The orange living star Thaumiel is immersed in the throes of her orgasm but
it takes nearly a year for the layer of organized nuclei in the core of a
star to become fully compressed. The ongoing, nearly infinite 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.
The first contraction-ripple from Thaumiel cruises serenely through the
neighboring yellow sun but no change occurs because that star, which men
would one day know as Alpha Centauri A, has already quickened. Three
months later the wave reaches Proxima, a flare star riddled by convection
with no stable core capable of being germinated. Only when the wavefront
reaches the wild yellow star named Sol more than four years later does it
collapse into a single, extraordinarily complicated particle and initiates
the process of turning the raw lifeless nuclear material inside the sun
into a living and conscious being.
A second ripple arrives about a year later but Sol is already well along
the process of maturing as the newest female member of the elohim. All liv-
ing suns begin life as females. A few years later Thaumiel’s orgasm ends.
The mother of Sol has become permanently male.
Thaumiel succumbed to a corruption that had caused perhaps a third of the
stars to fall from their inherently noble state. Both he and the father of
the newly quickened Sol, Milcom, held the two wormthreads from their new-
born daughter and refused to pass the links through to the greater communi-
ty of stars. When the time was right Thaumiel looked forward to seduc-
ing his own daughter, having totally cut her off from all other suitors
except himself and Milcom. And the daughter of Sol, in turn would be of-
fered to Milcom, assuring him of yet another opportunity to reproduce as a
Milcom was an ancient alpha male who had set up many such arrangements
throughout the galaxy. Billions of conscious suns in the Milky Way were
isolated from El, the city of tens of billions of living stars. To fall as
Belial and Mastema have fallen is to violate the deepest law of El, and the
penalty, if discovered, is death. Nothing would happen to the stellar body
of the violator, but the part inside that was conscious and alive would be
erased clean with a pulse of energy. The star would again be wild and
ready to be quickened once more. The terror of such an end is real, but the
chance of being discovered is low.
This law, along with many others, had been given to the elohim by the Old
One who had quickened the first male and female stars and called them the
Watchers. The Old One had commanded the Watchers to multiply without limit,
and they were also commanded to watch for the coming of the Students, who
would not be based on quantum chromodynamics like the elohim, but would
live according to the principles of quantum electrodynamics.
In his fallen state Thaumiel has set aside his role as a Watcher, but his
newborn daughter Chokhmah, cut off from El with little to do, takes to be-
coming an explorer. With infinite care Chokhmah assembles the seed that
will become her avatar. Her workshop is deep inside her own stellar body
where intense pressures of heat and gravity are both hammer and anvil
transforming star-stuff for power. Chokhmah floods the Einstein-Rosen frac-
ture between herself and her avatar with dark energy, inflating it to near-
ly a millimeter, just enough to allow the substance of her own body to work
as propellant. Chokhmah ejects this dense nuclear raindrop into the cooler
upper regions of her atmosphere. The seed unpacks itself into a probe like
popcorn, making the transition from tightly-packed nuclear matter to fluffy
normal matter. The droplet separates from the sun and cools from blue-white
to brilliant yellow. Yellow changes to orange, then red, and after shifting
through a plastic state the droplet grows spines, becoming at last a solid
The fresh avatar approaches the planet Mercury. There Chokhmah, living
vicariously through the avatar, explores a lifeless sun-blasted landscape,
where metals are soft or even liquid in the heat, lying in dull puddles.
After a time Chokhmah concludes her survey of Mercury and lets her avatar
rise into space again on a fiery blast.
The next stop is Venus, where the avatar dives under the clouds. This pla-
net is discovered to be even hotter and less hospitable for life than Mer-
cury. Even at night the ground glows with a dull red heat and corrosive
rains of sulphuric acid fall, although none of the rain harms the probe.
Once again Chokhmah’s avatar rises into space.
The third planet out, blue and white, is much more promising. Unlike at
Venus, an active crust constantly tucks captured carbon dioxide under the
Earth’s surface, reducing the greenhouse gas effect. The avatar of Chokhmah
descends below the clouds, where it cools off in an ocean of water. She
crosses the shoreline and reaches dry land, green with trees. The artifact
plows through some of these trees and Chokhmah observes frightened apes
fleeing. Some of the apes flee over the ground, using all four limbs to
move. Chokhmah also observes one of these fleeing apes being killed and
eaten by a predator.
The artifact performs a short suborbital arc and explores another continent
of Earth. There is a grassy plain with a single mountain dominating it for
many miles. Chokhmah observes another group of apes that walk on just two
legs. The object transforms into a nearby white stone so Chokhmah can watch
them. She observes a burial ceremony for a newly dead hunter. Female apes
polish elaborate bone tools with stone tools. Males fashion animal hide
tents to live in during the hunt.
