Saturday, October 31, 2015

Chapter 1: "Precursor: The Other Side of Time" (Draft)

“‘Freedom doesn’t exist. Liberty is only an illusion created by the upper classes; why else do you think that democratic principles were put down by wealthy landowners? The only real reason why Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau and other Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American Founders cared anything about the illiterate peasantry and working class was simply because it would increase their productivity, therefore putting more money in the philosophes’ pockets. What I plan to accomplish is a culmination of nearly 800,000 years of human farming and systems of servitude, one where I control everything. Freedom and justice only exist as long as the rich want them to, and for those that defy us, those sheep that get lost, that’s what militaries and police forces are for. So when you vote, no matter who you vote for, you assist me. If you don’t vote, you give me a free pass into power. Either way I win. It’s a like a playground game of tag, but everyone is ‘it’ except the one that isn’t. Everyone else does the dirty work but the one that’s not ‘it’ in this example is the one that didn’t participate. But in this analogy, there is one ‘super-it,’ and that ‘super-it’ is what keeps all the lesser bosses in line. It’s truly ironic, isn’t it? Not even the Eta Carinae High Council can fathom what I’m doing, but any schoolchild on any schoolyard would understand my thinking immediately.

Truly wonderful are children’s minds, so young and so easily molded into good, little Pantheon scholars. This is why excessive access to knowledge, knowledge of anything other than the Pantheon, is the most dangerous thing in our society.

Emperor Arditi, from “Writings of Societal Mysteries”

                    1. An Innocent Encounter

“Listen, my fellow learned men, for I have a great secret of this world...what if I told you, that everything that has happened, everything that is happening now, and everything that will ever happen for the next million years is written in my notebook? Surely, you must think I am mad, for that would be the logical assumption. But, I posses a great power, a great blessing, though some consider it a curse. With my pen, I am able to write the history of the world as it happens. It has fallen to me to write the history of the next million years, by a family heirloom, the Pen of Fate.”

The handsome young man Andrew Eisenheim, a citizen of the vast German Empire in 1898, said to the Wilhelmine barons to which he presented a most extraordinary device and theory.

“I have built a machine as well, made of common, everyday objects, that will take me one million years into the future, to prove that I am correct in my assumptions. This “time transporter,” will allow me to show that I am the Hand of Fate.”

The German barons whispered to each other, reminiscent of children playing a game of Chinese whispers, about the supposed legend of a man who controlled the fate of Mankind. This, mentioned in the Devil's Bible, a medieval manuscript written in Bohemia, in Austria-Hungary, in around 1227 A.D. depicted 6,000 pages of pre-Christian European texts mixed with biblical scenes in a haunting, indecipherable and illogical way that had defied even the most brilliant of scholars for centuries. The book itself was laden with arcane tongues, incantations and biblical scenes, with the centerpiece of the manuscript being a full-color image of a creature known only as “Archimago,” long assumed to be the Devil himself. This tome and the Voynich Manuscript, both indecipherable texts, represented the ultimate forbidden fruit for scholars of European languages, symbolizing and encapsulating the greatest dreams and nightmares of the human subconscious. Within these books, disturbing, nightmarish scenes of bloodshed, slavery, torture and Hellfire, like something out of Lewis Carrol's worst nightmare, adorned the tomes' pages.

Naturally, the barons, part of the Volkisch Christian sect Kultursohne that had become deeply enthralled by the romantic “neo-paganism” that was being revived by scholars like Richard Wagner, Guido von List, and the philosopher Fichte were very skeptical of this young man Eisenheim's claims. Kultursohne, German for “Cultured Son,” was an organization who sought to find the Hand of Fate, and use his abilities to control the fate of Europe for theirs and the German Reich's benefit. Their leader, a German paleontologist and philosopher named Arthur Schroeder, had translated about half of the Devil's Bible's intelligible sections and as a result of his hours of toil and poring over hundreds of lines of pagan doggerel was one of the foremost experts on pre-Christian Europe in Germany. Arthur was in attendance that night, and he was tempted to allow Andrew to at least show how his machine worked, or at least give him an attempt to prove himself to the Council of impatient barons. He, however, still believed Andrew to be just another pompous aristocrat, a spoiled rake who had nothing better to do than build odd machines all day and make preposterous claims about “enlightenment.” “Well, Mr. Schroeder, I'd like to show my machine. Prepare to be astounded, as I unveil the Time Transporter Mark I.”

Andrew removed a sheet from a large machine and revealed the contraption to the world for the first time. It looked more like a bizarre museum sculpture than a machine; it was essentially a luxurious leather armchair; a control console with a gyroscope surrounding the whole machine with two huge ivory elephant tusks on each side of the chair and flags, heraldry of Imperial Germany and other gewgaws hanging from the elephant tusks.

