Chapter 51

At the Greendome home of a young lady named Inge Hahn, a Sanitation Auditor mentions that in recent months she has gone from a seven dollar subscription to five dollar a month can, and he wants to know why.

“The war’s over now and I lost my job to a returning soldier,” Inge explains. “You know how it is. Money never seems to go far enough. I had to get my budget more in line with my income and trash pickup was a big item.”

“How did you manage it?”

“Oh, you know, I just got a little smarter in the groceries I buy and in the way I prepare my trash. You can nest trash within trash within trash if you just give it a little thought. There isn’t a weight surcharge, is there?”

“Only if there’s evidence of compacting, which you’ve so far managed to avoid. Would you mind if I looked in your backyard?”

Inge is a little too savvy for that. “Show me a search warrant,” she says firmly.

“How about your husband, Miss Hahn?” the Auditor tries. “Is he home? Would he invite me out back?”

“It’s just me here,” Inge says sternly. “And even if I had a husband, he wouldn’t be the sort of fellow who does an end run around his own wife.”

“You say you’re looking for work?” he tries again. “You know, your future employer might blame the inconvenience of any greater scrutiny of their dumpsters on the uncooperative attitude of one of their new employees, if word got back.”

“Get a warrant, clown!” she barks. “I know my rights!” The door is slammed in the Sanitation Auditor’s face.

Damnation! he thinks. And the way liberal judges are ruling nowadays, it would take more than going from a medium can to a small can to get a search warrant. So he leaves for the easier target next door who had gone from a family-size jumbo ten dollar a month can to the five dollar one. They certainly had some explaining to do. He made a note that if Inge Hahn’s trash was so much as one inch overflowing, to charge her the full seven dollars of the next can up in size.

As soon as the door slams shut, Jerry, Robyn, Hunky, and Dory come out from hiding to join Inge in her modest living room. Doris Day is belting one out on the large radio that is the center of entertainment in the home. Hunky and Dory, as usual, are holding hands. Robyn is a few months along in har pregnancy and starting to show.

“That was very satisfying,” Inge tells them. She is only a few years older than the four members of the Boda, and so blond that her hair is almost white, plus there is an outrageous storm of brown freckles all over her face and body. She is being meticulously groomed to be the first new member to join the Boda.

“It only gets better,” Jerry Shybear tells her. “Are you ready to go to your training house?”

“Ready when you are.”

Jerry brings out the macro he has manufactured for Inge. It looks like an ordinary flashlight, but when Jerry turns it on the thing glows purple, and hisses like an acetylene torch. He feeds a banana peel into the lens of the flashlight, which gobbles it up with not a trace left over.

“Where did it go?”

“Each atom of the banana peel is scattered to a random point somewhere in a huge ball, fourteen miles wide and centered on your house. A couple three atoms of the banana peel might even be inside you, Inge, but you didn’t feel them pop in.”

“Why is it hissing like that?”

“That’s the air in the house being sucked in,” Jerry explains.

“Let me show you a neat trick,” Hunky says. She tosses a bottle cap from six feet away. It would have missed, but the hissing air near the flashlight lens guides it in to its doom.

“What is that purple glow?”

“That’s the actual macro effect.”

“It looks more like a steady flame. Why is it shaped like a cone?”

“It’s because fresh air comes in from the edges, so the particles of the macro effect meet them sooner, but in the middle there’s a vacuum created so the ray goes higher before meeting their first atom of air.”

“Is that as high as it gets?”

“Nope, more juice makes it taller,” Jerry says, carefully twisting the lens of the flashlight and making the purple “flame” grow to three feet.

“It’s good for cutting too,” Robyn says. Sha passes Inge’s softball bat through the purple light. The bat falls into two pieces with the middle section effortlessly carved out.

So with Jerry leading the way, he shows Inge how to open the macro to wide beam and cut a tunnel from her basement to the next door neighbor’s house, which has no basement. The new tunnel is tall enough for them to walk through it without crouching. It ends with a little cave-in of earth. A small ladder from Inge’s garage is brought forward. All of them quietly gather under the floorboards of House Ten and wait for the sounds of footsteps above to stop. When they do, that means everyone in the house has gone to work or school.

Inge and the Boda all enter through an access hatch in the floor of a closet that had been constructed to allow the owner to make an inspection under the house.

The womenfolk go to the kitchen. “Just grab a couple dinner plates,” Dory says. “Just a couple of coffee cups. Not enough to raise alarms.”

“I get it,” Inge says. “Even if they miss them, they’ll just assume someone broke them washing them or something.”

“Right.”

Jerry takes care of the trash. “I’m leaving just enough to fill a five dollar can.”

“Why not zap all the trash?” Inge asks him.

“We learned our lesson the hard way. No trash raises alarms. Less trash just raises eyebrows. Now if your hosts here in House Ten go to a smaller can just like you did, you’ll be saving them five dollars a month. So you can skim five dollars a month in value from this host.”

“Value in what?”

“A little food from the fridge, a little beer, electric power. I’m going to show you how to tap into their lines safely. When you get seven or eight host homes on your grid they shouldn’t even notice the drain of your own use.”

“Ah, but living in caves underground, though,” Inge murmurs, as though having second thoughts.

“It’s not that bad,” Hunky says. “Most days you spend in houses while the occupants are away, just like we are doing right now. Besides, no one is looking for you yet. There’s no reason you can’t keep living out of your own house for the time being.”

“Until I get caught.”

“If you get caught being the Trash Fairy,” Robyn said, “do what I did when you caught me. Try to convert them.”

“And if they refuse?”

“If they refuse,” sha says with a wicked grin, “just remember a macro is the perfect tool to make problems disappear.”

Everyone sees the hundred dollars of cash lying on the top of a dresser drawer in the master bedroom, but it remains to be seen what Inge Hahn will do.

Inga sees Jerry watching him. She looks at the money, then back at Jerry. “What, are you crazy? We take that money and our whole structure comes crashing down.”

Jerry Shybear breathes a sigh of relief. A hurdle had been passed. In that moment, in fact, he believes he has won.

In truth, Inge has all the money she could want or need. She lied to the Sanitation Auditor when she said she lost her job after the war. Inge has never held a job. She lives on a bottomless allowance from her father, but not even the Boda know about that. She is, in fact, something of a mystery to them, but if Inge ever truly becomes one of them, and participates in the Sharing, everything about her would be laid out under the light of day. So they bide their time and guide her along.

Several months earlier when Robyn gave Hunky and Dory their own macros and told them to think of something to do with them, they started to dig under the ground just like Robyn’s father Erik had once done, but they did it to create a network of tunnels between many of the houses in Greendome. Their happy pastime was to explore empty houses when the owners were away at work or else on vacations.

Due to the ongoing persecution of the Church by DECON, many of the houses on the Boda’s network were never occupied and became “Safe Houses” much of the time, at least when realtors were not showcasing them to potential buyers. Inge had caught Robyn trying Hunky and Dory’s game solo.

