“Hear me out, Mike,” said Klaus, “I think I see a way out of our dilemma. This all started about five years ago when your Apostle Shybear here started sitting in the same pew with Kimberly Zinter and those two bulldykers. Before that red and white kept to themselves.”

“So when I’m the Prophet, and I trust that’s what we’re getting to here, ‘Mike’, otherwise you are wasting my time, the White Wing will meet in the temple on Sunday morning, the Reds on Wednesday and ne’er the twain shall meet. Of course it means we share the Golden Gift.”

“Never!” Jerry objected. “The Golden Gift was received by Chief Wanica directly from God. We share it in the Last Rite but it remains a family heirloom, now and forever. That’s my non-negotiable!” But Jerry saw that Mike had raised a finger and che trailed off to silence.

Mike returned to the table and seated himself. Only when Jerry did the same did Mike address Klaus. “So you want the office of Prophet for yourself, segregated worship for the flock, and Jerry hands over the Relic for a whites-only Final Rite. What do we get for all this?”

Klaus said, “What you get is the White Wing and Red Wing as one big happy church again.”

Jerry chuckled. “That’s already happening, Mr. Hanson. Remember when you walked out with the Bunners? Most of them have already come back after watching your circus in that barn.”

Klaus grinned. “How’s your back feeling these days, Jerry?”

“Almost like new. Better’n I can say for your goon squad.”

Paul Bergin spoke up into the awkward silence. “I’ve been reminding the backsliders you mentioned of their obligation to practice racial holiness.”

Mike said, “Racial holiness? By all means, share the relevant proof text with us.”

Paul said, “In Leviticus twenty-one seventeen the LORD said, ‘Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.'”

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“Then you should know that my first action as Prophet was to make Jerry Shybear here the Apostle.”

Hansen said, “I don’t recognize your appointment. The office of Prophet was null and void when Twofeathers proposed to marry Jerry off to that whore. The union of Jerry and Kim is still disgusting to think about. They’re not cousins, they’re not even of the same race.”

“What would you say,” Mike put in, “if I told you the cousin-marriage thing was simply Mark Lange setting out a doctrine that would distinguish his church from the other new ones in 19th Century America, and it conveniently coincided with an attraction to his own cousin?”

“I would say go to hell,” Klaus said, “if you told me that. Our founder Prophet Lange received the doctrine directly from God in his vision on Cemetery Ridge. Teaching it led to persecution in state after state and his pilgrimage halfway across the country to this place.”

“We don’t want to waste your time any more than is absolutely necessary, Mr. Hansen,” Mike told him. “So I would ask you, is the historical Church doctrine of requiring consanguineous marriage a non-negotiable for you? No reunion of the Red and White Wings without it?”

“Never to be,” Hansen said. “Paul, please illuminate our new but unlearned friend Mike.”

Bergin flipped open his Bible to the appropriate page. “And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month. Ezra ten seventeen.”

“No strange wives,” Jerry said to Mike, holding up his hand with a wedding band. “How very unfortunate because Robyn is incomparably strange.”

“Agreed,” said Mike, shaking his head sadly. They stood away from the table and buttoned up their coats to make ready to leave.

“That’s sick,” Paul Bergin said. “The body of your fiancée hasn’t yet been through the Final Rite and you’re already married to another?”

“Some might say Robyn is another, but when you do see my wife, Paul, you might agree she’s close enough to being Kim as never mind.”

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But far more striking was Jerry’s companion: seven foot two, eyes of blue, a black-haired walking copy of Michaelangelo’s David. Jerry was dressed in his Sunday best, as befitted the solemnity of the meeting, but the newcomer’s impeccable threads looked expensive indeed.

Jerry said, “Hello Mr. Hansen and Mr. Bergin, please allow me to introduce Mike, who is the new Prophet of the Church.”

“Just Mike?” barked Hansen. “No last name?”

“Mike,” insisted Mike.

“Where’s Peter?”

“Mr. and Mrs. Twofeathers are in a better place,” assured Mike.

“They’re dead?” asked Paul.

“Gentlemen, please,” objected Jerry, “we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Please bow your head in prayer and I will make the Invocation.” When everyone complied Jerry went on. “Lord, we are gathered in this place during a difficult time.”

“Bless your followers here today, and may the peace that surpasses all understanding fill our hearts as we reason together to restore the wounds to your holy Church. This we pray in the name of Yeshua, the son of the living God.”

