Avenging Angels Ch. 04byVjax©
Cardinal Aldous stood at the large stone framed window looking out at the wide plane that led to the sea. He absently shifted the artifact from hand to hand, as always it felt warm to the touch. So much history, so much bloodshed, so many hopes for the future hung on the merkabic star in his hand.
Cardinal Aldous moved outside, to the wide terrace that was designed as a fighting battlement when the Citadel was first built. It offered a commanding view of the plain and supplied a wonderful place for meditation. The cardinal stood looking down at the star, "over 24,000 years" he muttered to himself.
The cardinal's thoughts drifted back to that day so many years ago when he was called to Cardinal Strembrell's office, the day his life changed and he became the steward of the star.
"Renard, come in, please have a seat" Cardinal Strembrell said as he moved from the window seat under the rose window where he had been reading and sat behind his desk.
Renard was nervous, of all the cardinals in the residence at the Vatican; Strembrell was the most reclusive. Rarely seen and only spoken of in hushed tones, Strembrell was an enigma that he and the other Bishops had often wondered about.
Renard was the youngest bishop in 300 years; at 35 he was often the subject of gossip among many at the Vatican. For one so young to be given so much power was regarded by many as a slap in the face. The powers that be however had good reason to ensure young Renard was given every benefit.
Renard rose to his position for one reason, he had been touched by god.
When Renard was 12 years old his little sister had gone swimming in a lake near their home in Allier.
Dominique was not a strong swimmer, she quickly tired and while gasping for breath had screamed out Renard's name. He heard her calling, running down the little path behind their home he saw her just as she went under for the last time.
Frantically diving into the black water of the lake he swam out and dove down, searching, grasping, the black mud oozing around his hands, mocking him with it's inconsistency, when all he wanted was to feel the firm hand of his beloved sister.
Finally after what seemed an eternity, lungs burning he bumped into something with substance, he grabbed her and pumped for the surface. Looking at her, hair matted to her face, black mud covering her eyes, he held her, sobbing, begging for god to be merciful and not take his sister
Her body was left in state at their family's home until burial arrangements could be made.
Renard was distraught, he and his sister were very close and the thought of loosing her was too much for him to bare. As the parish priest was saying the rites over her body Renard rushed into the room, took Dominique's limp body in his arms and began to pray.
The parish priest and his parents all tried to wrest the body from Renard, but as they did so, Dominique coughed, and opened her eyes.
Renard's parents were frightened beyond all imagination, they were sure this was the devils work.
However, the parish priest knew a miracle when he saw one. Were they not taught, by the monks of the Order of St. Michael, for almost a year at seminary what to look for and how to judge if they were witness to a miracle.
The priest, knowing what he must do hustled Renard's parents into the next room.
"What has taken place here is a miracle of the lord" the priest began. "It is the greatest gift to receive this type of miracle. However we must be sure that the children understand the gift they have been given this day, it is best that they come with me, the church can help them fully appreciate this blessing from god" the priest continued thinking back to his days at seminary.
"Always bring them to us." Father Petrinni was adamant at the end of every class, "The worker and the subject, they must always come to the church, your bishops will know what to do. Just be sure to tell what ever local's that witnessed the miracle how lucky they are to have witnessed just a touch of the lords wonders and always bring in the worker and the subject"
And so, at 12 and 11 Renard and his sister were taken into the church. Sent to Rome they were split up, Renard entering the seminary and Dominique going to a private catholic school in the Alps.
Dominique and Renard stayed in touch, they would exchange letters, telling the other about their lives, hopes and dreams and see each other for several weeks during the summers. Dominique would eventually leave the church, marry and have 3 sons, one of which continued on to be a priest under the mentorship of his Uncle.
For Renard, the Vatican became his home. From the day he walked into St. Peter's Square for the first time and felt the majesty of the place he had felt safe, felt that he was home.
From that first day he had been taught one overriding thing, that he was touched by god.
