Week 39, 2019
El became an icon of hope for the ordinary citizen.
His was an example of a life rewarded after an ordeal of incredible suffering.
He was a symbol of re-birth, of clemency and mercy.
His former compatriots in the rebel movements were stunned by the turnaround, bewildered by his supernatural return.
Some called the whole drama a charade and renewed their commitment to fight against the Empire, others, in the spirit of hope, gave up their rebellion, desiring to follow the man who had been their greatest leader wherever he went.
He was the gatekeeper.
Wherever he went, the people experienced his presence as nourishing, it sustained them.
The Continuum followed every story-line coming from El’s reincarnation, passing on the drama and excitement of the sudden shifts in alignment, allegiance and circumstance to the Collective.
Rebellion would never go away.
The Continuum had no desire to crush it, and therefore the Empire had to allow it to persist, despite the fact that they had the power and the technological sophistication to root it out.
The narrative of revolution remained as riveting as ever for its primary audience.
New stories emerged, the stories of rebel soldiers, rebel families and rebel clans, turning piously toward the Empire, seeking forgiveness in the hope that they too could be forgiven and reborn, but they were not always welcomed, not always forgiven, they suffered at the hands of their persecutors, just as their leader had before them.
El’s was celebrated by the Empire, and the Collective. He was elevated to the position of a bureaucrat, given a purpose, in keeping with the ideology of being that was promulgated through the Imperials Schools and the Imperial Cult.
Even though he was just a desk jockey, his daily life was viewed by his adoring fans with fascination.
His comportment was flawless.
El fulfilled the expectations of his station with immaculate precision, moving from the lowest order, into a position of authority.
He was beset with challenges, each one a test of his poise and wisdom.
His rise in the bureaucracy was not free from conflict.
He encountered many people who saw him as a threat to their place in the hierarchy. His immediate supervisors chaffed, both at his abilities and in the favors he received from the people they themselves reported to.
He could not be promoted without climbing over them, which meant that they could not advance while he worked under their supervision, their own careers would be stagnant.
To the mid-level bureaucrats, his presence was a source of fear and concern, they could not feel secure or safe in their position with him in proximity to them,
His supervisors took one of two approaches, they either tried to swamp him with work and sabotage his standing or they quickly learned the trick of complicity and promoted him.
El was far too aware for their efforts at sabotage to work, and he was tireless.
He seemed to be able to learn any task instantly, and then excel at it.
On reflection he knew that his return to life had changed him. He had always been bright, an exceptional student, but in his new state of being he seemed to possess abilities that bordered on the mystical.
He would not leave his desk until he had it cleared. Sometimes staying in his office for days at a time.
He thought nothing of benefitting from it for himself, he tried his best to hide his skills in a cloak of pious humility..
He had no life to return to, no family, everyone he had ever loved was dead. His quarters were just a place to sleep and eat. He had no connection to anything but his present state.
When he gave in to the Empire, he gave in completely, hold nothing in reserve for himself.
He was their servant.
He would do whatever was asked of him.
He found a kind of peace in that, and a sense of belonging.
From doorman to receptionist, from receptionist to stenographer, his celebrity put him in demand.
El was just a pencil-pusher, but everyone wanted to be seen with him, to emulate him.
Bringing him into an office meant exposure and fame for the bosses around him.
Some of those who sought to benefit from their association with him saw their star rise on account of that relationship, others were cast down, sometimes catastrophically.
There was no discernable pattern.
He rose up through the hierarchy with mindfulness, carrying with him the lessons he learned from his years in the rebellion, and the years of torture in prison that followed.
Trust no-one, suspect everything, be diligent above all else.
His thoroughness and attention to detail saved him time and time again, it revealed who in his circle was genuinely trying to help him, and which of them were looking toward his downfall.
In his capacity as a stenographer he learned the tiniest details of government. He took memos, he recoded meetings, he was a witness to the bureaucracy on a level that sometimes left him with feelings of vertigo.
The Empire was vast, both in terms of the space it occupied and the minutia that governed it,
The macro-verse and the micro-verse, he was comfortable in both.
Everyone serving in the bureaucracy underwent periodic reviews. Merits and demerits flowed from there, along with bonuses and penalties, raises and promotions.
Without fail, when his yearly review came, he was raised up, given more responsibility, more accountability and more freedom.
He relished it.
He had no thought of using those things for his own benefit, he only desired the accolades, the recognition of his achievements.
El took pride in his accomplishments, even as a file-clerk.
