Superstar -- Chapter 12
1. "Don't go away! We'll be back right..." the
announcer said. Stage hands scurried around on the set while the
camera was off. One technician approached Bri, "2nd Counselor,"
he said earnestly, "I'm picking up that the First Counselor has been
assassinated." Bri tapped into the psi strata. "Excuse me,
children," he said to his young audience. He was taping a segment
for a popular kids holo as a special guest. The kids were not
Other technicians on the studio floor were briefed by supervisors at
roughly the same time. Within one minute, the entire psionic
strata was buzzing with the news. "How did that happen?"
was everyone's mutual question. "Where was the Psionic
Guard?" Even the kids sobered up when the mood became a
3. Prior to the assassination, the
Psionic Guard Director had issued an
'eyes only' report to the President about an adverse threat to Vejhon's
Citizens across Vejhon felt like they were being shadowed by a menacing
psionic presense of
unknown origin. The Guard could not trace the negative emotions
to a specific source: It was clear that the source was well
organized, and capable of instigating widespread malcontent. "We are
NOT a reactionary force!" the Director said more frequently lately, "We
do not bark at psionic pranks -- we discover and eliminate them."
Simple enough. The next logical question was, "How?"
because the perpetrators were elusive. Every time they they had a
lead -- it turned into nothing.
Vejhon was unaccustomed to panic, yet a
panic pandemic swept across Vejhon faster than the medical
community could treat. Nobody could trace the panic to a
source. Because nobody actually died, the word "pandemic" was
avoided. "Fear" was the catalyst that spread the
pandemic. 'Fear' was tearing the shell apart.
Since so-called 'dark powers' was pure supersitition: Nobody was
willing to postulate a theory based on folklore or myth. Shellans
were afraid of an 'invisible' attacker, yet, 'invisibility' had been
the uncontested prima facie
modus of both psionic polar extremes throughout time. The Secret
Society's #1 weapon was 'disbelief in the Secret Society:' The
idea of an elusive sinister force in opposition to the Psionic Guard
was preposterous: That 'disbelief' was now biting them in the
There was a single tangible clue: The Guard infiltrator who
only instruction for letting him live. He reported the details of
Kor's assent to
and retired with the Director's blessing.
knew that the testimony of a Psionic Guard was legally
irrefutable so he let the Guard live for that reason. Even if the
could believe that Kor was sincere, the concept of a pretentious
miracle permanently maligned his outlook and disfigured his polar
alignment. The Director retired him with full honors.
9. The Kids could not apprehend Kor because nothing
could be traced to him. In effect, The State was now 'on notice'
dangerous new nemesis. The threat is real -- but you can't see
it. The Kids were a concern to Kor: They were holistic and
pure; they cut like a knife and were as elusive as Elite
operatives. To Kor's relief, the Guard kept the Kids under
Psionic attackers plant seeds in the unguarded paths of the minds, like
pathogen that magnifies fear: Those seeds are kinesthetically
triggered and metastasize on their own; fed by the victim's
Mental health specialists use the same method
to stabalize their patients by overpowering maladies with virtue:
The only moral concept
incompatible with evil is 'sacrifice.' Sacrifice is an act that
invalidates the function of evil; where love is expansive -- conceit
recoils into the black abyss of itself, sucking up all ambient light
OFFICE AT BALIPOR
At an emergency briefing in the President's situation room, Vicar Miles
presented news clips of random acts of violence. "Shellans are
having neural seizures everywhere," he said. "It used to be said
that someone who suffered a neural seizure was never stable to begin
with; that they were just too lazy to deal with life." Miles
presented a chart with psychiatric illnesses, "Nearly every category --
completely off the chart!"
13. He pointed at the 'depression' column, then
tapped the 'morality' column which expanded into 50
"Citizens with no criminal record have been committing strange and
crimes; some inexplicably heinous." A holo showed some gruesome
imagery with photos and dossiers of the perpetrators; most of whom were
respectable shellans, never predicted to have a bad day, let alone
murder their whole family.