Ordained at 18 becoming a Bishop at 28 he had been on the fast track within the Vatican, all those years of training lead to his sitting in this office across from Cardinal Strembrell.
Strembrell looked thoughtfully at the young man sitting across from him. It was 47 years ago that he sat in this office and received the speech he was about to give to Renard, the same speech that had been given by men in his position for the past 1854 years. The difference was, the man sitting across from him would be the last, for he was the one that would see the great work finished.
"Renard" the Cardinal began, "what I am about to tell you will change the way you view the church and your faith in a profound way. Within a week of this meeting the Pope will confer upon you the title of Cardinal, and within 6 months you will take my place as the head of the Grand Council of Cardinals." Strembrell paused; letting his words sink in to the young man sitting, well, slumped in the chair across from him.
He stood and walked over to the table and poured two glasses of red wine, handing one to Renard he returned to his desk as the young bishop downed his glass in a single mouthful. Smiling Strembrell opened his desk drawer, pulled out the merkabic star and placed it on his desk. Gesturing to the piece of crystal he continued.
"This object is the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church, the entire focus of our religion is based on the history of this object, the church's most important duty has, since 313ad, been to safeguard its secrets and prepare for what is to come. It has been entrusted to one in the church such as myself since the beginning of its known history in this age. Take it in your hands, you will understand everything." Strembrell finished as he pushed the star towards Renard.
Renard's hands trembled as he moved forward; one second his hand was moving towards the crystal and the next it was in his hand and the world shifted.
Sorn paced around the room, the anticipation of a lifetimes work coming to fruition was too much for him to contain as he awaited the arrival of his wife Calista. Sorn was the greatest genotechnologist in all of the Atlantean culture. For the past 165 years he had worked to uncover the reasons behind the startling drop in births over the last 200 years and find some way to reverse the trend.
Calista came into the room, seeing her husband she smiled and walked to him. "What is it husband?" She asked as she moved into his embrace.
Sorn was relieved to have her in his arms, the outcome of his research would be the death nell for his civilization but holding Calista in his arms, he could not help but think that somehow their civilization, all that made them unique in the universe would be saved.
"The final results came back today, I've isolated the problem." Sorn told her, looking down into her eyes, they were bright, sparkling, like two cut amethysts.
"That's wonderful" she told Sorn, hugging him tightly to her, pleased that after all these years he had finally finished his work and they could be together more.
Sorn blinked back tears as he held her saying "yes it is good that it is done, I go before the council in three cycles then, perhaps we can go away for awhile." Calista hugged him closer, pleased that they were thinking the same thing, unaware that they were thinking them for vastly different reasons.
"Council members" Sorn began, " it is with great sorrow that I come before you today."
Sorn outlined for the council that a pathogen had found its way into the genetic makeup of the Atlantean people. The pathogen was of unknown origin, a non-natural hybrid containing both organic and nano-technological components. His best guess was that it was extraterrestrial, perhaps brought back by one of their deep space probes, it could be that it came from a meteor strike or, in the worst case, was sent as a weapon.
" The outcome of my research shows that within 300 years Atlantean's as a race will be extinct. The combination of unknown biological and nano-technologies is beyond our ability to counteract. Wherever this comes from it is perfect in its design, transmitted via air, touch and fluids it has been passed to the entire population, it modifies our DNA at the sub-atomic level, rendering both males and females sterile. There is no hope of a cure as we have no untainted DNA to work with to construct an antidote." He concluded somberly.
There were years of meetings and discussions, his research was checked and rechecked, always with the same dire results. The council finally agreed on a plan of action, if the race could not be saved as a whole then all of the things that made Atlantean's unique should be transferred to a genetically compatible humanoid without the susceptibility to the pathogen.
An offshoot of their own evolutionary tree was chosen, their brain size was on average smaller than that of the Atlantean's*, however they showed a resourcefulness and inherent ability to adapt and overcome that other possible candidates lacked.
