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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Herman

Hearing himself laugh might have been enough to ease the excruciating pain caused by the twitching convulsions that tortured him worse than anything the ancient inquisition could've invented, but the broken sounds of a man who couldn't die were too sad to find comfort. Herman was further than a thousand years since any religion had been allowed to cut stone, somehow though, like a terrible song you memorized from the irritation caused by listening is still as memorable as the joyful sounds you dance to, Herman felt like he finally understood the Purgatory the ancient texts alluded to. Over several hundred times his vital signs had gone flat, but then his 'update' would fire up and Herman would be right back, like it never happened. Except now they were usually accompanied by convulsions that would leave him debilitated for days.
The walking dead. If only the pain would at least die, existence might have been tolerable, but as his primary surgeon was fond of saying, "It ain't done right till it's done thrice." Well, Herman had died twice, prompting both the Heart Facilitator transplant and his Neuro-Conduit implant most every other 'updated' human being received voluntarily. His own insurance policy, though it was the cheapest the government had to offer, had been changed to allow 'updates' should they be necessary, and the doctor had the discretion to decide. Herman felt as if his 'update' was as much of a sentence as the rare convict whom only a jury of his peers could unanimously sentence him to. At least they hadn't blocked off the part of his brain that was necessary for his research. Herman's curse was summed up in a word. Recessitate. His insurance policy mandated his recessitation, and as a government employee, he had priority over the non-governmental citizen. The doctor of course only recessitated him to inform him of the impending Heart-Transplant, then the subsequent recessitation when he was made aware of the necessity of the Neuro-Conduit to stabilize the Heart Transplant. Finally, Herman was recessitated when the success of the 'updates' were to be tested. They worked, and Herman was alive, at least, until he died.
His first automatic recessitation had been confusing, waking up to a room full of confused doctors, who gathered and looked as if they were witnessing a carnival act more than a medical emergency. By his second recessitation there was a general discussion in the hospital on the necessity of learning to remove the transplants, though it was a muted discussion that never made it to the ears of more than one at a time, Herman usually being the one. Funny how quickly they learned to implant without ever considering they might have to undo their work. Herman was subjected to test after test, but nothing changed in the doctor's tone of bewilderment. They had no idea what to do, and in the meantime, Hermes was stuck here, and there were no words any language on Earth that could be used to carry the weight of emotion that was living in this modern day Purgatory. Dante would have no inscription to warn him of this blighted existence, nor would he tread here if there were.
What was his sin to be cast so low? Herman was no saint, but nor was he a lush, and only under the knife had he taken the 'update' the superstitious claimed to be 'the mark of the beast', though to his embarrassment, he fit into this New World like a glove, and with a promethean passion had gone to the extreme to accumulate all forms of knowledge. First, it was History, then Biology, and so forth until his spinal 'update' suffered it's first short circuit while Herman was on a backpacking expedition in Chile. From the heights of the Andes he had to be carried on a litter back to an Embassy by the locals (whose respect had been gained by Herman's tireless efforts to teach the people the medicinal value of the local herbs). The Embassy treated him locally at first, having the basics of an 'update' clinic government employees had access to. However, it was soon apparent the short circuit Herman suffered from was far too complex for the mediocre facilities the specialist had access to. Herman had to give the poor surgeon credit, even in his complete bewilderment the man was still brave enough to try, and had taken his failure personally.
After sending Herman to the most advanced research facility in Neuro-Cybernetic-Enhancement, located in the salty desert of Utah, Herman was tested over and over by a team of the most gifted doctors in the world, all to no avail. He'd been subjected to tests before, but never so many, and the pain! Like an alarm clock he would wake to it every morning, though there was no snooze button to give him a few minutes relief, the alarm would just keep ringing. No medication helped either, and that was saying a lot, they tried everything, but with no method of retracting the thousands of microscopic tendrils the spinal 'update' was programmed to connect into the nerve network at the base of his skull, there was nothing left to do but wait and learn.
Herman still had his studies, in between the attacks of course, and luckily the facility where he was being treated had a library. A good one too, filled with every medical journal written since DaVinci, and with his 'updates' still operational, his total recall memory absorbed the knowledge at his command. Herman took full advantage of the precious time between his all too consuming attacks and poured himself into research, first having books brought to his bed, then with too much time between request and it's fulfillment, began spending his time in the library itself. Despite the inconvenience of being dragged out unconscious occasionally, the staff didn't mind. Within a year, Herman had the entire library on call within his 'updated' memory. No sooner had he completed the last text (one of the older ones that still considered the brain a gift of God), he went back to the laboratory, though not alone. He'd been assigned several assistants that together gave him a twenty-four hour companionship should an attack seize him at an inconvenient time, and his assistants were quickly sworn to secrecy. At first their presence was in case of medical emergency, however their curiosity and loyalty was won over behind the locked doors of what had now become Herman's laboratory. They watched, day after day as Herman gave his passion over to something they could only guess at, and occasionally, Herman would make a request only they could fill, though their curiosity was made stronger than ever when they were sent for supplies with a sealed envelope, and returned with a sealed package. Months passed this way, with over a dozen deaths in-between. The doctors and surgeons frequented Herman's tortured existence less and less as time went by, whether it was the reflection of their failure they avoided, or their unwillingness to cure something so fascinating, Herman became indifferent. He no longer needed the check the Government still sent him, and usually tore it up when it was received. The Government in their turn began ignoring him as well, and at one point even sent him a dismissal letter, giving Herman a seizure when the laugh he attempted shorted a circuit. Herman had given up a long time ago, but his assistant's noticed a faint glimmer in his eyes that he finally admitted existed when he was close to completion of his secret project. Their excitement was much more visible as he unveiled the object that had been his obsession over the last several months. His Savior was a theory based only on his own research, and today was to be it's first experiment.
Slipping the boots on his feet, Herman's heart was pounding, frightening him with the possibility of having an attack when he was so close to being free from the pain forever, and forever was a strong word in Herman's lexicon.
The answer had been so simple Herman knew that secrecy was required, fearing the bureaucracy that would likely hinder his work, and if this experiment was successful, Herman was sure they would claim it as their own medical breakthrough, and he cringed at what would happen to the world with this power in the governments possession. The boots were lined with a gelatin that on the quantum level, did it's own computations, adjusting to external stimulus. Herman alone knew the secret formula to this substance, and this experiment, if successful, would change everything the world knew, as much as the battery and anti-bacterial soap put together.
Herman designed the boots to mimic the neuro network of the brain, but he had to admit the cool feel of the semi-sentient substance that encompassed his feet was rather comfortable. Moving his toes around to test the boots internal flexibility, Herman was pleased. All seemed in place, and it was time to turn it on.
Being a new substance required a new source of power, and Herman had built it into the old walking staff he'd taken with him on his previous backpack excursions. A simple theory that one had been, though gathering the materials and maintaining secrecy had been all the difficulty the building of the power source had not. Tuning into the living energy that surrounded all things only required a vibrational frequency that could pull it in like a vacuum pulled in dirt. The question that Herman had a difficult time answering was what would happen when he connected the walking staff's self sustaining energy source to an invention that was in the grey area of Artificial Intelligence.
Nothing left to do now but turn it on.
Holding the staff reverently, he passed his hand over the wooden shaft slowly, to the cool metal that was the Frequency Generator. He'd realised it's recipe during one of his dreams, and remarkably, the dreams recipe had proven accurate when he re-created it in the lab. His shock had been immense, but was soon changed to hope, and hope is the greatest energy source of all, eternally burning and inspiring creation.
Herman had truly become a man possessed, never truly at rest with the convulsions threatening his concentration worse than the pain itself, always close. This dread filled anticipation had been part of his psyche so long, he felt as if he was that victim psychology books discussed, who became sympathetic to their victimizer. Until now of course, Herman thought to himself, running a finger over the serpent's head, that adjacent to it's twin, topped Herman's staff. The jewel that was the serpents eye was another addition to Herman's inventions, though it wasn't the rock that mattered as much as it's quantum coating. Again, it was so simple that Herman knew it was not time for humans to know of it's existence.
Not yet at least.
Pushing his thumb into each of the four eyes the serpents held, the fourth and final eye gave way to a humming sound as it was pushed in. making a dull noise and an effect that was instantaneous.
It worked.
The pain was gone. Not only gone, but the difference in Herman's body and mind was dramatic enough to be a subtle promise the pain would never return while Herman wore the invention that was his. The convulsions were gone for good, He felt it like a new instinct settling on his mind, and holding the humming staff in his hands, suddenly Herman had an epiphany.
It was so simple.
Standing was never easier, and walking was pure pleasure as Herman made his way across the room to where his very confused assistant was standing, seemingly immobilized with shock at this physical display of Herman's new self.
"I need you to find me a hammer and chisel,"
It took his assistant a moment to absorb the request, and before she could reply with the million unspoken questions, Herman gave her a half smile as the only answer she knew she would get from him.
Swallowing, she left. As the sliding door closed behind her, Herman suddenly winked out of existence. There one second, gone the next. The room itself sat in silent anticipation in the seconds it had to itself before Herman winked back into existence in the exact spot he'd left, exactly the same, save for the gravestone size green stone he was holding in his arms.
Minutes later, when the assistant returned holding the chisel and hammer as one would a possibly poisonous snake, she heard Herman muttering to himself as she approached.
"That which is True-"
"Here you go sir," Loathe to interrupt, but under orders she handed Herman his requested material and silently left the room, only to be halted at the door by Herman's quiet voice.
"Thank you dear, and please.."
She turned around and waited as He did the same, sensing something important.
He smiled in a way she hadn't seen before as he finished.
"Call me Hermes."

