The Oblivion of Enlightenment

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Here are the first five chapters together.

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapters 1-5

Submitted: December 03, 2016

Reads: 261

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Submitted: December 03, 2016

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The Oblivion of Enlightenment

 

Chapter 1 Tabula Rasa

Chapter 2 The Old Masters

Chapter 3 The Seeker After Truth

Chapter 4 The Vault of the Mediators

Chapter 5 The Tyranny of Divinity

Chapter 6 Reclamation

Chapter 7 The Void Attained

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1 Tabula Rasa

Satya’s vessel The Void Stalker was a miracle.  It was an elegant amalgamation of resonating psi-crystals forged with mono-molecular precision by the combined telepathic might of the greatest psi-shipwrights the universe had ever known.  Its overall shape was like an immaculate, aero-dynamic insect with iridescent, crystal wings.  It glided through space under telekinetic engines fueled by the minds of the Collective of Psi-Adepts whose minds were linked as one across billions of light-years of space.  The Void Stalker represented the pinnacle of human advancement and evolution toward harmony and equality.  Or, perhaps, something more?  Could the members of the Psi-Collective still be described as human?

Satya wondered this from time to time.  Upon her command throne on the bridge, in the endless night of space, there were many hours of solitude for her to while away with her contemplations.  The old Psi-Collective of her mother Cydona’s design had been flawed.  Cydona’s great mistake had been to ultimately absorb the souls of all of those she liberated in her Psi-Crusade, using her great power to obliterate their individual identities and create a ‘One Mind’ network.  It was far too late when she realized that the ‘One Mind’ was hers alone, and that she ruled nothing but soulless reflections of herself and her ambition to survive.  Her desire for revenge had blinded her, and had been fuelled by the Old Ones with subtle deception.  Slowly she had turned into what they called their sister in damnation, The Queen of Lies.

Through her they had annihilated the Council of Balance and depopulated countless worlds.  Through her they had spread her Psi-Web to encompass all sentient beings, so that the 2nd Foundation of Psilon had grown to dominate the minds and souls of the entire universe.  All beings had been elevated to Psionic Enlightenment, but at the cost of their souls.  It seemed that the Enlightenment Cydona had won was also a form of oblivion.

A new era of stagnation had begun, where all thought was shared by all beings.  Life had lost its meaning as individual thoughts were crushed under the will of the collective and anything could be deemed heretical as thoughts were ruthlessly policed.  Living under the Psi-Web was to live under an unimaginably repressive regime.  Even worse than this was the collective realization that the hideous Old Ones controlled the Universe and had done so since time immemorial, preying on all sentient life.  That only the depredations of the Old Ones awaited amid the uncaring stars was too much for most to bear; and they had gone mad.  Even the Old Ones themselves seemed to have lost their taste for subtlety and had begun to devour the mindless, babbling sheep that remained on world after world.  They had begun to gorge themselves and consume everything.  Soon the universe was lacking in sentient life of any kind, let alone those who had been elevated to heightened awareness of the true cosmos.  In this was Cydona’s victory, as even the Old Ones eventually consumed each other and themselves, starved of the souls that they craved and required to prolong their existence.  Cydona had absorbed them all herself.  Had she not become a Goddess and begat a race of Gods?

Satya was the daughter of Cydona, and thus the ruler of the 3rd Foundation of Psilon.  But things had changed a great deal.  Since her escape from the planet Eden and the opening of the clone-banks to repopulate the universe, her empire had grown, world by world.  The old Psi-Collective was a thing of the past, the One Mind network was in practice a trap that consumed the souls of those who became too dependent on it.  Once exposed to the knowledge of the Old Ones all those connected to it had ceased to exist.  And so now it was forbidden to connect to it recklessly.  Those who navigated and drove The Void Stalker forward were unthinking drones, incapable of going mad or of independent existence, a labourer caste genetically bred for their roles as mere psychic cattle.  Only Satya and her highest ranking officials maintained a One Mind network so as never to repeat the apocalypse of knowledge and insanity that had ended the old universe and given rise to the virtually empty void of dead, graveyard worlds that existed today.

Satya’s mission was a lonely one.  She knew that the Enlightenment had destroyed all sentient life, but it had also defeated The Old Ones and ushered in a new universe, a blank slate, upon which Mankind could write its own destiny.  The old Gods were dead, and Mankind were the new Gods.  Perhaps they had transcended the label of humanity altogether.  Perhaps a rechristening was in order.

At any rate, The Void Stalker continued its silent, hyper-speed journey to the next star system of empty planets, each time finding a similar tableau of deserted civilization and recidivism to primitive, planet-bound cultures.  They were barely worth charting.  The myriad alien races had all suffered the same fate upon the true revelation: anarchy.  None would willingly choose an existence as mere prey for the Old Ones.  It had proved too much, it was forbidden knowledge not meant to be comprehended by simple, mortal minds.  The chaotic and cyclical nature of existence over untold millennia easily broke the fragile minds of the sentient beings of the universe.  Satya had realized what Cydona had known when she left Lacus to die: that in order to fight the Demons and the Council they would have to remake themselves to be just as ruthless.  Cydona had sacrificed much to face the truth after her defeat by Thaxidremous and advance Mankind.  She had embraced the killer instinct and the doctrine that no price was too high to pay for survival and freedom.  Satya knew that these simple creatures would never break out of their respective Gardens of Eden, their paradises of ignorance.  They did not have the strength to face the Truth.  Satya was Truth, it was her name in an ancient tongue of fabled Old Earth.  This was the legacy of Cydona and her consort Lysander.

And so it falls to me, thought Satya.  She was no longer the confused young woman who on the day of her 19th year had sat opposite her mother and heard this tragic history.  She no longer felt horror or rage toward her mother, but revered her as a Goddess.  Only Cydona’s strength of will had liberated humanity and allowed it to advance.  Only her will to survive had defeated the Council and the Old Ones.  It was true that some called her a Demon, a deceiver and devourer of souls just like the Old Ones.  But Satya had deemed this thinking heresy.  The 3rd Order of Psilon worshipped Cydona as Nataraja, the bringer of destruction and renewal.  There was no damnation, it was only a delusion of those too weak willed to seize the power of the Gods for themselves.  These were the teachings of Satya the Truthbringer.

To doubt this was heresy, and treason: punishable by death.  Of course, there could be no other way to ensure that Cydona’s lesson would not be perverted and corrupted, forgotten or trivialized.  It had to be as vital today as it was on that day that Cydona had told Satya that she was to inherit this kingdom and begin again in a universe devoid of lies.  This was the official stance of the Enlightened Hierarchy of Cydona the Ascended, the religious body that Satya had established.  The wars Mankind waged against the trivial aliens they encountered were a second crusade of sorts, to unite the desolated universe under a new, benevolent banner.  They were engaged in one now, one Satya had declared.  The Void Stalker was on its way to the capital planet of some pitiful alien consortium that was bound to their home star-system.  These heathens would easily be brought beneath the imperial heel, as many others had been.  The 3rd Foundation of Psilon had grown very strong, and no opposition had arisen against the Psi-fleets.  It was almost too easy to seize this manifest destiny that had been left for her.

It was in her private moments, such as now, that Satya harboured her secret doubts.  The Old Ones were dead, certainly: it had been proven that even they could not exist without souls to sustain them, and all souls had been extinguished in the stark light of revelation.  They fed on lies, ignorance and suffering: how would such things be possible if all souls were united in absolute equality and total knowledge?  In such a dead Utopia of mental perfection the Old Ones could not survive, and surely they had ceased to exist, or had a least been driven from the material universe.  But Satya wondered:  could they yet live on?  In some form she could not detect?  Was Mankind finally alone?  Or were they waiting…in secret, plotting to overthrow all that had been accomplished, seeking a return of some kind to again seize the reins of power.  She knew that their workings were subtle.  She would have to be on guard for any sign of their influence.  It had been 30 years, and none had appeared.  But as she grew older, Satya realized that she would have to bequeath her empire to an heir.  Psi techniques could extend life, but not forever.  Also, secretly, she had grown tired of the mantle she was born to accept…there was no challenge in administrating the unchecked expansion of the empire.  Inwardly, she longed for an end to the march of conquest and the enforced peace of the empire, the rigid strictures and observances that she herself had imposed in her younger years.  Was her legacy one of mediocrity and all the glory her mother’s?  It remained to be seen.  At times she understood the predicament of her father Lysander, that of a messiah and leader who was trapped in a role he himself did not believe in.  Perhaps she took after him and empathized with his desire for real power…

At present The Void Stalker had entered the nameless Solar system that was their next target.  Wordlessly she mentally gestured toward the 3rd planet, and the ship’s navigators steered her there.  They arrived in orbit and began a psychic broadcast to the entire world below.