The German barons stared at what they thought was nothing more than a piece of junk with curious, yet very skeptical eyes; clearly, anyone with decent mechanical skills could have put that contraption together, with all the gears, moving parts and ornaments emblazoned on it in the gaudiest way imaginable.

“Master Schroeder, this is a load of codfish...” one baron whispered to Arthur in a very sarcastic tone. “This, as you can see, is my Time Transporter, and I will demonstrate how this works as follows...” Andrew said, proudly.

“That looks like a piece of junk!!” One baron yelled rudely across the room.

“Thank you, this was my father's, he died of consumption, how do you feel now?” Andrew said, sarcastically.

One German baron had seen enough of this 24-year old's showcase and simply left the meeting hall in Berlin, probably headed to have something to drink at the public house on the chilly winter's night. Andrew's completely untrue remark was enough to bring his gentlemanly side back to the forefront, however.

“Thank you. Now, let me demonstrate the wonders of time travel. I will venture one million years into the future, to the limit of my powers over fate and history, and I will return with a tree branch, to prove that I am the Hand of Fate.” Andrew said, very confidently.

“This man is a swindler and a cheat...” the same baron whispered to Master Schroeder, still unconvinced of Andrew's powers.

Andrew removed his hat and coat and sat down in the chair, made himself comfortable, and entered the year “1,001,898 A.D.” into the control gauge. He simply sat back and watched as the gyroscope began to turn, slow at first, then faster and faster until the gyroscope whirled at breakneck speed, but then, the room suddenly stood still, and became a white, cosmic blur to Andrew...he was traveling through time!

Andrew looked down at his time gauge as he sat, strapped into the machine, bouncing, jostling and whirling around in the brilliant white blur of the time stream. The years, decades, centuries, millennia and eventually eons flew by, blazing past him at the speed of light, yet his machine was not moving, for it traveled temporally, not spatially. Andrew could scarcely contain his excitement until his destination was reached, just to see if what he had placed in his 145-volume “Egoist Crown: History of the Eons, from 1898 for the Next Million Years” really was correct. Suddenly, however, the Time Transporter began to slow down a bit sooner than expected...its failsafe mechanism was kicking in, something was wrong...the time stream's white blur turned to a steel-gray, and then colors began to flicker into existence as the gyroscope's rotation began to grow more languid. The years displayed on the time gauge were not passing as quickly, and slowly they, as well as the gyroscope came to a stop...Andrew was now on the other side of time.

The world became clear as a whistle...Andrew was in the future, the far, far future, and he turned to the time gauge just to see how far he had come: 802,572 A.D. “ by about 200,000 years...but worked....Yes...Eternal Glory for Germany!” Andrew yelled in cathartic exaltation. Those British, French and Russian snobs would never equal the Fatherland now. Andrew was elated, but that elation suddenly turned to a sickening dread when he realized what part of history he was in.

“Wait...this forest, dark, misty, rainy...this is the Haidnur Age...I wrote this back in 1895, in the year 700,000 A.D., humanity's Empire, spanning one-thirteenth of the Universe, thanks to the invention of “thought travel” in 500,000 A.D. at the height of the “Gilded Age,” 200,000-700,000 A.D., has collapsed in a massive civil war. 100,000 years later, all that remains of humanity on Earth is a Hird of 82 immortal, supreme-transcendants, they are so highly evolved and augmented that they do not age, they do not die, they do not get sick, they have immense telekinesis, and they do not reproduce...this is humanity's final form...Hyperborean, and they are omnipotent beings that will exist as long as the universe does...we have come full circle, and have finally reached nirvana as a species in the Eastern sense...but they are extremely intolerant of outsiders and have a very strong sense of racial pride and identity...they will see me as a threat, they will kill me, and nothing will happen in the past...because this hasn't happened yet. I'd best be careful.”

Andrew thought, realizing of exactly where he was in his History of the Eons timeline. Looking around the Haidnur, the legendary dark forests of Germany, was foreboding enough as it was. Trees, huge oak, yew, camphor and a new species of hybrid tree called Imperial Sequoya, bred as an ornamental tree to adorn what were once the grand cities of the Lordly Empire, which had spanned more than a billion light years from Earth and ruled absolutely by an Emperor and Empress. In the long, silent absence of their human cultivators, the trees had gone feral and had blossomed into towering emergents in the revitalized wilderness of the Haidnur; the vast forest belt that once again cloaked Europe in green in the summer, and golden-orange in the autumn. Occasionally a nightingale's song would pierce the misty, peaceful woodland, or a strange, wonderful call of some futuristic animal, having evolved over the millennia.

