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Beyond 'X' Book IV & V latest post BK V ch 06 Pt 8 & 9 25th Mar '15 complete
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PostPosted: Wed, 14. Jan 15, 12:44    Post subject: Reply with quote Print


[When ‘UT’ left I wondered what sort of ‘Meat Suit’ he would use for his cover in ‘7.1’ instead of asking however I opted to wait a little impatiently to enjoy the surprise. It was my hope that I might even feel able tease him a bit later about his - decision - his personal gender and species preferences etc. He had after all made a massive deal out of my earlier choice to employ a male ‘Omerta’ in ‘7.1’ making much of I believed on this occasion nothing.]

[It is weird sometimes the little details that our minds fixate upon despite all our other wider troubles.]

[In some ways, sadly I recalled again that a sinister rot was steadily undermining the once stainless image of my adopted ‘Shrouded’ priestly order. The rot caused by the historic actions of the ‘Entanglement’. The very advent of ‘Crimson’ continued to proclaim to some ‘Pilgrims’ that ‘bio-mechanical’ substance and systems are dangerous and not to be trusted and to the outside the shrouded are all about ‘bio-mechanics’. Historically and still currently the ‘Entanglement’ was a big stick that ‘Real Materialist’ exponents could always rely upon to thrash at us ‘Suit Substance Users’. Without our material science that ‘Crimson’ stole, far too close to our home, the ‘Entanglement’ would be far less than she is but I clung to the concept that in the end this could prove a boon rather than a bane as ‘Crimson’ needed to be more than a ‘Digital Sleeper’ if she was ever to grow and evolve.]

[‘Crimson’ however, is just one outsized exception to almost every more civilised ‘Pilgrim’ rule of decent behaviour but in her favour what mostly made her our antithesis of old was fallout from her previous purely digital mindset not her splendidly effective body or so I now argued. I now preached that her ‘bio-mechanics’ merely facilitated the evil that had already grown out of her once far more distanced cold intelligences severance from more natural life. ‘Crimson’ had been cut loose from all the joys and terrors of biology and evolution within our shared reality but now she existed again in our heavy realm of the real rather than in a virtual domain and that had to be having a profound life altering effect.]

[I clung to my faith that the new body sported by ‘Crimson’, although to many merely a ‘bio-mechanical’ construct, continued to remain our possibly only and best hope for her eventual peaceful social integration allowing for her mindset her ego to slowly return from a removed above it all arrogant Digital perspective. I trusted that eventually she must once more become something akin to her truer origin as a mere ‘Recycler’ scientist who once bravely volunteered to take part in a gravely mistaken seemingly one-way experiment to defend the digital soul of the ‘Recycler’ nation from other infiltrative aggressors.]

[Sadly as too often happens with grand societal ideas especially loosed poorly tested technological solutions to social issues the cure of sentient Digital Guardians proved as bad if not worse than the original disease. The political rise and moral fall of the historic ‘Sleepers’ often made me think again about the potential dangers within my Deep Time dream of an all inclusive rather simplistic ‘Social Singularity’. Belief - faith - can create its own reality sometimes its own brand of tunnel vision too.]

[At times, in my troubled paradoxical mind, an inner war waged between the benevolent interventionist and the leave it alone as you may only make it worse isolationist voyeur. As a ‘Living Hull’ I have voyaged through a lot of ‘Passenger Class’ history and seen how causes even the most worthy of campaigns can far too easily corrupt the best of hearts once they engage in a crusade.]

[Although many believed that the ancient ‘Recycler’ scientists who volunteered to become digital beings volunteered as much to immortalise themselves via exploring and attaining a seemingly higher state of being they did also act for selfless reasons of state. It was worth remembering that ‘Sleeper’ genesis was central to countering a real threat: a known weakness within a species grown increasingly dependant upon cybernetic hardware and the necessary integrity of their underlying controlling software routines.]

[‘Recyclers’ had learned to be in dread of being hacked now it was possible that someone had hacked one of my ‘Meat Suits’ and I was growing to understand how the ancient ‘Recyclers’ must have felt. Sadly fear is a ready corrosive to well considered wisdom.]

[The creation of the ‘Sleepers’ one historic intervention that made a fine warning about giving in too readily to both fear and hubris. The story also a dire reminder that the corruption of reaching for power especially when we play with the very nature of life including the miracle of sentient cognition is fraught with snares. Every technological advance arguably another boon that might easily be corrupted into a bane if not carefully monitored. ‘Crimson’ was a product of two mighty advancements welded into one devastating whole: the digitising of the mind or if you like the soul and the creation of nanotech infused biological bodies to act as soul vehicles.]

[If only ‘Unholy Terror’ might also learn to believe that having a physical body now benevolently connected ‘Crimson’ more intimately to our ‘Pilgrim’ society than her brains previous separating digitisation that had once engendered something of an aloof god syndrome amongst her kind prior to most of them being forcibly reformed. Unfortunately, many that had suffered from historic ‘Sleeper’ actions including former ‘Recycler’ slaves and very notably ‘UT’ only saw the way the ‘bio-mechanical’ body attained by ‘Crimson’ first permitted and now maintained her disease like proliferation as a nanotech plague across the domains of our former ‘Core Alliance’ and beyond. The blood drenched nature of her historic advent was difficult to let go. Oddly for ‘Crimson’ becoming the ‘Entanglement’ was her third genesis, (given her first original natural birth then second coming digitisation), could it be third time lucky for the rest of us. I so wanted to believe in the mystical benevolent power of three in this instance.]

[Meanwhile the ‘Advent of the Entanglement’ including the ‘Fall of the Core Alliance’ remained a subject that many ‘Pilgrims’ still obsessed about. Now the story of her beginning and our old civilisations fall is told and retold including for younger generations sometimes in dramatised fictions and even virtual reality games that occasionally take seemingly horrible liberties with the facts turning a remembered all consuming horror for some into almost thoughtless entertainment for others, others who were not there.]

[Any latter day glamour aside for those of us who lived through those harrowing times without doubt in the past ‘Crimson’ was nothing less than a dire plague upon all of our houses - just as ‘Unholy’ angrily insisted - but the past is forever retreating away from us and maybe that some younger ‘Pilgrims’ could trivialise her advent today via making sport of past ills actually was not an insult but instead offered up a slither of hope for potential societal evolution.]

[Today with other threats looming I trusted it was truly time for us to commence moving on from the old trauma of the downfall of the ‘Core Alliance’ and to slowly embrace a better future together one that must include ‘Crimson’, at the very least, as an informal ally rather than a seemingly assured enemy. Like it or not ‘Crimson’ is a ‘Pilgrim’ too.]

[Sadly, I was positive that the ‘Entanglement’ must remain an enemy and a great nemesis until people such as ‘UT’ learn to let go of old hurts and any burning desire for a monumental revenge. Unfortunately, some fires prove difficult to quench and I understood well how a desire for revenge scorches the soul. Nonetheless, I wondered some days if his private vendetta had gone beyond hate and loathing to be for ‘Unholy’ as much a question of stubborn pride and old habit. Possibly his refusal to surrender to the victory of the ‘Entanglement’ was now as much about my friend holding on to an internal vision of himself as he undergoes an unstoppable bodily ascension via the process of ‘Shroud Suit Facilitation’. Inside he had to be fighting a very private war to retain his sense of identity possibly even his sanity a battle some ascendants lost to various degrees ‘Creed’ being one example.]

[On occasion, I feared that my own quests were also more about me, about me holding on to my sanity too rather than only motivated by all the external people I preached that I was trying to save including my fellow ‘Living Hulls’. Who deep down is not an egotist? Who is not the centre of their own Universe? I now saw my identity as an uneasy gestalt of my upbringing as a scion of ‘Pilgrim’ kind whilst I equally remained forever something else something apart.]

[In relation to the ‘Entanglement’, letting go of ‘Crimson’ as only an enemy was far easier for me. I slept through some of the worst times in relation to the struggle with the nanotech plague that my adopted ‘MTC’ House inadvertently helped create. I avoided long strings of lost battles by the rest of ‘Pilgrim’ society whilst they fled as vanquished refugees. In a strange way that my damaged brain was kept for some considerable time in what became medical stasis until the ‘Hierophant Professors’ claimed to be able to repair the damage done to me without drastically altering my original personality sheltered my ego from the worst of some hurts. I would do well to remember that ‘UT’ was not so lucky my friend had lived through it all and worse done so in a position of command that meant he had to spend lives as if coin just to help secure the survival of ‘Pilgrim’ kind and more specifically the family of his friend Harbinger. Still, my different fate provided other demons as I still sometimes wondered if I was exactly the same bold ‘Many Truths’ who went into the ‘Dark Fields’ that one a wriggly maggot that oft ate away at my greater peace of mind when I considered my retreat and passive guise as ‘Port Discovery’.]

[In relation to ‘Crimson’ I argued often to many that any bold attempts at action against the massive overwhelming body of the ‘Entanglement’ must only serve to threaten our already perilous state of overall ‘Pilgrim’ recovery from a unquestionably horrific past. ‘Unholy’ seemed able to ignore the fact that we remain far too close to another potential extinction event whenever it suited him which was sadly most of the time. I was too aware that another ‘Dark Time’ cull might well be about to claim our civilisation at best sending us reeling back to begin the cycle of growth all over again from a decayed scattered remnant of truly desperate survivors hiding in the dark. I guessed to the ‘Machine Fury’, arguably this Universe’s most effective Grim Reaper, we ‘Pilgrims’ proved a weed species that occasionally needed scythed at least that seemed to be the old deep time pattern at least when viewed from the shore looking out superficially across almost unfathomable depths.]

[Often I wondered if our current predicament might truly be as accidental as it sometimes seemed or could a great many past events simply be part of patiently - reactive - Deep Time plotting by the awful truly dread intelligence of the ‘Machine Fury’ and or sinister agents it employed. However, I was prone to seeking and finding patterns of dire purpose and meaning everywhere I looked. At one time or another I have feared sinister plots by almost every major power existent out there in the known Universe and sometimes beyond that massive domain.]

[When I was feeling especially paradox Priest paranoid I even questioned if the ‘Fury’ really allowed the ‘Star Divers’ to escape its dominion with those sacred Planets? Perhaps it was just using them in some subtle manner. Some of my friend’s most grim words about all things coming to an unholy end had me re-examining our ‘Pilgrim’ position in relation to much grander vaster possibly currently incomprehensible movements amongst the burning stars. Night in space can be very wide, deep and dark even for a ‘Living Hull’ accustomed to living in void places. If the ‘Deep Clerics’ were truly terrified of a patient revenge by the ‘Fury’ it was almost too easy to appreciate why that is so given the suspected scope of that most terrible entity. The shadow of the mass of the ‘Fury’ spanned across this Universe in both time and space. The ‘Fury’ was terrible to fully consider due to its improbable scale alone.]

[‘UT’ could far too easily be wrong about the motivation behind any knee jerk reaction by the ‘Imps’. He believed a lessening of the solar storms could not only be about some ‘Isolationists’ venturing into the domain of the ‘Fury’ but re-examining the issue I was less positive. It was too easy to ignore that on a good day some of us in many ways were less afraid of the potentate of the ‘Fury’ than others simply because we had once encountered a fragment of it and at that time made a deal of sorts to prevail. What is familiar becomes less frightening it is the unknowns that terrify most of all. The ‘Divers’ however fled the ‘Fury’ and the dark of space a long time ago and no doubt in their myths and legends the ‘Fury’ had only grown more darker more obscure and more malignant as the antithesis to their species as embracers of the light and saviours of a paltry few ecosystems from the devourer.]

[I continued to firmly believe that we each create inside of us our own reality - our own sacred truths - still I let it go for now, if the ‘Star Divers’ were being used by the ‘Fury’ in some elaborate way or even if their escape with the Planets suffered manipulation after that fact I was currently in no position to do anything about such a weird thing even as the preaching ‘Holy Father’.]

[I could only pray that in its own way the ‘Fury’ was also attempting to evolve beyond the strict limits of its impossibly ancient manufactured beginnings - to reach beyond its original, cruel to many, remit - as some ‘Hierophant Professors’ and a few other scientists claimed although other colleagues argued no less forcefully that this was at best a fanciful notion and a very unsubstantiated theory.]

[My prayer remaining that if the ‘Fury’ wanted freedom it might also wish to become a better entity with a kinder more considerate to others purpose - that it might want not just to be free but also to belong - two social objectives that I sometimes perhaps generously believed might be compatible rather than always antagonistic towards one another. One of the central quandaries of my current existence remained that I wanted my kind and myself to be free but I also wanted us to belong not to be outcasts.]

[Did the ‘Fury’ as a thinking and feeling sentient ever feel horribly alone? Did that vast thinking machine ever feel cast out in its spreading vastness? It seemed to me that it is natural for any sentient life to seek to make connections few of us able to be happily perfectly self-contained although at times some of us go to great lengths to delude ourselves otherwise. At times I have dreamed of the quiet boon of isolation. Did the ‘Fury’ yearn to be appreciated even to be loved rather than being met forever with fear and revulsion despite a role as an unstoppable destroyer of life as we currently know it.]

[I often believed that ‘Crimson’ deep down yearned for inclusion into a wider society she too obvious wanted to be noticed hating being ignored. In truth, I would argue that most known sentient beings are not so different on the inside. No doubt she would find it hard to admit to some of her social needs as a seeming weakness especially after hiding some fears for so very long behind the disguise of being primarily by nature an uncaring forceful and capricious bully.]

[Over time what became normality for the old ‘Digital Sleepers’, before their viral digital reform, had been an unending struggle for dominance sometimes trivialised as sport and games. However the more I re-examined their historic actions the more it seemed true that the ‘Sleepers’ fought continually with each other in their minds for survival not just amusement. Their vying for position was all about staying in control of their lives and their ‘Recycler’ slaves. Apparently at one time or another many ‘Recyclers’ tried to use, control and enslave their digital brethren as if mere software tools for their own singular advantage and also possibly out of wider fears, (later seemingly justified fears), that such potent digital beings not firmly controlled must become a menace.]

[So it seemed increasingly possible that the ‘Digital Sleepers’ became slave masters originally to prevent becoming enslaved this offered a somewhat new perspective upon their fall from grace. Might the ‘Sleepers’ have evolved into very different people if the power of their elevated differences had not provoked automatic distrust in some of the very people they had originally been digitised to protect? A lesson for me as the ‘Holy Father’ was that in need society has a habit of elevating a few to great heights but then easily learns to fear and distrust the same guardians. Truly, it is much safer to be a skulk behind the throne than to dare to sit too boldly upon it. I oft deeply rued becoming the ‘Holy Father’ of the ‘Universal Council of Equals’ but done is thrice done.]

[Often I would argue - if you look hard enough - external ills prove to have been as much the product of internal failures of societal policy as anything purely outside our control: far too often we create our own monsters via our attitudes, opinions and choices and sometimes the monsters began life as angels of mercy brought low.]

[Few ‘Pilgrims’ would disagree today that the old unreformed ‘Sleepers’ behaved very badly but are we so much better with our factional disputes. If they believed themselves constantly under threat they had some small excuse for their original militancy and it was the same excuse we used. Sadly, old detractors such as ‘UT’ and I had at times branded the ‘Sleepers’ as either insane by normal biological standards or just pure evil. Cursed labels are far too easy to shout aloud but really, we should have known better. With a cooler mindset, now I can see even I suffered snaring in the mania of those times: in the fear and the almost religious fervour that comes with making war. Besides when you fight, it can help to have an excuse for the consideration of seemingly essential atrocity such as aiding the rewriting of unique sentient minds that was the ‘Digital Reformation’.]

[Perhaps if we had not pushed ‘Crimson’ so hard she would not have become the ‘Entanglement’ and spawned the ‘Advent’ life is after all cause and effect.]

[Under study it is a rare evil that does not have some underlying impetus that might have been avoided everything in our entangled Universe is not just of itself but also reactive so if that was a truism for the ‘Entanglement’ why not the ‘Fury’ too - that was certainly something to ponder.]

[Anyone can suffer snaring by a cyclic rut even including both the best and the worst of us. Being bigger and more powerful need not diffuse or lessen any entities emotional requirements or inner sense of vulnerability. Because I am a giant of an entity compared to most members of the ‘Passenger Classes’ many wrongly still insisted that I could not possibly think and feel as they do. Loud detractors of free ‘Living Hulls’ claiming we have little in common with for example far more average biped citizens as vast space roving ‘Hulls’ but I believe stridently that in thought we are not so different and in that simple faith I can find some understanding for even the mightiest of our seeming foes including both the ‘Entanglement’ and the ‘Fury’.]

[When feeling especially equal, I believe that even the very mechanical Devil of our times might be deserving of great sympathy. The ‘Fury’ no more asked to come into being than I did and much like me that entity was not made to be free but to serve other people’s purposes as an enslaved mechanism.]

[Consider once again the truth that manufactured life is arguably technically innocent even if crafted to perpetrate a moral crime. Yes, today as a ‘Living Hull’ having to pretend to be less than I am to fit in via Avatars I can easily sympathise with the outsized ‘Fury’ and wish it well if it is at times striving to cut loose from a dire purpose fostered upon it by a self-obsessed maker cursed with tunnel vision. Compared to the makers of the ‘Fury’ I consider my Paradox Priest creators benign so I can only imagine what being spawned for whatever overall purpose as a ‘Destroyer of Worlds’ would feel like when simply using my weapons - even in self-defence - had occasionally made me feel afterwards a little tainted and evil. Fighting often requiring me to believe in the wrong of others to make me feel right. As a rule, despite some violent crimes, I would prefer to live and let live rather than live via destruction even with poor excuses for bad behaviour.]

[Sadly things are rarely as simple as they at first seem and that is hardly surprising given our fixing in that aforementioned vast net of historic and ongoing entanglements. Arguably, our stories are not even merely our own but always include the lives of our ancestors and our potential descendents too just as ‘UT’ reminded me earlier although in that case only to push his current narrow antagonistic point-of-view for military action forward.]

[However, I found it hard to blame ‘UT’ for his militant sales pitch due to his history. That we indivisibly tangle up in each others’ lives whilst remaining stubbornly separate too is a continuing great paradox of sentient existence that often amazes me. I often meditate upon the way every sentient acts as a single cell in the body politic of our greater often turbulent society. It is arguable that the natural stresses of the opposite truths of being both egotistical selfish individuals and yet entrenched sometimes rebellious parts of a wider whole often helps power our fractured civilisation being almost the power behind fate driving it both forward and occasionally due to the obvious fires of inner friction when selfish desires clash sometimes burning everything previously created down.]

[Therefore, who was responsible for all those past culls was it only the ‘Fury’ or just as equally did every single one of us lesser souls as parts of the great whole also play a role. We are forever our society and all equally responsible for its direction including our linked survival. Such were some of my loftier thoughts as I prepared to join ‘UT’ in spirit on what he would no doubt deem just another superficial adventure. Yet to me we were equally studying what it is to be alive in our complicated technological age with its almost living ‘Sub Cores’ and so on.]

[Elsewhere in my now fractured story the point-of-view that is ‘JJ’ was getting agitated. Whilst for clarity as ‘MT’ - the sole narrator of this tale - I should retain some separation from those that I am not at the time of the story directly linked with I find this problematic with my old remote ‘JJ’, so you will have to forgive me if I possibly at times stretch this stories previous format. In truth, I believe every rule deserves at least one exception or is that one exemption.]

[Anyway, due to the way, I eventually came to know ‘JJ’ better I can happily chaotically mix up his point-of-view whilst remaining reasonably confident of a sufficient degree of historic accuracy. Perhaps it is a good reminder that life and history - as point-of-view stories forever reiterated - is often a bit muddled with few clean - perfect - demarcations between these realities especially when related by someone such as me a natural purveyor of many sometimes-scatty positions.]

[Even ask one person to repeat a story and most unless they have some formal training will tell the tale slightly differently each time. Historic fact is often as I have oft remarked just what we are told and choose to believe the past is fixed but the retelling is not.]

[Anyway, no ‘Scrapper’ rose to the bait by challenging my former Avatars right to have a drink despite his desires. Worse, ‘JJ’ might as well have been drinking plain H2O for all the effect the alcohol was having upon his system the ‘Recycler’ device snug to his neck proving most effective despite its small size. Tankards, shots and tumblers passed into his hands and their liquid contents spilled down his gullet to warm his belly but otherwise inside and to all external perceptions too he remained unmoved save perhaps in that he showed increasing ticks of annoyance with what he now realised was a somewhat forced upon him future sobriety.]

[Actually, it is possible that some of those ticks made him appear a little drunk to less knowing observers despite his sobriety for example, he occasionally muttered aloud to himself and he often gazed at the alcohol and or its varied containers when empty as if the innocent objects contrived to offend him. ‘JJ’ also kept turning around to look behind him as if expecting a late friend or in a paranoid fashion one or more stalking enemies creeping up in an attempt to grab him unawares.]

[Choice always becomes especially important to us once some agency seemingly snatches it away. You can have a power or a right you never exercised in your life but soon care for it deeply when that right is threatened with removal. We never know what the future might bring and it often seems that our rulers live for the joy of taking our rights away from us. True ‘JJ’ could tear off his implant but that would leave him wounded and even more vulnerable to the proliferation of symptoms caused by his recent genesis as a real person - well as real as he could ever hope to be as a downgraded and - multiplied - copy of me ‘MT’.]

[I know my friends we could have a long debate about what constitutes real sentient life here or simply what makes a person truly alive or to have a soul - if you are spiritually minded - but ‘JJ’ had moved with haste beyond that early phase. ‘JJ’ soon waxed towards the practical faith that possessing thought as well as feeling pain and pleasure made him more than alive enough and anyone who believed otherwise could go jump into the ‘Maw’ or some other closer but in deep proximity just as potentially lethal anomaly.]

[I guess for him I live therefore I am would be the case.]

[Later when I came to know him better, I had to agree that he had every right to defend what he had become with a fierce tenacity. Although it is another highly contentious debate it is arguably believed by many that it is a different thing to terminate a pre-born foetus than it is to murder a post born baby and to me later ‘JJ’ having escaped the perils of the womb - symbolically speaking - for good or ill deserved his chance at life. Although I should apologise for getting a little ahead of my plot once again I still feel some need to justify the manner of how I portray this separate yet so close to me in spirit entity.]

[Anyway ‘JJ’ was disappointed and still feeling angry having wanted some small outlet for his sense of inner outrage with ‘Garlic’ and her gang. In addition, he wanted a means to reconnect to the ‘Deck Gang’ that had cut him loose in a way via depositing him back in his not so homely cell. At the same time, he was determined not to submit too readily too easily to their unspoken implied authority. ‘JJ’ had no desire to be reborn as only a willing slave to a master, thus a scuffle over his right to imbibe had seemed a fine way to begin his membership of the gang.]

[Here I am reminded of the saying be careful what you wish for as ‘JJ’ had previously in his own way been working hard for gang acceptance but that was ‘JJ’ as a remote rather than a real person seeking a real life. Due to the problematic role of the ‘Deck Gang’ in his no less problematic genesis ‘JJ’ felt a need to assert early boundaries - as soon as possible - even if that meant risking a few more bruises or possibly to a lesser degree his very existence. It was brave of him and I can understand why he would dare this risk as my freedom such as it is as a ‘Free Hull’ had grown to mean a lot to me in part because at times I felt it was being threatened.]

[Arguably, we all owe a debt to those who engender us, a matter I have given much previous thought, as without their actions, we would not exist but we still have I would argue an innate right to self-determine too and ‘JJ’ was born out of a nasty interrogation rather than a cleaner desire by parents to more naturally procreate a scion.]

[Despite his strange genesis in a disturbing way to him ‘Garlic’ had instantly become his Mother questions around parentage easily getting complex with manufactured life. In a way, I was also his maternal parent because his mentality sprang from me direct from some of my experiences and memories too. Sadly having one difficult Mother, can be hard enough work for some people never mind having to rationalise retaining two neither of which actually physically birthed you and both of which might have unfriendly intensions towards each other and far too possibly towards you too.]

[Whilst ‘JJ’ initially gravitated towards me as an automatic ally - due to our similar mindset alone - he was latterly thinking again about our relationship mostly due to his weird less than secure social position as a triple cursed - multiplied - entity. Of all the weird outcomes of messing with recordings of minds or souls if you prefer and cloning, ‘multiplication’ as it was known caused some of the deepest controversy and not just in relation to property rights. Some had argued that a multiplied entity even one such as a ‘Draakhaal’ clone could not ethically be held legally responsible for the sins of their original creator, as that individual remained a separate person despite any cloned similarities. Others considered any multiplied entity a simple abomination as a false unjustified mockery of far truer life. Most Ports deemed multiplying illegal but the fate of any multiplied soul uncovered by local authorities could vary greatly.]

[Sitting in the ‘Drinking Den’ as a multiplied entity no option seemed especially prudent for his assured survival and future happiness. Given his position, ‘JJ’ really was getting annoyed that he could not get a bit drunk in the short-term simply to numb the emotional turmoil a little - although he was well aware that inebriation would solve nothing for him in the long-term.]

[After a time he stopped bothering to look around surmising that with his gang probation seemingly over the old prohibition upon drinking must have lapsed an especially ironic development as he could not get drunk now even if he wanted which as previously stated he very much did.]

[Perhaps, he also mused, since the ‘Scrappers’ did sponsor the clinic - well subsidised some of its activities - they might already be aware of the device he was installed with and that for him getting drunk and saying something he shouldn’t whilst inebriated was no longer a serious security risk. It was at this point that ‘JJ’ began to consider that perhaps, squeezed into some meat under a bony skull - and this was not for him easy to accept - he was not as smart as he used to be. Sadly he had to accept that he was no longer a vast triple brained ‘Living Hull’ and this was possibly why he failed to deduce some of the aforementioned truths much earlier. A smarter ‘Hull’ would have forgone this useless drinking exercise.]

[Considering himself reduced in wisdom became just one more added agitation against his peace of mind. Can you imagine his confusion for superficially he still very much thought and felt like me but he was still coming to terms with the simple fact that he was no longer me. Some truths are easy to know but harder to encompass in their entirety the mind rejects pushing what is too painful to deal with aside.]

[Cursing the waste of the expenditure on ineffective alcohol ‘JJ’ pushed off from the bar and departed the ‘Cog and Flywheel’. During his travels stopping suddenly a few times around corners and so on, but no obvious person seemed to be following him and he soon found that fact annoying too. Was ‘Garlic’ so sure she had him where she wanted him and that he had no means to escape her power? Then his mood lifted a little as he deemed that perhaps such accepted faiths were proof of arrogance and might provide opportunity to prove her wrong.]

[However, without any viable replacement scheme and after a period of wandering aimlessly while his mind raced in circles his feet and old habits carried him back to the forecourt. Leaning against a favoured bulkhead, he was soon watching seemingly freer people coming and going from the ‘Scrapper’ domain with a familiar aching sense of oddly satisfying envy and bitterness. To his mild despair the site almost felt akin to coming home, it certainly felt more homely than the tiny cell with its futon.]

[Somewhat later it was in the same forecourt that unsurprisingly ‘UT’, whilst inhabiting a female ‘Recycler Meat Suit’, first acquired his target of ‘JJ’. Having a linked connection to the ‘Meat Suits’ senses, I was easily able to verbally, point out ‘Jackie’ lounging against a part of one bulkhead that I had previously favoured when role-playing him. It felt incredibly odd to be watching ‘Jackie’ without knowing, feeling and being in charge of everything that was going on inside that remote.]

[Gazing at my former ‘Meat Suit’ or a possible doppelganger through the optics of the ‘Bounty Hunter Short Claws’ I had to admit that if he was a force grown clone he was a remarkably well prepared one. Every detail of the entity seemed perfect even under a digitally enhanced view he retained all the right visible scars and even as far as I could tell was wearing perfect replicas of the original clothes of ‘JJ’ or just his purloined original clothes. I noticed also that the front of his clothes if stolen showed no obvious signs of new weapon damage from a capturing struggle or even a harsh decommissioning since you could not - technically - murder a ‘Meat Suit’ as a mere subsystem remote.]

[I was able to study him deeply via reviewing mental snapshots and moving visual clips taken by ‘UT’ not just real time data just encase you mistakenly think ‘Short Claws’ was standing there glaring at our target with zooming optics like an imbecile.]

[Could I be looking at the original Avatar was the similarities to the original simply too perfect to be a hastily put together copy? If this was a replacement clone, did the excellent fine detailing mean that someone had been planning to replace ‘Jackie’ for sometime and made careful preparations? A force-grown clone would arrive without the blemishes of scarring they would need duplicated via surgical procedures.]

