulling it into himself, and he passed through the crucible with ease.

From his childhood he learned to reject imperial conditioning.

He was always a rebel at heart.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six, The Empire

Chapter Forty, Faith

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six, The Empire; Chapter Thirty-nine, Priest

Week 41, 2019
El had been an outsider since the moment he rejected the Empire and entered the rebellion.

The general staff was elated when they were informed that he was ordered to leave military service and enter the priest hood. Regardless of the fact that this was yet again, another transcendent movement for him between the castes.

They had spent their entire lives in his orbit, and they were eager to be free of him.

The Imperial Cult reached down and pulled him up.

It was another unprecedented event for the entire Empire to celebrate; his rise from the status of a rebel and outcast, to the most exalted class of being; a Priest of the Imperium.

El’s followers throughout the Empire grew by an order of magnitude.

Once again, he started on the lowest rung of the religious orders.

He was an oblate.

He was given the mark of humility, tonsured as any beginner would be.

In his new position, he had more rank than all of the generals with whom he had formerly served, though less power.

His home planet became a place of pilgrimage

And though he had experienced a life of opulence as a Field Marshall and as a chief administrator, the world that the priestly caste dwelt in was different by an order of magnitude.

The luxuries were understated, they were simple, even for the priest at the lowest level, there was not even a hint of want or need.

It was required that he take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

These vows were virtually meaningless in the context of the wealth he was surrounded by and had access to, regardless of whether he owned that wealth or not.

Simple and abundant, food and drink were everywhere, the finest of everything.

Every novice was required to take the vows, but depending on the track they were on the vows were not necessarily for life.

After the age of maturity, after their time of training and education, after a period of service as an acolyte most members of the priestly caste would return to their home worlds to support their families and their dynastic ambitions.

Some would remain in service, a few others would join the austere contemplative societies where they would continue to live selflessly in service to the Continuum and the Collective which they aspired to

El entered the sacred order without any thought for himself or his future.

He had no family to return to. He was alone, independent, with no thought whatsoever of his safety or security in his new role as a priest.

He accepted it like he had accepted everything he had been asked to do since his resurrection.

El was initiated into the mysteries and his eyes were opened.

He became, once again, a servant. It was a position of familiarity and comfort.El preferred the regulated life.

He was the oldest novice ever to be tonsured.

He was wise and he was quiescent. He facilitated rather than competing with the ambitions of his peers.

As with every other aspect of Imperial life, the priesthood was divided, first by gender, and then into classes.

There was no escaping these divisions.

Men and women each had their province of control and influence, and yet women were always subject to men.

There were two basic divisions within the priesthood. There were the officiants of the sacred rites, and there were the holy orders, forming the service societies and contemplative sects.

As with every other strata of the Empire, whoever you were, wherever you went, you knew your rank, and you were bound by protocol in relation to it.

Every member of the priestly class had some choice as to what path they wanted to pursue, though in reality most people were governed by the needs and desires of their families.

The vast majority of priestly power resided in its bureaucracy, the management of its land holdings and the officiation of the temple rites, to which every citizen of the Empire was bound.

When faced with the choice of which path he wanted his career to follow, El went deep, as was characteristic of him. He became a brother and followed the contemplative sects into the paths of mystery, austerity, and aesthetics.

He wanted to do more than officiate rituals or manage a temple, he wanted to discover the meaning of existence.

He felt that at long last he would find a place of peace where he could age, and end his days in quiet.

He was always a conformist at heart. That was the secret to his success in leadership, though he did not know it.

Leaders conform to the expectations of their followers, they are shaped by them, their ability to represent those expectations is why they are trusted.

We find among the greatest leaders those who have the most felt need to belong.

From his youth in the rebellion, during his years in the resistance pursuing his quest for justice; El was obedient, a follower, not always of people but to the multitudes and their ideals.

He had been the unparalleled leader. His commitment to deliver what the people desired and expected of him, what they expected of the Empire, and of the faith, this drove people to him.

He was a follower of ideals. He did not give the people a voice, he was their voice.

When he spoke from the heart, it resonated in theirs, because their feelings and desires were one and the same.

In relation to his principles he was relentless, unquestioning. His ideals were like pillars made of diamond, as clear as daylight and as solid as foundation of a world.

He never wavered, and that is why he succeeded when he was returned to life, when he ended his rebellion and went into service for the Empire.

The role he played was different, it was different on an order of magnitude, but he followed it with the same simple conviction.

El believed in his heart that the fate of the people, of trillions of people rested on the proper function of government, and that peace and prosperity would follow for everyone if each and every person obeyed its dictates.