The Boda recruited women looking for work. It was light industrial labor. Here and there in a variety of Safe Houses gals would do hit-and-run stints assembling parts for macros. They had no idea what they were working on. There was no paper trail whatsoever, all the records were kept in the nanotechnology-enhanced minds of Boda members.

The workers were paid in cash, every day. Their partially completed units would be walked to other Safe Houses where only Boda members performed the final assembly and armed the self-destruct devices inside them before they could be signed out to new homes on the network.

When the Boda’s secret network grew to cover the entire city of Greendome forty percent of the people were only using the small five dollar cans. The county government, which was thoroughly infiltrated by DECON now, made up for the shortfall by charging a flat ten dollars no matter what size can was used.

The Boda retaliated by going to total trash disposal…one hundred percent of their host’s garbage was zapped, and many of the citizens dropped weekly pick-up service altogether.

Citizens who cooperated with the Sanitation Auditors and allowed them to come inside their homes were punished by the Boda most severely. The Trash Fairy never visited them again. But those citizens who were ordered by a judge to allow a Sanitation Auditor to inspect their homes were not punished. Trash pickup continued through a small hole in the bottom of their trash can. All of the citizens treated in this way resented DECON and the courts enough not to mention the neat round hole that had appeared at the bottom of their trash can.

The City’s next move was a ten dollar surcharge on electric power for every home not subscribed to weekly trash pickup service. Jerry Shybear countered with a type of macro that ate only electrons. Tie your circuit to earth ground for a source of free electrons, and Jerry’s macro constantly disposed of them. You got a current flow. Part of this was diverted to run the macro itself but the rest was free juice. The electricity was run through an inverter, phase-matched to the existing 60 HZ AC line current, and soon many houses went off the City’s power grid for good.

The Boda wasn’t just confined to the neighborhoods. A large fraction of the cost of doing any kind of manufacturing was in disposing of hazardous wastes. The Boda would do that for one company at ridiculously low prices, allowing that company to pass the savings on to the consumer and drive all their competitors out of business. Then, armed with their monopoly, prices would creep back up and the Boda would in turn squeeze them for a share.

Drilling for water costs five hundred bucks? The Boda will do it for one hundred. Drilling for oil costs ten thousand bucks? The Boda will do it for $200 with a macro and a ball of twine to hang it from.

Given sufficient time even bumbling government operatives eventually had a few successes. DECON managed to capture a handful of macros to see what the fuss was about and to see what could be done to neutralize them. The government even found a use for their commandeered macros. They were far more efficient at destroying incriminating documents than the much slower paper shredders, which tended to jam. But any attempt to penetrate the secrets of the macro by disassembly or X-ray resulted in an inert unit as the crucial components somehow disappeared.

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Chapter 50

The Great Sea of the West Lands is divided in twain by the peninsula of Magodon, as large as Florida and anchored to the mainland on the west. But sheer cliffs rising as much as four hundred feet guard every approach to Magodon by sea. This natural wall is made of soft sandstone and cannot be scaled by any army. At the foot of these bluffs all around the peninsula lie impassible swamps that would swallow horses and trap the wheels of chariots.

Also none can pass by land around the Sea to the north or the south. There roaring waves run nigh to the very Ice, and oft vast slabs of unstable ice melt and slide into the sea with a great thunder. No permanent road can be carved, no tunnel bored, to permit passage east or west. Thus King Arman had thought Lord Israel to be a big fat liar for suggesting House Antero was preparing to invade Magodon from across the water. For only at the uttermost eastern tip of the peninsula of Magodon can armies pass, but this is guarded by the Nine Mile Wall and also by several small islands bristling with fortified settlements, including the chief city of Rumbek.

So the Bellon capital has long been the main bulwark against any Gerash incursion, protecting not only the Brown Beard’s lands in Magodon and beyond, but also the lands of family Antero and Larund far in the west. As for the other invasion route, assuming House Gerash could subdue House Sala, their army would be stopped by the Wall of God in the east of Haaretz, blocking any further travel east.

So believing there was still much time, most of the nobles who had attended Queen Aurra Sala’s council, including the queen harself, lingered in Rumbek after the Council abruptly ended with Lord Israel and Joy departing on the back of the dragon Demonstroke.

In the immediate aftermath Haziel whisks King Brogan by her avatar to Jelaket, where he begins to organize the immediate deployment of the greater part of the forces of House Antero to ride with all haste to the east to come to the aid of House Bellon. Che does not know how long it will take for hem to return with hez forces, yet Princess Khondiel deems this is the only hope that Rumbek would survive the impending onslaught of House Gerash despite the existence of the Nine Mile Wall.

As for Haziel and Khondiel themselves, they return to their home on Sealiah Island to ensure the Fallen Angels are fully prepared to aid the Brown Beards in the coming war. The general feeling is that of a calm before a storm.

Five days after that a well-orchestrated ballet of Gerash sailing craft, guided by lights on the shore of Sealiah Island, concentrates at nightfall in the three mile-wide gap between the tip of the Isle of Sealiah and the village of Gurtus on the mainland. The tiny settlement of Surat at Sealiah’s tip, including the ferry landing, are taken by Eye of Thaumiel commandos and after that many of the new Gerash ships traverse the narrow strait.

Five battalions of Gerash troops go ashore unopposed, led by Eye of Thaumiel officers. The boats must be driven well up on the beach to avoid the omnipresent man-eating flora in the waters of the Eastern Sea. High Lord Patriarch Kirodiel’s ships then turn southwest down the Tala Strait toward Rumbek. In this crucial time House Gerash accumulates their forces as quickly as possible so a credible penetration into Bellon territory can be attempted.

At daybreak the southernmost two battalions of the amphibious invasion force link together and march across Sealiah Island. They begin taking the island house-to-house. At first this is accomplished with little resistance and only scattered bow-shot. Likewise, the village of Surat in the north falls quickly to the endless troops pouring over the beachhead. Soon the residents of both towns regret surrendering so easily, for the Eyes of Thaumiel begin obeying Kirodiel’s orders to kill male Brown Beards on sight.

Meanwhile three other battalions erupt from the beach and cut southwest across the island to join up with the first two. But Khondiel’s Fallen Angels issue forth from the Castle Brys to hit them on their left flank. Princess Khondiel herself, however, remains in the castle to defend Haziel as har personal guard.

Finally all of Sealiah is awake and begins putting up the first real resistance of the new war. Movement grinds to a halt as a pitched battle develops along a front that creeps south down the Isle of Sealiah. But the army of House Gerash slowly gains the upper hand.

In the Tala Strait the defenders of Rumbek answer Lord Kirodiel’s incursions with a wall of ships. In this arena alone does the House of Bellon gain a clear victory. By the end of the first day no Gerash ships are left to threaten Rumbek, for all the surviving ships are pulled north to defend the beachhead.

