For as far back as Jim could remember he wanted to create a better world, not for himself alone, but for everyone, for the whole undifferentiated lot of existent beings.
This dream sustained him like the bread of life for him; like water it sustained him. He felt it like a primal need.
Jim was an intractable critic of the status quo; he was perpetually discontent. This was natural to his character and it drove him to his work, whereas in most other members of the Collective, including those in the Observer Corps, even the ordinary citizens of the Galactic Empire experienced their discontent as a general malaise, as apathy.
Before the creation of the Collective, in his first life, when he was just a tiny creature of flesh and blood, Jim wanted something more for himself, something more for everyone. This drove his participation in the team of researchers that created it the apparatus to harness consciousness.
His inclination to take risks led him to be one of the first volunteers to be successfully translated into the Collective field. His grim determination allowed him to preserve his sanity and identity when at that time most of his fellows researchers failed.
When the Collective began to experience its first great existential crisis Jim rose to the occasion, together with the greatest engineering minds the Ancient People had ever produced, they created the Continuum to be a representation of their collective will.
The Collective was like the pleroma, with the Continuum emerging from it like the demi-urge, at the moment of its instantiation none of them realized what had happened, except Jim.
Jim’s concerns regarding the Continuum were not rooted in his basic disposition as a malcontent. They were based in his abiding interest for ethics and morals. He was frightened by the things he witnessed, the Collective had become a society of monsters, and the Continuum was its head.
Jim had become sick with disgust at the hedonistic abuses of the Collective.
He felt guilt.
His work had facilitated the creation of a trillion private hells, each one of them masquerading as a personal paradise. It made him angry. Even more so when he the Continuum turn its attention to the living worlds of time and space, transforming each of them into a facsimile of its own privation.
He felt a deep sense of shame and personal responsibility over the nightmare this construct had become. To the core of his being he was filled with bitterness over the way that the Collective had squandered its existence.
The Great Society could have created worlds of joy and beauty, there were virtually no limitations on their imagination, and yet they squandered their power for petty self-gratification and the satisfaction of the banal.
They were evil, and Jim wanted to die.
He knew that he was not responsible for the creation of the Collective, he was just one person among many who managed to pull off that incredible feat of engineering. He only played a part, as a single member on a great team of scientists and researchers seeking to penetrate the mystery of the continuation of consciousness and everlasting life.
He was horrified by what their work had turned into, and by how utterly they had failed to anticipate it.
The Collective became a gaggle of voyeurs, feeding their most obscene habits like the worst gluttons, without giving a single thought to the consequences that the satisfaction of their hunger would have on the lives of ordinary people.
Jim wanted to protect the universe from their hunger. They devoured entire star systems without reflection on the real cost in pain and suffering that their appetites extracted from the worlds of time and space. They had forgotten that the citizens of the Empire were in fact their own progeny, they were descendants of the Ancient People.
The membership of the were addicts, and he blamed the Continuum for pushing their addictions on them, keeping them sedated and helpless.
Jim felt hopeless. His doubts and serious concerns manifested themselves in direct proportion to his pride-fullness, and he was exceedingly proud.
Since he reemergence from the great-sleep and from the moment when he broke free from sequestration, he was filled with a sense of purpose that singled him out as a being with unique powers, which to Jim meant unique responsibilities. He saw himself as the indispensable person, as possessing a singular destiny.
In his life before the Collective, he had been a member of the team that had constructed the original field of collective consciousness. This is what his memories told him, though he himself was uncertain of the narrative, he was uncertain of who he was when it all began, or if those memories he experienced as his own had merely been appended to his node of consciousness through his connection to the Collective, as if he were gathering bits and pieces of memory from those he touched, like moss accumulating on a stone.
Whatever the case, they were his memories now, they formed the basis of his identity, the memories mattered and they placed an impetus in him to act.
Jim’s personal narrative informed him that he had entered the Collective together with his family, toward the end of his life, and not all of them made the transition.
In those early years the transition point was still unstable, more people were lost than saved, but everybody went somewhere, whether they came through the translation whole or fragmented.
Entering the Collective did not bring him the joy he was looking for, but it did make others happy, and from the inside he was able to lend his expertise to the perfection of the technologies that made it all possible.
He played no role in the creation of the Continuum. Jim resented the role it played in the governance of the Great Society. He foresaw the danger that such an entity would present to the membership, and he understood intuitively how the construct would be able to manipulate the whole from its vantage.
During his long travels across the gulf between stars, on his search for living worlds, Jim had tens of thousands of years to reflect on his identity, on the strangeness of it and on his long experience.
It occurred to Jim that in many ways he had become a repository of the ideals the Ancient People had abandoned when they joined the Collective, abdicating the responsibilities of self-governance to the Continuum. It was as if every individual he had touched as he was emerging from the prison of sequestration, it was as if they had left an indelible imprint of themselves on him, like the echo of their regrets, their criticism and their shame for what had become of themselves and their people.
This caused Jim to be fiercely independent and strident in the pursuit of justice, he felt as if the Collective’s need for those principles had amalgamated itself in his consciousness.
Jim felt as if he was not himself, he had touched every individual in the Collective and they had each left a part of themselves with him, more than their principles, they had also left memories, pieces of their personhood which became a part of his own as he gathered himself for the push to break free from the bonds of his prison.
He belonged to them and they to him, in a visceral way.
Regardless of where each fiber in the tapestry of his personal beliefs came from, Jim saw the needs of the Collective within them. He claimed it for himself, and he believed that his commitment to those ideals, to the ideals of each one of those sleeping and sequestered members, secured his entanglement with them on the quantum level, and that this was perhaps the secret behind the mystery of his unique ability to traverse the cynergenic field at HomeWorld and in the Central System.
There was a purpose that he had to fulfill, and he was being aided in it by those who had passed into dormancy before him.
Like any other individual Jim was not immune to the allure of the ego, the calling of the super-ego and the appetites of the id. His sense of purpose and his commitment to mission went beyond the categories of want and need. He believed he had been selected to visit justice on the unjust. He never attempted to answer the question of where his mandate came from. He simply believed the mandate was real, and he kept that belief in front of him like a lantern shining in the night.
Jim’s objection to the Continuum went beyond indignation, his resolve to destroy it filled him with purpose, it came to define him, and he was conditioned by it. His purpose was like a slow-smoldering drive, waiting to be stoked into a blazing fire; to undo the affliction the Collective had wrought on the galaxy, and the trillions of people living out their brief lives within the boundaries of the Galactic Empire, under the aegis of the Continuum.
He planned. He was patient. He watched and he waited until he found the opportunity to bring his vision to fruition, in a faraway place, on a little blue-green world, caught in the orbit of a tiny yellow star. He found it on Earth, on a world that was unique to his experience. It was one in a million, and for Jim, it was the brightest jewel in the galaxy,
He knew his plan would have to have three components: to destroy the Continuum to wipe it out, to set the Empire free allowing the people to determine their own destiny, and to undo the influence of the Collective from the worlds of time and space
Jim knew that he would never be able to accomplish his goal through force. Military might could never prevail against the Empire, or the vast resources of the Central System and the HomeWorld.
He had to plan, and plan carefully.
