MERCY [NOVA AFTERMATH], CHAPTER 20: EMPIRE

M20-0
     Ghethe woke up one morning, a lot more tired physically than when he went to bed, though completely refreshed psychically and very hungry. Ahlane was near his bed, smiling, and she told him he had slept continuously for two local nights and one day.
     “That much!” exclaimed Ghethe surprised, then he continued disappointed by the useful time lost, “Ooh, we have so many things to do . . .”
     Ahlane looked straight into his eyes; she smiled sweetly, then said, “The only things you are going to do are to eat and to rest for a while.”
     “But, Ahlane, in fourteen i-std. days the Fleet—” started Ghethe, trying to reason with her.
     Ahlane cut his phrase in a firm voice, although she was still smiling sweetly, “Leave the Fleet alone, Ghethe! They shall have to wait and rest, exactly as you are going to do it.”
     “But, Ahlane . . .” started Ghethe, then he paused looking wonderingly at her.
     “What?”
     “For how long do you intend to keep me resting?” asked Ghethe timidly.
     “I do not know; it depends entirely on you. First, I want to hear all your stories; then, we shall spend a few local days with various entertaining activities, because I want to forget about everything. Next, we shall visit—”
     He interrupted her in a caring voice, “Ahlane, this is not a holiday, My Dear. We do have important responsibilities from now on, because very many people depend on us—”
     She interrupted him in a carefree attitude, “I know, but my intention is to perform all those important duties in the most relaxed manner possible.”
     “That is a very good idea, Ahlane, and I was thinking—” started Ghethe conciliatorily, trying to continue his reasoning with her.
     She interrupted him again, “You will tell me later, Ghethe. Now, you need to take a good shower, Dear, because it seems you have neglected your personal hygiene for quite some time. Then, get dressed, and come to have . . . I cannot name it breakfast because it is going to be a lot more: I prepared a few specialties for you!”
     “Sorry about the hygiene, Ahlane,” said Ghethe troubled and avoiding her looks, although deep inside his soul he was bursting with happiness: Ahlane had called him DEAR! It was true her voice sounded a bit ironic . . . but it was a “Dear” all right.
     “I understand, Ghethe,” replied Ahlane caringly. She touched his left cheek with her right palm for a brief moment, and then she left the room.
     Ghethe remained motionless, happy and also troubled, for a good while. He was sensing perfectly clear Ahlane’s delicate touch on his cheek, and it was very difficult to decide on taking a shower and make that wonderful feeling end . . .
M20-1
     He met with everybody in the Main Salon, on the terrace. The air was filled with the inciting scent of the fresh ocean breeze, and a long table packed with many culinary wonders was laid for him. They started tempting him with all sort of delicious treats, and they asked in return to hear his story. He told it, though using such a few words, and so general, that it sounded more like a comic anecdote. They all felt disappointed, therefore they went on asking him specific questions.
     “Ghethe, was that man, Gerak Santrem, stronger than you?” wondered Mlane. She was looking differently at him, with sparkles of excitement in her eyes—in fact, more like a kitten watching a small, funny rodent—knowing they were such good friends, and he was that powerful!
     “Yes, he was, My Dear, though stronger it is not the right word: he was way stronger,” answered Ghethe while working vigorously on a juicy stake.
     “Then . . . how did you defeat him?” asked Mlane puzzled by his unexpected answer.
     “Aah, it was a matter of a good strategy,” answered Ghethe smiling kindly at her.
     She insisted, “Please tell me more, Ghethe.”
     “Mlane, you wouldn’t understand, My Dear. I cannot explain things that you cannot imagine what they are, but I promise I shall tell you everything later, when you learn more about mental powers,” assured Ghethe in an affectionate tone of voice. He knew very well that, if he had started talking about that particular subject, Mlane would have never ended her questions.
     “Was it possible, Ghethe, that Gerak could have won that fight?” asked Ahlane.
     “No, My Dear. You see, each of the Santrems, the brother and the sister, were incomparably stronger than I am, in terms of mental powers. However, I could have defeated them even if they had attacked in the same time, or if they had been many more, about nine of them,” explained Ghethe appearing to be bored by the subject, though very interested in acquiring a few alluring green roots positioned rather far and astray from his position at the table.
     “That doesn’t make any sense, Ghethe,” tried Ahlane to reason with him, and to get more information, then she handed him the desired roots.
     He noticed her disappointment, therefore he explained, “The Santrems, My Dear, had natural mental powers way stronger than mine, but I have the advantage of being a Scientist—this is, in addition to having some scientifically trained mental powers. I am able to observe, to analyze, and to draw logic conclusions. Both Santrems had each over fifty i-std. years of intensive mental training, though the way they trained was targeted towards more power, as a direct, immediate result. In contrast, my training was focused on detecting the causes, and towards understanding the nature of those mental powers . . .