On the second day of the war as the fighting draws near, the subjects protected in Castle Brys began leaving on foot. Khondiel and Haziel fall in with them, and King Arman assigns a squad to guard them led by the Hashmal Binyiel. But Haziel objects. “Hashmal, please return to the King, for I have Princess Khondiel with me, and the people of House Bellon need you and your yeng far more than we do.”

But Hashmal Binyiel says, “Even so, the King hymself charged me never to depart your side. And in har presence Binyiel produces the King’s own ring, embossed with the seal of the House of Bellon, which the King used to imprint documents sealed with wax to assure their authenticity. Now to Haziel the Hashmal gives the King’s ring, and Haziel mourns, because sha knows this to be a token of the King’s premonition that hy would not survive the coming attack. But Haziel accepts the ring and also Hashmal Binyiel as a companion.

Even as they make their way down from the top of Sujelah Hill the road to Mandakar along the west shore of Sealiah falls to the Army of Thaumiel. They watch as a massive bridge is sunk by Bellon engineers with black powder as a final defensive measure. But also on this day the Bellon navy prevails in a large sea battle. They win through to demolish Lord Kirodiel’s pontoon bridge and they set fire to hyz remaining ships, thus cutting off the only Gerash line of supply to Sealiah.

“The whole north of Sealiah is occupied,” Hashmal Binyiel says to Haziel. “Even Kelang is under assault. Only here in the extreme south does Sealiah remain free.”

Over the shoulders of Mount Memalek to a seldom-seen natural bridge trudge Khondiel and Haziel, escorted by Hashmal Binyiel and two other officers. They move by secret paths in the steep wilderness terrain until they have come to the village of Olivus snuggled in the hills along the southern shore. Then Haziel says, “Khondiel, I am unwarlike, and a weakling yin, and I am about to swoon from this march. Perhaps I could rest for a while in that cottage hard by.”

“What do you say to that, Hashmal?” asks Khondiel.

In answer, Hashmal Binyiel approaches the nearest cottage and pounds on the door. “Open in the name of King Arman!”

The yang who answers the door doesn’t look happy. He barks, “What do you want?”

“Lodging for these two travelers. They go with the blessing of the King himself.”

The owner is irritated, and hy says, “How much did they pay you to say that, soldier? Do you think in this confusion the ‘blessing of the King’ are the pass words to help yourself to the bounty of any subject of the realm?”

So Binyiel produces the King’s ring, and the hospitality of that cottage improves markedly. Haziel and Khondiel are welcomed for the night while the soldiers stand guard outside.

As the night of the third day passes, King Arman Bellon stands hyz ground in the walled city of Mandakar as it comes under attack by cruel flaming catapult rounds from the surrounding lands of Sealiah Island that are already captured by Kirodiel. This is the beginning of a merciless siege by fire that would end only when the city loses the battle to put out the flames and succumbs three days later.

Meanwhile, at the city of Rumbek on the Isle of Liban, Count Zelus Bellon, who rules the city in the stead of the king, learns the enemy suffers a shortage of boats, so hy orders the bridge to Fanon island to be deliberately sunk.

The easy victories of the House of Gerash up to the middle of the fourth day are explained by their fanatical willingness to die for Thaumiel. However the resolve of their Bellon foes stiffens as the slaughter of King Arman’s innocent subjects continue. Faced with no alternative but to die the people make their final stand at Rumbek.

Princess Khondiel and Lady Haziel make it to the southwest tip of Sealiah, the last unconquered piece of the island. There Rumbek is taking refugees off Sealiah by boat. Khondiel and Haziel get in line with the rest of the crowd while their personal squad of soldiers join others to hold off the overland Gerash attackers in a desperate fight for enough time to allow the refugees to escape.

Hashmal Binyam says, “And now, Lady Haziel, I must spend the remaining moments of my life in disobedience to the strict commandment of the King, and leave your side to win time for you to escape, but I deem it the greater good.” Haziel is too emotional to say many words to him in reply, other than, “If Thaumiel is defeated, then I will make it up to you one day, Hashmal Binyam!” He bows and leaves her then.

Suddenly there is an orange flash, and the boat which is being loaded in front of Khondiel and Haziel catches fire. A catapult round of flaming tar has struck home. Many nephilim, screaming in agony from their burns, desperately dive into the water to quench the flames of the sticky tar that licked their clothes and skin. But they are immediately devoured by the hungry life native to Barlelo that lives beneath the waves, and it is a terrible sight to behold.

There are six catapults on Sealiah that lob rounds over the heads of the city’s defenders to reach the refugee boats, but in a single moment the six catapults themselves all catch on fire. A streak of rushing fire appears in the sky overhead, followed by two bursts of sound so loud it seems to Khondiel sha would be knocked to the ground. The fire streak, Khondiel can see, forms behind a small dark object that races across the sky almost too quickly to follow. Before sha can point it out to Haziel it is already many leagues away and curving back up higher into the purple skies.

When Khondiel has her heartbeat under control and can find the words, she asks, “Is that your avatar?”

Haziel answers, “Indeed it is, Khondiel, though I imagine Thaumiel is growing very tired of my interference by now.”

Suddenly room in another boat is found to be available for Haziel and Khondiel to step aboard, because many of the people aren’t certain all of the catapults are destroyed, but Khondiel knows Haziel is meticulous in what she sets out to do. The avatar of Chokhmah had already made its appearance at Salem years before, killing twelve Eyes of Thaumiel, yet Taumiel has long idled his own avatar to carry out the sham of having a dragon under the thumb of the Antero Princess, and all that time Thaumiel could do nothing to avenge the many affronts.

Haziel, for har part, suspects the dragon will make a belated appearance soon in the skies over Rumbek to level the odds, and sha knows that will be a terrible thing to behold, but sha says nothing of this to Khondiel.

In the heavily fortified city of Rumbek, after hours of confusion as the refugees are sorted out, Count Zelus learns that Haziel is bearing the King’s authentic ring. After sha surrenders the ring to hym, Zelus welcomes Khondiel and Haziel into hyz castle.

Haziel realizes the King intended this very thing all along, for the Count would know by this sign that the King wanted hym to rule in his stead. Guessing King Arman to be certainly dead, Haziel thanks the memory of the sovereign held in har heart.

Count Zelus bids them to stay with him for a few days to see which way the war would turn. “For Rumbek is as secure as any place in the West Lands are these days,” says hy. “No army has ever breached the Nine Mile Wall.” The Count has turned the forces at the Nine Mile Wall inside out like a reversible jacket, such that they are defending the peninsula of Magodon in the event Rumbek falls to Kirodiel’s attack from the east, rather than defending Rumbek from Antero attacks from the west.

In the very chamber where Queen Aurra had convened the Council, the surviving royals meet once more again to speak with Lady Haziel about har offer to whisk the noble ones home again in har avatar, even as many of them had been brought to Rumbek.