All around the maple table is heard “Emn.”

Mike was the first to break the silence after the prayer. “Peter and his wife are well, Mr. Hansen, but he assumed responsibility for the division of the Church and resigned. His final action was to designate me as the Prophet.”

“And yet I’ve never heard of you, Mike.”

Mike said, “Mr. Hansen, have you forgotten that our first Prophet was martyred during the First World War bringing succor to parishioners in Europe? The Green Dome Church is much larger than just the local fellowship here in Headwater where every face is known to you.”

Klaus Hansen threw up his hands. “Ah well, at least Twofeathers stayed with tradition and picked a white fellow. I half expected him to put this fairy in the big chair.”

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“How can I evaluate that statement, father,” said Chokhmah, “if I have no experience with this Ein Sof whatsoever?”

“Our tradition is to introduce the young to Ein Sof by slow degrees, lest they be overwhelmed. I can set aside this cautious approach if you are willing.

Contact with Ein Sof was offered in return for Chokhmah’s full cooperation in setting up a human colony on a planet in Keter’s system. The caveat was that she could only listen to Ein Sof, never speak. And the colony was to come first because Ein Sof would preoccupy her.

When the Church of Green Dome went into schism, “Prophet” Klaus Hansen laid down the law. He said no more card playing, no more dancing, and no more Demon Rum. The Bunners started to roll in sawdust on the floor of the barn that was the meeting place of the Reformed CoGD. Parishioners babbled in tongues to be saved from hell fire. Deacon Paul Bergin was appointed Apostle to the Whites and went to the homes of former Bunners who weren’t seen at the barn with tracts threatening eternal damnation if they didn’t bring their money and come home.

Jerry Shybear put out feelers to the breakaway faction of the Church and arranged a parley at what he judged to be neutral territory. Che chose the Lt. Lambert Welles Battlefield Memorial near a line of low hills east of Headwater where the Squaw River cut a steep canyon. At the battlefield site was a small museum with exhibits and a gift shop, but it was closed soon after Pearl Harbor when automobile touring by sightseers dried up and was later prohibited by law. Jerry obtained the museum keys and permission to use the conference room.

So those two exemplars of the master race arrived, both five foot six, Paul Bergin with a fringe of hair he tried vainly to comb forward, Klaus Hansen with a full head of brown hair but two chins and the making of a third. Gluttony wasn’t a sin he preached about very much.

The native population of the Great American Desert were already the tallest in the world as a demographic, but Jerry Shybear had the extra juice from his Z chromosome which took hem a foot taller than Paul or Klaus. Che was eighteen but looked eleven, stretched way out. If you looked at Jerry’s ear close-up you would swear it was a girl’s ear. Same thing with hez hands. A layer of fat hides the contours of hez underlying musculature and che had not a strand of facial hair. Hez high piping voice never broke. The overall effect is striking.

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In just over four years the first contraction-ripple from Chesed reached the wild star AX Microscopii, an orange-red dwarf. The information stored holographically on the spherical wavefront collapsed to a point, becoming a hypermassive single particle, a true God Particle.

At the center of AX Microscopii is a core of hot nuclear matter. This core has a Goldilocks layer with just the right temperature and density for elohim. The God Particle initiated the process of turning the raw material of this stratum into a living and conscious being. By the time the second ripple arrived a month later Netzach was already well along the process of becoming the newest female member of the elohim, so the wavefront did not collapse again. Instead, four months later, it reached Lacaille 9352 and began to quicken life there. But Lacaille 9352 and two other red dwarf stars beyond it were too cool for any elohim to thrive. They formed a trap for the remaining generative waves, repeatedly quickening followed by a stillbirth. When the orgasm was over the mother of Netzach had become forever male.

With Netzach’s father Daat silenced, there remained the threat of the strange chemical creatures circling Chokhmah, the animals that were as awake as the elohim themselves. But there was no way for Keter to destroy them with an avatar like the one manufactured by Chokhmah. Without a second sun to anchor the other end, a foldspace line that connected an eloah to an avatar could be stretched to just less than a single light-year before it snapped. In real space the elohim ruled their own systems absolutely, but they could not go much further.

Keter knew dealing with the running apes on Earth would require Chokhmah’s cooperation at every step. He tried the research project gambit: “Of all chemical-based lifeforms, only the tool-making creatures you found are potentially dangerous to us because they are awake.”