     It is difficult to explain this, My Dear, because there are many things unknown to you, therefore I shall use a metaphoric comparison to help you understand the balance of forces of the past encounter. Try to imagine the Santrems were some enormous, very strong wild animals, and I was their hunter: puny in size, though armed with knowledge . . .
     No, let’s put it this way: think of a storm having a fantastic destructive power, Ahlane. If all that force would be concentrated in a single point, nothing could stop it; however, because it is spread too wide, things are not that terrible.
     The Santrems were the storm, and I was some sort of a tiny antigravity engine, built by science, therefore capable to penetrate and defeat that storm, despite the fact that it is a lot less powerful.”
     “Now it does make some sense. Thank you,” said Ahlane, and she smiled so nice that Ghethe continued his explanations happily.
     “I could have subdued Gerak during the very first moments, helped by Naiollah’s probes or even with my own psychokinetic powers, but he had challenged me to a direct mental fight, and I accepted it—”
     Ahlane interrupted him nervously, “Ghethe Dakka! Are you telling me that you could have ended with that horrible monster in a few moments, but you accepted his challenge instead, in which you could have been killed?”
     “Yes, Ahlane, but please do not be angry with me because I had to do it,” motivated Ghethe in a defensive attitude.
     “Had to! You always find a ‘had to’, Ghethe Dakka! What do you mean by ‘had to’?” asked Ahlane with irritation.
     In order to calm her, Ghethe started quickly to explain in a gentle voice, “Both Santrems, My Dear, were strange, unique individuals having special mental powers, and I have to test in real life conditions my own skills and tactics from time to time. I incapacitated the Santrem woman in an instant, because I had to rescue you all, My Dear, though Gerak was an exceptional opportunity for me to observe, to analyze, and to test various tactics and strategies.”
     Mlane asked with doubt, “Are you implying that you have studied Gerak during that terrible fight, Ghethe?”
     “Ha, ha! Of course, I did, My Dear. It has been an extraordinary experience, and I learned a lot from that encounter. I shall explain everything to you later, after I clarify my own analysis,” promised Ghethe.
     Everybody remained shocked and silent for a while, trying to assimilate the news, therefore Ghethe increased his attacks against the culinary wonders, and against a flagon of an ancient Bontsuga wine.
     “Was there a critical moment during that horrible fight, Ghethe?” asked Petha timidly. Petha had developed an enormous amount of respect for Ghethe after the past events, and his only wish was to continue helping with whatever was needed, or wanted.
     “Yes, Petha. There was a critical moment which could have changed the past events, though not the outcome. It was when I landed and before I got out of Arpel: Hurda could have asked to strip my armor off, and that would have forced me to start the attack prematurely . . .” Ghethe left his words unfinished, but everybody understood that the Ladies could have been among the casualties in that particular instance.
     Mlane asked, “Was it possible those people could have defeated you?”
     “They did not defeat me, My Dear, because they lacked something essential: logic. Given their advantages, they had many possibilities to win. However, a different situation, a more logic one, would have forced me to deal with it in an intelligent way.
     Overall, they had a definite chance to stop and to defeat me, but they failed to see it. The answer to your question is, yes, they could have won, Mlane, if they had used diplomacy.”
      “Diplomacy! How could diplomacy defeat an unstoppable force?” wondered Mlane.
     “Ha, ha! Oh, My Dear! Diplomacy is the expression of logic opposed to brute, blunt force. Never forget, Mlane, that one tiny bit of logic is stronger than any force. To understand the power of logic versus force, think of my encounter with Gerak Santrem,” explained Ghethe smiling caringly at her.
M20-2
     “Ghethe, I saw those monstrous lasers exploding; what happened?” wondered Ahlane.
     “Each of the three Probes I took from Naiollah has a heated reservoir filled with a different type of a particular glue which allows to be easily sprayed. When mixed together, all three types of glue form a transparent, extremely powerful explosive compound, which can be detonated by a certain frequency signal, depending on the amount of the deposit. I used that compound to open the gates.
     For lasers, one type of glue forms a mirror on the optical guide of the lasers, and that mirror has reflected the laser beam back inside the laser gun circuitry: therefore, the lasers were destroyed when fired. For plasma cannons, it was sufficient to obdurate their nozzles with a strong ceramic deposit; same thing for the ventilations which were supposed to release a poisonous gas. They also had a few energy induction generators, very dangerous, but the third type of glue is electrically conductive; therefore, it was deposited on the high frequency circuitry. That deposit formed a shorted path to ground—”
     Mlane interrupted him, “Ghethe, if they had used a poisonous gas, that monster woman would have died with us.”
     “No, My Dear, she had an antidote. In fact, the poisonous gas was an intelligent diversion. They intended to bargain my armor for your antidote—” replied Ghethe, then he remembered something and asked with great concern, “Ahlane, did you ask Arpel to perform medical scans on each of you?”