The Emperor's Game

It was a strange world when the fate of thousands could be decided by a few moves on a board game. 'Chess' the Emperor (may the sun illuminate him eternally) had called it, though 'Fate' would be a better name, at least that's what William thought.
It was difficult to pinpoint the crux of the dilemna Chess (or Fate) had brought him to, but the real tragedy was in the game itself, or rather his lack of ability to comprehend it's strategic subtleties. Only a year passed since the Royal Decree, which the Emperor (may the sun illuminate him eternally) himself had toured the lengths of his Empire to declare as the new method of settling local disputes between bordering rulers. In that year William's ability to play the game had changed much less than his borders had, by a longshot. He was a soldier, not a gentleman educated in the social sciences of leadership on a board game, and with no dice the element of Chance was gone. A soldier naturally gains respect for and even love for the maiden Chance over the years, and the game of chess had stolen her and locked her away in the proverbial tower that was one of it's pieces. Yes, over the last year, the game of Chess had become a tyrant in his life worse than anything the Emperor (may the sun illuminate him eternally) could inflict with any size army. Always at the mercy of any challenge, which multiplied like rabbits when word of his ignorance spread. He was losing every defensible hill and engage-able valley, not to the honorable art he was accustomed to, but metaphorical maneuvering he was completely unprepared for, and there was nothing in his life that taught him that could do a thing about it.
The smug grin on his opponents face, which somehow had made it's way around the teacup the man was holding to his powdered face, was a testament to his predicament. William had seen the look before, from this man even, as the coward of a ruler waited for William to make his first move. Being the host of the game made it custom, and the challenged ruler was obliged to host, making this his third experience playing Frederick, who now held over a third of Williams previous territory without ever meeting him on an actual battlefield. Frederick had been given the land of a previous ruler who'd been exiled when the Emperor (may the sun illuminate him eternally) ascended the throne. William hadn't liked the previous ruler, but now in hindsight almost missed the predictable nature of the man, who'd been more than willing to settle whatever dispute they had on the battlefield. Frederick had quickly take to the Royal Decree and in a single year managed to amass a kingdom with the luck of having a wealthy childhood and an Emperor (may the sun illuminate him eternally) as a friend. William had to admit that Frederick played an unparalleled Chess game, and he knew he was not the only victim of Frederick's rise to power. Many hills and castles had been dodged by the movement of these little stone pieces. William had learned enough to see when one of his pieces was threatened, but this manipulator would make moves that only made sense after he was caught in the unavoidable trap. Every time he lost, he was confused how or why until it was explained to him, and Frederick was always quick to fulfill the need with a tone that was too full of itself to even be insulted. Even after the conceit filled explanation, or afterwards when William was alone and playing it out again, the methodology eluded him.
This game was to decide the fate of a part of his land that had been his first conquest, and having been raised since a child in its field, he was loathe to let it go, especially to somebody like this groveling coward of a man. If not for the overriding fear of being persecuted by the Church, William would have sent the man to the underworld long ago, hands happily wrapped around his egotistical throat. A lifetime of traditional field combat and bitterly earned victory about to be turned over to a whelp who'd never earned a blister, let alone marched to battle. The man actually had servants carry him in a litter! It was difficult to condemn a man who seemed so oblivious, and William had to wonder what the Emperor (may the sun illuminate him eternally) saw in him to allow him such unchallenged authority.
All these thoughts meant nothing, and only avoided the ugly truth. William was about to lose his last piece of land, after a lifetime of conquest and bloodshed, to a newcomer who fortuitously came to the scene with an eagle's sight where everyone else was blind as a mole. Like playing dice loaded against you and being told its your fault for not having your own loaded dice.
Oh well, William thought to himself, resigned to fate (or chess), time to go back to sailing if he lost this one. If.
The flash of excitement in Frederick's eye was as unmistakable as the clatter of his teacup, both betraying his non-emotional aura. The game was on, and as Frederick knew, the victor was as certain as the messiah's date with destiny.
"Kings Pawn I see.." so few words yet full of contempt. Much less energy was spent as Frederick casually moved his horse on the queens side. "I guess it went well enough last time, and the time before.." With a chuckle hidden by the teacup, Frederick settled back into the cushioned seat, knowing would be a while.
Not this time. William suddenly had an idea, and with a sigh of satisfaction implying his epiphany, moved his horse. "I see you've realised the benefit of a knight.." Frederick said as he moved his own Kings pawn to the square next to William's. Does he know? Of course not William thought to himself, this man could not read minds, he was good at the game, not life.
"Perhaps." William replied as he moved his knight further down the board.
"Or maybe I think you're willing to sacrifice anything to acquire one."
"Maybe I am." Frederick moved his other knight out in direct line of William's knight attack. William took it.
"Let's see what happens without a couple of them." William said as Frederick took William's knight with his queen.
"See what I mean? must be important to bring 'Her Majesty' out."
"The queen always tends to the King's business best, so why waste time with underlings?" This guy was smug. William moved his queen out to meet her.
"Indeed, why waste time?" Frederick knew something different was happening, and he didn't know what to do. At least, anybody with a decent ability at cards would come to that conclusion. Subtle, but it was there. Fear. For the first time in a year, William smiled, then after Frederick moved his knight, William ignored the threat and moved his queen to take Frederick's queen, saying goodbye as he did. Of course it had to be a pawn that took his queen, but more important was the lack of smugness hanging in the air. It was William that finally broke the silence. As he moved his bishop to guard the pawn Frederick's knight was threatening, he had humor in his voice, "Time for the pious to do their duty, wouldn't you say Frederick?" Frederick moved one of his towers, but William had no idea why. Time to play a different game. William had read few books in his lifetime, and his favorite was 'The Art of War', which said to project strength when one was weak, and weakness when one was strong.
Time to be strong.
Moving a pawn to threaten the knight Frederick had entrenched, he obligingly retreated, though so too had the air of defeat that had been so pungent before. This was a new game and Frederick didn't like it. The next few moves were disorganized on both sides of the board, then, when William castled (a move he never dared use before), the sigh of satisfaction Frederick released made William instantly regret his recklessness. It was time to push forward, no matter what happened. This surprise approach had certainly won him back some confidence at least. Frederick had the sense that something was different about William's attitude. He must be suspicious, wasn't he? No, Frederick simply saw something only he could see. Pushing forward with a pawn, William was dismayed what the look of victory he had seen several times by now crept back onto Frederick's visage and back into his tone as he said,
"So we're both missing our knight and queen.. A bit like Camelot, wouldn't you say?" Something in his tone and subsequent laugh at his own wit convinced William the game was already over, at least, from Frederick's all knowing perspective. At least he stopped laughing when William took one of his pawns with a pawn of his own.
"I thought you'd be more considerate of your own little people William.."
Frederick took the pawn with another.
"My bishop will redeem them." William's bishop took the pawn in revenge.
"Of course, but without a tower-" William's bishop was replaced by a tower he'd forgotten about.
Moving his own tower to buy time, William sensed there was a trap coming, and he couldn't see it. Another pawn taken. Damn. Moving his bishop out of harm's way he could almost hear the heartbeat of his opponent it was so quiet. Or was that his own? William was doomed, he knew it, so he started plan B.
Sacrifice. Seemed fitting enough as he lost his second knight, even his experience at card playing couldn't have let him hide his dismay. Only two towers left, and William had no idea what to do with them against his opponents mostly intact force. With Five, no, make that four pawns left William was quickly running out of options.
Time for plan C. Suicide.
He made the move that signaled defeat, and the air instantly retained that pungent reek that had permeated before. Gone was the fear that William had been able to put into the cowardly man, and he reveled in the sight of it, knowing that it would live with him forever as a memory, even if it had only existed for such a short time.
"It is finished." Frederick's tone had all the pompousness returned. William sighed in resignation as he tipped his King over in submission to the unavoidable.
"Yes, it is."
There was a click behind William that Frederick barely had time to hear before his chair was pushed backwards with the force of the impact from the bolt fired. William had placed the man there with orders to fire when William said those words of resignation, and his fear had been profound while he waited for the fated moment. The genuine surprise covering Frederick's features gave William reason to smile as he stood over the dying man.
"I sent the Emperor, may the sun illuminate him eternally, a bird just before you arrived explaining my regret and responsibility of losing you to such an unlikely and dramatic fall as you made." The entire western wall of William's castle overlooked a cliff that boasted a death by old age before meeting the ground, and Frederick would not be the first to make the journey.
"I also petitioned the Church for the renegotiation of the borders, and with a caravan full of generous contributions to the church and state, as well an extra garrison for the Emperors, may the sun illuminate him eternally, conquest, I expect my petition should pass."
Stepping over the dying ruler, William walked out of the room, thinking about the lack of a good archer in the game. It was a shame Chess didn't have a Crossbowmen. Fate did, and a well place bolt could change the outcome of any war.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Out of Nowhere

