Recruit -- Chapter 13
"I think this is our 'in,'" the accountant said to Blue Funnel's
CFO. He pluged his jumper into the desk holoport.
had taken his campaign speeches to an
intergalactic level. He was
wanted by Vejhonian authorities for questioning but Elite agents kept
finding technical reasons to avoid such encounters. At least one
Elite cover was inside every component of government. Operatives
could easily sniff out Kor sympathizers and organize Elite cells to
government operations in inauspicious ways. Like any cancer, the
malignant cells began to spread.
manager at Balipor showed me something like this," the CFO said
watching with great curiousity. Because of the evasive manner in
which Kor came and went,
hundreds of inaccurate theories proliferated on the whereabouts of
Kor. Some even assumed that the Psionic Guard was protecting Kor
for State security reasons. All disinformation collectively
worked in the Elites favor. "If I remember right -- the issue was
the Guard. Do you think he'll crack 'em?"
had become a celebrity in many
off-world circles where Vejhonian
authority didn't exist. The media claimed that Kor's popularity
was greater abroad than at home. The tabloids criticized the
hunting Kor like a common criminal; "What did he do wrong?"
"Why is Kor wanted?" As Vejhon's social climate continued to
destabalize from fear and suspecion, Kor was perceived as 'a savior who
can restore peace and safety to Vejhon.' The oldest political
'con' in the
Universe was proving 'tried and true' once again. "It looks like
he has cracked it," the
By the time Vejhon's infrastructure fully grasped the rising tide
against the State, it was too late to declare Kor a public enemy.
Such an act, so late in the game, would spark shellwide dissent and
inflame a rebellion that climaxed in full
revolution. To pacify growing concerns, it was leaked that 'the
wanted to meet Kor; to
have informal talks and reach an understanding.' As long as
the government appeared to be 'on the run' -- Kor wasn't worried about
"He doesn't want an 'understanding,' the accountant commented, "He
wants control." The CFO
mockery. 'Control,' was the singular goal of Blue Funnel,
although never advertised so bluntly.
lets arrange a meeting," the CFO suggested, spreading his
hands in invitation, "I'm sure he could use our backing... and were not at Balipor."
In order for planned obsolescence to work, the public must believe a
lie. Kor seized power by selling the only solution to a problem
that he created. It was a page right out of Blue Funnel's SOP,
which was precisely why the Psionic Guard banned Blue Funnel from
operating outside the financial quarter at Balipor. On Vejhon --
vehicle tires do last for the
a vehicle and every home has
a static power supply. An entire galaxy was using bank notes and
electronic credits backed by hot air, while Blue Funnel horded
everything of tangible value; metals, jewels, commodities, real estate,
art, any type of liquid asset, food and even water itself.
hear he has demonstrated power over
life and death?" the CFO asked. "That was based on the testimony
of a retired Guard," the accountant clarified, "nobody's actually seen
though." "Well, if a Guard says it..." the CFO said anecdotally,
the entire Universe knew that a Guard's testimony was
'proverbially' irrefutable, even in systems where the Guard had never
hate psionists," the CFO said, "They block business..." He held
short, but any psionist would have also heard, "...admirable objects to
slain." In apsionic
Blue Funnel has the 'champion of morality' quietly 'put
down' or made an example of. Blue Funnel runs all governments,
prints all money and
cares even less about the figurative law-making bodies.
"Just keep adding zeros," the previous CFO used to say, "and if that
don't work... 'two cents'
will." 'Two cents' is the Universal price of a bullet,
notwithstanding the infinite transliterations. Reptillians think
in terms of 'forks' since dinner doesn't have to be dead in order to
Kor knew exactly what he was doing.
If there existed a single key to unlocking shell instability -- he had
found it. He had swept the chips into his satchel in one fell
swoop, and felt no compulsion to oblige President Aqu'Sha's
invitation for a meeting. He didn't need the State. The
loser was trying to save face by offering the winner a truce. The
tabloids were dutifully warning him, "Don't
Go Kor -- It's a Trap!" "It looks like the shellans are behind
you," his advisors agreed.
The accountant pulled his jumper out of the holoport. "Arrange
something," the CFO ordered. Since Blue Funnel revolved around
money, the CFO wielded more power than the CEO did.
"Blue Funnel wants to meet you," an advisor reported. "Hummmmm,"
Kor thought mischievously, "that might actually come in handy."