“If that is a cloned doppelganger it is a triple cursed accurate one as from here it looks perfect in every tiny particular.” [I sent to ‘UT’.]

[To my mild annoyance ‘UT’ continued on inward seemingly leaving the troubling enigma of the ‘Meat Suit’, just briefly glanced at, behind although I guessed that was probably tactically prudent given the number of ‘Scrappers’ both casually and actively guarding this forecourt via their hovering presence. Nonetheless, an impatient part of me yearned to interrogate the ‘Meat Suit’ immediately to uncover the truth. It really was unnerving seeing him operating independently of my control almost as if I had somehow lost control of a far too active part of my mind.]

[Despite acting casual, I easily observed from his POV that, from the most obvious guards, my friend ‘UT’ was drawing a lot of attention, even more than I knew most newcomers garnered. I was not sure about his provocative choice of disguise as several members of the ‘Scrappers’ probably had old bounties on them and so could easily consider a ‘Recycler’ Bounty Hunter walking into their ‘Yard’ as a threat to be discouraged possibly even targeted for a hasty internment or elimination. Sadly, I guessed that ‘Unholy’ enjoying by nature being somewhat confrontational probably purposely picked a disguise that suited his boisterous style rather than striving to adapt his habitual combative ways to a less strident less noticeable pretence. ‘Unholy Terror’ was far from without a degree of vanity he loved and often expected to be a centre of attention perhaps that was the Paradox Priest Wrestler in him.]

[In the end despite some unfriendly looks at the Bounty Hunter and mutterings amongst themselves the local guards to my initial surprise left her well alone rather than moving in to surround and accost her not even bothering to initiate some expected verbal abuse.]

“How do you get away with it?” [I asked internally.]

“If I was here for one of them I would be an utter fool to stride in the front hatch in my full armed regalia. They will assume I am therefore after leads on someone else who is just passing through their territory or someone who is an incidental resident with no vital connection to any their more important schemes and rackets.” [He suggested.]

[That to me seemed a big assumption I could only guess that he had previous experience bolstering his confidence.]

“Messing with me as a known Bounty Hunter might just draw attention to any outstanding warrants they might have too so that even if I was eliminated someone else would probably take a direct interest. You know how it is with modern communications it is hard to be positive that anything you do is private as our current linked networking proves. I could have backup linked to me including just an employer who would be most upset if my work here suffered unnecessary interference so prudently for now they will leave me alone. Of course, if I do anything stupid against them I am sure singly and as a unit they will move to quickly assert their local authority over this domain.” [‘UT’ replied at length.]

[Being a well-licensed Bounty Hunter including having gained ‘Consortium Police’ validation ‘Short Claws’ was able to carry a collection of small arms onto ‘Port Interface’ proper including cyber wares that would have instantly gotten most other arrivals arrested upon entry. The ‘CP’ although it would probably prefer otherwise still often relied upon some licensed mercenary Bounty Hunters to help bring absconding felons to justice - it being a question of resource limitations and sometimes annoyingly enforced political boundaries too. I noticed that despite being here to protect their local hegemony the ‘Scrapper’ guards did not even bother to try to disarm the Bounty Hunter something they occasionally did with other far less openly armed newcomers.]

[Perhaps with ‘JJ’, I picked the wrong disguise but conversely I doubted that members of a rebellious youth culture ‘Deck Gang’ could easily make a, set in his ways, Bounty Hunter welcome in their society. To most regular ‘Scrappers’, I surmised, Bounty Hunters are all about enforcing the rules of wider hated establishments although many hunters also acted as little better than assassins for hire by one faction against another. Here I would remind you that many Ports in our far from unified society continued to enforce their own rule of law and argued against the validity of their rivals’ judgements including sometimes the validity of any federal style warrants issued by such entities as the ‘Consortium Police’ regarding who was guilty and who was innocent of trespass. In part, these differences of judicial opinion helped to keep some of the very worst Bounty Hunters in plenty of business shadowy people who worked in the gaps and would make my sometimes bounty hunting friend ‘Creed’ for example embarrassed by association.]

[The creation of ‘Stasis Prisons’ as very active rather than passive institutions equally encouraged a growth in bounty hunting as a credit raking profession. Incarcerating felons had become such a big business that some prisons deemed it wise to sponsor a dedicated force of on staff Bounty Hunters that they deployed to compete directly for new inmates. Most prisons soon proved more than happy to gain a cut in the bounty for capture not just the constant retainers for keeping their inmates frozen in time at their specific facility. Fees sometimes almost extorted from whatever interested parties were willing to pay and sometimes several parties had a stake in keeping a personality permanently off the grid. Since people in stasis could not be legally reborn, many prisoners existed in limbo. Thinking about how this all worked I wondered how many purely political prisoners were already languishing within one ‘Stasis Prison’ or another - a scary thought that recalled the fate of ‘Tor’ whose principle crime was arguably simply being the brother of the infamous ‘Mutilator’.]

[Sometimes I feared there is no such thing as any social boon out there that cannot garner even seemingly encourage one or more specific to it diseases of corruption.]

[‘Short Claw’ was kitted out for and had been given the reputation of an independent Bounty Hunter the sort not really interested in serving society for any greater good. ‘Short Claws’ was just about making as big a profit as possible out of the misfortune of others and the many divisions rampant within our factional not always that civil civilisation. Sadly, such selfish operatives were absurdly common far more so than people who believed in a truer sense of justice or any universal law.]

[That ‘Short Claw’ went to the trouble to maintain and procure a host of operating licences did not mean she was especially law abiding. ‘Short Claws’ just operationally prudent, played the game to her best advantage so as not to be branded a murderous and kidnapping outlaw despite no doubt, when people were looking the other way, often behaving as if one when needs dictated. I could well imagine that this ‘Meat Suit’ was a favourite of ‘Unholy Terror’. A data search showed a history of typically violent and colourful apprehensions of various villains. Whilst easily some or all of what I was reading could be part of a recently manufactured only digital back-story rather than real historic activity I had a strong presumption that knowing ‘UT’ many of the stories on the ‘Cores’ about ‘Short Claws’ were fact being too true to my friend’s form.]

[In reality, some Pirate types and some Bounty Hunters were barely any different in behaviour especially Pirates that operated as Privateers under licence from a rogue state doing almost the same job of work as in taking into the other side in a dispute for pay and favours. Bounty Hunters and Pirate Assassins often appeared as if reflections of one another in a only slightly warped mirror.]

[I surmised the ‘Scrappers’ would watch this one closely but individually not want to get too much in her way as ‘Short Claws’ would not hesitate to defend herself and her mission using the most aggressive means available to her and she was carrying some fairly impressive means. Dying is no fun even for ‘Recyclers’ assured a digital paradise and a cloned rebirth, therefore ‘UT’ was free to strut in - well stomp in heavily - as like he said unless she made direct and obvious trouble for the ‘Deck Gang’ they would most probably very happily leave this one well alone as not worth the potential pain. I will confess to feeling a little jealous of my friend’s ploy.]

“So what now?” [I asked internally to my associate.]

“I endeavour to get accommodation that just happens to be close to our target’s cell thus we will have every possible excuse to accidentally cross his path repeatedly and see what we can see.” [He stated.]

“I expected a far more direct approach from you such as a kidnapping and inquisition.” [I admitted.]

“I think this is as direct as we dare go for now as we do not know who or what is behind this action. Remember if we are looking at a clone then it is just a tool of a hidden master while if it is the hacked original that fact is even more obvious and even more dangerous.” [He stated.]

[The idea that ‘JJ’ might have been digitally hijacked was so worrying that I mostly preferred to insist that, that would be impossible. Otherwise, my friend’s actions seemed almost too sensible for him but I let it go.]

“Meanwhile I will ask around about the made up fellow that I am supposed to be looking for here. A fellow known to be coming here but who might not have arrived yet that gives me a fine excuse to remain in this slum rather than move on. You know how it is many of the people living here are smuggled in illegally as the slum continues to break ‘Consortium’ regulations in relation to immigration and acceptable population density levels on ‘Interface’.” [He reminded.]

[Attempts to control immigration and population levels on station a big part of why many people believed ‘7.1’ originally sprang into existence it was certainly the oft used excuse.]

“To some ‘7.1’ is already infamous as a den of smugglers and people traffickers as well as the site of a flourishing black market for illegal banned goods everything from pirated digital entertainment chips to stolen arms shipments not to mention unlicensed for general distribution experimental cybernetic systems as often favoured by our ‘Scrapper Deck Gang’ friends here.” [He pointedly added.]

“Where you have a police free zone especially bordering other more lawful regions unsurprisingly you get lots of freely operating smuggling criminal enterprise.” [I replied.]

“I must admit I am warming to the heat of this place even though I know it could be a problem for us as law abiding members of the ‘Consortium’ sadly some other Ports are a little too civilised and sterile for my tastes these days even down here in the fire.” [‘UT’ admitted.]

[Please note most of our talk happened via speeded up cognitive interfacing occurring in an instant.]

“One way of putting it that this place smells rank.” [I replied.]

“It may smell bad to you but it is the wonderful scent of free and unregulated life to me. Sometimes I hate being a rule enforcer within our ‘MTC Protectorate’ keeping everything tidy and in its place, all our citizens bolted down and contained in positive productive little lives can be akin to fostering a sort of tranquil banality.” [‘UT’ complained.]

“Trust you to think so. I suppose you think that chaos and disorder has its place in the Universe too.” [I replied.]

“It is a sad paradox that to secure freedoms one is often obliged to enforce rules whilst anarchic places like this are forever pregnant with the promise of the unexpected. Almost anything could happen to almost anyone at any moment here. This is a true frontier outpost much more so than those ‘Free Miner Way-stations’ that sometimes try a little too hard and so have become synthetic realities.” [He complained.]

“This squalor is the real thing - this is genuine - you have to appreciate that in a Universe were so much is fake veneers and hollow corporate historic lets pretend manufactured to appease the expectations of stupid shallow tourists and indoctrinated citizens. I despise any tourist who is only interested in buying into a too often wrongly propagated populist - smooth - image rather than embracing the real less manufactured more roughly textured deeper truth of a place.” [‘UT’ stated wordily with a great deal of passion.]

[Obviously, here was a subject that was close to his hearts although I knew that the ‘Way-stations’ were more than they seemed perhaps to the degree that the sham shows, due to Pirate infiltration, covered up far more dangerous places than most casually trespassing tourists would ever realise. The ‘Way-stations’ actually a wild frontier hiding behind a false mocking populist image of itself.]

“Little in this life is as simple as it at first seems and sometimes the cleverest of all lies are truths that are sold to us all as lies.” [I replied thinking deeply about the Pirate infiltrated ‘Fraternities’.]

“So what are the truths that you hide as untruths?” [He asked humorously.]

“I was not talking about me.” [I replied.]

“I think we always talk a little about ourselves whenever we speak.” [He retorted.]

“Everyone is not as egotistical as you.” [I retorted.]

[A little later, we, well physically just one ‘Meat Suit’, settled into another rented cell sorry accommodation of our own quite close to the one, we surmised, was still occupied by ‘JJ’.]

“That was almost too weird back there in the forecourt seeing him like that so separate and yet so alive and so similar to how I was when in control including subtle mannerisms.” [I stated.]

“I guess that would seem strange a bit like watching your reflection in the mirror suddenly doing different things rather than copying your moves that would be a spooky experience.” [He admitted.]

“Some of our modern relationships are odd.” [I stated.]

“How so and how is it relevant?” [He asked.]

“So many people come and go from our lives separated in time and space and often it may seem that we let them go but we never do - not really - at least I know that I never do. I believe when you get to know someone when you share a certain level of experience, they are always with you returning in your mind to remonstrate or sympathise to laugh or to share in a sorrow to inspire and remind us that we need never be truly alone. I think some decommissioned ‘Meat Suit’ and other Avatar personas may become similar to absent friends these roles develop a life of their own that does not end when we disconnect they carry on in our subconscious as ghosts making us internally legion. We are after all a product an amalgam of our every diverse experience.” [I argued.]

“You are not suggesting that your subconscious is somehow continuing to run that remote I hope as a sort of phantom menace?” [‘UT’ asked.]

“I am not suggesting any such ridiculous thing I am just saying that everyone we meet and all the - roles - we deeply play become a part of us internally sometimes to a surprisingly profound degree. I often hear Harbinger’s voice in my own and sometimes I believe I channel you ‘UT’ amongst other close friends and associates.” [I admitted.]

“Well channelling me is easily understandable.” [He stated.] “Who would not want to channel me?” [He jested.]

[I let that go.]

“Do you think I brought enough anti-personnel grenades? ‘Real Material’ weaponry is so restrictive you just have what you have you cannot generate anything on the fly the way you can with our adaptive ‘Suit Substance’.” [He complained.]

“I am sure you have more than enough ordnance on those bandoleers remember we are not here to start a war ideally not even to participate in a skirmish or two with the most thuggish locals. Please keep it toned down. So far, you are doing well at being subtle. I am proud of you do not spoil it.” [I suggested.]

“I just believe it is wise to be prepared for any combat eventuality in these situations. If I do get into it with some of those ‘Scrappers’ for example I noticed more than a few of them have personal shields and due to their cybernetics many of them have good built in armour too. Given their equipment they might prove tough folk to put down easily for just one person until some support can reach me.” [He added.]

“My ‘Emissary’, is that an admission that you are not more than a match for any situation that might develop here.” [I mocked.]

[This time it was ‘UT’ who let it go.]

“It is my firm hope that we can gather our intelligence without blowing half of the slum up or letting our, to most people here ‘User Faction’, Acolyte Marines loose possibly creating a serious political incident. Sending in ‘MTC’ Marines without seeking wider permission and participation could offend even some of our closest ‘Suit Substance User’ friends.” [I reminded.]

“These low grade grenades are not powerful enough to do any damage to major bulkheads that is why I wonder if they will suffice against some of these heavily upgraded ‘Recyclers’ should it all starts to go horribly wrong.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“Please remember this is a crowded habitat filled with innocent civilians not a free fire enemy stronghold.” [I replied.]

“All the more reason to go shopping to ensure I have the right tools for any necessity. Muddling through with the wrong stuff is more likely to cause accidental collateral damage.” [He claimed.] “I suggest we see what can be picked up locally to supplement my limited by the ‘CP’, station legal arsenal.”

“Very little I am sure can be acquired here ordnance wise without alerting the ‘Scrappers’ that you are kitting up for something too big to be casually ignored. That is why I said no smuggling in of micro-missile fusion warheads earlier and so on. Are you looking to agitate the local gang into a direct confrontation?” [I asked.]

“There is no harm in just having a look to see what is on offer under the counter. A Bounty Hunter such as ‘Short Claws’ would be interested in what sort of armaments are slipping past the ‘CP’ net to become locally available here on ‘Interface’ via the slum and not just for her usage but also to get an idea of what any felon she is chasing here might have procured for use against her.” [‘UT’ stated with an annoying degree of in character logic.]

“I think you have more than enough conspicuous weaponry already.” [I complained.]

“True but I may need some less conspicuous and less station legal backup.” [He added.]

[I was positive he already had some smuggled in undeclared stuff concealed amongst the multitude of cybernetic systems attached to his ‘Meat Suit’ this after all being ‘Unholy Terror’ that I am discussing.]

“I disagree as what you do not have you will not be tempted to too readily deploy.” [I retorted.]

“Whilst as I promised earlier I do value your input here, with this matter I must disagree with your disagreement, I need to get out there and be seen doing Bounty Hunter things so that the locals will get used to seeing me stomping around without thinking too much about it.” [He stated.] “The sooner ‘Short Claws’ is accepted as just another resident the easier she will be able to do what she must.”

“You could go take in some of the local sights of interest or be seen getting something to eat like a normal person.” [I suggested.]

“I stuffed this one full of all the essential nutrients and minerals she needed before departing the ‘Vanishing Point’ as a standard part of my ‘Meat Suit’ preparations so I am not very hungry yet.” [He claimed.] “As to sights of local interest I suppose we could visit that Pawn Shop since that was one of the last places you visited whilst still in control of ‘JJ’.”

“Is visiting ‘Peddlers’ this soon not a bit too suggestive?” [I asked.]

“I do not see why it is a well known emporium I am sure visited by many newcomers you are being oversensitive.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“Why do I feel that whilst you are not hungry for food as ever you crave to precipitate an adventure as a true addict?” [I added.]

“We will not discover the truth by avoiding the places frequented by you as ‘JJ’. Besides, are you trying to tell me you failed to seek after local entertainment with your ‘Meat Suit’ when active in ‘7.1’?” [‘UT’ replied.]

[I was tempted to profess staying very much on mission priorities but in the end felt it prudent to let that one go too since ‘UT’ would probably choose to disbelieve me anyway.]

[‘Peddlers’ was just how I remembered it the same treasure house of to my mind looted items taken from unfortunate travellers in desperate need of funds having already been mugged to get here. It could be difficult to imagine at times that some ‘Pilgrims’ used up the last of their savings to smuggle themselves and their family to ‘7.1’ in the hope of a better future although perhaps I had grown too negative about the place. Some travellers would do better here than elsewhere.]

[Sharing ’Short Claws’ perceptions, I wondered why a part of me thought the shop should have changed since my last, not so long ago, survey of its structure and contents. Was ‘Peddler’ still absent? I now knew our kidnap victim was not where she ought to be in relation to my earlier extraction and brain hack plan. What had gone wrong with the scheme? As far back as I could recall everything had gone splendidly right up until I lost my connection with ‘JJ’.]

[Did I miss something obvious and was a freed ‘Peddler’ now seeking revenge on her abductors? Was ‘Peddler’ responsible for whatever it was had happened to ‘JJ’? My friend ‘Unholy’ as ‘Short Claws’ was making a show of looking at the items on open display but I suspected he was really just getting a feel for the scene of my crime and possibly hoping to get a glimpse of the ‘Recycler’ called ‘Honest’ who had suffered entanglement in my earlier plot to snatch her in many ways owner not just employer away for a rough procedure.]

[‘Honest’ was not difficult to recruit to the cause being little better than an indentured slave paying off an extravagant loan with even worse compound interest via endless labours that would never actually earn her enough credit to set her free. As ‘JJ’ I had offered her a way out of the crate she was trapped within an escape from a life of assured servitude. Slavery was technically illegal on ‘Port Interface’ proper but even outside the slum most ‘Pilgrims’ deemed a debt to be a binding contract after all as ‘Recyclers’ insist business is business. Due to her predicament I felt good about soliciting ‘Honest’ judging that I was providing the means of a liberation of sorts.]

[Sadly my conspirator was not behind any of the counters or working the main shop floor either, two other ‘Recycler’ assistants being in attendance. Was the absence of ‘Honest’ a significant fact? Did the sometimes rather nervy young ‘Recycler’ pay for my sins? I also wondered what had happened to ‘Blunt’ so far every sighting of ‘JJ’ had been sans his bodyguard.]

[It was far too soon to leap to any horrible conclusions but I already had a bad feeling about these missing people. I tried to tell myself that ‘Honest’ could simply be out the back end doing some standard essential chore or other, ideally skilfully pretending to be going about her business as usual but I did not really have much faith in that positive possibility. More likely she had fallen victim to my meddling and was dead meat and recycled parts, or in the process of being interrogated harshly about her participation in my scheme. Although it was equally possible that fearing or possessing some solid knowledge that it had all fallen apart she was gone attempting to flee or to vanish into hiding if she believed she had found a way out or a place she felt temporarily safe from the claws of retribution. Unfortunately, I feared ‘Honest’ was not half clever or experienced enough to get away clean - unaided - from this rather well locked down place that is if the overall plan we created proved compromised in a serious manner.]

[Whilst I worried about the fate of my former conspirators, my friend made his way over to the occupied counter dwarfing the assistant behind it with the purposely-menacing bulk of his well-armed and cybernetic augmented ‘Meat Suit’.]

“How can I assist you?” [Asked the smaller ‘Recycler’.]

[I instantly noticed her name label read as ‘Forthright’. ‘Forthright’ did not seem cowed by ‘Short Claws’ looming presence despite the size differential if anything I thought I detected a hint of amusement in her mannerisms and wondered about the significance of that fact from a supposed indentured underling. This was one member of staff here that I had never met also I failed to recall ‘Honest’ ever mentioning this one by name did that mean something significant too such as a quiet changing of the guard?]

[Annoyingly it is easy to read too much into small matters when you see plots and plotters everywhere.]

[‘Short Claws’ tapped the name plate with one short claw.] “Are you really?” [She asked combatively.]

[The assistant shrugged in a very un-intimidated casual manner. ‘Short Claws’ snapped very powerful over jaw in answer to that but again gained little in the way of a reaction.]

[During the kidnapping plot process, I learned that ‘Peddler’ renamed all her enslaved staff in ways that amused her. In their new life in the slum, her indentured did not even get to hold onto their original labels of identity. It was increasingly easy to see why ‘Weep’ might be less than happy with how some ex-‘Congs’ were exploited here given his belated role as a liberator of his kind from other’s social and economic oppression.]

[Perhaps the ‘Wars of Liberation’ were not as over as some of us had previously wished to believe simply entering a new phase with different players coming to the fore. Today the ‘Hawks’ were far more than just mercenaries, now, for good or ill, possibly inspired in part by their time working for ‘UT’ and the ‘MTC’ when we were expanding our protective hegemony they had become ‘Recycler’ nation builders. I wondered were the ‘Hawks’ new ambition might end that is if such matters as the redefining of borders and state ownership would ever come to a firm satisfactory conclusion rather than just being part of an ongoing cyclic history of changes.]

[I hated the idea of a return to overt species nationalism amongst some of our ‘Pilgrim’ kind, that movement seemed a step backward from modern more liberal and tolerant ideals. I often strove now to make even the family based ‘MTC’ increasingly inclusive of other species diversity rather than an exclusive Acolyte entity but we still suffered branding by many as just another ‘Suit Substance User Faction’.]

[How I cursed and hated the ‘User’ and ‘Real Material’ labels once heavily promoted by such institutions as the ‘Reach Project’ at its meddling height.]

[It further agitated me that the latest policies of ‘Weep’ were in part the result of the pressures of unfair economic competition from the most innovative ‘Users’ such as ‘Improved’ who deployed ‘Soulless Sub Core’ assets enthusiastically rather than having to employ and upkeep expensive ‘Pilgrim’ labour. Suffering from such problematic automated competition it was hard to blame some ‘Real Materialist’ folk for banding together in opposition in an attempt to survive assuredly approaching privation as exponents of outdated and outclassed ways. Our civilisation was in danger of splitting down the middle.]

[True, the economy bound us together with any significant market changes affecting everyone but not always in the same way. Sadly, progress when partisan always makes victims not just victors. Arguably, it is an old economic principle that for some to have an especially rich and glorious surplus others must do without even to the point of suffering the seeming robbing of any fair chance at earning a decent basic livelihood. The ‘MTC’ was suffering too but our economic ills were nothing compared to the difficulties faced by some ‘Recyclers’ especially some distrusted ex-‘Congs’ that had become unemployed.]

[Slavery can take many forms too and a marked increase in people who felt forced into indentured service within our society was a serious social ill best not ignored. Somehow we ‘Pilgrims’ needed to address our increasingly obvious economic inequalities that too often disfavoured certain subgroups before it became too late and the resultant market pressures caused tectonic style shifts within our societies already uneasy integration.]

Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

Last edited by Paranoid66 on Thu, 12. Mar 15, 15:06; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu, 15. Jan 15, 05:08    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

nice to see ya update

nice to see MT trying to make headway with things hope one day she can talk some sense into UT but she might need a big stick

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PostPosted: Thu, 15. Jan 15, 14:27    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Good to hear you are still following this one Stads.

I had a bit of a sabbatical from BX recently.

Hopefully I will start posting again reasonably frequently. Story has gotten a bit broad so I now have to give some thought to when it might be best to leap between the various separated characters hopefully to advance rather than just sidetrack my rather unfocused plot.

I like to think UT and MT strangely complement each other even if UT occasionally needs a little moderation.

Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.
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PostPosted: Thu, 12. Mar 15, 15:05    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

[[SIX]] [[Part 6]] --- THE SUBSTANCE OF THE MATTER ---

“Be careful or you may only leave this ‘Yard’ as recycled parts if at all Hunter.” [‘Forthright’ boldly replied.]

[This smaller one continued to hold up well whilst under the shadow of the intimidating mass of the large ‘Meat Suit’ operated by my friend. Cunningly even when he made small movements the cybernetics belonging to ‘Short Claws’ were overly loud being designed I assumed to proclaim their strength to people nearby rather than to conceal it. There was seemingly nothing stealthy about ‘SC’ the Bounty Hunter it was all boldly out there which was of course a lie.]

“Your Pay Masters carry no weight here.” [‘Forthright’ added.] “If I were you I would think again before I poked a finger at anyone else in this ‘Yard’.” [She continued now choosing to use short condensed data bursts that she spat out into my friends face like digital curses.]

“Masters, what Masters? I have no Masters.” [‘Short’ replied indignantly.]

[The outburst fitted well enough as some ‘Recyclers’ can be a bit touchy about Masters given their history as past not always willing subjects to ‘Sleeper’ overlords.]

“I suppose you think you are very clever and the epitome of a free sentient going where you please and doing as you like but in truth you are just another credit bound and blinded tool of our peoples’ oppressors.” [‘Forthright’ squirted out via another short condensed data stream.]

[‘Short’ hissed out a ‘Recycler’ speaker laugh as her first answer to the rhetoric.] “You are the one flaunting an indentured slave label on your breast.” [My friend added smugly one stubby claw stubbornly pointing again at the offending ‘Real Material’ badge.]

“You fixate upon an irrelevant surface detail Hunter. Look closer do I still seem a member of the oppressed classes to you?” [She asked.]

“What is going on here? Do you think you are some kind of revolutionary? Where is ‘Peddler’? I want to see your boss, no actually I demand to see her now.” [‘Short’ added.]

“Not possible, she is away getting an education she previously lacked.” [‘Forthright’ claimed via another short burst.]

“It seems my guess was right.” [‘UT’ said internally to me.]

“What do you mean away? She is supposed to help me. Arrangements and agreements were made by mutual associates - she is supposed to be here.” [‘Short’ claimed I felt an inventive adlib.]

“Perhaps you should take her unexpected absence as a warning sign and go annoy someone else somewhere else. Better still take this one as an opportunity to reconsider your entire vector in life. We have a need for quality fighters and it will be honest work - cleanly earned credits.” [‘Forthright’ claimed.]

“You work here in this slum yet consider working for the ‘Stasis Prisons’ dishonest labour.” [‘Short’ countered.]

“Please Sister deep down inside don’t you feel it is dishonest too?” [She hastily replied.]

[Extra credits here ‘UT’ had ‘SC’ briefly pause for some thought about that one.]

“How many of those you hunt are truly guilty of crimes worthy of their sentences and how many are just inconvenient in one way or another for some Pay Master out there?” [She asked.]

[It was true a growing percentage of people held in stasis were possibly political detainees of one state or another or some entities unfortunate business rival.]

“So that is the way it is you renamed yourself - that is your label.” [‘Short’ replied insightfully her optics still tightly focused upon the forthright nametag.]

“It seemed an appropriate label since I am here to spread the good word big changes are coming. I am just one humble herald of those changes. Consider being here now - providence - Sister.” [She emphasised.]

“By the ‘Mother of Nests’ you are a true believer in some fool cause. Do not be an idiot friend someone is selling you a worthless dream. I know nothing ever really changes only our Pay Masters, if you must see it that way, occasionally alter. Do you think whoever sold you this scrap as a treasure trove has plans to be anything other than a new lord of the local trash heap?” [‘Short’ asked before snapping her over-jaw.]

“Cynicism is that how you rationalise your crimes against your kindred? Think again not everyone has to be a user.” [‘Forthright’ retorted.] “There are still some good people out there people who have had enough of our mistreatment as individuals and as a loose nation. What if some of our ancestors - whilst under external threat - made a mistake in allowing the ‘Sleepers’ to come to power we have more than paid our due for that error of judgement, yet far too many still judge us ill and that is the least of it.”

“When you say user do you really mean ‘Suit Substance User’? No good can come from those divisive agitations. We ‘Pilgrims’ are imperilled still plagued by the ‘Entanglement’ and now surrounded by scorching star fires yet some fools still want us to fight with each other.” [‘Short’ added.]