The planet wide population of this branch of the family tree was not overtly large, making it a relatively simple task to make the latent genetic changes to this species over the next 200 hundred solar cycles.
All of the genetic traits that gave the Atlantean's their unique abilities were buried in the DNA of the younger race. They would lie there, dormant, building and passing from one generation to the next, slowly incorporating themselves into the nature of the species.
And finally, one day in the far future a new Atlantean would be born, one who had the abilities, one who could see the natural energies, one who would be a harbinger of the next generation of Atlanteans.
As more and more Atlantean's passed away and no more babies were born, the focus shifted to 10,000 years worth of Atlantean knowledge. All of their simulations had shown that the genetic alterations would not become dominant genes for nearly 25,000 solar cycles, a period of time that would preclude the transfer of information directly between the two cultures.
It was decided that the whole of Atlantean civilization should be destroyed so that the technology would not fall into the hands of extraterrestrials (it had been discovered that the pathogen was sent to earth from a point somewhere within the Orion Nebula) and would not be discovered by the new species before they were ready. However, this still left the problem of loosing so much knowledge forever.
It was a scientist named Nembor who had finally come up with a solution.
Atlantean's had made inroads with the creation of artificial intelligence. It was a rudimentary program, but advanced enough to make singular decisions. There was never a consciousness attached with the AI's they simply did what they were programmed to do, with flair.
Nembor was the one to come up with a crystal matrix complex enough to hold the bulk of Atlantean knowledge and an AI powerful enough to remain conscious for millennia, monitoring the progress of the new species and determining when to reveal itself and to whom.
And so it was that on the 7th day of the 9th great cycle in the year 10,191 the first sentient AI ever created was born.
Sam (Sentient Archival Matrix) was interested in all of the new input. "Nembor, may I run through my primary design criteria so that you can verify that my deductions are indeed your intent?" Sam telepathically asked Nembor.
A weak smile crossed Nembor's lips, it had taken a lifetime to get to this point and now that it was here, he felt that his time as that of all Atlantean's was coming to a rapid end. "Yes Sam, please verify your PDC and your deductions about them." Nembor replied, sitting down at his workstation.
Goal one: Ensure that the Atlantean knowledge base is kept intact and secure until the new species has attained a sustainable population of individuals with the Atlantean genetic signatures manifesting. Sam paused, "This goal is fairly straightforward, genetically speaking there needs to be a critical mass of approximately 1500+ individuals displaying Atlantean traits" Sam concluded "Excellent, the goal and your deductions are correct." Nembor replied as he sat watching the faintly glowing star.
Goal Two: Find an appropriate group of individuals to help guard the star and provide ongoing information about the state of the race. "I believe that a religious group will probably be most suited to providing long term security as well as providing a broad based network of individuals to look out for and keep track of people with Atlantean traits.
Nembor was surprised; this was an excellent idea, considering the fact that the three main Atlantean religious sects had been in existence for over 10,000 years. "Well done Sam, that seems like an idea that will not only help with the first two goals but also the third as well" Nembor beamed like a proud father.
Goal Three: Facilitate the turning over of the Atlantean knowledge base to the new species in a way that will benefit them, prepare them to use their abilities and move beyond this point in Atlantean history. "The use of a global religion will again help to facilitate this goal. World religions always amass a great deal of wealth and influence, yoking this strength will allow me to be intimately involved in the creation and maintenance of a safe haven for the new race." Sam concluded.
Nembor was struck by Sam's reference to himself as an individual. He knew that he had designed Sam to be self aware, but to hear Sam refer to himself as an individual, not a program was startling, rewarding and disturbing all at the same time.
"Very good Sam, you have stated your main goals and I am in total agreement with your deductions about them." Nembor told Sam as he rose and walked over to the star.
Then a thought struck him and he asked, "Is there anything you believe that you should be doing that is not covered within the goals?"
The pause drew out for several seconds, then minutes. Finally Sam answered. "I believe it would be beneficial if I was given the ability to self terminate."