Stepping out of the Time Transporter and onto the dark, earthen humus, Andrew realized that he was still in the same spot, just hundreds of thousands of years in the future; the machine traveled through time, not space.

Andrew inspected the machine for any possible damage to the Time Transporter, but there was none immediately present. Everything appeared to be in place. The machine was in perfect working order, so the only reason that failsafe would trigger and drop the machine out of the timestream is that some large object was moving in close proximity to the Time Transporter...Andrew was being watched, but by something not immediately visible, something sinister.

Andrew pulled his revolver from its holster cautiously, worried that what was watching him was a hostile animal, or worse, one of the 82 Hirdsmen. In that case, his 19th-century Luger pistol wouldn't do him much good, for the Hirdsmen had weapons beyond any of his contemporaries' comprehension. Suddenly, a crash shattered the calm behind him as trees were knocked over like matchsticks, and the reason for the machine's sudden stoppage became apparent. A huge Woolly Titan Stag, a massive herbivore evolved from an elk, was crashing loudly through a misty clearing on the opposite side of the grove of trees where the Time Transporter had come to rest. The animal was as massive as a woolly mammoth, with a thick carpet of brown, shaggy hair in the winter; it was a cool autumn morning, so the creature's wool was not the three feet long it would be come winter, but a lighter underwool, just a few inches long. It was lengthening in response to the shortening of the days and the damp, cloying chill in the air.

They had the bulk of a woolly mammoth, the head of an elk with huge antlers pointed forward like spear blades, used to dig, cut vegetation and defend itself from the Hirdsmen and the Psi organisms; the diverse, sentient animals with human intelligence that could speak a human language, but telepathically.

The Hirdsmen and the Psi were the dominant forms of life on Earth during the Haidnur Era by far, but the Stags were spectacular nonetheless. This huge stag, 10 tons in weight, raised its head and let out a loud bugle, just like its elk ancestors did; it was the rutting season. However, neither the Stag nor Andrew realized that they were being hunted. They did not see the watchers in the bush...approaching from behind was a ferocious hunter, and it was coming for blood. As if from nowhere, a huge, bipedal baboon-like creature, standing about 8 feet tall with a massive upper body and small, muscular legs lunged forward with a screech, with the colorful face and rump of a mandrill, gigantic, snake-like fangs and a short tail hooted loudly and lunged at the Titan Stag, followed by the rest of its troop.

“Giant Boboos, nasty predators...” Andrew thought, remembering writing these things into existence in his own time period. Andrew watched helplessly as the huge primates leaped onto the back of the Stag, knocking the massive creature to the ground with a thud then grabbed their spears; rudimentary weapons; the Giant Boboos were the only creatures besides the Hirdsmen and the Psi smart enough to use weapons during Earth's Haidnur Era, and plunged them into the Stag's side, killing it instantly. The creature died gurgling in pools of its own blood. The Boboos flared their huge fangs and injected a potent venom into the dead Stag's body, liquifying the insides and allowing the vicious, liquivorous primates to suck the animal's body dry like a spider killing a fly in its web, after inserting their straw-like tongue into the gaping wounds in the stag's flesh.

The Boboos knew that Andrew was there, the largest one would occasionally glance over at Andrew, and Andrew would train his gun on the Boboo's colorful, blood-drenched face to let the ferocious alpha primate know that he was armed. As Andrew watched the macabre scene, transfixed, he failed to notice that one of the Boboos had knocked his Time Transporter over on its side, dislodging several critical pieces, including the warp modulators; that would take a long time to fix those parts, as warp modulators were very difficult to find in a forest, to say the least. Andrew noticed the situation and cursed. He now knew that he was stuck in the far future, but things were about to get much, much worse. The Boboos started acting strangely...they abandoned their kill suddenly, chattering like scared children running for the safety of their parents...something was coming. Something dangerous.

Andrew turned around and saw what looked like a delicately-striding Christmas tree walking towards him, decorated with tinsel, Christmas balls and garland, it had the same shape as an elegant, black pine tree, about 12 feet tall, and the forest around it broke up its outline as it moved...At first, it was amusing, the sight of a tree walking around in the woods, but then, Andrew staggered in terror when he realized just what he was looking at. The “tree” had ethereal, navy, sapphire-blue eyes, long, pale, ghostly-white, silky hair with two pigtails, a calm face just as pale, a long, gaudy, exuberant black ballroom dress covered with Christmas decorations, complete with a Christmas angel on her head, black boots visible under her dress, with a black and white surcoat adorned with Celtic crosses, and long, feathery, black wings on its back, with a black lace frill on her head keeping her pigtails in place. She looked like an Alice in Wonderland character gone wrong. It was one of the Hirdsmen, probably a wife of one of the Hird leaders, her hands were crooked and witch-like, like tree branches, and she stared ominously at a terrified Andrew, holding his gun at the ready.

