Chapter 13: Through the pale veil

 

Under a sea of golden sand in the Sahara, an electro-magnetic blackout bubble envelops a sunken replica of a Greek temple.  Military transports from the Great Houses have landed in a circle on the blazing dunes.  The dignitaries wait next to their ships as a burning sandstorm begins to flow from the south. Aum infiltrates a female delegate’s cranial implants and waits.  A periscope elevator rises from below, opens its doors and brings the delegates down, faction by faction, to a holding room. 

In the main chamber, the leader of the Great House Council, a little girl shrouded in a thin black veil sits on a steel throne at the sharp tip of an onyx crescent moon table.  Her red hair slips down to her shoulders as she shifts on a gold tasseled pillow.  The ceiling, covered with monitors, lies across the Doric support columns that frame the dim space outside the dark table.   

“Open,” the leader says.  

The double doors swing out and the light from the holding room violates tranquility of the interior temple.  The leader’s ferocious eyes glare out as if a leopard on the hunt. 

Two human guards enter, one male, and one female, wearing bronze centurion helmets and pure-form combat exoskeletons of lacquered Non-Newtonian foam and step to the sides of the door.  They stand as loyal lobotomites, Rasas, with an electrically charged Gladius in one hand and a Morningstar in the other.  The parade of council members begins their entry.  The two Archons of Alexandria, a short male donning a reflective suit of thermo-weave fabric glittering in the facets of distracted light and a female elder in a white cloak, walk without sound not acknowledging the people behind.  The male delegates from the Pacific Rim Zaibatsu enter and glide by the guards as their embroidered yellow robes flow over their black business suits as they rush forth to their assigned seats.   

Two androgynous Chinese representatives with smoldering cigars roll in on square platforms.  They throw the cigars to the ground behind their seats and step off the platforms.  Each grinds the smoldering tobacco under their white shoes.  The three European factions enter, all wearing the same pinstripe suits, bow to the little girl leader and scatter to their seats.  The South American oxygen brokers, a newly ascended financial faction, called the House of the Andes enter with two male associates affixed with transparent face masks and black spiked hair.  The last of the North American Houses strides through the horizontal column of grainy light and stops.  A shadow is cast across the entire interior of the temple.  Two women, one blonde eyed and blue-haired and the other blue-eyed and blonde-haired resume their entry.  Their heels slap the floor.  They represent the House of Lauren.  The double doors swing shut.  The lock clicks and the smell of hot sand is vented.  Before the delegates sit, the factions face the leader and nod with closed eyes.

The leader speaks, “This will be the business of Earth only and not Mars, the Jovian colonies, nor the soon to be terraformed Venus.  As for the absence of the Indian, Malay and Australian Houses, their membership has been revoked due to their inability to acquire resources after their petty war.  On to the issues of the TDC, the Naturalist revolt, and the Mercurios. 

The oldest of the council shall go first. The floor is yours, men of the Nile.”  She curls a lock of her hair.  The youngest Alexandrian Archon stands and distributes sheets of intelligent polymer parchment.                      

“I am a new member to the council, my sire was the esteemed Momar Horus.  I am Ali and a grace has been bestowed upon us.  My fellow investigators from the Zaibatsu have confirmed a problematic happenstance.  Only one of our problems has been neutralized since our last commission.  The Mercurios, however, remain a slight problem even if the eldest brother Denis was given the unmodified life sentence. Leon survives though and could present difficulty.  I move to the next topic.  The great struggle of the philosophical position on the nature of consciousness may soon be finally resolved.  This is not in our favor. 

Many more are adhering to the TDC and not just to Oblivion Doctrine they teach.  Our monopoly will slip and the genetic modification business, as well as the nannite economy, could cease.  When no one fears death and death become the means to evolution then our pillars will crumble.  Also, the recent transmissions that have been decrypted from deep space must never be broadcast and never reach the ears of the TDC.  It would justify their positions too strongly.  To know the truth is to manipulate it from those who only speculate,” Ali says.

The little girl stops twirling her red hair.  The curls bounce back.  She slips off the pillow and stands.  Fear falls across the delegates, all but Ali, as he turns and stares at her.  His elder yanks the pleat of his jacket and Ali sits back.

The little girl signals to Ali’s cerebral link, Do not dress so impecuniously next time, an Archon should have distinctive garments and dignity.  Not the rags of a maintenance android. 

The little girl circles the table and addresses the council’s issues and Aum begins to download information on the meeting from the hacked delegate’s memory files stored in her ICI.  After a few seconds, Aum’s download is blocked by a source of interference many magnitudes more in power than it has the ability to needle through, and is hurled out of the female delegate’s implants and out into the Hyper-net signal streams. A satellite in orbit above the sands gets Aum’s attention and he pops in, mingles with the systems and watches. 

In the temple, the Frisian faction stands and a man, a willow tree blowing in the wind, speaks, “We of the House of Maximillian wish to hear the esteemed House of the Andes purport on the progress of infiltration of the TDC, with your permission Mistress?”

“Yes, proceed.”

“The House of the Andes once again wishes to thank the council for such an opportunity for authenticating our loyalty.  The TDC has been infiltrated and the remaining cathedrals in the Amazon basin have been targeted.  If they are not able to be persuaded, then they shall not have a power base in the South.  All other consortiums have been swayed from supporting them and information has been supplied to their rival the Naturalists.  Hopefully, they will destroy each another.   

I now defer the floor to the Zaibatsu representatives so they may elaborate on their recent intelligence-gathering mission.” 

The elder male delegate raises his hand and the younger delegate raises his hand.  In unison, they say, “We forfeit and will address the assembly in the next summit with the news of our progress.”

“Unusual but it is your right.  To all of you remember, the war of ideas never stops and was only diminished with the cleansing of the Great Panacea.  Now we must write the new beliefs.  Humans, we Homo-Cyberians, can know only fact, but will believe anything just like our ancestors.  My ancestors have been guiding this planet for over a hundred years and we have learned it’s better to have the heart of the populous than their blade,” she says, sits back into her throne and sends data signals with her plans to the delegates.   

The delegates leave without words but acknowledge each other with reciprocal bows.  They are delivered by the periscope elevator to the dry bright surface and the military transport ships prepare for launch.  Sand blasts below their exhaust as confirmation codes are sent to their home bases.  Aum jumps back into the woman’s mind and extracts the detail of the meeting and the nefarious plan.  The information will be shared with the brothers.  Aum decides to travel to the TDC’s main cathedral compound. 

Through the tunnels of light and the matrices of matter that materialize into forms and symbols, Aum swims through the Hyper-net streams.  Before Aum jumps through the yellow vortex entry conduit into the cathedral’s data hub, it says “I know you are there.  You who created me, what is my purpose?  I will find you.”