The New Order -- Chapter
1. "You took Vejhon without firing a shot!" a well
wisher praised Kor from the sidelines. Kor graciously nodded
toward the well wisher in passing. He was touring his newly
acquired property at Balipor. The Elite could roam the surface
openly, and was adjusting to their role as the new Masters.
"Without adversity of any kind," one of Kor's adjutants relayed for
another spectator. Kor did not need a translator, but his role as
Head-of-State required a more regal image, so he permitted his
entourage to indulge the expected formality, not terribly unlike the
campaign. As long as it looked good, he was OK with it.
After a generous revue of shell-wide victory celebrations and award
ceremonies concluded, Kor
his most gallant leaders governorships over large areas of Vejhon to
lords. As long as their loyalty to him was unquestioned -- they
could dispose of their lands and subjects as they wished.
4. "My Lord," a page boy had slipped through the
crowd and bowed to one knee, "The Vice Elite requests your presence in
The Quarter." The need for a 'messenger' on a psionic shell was
somewhat retarded, but the familiarity was comforting for the
spectators. 'Inescapable presidential fanfare,' a Morning Son
5. His chief administrative adjutant and Vice-Elite Dal
El, provided him with a daily
digest of shell activities and the most newsworthy events. Dal
was vested as proctor of Vejhon and appointed most chief executive
functions. Kor was the new superstar and his celebrity status was
inescapable. Limiting his public appearances added more intrigue
to his persona and kept
the population hungry.
6. The Big Ball was visible from everywhere in
Balipor. Kors itinerary today was to meet with his executive
staff and formally license Blue Funnel to operate outside The
Quarter. An item of business enroute was to ensure that local
monuments and natural artifacts were protected since the former
government no longer existed.
7. Shellans perceived many structures as symbols
of the old regime: Kor had to reshape public opinion to accept
iconic edifices as tolerable components of history and culture, "Leave
them alone," he ordered, "No more vandalism."
For a brief period, Vejhon basked in a glorious utopia that altruists
only dream about. The combat forces had lost most of their
general staff during the evacuation. Sensing their restlessness,
Kor appointed new garrison commanders and ordered them to, "Keep your
troops quiet: Their time will come. I guarantee
Within six months of the "Dawn of the New Dan" some of
those who chose to stay behind began to reconsider their choice.
The discontent was
manageable at first, but treated with frothy neglect, became a problem
Elite landlords who required constant childlike praise for their
incompetence. "The government is unresponsive," one brave editor
accused. Since the exiled government was no longer available for
comment, new scapegoats had to be propped up to absorb increasing
Kor was utterly appalled that so many citizens would so quickly condemn
their new landlords over trite and trivial inconveniences. "You
know," Dal confided quietly and privately, "We could find ourselves
facing an uprising if we don't squash it." Dal had been aboard
since the last half of the campaign, so he knew from experience, along
with intelligence reports from across the shell that, "This all points
to... anarchy." He whispered the word 'anarchy' as if saying it
too loudly might hasten the apocalypse.
11. "They had their chance to leave," Kor assured
him, "Now they must
live with their choice." The threat was not immediate, but if
left unchecked, soon would be.
12. Dal was intuitive. He knew that Kor had
hoped to convey an even more caring image than his predecessor,
mainly to reward those who believed in him.
“There will always be the dissatisfied no matter what you do,” Dal
consoled him. He knew that Kor would not penalize everyone for
the misdeeds of a few. Kor asked Mantra in confidence, "Why has
the absence of psionic opposition stagnated the strata? I
thought we had Paradise in our grasp!" The euphoria felt
following the evacuation made everyone think that Vejhon would be
translated into the Realm of God. That trajectory was now falling
down. "How does the absence of
create so much bitterness?" Kor rephrased, "Do shellans 'need' to
order to appreciate 'not' suffering?"
14. "The beauty of your regime," Mantra answered, "is to not mirror the
previous one. If you remember -- that's why we all stayed
behind." Mantra placed his hands on Kor's flawless shoulders like
he used to do as his mentor, "Fresh ideas and a novel approach will
support of everyone." Kor was relieved and hugged Mantra warmly,
"That's exactly what I needed." The original mission was to unify
politics with spirituality to create a perfect social organism.
The new mission is to provide the public with hedonistic trimmings to
glorify the ogliarchy. "What could
possibly be wrong with that?" Kor contemplated, "The best of all shells?"