Baron Kerresh is to be taken west to meet up with the Antero army and take command of the Bellon forces which marched with them. Queen Aurra Sala, her Consort, and Countess Ayani were slated to be taken home to the lands of the Gold Beards, and the queen thinks to take both of her serving girls as well, but Baron Bayard declares that he wills stay behind to aid Count Zelus, and he says, “I would ask that the servant wench Aliwe Halil stay with me.”

Luzea Cedarbranch howls in greatly dismay because she would be parted from her best friend and lover, possibly forever. Aliwe tries to assure her it would turn out well, which made Luzea feel a little better, but when she is pressed to give a reason for her confidence Aliwe can give none.

Queen Aurra narrows har eyes. “Am I to believe my son cannot set aside his…hobby…for the duration of one battle for the life of the Brown Beard capital?”

“I know what it looks like, my mother and Queen, but the girl has luck bordering on the supernatural. One might even suspect Aliwe is more than human.”

The Queen sighs. “Say what you would have me do, Lady Haziel.”

“You see the problem, of course, Your Highness. People blindly naturally gather themselves into large settlements, driven by simple economics. After that, they attempt to protect their cities with walls, but walls are no defense against the avatar of Thaumiel and stone dwellings are no protection from his dragon. The solution is as obvious as it is simple, but it will require a mighty hand and much time to overcome thousands of years of tradition. Instead of a few large cities and towns dotting the land, the people of House Sala must live in many small settlements with no more than fifty souls, spread evenly across the land as well as hidden under the land, with leagues upon leagues between each one.”

“Such a drastic change! Is there no alternative?”

“None for House Sala, since only a single ice bridge stands between your land and the invading armies of House Gerash. And there are forces that can overthrow an entire city of stone in a single moment when yeng learn to harness them, as they must someday. When that time comes, only a decentralized House Sala will be able to withstand them. At that time attacking you will be like trying to dig a hole in a lake of water.”

And so the queen and her entourage embark for Saharad after many tears of parting between Luzea and Aliwe. The avatar then whisks back to Rumbek with certain officers of House Sala possessing skills uniquely honed to fend off attacks such as the one presented now by Lord Kirodiel.

Of the Red Beards, Count Berek, hyz wife Losna, and Baron Priam remain in Rumbek to aid House Bellon, but at the Count’s request hyz wife Losna is taken by the avatar of Chokhmah to Gerazan. Raddai the Bold, Count of Belen, remains behind to help defend the city, and despite the extreme danger Lady Irus stays behind with hym. But the rest of the Black Beard contingent go home with King Garand in Chokhmah’s avatar.

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Chapter 49

The first trial of Yeshua is before Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest Caiaphas, who has been deposed by the Romans for his gross mismanagement. At the trial of Annas no judgment is rendered, because he has no real authority, and also he has a hard time getting two false witnesses to line up their lies about Yeshua. But along the way Yeshua is subject to much physical abuse, which in itself seems to satisfy Annas.

The second trial is in the house of Yosef bar Caiaphas the high priest, where all of Yeshua’s enemies are gathered together from the Sanhedrin council. The Sanhedren has been hastily gathered together at night, a complete breach of protocol, but their loss of beer money in the form kickbacks from the temple is, in their minds, a sufficient emergency to justify it.

Shimon son of Yona, one of the followers of Yeshua, sneaks in through the servant’s entrance to watch, but when he is discovered he has some problems with his Galilean accent as well as his explanation for the purpose of his visit, but he persists.

After lengthy questioning, Caiaphas realizes they have no binding legal case against Yeshua. Che is blameless under the Code of Moshe. All they have to go on is a statement Yeshua made that che can tear down the temple and rebuild it in three days, which (if it was intended literally rather than as a kind a parable) is more insane than blasphemous. But it is all they have on the man. So after some more physical abuse, Yeshua moves on to the next stage.

The third trial is in the palace of the king before Herod Antipas, the exarch and client of Rome, who immediately refers the case back down to Caiaphas because he also can find no legal basis to find Yeshua guilty, and also, (having already executed Yohanan the baptizer) he didn’t want to go down in history as a mass butcher of Jewish prophets.

The fourth trial is before Pontius Pilate in the Praetorium. Pilate is the Roman procurator of Judaea, a subordinate of Vitellius, the Roman legate of Syria. He is exceedingly cruel and has absolutely no respect for Jewish religious sensibilities, but as far as Pilate can tell, despite Yeshua exercising the will to remain silent before him, which pisses Pilate off, Yeshua seems to be an innocent man. Pilate is far more interested in the venom Yeshua’s mere presence seems to invoke in the priests and Pharisees. So he refers Yeshua back to Caiaphas, tells him to try again, and he retires for the evening.

The fifth trial lasts for the balance of the night. At the end, Caiaphas puts Yeshua under oath by the living God and asks hem straight out if che asserts to be divine. Yeshua decides the thing needs a little prodding. Che says, “Henceforth you shall see me standing at the right hand of God.”

Caiaphas rents his robe and says, “The charge of blasphemy is proven! This man deserves to die! But we have no authority to execute him. So we must bring him again before Pilate in the morning.” And meantime they occupy themselves with reviling and beating Yeshua.

The sixth trial is when Pilate really grows annoyed because he is being asked to put to death what he already knows to be an innocent man. But the Jewish religious authorities insist on it, and there also begins to be agitation from the mob stoked by those same scribes and elders. So Pilate has Yeshua punished with the Roman flagellum, a whip with pieces of bone and metal embedded in the thongs.

When the Romans strip Yeshua they find che has small breasts with large nipples, very much like a woman. Curious, the Romans remove all hez garments and discover che has only a single testicle and a vagina as well as a penis. Yeshua is a hermaphrodite. Not wanting anything like that to go to waste, Yeshua is raped by the three soldiers before they begin scourging hem.

The flogging, a standard Roman punishment, is very bloody and severe, closer to an outright flaying of his back, leaving most of the skin there hanging in strips. Yeshua has never experienced such intense suffering before in his entire life. But Pilate, in a roundabout way, is actually trying to save Yeshua. He hopes the crowd will look at the man after his torture and say, “It is enough, release him.”

But at the instigation of the priests and scribes, the mob cries out, “Crucify him!” and Pilate is astonished. He realizes the Jewish leaders are really flustered by this man. So Pilate begins to mock them by calling Yeshua the King of the Jews. And then he has an idea to really rub it in.

Yeshua bar Abbas is an assassin of Roman officials who is scheduled to be crucified on charges of insurrection and murder. Pilate gives the Jews a stark choice: Either Yeshua bar Yosef would be crucified, or Yeshua bar Abbas. Continuing his little joke, Pilate asks the priests, who are Sadducees keenly sensitive to avoiding rebellion at all costs, “Shall I crucify your king?”