Then he met a woman, a Sister and he fell in love.

While he would have preferred to remain in the holy orders of the contemplatives, that was an impossibility.

His following stretched across the million worlds of the Empire. The people clamored for news of him, in its absence they wove stories and legends of their own.

After years of servitude and study, he was initiated into the mysteries, and ordained into the order of the priesthood.

He became an officiant of the sacred rites.

The temples he served in were overflowing with people, people who would spend years on pilgrimages to receive his blessing.

El was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues, all of whom were eager to trade on his fame.

Every day he carefully reenacted the rituals and repeated the sacred chants, which the people were taught would carry them to eternal life. He reenacted the rituals for himself and on behalf of others who believed that they would open the gates of the Continuum to their dead and dying loved ones.

The Imperial Cult sent him on his own pilgrimage, he visited thousands of worlds.

El handpicked the coterie who attended him.

The loving sister went with him everywhere he travelled.

They stole time together in the quiet moments of the evening, in the deep of space, on the trek between worlds. He told her stories of his youth, and the rebellion, of his service as a soldier, of the sacred moment when he had been returned to life.

Her name was Imogene, she was from an exalted family, jaded and skeptical of all the sacred rites, as most of the priestly class were, but she was not skeptical about him.

They were passionate for each other, they were loving and kind.

His affair with the Sister was illicit, but he loved her, and she loved him.

When he looked at her he could not tell the difference from the one woman he had loved more than any other, his rebel wife, a hundred years past, she was her twin, separated only by time and distance, class and caste.

Imogene never cared a bit for the rules that bound her ancient house. Like most members of the ruling families in the priestly caste, she was a nihilist.

While he cared only for her.

They had both sworn vows of chastity, vows which she believed were meaningless long before she took them, knowing they were not binding, having been given proof of that when she was seduced by the officiant who presided over her initiation.

Such vows, as far as she was concerned, were for appearances only, and were only meant to be a tool for the governance of those on the lower rungs of the social order.

A death sentence could be served for such violations of the rites. Those few people who had been convicted of those crimes were actually being punished for other reasons, for political concerns.

As a novice she celebrated such executions with carnal delights, reveling in the slaughter of illicit lovers.

His willingness to break those vows, and the anguish it caused him, captivated his audience in the Collective.

It was out of character, it was unpredictable. There was a great potential risk to both him and her.

The Continuum ensured it would continue.

His followers multiplied.

With the blessing of the Collective, and by the favor of Continuum, he had advanced in rank among the religious orders, and in the hierarchy of the priesthood.

He had advanced despite his carnal crimes or because of them, he would never know.

It was a favorable development in the narrative of his life.

As far as the Collective was concerned, during his time in the priesthood his story had begun to tire, this was not dissimilar to his tenure as an administrator when he served in the armed forces.

Now in the context of his romance, thousands of intriguing dramas sprang up in relation to him.

Throughout the Empire millions of El’s followers took to extremes to demonstrate their love, and faith in him.

Planetary rebellion sprang to an all new high since the time he left military service, and now Revolutionary movements were being carried out in his name, and rebel forces now included former members of the military caste who wanted to see him elevated to the Imperial throne.

The details of these conflicts were not reported to him, he was aware of them and did what he could from his position in the priesthood to quell those conflicts, but he was no longer a general and therefore his influence was limited..

He was a monk and a priest and he was in love, engaged with a member of a royal house in a passionate affair.

He did not want to be bothered with the responsibility to resolve those conflicts.

His thoughts were only for Imogene.

The Continuum loved the intrigue of his cover-ups.

They made him a bishop, and overseer of the flock, and then a Cardinal, in order to free his time, to give him the space to develop his relationship and sink deeper into his desires.

The masses, knowing nothing of his transgressions, adored him even more.

They made him Abba, the head of the most exalted religious order, the most secretive and the most influential, they positioned him as the head of the Imperial Temple, answerable only to the Emperor himself.

El was fully actualized, he had become the most powerful figure in the Empire that the Empire had ever known.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six, The Empire

Chapter Thirty-nine, Priest

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six, The Empire; Chapter Thirty-eight, General

Week 40, 2019
In the post of an agency chief El enjoyed a life of luxury well beyond the grasp of the ordinary plebian, and though the demands on his time had lessened, he filled his days with attention to duty, examining and reexamining the reports he was fed from those beneath him in the administration.

He was old, though he did not feel it, and he thought this would be the pattern for the rest of his life.

He believed that he had finally arrived at a place where he could use his influence, and management to improve the lives of the people; there food supply, their access to clean water, and medicine, leisure time and rest.

