Race -- Chapter 19
Another beam struck M'Trol-1 while a Corlos operative watched from the
safety of the simulator dais. The operative was safe as long as
he didn't cross the simulator threshold.
Corlos had mapped the event forward and backward and knew exactly when
to act. Every dynamic had to line up like tumblers
in a multi-dimensional lock.
3. Elite conquest #868 was about to be
the metaphorical cat grew tired of toying with its food.
4. The kids aboard the
destroyers believed that they were far enough from supervision to taunt
this particular shell, rather than follow SOP
5. "There are four ships in mid orbit," Onimex
reported to Ireana, "toying with us." The next blast
shattered her lab windows
as if to underscore the point. "The atmosphere is destabilizing,"
he added. The Elite never once placed
a camera on a doomed planet to experience what
planetcide felt like from a victim's perspective. "Elite victim" did not exist in Elite
lexicography. "We don't recognize obstacles -- we overcome them,"
the Academy Commandant told his cadets, "We are never...
victims." He pronounced the word 'victims' with cold disdain, to
convey revulsion at the preposterous
6. Ireana felt unbearable guilt, "I can't
brought you into existence so that you could implode two seconds after
burn-in. I'm really, truly, sorry for that."
7. "I don't think that's the plan," Onimex
consoled her," or my future self wouldn't be here shielding our
journey." "Our journey?" Ireana asked. She had never
been inclined to imbibe, but suspected that 'hidden wisdom' was
somewhere at the tavern. "I must have given you a few extra
circuits," she said in self mockery.
8. "They're just about ready to go for the
kill," Onimex said, "My future self says, 'don't worry!'" "Are
you saying those ships up there are playing around?" Ireana
asked. "My future self says, 'Yes.'" Dal
El once said to a captain, "You have to look away so the youth can play
once in a
while -- just know when to say when." The captain was 22 himself,
so the Vice Elite, 'more or less,' granted a license to ignore SOP in
moderation, so long as
the job got done.
THE END and THE
9. "We're approaching the transport window,"
Onimex reported. Ireana would follow up on the back story later;
imminent doom seemed to upstage everything else right
now. "Yeah, whatever," she thought. Any possible means of
survival would be nothing short of miraculous. "Save yourself!"
Ireana commanded Onimex, "Save yourself!" If his future self had
traveled back in time -- he could escape right now! "It's already
been done," Onimex assured her. "I hope so," Ireana thought,
"because we're on our last breath..."
10. The simulator operator inset a small
window on his dais console and pushed the inset ahead 10 seconds.
The transport synchronizer locked on a glowing "3." The only
feature on the observation side of the simulator floor was the dais
surrounded by darkness. Observers could step across
the threshold into the reality side, but there was no way to
return. The only way back was matter-energy transport.
11. Ireana felt her molecules
scramble while her photonic matter remained animated. "Everything
your mind 'thinks' in this condition is real," Onimex told her, "so
mind what you think." "Your future self?" she asked rhetorically
-- she had figured that much out. "It stands to reason since our
thoughts are already electronic," she said, "but it still feels
The simulator could be piloted to any point
in space without leaving Sunova's interior. The Light Race had
built engines powered by the intense gravity of
Sunova. The only plausible explanation for why the Light
Race had an interest in hyper density was because gravity influences
light. "I have no idea where we're going," she
said. "We're almost there," Onimex assured her. She could
not begin to accept the fate of everyone else on M'tro-1. If
this is the afterlife, she would ask The One in person. "Give me
a crash course," she asked absently. Hyper dimensional travel can
discombobulate biological synapse.