15. Citizens who had previously converted were not completely
lost because they knew what to expect. Others who had no
religious inclinations were still content with
the way things were running. There were infrastructure issues
that could not be ignored. The inept Elite managers discovered
that community organizing
had nothing in common with shell management. Flowing rhetoric did
not produce a single quantifiable or tangible good. Everyone
wanted to run
their mouthes and nobody wanted to do any real work, in fact, the
status quo was a mathematical theorem: 'As income reaches
infinity -- actual usefulness reaches zero.' The less one did,
the more important one was.
16. "What was all the campaign rhetoric about?"
"We can do better, yet, 'what' was never defined," one anchor
commented. To give the appearance of normalcy, the media was
permitted to function uncensored as a reward for being sympathetic to
Kor during his campaign. There were volumes of
social complexity that nobody comprehended. "Who
is the elusive 'they' that everyone keeps talking about?" another
asked. "That 'they' used to be us!" a co-host answered.
Historically, everyone accepted whatever the media sold them whether
they were paying attention or not.
Here was one sober fact:
17. Government is work. Government is not some
mysterious quantity that stops for a few days to reorganize when things
aren't going well. Government creates the dimension in
which society functions, no matter how invisible that dimension may
the Sons of the Morning realized that Dal could accommodate the
mesmerizing complexity of
an insatiable people, he curried their favor quickly, like a
godsend. "I think they ALL see you with improved eyes now," Kor
praised him, after receiving genuine compliments for choosing him as
his Vice Elite. Dal was finally validated!
18. As Dal began to stabilize critical
infrastructure, he discovered that many shellans who possessed
extremely rare specialties had left. The
State had to scurry for engineers, mathematicians, doctors, chemists
and most of the advanced technical trades. To Kor's surprise,
some talented individuals had remained, believing that their scarcity
their social and financial status. Their gamble paid off
Although the immediate intellectual vacuum was a resolvable crisis,
Kor's patience ended when a group of dissenters picketed in a public
with signs that read, "Kor had no real plan."
"Kor's campaign was fluff." One brave journalist used the words
and was never heard from again. Within nine months of the
"Dawn of the New Dan," the Sons of the Morning were facing the uprising
Dal El had forewarned. "We want the Old Dan," some shellans
solemnly wailed. Kor
was vexed that his generosity could be scorned and his anger
so sanctimoniously provoked.
20. If the abandoned property and assets of 66% of the population
equally redistributed among the remaining 34%, the uprising might
have been delayed for at least two years. Instead, the
rank-and-file oligarchy lavished those at the very top with
disproportionate amounts of unearned
undeserved prestige, until the trickle-down effect left nothing for the
common shellan. Since 'shellans of ability' posed a threat to
powerful spiritualists, status relied upon society laurels or by
favor with a Lord Governor. Anyone with any meaningful talent
preferred to remain anonymous rather than be punished for their
abilities. Dal put the collective psychosis together rather
quickly and set in motion a plan to change the grossly
maligned status quo:
21. Mantra advised Dal, "The contradiction should take care of
itself." The lack of talent led to in-fighting which gave the
they needed to stay in business and to occupy public interest.
The same magazines that curried support for Kor were now questioning
his leaders. As long
as they avoided defaming Kor, Dal El and the 200 Sons --
everyone else was fair game. Dal had earned a legitimate
immunity from defamation since the greatest ideas
were always traceable to him. He ordered The Elite
propaganda office to subtly leak that Kor too, is victimized by
private agendas... "If The Master only knew about that!" became a
common public axiom. Of
course he knew, but as long as the public sympathized with their
beloved leader, he didn't mind
selling ice cubes to D'luthians.
22. Then internal security discovered a
plot to depose him!
He, who had given them everything; the Glorious Dawn of the New Dan and
reengineering. "That's it!" Kor said, tossing a newspaper
down on Dal's desk. The machinations of psionic espionage are
multi-layered and involve other dimensions in order to produce
"We need more permanent measures: We can't have the same shellans
who helped us -- turn against us!" Dal knew this
was coming, "If
the disenfranchised are
to participate," he offered calmly, "then they will have to be
destroyed." He flipped the paper over to confirm that a piece of
propaganda had been included and pointed it out to Kor, "If you missed
the bus -- you're
with us!" Kor read it and grinned. They were very much on
same page. The time for patronizing was over. He smiled at
Dal, amazed that his Vice Elite could bring so much to the party.
convened The Sons of the Morning to address the erosion of law and
order. It was a preemptive strike. The first order of
business was the treasury report, "We
have no money," the treasurer reported succinctly, "the reserves are
empty and the printing plates have been removed from the mint."
"Only what's already in circulation," his assistant injected."
