Live In Reverse -- Chapter 3
1. "Guards, I want
him so much," Annalyse swooned. Kor looked like a Vejhonian god;
chiseled and sculpted with just enough wear to look real. His fierce
complexion sliced through the jungle; trusty spear in hand, while
glistening beads of sweat flew from his wavy jet black hair. The
menacing cold fusion of his fiery blue eyes exposed an observer's
innermost thoughts and desires. Everyone was brutally
2. For a brief
moment, she thought he made eye contact with her and she feinted.
"Annalyse," her friend whispered trying to soften her fall. She did not
hit the ground hard -- It seemed like an angel had set her down gently
on autumn leaves. Maureen looked straight at
Kor as he passed and caught the feint trace of a thin smile on his
face. He was laughing at her feigned
discretion and reckless restraint.
3. He was like an
shadow that crossed through the brush in front of them. He had
every tree, scaled every cliff, forded every stream and river, and knew
every inch of his forest like he knew his own body. He was 18,
unencumbered by society and duty; the absolute master of his forest
kingdom and ruler of all who visited; like his wishful female
4. He found his favorite ledge in
front of Mantra's cave behind his waterfall, fell into his hammock and
entered a self induced trance betwixt sleep and
consciousness. The shell faded away and was replaced by an erie calm.
There was no EMF of any kind and the absense of frequencies made his
5. He became aware of himself
riding in the back of an ancient ox cart through a small village.
He could feel his body sway
with the banging of the cart's uneven, wooden wheels against the
cobblestone road. The clacking was deafening and the
cart's bucking had nearly thrown him out several times. His body was 7
years old; his oily hair dirty and unwashed. His tunic was torn and
scratchy because it had once been a grain sack. His father was driving
the ox cart in front. He didn't need to
look -- he knew it was him. His mother had died from a
disease. For being utterly alien, the scene felt strangely
6. There was a muscular,
adult shellan with his hands tied over his head, being suspended by an
overhead beam. He couldn't move because his feet were shackled to the
ground. Beside him, someone in a black hooded robe, presumably
shellan, carved thin slices of flesh from his victim's limbs. There was
nobody else in the village; only the black robed priest and his
captive. It looked like a nightmare from a horror holo, which
Kor watched very little of.
"Old Man," Mantra invaded gently. Kor didn't answer but his
acknowledgment was felt. "Old Man" was Mantra's term of endearment for
Kor that had
stuck since their first encounter. "I don't have a propensity for such
goolish things," Kor confessed with a sigh, "but this one escapes me."
examined Kor's vision, "How real it seems," he said, "There's a
complete absense of psyos." The dreamscape was apsionic.
9. "Is that me
in another life?" Kor asked, "Or ancient memories in the strata?
If it's me -- I wasn't very psionic." The kid was paper thin and
scraggly; his hair had never seen a comb.
10. "Very good
questions," Mantra said. He examined the sky in Kor's vision and
there was no evidence of a watershell. The memories were from
some other shell. Kor followed Mantra's deductions and felt some
relief, "Some other shell?" he wondered, "Someone else's memories...
from somewhere else?" More privately he wondered, "Could this be
someone else's reality?"
11. It was a
realization more than a question, so Mantra changed the scenery.
"Let me answer this way," Mantra projected a stairway leading to a
flaming door in Kor's mind. The imagry was
vivid, realistic and much more soothing than watching a healthy shellan
get filleted alive by a sadistic priest.
climbed the stairs and flung open the flaming door like a king
entering his private treasury. Across the threshold was a Universe so
astonishingly real and vivid that it quickly dissolved the former
darkness. "Did you make this?" Kor whispered. "It's all in
your mind," Mantra whispered back, "you're connected to it."
The scene intrigued Mantra too.