But they reply, “We have no king but Caesar.” And so with great irony which is not lost on Pilate at all, a Jewish revolutionary against Rome is released at the request of Jewish collaborators in the name of their professed fealty to Rome, and Yeshua, who has taught, “Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar” is executed in his stead. Bar Abbas becomes the first man in history to have the penalty of his sins remitted by the death of Yeshua.

Doubling down on the irony two thousand years later, self-professed followers of Yeshua in the United States would become the planet’s biggest defenders of the original life-for-life penalty laid out in the Code of Moshe. The Jewish council has obtained the penalty of crucifixion for Yeshua, even though to Jews crucifixion is the most disgusting possible punishment. For it is written in the Law, “He who is hanged is accursed by God.”

The Romans have a certain engineering genius when it comes to roads and aqueducts, and this genius they also applied to the death penalty. Crucifixion is by far the worst thing they could imagine happening to any man, ever. Yeshua is forced to carry a heavy wooden beam on hez back after most of the skin has been ripped off by the flagellum, and che is marched through the streets of Jerusalem to a point high on the slope of Mt. Olive facing the city.

The crossbeam is mounted to a post, and Yeshua’s two wrists are secured to the crossbeam with large nails through the carpal bones. And a single nail is driven through Yeshua’s two heel bones, which itself is agonizing beyond belief. When the cross is raised into the upright position, Yeshua’s own body weight makes it impossible to breathe unless che pushes hez head up level with his arms, which che has to do by standing on the nail through the bone.

So che becomes a nephil engine of suffering. Yeshua has to push up on the single nail in hez heels to scream, draw a breath, then sink back down again, constantly shifting the burden from hez feet to hez wrists until che dies of exhaustion. Most victims can take several days of this cycle to expire, but Pilate had ordered such a thorough job with the whipping that Yeshua, depleted of blood and beginning the ordeal in state of shock, only lasts for six hours.

Thus it is that Binah, a living star, knows agony on such a level that it literally captures the psyche of the eloah and traps her in Yeshua’s body with no hope of escape except through death. Yeshua desperately tries to summon the will to die but finds che cannot, and the horror of this grows to overwhelm hem. And yet Binah, as Yeshua, has freely accepted this punishment in obedience to her parent’s commandment. Binah obeyed Chokhmah in full union with the human Yeshua. For those six hours as Yeshua suffers, che represents the whole human race, in every time and place. With this obedience of Yeshua unto a wretched death, Thaumiel’s final claim against humans is silenced forever.

And the high priest Yosef, surnamed Caiaphas, comes to Pilate and says this Yeshua he had commanded to be crucified had often foretold hez own death, and had said many times that che would lie in the earth, but rise again on the third day. “I fear, governor, that his followers will spread a lie through the city that they have seen the man risen again from the dead, exactly as he predicted. We will never be rid of the fanatics his followers will draw to themselves with that story.”

And Pilate says, “Have no fear, we will simply leave the man on the cross until the crows have picked him clean.”

But Herod Antipas says, “Actually, brother Pilate, we should bury him, since the Passover is drawing on. For it stands written in the Code of Moshe: the sun should not set on one who has been put to death.”

And to this Pilate also agrees, albeit somewhat more reluctantly. But Yosef Caiaphas is still unsatisfied. “Not to impugn the famous discipline of your troops, governor,” says he, “but it is well known that following a Roman crucifixion, the bodies are usually buried in shallow graves, with only a light covering of stones over them. During the night, dogs are sure to uncover him and feast on his body, and we will never be able to prove he is not risen as his followers will claim. The multitude will say, ‘See how righteous he was’ and they will do us the harm that I have mentioned to you.”

And Pilate says, “About that I can do nothing. The dogs are an important part of the invincible deterrent of the penalty of crucifixion, especially in light of Jewish beliefs about the importance of burial.”

But there is also there in the audience chamber of Pilate one Yosef of Arimathaea, a member of the Sanhedrin, who says he has a freshly hewn crypt which he has caused to be made for the use of himself and his wife when their time is at hand. And Yosef offers to lend the use of his crypt to lay the body of Yeshua within it for the span of three days that concerns the high priest. He says a heavy stone could be rolled into place to cover the entrance, and therefore the body would be safe from any beasts.

But Caiaphas has one more objection. “The crypt will keep his body safe from being devoured by dogs, true enough, but what is to stop his followers from stealing the body away? Therefore, Pilate, give us soldiers that we may watch his sepulchre for three days.” So Pilate gives them Petronius the centurion with some of his soldiers to watch the tomb, and he considers the case closed.

Along with Petronius and his cohort comes elders and scribes. They lay the body of Yeshua within, and all who were there, together with the centurion and his soldiers, roll a very heavy stone against the entrance, and put on it seven seals, and pitch a tent outside to keep watch.

Binah, released now from her torment, would not stand by and watch the enemies of Yeshua desecrate her former body after the appointed three days in the tomb. Binah causes the earthly end of her worm-hole to Barbelo to be located inside the sealed tomb, and allows the waters of the Sacred Pool in Hamar to flood it.

Two Issacharites dive into the Pool to retrieve the body, and when it has been taken to Canterwood many of the Issacharites weep, for Yeshua has been wiped off the face of the Earth like only the Romans could do it, and the body is almost unrecognizable. With all the dignity they can summon, an Issacharite priest of Binah uses the Golden Gift to consume the body of Yeshua until it is no more.

After the three days have passed, the enemies of Yeshua are satisfied they have thwarted any possibility that his followers might rally around an empty tomb and form the nucleus of a messianic cult. They roll away the stone so they could move Yeshua’s body from its temporary place in the tomb of Yosef of Arimathea and bury it in some more permanent but unmarked place. But there is nothing inside but a foot of water.

The superstitious Romans flee in great fear, and none of the priests and scribes speak about what happened, nor do they even tell Pilate that his soldiers shirked their duty and ran away. Instead, Petronius reports to Pilate that the Jewish elders were satisfied with the procedure and have taken the body of Yeshua away themselves. And Petronius sternly orders his soldiers to forget what they had seen.

Binah has an ability no other eloah in the galaxy possesses. This is the power, within certain limits, to locate the end-point of a wormhole anywhere in time, as well as anywhere in space. Binah sets up a fold-door inside the house of the high priest Yosef Caiaphas during the fifth trial of Yeshua. After arriving there, Haziel finds sha is able to move about at will, because sha is dressed as a servant, which makes har almost invisible to the men of power. Only her very light skin and white hair draws some attention.

As sha moves toward the chamber where they are questioning Yeshua sha recognizes the man Yeshua has called hez chief disciple, Shimon the son of Yona. To him Haziel says, “I know you, sir! I saw you with Yeshua!” And this is absolutely true, because Haziel as Chokhmah, has full access to the memories of Binah as Yeshua.