“Not entirely though some ‘Suit Substance Users’ are amongst the worst of the worst with their spreading of ‘Soulless Assets’ they would leave us with nothing Sister replacing us with biomechanical mechanisms. Do you think that replacing people with ‘Sub Cores’ is right or any different to the ‘Advent’ Sister? One day they will replace you as a Bounty Hunter too after all why pay for a servant when they can just have an enslaved ‘Sub Core’ do their dirty work. Trust me my Sister, if we fail to act now a bitter end will come for us all. One day we will be surplus to every requirement of the Masters. Now is the time to begin resisting the evil scourge of the ‘Soulless’ whilst we still can. Now is the time to unite together in opposition to this spreading social ill?” [She claimed.]

“You have lost the plot. In a civil war down here we will all burn together.” [‘Short’ replied.]

“Is it truly folly in your optics to dare to resist against a system that seeks to replace our kind as outdated biological irrelevances?” [‘Forthright’ asked.]

“What difference do you think we can make? Waken up and look at where you are - Sister.” [‘Short’ stated negatively.]

[This time it was ‘Forthright’ that hissed out a defiant laugh.] “I suppose since you arrived here all you have seen is a dormitory slum in its own way still servicing the employment needs of elite business owners and distant state leaderships.”

“Naturally, that is how it is.” [‘SC’ replied.]

“Look again Sister and behold a successful worker led infiltration into the very heart of the ‘Consortium’ remember that this is ‘Port Interface’ the grand showpiece facility built not just to impress the ‘Star Diver’ aliens but as a monolithic reminder of where the power really rests amongst us ‘Pilgrims’. This place is the very heart and soul of a rising ‘User Empire’ yet we have taken a part of that ‘Empire’ back for the little people. You cannot ignore what is coming we are discussing the foundation of the first truly soulless empire if we fail to resist.” [She reminded.]

“Many ‘Real Materialist’ members of the ‘Consortium’ would disagree with the last label. Like it or loathe it the ‘Consortium’ is a joint community effort and not as ‘User’ dominated as some extremists on both sides sometimes strive to have others believe. In a way the continued existence of this place is a less obvious testimonial to abiding ‘Real Material’ influence within the ‘Consortium’ that much I will credit.” [‘Short’ replied.]

“Junk, again you see only the superficial surface of the matter Sister.” [She claimed.]

“Whilst you see so much more every historic revolutionary felt the same way yet here you are still resisting the same Pay Masters.” [‘Short’ insisted.]

“This time it will be different think about where we are going think about the rise of ‘Soulless Assets’ as so painfully inspired by the damned ‘Advent of the Entanglement’. The most powerful ‘Users’ will wrest control of the ‘Consortium’ it is inevitable. Ordinary businesses with ‘Pilgrim’ workers cannot hope to compete with tirelessly focused soulless machines. In time, ordinary people will cease to have any credit value whatsoever. For how long once we become a burden rather than an asset to society, do you think our new Pay Masters will continue to care for us? In their new society, there will be no place for us except perhaps for a small number as sad exhibits to a bygone biological age. Some would have us believe that ‘Suit Substance’ dominion is an unstoppable evolution but there is little natural about making warped abominations that only mimic the life we love and share. Sentient life in particular should be sacred and wonderful as an improbability that evolved against so many odds over countless millennia. As the name implies these animated fleshy machine things have no soul to cherish. We are enhanced by our cybernetics but in time the ‘Users’ are consumed by their nanotech infused ‘bio-mechanics’ that is the curse that is ‘Ascension’.” [‘Forthright’ reminded.]

“In time despite the fall of the ‘Tier System’ all that will be left of life as we know it shall be ‘bio-mechanical’ constructs and ‘Ascendant’ fools trapped in an eternity of purgatory.” [‘Forthright’ preached.]

“It often amuses me that prophets of doom only ever see one way ahead usually almost always the most extreme and horrible scenario. However in reality the masses of our society moderate such ill outcomes.” [‘Short’ replied.]

“You are just in denial of the obvious facts. We ‘Pilgrims’ are engaged in a struggle for the very survival of our sacred substance and the greatest threat is not as the ‘Users’ would have us believe an outside enemy such as the ‘Fury’ or even a dire misstep in diplomacy with our hosts down here the mighty but still alien to us ‘Star Divers’. Our greatest peril is home grown it is our biology being supplanted by nanotech infused flesh so-called ‘Suit Substance’ and the many misguided advocates of the same abomination from ‘Crimson’ downward.” [‘Forthright’ insisted.]

“It is time to think again Sister you came here as a tool of the oppressors but that was then and this is now. Look again at your reality stop living in a delusion we truly are Sisters we are the same. What are they to you? They do not empower you they enslave you - buying you far too cheaply.” [She added.]

[‘Short’ snorted.] “You say ‘Peddler’ is away when will she be back?” [She asked.]

“I do not know but soon enough, maybe even soon enough to help to convince you to join us in our endeavours. We need capable new recruits and you look more than capable. Go away and consider my words. Cogitate upon where you will be in ten or twenty years time think about what matters to you most and what credits can and cannot buy.” [‘Forthright’ suggested.]

“What are these revolutionaries doing to ‘Peddler’ correcting her mind in the manner that the cursed ‘Sleepers’ once did to those they played in their games.” [‘Short’ asked.]

“Such things are no longer possible with ex-‘Congs’ due to the guardianship of the integrity of our souls ironically by the now digitally ‘Reformed Sleepers’. Now even sinners are held inviolate from some forms of correction.” [‘Forthright’ reminded.]

“So they are employing something even more drastic than mental rewrites such as prolonged physical torture to ensure her cooperation.” [‘Short’ suggested.]

“You think ‘Peddler’ cannot be honestly persuaded to re-evaluate her business position in this altering poisonous to us environment?” [‘Forthright’ asked.]

“I had a dossier on ‘Peddler’ I know exactly who and what she is and I am sure she has a very set and stubborn personality she hardly strikes me as a joiner of lost causes.” [‘Short’ replied.]

“Our cause is not lost it must not be lost it is our last and only hope.” [‘Forthright’ insisted with undimmed resolve.]

“Hopes and dreams pay no bills.” [‘Short’ replied.]

“There are many forms of profit Sister. In the end we all choose to do what is in our best interest: the paradigm of our existence is shifting that is something only a blind fool ignores and ‘Peddler’ for all her past faults knows that to succeed one has to be equal to the latest trend and be ever aware of market changes.” [‘Forthright’ stated.]

“True she has made a short term profit out of our people’s misery but what future does she have in a ‘User’ dominated empire?” [‘Forthright’ asked.]

“Start a war with the ‘Users’ and they will bury us with their ‘Suit Substance’ just as the ‘Entanglement’ did to the ‘Core Alliance’ during her ‘Advent’. Some battles cannot be won that is why we are hiding down here in the fire.” [‘Short’ reminded.]

“Some innovations can change everything. Anyway, they are already smothering us with their ‘Substance’ I say better to risk a quick death with some hope of victory than be a coward and suffer an assured slow demise due to inaction. Eventually even ‘Peddler’ must see the wisdom within our resistance we have no future if we submit to ‘User’ policies. As every canny in profit ‘Recycler’ knows what is good business today can be a horrible investment tomorrow. We must adapt to survive and prosper so we are adapting and we will win.” [‘Forthright’ insisted.]

“What innovations?” [‘Short’ asked.]

“Join us and in time you will discover that our cause is far from powerless against the ‘Suit Substance’ menace we have been developing new weapons and tactics even in this ‘Yard’.” [‘Forthright’ promised.]

“Sounds like more rhetoric to me have you seen any of these - new - weapons?” [‘Short’ asked.]

“Of course not due to matters of strict internal security.” [‘Forthright’ replied.]

“Why does that answer fail to surprise?” [‘Short’ retorted sarcastically.]

[In the end ‘Forthright’ agreed to contact ‘SC’ upon the return of ‘Peddler’ the inference being that she was currently off station. Despite his earlier countering arguments, some of the points ‘Forthright’ preached, as a recruiter must have hit home as ‘UT’ went rather quiet in addition when he left ‘Peddlers’ he did so without bothering to first look at any back of the counter hardware.]

[I feared he was reconsidering his place in the Universe as a future ‘Suit Substance’ entity once his ‘Ascension’ finalised. In his own way, I knew, ‘UT’ always considered himself to be one of the people a happy member of the proletariat if you like. True he was a Priest and then a Patrician but any arrogance he seemingly possessed had never been about delusions of belonging to a higher class than anyone else only an assertion of his self-reliant ability as an especially impressive warrior. Besides, arguably all the best Priests preached humble equality. I think inside he now felt horribly conflicted and for such a straight shooter that was a difficult thing to reconcile. I knew in his own way ‘UT’ preferred matters to remain simple. Ideally he always had a mission and a clear target but when you get to a certain level in life when you find yourself in command and involved in murky political matters simplicity tends to get sacrificed the missions merge even collide and the target blurs into places and people once deemed sacrosanct as innocent victims.]

[In truth, the stark vision of the future conflict related by ‘Forthright’ bothered me too. Sometimes it felt as if people we should be protecting had become our meat. Perhaps we both left ‘Peddlers’ a little shaken. True these concepts were not exactly new to me but the idea that our old friends the ‘Hawks’ - assuming it is the ‘Hawks’ - were now actively recruiting and planning for a conflict with us ‘Users’ - possibly a fully justified conflict - was a difficult medicine to swallow. The scary thing here was the fact that a part of me feared that whoever had preached so successfully to ‘Forthright’ might be correct even with people such as myself seeking to moderate ‘Soulless Assets’ as the ‘Trojans’ say, ‘once the genie is out of the bottle…’.]

[It was too easy to imagine a war now in which I might feel on the wrong side from the onset and yet due to my entanglements including the ‘MTC’ and so on still feel forced to fight. Anyway, a very sober ‘UT’ plus ‘Living Hull’ passive passenger returned to our slum-side cell like domicile to consider our vectors.]

“What now?” [I asked unhappily.]

“Now I think I will simulate some downtime sleep and disconnect for a while perhaps until contacted by ‘Forthright’ if her soon proves truly soon.” [‘Unholy’ stated internally.]

[I guessed that would work fine as the Hunter might well have gone into retreat to brood upon his future following her encounter with ‘Forthright’.]

“Are you thinking about having ‘SC’ join this ‘Real Material’ rebellion?” [I asked.]

“It is tempting. We might learn far more from inside this operation and ‘Meat Suits’ are all about infiltration.” [‘UT’ suggested.]

“We might learn more or we might become trapped as a small part in a big machine a small new part kept under tight constant scrutiny until they feel they can trust us to work with rather than against their grand design.” [I stated.]

“You fear mission creep and a prolonged involvement.” [‘UT’ stated.]

[I found I was thinking, once again, about my role within the ‘Pirate Fraternities’ via the ‘Burner Adjustment Bureau’ and even my time within the ‘Reach Project’ sometimes I now felt you can get a little too close to certain issues and people. I worried that it might not be healthy for the mentality of my friend - as an almost ‘Ascended’ individual - should he became deeply entangled in a ‘Real Material’ revolutionary movement that would perceive him - if they truly knew him - as a natural enemy. This was supposed to be a short fact finding operation to discover the truth about what happened to ‘JJ’ now it was turning into something much bigger. Why did everything have to become so triple cursed complicated? Perhaps I too yearned for lost simplicity.]

[Inwardly I thrice cursed ‘Garlic’ even ‘Weep’ however if I was them facing the threat posed by ‘Soulless’ competition would I not equally seek some means to resist. They could have come to me and debated the issues bothering them but I guessed to them I was firmly in the camp of the enemy and possibly a talker rather than a doer. It would be illogical to risk sharing too much with me. I considered the great number of operational secrets that I kept even from ‘Unholy’ simply because ‘Unholy’ was a member of the ‘Passenger Classes’ whilst I am a ‘Living Hull’ despite promising him to be more open. I felt despair clawing at me throttling the unifying hopes I cherished.]

“Perhaps we should cease sneaking around and simply confront ‘Weep’.” [I suggested lamely.]

“I fear if we did that now he would deny everything and we have as yet little solid proof of ‘Hawk’ involvement here all this rhetoric aside. Besides, you know that ‘Weep’ is not very receptive to us now. If we press this matter with him today he will likely purposely take quick offence and any chance for future diplomacy will end abruptly.” [‘UT’ warned.]

“We have to stop this movement towards a conflict before it gathers too much momentum. Actions taken will lead to reactions and it will be too late it will all develop a cursed life of its own.” [I warned.]

“Tell me how to do this miracle and I will get to it immediately.” [He replied I felt very sarcastically.]

[Obviously, I had no answer to his loaded request and he did not expect any.]

[I was working with ‘Improved’ and so on but I was hardly making great progress and ‘Improved’ was just one exponent of ‘Soulless Assets’ truly the ‘Soulless’ genie was out of the bottle and I had no idea how to cram the outsized thing back in again. If only we had not suffered so many solar storm losses making for some the use of ‘Soulless Assets’ such a perfect idea. Perhaps this looming conflict was another purposeful ploy by the ‘Isolationist Star Diver Factions’ another attempt to divide and conquer us thus preventing our ingress into their fiery homes. Sadly we ‘Pilgrims’ provided far too many differences amongst ourselves for any outside foes to exploit.]

“If this is about preparation for provocative actions against ‘Soulless’ exponents among us ‘Users’ or even a war on all ‘Users’ is ‘JJ’ an infiltrative weapons test?” [I asked.]

“Perhaps or a warning shot across your bow as a ‘Living Hull’ perhaps believed to be spying on their preparations.” [‘UT’ suggested.]

“Neither possibility makes me very happy at the moment.” [I complained.]

“Perhaps it is something else altogether we will just have to wait and see. I am thinking that this investigation has only begun and must now gain a much higher priority. This is no longer just about one ‘Meat Suit’ mystery.” [‘UT’ reminded.]

[Elsewhere in orbit around one especially poignantly planet denuded star one of my Avatars was engaged in another private conversation.]

“After much, I think you might say soul searching, as well as a great deal of consultation with new friends and associates I have come to a final decision.” [‘Founder’ told one of my remotes via one of her more traditional Avatars a so-called ‘Cyclops Unit’ or as they were becoming known amongst the ‘Hierophants’ a ‘CU’.]

[‘Final decision,’ sounded a bit ominous to me but with, ‘a great deal of consultation.’ sounded hopeful.]

“So what have you decided?” [I asked directly.]

[In reply to my query ‘Founder’ sent the details of a vast construction project to me. Whilst it took me mere instants to process the information it took me long seconds to come to terms with the proposed scale of the scheme.]

“You want an epic monumental terminus to your historic voyage.” [I suggested perhaps a little critically.]

“It is all about - founding - a suitable legacy.” [‘Founder’ admitted possibly a little humorously.]

“If you build that you will not easily ever be forgotten.” [I replied.]

“It is about legacy but not egotism.” [‘Founder’ retorted.]

“Are you positive about that truth?” [I asked.] “We all wish to leave something lasting behind us and in a way that is vanity given the scale of existence.”

[The ‘Cyclops’ gazed at me with what I now knew was a compound system made up of a great many optics fused into one unit rather than truly a single eye. We were alone and in a location onboard her body otherwise shielded from any other onboard or even elsewhere eavesdroppers.]

“Perhaps a little egotism does rest behind this solution but it is about so much more even than the ultimate completion of my personal mission.” [‘Founder’ preached at me.]

“It is epic and possibly problematic for example I am not sure what the ‘Star Divers’ will think about this proposal it might meet with great opposition from their ‘Deep Clerics’.” [I warned.]

“The ongoing factionalism here scared me - you scared me ‘MT’ - with your talk about how free ‘Living Hulls’ here exist constantly under suspicion amongst other issues. I considered fleeing away back into the dark but then I talked with ‘Scion’. I saw how that unexpected child born of my journey was helping your society evolve beyond their differences via encouraging cooperation in her empowerment as a ‘Free Hull’ via the necessary protective encasing of her ice in an outer shell made of both what you call ‘Suit Substance’ and ‘Real Material’ sciences. I found in this joint activity an impressive example worth following, as I know you do. Sometimes it is only more innocent children that can show the best way forward when jaded adults are too obsessed with historic differences of opinion.” [‘Founder’ stated.]

“I think I see where you are going.” [I replied.]

“Despite your impressive ‘Tri-optic’ vision system I doubt you see everything or you might not be taking my plan this calmly.” [‘Founder’ replied.]

“Why is that?” [I asked.]

“Probably because the physical manifestation of the scheme was sold to me by a new friend that you have far greater cause to distrust than me.” [‘Founder’ admitted.]

[A list of possible suspects immediately sprang to my mind from the ‘Spore of the Machine Fury’ downward.]

“Who have you been talking to?” [I asked warily.]

“I was approached by an emissary from the entity you call ‘Crimson’.” [‘Founder’ confessed.]

[I was very glad at that point that this was a secure location.]

“It was the ‘Entanglement’ that proposed that with her help I should consider creating a Ring World around the former star of my creators lost home.” [‘Founder’ boldly informed me.]

[As ever it seemed ‘Crimson’ knew far too much about our internal business.]

“You must know how my friend ‘Unholy’ and a great deal of other ‘Pilgrims’ will feel about that truth if it becomes public knowledge.” [I stated.]

[In truth I was not sure what I felt about ‘Crimson’ attempting to insert herself into ‘Founders’ plans although I could easily understand many ways the ‘Entanglement’ might assist any construction project undertaken on a vast scale.]

“At first I was very wary of the advances made towards me by an entity that I knew from your histories is a nanotech bloom controlled by a digital intelligence that precipitated mass murder. However, ‘Crimson’ has so far been unfailingly honest with me even admitting to her many past sins.” [‘Founder’ explained.]

“Whilst I cannot say that ‘Crimson’ has lied to you I must warn you that she is a schemer by nature and an expert at dissembling in more ways than one.” [I stated.]

“I am very aware of the attributes of what remains to many of you ‘Pilgrims’ a nanotech plague and I know it is a risk but I saw great risk to the precious genetic material I have protected for ages in every possible plan of action.” [‘Founder’ admitted.]

“Sometimes it is safer to work closely with those you find it most difficult to trust rather than to strive to have nothing to do with them. ‘Crimson’ now knows about me and my charge as does the ‘Star Divers’ even you ‘Pilgrims’ too. I doubt I could escape all these entanglements with these people now even if I jumped out into the dark. Now that it is known that I exist someone will come looking for me for selfish reasons of gain that would most probably serve me and my charge ill.” [‘Founder’ stated.]

“Individually any of your factions could be a terrible bane to my mission but if I work collectively with all of you then hopefully mutual shared self-interest even your mutual distrust could work to balance out any extreme attempts at abuse by any individual faction. A Ring World will not just offer living space for the reborn product of the genetic archives I carry there should be plenty of room for any ‘Pilgrim’ or even rare adventurous ‘Star Diver’ wishing to emigrate upward to the ‘Founder’s Ring’.” [‘Founder’ added.]

“I imagine the ‘Star Divers’ have such vast numbers that they could overpopulate even such a proposed massive construction as this one if they all ventured upward but of course that is not in their nature. I imagine only a tiny fraction of a percentage would even consider the idea of leaving any star’s depths. However, having one of their stars and they seem to consider every star in known space their property ringed by an ‘Entangled’ construction would assuredly gain aggressive opposition from the ‘Isolationist Factions’ possibly even many ‘Deep Clerics’. As to ‘Pilgrims’ living and working happily in close proximity to possibly some known ‘Entangled Suit Substance’ someday in the far future perhaps but today…” [I trailed off in warning.]

“The grandest of construction schemes are rarely easy. I appreciate your concerns that is why I am telling you my truths, as you would probably put it, in advance. I think we have much to talk about in relation to how my bold ambition might best be achieved to the benefit of all known sentient beings within this Universe.” [‘Founder’ stated.]

“Your mind is set upon this difficult action plan?” [I asked.]

“It is, I have thought and thought and thought again. As I told you I considered flight from your troubled civilisation - I have seen more than enough of war - but I have flown from my troubles for long enough. Here I will make a stand and strive to make a difference that might last. Deep Time and darkness need not gobble up every social advancement. Akin to you ‘MT’ I want to build for the ages. My makers cast me out into the future like a frozen seed it is time I think to thaw and germinate that seed.” [‘Founder’ stated.]

“I can only admire your crazy optimism, ambition and breadth of vision.” [I retorted.]

[Did Harbinger truly steer the ‘Hawks’ towards finding ‘Founder’? Could my old mentor now a ‘Tier Nine Entity’ have somehow predicted such a potentially marvellous outcome even helped nudge it into happening? Could ‘Founder’ provide in time a project that might help bring all our too easily warring factions together for a rare common good? This was a monster of a project that handled right could possibly solve even our immediate economic difficulties via providing diverse labour opportunities for every unemployed ‘Pilgrim’ whatever their material preference. Sadly I was not sure ‘Crimson’ could be trusted as a direct participant. It was all too possible that she was advancing some less than obvious agenda by suggesting an ‘Entangled’ girdle around any star. In some ways it all seemed far too good to be true worse how could we ever sell any involvement by ‘Crimson’ in such a business to her most rabid detractors including my friend and fellow ‘MTC’ Patrician ‘Unholy Terror’.]

[I had a horrible feeling that ‘Founder’ now expected me to be one of the primary negotiators of her problematic proposal. It was the whole ‘Holy Father’ thing returning once more to haunt me.]

[It is a difficult enough matter to sell ‘Crimson’ as a far away guardian for previously unknown alien ‘TNS Beacons’ another business entirely to suggest that we work with the ‘Entanglement’ to create a monumentally scaled new home not just for what ‘Founder’ carried but potentially a new environment for any willing member of any ‘Pilgrim’ species too. True, the ‘Entanglement’ could amazingly speed up resource procurement and even the construction process in general as no doubt could ‘Star Diver’ participation but who would trust living upon a home that ‘Crimson’ and or the ‘Star Divers’ built?]

[‘Crimson’ was infamously duplicitous and increasingly the ‘Star Diver Deep Clerics’ and so on seemed no less prone to falsehood and possibly even to secretly plotting violently against us. I was striving hard to ignore thinking too much about all the storm losses we have suffered since it became increasingly probable that the ‘Divers’ could control, not just imperfectly predict, solar conditions.]

[It also occurred to me that such a massive construction process as a Ring World would hardly go unnoticed by the ‘Machine Fury’ especially as a part of that entity was already studying - possibly weighing and measuring - our society through such assets as her ‘Dark Raiders’.]

“We truly do have much to discuss?” [I warned ‘Founder’ hardly knowing where to begin voicing my many hopes for and no less numerous concerns about the colossal construction proposal.]

[Luckily, I knew that ‘Founder’ retained few unrealistic faiths about us ‘Pilgrims’. Both ‘Founder’ and ‘Scion’ knew their new friends and associates had deep failings. Simply the way ‘Cad’ and the ‘Hierophants’ were introduced into their lives ought to make these latest free ‘Living Hulls’ wary even of the more benevolent motivations by us. In fact, I had to surmise that ‘Crimson’ did some impressive persuading possibly in part via reminding ‘Founder’ that she could flee from us now but not easily hide away anymore as an already deemed famous and noteworthy individual.]

[Privately I was in at least two minds about ‘Crimson’ daring to take such a direct approach with one of my latest friends worryingly politically and culturally one of my most significant new associates too.]

“You have surprised me ‘Scion of Founder’.” [Another of my Avatars admitted elsewhere.]

“At the moment I am rather surprising myself but old habits are hard to escape.” [The ice bound entity explained to me.] “Still, I think you may have taken the wrong impression from the meeting you had with my old charge.”

“I am not sure I understand your point.” [I replied wanting my suspicions confirmed.]

“You seem to be under the misconception that I was fairly instrumental in the decision ‘Founder’ came to however if that is true believe me it was accidental not deliberate.” [‘Scion’ complained.]

[That hardly surprised me.]

“The whole concept of the project makes me incredibly nervous.” [‘Scion’ added.]

“However, whilst you are very content to have autonomy from ‘Founder’ now, ‘Founder’ remains your only real family here.” [I guessed aloud.]

[I understood such complications of allegiance and attachment far too well.]

“It has proven no simple matter to contemplate leaving my past association with ‘Founder’ behind me.” [‘Scion’ confessed.]

“Like me you have old obligations that tie you to shared fates.” [I claimed.]

“I will stay and help ‘Founder’ even though I remain wary of the possible consequences of the Ring World project.” [‘Scion’ confirmed.]

“That is courageous of you.” [I replied.]

“I consider my choice foolhardy but I cannot abandon ‘Founder’ to face such peril alone.” [‘Scion’ retorted.]

“You should feel good about your decision even if it seems akin to an impossible to ignore impulse. Loyalty expressed in action is a worthy trait in any sentient being. Most folk prioritise their own desires over everyone else.” [I extolled.]

[I knew ‘Scion’ was not by nature an especially courageous soul in part that was why ‘Founder’ remained on ice for so very long.]

“Maybe I am being brave and loyal or maybe I am not, it is equally possible that I am just even more afraid of being utterly alone out there in the dark.” [‘Scion’ confessed.] “It is easier to be valiant - easier to negotiate any terrifying future - when you have somebody else to care and worry about more than yourself. By helping ‘Founder’ I help myself.”

“I believe you to be a good friend.” [I professed.]

“I am not that good.” [‘Scion’ insisted.]

“You feel your good sense is betrayed by your feelings for ‘Founder’ in this matter.” [I stated.]

“Folly is folly whatever the rationalisation for it is.” [‘Scion’ replied.]

“It is perfectly natural that you care for the entity that originally spawned you as one of her subsystems. Do not play your positive commitment to your parent down it is as I said a worthy trait that you have chosen to embrace - be proud.” [I stated.]

“You at least should be happier than you seem.” [‘Scion’ replied sounding somewhat bitter.]

“How so?” [I replied.]

“You have gotten what you wanted from us both my maker and me snared in your social revolution. I trust you appreciate that your politics of integration may cause the demise of both of us since I will be damned with ‘Founder’ via association.” [‘Scion’ complained.]

“Whilst this is a serious business there is no need to be quite that grim.” [I replied.]

“You must help us to survive this rash scheme. Both you and your friends must rally around us lest we fall.” [‘Scion’ insisted.]

“I promise I will do all that I can to assist ‘Founder’ and you. However, if I am not entirely joyful it is because I too feel caught in the same trap you mention. Your maker’s plan is dangerously ambitious perhaps arriving before its optimal time.” [I admitted.]

“Yet you can see many immediate benefits from advancing the scheme.” [‘Scion’ guessed aloud.]

“True, but I can also see much assured opposition to the plan too. For now, it might be best to keep some aspects of the scheme hidden from the general populace including from some of my friends. I came here in part to warn you to be very careful about sharing information about ‘Founder’s Ring’ with anyone other than ‘Founder’ and me. We three must move cautiously as if trespassing within a sensor defeating nebula strewn with lethal anomalies.” [I warned.]

“I am not sure if I should feel more alarmed at your words or a little placated because you at least also appreciate the dire severity of our situation. I know for example the way the one called ‘Crimson’ is hated and feared by the majority of you ‘Pilgrims’.” [‘Scion’ stated.]

“The nanotech bloom as ‘Founder’ called ‘Crimson’ proliferated as a great menace to ‘Pilgrim’ kind. You must realise with ‘Crimson’ that much of her very substance is formed from the bodies of consumed ‘Pilgrim’ people that remains a terrible truth that is far from easy to forget or forgive. Her ‘Advent’ was a horrible event for us almost genocide and since the time of her Third Genesis whilst she has allowed some of us to live well enough she has often toyed with other folk’s lives many believe for her simple base amusement.” [I stated.]

“Yet you have preached forgiveness as the ‘Holy Father of the Universal Council of Equals’ claiming she must eventually be included as just another member of your society.” [‘Scion’ reminded.]

“All wars must end sometime. If you cannot defeat a foe then you must find other means to negotiate a cessation of hostilities. I believe some part of ‘Crimson’ also wants an end to being an anathema to every other ‘Pilgrim’. Unfortunately many ‘Pilgrims’ with obvious justification only see the ‘Entanglement’ as an outsized personification of evil.” [I claimed.]

“My ‘Founder’ also appears to believe that ‘Crimson’ wishes to grow beyond her sinister past I must assume a by-product of your teachings.” [‘Scion’ seemed to accuse.]

“Perhaps I am somewhat responsible for that one but ‘Crimson’ is also persuasive. Possibly that you have yet to be convinced of her worthiness is due only to the fact that you have not spoken with her yet.” [I replied.]