Stand still, and no harm will come to you; lay down your weapons...or I will take them from you.”

the woman said, in a strangely rhyming, poetic voice. Andrew cautiously placed his gun on the ground and spoke waveringly in German,

“I want no trouble.”

Don't fear, there is no trouble. You are of the Chosen Race. You may be granted audience with the Hird, King Falkenbach will want to meet you, the Hand of Fate. You look akin to our Masters, the Lordly Ones of Alexander Arditi, The Troika, The Seras Imperium, and machines...albeit a bit scrawny and primitive.”

Andrew was not offended by her haughty comments, to her, he may as well have been a Neanderthal. Humanity had evolved into such non-Euclidean shapes and forms that they scarcely appeared human anymore, this woman looked more like a walking Gothic Christmas tree with wings. “Christmas” appeared to be the right word, too, because she had Celtic Christian symbolism, as well as pagan Germanic-Nordic symbols all over her long, gaudy surcoat. However, the utter absence of technology would have surprised anyone who was not the Hand of Fate.

Andrew had written that in the year 2107 A.D., a massive alien society migrated to Earth, calling itself the “Seras Imperium,” and consisted of very tall, ectomorphic humanoids; essentially greater-formed humans with silver, shining skin, looking almost artificial, with data and numerical values coursing over their bodies.

With their massive silver, zeppelin-like ships that trailed ethereal comet dust on the cosmic winds, they appeared over the Northern Union, a government consisting of the United States, a unified Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the Russian Empire and Canada, which subscribed to an ideology known as “Pantheon Doctrine,” which stated, in its briefest definition, that there are no equal people, only equal ideologies, and that everything in the universe could be explained by science and the Four Pantheon Pillars. These included the Serpent Paradox of Self-Preservation and Destruction, the Ignorance Complex, the Seven Doctrines of Societal Absurdities, and the Ideology Fields. All major organized faiths were abolished and outlawed, people could believe in the Old Faiths privately, but there was to be no Church, no Pope, no Ayatollah, and no clergy of any kind.

The demise of organized religion, which began with the Scientific Revolution in the sixteenth century, was completed with the start of the Second Renaissance and the New Enlightenment. Eventually, however, as if from nowhere, a handsome young Student Inheritor with a superb mind, a deviant personality and a maniacal laughter emerged from the ranks of legendary Northern Union citizen-elites to take the early 22nd-century world on a truly revolutionary new course. “Student Inheritor” was a rank held by the elite, University-age Northern Union intelligentsia and socialites, and this one, named Alexander Arditi, was the most erudite, intelligent, knowledgeable and well-respected of them all. He invented two new machines, the “God Machine,” a computerized cloning mechanism which operated on the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, Boltzmann's Equation and Schrodinger's Paradox, as well as a theory called “Arditi's Theory of Cataclysmic Succession,” where evolution was a product of simultaneous and eternally-clashing chaos and order, and that chaos was caused by a natural cycle of mass-extinction and mutations brought on by the psychological and physiological changes caused by mutations from the mass extinctions themselves. The order, what maintained homeostasis in the environment, according to Arditi, originated from the rapid rate of evolution as shown in the fossil record after a mass extinction event, and then the eternal continuation of the cycle. Eventually, Arditi claimed, the biosphere's biological flaws became too uniform and too homogenous, triggering another catastrophe. This implied that DNA was never destroyed, only converted, and therefore, the God Machine could clone, splice, breed and create life in any way that Arditi saw fit. Combined with his Creation Engine, which was a massive space-station that could produce anything he wanted through nano-bot technology, he astounded the alien visitors with his knowledge, his resemblance to one of their gods, and his militarism, as well as his demented laughter and his belief in Pantheon Cult, founded by the eccentric aristocrat Sylvain Anteon in 2080. Anteon was a veteran of the Great Ilex War, a 30-Years' War in Asia that had spread like a multinational conflagration to burn every nation on Earth, and the best pilot in the world by far, known as “The Black Baron,” flying for the 181st Airborne Legion of the Northern Union.

Handsome, intelligent, decorated, rich and eccentric, he was admired by many for his theories on society and the future of the human race, his writings elevating the young war veteran to the status of global celebrity after the end of the Ilex War in 2092 and the abolition of the old Westphalia Model of politics. His two top associates were a dark but very handsome young idealist by the name of Antonio Marduk, a master of macabre, disturbing and downright evil-looking cartoon art and animation, whose studio, Mad Artist Incorporated, produced some truly shocking cartoons and animation features, and Alexander Arditi, the Yale University firebrand from Italy that would forever alter the course of history.