13. Kor waved
his arm within this infinite mindspace, unwilling to close the door
him or leave the threshold. "Is it
in me?... or am I in it?" he
Vejhonian synonyms ran through Mantra's mind: The
operative symbol was "symbiosis." "It's a Universe that you carry
The potential of this new revelation far outweighed anything he had
entertained before. Scenes from his life passed in review while
16. Down by the brook, Mantra manipulated a miniature spherical
Universe, like an energy ball within his hands. Kor's 6-year-old
self was watching from afar. "That's me!" Kor observed, "you baited me, didn't you?" Kor accused
him with feigned fractiousness. Mantra grinned.
17. The younger Kor crept up on Mantra, quite curious.
Mantra did not turn around, "I see you young hunter," he said.
Kor examined the camouflage paint on his younger self's face and
His current face was painted too. "Are you the Old Man of the
the younger Kor asked Mantra.
"I used to be," Mantra answered, "but I'm afraid that job is now
yours." He knew exactly how to ingratiate himself to a strapping
6-year-old. The older Kor blushed at how easy it was and
gave Mantra a psionic punch in the arm. "Good thing you meant
well," the older Kor remarked.
Highlights of their future encounters passed like watching a movie
about ones private life. A new perspective can be gleaned when
reviewing personal history as an observer.
Kor reviewed the methodical, syllabus style of Mantra's instruction and
impressed with his expert psychological craftsmanship. "I never
had to force you to learn," Mantra injected, "you learned as fast as I
could teach." Kor had been his only student. The vision
featured Mantra's private collection of magical artificts; the
presentation slowed to mark special moments and important
discoveries. Kor reviewed each stage of his development until his
ultimate victory over matter.
The day came when
Mantra introduced Kor to the secret society at large. "That was
the greatest day of my life," Kor whispered.
exciting, but the entire society was a sensory overload.
"I was fully enraptured by it," Kor confessed, "and still am."
Mantra smiled. There was still the final, ultimate thrill that
forever etched itself in Kor's heart:
The Secret Scrolls... so secret that their existence is denied.
In every dispensation, society priests kept records since the dawning
time. Seeing those scrolls for the first time was the most
spiritual event in Kor's life. The scrolls seemed embued with a
sacred power. He re-lived the moment
watched himself behold the oldest known document, written during the
first Dan in a language that nobody could read. The cavern
had been designed and adorned for this purpose.
Kor's eyes were
drawn to a set of characters styled like a litney. He couldn't
read it, but knew what it said, "Life through Light and
Death -- Beauty and Savagry." It was the first truth,
written at the top of the first page of the first Dan -- the oldest
known scripture. Every
society member kept that key litney on their person in any form they
chose, so long as it was on their person. To outsiders, it
was a stupid, harmless superstition that didn't mean anything.
But to insiders -- it was a key to fraternal unity and the gate to
24. When Kor set the document down, he was speechless and nearly
moved to tears. As an observer, he remembered what his younger
self said when he calmed himself, and lipped the words in synch with
him, "Everything we are -- is here." His voice was deeper
now, but even his younger voice had strength and power.
Mantra added to the narrative, "To the Elders -- you
gloriously embody everything that we hold dear... then... as you do
now." Kor also heard, "...and we've been talking about you ever
26. There was an epochal moment that would come. It had
been alluded to through innuendo that Kor was the 'heir
apparent' to a title that nobody in this dispensation was qualified
for. Society leaders had become too cavalier to understand the
literal intention of ancient customs. Kor did not hold that
against them. A date had already been set to install Kor as the
'Chosen One' in a traditional ceremony as prescribed in the scrolls.
27. To him, the scrolls were Ex Cathedra ad finis. There
was nothing to argue -- if the future revolved around him, he would
simply accept it.
In a psionic world, those who recognize truth without evidence are easy
to find, and society priests avail themselves to guide those so
29. Society priests roam the strata similar to
the Psionic Guard but for a different purpose, on a different
astral plane. For that reason, their paths never cross.
the Psionic Guard refer to their shellwatch facility as a "Temple" that
serves no theological purpose. Society priests, on the other
hand, have no designated meeting house but more holistically practice
function of proselytizing.