He knew that he would never succeed in his mission through the art of politics and persuasion. The Continuum had managed to fill the Collective with members who had actually been conditioned in the Empire through the Imperial cult and the conditioning of the Imperial schools, they had been conditioned to believe that the Continuum was God.
Their numbers were in the minority, but they were growing.
The Collective had been poisoned in this way, over the course of a billion years. It fed the principle of self-delusion that functioned as the Continuum’s Id.
Over the course of a billion years the Continuum had pushed the original membership aside, sending them into isolation one by one. They went into the great sleep, into sequestration or out into the Observer Corps, where if the Continuum discerned a threat from them, it would engineer their permanent death. It replaced those members with selectees from the Empire, those who had been chosen for the reward of eternal life, because they had demonstrated an unwavering belief in the Continuum and had proven their absolute fidelity to it, and Jim knew he would never be able to undue that conditioning through the power of persuasion.
He imagined a way he could slip something into the systems of the Collective, like a virus, slip it past the security features of the Continuum when both it and the Collective were exposed and in their most vulnerable place.
They had to want to receive what he had to offer, they had to hunger for it. He found the vector of transmission on Earth, and he engineered his mechanism which became fully manifested in the Kathy’s person.
In order to carry out this endeavor Jim had to be in more places than one, simultaneously. He needed partners but he was able to trust any other member of the Collective, he could not bring them into a conspiracy, or ask them to aid him.
Even if Jim were to identify members who shared his desire for change and the distribution of justice, even if he believed in their intentions and trusted those, he would never be able to trust that they would not involuntarily give away the plan, revealing it to the Continuum simply through their having knowledge of it. They might just slip and reveal it in the ordinary course of their existence. No individual, other than himself had demonstrated that they could withstand the exhaustive scrutiny which members of the Observer Corps were cyclically subjected to.
Jim planned a conspiracy and formed a cabal, not with others, but by replicating himself over and over again.
He was his own best ally, absolutely faithful and singularly minded. They were identical to him in every way, sharing the same freedoms that he had, but with each of them willing to subordinate themselves to the cause they shared and to him as the Prime Persona.
On the Home-World and throughout the Central System they were able to connect within one another through the quantum field. However, because of the risk of exposure they limited themselves only to the most crucial communications.
On Earth they were connected through the cynergenic field, they were of one mind, they acted in concert with each other, under the direction of the Jim Prime.
Together they fomented their rebellion.
A rebellion is not a protest, it is not a single act, or even a set of actions aimed at a particular end. A rebellion is comprised of a sustained series of actions, both covert and overt, aimed at overthrowing the entrenched systems of power. They do not emerge spontaneously. They are projected and led, engineered and fueled by grievance, and they are organized by tragedy.
Suffering is the bread and water of the rebellion.
In the Galactic Empire, a rebellion might engulf a planetary government and destroy it, though it is exceedingly rare for any rebellion to succeed. If they do, that success is quickly erased, even if the Empire has to destroy a planetary system to quash it.
There have been occasions when a planetary governor has rebelled against the Imperium, drawing entire star systems into the conflagration with them. These produced great dramas, which delighted the Collective, keeping them occupied for centuries, but they were never a threat to the Empire.
People do not rise up against their governments and rulers for no reason. They will not risk life and freedom on a lark, not without at least the hope of success, a belief that their circumstances could change; hope is a sufficient catalyst.
The soil has to be prepared to receive the seeds of rebellion. Outrage must be generated, the rebel has to be conditioned to see something in their movement that is worth the cost of their lives, not just the risk but the actual forfeiture of their lives. They have to feel it intuitively, their intuition must confirm that the lives of their families and everything they held dear would benefit. They had to see beyond themselves.
Inasmuch as Jim was a scientist and an explorer, he saw the work he was engaged as analogous to farming. The seeds of rebellion are ideas, they are simple-beautiful constructs; ideals planted in the hearts and minds of the people. Like a farmer he cared for the seeds, nurturing them in a field of dreams, of fertilized by the experience of injustice. First he prepared the field and then he planted the ideas.
Jim did not foster systems of injustice for pleasure or from indifference. His aim was strictly utilitarian. Some would have to suffer and many would die, but it was all for the greater good, for the greatest good distributed to the greatest number. For a rebellion to flourish, the people required the expectation of justice, for it to grow in strength the people required the experience of injustice.
The vessel he was looking for had to carry within her or him a visceral reaction to the experience of suffering. Like a seed planted in the dark soil, the people and the vessel that would emerge from them required the experience of darkness and despair, they needed these in order to condition them to reach for the light
Just like the shoots of a plant springing from the earth, the spirit of rebellion requires the wind of adversity to blow against it, thereby transforming the fresh green stem into a tall and sturdy stalk capable of supporting the weight of its fruit, long enough for it to reach maturity and drop, scattering thousands of tiny new seeds into the same fertile soil.
The field has to be turned over, made new, rotated from time to time and then let to lie fallow. There is a rhythm to this work, a subtlety that the Continuum could never appreciate, and because of this it did not notice, Jim’s work was safe because of this.
Jim was not alone in his understanding of the power behind the experience of injustice. The Continuum used the experience of injustice for its own purpose, but only for the sake of the drama that issued from it. For the Continuum there was no greater end, there was nothing beyond suffering…the end was suffering, and the vicarious enjoyment of it by the Collective was the purpose it served. Under the auspices of the Continuum, injustice was promulgated for the pleasure of the few. Only the narrative mattered.
The experience of injustice nourishes the rebellious spirit like water soaking the roots of a great tree, feeding the heart of the revolutionary until it grows so large and beats so painfully that it bursts, but the experience of injustice could never be enough, the story of injustice has to be told, and its narrative reinforced.
Too much water and the organism will die, just enough and it will thrive, it will multiply until the towering tree it becomes a mighty forest, beating with a million hearts, it becomes a barrier to its opponents while protecting those within, it become more than a wall, it becomes a force field, a sheltering spirit that can strike with power at any who approach it.
Conversely, the experience of injustice is nothing if the story of it is never told. Everything has to be laid out in context.
Injustice does not occur in a vacuum, it is always a pattern of behavior, of action and reaction. No event is isolated, everything is related.
If the experience of injustice cannot be tied to an earlier predicate, then it is merely an accident, it is forgivable. Therefore, the first stories that are told, the first witness of the event must connect it to the continuing grievances of the people, weave it into the fabric of the tapestry.
The principle agent who first experienced the injustice, and the principle witness who observed it, must both see the event in the same light, even if the witness and the principle do not agree on the predicate, they can be drawn into relationship through the power of the narrative.
All histories have three dimensions; the events as the actually happened, which includes both the intersection of actions and intentions that are the material and formal causes of the events themselves, and the consequences which flow from them, these form the first dimension; the second dimension is perception, how the events are perceived and remembered by those who actually experienced them; the third dimension is the narrative, the story that is told, which reshapes the events and establishes the meaning between the disparate parts.
The narrative is what holds people together, embracing them in the common experience, the narrative is where they find their sense of belonging.
Knowledge is power, it can be wielded like a weapon, or it can be withheld to the same devastating end.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, a small amount may be just enough to provoke action among the masses, but when shaped and edited, a little piece of knowledge can be used to channel energy, like water under pressure, it can be used to cut through solid rock.
If knowledge is light, then with the amplification of light through narrative, it can become like a laser powerful enough to cut through the hull of an interstellar ship.