     “Yes, Ghethe. We all did, and everything is all right,” answered Ahlane with a grateful smile for his care.
     “I need to perform a few mental checks myself on each of you, Ladies, to see if you have any timed suggestions implanted,” announced Ghethe timidly.
     “Yes, Ghethe, you will. We all trust you,” replied Ahlane with one of her delicate, slightly ironic smile.
     Ghethe felt very good he had gained Ahlane’s trust concerning her mind integrity. He focused his next gastronomical raids towards a delicious assortment of pastries.
     “How was it possible, Ghethe, that Vara Santrem was able to become invisible?” asked Heile. She was very proud she had had the chance to share the dangers with Zelhane Ladies. Same as her brother, she wished to further help Ghethe and Zelhane Ladies with whatever was needed.
     “She had extraordinary mental powers, Heile, and she had trained them since very young to reach that skill. That woman used a phenomenal, mind controlled, temporal displacement technique, extremely dangerous, and that practice had terrible secondary effects for her mind and body. She was a true monster . . .” Ghethe let his words unfinished again, because the nightmarish images from Vara Santrem’s memories were too horrible to remember.
     Mlane asked, “What about the soldiers, Ghethe? How did you manage to bring them to our side?”
     “All imperial soldiers have implanted biochips connected to their nervous system. After implantation, normal men and women become, on average, three times stronger than ordinary people. They communicate telepathically among themselves and . . . and they become some sort of machines—” started Ghethe to explain.
     “Oh, poor them!” interrupted Mlane with compassion.
     “All soldiers are volunteers, Mlane, and the biochips work for no more than fifty i-std. years. After the service period, each soldier receives a nice fortune and privileged Imperial Administrative functions. They live their lives normally during the off-duty hours, or if they have high commanding ranks. The chips are used only to enhance their fighting aptitudes, and to ensure the command hierarchy.
     With the proper set of codes, an individual can take control over the soldiers. Mortek and Velkon had those codes, and they assumed that nobody else had superior codes after their Nova action. Altogether, there are nine levels of emergency codes. I used only the second level and it proved to be of a higher priority than theirs.
     Once a superior level of command is received, the chip releases automatically new telepathic communications channels, therefore—”
     Mlane interrupted him, “Were you the only one in the Empire who knew those emergency codes, Ghethe?”
     He replied, “Well, many knew some of the emergency codes, though it may be I was the only one who knew them all, because I was the Chief Investigator.”
     “Ghethe, I have the feeling that you were the highest level of power in the entire Empire,” said Ahlane amazed.
     “In terms of brute force, yes, you are right, My Dear. Legally, however, of course not,” answered Ghethe modestly.
     “Yes, but you could have used your powers to make yourself the absolute legal power,” continued Ahlane.
     “Ha, ha! Oh, My Dear! You see, Ahlane, I got my nomination as Chief Investigator of the Science Division only after the Council decided that I deserved to get it; meaning, indeed, I became the most powerful person of the Empire, but I was totally reliable. To get an idea of how difficult it had been to find a Chief Investigator, Ahlane, you should know that my predecessor died ninety-seven i-std. years before. For ninety-seven i-std. years the Council couldn’t find someone strong enough, and sufficiently reliable, to deserve all those absolute powers,” explained Ghethe caringly.
     “Wow, Ghethe, that is indeed extraordinary! It means, you are a man different from any other,” concluded Mlane with admiration.
     “Ah, they were just a bunch of nice old people. I am certain they exaggerated a lot, My Dear. Please, don’t bother with this one,” tried Ghethe to avoid the development of the idea.
     “But, that explains it!” stated Mlane enthusiastically.
     “What is that, My Dear?” asked Ghethe without much interest.
     “Since we met with you, Ghethe, I talked with Ahlane,” explained Mlane, and in that moment Ghethe turned his head towards her listening attentively, “many times, and we couldn’t understand how could someone be so kind, so generous, and so helpful. We always had the feeling that there was something we had no idea about, and we were a little suspicious, naturally—”
     “Mlane!” protested Ahlane visibly nervous.
     “But that explains how it was possible. You are a special man, Ghethe: a very good one, unlike any other!” finished Mlane happily.
     “All right; it is time to go shopping,” announced Ahlane in a firm voice.
M20-3
     The driving to the shopping center allowed Ahlane to spend some time alone with Ghethe. She asked with sad looks, “Tell me, Ghethe, why did you treat yourself that bad all the time we have been separated? I am very disappointed in you.”
     “It seemed to me that nothing mattered anymore, My Dear. I simply didn’t care. I am sorry,” replied Ghethe smiling kindly at her.
     “Yes, but to sleep on the floor like an animal—” started Ahlane troubled.
     “Ooh, that! You see, Ahlane, my organism was in a special psychical condition, very close to the animal one.”
     “Is that what you really are, Ghethe?” asked Ahlane with sorrow.