Psionic seeds are easily planted: "Do you feel that there is more than
this? Do you want more
than this?" The innocuous questions plant seeds
that bloom into a longing desire: "Who are you? What is
this body of knowledge? Of course
I want more..." Where
proselytizing off-shell might invoke charismatic powers of
persuasion and compelling reasons to convert, on Vejhon, the priests
legwork is already done; the prospect is already converted. He or
she only needs someone in authority, to appear and identify the
unnamed body of
knowledge as eternal and true.
Kor didn't generally tap into such roamings, but Mantra wanted Kor to
witness at least one intervention as a training exercise. "This
shellan has puzzling metaphysical questions,"
Mantra drifted into the mind of a prospect who was about to be visited
by society missionaries. "Like many in our shell," Mantra
continued, "he doesn't think anyone can possibly understand him..."
The missionaries knock. The prospect opens the door and is
greeted with warmth and friendliness. He already knows that there
are no secrets in a psionic world, but the missionaries proceed to
deepest and most puzzling metaphysical concerns. He is
astonished, enraptured and feels spiritually reborn. "Haven't you
that that these things were true?" the missionaries ask him.
"Yes, but there was nobody to ask," he answers. The missionaries
continue, "There is a society that believes as you do, that has existed
since the first Dan. That is why we came here today: We
"There are no prayers, ceremonies or special induction rites," Mantra
narrates, "do you wonder why?"
It was Mantra's style to ask rhetorical questions as a point of
information. The shellan looks and feels completely tranformed,
as if the missionaries had opened a hidden
part of his mind that liberated his soul. The scene progresses
into one of grateful, indescribable joy, before settling into quiet
maturity and belonging. "You are one of us, now," the
missionaries confirm. From there, the multi-faceted journey of
discovery never ends.
"But I was always converted," Kor whispered. "True," Mantra
agreed, "Actually, you converted me, Old Man," Mantra joked. Kor
grinned. "I like the sincerity of his liberation," Kor commented,
"Thank-you for showing me this." It was simply a matter of time;
cliché symbolized by a faceless
clock. "Of course," Mantra acknowledged warmly, "You're quite
Mantra dissolved their visionscape and Kor became conscious of his
hammock again. He sprung up, "I've got a few more heads to
turn," he joked, and away he ran.
As the Dans
progressed, the secret society accumulated so much information that the
non-clerical elements in society became
suspicious. Society members simply didn't 'fit in' and were
perceived as a threat. The
gulf between wisdom and physicalism widened irreconcilably and forced
priests underground. Once the priests were out-of-sight and
out-of-mind, the topside population felt better.
seeped into the psionic cracks unnoticed.
THE POLAR RIFT
Psionic Guard became the political guardians of law and order, the
evolved to preserve spiritual continuity. The hatred between them
grew so intense that any notion of symbolizing two halves of the same
paradigm was vehemently redacted. Their animosity escalated into
bloodshed, each claiming a polarity
strata; diabolically bent on annihilating each
other. Psionic opposites do not attract: They
are sworn enemies.
embrace unchanging machinations in a constantly changing
Universe. There are no
excommunications: Either you 'always
were' or 'never will be.'
The rest of the population believes in existential
physicalism since the Psionic Guard demonstrates extrasensory
manipulation every day. Faith is not required in a shell
monitored and patrolled by demi-Gods.
THE PSIONIC GUARD
COMPOUND AT SPEARPIERCE
"The freedom to feel, whatever it is
feel, is an attractive selling point for society recruitment because
fear is absorbed, rather than dissolved," a Guard offered.