You have transgressed against the 3rd Foundation of Psilon and the Master Race of Mankind.  You will surrender your weapons and prepare for incorporation into the empire.  Any and all resistance will be swiftly crushed.  There will be no tolerance for disobedience.  Our power is absolute; your thoughts are plainly known to us.  Resist and die.

The planet-scourging weapons of The Void Stalker were poised to fire, fixing their firing sights on major urban and industrial centres.  The Knights of Psilon were ready to teleport planetside and seize all strategically important targets, eviscerating key leadership structures.  At another mental gesture from Satya the Truthbringer the attack began.  As predicted, the primitive aliens were helpless and this insignificant cluster of worlds was quickly put under the yoke of imperial rule as had so many before it.  The occupation forces would arrive soon and The Void Stalker would slip back into interstellar space, heading for the next coordinates that were known to be populated.  Its efficiency was absolute.  Satya had never lost a battle.  In her mind The Void Stalker was invincible, a perfect predator with no natural enemies; the top of the food chain.  It was for this reason that it had been designed to resemble an insect, so the symbolism would not be lost on its opponents.  It was swift, deadly, and designed for killing.  It was only Satya herself who harboured any doubt of the newfound supremacy of Mankind.  Or was it Godkind?

 

 

 

***

On another world as yet unknown to the 3rd Foundation of Psilon a being stirred.  It lifted its bleary eyes upward to the chemical dust storms that raced across the sky, trailing multi-coloured lightning and spewing deadly acid rain.  Were it not for the heavy environment suit the being wore, it would surely be dead.  Nothing could survive on the hellish surface of this blackened planet, whose name had once meant Purity in some dead tongue of the ancient humans.  No Purity remained here.

The being trudged on silently with its similarly attired companions toward their destination.  This was not its homeworld, but still the being felt overwhelmed with emotion for all the destruction that sprawled from horizon to horizon, and the emotion was hate.  The population of the planet had once been human, this planet a paradise built to protect and nurture them, to help them grow until the time was needed when they were…when they were to be employed to fulfill their destinies and serve their creators.  But something had gone wrong.

Instead of being exactly the servants the being’s race had hoped for, the humans had rebelled.  It was never intended that they become aware of their masters’ and creators’ designs, but merely to serve The Symmetry and the natural order of things.  How they had escaped from their predestined role had been a source of much debate.  But it was certain now that they had succeeded.  This planet was once a thriving human colony and now…

There were 5 creatures in all.  Each heavy environment suit was quite differently shaped, giving away the diversity of forms that yet travelled together toward an obvious shared destination.  As they trudged across the dimly lit landscape of black ash wasteland each wondered how much longer they would have to endure this nearly atmosphere-less world.

“10 cycles until destination,” muttered the lead figure.  Its bulk was evident over the other four, some kind of guard.

“Can it be any slower,” the being who had been pondering the rebellion of the humans snapped.  “I wish these proceedings to be over with.  The longer we delay, the longer we play into the hands of our enemies.”

“10 cycles are hardly a defining interval for the universe, Horglap!”

“Silence!” the one known as Horglap hissed through his intercom. 

“What would you know of the importance of 10 cycles!  In 10 Cycles Pax Aeternam was annihilated by a space fleet of ignorant rabble and the universe thrown into a hell of collective madness!”  Horglap supressed the urge to disintegrate his companion where he stood.  His finger had indeed found the trigger of his sidearm, he had been about to unholster it.  But there had been enough destruction…they would need a core of leadership if they were to rebuild the Council, if they were to summon…but all in good time.  This being next to him, Zrandil The Skeptic held some kind of power in these accursed meetings for offering his ever dissenting views.  There would be more debate and more flip-flopping about what could be done.  Horglap himself looked forward to the time when the humans would be punished.  That was the real purpose of this meeting…to design their utter destruction.  Council business was always cloaked in official proceedings…but superficial appearances mattered little…

At present the group of aliens had reached some kind of clearing in the ash.  It would not have been seen to the naked eye, but the censors built into their suits had detected it readily enough.  Each could see the being-sized plate in the ground that would constitute the hatch of the air-lock that would lead to the pre-arranged underground meeting place.  The original surface of the planet had been buried but some sort of nuclear cataclysm as the native humans had turned on one another in some orgy of destruction.  The original core of the planet remained.  The original Nexus of Truth on this blasted world would be the gathering place of the remnants of the Council of Balance.

It was some time later when all the delegates from each respective race of aliens in the nearby quadrants had been seated around an immense central image projector that would deliver the signal of other similar gatherings throughout the shattered empire of the Council of Balance.  This was to be the first time that their restored communications network would be tested, all with the utmost secrecy of course.  Their sworn enemies, The 3rd Foundation of Psilon had immense powers of perception…but the Council’s combined knowledge over millennia had given them powers and techniques untold, gleaned from timeless aeons of unchallenged rule.  Their present assembly, nor its broadcast would not be detected by the scrying eyes of the One Mind network.

The great broadcast was about to begin.  All in attendance on all worlds were intently concentrating upon this event: possibly the most important event of their lives.  For they all burned with a desire for vengeance, and a desire to restore the great power they had enjoyed, in the old order, in the now largely depopulated and unrecognizable scar of reality that had been the previous universe.  These creatures had assembled to restore The Council of Balance.

Suddenly, a holographic projection of several other such meeting areas appeared, with one central face:  and the proceedings began. 

“My loyal and fellow servants of the Holy Symmetry and the Glorious Empire of Balance, I welcome you to the first caucus of our vanquished peoples.”  There was a suitably dramatic welling of applause.  The speaker was some sort of exotic array of pulsing lights which some recognized as Vemodion the Arbitrator.  He had assumed leadership of the Council after all of the high Council members had perished on Pax Aeternam.

“I Vemodion now speak for all remnants of the Council’s holdings, and for its future.  After the recent wars of succession I alone am victorious.  All will bow to my will as Supreme Councillor.”

There was little activity in this or any of the linked chambers on the projectors during the silence after this statement.  The wars of succession had proved very costly indeed.  Even more of the Council’s once glorious power had been squandered, and only Vemodion’s Starfleets and Templar legions had been able to weather the enormous losses incurred.  It was by default and not through any particular talent on Vemodion’s part that he had assumed ultimate command: he had not even appointed other Councillors, preferring to create his new title, which at present seemed to include no checks or balances against his ultimate executive authority.

“We are on the brink of a rebirth,” Vemodion began imperiously.  “For vengeance against the apostate 3rd Foundation of Psilon, the Council of Balance will rise once again!”

There was great cheering, applause and exultation. 

“In their insolence they have turned upon their creators and begun a campaign of conquest throughout the remaining Universe…”

“What little there is left of it…” interjected Zrandil the Skeptic, much to Horglap’s annoyance.

“Which at present we cannot oppose.” 

There was much voicing of displeasure at this, ranks of alien beings registering what could be termed jeers and hissing.  Although Vemodion was merely a cluster of multi-coloured lights, whatever intelligence he possessed allowed him to manipulate the emotions of the assembled crowd with economy and brevity.

“But this can all change…for the Psi-Fleets of the Ascended humans have one weakness.  It is the weakness that all humans share, and the weakness that the Demon Cydona once embodied, the weakness of PRIDE!!”

At this the assembly burst into spontaneous applause and cheers.  After this subsided at length, Vemodion seemed to collect his thoughts and then began deliberately:

“The humans are doomed.  They cannot comprehend what they have unleashed.  Was it not our Psi-technology that we provided them with that they used against us?

“Was it not our design of the Holy Symmetry that enabled them to exist in the Colony planets, waiting to be harvested for our designs?”

“And was it not only by our will that they were created at all?”

More exultant applause.

“The Collective Psi-Techniques have been employed before, long in the past. Our most ancient archives speak of a time when empires clashed throughout the stars, bringing great destruction through the use of these psi-weapons.  It was for this very reason that the practice of Psi power was prohibited, and that humans were designed with little individual capacity for psi-aptitude.  Should they ever be needed as a collective force, it would take billions of them to reach the power levels of the ancients, whose names are lost to us now, and now live on only in the vaguest warnings about entire star systems being annihilated during their great struggles.”

“In equipping Cydona and her followers with such weapons we had hoped to trick her into her own destruction.  We had sent her and her believers on a suicide mission from which she was not expected to return.  Only at the last moment did she escape after having turned her weapons on our forces and escaped to deep, uncharted space.  She had seen through our trap.”