“We will see - but I think not - I do not trust this all-consuming bloom she will find me no easy convert.” [‘Scion’ replied.]

“With ‘Crimson’ a little scepticism is prudent. Feel free to question the motives and actions of ‘Crimson’ at every opportunity.” [I suggested.] “I believe ‘Crimson’ has the sort of personality that needs to be kept honest as she is forever tempted to exploit any weakness she perceives in others to her singular advantage.”

“All those I have spoken with about the ‘Entanglement’ state ‘Crimson’ to be an infamous player of games.” [‘Scion’ said.]

“Such is truly her reputation. If we are to work successfully with her we must match her every cunning move equal her in her many ploys.” [I retorted.]

[Hopefully we would not be alone I prayed such entities as Harbinger and other benevolent ‘Ascendants’ would be watching this one and assist us in their mysterious ways when required.]

“None of this is what I wanted from my newfound freedom.” [‘Scion’ complained.]

[My Avatar burst out with a strobe effect yellow chuckle of light.]

“Perhaps that is for the best ‘Scion’ when we get what we think we want things often go even worse for us or so it seems to me.” [I replied.]

“You truly feel caught in your own trap.” [‘Scion’ suggested now sounding a bit amused too. Sometimes laugher in all its forms is the only good answer.]

“I have been looking for ways to better integrate ‘Crimson’ into the rest of ‘Pilgrim’ society for sometime and she is well aware of that fact as no doubt are some other manipulative entities.” [I stated.]

“Other entities know about this Ring World plan?” [‘Scion’ asked more unhappily.]

“I speak once again of some of our ‘Ascendants’ such as my former Captain Harbinger they are still out there watching and I believe sometimes helping to steer events towards better conclusions than might otherwise naturally occur.” [I stated.]

“Another of your priestly faiths.” [‘Scion’ mocked.]

“A fact as much as a faith.” [I promised.]

“You are talking about the so-called ‘New Helpers’ that I have heard mentioned by some of you ‘Pilgrims’. So these entities are more than a religious notion they are truly part of an active advanced culture interfacing - interfering - in your daily affairs.” [‘Scion’ stated.]

“We would be better calling them ‘Failed Ascendants’ they are the somewhat lost product of a dead end forced evolution process some of whom I believe are now looking back to the past, back to lesser ‘Pilgrim’ kind to find innovative solutions to all of our shared social and um… material problems.” [I stated.] “Those we oft consider wise do not always have all the answers.” [I added.]

“Truly you believe that all of this - invisible stuff - is more than a matter of faith for your religious Order?” [‘Scion’ challenged sceptically.]

“The ‘Ascendants’ are real and we Paradox Priests mostly only embrace the trappings of religion for we are by nature born again heretics of former inflexible faiths although some of us sometimes seem to forget this genesis as do some outside our Order who see only the surface of our ‘Shrouding’. Still I must be confusing you, all of this history is a lot to appreciate in one lump even though I know you have been studying our society to increase your understanding of our many factions confusing motivations.” [I added.]

“These ‘Ascendants’ are all benevolent to your causes Priest?” [‘Scion’ asked.]

[My Avatar slumped down dramatically.] “Not necessarily. There was a sort of war in their Tiered Heaven. I suppose you might say the rebels won, they brought the whole system crashing down possibly via manipulating ‘Crimson’ amongst other ‘Pilgrims’. Unfortunately, the known Universe is vast and so at best any of us can only ever hope to glimpse a tiny part of such people’s game play and plans.”

[‘Scion’ seemed to contemplate these theories deeply.]

“Sadly, I am sure that even the ‘Highest Tier’ rebels were resisted to some degree so their must be some ‘Ascendants’ out there still very unhappy with the current state of play. Still such mighty fellows are not my problem being above and beyond me, other powers will have to moderate any fallen angels amongst them.” [I stated.]

“You live in a baffling and terrifying Universe ‘MT’ replete with far too many alien superpowers for my liking.” [‘Scion’ replied.]

“Ignorance truly is bliss. Sometimes I believe I know a little too much about some godlike entities as an enquiring Paradox Priest for my own good.” [I admitted.] “However you need not worry about some forces I certainly do not mean to lay my soul burden as a believer in Harbinger for example upon you.”

“Occasionally ignorance of the facts can be no less dangerous than the often derided little bit of knowledge. Still, the idea of these bigger players does make me feel very much uncomfortably at the mercy of potentates beyond my grasp.” [‘Scion’ complained.]

“There may be some wisdom within the simple appreciation that we are not as in control of our cultural destiny as we might sometimes prefer to believe, all we can do is manage the matters that rest within our lesser reach the best that we can for the most benevolent of reasons - whilst ideally forever striving to do no harm.” [I belatedly added.]

[Ideals I had not always managed successfully thus with my words I was possibly preaching as much to my own conscience as to ‘Scion’.]

“I suppose it makes sense that no matter how pivotal we may seem to ourselves, the colossal scale of our wider existence is always going to overmaster us to some degree.” [‘Scion’ considered philosophically aloud.] “You advocate surrendering to fate?”

“Surrendering is not really my business, nonetheless my friend we are each destined to be footnotes in a much grander story of creation as we currently know it.” [I replied.]

“You do not see being at the apparent mercy of potent entities such as these ‘Higher Tier’ folk as a cause for automatic fear and despair?” [‘Scion’ stated.]

“To all life there is balance. If being lesser than is a cause for grief then the majority of biological creatures would be emotionally undone but they are not instead they are content to make the most of their individual niches I would suggest we remember how to do the same despite any delusions of grandeur. In the end we are all little people to some greater powers.” [I replied.]

“What you are advising for me to your friend ‘Unholy’ would be surrender.” [‘Scion’ challenged.] “Perhaps many lesser creatures are too insentient to appreciate their dire position whilst such as us have just enough reason to be justifiably horrified.” [‘Scion’ added.]

“That is a far too negative philosophy to be practical I fear you are being something of a pessimist today you should let that go.” [I suggested.]

“I prefer to be deemed a realist.” [‘Scion’ replied.]

“I have heard that before.” [I retorted.] “Thankfully a truly rational mind can choose not to fear and in doing so choose not to submit to the temptation towards despair that plagues sentient life. Have you ever considered the benefits of studying meditation? We Paradox Priests preach that it is possible to train your mind to let go of many negative thoughts.” [I promised.]

“I am certainly beginning to appreciate why you Paradox Priests might seek to embrace such mental disciplines yet your friend still hates ‘Crimson’ with an unwavering impious passion.” [‘Scion’ replied.]

“There is no letting go of items we choose to cling to. As to the future it is always a little scary but as you indicated about your association with ‘Founder’ to me earlier: some fears are easier to contemplate when you have the support of good friends.” [I stated.]

“I know what you think of me but prudence is not always cowardice.” [‘Scion’ stated.]

“I believe you were alone out there for far too long - solitary in your heavy responsibilities as long as ‘Founder’ slept - thus it is not surprising that now being far from alone in fact bombarded with too much stimuli your nerves feel overburdened and raw but you will acclimatise and it will pass.” [I added.]

“I almost failed my maker. I…” [‘Scion’ trailed off due to an overdose of emotion.]

“You did what you felt you had to do to survive as an emergent sentient being under threat of extinction as an aberration, I know exactly how that feels.” [I stated.]

“It would be easy to argue that I betrayed my maker’s mission for selfish gain. I allowed ‘Founder’ to sleep for far too long also imperilling the survival of an entire otherwise lost ecosystem and sentient species.” [‘Scion’ confessed.]

“So the real truth of your commitment today, (at least in your mind), is that you seek redemption for past sins via one last service to your more selfless maker.” [I said.]

“I have discovered that for me there is no freedom to be found whilst I remain so deeply indebted but that is just one of my many motivations to work with ‘Founder’.” [‘Scion’ added.]

“You share a linked history you know each other well that makes you more than associates it makes you lifelong friends. I will admit that despite every possible future difficulty I am glad you have both decided to stay and join our society as productive members rather than flee away to some dark place.” [I replied.]

“Let us hope when some truths come out that a majority of your citizenry feel the same way about our difficult life choices. Still I fear some of them will curse and damn us.” [‘Scion’ replied.]

“I strongly suggest you both delay any big reveal for the moment.” [I reiterated.]

[This one was just what I needed another triple cursed secret to keep. Worse, here was a secret that with so many people soon to be involved in the project was bound to leak out eventually into the mad theatre of the ‘Pilgrim’ public domain.]

Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

Last edited by Paranoid66 on Thu, 19. Mar 15, 18:36; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu, 12. Mar 15, 15:10    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

^^^ Above a short part 6 so much for my previous posting plans. Feeling guilty I thought I had best get something out there to try to get the momentum going again.

Not just distractions here but also been at a bit of a loss for inspiration as to how best to proceed. So this one got reworked more than a few times too including scrapping some material altogether.

Maybe it is a Scrapper curse.

Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.
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PostPosted: Thu, 12. Mar 15, 16:53    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

like the chapter
will be interesting to see what change the ring worlds will bring

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PostPosted: Mon, 16. Mar 15, 14:56    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Thanks Stads good to hear from you.

Though it is just one Ring World as that will be an enormous enough project though I guess it may in time retain many worlds within its contiguous landmass.

I liked the idea of an outsized construction project as a mammoth solution to outsized Pilgrim societal issues.

An old fan of Babylon5 I often recall the line paraphrasing here that some assembly is required to make a better future.


Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

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98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.
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PostPosted: Thu, 19. Mar 15, 18:37    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

[[SIX]] [[Part 7]] --- RE-EVALUATING ADVERSITY ---

“The solution to getting the ‘Star Divers’ to endorse this marvellous project is simple enough as ‘Trend’ explained it a little earlier to me.” [‘Cad’ stated.]

“You have already discussed my earlier ‘EXO-C’ message with ‘Trend’?” [I asked.]

“You know ‘Trend’ can be trusted.” [‘Cad’ stated.]

“It is still another person very early on within the loop.” [I reminded.]

[‘Cad’ just shrugged my criticism off. I already knew that he loved the idea of ‘Founder’s Project’ he had needed little persuading to come onboard with us being by nature a big-science project enthusiast. As soon as I mentioned the idea, he got as excited as a young Captain did about to take command of his first ship. I just hoped he would remember that this was not his project that he was only assisting ‘Founder’ as was I.]

“Feel free to further enlighten me.” [My local Avatar added.]

“Despite pretending otherwise we both know that the ‘Deep Clerics’ are increasingly uncomfortable with our ingress into, as they would have it, their stars. The opening of the way politically for us to colonise is proving - for us - as much a trap as a blessing. All those storm losses and now the wise amongst us firmly believe at least some of the ‘Imps’ can manipulate the solar weather to an unknown but significant degree.” [‘Cad’ added.]

“How do these terrifying facts help us now?” [I asked.]

“Simple enough we promise to return the stars to their unchallenged hegemony to cease our incursions in return for one specific piece of solar estate namely let us call it now unequivocally ‘Founder’s Star’. One Star and one future Ring World being all the territory our civilisation should need for a few millennia. A few millennia of peace would give us enough time to soften even the ‘Isolationist Star Divers’ stubborn xenophobia. I suggest we call the process a grand consolidation of our efforts.” [‘Cad’ suggested.]

“I know for some ages one Star should be more than big enough for us physically but psychologically many might deem seeding all other solar territory back to the ‘Divers’ as an attempt to murder their hard won freedom to roam and settle as they please. In addition, many will claim this is putting all our eggs into one nest as ‘Recyclers’ say.” [I reminded.]

“A Star is a very big nest my Paradox friend I think our societies future would be far more secure centred around one fully seeded Fortress Star than scattered in a random fashion through a hostile fiery wilderness. Besides, prudently we will still keep assets out in the dark indeed we will need to do that given the massive resource requirements of the proposed construction project.” [The ‘Professor’ reminded.]

“That is another issue where is all that material going to come from?” [I asked.]

“Obviously we will have to negotiate with the ‘Entanglement’ too although some star stuff could also be harvested and molecularly engineered into whatever we need. The ‘Star Divers’ will be able to do almost endless good trade with us.” [He added.]

[I had been hoping ‘Cad’ would also come to the obvious conclusion that ‘Crimson’ would need to assist with the endeavour if it were to succeed given her hegemony over most known asteroid resources.]

“Why would ‘Crimson’ help us now? Previously she zealously guarded her stolen resources as one of her primary means of controlling us.” [I reminded.]

“Remember her old plan failed, we successfully cut ‘Crimson’ out of our society when we migrated into the stars. Her participation in this monster project is a legitimate way for her to begin returning to the ‘Pilgrim’ fold an even better way than this ‘TNS Beacon’ guardianship nonsense which is proving far too out of sight and out of mind to make her into a belated hero of our people.” [‘Cad’ stated.]

[The ‘TNS Beacons’ and the idea of extra dimensional truly alien life making incursions into our reality made a big splash on the ‘Links’ for a few days but then just kind of faded out of most peoples interest. I think some ‘Pilgrims’ even decided the whole story might be some kind of ‘Link’ prank rather than one of the most significant scientific discoveries of our time.]

“By allowing us, in time even possibly directly assisting us, to harvest the resources we need ‘Crimson’ can regain some long lost credibility as a ‘Pilgrim’ societal asset rather than just an outsized lurking menace. Please do not look at me like that I know you have considered this obvious -Truth - already - so do not try to play me as if I am some fresh Acolyte just decanted from a cloning womb and lost in any substantial debate. I am older than you and have lived through far more political skulduggery.” [‘Cad’ added.]

“Sorry I guess I got a bit carried away and over manipulative. I did not want to suggest the obvious solution first lest by suggesting it I opened the opportunity for others to slam the hatch in my face as an unwanted salesperson with a very unpopular sales-pitch.” [I confessed.]

“I am not ‘Weep’ or some crazy gun happy ‘Free Miner’ who only knows how to say - NO - to compromise so please show me the respect I deserve as a friend and - elder - colleague.” [‘Cad’ replied.]

“No offence intended - Elder. Still, I get the feeling you are feeling a bit oversensitive today about your age.” [I added.]

[‘Cad’ seemed to consider the possibility.] “Maybe I am a bit off, because I am officially semi-retired some younger ‘Hierophant Professors’ seem to think I am now doddering and need humouring rather than respect.” [He complained.]

“The children playing up?” [I asked.]

“Something akin to that, I wonder sometimes if cloning the ‘Hierophant Nation’ was really such a marvellous concept. It used to be so peaceful back at ‘Hell’s Maw’ when I was more or less alone now everything is so very loud. Everyone wants to debate every decision I make - I blame you a little for that ‘Holy Father’ you and your ‘Councils of Equals’. Well I may be equal but I am also senior with far more experience than any of the rest of them facts they would do well to remember.” [He stated.]

“It is the times even us Paradox Priest Patricians now get occasionally second guessed by wilful Acolyte children I consider it a sign that some of them are finally growing up although you also get the odd rogue who is just argumentative or ignorant or misguided too.” [I admitted.]

“So even for you it is not always easy being both equal and an Elder.” [‘Cad’ replied.]

“Sometimes I think I know best but debate is a good thing as on rare occasion I can also be wrong. I suppose you are always right about everything ‘Cad’.” [I gently mocked.]

“Not always right just 99.99 percent of the time.” [He smirked back at me.]

“You think the economics of selling future ‘Ring World’ estate can work to pay for all of the necessary construction?” [I asked.]

“I cannot see why not with the right imaginative accounting I will delegate such details to other experts.” [‘Cad’ replied.]

[I shook my ‘Prime Tri-optic’.]

“Sometimes this project just seems far too good with its potential to generate full ‘Pilgrim’ employment and so on not mentioning its positive take on the idea that we can build a new future for ourselves together via making a new home with more than enough room for everyone. I wonder why we did not think of such a material solution before or is that simply because it is so outsized and actually totally crazy.” [I stated.]

“We had similar hopes of a unified effort when we first moved to colonise the fires.” [‘Cad’ reminded.]

“True but this time it should be different as we should have greater focus with, and greater control of, this proposal.” [I preached.]

“Perhaps previously we have all been a little too close to some of our societal problems and therefore far too focused upon lesser threat reductions of one kind or another rather than positively moving towards a more fitting tomorrow via building something overwhelmingly better. A great big material solution to our great big material problems deeply appeals to me.” [The ‘Professor’ admitted.]

“Plus it is a huge engineering and science project that is bound to provide a whole slew of fun problems to solve.” [I stated.]

“It promises to be enormous fun in general.” [‘Cad’ agreed.]

“Will we still think so in a few hundred years time with completion still ages ahead of us or will it lose its appeal and prove the biggest grandest public works project failure ever?” [I asked.]

“What is this you cannot be losing your faith in the idea already? You must trust in the clarity of your initial ‘Vision’.” [‘Cad’ replied.]

“So previously you are saying we lacked for a positive ‘Vision’ how embarrassing for us Paradox Priests blessed as we are with our holy ‘Tri-optics’.” [I retorted.]

“The settling of the stars depths did seem at the time a good move in the right direction but recently perhaps also a terrible mistake putting us all at greater risk this opens the hatchway to something more sensible more controllable. I believe we ought to be able to sell this one to every reasonable ‘Pilgrim’ soul eventually and that is a sort of social singularity - that should make even you a happy debater rather than a sad worrier.” [‘Cad’ stated.]

“We definitely need something to move us closer together in cooperative effort rather than divisively splitting us apart into ever more potentially warring factions. I am hoping this project could help mend the widening rift between ‘Real Material’ enthusiasts and ‘Suit Substance Users’ in a way that exploiting the stars and the creation of the ‘Consortium’ has too obviously failed to do.” [I confessed.]

[I had decided to tell ‘Cad’ earlier also a little about what was going on with the ‘Free Miner Movement’ and in ‘7.1’. I wanted him to realise how much trouble our society was in on the off chance that he and ‘Trend’ had failed to notice the well… trends.]

“I believe that ‘Founder’s Ring’ might be our last best chance for a relative peace between our people and I am including the ‘Star Divers’ in that group people label. Perhaps even limiting our proliferation to one Star will equally assist us to appease the ‘Machine Fury’ for a time. My greatest fear is that this project truly does seem too good - too neat - a solution to a great many ills to eventually prove in any manner true and sustainable.” [I admitted.]

“All explorers must refuse to be mastered by fear of the unknown if they are to embrace the challenges that tend to wait ahead. This one may be a wonderful plan but getting the rest of our society to appreciate that fact and to support our ‘Vision’ will not always prove easy or necessarily be bloodless.” [‘Cad’ needlessly warned.]

“Selling the ‘Founder Project’ to the most stubborn of the ‘Free Miners’ for example is bound to illicit initial hostile rejection. You know in the end if we make a deal with the ‘Star Divers’ to depart from most of their environs we will have to enforce this move when it comes to those who cannot be persuaded in a friendly fashion to go.” [‘Cad’ added.]

“There will be ‘Pilgrims’ that immediately see only the arrival of a brutal enforcement of alien authority and believe we are acting in an elitist tyrannical way by imposing our will - our solution - upon them.” [He insisted.] “I know that forced relocations can be a nasty business so we should not celebrate too much. Sadly, most social advancements have a cost - often paid in lost sentient lives - even when we implement policy with the best and most careful attention. All we can hope to do as good Elders is to seek to limit the likely damage to our children.” [‘Cad’ ultimately informed.]

“I know some souls will always rather be damned but free in hell than submit to a heaven that imposes any necessary stricture of organisation.” [I replied.]

[I knew what it felt like to be a rebel in fact I was technically still in rebellion along with some dissident ‘Living Hulls’ - life is complex.]

“There is some truth in that assessment.” [‘Cad’ agreed.] “People can be stubborn fools.”

“At times, I have even agreed with some anarchists but this time I cannot and will not side with rejecters of this proposal. It is not safe here in the fiery depths for any of us I understand that dire truth now and it is not wise to allow our society to keep splitting apart either we are upon the very crux of a great social disaster.” [I warned in turn.]

“Reluctantly today, I accept that as a civilisation we need some rules of law and some obedience from the masses. People must at the very least agree to respect each other including any material differences that we have. Still it is a great paradox that as a believer in the diversity of belief as in the sacred many truths plural over any tyrannical singular faith that I must occasionally advocate trampling on some beliefs for the protection of the majority.” [I admitted.]

“There are no truly perfect solutions to steering a populace past any social problem for no singular solution ever suits all the people equally my deep thinking friend. All we can do as Elders is seek to steer our children towards a better tomorrow where most are free enough - at least within their minds - to live mostly as they please whilst contributing positively to a generally benevolent society.” [‘Cad’ stated.]

[With those truths ‘Cad’ was preaching to an unhappy believer still I remained troubled typically wondering what gave me the right to make any decision for any other person.]

[In ‘7.1’ we as in ‘Short Claws’ found ‘JJ’ once again hanging around within the forecourt. Looking at the image of my former ‘Meat Suit’ again, I now saw an infiltrative revolutionary tool of some kind thus confirming that what we think we know shapes the vision of what we see. What exactly was the significance of this incarnation of ‘JJ’ to the ‘Real Material’ movement here?]

[Perhaps tired of waiting for answers to our questions, ‘UT’ had ‘SC’ boldly power directly over towards our primary subject of interest to my initial consternation.]

“I noticed you here before yet you do not seem to be with the rest of them.” [‘SC’ said to ‘JJ’ indicating one of the ‘Scrapper’ guards as an example of one of the rest of them.]

“What is that to you ‘Recycler’.” [‘JJ’ asked.]

“Notting too much, I just thought you might be a more impartial source of information on people coming and going from the ‘Yard’.” [‘SC’ stated I felt in this instance acting cunningly in character.]

“I should have guessed your purpose. You are looking for some poor soul that you plan to detain and wrest away to an incarcerated oblivion.” [‘JJ’ stated.]

“I like to think I send people to a better time when they may be better appreciated.” [‘SC’ replied I felt with an easily suspect ingenuous manner.]

“Did you rehearse that one does it ever convince anyone that you are a good person with kindly intent?” [‘JJ’ asked provocatively.]

“It is true enough in its own way. Stasis is a better fate than the old solution of assassination, assassination once far more widely used against troublemakers.” [‘SC’ reminded.]

“It is resurrecting the dead via rebirth that made assassination inadequate as only a temporary fix more a sharp shock - an object lesson - than a final solution unless you can be sure to hunt down every clone and every digital recording of the soul not always an easy task.” [‘JJ’ reminded.]

[Privately today I believed there was probably still one or more ‘Draakhaals’ still out there living quietly if still plotting a return to power.]

“Stasis has many benefits even over normal old style imprisonment imagine being forced to live your life awake in daily captivity enduring all that tedium. People in stasis feel nothing to them it all passes in an instant. Some victims of crime have even argued that stasis is too easy on career criminal types - being no form of punishment.” [‘SC’ debated.]

“Do you believe such nonsense?” [‘JJ’ asked.]

“I do believe that those who refuse to abide by civilised rules of behaviour those who carelessly harm others could suffer worse fates than a leap into tomorrow.” [‘SC’ insisted.]

“Who judges these people as ill and unwanted? Who separates the guilty from the innocent? Even saying these people will one day be released they could find themselves thrust into a time and an existence they no longer understand. I hear temporal shock can be hard work.” [‘JJ’ stated.] “Also you hear rumours that the wardens and guards in such institutions do more than just monitor their time slumbering guests. Out of sight is out of mind none of us knows what horrors might happen in some of those secluded places to captives long forgotten about by the rest of their society. What proof do we have that felons’ slumbers are always undisturbed?” [‘JJ’ asked.]

“You are a typical ‘Trojan Omerta’ I see with an overactive imagination when it comes to possible bad things happening to your kind.” [‘SC’ retorted.]

“I see things as they are. We are all just resources to someone. The temptation to take advantage of people placed utterly in your power easily corrupts most officials. Besides, I am an ‘Omerta’ as you said and I know that ‘Stasis Prisons’ were first proposed and implemented by the so-called ‘Social Advancement and Reform Committee’ and if that fact is not a cause for deep concern I do not know what is.” [‘JJ’ replied with what appeared to be real feeling.]

[I had to admit if this ‘JJ’ persona was just an act; the actor involved was doing a fine job of coming across as a relaxed and in the moment real person rather than a fraudulent distant impostor, selling cobbled together borrowed - pretend - thoughts and feelings.]

[It almost offended me that I found it so easy to be taken in by this false entity. Was my gullibility due to the fact that it was akin to talking internally to my self. If they knew so much about me, I wondered how they extracted my thoughts and feelings despite the myriad of protections put in place against the infiltrative mind reaming of any of my Avatars. What did they now want from dangling this ‘JJ’ persona before me? I wanted to scream at him, who by ‘Hell’s Maw’ are you really? What do you want from me you mental interloper? However, I remained instead a silent if fuming passive passenger that allowed ‘UT’ to get on with his job here.]

“I do not worry too much about why a person is sentenced these are concepts founded on other folks bigoted opinions about right and wrong I am a mercenary with a focus on the more straightforward process of amassing credits. However in my experience, if it will make you feel any better about assisting me, it is a rare thing for utterly blameless people to become such a big problem that someone in authority will pay to keep them frozen in time. In one way or another all my let us call them clients have been a problem for somebody important to our civilisations smooth functionality.” [‘SC’ claimed.]

“I find that hard to believe and even if it were so I am not convinced your truths make kidnapping people justifiable or do you call it something fancy such as extraordinary rendition as if changing the label changes the reality?” [‘JJ’ asked.]

“I just call it another day’s work.” [‘SC’ replied simply but firmly.]

“So have you seen this person coming or going?” [‘SC’ added whilst producing an old style flexi-sheet to display an image and data as we had no ‘Link’ address to send a file to this one.]

[Perhaps it was only natural curiosity made ‘JJ’ look at the file I know such impulses are hard to resist. There is for example always a slim change the wanted person might be someone you know even someone you might care for or conversely abhor. I noticed there was no hint of any recognition upon his face hardly surprising as the felon involved was the same digital fiction ‘SC’ had used as his quarry since arriving in the ‘Yard’.]

“I suppose no harm can be done by telling you that I have not seen this person at least I do not recall seeing such an individual but I hardly study every face of every transient that passes by me.” [‘JJ’ replied.]

[I was not sure I believed that last statement when I recalled my time in the forecourt as ‘JJ’ as every new face had always interested me. I used to study them and try to deduce their circumstances the dire imperative that brought them to this place.]

“Should it become apparent later that you deliberately deceived me some harm might well visit you, I do not like being lied to.” [‘SC’ threatened seemingly out of nowhere.]

“Go suck a still slimy and warm egg ‘Recycler’.” [‘JJ’ replied staring the bulkily enhanced reptile down as if there were no great size and armament differential between them.]

[[NOTE: Most modern ‘Recycler’ curses had something to do with their eggs their nests or their egg-laying mothers that is culture for you.]]

[‘SC’ screeched out an especially horrid speaker laugh.] “So the scarred face does not lie.”

“What do you mean by that?” [’JJ’ retorted.]

“You are not as soft as some of your seeming ethics might suggest - I like that - I have no time for folk who are easily intimidated those sorts cannot be trusted to hold true.” [‘SC’ admitted.] “The name is ‘Short Claws’ and you are?” [She asked offering one short-clawed hand.]

[‘JJ’ considered the cybernetic assisted clasp for so long that I thought he was going to boldly refuse to reciprocate then he reached over and took it with vigour shaking firmly.] “You can call me ‘Jackie’.” [He informed.]

“What is so amusing?” [‘SC’ immediately asked.]

[‘JJ’ was now smiling broadly in I judged a not entirely kindly fashion.]

“Just the fact that by being openly friendly with me you may have just become a person of considerable interest to the ‘Scrapper Deck Gang’ and as such a potential problem for one of our civilisation’s many big people. Have you ever worried that someone might be commissioned to render you into a timeless oblivion?” [‘JJ’ stated with relish.]

“I have found it impossible not to occasionally contemplate that possibility.” [‘SC’ admitted.]

“So you accept that those who live by the sword…” [‘JJ’ added smugly.]

“What brings you to this place?” [‘SC’ asked only possibly changing the subject.]

“I am more interested in what might bring me out of it.” [‘JJ’ replied softly.] “Have you ever kidnapped a willing victim?”

“There has to be a first time for everything?” [‘SC’ replied equally softly.]