El was transforming the world he managed into a haven of tranquility.

He was wrong.

In his tenth year as Planetary Secretary, he received orders to report to a military entrance processing station. The Empire ordered him to service, taking away his hope for a better world.

His people reacted with a mixture of dismay and veneration.

He did not balk, or look back.

He resigned his office without fanfare or ceremony.

He had no family to say goodbye to.

He was ninety years old.

He became a foot soldier, entering a new way of life.

He received the blessing of the Temple, and once again his elevation to a higher class and different caste was met with awe by the audience who followed his story.

Then he went to war.

He served in the infantry with distinction. El was a brilliant combat engineer, as fearless as he was tireless.

He risked everything for his comrades, putting their safety and security above his own, falling back on the instinct and experience that had made him the greatest rebel commander in memory. Now he turned his guns on rebels throughout the Empire. He was relentless when called to be, and merciful when he could be. After one year in combat they pulled him off the line, the Collective loved his heroism, but feared for his life. They did not want to see him lose it in hand to hand combat.

El was a shining star, but displayed too much gallantry. This put him at odds with his fellows, it unnerved the Collective.

There were too many moments in which he hesitated in combat, giving his opponent a chance to surrender before the kill.

Those watching him often experienced these moments as judgement on them.

He volunteered for every mission. Sometimes entering two or three engagements in a single week.

When he was wounded he went to hospital, got sewn up and returned the next day for duty.

His life was now the armed forces.

As old as he was, he looked forward to ending it there.

El pursed his duties like he had in the bureaucracy. He was single minded and focused, determined to set an example for everyone he served with, to his commanders and to all of the people he knew were watching his life through the Imperial networks.

He believed that his life had been spared for a reason, and he had been blessed with longevity so that he could fulfill it.

If the Gods wanted him dead they would take him. If they wanted him alive they would spare him.

He thought nothing of it.

When the command pulled him off the line, they raised him in rank and made him a yeoman.

This was a bitter disappointment to El.

El’s former life in the bureaucracy could not be considered as real experience or earn him a promotion as a yeoman because it was experience from a lower caste, it meant nothing to the military command.

Nevertheless, serving in the bureaucracy prepared him for the work in front of him, and he came to it as a celebrated war hero, decorated and wildly popular with the media, he was able to implement processes that streamlined the way records were kept, transferred, accessed and compiled.

El had reveled in the exploits of the infantry, the comradeship, but he did not resent the break or the rest. He had not enjoyed the killing, or watching his fellows die.

His audience, both in the Empire and in the Collective, grew tired of watching him shuffle papers again. Having seen him as a soldier and a hero, the Collective was not satisfied with his return to normalcy, and the Continuum was eager to push his experience and the narrative it produced to new places.

They wanted more from him.

He went back to wars as a medic, the most dangerous of all professions in the military.

He studied for it.

He trained with the same zeal he brought to all of his endeavors.

He took his oath, dedicating himself to the preservation of life. He took it seriously, and he risked his own life time and time again, suffering serious injuries to recover the fallen, whether they were soldiers of the Empire, or rebels.

Everyone was a citizen he told himself, belonging together as conjoined links in the great chain of being, and he was there for them, for each of them. Like himself, every rebel had a story to tell and every one of them could be redeemed.

As a rebel, and a soldier he had mastered his feelings of fear. He set fear aside and treated it like a curiosity. Fear was nothing more than an itch in the mind, it was a tickle that could easily be ignored.

While a prisoner under torture fear vanished from him altogether. Even pain became an experience that measured as near to nothing. Only life mattered, the preservation of it, the risking of it, or the elimination of it, whatever was called for in the moment.

He answered the call of duty dispassionately.

As a medic El never shrank from danger. He ran to the aid of the fallen, crawling to them if he had to. He did whatever he could while his limbs could propel him.

He was a paragon of virtue.

His audience loved him, they worshipped his willingness to sacrifice himself for the sake of his comrades.

The command rewarded him time and time again, holding him in the highest esteem, and they continued to decorate him, engagement after engagement, wound after wound.

It propelled him to glory, but it also awakened him to the suffering of others.

He did not shrink from opportunities to be merciful to the enemy.

This set a poor example in the minds of his superiors, but the Collective loved it.

After he had completed a thousand missions, and Continuum was satisfied that they had squeezed every last thing out of his current story ark. They promoted him to the rank of officer, gave him a commission as a member of the cavalry.

He returned once again to training, learning the complex controls of the war machines, he became a pilot.