Dal El was not especially stressed over the issue, "We'll create a
new system," he replied calmly, "Blue
Funnel has been 'clawing at the gate,' and they've got more money than
Azoth." He made a comical clawing gesture, "Look into it," he
suggested. The treasurer
and his assistant made brief eye
contact with Kor, who nodded gently. Knowing Blue Funnel's
reputation, one could never be too sure. Dal parted his hands and
shrugged, "They've been licensed..." which suggested that Blue Funnel
would magically solve everything. That presumption was not
24. Internal Affairs was next, "We discovered a vault containing
cosmic top secret documents, and none of them contain
anything of any value." "Does that surprise you?" Kor asked,
"It's probably disinformation left behind on
purpose." "Off the record?" Kor asked more specifically.
"Everything under that label is ludicrous," the minister complained,
"useless -- and doesn't even make sense; ANY of it!" "Probably a
an assistant suggested. Kor nodded toward the assistant to
endorse his sentiment. He turned his attention to the
Minister of Culture: "The entire
archives is missing -- probably taken, rather than relocated."
Kor smirked and made an inaudiable huff, then inquired psionically to
everyone, "Anyone know where the State Archives went?" The most
resounding explanation was, "Proletariat;" "Yes," Kor grinned, "the
notorious enigma itself." Which meant, "If they had anything to
do with it -- we won't find it, even if it was left unguarded in an
empty parking lot." The Proletariat became a toilet in which
enigmatic unaccountability could be flushed.
Kor nodded toward the Minister of Economics: "All trade with
stopped. Even the quarter is deserted... except for Blue
Funnel. Commerce is said to
have relocated to the Outlands." "We're working on getting it
back," Dal said abruptly, "Get word out to everyone that the
Quarter is still unmonitored and
duty-free," Dal admonished, "Make it sound better than it ever was
before." The Minister acknowledge with a slight bow.
pointed at his Propaganda Minister to assist him.
26. "Trade will normalize in due time," Kor
said confidently, "Once everyone realizes that the Quarter is still the
Quarter." He motioned toward Dal, "As the Vice-Elite has said."
27. "The commerce quarter is not entirely
deserted," injected one Son, "There's a variety of pirates and
brigands brokering contraband and unlicensed
commodities." Everyone laughed, "What's a 'licensed' commodity?"
another Son asked anecdotally. "About half the shellans there are
hiding," another added. "They scatter as soon as they see us,"
another said. "Off-shellers," another explained, "...
looking for passage to somewhere else," the first finished. Any
psionist would be alerted to the approach of an Elite dignitary well in
advance. They liked it like that.
28. Kor invited Dal to comment further. "The
brigands pay their taxes," Dal clarified, "so I leave them
alone." He was fumbling for a more eloquent explanation and then
shrugged, "it's the only positive cash flow
we have. I haven't given them an economic indicator yet, so
they're sort of, unregulated." He wanted a
sanitized euphemism, like 'commercial pleasure worker' instead of
'prostitute.' "You mean our
GNP has a positive indicator?" The Economics Minister quipped.
Only two shellans even knew what that meant; Dal El technically wasn't
a shellan. He ignored the
minister's joke and continued, "I
would like to get the high profile customers back in residency
as soon as possible... and yes," Dal smirked, "that's our only
gain." Kor seemed satisfied so he motioned that the meeting move
29. The symbol for "Psionic Collateral" did not
have an acoustic equivalent. "There was a
disorganized faction of shellans who
refused to evacuate because, 'Nobody's going to force me off MY damn
shell and I don't care WHO the hell he
he is!'," the Minister reported. Everyone laughed suddenly.
"They want a more active role in government,
Lord," he finished. Kor seemed quietly befuddled by that one.
30. Everyone seemed to enjoy a unanimous moment of
esoteric irony, namely Kor and Dal El. "Then by all
means," Kor gestured cordially, "offer them
more active roles in the administration. I'm sure you can think
something." The issue had once been polarized, but the reason for
their exclusion no longer existed. "Annex them into the solution
process," Kor suggested proactively: He had a
soft spot for shellans who knew what they wanted -- at least they
weren't declared enemies.
raised his arms to focus his audience upon him. These were the
Sons of the Morning: Those who had witnessed his rise to power.
With more than half of the shell's population gone, he had lavished his
loyal followers with abandoned
estates and wealth. Most of the uberwealthy had
stayed behind because they were unwilling to part with their affluence
and prestige. They assumed that 'buying' their way into the new
order was purely a matter of price. For the most part, the
presumption was accurate, since the new Lords needed role models to
teach them how to act among the upper crust. Conversely, with the
wave of a Lord's hand, a statist could find themselves penniless in the
"Friends and Lords," Kor began politely, "I have given much thought to
the many dilemmas and burdens that
share, as the rightful rulers and stewards of Vejhon. We have
taken no action that was not prescribed by the scrolls in Dans
past. The same scrolls that I have vowed to preserve."