But Shimon grows nervous and declares to the yin who is really his own God, “I tell you I do not know the man!”

Haziel smiles at him warmly, having already forgiven Shimon for his apparent unfaithfulness. Sha knows it is driven by fear. His mere presence in the house of Caiaphas to see what is happening to his master is sufficient proof of his faith.

In the largest room of the house Caiaphas puts Yeshua under oath by the living God and asks hem straight out if he asserted to be divine. And Yeshua, thinking that che needs to move things along, says, “Henceforth you shall see me standing at the right hand of God.”

Then Caiaphas rents his robe and says, “The charge of blasphemy is proven! This man deserves to die! But we have no authority to execute Yeshua. We must bring him again before Pilate in the morning.”

Haziel enters the chamber and moves to stand at Yeshua’s left side, placing hem to har right. Sha says in the loudest voice sha can muster, “Behold my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased!”

And within the blink of an eye they are both gone, leaving a spherical hole in the intricately tiled floor of the chamber.

By making this change, Yeshua sees that Haziel has caused all of reality to fork once more. There was Reality II, the one where che was crucified, and there is Reality III, the one where Yeshua and Haziel disappear before the very eyes of the Sanhedrin in the house of Caiaphas. Binah can see both forks, and she can place the end of a worm-hole in either one. Binah opens a fold-door outside of Jerusalem in Reality II and Yeshua steps through. This act alone generates Reality IV.

Early in the morning of the day after Shabbat (which itself was a day after Pascha, or Passover) after the sun has risen, Miriam of Magdalen, who has been the lover and closest female follower of Yeshua, takes with her Miriam the mother of Yeshua, and also Yeshua’s older sister Salome. They come to the sepulchre where Yeshua has been laid by his enemies.

And Yeshua’s girlfriend says to his mother and sister, “Although we could not openly weep and lament on the day when Yeshua was crucified, let us now do so at his tomb.”

Salome says, “But who will roll away for us the stone also that is set on the entrance of the sepulchre, that we may go in and sit beside him and anoint my brother’s body?”

Her mother says, “If we cannot do so, let us at least put down at the entrance what we brought as a memorial for him, and let us weep and lament until we have gone home again.”

So they proceed, but they find the sepulchre open. The women come near, stoop down, and find Haziel sitting in the midst of the sepulchre. Haziel says to them, “Why are you come? Whom do you seek?”

Mariam of Magdalena says, “We seek the body of the one who was crucified. Please, if you have taken his body away, tell us, where have you taken it?”

Haziel says, “You will not find the body of Yeshua, nor has anyone taken him, for che is risen by the power of God and has departed under hez own power. But in the city seek out Shimon who is called Kephas, and the other followers of Yeshua, and your Lord will appear to you there.”

The women flee in much confusion and return to the city.

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Chapter 48

After Kim Zinter’s body is found draped over the Tri-State monument and the crime is reported up the chain by Sheriff Roddy Walker, Agent Mark Felt, a relatively new FBI hot shot currently assigned to a field office in Texas, is dispatched to the town of Greendome by Director J. Edgar Hoover personally. Only thirty years of age, with an aristocratic air and look about him, Felt has already worked on a few occasions with Domestic Enemies Containment, Observation and Neutralization. His current job in Texas, in fact, consists of evaluating which cases of wartime espionage and sabotage warrant being transferred from FBI oversight, where the Constitution of the United States still applies, to the black hole of DECON where it simply does not.

If you’re passing along blueprints of the latest proximity fuses to German spies, you go to DECON. If you’re extorting wartime ration cards and selling them on the black market, the Bureau owns your ass.

On the phone, Hoover tells Felt that the Greendome case is a basic homicide but it is compounded by special circumstances. For one thing, the body was found lying across three different states. Felt is to be in charge of the criminal investigation, but Hoover warns that DECON would probably assert certain protocols with respect to the classification of evidence. Felt’s job is to navigate the minefield.

Agent Felt arrives at the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Roddy pours him his first cup of coffee and lays out the documents in his growing case file for him. “The victim’s name is Kimberly Zinter,” he begins. “She’s a local girl, age eighteen. Her mother lives in town, but Kim hasn’t been seen anywhere around Greendome for about a year.”

“Why not?”

“She’s been in the custody of an agency called DECON. Before today I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a DECON.”

“I know all about them,” Felt says. “The Director told me the body of the girl was found by yourself, lying on a marker, on the exact point where three different states meet.”

“Yes. I figure the perpetrator did that deliberately, to elevate the case to your level. I’m therefore assuming this is premeditated murder.”

“Did you do an autopsy?”

“I did the rudiments of one with a local doctor. Early this morning DECON sent out their own doctor. He’s downstairs with the body right now.”

“What did your local doctor come up with?”

“The cause of death was heart failure after multiple penetrations with a knife through the chest, from the front. My doctor counted thirteen wounds.”

“Did you find the murder weapon?”

“The perpetrator tossed the knife some distance from the scene, but we found it by using a bloodhound. It was a kitchen knife, homemade, not store-boughten, with a unique handle carved from wood. The blood type on the weapon matches the blood of the girl and we have one set of prints.”

“Okay, I’ll go down to see the girl in a minute, but first tell me if you can think of anyone who might have had a motive to kill this girl. What’s the local situation, Sheriff?”

“What we have here in Greendome, Agent Felt, is basically a one-church town. Some have said Eleven A.M. is the most segregated hour in America, but that’s just not true here in Greendome. The Church of Green Dome has two halves, a white half and a red half. By red I mean the Plains Indians. Two wings, but one Church. The two wings are kept separated by the central dogma of the Church, which is that only cousins may get married.”

“Are you a member of this Green Dome Church, Sheriff Walker?”

“By birth, but I’m not in good standing anymore. You might say I’m a lapsed Greendomite. But I’m still plugged in, you might also say, and I hear things. Recently the Prophet of the Church, Peter Twofeathers, announced an exception to that cousin law so that the victim could marry a boy named Jerry Shybear. When he said that, half the white members of the church walked out of the service.”

“So that narrows it down a bit,” Mark Felt said, tongue-in-cheek.

“Later on that same Sunday three local boys tried to talk sense into Jerry with a bullwhip and put him in the hospital. After that some of Jerry’s friends, we think, talked with the three boys who messed up Jerry and put them in the hospital too.”

“So are Jerry’s friends in your holding cells?”

“No. I don’t know who they are. Jerry won’t talk. The three kids missing their feet won’t talk either.”

“Missing their feet?”

“Some kind of Indian torture. The doctor considered it a kindness to amputate. Add to all that, Prophet Twofeathers has suddenly gone missing, and now they say there’s a new prophet.”

“It sounds like things are getting out of control in your little town, Sheriff. Lets go downstairs and see the girl.”

Sheriff Walker makes the introduction. “Dr. Trochmann, this is Agent Mark Felt from the Bureau. Agent Felt, this is Dr. Ian Trochmann of Domestic Enemies Containment, Observation, and Neutralization.”