Kor's economic agenda could be enhanced with an injection
of fiction from Blue Funnel's fictional reserves. "Now wouldn't that piss off the establishment?"
Kor commented. "It's all a matter of what the shellans are
willing to believe?" his advisor said. That was certainly true,
and it was working so far. Blue Funnel's quadrant headquarters
was on Theos proper. "OK," Kor agreed matter-of-factly, "Tell
them I'll meet them
in the outlands -- no
fanfare." He didn't want any of his followers to associate him
"Technically... isn't it
their choice to decide
whom they will endorse?" his advisor
asked, "They've always wanted an 'in' on Vejhon." Their
motivation did seem shamelessly transparent.
That was an unavoidable truth. On one hand, shellans
might feel betrayed, on the other hand, the enemy of my enemy is my
friend. "Once I have all
the power," Kor reasoned, "it won't really matter what anyone
thinks." The bourgeois Theotian homeworld was so politically
oversaturated that most mechanations of industry and commerce had to
function off-shell in order to get something done. In essence,
the further one was stationed from Theos, the lower one's social
status. Blue Funnels figurative headquarters was nestled in the
diplomatic district on Theos, but business had to be conducted
elsewhere. Theos proper was a giant royal court.
Industry and commerce was kept closer to Theos since the
uberwealthy relied on their incomes to maintain a 'proper' residence on
Theos. The badlands were heavily influenced by neighboring
civilized worlds with Theos's blessing. If you expatriate the
lowest class, then the next lowest class becomes the new lowest class,
so the badlands served as a datum by which everyone else
had to feel better. For being so 'bad,' the badlanders were more
popular, made more interesting news, produced actual warriors, better
athletes and were secretly contracted for procreative purposes.
Queen Estuses herself was tracable to the badlands, but...
"we don't talk about that..." unless you want an unpleasant
encounter with the secret service.
Blue Funnel promised to endorse Kor, win-or-lose, in exchange for a
license to operate freely outside the financial quarter if he
succeeded. Kor agreed. Now he had an unlimited supply of
fiction to spend in areas where the fiction was believed to be
real. The fiction bought tangible materiels.
By capturing the support of the Theotian badlands, Kor created a
disinformation corps capable of influencing attitudes closer to
Theos. There were factions on Theos that defended sedition and
treason as a civil liberty; protected under 'free speech.'
There were aristrocrats and wealthy debutantes who were deeply moved by
Kor's unquenchable fire. Kor placed agents in both camps to
influence attitudes as necessary, and to pit one faction against
another as needed.
There was a military element that admired Kor because of his
audacity to stand up to the establishment, "That's what we need
here! Someone with balls!" they barked; turn-key Elite
recruits. The military was
composed mostly of badlanders since nobody
from Theos proper wanted to get their privileged hands
dirty. Honorable separation from military service entitled a
veteran to take up residency on Theos with all the rights and
privileges of a 1st class citizen. Most veterans returned home to
become officials, since 1st class citizenship was required to
hold any type of Federal office. Many were susceptible to psionic
Theotian checks-and balances was tri-fold: The
aristocracy was afraid of the military. The military was afraid
Senate. The Senate was afraid of the aristocracy. It
worked. Nothing got done. Kor planted agents in all three
Every government has a shadow government composed
of plankholders sworn to enforce the founding
architecture should the puppet government collapse. The concept
works until Blue Funnel buys them off and appoints a local CFO to take
heat of conspiracy theorists. When the elusive, unnamed,
unidentifiable, "they," removes itself from the public
trust -- an invincible machine remains: One that systematically
ejects biological participation to maximize
was a fanatically loyal element
that zealously served the state;
who were called upon for rapid response: The Saucer Jocks or
SJ's. They were vested by the State to enforce law and order
domestically, and authorized by SpaceCom to oversee interstellar
affairs. In effect, SpaceCom was the defacto police agency of the
Universe and guardians of interstellar commerce. Their prestige
throughout Theotia was comparable to the Psionic Guard on
Funnel owned the saucer technology
and guarded it as their greatest industrial secret. The State had
to accept it, because everyone's safty depended upon the saucers.
These multifaceted love-hate relationships comprised the quantum fabric
of Theos. Ultimately, Blue Funnel was a silent partner in
everything, and at times, could even appear moral.