Out of Nowhere

The crack in the windshield added to the shock of the impact, and with an airbag threatening to smother him, Brett was still able to catch a fleeting glance of the shadow of the man running away as it followed him around the corner. Did he hear laughing? Who falls out of nowhere? And lands on.. of all places in the world.. Brett's car? How? Why? A million questions running through his mind, as well the overwhelming impulse to give chase to the perpetrator, but his pacifist nature won over, or it could have been the futility of the action. The only thought that seemed to matter to Brett was not how this strange man destroyed his car, but how he ran away. Laughing. This just doesn't happen. Even so, he was still standing in the middle of an empty intersection with a steaming, broken down bowl of a car. Alone. No witnesses.
"Just great." spoken out loud to the empty street didn't help. Taking a deep breath, Brett reached back into the broken vehicle's center console, hoping his phone hadn't broke. It hadn't, and he had the 9 dialed when lights turned onto the street. Being only two blocks away, it was easy to distinguish the trademark addition to the car's hood signifying law enforcement. There goes the old adage of 'never a cop around when you need one' Brett thought to himself as he approached the police car with his arms up and palms out, in the slight hope that he would win the empathy of the approaching officer (or at least not be so intimidated). Good thing he hadn't drank anything tonight, not that he really drank much anymore. Still, Brett was especially grateful for his sobriety as the signature red and blue lights began to flash, blinding enough without the spotlight that was now trained on him. Making a mental note to locate and eradicate the source of his DNA code that was the instinct to submit to bright lights. Brett was as still as any soon-to-be roadkill as he watched the agonizingly slow process of the driver exiting the parked police car. He could've turned the spotlight off.

Brett managed a theater, and did well if you asked the other employees, in his view, this gave him experience in reading people. His honest face and unassuming nature usually allowed people to warm to him easily, but it was hard to turn on the charm and explain the events of the night to the cop who might've been a stand in for any crime solving sitcom Brett had seen, mustache and all. How was he going to explain that he was the victim of an unknown assailant who either caught a strong wind or might've beamed off a ship with faulty coordinates. Whatever he said, there was no getting around the awkwardness of the situation, so Brett dove right in, hoping honesty would win the law to his side.
"Officer, you being here only makes this night stranger, but you gotta-"
"Hold on.." His tone was firm, but polite. A tone use to giving commands more than taking them.
"Are you alright? Do you require an ambulance?" His tone reminded Brett of the time his coach asked the same question after he'd taken a ground ball to the face. It still stung every time Brett thought about it, making him wonder briefly what emotion the recall of this nights drama would induce in the future. Brett winced, "Yeah, I'm fine. The guy that smashed-" unnecessarily he gestured, "my car ran that way." Pointing and waiting for the reply, Brett was surprised he'd left out the laughing. Even more so when he decided to maintain his secret. He'll think I've lost it for sure if I say the stranger was laughing like a maniac, but he's never going to believe me anyway Brett's thoughts were as loud as the officers footsteps as he made his way around the scene, investigating with the finesse of a finely tuned actor, buried into his character. His tone betrayed his doubt when the officer finally broke the awkward silence with the usual question form.
"Have you had anything to drink tonight?"
"No Sir, not a drop."
"No Weed?"
"No Sir, sober as a sponsor," Tonight at least.
Taking a breath, the officer seemed decided to bite, "Can you tell me what happened?"
And Brett did, as articulate as the nonsensical situation allowed. Still, when he was finished and settled into silence, the mustache never twitched. He was a stone. Instinctively, Brett wanted to start his story over, but a slight tilt in the cops head pre-empted the move as efficiently as any Kung Fu master disarmed his opponent. He felt helpless, and unable to explain why. Maybe it was the spotlight.. Fortunately, Brett's morbid thoughts were interrupted when the cop spoke.
"Do you have the number for a tow truck?"
"No."
"The City can tow it, but I doubt you'll want to pay the cost recover it AND fix it" There was something strange in the cop's tone, but Brett's relief at the tone of freedom implied was enough to not question what it meant, instead he listened as the cop continued, unaware of the change "I'll need you to stay until I finish my report and I can get your signature, but after that, you're free to go." Just like that the officer decided it was something too weird to get involved with. Cognitive dissidence was a term Brett had read about, but never truly seen till now. Oddly, it made him feel better. Settling into his drivers seat as the cop retreated to his car to fill in the paperwork, Brett contemplated his fate as he waited in the still empty intersection. If he hadn't been driving this route for so long Brett would have found the vacancy eery, but tonight he was grateful there would be no witnesses to mock him later. With a groan of understanding, the reality of the situation began to truly settle in. He was screwed. Maybe his mom would let him borrow the car, and he had some money in his savings, but he'd been saving it for a reason, and it definitely wasn't this. What good does liability do when someone falls out of the sky and lands on your car, then runs away? There goes his new camera, that was for sure, and his insurance was going to go up too. The situation was strange enough Brett was too afraid to ask 'why me?' though his thoughts yelled it loud enough to compensate. He was gripping the wheel with white knuckles when the office finally approached. Standing several feet away from the car, it seemed a subtle non-verbal for 'exit the vehicle' Brett assumed, and obliged. The cop's formality implied the hesitance he must be feeling, but like a good poker player, he hid it well as he spoke.
"I have the incident filed as a Hit and Run with the evading party assuming guilt by departure from the scene. Unfortunately," His pause with the word made Brett's heart skip a beat. "Unfortunately with no witnesses it will have to be a civil suit to be recompensed for any damages." Handing Brett a large metal clipboard that held his paperwork, the officer looked around once, and leaning closer to Brett said in a much milder tone. "If it was me, I'd just sign it and convince yourself it was just a lunatic hopped up on amphetamines."
"I wish I could sir."
"Do you need an escort home?"
"No sir, I think I've had enough of vehicles for one night, and I'm only twelve blocks away." The cop nodded as if expecting the reply, and after receiving the now signed paperwork and separating it with professional efficiency, handed Brett his copy and walked back towards his car, where lights approaching soon formed into a tow truck approaching. Driven by a man that had to be aware and using the stereotype of his profession to his advantage, from the potbelly and stained denim suspenders, to the greasy hat that barely covered his equally greasy hair. The tow truck driver wasted no time with words, but went to work as only a master of his craft could. After only a few minutes of working chains this way and that, it seemed sudden when Brett's car was in the air and on the back of the truck. He felt like he was attending a friend's funeral as he watched the procession take the corpse away, and stayed in that spot long after both the metaphorical pallbearers and his new pal (Officer Lopez is what the signature said) turned their own way. Still, not a single car drove by.