15. Vicar Tell'on injected, "Shellans are asking
us if the Psionic
Guard has moved to another shell?" "We've heard that 1,000
times," everyone reflected. They both made eye contact with the
Director who did
not want to mention a truck load of letters from shellans asking that
very question. The President was sympathetic -- he received even
more mail on a wider range of issues, mostly negative
lately. Although somewhat redundant, mail symbolized permanently
imprinted thoughts that could capture moments in time and provide key
insights into failures and successes. Mail was an official, if
not elegant means of communicating.
16. "This is spinning out of control," Miles
recapped. He did not want to say that the battle was lost,
because it wasn't lost yet... just heading in that direction.
"And we don't have a solution?" the President said with concern.
"We're working on it Mr. President," Tell'on assured him, since he was
sitting right next to him.
Absolute bedlam was not an immediate threat, but the situation
needed to be publically addressed. "Thank-you, Vicars, for your
report. I know you're doing the best that you can." The
Vicar's bowed and with the Director's blessing, left the situation
room. Other cabinet members and invited high-level guests
followed them out. The President made eye contact with an usher
who understood that an elevated meeting would begin once the room
18. The lull gave Bri time to fret over his dubious promotion to
notwithstanding that the office of 2nd Counselor was figuratively
esteemed to be a pocket spare anyway. "The system is perfect,
even if the shellans aren't," the
President was fond of saying. Aqu'Sha had a way of making
the worst condition seem more palatable. The vacant 2nd Counselor
chair was a sober reminder of imperfection.
19. The room ambience was electronically modified to accomodate a
smaller meeting condition. The interior lighting was dimmed and
the window tints were lightened to permit more outside light. An
usher brought in a silver-framed wooden tray with a ceramic ice bucket
and four crystal tumblers. There was also a mysterious bottle
draped by a silky mauve towel. The aesthetic was peaceful
and warm. The lighting at the other end of the table was
completely turned off.
Chair was not asked to come. The word "proletariat" carried over
Dans past since everyone was technically among the 'working
class.' The Proletariat was a Congress of elected regional
representatives; some of whom were appointed through a jury-selction
process to invalidate the function of lobbies and special interest
groups. The system had worked faultlessly for so long that there
had never been a need to fix it. Bri noticed four tumblers, but
only two others beside himself in the room.
dazzlingly georgeous woman with a serene, seductive grin,
stepped into the office and reverently announced the arrival of Vicar
Wexli. Bri stared at the woman, who seemed like
she had dressed to impress him. Without the slightest psionic
resistance, she confirmed the fact. Wexli was the
Director's heir apparent. She was the most gratifying sensory
ambush Bri had ever experienced.
President nodded his head at Wexli, who without waiting, stepped
in from behind the secretary.
tightened her smile toward Bri, who
had reclined his plush swivel chair beyond it's balance point.
busted his knee on the table's underside to rebalance his
chair. Wexli was ready to catch him if necessary, "Don't
forget to breathe," Wex directed just to Bri. Bri
loved Wexli because he didn't fit the stoic
stereotype: Wex was not very inhibited and inclined to engaged in
heartedness on occasion; he was also fully vested by the Director so
credentials and competence was never questioned. "I used to be
you, once," the Director confided in
not his knee, Bri might have bent something else to prevent his
fall; Kyle'yn and Wexli kept their grins to
themselves. Wex sympathetically patted Bri on the shoulder while
taking his seat.
"Sit down, sit down," the President beckoned
congenially -- he did not catch any of
the mischievous innuendo; he was not fully at ease either.
26. Wexli sat between Bri and his boss, who was still
laughing at Bri. "We're only shellan," Wexli defended,
anecdotally. Bri had become his charge.
Four of the five most powerful figures on Vejhon
sat around a lustrously polished, dark wood table.