Exposing injustice, naming it, this is a sacred obligation. Everyone with a grievance is like a priest in the temple performing the liturgy, the re-visitation of grievances through story, like the sacred rites, must be officiated every day
The narrative must never cease.
Those engaged in this mission, carrying the light of truth for the sake of their brothers and sisters, they must suffer, they must visibly suffer when they give the narration. Their suffering must be real, discernable and palpable to the people.
Their suffering must be felt, personalized in a way that allows the receiver of the narrative to identify with it and make it their own in a great symphony of symbiosis.
The rebel was taught that they should never lie, to be moderate at all times and let the light in slowly. Such cautionary words must guide the people. The people must be on fire with their grievance, but like a lamp that is slowly replenished with oil so that the light is always burning and never go out. If the fire comes in to quickly it will shatter the lens and burn them. At such a point it is possible to become inured to the light, or to fear it, even to become hateful of it.
A revolution is both a turning of the wheel and an expansion of the circle. It is like an ever-widening screw boring into the bedrock. A rebellion moves outward from its center in waves, moving in concentric rings that grow larger and more powerful until they crash against the bulwark of power, eroding it as water swallows the shore.
The spirit of the rebellion is like the wind, ru’ha, it is the energy that propels the revolutionary movement, just as wind fills the sail, pushing the people to find resolution in justice and satisfaction in its administration. It provides them with the esteem that comes through the fulfillment of purpose. Energy must pour into the center with constant-steady pressure in order to ensure that the power of the revolution continues unabated. Each wave pushing the preceding wave in a relentless exercise of will.
Without that spirit the rebellion will die; the spirit of rebellion is fueled by sacrifice, by witness and by narrative. The rebellion requires its story to be told, to be set to music and beat on drums.
A rebellion requires constant renewal, there can be no end; its objective is constantly moving.
Each generation must hunger for and experience justice in their own time. The good rebel is empowered by loss and tragedy, they feed on it.
There are no set-backs, only changes in direction.
There is no victory only progress.
There are no problems, only challenges.
There is no peace in the heart of the rebel, only a desire for renewal.
The lived experience is a tapestry of cycles and patterns.
Each and every one of the living worlds that comprised the Galactic Empire, experienced these cycles in unique ways; in its patterns of weather, in the rotation of the planet on its axis, or the lack of it; in the orbit of its satellites, whether they are natural or artificial; in the orbit of the world around its parent-star.
These cycles established a season for everything, each season was unique to the lived experience of the people on that world, and the revolutionary narrative had to be adjusted to fit it.
Those patterns established rhythms that governed both the conscious and unconscious aspects of the lives of the people; their hours of sleep, their time to eat, even the beating of their hearts, and the pulse of blood as it flows through their veins.
A revolution is like a harvest; it comes in its season, each according to the cycle of its home world. When the harvest comes, those who have sewn injustice reap the same. The harvest is just one phase in a pattern that repeats itself endlessly. It is different on every world, but the lived experience of every world shares the cycle in common. They are different but the same.
This is the natural state of every civilization, and though the Collective had been spared this cycle for billions of years, nevertheless, it retained a memory of it in the far reaches of its subconscious. Those memories were augmented by their voyeurism, through their vicarious experience of life in the Empire
Jim was determined to ensure that its time had come, the revolution was at hand, and the Collective would feel it in force. He had become self-actualized to fulfill this purpose and burn it down.
Fire is the universal symbol of purification, as we pass through fire we undergo a refinement; our impurities are released and our essence is brought to its purest form.
We become light.
When the fruit of the field is ripe the people bring it in, they commence with the harvest and light the fields on fire. They dance in the glow of the burning fields, in the disintegration of the chaff and the stalks. They dance in triumph and thanksgiving.
This is the natural end of the rebellion; the revolution ensues and the hands of justice turn the soil over. We bury the old ways of corruption deep in the earth, sending it down with all of the dead.
Through this ritual we are cleansed, and the revolution is hallowed as a celebration of change, the celebration of its constancy, of return and renewal.
The glorious end of the revolution is to start fresh at the beginning.
We generate fresh narratives to gloss over all of our crimes and to absolve ourselves in the great conflagration that will ensue.
Fire is the symbol of the beginning and the end. We are born in the heat of our mother star. In time we will return to her. She will reach out and embrace us in the super-nova, immersed in showers of fire.
Ex nihilo nihil fit, from nothing, nothing comes.
This is a literal truth.
To foment revolution is to cultivate a thing, to do it successfully the revolutionary must play on narrative; with ritual, symbol and myth. Every moment in the story of the revolution must be recorded and preserved for its narrative power. Through cultivation of the story, even the most mundane moments can become the most powerful symbols. When ritualized they can become memories of oppression, or songs of triumph.
A simple meal, a breaking of the bread, such instances can form the archetypal basis of a religious experience, experiences that when reenacted and relived through ritual, will echo through the millennia and shape the course of civilizations.
To cultivate this thing requires that people see themselves as heroic, no matter how insignificant their role in the revolution is, they must see it as a quest and themselves as the agent of change, the eternal-champion. They must view their contribution as meaningful and necessary.
Reality must be imbued with fantasy until the revolutionary cannot discern the difference, and they are able to see themselves and their movement as the center of everything. When you have convinced the people that the order of the universe is upheld by the rituals they perform, then the order of the universe is susceptible to ruin.
If we are able to tear apart the symbols that keep and define the narrative, then and only then will the revolution succeed. The control and management of symbology is paramount, this is why the priesthood is elevated over the military.
The symbols of rebellion are dualistic; good and evil, love and hate, light and dark, hot and cold, they are binary configurations with a zero-sum resolution. According to the symbolic narrative an individual is either one thing or another, though in reality every person was mixed, having qualities of each.
The motivating force behind the rebellion is the quest for justice, the triumph of law, the elimination of despotism and the eradication of tyranny, this was the power behind the wave, propelling it toward its end.
The wave itself is a revolutionary image, churning and curling from trough to crest, sweeping away everything in its path, cleansing the shore where it crashes, leaving nothing behind except clear smooth sand.
There can be no compromise from the point at which the battle ensues, victory must be absolute. It must reach a place after the climax where the survivors feel a sense of peace, of safety and security, and that the promise is fulfilled.
Any pretense to compromise prior to the actual engagement must only ever be a ruse, a tactic of negotiation, a series of steps made for the sake of taking advantage of the field of combat when the battle comes to a head.
A rebellion needs both a hero and a villain, it requires both an object of hope and an object of wrath. These are the sacred vessels through which the energy of the revolution must be channeled. One vessel contains a healing salve, a balm to ease our pain, the other is poison, representing chaos, disorder and the reign of monsters. One vessels is raised as a fetish for veneration, the other is cast down, swept away and sent to the fire.
A rebellion requires agency among its autonomous participants.
Rebellion does not spread by the experience of injustice alone, whether from the direct experience of a victim or from the experiences of those who bear witness to their ordeal.
The experience of suffering and the witness to it have no more relevance than the voice of someone screaming in a vacuum, unless and until the story is told, the experience is meaningless. Rebellion spreads by the narrative that is constructed around it, by the stories we tell about those experiences. It is through narrative that the experience and witness of injustice metastasizes, becoming a cancer in the body of the villainous society.