The congregation was silent now.  The tale was well known.  The Fall of Pax Aeternam had followed, when the rebelling humans had descended on the Capital of Peace throughout the known Universe and dealt a single, treacherous blow to the rulers of Reality.  Many seemed to focus more intently on what was to come, to see how Vemodion would proceed…

“But here comes into play the flaw the humans bear with them,” Vemodion said, suddenly quiet. 

“The humans were not warned of the Psi-Matrix’s true purpose.  For the humans could not discern the true reality…The Psi-Matrix consumes souls.”  Vemodion had let this point quietly and ominously hang over the assembly like mist.  He began again, in a much different tone:

“The humans cannot understand that they were created as cattle for our masters to feed upon.  This secret was not meant for the inferior races.  In their hubris, the humans have overturned millennia of stability and progress, all in the name of freedom for their wretched kind.  Have they not achieved only destruction?” 

Requisite howls of assent ensued from alien throats.

“We the Council have appeased the Masters for untold spans of time, and the inferior races have done their duty to maintain peace in our time, and for untold aeons before.  They were never meant to learn the true nature of their existences…only to serve, as the Council itself has ever served…” 

Vemodion paused again. 

“But our Masters are gone.”

There was complete silence.  Not one candidate in all of the planets represented at the gathering dared stir. 

“You have seen the consequences of our Master’s wrath.  All of our constituent members have lost any semblance of civilization, and we now stumble blindly in a void, blind in the howling night of a meaningless existence.  The Masters themselves could not continue, the domesticated races had all been subsumed into Cydona’s wretched Collective.  Cydona succeeded in tricking the Masters by stealing their very techniques.  In learning to consume souls, she herself took on the aspect of the Masters, the Predator, the Consumer, the Conqueror…”

Vemodion seemed to stop himself.

“She achieved Demonhood, and wrested control from the Council and our Masters, the  Demons themselves. Through her force of will, and through her acquisition of forbidden knowledge, she learned that this would be the only way for the humans to be truly free.

“But what a cost they have paid in the end…” Vemodion trailed off deliberately.  He was letting those assembled begin to speak among themselves and mutter their theories and declamations to one another.  After a time he began again slowly, deliberately:

“I think they will find that the price was too high.  In this or any universe, the only truth is change.  And that change will come now.  Satya’s enemies are many, should they be informed and organized.  The Council will rise again…oh yes.  For we will endeavour to bring back the true power of the universe…the true power of ...”

Suddenly the assembled constituents turned to each other in horror.  Sheer disbelief befell them as Vemodion’s face faded and too late all of the assembled creatures began to succumb to the corrosive atmosphere that was being let into the chamber.  It had been the perfect moment to take the enthralled delegates by surprise.  Horglap tried to run, but the delegates were all clambering over one another to find an exit.  Some had begun to dissolve, those closest to the chamber’s ventilation systems, which had no doubt been opened to the toxic void of the planet’s atmosphere-less surface.  Horglap had been right.  Nothing could survive on the hellish surface of this blackened planet, whose name had once meant Purity in some dead tongue of the ancient humans. 

The last thing Horglap saw through his dissolving eyes was the ‘face’ of Vemodion, the exotic array of pulsing lights, which seemed to be brightening, brightening as more and more beings died around him and their screams were drowned by amplified laughter…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

The Old Masters

 

Satya had returned to Eden, the Imperial throne world.  Here she knew she was unassailable.  The Universe was hers to command, the legacy of Cydona hers alone.  The 3rd Foundation of Psilon had convened a meeting that she would preside over which was presently about to begin.  Her highest ranking officials were still linked to her consciousness by the limited Psi-Web that she had allowed them, under her close scrutiny should they show any signs of degeneration.  From her Throne Room she could communicate with the far flung officiators of her empire mentally.

“Shall we begin?” she mentally projected through the psi-amps.  She was genuinely interested in affairs on the frontier.

Faces of guant humans flickered into existence on the immense floating viewscreens before her.  She had noticed a tendency for her high councilmembers to take on a sick, haunted appearance but that only further distinguished them from the rank and file.  She thought privately that it was a fitting badge of office.

One of them presently spoke. “Satya, your highness, we are at your disposal.”  It was Edralm, the Speaker of the High Seer Council.  She was pleased with his subservience; he had been promoted to his high ranking position as second-in-command for his lack of originality and unquestioning obedience. 

The other members of the High Seer Council duly bowed on the viewscreens, silhouetted by various backdrops of the conquered worlds to which each was assigned.  It was just as every other meeting.  There would be little to debate; the 3rd Foundation of Psilon was essentially a dictatorship.  Satya the Truthbringer taught that strength was the only virtue, the key to dispelling the delusions of the weak and the only path of survival and dominance.  There was no need for her to bow to the Council in any matter.  Its purpose was merely organisational.

“Report, Edralm,” said Satya.

“Your magnificence our scouts have uncovered more systems in the Gamma quadrant, all of which have been subsumed into the empire with minimal resistance.”

“Losses?”

“None.  The planet-bound aliens we encountered could not offer any effective resistance…” he paused... “it would seem that there is no effective resistance to our military might.”  Somehow he seemed slightly less enthusiastic than he should have been.  Reading his emotions through the psi-web though revealed only slight regret that he had no more important duties to attend to than subjugating savages who had not the technology or even sanity to fight back.  Only boredom was implied by his lackluster delivery.

“Excellent.”  Satya sat back and looked at the other faces in turn.  “Is this report indicative of affairs on all our other fronts of advance?”

Almost as one the High Seer Council nodded in or spoke in approval, as Satya had predicted.  Many more worlds had fallen under the sway of the 3rd Foundation.  Cydona truly had won the greatest of victories, gambled everything and obtained the highest prize.  What could possibly interfere with us now?  She briefly pondered.  Were they truly alone to make their own fate?  She suddenly felt directionless.  This expansion had continued unchecked for some time.  It may lead to stagnation…it may lead to internal strife…she wondered what course to set for the future.  Silently the High Seer Council waited to hear her next command.  She appeared lost in thought for several long moments.  In this meeting, little needed to be said, or thought.  Only Satya nursed inner doubts.  She deliberately let her mind wander.

Could it be that the Old Ones had survived in some form…searching Cydona’s memories she remembered the words of Dremlar the inhuman creature the Old Ones had sent as their emissary.  He had said that Cydona would join the Old Ones, that Thaxidremous had planned this from the start, that the Psi-Collective was a trap, that Psi-Power was never meant for humans…who had it been invented for?  Where had it been first discovered?  If only she knew who the original users of this ultimate technology that had liberated the human race had been she could find the answers as to how to proceed with mankind’s future.

Still the High Seer Council looked on silently, reverentially.  No sign of impatience flickered upon their faces or in their minds.  She wondered if they were capable of such curiosity, or if they merely existed to serve as efficiently as possible.  Were they concerned with the direction of the 3rd Foundation’s future?  Were they too content?

She glanced at all of them in turn.  It was possible that her rule was so absolute that there was no one to question her authority in any manner, save herself.  This left her with a great burden.  She understood now how Cydona must have felt after the victory of Pax Aeternam and the Enlightenment…surrounded by millions of voices in the new Psi-Web but utterly alone. 

It was some time before she spoke again.  Hesitantly she began, “Have there been any reports of lost technology found on any of these worlds?”  She let her mind wander to images of deserted alien cities, their libraries of ancient knowledge sealed away from the descent into barbarism that had brought their cultures back to primitive levels of advancement.  She cast out her mind to the High Seer Council to see if any glimmers of hope had appeared.  It was in the Psi-Web that she found something.

A lesser Councillor named Jelorious seemed to have a kernel of information to impart.  His enthusiasm flickered moderately in the Psi-Web.  She turned to him wordlessly.

“Your Magnificence, the long range scanners of our scout divisons did detect what could be starship movement at the very edge of our sensory reach, but it is unconfirmed.  We will have to send out deep probes in this sector to investigate.  It’s not much, but it’s the most we’ve found out here in this void…” he quickly corrected himself “forgive me, your Highness on the uncharted frontiers.”

Satya’s was suddenly elated.  Could this be the answer she had been looking for?  Starships??  They had been searching for 30 years and found only interplanetary vessels, and those incapable of interstellar travel.  She knew they must be out there somewhere, for the Council’s old forces had been scattered to the edges of space at the destruction of their Capital Planet.  Perhaps some of the Council’s forces had indeed survived, in far-flung possessions of the old Empire of Symmetry??  Finally a quarry worth pursuing!

