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|UESCTerm 802.11 (remote override)||Author: Yossarian|
Return to Waves: Sections 1-8
She was pleased. The chaos that had once enveloped her very body was pushed light-years beyond the nearest stars, as her children pressed outward from Pfhor Prime to the nearer planets, finally jumping systems. Strange beings were found.
The first were creatures not unlike the Pfhor. Their bodies were thin and light, their vocal chords were close matches, though their languages were quite different. They had not been a space-faring race, and rather lived simple lives as farmers and artisans. War was rare to them but not unheard of. When the Pfhor ships descended they did not panic, merely regarded the interlopers with a strange interest as they viewed them through their seven eyes. They were a gentle species that did not understand their place in the order of the universe, did not understand their role in the fulfillment of her destiny.
She pondered on this, but only for a short while. She relished in the challenge of creating an entire new subset, to practice and play with original DNA once again, to absorb a million new voices and hear their thoughts in their beautiful and strange language. They had called themselves the Ylnanrah, and She took them and molded them, calculated the best places for them within her growing Empire and placed them in such. She found they made powerful liaisons between the simplest of her forces and the expanding bureaucracy. Some worked among the lessers; others worked behind view screens and serviced conduits. The lesser Pfhor referred to themselves as the Pfhor’njrhl or “Those who fight for the honor of the Enlightened One”, or, as they were commonly known, fighters. Initially they were distrustful of these strangers who took places above them, the so-called Pfhor’rtii’k: “The guardians of the 3 (or multiple thereof) for the Enlightened One”. The fighters referred to them simply as enforcers. But any soreness or animosity caused by the integration of the enforcers was slowly soothed away as She reassured them from above with silent words and thoughts and feelings of love, and promotion of their new brotherhood, and they were obedient, finally united.
The enforcers themselves were not initially friendly to the Pfhor goals once they understood the implications. Ylnanrah that would not submit to experiments were slaughtered and used as examples to the others. She augmented their brains and genes and bodies to fit perfectly the roles She planned for them, polished them and sharpened them so that they may provide years upon years and generations upon generations to her service. The assimilation was complete within 12 generations, and the errors and discrepancies were erased and wiped clean with each new batch of enforcer until they responded and performed to her satisfaction. And they loved her with the same undying devotion as their new brothers.
The Pfhor found others and absorbed them into the collective, increasing the diversity of the armies and navies and the slave pool, not to mention the additions to the amount of scientific knowledge available to her. It streamed into her brain as millions of packets of knowledge, as She saw through billions of eyes simultaneously. Their ships improved. Their weapons improved. More Jjaro pieces were being discovered and installations stripped and sent to her as these societies were conquered.
One by one She pieced them together with Her own hands, utilizing the technology stolen from a dozen species and absorbing their history to help explain, and slowly She began to understand. She began to understand the Jjaro and what they were trying to do, and what they finally did do (But She did not know their plans for her). Often times, before retiring to fitful sleeps ripe with dreams She would lie down and an peer through the cloudless nights at those stars She owned, the stars that required centuries to conquer, and in the closed parts of her mind felt awe and respect for the Jjaro and the little about them and what they had accomplished so long ago, in ages so long to make her Empire seem a veritable blink of an eye. She was humbled before them as She suspected that they were no longer of this Universe but nor were they gone. She wished nothing more than to join them, and She suspected She knew how.
And in less than a second all weight is gone and he hovers, seemingly, for longer than it really is yet a fraction of a second is all it lasts, and before he realize even this he feels the effects of the natural laws and the illusion of weightlessness is shattered. It is like this always. It is the first time every time.
Liken it to being strapped in to an ancient executioners' tool, the electric chair, wrists and ankles shackled, legs and chest strapped, smothered and covered head fixed and locked in position to receive the maximum amperage. It was supposed to be a painless death, quick, efficient, clean, yet it never could have been any of these things. The black cloth covering his face, robbing his senses and forcing him to fight for his final few breaths through its thick weavings. It was said the hood is there to spare the witnesses the gruesomeness of his death, the inevitable facial spasms and drooling, the unnatural contortions and the popping of veins from his forehead and neck, but this is not the only reason.
The shroud in itself is a torture device. Imagining, rather, experiencing the very agony of spending the final moments of one’s life in complete sensory deprivation. The seconds ticking on the clock on the wall to the counting down until his death are unheard by him, locked in the tiny room around his head there are hours, no image, no sound, nothing but the stench of the cloth on his nose and the fear of the inevitability of the moment tearing through his brain, shredding what is left of his consciousness until he can hear, actually hear it scratching against the inside of his skull, the primal beast that is his inner brain trying to escape him like a rat off a sinking ship. Deeper and faster he breathes, laboring against its tightness but it has him, it has him and will never let him go; he has been married to it and will be buried with it, never to escape, for a death sentence made timeless by his final adorning. And that is not an illusion.