Fortunately, Brett was a lazy student, and therefore lucky enough to habitually leave his bag in his car. "saves time," was his rationalization, but now he was grateful for his ability to carry his belongings with him. Being mostly games, movies, and music (he'd left his film gear at home), it wasn't heavy, until about the fourth block. His shoulders burned as his grim thoughts assualted him one after another. Even Shakespeare would have a hard time articulating the confusion Brett was feeling effectively. Then again, the term 'star crossed' seemed to ring in a new tone when he thought about it. He'd have to read more Shakespeare. By the eighth block he had a solid stride and a mind made up on the brand of alcohol that would soon be sending this night into oblivion. Fortunately, his favorite cornerstore only two blocks farther just happen to sell it. Katie sold it, hopefully. Tonight was just the kind of night to break this three year long crush he'd been unable to verbalize. Damn DNA always rebelled whenever he tried, and by some force as yet unseen, kept his tongue still despite all his best efforts. Even the sparkle Spartacus achieved dulled to Brett's infatuation (which is what Spartacus suffered from, HE just didn't know it) with Katie. Yes tonight was the night, the plan was full proof and had all the drama of any feet-sweeping drama. Confidence itself barged through the entrance to the cornerstore, and was immediately shot down, unless he wanted to cuddle with a big Hawaiin named Maka. He was drinking alone tonight. Maka, of course, somehow knew everything and blew Brett a kiss when confronted with Brett's disappointed face.
"Be'r luck nex dime Bra.." Maka winked.
Brett had learned to take Maka in stride and had his response ready, "I'm tellin ya, she's gonna marry me.."
"Nah bra, I put da flower in da ear, bra.."
"She just too scared say no bra," Brett had a decent Maka impression, though Maka didn't think so. Dodging the Hawaiins mock lunge, Brett made his way to the alcohol, and was almost to the aisle when he began to hear a ringing sound, one he couldn't locate the source if his life depended on it. It was getting louder too, but the source was everywhere at once. A strange whistling sound, like a ring of trees in a strong wind, but bottled up and directed straight to his brain from everywhere, and it was still increasing.
"Hey Maka, something broken?"
"Dunno bra.."
"What's that sound?"
"Dunno bra.."
How could this night get any stranger? Brett thought to himself, then suddenly regretting the thought form in the first place, should the night decide to take it as a challenge. The sound was loud enough now he'd have to yell for Maka to hear him.
"Maka, what's going on?"
"Dunno bra.."
Then the light appeared. A glowing grain of sand hovering six feet away at eye level to Brett. Noticing the alcohol closest to the tiny orb, he was only shocked enough for a small grunt when he noticed it was, in fact, the brand he sought. Only tonight would this make any sense, Brett thought, unable to concentrate with such a dis-orienting sight in front of him added to the whistling sound infiltrating his brain. The sound seemed to abate slightly with the arrival of the light, but the shift in tune made as the orb began to elongate into a hair thin line was truly a new sound to Brett's ear drums. This tone seemed to alter space in a way he'd never have thought possible, though now listening to it, it made an instinctual sense that Brett could only attribute to some other nameless contributor to his unique double helix. It was more than an orchestra could achieve, no matter the size, and it seemed to emanate as much as vibrate, making Brett begin a serious round of internal inqueries on his level of sanity. His sore shoulders denied him the luxury of believing it was a dream, though watching the light move back and forth in a rhythym as it grew bigger, was more dreamlike than many dreams he'd experienced. Most dreams actually. The sound was taking on a wave-like quality with an ebb and flow as eternal sounding as waves on a beach. The shock had worn off slightly, whether it was the trance inducing movements the rapidly growing line of light made, or maybe he'd finally tripped a circuit breaker in his brain thanks to the surreal circumstances that were playing out tonight.

The complexity of the motion was growing as fast as the line itself was, from serpentine to stretching, it's movement grew more exaggerated as its shape lengthened. Growing seemed more it's concern than harm, giving Brett the confidence to allow his brain to say one thing, and make his body do the other.
"Run!" his brain screamed.
"No." his body replied.
Cliff diving, rock climbing, running a packed theater on a Friday night, always educational, never easy. So too was this night and it had something to do with that shadow. The shadow that laughed. Attempting non-chalance, Brett continued his journey, toward the alcohol, not the light, only inches away. With each step, he enjoyed the tones he 'experienced' more than heard, it seemed that he was stepping through the sound though, rather than hearing it. The Light had continued to grow as Brett approached, and though it couldn't be conscious, it did seem to shift slightly in harmony with Brett's movements. Stretching now from eye level two less than two feet from the ground and growing, he had to reach around the light to retrieve his prize. In his business, he had to know a good plot when he saw one (so he could give it the biggest theater), and this plot was one of the greats. In honor of the many that had tried and failed, Brett bore all the ceremony any great movie could create as he reached out and retrieved the treasure of liquid courage. The bottle itself was more lit by the line of light than the overhead flourescents, and the sound that was pulsating in his mind had the angelic overture tone that made this moment his Excalibur. Retrieved, Brett stood in place and watched as the line of light reached the floor and straightened. Brett looked back to see if Maka was watching this strange scene. He was. The line had stretched higher until it was over seven feet tall when suddenly, out of the center, millions of lights shot outward in every direction that was two dimensions from its starting point. It was soon clear it was forming into a circle, a perfect circle that glowed on the outside in a bright white and the inside a deep black. It looked like an eclipse, only a foot and a half in front of him. The sound had changed to a tone that was like a large drum, but constant, making Brett feel as if he was humming unintentionally. It wasn't unpleasant, Only new.

Taking one last look at Maka, Who nodded in his infinite wisdom and flashed him the sacred Shaka (Maka had explained it to him one night while he was not waiting for Katie), and gave him a smile only a Hawaii'n could acheive.
"Be careful bra, no knowing what meet ya on da other side.."
"I know Maka, take care of Katie."
"Like Ohana bra, no worries."
Taking an awkward shuffle forward, Brett took one final look at everything he knew. Suddenly his backpack full of entertainment seemed an unwelcome burden and he shrugged it off without regret. Maka played most of them, he could have them. He probably knew all that already, and had the exact change in his pocket to cover the bottle Brett opened. At least he looked unsurprised when Brett held the bottle up and tried to project over the vibration the eclipse was emanating.
"To things appearing out of nowhere!" Needing the courage, Brett took several swallows before recapping the bottle. The shiver was intense, but then came the courage. He jumped.

Into nowhere. No air, but no need to breathe and maintain what didn't exist. Relaxed knowing became his experience and the concept of 'death' as well his evil sire 'fear' dissolved into a state that could only be described as bliss. The word meant nothing to his former shell, but in this world, it was everything. Knowing from this perspective made it all so simple, mortality truly was a blink of the souls existence, and every soul learned to cry, whether for love lost or love gained, a soul sheds tears that spanned eons. Brett was now one of many names, each of which held a lifetime of experiences and memories that somehow only complimented the knowingness was. Words could describe no more than shadows were men, images racing by as a slideshow timed to his every thought. Watching thousands of years pass by in a billion different perspectives, both individually and collectively simultaneous to each other. Each lifetime was beautiful and radiated individuality. Mortality. So precious to re-learn, but terrible the cost. Worth it. A billion lifetimes could not quench the souls thirst for knowledge, and the flame of curiosity would never extinguish as long as life itself lived, and life was eternal and everywhere. The knowingness that was Brett heard voices carried through the space that was the universe, over and over the same words spoken, never in the same way.
"Who am I?"
"What am I capable of?"
"How deep is my Love?"
Every voice asked differently, but the same passion carried it home and every answer added to the whole. So many lives lived, and all in search of truth, never knowing their own significance. Even his current shell had wisdom to share and found truths that were still hidden to many. Time did not exist here, the knowingness conveyed that with a subtle impression of living a lifetime like one in life would go to a movie. They're not really scared when the monster jumps out at them, they just want to pretend, to be somebody else for a few moments and learn from their mistakes. Even knowing the movie ends doesn't keep people from seeing them, you just enjoy it for what it is.
Life was the souls path to Gnosis, or self knowledge, and Gnosis connects all shells to each other. What one learns, so learn the whole. Billions of perspectives and lifetimes lived and Brett felt more a child than ever. The Knowing would not stay, it was the way of things, and Brett knew what was next.
"Who am I? I am Brett."
"What am I capable of? Completing the cycle."
"How deep is my Love?-"
The answer to that was felt at the core of every point in time and space, and as his shell began to coalesce with the deliberate intent wielded naturally and with the grace of Knowing still a part of his form.