With relief that she tried to hide Satya said much too quickly, “send our best probes to this sector.  I want this investigated immediately.  And ready the 5th Psi Fleet to move into this sector, should there be hostile elements with Star-travel.” 

Jelorious’ face brightened.  “At once, your Highness!”  And his viewscreen flashed off.

Satya sat back, clearly satisfied.  “That concludes this meeting of the High Seer Council.”

The councillors all bowed and flickered out one by one.  Satya was left alone with her newfound hope for a real opponent, for a chance to test her mettle and make some of her mother’s sublime glory her own…

 

 

 

***

It was much later in her private chambers that Satya began the ritual.  She drew her two Psi-Blades, one shorter than the other, and began her duel with her immaterial opponent.  This was her practice regimen, designed to keep her mind sharp.  Her opponents were phantoms she had created with her mind, shadowy creatures designed to exemplify different types and difficulty levels of opponents.  Tonight she had conjured up a very difficult match.

The wisps of the creature knitted themselves into a humanoid form that was dark and difficult to see in the very dimly lit sparring chamber.  Satya did not like to rely on her real senses when duelling; she preferred to use only her Psi powers.  She had honed them over the 30 years of her reign as Empress, culling all knowledge of these arts from every conquered world and exhumed trove of lost knowledge, as well as from interrogative techniques and mind-transfer machines.  She had learned a great deal, but something always escaped her.  Right at the edge of her perception something taunted her, and bedevilling her – where had the Psi-techniques originated, and who had imparted them to the Human Race?  Who were the Great Creators who had originally planted the seeds of the Empire of Symmetry before --- before the Old Ones had conquered or merely usurped it.  This was lost to history.  Satya hoped that by digging deep down into the core of her being she could unlock the mystery there;  in whose image had Humanity been designed…and how had they shown aptitude for Collective Psi-Power…it seemed of utterly alien origin. 

Presently the creature strode to the wall and took an ornate and very long sword 2 handed sword from those many blades that hung on the sparring chamber wall.  The creature was Satya’s design, a creature who believed himself superior because his sword and technique had the longer reach, a creature who was overconfident with his abilities but justifiably so.  Who would win?  The outcome was by no means certain.

Satya sprang into action first.  With her long blade she knocked the 2 handed sword of her mental sparring partner aside and made a jab with the shorter sword, going for the quick kill.  In one stroke she intended to end this; to conclude this efficiently.  Her style was not flashy, only effective.The great masters of Earth had been explicit in their instructions: the killing stroke must be decisive and of the utmost deliberate action. 

The creature seemed to falter and began to fall back as if stricken before the blow landed.  Almost too late did Satya realize that with one hand it had recovered the use of its sword and turned to sweep at her legs as she drove in for the kill with the shorter blade.  Her Psi powers allowed her to see the situation as a myriad of possible futures and she quickly realized the danger was real.  If she killed her opponent there she would join him death, having underestimated the strength and quickness of his sword arm; the danger was real.

 She leapt high into the air, abandoning her attack at the last second to dodge the vicious swing toward her mid-section perpetrated by her feinting opponent.  It had intended to end her life, this thing she had just created with her mind.  For a brief moment the thought chilled her:  could this be some manifestation of her unconscious bent on her destruction?  An outside force?  Some kind of assassination attempt?  Or was the creature merely fulfilling her wish for it to be the ultimate opponent.  Satya reassured herself that that was the case.  In the split second she was in the air she calculated another strategy.  If this opponent sought to forfeit its own life to end hers then she must end this soon or face serious injury, even death.  A desperate opponent is sometimes better avoided. 

In mid flight she tumbled down past the creature and behind it, spinning around with the long Psi-Blade to swiftly decapitate it, but the creature ducked.  Such reaction time!  She thought, actually starting to sweat.  These sparring partners had become more efficient through the years, absorbing her techniques and learning from their defeats.  She was honestly running out of ways of defeating them.  Without looking the creature spun around low, holding it’s immense sword and swinging in a low arc aimed at Satya’s legs.  She jumped this as well, but only barely.  The creature rolled away in another direction before Satya could return a strike.  Her partner sprang to its feet and brought the massive blade up for an overhand chop downward in one fluid motion; another intended killing stroke.

But it was time to end this.  Satya sidestepped the blade and slashed back and upwards with the shorter Psi-Blade in her left hand through the side of the creature’s neck with a swift backhand stroke.  The blow was perfectly timed and calculated.  The creature staggered, and its shadowy head began to separate from its body.  Silently it endured its beheading before crumpling to the floor.  It slowly dissipated in waves of smoke.  Its two-handed blade, the longest in the armoury, was all that remained, glinting dimly in the very low light.

Satya had demonstrated once again that the techniques of the old masters of Earth were still sound.  Her opponent, conjured from her subconscious, had been a powerful being, and had chosen the longest sword, with the greatest range.  It had also been able to wield it one-handed, and was seemingly assured of its strength and speed with the blade.  It could not have been human, but some kind of alien that had been stored in the collective memory banks she carried with her as part of her private One-Mind network.  However, it had made a fatal mistake.  By concentrating on force, power and speed, it had lost sight of the irrelevance of these things.  A conflict must be won at all costs, by any means necessary; its tactics were too obvious.  The swift subtle blade had defeated it.

Satya returned her blades to their scabbards and sat down to contemplate the 2-handed sword with the great reach and power that still lay on the floor.  There was a lesson here…why now?  Why was the lesson of the subtle victory being imparted?  Was this some portent of things to come?  She contemplated this: it could be a possible future.  The overconfident one, the one with the clearest advantages, bested…almost betrayed by its power, its great power almost a burden, a blinder to reality…a distraction in a true battle…

Could this be her reflection?  Had she defeated an aspect of herself?  Was her Empire too obvious an entity and her opponents even now planning subtle ways to lure her out and defeat her while she assumed herself invincible?

This could be the key, she decided.  I must not lose sight of the greater picture.  My enemies live.  There is starfleet movement, they are planning something.  At last they will show themselves, the remnants of the Council.  And what will they have been planning as their revenge?  They will view me as I viewed the overconfident duellist.  They will seek to strike me through subtle means.  They will assume that mankind is weakened by its perceived victory and dominance, and use the short-blade.

It dawned on Satya then that she must find her answers.  She must know more about the Human Race and the original Council.  In order to understand herself, and her foe, there must be a revelation or she ran the risks of being a wielder of unsubtle power that she herself did not understand.  But where could this answer be?  Cydona had spoken of untold aeons of history, untold warfare and upheaval throughout the history of the Universe.  How could this be sifted through and how could Mankind find its birthright?  Surely only the Old Ones could remember, those who were beyond time.  Were they truly dead?  Or could the Old Masters return in some form, to once again emerge as the true victors in all of this?  Were they merely waiting behind the scenes, pulling the strings?  Satya retired from the sparring chamber, leaving the ancient 2 Handed Duelling sword on the floor.  Her sleep was troubled that night.

 

***

In an unknowable rapture Vemodion burned.  His frame pulsed with power, he knew the ultimate ecstacy of soul-consumption.  Since he had first tasted it he knew it was his destiny to consume more and more.  It was like an unstoppable force that drove the very fibers of his abstract, crystalline being.  He could feel his power multiplying and his perceptions altering, his knowledge multiplying, esoteric concepts flooded his mind in tapestries and mosaics of understanding he had thought impossible. 

The delegates were all dead now, of course.  These were some of the last sane creatures in the universe, but Vemodion did not care.  What matter that once again the cycle continued.  The weak had perished, the Old Masters remained.  He knew the truth.  This was the essential pulse of existence.  Satya could only conjecture why and how she was created.  It was exquisite.  She fought against only herself, she sought knowledge that could only destroy her.  Any attempt to escape the true universe was destined to fail, a mere delusion.  It was so pure, so simple.  He, Vemodion, was the Consumer, The Conqueror, and the Moralist who justified himself for it, all in one.  But there must be more souls, oh yes…the souls must flow, his ambitions must be fed, his power must grow.  Satya must be subverted as his brethren had been subverted, so long ago…

It was some time later that Vemodion regained his composure after his absorption of the delegates.  He had been drifting on seas of blissful awareness, resplendent in his ever changing and improving form, luxuriating in his own unmaking and re-making.  His crystalline body of oscillating geometries was ancient, but his mind felt new, like that of a child.  He had attained the height of power and the summation of all aspiration, the state of spontaneous and un-thinking action, unfettered by moral concerns, and only fascinated with its own growth and advancement.  Was not every from of Enlightenment a death, an Oblivion?  An extinguishing of what had been, to be replaced by new and untrammeled vistas of possibility?

