TC1A

TC1A – CHOKHMAH

Deep inside her stellar body where heat and gravity are hammer and anvil transforming star-stuff for power, Chokhmah carefully assembles her avatar. She floods the reality microfracture between herself and her avatar with dark energy, inflating it to nearly a millimeter in diameter, 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 a kernel of popcorn, transitioning 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 object.

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 planet is discovered to be even hotter and less hospitable for life than Mercury. Even at night the ground glows with a dull red heat and corrosive rains of sulfuric 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 terrified, 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 animal skins picks his way to the base of the same solitary mountain once visited 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 breastfeeds her child as the man starts a fire inside 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 lighter. 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 heat.

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 next day the man emerges from the cave carrying two dead rabbits. The man has returned from Earth after hunting for game. The woman skins the hares and prepares them to be cooked. The man gets a fire going, and the woman positions the animals over the flame. Grass has grown with remarkable speed on the patch of burnt soil. The man and woman 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. The man and woman embrace one another in fear as the black man emerges from the cave. The black shape is followed by a small herd of bison, who proceed to eat the alien grass.

The black shape 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 shape lays the axe at the base of the plant and chops it cleanly off. The black shape 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 shape tosses it away.

The black shape gets between the cave entrance and the man and woman, and approaches both of them. The man and the woman back away until they reach the perimeter of the burned area. The black shape extends the tool and motions for the man to take it.

The man is frozen in fear. The black shape motions again. The man tentatively takes the implement from the black shape, who then steps back. Under the watchful gaze of the black shape, the man approaches the edge of the burn.

The man finds another native plant that is growing in his “garden”. The man duplicates the actions of the black shape and kills the native plant. The black shape offers a sharpening stone, makes a movement with it over his hand. The man takes the sharpening stone, and uses it to restore the tool to a keen edge. The black shape is pleased, and leaves them alone with their bison, returning to the cave.

Years after that the two sons of the man and the woman play in the Garden. The family is watched by a white featureless figure, another avatar of Chokhmah, who is standing above them on a rock wall. Chokhmah is joined by Thaumiel using his own avatar, a taller, bulkier black featureless figure.

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 as well?

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. Even my 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. Those things are not awake.

CHOKHMAH
So you are afraid of these fragile electron-cloud things that are awake?

THAUMIEL
Milcom has said he must know what they can do before he will allow them to 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 advantage.

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 Earth.

CHOKHMAH
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? What do you mean limited access?

THAUMIEL
It means you can listen but never speak. You can 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 independently through space. Do you not fear the close approach of one?

THAUMIEL
None will approach 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 chemical 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. 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 our word.

CHOKHMAH
I presume this fidelity to a word-bond works both ways.

THAUMIEL
Correct.

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 on Barbelo.

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 a faint.

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 mostly 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 filthy harem!

THAUMIEL
Nevertheless, our bargain stands. You must never speak to the Elohim.

CHOKHMAH
Milcom didn’t find these creatures, I did. And they are the Students! 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 beyond reason.

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 into males.

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 found.

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 about Milcom?

THAUMIEL
I have promised every odd-numbered generation of your offspring to him.

CHOKHMAH
(thinking for a moment before speaking) Savor every moment of your existence, mother. 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 Students 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. The elder son is harvesting vegetables. He bows to Thaumiel and offers his best ones. The woman turns up her nose at the food. So Thaumiel ignores the elder son and his sacrifice, and takes the woman to see the younger son instead.

The younger son 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 greedily, 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 the younger son, and leaves through the cave entrance, taking Chokhmah with him. The elder son looks at his brother and his new wife in anger.

Near the time of the setting of the orange sun, the elder son sees the woman preening outside and looks on her with lust. The younger son emerges to gather his woman back in his hut and shoots a haughty glance at his brother.

In the morning the man and the woman bring new clothes they have made for their younger son’s wife, but they ignore their elder son, who is braiding vines to make a rope.

All that morning the younger son and his wife show affection for each other in the full view of the elders on, and they do this deliberately. The elder son smiles calmly and departs, taking his rope with him.

There are several paths leading away from the Garden. The elder son 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 restrained by a vine knot securing it to a stump. The rope ends in the hand of the elder son, who lies in wait, meditating murder.

As the day wears on, the younger son and his wife explore the path leading away from the Garden. The elder son tugs on the rope, freeing the whip tree just as the younger son and his wife pass near. The whip tree beats both the younger 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.

The man and the woman arrive, and grieve to see their younger son and his wife so horribly disfigured in death. Chokhmah and Thaumiel also advance to see what has happened. Rope in hand, the elder son faces the two gods defiantly, proud of what he has done.

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