After finding a history-shattering mural, painted more than 7,000 years before on Martha's Vineyard, Cape Cod but housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art from then on, Anteon, Arditi and Marduk claimed to have found eternal enlightenment; the mural depicted two individuals locked in the embrace of true love, standing under a night sky on a moonlit beach, with the stars literally falling to Earth around them, like little shining snowflakes around their blissful forms; complete with a stunningly beautiful story of how they first met as young teenagers and learned to love each other, and how the man went off and died valiantly in war for the glory of Hellas, leaving the poor girl to die of a broken heart.

The individuals in the painting were described as an Old Ryukyu Empire author and an Old Minoan Empire prince, the Old Ryukyu romantic author, a beautiful, 6'1” young woman named Aya, according to Minoan runes about her work on the painting, dressed in an elaborate style called “Eastern Star,” which involved combining gaudy Chinese Empress robes with silky Japanese nobility gowns. The Minoan prince, unnamed, was clad in his Tyrean purple robe and stood in love's eternal embrace, his eyes eternally fixed on his partner. The poem was seen by historians and literary analysts as one of the greatest elegiac romances ever written, on the mural told everything about the two lovers, their backgrounds, their family, who they were related to, even where they first had a truly intimate moment, right there, on that beach, in one of the vast, global Minoan-Pacific trade routes that dominated the world in the late Neolithic.

The two lovers were celebrating what was implied to be the aftermath of a sexual encounter by the text, and a hauntingly beautiful quote between Aya and the Prince, translated by WHOI scientists from Woods Hole: “It is finished...we can know no anger, no fear, no hate...but I feel that the sins of my past have damned us to extinction...seeing you in your natural state was something I had never seen outside of looking at a tall, spring lily plant, swaying in the warm breeze of a sweet summer's day.”

Do not fear, my shining prince, though the nature of my feelings for you elude me as well, an author of my stature can know no anger, nor hate...only love. Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, and love leaves a memory no one can steal. Let the stars fall down around us...and may the world know peace, everlasting, matrimonial peace...the Egoist Crown, that dreadful, thorny burden, is forever removed from our heads.”

The mural was painted with acrylic colors instead of paint, but somehow was as amazing as a painted picture. Most importantly to the three Pantheon Founders, it showed that society was far more advanced much earlier than previously thought, with a standard of living higher than most of the world in the late 21st century. This painting and poem were an unrivaled elegiac romance, a beautiful reminder of a bygone age, and the wondrous story of Aya and the Prince, told in novels, comic books, plays, movies, and almost any form of media you can imagine, showed two things...there were no equal people, just equal ideals at the heart of love, and that everything we knew about history could change in an instant...also, it warned of the huge blue-claw crabs in the pond too.

Anteon rightfully stated that “humanity, in its most modern form, has learned nothing.” The graves of Miss Aya and the Prince, who was never named, were searched for, but in vain. This mural was the only record of their existence that survived, about a tale as old as time itself, the affection and cruel separation of two young lovers, cut down in the prime of their lives by humanity's flaws, hate and greed, the roots of all war. Arditi, one of Pantheon Cult's loyalest followers, took this lesson to heart, and went on to single-handedly liberate the Hawaiian Islands from a rebellious faction of anarchists, by tricking the leader into thinking that he was invincible, and by using simple mind-control and manipulation techniques, he convinced the man to commit suicide to “prove” that he was invincible, only, of course, to die at his own hand.

Upon witnessing this act, impressed by Arditi's cunning and the way Marduk and Anteon wrote their great Pantheon Codex in 2107, the Seras appointed Alexander the Supreme Pontifex of both the human race and their vast Empire, convinced that he, Marduk and Anteon were gods, granting them all immortality via their wondrous technology, replacing his energy with that of the universe itself by using incredible pharmaceutical drugs and nanoscale augmentations, creating a new DNA: that of the Hyperboreans.

Unchanging and forever young, Alexander, Anteon and Antonio quickly took their new supreme authority to heart, unified humanity and the Seras Empire to create the Lordly Empire, under the banner of the Cross, Hammer and Crescent with the help of the 82 Hirdsmen, or Indiction Guards. They now controlled one-thirteenth of the known universe, but faced massive opposition in the form of another grand empire, the Old Sinh, a proud collection of warrior races with a valiant history. Their society was just as expansive, and Arditi, Anteon and Marduk, being men and lusting for power above all else, declared war on the Old Sinh. After 100,000 years of nonstop warfare, in which untold trillions of soldiers on both sides died and entire galaxies were ravaged, Arditi, Marduk and Anteon along with their Indiction Guard were victorious, and annexed the Old Sinh Empire. This act made them the most powerful beings in universe, still unchanged and omnipotent after 100,000 years. To mark that glorious occasion, the Founding Troika held the grandest Olympic Games in history that year, with all manner of new sports, such as space-gliding and gladiatorial events. Humans, A.I.s and Seras-augmented humans had interbred, creating a form of augmented humanity called the Hyperborean Race that existed as the supreme force in the universe for 600,000 years, until the Great Schism and the Troika's mysterious disappearance. Humanity slowly ebbed back to its ancestral home of Earth, where the 82 immortal Hirdsmen were all that stood between humanity and extinction...while the Empire rebuilt itself after cleansing all decadence from its ranks. Their numbers would never change...until the Troika, still sifting through the ashes of their old Empire somewhere in the vastness of space, returned to lead them.