     He wondered, “Why do you say that, Ahlane?”
     “You told me that in exceptional situations people behave exactly as they are in reality, inside their souls. Is this not true?”
     “Of course it is but . . . the past situation was not an exceptional one, My Dear,” said Ghethe caringly.
     “Oh, no? To me it was terribly exceptional!” replied Ahlane with indignation.
     He started to explain in a gentle sad voice, “I am sorry, Ahlane, I haven’t been very clear. The past situation was a lot more than an exceptional one, to me. An exceptional situation is one in which I could lose my life. The past situation however, in which I lost you and Mlane while you were in my care, was a lot more than an exceptional one: it was a limit situation, in which people go very much down on the evolution ladder, and they behave as . . . as animals do.
     Try to imagine, Ahlane, that you were a mother, My Dear, and you lost your child. In that situation you would forget all your intelligent behavior, and the only thing left is the animal instinct to get your child back. In my case, on the other hand, I did it with half intention, because I needed the maximum efficiency and alertness my organism could deliver. That meant becoming insensitive to anything, and to reject any trace of comfort or . . . sentiment.
     Mental powers do not work with the precision of a mechanism, Ahlane. They could be instantly fast, or incredibly slow; they could be vigorously strong, or pathetically feeble; and they could be there when you need them, or they could be totally absent—everything depends on the state of the mind. The sleeping on the floor you have witnessed was nothing compared to the mental condition, similar to the animal state, which I forced upon myself.”
     “Was it that hard for you, Ghethe?” asked Ahlane with compassion, as she began understanding some of his past feelings.
     “You said it yourself, Ahlane, that going alone against an entire unknown System was hopeless. However, the way it happened was even worse because they had you, My Dear. You have no idea of how dangerous and powerful those people really were, and I cannot cease blessing my destiny for being allowed to rescue all of you, without any terrible, irreversible harm done,” replied Ghethe looking caringly at Ahlane.
     “I see . . . Well, I guess I can forgive you for that,” said Ahlane, then she smiled sweetly at him.
     “What did you think, My Dear? I mean, did you think about me during those terrible days?”
     “Oh, very much, Ghethe—you were the only hope we had. I knew you were going to come, and all those bad people were terribly scared of you, but . . . I felt a lot of sorrow because you . . . you were going to die, too,” answered Ahlane hesitantly.
     “Ha, ha! Soo, you lost all your hopes, My Dear,” remarked Ghethe gleefully.
     “Of course I did! There was no way to escape that awful Palace, and I was prepared to die!” answered Ahlane with revolt, though also with dignity in her voice.
     “Oh, My Dear girl, I am so sorry,” said Ghethe looking tenderly at her.
     “Why?”
     “Because I brought all those troubles on you,” explained Ghethe.
     “Oh no, you didn’t,” replied Ahlane disbelievingly.
     “Of course I did; they wanted me—” started Ghethe, though he stopped his words short thinking if he should continue or not.
     “What?”
     “Well, I read Hurda’s memories. His intention was to kill you and Mlane right after the Nova. You were allowed to live because Velkon insisted on using you as bait for an Investigator, or for any Scientist, only his true intentions were—”
     “Oh, don’t tell me. He wanted to rebuild the Empire for himself with our help.”
     “Yes. Aah . . . incidentally, Ahlane, this entire crisis has been caused by the Enlightened Emperor himself,” said Ghethe looking at her and trying to read her feelings for his words.
     “How is that possible, Ghethe?” asked Ahlane surprised and somewhat annoyed.
     “Velkon had as a model of his life the Enlightened Emperor’s, and that has triggered the idea of the Nova Genocide. I suspect the Enlightened Emperor understood that his actions would create a dangerous precedent, and they could bring dreadful changes into the future. That was the reason he tried so hard to help us in any way he could. It must have taken him years of hard work to put the treasure together, and then to hide it.”
     “I think you are right, Ghethe, but do not tell it to Mlane; please,” replied Ahlane looking troubled.
     “No, I shall not. I told it to you, just to see what you think about it.”
M20-4
     “Thank you, Ghethe, but even if the Enlightened Emperor made a mistake, it was those horrible people who plotted the destruction plans, and I suspect they had even more.”
     “Yeah, all of them had all sorts of terrible plans . . . However, the most adventurous ones were conceived by the alien man, Gerak Santrem—”
     “I understand you knew him and his sister well.”
     “Oh no, My Dear, I only read their minds and I found out who they were.”
     “Tell me about them,” said Ahlane, then she smiled sweetly waiting patiently for him to start.
     He looked at her and smiled tenderly in response, then started, “They were born outside the Empire, and they came to us about five i-std. years ago. Many people have left the Empire, Ahlane, and they have colonized new Planets outside the borders. There are a lot of Systems in that neighboring cluster of Stars—which they name Free Worlds—and they harbor lots of alien Civilizations. Their cultures there are different from ours, though a lot more attractive—”
     “Better?”