Nembor was shocked; it had never occurred to him that a self-destruct would be necessary. "I would also suggest," Sam continued, "that a second Sam be constructed and placed in a location on one of the outer planets, perhaps the moon of Sol 9 (Dysnomia) would be an appropriate place. If possible some type of low energy scanning equipment could be included with Sam2's storage unit, this way any extraterrestrial happenings of significance could be detected." Sam finished.
Nembor could not fault the logic behind the requests, they were simple, straightforward and leant themselves to ensuring the goals were achieved. The fact that filled him with a dark dread was the finality of the requests; they brought into stark focus that Sam and his soon to be brother would be all that remained of a once great people.
And so it was in the year 10,243 that the last of the Atlantean's initiated the final acts of a civilization.
The Sol sight was chosen for its current concentration of the new species, its temperate climate and its unique place at a convergence point of natural energies. The site, near what would become Jerusalem, was perfect for the storage site. Constructed to look like the natural stone, it would only open to form what seemed to be a natural cave at Sam's command.
Sam had external sensors that were powerful enough to gauge population movements, climactic conditions, etc... within a 3,000 square mile vicinity of the storage site, this would give him all of the information necessary to make a determination as to when the time was right to reveal himself and to whom.
Sam's brother was launched toward the Sol 9 Moon. Encased in his own unique storage unit it would take about 3 years to reach S9M. Once there the storage unit would land and bury itself in the icy rock surface and begin to monitor the approaches to the system on its long orbital circle. Once every decade a narrow beam high burst signal would be sent to Sol Sam to update on the previous years data and receive updates from Sol.
Their solitary twenty millennia wait began.
The scene shifted to a nighttime sky over a desert. Sam had been busy the last seven months. For the first time since his vigil began the dominant Atlantean gene had presented itself in an unborn child.
"This could be what we have been waiting for," Sam thought to himself, running through different scenarios. The child will be special, gifted beyond anyone before, he will be treated with both awe and fear, he could be a cornerstone to build from for the ones that follow.
Sam made up his mind quickly and formed a message to Sam S9M. "One with the dominant gene is to be born, near the winter solstice of this solar cycle. One-month prior please send a positioning beam in the viewable light spectrum that will have enough luminosity to be seen from at least 1000 vectors away. The coordinates for the beam's location will be 25/443/8775/2. I believe our long wait is at an end.
And so it was in what we now call November a bright star appeared above the burgeoning city of Bethlehem. Three learned men from different corners of the civilized world saw the star, new that something was happening that had not happened before and each began their long journey towards the bright stars zenith.
The young man was indeed unique; he did instill fear and awe equally in those that met him. Meeting an untimely death was somewhat of a foregone conclusion as the man refused to hide his true nature, using his gifts freely to help all those that he met. His life and death would form the foundation of one of the new ages greatest religions.
298 solar cycles later, the entrance to Sam's storage area simply disappeared one night. In the morning a young roman named Valerius who was on his way to Jerusalem stopped to rest during the heat of the day.
Sam had been tracking the young man for over 3 weeks, he had strong latent Atlantean genes and was very sympathetic to the young Roman Catholic Church; the time had come.
Creating a psychic link with Valerius as he slept, Sam instructed him on where he could find the star.
Valerius woke with a start, the dream had seemed so real, looking around the cave he saw the depression in the back, just as in the dream. Walking over he placed his left hand into the depression. There was an audible hiss and a small space was revealed within the rock wall, sitting on a silver pedestal was the star from his dreams. Reaching in, the star fairly leapt to his hands and the entire story was revealed to him.
Sitting on the hard stone floor, holding the faintly glowing star in his hand Valerius was struck by the importance of this moment.
Something within him fundamentally changed, his understanding of the world, of humanity, of everything that he knew was now filtered through a perspective not of a few years of life; but thirty thousand years of history. For the first time in his life Valerius felt insignificant.