The Hird wife knew that Andrew was not their immortal leader, because she had identified him as the “Hand of Fate.” Now, in the year 802,572 A.D., humanity's power was held in check by newly-evolved creatures, the Psi, and they saw themselves as being superior, that humans were on the wrong side of history...thus the struggle for humanity's soul continued even now. “Noble Hand of Fate, we are the Indiction Guards of Glory, the last link to the Troika and the imperial traditions of Mankind. The other Indiction Guards dress in much the same style as I do, in case you were beguiled by my outfit. My name is Amaranth Morgana, and you are?” “Andrew...Andrew Eisenheim.” Andrew answered, nervously. The Indiction Guards were the 82 Disciples, men and women that protected the Troika, part of their inner circle and their entourage of Literati, Renaissance men and women, political advisers and military commanders. Headquartered in the vast Temple of the Cross, Hammer and Crescent on the planet Valhalla, in the Andromeda Galaxy, one of the Local Group and the three most sacred galaxies in the Lordly Empire, along with the Milky Way and the Holmgard Galaxies, we traveled aboard the great ships at the speed of thought, appearing out of the Quantum Tunnel and obliterating our enemies with destruction on an intergalactic scale. Dressed in Jungsturm-Nordsterne regalia, a combination of ornate aristocracy, practicality and topcoat or surcoat outfits with Teutonic Knight heraldry, pagan themes and regalia, we were the most revered fighting force in the universe, plundering the stars for the Emperor, for fame and for fortune. Red as blood and black as night, we were known rightfully as Troika's Fist. We are the last generation of Mankind on Earth, still keeping the traditions alive, as the Paradise Hird. Now, let me take you to our Paradise, deep in the heart of the Haidnur.” Andrew followed Amaranth past some massive oak, yew and Imperial Sequoya trees, as every single animal in the forest fell silent or retreated as she walked past...every animal on Earth, other than the Psi, knew that humans were mortal threats by now, the fear instilled in them by millions of years of persecution. Andrew looked around at his environment...the Haidnur was vast, foreboding, dark and sinister. Every tree seemed to be hiding something, the comparisons to the Wonderland of Lewis Carrol fame ran through his mind...Andrew hoped that this woman was not the Queen of Hearts.

Amaranth had a very distinctive, dark allure to her, her outfit flowing off of her body and her genetically-augmented wings jutting out of her back...she was unlike anything that Andrew had ever encountered...but knew all too well, for he had engineered this future.“This massive tree is the Sacred Rood-Tree of our Hird, see our blessings carved into its trunk.” Amaranth pointed at hundreds of pagan runes and Christian crosses carved into the tree with her tree limb-like arms, along with a huge Black Sun Rune and the Pantheon Hammer, Cross and Crescent. “The trees contain the spirits of all the people who have died before us, those not within the Troika's inner circle...we honor them with our blessings, and sacrifices of animals on various holidays. A tree cannot live without a forest, and the forests cannot exist without trees. Everything is a cycle, hence the Serpent Paradox. Someday, the Troika will return from its absence, appearing in a kingly fleet, grander than any other assemblage in the Universe, the Flagship Urawemazu, from the depths of the Sanzu Cluster, they will take us via their Koryryrr, or Imperial Providence in Indiction Lingua, and we will be judged by their Imperial Court, or Shiki-Warrkyryr, the Yama of Chandur...they will see our faith in his ideals long after those around us have perished, and we shall become the Indiction Guard once again, in the First Year of the New Dawn Era, and the Fifteen Billionth Year of the Universe. From that point, we will rule over our rebuilt Empire, a wiser, more learned society, and become truly invincible and immortal. That was the Troika's plan, their promise to us.”