13. "All advanced civilizations cross the
energy-matter transposition threshold and discover a danger when
matter from it's photonic mass," Onimex explained, "Light-mass is not
to it's organic host. Corporeal
beings can not cross the energy-transport threshold without a thorough
understanding of the The One. Neural activity is not rigidly
a neuron only fires a pulse that is picked up by other
neurons. Those synaptic gaps are connected to the vacuum level of
matter." She was familiar with the concepts described, just not
that exact recipe. "Which Onimex?" she asked. "In this
State, we are one," he replied. His abstract conceptualizations
seemed unnaturally advanced for an A.I. unit that had just been
14. 'Time' is not consistent throughout the Universe. "Is this an
alternate reality?" she asked. When Onimex was still in
development, she had contemplated remote-piloting him to an alternate
Universe as an exploratory measure, then decided not. It seemed
more holistic to avoid adulterating his pre-sentient body.
he had already gone there and back, and who knew for sure where
else. "I'm escorting us while we're in the energy stream," his
future self answered. She had not yet asked the question, and
deduced that she must have implanted a psionic link at some point in
the future. One thing at a time. "Either that, or he's very
intuitive." "I am," he confirmed. "Answer's that," she
said, on both counts.
15. "Why did
we have to run
like fugitives when we're not the criminals to begin
with?" she wondered. The promise of a wonderful future had been
cut short. "Or maybe this is how it's supposed to be," she told
herself. "Am I blended into a standard carrier wave?" She
was already dissecting the technology, "It's so vivid and
dreamlike." She was about to ask other questions that Onimex
preferred not to answer, "We're almost there," he said to distract
had authorized this temporal interference, the parallax was easy to
correct. It would also serve to add evidence against Kor for his
trial. "The best disturbance is NO disturbance," Daniel always
this particular visit is a legal mandate."
Ireana rematerialized inside Sunova on the simulator platform.
The destruction of
M'Trol-1 was nowhere around. The waking dream transitioned back
into reality. The librarian shut down the simulator. Ireana
her head ringing in the absolute quiet. She was glad to see
Onimex beside her and placed her hand on his polished upper surface,
grateful that machines
also made it to
the afterlife. After 4 years of devoted effort, his
initialization and burn-in concluded without a fault.
18. She was about to say, "I think we made it,"
but strange, ethereal music began playing in her head. As she
thought more about the music, she realized that she was composing and
conducting what the orchestra played. It used to happen to her as
a kid, riding
the back of the aircar with the wind rushing past. Now, the
music was pure and unfetted by white noise. The maestro drove her
concerto through magnificent crescendo and brought the masterpiece to
sweeping grand finale. The silence should have been followed by
applause, but there was none.
"I will clap if you like," the librarian said gently, his voice fading
into imperceptible walls. The simulator was dark and demurely lit
in stand-by mode. The Light Race had tapered all of the corners
and hard edges so that every room appeared much larger than it actually
was. It helped to cancel claustrophobia and feelings of
"The music?" Ireana asked psionically.
"Yes, the music," the librarian answered psionically, "We all hear
it -- you'll learn how to tune it out after a while." Then he
added, "Pardon the pun." Ireana didn't catch the pun. She
giggled at his need to qualify his prose though.
"I'm sure there's a psychological effect in any case," Ireana
said. "The possibilities are endless," she thought
privately. In the back of her mind, she knew that everyone else
on M'tro-1 had perished and 100 rhetorical questions
would not bring the dead back to life, except for one: "If I'm
where did everyone else
go? Because this is not the
afterlife." Alma grinned sympathetically and non-verbally seemed
to ask, "How do you
This was a textbook recruitment by Corlos. They scanned the
entire Universe for the brightest minds they could find; whose
be neither confirmed nor denied, although confirmed was better.
As far as the larger Universe was concerned, Ireana and Onimex died on
M'tro-1. Most Corlos operatives are unaccounted for in this
fashion. Ireana deduced that a crushing vacuum concentrated
ambient omnibands at that one point in space, which made the neural
composition of music possible. Alma was impressed, "There
are so many who never figured that out," he thought quietly.
24. "Everyone always asks that one moral
question," he offered, "why only me?" Ireana gave him
a look that begged for an answer. "We're going to have
you in early,"
he said, walking toward the exit and extending his arm so that Ireana
and Onimex would follow. "We've been summoned to a meeting with
Daniel." "So he's not going to answer the question, and Daniel
must be someone important," Ireana thought. "I'm Alma," he
"Ireana," she replied, and motioned toward her cybernetic companion,
"Onimex," he said for himself. "I like your initiative," she said
privately to him. "You haven't seen anything yet," Onimex
replied. She touched her head, "I never installed that..." ...not
that she disapproved. "In the transport," Onimex answered,
"You'll still need to go through the motions while we're here, so that
it still happened the first time." Then he added
laxidasically, "Now, later, whatever."