     “Not necessarily better, My Dear . . . just more attractive—to him.”
     “Please, detail that aspect for me.”
     “Those are Worlds with people having strong mental powers, Ahlane. They have other customs than ours, their food is better, their drinks are better, and they have a wide variety of spices, including some incredibly strong, geriatric ones. Those who can afford the best food live for about two hundred i-std. years on average, and some manage even well over three hundred!
     Their life there is a romantic combination of modern and primitive societies, and there are many challenges and opportunities for each individual to change his or her social status. There are numerous religious sects, most of them very moral, although extremists. Then, there is an amazingly complex, political fight throughout their cluster of Systems, despite the fact they have only rudimentary cultural levels. Almost everybody behaves there similar to children having little education . . .
     In addition, there are many Worlds unbelievingly beautiful, Ahlane. Some are very old, and they are riddled with reminiscences of past disappeared Civilizations . . . I suspect that most of the people living there are the descendants of very advanced Civilizations, because they are far ahead of us on the biological evolution ladder.
     Somehow—and this is very interesting to me—those old, advanced Civilizations have degenerated towards primitive cultures! I am certain there are many intriguing mysteries in those strange Worlds waiting to be unveiled . . .” He paused for a short while with his mind focused on inside thoughts, then he continued, “What was particularly impressing to me were a few legends Gerak knew, and he believed them to be true.”
     “This is so captivating, Ghethe! Please tell me more,” said Ahlane with sparkles of excitement in her eyes.
     He admired her with delight for a brief moment, then started, “Very far from here there is a powerful Empire, and the Free Worlds people name it, the ‘Dour’ one. That Dour Empire has extended to over five hundred Systems, and they have enclosed a System that has only one small Satellite having natural living conditions—mostly of the desert type. That insignificant System has resisted to the conquest pressure of that powerful Dour Empire for almost one millennium. They say, it is protected by an entity named ‘Zalhowan’.
     Things are this way: if you have a great problem, a truly important one, and if you manage to reach that Satellite, you could ask for Zalhowan’s help. For that, you simply walk in the desert. If that problem of yours is a genuinely important one, then Zalhowan shall open the Gates of Paradise for you. I suspect it has to be a transportation device to another System or, possibly, to another Galaxy, or—who knows?—maybe even to another Universe!
     There, the legend says, you have the chance to get Zalhowan’s help, and there was something more, about a challenge in which the winner would be gifted with all Zalhowan’s powers, but I am not certain about that.”
     “Why not?” asked Ahlane disappointedly.
     “The way the memory is built, Ahlane, it is divided in three major domains. The first is the immediate memory, the day to day one, which is the strongest. The second is the base memory—also known as the permanent memory—containing everything we have learned and is needed to help us live in our social environment. The third is the long-term memory, where the old memories of our life are pushed, and some of them are permanently forgotten, in time.
     The most difficult to read, meaning, it takes more time, is the long-term memory, and there where those legends stored in Gerak’s mind. I could have retrieved more of his memories, if I had more time, though he provoked me with his sullen behavior, and I rushed a little.”
     “Maybe he intended to hide something from you,” speculated Ahlane.
     “It could be. I think I should better try to refresh his memories . . .” replied Ghethe thoughtfully.
     “How do you do that?” asked Ahlane intrigued.
     He protested with false exasperation, “Oh, Ahlane, you really want to know all my secrets!”
     “All of them!” replied Ahlane quickly, in a very possessive attitude.
     Ghethe displayed an affectionate smile, then said, “Ha, ha! Ooh, all right! The way we read the mind is not literally reading, because that is not possible. What we do, we automatically receive the memories of the subject, therefore we see and know what the subject sees and knows in his or her mind.
     When I perform a fast reading, I simply take as much as I want into my memory, without following each image-idea in details. Later, if I want to investigate something, I have to concentrate and bring back those memories, because they are my memories now, and then I explore them to the maximum extent. However, it may be that I missed something when I loaded his memories into mine, and there is nothing I can do about it.”
     “I cannot understand this mind reading process, Ghethe, because I have no idea of how the memory images are preserved inside the brain. Could you, please, explain it to me?”
M20-5
     “This is a very interesting topic, Ahlane, although it is rather difficult to explain. Possibly, we shall discuss on this subject for years to come. I intend to start now with the basics, so that you do understand my social and psychological theories.
     Now, some religious legends say that we are built similar to the GREAT CREATOR. There is little truth in those stories, except only a few understand it properly. Indeed, each of us has some of CREATOR’s nature inside ourselves, and that special something is our subconscious.