Andrew listened to what Amaranth was saying very carefully. Humanity was in the midst of a Dark Age after the fall of a glorious Empire, much like Europe after the fall of Rome hundreds of thousands of years before. Given that certain humans had become transcendent organisms and no longer suffered from mortality, the immortal Troika was still alive, and these Hirdsmen were his Disciples. His return would mark a Renaissance, and humanity would reactivate its old Empire and repopulate the universe as even stronger than before. Andrew asked himself, however, why the 82 Hirdsmen didn't just rebuild the Empire themselves, why didn't “King Falkenbach” simply declare himself Emperor and voluntarily end the Dark Age? Was this Troika really that powerful and omnipotent that humanity had lost the ability to govern itself? Even as the Hand of Fate, Andrew thought it was strange, almost surreal, to see his predictions come true. “What a strange world this has become; humans have become so advanced, yet they have lost any will to accomplish anything without their three, almighty leaders...apparently, men need their gods, more than I am ever capable of knowing. These Hirdsmen have far more knowledge than I can ever hope to know, yet they have the same sense of order and rules as a child in my own time period, where nothing is possible unless their authoritarian figures tell them it is, like a child who thinks its parents are the only authority that matters. It is here that the origin of God lies, the base human need for authority to guide it. There was no authority in the primordial age of hunter-gatherers, so Man created God to fill that void. Now, in this new Dark Age, God's place has been taken by three immortal, intergalactic Emperors with no real proof that they even still exist. They've been missing for 100,000 years, surely they know the location of Earth on a galactic star chart if they are omnipotent. The Troika has replaced God, much as God replaced Odin, Ra, Zoroaster, Zeus, Thor, the Roman Gods, the Greek Gods, and the Eurocentric pagan is the same cycle of existence, outlined in the only absolute truth, Pantheon Doctrine. There was no equality without thought, and there is no meaning without purpose in thought. We are all self-sufficient, individual bastions of free will.”

Andrew thought to himself as Amaranth and he walked up to a huge wooden gate in the primeval wilderness. “This is where our Hird lives, and awaits the Troika's return.” “Amaranth, do all of your Hirdsmen wear the Jungsturm style?” “Yes, they do. It is our tradition as the Guard to do so. Our lingua franca is called Jungsturm as well.” Amaranth tapped on the door three times, and a small, curious spyglass with a bionic eyeball popped out of the wall, glancing anxiously at Amaranth and Andrew, and made a small squeak as it retreated back into the wall...then, like a medieval town's sentry walls, the gate slowly opened, via an automated mechanism. As the gate steadily and loudly swung open, Andrew saw the full wonder of the 82 Hirdsmen, including their King and Queen, Irkaya Falkenbach and his equally-bizarre wife, Selene. They all wore the Jungsturm style, just with King Falkenbach and Queen Selene's outfits being much more elaborate. “Welcome back, Amaranth, and welcome to the Hird, Noble Hand of Fate.” King Falkenbach's appearance was truly incredible, he was so modified by the forces of technology and evolution that he scarcely looked human. His outfit mimicked the Ruthwell Cross' designs, in the symbols, runes, and decorations on it, and his sleeves looked like the cross on the famous artifact, known for an ancient poem, The Dream of the Rood. Falkenbach's elaborate Jungsturm outfit seemed to reflect his presence as an omnipotent Dreamer, a being of pure thought and ideology. It was elegaic, the Rood poem was written in black runes on the outfit, as if harkening back to the post-Roman Dark Ages of Anglo-Saxon Britain, as if to claim heritage from the mythical line of King Arthur. Most of the Jungsturm style reflected the wearer, so no two outfits were the same.