25. "Are you co-located
again?" she asked. "No," he
answered, "...as I remember, you were squeezing me and shouting, 'No
Don't!'" She liked his smart assness. "Sounds like you
skipped eons of development," she assumed. "I gave myself a few
pointers," he confessed. "Was one of those pointers to let me win
arguments?" she asked. "I'll be wrong once in a while," he
assured her, "on purpose." "Did you tell yourself to not always
have the last word?" she asked. He said nothing further.
She grinned at his antic, short of laughing out loud, "We'll get along
just fine," she said.
26. The trek to the conference room was
dark and mysterious because of the austere alien design. "I've
been here for 38
years and I still haven't got used to it," Alma commented.
feel like I've seen seen this before," Ireana whispered. "It has
that effect on everyone," Alma said. "The Light Race designed it
-- they even left their library intact. Daniel sometimes falls
asleep there," He turned into a corridor, "We call it Sunova.
It's the residue of a
collapsed star." "I knew it!" Ireana interrupted. Alma
nodded -- he knew that she knew it, and he continued, "The gravity
surrounding these paths and
chambers would atomize
your body instantly." He pressed his hands together to
demonstrate. There was an alcove with tasteful vegetation and
round lights sunk into the ceiling. "There is no technology that
know of, anywhere, that can hollow out dense matter like this."
Ireana let her hand brush against the plants as she passed. He
knew that his technology comment would get her going. She was
hoping that the oils on her hand would not kill the plants. "I'm
sure they'll be fine," he assured her. Just before the door slid
open, she answered his technology question: "Thought." He was
stunned, but they couldn't discuss it right now.
27. They entered an ovular-shaped conference
one wall was a relief image of a machine world that spanned the entire
wall. It was being used as an animated mural. It was not
the Cacci Dai and quite possibly not even from this dimension.
28. Ireana took a vacant seat among the
department heads. There was an array of artifacts
illuminated on shelves; some mysterious and others self
explanatory. It was SOP for field operatives to pop
and out on occasion, so nobody gave Ireana a curious glance or a sign
unfamiliarity. Everyone had performed their
share of field work and all were subject to rapid redeployment at a
notice. This sequence seemed strangely familiar to
her, as if this was her real life, and everything else had been a
dream. The familiarity was comforting. Daniel entered last
started to rise.
29. He motioned for them to sit down, pulled
his own chair out, and scooted forward. The chairs were
sheik, upholstered, comfortable and didn't have legs... "Later,"
told herself. Onimex didn't have legs either. They
were able to build gravimetric cavitons in this shieker frame.
30. "This is starting to get serious," Daniel began, resuming a
dialogue. "As a
general rule, we stay out of civil conflicts, but Kor has reached into
systems. This is starting not
to look so civil." He pointed his right-hand finger straight down
into his desk and tapped on it, "He's
not that far from
reaching us here."
31. The ops rep reported, "It was
now it's twenty," referring to the number of
affected by Kor. Daniel nodded and glanced around the room to
emphasize how this equation could get exponentially out-of-control.
32. "Our operatives on Vejhon have described a new
detection technology that could defeat our deflection array."
Daniel shrugged, "And you know what that means." Corlos did not
exist on any stellar chart. The
machine-world mosaic faded, and a large, sleek, lethal-looking
profile from bow to stern; like a tangible, touchable model.
Smaller holograms of the same ship
projected at each station in front of each chair. The
opposite wall showed the destroyer's top and bottom view, right and
left. The room itself seemed to holographically transport
everyone aboard a full-scale model. Ireana used to dream about
technology like this, but never
see it unless she built it
herself. For being Vejhonian, the technology looked alien; the
assault on her aesthetic curiosity begged her to get up and stroll
through the new ship. She forced herself to remain seated, under
protest. "These chairs can be frigid," the agent next to her
"One of these new ships," Daniel chuckled pretentiously,
"can do what five of the old ones did."
