Truth and the Goddess Arl - Part Four
As Alex stared in amazement at the towering holographic image of Avril Lavigne, two priestesses flanked him and then seized his arms. Despite his protesting, they lead him through one of the flowing drapes that adorned the walls, into a narrow hallway. Only a few of the many doors along the hall were open revealing the living quarters for the priestesses. At the end of the hall, they entered a small lobby dotted with chairs. Across the lobby and they entered an office.
Alex shrugged at Priestess Kai. She sat behind a simple oak desk. The only light in the room came from the vast window taking up most of the wall behind the desk. It overlooked a sunny meadow filled with lush grass flowing in the wind; the window was not real. Whether or not the image was real remained to be seen, but no window in this temple would find a direct view of a meadow.
The priestesses that brought Alex to Kai departed, closing the door behind them. Alex settled into one of the chairs in front of the desk, leaned back and propped his heels up on the edge of the desk. "Nice view," he said.
"First you murder a man right outside our temple. Now you speak the true name of the Goddess Arl? How do you even know her name?"
"Know her name? Shit, I've seen her in person. Granted I was in the nose-bleed section and my binoculars were cracked, but still."
Kai frowned. "That's not possible."
"Believe me--it's possible."
"She's been dead for centuries."
"I'd imagine so."
"Then how could you have seen her?"
"I'm listening." Kai folded her hands neatly on the desk. She gave no indication that time remained a factor while in the confines of her office.
"You wouldn't believe me if I tried."
"The Goddess Arl's name is known only to top-level priestesses, Barney Fife. Unless I'm mistaken, you're neither a priestess nor a female. So please enlighten me as to how you've come across her name."
Alex shrugged. "What the hell? It all started on a little planet called Earth..."
Sela's face remained neutral; her voice calm. Given the abrupt protest from Horus and Yerik at the Elder's claim to humanity, Katlyn found Sela's reaction too controlled. Something in her eyes betrayed that controlled exterior.
Sela waited for her crew to quiet down before speaking. "Even if I were to believe you--which I don't--why would you tell us of all people? Why the secrecy?"
"It won't be a secret for much longer," the Elder said. "Telling you now will have no impact on the events already set in motion."
"Once the election is over and the Elders have majority vote, then we can fully realize our mission. No longer will it be necessary to hide our true nature."
Nodding, Sela said, "So then we were right. You're--"
"No, you and the Pure League couldn't be further from the truth."
"You just said you were out for power!" Horus shouted.
Sela ignored the outburst. "You say you're human--explain."
"In about six hundred years, humanity will reach a peak in technological and scientific breakthrough. A group of scientists will discover a way to advance the human body into a new plain of existence--the ability to live as pure thought and idea. Humanity discards the flesh in order to experience a new reality where death and pain and suffering is no longer possible."
"So you're claiming to be altered humans from the future?"
"We are. A machine will be created that--what it does exactly, nobody is sure. That is part of the problem. For lack of a better way to explain it, we'll just say the machine can suck your soul of your body and weave it into the very fabric of reality. The process can be reversed; an image of the body is stored and can be reproduced on demand. However, that requires someone at the controls. There was such an overwhelming rush to experience this new existence that we left nobody changed.
"We were all connected, one and many with the universe and everything in it. Our individuality remained, while we also existed as a whole."
"Okay," Sela said. "I'd heard rumors that the Elders were telepathic."
"To a degree, yes. In our pure state, we're connected to all others, in our own reality, in our own time. In your time, in your reality, in a human body, we're limited to a very short range of communication with other Elders. Here in the inbetween we can communicate with either side."
"Still not believing this story. What are you doing here? Sounds like humanity evolved to the next stage. What's the problem?"
"That is the problem. Our science condemned us. Without any way to return to our previous state, we were trapped in this new existence. We couldn't die, yes. We could see everything, be a part of everything. But we lost the very things that made us human to begin with. All the human senses were gone. No sight, no sound, no taste or touch or smell, no ability to feel emotion--in our attempt to escape death, we lost everything. After thousands of years trying to discover some way to undo the deed, thousands of years trapped in a void of non-existence, we found a way to move through time.
"Here," the Elder motioned around him, "we are outside of time. Here we can move forward and back, in and out. It was always there waiting for us to find but nobody ever bothered to look. We were too busy debating and blaming to realize the answer was so simple."
Sela remained unmoved. "You found a way to move through time, so you decided to go way back in time instead of just stopping yourselves from getting trapped?"
"It's not as simple as that. We tried. No, there was a problem. Even though we could move through time, we still lacked the ability to communicate. The one thing we could do, however, was inhabit the bodies of others and watch the world through their eyes. This became a new novelty for us as we'd been without sight--the way you know sight--for so long that all thought of rescuing humanity was abandoned while everyone flooded the time stream and lurked in people just to get the sensation of sight again. Death was such a worrisome thing that it was understood among us all that we were not to be in a body when it died out of fear the death would trap us forever. Given the widespread lurking that transpired and the sometimes sudden, unseen onslaught of death, one of the lurkers happened to be in a body when it died. Instead of being trapped, however, the lurker realized that at the moment of death, control of the body transferred. Once the owner's soul left the body, the lurker had full access, full sensation, everything. The lurker was effectively reborn. We watched and debated the changes that occurred when a lurker took over a body. Somehow the repossession enhanced the body, made it grow stronger, made it heal quicker, among other things. The catch, though, came in the form of permanency. Once a lurker inhabits a body, he can't get out again. And that body will eventually die, taking with it the lurker."
"Still not hearing why you didn't just go back to your past and stop things. Why all the way back here?"
"Why? We found a way not only to live forever, but also to travel through time. The debates were endless and still go on even now. We decided, however, that we could do more good here. At this point in history, more so than any other, humanity is ripe for revolution. With our technological superiority, we knew we could reshape the future in unfathomable ways. Given the right guidance, humanity could be a hundred times more advances by our original point in time. We still carry all that knowledge and all that history with us. It gives us an edge on the future, an ability to help mold an even greater vision for tomorrow."
"Something doesn't make sense," Katlyn said, speaking up for the first time. "What's all that stuff about wars with humanity that Anthony told us? How did the Elders even have ships?"
"We couldn't just inhabit people and tell the world we were there. We went back as far as we could in time and secretly built a series of ships, gathered enough equipment, and left earth. We colonized a planet that won't be discovered for another four hundred years, and from there we built a new society with the bodies we inhabited. There were billions transformed from each planet--uncountable numbers from all over the universe. Our only supply of bodies was earth, though, so we had to keep returning. It didn't take us long to setup on the colony, despite the lack of technology. With our stores of knowledge, we adapted and expanded upon what we could get. We needed time to present the herenow with a face. The only difference now is that all our hosts are volunteers."
"You mean you tell people they're going to die and that you want to use their body?"
"No," Sela said. "People willingly give up their lives for the Elders."
To be continued...