He used the resources he acquired to make a difference in the lives of his neighbors. He let his advantages flow from himself to others, keeping very little for himself.
The small steps he had taken away from the street made a vast difference in his lifestyle. He had access to new foods, fresh foods and even intoxicants.
The work he put into advancing his place in the world began to take the shape of altruism.
His success mattered to himself and those who lived in closest proximity to him.
He continued to look beyond his station, toward a life of ease and comfort.
He was offered the hand of dozens of girls in marriage, girls from families he had helped, who wanted to tie their fate to his.
He had already watched the only woman he had ever loved be tortured to death, and he did not want to love any other.
He refused them.
He did not accept their offers, but he was often tempted to take advantage of his status, to fall into the delights of the flesh.
He forewent the offers of romantic entanglement that came to him from the women in his work place, or his tenement, preferring to keep his eyes focused on the next opportunity for advancement.
He exercised his sexual proclivities lawfully, with women who were professionals in the trade.
The Empire required and relied on bureaucratic controls. It governed the movement and aspirations of trillions of people through their manipulation. It managed every aspect of the lives of the people, slowing some down while creating lanes of opportunity for others.
The Empire established paths of predictability for the vast majority of its citizens, and used the byzantine structures of the bureaucracy to exercise its capriciousness as it desired.
The Empire utilized monitoring at every conceivable level of the social order. It monitored the movements and behaviors of its citizens for economic purposes, for security purposes, for historical and religious purposes.
It monitored their behaviors on levels that few people outside of the Collective suspected, because it monitored them for the benefit of the Collective and the Continuum alone.
There was no such thing as privacy in the Empire.
Every citizen was the property of the state. Their entire lives were meant to be organized as a gift, as offerings to the Gods, this is what they learned in school, and that is what was beat into them through the ritual conditioning of the Imperial Cult.
The individual person was merely a link in the great chain of being.
In time he rose to a position in which he reported and analyzed a wide range of human activities and behaviors, especially among those rebel groups that he had once been a member of.
He became aware of how futile his life had been.
The Empire knew everything, had always known everything about him.
He had only ever been a blip on their list of concerns, and he had sacrificed everything and everyone he loved, to serve his vain pretensions.
His duties were to observe, report and ensure that the work of government was carried out efficiently.
It was Quality Assurance, and he was an overseer.
The Empire provided service to a million worlds.
There was food distribution, medicine, the military, the Imperial Schools, and more important than any other institution, the Imperial Cult to attend to.
At no time did he ever drop his diligent attention to detail, not for a moment.
El oversaw the complex allocation of material resources designated as gifts to the gods. This was a process without end, an unceasing harvest of energy, of ore and silicates sent in vessels piloted by AI to the Central Planet, to the home of the Gods, the home of the Continuum and the Collective.
He was tireless, when he was in the flow of the work he experienced a sense of transcendence.
His life was completely bent on fulfilling every policy, to the letter.
In his former life he cared for the miners and the planet harvesters, people who lived their entire working lives in space, crushing asteroids, breaking up planets and their satellites, smelting ore and separating the elements.
They lived short lives, they were prisoners and outcasts coming from every station.
Now El spent their lives as easily as he would spend credits on his dinner. He let go of all his former closely held morality, a sense of right and wrong which had propelled him into his life as a revolutionary
He abandoned it in service to the Empire.
He became a living reminder to his peers regarding the necessity of protocol.
He was a supervisor, in time he became a chief administrator.
His tenure in the bureaucracy had spanned a length of time that seemed impossible, spending years at every position while advancing through the circuit of offices.
He was not a young man when he was restored to life by the miracle of the Continuum.
He was an Octogenarian now, though, he appeared to be a man in his prime.
Those who had been following his career began to realize that he was extremely old compared to the average citizen.
The average citizen who followed his life story had been living with it for most, if not all of their lives, and his story was still fascinating to them.
He was a paragon of virtue.
He had made a personal spiritual journey that was marked by the stations in society that he had transited, going outcast and rebel, from condemned prisoner to the highest places in the Imperial Administration.
This was noted as more than a curiosity by other administrators at his level, and though he was universally admired, he was also the subject of vicious jealousy
He had made a journey in the space of one lifetime (perhaps two), that the Imperial Cult taught the people it would take hundreds of lives and reincarnations to complete.
When there was no place left for him to ascend to, the Empire ordered him to be drafted into military service, marking a second change in his caste and station.
It was another miracle for the people to behold.
Part Six, The Empire
Chapter Thirty-seven, Bureaucrat
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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