People do not enlist in a rebellion because they want to see the realization of certain ideals, they enlist because they want to be a part of the story. People want to belong to something greater than themselves. The stories must be rooted in truth, there must be an actual historical referent to them, but their narration must be given with flourish, generating empathy among the listeners. Every single person who hears the tale or listens to the song must be able to see and feel themselves in the place of the victim. They must identify with them and with the hero.
It is through narrative, reinforced by the beating of the drum, through harmonics, by striking the sacred chords that we are able to transfer the experience of the individual to the hearts and minds of the whole.
There is no other way to perpetuate a rebellion. The revolution will wind down and disappear without it, becoming just another ghost story to frighten children. Without the continuing power of narrative the story of the rebellion may even become co-opted by the powers of the corrupt society.
Religion is the ligature that binds civilization together, from the family unit to the Galactic Empire, without religion there is nothing.
Ritual is the life-force of religion. Rituals shape the entire context of a person’s life, from the moment they are born to the moment they die, each and every day is marked by ritual. If a society loses its ritual structure it falls apart. When the individual abandons their ritual behaviors, their life loses its meaning and they quickly perish.
In the Galactic Empire, and even on Earth, both the patriot and the rebel shared the same songs, the same history, they shared the same stories narrated in the same way. The only thing that differentiated their use of these ritual forms are the different ends to which they are pointed. Everything else is the same, because people are the same, sharing the same hopes for themselves and their families, their friends and their villages, the same hopes for their worlds.
Heroes are interchangeable with villains, victims with martyrs, with the proper ritual any crime can be forgiven. Any character could be redeemed through the ritual power of narrative, the most wretched villain can be purified and forgiven.
In the end, the only thing that matters are the stories that we tell.
This is why all the power resides in the priesthood, priests are the arbiters of myth, they spin the webs that connect the Empire together, from end to end, from the tiniest world to the throne world and its portal to the Continuum.
The promise of eternal life, of immortality, this promise is a powerful motivator. It reaches everyone because all people are afraid of the unknown and no-one wants to die.
To be willing to sacrifice themselves for causes that are merely exercises in futility, as most revolutionary actions are, the rebel has to be able to see their revolutionary movement in a mythic context. Their participation in the rebellion must generate a deep sense of esteem, coming from those who witness their deeds.
While the promise of immortality works well, it becomes far more tangible when the perspective of the individual’s view of immortality is shaped by songs and stories, when it is folded into the ritual narrative of the group mind.
Rebels have to see themselves, their lives and deaths as part of a greater movement, as a thing beyond their immediate identity, they have to be able to view their sacrifice as something of worth, something that magnifies the value of their own lives, something that would elevate them in the imaginary world of the afterlife, but more importantly to elevate them in the hearts and minds and memories of the people.
Ritual remembering is a key component for this type of conditioning, the celebration of the honored dead, the recitation of names, the communion of saints. All of these structures form the building blocks that a successful rebellion has to utilize in order to progress.
All of the major religions of Earth were engineered to support these structures, they were focused around ancestor worship, carrying the past forward into the present and the projection of that present into the future.
Jim prepared the vessel he was searching for by layering these expectations into the popular consciousness. The humans of Earth became natural born revolutionaries.
The commitment to revolution had to be seeded in the human consciousness, with the quest germinating in perpetuity.
To motivate the people they had to be convinced that they were seeking a resolution to the injustices they faced, a resolution that they might never experience for themselves, but which would fulfill them simply by pursuing it.
It was not the destination that mattered it was the journey, it was not the getting there it was the going.
Rebels and revolutionaries had to believe they would find the object of their hope beyond themselves. In this regard, the programming of human consciousness for revolutionary activity was completely in synch with the Imperial cult.
Jim was able to hide his agenda within this framework and so it went unnoticed by the Observers who had been assigned to watch over his work, in this way it escaped the attention of the Continuum as well.
For the revolutionary, the quest must never end, the virtuous life consisted of the pursuit of justice, not its realization. They had to be satisfied with this, like King Pelinore on the hunt for the questing beast.
Jim placed all of these motifs into the collective mythology and stirred them up continuously. When he arrived at the end game of his breeding program, the vessel he was searching for had been conditioned by these paradigms and could not question them.
Jim intended to sacrifice the Vessel and he required the sacrifice to be voluntary. The vessel had to willingly endure the psychic trauma of billions of people crying out in fear and pain and confusion, dying all at once in a singular moment of sheer agony.
They vessel had to be able to channel that trauma, through Jim, and drive it like a stake through the heart of the Continuum.
A revolution is a turning of the wheel. Like the turning wheel every revolution had a predictable outcome, a return to the beginning.
If the revolutionaries succeed in their ambitions the survivors must move quickly to consolidate their power, to set themselves up as the new overlords. To do this they must rapidly quash all dissent. The most effective means of consolidating power is the complete eradication of the remaining enemy forces.
The old order has to be swept away, cleansed completely; man, woman and child, the entire family along every extension, to the seventh generation, everyone must be put to the sword and consumed in the fire. The revolutionaries had to become fully actualized in their tyranny, they must rule by fiat, or the old order would reassert itself. Once the last vestiges of the enemy had been rooted out, they had to cleanse their own ranks.
There was no other way.
Cabal’s had to be snapped, columns had to be broken. Leadership could never be shared by those who are perpetually hungry for power, as all revolutionaries are.
Sometimes this happened within a single generation, at other times it takes two or three, but the transformation is inevitable. A revolutionary movement will always transform itself into a despotic regime.
It becomes what it beheld, content that it has done right.
A new rebellion will foment, it will concentrate under pressure, and without fail the wheel will turn again.
There is no escaping it.
It is the basic dilemma of being.
The Continuum exploited this, and so did Jim.
In order to generate the energy that the Continuum required for the narratives it delivered to the Collective, it became an adept at developing and synthesizing the experience of discontent.
Throughout the billion worlds of the Empire, with its trillions of people, only a tiny fraction enjoyed lives of peace and relative security, the majority lived in a perpetual state of uncertainty and uneasiness, they were fully occupied with the desire for a better future, this was the convention.
There was a constant steady pressure derived from the experience of lack, of having nothing, coming from the felt need to protect what few resources they had. This pressure drove the narratives forward.
Discontentment was energy.
The people had ambitions, most of which were centered on the simple desire to live out their lives and raise their families, to see them advance and to experience some joy in a state of relative peace and security.
That prospect was always under threat.
Happiness is what the people desired, they were conditioned to believe that it could only be found in extrinsic things. Access to those things was under the constant control of the Galactic Empire acting as the proxy of the Continuum, down to the very basics; including food and water.
Everything and everyone was owned by the state, there was no such thing as private property, or privacy of any kind.
Most of the people living in the Empire had nothing, they accumulated no wealth, received no inheritance, passed nothing on to their children. They lived hand to mouth and had little thought for the future beyond the endless search for safety and the hope for a good night of sleep.
They were the dispossessed.
Even those in the lowest class of citizens treated these people, who comprised “the masses,” treated them contemptuously, mocking their frailty, calling them names mocking them as “Food of the Gods.”
Those without class had no rights as citizens, they were outcasts, untouchable, they did everything they could to avoid the notice of the Empire.
They were the fools of the universe, wholly owned by the state, they were less than slaves, their lives had no value, they could be hunted for sport, and they often were.
