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The Light Race -- Chapter 19

1.  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. 

2.  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 annihilated once 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 by-the-book.    

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 notion.         

6.  Ireana felt unbearable guilt, "I can't believe I 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.


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 distinguishable 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 weird."  

12. 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 separating corporeal matter from it's photonic mass," Onimex explained, "Light-mass is not hard-wired 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 wired -- 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 switched on.   

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.  Evidently, 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 her.      

16.  Since Corlos 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 says, "however, this particular visit  is a legal mandate."       


17. 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 felt 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 in 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.    

19. "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 confinement. 

20. "The music?" Ireana asked psionically.

21. "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.  

22. "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 here -- where did everyone else go?  Because this is not the afterlife."  Alma grinned sympathetically and non-verbally seemed to ask, "How do you know?" 

23. This was a textbook recruitment by Corlos.  They scanned the entire Universe for the brightest minds they could find; whose deaths could 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 to break 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 said.  "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.  "Somehow I 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 we 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 room.  Along 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 other 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 in and out on occasion, so nobody gave Ireana a curious glance or a sign of unfamiliarity.  Everyone had performed their share of field work and all were subject to rapid redeployment at a moments 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 and everyone 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," she 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 previous dialogue.  "As a general rule, we stay out of civil conflicts, but Kor has reached into eight additional 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 twelve before, now it's twenty," referring to the number of systems 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 destroyer appeared in 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 expected to 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 whispered.            

33. "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 not."  

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 parallels.  

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 those 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, "Was M'tro-1 real?" she wondered, "Are we all just pawns in some grander scheme... and then how many more levels beyond that?"           

39.  "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 campaign. 

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 awe-inspiring 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.      

43. 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 been 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 with restraint.      

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 tear.  "It 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 led by a dark-haired man with a short, stubby mustache.  There was pomp and circumstance, attractive uniforms, hypnotic symbols, crude but effective 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 capitulated. 

51.  Key icons that had been used to identify crucial components of Kor's regime were matched with identical components of the alternate regime.

52.  "If we wanted a DNA match for political purposes," Daniel said slowly, "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 never 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 and 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 time.  Present company fit that description or they wouldn't be here.  

55.  "If I understand you correctly," Alma said, "You believe this alternate regime 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 say.  

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 conditions.
59.  "You wouldn't be Vejhonian?" the agent sitting next to her asked.  Vejhonian etymology symbolizes every 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 themselves 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 carbon."        

61.  Her heart was hurting.  Icons of both dystopian regimes were scattered everywhere.  "So, does this 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 movement' Universally.

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 pointed 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 indirect.  I-20 was the only one who knew exactly where, but he never mixed Elliptical concerns with Corlos issues; a separation of Church and State.        

65.  "Isn't that in the middle of the Badlands!" an operative said metaphorically.  "I'm from Theos," came a defensive rebuke.  "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 the constellation 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 threatened 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 representation.         

69.  "A few hours ago," Daniel said, "I asked operations to locate someone from the alternate regime who met our criterion for recruitment."

70.  Daniel pressed a cue indicator at his station, "And this is what we got..."