"Society inductees are
rescued from their feelings of powerlessness and insignificance,"
Director Kyle'yn nodded, "We're not opposed to abstract
physicalism or quazi existentialism, so long as such ideas do not
undermine the Constitution." "Then I wonder why there's a
problem?" a graduate asked. Everyone understood, "Indeed, there
shouldn't be." Kyle'yn looked into his eyes, "It takes more
responsibility to be a free-thinking shellan, then a society
whore." The bunch laughed out loud, including the Director,
is lethally incompatible with freedom, or as my Cacci Dai escort said
once, 'Cosmos and Chaos exist, but not at the same point in time and
space.'" They were at the reception following a graduation
"What keeps the superstition alive?" a graduate asked the
Director. "The operative word is 'superstition,'"
Kyle'yn answered, clearly not finished with his thought or his
answer. "The secret society supposedly maintains a secret library
that contains the history of Vejhon since the first Dan," the Director
continued, "It's so secret they won't divulge its whereabouts to its
own members, or even admit that it actually exists."
"Wouldn't something like that be of great cultural and academic
significance?" another graduate asked, "I'm sure we know where it
is." "Yes,"the Director sighed, "that's precisely where it gets
sticky." He turned the question around: "What is our
function?" he asked, like an instructor. "To protect the will of
the State," a graduate
answered. The Director nodded and smiled sternly, as if a deeper
truth lay behind the textbook answer. "What if..." the Director
pontificated out loud, "... an ancient manuscript that revealed
shell-shaking formulas that could potentially alter physics, or even
destroy the shell, was made available to the public?"
The very idea was ludicrous and the ramifications immeasurable.
"We can't release that kind of material to the public," a graduate
answered. The Director nodded, "So, is it safer with
us?..." he paused for effect, "...or with them?" Four
graduates encircled the Director. It sounded like a
trick question. "In effect, they're just stubbron Jolvian
asses," one graduate remarked; he was referring to the metaphore's
subtext, which his peers understood.
"If in fact," a graduate offered, "an Elite paradigm does
exist, and our theoretical understanding of their oligarchy existed
all these Dans -- then we might as well leave it with them." It
was daring and succinct. "Guard's Damn!" the Director exclaimed
out loud, "I think I'm nominating you as my successor!" He
patted the graduate warmly on the back while his peers jabbed at him
for being right. All in good fun. The Director doesn't
really 'nominate' -- he 'appoints.'
"One more question, Sir," a graduate asked. The Director
nodded. "The university system depends heavily upon State
sponsorship," the graduate continued; "my sister says academia takes
to maintain the status quo; that Historians are religious figures and
not educators." The graduate sounded nervous but sincere.
The Director gave him a blank stare and then began to squint as if
angry. Then he broke out with a warm chuckle, "Tell her to join
us," he said. The graduate let out a breath of relief.
His friends jabbed at him, "Thought your ass was gone, didn't
"If you boys will excuse me," the Director motioned toward a stately
looking lady by the grog fountain. "Ahhhhh," the graduates
acknowledged in unison and parted to permit his egress.
Lasers were banned on Vejhon because of their potential for eco
terrorism. For that reason, "cyonics" which refers to
concentrated light was lexicographically and etymologically
interchangeable with "psionics" which refered to exosensory
attentuation. Transversing the watershell was accomplished by
using any number of State-controlled
On the other hand, Onimex prefers the bath.
An SGK sat down at a sidewalk table to enjoy his espresso in the
rustic town of Dansk near Balipor. The town was a popular theme
park for ancient culture. This particular cafe attracted tourists
who preferred a self guided tour of less publicized attractions.
It was something to do on a day off.
He couldn't help but overhear a father and daughter talking quietly at
an adjacent table. The father owned the cafe, and the daughter
was attempting to understand her Dad's frustration with sales and the
possibly of selling the cafe if they couldn't make ends meet.