Terraforming was one of Theos' leading
even the Cacci Dai deferred to Theos' terraforming
expertise. They were known to terraform worlds with no intention of
ever returning, simply to practice the art, and to give students
something to practice on. On a Blue Funnel ledger somewhere
-- every last nut, bolt and pound of dirt was accounted for and
tracked. Quite simply: Nobody perceives themselves as a
villain when everybody lives in their own holographic
The girls were screaming and the guys were cheering when he
arrived. Elite agents had to clear space so that his limo could
"If you want to take back your future --
then TAKE it!" Kor said persuasively, "You KNOW I can't do it
without your help, but TOGETHER, we WILL
PREVAIL! TOGETHER, this Universe will bow down before us!" Kor
was a natural showman with giant screens projecting his
larger-than-life image. It was hard to catagorize this hard-rock
style of campaigning because nobody had seen it done quite like this
His speeches were hypnotic. He knew what to say, when to say
who to say it to. He could massage the psychic pulse of an
audience into an ecstatic frenzy and have them eating out of his hand
all night long.
He played upon their hopes and fears, and their wildest dreams
dashed by an apathetic aristocracy.
doesn't care about you!" "Where are THEY? They have NO idea
what your lives are like out HERE!" "Do they even care that I'm here?" He played the
Theotian psyche as thought he had written the book on the
Kor was a camelleon who could change states-of-mind on-the-fly.
His appeal was Universal; addressing
concerns with evangelical earnestness. He was one of them; as if
he had penned the entire Theotian
saga as the High Herald of Azoth himself.
During the show, spectactors would say, "I felt like Kor was talking
directly to me!" "I AM...talking to you," he would sometimes
inject. The interviewer laughed.
The most personally gratifying quality about Kor's Badlands campaign
that nobody ever reported anything unflattering or crass about his
showmanship or his character. He had the perfect blend of reality
and spirit to buy the Exterior Regions hook, line and sinker.
Blue Funnel was taking notes too. "I think he's going to walk
right into the Emperial Throne room and take a seat," one accountant
There was a subtle technique unknown in
the world of stagecraft that Kor was quite deft at applying: His
Elite retinue blanketed the arena with a psionic shroud that embued
tranquility and a sense of harmonious belonging. The shroud would
have been easily detected by a Psionic Guard, but was highly addictive
otherwise. Only those who knew the 6th-Dan intonations could do
the shroud was in place, those blessed by
its protectiveness were susceptible to hypnotic suggestion. The
suggestion contained two words: "Follow Kor." There was one
soul in the back of that very large crowd who would have never seen
what was coming...
sensed an individual in the back of the
audience who had the potential to fill an office that he had left
blank. This night had been
exceptionally electric: It began with shooting stars streaking
against an azure twilight and a beautiful aurora at the finish.
The whole affair seemed blessed by The One.
In the very back, leaning against a maintenance ramp retaining wall,
one Theotian knew for certain that his face was the least
important, most meaningless face in that very large crowd. In
spite of his abandoned dreams, he let his soul melt into Kor's
Like the others, he longed for salvation too, but stood
a better chance of winning the lottery, then becoming a part of Kor's
After the crowd disbanded, Dal walked to his
favorite pantheon to
the incredible power of Kor's message. It seemed so unreal.
The pantheon was built on a ledge that
daringly out into a canyon as an architectural expression that tempted
fate. The ground was solid, but seemed dangerously
unstable. The locals came here to look death in the face, because
it seemed like only God and the power of prayer kept the ledge from
breaking off and killing
any wary visitors. "Who had the nerve to erect anything on that
ledge?" nearly every first-time visitor asked.
"The symbolism is an accurate reflection of how I feel," Dal
thought. If the ledge broke while he was on it, he would accept
that it was his time to go.
lights lay well beyond the opposite ledge once twilight faded.
It had a romantic quality, but he had given up on love long ago when
she took everything
in the divorce. That was her only goal to begin with.
"Never again," he told himself.
41. He felt an
resurgence of the euphoria he felt during the rally. He was
sensitive to its supernaturalness. "Am I forcing this?" he
am I changed somehow?"