"Help yourself," the President prodded,
reaching for a glass, adding two ice cubes and pouring some Jolvian
Mead into it. Bri smiled, almost blushing, "So that's what was
the napkin?" He didn't say it out loud, but everyone, including
the President easily read the Jolvian Denial story from Bri's unguarded
"There's no denying it," Bri
thought as a private pun -- he knew the docking collar story like
everyone did, and
felt like he had just unshelled the greatest mystery on Vejhon.
The Director took
it all in stride, "It's sort of a sipping Brandy," he suggested to Bri
psionically, "don't go too heavy with it." "Will I change
colors?" Bri asked. He accepted
everything the Director said as ex-Cathedra, even if his comment had
been about girls or some other pedestrian topic. "You
see," the Director said to Wexli privately, "the stoicism will
come. But you don't have to rush it."
President sat back in his plush, custom-made swivel chair and sighed
contemplatively like a father amongst family. He looked like he
was contemplating a sports strategy or something of less
importance than what was really on his mind.
31. Aqu'Sha's face was known throughout the shell as the
all-knowing father. His present company understood his facial
gestures and caught the subtext
of what he didn't say.
"Mr. Director," said the President,
"What's going on?" His formality fluctuated according to
the number of guests. He wasn't being formal.
answered, "Do you want the long or the short version, Sir?"
"Oh, by all means,"
Aqu'Sha implored comically, "give me the short version," then
gestured toward Bri and Wex, "and give them the long one - they
35. Bri almost laughed out loud because he loved the way the
President spoke so charming and disarmingly -- his
voice could warm the coldest room and possibly prevent a war...
just not the impending psionic war that they were dancing around right
36. "Let me put
it this way, Mr. Director," the President rephrased, "How long?"
That was cutting straight to the chase. Cryptic conversations
psionic conversations had already taken place and Bri was astutely in
loop from the beginining. He knew the President's perspective as
well as Wex knew the
"Mr. President," said the Director, "we have between three and five
before we can expect a complete revolution."
"Ask and the shell receives," the President pondered. He was only
this relaxed among certain friends who understood the volumes he didn't
allowed his eyes to glance up toward the
ceiling as though he were seeing a divine vision. Bri and the
Director wished they had more insight to Aqu'Sha's visions, but
President's eyes were getting a
touch watery. Everyone understood. It was a reality
that no civilized
shell leader should ever be faced with.
had come to know and understand the President's
mind and heart very well, and he knew that the President's heart was
That pain, hurt Bri worse than the inexplicable afflictions that
Vejhon was suffering. Symbolically and in fact, the President
felt the planet's pulse. He was the living vestige of
the State and had accepted that mantle willingly.
"Guards," the President mumbled despairingly, then he lipped other
words that his present company could not
recomposed himself, "First
Counselor," he said, directing himself toward Bri, "Are we
ready?" Bri was not used to hearing himself called
"Yes, Mr. President," he answered, "The last three units are being
detailed but the rest are shiny and new. We've even got money
over." Whatever that amount was -- it couldn't be very
They did not focus on any particular topic for very long, on
purpose. They all
knew basic guardianship,
and were shielded by the premier authority on the subject.
A proposal of megalithic
porportion had been debated several years prior and enacted by the
four of them. That proposal was now a reality. They had
created innocuous cryptic alternative symbols to discuss the matter
indirectly. Actually, the truth would have been harder to
Vejhon was about to stage one of the
most incredible events to occur anywhere in the Universe, without
"Divine" was an interesting concept since the Cacci Dai system is
a machine world that also believes in The One. Machines, however,
enables them to guard psionic secrets better than biologicals.
Machine vulnerabilities lay in other areas, but psionic leakage is not
of them. Harmonic synchronization is similar to psionics, but
exists mainly in the Elliptical paradigm.
