Canterwood is famed for its trees, the Academy for its tree house. The children learn their final lesson in this tree house, though none of the Elohim or adult B’nei Elohim are present as teachers. It is a lesson that has been taught and learned by countless children since the dawn of time. It is called “Doctor” or “I’ll Show You Mine & You Show Me Yours.”
Hope Shelton never needed to go to the bathroom, so she had never seen what the other kids did in there. Seeing the variety of genitalia on display in the tree house was a completely novel experience for her. Now it is her turn, and it dawnesd on her, too late, that perhaps she has made a mistake by agreeing to participate in this impromptu lesson.
The other children sense her reluctance to strip and poured the pressure on. At length, Hope does remove her skirt, and what everyone sees is a girl as anatomically incorrect as a Barbie doll. But maybe everything was hiding. The other kids order Hope to drop to the floor and put her legs in the air, which she does, but no help there. Hope was a zero holer. “How do you pee? How do you poop?” they asked.
It is an honest reply, but what follows is an even bigger mistake than Hope agreeing to attend the session. The children could have kept it all quiet and just forget about it. Instead they shun Hope as though she is a monster and evacuate the tree house like it is on fire. Their frantic questions filter up the chain of adults and in short order Victoria and Mark Shelton in the Seattle area know their careful plans to keep Hope convinced that she was a real human girl are in complete disarray.
EDGAR (after the other children have been sent home)
You had a good mix going with that class, Rabbi, So your over-reaction to the tree house thing has me puzzled.
And your willing participation in the tree house thing has me puzzled. You are an extraordinarily intelligent member of the B’nei Elohim. At Taurus City you had unfettered access to images in the Swarm. Certainly there can be nothing of basic human anatomy that remains a mystery to you.
You are absolutely correct, Rabbi, and yet the investigation was something undertaken by the whole class. Should I have absented myself and damaged our group dynamic?
Rather, you should have argued that the inquiry not proceed at all.
But why, Rabbi? I have never detected a Puritanical streak in you, despite what might have been retrojected upon you by your alleged followers on Earth.
There is a thing you don’t know about Hope, a thing that not even Hope knows about herself, and it is important that she doesn’t learn that thing just yet. But no, I am not a Puritan. Your inquiry in the tree house would have been commendable under any other circumstances.
Can you tell me what this mysterious thing is that you withhold from Hope, Rabbi, other than the fact that she does not have genitals?
I cannot do so, but the fact that you still have not sorted it out tells me we might still be able to salvage something from the Hope project. Your mother will arrive soon to take you home to Taurus.
Actually, Rabbi, I have decided I will not go home.
And why not?
Nothing less than self-preservation, Rabbi. When my father died Jill saved him with the Purple Cable. Jill essentially became my father. But now when I see Mike with Jill, or Ariel with Jill, or Mike with Ariel, or the three of them all together they just creep me out. All of their movements are coordinated. They finish each other’s sentences. I’ve thought about it and thought about it, and every time I do I come to the inescapable conclusion that my father’s personality is like the flu and he’s spreading to take over all the B’nei Elohim.
I completely understand. And if you can accept it, Edgar, you are not the first to discern these problems. The Hope project is actually intended to address that very thing. But I see you are not convinced, so I will only ask, where will you go?
East, Rabbi. Up the Wall of God and beyond to the lands of House Larund at first. After that, it’s up for grabs.
But you do not know the secret way up the Wall, Edgar.
I’ll figure it out, Rabbi. Everyone tells me how clever I am.
Then I will not hinder you in any way. I would only ask that you would accept a new name from me, so that I can follow your subsequent career. I have no doubt you will have a very large impact on things going forward.
And you will say nothing to my mother when she arrives, Rabbi?
Robyn will know only that you are no longer to be found, and when she probes the future she will not mark the passage of a son named Edgar. But only if you accept a new name.
Then choose an new name for me, Rabbi, and I will accept it with gratitude.
Edgar Shybear, henceforth you are to be called Ithuriel, which means Brilliant One of God. Go in peace with my blessing, but go quickly, for Robyn will soon arrive expecting you to return with her to Taurus.