He can still remember how it felt to take that last step, his leg registering the extra push its muscles had to exert in order to get him airborne and his mind holds that memory fondly, for though he knows he will eventually return to ground, it does not. Like a child that cannot bear to see his mother go thinking that he will never see her again, watching her disappear, being not yet old enough to understand object permanence and that his mother will be back in a few hours, he find himself missing that last contact with the same fear and sadness as some small part of him has convinced himself that he will not again feel solid ground.
Day or night, light or dark, it makes no difference. Regardless the illumination or from where he takes his final step the condition is always the same: darkness. It appears soon after he registers the disappearance of the weightlessness and the black is inescapable, it is inevitable. It blinds him first and in seconds he is deaf; the rushing air mutes all sound. He breathes laboriously , fighting against the torrent of air playing havoc on his lungs and nostrils and windpipe, arms and ankles flailing, yet they are bound, bound and fastened tight to nothing as there is nothing else to grasp and his chest is held tight, tight with fear and his heart pounds away the seconds running madly beating faster, faster ticking away the moments but there is no clock only gravity as speed doubles over on itself again and again and then he can hear it, starting as a faint ringing but growing louder louder in his brain right between his ears, his inner mind, the tiny, ancient organs that think without words, they rebel against all sense and sanity, and he screams and flails and fights a death that may occur at any time or may be minutes away, screaming but only fruitlessly as the sounds he makes fall upwards, unheard by even himself as his aural disability has failed to subside. Still he is bound by it, the rushing air weaves a fabric around him, tighter and tighter as the moment comes, and always it comes sometimes immediately and sometimes it takes extraordinarily long but it is inevitability, his last coherent thought.
Yet as he surrenders to the madness the pain subsides. Is he falling? What is falling? When all comprehension is gone and words gone and memory gone and total mental reversion has occurred, where is fear? Who is he? Where is he? In these times things come to him, the deepest images and memories revealed as the layers of his mind unwrap them, they burst forth yet fall upwards as his screams did seconds before. In all clarity they play out, the very keys to his personality, the answers he searches entire planets and systems for but never seems to be able to find, the answers are there every time. Pity his shattered mind has no way of registering this, and his livelihood flutters away, chasing his fear, slipping into nothing, dying in the darkness like embers. And just how long is it now until the end? It does not matter. He has no sense of time. He is shattered.
The Drinniol fell, being at only the beginning of their stone age, and then the S’Pht clans, divided as they were, came to bring new challenges to the growing empire, and, eventually, new tools. The S’Pht were the most interesting species encountered to date, and it appeared as though the Jjaro had placed a special interest in them. She loved their myths and their religion and ceremony, their speech was beautiful to her, She found the entire culture romantic and moving, and even eerily coincidental considering what She knew of the history of the galaxy. Some of their texts She even read with her own eyes, and She was inspired to make a special place for them and a special Pfhor as well.
Though the most interesting species to her, they were also the most difficult to bring into fold. Their specialty was the use of mind; they contained strange cybernetic implants that She and her newly-bred scientists spent years examining and re-examining. The technology was familiar to what She knew of Jjaro, familiar but not similar. This puzzled Her and made her more determined. Beyond the technology of the S’Pht lay another barrier as deep and difficult to master: the individual will of an uncooperative compiler.
Their personalities were not especially complex, nor was their thinking for that matter, their real ability lay in sheer processing power; they were not so much thinkers as they were computers, and they proved to be very, very elusive. Though this was not always true She had noticed, as strange emotional trends would spread among the creatures like waves, blazing and subsiding, and She suspected though could never ascertain that they were using her very own inventions to communicate amongst each other. Pain and torture had no real affect on them, instead of becoming angry or sad they exuded a strange melancholy mood and became even more so resisting. She loved every minute of it; as though having an adversary, as a worthy opponent was not something She had met within thousands of years.
The taking of their planet had been difficult as well, though there was no reason it specifically had to be. Many Pfhor lives were lost to take it, but the cost was justified, as the taking of Lh’owon was the perfect operation for her bureaucracy and new military to gain experience from. She no longer contained the ability to direct entire combat operations alone and keep up the Empire at the same time; and for this reason She especially thirsted for the S’Pht and their abilities, and often thought of what effective administrators and controllers they would make. After securing all of the necessary specimens and samples, and once all of the necessary reports were filed in triplicate and submitted to the bureaucracy, the Pfhor military began a systematic sterilization of the planet.