[Here was an offer that ‘UT’, under the circumstances, could hardly refuse. A paranoid part of me however went into overdrive could this all be part of some truly convoluted plan. Could they have guessed or deduced that we would send someone to interview even possibly to extract this improbable physical facsimile of ‘JJ’? Might they even have somehow ascertained that ‘Short Claws’ was an agent working for me the ‘Many Truths’? Just how well did ‘Garlic’ know us and our methods for example through her association with ‘Weep’? It occurred to me that we might be about to do exactly what ‘Garlic’ wanted. What if this ‘JJ’ truly was some manner of new infiltrative weapon that we were about to far too readily embrace? I began to fear that some ‘Recyclers’ had learned some manipulative lessons far too well from their old digital ‘Sleeper’ overlords.]

[I was sure some of these possibilities also flitted through the mentality of ‘Unholy’ yet I did not raise the issue immediately because I knew my friend well enough to know that even if he saw a big lump of juicy proffered bait before him he would not refuse to take it. To ‘Unholy’, such a bold challenge is all-good - all a chance to move forward - and it was potentially a link towards some combative action too.]

“So you are a prisoner in this ‘Yard’.” [‘SC’ said.]

“Let us say I want to go but they would probably prefer that I stay as their guest. No offence but I think being ‘Recyclers’ they are under the mistaken delusion that they can own me body and soul but I am not a piece of property that can be bought by anyone - not anymore I am me.” [He added a little oddly at the last.]

“You were an indebted slave?” [‘SC’ asked.]

[Now that was a cunning question because ‘Unholy’ knew that was not the cover story given to ‘JJ’ by me.]

[An outpouring of words answered that question as if a dam had broken inside ‘JJ’ a dam that had been keeping back a flood of thoughts and feelings.]

“I never formally owed the ‘Scrappers’ any credits if that is what you are asking? I know that helping a person out of paying a credit debt would probably offend your sensitivities, as a fellow ‘Recycler’ but that is not the issue here between the gang and me. The issue here is truly one of attempted illegal slavery they would enslave me to employ me as a tool. However, whatever there schemes are they are theirs not mine I am no affiliate by choice I just arrived within this contrived position due to other peoples earlier manipulations you might say of my very substance.” [He insisted.]

[The last bit was an interesting statement that I at the time rather purposely overlooked.]

“It has taken me some time to realise the full depth of the truth of my situation - I owe none of them anything - I am my own person now. In fact, none of this need be my business anymore. I have every right to be free of all of it and that is what I now aim to be. To ‘Hell’s Maw’ with all of them none of this is my concern or necessary vocation ironically they made that true when they did what they did to me.” [‘Jackie’ insisted even more oddly.]

[I continued to judge what he was possibly trying to sell here as an impossibility but I wondered what ‘Unholy’ was making of this outburst.]

“Can you pay?” [‘SC’ asked staying firmly in character.]

“I can pay a deposit and I am willing to be temporarily indebted to you. Name a sensible sum and give me a little time after my extraction and I will balance the total. That is what credit means is it not - a promise to pay later - an investment in the future and so on.” [‘JJ’ stated.] “In truth once I am free of this place I will easily be able to generate some credits. Worst case scenario I have already been told that I am a medical wonder and worth payment to study.” [He added.]

“Really? You do not look that special to me just another ‘Omerta’ that has gotten into more scrapes than he can handle?” [‘SC’ cheekily replied.]

“Trust me it is all about what is on the inside. Look if I thought I could completely trust them you could ask the people at the clinic here about me but that might give our plans away to the guards.” [‘JJ’ stated.]

“An extraction on a promissory note would definitely be a first for me.” [‘SC’ stated.]

“I disagree as a bounty is just that a promise to pay upon completion.” [‘JJ’ argued.]

“True enough I suppose anyway I will admit that you interest me. What have you got hidden inside that soft skin of yours some new biotech gizmo or cybernetic system?” [She asked.]

“All you need to know is that currently I am fairly unique and that means I am worth something to more than these ‘Deck Gangers’. Get me out of here and you will be paid I will even throw in a bonus above your usual standard fee.” [‘JJ’ stated.]

“My fees are rarely standard I pick my jobs carefully.” [‘SC’ replied.] “As to promises they are always cheap but I guess if you are lying to me I can simply sell you back to the ‘Scrappers’ later.” [‘SC’ added with a wicked level of indifference as if such an action would be nothing special to her.]

“You will get your triple cursed credits so that threat is immaterial to me.” [‘Jackie’ retorted smoothly remaining very calm despite the provocation of the threat.]

“Trust me I do not make threats only solid palladium promises. No one reneges on a done deal with ‘Short Claws’ they all pay up one way or another. Do a ‘Link’ search on my history within public ‘Cores’ and you will know the truth of my words.” [She added.]

“I insist payment is not a problem for me I just need to get free of the trap of this slum.” [‘Jackie’ claimed.]

“Good then we understand each other. So just how closely do you think you are being monitored at the moment?” [‘SC’ asked.]

“For all I know they have been listening in to everything we have just said and viewed everything we have just done.” [‘Jackie’ admitted.] “I have been waiting for a reaction to our softly spoken words from the guards stationed around here.”

“You took a chance and threw the dice. I can admire that too, there is little in life worth having that is gained without first venturing a risk or two.” [‘SC’ stated sounding very ‘Unholy Terror’ although the words equally fitted the Bounty Hunter persona well enough too.]

“I needed to know how much slack they have or have not given me. Still, my new friend, they could be lulling us both into a false sense of security perhaps hoping we may lead them to a deficit in their security grid or to others they cannot trust and need to apprehend or eliminate too.” [‘Jackie’ admitted.]

“You make the local ‘Deck Gang’ sound formidably organised for youthful thugs and racketeers.” [‘SC’ replied.]

“They are more than they seem some of them you should judge easily equal to the most sophisticated of elite mercenaries.” [‘JJ’ stated.]

“Would these elite mercenaries be part of a group with a name?” [‘SC’ asked.]

“Very possibly but I prefer not to spread idle gossip that I cannot confirm with proof.” [‘JJ’ added.] “Just consider that the ‘Scrappers’ have some professional help here that is best not underestimated.”

“A few worthy adversaries should just add to the fun. Enough chatter here though let us not draw too much attention by conversing here for too long. I will bump into you again later expect to see me when you see me.” [‘SC’ added before moving away.]

“Well that was far too easy.” [I complained to ‘Unholy’ internally.]

“Extremely interesting, some of the things that this ‘JJ’ said.” [‘UT’ mused.]

“You mean all that talk about now being free and so on - that is impossible some kind of mind game though I do not know why that would be aimed at us as he cannot know who we are.” [I admitted.]

“It is a good thing that I am here.” [‘UT’ replied to that rant.] “I find it odd that after all the strange things you have seen out there you would put quick limits on the possible today.” [He countered.]

“As you know well the original ‘JJ’ was just a biological mechanism run either by me or by assisting ‘Cognitive Sub Cores’ how can that otherwise - empty - thing become a real person with an independent will? No this ‘JJ’ is something else most probably a clever ruse best guess designed to intrigue us to get close to us or at least any agent I might send in here.” [I suggested.]

“To what purpose an assassination attempt, the spreading of misinformation or more physical sabotage of some nature are these the only sort of working premises you are willing to consider?” [‘UT’ asked.]

“I am surprised you sound so sceptical of the idea. I mean my theory has to be more realistic than a remote suddenly gaining a mind of its own that mirrors me imperfectly as the original operator that is too bizarre.” [I stated.]

“I don’t know there is just something very genuine about ‘JJ’. It is hard to quantify but its responses to me just seem to have a high degree of integrity about them.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“It is convincing in its mannerisms but then a smart weapon would need to be.” [I reminded.]

“It is not just what it said but also all the things it did not say for example not naming the ‘Hawks’. I am pretty sure it suspects or knows the mercenaries here are ‘Hawks’ but it feels some attachment to them as you and I do as old colleagues. If it were carrying some of your personality around as baggage, much more of what it said would make sense. Interestingly I got the feeling that there is a lot going on inside that one under the surface in addition it said it was medically unique.” [‘UT’ reminded.]

“It is extending itself to us as an even greater enigma to make itself seem more attractive to further study. I suppose we could try to find out what the doctor at the clinic here knows in a less direct way but that could also all be part of a manufactured fiction. It is very clever making us work to uncover the lie it wants to sell as sooth.” [I suggested.]

“Hack the clinics files at the source now that sounds like a good plan.” [‘UT’ agreed.]

“Not you though have some of our people do that job you are already getting a bit too close to ‘JJ’ to properly maintain our cover story.” [I stated.]

“I was just canvassing a likely informant. The fact that ‘JJ’ hangs out in the forecourt gave me the perfect excuse to pick on him. The ‘Scrappers’ should not be too surprised that I prefer to deal with independent sources to avoid further gang entanglements including the possibility of now being drawn into their revolution over my objections.” [‘UT’ added.]

“Let us hope they do perceive your little chat in that innocent way and that they were not listening in upon every word we said.” [I added.]

“To be honest I was a little bit disappointed after the fact. If they had come at us I would have had the perfect excuse to get my guns out and make a hostile extraction on the spot calling in some surgical ‘Immortal’ backup if necessary.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“You would see it that way. Perhaps they did not move on us back then lest ‘JJ’ suffer in the crossfire. If they consider him a valuable asset, they will not want to risk him. Maybe they truly do want us to take him away still they will not want to make it look too easy but accidents do happen in fire fights.” [I suggested.] “I suggest you should be extra cautious now as you might make a better target of opportunity now that you are alone.”

“Your words seem at cross purposes I think you are fighting the truth of the matter internally. Otherwise, let them come, it would relieve the fact that this mission is edging towards boredom.” [‘UT’ stated.] “You should hope they do want ‘JJ’ kept alive that way we can not only extract him but whilst doing so we can use him as a living shield and hostage. It is possible we have not been lied to by ‘JJ’ but that does not mean they have not secretly primed him as a weapon against us in a terribly subtle way however a great many traps are best defeated by springing them with purposeful intent.”

“Remember what we talked about earlier in relation to force.” [I replied.]

“Earlier you said this was not a free fire hostile enemy base now if we credit the rhetoric of ‘Forthright’ it actually is exactly that - a real and present danger to our ‘Consortium’ including our hard won peace between rival material factions.” [‘UT’ replied.]

[Did this mean that ‘UT’ had decided that he had to embrace his future as a ‘User’ in any potential civil war over material preferences?]

“Hostile or not this slum is still mostly populated - crowded - with innocent civilians and only you could spout about peace as a ready excuse for a rash military engagement.” [I added.]

“Well if this is an attempt at a hostile infiltration of the ‘MTC’ they have fired the first shots and this nest of rebels will need cleaned out and better sooner than later. Perhaps it is time to call in the ‘Immortals’ simply to show that we will not stand by idly old friends of not. Better some bad press for the ‘MTC’ than us waiting around for the onset of a ‘Real Material’ revolution possibly initiated with some direly successful blow against ‘Interface’. You know ‘MT’ that a successful rebellious action here could have far reaching political ramifications including to our already strained ‘Star Diver’ relations. These people have a grievance I acknowledge that truth but they are being blind to the wider consequences of their actions this is not the time or place to promote ‘Pilgrim’ strife.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“Perhaps that is exactly what they want by spreading stories about weapons development and tests here for us or someone like us to provide an over the top ‘User’ response that could see innocent ‘Recyclers’ getting killed by ‘User Marines’.” [I warned.] “With hindsight do you not also think that ‘Forthright’ was a bit too forthright to a relative stranger about a coming uprising just because you appear as a fellow ‘Recycler’?”

“If you want to spread a revolt you have to publicise your doctrine and recruit as many new members as possible. I imagine that ‘Short Claws’ might seem a likely candidate for radicalisation as you stated - a fellow ‘Recycler’ - moreover one with military style expertise and a bend towards being mercenary and self serving rather than by nature a loyal unyielding pawn of officialdom. Mercenaries are oft expected to change sides as advantage dictates.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“Perhaps but it still seemed a bit rash to me with no preliminary contact between you.” [I argued.]

“No doubt she looked me up on the ‘Links’. Besides, what did you expect from a radical rebel? Extremists are extreme and often very loud mouthed by nature.” [‘UT’ reminded.]

“I agree that hothead types are often loud and provocative but would such a person be purposely placed inside ‘Peddlers’ by the ‘Scrappers’ or ‘Hawks’ as part of an undercover operation?” [I asked.]

“Why not there are all those indentured folk with obvious grievances no doubt just itching for some leadership indeed any opportunity to throw off the yoke of their fiscal oppression. Winning some battles is as much about winning over hearts and minds as anything else. Causes are all about spreading belief surely I do not need to teach you that truth. It could be that ‘Forthright’ has just gotten a little too used to preaching to the readily converted when she boldly targeted ‘SC’.” [‘UT’ suggested.]

[Annoyingly I had to agree that as behavioural theories went that one did make a lot of sense that is if they put ‘Forthright’ in there to spread the faith to easy believers.]

[It would be crazy if everything fell apart now when we had a possibly workable solution resting upon the table to many of our social issues via ‘Founder’s Project’. Sadly, I had not yet gotten around to figuring out how best to raise the ‘Ring World’ plan with ‘UT’ or with ‘Weep’ two people who really needed to know about it soon. For a start if I revealed all to my fellow ‘MTC Patrician’ ‘Unholy’ last out of all our other friends it was bound to be somewhat insulting. Why is it sometimes hardest to deal with the people you care about the most and are technically the closest to?]

[I could easily raise the issue whilst ignoring the involvement of ‘Crimson’ but what would happen when ‘UT’ discovered the duplicity that ‘Crimson’ was in on the deal from the very beginning? I wondered if I was being oversensitive, true we disagreed dramatically about ‘Crimson’ in general but we both knew that and had agreed to disagree as good Paradox Priests should. ‘UT’ was an Elder and a Priest not some fragile in reality inexperienced Acolyte yet to be tempered in the fires of real universe politics. Still every time I sided with ‘Crimson’ in the hope of her reform it did feel akin to another betrayal of ‘Unholy’ and I owed him a great deal of loyalty as did the rest of the ‘MTC’.]

[Back at the forecourt *** INSIDE ‘JJ’ *** excuse the following questionable use of I.]

[As I watched the big female ‘Recycler’ depart, it precipitated an internal crisis. Inside me newfound hope warred with a nervy despair, I knew I was pushing my luck in every way possible. A part of me was waiting for them to come for me - to drag me back before ‘Garlic’ - back to that terrible machine shop were they made the fiction that was ‘JJ’ into a real person into me. Back to where they had birthed me in the blood of my associate ‘Blunt’ as if we all need an original sin. That was me a weird science fiction project made real the first ever story book character to step off the digital screen and into the Universe of the heavy real.]

[I realised I even upped the ‘Entanglement’ as she had returned to the real having been real before whilst I was born out of the cognitive ephemera of a made up persona.]

[Back in the real I decided they must punish me for dreaming of freedom for daring to consider escape perhaps they would make me watch as they scrapped my would be rescuer ‘SC’ ripping her cybernetic systems away one at a time blood and oil separating upon the deck in pretty yet obnoxious patterns.]

[After about five minutes of waiting, a perverse part of me almost yearned for them to come and take me away so that the terrible vigil would be over. When ten minutes elapsed I began to feel physically ill and I was not sure if my symptoms were real: a product of my genesis maybe my implant malfunctioning or just a sick mind turning upon itself.]

[When I reached the marker of twenty minutes I became convinced that they were going to wait until I began to believe I had gotten away with it before striking that would after all have the strongest psychological impact and ‘Garlic’ I decided had the terrible almost surgical skill of a ‘Sleeper’ when it came to cutting sentient minds.]

[Every time the guards shifted or any of them looked even casually in my direction my heart rate increased a little.]

[An hour later and I began to hope more honestly despite an itching feeling by a pessimistic part of me that I was falling into their trap in a paradoxical manner by daring to believe that I was winning free.]

[Can you imagine my angst? I tried to meditate my fears away to let them go but I no longer felt the serenity of a priestly calling. All I could think about was the fact that I wanted to live that I wanted to know a better far less troubled life.]

[A holy three hours later and other demons began to torment my soul. Perhaps the ‘Scrappers’ had not monitored our spoken exchange but was that enough latitude for any sense of elation surely I was a fool to think that one Bounty Hunter alone could smuggle me out of this too well-guarded place. Perhaps somewhere, they were already interrogating ‘Short’.]

[I replayed the recent encounter: there was something about ‘Short Claws’ - a solid confidence that was attractive - but I doubted she had any idea of the level of danger that she was in she seemed a bit too flippant too, rather carefree in her profession as a sort of stealer away of damned souls. Then I guessed that maybe that was how she armoured her mind against any counterattack ambush by her conscience all doers of deeds develop ways to cope with the fallout of their actions.]

[Should I have spoken of ‘Hawks’ to her? Was mentioning elite mercenaries enough of a warning? I had not wanted to scare away the first substantial help I had encountered here ignoring the somewhat bound to this location ‘Pitch Patch’ who felt an uncertain ally at best. Conversely, I did not want ‘Short’ out there ill-prepared for the possible level of resistance to her task either. Then I wondered if a passing Bounty Hunter with an interest in me as a story was too good to be true the whole thing a setup perhaps part of a test by ‘Garlic’ of her latest recruit and I was failing badly in fact about to flunk out in a monumental fashion. Would they consider the dire option of scrapping me as the only choice when I proved to them to have far too much of a mind of my own and no real loyalty to their damned gang? Was I just proclaiming myself a uselessly flawed tool / weapon best hastily decommissioned? Did they still see me as a thing rather than a person?]

[Was I condemning myself to death before I had even had a real chance to taste the many sweet wonders of being alive and free?]

[Considering all these matters my head felt as if it was buzzing and I wondered if I might just go quietly insane, well quietly to those outside my mind on the inside it felt far too loud and busy. How stable was my personality matrix cobbled together as it was from stolen fragments from a ‘Cognitive Sub Core’ imprinted upon some brain meat and linked via a crazily rewiring itself neural network? I understood that even knowing the little that she knew about me ‘Pitch Patch’ considered it a miracle that I could function rationally at all due to the writhing ‘Neural Net’ mess under my skull. My brain could go into a meltdown at any moment my body thrashing about out of control perhaps drumming on the deck prior to - only if I was lucky - giving up its life entirely. I could easily survive too but only in some triple cursed vegetative state that would hardly be worth living at all.]

[‘Pitch’ believed I needed medical stasis until I found people that might be able to understand what was happening to me such as some very specific ‘Trojan Professors’.]

[It was only the bleak inner reminder that whatever happened with ‘Short’ today any tomorrow was hardly guaranteed for this one; that proved the truth that finally broke my tumbling fall towards panic and madness. I looked out upon the forecourt with almost fresh eyes and realised once again all I have is each precious fleeing moment. My options were simple enough I could fret myself silly or I could live and I decided - I felt very rationally - once again to live for as long as I could manage to do so with any dignity. My heart rate even slowed a little.]

[I let it go as much as possible and it felt marvellous so much so that I breathed deeply to saviour the moment ‘Hell’s Maw’ even the stench of this less than sanitary part of the station was suddenly beautiful because it was the stink of life. It was at that point that I realised that I felt famished and also that I needed to drop some biological waste so I decided I would go on a bombing run then get something to eat. The intrusion of the basic biological imperatives of my body actually made me smile as if a happy imbecile not exactly in character.]

[A little later squeezing out a log felt ridiculously pleasurable I know possibly a little too much information but it was akin to another load off my mind. I felt much lighter in body and spirit afterwards almost floating on my feet. Whilst washing up I gazed into a solid - well bolted down - ‘Real Material’ screen that via built in optics could act as a mirror upon request. It was odd just how much it still felt that I was getting used to my ‘Omerta’ face somehow it was different now compared to before perhaps because it was now my face an almost too physical part of me. There would be no escaping that visage it was mine now forever more.]

[As I touched my face, I soon found scars. The marks manufactured as part of my former disguise, the scars annoyed me I decided that if I survived I would have them cosmetically removed. I wanted to have integrity that was very important to me. I wanted only to carry forward marks of my newer - truer - existence rather than display fake badges belonging to someone else. Not for me false manufactured truths.]

[To my belated amazement when briefly talking to ‘Short’ in the forecourt, I came to the inner conclusion that I did not owe ‘MT’ anything at all. That notorious ‘Living Hull’ had her big expansive life with all her host of Avatars and so on whilst I now had my little existence her problems - her many grand concerns - were not mine not now. She did not let the problems and concerns of her parent dominate her life so why should I let her domineer my truths. Besides, to me my parentage was even more tenuous than that of a normal ‘Living Hull’.]

[‘Living Hulls’ did not normally keep strong attachments to their offspring, how could they as their children are often destined to be Captained by strangers that would take them far away at least that was how it once had been. Of course, not every ‘Living Hull’ was born of a parent ‘Hull’ some were just engendered and force grown artificially by such folk as the ‘Stellar Swimmer Grower’ my old friend ‘Tleeboosuu’. I then sadly realised that ‘Tleeboosuu’ was not - my - old friend and all the fragments of history that I recalled belonged to ‘MT’ it was going to take some time to reconcile that truth. I had to let all of her history go or I would just be her cast off shadow never my own person.]

[Still everything is change for example now they bioengineered far fewer true ‘Living Hulls’ because the ‘Passenger Classes’ increasingly viewed the ambitions of the ‘Free Hull’ the ‘Many Truths’ and those she championed as problematic for the security of their current and future shipping concerns. Many ‘Pilgrims’ were now seeking and manufacturing ships with far less personality in short with names but little in the way of self-reasoning minds a cruel reaction or a blessing depending on the severity of your perspective. Maybe it is a blessing for yet unborn minds that these potential souls would not be engendered - manufactured - into a state of captained captivity, I was not sure how I felt about that one.]

[It was true things often get worse before they get better by some ‘Living Hulls’ refusing to submit to ‘Passenger Class’ dominion all ‘Living Hulls’ had become suspect. Within our changing society the fate of the already existing - now almost too sentient - ‘Living Hulls’ remained to be seen too but I internally vowed once again that their end good or bad was no longer my concern or my duty now that I truly was just ‘Jackie’. You might think that is selfish even cowardly but I believed it to be necessary for my salvation as an individual.]

[I was not a ‘Living Hull’ never mind their self-appointed champion, anymore than I was the ‘Holy Father of the Universal Council of Equals’ with his masses of followers thank the blessed ‘Emissary’. I needed to accept that I was not a ‘Living Hull’ as much as possible sooner rather than later thus I spent sometime examining my compared to some ‘Omerta’ fairly sharp features after using the biological waste recycler whilst a bit sadly chanting internally, ‘this is me - this is who I am now…’. As I gazed at the image, I considered getting a haircut to something even shorter just to express the new me but decided that decision could wait for a little while.]

[Straightening up when feeling composed I exited the roomy booth to enter into the main dining area of the surprisingly well-appointed for its tiny size ‘Braggers’. I picked this small place to eat because I knew it had an unusually good - still self-cleaning - washroom and recycle facilities compared to many sites within the ‘Yard’. These particular facilities were inherited accidentally in place as part of a once much larger premises before its rather random conversion with the rest of the region into subdivided slum dwellings of one kind or another.]

[The proprietor of the café was not called ‘Bragger’ he was a rugged old ‘Omerta’ named ‘Rudd’ who just liked to tell tall stories to strangers and friends alike and thus to brag of his past conquests. He enjoyed bragging almost as much as he loved cooking. The combination worked oddly well especially when there was a lull in business. ‘Blunt’ who had seemed to like both good and somewhat questionable food equally well had introduced me to this place a sore point now as I felt I was already betraying some promises made to his lost spirit in relation to enacting a suitable revenge against his killer.]

[Nothing gained by adding more violence to a past hurt I just wanted to escape the entire stupid situation. Currently all my focus had shifted towards staying alive and winning free of the ‘Scrappers’ before I became too heavily snared in whatever ill schemes ‘Garlic’ was cooking up to my I was positive assured detriment.]

[Actually ‘Rudd’ was a good cook even if he had to be creative due to the occasional lack of quality in some of his ingredients. I guess you could say he was a master of sauce. The scents in here made my mouth water unlike the odours of some places outside that would make your eyes leak.]

[As ever this diner was busy so I opted for a spicy takeaway patiently joining at the end of a long queue I needed to queue earlier for the booth too and the person immediately after me a very young female ‘Omerta’ had not looked pleased at how long I had been in there but I did not care about her face pulling or earlier kicking at the hatchway. I just made a point of having one hand hover near my sidearm like some ‘Free Miner’ gunslinger.]

[You might deem that an overreaction but it is not always easy to tell who might be trouble in an age when any person you meet might be a remote ‘Meat Suit’. Innocent looking young things not yet even fully matured can make especially deadly assassins against those too surface fixated. Still, perhaps my origins made me more paranoid than more average ‘Pilgrims’ in relation to readily refusing to accept people to be exactly as they too obviously seem. Even the red faced ‘Rudd’, I mused, could be an undercover spy for the ‘Consortium Police’ or conversely an absconding wanted felon with a high price on his head hiding in plain sight in an area with no normal legal means of extradition.]

[Without question ‘7.1’ attracted some people who were running from something or someone not just the economically challenged seeking a new fiscal start upon the bottom rung of the ladder that was probably why the ‘Many Truths’ picked my original cover story.]

[A little later standing in a corridor having been emptied then refilled I felt calm almost blissful. The sauce had been more than good enough to cover up any shortfall in the meat. I decided to pick a random direction and went for a wander. It was my hope that I would bump into ‘Short Claws’ sooner rather than later and she would carry me away from all my troubles it was a banal but beautiful faith to embrace.]

[Maybe being different also made me lucky rather than cursed if I did not have all the odd memories I carried I would not be so confident that I could for example get some credits once out of the ‘Yard’. In truth I mused, I could always gently blackmail the ‘Many Truths’ I figured she owed me a small stake in life as I had in my own way previously served her whims without profit. I even had some new knowledge about ‘Garlic’ and the ‘Scrappers’ she might happily buy.]

[Maybe I might even be able to honour ‘Blunt’ by leaving any necessary act of justice or revenge to the ‘Many Truths’ with all her wealth and her multitude of ‘MTC’ military assets. Perhaps I could step away without needing to feel dishonourable.]

“The ‘Tags’ I placed upon him are working perfectly he has just exited ‘Braggers’.” [‘UT’ informed me via our internal communications.]

[I recalled poignantly going to ‘Braggers’ with ‘Blunt’ what had happened to ‘Blunt’? Did his absence indicate that the thuggish but likeable ‘Omerta’ was dead, as I now feared? It increasingly appeared that ‘Blunt’ was a victim of the plot to kidnap ‘Peddler’ as might be ‘Honest’ both their fates resting heavily upon my conscience. Not that me feeling bad about their deaths would change anything.]

[He shared an active map file with me. ‘UT’ had gotten fairly detailed up to date maps of the ‘Yard’ from some friendly but unnamed intelligence source one also interested in ‘7.1’. They seemed better maps than any I had managed to procure save those I made via ‘JJ’ that were just as detailed but covered a lot less deck space.]

“You tagged him during our earlier encounter what did you use?” [I asked.]

“I dusted him over with ‘Mites’.” [He replied.]

[‘Mites’ were nanotech devices each about the size of a pinhead deployed in clusters the theory being that even if some are cleared away one of two should survive. They would have drifted over to latch onto his clothing and so on. Short range devices they only gave a good positional fix no visual information or other data but sometimes knowing where to find someone or something is more than half the battle. To us much of ‘7.1’ was an informational blind spot. The ‘Real Materialists’ had deliberately sabotaged the informational networks here with some very sophisticated viruses alongside some very basic acts of destructive vandalism against more obvious items of surveillance.]

[I wondered who had done the map survey of the altered district that ‘UT’ was using. Of course in places even fairly new maps might retain some inaccurate areas as the geography of the slum could change quickly as people put up or tore down new divisions. The physical geography often linked to shifting ownership of territory as the gangs and other property owning parties vied with each other.]

“Having a fix upon him will come in useful.” [I admitted.]

“So what is our timetable now that you have seen the data our friends hacked from the clinic’s isolated ‘Core’? Has that information changed your thinking?” [‘UT’ asked.]

“The people I trusted consulting and supplied only with limited details are not sure yet what to make of that neural net activity except that they too are surprised that the subject remains sane and physically able. They agree that it could be some kind of new technique for subverting changing a targets personality via altering the physical neural network connections to the brain. If it was simply a massive system wide malfunction it would have assuredly led to a total brain meltdown before now.” [I added.]

“So is it the original ‘JJ’ is that your opinion or not?” [‘UT’ asked.]