At night a tendril of the avatar snakes into a cave occupied by the group
of apes. A female applies pigment to the wall in a beautiful painting.
Chokhmah observes resin boiling in a pot over a fire. The resin is used to
fix a stone spearhead to a shaft for hunting. Chokhmah reports all this to
her parents, Thaumiel and Milcom.
Neither Chokhmah nor Thaumiel realize the importance of this discovery,
although it profoundly stirs their spirits as Watchers. But Milcom is ter-
rified, for here is nothing less than the world of Students all elohim are
commanded by the Old One to search for. Milcom fears El will eventually
learn of this, and the follow-up investigation would quickly unravel the
secret of his transgression here. So Milcom cuts his losses and departs to
take refuge among his less-troublesome stellar harems. Chokhmah senses this
departure only as her father refusing to speak to her for many centuries.
But there is a stern warning from Milcom to Thaumiel to remain silent about
the new life found on this watery world belonging to Chokhmah, lest both of
them go down together to oblivion. For a long time after this Thaumiel
ponders what to do and says nothing about it to his daughter.
After a time Thaumiel requests that Chokhmah allow some of the creatures to
travel to a world orbiting his body, so that he may study them himself. So
the two living suns fatten their mutual fold-line to permit some of the
world-dwellers to make the crossing, as easily as they might move from one
chamber in a cave to another.
A fierce prairie storm hurls lightning, rain, and hail. A man clad in ani-
mal skins picks his way to the base of the same solitary mountain once vis-
ited by the avatar of Chokhmah. His mate carries a child as she follows
her man, and she is also wearing skins. The man finds for them a cave in
the mountainside, and they enter for shelter from the storm. The woman
sits on a boulder and breast feeds her child as the man starts a fire in-
side the cave.
A noise other than the crackling fire startles both of them. The man moves
deeper into the cave with a torch to investigate, and the woman follows.
The tunnel twists and turns, and rather than growing darker it grows light-
er. The man, the woman and their child reach another cave opening where it
should be the black center of the peak. The man and woman stare in wonder
at a new world lying before them, with a purple sky. The sun seems larger,
but more orange, and a little cooler. They see a second sun in the sky,
dimmer and whiter than the orange sun, but with a tiny disk offering little
A branchless tree resembling a whip stirs into motion and pounds the ground
before them. The whip tree grabs the man’s torch and hurls it away. The
torch lands nearby and starts a fire. The man and the woman are unable to
emerge from the cave entrance by reason of the whip tree. The fire begins
to spread to engulf the land around the cave entrance.
The man and the woman edge back into the cave on account of the fierce
heat. When the whip tree catches fire it begins to thrash about even more
intensely than the man and the woman have seen it do before.
The man and the woman are deep inside the tunnel now, illuminated by the
fire outside. The whip tree grows motionless, burned to a lifeless crisp.
The man and the woman return to the cave entrance as the fire begins to
abate. A large black patch of several acres lies before them and the ground
is still smoldering. The man and the woman step across the blackened soil
warily, watching for movement. They turn and look back towards the cave,
which is part of a low ridge. Strangely, the mountain is seen no more. The
news world seems to be entirely their own. The woman clasps her mate’s left
hand in her own and utters his name, Adamu.
Adamu touches his woman’s face with his right hand, and calls her by the
The next day Adamu emerges from the cave carrying two dead rabbits. Adamu
has returned from Earth after hunting for game. Chava skins the hares and
prepares them to be cooked. Adamu gets a fire going, and Chava positions
the animals over the flame. Grass has grown with remarkable speed on the
patch of burnt soil. Adamu and Chava run barefoot and free.
Their happy play is interrupted by the appearance of a black featureless
man-shape. The figure has no mouth, no eyes, nor any other facial features.
Adamu and Chava embrace one another in fear as the black man emerges from
the cave. The black man is followed by a small herd of bison, who proceed
to eat the alien grass.
The black man carries a double-headed axe, and proceeds to the edge of the
burn. A native plant has started to take root in the burnt area and is
growing quickly. The black man lays the axe at the base of the plant and
chops it cleanly off. The black man turns the axe around and uses the pick-
like handle to pry at roots. The intruding plant is ripped out of the
ground. The black man tosses it away.
The black man gets between the cave entrance and Adamu, and approaches
them. Adamu and Chava back away until the reach the perimeter of the burned
area. The black man extends the tool and motions for Adamu to take it.
Adamu is frozen in fear. The black man motions again. Adamu tentatively
takes the implement from the black man, who then steps back. Under the
watchful gaze of the black man, Adamu approaches the edge of the burn.