Young Ithuriel departs the Canterwood Academy and travels east to cross the River Sabik near Mount Menkant.
Some people call the B’nei Elohim demigods, but they are really demiurges, craftsmen and craftswomen who try to make the perfect vision of Chohkmah and Bina into reality. Each of them are each marked by a unique ability that sets them well above human beings in some way. Call them real-life superheroes. In Edgar’s case his power is an extraordinary intellect.
At the Academy Ithuriel had penetrated the operating principle of the Golden Gift and duplicated it. He called his apparatus a macro, because it made quantum interactions manifest on a macro scale. Yeshua could have simply told Edgar how the Golden Gift worked, but then the young man would never have reached beyond his known limits to become Ithuriel. And Ithuriel is precisely what Chokhmah had been searching for, across four millennia.
While Ihturiel had not actually removed hymself to the camp of Thaumiel, he no longer considered hymself truly part of the B’nei Elohim. He was very much like Jill in this respect. When Dory tried to contact hym directly, Ithuriel simply ignored her.
The primitive space-going technology of the early period of expansion led to the complete remote reconnaissance of the two star systems belonging to the yellow and orange suns. Communications satellites were lofted. A permanent human presence in low orbit space stations followed, as well as tentative footholds on Barbelo’s nearest moon Palato. Underground water deposits, rich metal ores, and abundant sun power made the new colonies nearly self-sufficient.
It is not yet clear to the heads of the five families that human destiny lies in space. From the beginning space travel was militarized, and the nascent Navy of Thaumiel grew as rapidly as the off-Barbelo population grew. The avatar of Thaumiel forms the invincible heart of this Navy, and a powerful fort is constructed on the surface of Palato with many guns and rocket emplacements orbiting ominously just over the heads of the entire Barbelo populace.
John Wayne once said, “Life is hard, it’s even harder when you’re stupid.” It follows that the inverse is true: Life is easy when you’re brilliant. Ithuriel set hymself the goal of reaching the land of House Larund, east of the Wall of God, and every decision he makes leads him inexorably closer to reaching that goal.
Knowing that Black Beard intruders always seemed to come to Canterwood from down the vale of the river Sabik, Ithuriel journeys up that river to see what he can see. After tarrying for a time in the capital of Hamar, named Menkant, hy dwells in the city of Wazol for a time. Every day Ithuriel explores a different part of the face of the Wall of God, which looms just east of the city, looking for the fabled path that leads to the top. Hy gnaws at the problem with hyz usual tenacity but looking for an end-point to the trail is a problem that can never be solved, since the end-point is deliberately obscured with heavy brush. So Ithuriel thinks outside the box and goes off-trail, cross-country, marching through knee-high ferns in any direction hy chooses much like a ship sails at sea. He steers himself straight up the wooded slope that lies at the foot of the Wall and finally stumbles onto the very lower reaches of the Catwalk.
The Catwalk is a Cadillac of a trail, luxuriously maintained, but unexpectedly so. This is the fabled way Haziel herself had descended to Haaretz two thousand years prior.
Because Ithuriel is anything but stupid, hy does not ascend the Wall of God on the Catwalk until hy has properly prepared the tools and provisions hy would need to make the attempt. Yet mental preparation is just as important, if not more so. Once on the Catwalk Ithuriel knows hyz world would be transformed from a plane into a single line. A single moment of panic, of giving in to the ever-present fear of falling, would be fatal.
Ithuriel’s immediate goal is to ascend out of Haaretz, but hy had set for hymself the ultimate goal of getting off Barbelo altogether. As hy negotiated the Catwalk hy tried to decide where he would go and what he would do.
At the Academy Ithuriel learned the early settlements on Palato, which formed soon after Talishi’s suicide flight, had been grouped into three triads, each one under a triarch. Afterwards they were organized into a loose Palato League, which elected, when common action was necessary, a dictator appointed for a fixed period of time. There is a federal assembly that levies taxes and troops from the triads. The Navy of Thaumiel occupies a large portion of Palato and requisitions supplies and labor from the Palato League but otherwise stays out of local affairs. Family Gerash also lays claim to tiny Rhene as a prison moon, and its even smaller sub-moon Minos to administer it.