In the cavalry El mastered every type of combat craft; land, sea, air and space. It was another long period of arduous training. He spent years of his life learning all the technical details of the equipment he operated, their munitions, how to repair them, maneuver them and use them for deadly effect.

He became a weapons master of the first order, an Equestrian, a knight.

His experience as a master of cavalry combined with his years of experience in the infantry; both as a combat engineer and as a medic, made him the most highly trained member of the armed forces there had ever been.

The ease with which he learned the controls, and the rapidity in which his skills developed into something like artistry was shocking to his trainers, they had never seen anything like it before.

Their observations substantiated the myths that were constantly perpetuated about him.

People believed he was descended from the gods, a child of the gods, the believed that he had come back to the Empire from the Continuum, to live with them, to observe them, to share their pain.

His comrades worshipped him like a god as well, whether they believed in his divinity or not. They wanted nothing more than to fly missions with him and watch him fight.

El loved flying, being at the controls of the greatest vehicles that had ever been constructed.

He loved flying in the quiet of space, he loved to watch the silent explosion of energy weapons and the quick fires bursting from breached hulls in the vacuum of space, he loved the beauty of the bright lights and flashing colors.

Those moments were freeing, they gave him pause to contemplate his extraordinarily long-life.

He retired from combat as the Empires greatest Ace; living or dead.

He had been deployed in countless engagements, on thousands of worlds.

He was a suppressor of conflict.

His heroic image was brighter than a star going nova.

Rebel squadrons would surrender when they knew he was in the field.

He was a harbinger of victory.

Cults of worship formed around him.

Even past the age of one hundred years, he maintained the strength and vigor of a man in his prime. This was interpreted as evidence of his divinity.

Many of his superiors were jealous, and some of his contemporaries as well. The jealous wanted to eliminate him, which was a part of the reason he saw so much combat.

The conservatives simply wanted to return him to the bureaucracy, to take the limelight away from him and groom him for command

They pulled El from combat and made him an aide de camp.

They told him that with his experience, in this new position he would be able to actualize the full range of his talents in service to the Empire.

While this was less entertaining for the Collective, the Continuum saw the potential for an even greater narrative to manifest itself through the exploitation of his unique position.

Together they were creating the greatest single story the Collective had ever absorbed, and it was the only narrative running that could compete for the attention of the membership with the drama and intrigue that flowed from the planet Earth.

When El was elevated to the Imperial Command, the whispering about him among the worlds of the Empire became harder to ignore. People began to truly believe the rumors that he was of the Continuum, that he was a divine being, an angelic messenger, a scion of the gods, those rumors became more and more concretized in the minds of the people, until they became an actual part of his narrative.

His promotion to Field Marshall precipitated chaos in the Imperial Cult, in the centers of command, and in the royal court.

El thought nothing of those whispers, he acted as if he could not hear them.

He followed orders.

When he was in command, he followed protocol.

In everything he did he allowed himself to be governed by others.

He accepted his position in life, rising to the challenges set before him.

It was as if he were a party to his life, merely an observer of it.

As a general he became the greatest peacemaker the Empire had ever seen.

He resolved conflicts merely by showing up.

Abuses of power, matters that had been routine in the years before he took command of the Imperial Armies, they all but disappeared.

He was temperate.

He was just.

And his story began to lose its luster.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six, The Empire

Chapter Thirty-eight, General

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six, The Empire; Chapter Thirty-seven, Bureaucrat

Week 39, 2019
El became an icon of hope for the ordinary citizen.

His was an example of a life rewarded after an ordeal of incredible suffering.

He was a symbol of re-birth, of clemency and mercy.

His former compatriots in the rebel movements were stunned by the turnaround, bewildered by his supernatural return.

Some called the whole drama a charade and renewed their commitment to fight against the Empire, others, in the spirit of hope, gave up their rebellion, desiring to follow the man who had been their greatest leader wherever he went.

He was the gatekeeper.

Wherever he went, the people experienced his presence as nourishing, it sustained them.

The Continuum followed every story-line coming from El’s reincarnation, passing on the drama and excitement of the sudden shifts in alignment, allegiance and circumstance to the Collective.

Rebellion would never go away.

The Continuum had no desire to crush it, and therefore the Empire had to allow it to persist, despite the fact that they had the power and the technological sophistication to root it out.

The narrative of revolution remained as riveting as ever for its primary audience.

New stories emerged, the stories of rebel soldiers, rebel families and rebel clans, turning piously toward the Empire, seeking forgiveness in the hope that they too could be forgiven and reborn, but they were not always welcomed, not always forgiven, they suffered at the hands of their persecutors, just as their leader had before them.