The swamps evaporated and spoiled and burned. The forests, humid with life withered and died in the poison air, as the remaining S’Pht, stubborn and trapped, looked out upon the destruction from the heights of their citadel, feeling their strange sadness and praying that the elders of their clans could produce a miracle; but the sands turned red beneath Lh’owon’s sun as they baked dry, radiation poisoning the paradise, the S’Pht’s ancient gods nowhere to be seen, and their brothers had yet to heed their united call for assistance. They died within those walls, left to perish slowly and painfully for their resistance to the Empire, their young ones stolen and their history plundered, their lives shattered and world set aflame.
They proved more useful than She could ever have imagined, though the cost of maintaining their slavery was very high, and slavery it was, as their relationship with the Pfhor was nothing so voluntary that it could be called servitude, and certainly not loyalty. She felt their hate and it thrilled her to no end, how it simmered behind their strange and bland personalities and their beautiful speech of calm metaphor and soft meanings.
A structure was put in place to ensure their high work productivity from each unit, whether they were compiling databases or directories, or optimizing networks, or doing one of the millions of things they seemed almost made for. Enforcers eyed them and the Pfhor fighters eventually came to understand the S’Pht’s role in the operation of the Empire, and knew there was no punishment for striking a compiler not working hard or fast enough. But physical threats were not enough for creatures who lived exclusively on an intellectual level, and She soldered their minds to a specially designed Pfhor of her making. This cybernetic Pfhor controller issued orders and monitored activity, performance, and thought. It served as a junction and filter for all information coming to and moving from S’Pht to S’Pht, and these peaceful creatures hated the controller, hated his unnatural intrusions and his prying, his harsh words always without compassion or thought pushing them ever forward, grinding harder against their very souls, forcing its sickly yellow will into their spirits, defiling the essence of their being. And so, being then powerless, they continued on and slaved their years and decades and centuries, digging through code familiar and alien, serving the empire, serving her.
And though generations of S’Pht came to pass, She could not cleanse their collective consciousness of their past, of the shame of defeat at the hands of the slavers. Their myths and stories once transmitted openly and shared over hours became a secret protocol imbedded within reports they shared between each other, a quote here, a phrase there, emotions and attitudes flying between them, handed down to the newer compilers, the S’Pht genetically engineered to serve, who none-the-less silently discovered and participated in the secret rebellion; there was no cleansing them of their past as She had with the other species, their resistance was strange, impossible, and unmovable.
That there were billions of potential traitors below her, that they glided through her hallways, and survived from sustenance She provided, that fought side by side with her minions excited her, filled her with fear and wonder, and thrilled her with the possibilities. She was gambling everything, She knew, having them beneath her serving her, wishing that they loved her as they did the gods of their myths; but they did not. For this She could make life hell for them.
The punishment for rebellion was a duration of sensory deprivation, the length of which depended on the offense. It could be minutes, it could be hours, and in the worse cases it was days or weeks or possibly indefinite. The controller could cut communication or apply direct stimulation to the pain centers of their immense brains by mere thought. This was enough to keep them in line, but only that. Unlike the other species, subdued and loyal, they understood what freedom was, and secretly passed tastes of it from compiler to complier, brother to sister, through generations the thoughts of S’Pht long dead reeled through their minds and over the Pfhor networks and rang fresh, kept alive by their devotion to their pride and their faith, by their durability and passion. They understood the source of the slaver’s power over them, and however long it might take to dethrone this power, they knew that when the moment arrived there would be no hesitation, only freedom, only victory.
Mother Earth comes to greet him and he shakes her.
The S’Pht at first did not know what to make of the humans. Though eternally grateful for them for their liberation from the slavers, they still did not understand this species that was so simple yet so complex. Where the Hindmost Crèche had been disgusted, the S’Pht were intrigued. They conferred and communicated openly, relishing in the feeling of free thought and discussion devoid of the stupid slavers and their humiliating demands. They thought about the humans, and hypothesized over their intents, their goals. After all, it had been one of the human inventions gone rampant that had liberated them, and not the actual humans. The compilers knew much of human history, all of it, at least, all that had been recorded, and the patterns were easy to spot. There was much to consider, as these beings had held a short but bloody history, though it was not unlike the S’Pht, who had found that pure unity among all of a species was not an unattainable goal. From all their discussion on contemplation, from the conferences and meditations they compiled one conclusion about their new allies: humans are strange.