Anytime Kor mentioned the scrolls, things changed: The Elders
began to feel the same fire that had manifest itself during Kor's
ascension and the
collective mood was improving dramatically.
left his seat and began to walk among the assembly. "As I review
with improved eyes," he began, "I realize that there is no
all. We... The
Elite... and those who stand with us, do not have a problem! We
are not obliged to patronize the disenfranchised. They made a
choice. We did not force anyone to stay. We have offered
everyone who remained, much more than the exiled regime ever
could." After a modest pause, Kor reiterated, "The
problem is not with
us." He didn't say the rest, but they they all heard it,"...the
problem is with them!"
Muzzled sighs of relief spread among the novice shell managers.
Their tasks had overwhelmed them and frustration levels were
high. Nobody wanted to admit that their incompetence was due to
inexperience, but Kor didn't seem to care. Instead, he swept them
into the palm of his hand and continued to rally them like he did
during the campaign:
"Should we, The Elite Counsel," Kor
emphasized, "bare the full burden of everyone's bad decisions?"
It was meant rhetorically. The gleam in their eyes began to
twinkle once again. "Of
course not!" Kor answered. The Elders nodded in agreement, some
voicing their agreement like parliamentarians. All traces of
guilt simply vanished like changing chanels on a holo, "What
guilt? What problem?" Everyone was 'on mission.'
"You remember the old fable of A'Zoth?" Kor prodded them in his
endearing way. "What did he do when the shell
too heavy?" "You've got to be shitting me?" came a psionic chorus
line. The smiles on their faces were genuine now; renewed and
fresh. At least one Son asked, "Why didn't I think of
Quite congenially, Kor continued, "Yes! He threw it off!
Only we're not going to throw Vejhon into the 2nd Sun." They
understood the fable's metaphor. Vejhon was in no danger.
In a more pragmatic tone he asked, "Did we
not deliver what we promised?" He nodded his head for them, then
became dead serious: "Do
I say, we don't owe those petulant, ungrateful shitheads, one fracking
thing!" The room erupted into cheers! They were floating on
38. He had done it
again -- the Sons were exaltant! "Life through
and death, beauty and savagery," Kor reminded them calmly. "This
is one of those times."
motioned for Dal El to take over while the
lights dimmed. Huge monitors had been retrieved from
storage and set up for
The hologram revealed a massive grid inset with lasers on the x and y
sides, at 5-inch intervals around the perimeter of a stadium-sized
playing field .
The image was then superimposed over Balipor's Shellshock stadium to
add believability. "Is that?..." one started. "No, it's
just hypothetical," another answered.
The camera zoomed in and rotated
throughout the holographic presentation at different levels. The
field looked like a solid
ocean of light energy. The presentation strongly resembled advertising
42. In the animation, condemned prisoners were dropped through the
laser grid and diced into 5" x 5" cauterized chunks. The
procedure was not
survivable no matter
how one fell through. The imagry had a morbid appeal that this
audience found fascinating. "Very creative," one Elder
commented. "Quite sporting," quipped
another. Kor felt no moral abhorrence by anyone.
"What if somebody blocks a laser so that the prisoner next to him
doesn't get diced?" one asked facetiously.
Kor acknowledged the Elder's quip," Then we drop him through again," he
answered happily. The laughter was a little more reserved this
time. "There's a bio-metallurgical acid at the bottom to clean up
the remains," Dal said, "so either way, the condemned are
finished." Kor permitted the demonstration to play on for a
moment and commented, "This form of demise," he paused for effect,
called 'dissension' to honor
the many... loud... dissenters." Mantra cooly chimed in,
interpretation of the word." Kor acknowledged his mentor.
Their collective reactions seemed no more fatalistic than an ordinary
high school pep
horrific as it looked on holo, it solved a very serious problem in a
truly entertaining way. Some chuckled at the crudely drawn
as they were
pushed off of ledges to their demise. Capitol offenders were
more slowly to maximize the death
experience. The animator had taken some creative license to
all plausible scenarios. Kor did not preview the presentation
before Dal presented it, but he was satisfied that the Elders found it
entertaining. As long as it worked, he was OK with whatever Dal
did. That's why he recruited him. "You are empowered by me,
to be me," he told him once.