His shell was heavy and luckily still in its formation stage when he fell into the windshield. Brett felt like a new man, literally. Having no idea where he was he was only semi aware of rolling off the car he'd fallen on and it was instinct that pushed his legs into running away from the poor soul's vehicle he'd just annihilated. Laughing at something that he knew he understood at some point, but like a dream was quickly fading. As he turned a corner out of sight of the car, his pace never slowed, and
as he ran he wondered what the other guy was thinking about.

Brett laughed.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Paintings
















The Trial of Anakim

Anakim had never seen a trial before, let alone on the Mothership, but now that he was a part of one (the accused part) he was quite sure he'd never like to see one again. "Your Honor, I present exhibit A" the Prosecutor exclaimed as he pushed the power button on the hologram. The three-dimensional image of himself was unmistakeable, and so too was the image of the human he was conversing with. The sound was broken up slightly by the static, but as the scene echoed to the Judge, Jury, and throughout the courtroom, the change in facial expressions was a sure sign of their reaction. Not good, Anakim thought to himself. Not good. "Do you recognise this human?" The Prosecuter asked. "Of course. As King, we had many conversations." Anakim replied, not wanting to give any ground in the direction he knew the prosecutor was heading. The courtroom was silent in anticipation. They all knew the fate of millions was hanging in the balance of Lady Justice's scales. Everyone knew the Law had been broken, and most had at least second hand contributed to the lawlessness of this blue utopian planet, though few would admit to it in the courtroom. Fortunate for them, Anakim thought to himself glumly, the cloaking capability of his race was remarkable, at least enough so that one of his people could walk freely among the Humans without giving away their identity, even to other Nephilim. There was no way of knowing how many of his people had walked amongst the Humans, but if there was an indication in how many were attending the trial, it was many. "Could you please establish with the Court what your place among the Humans was at the time of the alleged conversation?" Anakim noticed the fluctuation in tone when the Prosecuter said the word "alleged" but decided he'd do best to ignore it. "I was the King's advisor." You could hear a needle drop, the courtroom was so silent. "And what is the context of the conversation we are watching?" The prosector asked with an exaggerated gesture towards the hologram that was playing the scene in a loop. Anakim knew the answer, but he also knew that no matter which way he spun it, the result was the same. "We were discussing Succession." Keep it simple, he thought, let the Prosecuter dig if he wants to. "And in this discussion of Succession, what conclusions did you reach?" This question was for the dramatic effect, Anakim knew, since they had just spent the hour previous in silence to the hologram's witness. "We decided that the Nephilim had usurped their original position of Advisor to Humans." The tension in the courtroom was palpable. Every Nephilim in attendance knew the story, but to hear it in the courtroom was entirely different, especially when the fate of an entire planet was at stake.

The Prosecuter let the silence hang in the air for a few moments and exchanged knowing glances with the Jury. "And what was the consensus on approaching this 'usurpation'?" Anakim knew there was no answer to this question that wouldn't prove his guilt, but there was nothing he could do but answer. "We decided to change the govenment." The sharp intake of breath could be heard from several sources across the courtroom. "And what sort of government did you and the-" With a dramatic pause, the prosecutor successfully conveyed his distaste for the next word, "-Human King conclude would be a better alternative?" Again, the court knew the answer, but the Prosecutor knew the value of interrogation, and Anakim was damning himself with every word. "We decided that the humans deserved to be represented, and the ony way to do that was to dissolve the Kingship and form a Democracy." It amazed Anakim that the courtroom could still find surprise in his words, let alone so many in unison. The Prosecutor began to pace dramatically with his arms behind his back, as if saddened by what he had to say next. "You are aware that Democracy has not been introduced to the Humans as of yet, are you not Anakim?" "Yes, I'm aware." "Then could you please tell the court why you felt the need to break the Law and introduce a system the Humans are not ready for yet?" The last part of the statement Anakim wanted to argue against, he knew the Humans better than anyone in this courtroom, and they were far more advanced than any of the Nephilim were willing to admit. He also knew the Prosecutor wanted him to argue this, and the audience would consider it another confession instead of a justification. "The Humans are on the verge of civil war, and the King and I felt it could be stopped if we could give the Humans incentive to get involved." He knew the court was not going to hear it like he was saying it, but there was no way around it, so he went on, despite the guilt he was confessing. "The King is half Nephilim, you recall, and in the course of many conversations he came to the conclusion that the only way to govern was to allow the people to govern themselves." Anakim paused to let his statement settle on the court, "And so I made the decision to share my knowledge with the King as it was his intuition that told him Democracy existed." He knew the courtroom would not understand his usurpation of tradition, but his options were limited. As the Prosecutor continued his dramatic pacing, Anakim did his best to maintain the image of confidence that had got him the position of King's advisor in the first place. "So you are saying you broke a three-thousand year old Law for no other reason than the King of the Humans had his first rational thought?" The audience laughed quickly, and just as quickly fell silent again, waiting for the reply. "I'm saying the King demonstrated what is traditionally referred to as 'First Thought', therefore, I felt it was time to introduce the concept." "And could you please explain to the court why you felt the need to skip the traditional thousand year introduction of said concept?" This was the one moment he knew was coming, and so he waited until he knew he had every eye in the courtroom directed on him. "Because the tradition is wrong," the courtroom was not ready for this bluntness and almost in unison, all in attendance broke out into whispered conversation. "ORDER! ORDER!" The sound of the gavel was louder but less effective than the sound of the Judge's rising voice. "I WILL have order in the courtroom." After a few seconds of listening to the diminishing conversation, the Prosecuter proceeded. "Wrong?" He did a good job sounding incredulous, "Who are you to say a tradition as long practiced as Advisorship is wrong?" Anakim was quickly getting tired of this charade and let his tone imply it as he replied, "When did it become acceptable to interbreed with an alien race in the first place?" He knew he would get a reaction from the court over his last statement, but the eruption of the crowd surprised even him. After a full two minutes of banging the gavel and yelling for order, the courtroom finally settled down enough to allow the Prosector to speak. "Do you have a wife?" The prosector asked innocuosly. "Yes." "And is she Human?" "Yes." "Do you have children?" "Yes." "Are they Nephilim?" "Yes." Anakim knew where this was heading. "And so, even though you yourself have children and wife from these Humans, you would tell the courtroom that it is wrong to interbreed with an alien race?" He was backed into a corner and he knew it. Oh well, he thought to himself, it was a good life while it lasted. "I took a wife as ordered, and had children, as ordered, and it has been fifty years since my wife died, and ten years since my boys have come to manhood and taken wives for themselves. But that is my life before the conversation in question. I made my decision on the King's request for information, not the other way around." Anakim knew he was dead, but at this point he was trying to save the Humans and the half-breeds that were on trial by association. "The Humans are ready for Democracy, and it is wrong for us to take it upon ourselves to decide when they should 'receive' what is their inheritance." The Prosecutor had stopped pacing, and was waiting for what he must thought was going to be a damning confession, so Anakim went on, "We have interbred countless civilizations in the name of 'assistance' and 'advisorship' and never once questioned the moral authority of doing so. This race deserves more than the mining proffession we have introduced to them, and they deserve more than pyramids and gold as a reward for the worship they give us." The tension in the courtroom was palpable, and growing, "I accept my guilt, and refrain from asking mercy of the court for myself, but I beg the court to be lenient on the Humans, they are unaware of their potential and instead of guidance and advisorship from us, we should be giving them the freedom to discover for themselves what they are truly capable of. We do nothing to assist them, and though it is only my opinion, our presence is a hinderance to their growth, and we would be wise to cease interference in their genetic code." At this, as Anakim knew it would, the courtroom again exploded into pandemonium, nor would it cease to the hammering of the gavel, instead, the gavel seemed to give the numerous voices in the room a sense of rhythym to their outcry.