El’s was celebrated by the Empire, and the Collective. He was elevated to the position of a bureaucrat, given a purpose, in keeping with the ideology of being that was promulgated through the Imperials Schools and the Imperial Cult.

Even though he was just a desk jockey, his daily life was viewed by his adoring fans with fascination.

His comportment was flawless.

El fulfilled the expectations of his station with immaculate precision, moving from the lowest order, into a position of authority.

He was beset with challenges, each one a test of his poise and wisdom.

His rise in the bureaucracy was not free from conflict.

He encountered many people who saw him as a threat to their place in the hierarchy. His immediate supervisors chaffed, both at his abilities and in the favors he received from the people they themselves reported to.

He could not be promoted without climbing over them, which meant that they could not advance while he worked under their supervision, their own careers would be stagnant.

To the mid-level bureaucrats, his presence was a source of fear and concern, they could not feel secure or safe in their position with him in proximity to them,

His supervisors took one of two approaches, they either tried to swamp him with work and sabotage his standing or they quickly learned the trick of complicity and promoted him.

El was far too aware for their efforts at sabotage to work, and he was tireless.

He seemed to be able to learn any task instantly, and then excel at it.

On reflection he knew that his return to life had changed him. He had always been bright, an exceptional student, but in his new state of being he seemed to possess abilities that bordered on the mystical.

He would not leave his desk until he had it cleared. Sometimes staying in his office for days at a time.

He thought nothing of benefitting from it for himself, he tried his best to hide his skills in a cloak of pious humility..

He had no life to return to, no family, everyone he had ever loved was dead. His quarters were just a place to sleep and eat. He had no connection to anything but his present state.

When he gave in to the Empire, he gave in completely, hold nothing in reserve for himself.

He was their servant.

He would do whatever was asked of him.

He found a kind of peace in that, and a sense of belonging.

From doorman to receptionist, from receptionist to stenographer, his celebrity put him in demand.

El was just a pencil-pusher, but everyone wanted to be seen with him, to emulate him.

Bringing him into an office meant exposure and fame for the bosses around him.

Some of those who sought to benefit from their association with him saw their star rise on account of that relationship, others were cast down, sometimes catastrophically.

There was no discernable pattern.

He rose up through the hierarchy with mindfulness, carrying with him the lessons he learned from his years in the rebellion, and the years of torture in prison that followed.

Trust no-one, suspect everything, be diligent above all else.

His thoroughness and attention to detail saved him time and time again, it revealed who in his circle was genuinely trying to help him, and which of them were looking toward his downfall.

In his capacity as a stenographer he learned the tiniest details of government. He took memos, he recoded meetings, he was a witness to the bureaucracy on a level that sometimes left him with feelings of vertigo.

The Empire was vast, both in terms of the space it occupied and the minutia that governed it,

The macro-verse and the micro-verse, he was comfortable in both.

Everyone serving in the bureaucracy underwent periodic reviews. Merits and demerits flowed from there, along with bonuses and penalties, raises and promotions.

Without fail, when his yearly review came, he was raised up, given more responsibility, more accountability and more freedom.

He relished it.

He had no thought of using those things for his own benefit, he only desired the accolades, the recognition of his achievements.

El took pride in his accomplishments, even as a file-clerk.

He used the resources he acquired to make a difference in the lives of his neighbors. He let his advantages flow from himself to others, keeping very little for himself.

The small steps he had taken away from the street made a vast difference in his lifestyle. He had access to new foods, fresh foods and even intoxicants.

The work he put into advancing his place in the world began to take the shape of altruism.

His success mattered to himself and those who lived in closest proximity to him.

He continued to look beyond his station, toward a life of ease and comfort.

He was offered the hand of dozens of girls in marriage, girls from families he had helped, who wanted to tie their fate to his.

He had already watched the only woman he had ever loved be tortured to death, and he did not want to love any other.

He refused them.

He did not accept their offers, but he was often tempted to take advantage of his status, to fall into the delights of the flesh.

He forewent the offers of romantic entanglement that came to him from the women in his work place, or his tenement, preferring to keep his eyes focused on the next opportunity for advancement.

He exercised his sexual proclivities lawfully, with women who were professionals in the trade.

The Empire required and relied on bureaucratic controls. It governed the movement and aspirations of trillions of people through their manipulation. It managed every aspect of the lives of the people, slowing some down while creating lanes of opportunity for others.

The Empire established paths of predictability for the vast majority of its citizens, and used the byzantine structures of the bureaucracy to exercise its capriciousness as it desired.