Chokhmah did the stellar equivalent of a silent view askance.

“If they are not dangerous now,” Keter explained to his daughter, “then perhaps they will be dangerous in the future. They could be the Students, but they could just be deceptively clever monkeys. We must learn more about them before it is time to reveal them to Ein Sof.”

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A female ape applied pigment to the wall to produce a beautiful painting. Chokhmah observed resin boiling in a pot over a fire. The resin was then used to fix a stone spearhead to a shaft for hunting. Chokhmah reported all these observations to her parents Keter and Daat.

Neither Chokhmah nor Daat realized the full importance of this discovery, although it profoundly stirred their instincts as Watchers. But Keter was terrified. Here was nothing less than the fabled world of Students elohim were commanded by Ein Sof to seek without a pause. Keter’s problem was akin to that of a marijuana breeder who stumbled onto a variant that cured all cancer and birth defects and conferred immortality with a single puff, yet could never be announced because that would reveal the illegal grow operation which was its origin. Keter could ensure the silence of Chokhmah by simply refusing to pass her messages through to Ein Sof, but Chokhmah’s mother Daat was still open to Ein Sof through Hod. To close the hole Keter offered his daughter Chesed as a mate for Daat, knowing Daat would not refuse.

Any eloah could be a mother exactly once. The very act of giving birth resulted in a gender change from female to male. Since elohim had life spans in the billions of years all but a tiny fraction of their lives is spent as male. This put an incredible premium on females. The only way for an eloah to interact with others was through the pair of one-dimensional wormhole umbilicals that always connected them to their parents and could never be severed. But any eloah at any time could choose to block the message traffic that passed through.

Elohim reproduction was ripe for abuse. Individuals could be sealed off from the greater community of elohim with no one the wiser. It was the greatest crime known, and carried the penalty of oblivion, yet the temptation was so great that a third of all stars had fallen. Daat was the orange sun in the Alpha Centauri system. Chesed was the star that men would one day call Epsilon Indii. Keter arranged their liason and they mated, with Daat fully informed that he was partaking in the most forbidden of all transgressions among the elohim.

When a sun has an orgasm there are about eight contractions but it takes a month for the organized nuclear matter in the star to compress. The ecstasy of each contraction peaks with a spherical wave that rings out into space at the speed of light like a ripple on a pond.

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Deep inside her stellar body where heat and gravity were hammer and anvil transforming star-stuff for power, Chokhmah carefully assembled her avatar. She flooded the reality microfracture between herself and her avatar with dark energy, inflating it to a millimeter. With the hairline wormhole fattened the substance of her own body could work as propellant, emerging anywhere the avatar would go. Chokhmah ejected the dense nuclear raindrop she had constructed into the cooler upper regions of her own atmosphere where it unpacked itself.

The seed unfolded itself into a probe like a kernel of popcorn, changing from tightly-packed nuclear matter to fluffy chemical matter and drawing ambient electrons from the solar atmosphere. It separated from the sun and rapidly began to cool from a brilliant blue-white. White changes to yellow which in turn changes to orange, then red, and after shifting through a brief plastic state the droplet grows spines, becoming at last a hot solid object which approaches the planet Mercury. There Chokhmah explores vicariously, living as the avatar.

Mercury is a sun-blasted landscape where metals are soft or even liquid in the heat, lying in dull puddles. Venus, further out, is even hotter. At night the ground glows with a dull red heat and corrosive rains of sulfuric acid fall. Chokhmah’s avatar remains unharmed. The blue and white third planet is much more interesting. Unlike Venus a moving crust constantly tucks carbon dioxide captured by green plants under the surface, controlling the greenhouse effect. The avatar drops below the clouds and cools off in an ocean of liquid water.

Chokhmah crossed the shoreline and reached dry land thick with green trees. The artifact plowed through some of these trees and Chokhmah observed frightened apes fleeing. Some of the apes fled over the ground using all four limbs to move. One was eaten by a predator.

The artifact did a suborbital arc to explore another continent of Earth. There was a grassy plain with a single mountain dominating it for miles. Chokhmah observed another group of apes that walked on just two legs. She changed her shape into a white rock to watch them. Chokhmah observed a burial ceremony for a recently deceased hunter. Females polished elaborate bone tools with stone tools. Males fashioned animal hide tents to live in during the hunt. At night a tendril of the avatar snaked into a cave occupied by the group of apes.

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