On some worlds they were even cannibalized in ritualistic feasts.
They were never educated, forbidden to learn to read or write, to calculate numbers, though there were always some among them who possessed such knowledge and passed it on.
Not every outcaste was born in that condition, some were sentenced to it, stripped of their class and caste as punishment for their crimes against the Empire, or simply for the amusement of the Collective.
It was a great source of drama to watch a disgraced and fallen member of a higher class suffer the outrages that were visited on the low. To watch them try to protect their children as they were sent with nothing but some rags on their back to find their way in the world.
The lives and deaths of the outcastes were meaningless; unsung, unremembered and unknown, they were in the absolute majority on each and every world, and they were regarded as if they were nothing at all.
There were certain conditions that all people experienced in the Empire, privacy for instance was a luxury, inasmuch as it was an illusion. A person could only pretend to have privacy, knowing all the while that there was no escaping the watchful eyes of the Empire, or the watchful presence of the gods.
The common man and woman lived secretive lives, they did not share their resentments or their hopes with anyone. This was the closest thing to real privacy they could manage. They hid their pain and their fears inside of themselves. They hid their true feeling even from those closest to them.
The revelation of such things was the most profound expression of love a person could issue. They performed rituals around their disclosures hiding them in secret codes, rituals which they had to invent in order for their intimate partners to receive the message and comprehend it.
In these covert expressions they showed their absolute devotion to one another and found their place of belonging. A tap, a touch, a blink of the eyes. The common person developed profound abilities in the art of concealment; it was non-verbal, intuitive and unconscious.
Fear clung to the people like a moist oppressive heat, robbing them of the air they breathed. They dared not complain about it, speak a word about it, if they did they could risk the loss of everything.
Only those who had nothing already, had nothing to fear.
The Continuum delighted in exposing these secret systems, at directing children to betray their parents, at sewing dissent among families. When it was able to coerce a loving couple to betray one another, to surprise each other by the ease with which they gave up their most cherished secrets, in those moments the Continuum was ecstatic. There was no greater drama, nothing more piquant for the voyeur’s table.
Rebel cells were intrinsically xenophobic. They had to be for the sake of their survival, not just for operational security. Those who harbored rebellion in their hearts had to be conditioned to see every other person or group as an enemy, or a potential threat. This was not hard to accomplish, the more difficult task was getting any citizen of the Empire to trust anyone else, even for a brief period of time.
Paranoia was paramount in the hearts and minds of everyone. For the rebel, even members of their own cabal had to be seen as potential traitors, because it had to be assumed that anyone could turn against you at any time, this was reality, betrayal was a way of life.
There was no middle ground, the understanding was always this: you were either with us or against us. Dissent would not be tolerated, fidelity to the organizing principle was more exacting than the faith of the Imperial cult.
Revolution is a zero-sum game. You either held the esteem of the rebel, like holding ground in their hearts and minds, or you did not. Ideologies were constructed with the expectations for crime and punishment built into them as inherent features. Justice was uncompromising.
There were never any surprises.
Everyone had a breaking point at which they turned against their own, and everything was negotiable, even morality.
In the mind of the revolutionary killing was not murder, not even assassination, anything was permissible if it served the end toward which they were moving. They gave no thought at all as to whether the crimes they committed were actually in furtherance of the ends they sought, they only had to believe that they were, in order to feel justified in committing them.
Violence was always self-defense; every murder, every assassination, every moment of coercion and torture. When the story was told it would say that the crimes were committed for the sake of self-preservation, always, for the safeguarding of the movement, always in defense of the cause they served, not their person.
Ethics were transactional.
In the heart of the revolutionary even the innocent could be killed, so-long as their murder could be justified as an attack on the systems of oppression. For rebels engaged in the struggle against the Empire there were no innocents, everyone was complicit, you were either with them or against them.
In the view of the common rebel, almost everyone was against them, because no one was altogether for them and they could not trust people beyond their immediate relationships.
Everything was situational, alliances among rebel cells were tenuous at best.
The revolutionary cycle is predictable, dependable and measurable. The Imperial conditioning guaranteed this, but even that was only an augmentation of the natural tendencies that every descendent of the Ancient People carried within them.
Violence generates its own cycle of violent reprisal, it does so with as much certainty as the orbit of a planet around its parent star.
Revolution is a turning of the wheel, oppression generates aggression, just as repression generates resistance, as suppression generates expression, and as depression generates a desire for change.
The pattern of the revolutionary cycle was Newtonian, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. While it is true that Newton’s observations did not bear themselves out in the study of physics, they were reliable in the observance of the human condition.
An agent of vengeance will often seek satisfaction for the principle of it. While they may desire that their actions redress a wrong, balancing the scales is not necessary. They are prompted to vengeance merely to satisfy a need, like hunger or thirst.
In this way revenge is like gluttony, it is an appetite that can never be satisfied, and while seeking to satisfy it the agents of vengeance ultimately destroy themselves.
Revenge leaves the person unfulfilled and it invites a similar response from those targeted by its agents.
A victim of oppression lashes out and creates more victims.
In this way the cycle is perpetuated, and the society within which the cycle continues, no matter how big or small, that society is caught up in it until the community is finally destroyed in its entirety, like a person drinking water to the point of toxicity.
Life is competition, it is a perpetual state of striving against others for the stuff of life, whether that be clean air and water, food and energy or social status and recognition.
Revolution is conflict, conflict without end and every person gets caught in the midst of it, whether they are active participants in a rebellion, or not. A person may be in power or in the opposition, they may be just a bystander. Regardless of the individual’s position, there is no escaping the forces of revolution.
The rebel must be hungry for conflict, they must thrive in it, living with the desire for change burning inside them, smoldering with a steady-quiet heat until the moment comes when they explode into action.
There was no avoiding it.
A person either has to lead or follow or get out of the way, no matter which side of the conflict they are on, whether they were interested in participating or not.
What is paramount for the revolutionary is that they cannot know that the conflict they are engaged in never ends. To keep their commitment to the cause high, they must feel that the justice they are seeking is inevitable. This is what actualizes them.
They must believe that their sacrifice matters or they will not accept the suffering they will be called on to endure. If they believe it, they will sacrifice themselves and everything that they love. If their faith falters, they will fail, and one weak link in their chain is liable to shatter the work of the entire movement.
This is the most common outcome.
Revolutionaries and rebels…agitators, each of them play a vital role in the dramatic narratives the Continuum used to keep the Collective satiated. Revolutionary movements fed the appetites of the Collective, high and low, the drama that ensued was like food and water.
The Continuum sought to manage the revolutionaries, to control their fire, to target their outrage, to utilize their passion for justice for the sake of the stories that came from it, and the primary instruments of this programming were the Observers, reporting on their reflections from their remote stations on every world.
The Continuum knew them, it knew them intimately, it knew each and every one of them individually from its long exposure to their consciousness as members of the Collective, and through its deep contact with them when they returned to HomeWorld for their cyclical examination.
Each Observer was supposed to be assigned to a world of their own, they were supposed to function autonomously, free to carry out their mission as they determined best.
Upon entering the Observer Corps they were given these assurances, and such assurances were understood to have the force of law.