The Empire utilized monitoring at every conceivable level of the social order. It monitored the movements and behaviors of its citizens for economic purposes, for security purposes, for historical and religious purposes.

It monitored their behaviors on levels that few people outside of the Collective suspected, because it monitored them for the benefit of the Collective and the Continuum alone.

There was no such thing as privacy in the Empire.

Every citizen was the property of the state. Their entire lives were meant to be organized as a gift, as offerings to the Gods, this is what they learned in school, and that is what was beat into them through the ritual conditioning of the Imperial Cult.

The individual person was merely a link in the great chain of being.

In time he rose to a position in which he reported and analyzed a wide range of human activities and behaviors, especially among those rebel groups that he had once been a member of.

He became aware of how futile his life had been.

The Empire knew everything, had always known everything about him.

He had only ever been a blip on their list of concerns, and he had sacrificed everything and everyone he loved, to serve his vain pretensions.

His duties were to observe, report and ensure that the work of government was carried out efficiently.

It was Quality Assurance, and he was an overseer.

The Empire provided service to a million worlds.

There was food distribution, medicine, the military, the Imperial Schools, and more important than any other institution, the Imperial Cult to attend to.

At no time did he ever drop his diligent attention to detail, not for a moment.

El oversaw the complex allocation of material resources designated as gifts to the gods. This was a process without end, an unceasing harvest of energy, of ore and silicates sent in vessels piloted by AI to the Central Planet, to the home of the Gods, the home of the Continuum and the Collective.

He was tireless, when he was in the flow of the work he experienced a sense of transcendence.

His life was completely bent on fulfilling every policy, to the letter.

In his former life he cared for the miners and the planet harvesters, people who lived their entire working lives in space, crushing asteroids, breaking up planets and their satellites, smelting ore and separating the elements.

They lived short lives, they were prisoners and outcasts coming from every station.

Now El spent their lives as easily as he would spend credits on his dinner. He let go of all his former closely held morality, a sense of right and wrong which had propelled him into his life as a revolutionary

He abandoned it in service to the Empire.

He became a living reminder to his peers regarding the necessity of protocol.

He was a supervisor, in time he became a chief administrator.

His tenure in the bureaucracy had spanned a length of time that seemed impossible, spending years at every position while advancing through the circuit of offices.

He was not a young man when he was restored to life by the miracle of the Continuum.

He was an Octogenarian now, though, he appeared to be a man in his prime.

Those who had been following his career began to realize that he was extremely old compared to the average citizen.

The average citizen who followed his life story had been living with it for most, if not all of their lives, and his story was still fascinating to them.

He was a paragon of virtue.

He had made a personal spiritual journey that was marked by the stations in society that he had transited, going outcast and rebel, from condemned prisoner to the highest places in the Imperial Administration.

This was noted as more than a curiosity by other administrators at his level, and though he was universally admired, he was also the subject of vicious jealousy

He had made a journey in the space of one lifetime (perhaps two), that the Imperial Cult taught the people it would take hundreds of lives and reincarnations to complete.

When there was no place left for him to ascend to, the Empire ordered him to be drafted into military service, marking a second change in his caste and station.

It was another miracle for the people to behold.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six, The Empire

Chapter Thirty-seven, Bureaucrat

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 4.0 – Part Six, The Empire; Chapter Thirty-six, Servant

Week 38, 2019
Over time every civilization founded by the children of the Ancients was absorbed by the Empire. Either they came willingly or they came by coercion, or they were destroyed.

Imperial governance was uncompromising.

The Empire ruled with power and fear, crushing the people, pitting them against one another; class versus class, rank over station.

The people were oppressed at every moment of their lives.

The Empire put stars systems into conflict with one another, and the worlds within a given system at odds with each other. It was planet versus planet, clan versus clan, and family versus family.

The Empire sought to control every aspect of the individual’s life; from how may grains of food they ate in day and their measure of water, down to what they thought.

Everything they did was for the sake of the drama it produced, which ultimately fed the Collective.

The interpersonal dramas comprised of conflict and strife, hope and fear, love and desire, these were the things the Collective craved, the Continuum cultivated, and the Empire delivered, like a sacred offering on a holy altar, consumed in blood and fire.

Every moment of an individual’s life was recorded and preserved for the consumption of the Collective.

The citizens of the Empire knew they were being watched, but they did not know the details or the full extent of the scrutiny they were subject too. Only the Observers knew the scope of the information that was collected, and even then, they did not know the whole of it.

There was no freedom in the Empire, even among those who believed they were free.

Throughout the Empire, dissent of any kind was punished with brutish joy.