     An individual, My Dear, is defined by three levels of nervous activity, all working together to create the essence of that individual. The first level groups the reflex actions, such as the collection and transportation of bioelectrical pulses to and from sensors, muscles, and internal organs. The second level is the subconscious: there are hidden a good part of our soul, our personality, our character, and our instincts. Inside the subconscious the memories are managed, together with many other functions. The third level of nervous activity is the conscious level, or the logic one: there is where we actually ‘live’, where the conscious part of our soul exists.
     Specific to our carbon-based intelligence is that fact that our reflexes and our perception of reality are very slow, Ahlane. We cannot distinguish or see actions that change faster than twenty-seven times in one i-std. second, on average, although in the surrounding natural environment there are many processes that happen extremely fast: for example, nine hundred times in one i-std. second, or even much faster. This very slow perception of reality is a great limitation for us, though it is due to the manner in which our entire nervous system works.
     Let’s take an example: suppose you see a strange butterfly, My Dear. The first step is the reflex action, in which the optic sensors record the image and transform it into bioelectric impulses. Those impulses will reach a certain brain area, and they become there bioelectric potentials which are sensed by the subconscious level. The subconscious transforms the bioelectric potentials into the image we actually see in our minds, and the image is further pushed to the conscious level, the logic one, where the actual perception of reality begins.
     Now, we start seeing the butterfly image, but we do not understand it. After seeing the image, the logic level asks the subconscious to identify the image from memories; therefore, the subconscious starts searching through the memories to find a match for the butterfly image. Once found, the data from memories is sent to the logic level, meaning, the image is a butterfly, an innocent creature. The logic level takes that data, and now it understands the butterfly image. Next, the logic level may decide to capture that interesting insect for some further analysis, and that will trigger another chain of activities at all levels.
When everything is finished, the conscious level sends the image and the data back to subconscious for memory storage. The subconscious takes the image and the data, and it stores them as bioelectric potentials, grouped in a specific way and related to our ‘personal time-sequence’, somewhere inside the brain volume. For more complex situations, the intricate work of these three nervous levels is, of course, also more developed.
     While we live we develop our conscious, the logic level, only this process is fundamentally dependent on the quality of our subconscious. The better, stronger, and more complex the subconscious is, the easier it is for us to become more intelligent.
     Things are this way. Our ‘I’ is hidden deep inside our souls, in the conscious level; however, behind the conscious level, there is another ‘I’ of which only a few become aware since it is hidden inside the subconscious. Please note, My Dear: there are at least two more levels of ‘I’, but they are so difficult to understand that I need some specific life examples to begin explaining them to you.
     The subconscious is extremely important, Ahlane, because there is where we are ‘alike’ our CREATOR. Each subconscious has hidden inside, more or less, some of the powers of the GREAT CREATOR. Those powers are stronger for some, weaker for most, or very strong for very few. If you know how to ask your subconscious, Ahlane, you could determine it to communicate telepathically with another subconscious, or you could ask it to perform, let’s say, some psychokinetic tasks for you. Your subconscious is going to accomplish them, since it is perfectly capable of doing that, and even a lot more. I intend to explain and to show you more in the years to come, Ahlane, and I shall help you discover and control your own subconscious. For now however, let’s focus on memory alone.
     Each subconscious has its own particular way of storing and managing the memory images inside the brain, as bioelectric potentials spread throughout the brain volume and related to the individual time-sequence, but I do not care about that. When I read the mind of the subject person, my subconscious asks telepathically the other subconscious for memories, and then I receive them automatically, already formed as images, as when they are presented to the logic level of that subject person. Further, my subconscious may either present them to my logic level, if I want to, or it will simply store them as my own memories.
     Some people are good at reading minds; others can hardly see anything; a few are specialized only in that, and they are, indeed, very good. My way of reading minds is rather slow, especially when I deal with bulk memory. I simply load it into my brain without controlling it in details. Later, if I need to, I start analyzing each image-thought at a time.
     The most difficult aspect is in correlating my personal time-sequence to the time-sequence of the new memories. In most instances that process is unsuccessful, therefore the new memories appear to me just as unrelated, lost memory fragments, or visions. I consider myself sufficiently good at reading minds.”
     “Thank you, Ghethe. Your explanations are . . . extraordinary, and they help me understand the incredible complexity of my own brain,” said Ahlane thoughtfully. After a while she asked softly, “What else was in the mind of that man?”
     “I was rather shocked with the way they see us. Picture this, Ahlane: here is our Empire, and they name it the ‘Gentle Empire’. Neighbor to us is a large cluster of Stars of about three thousand populated Systems belonging to no great power, and they call that region of space, ‘Free Worlds’. Beyond the Free Worlds cluster, comes the Dour Empire I mentioned.
     In those Free Worlds they see us, in the Gentle Empire, as innocent well educated people, rich and defenseless. If someone manages to unite a few strong Systems in the Free Worlds, to form a great power, we are their first intended target. The Gentle Empire Invasion topic has been traded politically intensively, all over the Free Worlds, during the past ninety i-std. years or so.”