Other immigrants who do not wish to attach themselves to the Palato League or the Navy of Thaumiel move on to other, more sparsely-settled communities across the system of the orange sun. Chief among these is Xanthos, the largest moon of Barbelo, which lies beyond Rhene.
Others leave the gravitational influence of Barbelo altogether and make the crossing to chilly Lemnos, the next planet out from Barbelo, or to one of Lemnos’ two very small moons, Unxia and Ianthe. Ithuriel considers all of these as possibilities for his ultimate destination.
The Academy at Canterwood is famed throughout Barbelo. Ithuriel needed only to describe himself as alumni, verified by a single telephone call to Yeshua, and any job in Peshast is his for the taking. So life for Ithuriel really is fairly easy. The job he chose was spacecraft pilot for a Black Beard corporation called General Materials.
A number of years before Haziel’s one-way flight to prevent a third great deluge a breathtaking feat of construction inside the Northern Ice of Barbelo had been initiated by House Larund, averaging fifteen miles a year. This resulted in the construction of a giant mass-driver, a sun-powered electromagnetic catapult for hurling vehicles to orbit. When this infrastructure was complete it became relatively cheap and easy to obtain access into space.
Simulators can only teach so much. After much classroom time it is time for Ithuriel to take hyz first flight, accompanied by a senior pilot named Nithael as instructor.
The shuttle is hexagonal in cross-section so it can fit inside the mass driver. Wings and stabilizers lay folded up on the surface of the reusable shuttle for the launch, to be used on the return leg. The spacecraft typically carries six persons and a small amount of cargo, or in the case of Ithuriel’s checkout flight, just two persons and much more cargo.
After getting underway, there are two minutes and thirteen seconds of brain-flattening hell in the mass-driver tunnel at six gees. As the shuttle nears the end of the tunnel, it passes through a series of automatic airlocks designed to bring the local pressure from the near-vacuum of the majority of the tunnel to the full atmosphere at the tunnel mouth. During this sequence the shuttle slows and Ithuriel and hyz instructor are hurled forward in their straps.
At 365 miles east of the boarding station the shuttle passes the final coil and breaks into clear air, but with enormous horizontal velocity. The shuttle becomes surrounded by a teardrop of superheated air that thins and cools. Soon after that the sky appears to turn black and the planet seems to gradually drop away from the shuttle until orbit is reached. On the whole it was a frightening ride to the uninitiated but it was actually very safe and it was leading to the development of space at a far greater pace than Earth.
Palato is roughly 500 miles across, and roughly 50,000 miles away from Barbelo, which make it appear roughly the same size as the Earth’s single moon does from the surface. After Ithuriel performed a perfect landing at the designated place and the metal roof closed overhead to form a seal so the docking structure could be pressurized he helped Nithael unload the cargo from the shuttle.
An Eye of Thaumiel appears soon after that, and asks the modern day equivalent of precisely the same query the Eyes had made of Sibelius outside of Salem when he was smuggling Princess Khondiel into the city: What yeng of ye be the loadmaster?
I am Nithael, and I command this shuttle.
I know you, Nithael of the House of Larund, but who is the dirk?
Hy is called Ithuriel, and my superiors at GenMat ordered me to check hym out as a shuttle pilot.
One so young?
NITHURIEL (with a shrug)
Ithuriel claims to have attended the Academy in Canterwood. From what I hear of that school, his claim is not so far-fetched. He performed flawlessly.
It is said that no child of House Bellon or House Gerash may attend the Academy. And so I find it curious indeed to find a Canterwood graduate on Palato so close to the Navy of Thaumiel. What say you, dirk? What is the truth here? Why have you come?
I came only to be certified to fly. Astrodyne said go to such-and-such a place with this cargo and so I came.
He stared steadily at the Eye of Thaumiel and began to silently count numbers in his head. At the count of eleven the Eye speaks.
Nithael, you may return to Barbelo in your shuttle, but this dirk will stay on Palato to answer all such further questions as I might have. If I find his answers to be unsatisfactory I will pass word to your employer below, which you should take to mean it would be unhealthy for you to return to Palato ever again. The Lord Sartael does not love accomplices of spies.
