Week 42, 2019
El was born into a family of plebians, free citizens, but in reality they were servants of the Empire, as every citizen was, he was born in full-bondage to the Continuum.
They relied on the Continuum for everything, down to their food and water; every grain, every drop, every fiber of protein.
El seemed to be an ordinary person, one among trillions whose lives were nothing special, not of note, they worked, went to school, worshipped and raised families.
He was a natural born empath, a capacity that had been engineered into his genetic line covertly by Jim’s agents that were spread throughout the Empire, and he was the first in his line to manifest the ability.
El was a mutant, but his mutation was so subtle that it went unregistered. Until the Continuum discovered it when it examined his genetic profile in advance of his planned resurrection.
El could not tolerate injustice.
He felt the suffering of everyone around him, it hung on his neck like a stone.
He wanted nothing more than to give hope to the hopeless and to free the despairing from despair.
Even as a child El found ways to rebel, to question the teachings of the Imperial Cult, the indoctrination of the Imperial Schools, the entire structure of the social order.
As an adult, he took up arms against the Empire, he fought the enemy wherever he could.
He became an outcast, a criminal. His entire family was destroyed, and for his gallantry the Continuum made him a star.
Then he was co-opted by it, executed and returned to life.
It was a miracle for the masses.
When he returned to life he entered service as a bureaucrat, he served as a soldier, and finally as a priest.
He made his vows, and he entered the holy orders.
Of all the transitions he had made in his long sojourn, this was the first one that he questioned.
It did not feel natural or honest, the priestly class lived in a state of being that he never imagined when he was a child, where he and his family lived lives of dismal-drudgery, as his family had done for countless generations, without any sense of safety or security.
Even the lowest order of priestly professions, in the lowest ranking priestly houses, lived exalted lives. The technologies available to them were like magic.
Nevertheless, he had a duty to perform.
He ignored his reservations, and he immersed himself in the priesthood
He studied, He absorbed the dogmas.
He memorized everything, which was not difficult for him.
His knowledge expanded, exponentially. The history of the Empire was exposed through the holy texts, as much of the real history as was possible.
He absorbed all of the sacred tracts, all the way back to the first contact that the Empire had with the Continuum.
It fascinated him, and it struck him cold.
The Continuum appeared to be less than divine, and more like an alien civilization.
The entire Empire was enslaved to it, sending vast tributes in minerals and technology to the Central System, which he learned was the physical location of the Continuum.
It brought him back to the sentiments he had as a youth, in the rebellion.
The people thought of the planets of the Central System as the heavenly worlds, but they were not, they had a location in time and space.
Deep feelings were stirring inside him. Feelings he had not experienced since he had been resurrected.
He became aware of the reality of the Collective, as a force of consciousness behind the Continuum, and that truth set him free.
In his heart he was always a rebel.
He took all of the rituals seriously, as he did everything during his career. Though he often felt as he was performing them, another present alongside his, hiding in the ganglia of his consciousness, something predatory.
El carried out the rituals perfectly even though his studies revealed that the rites were merely tools of control and division.
He fulfilled them with grace and a studied presence that gave no indication of the fact that he knew the rituals and rites were empty gestures, and meaningless incantations.
The comfort that he had with his body, developed through his long years of martial discipline, gave his performances a nuance that his peers were unable to match.
Once again he stood out from those around him, not only because of the attention that was focused on him, but for what he brought to each moment.
While El no longer believed in the mysteries as they had been taught to him, he understood that the cohesion of the Empire, the peace of a million worlds, there sense of belonging to a greater whole, relied on them for everything.
While the imperial families, the royal powers, the priestly caste and the war machine cared nothing at all for justice, intrinsically viewing any person below them in rank as a thing to be used, a device or a tool; justice, if it was to be had, had to be distributed from the top.
He performed the rites with that in mind. He bound people to the commitments expressed in them in ways that had never been seen before.
When members of the Imperial family came to the table, drawn by his fame, he extracted promises from them in the sacred space, which they could not then refuse fulfill.
In the place where his life was most regimented, he found the freedom to return to his old self.
Like every other strata of Imperial society, the priestly caste was organized according to rank. The major divisions in the priestly caste were between the ruling houses and the minor officiants, between the parish priests and the holy orders.
This differentiation was not unlike the differentiation between managers and staff in the bureaucracy, or between the rank and file and the command in the military.
The unseen difference, a difference unknown outside the select circle, was the society of Observers, those members of the Continuum who had opted to live out a period of their lives in time and space, observing the day to day realities of the Empire, on behalf of the Collective and its Continuum.
The Observers were scattered throughout the Empire, holding posts in every strata of society, most Observers preferred to carry out their mission from the vantage of the priestly caste and from the comfort of the royal houses. Nothing was hidden from them, because they knew the full truth concerning the origins of the Empire, of the Continuum, of its promises and its lies.