"Dal El," a voice called, in a deep, quiet tone, as if the pantheon had
become animated. He looked around blankly to trace the sound to a
couldn't possibly be happening,"
he dismissed, "My wishful thinking... I'm hallucinating." His
self-defeatist rhetoric was loaded, but failed to fire. His mind
drew a blank. "Yes... for once, just roll with it: Don't
vandalize the moment." Dal didn't rely much on hope lately.
He was well enough off, but... whatever.
"Did you think
I would leave you here all alone?" Kor asked. The fraternal
nature of Kor's question unraveled the rest of Dal El's nerves.
He froze with a spine-tingling sensation. "What does a mortal do
God's presence? ... a God who chose to be with me right
now?" "I'm unconscious, dreaming this," he concluded, "Where's my
Kor had read every detail of Dal El's life, including those memories
that he had long forgot. He had many outstanding achievements,
but timing always worked against him. He was an
easy target for soul demons to rape and pillage, so he abandoned his
struggle for justice and resigned himself to this lowly station.
The thrill had died years ago. He was alive for responsibilities
sake, and for no other reason.
Kor saw Dal's advanced degrees from
Theos' most prestigious university: A doctorate in gravametric
anomalies and a book about spatial curiosities that most pedestrians
no idea even existed. All of his ideas had been plagiarized and
the thieves rewarded handsomely. Dal had nothing to show for
anything he did.
He could have written his
own ticket anywhere in all of Theotia, but his unwillingness to
romantically humor an aristocract doomed him to economic
Justice is never about right or wrong -- it's about what one can
afford, and Dal couldn't afford it.
respected Dal's stalwartness in
the face of career-altering retribution, because anyone else would have
caved... sans himself. The deeper he probed, the more he liked
he saw: Given the right license, Dal
could energize the Elite with strategies and perspectives that
would seem otherworldly and refreshing. In fact, Dal was somewhat
alien in his meaningless existence already.
There was another disturbance; something that did not belong
to this time, and it wasn't connected to Dal
Kor concealed his frustration, in spite of his desire to once and for
all, capture that fracking little bastard and shred it to pieces with
his bare hands.
Tetragammeton wanting to fight?" he wondered. "If so -- bring it
It also became obvious that the object was recording events of
significance. "It knows I won't attack it right now.
"Pray that I don't find you in a dark alley," Kor warned the object
psionically, and then resumed his task at hand. Dal did not
suspect anything at all,
which was how Kor wanted it.
El," Kor said again, pleased that
he could toggle between two
diabolically opposite states of mind.
was intermingling with the colors of
the aurora; riding on a surreal ribbon of hope.
knew that Dal had
spiritually immolated himself before him; that there was no
contest, and possibly no need to perform the rite...
but it had to be performed as the
Dal contemplated leaping over the rail
the cloudy canyon below. Not
he was suicidal, but because Kor's voice made him believe that he
even if he tried to: It would prove to be insightful.
59. "This is
not a time for weakness," Kor said
a gentle edge. He was refering to Dal's sentiments and not his
character. His character was solid. "Turn
around and come to me." His tone was like a parent to a
Dal turned around, approached Kor and knelt down at his feet in a fetal
position. His submission was void of all
pretensions, just as Kor suspected.
"Dal El," Kor said, "I know
everything about you...and you
that I know it. I
know that you would
pass every test that I gave you, to prove yourself to me...so I will
you only one. Lean back so that I can see
Dal El sat back on his heels but did not look into Kor's face.
He was committed to do anything that Kor commanded him, and Kor knew
From a fold in his robe, Kor unsheathed a ceremonial dagger that still
held an edge, and presented it to Dal El.
Dal reached for it, and then withdrew realizing an impending
He repeated the antic while trying to reconcile the
contradiction. Kor patiently observed
the struggle in Dal's mind. The moment was symbolic and
permanent. Dal had to chose:
did he desire most? Who did he love most?
At long last, and with nothing more to lose than himself, he retrieved
dagger and held it reverantly.
could have called himself a fool, but it really didn't matter at this
point. He didn't care if he was a fool or not.
care if he died because he believed in Kor. "Faith can
extinquish Zena," Azoth said in the fable, "or create
one." Zena is an Elliptical sun.
"Stab yourself in the heart," Kor ordered him, suddenly and
Those words split Dal's mind in two, but only temporarily, like
throwing a ball up in the air.
Kor might ask him to do that, and he wanted to demonstrate that his
submission was complete.
wasn't especially distraught at the
idea of stabbing himself in the heart. He regretted the idea
of losing his new found purpose.