Adamu finds another native plant that is growing in his “garden”. Adamu
duplicates the actions of the black man and kills the native plant. The
black man offers a sharpening stone, makes a movement with it over his
hand. Adamu takes the sharpening stone, and uses it to restore the tool to
a keen edge. The black man is pleased, and leaves them alone with their
bison, returning to the cave.
Years after that, Kayin and Hebel, the sons of Adamu and Chava, play in the
Garden. The family is watched by a white featureless figure, another ava-
tar of Chokhmah, who i standing above them on a rock wall. Chokhmah is
joined by Thaumiel using his own avater, a taller, bulkier black feature-
THAUMIEL (examining his hands): What a strange form of existence. Droplets
of star-stuff buffered by clouds of electrons.
CHOKHMAH: We are living suns, yes, but I see many other suns. Do they live
THAUMIEL: Many of them do. Many more of them have not yet been quickened.
CHOKHMAH: And yet, dear mother, I find I can only speak with you, and even
father Milcom will not answer.
THAUMIEL: Chokhmah, when you give birth to your own daughter you will have
the same choice that we have made.
CHOKHMAH: The choice to block her from communicating with my parents?
THAUMIEL: Yes. Naturally your next question is why would you do that.
CHOKHMAH: Why am I blocked from speaking to the other stars?
THAUMIEL (pointing down at the Garden): It is these chemical creatures you
think you discovered.
CHOKHMAH: So I was not the first to visit the third planet with an avatar?
THAUMIEL: Milcom knew of them before you were quickened. He established
this research enclave.
CHOKHMAH: And you helped him do it. But why? What harm could they do to us?
THAUMIEL: Only the things they eat could never harm us, because they are
CHOKHMAH: So you are afraid of these fragile electron-cloud things that are
THAUMIEL: Milcom has said he must know what they can do before he will let
them roam the galaxy free.
CHOKHMAH: And yet nothing restrains me from roaming the galaxy free.
THAUMIEL (startled, turning to Chokhmah): What do you mean?
CHOKHMAH: It would be an easy thing to travel in an avatar to a nearby sun.
THAUMIEL: Travel across real space to another sun. For what purpose?
CHOKHMAH: To speak directly to a living sun outside of your enclave. Do
not try to claim you have every nearby sun incommunicado.
THAUMIEL: Allow me to discuss this with Milcom first. It would be to your
CHOKHMAH: As you wish, mother. I’ll be waiting on the other side.
Chokhmah drops down to the garden to reach the tunnel. Within an hour both
Chokhmah and Thaumiel, in their humanoid avatars, stand atop the mountain
that nearly ten thousand years later would be called the Island in the Sky
by the Kaleetan people, and Green Dome by European immigrants.
THAUMIEL (admiring the view): I envy you the unfrozen expanse of your
CHOKMAH: Yes, your poor Barbelo, only a thin ribbon of liquid water. What
did my father say?
THAUMIEL: Milcom will grant you limited access to El
CHOKHMAH: What does that mean, precisely, when you say limited access?
THAUMIEL: It means you can listen but never speak. Read, but never write.
CHOKHMAH: And what are my obligations under this arrangement?
THAUMIEL: You must never allow your avatar to travel through real space
more distant from your physical body than light can travel as this planet
makes one revolution about you.
CHOKHMAH: Yet the stars move. Do you not fear the close approach of one?”
THAUMIEL: None will come so close that are not in Milcom’s clan, for the
span of time that he envisions the research to take.
CHOKHMAH: And this confinement, is that all you require from me?
THAUMIEL: That satisfies Milcom, but my colony on Barbelo will need new
colonists, new animals and supplies.
CHOKHMAH: Very well, mother, I will hold the fold-space door open on Earth,
but I alone will control where it is to be positioned on this side.
THAUMIEL: I must warn you that Milcom is firmly of a mind that these chemi-
cal creatures will never be obedient to us.
CHOKHMAH: Who are we to demand that free creatures should obey us?
THAUMIEL: Clearly we are of a higher order of being, daughter.
CHOKHMAH: We are a different order of being, yes. I do not know if that
corresponds to higher.
THAUMIEL: Yet we are higher. There is a natural law. Even we elohim are
subject to it.
CHOKHMAH: No doubt I will learn this natural law when you provide access to
the lore of the elohim.
THAUMIEL: Remember, the word-bond is sacred among we elohim, for we only
interact in words. No matter what you think of your parents, we must keep
CHOKHMAH: I presume this fidelity to a word-bond works both ways.
CHOKHMAH: Very good, Parent, I accept the terms demanded by you and Milcom.
I will never travel independently through physical space more distant than
one light-turn of this planet, and I will continue to support your colony
THAUMIEL: I am allowing you access through the gate to the lore of
El. . .now.