But this state was already fading, to be replaced again by the mundanity of the Universe after the fall of the Council.  When the Council had been created, there had been such hope, such noble ideals…but these had all been crushed by the ultimate revelation of the Old Ones.  Vemodion had been a Mediator, a being of neutrality and reason who had attempted to bring order to existence.  He and his kind had begun to shape the universe in their own image and unite the warring races to cease the endless conflict that had typified the known histories and begin anew.  But somehow they had stumbled upon something that they could not control, something beyond even the great concepts of Balance and Neutrality, beyond Reason and Justice…something utterly alien and utterly hostile.  There had been no choice but to acquiesce to The Masters, no choice but to deliver their sacrifices.  It was seen as the True way.  Only those Mediators that did not choose their own destruction or exile had survived and prospered in the Council, and he, Vemodion, was now one of the last.  But what of his lost brothers, those in exile on worlds whose names were now lost to time?  If Satya could find them, and see for herself the ultimate fate of sentient life, even her exalted Psi-Empire, she would know despair…and then…Vemodion would know victory.  The Mediators were timeless.  And unbeknownst to Satya, they had created the very human race she pretended to now comprehend and rule.  The human race was never meant to unlock its Psi-Powers except in the service of True Neutrality.  They were broken playthings in a vortex of suffering.  The only escape for them would be death…death or the permanent exile his brother Mediators had chosen.  They too had extinguished themselves and escaped the Cycle of Damnation, achieving some sort of Enlightenment.  But whatever they had learned they had chosen to secret away along with their sundered culture and ideals, which were now erased by time.  The Mediators had known true Psi-Power in ages past, and shaped the humans with the ability to eventually develop it.  But what did it all matter?  All of these things were but a speck of insignificance in the great flow of time, in the designs of those with true and immortal power.

Power was the coinage of the Universe.  To deny this aspect of existence led to only stagnation, hypocrisy, weakness, and destruction.  The Old Masters had been the power and the justification of all striving, the unthinking urge to CONSUME.  And now he Vemodion had attained a measure of their revelation.  Perhaps he was now immortal?  Perhaps he was now a Demon beyond time?  Or perhaps he was merely another seeker like Satya, looking for another reason to continue this existence of perpetual desire and warfare.  It remained to be seen.  But Satya would have her answers.  She would meet her creators and know the true nature of Psi-power.  However, the truth may not be to her liking…

Vemodion began to laugh, and gibber, and howl.  It was a cacophony of voices not suited to his crystalline physiology.  The soulless Templar automatons arrayed around the chamber paid no heed, but stood at attention, ever fused to their posts, incapable of existence beyond their mindless servitude.  His battle fleets, similarly crewed with multitudes of puppet-warriors, stood ready to attack on his orders.  Vemodion continued to cackle, the mirthless laughter of the insane drifting over his loyalists forces’ comm-links and psi-webs…video screens…where expressionless grey faces stared on in mute indifference to their mad god.

 

Somewhere, in an primordial vault on a lost world, a similar creature stirred, and began to rouse its brethren.  The Mediators listened in silence to the laughter of their lost brother Vemodion across interminable gulfs of space.  Although they had been dormant for millennia, they knew it was time to act. 

“It begins,” one said quietly.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

The Seeker After Truth

 

It was another dream.  She saw them again.  They were ancient, timeless; eternal lifespans of sadness and wisdom radiated from them.  She must find them.  She knew her answers lay with them.  She could feel their thoughts, their empathy for her and their mutual sorrow.  Something had triggered their awakening, and it was time for all to be revealed.  Satya trembled in her sleep at the promise of resolution to her endless wanderings, her endless unanswered questions about her mother Cydona and the future of humanity.  Somewhere far away, these creatures awaited her, these ‘Mediators’.  She sent her mind further and further out into space, seeking the source of her dreams…it was a great strain to her not inconsiderable powers but she could not fail…  reaching…and reaching…

She awoke.  Again she had been unsuccessful.  A tear rolled down her cheek, she was overwhelmed with emotion.  The minds of the Mediators had touched hers…she was getting closer, ever closer to learning where they were…entombed?  They seemed to have locked themselves away somewhere many aeons past, and only now were they revealing themselves…they had something urgent to impart.  Something dangerous had returned…but what was it?

The clarity of the dream fled before the waking world.  She was back in her private chambers again, alone.  The Empress of the Void.  Her Empire and her star fleets meant nothing to her now, not since the dreams had started.  She finally knew she was not alone, she finally would get the answers she sought, and then: the path would become clear.

Suddenly a comm-link blinked to life, illuminating the chamber.  Edralm, Speaker of the High Council’s gaunt face appeared, but he seemed uncharacteristically excited by something.

“Our deep probes have detected movement of Templar fleets, your highness!”  He seemed to anxiously await the response.

“Send in the 5th Psi-Fleet at once with orders to terminate them on site.  These are the last remnants of the Empire of Symmetry and they will be crushed.”

“Yes, your Highness at once!  But, your Highness, will you not lead the expedition in the Void Stalker?” 

Without a pause, Satya said, “No.  Ready my flagship for departure immediately.  You are in command of this campaign, Edralm.  You will lead the High Seer Council in this act of war in my absence, I have a most important mission to attend to.”  With that she willed the comm-link closed, the still shocked face of Edralm staring incredulously back as she leapt from her bed. 

Why now?  She thought, rushing to don her battle attire and get to the bridge of the Void Stalker.  She thought of the sparring creature and its strange lesson…perhaps drawn from her subconscious insecurities…perhaps the dreams of the Mediators and their secret vault and the movements of the Symmetry forces were related.  She had resolved to find them herself and meet them in person.  She trusted Edralm and Council could defeat whatever was left to oppose them, unless there was something leading the Symmetry forces that she had not anticipated, but the odds of that were low.  After all of these years there had been no sign of the Old Masters.  Until now.

 

***

 

In short order the flagship of the 3rd Foundation of Psilon was prepared for interstellar travel.  Its crew was assembled and locked into the limited Psi-Web that would keep them from independent existence but fuel the vessel’s telekinetic engines.  The whole ship’s insect-like form of psi-crystals resonated powerfully.  All was in readiness.  But what was the destination?

Satya reached the bridge and ascended the command throne.  Now she was ready to helm this journey, to seek the ultimate truth…it was her birthright.  The glory of Cydona would be hers…

She opened another viewscreen, confirming her link with Edralm, who still looked surprised at this turn of events and more than a little worried about his military competence in leading a real campaign. 

“The Void Stalker is ready for departure.  I cannot tell you when I shall return but I have had a premonition that may be of upmost importance to the advancement of the Human race.  I expect the Templar forces to be dealt with efficiently.  Understood?”

“Uh-uh of course, your Magnificence!  We anxiously await your triumphant return!”  said Edralm.

“Excellent.  Satya out.”  She forcibly terminated the connection.  She then began to speak to her bridge crew.  “Take us out of port”.  A silent question entered her mind from the helmsman: But Great Satya, what is our heading?

Just as she was about to reply a string of numbers entered her mind.  They were undeniably real, burning in her consciousness as though they had always been there, hidden beyond her view, and now forcibly wrenched into her awareness.  They blazed past her mind’s eye in a rapidly repeating sequence…189286.2908329873.23498747…repeat… what could they be?  Of course: they were coordinates. 

Verbally she screamed them out, “Coordiantes 189286.2908329873.23498747, all speed ahead!  We must reach the Vault of the Mediators!!!”  Then she collapsed.  Attendants ran to her side but the bridge lurched as the ship immediately went into Hyper Drive as if on auto-pilot, and the attendants were thrown to the floor.

The Void Stalker began to accelerate beyond its top hypothetical speed, racing seemingly out of control, the string of coordinates 189286.2908329873.23498747 blaring across all navigation systems.

189286.2908329873.23498747

189286.2908329873.23498747

189286.2908329873.23498747

And then the Void Stalker vanished.

 

 

 

***

 

The 5th Psi Fleet was in pursuit.  Noone knew where Satya ‘s flagship had gone, it had simply disappeared from space.  Some in the High Seer Council feared the worst, that there had been some kind of malfunction in the Hyper Drives of the Void Stalker, and now the Empire of Psilon was without its rightful ruler and sole descendant of Cydona. 