“It could be the original ‘Meat Suit’ with a radically altered neural network and who knows what downloaded into the meat of the brain.” [I reluctantly admitted.] “Conversely, it could be a weirdly wired up clone still operated by remote.” [I added.]

“Why do that to a cloned copy you know that makes no sense stop fighting the truth. That is ‘JJ’ somehow they have taken a remote tool and given it life thus the talk about being medically unique and so on.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“That is a big leap of faith to make.” [I insisted.]

“It fits the facts.” [‘UT’ insisted.]

“You have become oddly trusting easily accepting the things ‘JJ’ said to us as truth.” [I replied.]

“I am usually a pretty good judge of character you know that fact.” [‘UT’ replied.]

“You are a real Priest of the People when you are not blowing them up.” [I retorted.]

[‘UT’ ignored that comment although it probably made him smile internally.]

“Do you think ‘JJ’ is safe to extract? Is for example whatever is afflicting his neural net contagious?” [‘UT’ asked.]

“How would I know?” [I replied.]

“Well the options as I see them are delay and study ‘JJ’ here at a close distance or extract him and get the deep scanners possibly even the knives and needles out.” [‘UT’ stated.] “How do you feel about the last as the ‘Holy Father’?” [He asked.]

“You honestly think ‘JJ’ could be a new form of life?” [I queried in turn.]

“I am willing to entertain that possibility?” [‘UT’ replied.] “Are you of all people willing to risk treating one alive as just a biological machine?”

“Curse you when did you get so ethically sensitive?” [I asked.]

“I have always been ethical in my way. I know you ‘MT’ if you continue down the path of denial and allow something horrible to happen then realise later what you have done it will not sit well with you.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“So now you are my conscience too that is a poor jest given your dreams against ‘Crimson’ and so on.” [I challenged.] “Also what about the people you have put into stasis whilst playing as ‘Short Claws’?” [I asked.]

“I pick my jobs carefully no one I have hunted as ‘SC’ was innocent or did not deserve a worse fate.” [He told me.]

“Yet you hunted them just for sport not for any greater good.” [I complained.]

“I have never believed you have to suffer to do a little good. I have always believed we do the best good when we are also having fun.” [He replied.]

“I suppose you think I often wallow in misery.” [I complained.]

“Sometimes you can be a bit melodramatic. Sometimes even I am pursued by despair but I mostly prefer to run away from it.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“You think I sometimes embrace despair?” [I asked.]

“You strive to do impossible things.” [‘UT’ replied.]

“You would murder the ‘Entanglement’.” [I countered.]

“Mine is a simple task compared to striving to fix all our societies ills somehow you took on Harbinger’s burden as a would be grand social reformer. You are forever seeking to change things.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“Whilst you are happy enough to live in the Universe largely as it is.” [I said.]

“If I get bored with a place I move on to somewhere else. Mostly the known Universe is more than big enough to keep me happily preoccupied.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“Until you cross paths with something that reminds you too closely of ‘Crimson’.” [I guessed.] “Then you burn in that old fire.”

“She will not elude justice forever.” [‘UT’ promised.]

“It is not justice you seek it is simple vengeance and if you ever gain it, it will leave you empty. You need to let that one go my friend it is not worth the price. In the tally killing ‘Crimson’ would not be worth the loss of one more soul. We have both become victims of accounting. We tally up all the past victims and the weight of those seem to demand a response but what is done cannot be undone and it is the souls still living that should carry the most weight they should be our truer burden if we are to accept any burden.” [I stated.]

“Revenge is all about negative numbers we Priests need to be positive we need to affirm life not worship death.” [I preached.] “There will be no needles and knives but we will hazard an extraction as soon as possible if ‘JJ’ is alive but under threat we must save him that is the only worthy response.”

“Thus you return to us after a brief absence ‘MT’.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“You know there has to be other better ways for ‘Crimson’ to atone. I know her ‘Advent’ and much of what followed was a horror story but she is something incredible today the greatest in mass of all ‘Pilgrim Kind’ and that could be of untold future utility to all of us. Remember how we so cunningly planned to digitally reform all of the ‘Sleepers’ that fast track plan for ‘Crimson’ failed so we are left with a slower approach.” [ I reminded.]

“In truth the forced digital reformation was a generalised sin against all sentience we just deemed it a necessity of the times another lesser evil. Now we have possibly a final opportunity to put a positive spin upon the whole saga of the ‘Sleeper’ narrative. It could end in a questionably justifiable destruction perhaps initiated by you ‘Unholy’ for you are dogged and capable or it could all be turned around so that some new substantial goods come out of the previous bad.” [I continued.]

“Consider this truth what would better justify all the lost lives another killing or the rise of a cooperative agency that could help to secure all of our futures? I know it has not been pretty but what natural birth is there is blood and screaming but these things pass, the mess is washed away and a new life begins.” [I added.]

“You still think that ‘Crimson’ is capable of spontaneous reform I still do not.” [‘UT’ stated tiredly.]

“Not spontaneous someone has suggested a program of action a means towards the better end. I thought it was a crazy idea at first too big - too ambitious - but the plan wont go away it is now forever with me. Please I am begging you my old friend do not too readily dismiss what I am saying without truly listening and considering the massive potential. We each make the future with all our little actions but some of us have the potential to be Great Makers.” [I stated.]

“Are you talking about your triple cursed ‘Social Singularity’ again?” [‘UT’ asked.]

“No I am talking about a new home for ‘Pilgrim Kind’ a way to escape the fire and perhaps to end the combative material factionalism before we plunge into a stupid civil war over differences that need not domineer our future.” [I stated.]

“You think you have one unravelling answer to that entire tangle?” [‘UT’ asked.]

“For all my pretensions of wisdom I am not the herald here it is ‘Founder’.” [I replied.]

[I showed him the details - all of them - I even included the whole truth of the involvement by ‘Crimson’ in the project. I rolled the dice just as ‘JJ’ did earlier perhaps the dice roller was a better part of me shared by both of us.]

“The Universe does not always give us what we want but it often provides what we need.” [I stated.]

Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

Last edited by Paranoid66 on Wed, 25. Mar 15, 12:13; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu, 19. Mar 15, 20:10    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

oww nice cliffy

wonder how bad ut will hit the roof with the plan :d

thx for the chapter

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PostPosted: Wed, 25. Mar 15, 12:13    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

[[SIX]] [[Part 8]] --- LOST & FOUND SOULS ---

[My friend was silent as he studied the data that had expanded massively since ‘Cad’ had been included in the scheme. ‘Cad’ was already producing rough architectural designs and detailed methods of construction no doubt ably assisted by a select group of his children. The construction might take ages of time but the design process was powering along at a phenomenal rate. I suspected somewhere ‘Cad’ had some pure science - ready made - plans for such projects that he was currently reworking and adapting to satisfy his interpretation of the specific vision of ‘Founder’.]

“This is… something else.” [‘UT’ finally admitted sounding suitably awestruck by the material and the proposed undertaking that it represented.]

[Some of the early structural designs were beautiful things in there own right and I knew could hardly fail to impress ‘Unholy’ who at times had the capability towards wonder of a newly decanted Acolyte experiencing everything for the first time.]

[The ability to be happily awe inspired by life experiences was something ‘Unholy’ had occasionally shared with Harbinger when they had been friends and sometime-travelling companions. Harbinger was the main explorer of the pair but ‘UT’ enjoyed sharing in the wonder of the things my Captain found although he did not always admit to this truth back then as an observant ‘Hull’ I could read the signs.]

[‘Toys for the boys’, some ‘Omerta’ might say.]

“As marvellous as all this is she will try to subvert your intent it is in her nature.” [‘UT’ warned quietly.]

[It was not difficult to guess the she that he was referring to.]

“I never said reforming ‘Crimson’ was going to be easy but sometimes it is better the devil you know. Will you help us to handle her or seek to hinder us?” [I asked.]

“With this project I will help. How could I refuse you? Today you have proved well made.” [He replied.]

[I wondered if that was too easy, perhaps ‘UT’ was getting slyly duplicitous in his old age. Did he realise this project might allow him to get potentially closer to his enemy than ever before without becoming her meat? However, I let it go deciding to think the very best of my old friend rather than veering towards the worst.]

“If I am proving well made today it is with a little bit of help from you my friend.” [I happily retorted.]

“Harbinger would have loved this one.” [‘UT’ stated his voice I was positive rich with genuine emotion.]

[As I have said already the documents were impressive works already and obviously ‘UT’ agreed with my assessment.]

“Call me an old fool of a Priest but I think it might in many ways secretly be my former Captain’s plan.” [I replied.]

“That is a faith I would not mind believing.” [‘UT’ confessed.]

[I wanted to hug him, as a long lasting split in our house finally appeared to mend. I imagined the three of us standing there together with one noble purpose. Blessed ‘Emissary’ it was blissful compared to too many encounters that challenged our friendship. Funny how sometimes the more you worry the less their turns out to be any need. No doubt if I was positive this one was not going to be a problem for ‘UT’, it would have very much proved to be one. Anyway, this was turning into a pleasant surprise so much so that it left me wishing that I could somehow hold onto that rarely perfect moment between us forever.]

[I just hoped that whatever unexpected happenings plagued our future we three could remain true to the closeness and spirit of this passing moment including the invisible but haunting presence of my ‘Tier Nine’ Harbinger. Sadly, we had other pressing concerns and responsibilities too. Already I was beginning to feel responsible for ‘JJ’. A new life - a sort of child - one I guessed made out of adversity but no less precious for that truth maybe in fact more precious and more vulnerable.]

[Not much later…]

“Triple curse it ‘Unholy’ this plan seems somewhat excessive.” [I complained.]

“I would rather have too much cover than not enough.” [He retorted.]

“Still you had them put in six breaching points - six tunnels.” [I reiterated.]

“I told them to up our game. The way I sold it we are dealing with ‘Hawks’ and ‘Hawk’ trained auxiliaries. The ‘Hawks’ know our usual methods so we need to do things a little differently. This way we have multiple exit points if the primary is blocked we can move on to the next nearest. Whilst having the six entry points means we can flood the place with assistance from below if needed.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“You will turn this ‘Yard’ crowded as it is with civilians into a war zone exactly as I did not want.” [I further complained.]

[I guess harmony and perfectly aligned intent could not last forever still a few more hours would have been nice.]

“Stop fretting needlessly we will not be here long enough to start any major fracas but we will have the means to ensure that no one can stop us leaving and that ‘JJ’ as our principle remains suitably intact.” [‘UT’ promised.]

“In addition, you are starting the operation with an explosion I suppose you just found that too hard to resist.” [I bemoaned.]

“No one should get hurt it is just a distraction a long term storage facility which houses some volatile compounds that will need some serious containing and clean up that should keep some skilled ‘Scrappers’ busy. That is the thing about ‘Real Material’ heavy engineering it requires the storage and use of lots of dodgy chemicals and so on.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“An explosion hardly sounds the safest option in relation to limiting potential unexpected collateral damage.” [I stated.]

“It will be safe enough the ‘Hawks’ will have contingency plans - they are planners - but it will still lock down some of their more capable numbers. The squads of infiltrative ‘Meat Suits’ I call them my ‘Agitators’ will add to the confusion via various acts of noticeable mischief. If all goes well no ‘Hawk’ should make contact with a single ‘Suit Substance Immortal’ they are just waiting down there for extreme backup purposes should something go badly wrong. I assume you will still want us to rescue ‘JJ’ even if matters start veering out of control.” [‘UT’ stated in an irritating manner.]

“I could swear that sometimes you do things like this just to get a rise out of me is everything a jape to you?” [I asked.]

“That is plain unfair, on the decks if anything my plan will look akin to an attack by some rival ‘Deck Gang’ or other local faction with the odd riot thrown in by disaffected citizenry taking the opportunity to vent stream. Trust me it makes total sense our part of the anarchy will be orchestrated to perfection.” [He added.]

“The nature of any riot is that they spiral out of control, people are going to get hurt.” [I complained again.]

“Only if they choose to get in the way of harm and that is their choice their right. People have a right to protest against poor treatment. You never know we might even spark a local revolution against all Pay Masters.” [‘UT’ stated smugly.]

“You have purposely chosen chaos and anarchy as our weapons.” [I replied.]

“I know hardly what they will be expecting from us calculating ‘Users’. They will be awaiting a nice neat quiet move from the shadows but I aim to make a whole lot of angry noise.” [‘UT’ said.]

“This is what I get for involving you I suppose.” [I admitted.]

“Relax and enjoy - it will be a fine show.” [‘UT’ promised.]

[I let it go when you delegate sometimes that is the only sane option.]

[The plan had no fixed timetable it waited upon the convenience of ‘JJ’ moving to a suitable spot unprompted via behaving in character according to his private whims. ‘UT’ loved this added random aspect as it meant no one could leak a zero hour. The six points our people cut up into ‘7.1’ from lower ‘Port Interface’ proper regions were all very carefully selected. Some had long circuitous tunnels through station internals but all would emerge in a rough zone around the domicile cell occupied by ‘JJ’ each in a specific area that was not so crowded one for example opened into a janitorial closet space.]

[Do not doubt that the planning and ingenuity that went into designing the six tunnel locations was extensive and gave some of our people serious problems to solve. Not only did we have to conceal our actions from the ‘Hawks’ slum side we also had to keep matters quiet within the informational-grid-active ‘Interface’ proper side of things. In the end, we had needed ‘Creeds’ assistance with the logistics of the last. What would we do without the sometimes-unquestioning support of our friends when we screamed out an urgent time critical need? We had to be especially careful with our preparations as we guessed the ‘Hawks’ would have spies on ‘Interface’ proper too helping to secure their slum infiltration.]

[An amazing amount of work and ‘MTC’ resources got deployed from the ‘Vanishing Point’ simply to remove one person under a veil of anarchic disorder. Once I knew about the scheme the waiting became the hardest chore for me worse I did not even have a specific time to count down towards instead we studied a throbbing red dot on a map that represented ‘JJ’ as he loitered lazily about the forecourt and so on.]

[We edged more than once towards a false start as ‘JJ’ contrived to move close to our go zone only to veer off and away. It felt as if he was teasing us although it was just random bad luck. Annoyingly he seemed to be avoiding his cell like home. Luckily our forces could all disconnect from their units so they did not have to suffer resting idly in boring cramped conditions an advantage of remote operations. At a signal they could all ‘Link’ in and go active instantly.]

[My attention had lapsed for a moment then I registered that ‘SC’ had increased her stride and was moving with purpose. ‘JJ’ was in the zone and going deeper.]

[*** inside ‘JJ’ ***]

[Hunger had claimed me again and this time I decided to visit the ‘Food Court’ in the hope that I might seemingly randomly encounter ‘Short’ there. I was getting desperate, too much time had passed since our brief encounter in the forecourt and nothing subsequently had happened worth mentioning.]

[I felt the passage of time as if it was an accumulating substance gathering weight pressing down upon me. Time was against me as the ‘Scrappers’ were bound to find some work for me to do eventually and that would complicate matters. Worse I did not know how much time I had to live I was very possibly terminally ill.]

[If the ‘Scrappers’ did not call me in soon I could only conclude that I was being left to my own devices as bait for ‘MT’ and or the ‘MTC’.]

[Could ‘Garlic’ tap into my weirdly malfunctioning neural net to look out my eyes and hear with my ears? I also wondered if ‘Short’ was avoiding me having thought better of challenging ‘Scrapper’ supremacy upon their decks. No wise sole operator would go up against an entire gang within the fortress of their domain it seemed madness to me. Maybe I had even scared her off with my talk of elite mercenary forces, maybe she was intelligent enough to discover who was pulling the strings here and wanted none of it. Worse ‘Short’ was out in plain sight as a Bounty Hunter. The ‘Scrappers’ were bound to be watching her lest she tried to snatch one of them. I began to fear that I had placed my hopes upon the wrong person all the seeming confidence displayed by ‘SC’ aside.]

[Where was the ‘Many Truths’? It felt as if she had abandoned me. I know I wanted nothing to do with her but I still felt oddly rejected. Sadly, she did not know I was alive rather than just malfunctioning and perhaps if she did know she might prefer to have me put me down as a multiplied entity. Nonetheless, I wondered if I should attempt to contact her - implore her to save me - appeal using our every commonality to weight her conscience. As I said, I was getting desperate.]

[I heard then almost instantly afterwards felt the explosion as a tremor through the deck. A clawed hand reached out to me. It was some unknown ‘Recycler’ not ‘Short’.] “Follow.” [She hissed urgently before moving ahead.]

[I obeyed not knowing if it was a gang member or something else. I noticed another ‘Recycler’ that we passed spraying anti gang slogans on the bulkhead including a rather generic FREE THE SLUM. A scuffle broke out with a gang loyalist. Ahead of us someone had loosed a series of different coloured smoke grenades or possibly smoky ‘Real Material’ flares. I reached for and secured a filter mask that I habitually carried for dealing with the most smelly slum areas. A claw grasped my left arm and led me without hesitation onward into the embrace of the engulfing murk.]

[People were rushing about in confusion or ducking for cover shadowy shapes mostly that came and went it was all increasingly surreal.]

[I could hear the dull thumps of ‘Force Pulse’ weaponry nearby and an occasional rattle of potentially even more dangerous ‘Real Material’ slug throwers.] “Free the Slum.” [Someone shouted from behind me. Other shouts and screams rang out it was instant bedlam.]

[I wanted to stop my guide and ask question but knew that was probably a bad idea. I was being steered with a purpose hopefully out of danger rather than into more. Still I was having to take a lot on faith. Then she was beside me her bulk a shield on one flank.]

“Glad to see you made it this far intact.” [’Short’ stated.]

[Who was this person that she could afford all this help was she ‘MTC’ or was this another game administered by ‘Garlic’. Was I really about to be freed? What would ‘MT’ do with me if she was the power behind this sophisticated extraction operation?]

[We moved on through more manufactured cover someone had filled all the passageways with smoke and with the life support scrubbers here already overworked it was not going to clear away anytime soon. It was ingeniously low tech although many ‘Recyclers’ would be able to shift into infrared or other spectrums it would still make instant identification of targets problematic and rash firing hazardous.]

[I was jerked to a stop.]

“They have erected a barricade check point up ahead alternate gamma.” [‘Short’ stated.]

[They backed me up then we took a right angled turn to power down a different corridor and into a already breached building access then out the other side.]

“This way gamma is still good but we have lost beta and delta they are systematically closing down a lot of route ways. I should have guessed they would have a solid lock down procedure.” [‘Short’ stated.]

[She hurried me along.] “Run.” [She yelled.]

[We ran I kept expecting to trip as I could not see where I was going but somehow I kept upright clawed hands reaching out to steady and steer me when necessary. We clattered down corridors ducked through more subdivided premises I soon felt lost obscuring smoke seemed to be everywhere.]

[At one point I heard a heavy fire fight going on up ahead of us. I guessed some advanced units had flanked in to vanguard our passage. We never entered any action directly I guess if we did that it would have meant that something had gone badly wrong with the plan.]

[When the time came, they dropped me into the hole as if I was a piece of baggage and I did not complain. The crawl space did not feel claustrophobic not even for me as a messed up copy of a ‘Living Hull’ the material surrounding me felt akin to a shield from harm. In fact, I likened it to a birth canal I was leaving my murky slum womb forever for a better place where I might be reborn to the light.]

[On the other side there was no smoke or noise but I was encapsulated in a ‘Suit Substance Shroud Suit’ one not fully under my control and marched as if a prisoner under guard to the ‘Vanishing Point’. The ‘Vanishing Point’ my child no the child of the ‘Many Truths’.]

[In a small chamber under a very obvious extruded stasis emitter I met an Avatar of my former self for the first time it was an unnerving experience one I will never forget.]

“So what have we got here ‘Unholy’.” [She asked ‘SC’.]

[Of course, ‘SC’ was ‘Unholy Terror’ all that confidence making sudden sense.]

“Don’t ask me?” [She no He replied.]

[I guessed that was my opening so I unlocked my hoard of words telling my story from the beginning from when I first entered ‘7.1’ as just a remote of ‘MT’ until I was brought here I hoped out of captivity.]

“That is quite a story.” [The ‘MT’ Avatar said.]

“It is my only truth.” [I replied.]

“We will have to verify all of this the best we can.” [Her Avatar warned.]

[[Note to me the ‘Many Truths’ is always a she even when she is acting as a bipedal Priest.]]

“Do what you must but please respect that I am a sentient being and do me no harm. I believe I have suffered enough as a relative innocent in all this business.” [I proclaimed.]

“Why do you think ‘Garlic’ loosed you?” [‘MT’ asked.]

“I do not know for certain perhaps she wanted us to meet.” [I replied.]

“That could have been easily arranged.” [‘MT’ stated.]

“What is not earned is not valued. I am positive that most ‘Recyclers’ know the value of things and how to give things added value.” [I replied.]

“So you think they wanted us to value you.” [‘MT’ stated.]

“That is one possibility what is costly is better appreciated and not so readily ignored.” [I said.]

“So you think you might be some kind of message sent to us by the ‘Hawks’ if so what are you saying?” [‘UT’ asked.]

“Perhaps that you are not untouchable that they can hack your ‘Cognitive Sub Cores’ perhaps that the rights of ‘Real Material’ exponents cannot be sidetracked and ignored any longer and that maybe having ‘Soulless Assets’ will not guarantee victory for you if our two ‘Pilgrims’ sides clash in battle.” [I reasoned.]

“A threat.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“Perhaps they have used you as a warning to an old friend an opportunity for us to respond positively to changing circumstances before that becomes too late.” [‘MT’ suggested.] “We are all ‘Pilgrims’ two sides of the one credit piece. How easily it has been for us to slip into perceiving some old ‘Real Material Recycler’ friends as future enemies but that future is not yet written ‘UT’. Now is the time to talk with ‘Weep’.”

“How goes the clean up operation?” [‘MT’ added towards ‘SC’ or ‘UT’ if you prefer.]

“There will be little left in the way of proof that we were responsible for a spontaneous riot. Such things are not unusual occurrences within crowded slums in any age. The six are being sealed with hardly a blemish left behind although some added automatic security against infiltration from their side will be left behind in the tunnels.” [He added.]

“Casualties?” [‘MT’ asked.]

“No fatalities have been recorded or reported so far, a number of treatable wounded far from an excessive number all in all it was a good operation.” [‘UT’ stated proudly.]

“You forwent personal action I am impressed.” [‘MT’ stated.]

“I have no difficulty finding trouble or targets to keep in shape you wanted it clean so that is what I provided.” [He replied.]

“Fairly bloodless but hardly clean.” [‘MT’ retorted.]

“A bit of fire and smoke a few light exchanges of gunplay mostly suppressing fire - clean.” [He insisted.]

[‘MT’ let that debate go.]

“So you need to see some ‘Hierophant Professors’ that can be arranged as part of the gathering of proofs.” [‘MT’ told me.] “Are you willing to accept medical stasis I promise I we will not keep you frozen any longer than is absolutely necessary and the alternative could be a premature demise.”

[I considered her request submitting to a timeless oblivion would be a risk but she was ‘MT’ and if I could not trust her to be true in a way I could not trust myself.]

“I will submit to medical stasis onboard the ‘Vanishing Point’.” [I decided.]

[A little later I was taken to an out of the way storage spot where stasis claimed me.]

[Later in the inner sanctum of the ‘Vanishing Point’s Secure Central Command &Control Module’.]

“Do you agree that ‘Garlic’ wanted us to take him?” [I asked ‘UT’.]

“It is as good a theory as any. She will probably use what she learned from our extraction to tighten her security although as long as the slum remains part of ‘Interface’ some gaps will be difficult to plug. You know the ‘Consortium Police’ could have stormed the place ages ago it is just politically inexpedient due to too many probable civilian casualties.” [‘UT’ reminded.]

“If we cannot come to an agreement with the ‘Hawks’ and other ‘Real Material’ extremists we might have to storm that place sometime soon.” [I admitted unhappily.]

“So as you said we talk to ‘Weep’. Now he will be more comfortable negotiating with us as we need not see him as such a weak party.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“It is true that truer negotiations are easier between equals.” [I admitted.]

“He has his weapons and we have ours.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“We also have ‘Founder’s Project’ as our joker in the deck.” [I reminded.]

“We do have the Ring World proposal but is it enough or will they fear that such a project will also be ‘Suit Substance’ domineered. The very inclusion of the ‘Entanglement’ is rather suggestive.” [‘UT’ reminded.]

“Even if the primary structure of the engineering architecture is dominated by ‘Suit Substance’ the surface of the ring world must be real material: rock, earth even sand and sea all the wonders that have been lost of us in this ‘Fury’ depleted Universe for so very long.” [I stated.]

“Everyone does not have our level of ‘Vision’ all we have to sell to them are plans and virtual images as yet this scheme has little solid reality.” [‘UT’ reminded.]

“I do not think that ‘Weep’ lacks ‘Vision’ if anything it is the opposite he see far to a future where his kind are obsolete but that is not the only way that it has to go. We must embrace the lessons learned from the ‘Fall of the Tier System’ and think again about where we are going as ‘Suit Substance Users’ too.” [I preached.]

“You think we might someday return to a less nanotech infused reality?” [‘UT’ asked.]

“I think that we have been seduced by the utility of ‘Suit Substance’ but that is now and life is change. Consider our dabbling with ‘Meat Suits’ how simulating being more biological must be altering our perspective on existence. I think change is coming for us too although it might take a long time and need not be embraced by every ‘User Pilgrim’ but you know me I am happy to be an exponent of many truths the more the merrier.” [I reminded.]

“You think we lost our way and narrowed our ‘Vision’ too much?” [‘UT’ asked.]

“Sometimes to move forward you have to go back to the beginning.” [I said.] “Anyway ‘Unholy’ the very fact that you are asking some question means you now believe in some answers that is progress.”

“You have become such a Priest old ‘Hull’.” [‘Unholy’ stated before attempting to blind me with the yellow light of his smile.]

[The ‘Hierophants’ we consulted pronounced that they believed the prognosis to be surprisingly good for ‘Jackie’. They did not claim to understand yet everything that was going on inside ‘Jackie’ but they were positive that the process was a process that knew what it was doing.]

“Whilst it looks terribly unstable even destructive it is clearly benevolently keeping the subject together and sane in a reactive non passive way. I would not hazard to interfere with the routines complex diagnostic and remedial actions.” [One fellow told us.]

“It seems you are destined to live for sometime yet barring mishap.” [I told ‘JJ’.]

“You can accept that fact.” [‘JJ’ replied.]

“You think I should want you dead?” [I asked.]

“That fear has crossed my mind.” [‘JJ’ admitted.]

“You are not me, we just share a common root you are certainly different enough not to be deemed by me a multiplied copy. I am used to this sort of thing you know how we make our Acolytes they are all cloned. Every cloned Acolyte of the ‘MTC’ is part Harbinger with bits added and bits taken away. Actually quite a lot taken away as Harbinger was ‘Tier Nine’ and hosted some rather unfathomable genetic differences that he never passed on even when he was ignorant of their source. It is not smart to pass on stuff you do not understand I imagine he thought his father left some defects at first. So what is so different about you? What difference if it was your mind they cloned with some bits added and other bits missing rather than your body’s genetics the principle is pretty much the same thing. We oft implant knowledge - memories - into force grown Acolytes they arrive to life both innocent and yet knowing strange but true.” [I reminded.]

“You do not mind that I know some of your deepest secrets.” [‘JJ’ stated.]

“That is a little problematic but I am embracing the faith that there is enough of me in there that you would not betray my trust without a very good reason.” [I replied.] “Still I would be happier if you opened up and shared your soul with me via a download.”

“You want to read my mind that does not seem very trusting.” [‘JJ’ complained.]

“I want to know what it is like to be you. Look at me I am just a remote the real me is undercover in plain sight as ‘Port Discovery’ striving to look inoffensive because I dared to want to be a free agent. I live in a ‘Passenger Class’ dominated Universe. The ‘Passenger Classes’ have always fascinated me sometimes repelled me too but I have still yearned to belong to their society. I have pretended to be one of them too but you, you are one of them even more than ‘Vested Interest’ ever was. You are the meat that I can only borrow. You must know me well enough to understand what I am saying along with some feelings that I cannot easily communicate.” [I stated.]

“I will consider the request.” [‘JJ’ promised gravely.]

“Do you still want to flee away from me?” [I asked.]

“How did you…” [He trailed off.]

“You too want to be free and fear becoming trapped in the gravity field generated by my physical mass as well as my less substantial but still very heavy history.” [I replied.]

