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Vejhon by Ty Estus Narada
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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 transparent.  

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 aircraft shadow that crossed through the brush in front of them.  He had climbed 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 admirers.

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 head ring.

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 familiar.

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.

7. "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."

8.  Mantra 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.   

12.  Kor 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 behind him or leave the threshold.  "Is it in me?... or am I in it?" he asked introspectively.

14.  Several Vejhonian synonyms ran through Mantra's mind:  The operative symbol was "symbiosis."  "It's a Universe that you carry with you," Mantra answered.

15.  The potential of this new revelation far outweighed anything he had entertained before.  Scenes from his life passed in review while Mantra watched:

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 limbs.  His current face was painted too.  "Are you the Old Man of the Forest?" the younger Kor asked Mantra.

18.  "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.         

19.  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.   

20.  Kor reviewed the methodical, syllabus style of Mantra's instruction and was 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. 

21.  The day came when Mantra introduced Kor to the secret society at large.  "That was the greatest day of my life," Kor whispered.  Mantra was 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: 

22.  The Secret Scrolls... so secret that their existence is denied.  In every dispensation, society priests kept records since the dawning of 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 as he 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.

23.  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 eternal truths.      

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.  
25.  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 since." 

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. 

28.  In a psionic world, those who recognize truth without evidence are easy to find, and society priests avail themselves to guide those so inclined.  

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.  Strangely, 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 the function of proselytizing. 

30.  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.  

31.  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..."

32.  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 resolve his deepest and most puzzling metaphysical concerns.  He is astonished, enraptured and feels spiritually reborn.  "Haven't you always felt 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 heard you..." 

33.  "There are no prayers, ceremonies or special induction rites," Mantra narrates, "do you wonder why?" 

34.  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.                

35.  "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; a cliché symbolized by a faceless clock.  "Of course," Mantra acknowledged warmly, "You're quite welcome." 

36.  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.  


37.  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 the priests underground.  Once the priests were out-of-sight and out-of-mind, the topside population felt better.  Spiritual 'intelligence' seeped into the psionic cracks unnoticed.  

38.  As the Psionic Guard became the political guardians of law and order, the Secret Society 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 within the strata; diabolically bent on annihilating each other.   Psionic opposites do not attract:  They are sworn enemies.  

39.  Society members 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. 


40.  "The freedom to feel, whatever it is that you 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," another suggested. 

41.  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, "Elitist idiology 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 ceremony.

41.  "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." 

42.  "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?"

43.  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.  

44.  "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.'      

45.  "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 blasphemous liberties 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 ya?"         

46.  "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. 

47.  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 checkpoints.       

48.  On the other hand, Onimex prefers the bath.  


49.   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.

50.  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 off. 

51.  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!" 

52.  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 happen?"  

53.  "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 levels.          

54.  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.    

55.  "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.

56.  "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.

57.  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.       

58.  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. 

59.  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 instant disposal.

60.  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.