The Imperial Police delighted in torture. They developed their cravings for it in the Imperial Schools, where the slightest infractions were punished without mercy, and the record of a person’s transgressions followed them for the whole of their lives.

The Imperial Cult taught the same thing; transcendence through pain, they taught that suffering was purgative and they perfected all of its arts.

Every citizen bore the marks of their upbringing with them, scars inflicted by family, church and school, both the visible and invisible, all of the pain and rage which they were conditioned to suppress.

The extreme emotions produced by the citizens of the Empire were like ambrosia for the Collective, it glossed over the sheer banality of their disembodied state, scenes of their suffering fed the appetites of the Collective and fueled the Continuum.

The Collective would become intoxicated on fear and pain, on remorse, on the dashed hopes and failures of the ordinary citizens. The Continuum used those appetites to control the membership.

In the living fields of the Empire, a charge of dissent was not limited to aberrant behavior, to the things an individual might do or fail to do. The Empire also policed speech, art, and every form of expression was subject to their control.

It claimed to do so for the sake of security, for the safety of the people.

It demanded conformity from the citizens at every level, as if it were orchestrating a great dance throughout the cosmos, with each and every individual playing a vital role.

That is what they taught it in the schools and at the temples, they enforced each person’s obligation through years of indoctrination.

No infraction was too small to go unaddressed.

The imperial conditioning attempted to govern thought as well, but monitoring the thoughts of individuals was a trickier proposition, The Continuum never wanted to reveal the extent to which the people were monitored, but it collected the innermost ideas of each individual through rituals they passed off as magical and supernatural.

For the average citizen, living under the heel of the Imperial police was a constant struggle, they had to perform their daily duties with a sublime degree of mindfulness and pass their days without drawing the attention of the patrols.

The schools they attended and their houses of worship inured them to it. The lessons they were given, taught them to accept their suffering as a part of the natural order, as links in the great chain of being, a chain which the inextricably were bound by, belonged to.

The way of life was to go unnoticed, to blend in, to repress everything; these were the keys to survival.

A family might cultivate these skills and live unremarkable lives for generations, only to be cast down by the powers that be, for the sheer pleasure of it.

A random patrol might decide of its own volition to focus its attention on a person or family, and once they did the Collective would delight in watching them crumble.

The state would take everything, up to and including their lives.

It might be a random event, or it could emanate from the Continuum issuing a directive, passing it down through the hierarchy to exploit a narrative it believed the Collective would enjoy.

The people who suffered under these pogroms were taught to interpret all such events as karma, either the fulfillment of a cosmic and spiritual debt, or payment in advance for an indulgence they might receive in the next life.

Everything was transactional, including the spirituality of the Imperial Cult.

The Imperial Schools and the Temple both taught the people that every action they committed and every word they spoke mattered. The value of their words and deeds was recorded and they would be punished or rewarded, either in this life or the next for the things they said and did.

There was no mercy.

Apart from the upper classes: the nobility, the religious orders and the military, the lives of ordinary people throughout the empire were sorrowful, trillions of people, on millions of worlds suffered.

They were depressed.

The military orders made up barely ten percent of the population, and the religious orders barely one.

Among the ordinary people there were high level bureaucrats and merchants who lived lives of comfort, and this gave them some ease, but the highest of them were viewed as lesser beings, lower than the lowest soldier.

The classes were fixed.

Most were angry, without hope, desperate and alone.

Even those in the upper hierarchies spent their days filled with dread, competing for place and prestige, searching for the esteem of their superiors and always uncertain of when they might be called upon to sacrifice, or called upon to pay a karmic debt that some distant ancestor had incurred.

Competition among them was vicious.

The only group of people who reflected an image of peace, were those at the very bottom of the caste system, those who had nothing to lose, who had no hope of changing their station in this life, those without class or caste…the outcaste and the untouchable.

For all of the wonders of the Empire, for all of its technological marvels, and the physical beauty of the people, the pal of death hung over the entire civilization.

It was the end that each and every person looked forward to, death, the hope that in the next life they would have been able to advance to a place they were not able to reach in the course of their current life. They hoped for justice, for a redress to their suffering in the next world, believing that it was impossible to have satisfaction in this one.

El was a media darling, before he developed a conscience.

Even in his youth, when he was a part of the rebellion and a terrorist, the press loved him and loved covering him.

Of course they vilified him, but only because they had to. It was in the script.

El was the enemy, but the people were fascinated by him, they followed his every move, and not just the people of his home planet, his story was covered throughout the Empire.

His daring and his heroism drove ratings.