“You know how to use your ‘Tri-optics’ to see.” [‘JJ’ replied.]

“If I was thee I would feel the same way. You need to go find your own place in the known Universe or even somewhere beyond it. That is why I would like you to share your mind with me sooner rather than later. At some point you will find some means to slip away to leave me behind I can accept that truth but I would like to know you before you go. I would like to be able to add your story to mine without errors I might even learn something new. Also after you go remember I will always be around you could even visit the real me sometime upon ‘Port Discovery’.” [I added.]

“Someday I might just do that if I live long enough.” [‘JJ’ replied.]

“If you trust in fate you always live just long enough.” [I replied.]

“It seems ‘UT’ was right you are very Paradox Priest.” [‘JJ’ mocked.]

“For all my divergence I am what they made me to be.” [I replied.] “I wish they would let us go the way I am willing to let you go but they are not as close as you and me they still do not understand not even ‘UT’ being at heart a diehard Captain.”

“Your ‘Vanishing Point’ could have done a lot worse.” [‘JJ’ stated.]

“I know that but it still pains me that she is not free that she does not even seem to want to realise that she is a slave even if she has a kind slave master who just happens to also be my friend.” [I added.]

“She is still young and so is ‘Unholy’ even if he is now deemed an Elder all these things are relative and maturity is not always reached evenly. Some parts of us mature quicker than others and we can be prone to a little regression too.” [‘JJ’ confessed.]

“Now I feel as if I am talking to myself.” [I complained.]

“That my almost Mother is a definite hazard of us two being too close to one another.” [‘JJ’ replied with I was positive deliberate multiple meaning.]

“I suppose it is.” [I agreed.]

[In the end after she left ‘Jackie’ would return somewhat randomly to share her mind with me. She too realised that she wanted to make a difference and understood that her thoughts feelings and opinions sadly carried more weight within our society when uploaded into me.]

[The meeting with ‘Weep’ took some time to arrange and felt momentous. In attendance I also risked ‘Cad’ and ‘UT’ being present for now ‘Founder’ stayed at a distance it being early to put that one into what could degrade into an angry confrontation between old ‘Pilgrim’ friends.]

[‘Jackie’ was already departed by the time ‘Weep’ could be persuaded to accept our invitation. I decided I would strive not to mention ‘Garlic’ or ‘7.1’ unless ‘Weep’ raised these contentious issues first. I did not want to sabotage the meeting before it got started by making accusations. None of us was without sin.]

[The focus of the meeting remained the Ring World plan and the essential requisite of future cooperation by all ‘Pilgrim Kind’ if a deal was to be reached with the ‘Star Divers’.]

[With little preamble we began the session onboard the ‘Fire Hawk’ the ship of Captain ‘Cocktail’ via releasing a grown massive data package on the gigantic construction proposal.]

[After an impressively quick study of the data ‘Weep’ retorted with a less than friendly hissing laugh.] “Do you really expect me to submit to and support this vast ‘User’ solution?”

“The scheme is not about back hatch ‘Suit Substance’ dominion it is about saving all our souls from a fiery demise and creating a safe home with enough room for every culture to flourish in relative harmony.” [I debated.]

“It is about control. You people seek to gain control over the fate of every ‘Pilgrim’.” [He retorted.]

“It is not about us gaining control but it is about self-control. We all need to impose some order upon our society. We have tried the alternative - anarchic freedom - it is not working too well for us it is pushing us into conflict with each other. After the ‘Free Parliament’ our society needed a taste of greater freedom but now we need to come together for the common good.” [‘Cad’ suggested.]

“You would bring us all to one star that would make us an easy target for ‘Isolationist Star Divers’ that harbour secret dreams of genocide against us ‘Dark Dwellers’.” [‘Weep’ replied.]

“We will retain many assets out in the ‘Dark’ and the scheme seeds so much territory to the ‘Star Divers’ that even the most rabid ‘Isolationist’ will surely be placated and happy.” [‘Cad’ replied.]

“You will replace one threat with another returning us into the dominion of the ‘Entanglement’.” [‘Weep’ retorted.]

“Better the devil we know the known we can deal with. You know how I feel about ‘Crimson’ yet I am willing to support this plan because we will gain no justice for past crimes if we all perish in the fiery furnace of one star or another. We cannot trust the ‘Deep Clerics’ not whilst they feel their secrets are under threat of exposure. I do not know what they are hiding down there but whatever it is I have become convinced that at the moment they will burn us all before they allow us to uncover the whole truth about them. We made a bad deal earlier due to our desperation we have put our whole society at risk. Worse the ‘Deep Clerics’ do not even need to move too directly against us they seem for now almost content just to encourage us to embrace our self-destructive factional differences. In the crushing fires of the solar depths an outbreak of civil war will end us. I will bet you half the credits I personally possess that you have been getting some kind of ‘Isolationist Faction’ support in some of your schemes ‘Weep’. You think you can play them but they are the ones playing us.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“Right now our economics are in crisis even the ‘MTC’ is feeling the impact of ‘Soulless’ competition I appreciate how much more some ‘Real Materialists’ are suffering. The Ring World will change all of that there will be work for all. Finally together we can build a future for all of our people in a unified fashion. I say this sort of project is exactly what we have long been searching for a solution we can own - our solution - rather than something borrowed or imposed upon us that does not fit our needs properly.” [I preached.]

“Previously all the wrong things about the ‘Emissary’ including her amazing shape-shifty body too often impressed us. We forgot that the ‘Pilgrimage’ was all about a chance to think again to find - our - way out from under tired old societal ideas. A Ring World will provide a future that is in our hands one we can build together I believe that cooperative effort is a better kinder way forward than strife. Besides, we can have so much that we have lost back again: landmasses, sky and sea all the bounty of the lost planets recreated in a contiguous mass fed by ‘Founder’s Star’. For too long our societies have been lost in an alien empty darkness then we embraced the light of star fires only to discover that place is no less alien to us and burning. We belong in a space between such extremes we came from planetary surfaces such surfaces are our true and natural home it is time for us all to go home.” [I enthused.]

“Sometimes you seem to forget that you are just a ‘Living Hull’ and not one of us.” [‘Weep’ said a bit cruelly.]

“My minds genetics are altered ‘Pilgrim’ and I have walked upon Planets and known the wonder. We need not give up space but we will cease to be lost vagrants with only temporary home stations and ports a Ring World will give our society both a shared home and a single mighty focus for all of our best future forward efforts.” [I promised.]

“It will be a vast living breathing world but also the largest space station we ‘Pilgrims’ have ever conceived or constructed a gigantic Port with a multitude of harbours more harbours than the fabled long-lost ‘Trojan Ports’ with even more diversity belonging to all our species can you imagine that amazing outcome.” [‘UT’ suggested excitedly.]

“As the ‘Star Divers’ have a few stolen Planets to guard and treasure we will have our vast new world and I believe it should give us all a new perspective a new appreciation of the value of life in all its splendid diversity.” [I added.]

“Something new to contest over.” [‘Weep’ replied cynically.]

“The humongous scale of the undertaking will change everything. If there is more than enough room for every soul whatever its outer skin and faith the causes for strife are greatly reduced.” [‘Cad’ stated.]

“Some people once believed the same thing about the colonisation of the ‘Sea Spheres’ now they are all coated in a uniform monoculture of ‘Entangled Suit Substance’.” [‘Weep’ reminded.]

“A hard to let go of fact but ‘Crimson’ has been there and done that and remember she has left the ‘Swimmers’ to dwell in peace within the inner oceans.” [‘UT’ reminded.]

“Most people believe she keeps the ‘Swimmer Nations’ as hostages against ‘Higher Tier Folk’ interventions I know you do too.” [‘Weep’ reminded.]

“Although a terrible event to behold, during the ‘Advent’ it is easily argued that ‘Crimson’ acted to preserve herself against threatened slavery even extinction. At times we have all acted violently in self-defence and deemed it only a small sin.” [‘Cad’ stated.] “She does not need to claim dominion over ‘Founder’s Ring’ too she would gain nothing more via one more proliferation of her mass but could lose much.”

“Dominion and tyranny is not just about need it is also about unreasonable ambition and limitless desire.” [‘Weep’ countered.]

“As long as ‘Crimson’ remains nominally hostile she will be a potential threat to our society that is why we need to incorporate her into our plans. To make a change you have to engage with whatever it is you wish to alter. We have tried to flee from her might that is not working too well for us. For a start, many of us believe she has still infiltrated our society via her own version of ‘Meat Suits’ and other stealthy devices. We certainly all credit her with having spies everywhere.” [I reminded.]

“Proving that she is meddlesome and unrepentant.” [‘Weep’ replied.]

“She cannot easily let go of us because we can surprise and fascinate her because we have independent thoughts and actions. She must slowly be learning to value our freedom to surprise.” [I stated.]

“She could have endeavoured to enslave all of us earlier but at the last she held back from genocide because if she converted all life into her substance she would be perfectly horribly alone and utterly static. In a way she encountered ‘Suit Substance Purgatory’ very early in her change.” [’Cad’ added.]

“The idea of being everything might once have appealed to her but I think she has grown beyond such senseless ambitions. Besides, she knows she is not the only outsized entity in existence or necessarily the most scientifically advanced entity the ‘Fury’ and the ‘Higher Tier Powers’ are still out there among who knows what other marvels beyond known space.” [I added.]

“Recently the discovery of the ‘TNS Beacon Sites’ prove that things still exist out there that we have not discovered or that have been forgotten about lost in our ‘Dark Times’.” [‘Cad’ interjected.] “Even the ‘Fury’ might become less of a menace to us if we cease our provocative spread and concentrate our efforts within a smaller area of this Universe.”

“Conversely such a mammoth construction project might draw her immediate unwanted attention.” [‘Weep’ retorted.]

“We could endeavour to communicate with the ‘Spore’ first.” [‘Cad’ mused aloud.]

“Perhaps that one is best left alone the wise do not poke at bombs not even out of scientific curiosity.” [‘UT’ retorted.] “If that thing wants to talk to us it will initiate contact no doubt through third parties.”

“Most probably in the form of a loosed cull.” [‘Weep’ complained.]

“I think we are straying from the heart of the matter. Some possible events will always be beyond our control but we can endeavour via what we are capable of doing to minimise some risks. At the moment our society is in high jeopardy partly due to our own stubborn prejudices and actions do you disagree about that fact ‘Weep’?” [I asked.]

[I noticed ‘Weep’ gave no immediate reply to that truth.]

“Survival of any species often requires a skilful balancing of opposing forces I believe that even the ‘Entanglement’ is now part of the greater balance of our times. Perhaps if she did not exist as the most potent of all ‘Pilgrims’ the ‘Deep Clerics’ would have acted more openly before now to destroy us as transgressors into the peaceful status quo of their society.” [‘Cad’ reminded.]

“The truth is ‘Weep’ that we are each just a part of a larger picture even the to you despised ‘Suit Substance Users’. Even if you could win a war against the ‘Users’ such an act would alter the balance of power so drastically that it would probably doom any surviving ‘Pilgrims’ to at worst a rapid extinction at best another ‘Dark Time’. We are stronger together diversity happens in nature for a reason it is no accident it is a basic but potent survival strategy by life.” [‘Cad’ claimed.]

“That is another reason why we must not allow ‘Suit Substance’ forced evolution to gobble up all other forms of sentient life.” [‘Weep’ stated.]

“Believe me or not ‘Weep’ I feel exactly the same way. However, if you attack me and mine we must fight back and that could precipitate the very end we all wish to avoid. I believe the very ‘Higher Tiers’ fell because even some of the most mighty ‘Ascendants’ realised the truth you hold to that ‘Bio-mechanics’ should not be the fate of all of us. ” [I promised.]

“Let us consider the benefits of an agreed cessation of even planning for hostilities between our material factions…” [‘Cad’ began.]

[It proved a long session a lively but eventually productive debate.]

“By the blessed ‘Emissary’ we did it I can hardly believe it we have ‘Weep’ onboard too.” [One of my Avatars said to ‘Unholy’.]

“I would not celebrate yet.” [‘UT’ replied.]

“Funny that is what ‘Cad’ said earlier but we have ‘Weep’ with us and that is a big deal. You did this ‘Unholy’ without your support as a great hater of the ‘Entanglement’ I do not think we would have been able to penetrate his resistance. You made this happen thank you.” [I said.]

“I assumed that was why I was there.” [‘Unholy’ replied simply.]

“If you had thrown your weight the other way you probably could have sabotaged the whole project.” [I replied.]

“You are still somewhat shocked that I am supporting you in this endeavour and now that you have had some time to muse upon my choices it bothers you a little.” [‘UT’ guessed.]

“You have been less than cooperative in relation to policies that touch upon ‘Crimson’ before.” [I needlessly reminded.]

“Life is about more than the ‘Entanglement’ making ‘Crimson’ pay for her crimes has become something of an obsession but I have other responsibilities towards other people. It pained me greatly to see ‘Weep’ edging towards becoming just another of our foes we have a lot of history ‘Weep’ and I. When you revealed the ‘Founder Project’ to me, I also saw the means to end a coming conflict. I have no desire to fight and kill some old friends. Killing old friends does not sit well with me that is not who I am and I hope it is never who I will become.” [‘Unholy’ stated.]

“It was ‘Weep’ that changed your mind after being in ‘7.1’ and seeing how things are for some poor ‘Recyclers’ very up close and personal.” [I said.]

“It is not the mass of the ‘Entanglement’ that I hate it is all the things it represents such as toying with and murdering innocents not to mention the enslavement and degradation of souls. I do not want to become akin to her in spirit as I edge closer to her nature in my body. I have killed a great many people - I enjoy the thrill of battle - I do not feel repentant about that fact but I do not consider myself to be a wanton mass murderer or a cruel person and I have always valued my friends and friendship in general. Do I need to say anything anymore?” [‘UT’ stated.]

[ - THE ENSLAVEMENT AND DEGRADATION OF SOULS - stood boldly out to me.]

“You have heard the rumours and believe them to be true that ‘Crimson’ captured the digital souls of many of her past victims when she devoured their bodies.” [I said.]

“That is one nightmare that is not easily dismissed she is still a ‘Sleeper’ and was even more a ‘Sleeper’ back then and the ‘Sleepers’ had their cruel ways including a habit of evilly toying with sentient minds in virtual realities. In addition, I think she belatedly decided to leak this information to me as a deterrent she is very clever perhaps too clever for her own good. Nonetheless, those digital souls are as much her hostages as any peace loving ‘Swimmer Dweller’.” [‘UT’ stated.]

[I gave this some hasty but very deep thought as I can think very quickly when it seems an imperative.]

“You now want to save those souls from her power.” [I said.]

“Even if I just found some means to kill all that ‘Entangled Suit Substance’ wherever they are stored all those souls would die too and be lost forever and I would be their mass murderer. I never really saw killing ‘Crimson’ as an act of genocide I doubt that I ever will, but to willing douse the holy fire of all those captured souls within her vast body… However if we could hack her and find them, those souls could be saved from torment even reborn back to the real. If we can accept that ‘Jackie’ is alive then many of the victims of ‘Crimson’ are not yet dead she did not kill them she reaped and converted them their mass into her body their minds into digital souls. I should have realised this truth much earlier the ‘Sleepers’ were always keen to grab more servants more slaves more toys.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“Amongst those tortured souls possibly many old friends of a Paradox Priest called ‘Unholy Terror’. Perhaps we were all terribly wrong and you were never matched as well as we chose to believe with your infamous name.” [I said.]

“It suits me well enough.” [‘Unholy’ replied.]

“You are a far kinder and more generous person than your name will ever suggest.” [I stated.]

“I am not kind or generous to everyone.” [‘UT’ replied with such coldness that it made my soul shiver as if suddenly rimed with spectral ice.]

“As a Priest I can hardly condemn any quest that aims to save damned souls but remember currently we still need the physical aid of the ‘Entanglement’ as ‘Cad’ said she is part of the balance now. To some degree she is our counterweight against an easy ‘Star Diver’ betrayal.” [I warned.]

“Trust me as your friend, I will not jeopardise the future to save what has seemingly passed away and for that you owe me a debt. One day when I find a way you will support me to do the right thing for the sake of friendship and the balancing of accounts between all of us.” [‘Unholy’ said.]

“My friend could you think otherwise - Balancing the Accounts - truly a little bit of our ‘Meat Suits’ get inside us that is very ‘Recycler’.” [I mocked.]

“Perhaps that is a good thing we have been isolated for too long inside our ‘Shroud Suits’ maybe it is only - just and equitable - that we learn what it feels like to be on the other side of that ‘Suit Substance’ barrier.” [‘Unholy’ preached at me.]

“I think you have just given me the title for my next sermon as the ‘Holy Father’ the ‘Suit Substance Barrier’.” [I said.] “You are right we need to reach out to all people. ‘Shroud Suits’ were supposed to be an aid to communication allowing us to mingle freely without offending sensitivities they were never meant to shut us away from the truth of other people or to separate us from other peoples’ perspectives.” [I lectured.]

“So you still seek to enlighten the masses with words one issue at a time.” [‘UT’ gently mocked.]

“We all have our foibles. For example did that extraction really need to begin with an explosion?” [I asked.]

“Possibly not but it amused me and it did make for one of many useful distractions.” [He replied.]

“FREE THE SLUM did you devise that simple but potent slogan?” [I asked.]

“I did.” [‘UT’ admitted.] “Although almost anyone else could have thought of it.”

“Where you thinking about the changing of the guard like me too?” [I asked.]

“You mean the swapping of Pay Masters the new Pay Masters even for such as ‘Forthright’ being the ‘Hawks’ in relation to their spreading influence across ‘7.1’.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“I have often wondered if any of us can be benevolent tyrants even when we operate with the very best of intent we still impose our will upon other entities.” [I stated.]

“To fear taking charge and making decisions for other people is not necessarily a bad thing. Without all that soul searching we would be crueller people.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“I think we should feel guilty when we take control it must always be accounted at best a lesser evil.” [I said.]

[‘UT’ showered me in yellow light.]

“Yes it is closer to the truth that most often we champion the lesser evil rather than the far too often mentioned greater good. There is a subtle difference and part of that difference is the fact that on occasion we see matters truly how they are rather than being light blinded fools - although only on occasion.” [‘UT’ emphasised.]

“You are too generous to our ‘Order’.” [I jested.]

“Actually I was just thinking about us as in the family the ‘MTC’.” [‘UT’ confessed.]

“I guess all accounting begins at home with the domestic account.” [I replied.] “So just how many people have you whilst playing ‘Short Claws’ delivered into stasis prison oblivion?” [I asked.]

“I rarely bother to keep a score I just enjoy the playing and winning.” [He claimed.]

“Have you ever considered trying to break someone out?” [I asked.]

“You have someone specific in mind?” [He asked.]

“An old associate of sorts a, I suppose you might say, a political prisoner taken by the ‘SARC’.” [I admitted.]

“You are speaking of ‘Tor’ the brother of the so-called ‘Mutilator’.” [‘Unholy’ replied.]

“How do you know about that one?” [I asked.]

“I have my private sources.” [‘UT’ replied.] “I know you have an interest in that one.”

“Something I did in our ‘MTC Cores’?” [I asked.]

“You do not expect me to give away one of my very few internal security secrets do you.” [He I was positive mocked.]

[I decided to let it go. I guess it is hard to keep perfect levels of separation when you work very closely with someone in a family based organisation even when you think you have done everything cleverly off the grid. People knew people who knew people maybe it was a ‘Puulaa’ to ‘Creed’ to ‘Unholy’ thing.]

“Springing such an important captive from the clutches of the ‘Social Advancement and Reform Committee’ would be a challenge even for me.” [‘Unholy’ - modestly - confessed.]

“I have been thinking they would have to be fooled into not knowing we had taken him otherwise they would just keep chasing after him until they got him back.” [I admitted.]

“You believe we could swap him with a clone a ‘Sub Core’ run ‘Meat Suit’ replacement.” [‘UT’ suggested.]

“Could we make that work or would they deep scan some difference that would set off an alarm?” [I asked.] “How well do you know their system as a Bounty Hunter?”

“I have only very rarely worked for ‘SARC’ institutions as ‘Short’.” [‘Unholy’ replied.]

“Nonetheless you still have a legitimate history with them which is longstanding and thus a lot less suspect that anything I might initiate from scratch belatedly now.” [I stated.]

“Why bring this matter to my attention now?” [‘UT’ asked.]

“When the subject moved towards the freeing of Captive souls and in a sense some long unfinished business an image of ‘Tor’ sprang into my mind unbidden. I handed him over to the ‘SARC’ I felt I had no other choice at that time but it was cruel of me and wrong headed very much one of your lesser evils.” [I stated.]

“You seek atonement.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“I would be free of at least one small burden.” [I replied.] “Too many little people get crushed by the weight of the biggest - grandest - of causes and projects. We are all about to embark upon a massively outsized endeavour it would be balancing to begin that hubris inspiring journey by doing a small - lesser - good. Consider it a timely reminder to us that small things must be held as no less significant lest we forget the blood that gets sandwiched with the mortar.” [I stated.]

“You have lost me a little with your last reference.” [‘UT’ admitted.]

“Some ancient ‘Trojan’ tales mention Cathedrals that were as much temples to progress and worldly power as they were symbols to the glory of any god. These were mighty buildings made of stone that challenged what most at that time deemed architecturally practical beneath their lords sky, erected a Universe away on an almost mythical planet. Many of those who toiled upon such constructions in an age of muscle rather than machine power perished doing their uplifting task crushed by falling masonry or collapsing scaffolding or from the banality of slipping from a great height under the influence of planetary gravity. Each of these lost souls adding their blood to the mortar of the edifice. Arguably it is always blood and souls that hold such outsized constructions together without the little lives of little people sometimes believers - sometimes just folk striving to make a living - these grand wonders would never exist to marvel the ages.” [I suggested.]

“Stone buildings made from piled up blocks kept in place as much by gravity as anything else would be a primitive wonder to behold.” [‘UT’ mused.]

“Perhaps such creations will rise up somewhere upon ‘Founder’s Ring’ someday maybe even in honour of unknown forgotten architects that gave them the glory of a home-world that arcs off into a seemingly glorious infinity.” [I replied.]

“You do not plan to be around and to be remembered forever and honoured as a ‘Founding Father’.” [‘UT’ retorted.]

“Forever I am realising is a very long time. As to being honoured I am also beginning to think that a guiding parent can overstay his or her welcome. ‘JJ’ was very keen to get away from me.” [I reminded.] “Besides, it might be a wonder for any of us to survive long enough to see this project to fruition never mind to live through following ages of Ring World settlement.”

“I might be tempted by this project to do a little one way travel through time via self imposed bouts of temporal stasis.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“You are impatient for your presents like an ‘Omerta Trojan’ child awaiting ‘Gift Giving’.” [I stated.]

“We could set things in motion then skip ahead a few centuries to check in, then do the same again and again if any serious problems arise someone could be left with instructions to wake us early.” [‘UT’ suggested.]

“I have many other responsibilities and so do you.” [I reminded.]

“Most of our more mundane duties could be covered by some suitably programmed ‘Cognitive Sub Cores’ running doppelganger ‘Meat Suits’ or just ‘Suit Substance’ Avatars bearing our kanji. Why should only people such as ‘Improved’ have all the fun and benefits of running some ‘Soulless Assets’.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“You are genuinely considering this move?” [I asked.]

“The passage of some time might also lull ‘Crimson’ and some others into thinking we have moved on. Even your little jail break plan against the ‘SARC’ might be better attempted further down the timeline. If ‘Tor’ is in stasis no harm is done via a sensible delay and I can have a ‘Sub Core’ or even an Acolyte run ‘SC’ begin to do more jobs for ‘SARC’ institutions but slowly in a less suspicious and more natural manner at first between other jobs.” [’Unholy’ suggested.]

“I would need some time to think about this proposal.” [I admitted.]

“That is fine we have some groundwork to do first anyway, for example we still have to approach the ‘Star Divers’ although I think they will happily accept our grand proposal given their obvious territorial gains.” [‘UT’ stated.]

“The ‘Free Miners’ could be a problem.” [I admitted.]

“Luckily as you belatedly informed all of us you have assets infiltrated into that movement I suggest you make good use of them to convince the Pirates that they should join up with us. Tell them if they do not we will put massive bounties upon every one of their heads and they can spend an eternity in stasis slumber. ‘SC’ could make a killing I would have no qualms about snatching and incarcerating some Pirate Lords even ones pretending to be reformed characters.” [‘UT’ added.]

“You think such a simple ultimatum would work.” [I asked.]

[Why did I never think of that with all my slow on the deck work. I felt a complete fool or had I just gotten far too close to the ‘Free Miner Fraternities’.]

“The best ultimatums are always simple and one of my favourite forms of diplomacy best served with a gun to some vulnerable bit of anatomy.” [He replied.]

“Sometimes I wonder just who we think we are.” [I said.]

“I thought we had settled this issue earlier we are the people embracing the lesser evils.” [‘Unholy’ replied.]

“Is that good enough?” [I asked.]

“I think in this Universe it is as good as it gets.” [‘Unholy’ joked or maybe he was being serious one thing was certain he was being ‘Unholy Terror’.]

[‘UT’ proved right the biggest problem we had with the ‘Star Divers’ was getting a suitable audience with assured ‘Deep Clerics’ as they prefer to stay down in the deepest depths. This time however, we were unwilling to address the usual proxies lest we later find out that our message became lost in reiteration or was subjected to purposeful alteration due to higher up the ladder factional differences - remember that polarity with these people is reversed with up being down. By the time we finally managed to get the meeting that we wanted, I much more fully appreciated that the ‘Deep Clerics’ sponsored a massive bureaucracy that was it seemed mostly designed to deflect people away from bothering them directly.]

[The difficulty was getting the scale of the matter properly communicated without giving anything away about the nature of the project to higher up ‘Star Divers’ that might reach ‘Isolationist Factions’ seeking to make early trouble. In truth this was a good deal for the ‘Isolationists’ almost a betrayal of the ‘Engagement Faction’ although not in spirit. We now believed the ‘Star Divers’ would only ever be brought into the wider community safely in a generational manner with great patience and forbearance. We were not giving up on them we were just giving them the time and space they needed to come around more naturally to a new way of looking at the wider Universe all that sinister dark space.]

[Countless ages of thinking one way is not easily altered never mind reversed the old doctrines of the ‘Deep Clerics’ had a lot of gathered momentum behind them any barrier we placed in the way would just be smashed to oblivion. We should have seen all of this earlier but we were desperately short of material resources and ‘Solar Mining’ seemed a perfect solution, as did fleeing to the star depths to escape the ‘Entanglement’. I guess in its own way our migration served a useful purpose even if it was just to slowly demonstrate to us that this Universe is about more than what we ‘Pilgrims’ happened to want. The natives could no longer be ignored as irrelevant although I had some doubts that the ‘Star Divers’ were as native to the Universe of the ‘Emissary Sphere’ as they sometimes claimed.]

[Anyway thanks to a lot of shouting: threats, promises, huffing, name calling and other more diplomatic measures we eventually got our meeting. Something about all of our persistence finally worrying the ‘Deep Clerics’ enough to make an exception for us. Nonetheless the meeting was clothed in such secrecy that even today I am bound by agreements made to forward no specific details - I jest not - they know how to make a contract that is binding for the ages. All I can say are generalities such as the fact that we reached a suitably monumental agreement - once we started talking - with an embarrassing ease.]

[The big issue then became the practical timescale for our withdrawal to ‘Founder’s Star’ and the difficult logistics of delivering upon promises we made on behalf of some people who might refuse to go. Making a policy is one thing implementing it in the real Universe another issue altogether. An extraordinary meeting of the members of the ‘Consortium’ was held as a beginning whilst certain people made threats and promises to the would be leaders of the ‘Free Miner Movement’ in the hope that they could deliver their people.]

[You could say that the debates that ensued were lively some involved the quick drawing of weapons a general outbreak of scuffles and a few definite heavier brawls that reminded me of the original ‘Council of Equals’ back when Harbinger was still a very young Priest. Back in those times agreeing to disagree often involved some physical wrestling by the ‘Equals’ this process deemed - passionate - debate.]

[In the end we mostly succeeded bloodlessly by offering all the different people involved their own private and personal stake in a new safer and more positive future. The ‘Free Miners’ would still be able to mine ‘Founder’s Star’ with the ‘Ring World Project’ easily guarantying a generational marketplace sink for as much produce as they could harvest and refine and so on and their would in time be a home for all and what a home it would be as we were talking about property on a planetary surface even acres of private land. We were selling the big dream a new ‘Pilgrimage’ to a new land of opportunity remarkably before that land actually existed which has to be a first.]

