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Vejhon by Ty Estus Narada
Cyonic Nemeton, P.O. Box 3121, Page, AZ  86040-3121

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The New Order -- Chapter 16

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. 

2.  "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.        

3.  After a generous revue of shell-wide victory celebrations and award ceremonies concluded, Kor gave his most gallant leaders governorships over large areas of Vejhon to rule as sovereign 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 commented. 

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." 

8.  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 it."    

9.  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 for Elite landlords who required constant childlike praise for their administrative 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 public malcontent.
10.  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.  

13. “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 imperfection and weakness create so much bitterness?" Kor rephrased, "Do shellans 'need' to suffer in 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 invigorate the 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 anchor 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 seem.  When 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 new 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 would magnify their social and financial status.  Their gamble paid off handsomely. 

19. Although the immediate intellectual vacuum was a resolvable crisis, Kor's patience ended when a group of dissenters picketed in a public square with signs that read, "Kor had no real plan." "Kor's campaign was fluff."  One brave journalist used the words "con-artist..." 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 had been 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 wealth and 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 currying 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 tabloids everything 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 immaculate social 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 meaningful intelligence.  "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 unwilling 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 the same page.  The time for patronizing was over.  He smiled at Dal, amazed that his Vice Elite could bring so much to the party.

23. Kor 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 terribly inaccurate.

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 cover," 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. 

25.  Kor nodded toward the Minister of Economics:  "All trade with Vejhon has 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.  Dal 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 fugitives in 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 forward:

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 thinks he is!'," the Minister reported.  Everyone laughed suddenly.  "They want a more active role in government, My 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 of 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. 

31. Kor 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 street.   

32. "Friends and Lords," Kor began politely, "I have given much thought to the many dilemmas and burdens that we 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.    

33.  Kor left his seat and began to walk among the assembly.  "As I review our plight with improved eyes," he began, "I realize that there is no dilemma at 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!"

34. 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:      

35. "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.'   

36. "You remember the old fable of A'Zoth?" Kor prodded them in his endearing way.  "What did he do when the shell got 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 that?" 

37. 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 understand me when I say, we don't owe those petulant, ungrateful shitheads, one fracking thing!"  The room erupted into cheers!  They were floating on air.  Wow!

38.  He had done it again -- the Sons were exaltant!  "Life through light and death, beauty and savagery," Kor reminded them calmly.  "This is one of those times."

39. Kor motioned for Dal El to take over while the lights dimmed.  Huge monitors had been retrieved from storage and set up for Dal's presentation:

40. 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.   

41. The camera zoomed in and rotated throughout the holographic presentation at different levels.  The playing field looked like a solid ocean of light energy. The presentation strongly resembled advertising pitch; very entertaining. 

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.

43.  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, "will be called 'dissension' to honor the many... loud... dissenters."  Mantra cooly chimed in, "In a rather unique interpretation of the word."  Kor acknowledged his mentor.  Their collective reactions seemed no more fatalistic than an ordinary high school pep ralley.  

44. As horrific as it looked on holo, it solved a very serious problem in a truly entertaining way.  Some chuckled at the crudely drawn animated figures as they were pushed off of ledges to their demise.  Capitol offenders were lowered more slowly to maximize the death experience.  The animator had taken some creative license to illustrate 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.

45. "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 really is."  Dal made the process sound sanitary.  "It's probably nicer than pushing shellans off a cliff," one Elder observed.  His fellow parliamentarians seemed to agree.    

46. "The visual message though;" Dal nonchalantly added, "The Master believes will greatly reduce the ungrateful among us."  Nobody could argue that point.  If the Elders were 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 stadium, loyal 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, then to turn them into a public burden."   That had been an Elite philosophy throughout time.      

48.  "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 Elder said, repeating The Master, "but does contraption itself have a name?"  "Yes," Dal smiled politely, "Grid Boards."  And thus the expression, "Grid Boards," was spoken into existence as a noun, an adjective and political means to an end.  "I'm SO glad I'm not a victim," one Son sighed.  

50.  The presentation ended and the lights went back up.  Kor gave everyone a moment to settle.  "Elite Engineer," Dal said, "your office has the plans -- you have The Master's blessing."  The 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.              

51. "Those of you concerned with mental health issues -- start taking names," Kor suggested.  That would end the meeting with a smile. 

52.  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.    

53. 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 in 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 a 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 State concern -- there was no clean-up, so what the hell.  Within mere days, Kor's "Attitude Rehabilitation Program" 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. [sic

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 sky above.   There was nothing.   The camera operator didn't ask; maybe Queen Estuses was coming or something.  
57. 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.  

59.  "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 and where?"  The only new dynamic was the evacuation:  "Where did they go?" 

60.  Those were the right questions; he was connecting the dots although it took him a lifetime to do it, and Onimex knew it.  "You're 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.