Many of the Observers were eager to interact with the hero/priest the guardian of the faithful, they wanted to be part of the great narrative that had gripped the imagination of the Collective. It was a great sense of esteem for them.
He was indoctrinated into the deepest mysteries of the Imperium. The Observers shared things with him that were forbidden.
He discovered the mechanism of salvation, the translation of consciousness into the quantum field of the HomeWorld, which brought membership in the Collective and eternal life in the Continuum.
He learned that the Imperial rites meant nothing, they were based on lies, merely minor dramas perpetuated as a means of controlling the people; controlling them through hope, and fear, through love and hate, the most powerful emotions which were the only meaningful controls, they were controls which never failed, controls that surpassed even thirst and hunger and pain.
His life was filled with contradictions, he had never before been so conflicted, or filled with doubt.
He spent his days promoting the beliefs and traditions and the rituals of the Imperial Cult. He was the most eloquent spokesperson the masses had ever witnessed.
He reached them, and they loved it for him.
He spoke with power and confidence, elegantly articulating the complex narratives that glued the Imperial society together, while at the same time providing the rationale and justification for each citizen to remain in their caste, in their class, in their state of bondage.
He was a living exemplar of the faith, perfectly demonstrating to every citizen, even to the outcast, the possibility of elevating themselves from their station, through fidelity, duty, and adherence to the law.
He taught as he had been instructed to teach, that this was the path to transcendence.
He knew it for a lie, there was no transcendence.
El learned that the promises concerning reincarnation and the Continuum, all of those promises that had been made to the people were built on lies, the most pernicious kind of lies, a vast complex of falsehoods, predicated on the narrowest sliver of truth.
He did his duty.
He perpetuated the lies anyway.
The powers that held him in check did not do so with the threat of coercion. Everyone he had ever known or loved while he was an ordinary man, they were long since dead and buried.
His family had been erased.
They did not have that leverage over him.
They held him in check with the power of love, the promise of fulfilling his desires, the mystery of beauty and the touch of a woman.
He learned to differentiate between the articles of faith he was expected to promote, to present as his own belief in the orthodoxy of the Imperial Cult, and the convictions he held in heart, the things he knew were true.
He dreamt of waging war against the gods.
He exercised the greatest care concerning the manner in which he expressed himself. There was no privacy, he knew that he was under observation at all times, even in the inner most sanctum of his private dwelling.
El felt as if his own thoughts were being monitored, by a hidden presence within him.
He held enormous power.
A casual comment from him could change the fate of a planet.
What he held in his heart, was never the same thing as what he could give voice to.
His survival, and the lives of billions upon billions of people depended on him playing the script as true to the expectations of him as possible.
The higher he ascended into the mysteries, the more he felt he was shackled by the dogmas and traditions of the Imperial Cult, by its creeds and doctrines, its laws and cannons.
It was a prison of the mind, a prison without walls.
His circumstances were unique.
None of his peers experienced the same things, little was expected of them, they were merely functionaries, men and women fulfilling roles like cast members in a play.
They were a colloquy of extras.
El, on the other hand, had a following.
It was unprecedented, he had no experience of this, and neither did the magisterium.
The Collective was fascinated by the control he exercised, the care he gave. They followed him closely and obsessed on the successive waves of consequences that flowed from his most casual utterances.
The Observer Core was tasked with manipulating his life and circumstances daily.
El found that there are no words available in any language to articulate universal truth regarding the infinite, and eternal.
Every attempt to do so was manipulative and false, while at the same time he could affirm that not every manipulation of religious doctrine was malicious, and not every articulation of universal truth, no matter how errant is an intentional prevarication.
Most people believed in the errors that they promulgated, making them innocent of wrongdoing, even though they were in error.
They believed what they had been taught to belive.
Even most bad actors are innocent, because they believe in their heart that the erroneous doctrines they promulgate serve some greater good, they believe in the mission they carry out, in the Imperial Cult, in the Great Chain of Being which are the foundation of orthodoxy.
They believed in what the Continuum promised, while confessing that the mechanics of it; the how and the where and the why of it remained a mystery to them, a matter forever situated beyond them in a great cloud of unknowing.
The religion of the Empire was a web of lies, coercions and control mechanisms, lies that had been perfected over millions of years, lies that held the people together.
It required a breakthrough in cognitive thinking to shatter the controls that governed the thoughts of the ordinary citizens, very few people could endure the strain.
It drove them mad.
Of all the castes, it was only the priestly caste that even attempted to prepare people for such a watershed in consciousness.
The Continuum delighted in the observation of every failure, through those failures it learned even greater controls.
El studied and meditated and pushed the discipline of his mind and body, he embraced the cloud of unknowing, pulling it into himself, and he passed through the crucible with ease.
From his childhood he learned to reject imperial conditioning.
He was always a rebel at heart.
Part Six, The Empire
Chapter Forty, Faith
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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