Ithuriel does not learn the name of the Eye of Thaumiel was Hogarth until somewhat later after hy has spoken to Sartael himself.
Hogarth is famous for a certain type of investigation internal to the Army and Navy of Thaumiel. It used to deeply cut into the Gerash annual budget for troops to go out on early retirement with a bogus disability claim, only to be seen the first weekend chopping wood in their backyard. Often a visit from Hogarth was all it took to make these ailments miraculously clear up and the yang returned to duty, such that his nickname among the Eyes of Thaumiel became “Jesus” although this was never said in hyz earshot. And if the ailments didn’t clear up, hy made sure they really had a disability to go out on. In either case (and Hogarth had no preference either way) the number of false claims fell to zero.
So Hogarth is something of a bogeyman on Palato. Yeng who pass hym in the corridors glance down at the floor and go out of their way to avoid brushing against hym.
Ithuriel, per interrogation protocol, has been stripped completely naked and it is at that time that Hogarth discovers the bone cup breaking the skin at the back of hyz skull, complete with 55 dark pins about the diameter of the lead in a mechanical pencil. Brushing the pins breaks them off as easily as the aforementioned pencil lead, but in only a few hours they have grown back to the same length.
Ithuriel has nothing to say about the cup. So Eyes of Thaumiel manhandle the dirk into a chair and bind hym with straps.
Hogarth withdraws a gadget from a case for Ithuriel’s inspection.
This beauty shoots a little post under toenails or fingernails up to the first knuckle. Now usually, when you get injured your body lets you know with a shot of pain, but after a while your pain is handled with endorphins because your brain is Zsaying, ‘Yes, I know about the damage, it’s being taken care of.’ But not with this toy. No, no, no, no! The post that will be under your nail is a particularly nasty toxin that takes many hours to dissolve away, so the body never stops getting messages that it’s being injured. Let’s just say no one ever volunteered for another one. But there is a first time for everything. Nothing would interest me more than to see how you do with all ten fingers and all ten toes on fire. So I have twenty questions, young Ithuriel. Let’s proceed. What is that white cup on the back of your head and how did you get it?
Ithuriel says nothing. Hy is bored. Obviously this Eye of Thaumiel has no clue that torture simply doesn’t work with the B’nei Elohim. And so Hogarth applies the device to Ithuriel’s forefinger, which goes SNICK! And Ithuriel immediately slips into self-induced general anaesthesia which lasts for the duration of the toxin.
The one who put you to torment was named Hogarth.
High Lord Patriarch Sartael says this when Ithuriel shows signs of returning to consciousness again. His finger still aches, but it is bearable. As a B’nei Elohim, his brain has been modified in such a way that he is able to sense that he is in the presence of a human incarnation of an Eloah by the mere proximity of the fold-line terminus within Sartael. He drops to one knee, bows his head, and says, “Glory to Thaumiel, Lord of Barbelo!”
This pleased Sartael to no end. At least Yeshua has taught the boy manners.
I am the High Lord Patriarch of House Gerash, Sartael by name. Tell me your name and whether you like to know the horrifying details of the death of this Hogarth?
I am called Edgar Shybear. As my Lord must have surmised from the report his Eyes gave him of my personal possessions, which do not include a copy of the Golden Gift, I have not yet fully entered into the B’nei Elohim order. That is why I retain my given name and surname. As for the fate of this man named Hogarth, my Lord, I would only say that this is your star system, so it is your rules.
Suffice it to say, Edgar Shybear, the other Eyes of Mastema have been sufficiently motivated by the demise of Hogarth to recognize the physical mark of a B’nei Elohim so they will know how to treat you and others of your order with the proper protocol in the future. But Edgar! Tell me what you know of the B’nei Elohim named Joy.
I know of no one by that name among the B’nei Elohim, my Lord.
Hy doesn’t realize that this Joy is really his little sister Ariel.