The Jury took only ten minutes to deliberate, and not a person in attendance was surprised by the guilty verdict that ensued. As the judge banged the gavel in judgement, Anakim barely heard the sentencing, "-ing guilty, I pronounce your fate to be one with the Humans your advisorship has damned. Let the Purge be a lesson to all in the courtroom of the consequences of interfering with the traditions of the Nephilim. The race of Humans has been comprimised, and so too has the honor of the Nephilim. The stain of this event shall be wiped clean." It was over, he was sentenced to die in the flood that was to wipe out the humans. He was ironically grateful for the shackles on his feet as they allowed him the time to formulate his idea. Silently, he was led by his guards to the teleportation deck of the Mothership as a prisoner to his execution. He still had time.

Noah.

Goliath

For a moment he had no idea where he was, or who he was, let alone why he was face down in the mud of a riverbed, unable to move, not even a finger. The ringing sound in his ears was almost loud enough to drown out the sound of cheering he could hear echoing throughout the valley, but neither were loud enough to dull the excruciating pain reverberating throughout his head. Some Giant, he thought to himself as he felt himself succumbing to the fog creeping over his mind. One stone takes down the Great Goliath. His head was swimming with images despite the enormous amount of effort it seemed to take him. Spurratic, unable to grasp anything coherent, he could only watch his life play out like some sad play skipping over years at a time, both backwards and forwards. Had it really come to this? he thought to himself dimly. Everything seemed to be slipping so fast, and all his effort to even twitch a finger had failed completely. Goliath of Gath knew he was dead; the dim but steadily rising sound of footsteps was a constant reminder that even a crushed skull like his could not ignore. All he could do was listen to the sound of death approaching and painfully ponder the irony of such innocent sounding foosteps and what they brought with them. As the sound of the Israelite army's growing cheer reverberated through the valley, Goliath's last thought was how strange the sound of the footsteps of the boy with the sling, increased. For a brief second the sounds seemed in tune, becoming a sad symphony sarinating Goliath into the underworld that was his subconscious. The images never stopped flashing.

"Goliath!" the sound of his mother's yelling broke through the excitement of the five boys, like the sound of a wolf on a flock of sheep. The five were frozen as solid as any of the statues of Beelzebub at the temple they went to every sunday; every one of the boys felt as if Baal himself were suddenly watching them. The second time they heard their mother the sound was so sudden and close they forgot they were holding Goliath upside down over the wall of the fence, nearly dropping him. In fact, if not for the strange animal sound Goliath managed as he began his fall, the boys would have droppped him completely. The city of Gath was not near as big as its neighbor Ekron, but was sizable in its own right. At least sizable enough to boast a wall that could injure even the biggest of the giants. Of course, there being only five Giants left in the whole kingdom still young enough to engage in war, it made at least four of the brothers laugh that much more that it would be from the inside out that they threatened to injure their youngest brother, Goliath. Lahmi was the one who thought of the idea, but of course, he can never do anything without Sippai cheering him on. Even though Isbbi would usually contain their mischeviousness, Six (named for his unseemly additional appendage to each of his limbs) would almost always be the one to call an issue settled in favor of the mischeviousness.
"Where are you boys?!" echoed the sound of their quickly approaching mother. Since none of them knew how to explain the current scenario, the brothers quickly set Goliath back upright, and with quick whispers of vague threats in the near future should he say a word, they brushed him off. The timing of the scene presented by the boys as their mother rounded the corner suggested there had been much practice at hiding, leaving their mother no clues as to what may have been occuring previous to her intrusion. Having encountered similar situations many times before, she knew the road that these questions would go and that they were very rarely worth her time in pursuing, so she quickly skipped to the point. "Goliath", she said, "the Captain stopped by and asked if I knew why you would miss your assignment today". Tapping her foot impatiently, and folding her arms several seconds passed by without a sound. "Well?" Goliath had no idea what to say. How do you explain to your mother that your brothers thought it would be funny to make the only injury a Giant would ever face on those walls occur from the inside out, and still save himself from being thrown over the minute they were alone again? After another akward silence, Goliath's mother finally stamped her foot and with a sigh of frustration. "It's a good thing the Captain understands how hard it is to be the last of the Giants around here, or he'd be sending you to the infirmary for this. He says to report to him as soon as your Giant legs can carry you there and report for duty. You're to go on march against the Israelites, and be the 'man in the midst'" At this Lahmi and Sippai simultaneously broke out in laughter. "Ha ha ha Goliath's gonna go revenge our Great Anakim!". "The Great Goliath of Gath!" Sippai mimicked as if he were the announcer at the games. Lahmi almost choked out in between his guffaws and even Six was slapping his six fingered hand against his thigh he was laughing so hard. Laughing as drunk sailors, the four remaining brothers wove their way toward the marketplace, leaving Goliath alone with his irate mother. "Now let's go! Captain Benob seemed really impatient, and you're this close (Goliath thought it was ironic she would use such gigantic fingers to accentuate how small something was) to the infirmary and discharge". Her tone softened. "With only a handful of Giants left in the kingdom, we have the reputation of an entire people on our shoulders, so GO!" The last word accompanied with a shooing motion akin to the way she would scare off stray monkeys trying to steal fruit from the trees. Goliath ran.
"We spend a king's fortune on this brass, and you can't even do us the decency of showing up on time to wear it?!" The sound of his Captains voice yelling at him was a familiar one, and not as uncomfortable as having to act as if spittle was not quickly gathering on his face from such close proximity of yelling. Goliath had to wonder how the man could spit so far unintentionally. "Get it on and report! We've made it as far south as Socoh, and we can't take any more losses so we need you down there to be the 'man in the midst'". Goliath knew that no Giant could turn down the offer to be the "man in the midst" as that is what his people had done since Anakim's time, and would continue to do until the giants were wiped out of existence; which was only a few deaths away, Goliath thought sadly. As the Captain left, Goliath began his routine that always ended with him feeling like a slow motion version of himself. He never understood why everyone thought just because he was a giant he could wear armor that weighed as much as a donkey. He'd even picked up a donkey once just to test his theory, and though it was a well-fed donkey, the measurement was not far off.
The desert heat was going to be the death of him one day, Goliath thought to himself. Marching was one thing, but marching with the weight of what seemed all the brass in the Philistine empire was another thing completely, and why he had to march so many miles with the armor on was beyond him. With the Sun in the center of the sky, the only shade he could find shelter in was the meager shade provided by twisting his head to one side so the enormous brass helmet could blot out the sun. This quickly led to twitching in his neck and was far more uncomfortable than the sun, though he learned that if he took turns between the two tortures, he might be able to make it. As the Captain went riding by, in the opposite direction of the march, towards the rear (probably to spit on some other poor soul), Goliath looked at the horse the Captain was riding with a deep envy. A horse may have been able to carry him, though unlikely, due to his armor there was a good chance he outweighed the horse, and no camel in the world would let him come within a "Giant's length" without spitting and curling it's lip at him. So, footstep by overburdened footstep Goliath made the journey to the mountains of Socoh. Upon arrival, Goliath gave himself over to the exhaustion that had been his constant companion for the past week; sleeping soundly through the next two days.
"Goliath!" The beautiful woman that had been in his arms suddenly shapeshifted into his mother. Realising that he must be dreaming, he tried to turn over and go back to the dream he wanted. "Suit up, the Israelites are here!" She yelled. "Just lemme sleep till midday ma, I'll get up then, I promise", he murmured to the fading image of his mother. "Get up Giant! We have a war to fight!" As consciousness started seeping back into his mind, he realised he was in Socoh and what was happening; throwing the last bit of sleepiness out of him like a splash of cold water. Jumping out of his straw bed, he peeked his head out of the tent assigned to him (they still didn't understand a Giant needs a little more headroom), and looked for the source of the call. The smell of cooking sausage filled his nose, and if not for the insistent yelling of his name, he would've been willing to spend the day locating it's source, but the call was getting louder, and some of the soldiers were starting to take it up too, so there was no hiding. Pulling back into his tent, he went through the routine of dressing in his armor. Aside from the discomfort of having to bend almost in half to move around, he was able to dress himself in less time than usual, leaving the tent with the sound of grinding metal and a rumbling stomach. They're gonna send me down there without food, he thought to himself bitterly. I might join the Israelite side if they'll feed me sausage that smelled like that. But with a bitter sigh, he remembered the Israeli's didn't eat sausage. Sad, he thought to himself, sausage was his version of heaven, and he was glad Baal didn't mind if he ate it. Even if Baal didn't allow it, he was pretty sure he'd still eat sausage, damnation or not. The aroma was strong and almost enough for Goliath to forget his duty and follow, but fortunately, Captain Benob solved his dilemna for him and walking up, handed him a plate of the sausages that had to be the source of the wonderful aroma. "Eat quick, we need you down there." Captain Benob said in-between chewing his own, "They're all waiting for you. Time to make your ancestors proud son". With a clap on the shoulder he could barely reach, the Captain walked off in the direction of the closest campfire "Who's got the dice?", was the last thing Goliath heard as he made his way in the opposite direction towards the front line where he knew the Commander was waiting for him.
The walk was a short one, but allowed Goliath time to reflect on his ill-begotten luck of being a Giant. He wished he lived back in the old days of his ancestors when his kind were the power holders and the decision makers. When a Giant could walk down the streets of any city in Philistine holding his head high, knowing that his people were many and his life was long. He'd only been alive for one hundred and ninety winters, and though that was considered young among giants, he'd already made and lost too many friends to old age, enough so, that he stayed to himself amongst the soldiers, lest he make another friend to watch die before he even gets a wrinkle. Stupid flood, he thought to himself, he had no idea why the decision had been made to wipe it all clean. Though his family had a long and prestigious oral history, it had all been lost with his kind, so he had only the stories his mother told him, who had heard them from her mother, and so on. Goliath knew that his history had been lost, and power would never be his, but he couldn't help but wonder what his ancestors had thought about their grandchildren's place in this new world. Would they have championed the human's wars? Would they bleed for a God they never knew? Goliath's mother had told him stories of the Giants who came down from the sky, and that was where they were supposed to return. But, how do you go up to the sky? He tried as hard as he could to imagine a chariot flying through the sky, but no matter which way he thought it, it kept falling and crashing. Since he knew how it felt to be (almost) dropped from a ten cubit wall, he knew it would be worse if he fell from all the way up there. No, it has to be a myth, he thought to himself sadly, making his way through to the front line. They may stare at me, and let me fight their battles for them, but they would never follow me, he thought to himself sadly. The stories his mother told him had to be just a myth because he had no idea how a "wheel within a wheel" would be able to stay in the sky.
The soldiers on the front line had been expecting Goliath and parted as he made his way through to the front, where he knew the Commander would be. With a quick salute, he greeted the Commander. "Sir, Goliath of Gath reporting." "I know who you are Goliath, now get out there and put the fear in em." The Commander said dismissively, chewing and talking at the same time. "We've got leagues to travel, and we don't have the supplies to hold out for long, so we need you to put everything you've got into it. That's an order." With that, the Commander walked away signaling the horn bearer to make the call. The sound of the horn could be heard by both armies, Goliath knew, and he would be expected to walk down into the middle of the field (in this case a valley, and it was a pretty steep descent from what it looked like), and make a scene of himself. His brothers had told him stories of this "Man in the Midst" business and said it was not for the light hearted, that's why Baal made Giants whose hearts were heavier and bigger. Goliath could almost believe this as his heart was pounding so hard he thought it was going to dent his armor. But he was a Giant, and he had his ancestors to think about, so with one last bite of his (perfectly made, he thought) sausage, he started the clumsy trek down the mountainside and towards the valley where the Israelites could see him clearly.