This had come as both a shock and a relief to Edralm.  He now, in Satya’s unexpected absence, was the supreme authority of the Empire, The Speaker of the High Seer Council.  Fate had seemingly dealt him a winning hand.  It had been mere weeks since Satya’s disappearance, but already he had assumed power without opposition, and now had a military campaign against the long sought after remnants of the Symmetry fleets to consolidate his position.  Victory was assured.  They were closing in on the enemy, who had turned and fled immediately upon detecting the Psi Fleet.  The 5th Psi Fleet had pursued them from system to system and now the gap was closing.  No matter that they had entered uncharted space, and the system ahead showed strange readings.  The enemy were weak and had no one to lead them, merely floating space junk, a few Templar cruisers and troop ships.

“How long until we catch them,” said Edralm imperiously, ready to savour his first victory.

“Ten cycles,” came the reply from navigation. 

Excellent.  “Ready the Magna-Blast Cannon, link all ships and prepare for maximum yield.  I intend to finish this in one strike.”

“But your Eminence, the Magna-Blast Cannon is untested and requires a psi-web link!  I don’t think Satya would approve of such a procedure!”  Someone had dared question his authority?  Who was it?

Edralm rapidly and efficiently probed the Psi-Collective mentally and saw that there was much trepidation about this.  He would see this trepidation erased.  One figure in particular stood out, it was Jelorious. 

“Jelorious you are hereby relieved of command for questioning my authority.  As Emperor of the 3rd Foundation of Psilon I decree that you are confined to your quarters until further notice.”

Good, Edralm thought.  Now they will see who is really in charge.

Jelorious had no choice but to step down from the High Seer Council and await Edralm’s judgement.  He could never question Satya while she was in power, and now Edralm held the same position.  But no member of the High Seer Council had ever been removed from power before.  It did not bode will.  On his homeworld, as the viewscreen tying him to the Collective and the 5th Psi Fleet flickered out, a squad of Knights of Psilon in their ornate, insectoid armour suddenly burst into his room.  He whirled on them with fear as they moved to restrain him.

Back at the helm of the 5th Psi-Fleet, Edralm smiled.  It was time to destroy his quarry with one mighty blow.  “Link the Fleet into the Psi-Web and power up the…:”

But just as he gave the order there was a disruption in space.  Symmetry ships immediately identifying as Templar Battlecruisers began to appear and surround the 5th Psi-Fleet, seeming appearing out of nowhere.  Suddenly they were outnumbered 3:1.  The weapons the Templar cruisers locked on and Edralm knew too late that he had walked into a trap.

Frantically, he began to scream, “Link the Psi-Web!  Fire the Magna Blast Cannon!  Maxium Yeild!”  But it was already too late.  As the experimental weapon system powered up and minds of the 5th Psi Fleet began to link, a booming voice exploded in the minds of the entire collective.

“Know that I am Vemodion, and you are now mine to command.  Your Psi-Web will be subsumed into my consciousness.  Enjoy your pitiful deaths!”

Edralm’s eyes widened in shock, put the process did not take long.  Without a shot fired, the linked minds of the 5th Psi Fleet had been wrenched from their bodies and the trap was fully sprung.  In a horrible instant all of the linked consciousnesses of thousands of Psilon’s fleet had ceased to exist, and were replaced with Vemodion’s.

It was a bloodless coup, for as the bodies still lived, they were now all separate manifestations of Vemodion’s existence, just as his mindless Templar automatons were.  He had added the strength of the 5th Psi Fleet to his own forces.  Without a vocal command all the ships of the 5th Psi Fleet turned as one and joined the formation of the Templar Battlecruisers.  Without fanfare they began to leave the system together, many of the Battlecruisers vanishing just as they had appeared as they activated their now battle-tested stealth-shrouds.

Vemodion once again knew the delight of reaping a myriad of sentient creature’s lives and his once his power and knowledge grew.  His insane and erratic laughter reverberated throughout the fleet of hollow, servitor creatures he commanded.  The Universe would once again belong to the Old Masters and the humans would know their ultimate defeat.  Vemodion’s newly augmented annihilation force set a course for the heart of the 3rd Foundation of Psilon:  Eden. 

Upon the bridge of the 5th Psi Fleet’s Flagship the creature that had been Edralm smiled a rictus grin, its eyes now radiating multi-hued light…

 

***

On a remote world, in a great subterranean vault the remaining Mediators felt this disturbance.  Once again Vemodion had grown in power.  Ancient creatures whose bodies were clusters of geometries and pulsing lights vibrated in a sympathetic outburst of wordless emotion for the lost souls, some of the last sane minds left in the universe.  In the dark and enormous depths of a nameless world the lost Mediators silently mourned for lives lost to yet another thirsting monster.  They also mourned for the further descent of their lost brother Vemodion into a Star-Demon form.  The Old Masters had returned.

But they also shared in their interlinked minds the anticipation of the arrival of their wayward creation, whose Flagship now drew near, drawn forth at incredible speed from the planet Eden by the immense power of the Lost Mediator’s own Psi-Collective.  Satya would soon know her birthright as Cydona predicted.  Satya would soon know the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4: The Vault of the Mediators

 

All upon the Void Stalker were dead.  All save Satya.  The accelerated journey from Eden had strained the ship’s life support systems beyond all previous limits.  The crew had fried in their navigation compartments and telekinetic engine stations.  But they were of the laborer caste and had no individual identity.  They would not be missed.

Only the bridge had remained habitable.  There was extensive damage to the Void Stalker, its exquisite psi-crystal hull assembly had buckled and strained at the extreme acceleration it had endured.  It seemed unlikely to be able to make a return journey.  But the world to which it had been drawn was so remote that none could have been possible even under optimal conditions.

The battered Void Stalker now began to decelerate as it reached an ancient star system which circled a dying sun.  The worlds of the system numbered 9, and if anyone were alive to scan them they would have each revealed a picture of ancient desolation.  An interplanetary war of some kind in aeons past had decimated these planets and wiped out a civilization whose name was lost to history.  On each atmosphereless world great vistas of tortured, alien architecture clawed the black sky, as if frozen in its final death throes.  Huge scars criss-crossed the planetoids like gaping wounds long bled empty. 

Past these long silent necropolises the Void Stalker glided in system to the 3rd planet.  It was indistinguishable from the rest, and perhaps that is why the location had been chosen in times immemorial.  In the waning light of that dying sun the Void Stalker made planetfall to the pocked surface of this 3rd corpse-world in a star system beyond known space.

Silently the surface opened, and admitted the vessel whole into the interior of the planet.  Down interminable depths the Void Stalker was drawn until it came to rest in utter darkness far below.  It had finally reached the Vault of the Mediators.

Satya awoke alone on the bridge, surround by her dead crew.  She felt changed, something had entered her mind.  Her outlook was different.  She had certainly been disconnected from the Psi-web of the High Seer Council and the rest of the 3rd Foundation, but she felt that she was not alone…

A familiar feeling overcame her.  It was the feeling of infinite sorrow beyond time that she had felt in her dreams.  These great minds had reached out across endless space to touch her thoughts.  She knew she would find her answers…the answers she had vainly sought her whole life of travelling the empty and meaningless universe that had been her mother’s legacy.

The words of the Mediators finally reached her mind.  She knew wondrous bliss at the communion.  Then she recognized that she was connected to a Psi-Web, but not one of human origin.  She had touched the minds of her creators, and she trembled on the brink of ultimate revelation.

“Satya, our wayward child,” began the chorus of benevolent voices.

“Yes my creators!”  She could barley speak.  He voice was a breathless whisper.

“We have summoned you here to our place of exile to reveal to you the histories that you have long supposed lost.” 

“Behold, the creation of humanity.”

Her mind went totally blank.  It was then replaced with a beatific vision of a blue and green world she knew from the Psi-Collective’s Memory-Libraries as Earth.

“This is the homeworld of your race.  It is we who seeded the planet with life, and bade it to grow.  It is we who foresaw your eventual rise to star faring technology and it is we who implanted in you the dormant seed of our communal Psi-Power, the power that your mother Cydona was finally able to harness.  You were shaped in our image, as our servants, and as caretakers of the Holy Symmetry.”

Satya gasped, unable to form words.  Comprehension seemed to flood into her mind without them.  She felt a sense of expansion, of numerous murmuring voices.  The vision then panned out to show many such worlds, all created in the image of Earth.  These were the terra-formed colonies created by that first empire of star faring humans, who were unaware of their subconscious desire to follow the plan that had been implanted in them since the very beginning.  They were creating the Gardens of Symmetry that the Mediators had planned.  They were unwittingly building a universe of Balance and Beauty, each world a hollow sphere interlaced by subterranean tunnels for ease of travel and each almost identical. 