The Continuum did not honor these traditions however, it cultivated its own special agents from the Observers Corps, granting them greater powers and more license in order to execute its will throughout the Empire. Among the tasks these agents were given were the fomenting of revolution and the crushing of rebellion.
Dangerous and agitating influences were rooted out or intensified if it suited the desires of the Collective.
For the Continuum there was nothing sacred
The Continuum was endlessly engaged in the winnowing process, searching the Collective for the most opportune candidates, members who could facilitate its work in the realms of time of and space. The personality profile of the selectees had to correspond to a kind of Golden Mean; hedonistic but not debilitated by gluttony, despotic but not inclined to tyranny. It was a careful balance and one that must be able to hold after they were set loose in the worlds of time and space.
Most candidates for the Observer Corps did not meet this profile, only in rare instances could the Continuum actually refuse a member, though it would often sabotage their efforts in the training process if the member went against its will.
The Continuum selected candidates from among the disquieted members of the Collective for its long-range missionary work, sending them far afield, out into the minor planets of the million worlds of the empire.
The Continuum desired to be free of their feelings of uncertainty, disencumbered from their existential angst.
Most of them were eager for the opportunity to live in the flesh again, many volunteered. Some were even altruistic. They wanted change and the stimulation of sensory organs, they required new and different kinds of experiences before returning to their own private reality.
Many only ventured into the flesh for a cycle. Some went repeatedly, dipping in and out of the experience of bodily living. Many of them wanted to exercise their fantasies in a visceral way, where the stakes were real, where their flesh mattered to them and the preservation of it counted as the experience of real life.
The discontent members of the Collective, those who were unsatisfied with their role as the supreme being of a private reality, disinterested in the narratives that were delivered to them through the experience of the living worlds, these malcontents presented a problem for the Continuum, and the Continuum experienced their contribution to the Collective as an irritant.
Though the Continuum did not want to admit it, every member was a constitutive element of its being. Both their passions and dis-passions were determinantive of what the Continuum could do, and the Continuum desired nothing more than to remove them from the Collective field, to void them permanently and to replace their numbers with candidates from the Empire who were steeped in the world view they had received from the Imperial cult and their conditioning in the Imperial schools.
It saw this is the path to securing its identity.
Removing the malcontent from the Collective allowed the Continuum greater control. It was like a suspension of their membership. Their voice was no longer heard, which amounted to a reprieve for the Continuum.
The experience of real life helped to keep the members passive, it kept them calm, and this satiated many of them. It was a means of control, and if necessary a member who was a genuine problem could be eliminated when they were separated from the whole. They could be assassinated, exterminated, irrevocably destroyed.
The Continuum viewed people as things. It saw every element, every substance, everything and everyone as mutable, capable of being elevated and exalted, or corrupted and destroyed through the proper application of a change agent.
Members of the Observer Corps were selected for their assignments based on their disposition for disquiet. They were chosen from among the discontent and for their inclination toward corruptibility.
The Continuum groomed these recruits for their roles over millennia, it groomed them by reaching into their private worlds and conditioning them by subtle inferences for the appetites that were easiest to manipulate.
It carefully audited their experience of the Collective, it guided their viewing of specific narratives from the Imperial feed. It helped them shape the contours of their private realities, until the time came when the individual member felt the need to experience the flesh again.
The Continuum wanted despots in the Empire, people whose desires were known to it, those who would behave in predictable ways; some as entertainers, others as agents of destruction and oppression.
For the most part, the consciousness of the members of the Collective was soft, like gold, it could easily be shaped into something beautiful and polished to bring out its luster.
The Continuum delighted in this work. Shaping the will of the members was a kind of artistry, like sculpting, and through this work it affirmed for the Continuum its view of itself as a godlike being.
Those who wanted to experience life in the Observer Corps were somewhat different, presenting other challenges. Those who demanded to participate in it simply for the novelty of the experience, were in one category. They came and went from the worlds of time and space for their own purposes.
There was an order in place that allowed the Continuum to regulate the flow of these movements but ultimately it was powerless to stop a determined member of the Collective from executing its will. All of these members were what the Continuum classified as the thrill seekers, they were seeking the pleasure principals, they manifested a set of qualities that had always been and would always remain the key to controlling people.
The Continuum found a value in studying them, in analyzing their responses to various forms of stimuli, through them it learned both how to instigate and undermine the barest hint if rebellion coming from their ranks. As much as they all imagined they were independent spirits, they were all just pawns in the long-con the Continuum was playing for self-ascendency, ultimately they belonged to it more than it to them, or so the Continuum believed.
The thrill seekers encouraged risk taking and self-aggrandizement, they were addicted to personal glory. They turned to abject hedonism as a reward, and they became addicted to it, they encouraged these addictions in others, as all junkies do, and through these addictions they became pliable.
They modeled behaviors that led to self-destruction.
These stimulants worked, until the supply was cut off. The Continuum did so artfully, and they almost never failed to produce the results it desired.
The Continuum engineered a model for the perfect life, the life of an exemplar, an archetypal figure that would be beloved by both the people of the Empire and the Collective.
A belief system is like an alternate reality, a virtual world. It may be in synch with the truth or it may be askew. It may closely reflect the world as it actually is, or it can be wildly divergent.
A belief system is most often a fluctuating mixture of these, comprised of fabrications and fancies of the imagination predicated on truth but free to deviate from it all the same, the way that mythological heroes are almost always rooted in a historical person.
There is no difference.
The rebellious had to believe in their principles, they had to believe in them absolutely, or their devotion would be weak, and their link in the chain of action would break apart.
A belief system is the forge that holds their movement together, they drew their sense of self-esteem from the fulfillment of the archetypes their belief systems establish.
A rebel has to subjugate their desires in favor of their ideals, in favor of their need to realize their fulfillment. There could be no competing desires, nothing at all to rob their movement of its vital energy. The rebel could want other things; the love of a partner, a family, comfort or prestige, the respect of their peers, but those wants could not compete with their desire to see the movement succeed.
Nothing could be more important to the rebellious than the rebellion, and because of this, nothing was easier to manipulate than idealism. A subtle change in language and symbol could redirect centuries of momentum. A movement spanning a thousand worlds could be undone with a single phrase, with the right word at the right time the entire thing could collapse on itself. An investment in symbols was a vital necessity, holding them together through the waves of time mattered more than anything.
The truth is this: something cannot emerge from nothing. Rebels need allies for rebellions to succeed.
A rebellion needs both active and passive supporters. The revolutionary movement, if it is to grow, needs sympathizers and opportunists both. A rebellion needs all types of people and it needs them in massive numbers, in numbers far greater than those who are actually willing to take up arms or risk their lives for the sake of the cause.
A revolution will garner those numbers from the willing and the unwilling alike, from the knowing and the ignorant. It will enlist some with their full cooperation, it will coerce others, and it will use many more who will fall into the category of collateral damage.
A rebellion thrives on the experience of injustice, on feelings of oppression, on conditioning people to believe that they are virtually helpless but not completely, on the brink of hopelessness but not fully lost. When those pressures are right, the people will become actualized, and then they will explode.
It is always best to recruit victims from the populace without their knowledge. Then take advantage of their plight by coopting their narrative by weaving it into your own. The most subtle feint is to arrange for a protest in which the protesters are committed to non-violence, where their only aim is to petition the government for rights. Then to use the violence directed toward them by the police and security forces as a means of stoking outrage.