As the sound of footsteps grew closer, and the cheer of the Israelite's army grew louder, Goliath knew he was breathing his last breaths, and sadly, all he could think about was how much he was going to miss those sausages he'd been eating every morning for these past forty days. He had thought for sure the Israelites would retreat after the first week with no champion. He'd even begun to feel some pride come through from his ancestors for how brave and loud he had been in cursing down those Israelite's and their Yayveh God (or something like that, he could never pronounce it right). He'd even begun to boast that his God Baal was stronger than this Yayveh (or whatever). Forty days he had carried this ridiculous amount of brass and iron up and down that hill, and forty days he'd gone back to his tent, exhausted, but proud he had done his ancestors honor. Every day he'd thought for sure would be the last, and he'd gone into today with all the pride of an undefeated warrior. But now, all he could do was listen as the sound of the child that had broken that illusion approached. A kid with a sling. He knew his brothers were going to laugh if they heard the story, he could only hope it wouldn't reach them. He was almost anxious for it to end, and with resignation, gave up trying to move his gigantic frame. All the good that donkey of brass did me, he thought to himself sarcastically, lying face down in the riverbed mud. He knew he should've waited for the kid to attack, his brothers would have, but how could he have forseen the blinding that would occur as soon as he attempted a charge on the boy. He remembered seeing the boy making his way across the valley, and was still unsure how to react as the boy picked what had to be stones out of the river. How was he supposed to know there was so much sweat sitting inside his helmet? He could still feel the sting in his eye from the salt of it, and no matter what he thought about it, there was no taking it back. Oh the sting of it! Then the frustration of blinking (try wiping your eyes with a brass gauntlet), with vision clearing up with just enough time to see a white blur racing straight towards his forehead! The Pain! The sound of his skull crushing inward was strange enough to be a curiosity to him in any other situation, but was quickly forgotten as reality came back when he felt a pulling motion on his waist. He knew the feel of his greatsword being drawn. Strange, he thought to himself as he was lying there paralyzed by the single white stone that had struck him in the forehead. That sword must weigh more than boy holding it, he thought dimly. How did the boy manage to pick it up? Goliath of Gath was still unsure as he felt the iron bite into his neck.

Land of the Blind

Land of the Blind

The Council was about to begin, everyone gathered sensed it, yet still not a single conversation floating through the spacious but spartan chamber held even a rumor of why. galactic Councils were called only when there is an immenent threat or the Induction ceremony when a species or planet is welcomed into the Federation. Neither of these scenarios had been reported in over 180 G.C. (Galactic Cycle), and when even though some of the outmost quadrants were still unmapped, it would be a statistical anomoly outside computation for an evolved species to make it's way to the Alpha Quadrant where the Council held it's meetings.

The mood was tense as the multitude of species made their way to their seats, eyeing each other warily. Many of the Council members still remembered being at war with some of the other Council members they now had to co-operate with. Though complicated by their differences, the Council Chamber was equipped with the newest version of the Rosetta V-12, making communication much easier, though it was sometimes disorienting to hear the voice in your mind and watch lips move from such a distance.

There was a general feeling of apprehension among those gathered, as it was all too appearant there would be grave news they were about to receive, so when the chime rang, which was the the signal for the beginning of the Council, every voice halted simultaneously. As well, every body made it's way to it's assigned seat with speed betraying their uneasiness. This would not be good. Silence hung in the space between them as they worried and waited. For many of those gathered this was their first Council, and unaware of what was to be expected, it was easy prey for those that knew what to expect, seeing the lack thereof in their counterparts, calculating. Even those who were fortunate enough to have experienced a Council were nervous of the revelations to come, making it an almost unbearable wait for every species gathered. Granted, the many mechanical species that occupied Council seats had no notion of what it was to be nervous, but to the trained eye, their lack of motion and curiosity generally assosciated with the machinistic races was truly a worrisome sign that some ominous tidings were about to to be revealed.