For the discussion at hand, no other civilization could
have filled an order of this magnitude on such short notice and
produced a state-of-the-art product. All of this was communicated
without saying anything.
there anything else, Sir?" Bri asked. If an infiltrator had been
listening, the symbols would have been meaningless. Boring makes
Bri," the President
replied, "It confounds me that those ships could have been built.
you see the numbers? They go completely off the page!" It
wasn't the number of ships, but the dimension of the ships that the
President referred to. To say more would have been
compromising. The thought had been communicated in code:
They were discussing a paper clip shortage in D'Luthia.
Psionically, Bri said to the President with the Director shilding them,
"It took the entire treasury to pay for it,
Sir. But we have them. They're real. They
Just awaiting your order." The coded thought was of a
domestic military build up with Theotian assistance. Only
these four knew the whole story from start to finish.
President was impressed with his protoge'. "Thank-you
for coming gentlemen." These four had to walk separate paths to
avoid sending up red flags. There were no indications of
external interest, just another boring meeting.
nodded politely at the Director and Wexli, "I need to brief the
First Counselor on the evacuation plan, since he will be overseeing the
operation, but do keep
me apprised as always." The Director assigned other Guards to
shield the meeting so that he and Wex could attend to local
Director rose, kindly nodded to both, and exited. Wexli left too,
but remained with them spiritually; an antic intended to serve a
56. The President and Bri proceded to discuss sports,
news and anything that had nothing to do with anything. "Off The
Record" had an identically named piece of legislation on
the Proletariat floor, invented to obfuscate a hot issue by dubious
design: The military buildup was demanding attention and the
media was spinning it a thousand different ways. Reporters from
other systems were getting involved too. It was easy for the
Proletariat Chair to stay in-character since he didn't know anything
57. The missing question was, "When?" "But lets not think about
right now," the President suggested, "Aren't you going to the outer
banks today?" he asked mischievously. Bri nodded with a
58. "If you could live in your mind and create any reality you
wanted -- what reality would you create?" The sparkling lights of
Tyrannis were derived from squid cells. The buildings as well as
their ships had biomorphic exteriors and controllable pixelation.
59. Almost any sentient imagination has pondered the thought at
least once. "Are you asking fraternally or as my High Up?" Micha
60. "You may answer in any capacity you wish," High Up
61. By a Jolvian standard, Micha was still a kid, albeit, a very
intelligent one. He gave no immediate reply, so High Up
asked, "If a castle is built on a dung heap, and the occupant never
leaves the castle -- where does he live?"
62. Micha grinned, showing his razor sharp, jagged white teeth,
"Up to his turret in shit," Micha laughed. High Up smacked
him, but not violently -- Jolvians were inherently physical when away
from foreign scrutiny.
63. "Let me show you something about our distant cousins."
High Up waved his hand non-challantly and a crystal clear holographic
scene appeared before them. In the scene was a much more
vicious-looking strain of reptillians sitting down to dinner.
64. The language was barely understandable but the visual details
left little to imagine; civilized, yet grotesque.
65. The reptillians were feasting on a terran-looking creature
tastfully prepared and garnished. Jolvians did not eat sentient
creatures. "It wasn't enough to have power over a meeker species
-- they ate them too," High Up commented. Jolvians were not
vegitarians by any sense. "Why do you supposed the Theites
consider it such an insult to be a vegitarian?" "Because they
live right next to us," Micha answered.
66. This was ancient history, "Why are you showing me this?"
Micha asked. High Up skirted the question, "They didn't just
'eat' them," High Up added, "they raised them for food; shellan-looking
Jols not terribly different from your Vejhonian friend." The
presentation was confusing; like comparing terrans to primates.
They had already discussed Bri's promotion to First Counselor.
67. "How did they evolve from one state to another?" High Up
asked. "Ahhhh," Micha breathed a sigh of relief, grateful that
this was going somewhere.
68. "You know that famous Vejhonian litney... " High Up reminded
Micha that it's origin was really Thulian.
69. "They're leaving," Micha confessed. High Up squinted
his eyes and remained silent.
70. "Leaving?" he finally replied.
71. "Yes," Micha nodded, "and I'm going with them."