What was even more astounding was his bodily appearance. His hands had evolved into leathery, leaf-covered tree branches, his eye sockets had plants growing from them, blossoming into little blue flowers, and his eyelashes were curling deadly nightshade plants, his hair was long and made of feathers, and had three birds' heads emerging from his scalp, each one with a different facial expression, one happy, one sad and one angry. The heads made noise, chattering amongst themselves, as the King's fanged mouth was dripping with nectar, with hundreds of hornets, bees and wasps sipping like delicate drinkers at a public house from his honey-dew saliva. Feathers erupted from his skin like cat's whiskers. The hornets did not sting him, as he was the Forest Emperor and respected by all creatures of the Haidnur. His skin was pale, whitish-azure in color, giving him a truly otherworldly appearance. He walked towards Andrew, standing more than 10 feet tall, and spoke, though his three bird-heads. “Dare may I ask of your origins?” “Andrew Eisenheim, from Wilhelmstrasse, Berlin, German Empire, born in 1875 A.D.” “Oh, you noble Hand of might want to speak softly about your origins...I have a Hirdsman here who is...a bit overzealous in wanting to meet you.” Just then, a beautiful woman stepped forward, she had a blue, gold and burgundy, frilly Jungsturm dress, robe and surcoat, with a mix of seductive beauty, sexuality and class all at once. She was 12 feet tall, like Amaranth, but she had long, beautiful, silky red hair, seductive blue eyes, crimson-red lipstick, a chalk-white painted face and two demon-horns jutting horizontally out of her head, as well as her breasts pushed up unnaturally high. “Hello, sweetheart. I've been waiting for the day I can finally meet you.” the woman said with a seductive smile on her face. “My name is Sayu Ayanura, I love strawberries and anything strawberry flavored, my favorite color is either milky-pink or hot-magenta, depending on my mood, I love the summer, not winter, autumn is ok, spring is still to cold, I'm O-negative blood type, my birthsign is Virgo, my birthstone, as you can see by my necklace, is a sapphire, and I truly love your work...just remember, though...what happens here, stays here.” Needless to say, Andrew was a bit stunned by Sayu's level of intensity, not to mention how physically alluring she was. The other Hirdsmen exchanged annoyed, groaning looks on their faces throughout the whole introduction, however. “I warned you, she's quite the cuckolding shrew...” King Irkaya said. “Oh, hi Amaranth, how's your lonely life in that moldy tree stump?” Amaranth quickly turned and looked at Sayu with a horrifically demented look, her black, fallen angel wings ruffling angrily. “Listen, you harlot, if we're going to live together for eternity in this God-forsaken forest, we have to draw some boundaries. It's not a tree stump, it's a 30,000-square foot house, built in the trees high above Asgard Village, our only home left in the Universe, which, unfortunately, we must share. You can stay in your big, fancy palace on the hill, made of all the relics from the Golden Age, but just don't bother me...” Amaranth groaned. “Andrew, do me a favor and tell Amaranth that she's a moron, honey.” “What? I'm not getting into your dramatic, girlish feud, so stop...”

Sayu promptly placed her lacy-gloved hand on his shoulder, and Andrew suddenly stopped talking, he had become Sayu's puppet, her mind-control slave. “You are a moron, Amaranth, a total disgrace to sentient life...I have beauty, grace and poise, you do not.” Andrew said, droning in a monotone, drugged voice. Sayu took her hand off of Andrew's shoulder, and Andrew promptly returned to normal, with no memory of what had just happened. Amaranth was too disgusted for words and just walked away. “Andrew, I can grant you whatever you want...just say the word, and I'll do it for you.” Andrew suddenly wondered if he had made the right decision coming into Asgard Village, now that this seductress and apparent sorceress Sayu had taken control of his mind...she seemed to know both telekinetic and rational mind-control techniques, and seemed to be able to get anyone to do whatever she wanted them to do, much to the chagrin of her fellow Hird members. She also had vampire-like fangs and hissed like a snake, flaring them frighteningly. Andrew confessed to himself that both Sayu and Amaranth were very attractive in their own mysterious, exotic ways, though Sayu seemed like more of a monster than a person, a closer Queen of Hearts likeness than Amaranth. Andrew walked looked towards the huge trees towards the back of Asgard Village, and saw Amaranth's huge tree mansion. He felt very guilty for insulting her, even though the fault was not his own. Amaranth was a bit of an introvert, and Sayu was the exact opposite. “I have to go at least apologize to her...” Andrew thought. Just then, Andrew passed out and simply disappeared from view, just as Sayu hissed like a vampire. “So, this is the way you want to play this little weirdo. I'll find Andrew again, and when I do, I'll make sure he stays safe with me...” she said, just as Andrew blacked out.

Space was once known as “The Final Frontier,” in pre-Imperial times. Oh, how Enlightenment has changed the way the Imperial Races looked at things...Now, about a third of the observable universe has been settled and colonized, and the remaining two-thirds outside of Imperial space is well-studied, and only a matter of time before the Empire of the Egoist Crown colonizes it. One of the greatest mysteries of space that remains is the old question: “Why is there something instead of nothing?” This is the one question that Pantheon Doctrine, even I must admit, cannot answer. As Supreme Pontifex, I have total dominion over the third of the Universe that I control, but beyond that, even I am contained within my own sphere. It is safe to say that there are no known, extant societies that can challenge the Empire, but the Great Precursors, I feel, are just one of the societies that existed in the endless eons and infinite universes that populate the Multiverse. The Pleiadean scholars have their own opinion on the old Hyperborea theory of sociology, in that each living being is, in fact, a self-contained society, a microcosm in a larger macrocosm. If we allow for the modern Hyperborea to replace the old, literal Hyperborea, that a society actually existed in the center of the Earth itself, Pantheon makes even more sense, and the Writ of Lords' Bible, the Pantheon sacred text, can finally answer the question that has no answer, the irony of which that the answer for the raison d'etere for the universe is that there is no answer at all. It just happened that way, via the laws of “orderly chaos,” that is, chaos creating order, and order creating chaos. Everything is connected.

Emperor Arditi, “Writings of Societal Mysteries”
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