Violence unimaginable. Shakes her with the violence of his own weight smashing into her surface after an impossible fall from a great height. The result is catastrophic. Organs rupture and bones shatter like ice, splintering the skin and causing his liquefied innards to escape obscenely, face exploding out of helmet, every square inch of his clothing soiled and stained with what used to be his flesh, dripping from the walls as well, and it falls in the air as a fine mist, mingled with ancient dust his death managed to displace. The weapons rupture and explode and ignite, guns ripping apart and smearing and melting in the fires within fires as pressure and air disappears, and the stone beneath him cracks and rumbles, power and smoke and pebble racing through corridors dark and unseen and endless, and naught left of the hero but a crater.
That is what should happen but never does.
And he is amazed he survived. He always is. The convict awakes from the thousands of volts unscathed before a horrified audience, as the guards fall to the ground and the straps disintegrate, and the light falls from the executioner’s chamber. Each time he is revived from oblivion by the sudden return of solid ground, gravity reduced again to its minimum effect, and everything falls back into place. Gently, softly, coherence returns, and comforting thoughts of sanity illuminate as they flutter downwards like the ashes of burnt papers will in a gentle wind, and when they come back together he is never the same.
Something is jarred loose, left over, extra parts. A free moment, a free memory, perhaps evens a second chance. He cherishes this regardless if it is the recollection of the pain of some long finished torture or the hint of a handful of seconds of a bright afternoon from a childhood in an ancient place long forgotten, he holds these things in a millisecond, and steals them away and hides them with the other miscellaneous bits that have managed to shake loose, in a corner in the darkest room in his mind, where he waits to reconnect these odd pieces, often discolored and completely unconnected yet he is not phased by this, he is not deterred. He labors in the seconds that are his own, between killing and obeying and running, always running, running deeper into himself to play with these fragments and replay them, like faded toys, broken and old and dirty, and useless, though they are there, they exist and are more than the alternative, they are more than nothing, they are all he has of himself, and there is nothing he would fight harder to protect.
He strives to survive to return, he yearns for the madness of recurrent suicide, finding himself seeking cliffs and caverns, shafts, rooftops, anything to return the shroud and continue the torture, any chance to splinter and disintegrate the psyche and free another piece, another toy, another plaything, another sacred relic to protect, and eventually, perhaps, after a thousand falls, a million, the work of madness and gravity will undo the damage of generations of misguided scientific minds and the intricacies of alien technology, the very things that enable his survival will ensure the slow resurrection of his personality, his eventual destiny.
Falling to his knees on the cold floor he let everything fall from him, all of the numbness of his nihilism and pain caused from lack of love; the cancer that consumed him splashed as black vomit, choking him as it sprayed from his mouth and dribbled from his nose and tear ducts. Inhaling to spare his consciousness only made it worse, as another convulsion brought more of the sludge from his belly. Arching his back up and stretching his neck he let even more out, spilling along the floor and sliding along slowly outwards in an obscene circle.
A shriveling Shell, this construct of power, every provision had been supplied save for those that could sooth a human soul, his only feature left un-enhanced haunted him, begging for attention like a confused child.
She was disgusted by her own reaction to this new species and what She saw of them.
She understood chaos, and loathed its nature and loathed is presence all around, there was never enough distance between her and what She did not control, and what She did not control was chaos.
She understood order, its beautiful comfort deifying the designer and setting minds free, order was the key to destiny, and this is what She sought for herself and her children, through Herself and through them.
But these humans were something different altogether, an abomination, sacrilege, their vary nature and being and thoughts and creations and cultures and methods wrapped into a single concept of a race that did nothing but disgust her beyond anything She had felt up to the moment. For though She had seen chaos consumed by order, and order undermined and swallowed by chaos, She had never seen them so tightly interlocked in such a monumental struggle, they ran into each other in swirls of an olive shade, the color of their strange human skin, existing as one, existing as wild contradiction in a universe that She had, up to now, believed would not have tolerated such a union of perfection and failure, of life and death, and of love and hate.
That these beasts could love and murder with their same hands, that they could take one life to save another, that they started wars, that blood ran and tinted the soil of their own planet yet they held in their religions and cultures and speeches a sincere belief in the sanctity of life, that they bestowed atrocities among themselves and their neighbors as often as they did generosity and charity, that revolutions shook their societies as regular and rhythmic as heartbeats, that madmen could scribble doctrine and followers could turn it to religion, that their minds ate as much as their bodies, and could grow lazy and fat without exercise.