34. Then Daniel made cold, penetrating eye contact squarely
through Ireana's skull. She wanted to pee her pants. She
had been told that her gaze was disturbing -- his was frightening,
depending upon what he was trying to convey.
35. Daniel cracked a tight smile and took his stare off of
her. She could visit the ladies room later. "Multiply
Kor's old firepower times 35,000," Daniel said, nodding his head to
emphasize the point. "This isn't just a collateral projection,"
he answered for them, "we're talking about destroying worlds
without end, and many galaxies do not have many worlds to
destroy." He had articulated that line rather slowly. "Now
he has the firepower of a medium-sized star.
Whether you die a little or die a lot, you're still dead, like it or
36. Ireana giggled. Daniel pointed right at her, "He wants
to catch people like her!" She pointed at her own chest to help
him out. "And
all the so-called 'native' deserters," he clarified.
Intergalactic languages rarely have synchronous rhyme and meter.
Psionics on the other hand, can sometimes have harmonic
37. Again, her face flushed. Daniel leaned back in his
chair, much more
relaxed. "I think we need to approach this with new eyes,"
he said. "I can't have whole galaxies getting wiped out because a
mad Vejhonian feels abandoned. And there's a
catch..." Daniel made sure everyone was listening, "...even if we
do step this up -- there's no guarantee that we'll win." This was
Ireana's first conference and she knew that Daniel had never uttered
words before. It was not a cliché.
38. His assertion elicited the next expected
question: "So, what do you have in mind?" Ireana felt like
she had dwelt
among them for years; as if a history had been magically installed,
real?" she wondered, "Are we all just pawns in some grander scheme...
and then how many more levels beyond that?"
is the question, isn't it?" Daniel
replied. Ireana tuned in again, "Is he talking to me or are we on
the same page?"
40. Field intelligence from Vejhon began to
display on monitors at each station. Everyone was
given a guided tour of Kor's militarized new order. The walls
began to organize key icons as crucial moments passed by: The
gridboards, Elite commanders, strip mining, attacks on defenseless
outposts; a barrage of interstellar deception followed by a montage of
everything that was darkly alluring about Kor's regime. The
hybrids and breeding facilities were head turners. The
presentation rolled like an ad
41. When it ended, some understood Kor's hypnotic attraction
better than before. Some felt like they had seen the same images
a thousand times and enjoyed them more each time. The
images had been so intense, that a moment of silence was needed
reacclimate to reality. Kor had forged an
statement of unreproachable brutality; hypnotically beautiful to
insiders and alluring to those in denial. Power is attractive and
Kor had all of it.
42. Has anyone ever heard the cliché' "Fight fire with
fire?" Daniel asked rhetorically. Every language has at
least one symbol to that effect. "It's a Cacci Dai expression,"
I-20 said; he was the resident authority on Elliptical matters but
wasn't from Cacci Dai.
Daniel's captive audience was still standing down from the
savagery; tapping into the crushing vacuum to help quiet the mind.
44. "The truth is," Daniel began, "we're not going to find
someone from within
Kor's Elite that we can actually use. Their mental
conditioning can't be reversed. His super kids are
hardwired to him." He alluded to present company, "You've all
augmented, but not
reconditioned." "I thought the super kids were in control, now?"
an agent asked. "The State," one clarified, "Yes -- they
venerate Kor as the Great Father, but even Kor has shifted their focus
to The State." That was coming from an agent embedded in Dal El's
press agency. "Hey," one asked the Vejhonian operative quietly,
"I heard Kor got kicked off his own ship?" "Yes. Only once," the
agent replied, "that's been circulating for about a year now. The
Kid is in line for Academy Commandant." Several agents laughed
45. An image of thousands of Kor-youth displayed on the wall
monitors. "We can't undo this," Daniel answered, "they're
hard-wired to the Great Father... a living, breathing God who can be
seen and felt by all. It's not a matter of trying... Kor has to
be removed first."
He made eye contact with the agent who had asked the question.
The agent understood. For
being 'newer old,' it did have a fresh appeal each time. "I bet they
don't have a
population problem," Ireana said to herself. Kor's super boys
looked like rugged military fashion models with genuine wear and
probably wouldn't be much different than mating with a machine," she
reasoned, "Look at those smirky 'I own you' expressions. Don't
they own clothes?"