The doctor is in the middle of his autopsy, so with his gloved hands covered in Kim’s blood he bypasses the traditional handshake. “How do you do, Agent Felt?”

Felt asks, “Did you confirm the cause of death, Doctor?”

“Fourteen wounds in the chest with a knife,” the doctor says. “Your own doctor missed one, Sheriff.” He catches Felt’s eye again and nods at a manila envelop.

The agent puts on rubber gloves and extracts the murder weapon to examine it. As weapons go it is not as seriously dangerous as a hunting knife would be. The blade is thin, flexible, nothing more than a steak knife perhaps, but with a hand-carved handle.

Felt says, “Director Hoover told me DECON might choose to classify evidence in this case. Is that true?”

The doctor flips Kim’s body over so she was face down, and moved her pony tail out of the way. He said, “This bony structure is classified.”

“What is it?”

“I’ve been studying it for a year, and I still don’t know.”

“A year?”

“All the way up to the day when Kim here and her friend Sophie escaped from quarantine.”

“How did they escape?”

“That’s classified too.”

“Classified because knowing the answer will damage the interests of the United States, or classified because knowing the answer will embarrass DECON?”

“Both.”

Deputy Bob and Deputy Bill knock on the door of the Zinter home and the door is opened by a girl who looks exactly like the murder victim. After a pause, Deputy Bob asks, “Is Clara Zinter here?”

“No, she went away for a while,” the girl answers. “Her son-in-law was whipped, her daughter was murdered, I told her I didn’t think Greendome was safe for her right now and she agreed.”

“Who are you?”

“Robyn Zinter. Kim was my twin sister.”

“Do you mind if we come in to ask some questions?”

“Sure.” Sha opens the door wider and lets the officers in. “Have a seat, fellas. Would you like coffee?”

This they kindly refuse, because they are already loaded up on joe. Deputy Bill says, “If you don’t mind me saying, Robyn, you don’t seem to be too cut up after the death of your twin.”

“We weren’t that close. I don’t even live here in Greendome, I’m only house watching while my mom is away.”

“Where do you live?”

“I live in a place with a funny Indian kind of name. The Land We Know, they call it. Have you arrested Klaus Hansen and Paul Bergin yet?”

“Why should we?”

“Well, uh, because they murdered my sister!”

“How do you know that?”

“Means, motive, and opportunity,” Robyn says. Sha holds up the pinky of har left hand. “Means: My sister was killed with a knife from Klaus Hansen’s kitchen. Today’s Friday. Trash pick-up day. If you dig in his trash can you’ll find the whole set.”

“We’ll need a warrant,” Deputy Bob says.

“Not after the trash lands in the truck,” Deputy Bill replies.

Ring finger now. “Motive: She married Jerry Shybear. Any children they would have had could have married their cousins in both the Red or the White Wing of the Church. Klaus Hansen walked out of the Church for precisely that reason, and now I hear he’s back in as the Prophet.”

“We didn’t know they were already married,” Bob says.

“Didn’t you collect the jewelry she was wearing? Kim had both an engagement ring and a wedding ring.” Sha holds up her middle finger now. “Finally, fellas, opportunity: Kim was in the custody of DECON for the last year or so, but she escaped, and came home. Klaus and Paul scooped her up at knife point.”

“Why do you think Klaus and Paul killed her, and not more of the same boys who whipped Jerry?”

“The boys who whipped Jerry didn’t do it because they wanted to do it, they did it because they were told to do it. Those boys may not have talked to you, but they talked to Jerry’s friends for a couple of days, and Jerry’s friends aren’t quite so reticent. The merciful thing you can do is arrest Klaus and Paul now before they have to talk to Jerry’s friends too.”

Deputy Bob says, “You’re not under arrest, Robyn, but you seem to know a lot more about this case than you should know just by being Kim’s sister. We don’t have a warrant, but would you object to letting us take your fingerprints?”

“Not at all, officer. You’ll find my fingerprints don’t look anything at all like those of Klaus Hansen’s wife.”

“Billy, go get the kit.”

Later, Deputy Bob is deep in the middle of a garbage truck, up to his chest in trash, when the truck stops in front of Klaus Hansen’s house. The trashman tosses two bags into the back of the truck where it is caught by Bob, then stands on a step outside of the truck as it moves along. He dips his head inside the truck to take a look.

“Did you see Hansen?” the deputy asks him.

“He was standing on his doorstep, making sure his trash was unmolested until it was mixed with the rest, I figure.”

“We’ll molest it at the station. Let me out when you round the corner.” Deputy Bill is waiting for him in a county mountie car.

At the station, Earl G. Roland has arrived. He has already taken his report of Kim’s autopsy from Dr. Trochmann. Now Roland is explaining to Sheriff Walker and Agent Mark Felt that he is the director of what DECON is calling the “Kim & Sophie Project” and he is still looking for Sophie.

The stinking deputies come in and dump their stinking trash on the floor. Sheriff Roddy chews them out but Bob, wearing gloves, digs out of the trash a wooden block with several knives in it, all of identical make to the murder weapon. He sets it on a table.

“Who?” Agent Felt asks.

“Klaus Hansen. I think the print on the knife belongs to his wife. And Mr. Paul Bergin’s in on it too.”

“I’ll pick up Hansen with the sheriff. You and Bill get cleaned up and then bring in Bergin.”

After Sheriff Walker throws Klaus in the slammer, Mark Felt compares the print taken from the murder weapon to the ones he got from Hansen’s wife when he arrested him and gets a match. He goes to the part of the station where the cells are located and he says to Klaus, “You may have worn gloves during the murder, but the knife used to kill her came from your house. That’s already Murder in the First Degree and the chair.”

Klaus says, “Ah, but the way you found the girl means this isn’t county or even state.

“We’ve got that covered, Mr. Hansen. I’m from the FBI.”

“I mean higher than that.”

“Talk to me,” says Earl Roland, who has followed Felt and the Sheriff out to the holding pens.

“Who are you?”

“DECON. I’ve taken a special interest in Greendome lately.”

“I’m the Prophet of the Green Dome Church,” Klaus tells him. “I alone can get you in to witness the funeral of the girl.”

“Why would I want to see that?”

“Because the Green Dome Church alone in all the world has tangible evidence of the existence of God. Something you can see and hear and touch.”

This claim intrigues Roland very much, and Felt can see it. “Bullshit, Roland!” he explodes. “I don’t care what he has to show you, this is Murder One. He’s staying right there in that cell.”

“I suggest you make a call to Director Hoover, Agent Felt. Perhaps he can re-clarify for you exactly where you and I stand in this case.”