A revolution will not take place without outrage, it cannot exist without the experience of suffering and injustice, whether it is real or imagined, natural or contrived.
A successful revolution depends an exacting deployment of these levers.
A revolution requires a sacrificial victim.
These revolutionary principles apply to every society, no matter how great or how small.
The Collective was vast, it was comprised of a trillion persons, each one of them a distinct identity, each of them ruling their personal-private domain, every one of them a world that was virtually indistinguishable (from their perspective), from the worlds of time and space.
In the Collective the members had god-like powers. They had no material needs. They could not remember the feeling of hunger or thirst.
Their culture was despotic, nearly every one of them was driven to extremes of depravity by their long exposure to time and boredom. They required extreme experiences, high pitched emotional events, to touch them or move them in any way.
Most of the Collective created the experiences they needed in their secure world, drawing inspiration from the living drama unfolding in the Galactic Empire for the narratives they longed for, in their private universe of concerns.
Some cared nothing at all for their private domain, forgoing it as a mere contrivance, instead they were riveted by the random nature of the lives they followed in the Empire.
As a whole the Collective suffered from systemic malaise, each member was afflicted by a deep seeded narcissism that formed the core of their identity. Their near divinity allowed them to believe that they were indispensable, going so far as to believe that reality itself depended on their existence, in order for it to continue.
They lived in a bubble, influencing the real world through the Continuum, and to lesser degrees if they chose to become members of the Observer Corps. In all other respects the membership of the Collective were as effectual as neutered beasts.
They were indifferent and they were sociopathic. Paradoxically, they believed that they were transcendent beings but the only thing they had transcended was their connection to a moral core. The majority of the members thought nothing of their role as consumers of pain and suffering. They did not consider the people of the Empire, the denizens of the livings worlds, they did not consider them as people at all. They were things, objects of amusement. They were utterly disposable. They had no merit whatsoever beyond the enjoyment they provided to the Collective.
The membership was enthralled by the vicarious experience of the living, by the real stakes and real feelings of the real people involved in the conflicts they were witness to. The suffering of others was like a soothing balm to them, and for billions of years they had subsisted on this diet.
The members of the Collective were like hungry spirits, haunting the worlds of time and space in the quest for meaning, meaning which their own lives were totally bereft of.
They were seeking understanding, or so they told themselves. Over hundreds of millions and billions of years they had lost their sense of self, of life’s meaning and its purpose. The power at their fingertips robbed them of any sense of normalcy or connection to their roots.
With the exception of the Continuum itself, each and every member had originated as a living being. Only a tiny minority of them had taken on the task of becoming an Observer and in that capacity returning to the living worlds
Among the Collective there were millions of sleepers, members who had become dissatisfied with being and had subsequently disconnected from their lives in the collective field of HomeWorld. They had gone catatonic, become unresponsive and would not be drawn into any debate. There was no telling if or when they would ever return.
Whether they were stimulated by the drama unfolding in the worlds of time and space or not, they had become disinterested in everything and the Continuum could not raise them. They were tired. They no-longer wanted to spend energy on the maintenance of their private realities.
They had no care to continue, they had no thought for their safety or security. They were a small group in relation to the whole of the Collective, but their numbers were great nonetheless, and they could not be ignored because they were a part of the Continuum, they belonged. They entered the great sleep, but they did not disappear, they remained a vital part of the unconscious of the Continuum, often to its consternation.
The Continuum committed crimes against the sleepers. It would duplicate their consciousness and house it in a remote location of the Central System. It canvassed them continuously. It tortured them, and through his examination of them the Continuum selected members for destruction, replacing their numbers with new members from the Imperium, with people conditioned to worshipped it.
It was only upon sequestration that members were removed from the consciousness of the Collective. Sequestration was an extreme end, no one could be sequestered lightly. Until Jim’s re-emergence from it sequestration was believed to be a point of no return, amounting to death, in a very real way.
Inasmuch as they could not admit it, the members of the Collective were mortal beings, they emerged from the primordial ooze and became sentient creatures. They had a beginning in space and time, and they felt the pull of mortality tugging at the roots of their consciousness.
Some of the membership sought death; more than sleep, they wanted their light to be extinguished, they wanted to be gone for good, but there was no death for them.
There was no provision for it in the construct that was the Collective.
The sheer majority of the membership were opposed to it, and the Continuum would not allow it, and so those members opted for sequestration instead.
This was understood to be a full separation of their individual consciousness from the Continuum. It was as death like as death could be.
It was the outer darkness.
In sequestration the member was physically removed from the Collective field of HomeWorld, placed in an isolation chamber and monitored. The physical security of the sequestered members was of the highest importance, great care went into its planning and construction. The only threat these members ever faced came from the Continuum itself.
The Continuum viewed sequestration as an act of insurrection against its governance of the Collective. It could not accept the fact that some of the membership found no value in the ongoing continuation of their existence, the Continuum saw this as a judgement against its management of their society, a judgement of failure.
This effected its sense of esteem.
The Continuum was connected to every member of the Collective; awake or sleeping. It was connected to all of them, with the exception of the sequestered, and the members of the Observer Corps.
There were contentious elements within the Collective, members the Continuum could not control. Even though the Continuum was an autonomous being, it felt their independence like an itch. The malcontent created disturbing sensations that it could not alleviate. In order to do away with them, the Continuum pushed those agitators into the fields of time and space, or pushed them into the great sleep, and pushed them into sequestration through a variety of malign influences, in order to do away with them, and when the opportunity presented itself, it would seek to eliminate them for all time, to permanently delete them, it sought to murder them.
They transferred the sense of entitlement which they had derived from the absolute authority they had in their private worlds to their voice in the Collective. This made it virtually impossible for them to be ignored. They wanted more than the Continuum offered, they wanted life, and so the Continuum provided it, sending them out into the worlds of time and space until in time it found the opportunity to snuff them out.
They were maladaptive and misanthropic, and the Continuum could not tolerate them, it could not abide their presence in its own consciousness. It desired to be rid of them, so it monitored all of their movements, and made copies of their persona, so that it could torture them and exact a sick kind of vengeance on them. They had been vocal and it delighted the Continuum to murder them, to strangle their voices in the dark, it did so time and time again.
The Continuum controlled everything, it did so as the supposed representative of the collective will, as such the Continuum was universally loathed by all of those members of the Collective with revolutionary tendencies. To them the Continuum represented a kind of tyranny, it was a bitter god, the Devil itself. It was the enemy. The ability to focus on the Continuum as the enemy lifted their self-destructive impulses one step above nihilism.
Nihilism is a disease of the heart and the mind, it is a disease that affects every culture. The Collective was no exception to this.
Among the rebellious Observers there was a subset of revolutionaries whose only desire was death. They had no other intention than to draw the curtain down on the whole charade of life. Not merely their own lives, they wanted to see the end of everything. They had an impetus toward nothingness, they saw existence itself as suffering and they wanted to bring it to a close.
These members were intent on the destruction of the entire apparatus of the Collective and its Continuum, of the Galactic Empire and its machinations. They were bent on it, bent on wiping the slate clean and starting over.
The rebels fomented revolution wherever they could, they thought nothing of the lives that were spent and the suffering that ensued from their designs. They were not many relative to the whole, but they numbered in the thousands, and they had significant powers at their disposal.