     “We need to do something to prevent that from happening, Ghethe,” said Ahlane looking worried.
     “Yes, but the problem is, if we allow each System of ours to develop weapons, they could start internal Wars,” replied Ghethe not much pleased with the idea.
     “Regardless, we still need to do something,” persisted Ahlane.
     “You are right, My Dear, and I am glad we talk about it. My intention is, we need to have a discussion, all three of us, in which I am going to present a possible structure of the future Empire.”
     “That is so nice of you although . . . Why do you need us, Ghethe? You are the absolute Master in our cluster of Systems, and you can do whatever you want. Nobody would stop you, not even we—I mean, I. On the contrary, I shall support you, because you are our friend.”
     “I do not want it, My Dear. I cannot assume the power for myself because I find that highly immoral, in the first place. Secondly, I am afraid that could bring further catastrophic changes into the future, as it happened to the Enlightened Emperor. My intention, Ahlane, is to marry Mlane to a fine Gentleman, and to make them the future Emperor and Empress. What do you say?” explained Ghethe, and he ended his words enthusiastically.
     “First of all, Mlane is too young to . . . she is too young, and then . . . I have to be . . . married first—” explained Ahlane with difficulty.
     He interrupted her smilingly, with great eagerness, “That is the easiest part, My Dear. I—”
     She interrupted him in her turn, while watching him with severe eyes, “You think that is easy, Ghethe Dakka, but I haven’t decided yet.”
     “Oh!” gasped Ghethe surprised and alarmed, then he also turned to a serious attitude.
     “Besides, the rules of Imperial Hierarchy in our Family are very simple: they are based on the rights of the first Lady born. If there is going to be a new Empress in our Family, it has to be me, and Mlane knows it,” continued Ahlane troubled.
     “Oh, My Dear girl, we could change those harsh rules a little bit—” started Ghethe tenderly.
     “Ghethe Dakka! My sister and I are all that is left from a glorious and respected Family, and we are not going to disgrace them by changing THE FAMILY RULES!“ said Ahlane nervously, and even angry.
     They remained silent for a good while, as he waited for her to calm down. In the end, he asked in a timid voice, “What are we going to do, Ahlane?”
     “I do not know, Ghethe Dakka! Think of something!” replied Ahlane bothered.
     They reached the shopping center, and Ghethe felt very disappointed. They kept on talking about brains and politics, and he had no time to . . . do something.

*

M20-6     Five local days later they were coming from an enchanting voyage on a water-gliding ship, during which they experienced a few incredible fishing techniques, they encountered an exciting storm, and they explored a couple of small uninhabited islands. Everybody was glad to be back home, to the comfort and security offered by Arpel, and the Ladies were discussing where to go for dinner.
     “I am sorry, Ladies, but I would like to have dinner on Arpel tonight,” announced Ghethe, and Zelhane Ladies understood that he had some important news for them.
     “We could bring something good from a nearby restaurant,” suggested Heile.
     “That is an excellent idea!” approved Mlane enthusiastically. Due to the past years of dire privations, Mlane started to develop a true passion for various and tasty foods.
     Petha offered to help Heile, therefore Ghethe invited the Ladies to join him, in a discussion. They took seats on the terrace, in the Main Salon, around a flagon of kadola-fruits liquor.
     “My Dear Ladies,” started Ghethe, “my intention is to present a possible structure of the New Empire—the way I see it viable. To start, I want to point out that, although the imperial political system of government is needed for unity, stability, security, justice and prosperity for all Systems, the Representatives of the Empire, the Emperor and the Empress, do not need to be visible persons. They can exercise their functions helped by some Representatives.
     The recent Genocide should serve us perfectly well as an excuse to hide completely the Emperor and the Empress from the public eye, from now on. However, between you and me, as we are friends and we build this Empire together, there is not going to be any Emperor or Empress. We, together, shall exercise their functions.”
     “What if someone is going to find out?” asked Mlane.
     “We are going to deny everything, because nobody knows the truth, except us. Besides, we should try to keep Emperor’s actions to a minimum, so that nobody would actually care,” answered Ghethe.
     “But we still need an active Imperial Administration,” objected Ahlane.
     “Yes we do, and here comes the second interesting part. We know that a terrible crisis will, or could, come sometimes into the future and, in that case, we may get help from some aliens to deal successfully with it. However, in order to help ourselves in a future crisis, we need to create a new World hidden in a remote System, based on the most advanced scientific discoveries, which should adopt the Empire, in order to administer and protect it, also without knowing who and where is the Imperial Family. The new World shall be totally unknown in this side of the Empire; therefore, if a crisis comes here, the other side should help.”
     “What if the crisis comes into the hidden World?” asked Mlane.
     “We shall have to do exactly the same thing in reverse: this side of the Empire is going to help.”
     “Sounds reasonable,” commented Ahlane.