These planets began to proliferate as green shoots of grass springing up in the darkness of space.  Innumerable they became, a great network of like-mindedness and harmony.  A sense of love and pride welled in Satya, a spiritual communion with her creators.  It would be a noble goal to purge the universe of strife and dissent, and unite everything, as the minds of the Mediators were united, for a common goal, a common ideal of perfection.  She saw it now, the genesis of the Council of Balance.  Everything made sense.  This had occurred well before anything she had encountered, a remote date she could just now comprehend. 

Suddenly doubt began to creep into her mind.  If this had been at a date so remote from the present then how had the Council’s empire fallen?  All of this Idealism and Harmony had been lost…

A sense of dread welled up in Satya.  She felt something she thought impossible in the Mediator’s perfect Psionic union, something alien, something unthinkable…Fear.

But it was beyond Fear.  It was Horror.  Revulsion.  She wanted immediately to turn her eyes away, but the vision was being directly implanted into her brain.  A physical sickness washed over her.  She knew then that she would witness something hideous, something she would never forget.  She also felt the sorrow of her creators as the mental vision began to darken.

The murmuring of human voices she took to be the voice of the fledgling human race had grown, but now began to scream.  The screams began to grow in volume. 

“Stop!”  She cried.  The screams were too terrible, the sorrow and powerlessness from her masters grew, negative emotions multiplied and overlapped into nameless feelings of dread and sickness.  “Stop before they all ---“

She could not turn away.  What she saw next was a vast shadow fall across the once shimmering and harmonious panoply of human worlds.  The murmurs had become screams, screams not of mere fright, but of madness…multiplying, racing madness…millions of minds destroyed in moments of cataclysmic mental dissolution.  Then she understood that the Old Ones had come.

“Satya, we could not have understood the nature of the Universe.  Our goal was to end the suffering of all sentient races and unite them, to purify the Universe, to create an empire of Beauty and Enlightenment.  The human race was to be our tool, the caretakers of our gardens, and eventually the successors to our dwindling race.  You see, you were meant to evolve into beings greater than ourselves.  But we could not have foreseen the coming of the Old Ones.

Suddenly they were revealed.  This was the reason for her birth.  This was what her mother had spoken of on Eden before she had passed away, that horrible day that she realized what her mother had actually become. 

It was almost too much for her mind to bear, she felt herself losing her grip on her identity.  Her own life seemed as an insect, never meant to glimpse even a fraction of what she was now witnessing.  But it was the truth she had so long yearned to know.  Now she knew why it had eluded her, and all those before her.  The truth was unbearable to any sane mind.  She felt the Psi-Web of the Mediators, so similar to that of her beloved 3rd Foundation and those before it, buckle under the strain of this apotheosis of knowledge.  Buckle and fail.

The creatures were not creatures.  They did not exist in a physical form.  They existed as spirit.  And their malevolence and indifference to life were palpable.  The coils of immense serpents unwinding and vast tentacles writhing senselessly, mouths, fangs, eyes, beaks, talons, claws, unwholesome assemblages of material matter and spirit-stuff fusing, machinery, beings of malevolent light, beings of unnameable configuration, bones, guts, intestines…galaxies of butchery and hideous recombination of tortured anatomy, all possible forms of suffering and pain.  These things and more flooded into her mind.

“There was no way to defeat them.  When we reached the utmost extremities of the Universe we found them, waiting.  For how long had they been there, it was unknowable.  They could only be understood as the Old Ones, the Ones who were there before creation, before light and physical form, the Ones who will remain beyond the End.  And we were powerless.  Please understand Satya that we had no choice.  Our capitulation was absolute.”

Satya saw the end.  Her mind was crushed.  The Council of Balance ceased to be, and all the hopes of these and myriad other empires of thinking creatures perished.  Across a million alien worlds the civilized and the rational were no more.  She saw the visage of Thaxidremous.  Ozagar.  Droma.  She saw the true face of existence.

Cydona had known their nature, and had become one of them.  She had chosen the path of Destruction, and now Satya finally knew why.  She had counted herself among the Eaters of Souls.  She had been crowned their Sister, the Queen of Lies.

In the distant past, the vision was now complete.  Across the Universe there was a new Balance, one that would fit the designs of the True Masters.  Satya saw the empire of the Council of Balance enslaved.  On each world, a shroud of ignorance and mindlessness was cast, so that all were divided.  Each world began to war against itself, and secede from the empire, embroiled in eternal vistas of civil war and bitter division.  And upon these worlds the infinite host of the Old Ones was feasted.  For each soul that died was consumed in the Soul-Web of the Star-Demons. 

These worlds were not destroyed…no.  They were sustained indefinitely as Prison-Planets for the cattle that sentient life had become.  Pitted against each other and deceived, they fought against each other in vain, never seeing the true design behind the Veil of Sanctity.  The Empire of the Council of Balance was nothing more than a vast abattoir, where new lives were doomed to be sacrificed into the gaping maw of eternal torment forever.  It was the playground of the Fiends beyond time, beyond comprehension, Fiends who dealt in conspiracy and lies…

 

It was too much.  The Mediators could not bear to witness the ultimate perversion of their creation.  Faced with a complicit role in the slaughter of their children, they had turned away from existence and fled…fled to the remotest corner of existence, an ancient dead star-system…once known as…

Earth.  This was Earth.  The cradle of mankind.  She felt the eternal sorrow of the once radiant beings and cried out in unfathomable torment.

The loathsome and unspeakable vision faded.  She stood once again on the bridge of the crumbling Void Stalker, but now in a universe illuminated with an ominous pallor…it was not the same Universe she had known.  Satya now saw through the Demon-sight of her mother Cydona.  She understood at last the ruthlessness with which she had swept away the Council and martyred world after world.  They were already dead and beyond redemption.  They had been since the dawn of time.

Satya felt cold and truly alone.  She knew her ultimate fate lay solely in her hands.  No benevolent plan or divine destiny awaited her.  She was free to make whatever feeble gesture she considered less absurd than another.  She stood solitary in the circle of fading creatures that she so recently had considered her saviours and masters.  She now saw them for what they were…the last cowering vestiges of a pathetic ideal.  She had reached her Enlightenment and now knew what she must do. 

“And so Satya, what shall be your decision?  Your 3rd Foundation is in dire peril.  Our lost brother Vemodion has assumed control of the remnants of the Council of Balance and is now closing on your planet Eden to finally extinguish all life left in the Universe.

Satya knew that her mission would be fulfilled only one way.  It would fall to her to fight Vemodion.  Trivial as it may be in the empty existence of a sundered universe gone mad, she must take up the mantle her mother had left her as Empress of Humankind.

Without hesitation she said, “I shall fight”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5: The Tyranny of Divinity

 

Behold! Rust

erodes the mystic

sword of Michael

and the faithful

 

Archangel, deplumed,

drops into the void.

The thunderbolt lies frozen

in Jove’s hand

 

Like pale meteors,

spent worlds,

the angels drop

from the firmament

You breathe, O Satan

in my verses,

when from my heart explodes

a challenge to the god

 

Of wicked pontiffs,

bloody kings;

and like lightning you

shock men’s minds.

 

-Inno A Satana (Hymn to Satan)

by Giosue Carducci, 1865

 

There was a moment of stunned silence.  The Mediators seemed not to comprehend what Satya had said.  After a moment, they replied in a tone she all at once disliked:

“How do you propose to defeat him?  He has begun to consume the souls of his remaining followers and grows ever more powerful with each victory.  He has assumed the aspect of The Old Masters as a predator, gaining the strength and knowledge of each sentient he absorbs.”

Satya paused and said, “Show me the path that Cydona walked upon Lacus.  I wish to know the truth of her ascendancy.”

The Mediators seemed to agree.  As one they began to shimmer incandescently in the dark subterranean vault and again Satya’s mind was flooded with visions.

This time she saw another Earth like world, but it had the pall of the tainted touch of the Old Ones upon it.  She knew that she was seeing the past through the filter of her newfound Demon-sight, and not as the protagonists had seen it.  Before her opened the vista of an army of bald-headed psi-adepts marching in regiments behind a hovering skiff flanked by levitating Psi-Pylons.  The figures she saw on the skiff must be her mother Cydona and her then consort Granala.  Satya saw her mother as a much different person, a young, proud and zealous commander, confident in her coming victory.  She saw no trace of the bitter, world weariness she had known.  It was exhilarating. 

Cydona was resplendent in her battle-armour and cut a figure of inflexible authority.  Satya welled with pride.  She watched with rapt attention as Cydona signalled an all-out attack.