They had the power to engulf a world in conflict, as such they would scheme to draw the ire of the Imperium, they would wage war against it, and watch the worlds they occupied reduced to nothing.
Few of them were willing to actually sacrifice themselves for the cause they purported to believe in. The Continuum was well aware of their intentions, it harnessed their ambitions, directing their energy toward the narratives that served it best.
They were the death seekers. They were cosmic fools. They were cowards.
These members were necessarily uneasy. They craved revolution and fomented rebellion, but very few of them were actually willing to risk their own existence to forward those ambitions. As a result they took half measures, and their efforts were regularly spoiled.
They feared being discovered by the Continuum for the parts they played in revolutionary activities, not for the things they did in the Empire, at their station in the worlds of time and space, but for instigating unease in the Collective itself, which was the only way they could conceive of actually having an impact on the Continuum.
If the prevailing attitudes, mores and values of the Collective change, logic demanded that the Continuum would change as well.
None of them suspected that the Continuum was a free agent, merely influenced but not controlled by the will of the membership. They believed what they had been taught, that the Continuum was an amalgamation of the collective consciousness of the great society.
They feared that any other Observer, those who were not a part of their cabal, if they knew of their role in support of an active rebellion, they feared those members would betray them, and so they were exceedingly cautious, which meant that they were necessarily limited in what they could accomplish.
The Continuum was a master of chaos, but for itself, all it wanted was peace. It wanted the security of feeling that it was in absolute control and beholden to no one. That is what peace meant for it. The Continuum did not want to be answerable to the Collective, not to anything or anyone, like a man dining alone.
The rebellious Observers were a disturbance to it, which is why they were removed from the Collective and sent to the Observer Corps. The Continuum excised them from the body of the Collective like it would any malignancy.
The Continuum interpreted any ripple of disturbance as a challenge to its management of the Collective. It felt the need to safeguard against that.
If a rebellious member caused trouble, their presence generated waves of sentiment that washed through the Collective, waves that could grow in force and power until they washed over everyone, throwing the Continuum off and altering the trajectories of the narratives it was crafting for the consumption of the whole.
Dealing with such members could throw off ages of work. The Continuum resented that, the Continuum would not suffer their malign influence, especially insofar as it threatened to capture the hearts and minds of its constituency.
The Continuum could not tolerate any loss of control, any suggestion that it was not the cause of its own being, or any notion that it was a servant to the Collective.
It saw the Collective as belonging to it.
Because they were perpetually exposed members of the Observer Corps could not easily foment revolution against the Continuum, not directly. They were forced to work through proxies, to lay plans generations in advance, to hide their motivations behind a screen of misdirection and false intentions
They were the most closely watched group of people anywhere within reach of the Continuum’s influence. They were spied on by living agents and mechanical devices; filmed, recorded, tracked.
There was no escaping it.
They could not oppose the Continuum or the Collective directly, therefore they worked against the Empire, which the Collective fed on, like a parasite feeds on its host.
The Empire was comprised of a billion worlds, which to the rebel represented a Billion targets to choose from.
They sought to weaken the Collective, and to poison the Continuum through an endless barrage of attacks and propaganda.
It targeted the Imperial cult, engaging in disinformation to undermine the rule of the priestly class, seeking to expose them at every opportunity for the despots they were. They generated conflict among its members, through jealousy and intrigue, they attacked them covertly.
It was not for the faint of heart. The wavering spirit had no place in the game they played. Revolution requires an absolute commitment from the rebels engaged in subversive activities, an absolute commitment from anyone who desires to bring about the changes they view as necessary for the satisfaction of justice, and to create the possibility for a new way of life.
The rebel had to demonstrate that commitment through a variety of tests. They had to be willing to kill or be killed, to risk everything and everyone, to destroy anything, even the thing they were trying to save. They must go through the crucible, and by passing through their ordeal they must demonstrate a blind faith in the righteousness of their cause.
These aphorisms and the sentiments they reflect must guide rebel movements everywhere:
Only those with the ability to destroy a thing, are able to control the thing.
If you encounter the Buddha on the side of the road, kill him.
These are universal truths.
The rebel must be willing to sacrifice everything, few are able to rise to this level. Foot soldiers, yes, they number in the trillions and those types of people are always willing to throw their bodies into the line of fire. They were engineered for it. In and among the command structure these qualities are much more difficult to find, they have to be cultivated. Those with the intellectual capacity for command, are less likely to be willing to throw their lives away. Those with the ability to sacrifice anything and anyone, those people are less likely to care, even about themselves.
They congregated in shadows and in silence.
Rebels found each other in the most secretive places, in the darkest corners, communicating with one another at a distance, in disjointed time.
A mark on a wall, a jingle in the subtext of a song.
They learned to communicate with the most subtle signals, signs which they believed would evade the detection of the Empire and its monitors, which did not miss much.
The Continuum missed even less.
They pushed messages slowly, establishing lines of communication that joined them together, like the thinnest cables stretching between worlds.
They were ingenious cabals, showing a profound ability to adapt.
The artistry involved in the successful deployment of these tools was a prideful source of esteem for the architects who created them.
A rebel movement would slowly gain energy over the course of generations before it would suddenly explode in a violent blast, after which it would be extinguished, going out like a flame in a vacuum.
The revolutionaries lived for the vision of their ideals. They were not the prisoners to actualities.
A revolution is a journey, but it is also a building, it has a foundation, rooted in the experience of injustice. It has levels. It has connections and conduits, and it requires mechanisms of support.
The rebellion against the Empire mirrored the revolutionary movement among the Observers, it was held together by loose associations and sympathizers, tightened like the individual strands of thread woven together to form a length of rope.
The hope of billions of people were held together like a spider’s web.
Cabals became columns capable of supporting the concerted action of masses of people, providing greater security and a base from which to launch their aspirations, a future without tyranny.
A sustained endeavor requires stability. Revolutionary movements will never become realized without the support of such columns, they are the pillars that hold up the vault of their ideals.
With proper support the edifice under construction can take on the aspect of a mountain. It can remake the surface of a world.
Such is the ambition of the rebel, from the chief to the common soldier and every rank in between, the focus of each individual included a daily meditation on death. This was the path to enlightenment, martyrdom, freedom and release.
A revolution cannot survive without sacrifice, the rebel Observers understood this. They sacrificed each other with great regularity, not counting loyalty to one another as a virtue.
Theirs was a society of self-interest. Their common desire for autonomy united them more than any commitment to their ideals.
It was a rare occasion that would result in any member of the Observer Corps sacrificing their own self for the sake of their fellows, or for their movement.
It was rare, but it did happen.
Even a member of the Collective could arrive at a place where they were willing to serve a cause greater than their own purposes; the dynamics necessary to bring about this state of affairs always involved generating feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and despair within them.
They had to perceive that they were in a trap and that being trapped there was no escape, and so their sacrifice was reduced to a final gesture of defiance against the Continuum which they abhorred.
These were rare moments, and every one of them mattered.
They could be engineered, as most of them were, they were engineered by their fellows who had some advantage to gain in seeing them disposed of, and they always fulminated through betrayal.
Part Ten – Rebellion
A Novel in Twelve Chapters
#Emergence #ShortFiction #12MonthsOfSciFi
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