The uniforms left little to imagine. Others found her candid
assessment to be rather entertaining.
46. "So, the question is," Daniel said, as key Kor icons
minimized, "Where... do we find someone who
understands this totalitarian concept philosophically? Who would
work for us?"
47. New wine in old bags was out. He
wanted the real deal
-- someone who could explain the 'Kor mind' and help the
powers-that-be, to stop Kor from annihilating the whole Universe.
"Whoever it is, has to be Corlos-ready, just like all of you were," he
said. "Celestial Wars and terrestrial wars all have winners
and losers," I-20 offered as a piece of Elliptical wisdom. Most
biologicals did not understand the Ellipsis beyond its innate segment
partitions, and that was OK.
48. Daniel's body language suggested that he already had a
solution. Ireana had already figured
that much out.
49. He held out his hand, as if holding an invisible ball of
energy, and glanced around at the walls. Everyone followed his
line of sight accordingly. Terminating Kor's birth had already
been ruled out because Corlos doesn't change the past -- Corlos
protects the future.
50. A different montage with unique symbols appeared. The
correlation seemed flamboyantly obvious: A more archaic regime
by a dark-haired
man with a short, stubby mustache. There was pomp and
circumstance, attractive uniforms, hypnotic symbols, crude but
technology, a dedicated youth program, shellwide conquest and
virtually everything in parallel with Kor. Unlike Kor's regime --
the parallel regime only affected one shell and it ultimately
51. Key icons that had been used to identify crucial components
of Kor's regime were matched with identical components of the
52. "If we wanted a DNA match for political purposes," Daniel
"I think we found a very close relative."
53. This alternative regime, like Kor's, was darkly alluring and
made the business of killing appear purposeful and glorious.
"This one is actually worse than Kor's," Daniel said. "Kor has
targeted a specific subculture -- as long as it serves the
State -- it lives. This other regime," Daniel
continued, "If you have light colored hair and blue eyes -- you rule
over everyone who doesn't." Every species endures a period of
eugenic war, and this particular crowd knew that song by heart.
54. It wasn't just a matter of finding someone with light hair
blue eyes to defeat Kor, but someone who could download their mind into
Corlos' contingency plotter.
This person would have to be someone who was way ahead of their
Present company fit that description or they wouldn't be
55. "If I understand you correctly," Alma said, "You believe this
makes Kor's look better?" Daniel nodded because Alma was
accurate. "Transliterally, yes," Daniel clarified,
"If this alternate regime had possessed Kor's technology -- none of us
would be here now."
56. "Well then," G-49 asked, "have you located a potential
candidate for recruitment?" Daniel caught what G-49 didn't
57. "I was up all cycle contemplating those unknowns. We
may have to recruit and terminate," he said pointedly, "depending
on whether the recruit can
adapt, after we get what we want from it." It was entirely within
Corlos' prerogative to
recruit and terminate if agent status could not be
achieved. "Sometimes individuals are sacrificed to save
others. They're called Soldiers. We're soldiers,"
Daniel emphasized, "I won't hesitate to sacrifice every damn
one of you if that's what it takes to accomplish the
mission." It wasn't G-49's intention to cut to the chase, but
since he had...
58. "Excuse me," Ireana injected, "Does
anyone realize that my shell was just annihilated 45 minutes
ago?" A less genuine species might have mistaken her grief for
selfishness. Fortunately, most of her new associates had
been recruited under similar
59. "You wouldn't be Vejhonian?" the
agent sitting next to her asked. Vejhonian etymology symbolizes
planet as a shell -- the colonists too, apparently. M'tro-1 never
had a watershell.