The Psi-Pylons crackled to life as the collective energies of the Psi-Regiments fueled them.  Shaved heads bowed in concentration as the Psi-Regiments marched forth.  Suddenly great beams of force blasted forth from the Pylons and toward the enemy, who she presumed were Thaxian warriors.

The ranks of heavily armoured footmen were atomized in rays of sweeping destruction.  Seemingly drawing strength from their great numbers and unity of consciousness, the Psi-Regiments seemed to not even break their stride.  Cydona smirked in satisfaction.

A voice drifted over the scene: 

“The Psi-Lords of Lacus had tapped into the latent Psi-energy we the Mediators had infused your race with.  The power we hoped to bequeath to you which had lain dormant and unrealised only appeared on Lacus.  Cydona fully understood that it was the strength of communal energy that fuelled the true power behind Psi-techniques, just as ours does.  Somehow a glimmer of hope had emerged on your mother’s homeworld and the Old Ones had taken notice.  But there was something more.  It seemed that the repressed power of the humans of Lacus had made them more powerful than even we could have imagined.  Cydona wielded power immense enough to destroy them.  It would seem the spirit we had imbued your humankind with had finally ripened and matured.  This was the beginning of our reawakening here in the Vault of Exile.”

Yet more revelations.  Satya was given a renewed sense of purpose.

“So Cydona could feel that she had been infused with the power of the multitudes that had lain dormant…she was convinced of her cause…yes it all makes sense…”

Even in this scene of triumph Satya could see with her new Demon-sight the crazed look in her eyes and the invisible touch of Thaxidremous upon her.  As her enemy was routed she took intense pleasure in their utter destruction, in the unleashing of the atomizing Death Rays she exalted in rapture…the rapture of POWER…

“Show me her defeat.  Show me the face of the enemy that she saw.”

The vista shifted again, although she could feel the reluctance of the Mediators to reveal this particular scene.  It was to have been Cydona’s final fall from grace.

Another battlefield, this one much vaster, appeared before Satya.  All the forces of Lacus were arrayed against each other, from horizon to horizon.  All involved knew this would decide the fate of the world, and perhaps much more.  But she could now see what her mother could not:  That the battle was already decided.  Thaxidremous was baiting her.  “No it’s a trap!”  She wanted to cry out.  She could see into the heart of the One Mind and new it was blind…even as the giant Death Rays gathered force to synchronize with Cydona’s mighty attack on what she perceived to be her enemy, even as she took flight into the air, her blade Liberation slicing through the morning dawn light at supersonic speeds, it was too late…

In years later she saw her real mother.  The broken, evil creature that had become a greater and greater monster until her ultimate fall.  Led down the path of vengeance, her pride had betrayed her.  First it was Lacus, whom she had discarded and left to die.  Satya saw the demons laughing.  On Claustrum she began again, the Demons playing the Council against itself, again for their own sport.  All these events Satya couldn’t witness any further.  She had seen enough.  The ending of this series of events was Cydona’s rise to Demonhood after her Psi-fleets annhiliated Pax Aeternam.  In retrospect, Satya agreed.  In a Universe of Demons one had to become one to merely survive.  Cydona’s life had been led in defiance, but even in defying her masters, in the end she had become exactly like them.

“Enough,” said Satya.

There was a long silence.  In the empty dark empty vault beneath her dead homeworld Satya needed time, time she did not have, to understand all of these things.  How can there be a victory when you yourself are the enemy?  When your continued existence is only an absurd affirmation of your compliance in evil?

She looked silently to her creators. 

“Why were we given Psi-Powers, Powers the Demons knew to be akin to their own, powers that would only consume and destroy? The Old Ones used Cydona’s desire for revenge and built up her Crusade to unite humanity with the Psi-Web only as a trap.  They knew the whole time she would be tempted to crush the Council and thus her own creators.  It was an irony they must have greatly enjoyed.”

They replied as one.  “In ancient times we Mediators reached our stage of evolution and communion, and sought to impart it to the Universe as a gift.  But the Universe denies our grand designs.  We have failed.  We had hoped the humans could one day take up our mantle of leadership, as we have foreseen our own extinction.  We here are the last of our kind.”

Satya look around at the beings, perhaps a dozen dully luminous Crystalline assemblages, who in her Demon-sight looked to be fading, weakening.  Was it the end?  She could feel again their eternal sorrow.  The sorrow that had reached out to her in her dreams…

Suddenly she thought of the paradox: if they were weakened, helpless, then how had their powers reached her?  Why was she summoned here at all?

“Satya we feel your doubts…”

“What good are these revelations if they are not applied?”  She spat. There must be a way to defeat Vemodion.  I will find it.

“But how will you not make the same mistake Cydona made, for Vemodion is every bit as powerful and farseeing as Thaxidremous and his brothers had been.  There can be no escape, Satya.  We are doomed in this existence.  Doomed in the Cycle of Damnation forever.  Empire rise and fall but eventually nothing remains.  All is consumed, in time.  Even us.  The time is at hand.”

Satya was crying.  The tears streamed down her face.  Her Gods were cowards, hiding from their own creation in shame.  The Council and its religion of Balance had always been nothing more than a lie.  But to oppose Vemodion, she would risk becoming another of his puppets, as her mother had done.  She could feel that these ‘Mediators’ did not intend to make any opposition, but longed for the peace of oblivion.  Their Utopian vision had been their utter undoing. They had only become tools of evil as well.

Satya screamed: “You worthless weaklings!  The blood of the human race is on your hands.  You are like them, you feed on our souls, our hopes, our power, but only to conceal your own failure.  Your communal Psi-Power is nothingness…it could never offer an answer to unite sentient life, only destroy it.”  Again she could hear the Demons laughing.

The ‘Mediators’, if that was even an appropriate term, continued to fade, becoming less luminous, retreating from her.

“You consume souls just like the Demons did!”  She accused, her voice cracking, straining.

“That is why you fear Vemodion!  That is why you suspect he will win!  He is the only one among you with the strength to seize power and recognize the Universe for what it is, the playground of the Old Ones.  Everything is doomed to serve them, and yet you cower and babble to yourselves in this forsaken, self-imposed exile.”

“Satya, we cannot express…”

Suddenly she knew.  Suddenly she knew that there was a way to defeat him.  It was through his own techniques.  It would not be a glorious path, but one of necessity. 

“Give me your energy.  Give me your souls.  I will be like Vemodion and thus oppose him.  There is no other way.”  Satya was inwardly shocked, she had just suggested that she consume the souls of her creators and accept the role of the Hunter, the Predator…The Monster.

“Repair my ship, return with me and we will strike at his very heart.  I will channel your Psi-Web and at the final battle I will release all the souls Vemodion has consumed.  And make them mine, she inwardly thought.

“We will absorb his power.”

“But this will destroy us, Satya,” Came the sad reply.

“So be it, we will surely be destroyed if we but cower in this miserable hole.  Better to die opposing Vemodion.  I will not surrender!  The coinage of the Universe is power!  Face the Truth!”

“We only wished to protect…”

“You cannot.  Your time is over.  Join with your creations and make a final stand.  Together we can defeat him…for him to win, his would be the last Consciousness left in all of Creation.  Let the Mediators and Humankind be one.  Let us fight as one, and die as one if fate demands it.  But let the age of our division end.  Embrace what you have set in motion, return from Exile and redeem yourselves and us.  Let us be knit in a single garment of Destiny, reborn as the God-Race.  Join with us.”

The lights of the Crystalline Mediators flared at the passion of Satya’s words.  Something profound had passed between them.  It was unspoken, no words were necessary. Somehow she had been born to say these words, these words The Mediators could not utter, even to themselves. It was Satya’s satori, her Enlightenment – the Oneness of the creators and their creations…the Oneness of even the Demons and all the souls…the dance of identity, of suffering and endless reincarnations could end, a return to unity was needed.  An end to the dream of the Mediators, an end to their judgements and struggles that they had thought Divine.  An end to Humankind’s lost paradise, their exile in the wilderness was over.  This was Satya’s true nature.

The path shone before them, in their minds.  The Invincible Path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Chapter 6 Reclamation

 

 

HEAVEN AND HELL

CHORUS

 

Let the Priests of the Raven of

Dawn, no longer in deadly black, with

hoarse note curse the Sons of Joy.

Nor his accepted brethren whom,

tyrant, he calls free, lay the bound or

build the roof. Nor pale religious

lechery call that virginity that wishes,

but acts not !

 

For everything that lives is holy.

 

-William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

 

 

 


© Copyright 2019 Jeff Mason. All rights reserved.

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