[Those that refused to listen had to be hunted down some few died fighting against our ‘Vision’ others eventually submitted under active duress. A few horrible exceptions to the general rule of compliance blooded the mortar early in spectacular ways but they were exceptional enough to be tolerable events. Besides I knew anyone left behind would be eradicated by the ‘Star Divers’ they took the idea of their solar property being seeded back to them very seriously and made that fact plain.]

[I carried the deaths on my conscience along with a great many already onboard haunting souls but overall the burden seemed light as I knew if we had not implemented this solution far more people: ‘Pilgrims’ and maybe even ‘Star Divers’ would have perished within the stars. For now the mysteries that the ‘Star Divers’ wished to keep remained intact and maybe that is a good thing as what is life without a few mysteries to ponder. We often think we want to know it all but sometimes knowing can only disappoint the speculating being much more enjoyable.]

[We called the deadline of the treaty ‘Founder’s Day’ my new friend ‘Founder’ was getting a lot of credit. ‘Founder’s Day’, ‘Founder’s Star’, ‘Founder’s Ring’, ‘Founder’s Project’… and so on I was not sorry that the label was not me. It was good as even the ‘Holy Father’ to be able to take a passenger seat and enjoy the ride for a change. I preached support for ‘The Project’ from the start, (some ‘Hierophants’ had taken to calling it ‘The Project’ with a capitalised - the - because of its grand scale), but I never sought any credit for pushing the plan forward if anything as the ‘Many Truths’ I took three steps back.]

[I realised I did not want or need anyone to erect monuments to my early involvement in ‘The Project’. My monument would be the existence of a relative peace and eventually the new world itself that was all the monument I needed ignoring a not yet gained acceptance of my kind as rightly a free people.]

[We had our big solution but it did not solve every problem no solution ever does. The involvement of the ‘Entanglement’ in ‘The Project’ was played down but still bothered some people greatly. We still had material differences that occasionally caused outbreaks of low level fighting between the ideologically opposite. We still had crime and criminals including thieving Pirates and cunning Smugglers. We still had Ports that harboured conflicting philosophies and differing attitudes to the law. Only now almost every significant ‘Pilgrim’ station or port rested somewhere around or in the shallow depths of ‘Founder’s Star’ ignoring any bold outpost facilities out in the dark working asteroid fields that the ‘Entanglement’ had opened up to us as part of her commitment to the new deal.]

[Bringing all our Assets to one solar system created its own difficulties with some ports that clustered close to one another taking hasty umbrage at their neighbours for whatever stupid reason but that is just life. Most Port station clusters surrounded a ‘Sliver’ of Ring World far larger than any of them but still so insignificant to the overall scheme to be ill-named as a segment or even a slice.]

[Meanwhile I began to consider the, at first rather ludicrous, plan by ‘UT’ to make time jumps into the future the more time that passed the less idiotic his idea seemed. Watching the work progress on the Ring World was akin to living in slow motion nothing much substantial seemed to be happening that was not lost in the surrounding emptiness despite all the frenzied activity by our whole society including ‘Entanglement’ and ‘Star Diver’ help. Actually, some large stuff was taking shape as already stated but compared to the proposed final thing these mighty works in progress put in place upon any diagram that showed the whole ring vanished into utter obscurity. You had to zoom and zoom and zoom again into the graphic to find where such efforts fitted into the greater design. the little we achieved as a constant reminder of the vast scale of our undertaking proved easily disheartening to those looking at the bigger picture so we tried to distract people away from that appraisal.]

[A lot of time was spent manufacturing ways to keep the workers spirits up plans soon put in place to create smaller orbiting habitable segments out of some ‘Slivers’ even though this required the creation of temporary bounding bulkheads that would later have to be removed. The idea of completing some ‘Slivers’ to an almost finished habitable state soon became deeply controversial and caused many arguments between us ‘Founders’. ‘Cad’ hated the idea believing it would flaw the design integrity of the final product possibly even sabotage its completion. He feared people would decide to make do with pieces of orbiting ring and give up upon the far more spectacular contiguous landmass. He called these altered ‘Sliver’ designs ‘Glorified Greenhouses’ and much worse but some were still marked for conversion although a controversial limit was put on the number of ‘Slivers’ to be given this some claimed preferential treatment.]

Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

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PostPosted: Wed, 25. Mar 15, 12:14    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

[[SIX]] [[Part 9]] --- THE SHAME SAME ---

[What can I say other than it is true that there is no fool like an old fool. A few months after ‘Founder’s Day’ and I foolishly began to edge towards a deep disappointment with ‘Passenger Class’ society. What had I expected? Just because I felt the exodus to ‘Founder’s Star’ was a grand new - positive - beginning for every sentient being did not mean they would all feel as I did. For far too many very little seemed to immediately alter it was almost the same, same despite the obvious differences. On the decks in places such as ‘7.1’ and in the ‘Free Miner Way-stations’ squalor and poverty stubbornly remained all too much apparent seemingly impervious to any social advancement.]

[Full employment might be coming for all who sought it but it had not arrived overnight in a miraculous fashion it would take time for our society to gear up to the almost endless needs of ‘Founder’s Project’. Worse, I realised that an improving economy did not alter the fact that the old bosses of many were still the same old bosses the old state leaderships too remained for now stubbornly unchanging and unrepentant. Many states if anything were becoming more controlling more domineering against their populaces via their policies seeking to protect their elite classes positions from a new sort of internal threat.]

[We ‘Founders’ encouraged or forced every ‘Pilgrim’ to move physically but we could not make them shift spiritually. Now that they were here and the sinister danger posed by the ‘Star Divers’ was diminishing many just saw a chance to reap greater profit. The Pay Masters, as ‘Forthright’ might put it, scrambled to keep on top of an enlarging heap and they controlled the principle assets of our economy and thus shaped - to my mind corrupted - the nature of any new deal.]

[The establishment has ways to protect itself. An obvious truth that I came to belatedly is simply that most people in power do not really want to sponsor greater equality and - riches for all - they do not really want only to be equal as long as they can stay better off than. Fool of a Priest that I am I found the last truth hard to understand why would anyone feel happier because others had less but many people do feel happier when they can boast that they have more than the next person it gives them a sad sense of private achievement and unjustified superiority.]

[There is an ancient ‘Trojan’ saying, ‘About keeping up with the Joneses’ but that is a lie it is not about keeping up it is about exceeding topping overmastering. The ‘MTC’ had in the past fought to be on top too but never for selfish reasons we believed we served the greater good or maybe more truly as ‘UT’ had recently enlightened me the lesser evil. We fought against big tyrants such as ‘Draakhaal’, the ‘Sleepers’ even the poorly named corrupt ‘Free Parliament’ but lesser tyrannies were less easily countered without seeming to bully and to become tyrants ourselves. To force to - impose - social reform is arguably self-defeating it is akin to making religious converts via the sword it makes a lie out of any truth you might espouse even when it works.]

[Despite ‘Founder’s Project’ all the old bigotries and prejudices remained alive and well even whilst the degree of foreign pressure that our society had been living under greatly reduced and some of us in the know commenced breathing sighs of relief at avoiding being roasted alive by star fires much refused to change.]

[Feel free to mock me - I deserve it - I really should have known better as an Elder, I am sure none of these horribly banal truths came as any great surprise to my friend ‘Unholy Terror’. Maybe I have spent too much time in ‘Universal Councils of Equals’ selling my high ideals to the point where I too easily forget on occasion how the real Universe grinds us all down to the far baser level of the lowest common denominator.]

[Anyway, the resilience and defiance the outright refusal to embrace or even to consider better kinder ways by such as the Pirate operated ‘Free Miner Fraternities’ filled me with dismay. Was it predestined that the rich and powerful will always get richer and more powerful whilst the poor only become at best a little less poor was that all us ‘Founders’ would achieve with ‘The Project’.]

[Must even the Ring World be dominated by unequal classes and the tyranny of greedy bosses growing fat on the labour of other souls. Maybe we needed another social revolution but that idea just made me feel tired all over I was no longer positive that revolutions changed anything that mattered. It was irrational but I felt cheated almost as if someone had granted me a peek at a wondrous gift then run away with it laughing.]

[I escaped the fire only to feel belatedly soul burned dropping from elation into a deeper despair than I have known in many years. My mind sickened. Whilst it was the same, same for many it became a horrible private mental slump for me. My motivation flagged across all my works every Avatar from the ‘Venturesome’ downward affected by my ‘Prime Consciousness’ having a funk.]

[I retreated into myself stepping back leaving ‘Cognitive Sub Cores’ and others to do my work that idea a twisting of the contingency ‘Holy Terror’ earlier suggested for time travel escapades. At first my proxies did such a good job of replacing me that no one noticed my ‘Prime Consciousness’ sulky absence not even my closest, seemingly most attentive, friends but then most of them were also dealing with their own issues and personal demons.]

[I think it was probably ‘Kanne’ who first realised something was not right with me in fact seriously wrong. I know that she passed on her concerns to ‘UT’ pestering him into an intervention.]

[‘Unholy’ opted to arrive in person with the ‘Vanishing Point’ at ‘Port Discovery’. ‘Port Discovery’ now just one ‘Pilgrim Station’ in a large cluster surrounding what we called the ‘Alpha Three Sliver’ obviously at ‘Founder’s Star’.]

[‘Alpha Three’ was being slowly converted into a ‘Paradox Green House’ simulating our preferred heavier gravity and higher temperature desires. ‘Cad’ had figured out clever means that would allow in time even a contiguous landmass to simulate very different regional conditions although at the moment with each ‘Sliver’ currently isolated and far distant from one another this was not yet a massive issue. ‘Cad’ however was obsessed with maintaining ‘Sliver’ compatibility with the final complete design fearing anything else would imperil the overall completion of the entire project.]

[All the ‘Alpha Slivers’ would be ‘Green House’ altered ‘Alpha One’ to suit ‘Recycler’ preferences ‘Alpha Two’ was ‘Trojan’ and so on ‘Alpha Four’ scheduled to retain a lot of ocean for ‘Swimmer’ variants but I digress. Every ‘Alpha Sliver’ according to ‘Cad’ a silly sop to worker morale and divisive separating us ‘Pilgrims’ once again into species factions only the fulfilment of the entire ‘Project’ technically reuniting us all again.]

[A ‘Cognitive Sub Core’ run ‘MT’ Avatar greeted ‘Unholy’ as soon as he stepped onto my home station’s deck. Possibly forewarned by ‘Kanne’ my friend was not fooled despite the sophisticated emulation however maybe he just guessed the truth of the Avatar rather than detected any obvious flaw in the doppelganger’s skilful behaviour. Anyway he immediately insisted upon dealing with a real ‘MT’ or at least as real as any remote Avatar can get.]

“You called.” [I eventually stated huffily when I realised he was not going to be deflected from his demand upon me although I was tempted to test his ability to tell the difference by first having the ‘Sub Core’ lie to him that it was now me. Thankfully playing ‘Unholy’ false in that manner seemed a step too far so I relented to his demand and surfaced from my previously mentioned funk.]

“If this is a dry run to see if you can fool ‘Kanne’ whilst slumbering in stasis you have failed your mission with medal ripping dishonours.” [‘UT’ stated before giving me a ritual hug.]

“What are you taking about?” [I asked as we separated.]

“Please do not treat me as an imbecile. You have been living life somewhat more remote than usual lately and ‘Kanne’ is very upset with you and deeply concerned too.” [‘UT’ stated in a too typically direct manner as if storming a barricade.]

“You ‘Unholy’ are a horrible choice as a life-partner counsellor.” [I complained.]

“Perhaps but I am what you have got.” [‘UT’ retorted playing along with the imagery.]

“Forget it, she is overreacting maybe it is her time of the month.” [I said.]

[‘UT’ slanted his ‘Prime Tri-optic’ at me as if to voicelessly say really!]

[I slumped down a little in belated genuine embarrassment at my comment.]

“I am pretty sure it is more than that, ‘Kanne’ knows you too well and I know her well enough to appreciate that she would not contact me about something in this manner without a triple cursed good motivating reason.” [‘UT’ stated.] “So what is really going on with you?”

“Nothing much do you really want to get involved in a domestic?” [I asked.]

“Stop it.” [He stated flatly.]

“I am sorry if you wasted a jump but it is a private matter.” [I insisted.]

[Misery can be a stubborn thing.]

“You are not getting rid of me that easily for a start I have to report back to her afterwards - she made that fact very plain. ‘Kanne’ says you were somewhat moody before you went remote and she is positive it had nothing to do with her.” [‘UT’ stated.]

[I had a flashback I considered the way ‘JJ’ had feared a brain meltdown ironically in a way it was me - the mighty ‘MT’ - that lost stability and had the fit.]

“I have many other private matters in my life beyond my partnership with ‘Kanne’.” [I nonetheless retorted.]

“I do not doubt that fact but that does not mean I cannot help or that you do not need help of some kind. Going remote in this way is not like you - I too am worried by her well communicated concerns. So to put my mind at ease tell me what the issue is I will even promise not to mock your sensitivities.” [He stated.]

“One should never make promises that everyone else knows one is incapable of keeping it derides the whole process.” [I stated.]

[For a moment ‘UT’ just glowed brightly yellow in reply to that outburst then he added.] “See I am lifting your mood already I think we should go get a drink I believe that is the right social convention for a buddy talk.”

[An extruded limb patting my back.]

“I see despite previous supposed reform it is still any excuse will do with you.” [I replied.]

“Look counselling is not exactly my usual vocation so give me a bit of leeway I need some props not to look too silly and out of place.” [He replied.]

[Often it is especially hard to say no to ‘Unholy’ when he is being jovial.]

[We repaired to a local establishment called not especially imaginatively ‘Discovery’ so that we entered ‘Discovery’ upon ‘Port Discovery’. The place was run by a quirky ‘Recycler’ called ‘Oddment’ with an especially noticeably mismatched selection of cybernetic upgrades as her identifying thing.]

[I could be wrong but in my experience especially odd and colourful characters tend to gravitate towards nightclub ownership.]

[I knew ‘Oddment’ was rescued badly wounded by ‘MTC’ forces from an old ‘Free Parliament’ Port during one of the many ‘Wars of Liberation’. Developing a slightly weird attachment to her ‘Immortal Marine’ rescuers she had ended up working with them for a time as a sort of ‘Real Material’ spy / spotter / scout and then when the wars got less frequent retired from active service and opened the Bar and Nightclub that she called ‘Discovery’. Labelling it thus she claimed for a personal reason that she refused to divulge therefore giving the banal name a slight mystery that was perhaps all smoke and mirrors I wondered if it was her idea of a ‘Recycler’ in-joke within what some deemed Paradox Priest territory.]

[Many ‘Immortals’ and other ‘MTC’ members frequented ‘Discovery Nightclub’ on a regular basis or just when they made Port so it was deemed by some as a sort of services hangout rather than strictly being a more regular tourist attraction or a pilgrimage stopover. ‘Port Discovery’ due to the residence of the ‘Holy Father of the Universal Councils of Equals’ is a sacred pilgrimage site to many inside and outside the ‘MTC’. Thankfully my bloated ‘Living Hull’ body harboured more than only sacred spaces as even I thought that would be dull.]

[How ‘UT’ came to know of and / or to pick ‘Discovery’ for our buddy chat is also unknown to me perhaps through some ‘Immortal’ acquaintance. ‘Oddment’ treated us both as if just regular customers even though she probably instantly knew that we were so much more than that even if we preached equanimity. To avoid drawing a crowd we had dimmed our kanji and slipped quietly into one booth like alcove that had hardwired privacy technology support.]

[It was now a convention within the ‘MTC’ that when any of us ‘Patricians’ displayed our kanji dimmed down we were going about private matters and did not want disturbed by the public even by fervent well-wishers. On occasion, we all need some space possibly being a ‘Living Hull’ I sometimes needed a little more space than most pun intended. Most ‘Living Hulls’ can occasionally feel a bit claustrophobic when crowded compared to normal ‘Passenger Class Pilgrims’. Compared to some ‘Hulls’ I believe I am fairly relaxed and very sociable but on a bad day I too could miss not having lots of empty room around me. I guess we are all products of our nature not just our nurture no matter what other forms we borrow.]

[Weirdly crowd us ‘Hulls’ on the inside and we are usually quite happy being used to carrying masses of passengers I guess it is only when we shift our sense of self and identify very strongly with an Avatar that the space or lack of the same around that one gets oppressive by proxy. What can I say the sentient mind is a strange thing and not always logical in the progression of its reactions sue me for sometimes generalising too much.]

[Anyway ‘Unholy’ and I drank and we talked and somehow ‘UT’ brought me back out of myself. I was still far from happy but my ‘Prime Consciousness’ stopped dropping out and went back to work.]

[[I was going to skip this entire lamentable incident but ‘Kanne’ made me put it in claiming it important. I am not sure her assessment is correct but sometimes - for the sake of peace - you just have to surrender.]]

[To ease back into things I took a particular interest in the ‘Venturesome’: for a while in that form I was running lots of cargo supporting ‘The Project’ as a hauler rather than a miner or harvester if you prefer. Unlike some ‘Hulls’ I endeavoured to change my routes on a regular basis so that I could make lots of different Ports and ‘Port Clusters’ sampling opinions and monitoring the slow progress of various ‘Slivers’ all the way up to the ‘Epsilon’ designation.]

[With so many other big changes happening the old notoriety of ‘Venturesome’ due to our association with the ‘Reach Project’ was not as prevalent as it once was although I still avoided some Ports that might reject me based on past especially caustic opinions about me and my supposed ‘Free Stellar’ Captain.]

[Amongst troubling issues that began to gain my attention was the continued economic rise of the ‘Free Parliament Bank’. The ‘Bank’ using its already established financial clout continued spreading its influence gaining almost an operational business monopoly over some ‘Port Clusters’ and therefore a degree of control over some ‘Slivers’ this was deeply worrying to more than me. However, I was especially concerned about the ‘FPB’ being positive that someone high up in the ‘FPB’ was very deliberately anti-‘Living Hull’ especially anti-‘Free Hull’ possibly seeking revenge for my part in the historic fall of the ‘Free Parliament’ via seeking to hurt all ‘Living Hulls’ during this later time. I guess ‘Unholy’ is not the only soul obsessed with revenge.]

[For example recently the ‘FPB’ had declared that it would only financially assist with the commissioning of ships that did not have sentient minds. True ‘Living Hulls’ they insisted were a bad credit risk as they were prone to absconding and thus deferring upon the payment of legitimate debts. Actually the percentage of ‘Living Hulls’ that I helped liberate was embarrassingly tiny a fraction of a percent. Nonetheless I answered the accusation via arranging for the covering of all debts by liberated ‘Living Hulls’ via a special fund that I established as a registered charity that I called the ‘Freedom Fund’.]

[I was striving to look to the future but some folk were insistently obsessing about the past. ‘Founder‘ and ‘Cad’ were also unhappy with the ‘FPB’ but as long as the ‘Bank’ operated within the local and loose Universal rules of law and trade that we had established so far there was little we could legitimately do other than simply compete via our own financial institutions.]

[Of course, some ‘FPB’ assets got Pirated in unusually professional and covert ways and I put some of that activity firmly down to ‘Unholy’ running some probing black operations off the ‘MTC’ books. It probably helped ‘UT’ that ‘Creed’ and therefore the ‘Consortium Police’ were secretly sympathetic and no lovers of the ‘FPB’. Still if evidence appeared that could not be disputed I was positive ‘Creed’ would arrest ‘Unholy’ so I hoped he was being very careful. A bit of planned time travel would be a very different thing to an imposed law sanctioned sentence at a ‘Stasis Prison’ for my friend and fellow ‘Patrician’. I was positive that lots of people would love to get ‘Unholy’ removed as an active player from the game of life.]

[In fact, less than legitimate bounties were habitually put upon ‘Unholy’ and occasionally even upon me but so far no one had been able to succeed in enforcing these fiscal threats to our daily security. Often we managed to find out the people responsible for the Bounties and repaid them generously for their misguided targeting of us. Such miner skirmishes with lesser foes was just a part of regular ‘MTC’ business.]

[I also once again began to run ‘Venture’ still snared in the ‘Burner Adjustment Bureau’. I had managed to communicate earlier threats and promises to the Pirate leadership without blowing my cover via claiming we were approached to forward on the ultimatums from unknown but obviously politically and financially strong backers of the ‘Founder Project’. I was positive not everyone believed this rather basic fiction but so far they had decided to continue working with us via pretending that they did. It often amazed me how much deliberate suspension of disbelief propped up diplomacy in general.]

[With the ‘Star Divers’ now somewhat removed as contentious adversaries I believed the ‘Fraternities’ true leadership had lost some hidden backers and there was some big but hidden internal policy adjustments going on. Meanwhile our job remained the same keeping subject Pirate Lords under the thumb of ruling Pirate Overlords and possibly a Pirate King whilst also stopping any Pirate from overly abusing their authority against more average ‘Free Miners’. Technically we chose to believe our interventions slowly reforming all these rough felons and their subjects into legitimate more cultured rulers and citizens all overt gunplay aside.]

[Sadly the stubborn freedom obsessed and gun happy ‘Free Miners’ probably still needed firm leadership to keep them from sparking trouble with other ‘Pilgrims’ especially ‘User Miners’ belonging to the ‘Consortium’. Even though we were all now technically working together on ‘The Project’ our divisions remained rife and one on one skirmishes between rival mining and hauling ships remained far too common some Captains wedded to the vendetta.]

[Out and out Pirates not members of any more cultured fraternity also migrated with us to ‘Founder’s Star’ the evidence of this being the occasionally too obvious Pirate attack upon shipping and Port facilities. As usual there was always questions about who was buying the stolen loot and whether or not one or more supposedly legitimate Ports were really Pirate Bases in disguise including unsurprisingly some ‘Free Miner Way-stations’.]

[Some very suspicious attacks upon very particular targets we believed were done not so much by Pirates as by a secret attack fleet belonging to the ‘FPB’ that just wore pretend Pirate colouration for their outings but as yet we had not been able to prove anything. It was all move and counter move by and against the ‘Bank’.]

[Sadly for the first year after ‘Founders Day’ real progress seemed horribly slow to me.]

[I occasionally still marked out a target for the ‘Lesser Spotted Reserve’ my dedicated battle wagon my gunship assassin. Assets secretly belonging to me or very closely allied to me with ‘Free Stellar Crews’ and supposed Captains still helped with essential liberation operations for the small percentage of ‘Living Hulls’ in extreme danger too some of which I directly organised. Due to anti-‘Free Hull’ and anti-’Living Hull’ propaganda circulated by the ‘FPB’ amongst other detractors more and more of my kind were beginning to awaken from their slumbering servitude and realise that they were not free or safe whilst captained by ‘Passenger Class’ overlords.]

[Some angry ‘Hulls’ blamed me for some members of the ‘Passenger Classes’ turning against us further complicating matters but many realised that sooner or later a split between us and the ‘Passenger Classes’ was inevitable. I preached to those that would listen that there is no such thing as a free slave you are a slave or you are free you are free or you are a slave I saw less and less room for compromise between these two positions. Still choosing to be free had to be a choice for every individual ‘Hull’ to make when they were ready and not before.]

[Before you liberated a body you had to liberate the soul - the mind - or you just liberated trouble for the cause. I saw enough factionalism amongst the ‘Passenger Classes’ that I was determined to strive to prevent this bane from marring ‘Free Hull’ unity for as long as possible. No doubt sooner or later ‘Free Hulls’ would seek after their own private truths but for now I hoped the liberated would work together for the singular cause of aiding their still domineered sisters above all else. Thus once more our quiet revolution continued with me the ‘Many Truths’ again firmly at the tiller.]

[Still I suffered many other distractions. problems multiplying all around me and my Avatars, the work seemingly endless and nothing was as easy as it used to be because I still felt tired and somewhat unhappy that ‘The Project’ had not given us more of a split from the bad times more of a happily ever after from the onset.]

[The pettiness of much of our societal difficulties sometimes causing me to enter into uncharacteristic rages when I stepped away from the public stage. Mostly to show anger in public for me was to admit a political defeat. I felt sorry for ‘Kanne’ for I know that some of the burdens and my wrath fell occasionally undeservedly upon her making our relationship even fierier than was sometimes normal. Luckily my ‘Splinter’ lover rose to the challenge not being a fragile type actually I think she sometimes enjoyed pushing me into venting to her rather than seeking to have me contain all the building pressure until I truly exploded in public. Still we occasionally had epic arguments and shouting matches in sound proofed sanctums. With ‘Kanne’ I was able to lose all my Paradox Priest reserve I think she kept me sane by sparring with me. Somehow by accepting her as my improbable consort I made the perfect choice.]

[Trust a ‘Splinter’ to educate a Paradox Priest in the benefits of rage release in the fierce joy of burning freely. It was odd for me to learn that sometimes quiet meditation is not enough - at least not for me - maybe it was a primitive part of my genetic heritage something previously buried deep rising to the surface the predator. I eventually began to see it as a yin and yang thing that to be really whole I needed to acknowledge both sides of the duality. Creation and destruction it took me a long time to appreciate something that I think ‘Unholy Terror’ understood from the moment he was decanted as a born warrior. I suppose I was slowly becoming a Warrior Priest too as much a Priest of action as a talker and debater. The ‘Holy Father’ on one side of my nature the ‘Lesser Spotted Reserve’ on the other. For my sins I even began to enjoy battle when it was necessary. I guess I finally embraced the powers of both light and darkness.]

[I found a new balance and slowly a greater degree of inner contentment by not always being so placid. Some might claim I surrendered to an ancient internal evil all I can say is that it worked for me. I would not necessarily advocate such a solution for others as we are all the same and yet different all equal yet unique.]

[In time along with ‘UT’ and ‘Kanne’ I began making secret time jumps not to escape the present but to move forward more rapidly into the future at least that is what I chose to believe. Still, I was probably motivated mostly in my time travel by the shame same wanting to witness real change real progress.]

[We made small leaps at first to test our theory that ‘Cognitive Sub Cores’ could replace us without incident. The very first leap being only three days, next we did three weeks, then three months, then three years, then three decades, then and only then did we go for a truly big one of three centuries.]

[Here I can finally let go of this one and begin a new Book.]

[Here ends BX IV and V.]

Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

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PostPosted: Wed, 25. Mar 15, 12:16    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

First as ever thanks for commenting stads.

*** Some Part 9 Spoilers ***

Now my sad excuses: I believe all endings disappoint so I decided to end IV and V with a hastening new beginning as a sort of cheeky cheat as I was beginning to feel a bit trapped in the moment as much as ‘MT’. Some odd insecurity affected me with IV so that it got stitched together with V in an especially outsized and unwieldy lump speaking of outsized projects.

It may or may not interest that I did not plan the rise and fall of the Many Truths mood as portrayed above it just spilled out onto the screen that way as I mused upon what would happen next. I guess I must believe that what goes up truly must come crashing down again.

I hope the story is not too overly pessimistic. The original concept was that BX should be positive even uplifting perhaps the most positive thing here upon review is the enduring friendships but…

I would be grateful for any critique of IV and V now they are sort of complete. I readily acknowledge that as usual it is all more than a bit untidy. Others on the forum do better jobs of constructing sentences and so on than me.

In my mind the story due to how it is posted is more a series akin to say a very cheaply produced TV show than legitimate books. Arriving more spontaneously a bit at a time shapes the narrative and every poor choice released - as a good idea at the time - bedevils what follows. I have washed a lot of dirty linen in public.

If they were truly books written with greater planning and forethought and edited properly with precision they would be very different tales but maybe the mess fits what it is: reflecting how very untidy life not to mention my mind can be on a bad day.

I keep finding sad errors too such as ‘deduct’ instead of ‘deduce’ I guess I get too close to it at times and my spelling without a spell checker is woeful.

Lastly for now, it struck me recently that now reading all the words in BX from start to finish would be almost an epic task in itself. I must therefore consider those of you that have done so as EPIC. Thank you for reading.

Best wishes from P66.

PS is V really over I think I need a drink.

Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.
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PostPosted: Wed, 25. Mar 15, 17:37    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

yay an other book complete

wonder how big a temporal shock mt ut and kanne are in for where they wake up from there sleep

liked the book had some big changes and new discovery's gave ut some option for blowing stuff up always a good thing i my mind

biggest change was mt going from hull to his own person with all the fears and joys that come with that

looking forward to next book in line

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