The funeral for Kim Zinter is the first opportunity for the latest Prophet of the Green Dome Church, Klaus Hansen, to preach in his new role. He has nothing to say about Kim at all, nor her parents, nor how she has been missing for the last year , torn out of the lives of her friends and classmates. He doesn’t even know the girl, and in fact despises her for marrying Jerry Shybear and thus ripping apart the One True Church. So instead of giving anything like a decent eulogy, Klaus says to the flock, “Please join me in turning in your Bible to the book of First Kings chapter eleven, verses four through eleven.”

Paul Bergin stands in front of Klaus in a white robe, but one step down, holding a large Bible open for the Prophet to read, marked with tabs. And Klaus quotes, “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, ‘Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.’”

After this the people in the congregation thought the Prophet was through, but then he said, to their dread, “Now turn please to the book of Nehemiah chapter 13, verses 23 through 27.”

More page flipping, less eager this time.

He said, “In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, ‘Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?’”

The prophet Klaus Hansen goes on and on, quoting favorite parts of the scriptures having to do with the sin of inter-marriage, until even most of the Bunners are in tears, desperately wishing he would stop. When the liturgy of the word finally gives way to the Final Rite everyone is greatly relieved.

Jerry Shybear is carrying out a small deception. He has already given the original Golden Gift back to Haziel and constructed his own copy of it. Since it makes the effects of the quantum micro-world efficacious on the macro scale Jerry calls his copy a macro. It is about the size of a Zippo lighter, and for the sake of the Last Rite he has encased it in a facsimile of the original Golden Gift which is covered in gold paint.

Wearing white robes in his role as the Extraordinary Lay Minister of the Final Rite, he stands over the embalmed body of Kim, which is laid on har back on the altar, and says the following prayer:

“Lord, when Prince Melchizedek first came to Father Abraham, he used the Golden Gift as a sure sign of your divinity. In the years that followed, Michael, the Captain of your hosts, used the Golden Gift as a shield against the slings and darts of the enemy at Jericho. Closer to our own time the Golden Gift came into the hands of Chief Wanica, and through it today we now commit the body of our beloved sister in faith and my own wife, Kimberly Barbara Shybear, directly into your hands, and we eagerly look for the time to come when she will receive again in paradise the years that were taken away from her on Earth. Amen!”

And Jerry uses his macro to make every scrap of Kim’s body disappear, even taking swaths of the concrete altar with it, though Jerry carefully tries not to do so. Periodically a new altar surface needs to be poured and cured.

Earl Roland watches this astonishing sight, then gives the signal to go. The sanctuary of the Green Dome Church is constructed like a wheel, with aisles forming twelve spokes. Earl Roland, Dr. Trochmann, Sheriff Walker, his two deputies, Klaus Hansen, Paul Bergen and five agents of DECON descend toward the altar, each in his own aisle, making straight for Jerry, who has already made his macro disappear, but he keeps the phony shell.

Sheriff Roddy Walker is the first to reach Jerry, and he tackles him, flipping the young man face down. The fake Golden Gift falls out of his hand, and Dr. Trochmann reaches it first. Roland makes the doctor hand it over to him right away. And he is angry to find it is nothing but an empty shell.

“Where is it, you son of a bitch?” he screams at Jerry.

Jerry is already cuffed, but now he’s being poked and prodded and rolled over and over by at least four different people. The members of the congregation are beginning to stream out of the temple, and even the Bunners are muttering, angry that Klaus Hansen actually permitted outsiders to witness and now defile the Final Rite. At one point the five DECON agents tip over the altar itself in their search for the innards of the Golden Gift.

Jerry is hauled down to the station, strip searched, body-cavity searched, and thrown into a cell. But the DECON people stay in the Temple and begin to tear it apart, looking for Kim’s body and looking for Jerry’s magic tricks. They find the storeroom directly under the altar, and they find the little anteroom with the stone floor where the cairn had been built over the avatar of Chokhmah, but the white dome with needles is long gone.

In their frustration, DECON sets fire to the Temple and razes the entire structure to the ground. It is the Abomination that makes Desolate.

Around nine o’clock at night Jerry pulls his macro from the fold-space pocket that goes wherever he goes, and cuts his way out of his jail cell.

As an immediate result the entire Green Dome Church, including the Bunners, becomes an outlaw cult subject to official persecution from the United States government.  Before Klaus Hansen and Paul Bergin can be re-arrested, Jerry’s friends with the sledgehammer, knives, and blowtorches gather together even worse instruments and forcefully invite Klaus and Paul to spend a week with them.

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A Conspiracy Theory Theory

funny-memes

Linux Gal: Windows Guy, there’s no space aliens. We would have heard their equivalent of the World Series and seen their version of “I Love Lucy” first, and then after setting up a two-way conversation over many years, teaching each other to speaka zee lingo, we would have made an appointment to meet in The Hague or something, where they would announce that Al Gore is right about global warming , and it would all be under the sunshine policy, out in the open, on CNN and no conspiracy stuff. It would NOT be just the UFO and some hayseed on his combine in Idaho or some shit like that.

Windows Guy: You see, Linux Gal, that is exactly what the theory says has happened, more or less. The government knows, you don’t. That’s what this disclosure business is all about. Breaking it gently to the masses.

Linux Gal: It’s always like that, these silly claims, whether they be religious ones or claims about UFOs or faces on Mars or grassy knolls or WTC #7s falling down after a controlled demolition, you name it. There’s always a tidy explanation for the lack of evidence. God has to hide so people can believe in him rather than just look up and say, hey, look, there’s God. The UFOs are covered up by the CIA because if the Russians knew we were getting all our technology from Alpha Centauri they’d initiate a nuclear first strike before our perfect reverse-engineered Centaurian missile shield was ready. One faction in NASA sent the Mars probe to cash in on the contracts, and the other one caused it to “fail” with buggy software to keep it from seeing the Martian monorail system, because if society saw how efficient mass transit worked on Mars, they’d demand it here on earth and the Oil Lobby mightn’t like it.

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Taoteching 37

Draco_81

The nameless way appears to signify inactivity, yet it enables the completion of all things.

If the sovereign cultivates the undifferentiated “mind-at-its-beginning,” the people become without desire.

Without desire, they attain serenity. And affairs naturally grow calm.

The Mediocre Man goes to war for the common good, because he believes a benevolent society must sometimes impose righteousness by force. He trumpets names for his missions like “Operation Just Cause” or “Operation Enduring Freedom” and broadcasts campaigns by television news. He clobbers the enemy with overwhelming force to the accolades of the whole world. Everyone calls him a skillful general.

The Woman of Wisdom goes to war only when all other avenues have failed. When she arrives on the field her heart is heavy, as if she were attending a funeral. Unseen by friend or foe alike, she arranges alliances, supplies, and the disposition of her forces in such a way that a wise enemy general will concede defeat without fighting, and a foolish enemy will be defeated before he even begins to maneuver. So the Woman of Wisdom never receives the recognition of the world, because her enemies seem to melt away without providing the spectacle of a bloody battle.

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