This was exactly the type of issue an SGK could solve on a day
The father flipped his tablet around so that his daughter could review
the figures. The SGK appeared to be an ordinary tourist, content
with his drink and far away from the cafe owner's concerns. "I'm
sure there's a way you can keep this place -- it's been in the family
forever," his daughter sympathized, "Gampa had hard times and still
managed to give it to you. And Gampa D'Letha almost had to close
it, and gave it to your father.
I think you'll get through this, Daddy -- I'll help you!"
He smiled kindly at his daughter, knowing that she would spare no
effort or resource at her disposal to assist him. "There's
politics," he said with a sigh: "There's so many oversight
entities and new ones that want to get involved... the tourism
commission, the district, the antiquities guild... every day it seems
like someone new wants to re-regulate us when we're already
over-regulated! Where does it stop? Why do they let this
"Proletariat horseshit," the SGK quietly concluded. He tapped in
psionically to uncover the remaining aspects of the puzzle;
particularly those quantities that uniquely applied to his guild.
He pulled out his PDA, without attracting their attention, and looked
up seemingly disconnected data that an honest business owner would
never suspect. It was disgusting, but that's how business and
politics operate at the highest
The drama ordinarily would have ended with the same vague
non-conclusion, but the SGK chose to politely interrupt. "I'm SGK
#432," he said. The father and daughter stared at each other and
their jaws dropped while 432 lifted his black holographic, genetically
encoded dog tag from under his T-shirt and tucked it back inside.
A tear of gratitude welled in the father's eye because SGK's were
undisputed financial savants owned by the Seven Gates Corporation.
"The situation you're in is very deep," 432 confided to the father,"
and it would take the rest of the day to explain every detail, so let
me give you the chapter headings, and what I've done to improve your
standing." It was already understood that ellusive political
maneurvering had collateralized this poor shellan. Indeed, this
was a rescue mission from God.
"InterStellar bought the right to operate food franchises at cultural
centers through a back room deal at Balipor. Exclusive rights
were awarded to Cultural Awareness Inc., traded in the Quarter under
symbol 'CAI.' Financially, InterStellar owns it, but politically,
CAI has exclusive control and CAI is affordable. There was a
sufficient buffer in your liability margin, to borrow against, and buy
a controlling interest in CAI. You
Sir," 432 handed the father his personal PDA, "now make policy in the food and
beverage market at all parks and recs on Vejhon." Only an
SGK could have sifted through the political smoke and mirrors to
uncover exactly what transpired, who was involved; how the transfers
were laundered, into which entities, and how to surgically reverse a
specific instance of reckless collateral damage.
There seemed to be a mutual understanding that InterStellar would not
be a problem; InterStellar would spend an additional fortune to unravel
how a poor unknown vendor in Dansk cashed in on their carefully
disguised monopoly. Morally, the savant was doing his job, with
the unofficial consent of the Psionic Guard: Savants made no
sense to the Guards, but they fiercely protected the State so the Guard
left them to their own devices, relatively uncensored. The Kids
had standing orders to protect the savants as national treasures but
the savants had no authority over the Kids. Savants were
forbidden to leave the shell unescorted.
The daughter looked incredulously at her father with wide eyes while he
showed her his controlling interest in CAI on the savant's PDA, "Never
heard of them until now," she mumbled. She turned to 432 and
pointed at his drink, "That's on the house!" She hugged and
kissed him. In fact, 432 had just given her father roughly $2M in
covert takeover advise, executed the trade and solidified his control
for an espresso. Dad wasn't just ahead of the game, he was the
game master now.
Generally, SGK's had no need for personal wealth because they protected
the accounts of Seven Gates entirely, and wielded Carte Blanch control
of the company; in effect, they were walking tungsten mines.
There wasn't really anything 'to want' that wasn't already at their
Seven Gates still had a paid board and at least one savant sat away
from the table during board meetings. Typically, the savant never
said anything, but if compelled to interject for any reason at all, the
savant's will trumped the board and ended further discussion. The
board was still necessary to manage perfunctory operations.