Jace was one of the few who'd been through a council before, his race being one of the fortunate few wealthy enough to afford time travel. And though representing the mercenary race of the Avebas from Beta 4c quadrant, reknown for their courage in battle despite the general 'traditional' behavior expected of mercenaries, he too was nervous when the sliding door opened. After a few seconds pause, the watery being named Aq stepped through and made his was way, slowly, across the spacious chamber. Warily, Jace watched the agonizingly slow progression of the watery being as it made it's way to the singular seat available at the enormous circular table. The aquatic race of Wvaben from Alpha 1a quadrant were known for their diplomatic neutrality, thus they had been entrusted with the role of gathering the galactic Council. It was their complete lack of emotions that had earned the trust of such a responsible position with the Council, though Jace now questioned that concept when he was quite sure he saw a look of worry cross the creatures aquatic complexion. Aq finally sat, regarding each member in their turn with a look that managed to turn what was a candle fo concern to a bonfire of fear. Then Aq spoke.

"Thank you all for coming on such short notice-" Aq began, pausing as if unsure how to proceed since Law prohibited rehearsed speeches. Jace did his best to hide his nervousness as Aq's silence finally ended. "As many of you are aware, the galactic Council was established after the Border Wars, and since that time, we have guided the peace of this galaxy for over 3,000 Galactic Cycles without more than minor conflicts, which have been subsequently resolved." Not last Cycle's bill, Jace thought to himself in the pause before Aq continued. "further, we have established schools for the young races wishing acceptance into The Federation. As well we have a Declaration of Independence which freed our galaxy from the influence Andromeda Council had imposed, WITHOUT the need of military intervention." Jace knew all this by his Fifth Nameday, as he expected every other race in attendance had, so why the history lesson? As if to answer the unspoke question, a hologram appeared in the center of the enormous table and every single eye, whether it was 1 or 12, trained on it as if a predator was about to leap out at them. A Lauch Pad? Jace exhaled. Had he been holding his breath? There were a thousand built just like it on Jace's home planet, what was the problem? Looking around the table Jace saw a similar reaction among almost all the other races, with only a minority coming to conclusions. One way and the other. Jace had to admit that reading facial expressions of all the alien races was seemingly impossible. His life as a mercenary had taken him over all the quadrants. Even if it was only a small portion of what had been mapped and integrated into the Federation, he could still read enough to get the general mood. Confusion, but Aq continued before Jace could contemplate the ramifications of what he was seeing further. "As many of you know, the Nephilim-" a collective intake of breath from the Council mad Jace feel better about his lack of discipline, but Aq continued as if he hadn't noticed, "-Chose to flood the planet Earth in an attempt to eradicate the interbreeding that occured over the last Galactic Cycle," Every race in the galaxy heard that bedtime story. The Nephilim themselves had almost lost their seat with the Council (If the Council ever took a seat away, they would have) for that corruption. Jace noticed the Nephilim in attendance and their downturned gaze. As it should be, Jace thought to himself. Everyone student in their first year at a Federation school learned that, and Earth was problematic enough to require quarantine, which the Nephilim had disregarded. Gold. Earth was rich in it, and the Nephilim were not the first to imitate Midas. Currently Earth was under quaruntine until their contract could be renegotiated with the Council. Jace himself had a bid in place, and thousands of Marks spent in bribes to see it passed. Interesting. Jace sat a little more upright as Aq continued this time, with the dawn of understanding began to break in his mind. No wonder they called a galactic Council, even emotionless water creatures had to maintain their ships. "It appears that the individual sentenced to be purged, Anakim of the Nephilim, was able to intervene with the completion of the sentence through a human hybrid named Noah-" the many races surrounding the table each made noises that Jace could only interpret as shock, and since the Rosetta V-12 was programmed to project only those voices Aq called upon, it was a strange sound to hear, but even through the language barrier, Jace heard what sounded like shock. The humans had lived? Jace gave a mental pat on the back to Anakim for his chivalry as Aq continued. "This, Noah-" the image hovering over the table changed from the Launch Pad to a human male in his later years, beard and all. Haunting eyes, Jace thought to himself. "-was able to survive the Purge and has since repopulated another area of the planet Earth." A satellite image replaced the image of the human and it zoomed in slowly from outside the blue planet's atmosphere to what looked like a desert, slowly it zoomed into a city, and to the Launch Pad. The noise from those attending was officially competing with Aq voice being projected into his mind. "It seems that the technology for space travel was somehow handed down through the generations and now the Humans are close to completion of their first Launch Pad." as Aq finished the sentence Jace was unsurprised to hear the room explode into noise, with the Rosetta V-12 still on active duty, it was truly noise. The sound was still growing too. Everyone knew the story of the Trial of Anakim, it was a tale mothers spun to put fear and obedience into their children. Of course, Jace knew it was part horror story to protect the smorgisboard of minerals that saturated that planet, held by a race who must be beginning to realize their place in the galaxy to be building a Launch Pad. Still Humans were a worrisome lot prone to self destructive impulsiveness and simultaneously the source of many heroic tales that were whispered among the more rebellious youth. The rule of Law stated no race could be allowed access to interstellar technology until they'd overcome their reptilian nature, even the reptoid looking creatures three seats down from him had proved no exception. There were more than a few races in the galaxy that fit that desription, though not many with a home as mineral rich as Earth. None actually, now that he thought about it. Jace had never visited Earth, though he'd been to the quadrant. It had almost been a Mecca to him, without the religous zeal of course, but nonetheless he still felt a slight pull. As he listened, the overall tone of anger was more and more obvious, as it must have been to an observant creature like Aq, who simply sat there, emotionless as the water that was it's body. Finally, after a long period of noisy and confusing arguement between themselves, the noise began to lower and eyes were starting to turn back towards Aq. Jace could see why the Wvaben from Alpha 1a quadrant had earned such trust among the council, they truly were in control of their emotions, and yet radiated them at the same time. Amazing. When Aq had silence and it's audience return, it continued in the same neutral tone "This council has been convened to decide the Humans fate, as it is not within their knowledge we exist, the Humans cannot be found as Guilty Under Carnal Knowledge, so we must decide as Council how to interpret the Law." This was new. Never before had a council been formed to interpret Law, that was the Court of the Federation's duty and jurisdiction, so why the change in policy? Jace had the feeling this had something to do with the mining contracts. Interesting indeed. "So we call a vote, and we ask all participants of the Council to Judge. We Purge or we Induct, but as Law goes, we cannot give the same sentence twice to a race under quarantine." Jace could see what was happening. These Humans were proving to be a serious disturbance to the galaxy. First the Boder Wars and the eradication of the Atlanteans, which they somehow survived, then the Purge of the Nephilim corruption, now this? Jace frowned when he heard himself speaking "What if we Confuse them?" A simple process for so young a species, and much more lenient than either punishments they'd already suffered. Effective too if you asked anyone on Jace's planet (and you could actually understand them). Even in this room he thought to himself, hoping the psychic beings from Delta 2e quadrant weren't focused on him, or had a sense of humor. Did he just hear laughter?

With every being silent and focused on Aq, the watery being looked at Jace, and said quietly (if you can call the Rosetta V-12 "quiet"), "Continue". Jace swallowed as the pressure of so much attention became focused on him, and obeyed. "Well, my home planet underwent a period of transition into violent tendencies, and if my history serves me well, I remember our trial ended with a sentence to Confusion in the hope we could overcome them by re-learning to communicate." Jace held out his arms, "We learned. Maybe the Humans can too." It was a statement but his tone said he questioned the outcome too. Finally, after the noise level lowered enough, Aq called for the vote in all attempt at ceremonial tradition, even if it was a first.

Unanimous.

For the first time in the galaxy's history, every single race agreed on one thing. "Confuse the humans, let them learn to communicate again. And let us hope this teaches the Humans to overcome their reptilian nature. It is decided." Aq had no need of the Gavel to finalize their decision, nor was Jace surprised when he was chosen as the executive facilitator of the sentence.

As Jace climbed into the cockpit of the Ambassador's craft loaned to him by the Council, he took the Rosetta V-12 chip out of his pocket and fingered it as he smiled. These Humans inspired the strangest behavior out of all of us, or was it just the minerals? Laughing, Jace left the planet on autopilot and after settling his trajectory, sat back, still holding the Rosetta V-12. Jace wondered how long it was going to take the Council to realize it was stolen, and what his sentence was going to be when they did. Oh well, he thought to himself, time to go to the land of the blind and learn how to be king.

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