No matter. Joy came to Barbelo two thousand years ago and pledged herself to my service. Perhaps that is why Yeshua has not sent another one all this time, except his assassin. Joy flew my dragon and brought war to my enemies from the air. Then Yeshua sent another B’nei Elohim to kill both the dragon and Joy. That one, it was said, could fly through the air unaided.
The Gerash lord was speaking of Victoria, the daughter yet to be of Ithuriel, and again hy could offer nothing to say about her.
Chokhmah and Binah created the order of B’nei Elohim to serve them, yet we are not slaves to them. If this Joy assigned her loyalty to you, my Lord, then it was her free choice to do so.
What is your particular talent, Edgar Shybear?
They say, my Lord, that I am gifted with great intellect. There may be truth to that. At the Academy, I was able to discover the secret of the weapon known from history as the Golden Gift. Certainly my Lord knows of that artifact.
And would you, like Joy, put yourselves in service to me alone?
Such was my intention, Lord Sartael, when I departed Canterwood Academy before graduation and contrived to fly a shuttle to Palato.
Why did you not complete your education there?
It was an incident so trivial, yet so far-reaching in its ramifications my Lord will think me to make a jest.
Yet I would hear it, young Edgar.
The Academy had trained us to pursue knowledge, to foster our natural curiosity. But there came a day when we gathered together, six boys, six girls, of different Houses and even worlds, and we shed our clothing to learn about the variety of the human body. When Yeshua learned of this he disbanded our class and sent every child home. I left before my mother could collect me.
Sartael breaks into the deepest fit of laughter hy has experienced in years. It was long before he was able to speak again.
You are wrong, Edgar, I do not think it a jest, I know this is exactly the sort of thing Yeshua would do. So random, so stupid, and now he has lost you to me. I would have you swear an oath to mark the beginning of your service, but oaths may be broken at will by the faithless. So in lieu of an oath, Edgar Shybear, reach into that great intellect of yours and teach me something I do not know. Teach me how the Golden Gift works.
Ithuriel looks around the lord’s chamber for something he can use as a training aid, but finds nothing.
If it pleases Lord Sartael, please command the coins I had in my luggage to be brought to me, so that I may make an illustration.
A snap of the fingers, a terse whistle, and the Eyes of Thaumiel move to obey. Presently they bring to Ithuriel a small leather bag filled with the coin of House Larund. Ithuriel seats himself on the floor before the throne of Sartael and dumps out the change. He arranges them more or less evenly.
These coins represent the atoms and molecules of the flesh and blood of the neck of an enemy of my Lord.
Ithuriel uses his fingers to clink pairs of the coins together here and there.
The man’s neck is at body temperature, so the atoms are in motion, always bumping into each other like this.
Now he stands several of the coins on their edge.
A B’nei Eloah passes the blade of the Golden Gift through the man’s neck, and every atom the blade touches becomes rotated to a right-angle with respect to the rest of the universe. This is what we call dark matter, My Lord, and it no longer interacts chemically with the other atoms. And yet they retain their original motion, so we get this.
Ithuriel uses his finger and thumb to flick the standing coins, causing them to roll out of the collection and across the floor of Sartael’s chamber.
Of course, my Lord, the actual engineering details are much more complicated, but I will provide them to such learned men as my Lord will provide. Let the revelation of this secret stand for me in place of an oath, and let it be tested by equipping the Eyes of Thaumiel, and any other yeng the Lord might choose, with copies of the Golden Gift made right here on Palato. Then the Lord Sartael will know I serve him alone.
And what will you do for me after this test, young Edgar Shybear?
Ithuriel gathers all the coins together into a roll and holds this roll on the floor between a finger and thumb.
My Lord, matter is stood up like this by a macro, and made into dark matter. One might pack a lot of dark water together like this, and then let it lay down again.
Ithuriel splays the coins out to illustrate.
The water will decompress with great violence. This opens a way to build powerful drives for spacecraft, and even more powerful bombs.
And Lord Sartael smiles. Hy knows precisely what Chokhmah has achieved with this Edgar. Edgar was intended to create a starship and put Chokhmah in communication with El, indirectly, without violating the terms of their ancient bargain. But something has gone wildly wrong, and Edgar belongs to Sartael now.