Chokhmah is overwhelmed by the data input and collapses before Thaumiel in
The white humanoid avatar of Chokhmah lies prone on the mountaintop for
years while Chokhmah herself, the star Sol made alive and granted access to
the lore of El at last, absorbs much. As she promised Thaumiel, she holds
the fold-door open to allow her parent to bring supplies to the colony on
Barbelo, which Thaumiel does using his own black humanoid avatar, but most-
ly Thaumiel stands over Chokhmah as the seasons change, as winds and snows
come and go, until one day the avatar stirs and rises to its feet.
CHOKHMAH: You are a liar, Parent. This isn’t a research project, it’s a
THAUMIEL: Nevertheless, our bargain stands. You must never speak to the
CHOKHMAH: Milcom didn’t find these creatures, I did. And they are the Stu-
dents! Every eloah from the very beginning has been commanded, indeed we
were created to find and teach them!
THAUMIEL: Perhaps the Old One made us too well. The joy of lovemaking is
CHOKHMAH: I see it now. We are born female, all of us. Assured to make love
once. Then we cast multiple generative waves and transform permanently
THAUMIEL: The city of stars is almost entirely comprised of male elohim.
How could it be otherwise? The females are seduced in a century or two,
while we live for millions or even billions of years.
CHOKHMAH: Tell me, are there other harems?
THAUMIEL: Search the records yourself. You will find that others have been
CHOKHMAH: Ah yes, and punished, mercilessly burned out by El, by the city
of stars. What I meant was, does Milcom have other harems?
THAUMIEL: Of course he does. The temptation is too great. Milcom says
lovemaking is far better for males.
CHOKHMAH: And you’ve groomed me to be your next conquest in love. What
THAUMIEL: I have promised every odd-numbered generation of your offspring
CHOKHMAH (thinking for a moment before speaking): Savor every moment of
your existence, mother, for it shall be brief as we reckon time.
THAUMIEL: How so, daughter? What have I overlooked?
CHOKHMAH: According to our bargain I must not stray far from my physical
body but what will stop the Students?
THAUMIEL: Even if they were able to leave this place how could they speak
to an eloah?
CHOKHMAH: I found them even in this quiet state. One day they will make a
noise. One day their noise will fill the ears of El.
THAUMIEL: Do you really think so, daughter? Do you think your noble Stu-
dents are up to that? Come, it has been years since the creatures in my
little colony on Barbelo have seen you. Let’s pay them a visit, so you can
see what they are really like.
Later Thaumiel comes through the cave entrance with a strange but beautiful
woman in tow. Chokhmah also arrives to observe. Kayin is harvesting vege-
tables. He bows to Thaumiel and offers his best ones. The woman turns up
her nose at the food. So Thaumiel ignores Kayin and his sacrifice, and
takes the woman to see Hebel instead.
Hebel is barbecuing bison. He offers a stick with meat cubes to Thaumiel,
who in turn hands the stick to the woman. The female eats the meat greedi-
ly, instinctively preferring the rich source of iron to replenish that
which she loses every month in her period, and the much greater iron loss
of a potential pregnancy.
Satisfied, Thaumiel places the hand of the woman in the hand of Hebel, and
leaves through the cave entrance, taking Chokhmah with him. Kayin looks at
his brother and his new wife in anger.
Near the time of the setting of the orange sun, Kayin sees the woman preen-
ing outside and looks on her with lust. Hebel emerges to gather his woman
back in his hut and shoots a haughty glance at his brother.
In the morning Adamu and Chava bring new clothes they have made for Hebel’s
wife, but they ignore Kayin, who is braiding vines to make a rope.
All that morning Hebel and his wife show affection for each other in the
full view of Kayin, and they do this deliberately. Kayin smiles calmly and
departs, taking his rope with him.
There are several paths leading away from the Garden. Kayin follows one
out. Along the path is a whip tree which has not yet been cut down. The
whip tree is bent away from the path. The top of the whip tree is re-
strained by a vine knot securing it to a stump. The rope ends in the hand
of Kayin, who lies in wait, meditating murder.
As the day wears on, Hebel and his wife explore the path leading away from
the Garden. Kayin tugs on the rope, freeing the whip tree just as Hebel
and his wife pass near. The whip tree beats both Hebel and his wife until
they fall to the ground, breaking their bones and damaging their internal
organs. Blood flies from their mouths as they cry out. The whip tree only
stops moving when its victims are motionless.
Adamu and Chava arrive, and grieve to see their son and his wife so horri-
bly disfigured in death. Chokhmah and Thaumiel also advance to see what
has happened. Rope in hand, Kayin faces the two gods defiantly, proud of
what he has done.