That these creatures were not one in the same, that each man and woman and child was a species unto him or herself, that there were distinct variations of individual personality and tone of voice and opinion, that each and everyone obeyed strictly the rules of their nature yet varied so wildly within them so to make behavioral prediction impossible, that groups of these beings could take on personalities and behaviors of their own, moving with a single will that seemed to mock Her collective in a peculiar way, that they could change their minds and direction and sanity on a whim, that each had the potential to be a saint, tyrant, slave, king, murderer, savior, commoner, preacher, criminal, martyr, icon at any one period in their strange lives, or even all at once.
That these animals constructed programs and machines of their own devising, often times by the will of a single prominent genius or maniacally dedicated group, that they could create things so much larger than themselves so easily and not even comprehend the implications of what they were creating, that their technology was growing faster than they could ever accommodate yet their cultures always caught up only to fall behind the technology again to catch up yet again at the cost of spilt blood, and that blood was the blood of their brothers and wives and husbands and children.
She hated them and was afraid of them, this anomaly, this cancer upon the galaxy that She would surely purge, purge as She had Her sick and starving brethren on the surface of Pfhor Prime millennia past. These humans breathed pure contradiction with every breath, they were ordered chaos and patterns in randomness, their methods were strange and translucent, the variables were rampant and incalculable, embodied madness these foul primates were beginning to thrive and multiply and push themselves outward in an explosion of discovery and advancement yet unseen to their societies, in an ascending curve of technological and cultural evolution that even the Un’Pfhor had never achieved, and because of this fact more than any other She prayed to the gods She had murdered for the power to absorb Humanity and tame it, to bend and straighten them to the supreme will of order, to her will and her wishes, this She had to do and there was no question, as each sight and thought of the humans and their ships and their colonies brought forth from her a slight cut of an emotion She had not felt for a very long time, not since before her ascent into perfection, and this emotion was nothing more than mere doubt. For if the humans could rise only to fall and rebuild and surpass, prosper and thrive on the ashes of their past civilizations without evolving into single consciousness as She had ordained the Un’Pfhor to do, perhaps her theft of her species evolutionary path was mistaken, or worse, unnecessary.
She tried to banish the thought but could not, that perhaps had it not been for her the Un’Pfhor might have conquered the galaxy and beyond, that they might have obtained the paradise they sought and lived like the proverbial ancients as truly enlightened beings free from war and want. She realized slowly that in Her time She had given her minions nothing but war and want, and though they bathed and thirsted for the prospect of honor, and were attracted uncannily to the presence of battle, they did so only because She had designed them to. In her chamber She brooded slowly over this, God’s own dilemma, until She came to a solution satisfactory to her and her Empire; through their love and devotion to her, they lived, and through the same She lived, similarly and symbiotically, and such a structure of faith, devotion, design, and love could be nothing but pure and perfect; She began to realize that whether what She had done was right or wrong was irrelevant, the nature of destiny does not include morality when it is not convenient, as often times it is not.
She was ascending towards her destiny, with the faith and belief that the Jjaro approved. Humanity would fall to her whims and serve her purposes as had the others; they would do so or be destroyed.
I know who you are. You are destiny.
He heard these words as whispers in a dream, as a seed, as a single reed snapping, consumed by the inferno of the universe collapsing on itself. And he saw, dried and rotten by the ages, an arm that could only be his own, strewn with enhancements yet all the same useless, and dissolving in the chaos, chaos like S’Bhuth had sought to evade…
…and what of it? What of him, madman, daydreamer, or warrior? If his recollections stand as true occurrences, where are the fruits of victory? Where is the taste of glory? What closure found in a mind muddled and stirred by the intricacies of time and mysteries of lucid dreams, even more so when there exists no distinction between them?
There are moments when his psyche becomes swept under the whimsical charade of half-truth, lies, fantasies, and he dreams, staring blank, of instances he once lived, and those to come, dreading for doomed worlds and possibilities uncounted, beasts and faces crushed silent and cast away, myriad nightmares in terror swirling, swimming on the surface of stars and rampant rebellion, in the arms of paradox and impossibility, and so he, as a man against this, taking up his sword, will see to true victory, settling and soothing his conscience as the ocean does the sand…
There is little justice in the sobriety of the waking world.
For given the tools and time he would have little reservation to again pile the bodies high in a rage of euphoric carnage, sending the alien souls to hell and submitting, obeying the braying of a thousand crooning voices, some whispering, others shouting, from beyond the voids of space and barriers of time, from those yet conceived and others dust and gone, from beings minor, equal, and revered, chanting in unison, calling him to go to her, speaking in a voice resounding that shakes the very heavens where they wait.
Proceed to Waves: Sections 17-24
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