The Continuum had its own interest in his story, carefully managing it and the Collective loved the narratives that sprang from his life.

In his youth El’s motivation was anger not altruism. He manifested a hatred for the Empire, for its schools, for the Imperial Cult, a hatred he carried deep in his heart.

He had no desire to save anyone from anything, he only preserved people insofar as it met his starkly utilitarian view of his mission and his destiny.

He was uncompromising.

He needed soldiers, he needed people who would die for his cause, and the cause was to destroy.

In his youth El was fighting for himself, against himself, and he was a brilliant tactician.

The Continuum plotted his Demise.

The Empire would not destroy his rebellion with military might, it could have. Instead, the Continuum introduced a romantic interest to do the work, a woman he could not ignore.

As he learned to love, he turned his attention to the plight of the people.

This was his undoing.

He became a hostage to compassion.

The Imperial Powers built him up, they reveled in his celebrity. They broadcast his story in every corner of the Empire.

He was the ultimate propaganda tool; the brilliant rebel, the unfailing hero, the victor of a thousand engagements, the man who could endure anything.

He did endure everything.

They took their time with him, and charted the limits of human suffering. Then they took him down, crushing him absolutely.

He became a sacrifice for the Empire, his blood on the altar of the state, a burnt offering, a holocaust, he was the the sacred victim.

The things he suffered went beyond physical pain.

They drove him to the brink of madness.

They put the people he loved the most into the grinder ahead of him, forcing him to watch while the machinery of the torture chambers reduced them to bloody-ruin.

He would not betray them, and in turn he was betrayed by each of them.

The people loved him for it.

The prayers of the faithful in every temple throughout the Empire resounded with calls to free him or kill him, to bring an end to his suffering.

The Temples echoed with his name, day and night, he was the victurstar.

In that moment, the moment when he lost everything, when he was forced to watch the Imperial torturers grinding the life from the few people he held dear, it was only then that he began to doubt his commitment to his ideals.

He felt a deep sense of shame for having brought so many loyal people to death and misery.

What had he been fighting for if not for them?

In that transcendent moment he questioned everything.

El converted.

He understood that the revolutionary quest he and his people had been on was always destined to fail, all of his victories in battle were nothing more than vanities.

As they lit his flesh on fire and his body began to burn, he did not give into pain but he relented, he saw the errors of the path he had taken, and he silently begged for forgiveness.

The Continuum perceived his thoughts, reading his body language and the movement of his lips.

The Continuum knew everything.

It transmitted everything that was transpiring directly into the Collective, where the majority of the members were absorbed with his narrative, his story had been the most engrossing that any of them had witnessed in ages.

The Empire broadcast the execution as a live stream throughout the million worlds.

Time itself seemed to stop as the rebel leader’s body burned in a splendid fountain of light and color.

The medical examiners came in to look at the charred remains, to examine them and confirm his death, and then a miracle happened.

The Continuum restored the rebel to life, putting a doppleganger in place of the desiccated husk, the type of body used by the Observers, only modified and enhanced, it wanted him to remain in service, as an idol, as a superstar for the ages.

And the Continuum wanted something more, a host to carry his consciousness through the experiential fields of the living.
Emergence 4.0
Part Six, The Empire

Chapter Thirty-six, Servant

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

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Emergence 3.0 – Epilogue, Collected Parts; Part Six, Death

Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Day 363, Saturday
December 29th, 2018

Epilogue: Part Six – Death

She saw it quickly approaching, the veil between life and death. It had always been thin to her. Throughout her life she had seen to the other side, communicated with the voices of her ancestors, experiencing their lives through their eyes.

Nevertheless, like every mortal creature she was connected to her heartbeat, to her breath, to the network of nerves sending electrical impulses and chemical signals coursing through her flesh.

There was fear, but no pain as Kathy experienced the death of her body, walking into the unknown.

She was taking a journey past the point of no return, the most significant thing was how utterly unplanned and unforeseen the whole event was.

On some inexplicable level, this delighted her.

As she felt her physicality slip away she was already in another place, occupying new ground. She was pure consciousness, sensing the multitude of humanity all about her, moving through her.

She felt them pulsing, each and every person, as her own heart had once pushed blood through her veins, she felt the steady drum beat of Earth, like a great rhythm with the power of creation within it.

The fear she felt concerning the mystery of death was magnified by the reality that the world itself was ending, ending in fire like Epicurious had always said.

Earth was being rolled up like a blanket and she was the White Buffalo Woman running across the starry-field, carrying it in her arms, cradling it like a baby.

The whole of humanity was poised at the end of the world, and then there was release.

There was absolution.

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