60. Ireana's outburst
helped to alleviate some of the tension. All of them were
recruited under stressful conditions, but nobody found
at a meeting with Daniel ten minutes later. The agent on her
other side, reached over and tapped a button on her console. A
champagne glass with mineral
water materialized. Ireana's mind was so occupied with
quantum potentials that meeting Daniel after the
destruction of M'tro-1 made perfect sense. She chugged the
water in one gulp, returned the glass and pushed the button
again. The glass refilled. "Take it easy," an agent joked,
"that dihydrogen oxide will knock you on your ass." Ireana
smirked, "You forgot
61. Her heart was hurting.
Icons of both dystopian regimes were scattered everywhere. "So,
regime have a name?" she asked, to demonstrate that she could still
focus in spite of her feelings. None of the symbolism was
translatable except for the swastika which symbolized 'seasonal
62. "The language is not terribly complex," Daniel
said, "but it is unique. The Light Race had
a translation key in the library. It's an Enochian Tonal -- first
time I've been able to connect it to anything,
anywhere. Do you want to hear it?"
63. "Oh yes," Ireana invited cordially, "Please," as if speaking
to a cafe waiter...
64. The volume on Adolph Hitler's voice was increased and
translated perfectly. "Their enemies called them Nazis," Daniel
said over Hitler's diatribe, "He liked the nickname." Daniel
at Hitler's image while everyone listened, "On their
calendar -- 1939 Earth, in the 10-planet system," Daniel said.
"It's called Sol -- relatively new." There were ten million
10-planet systems, so the indirect object was still very much
I-20 was the only one who knew exactly where, but he never mixed
Elliptical concerns with Corlos issues; a separation of Church and
65. "Isn't that in the middle of the Badlands!" an
operative said metaphorically. "I'm from Theos," came a defensive
"Pardon," said the offender. Another agent directed toward
Daniel, "Aren't you..." she stopped quickly, remembering a
code. Ireana was Vejhonian: She read it, "...from
there?" She looked absently toward the machine world mural and
frowned. Then she made penetrating eye contact with the agent who
'slipped.' "Don't," the agent asked her. Ireana
understood and blankly looked away. "She's probably on the next
bus," Ireana realized.
66. An astral projection appeared above the table showing the
route to the 10-planet system. It looked like the roof had
dissolved and they were sitting out in space. She recognized
inbetween Corlos and Sol. Kolob was in the opposite
direction and beyond Kolob was Vejhon and Theos. She noticed
that M'tro-1's marker was vacant. Civilization dentifiers were
scattered everywhere and all of them were
by Kor. For the time being, Corlos was well hidden, but for
how long? "Earth is at the tip of a new spar in that galaxy...
way ... over... there," Daniel pointed it out.
67. "I would think," came the sound of a highly evolved
intellect, "that the Gods would have annihilated Kor by now." The
Jolvian spoke very eloquently; Ireana had never seen a Jolvian in
person. The operative sitting next to the Jolvian elbowed him
politely in the ribs, "That would put us out of a job." He rolled
his eyes. The prospect of Corlos ever being 'out of work'
was moot. The joke wasn't in bad taste -- a lot of
accidents went uncorrected. "I hope he don't eat you," the agent
on his other side quipped. The Jolvian gently, but discretely
forwarded his elbow into her, "We have an ale for every occassion," he
whispered. Ireana pretended not to notice, but her
wide-eyed stupor was hard to miss, "These... shellans... run the
Universe?" Jolvians, Theites, Machines, whoever. The
psionists read it from her, quite candidly. "If The One and
Conscious both sanction the same object -- it's going to exist," Onimex
learned from Daniel. "Where are you?" she whispered to Onimex
psionically. She knew that she was supposed to, but had not yet
installed the implant. "Why don't I install a psionic transceiver
in you instead?" she suggested. "Done," he confirmed,
"...and you did. But... you're still going to want your own, to
preserve continuity." She understood. Especially now.
68. "So who did you select," I-20 asked, to refocus the
meeting. Onimex saw the humor in this -- he had already
downloaded the Ellipsis Cycle from G-49 with an introduction by
I-20. Although there was no malevolence whatsoever
aimed at biologicals -- the Ellipsis forbade unnatural
interference with the 'Cosmos - Chaos' rhythm; a machine paradigm that
parallels our own. Both perceptions are aspects of Tetragammaton
that enable Corlos to function; a dynamic of Chaos with Elliptical
69. "A few hours ago," Daniel said, "I asked operations to locate
someone from the alternate regime who met our criterion
70. Daniel pressed a cue indicator at his
station, "And this is what we got..."