"For all of its show," Dal injected, "this actually kills
the condemned faster, and more certainly, than anything else
would. They fall through at the speed of gravity, and the pain
lasts for less than one second. It just looks worse than it
is." Dal made the process sound sanitary. "It's probably nicer than pushing shellans off
a cliff," one Elder observed. His fellow parliamentarians seemed
"The visual message though;" Dal nonchalantly added,
"The Master believes will greatly reduce the
among us." Nobody could argue that point. If the Elders
amused by it, perhaps a stadium full of spectators would be too?
Like when Jolvians ate their food while it was still alive.
47. By holding these events in a sports
shellans could witness the eradication of Vejhon's last remaining
plague. "Prisoners are too expensive to
maintain," Dal said, "It would be more humane to put them through this,
to turn them into a public burden." That had been an Elite
philosophy throughout time.
"The acid leaves no trace of biological matter. There's nobody to
bury," Dal added. A perfect crime with faultless
efficiency. "Very economical," the finance minister added.
Dal spread his hands and nodded to underscore the minister's point.
49. "The process is called 'dissension,'" one
said, repeating The Master, "but does contraption itself have a
Dal smiled politely, "Grid Boards." And thus the expression,
"Grid Boards," was spoken into existence as a noun, an adjective and
an end. "I'm SO glad I'm not a victim," one Son
50. The presentation ended and the lights
went back up. Kor gave everyone a moment to settle. "Elite
Dal said, "your office has the plans -- you have The Master's
engineer acknowledged psionically, and excused himself from the
assembly. Dal was not psionic, but could recognize facial
equivalents. "Sometimes, not knowing what everyone is thinking is
a blessing," Kor told him once.
"Those of you concerned with mental health issues -- start taking
names," Kor suggested. That would end the meeting with a
The Sons of the New Dan were licensed by Kor to condemn any non-Elite
misfit they chose. The power to indiscriminately select who
'lives and dies' would become their highest badge of office. Only
Kor could restore life, but those extinguished on the Grid Boards were
hopelessly beyond any form of mortal repair.
Having taken Kor at his word, hundreds of thousands of
uncommitted, unworthwhile and antagonistic 'problem children' were
slated for extermination but were not immediately taken into
custody. Those most deserving of death were Grid Boarded in a
shellwide televised spectacle. It was hoped that some 'diamonds
the rough' might repent of their apathy and agree to
serve the State, rather than die needlessly. It worked.
Many repented after watching the first gridboarding.
54. Some of the least liked media figures were also
invited to cover the dissension story. Precisely what happened to
them afterward is unclear, but the prevailing conspiracy theory is
accurate. It was not in the State's best interest to exterminate
citizen with talent, so anyone who 'came to their senses' was forgiven
and put back to work. Dal had to intercede more than once.
55. Interestingly, some spectators jumped into the
grid on their own, perhaps unable to deal with the new State
paradigm. Suicide was considered a personal matter and not a
concern -- there was no clean-up, so what the hell. Within mere
days, Kor's "Attitude Rehabilitation
was praised for being 100% effective: Throughout Vejhon, talk
of dissent and discord completely stopped; a testament of Kor's
passion for justice and of his devotion to his loyal followers.
56. Kor attended the first
Gridboard event and never watched another one. Hovering above the
stadium in plain sight was the uninvited cylindrical observer, that
evidently, only Kor could see. "You fracking little bastard," Kor
observed privately, "You know I'm obligated to keep my cool in public,
don't you?" Kor discretely read the sensory perception from
random spectators throughout the stadium and nobody else could see
it. He nonchalantly asked a camera operator to pan the
above. There was nothing. The camera operator
didn't ask; maybe Queen Estuses was coming or something.
In spite of his overpowering urge, to 'disappear and capture,' he
restrained himself to maintain his public image. He hated it,
whatever it was. That level of
artificial intelligence did not exist, and would not exist for some
time. "You're psionic," Kor directed toward the object. He
didn't need to look at it. The object answered by ignoring him:
"Cancel," was a Vejhonian symbol. "Ahhhhhhh," Kor said, catching
the unintended slip -- a normal shellan wouldn't have caught
that. "You messed up, didn't you? Twice now!" Kor
remembered. Onimex sealed
his alpha band emitter; he honestly didn't think Kor would jump 200
yards above the stadium to catch him.
58. "You're starting to seem less and less biological," Onimex
thought to himself.
"The object is Vejhonian," Kor concluded, "but not
from Vejhon." Now, that was
a quandry. "It's from the future..." he surmised, "but from when
where?" The only new dynamic was the evacuation: "Where did
60. Those were the right questions; he was connecting the dots
although it took him a lifetime to do it, and Onimex knew it.
recording my life, aren't
you?" Kor asked.
61. Onimex heard him, and he wasn't talking. He had what he
needed so he vacated that moment to engage the next.