"Maybe it's worth it," Dal
reasoned, "to discover my true love and then die: To live in this
one eternity, and end it on this note... like a Jolvian
did not mean to roll his eyes; but
the drama unfolding in Dal's mind could one day be funny. Just
potential for failure did exist; this was a
real test that had to be passed. "Dal can do it. Now, will he?"
The Elite Order would remain
unfulfilled until this moment passed. "There can be only one," Kor
privately coached, "Vice... Elite," he accentuated.
The next moment relied entirely upon Dal El. It was as if time
had stopped to await his decision.
He was not looking for deliverance.
His analytical mind sought a rational outcome. He wanted
deliverance from his mind... now holding
dagger at arms length with both hands, pointed at his heart. Dal
El laughed at the absurdity -- because it fit perfectly. "It all
comes down to this -- staring at a dagger pointed at your heart held by
your own hand."
"My whole life has been reduced to the meaning of one
unquantifiable word," he thought, "Faith." "Yes!" Kor cheered him
on, quietly, "this is the moment: The key by which I work
wonders! And you will too."
With a tight, concentrated flinch in his face - Dal El lunged the
dagger deep into his chest and cleanly pierced his heart.
He sat on his heels while his chest struggled for life, and then went
His final act was to gracefully fall to his right side
and spare his body further injury.
Kor resisted the urge to clutch his own chest when Dal plunged the
dagger into his, but he felt it nonetheless. He felt the cold
steel blade penetrate his heart.
As the Master, he had to let him perform this rite on his own; the
most important testimony that Dal would ever
scrolls are fulfilled. That was the easy
So, Dal was dead.
Kor looked at Dal's lifeless body; a sacrifice that the 200 Elders did
not have to make. This rite was reserved expressly for the
Vice-Elite. The Elders had erroneously presumed that this rite
was figurative or
a mistranslation from Dans
past, just like the literal rite of Kor's ascension.
Once Dal was medically
beyond any possibility of reviving, Kor prepared to perform the next
He knelt down
Dal and raised his lifeless head onto his thigh. The water
was already separating from his blood.
89. The final
step would seal their bond, a bond that
Kor removed the dagger from Dal's body, licked some of the
off of the blade and returned the dagger to its sheath inside the fold
He placed his right hand over Dal El's chest and worked the
energizing formula that had resurrected the Psionic Guard not long
Dal El was conscious again. His body was healed and he opened his
The bloodstains and the tear in his tunic remained, but the dagger
Dal looked at Kor quietly, "Did I
pass?" he thought. Kor grinned. At a more frivolous
occasion, he might have replied with, "What a stupid question!"
This moment had epochal significance: For the first time in many,
many Dans, the Elite Body was whole, and Dal El's sacrifice brought
that dream into reality. The number of creatures in the Universe
could copy what Dal did were few and far
95. Dal was now
in an elevated status, 2nd only
to Kor. He lifted Dal to his feet and embraced him warmly.
Not even El Sha had seen this side of
He stepped back to confer upon Dal El his new title; dutifully earned
and sealed. His sillouette was draped by shooting stars.
"From this day forward," Kor began, "you shall be known
as my 'Vice Elite'. Your voice will be my voice. Your command
will be my command, and your rank within the Secret Society will be
second only to mine." Kor finished ex cathedra, "So Mote It
The Elite body was officially complete. Both of them breathed a
sigh of relief.
Kor permitted Dal a moment to bask in his new life, and then said,
"Let's go -- we're just getting started!"
As they turned to leave, Kor sensed a
distraction in Dal's mind, and recognized it
immediately. Dal sensed that Kor was probing.
101. "There was
cylindrical object that
I saw while my body was dead, " Dal El said, "It was hovering... I
thought it might be one of yours, but wasn't sure."
"I know that object," Kor said, "That thing has vexed me, my
entire life -- and I'm linked to it somehow. It passes
through time and seems
indiginous, but it's not
indiginous -- it speaks
tightened. "The only feeling I have, is that it
Dal wanted to interrogate the machine first, then reverse engineer
it. "We'll then," Dal offered, "We'll destroy it together,
My Lord." To solidify the partnership, Kor surrendered his
implicit trust in Dal, because the only absolute in his Universe, would
be Dal El's obedience to him.