     “In order to understand the configuration of the New Empire, Ladies,” explained Ghethe, “think of the past structure. We had the infrastructure—all the Systems of the Empire; then, we had Imperial Administration as the governing instrument; and finally the Imperial Family was the highest political hierarchy of the Empire. In addition, we had the true, hidden Masters of the Empire—the two scientific Departments.
     Now, the hidden Masters were capable of destroying the Empire, because the High Hierarchy was a visible target—that is not good. The new structure should encourage scientific development in all Systems, and the best Scientists are going to be invited to populate the hidden System—which must be very attractive, something really nice, something to go for it!
     The hidden System is going to handle the Administration of the infrastructure. However, above all, there will be the High Hierarchy with its legal and real power, entirely unknown, which is going to supervise and control everybody for a proper behavior. By keeping the High Hierarchy of the Empire hidden, there will be no target for an eventual destruction of the Empire, therefore we may focus on prosperous development only.
     Now, the main purpose of the New Empire is to help all Systems to become stronger, economically, and better to live in. My intention is to implement the Resonant Frames transport technology in all the Worlds of the Empire, so that the movement of people and merchandise should be almost free, and easy for everybody. That is going to contribute greatly to further develop the education, scientific research, industry, and commerce. Secondly, we should collect only five parts per unit in taxes from all Systems. Further, we shall use the tax money to build the hidden World, and to support the development of the Systems having fewer resources. As a note, the old Empire collected nine parts per unit.”

M20-7
     “What about the Armed Forces?” asked Ahlane.
     “My intention is to allow each System to have reasonable Fleet and Army Units, based on the military biochip implant technology which I am going to develop. In this way we control all Armed Forces. Until we start manufacturing the military biochips, we can use the existing Forces for the next ten or twenty i-std. years, and my intention is to deploy them in strategic Systems throughout the Empire.”
     “We still need to have a Capital in the visible part of the Empire,” objected Ahlane.
     “The Capital in this side of the Empire can be right here, on Thalo Three, because this afflux of vacationers allows us to remain invisible. We shall buy or build a few hotels of ours, and we could use them for whatever we need: conferences, training, administration, everything.”
     “Where do you think the hidden World is going to be, Ghethe?” asked Mlane.
     “That, My Dear, is the only difficult problem we have. The hidden World needs to be very far away from this side of the Empire, therefore we shall use Arpel and the rest of the ships left by the Enlightened Emperor to discover it. In other words, Mlane, we have to go there and find it in about one or two i-std. years.”
     “We need to build cities on the hidden World,” pointed out Ahlane.
     “Yes, we do, My Dear. This is a project we start now, though it may be that our children will finish it. The immediate and the subsequent actions for us are to establish the New Empire, then to find a few reliable people to help us implement the new Imperial Administration, and then to discover the hidden World.”
     Ahlane said with a contented smile, “I like your proposals, Ghethe. They are logic, safe, and they do ensure a prosperous development. I can see sufficient local political independence, increased inter-Systems collaboration, and a discreet imperial control over everybody and everything.”
     “And we could go to any place we want, we could do whatever we like, same as anybody else, and nobody would know. Ha, ha!” added Mlane happily.
     “We need to attract more people to help us empower the new Imperial Administration; how are we going to do that, Ghethe?” asked Ahlane.
     He explained, “This is a long term process, My Dear. To start, we have Petha and Heile who already know a lot about us, but they are very reliable. Then, we can use the military people to represent us, beginning with those who have ended the service period. We should also ask Nestar and Genea for help, and each of these people, including us, should look for other honest, reliable people, as in a pyramid structure, from top to base.
     For the time being, these two ideas, of a false Emperor and of a hidden World, must remain our very secret. Even if we find new friends, the secret must remain known only to us, or to as few as possible, in order to keep the entire structure running. I still have ahead of me about seventy i-std. years of powers left, therefore I shall protect the New Empire, so that we implement and we also finish with the first most important steps.”
     Ahlane smiled sweetly at him, then said, “Ghethe, I am amazed. Your solution is simple, convenient for everybody, and it does offer a reliable alternative in case of a future crisis.”
     “I like it too,” concurred Mlane.
     “Thank you for your approvals, Ladies. To end this appropriately, I declare official the birth of the New Empire. I shall make it my future task to build and fortify the New Empire, so that it becomes different, stronger, and better,” concluded Ghethe, and he ended his words smiling intimately at Ahlane.
M20-8
     Petha and Heile arrived soon afterwards with lots of appetizing temptations, and the Ladies went on serving dinner on the terrace. In that period of the yearly cycle of Thalo Three, the little Cizad companion Star was visible at nighttime with a wonderful violet light. The night sky was sprinkled with billions of bright Stars, and it had incredibly beautiful gradient colors varying from deep dark-blue, to iridescent violet . . .

GREEN LEAVES




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